Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Box Office ka Raaz - Mr. Bhatt, Mr. Bhatt please teach me something!

While we all keep discussing DevD, Luck By Chance and Slumdog Millionaire – the box office never responds to people like us. If you see the Box office figures, you will come to the conclusions that the janta hardly cares for these films. But, then whom does the box office listen to? The Mystery continues…yes. Raaz by the bay! Sorry. Raaz by the way is declared (or self-declared) as the first Smash hit of 2009. On this, I want to ask 10 basic questions to Mr. Bhatt (Ahem.. any Bhatt for that matter: Vikram, Mahesh, Mukesh, Pooja or the extended family like Hashmi, Mohit Suri and many more)

1. How do you create a formula for a Hit film? I mean genuinely how come you churn out - hit after hit? 1920, Jannat and now Raaz. Have you mastered the art of knowing the pulse of Indian audience?

2. Why has Indian government given rights only to your production house, for importing the perfect music talent from neighboring countries?

3. Is any of your relative still left to make a debut on or off screen?

4. Does Emran Hashmi select the film based on music directors or the directors?

5. After Elaan, why dint you continue with Prabhuji? – The idea of Mithunda as villain is so smashing. Hats off to you guys!

6. Do you have a 4 film per year strategy? – one thriller, one horror, one romantic musical and one directed by a relative/cousin?

7. Does the patriarch of the Bhatt clan still direct, or is he too busy giving opinions to talk shows, news channels?

8. Have you signed a pact with Thailand government to give you concession for the shoots, the way Switzerland gives to some big studios?

9. Are the reports, of directors in your production house directing a film via telephone, really true?

10. And finally, of this list: which only includes your films from past 5 years, which one do you think is the best, or of this which is that one film that the critics applauded.

Raaz 2, 1920, Speed, Life Mein Kabhie Kabhiee, Red, Ankahee, Deewane Huye Paagal, Jurm, Elaan, Awaarapan, Aetbaar, Inteha, Footpath, Awara Paagal Deewana, Raaz, Kasoor, Showbiz, Dhokha, Awarapan, Woh Lamhe, The Killer, Gangster, Murder, Footpath, Holiday, Filmstar, Paap, Kalyug, Nazar, Zeher (sorry if i have missed any!)

Oh by the way, did I forget to tell that nowadays I miss the fun of watching films like Daddy, Saransh, Arth, Ghulam and Zakhm. Bhatt that's an era forgotten!

Friday, February 6, 2009

A free idea for Bear Grylls – the host of Man Vs. Wild: Discovery’s most popular show:

Bear Grylls is the man who hosts the very famous show Man vs. Wild (Born Survivor) on Discovery channel. Now I am not an avid follower of the channel but my young cousins are regular viewers and fans of the show. They explained to me with great enthusiasm that how this guy survives the most challenging kind of environments. In the show, he is often left alone in a certain forest, island, desert, mountains, ocean and other such difficult landscapes and then for the whole episode he will survive there and in turn will teach the viewers how you too can survive in the wilderness. For example he will eat a particular creature and justify how it provides several proteins.

Now as we know that the forest cover, the mountains, the deserts etc are receding (blame it on the global recession) so Bear Grylls will be soon out of ideas and landscapes. So I thought maybe I would pass a few ideas to him so that the show keeps on running and the staff of Discovery is not suffering from recession of ideas.

Dear Bear,
If you think wilderness is only in nature’s lap, then think again. We live in this jungle called Mumbai where there is every kind of species available. If you are left alone here, I am sure you will never be able to get out of here. Neither physically nor mentally. Infact the city will never get out of you. Its what you foreigners like to call “mayajal” - the Hindi word for Matrix. So, then I wont digress from the topic – instead I will give you ten challenging situations and how you solve it - is upto you. But let me tell you if you solve it, which I am sure you will, its wont be a lone achievement, because we, the middle class people of Mumbai – the approximate ten million people of this city daily survive these situations. So dear Bear, here I go:

1. How will you be able to reach to your office at 9 30 am from north of the city to the south district, if you don’t wake up by 6 am. (Challenge: try once getting up at 6 10 am and then try reaching!)

2. How will you enter a Churchgate Fast local train? (Challenge: between 8am to 11am and between 6 45pm to 10 30pm except Sundays. Hint: The rooftop of the train is available)

3. How will you cut through the traffic at Chakala petrol pump? Given any time of day and given that both the sides of road are One Way. (A similar challenge: How will you manage to come from 7 bungalows to Andheri station)

4. How will you manage to escape the sacred spit that the Mumbaikars so generously expel at any given moment and at any given place? (Hint: This is the most toughest challenge)

5. How will you manage to get away from the body odor of the ugly Indian male after your, “no-matter-how-much-duration”, journey in the local train?

6. How will you get out of the home, when the Autos/Cabs suddenly declare a strike (Challenge: and on the strike day, try and enter the BEST bus)

7. How will you remain unaffected by the Sena and their various tantrums day in and day out? (Challenge 1: Speak in Hindi to a Marathi speaking middle-aged man in a local train and see the result. Challenge 2: Thank God, that Marathi almost reads like Hindi, if it wasn’t then you would walk like an illiterate in Dadar. But I’m sure Bear you wouldn’t know how to read Hindi. So step-in at Dadar and dare ask someone something in your language)

8. Try discovering a “solitary” holiday spot around Mumbai for your weekend. (Challenge: within 100kms.)

9. Try finding a job in these “recession” days. (Challenge: if you get a job, try resisting not leaving it, as this city has so much to offer!)

10. And lastly, try passing a week without seeing a dead body lying under the white cloth, unattended, on the railway station.

Mr. Bear with this, I invite you to our urban jungle with open arms. You are welcome – there is always a space for one more.

Luck By Chance! - By Far the best of 2008-09

Jo palkon ke talle hai apne,
Sapney leke chale woh keh do.
Woh chale sambhal ke…

Na karna koi geele
Kahin jo thokar aisi lage,
Ke sapne toote aanson chalke.

Every time I hear these lines, it chokes me. The next few moments are dizzy. Am so not sure about myself then. At times, I stand in the middle of a railway platform stoned, and feel the world around me going in slow motion. What will this life lead to? What if we fail in our ultimate destination? Several such questions crop up. And then comes the best two lines.

Chooney hai taarein isse,
Chahiye saarein isse.

I am sure everyone associated with films who has “struggled” in their careers or are still in the phase of “struggling” – must have emphasized with Sona Mishra, the character of Konkona Sen. And at least for me, when the film ends – its she who is the lead protagonist of the film. And look how easily the writer-director does that in the final scene. The main protagonist for me just flips from Vikram to Sona – When I go out of the theatre, board a bus, reach home, get up next day – who I think about is Sona Mishra. What would have happened to her next? Will she make it big? I give a damn to Vikram! Although I loved him in his grey shades and his witty thinking. But most of us who are/or has struggled have struggled the “Sona Mishra” way. Ya, but for a film its better to show Vikram Jaisingh’s story coz there’s masala in it, there is ambition combined with shrewdness, but lest we forget the resilience of Sona Mishra. Zoya Akhtar showed us that so beautifully with her final scene and the monologue.

As the end titles began, tears came up in my eyes. They were there till I saw the final logos of Kodak, Pixion, Dolby etc. They were still there when I left the hall; they were still there till I boarded the bus.

Acting against the wish of parents. Running away from home. Eating outside at stalls. Piling on (living with) friends. Walking alone on busy streets. Getting paid, but just about. Managing life in that. Feeling alone in the crowd. Yet get up on the next morning with zeal and have a self-belief that we aren’t like the ordinary. We are here to learn, not earn. Isn’t this the kind of life for beginners/strugglers in this city?

Once in Osian’s film festival in Delhi I saw an old woman, on being so impressed by a wonderful Algerian film – The Yellow House, went ahead and hugged the director. The director, Amor Hakkar had just heard the controversy between Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty, so he took permission of the woman before he kissed her hand in return. It was an amazing thing to watch. I felt same after Luck By Chance ended. But this wasn’t a film festival. So somehow got my little contacts and asked a colleague who worked on Luck By Chance to pass my SMS to Zoya. She did and Zoya replied to my colleague’s SMS and asked her to pass it to me. “Wow, wow I can’t tell you the feedback I am getting man, its insane. Thanks for sending this to me”. Your work definitely touched me. Thanks again.

Felt like sending a ticket of Luck By Chance to my parents, relatives, cousins, schoolmates, teachers, professors, family members, neighbors, friends, brothers, sisters, siblings, rivals, enemies - of whom no one is remotely associated with the world of films. Would have quoted them what Sona Mishra’s monologue says in the end. Wont quote here, as it may spoil the fun for people who are yet to see the film.

But even if you are not passionate for cinema - do go and watch the film, the emotion will surely transcend to the professions you all belong to.

P.S: Would have loved to see Vikram JaiSingh eat at Dhabas of Andheri west, catching local trains, sitting in BEST, looking at empty wallets, renting a car to enter a Studio, and then eventually getting a support in the form of Sona Mishra. But then his character belonged to an affluent Delhi family! Anyways, that for later.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What was A R Rahman thinking?

So its all Jai Ho and all ga-ga for the Mozart, but i think the master composer sometimes overlooks a few details. Let me announce at the preset that i am a huge huge Rahman fan and i know there are many like me. i would also like to boast the fact that i can hear any instrument from Rahman's vast library and can tell in five seconds what song is that and where was that instrument again used. for eg: Take the new anthem; "Masakali". Now its a wonderful song, no doubt - the free spirit, the words, the accordion, the voice - all are so well stitched together. But hear the song again. And note a particular thing the composer does at these times in the song. There's a particular background arrangement like out of some 80's B movie. sample this at:


now after you have heard the song, this particular instrument or the arrangement he does at the above mentioned durations is highly highly irritating to the rhythm. Its like someone has placed a bloody Dam and diverted the flow of a melodious river. I mean, in retrospect. what was the need? imagine the song and its melody without that thing he plays - it would not change a bit. I bet it. And i am surprised at the fact that no one even noticed this strange inclusion of the arrangement. neither the Engineers, nor his assistants, nor the director! I am a huge fan of Rakeysh Sir's choice of music and instruments. but this thing sometimes prevents me from listening to Masakali again and again. else i think the song is the best melody that any of the three films of ROM has produced.

Also Rahman sir! If the song Genda Phool would have been longer by one more antra, no one would have minded it.

here's wishing i hear more of you this year!

i still remain a huge fan of yours,

Hardik Mehta