Friday, October 30, 2009


It's interesting to catch up a film quite late in the day, when almost everyone you know has seen the flick. The expectations tend to be on the higher side if everyone has liked it. Though one also learns to keep them to almost zero especially when there are either new guys on the play or old folks whose works you have not been too fond of.

Wake Up Sid was recommended by many and liked by almost everyone I know. Though...I came out disappointed, which reflects the fact that there was some sort of expectation! However, when you step-back to analyze what you felt as you watched, you realize, which I did even while watching, that the film isn't so fresh, which it has been reviewed as courtesy the way setting pans out.

It tried to play cute for most of the part, which is a big sin in my book, and it follows the most standard technique - use 'cute' dialogues and play scenes that are trying to be deliberately funny.

The story is simple - a boy from a rich family enjoys life with zero vision / focus about his life ahead. He meets a girl who has come to Bombay to become 'independent' and they strike a warm friendship. The nice, harmless but irresponsible guy ends up being kicked by his father. He moves in with his friend and over the days discovers what life is about as he becomes responsible. He goes back to his loving folks and of course, discovers that he has found love in his platonic-friend.

It's a predictable story, which needs or needed a fresh, insightful telling so even if one knows how it would go, you enjoy - what happens next.

The fact that the story focuses primarily on the protagonist, Sid is a good thing; the story's p.o.v (point of view) is his and it doesn't go astray. But the problem is - what happens next. The tricky part in such a flick is that the character tends to be passive. What works in the film is that as one stays with Sid, you see him in action all the time - reacting to things and then taking decisions.

What does not work is how things build up slowly. It establishes the change in his life and doesn't move quickly playing the same thing again and again. The other sub-stories or plots are almost zilch, but what ever are present haven't been exploited much.

One wishes that Sid is thrown more deeply in a ditch so that the struggle is more challenging. The good part tends to be that the change in character isn't melodramatic, however the bane remains - playing it cute.

The scenes seem set-up to create laughs by the 'witty' dialogues, which are not necessarily up to the mark. The friends scene typically delve into that domain and so are the scenes with the mother (Supriya Pathak) that tend to be contrived. At times things even resolve too conveniently and when it comes to big moments like the discovery by Aisha (Konkona) about her love for Sid, the set-up is found wanting and as such you don't care much for the character.

But...what makes it work for the audience - showing the story of just these two people. Putting them in contrasting positions. Making them interact with cuteness flowing. Of course, all sets et al are Karan Johar style; this is a new thing in cinema - try to create 'real' people but still give them plush homes and sweetness-personified situations, which doesn't affect as long as one goes with the characters.

That's what makes it a hit, and of course, with peppy music playing along. However, with deliberate cute telling, with exposition that says what one feels, with simplistic resolutions, it fails to shine (for me.)

Writers: Ayan Mukerji, Niranjan Iyengar
Director: Ayan Mukerji

Rating **
[Max Rating ****]

[Viewed at PVR Cinemas, Forum, Bangalore with Tripathi, Mota and Lull on 28th Oct, 2009, 7pm show]


I had been wanting to catch up Won Kar-wai's flicks for long. He is a legend with many 'classics' to this name. So when I got the opportunity to watch ChungKing Express at Fun Cinemas, Andheri, there was no way I was going to miss it.

I had no idea what the story was about or what's the 'deal' with Won Kar-wai's films. So going with an open head made it a very interesting viewing.

ChungKing Express tells different stories. From what I recall (it's been a while since I watched it) the first one starts with a cop being ditched by his girl and falling for another woman who is going through her own issues and ends up drunk at his place; the second, unrelated story tells about a girl falling in love with another policeman.

The fact that two stories are part of one film, which are unrelated make it a not so normal viewing. The film production values are on the raw side but you are aware that an accomplished film-maker is at work courtesy the way the depiction happens.

The seemingly meaningless stories reveal about romance, betrayal & attachment. The stories, especially the second story seems to drag a bit but since the characters keep moving on, keep progressing the telling is pretty effective.

The film despite having no direct connection between the two stories manage to grip you courtesy the interesting characters who engage you and that's where Won Kar-wai scores including the clever way of using the songs and music.

The film or stories are not standard flowing. Highly likely that Kar-wai worked with an extreme low budget and courtesy his skills portrayed an effective portrait of the life of common people through his random-like action. He is like a painter who seems to free-flow with gay abandon and yet...conveying emotions through the characters.

Normal audience looking for entertainment may not have a great time watching this but cinema-loving folks, students of cinema should check this one out.

Writer: Won Kar-wai
Director: Won Kar-wai

Rating ***

[Max Rating ****]

[Viewed at Fun Cinemas with Bhumika on 15th Oct, 2009, 7pm show]

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Interview: Coen Brothers

Interesting insight into the way these guys think / work. On 'A Serious Man' and other stuff.

It varies so much from actor to actor. With John Malkovich, you couldn't possibly say less to make him happy.

I think, the way we imagine characters and scenes, and also stories in general, that would prohibit us—and this is a real backward way of approaching your question—from doing a movie like, in a weird kind of a way, Michael Clayton. You know? There's something about that completely naturalistic style within the current understanding of naturalism in Hollywood, you know what I mean, that we just don't truck with for some reason, and I don't fucking know why.

JC: And it goes to, I think, just the way we think about stories and actors, characters, and just scenes. You know?

EC: Right. If an actor tried to, you'd shake the actor and go, "No, you don't understand. It's a story." [Laughs.]

JC: But I say that it's naturalistic only, I think, within Hollywood's current idea of what naturalism is, because there isn't really that. That doesn't exist in the abstract as a pure thing.

Interview: Joel and Ethan Coen

Article: Winning funding strategies for content producers

How to raise $5,000,000+ for film production without committing neither crime nor suicide? Finance your film or TV show in 6 months. Winning funding strategies for content producers.

Weather you are an accomplished producer or a founder of an emerging production company, in the current economy you will be solving the same challenges – how to get your project funded without selling your birth marks.

You might already have a commitment for worldwide distribution, interest from the major stars, but… no money in the pocket… Well, at least not enough to produce a decent content.

I would never claim to be an expert in the film industry, but I will put my marketing hat on and share some ideas that are not necessarily new, nevertheless few of them that might give you some hints on new ways of looking at the whole approach to financing.

Here are some items of your action plan.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Blog: Contenders for Phalke award

On Phalke awards, I must share what a Hindi films fan shared with me. He had once asked me if I could recall one single situation in a movie where five of the Dada Saheb Phalke award winners figure. I tried but could not think. The answer was in K Asif's magnus opus, Mughal-e-Azam during the song, Pyar kiya to Darna Kya. The song features Prithviraj Kapoor, Durga Khote, Dilip Kumar. It was sung by Lata Mangeshkar and the music was composed by Naushad. All have won the award.

By Pankaj Vohra:
Blog: Contenders for Phalke award