Sunday, July 1, 2012

The movie review post

Its been a long time since i wrote about the movies that i have seen. Here is a long due one.

Directed by Dibakar Banerjee (of Khosla ka Ghosla fame), Shanghai is his entry to the genre of political thriller. In terms of plot, Shanghai comes out as predictable application of a well known formula in a different problem, in this case the issue of Special Economic Zones. There are activists, corrupt politicians, govt. officers working for corrupt politicians and in dilemmas of their ethics, grass root level local thugs or wanna be thugs who crave for lime light and media reporter who get access to truth by sheer luck. Jaane bhi Do Yarron morphed this plotline into a comedic-satiric take, Rajkumar Santoshi focussed more on the political duplicity, Shanghai mixes to create its own cocktail. What works in its favor is the cleverly engineered screenplay, cinematography and direction. It is definitely engineered, a lot of emphasis on tracking shots with an engaging background score to create tension that runs throughout the movie. The difference between a good and bad movie in this genre is how you can make the audience believe of the magnitude of plunder yet show case the grassroot level details, the trick of balancing the two is the key and Shanghai does a fabulous job. The local goondas are believable, their craving for money, limelight and more power is evident. Right in the first scene you can see them in action by painting black color on a local shop-owner's face.
Shanghai is good but its not excellent. The problem with Shanghai is that even though you know that all that is shown is happening in present day India, yet you realize that it is fiction trying to stand on reality. The movie is not able to transcend itself from fiction to reality because so much is happening to those few characters that it creates an artificial feeling. I remember listening in a DVD commentary of a great film where the director explained that certain scenes were deleted to give a touch of reality even though they were all real. 
But overall Shanghai takes Indian cinema a step closer to where it should be and it is really a good viewing experience. 

My thought while watching the movie - "Kashyap kamina hai".  Even though it is 160 mins, even though it will not be in any of my top lists,  yet this movie deserves to be seen. GOW makes me proud that it is a movie coming out of India, that an Indian has made such a movie. Do you know why?  Because of its sheer creativity, because of what Kashyap is daring to do. He is trying to make a movie about how time affects a town, how things change and yet rivalry is passed down generations and how the finer details are filled with sheer creativity both in terms of story telling or disrupting well defined things such as item numbers.  I do not remember any Indian movie which tries to spans over a 50 year period. All i can think of is those Amitabh movies where something happens in his childhood and ge groups up to take revenge :)
My favorite is the Yashpal Sharma sequence where he presents an item number by lip-syncing to a female voice while standing and wearing a bright red colored lipstick. The male portions of the song are   heard over a dream sequence where two love birds communicate while wearing a dark goggles during night. In another sequence, there is an intense rivalry happening between two strong players, "keh ke lenge",  and yet in the same shot, there is a disco dancer mimic artist dancing to bappi lahiri tunes but with its own lyrics. There is a total hippie fusion band singing about guns and girlfriends in a railway train while the actor is trying to hide guns. Often i found myself asking why is he doing this and the only answer was - "Kyunki Kashyap kamina hai" And you know what is the best part - I liked it. While we are at it, the movie opens up with the Kyunk saas bhi squence which is followed by bullets, bombs and more bullets. Why?
GOW is an ingenious movie, very very creative and is indeed pleasure to watch despite of its length. It is like Inglorious Basterds, very pleasurable to watch, creative and yet it does not feature in top lists of anyone. The part two is awaited dearly by this one. 
(I also watched this one in PVR gold class, so sitting on that lazy boy chairs with food, it adds more the whole experience even though its more expensive)

Vinay Pathak is not King Lear
This was a play not a movie. I had gone to see it for only one reason - Vinay Pathak. I have never read King Lear, yet the desire to see Vinay Pathak in any theater is overwhelming after Blue Mug.  Directed by Rajat Kapoor, VPINKL tries to spoof Shakespeare yet in a Shakesperian way. It is a tragedy, comedy, non-linear and very jumpy. I think my experience would have been much better had i read King Lear but i have heard a few bits about the story, so i had some idea. It is a monologue and it is performed brilliantly by Vinay Pathak (nothing new here) . But yet it does not feel a long lasting impression as one does not fully get what the end goal is or for that matter the theme. Abstraction is good but as long as one can understand the theme, sadly  VPINKL does not do a convincing job at it. 

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