Sunday, December 27, 2009

finally a concept...

After dabbling with like some six to seven ideas for a film. i have finally come to the one idea that i think i should develop into a film. Its an idea that excited me so much that i started writing in the middle of the night. yeah call it a cliche, but thats how it happens to writers or "wannabe" writers like me. Something that should strike to you and you should be doubly convinced that you HAVE to tell this story to people out there. Either they will love it or hate it or whatever, but its a story that you really want to tell. Its a story that has not been told or has not been seen in this way, the way i want to show you.

Conviction my boy, Conviction is the word that was told to me. That whenever one wants to make a movie, there should be enough conviction on your side to write, research, present, get it financed, give your 2 years minimum to this story and that movie ultimately. Right now, i just want to write on a rough paper and keep on making a collection of such rough papers. somethings i know about the story and somethings i need to research. and what a research it can be. I really would love to see it shaping up. Our people should love this story. lets see if it turns out to be good.

As of now, very excited.

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Avatar - a revolution in cinema

No spoilers ahead.

I dont know what response did Citizen Kane get when it released. But it surely did revolutionize the way movies were made around the world. To sound "so cool and intelligible" as some of my colleagues would put it, Citizen Kane introduced the world to deep focus photography, as we were told in lectures. There was a unique way invented through which the film was shot. "The foreground was shot first, with the background dark. Then the background was lit, the foreground darkened, the film rewound, and the scene re-shot with the background action." i quote from wikipedia, so i dont appear intellectual but just someone who is seeking information. For seekers, there is more here, on how Citizen Kane had amazing shooting techniques.

Like Citizen Kane and Jurassic Park, Avatar too is a big step forward in revolutionizing Cinema. Avatar is the first big-action movie to be shot entirely in digital 3D with the help of Peter Jackson's effects company, Weta Digital in New Zealand. For more details, click here.

While watching Avatar at the IMAX screen in Mumbai, it is hard not to get mesmerized by the visuals and the fact that how they were brought to life. How were those images created in the first place. Woody Allen says that once the film is ready in the autuer's mind, every step from there on is a step downwards for that film. The thought is the most purest one. Writing, Shooting, Editing slowly kills the movie what it was originally supposed to be. I wonder how would have James Cameron had that first image in his mind. Now before i start raving about Avatar, i had a problem sitting through that half an hour extra-stretched "typical hollywood" climax. Blame it on those 3D glasses. But then 20th Century Fox had to get that 1200 million dollars back, so the Climax with a Hero triumphing over the humans is important. On second thoughts, aint we love the movies like that? I sincerely loved it, if it was not for those irritating 3D glasses. At one point of time i too started hating the humans, and thank you James Cameron for that. Its been some time since i watched a movie while knowing its commercial story elements yet having that gut feeling to support the Pandora guys called Na'vis, and shouting when "Toruk makto" comes flying. Wow. I was transported to Pandora.

As a kid, I remember shouting and cheering in the stalls of Novelty theatre, Grant Road for Sanjay Raj Malhotara of Model School in that Cycling championships during the climax of "Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar". James Cameron took me there. Novelty has been shut now. And this is the first James Cameron movie to come in the Multiplex era. There is no connection here, but just blogging.

There is more to explore on the intricacies of Avatar and its relation to Hindu Mythology, the idea of Vishnu, the blue colored Na'vis etc. But as of now, just watch film for its sheer pleasure. The reading can be done later. Infact, here is a wonderful explanation of the connect of Hindu mythology to the film's concept.

The only fact that i am afraid of is, after almost 27 years when i have started getting a hang of cinema and movie-making, the concepts of cinema have started changing. As if the technology - HD to Video to 35 mm to 16 mm was not enough - now 3D, digital workstations, Live Action are becoming the norm, what's next - the "sense of smell" while you watch a film??

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

China should be legally prosecuted...

Under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code individuals in possession of an inaccurate map of India can be charged or tried legally. China on its Chinese Google version shows Arunachal Pradesh as a part of their country.

How dare they do this? What the hell is the Indian government in Centre doing. I know a Google map may not make such a difference, but then thats what the world turns to when they want any smallest bit of information. I think this is nothing short of a crime and please lets get these Chinese fuckers dragged into a legal battle.

As if they have not done enough to the world by producing those cheap stupid versions of electronic products, now they have started taking on people and their homes. Tibet ki toh already vaat lagaa chuke hain. And Google is like a morose donkey who doesn't even research into the facts and publishes whatever their task masters asks to do. Highly highly not accepted from Google and well, as of Chinese - "saalo tumhare toh khoon mei gandgi hai...". Read the following rediff article.

Better: i think its time to visit Arunachal before the government of India lets it slip from its hands. By the way, there already exists a "permission" to be signed before u enter the state. Last time i had sent a letter to Arunachal Bhavan in Delhi and they never responded. This time i will make sure i write the letter and post it on the blog and make it famous - facebook, orkut, whatever be the source.

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Best of 2009 Hindi film music and my Ten Commandments to hear this year

One can almost call it the end of the year for all the music scores that had to come from hindi films OSTs, and well, unlike last year, this year had some good music infact some great music scores. It has always been the case with hindi films - the soundtrack and the songs have been better than the films in their content. The best example last year: Rab ne Bana Di Jodi - what a wonderful harmonium used in "haule haule" and an amazing title track sung by roopkumar rathod and yet the film, well one couldn't thank Rab for ending it.

This year, i have chosen ten best songs that represent a particular 'mood'. Songs or soundtrack that take you back to your own times, paint your own memories and create a definite 'mood' with the power of their words, their music and no issues if the visuals couldn't support the words or the melody - its ok. The song matters, if the visuals can add to it - then good, if not - we are listening.

1. Song: Aisi Sazaa
Film: Gulaal

The most haunting voice to emerge since a long time. Shilpa rao. She had shown a few shades of her brilliance in the movie Aamir's song: "Ek Lau". But in Gulaal, she was on another level. Agreed, the song has shades of Nino Rota's The Godfather theme. But the haunting voice, the words, the rain in the middle of the song will remain for you forever. Highly Recommended to hear this song in "saanp jaisi kaali raat mei...". Shame on the Gulaal team to not include the full song in the final print in theatre.

2. Sorry for the bias. But no. 2 is again
Film: Gulaal.
Song: "Duniya" by Piyush Mishra.

Its one thing to lament a generation and another to write and compose the kind of poem like "Duniya" Piyush Mishra writes, sings and composes with all his heart - ah! finally a complete poet that we hindi musicwallas were looking for. Sameer, Rahat Indori, Dev Kohli - get lost. We have had too much of you guys. And add to the fact that Mr. Mishra was taking on a Guru Dutt-Sahir Ludhianvi poem that is already considered a legend. Any inch of its original word used or any original note of its music, if played around, could have lead to blasphemy for him. But listen to Gulaal's "yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai..." and look around our world and television, it is easy to draw the parallels. Touching!

3. Song & Film: Kaminey (title track)

How can a Gulzarsaab-Vishalji's amazing amazing melody not feature in the first three. It really has the mood i was mentioning in the above paragraphs. Even in a crowded train it has the power to transport you to the hills, even in your busiest meetings, it has the power to lead you to introspecting your life. Much powerful than their previous collaboration "O saathi re..." from Omkara

How many in our country can write:
"kabhi zindagi se maanga pinjare mein chaand laado...
kabhi lal ten leke kaha aasman pe tango...."

And note the best part. All these exceptional songs are always sung by their creators. Like Tendulkar saves his best for Australia. The last two being the perfect examples.

4. Song: Masakali
Album: Delhi 6

Fact 1: Not many years in recent history can boast of top three songs without an AR Rahman number, and that too when a Rahman fanatic is preparing his list of songs.
Fact 2: There's no better voice than Mohit Chauhan for a romantic ballad. Sanu-da is passe.

If effervescence is a state of mind than Mohit Chauhan surely knows how to deliver the perfect notes. Masakali is a gem of a composition with its melodious accordion and delightful words like "kasbe", "khoonche", "nukkad", "basti", "colony" - ahaa! kya baat hai.

5. Song: Nayan Tarse / Emotional Atyaachaar
Album: DevD

What would have been DevD without Amit Trivedi? Nayan Tarse for me takes the cake in the album. The song also has the distinction of being heard for the maximum number of times on my iPod. The trumpet, the beat, the flow creates a definite mood and again the composer singing the song himself. Some of you who are still reading will be surprised to know that my group of friends and me were the "firsts" to hear the "emotional atyachaar" rough cut version when Mr. Kashyap had come to Jamia in Delhi during Dec-Jan 2007-08. The song had just come to him by email and he was very excited to make people hear from his Macbook. Frankly, i was wondering what is so exciting about these words "emotional" and "atyaachaar" and look what a nation-wide craze it became. Its almost that this song could get people into theaters to watch DevD. Talk about tapping the market and knowing the pulse. Mr. Kashyap - Mighty impressed...

6. Song: Aaj Din Chadeyaan
Film: Love Aaj Kal

Saif ali Khan as Sardar waiting on the streets of Kolkata - staring at the opposite balcony - misty morning- the simple salwaar-kameez clad girl appears and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan sings the song in the background. The ONLY one moment i felt in love with Love Aaj Kal. Pritam - hindi film's most in-demand music composer makes to the list.

Maanga jo mera hai, jaata kya tera hai
maine kaunsi tujhse jannat maang li...
Kaisa khuda hai tu, bas naam ka hai tu
rabaa jo teri itni si bhi na chali...
Jeeti rahe sultanat teri, jeeti rahein aashiqui meri...

Well done, Irshad Kamil.
The poet to look forward to.

7. Song: Sapno se bhare naina
Film: Luck by Chance

Partly coz the way the song is shot in the film. Everyone has been to those stupid interview rounds in their various stages of life. Before that one interview, many of us go to the loo and love to look at ourselves in mirror and ask - "will you make it?" And then the plethora of candidates for that one job, and you thinking, i am better than them - "Sapno se bhare naina, toh neend hai na chaina....". Watch out for the Casting candidates Edit cuts, their mobile numbers, names, acting styles and their confidence. yes...partly life is about Luck by Chance, the title and partly like the film's dialogue - "Manzil hum tak nahi, hum manzil tak jaate hain...". Movies...yay...!!

8. Song: Iktara
Film: Wake up Sid

"Sun rahein hain soodh-boodh hoke tumhe Amit Trivedi...". Hard to come up with a song that can over-shine Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's compositions in the album. Iktara just did that in Wake up Sid. Haven't watched the film yet.

9. Song: Barso Yaaron
Film: London Dreams

For reasons unknown to many, i love this song for its energy and Shankar Mahadevan's love for breathlessness, of which i have always been a fan of. Forget that it featured Ajay Devgan as a rockstar (aaargh..). The composition has a wonderful combination of ebb & tide rhythm and the electric guitar. When Roopkumar Rathod sings without any music piece, it does feel like you are in a stadium and it echoes from one corner to another.

10. Song: Tu he haqeeqat
Film: Tum Mile

Pritam again!!. unbelievable. But yes it is true. Refreshing soundtrack. Javed Ali's voice soars and soars high in this breezy romantic track, and the chorus or the additional singers support him well in this exceptional number from a very good album. Even the title track Tum Mile - Javed Ali version is a very decent composition. How does Emran Hashmi manage the dubious distinction of all the bad films and excellent soundtracks together.

Consolation: Since i love and expect a lot from Salm-Suleiman's compositions, i would add Kurbaan's title track to this illustrious list. "Kurbaan hua.." does have a mood and a feel due to Vishal Dadlani's vocals. The other day when i was in Bandra West walking on Turner Road, Vishal Dadlani passed by me. i thought of telling him that - Kurbaan Hua is sung exceptionally well but then told myself, its ok - next year's resolution is: "To be a part of a music recording session in one of those state-of-the-art studios with good acoustics." What a high can one get while singing, recording and not knowing how many hours passed by.

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The systematic murder of the cultural references and memories of 80s' Generation

Blame it on the “times they are changing” phrase, the generation born in early 80s and the one who started following desi MTV version in 90s, have of lately been so busy in earning and making a mark for themselves that there is a whole set of their childhood memories that is being systematically usurped by the…by whom...actually – I don’t even know where to put the blame.

My dear single screen cinema halls are being wiped out slowly in the name of “intellectual” audience sitting in those posh, grossly priced multiplexes and thinking that dancing on a song or clapping on a dialogue is “oh so low society…”. And the same “intellectual” set of people still paying to watch timeless classics like Wanted, Blue, and Kambhakht Ishq. The obscene prices of Parking, Pop-Corn and Cola. But oh I forgot, my generation is so busy in deciding their “salary package” with the new company or shouting on his/her junior subordinate “ke yeh sab ke liye time kiske paas hai…just pay, relax and enjoy. Its just the weekend. Chill…..

Test Matches too will soon go. I read someone commenting, “Test matches need results for surviving these competitive times”. I remember sitting in Baroda’s IPCL stadium watching Ranji Trophy matches leisurely and since there was no commentator there, I used to sit on the balcony stand and give a commentary for an audience of 14 to 16 odd people. The match was being played between Baroda Vs. Saurashtra. Agreed, even then the audience was not there for a 5 day match but now the debate is out there. People are debating whether to put an end to the Test matches. Its scary.

Indipop, the songs and the bands on which I grew up have all either vanished or merged with movies. Has anyone of lately heard an album from Silkroute, Euphoria, Indian Ocean, Colonial Cousins, Sonu Nigam, Altaf Raja, Mika or even the genius rap guy Baba Sehgal. Agreed some of them were not talented enough, but they had an audience – an Altaf Raja was always appreciated by a certain audience. Today, Indian Ocean, Euphoria keeps performing their numbers in Delhi, Bombay etc. at Live Concerts. Baba Sehgal supports himself by acting in some mediocre serials. Mohit Chauhan, Sonu Nigam, Alisha Chenoi etc have all submitted themselves to films. Where did Remo Fernandes disappear?
I don’t know what happened to Magnasound – the wonderful company who supported all these upcoming artists. Infact such is the situation today – that the desi MTV and Channel V have become everything but Music channels.

Television is not the same – people expect over the top humor, crass acting, lavish sets, spick & span costumes and make up covered faces, either the characters or the background music are permanently shouting on top of their voices, and before you know the camera would have completed its Zoom-in-zoom-out ritual every ten seconds. Newspapers too have followed television.

Even the kids today are so tv. Their mothers have got them systematically trained. I can tell you of so many instances where the kids I have met are asked to behave in “cute” fashion. They need to have a pet toy with a cute name. They need to be wearing flashy frocks and t-shirts. They need to recite the latest songs on TV, speak in English with guests and have to have a hobby when asked – all this while you are still a kid. I heard a kid saying: “Morning school, afternoon dance classes, twice a week French learning classes and what not…They are trying to make their kid look as if I have come there for an audition of a reality show: The Rockstar Kid of 2009.

Train journeys are no more fun for my generation. Infact, people on facebook no more travel by trains. But ironically, they are always busy on discussing the lowest flight fares.

They all want a t-shirt of Che without actually understanding what he stands for. If probed, who’s that on your T-shirt, some may even go on to mistake Che as some music band rockstar. Rockstar he was, but in a different sense altogether.

And finally if you are on facebook, then you have to put it across your friends that “you are happening man”. Life has to consist of all super hit moments – weekends, free gifts, getting high, holiday, watching a rubbish movie, Play Station, speaking the “F” word is so cool and showing the middle finger is very very cool – oh wow – my generation. You know what, you do not have the power to paint or write/create a poetry. By the way some do try to defy the norm and say I paint or I am a poet – but mostly it is for the heck of it. I am yet to come across a genuine one and then Arvinda Adiga expects that "if we teach every child how to paint, that will be the end of the poor in India" Keep dreaming Mr. Adiga. Even if we learn to paint, it will be 3 to 5 - monday, wednesday, friday.

Its like the dialogue in the film Fight Club when Tyler Durden speaks:

“God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.”

Basically I know where to blame now – to the root of all this is the one major divide: There is no middle class left in India – ether you are Elite India else get into the section called Delete India. And every life problem, every diminishing cultural pattern has its root in the above thought. Try connecting it. Of course, I am sure you don’t even have the time to complete this article in one sitting. Your mobile ring must have come up twice, your chat messenger would have pinged twice and oh did someone hear about Google Wave. Its so cool man.. I am on top of technology…aaaaAAArrrrgh…

Shut up….Shut Up…



© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta