Sheer Melody

A mole's eye-view of the Cosmos

Some movies - and reflections...

Returning to the blog-world after a somewhat longer hiatus than is normal - multitude of thoughts – and no specific order to put them in. So here are some of them…

Slumdog Millionaire sweeps the Oscars, or as Raja Sen of Rediff puts it – ‘India conquers the Oscars’. In some sense, it’s perhaps right – as we went from a cumulative count of two to five in the space of a night. That’s no mean feat. The movie has its merits: a gripping pace, impressive screenplay and no shortage of ideas. Sadly, it was poverty porn – and that’s where the film went from being a good movie to merely a mediocre attempt at purportedly realistic cinema. Danny Boyle got all the ingredients together for an Oscar favorite: the underdog, the insurmountable obstacles, the developing country with its idiosyncrasies, quaint and exotic – luxuriously conforming to the average American movie-goer's mental image of India. With each passing moment, with each story in Jamal’s life, we are treated to an overdose of grotesqueness, so unrealistic as to be perfectly laughable. Add his accented English to the list and you have a party! To quote one of my friends – it was an underwhelming experience. For me the high point of the movie was Rahman’s music (though I firmly believe he has delivered and composed way better in the past and I am sure will in the future): a sumptuous score to rival the best in the world – deceptively simple, original and instantly endearing.

DevD is being touted as the Indian psychedelic equivalent of The Wall. I can’t wait to see it – I wish Anurag Kashyap would release the DVD soon – with only 4 prints in circulation in the United States – it’s darn hard to find a theater screening it – at least in the somewhat respectable localities from where I can return home unscathed. For the people who have seen it and have enjoyed it and are just dying to reveal its plot to me – here’s your chance, and if you want to gloat – feel free!

I really enjoyed Luck By Chance. Zoya Akhtar feels like a very sensitive director. It was a pleasure to sit through a movie which portrays people in refreshing shades of gray (in contrast to the black and white which we are so used to Bollywood dishing out with amazing consistency). It was fun to observe characters depicted as unashamedly selfish, as genuinely hopeful. Rishi Kapoor as the producer confused that a script could be treated as property was extremely endearing, and I loved the scene in which Nikki seduces her co-star. Konkona was brilliant as usual and her expression as she realizes the reality of the casting couch and silently accepts the fact is out of the world. I still can’t decide whether I liked or hated the impossibly stupid song in the film within the film – but there is absolutely no doubt that this movie had the most amazing opening credits I have seen in any Hindi film in a long time.

In contrast, Delhi 6 was excruciating torture – unadulterated pain. The film starts off well with its quirky characters and impressive vignettes of life in Delhi 110006 but quickly degenerates into preachy farce. Sonam Kapoor pulls off a composed performance and methinks her smile is quite the seductress. Abhishek Bachhan alternates between two expressions in the film, has a fake American accent and decides that India ‘works’ with no logical explanation or premise. Divya Dutta is fantastic, and the one place where I smiled was where she gives the hypothetical Kala-bandar’s lock of hair to the local simpleton Gober. I also enjoyed Om Puri’s expressions as he discussed dowry with the Lala. Sadly, such moments were fleeting and very few – with the result that the movie remained a confusing albeit colorful mixture of well-caricatured clichés and pretentious imagery. In one of the most ludicrous climaxes I have seen in a long time - the movie degenerates terribly as it closes, comfortably equating its audience to bunch of zealous sixth graders with an average IQ of eighty attending a class on national integration.