Monthly Archives: July 2010
It came as a rude shock to me when I learnt that Ravi Baswani is no more. He passed away today, due to a major cardiac arrest. In another 2 months he would’ve celebrated his 65th birthday, but fate had other plans.
Last week sometime I was reading an interview of his where he was questioned about the reason for doing such few movies and he candidly said that he did not wish to be typecast as a faltering bumpkin. All the roles that he got after the success of Chashme Buddoor and the critically acclaimed Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron was that of a comedian. But we all know that Ravi Baswani was more than a comic actor, he had potential for lot more, but no opportunity to showcase that.
In JBDY itself he portrayed a range of emotions, from being a scared-shit guy who does not wish to visit the park at night, to the dismayed guy at the railway station who does not wish to travel ticketless, to a harmless flirt who tries to woo ShobhaJi in his photo-studio, to an idealist who believes in the system and hopes something good will come of it. His act as ‘Sudhir’ was not just something we could relate to, but also somebody we could empathise with. JBDY was his best work to date, next only to his debut movie Chashme Buddoor.
In Chashme Buddoor, Ravi played the bike-riding college student so effortlessly. The scene where he gives lift to Wini Paranjpe and she just runs away into her boyfriend’s arms while he watches on, was fantastic. I am always in splits when I see this scene, not once it has failed to make me smile. The manner in which he begs for udhaari from the paanwala and promises to pay back the moment he receives money from his dad is so well done. Playing a typical student character is not that easy because there is more room to make it caricaturist, but he stopped short of that buffonnery. His foils in the bike and interaction with Deepti Naval is a laug-riot. The manner in which he escapes down the pipe of the building when Miss.Chamko comes home for a demo or the way he tries to start his bike, putting his whole weight on the ‘kick-start’ lever but being unable to start the vehicle, all so funny. He made us laugh so easily without looking or acting stupid. His comic timing was a gift.
Although both the movies had fabulous stars like Nasseerruddin Shah, Om Puri, Satish Shah, Pankaj Kapoor, Rakesh Bedi and many more, Ravi held his own. He wasn’t overshadowed by the other performances, in fact his performance became much better.
The last I recall his presence onscreen was in Laadla where he played the factory worker alongside Anil Kapoor. In all the scenes, he was seen mouthing famous tag-lines from ads; be it ye araam ka mamla hai, apan ka choice ka mamla hai or the pepsi tag yehi hai right choice baby during the factory elections; he mouthed them all with such aplomb.
Of course, there was an odd KHKN and Bunty Aur Babli, but nothing substantial to speak of. In his last interview he did say that he was planning to direct a movie, but that shall not happen now. His last wish to direct, to be behind the camera, will sadly go unfulfilled.
To me it seems as if Ravi did his best work in the very beginning of his career. JBDY and Chashme Buddoor will be counted amongst the most entertaining movies and that speaks a lot for the characters involved with it. And Sudhir, as an idealist, will be remembered for a long long time. So, will Ravi Baswani. Everytime someone laughs while watching his movies, it will be a homage to the comic talent of this man. May his soul rest in peace.
This post was first published on PFC
Honda’s Un-named Car
Bajaj’s Small Car
“Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” – Aaron Levenstein.
The box-office report of Raavan and Housefull is out there for everyone to see and infer what they want to. And when I say Raavan, I actually am talking about movies like Dil Se, Gulaal, Firaaq, Parzania etc; and when I say Housefull, I actually am referring to movies like Welcome, SiK, Kambakht Ishq etc. Obviously, these are movies of different genres but the one thing common is that, they were all on exhibition in theatres, multiplexes etc and we know the fate of all of these movies.
So, what lessons do we learn from the BO reports. I don’t know because I am neither a critic nor a movie maker or a trade analyst; just an avid movie watcher. And here are some of the things that I have come to realise, over a period of time.
Story & Screenplay Why bother writing about problems of people in the relief camps of riot affected victims or the inspector trying to track down the goons involved in Bombay bomb blast or a radio-journalist trying to interview an ULFA terrorist or the caste/class divide in red-alert zones of Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh? We don’t want to see such non-existing issues which are hyped by media. We want to see what issues a common man faces. We want to see how a bartender in London handles the visit of his father-in-law, we want to see how a ‘panauti’ copes with life and wife, we want to see whether Uday Shetty is able to find a suitor for his sister, an intelligence agent walking around with a lie-detector and how a bumbling sikh becomes King of Australian mafia. These are the real issues we are plagued with.
Characterisation This is one area where Mani, Anurag and others really need to work upon. I mean, why take pains in writing the character graph of Dukey Baana when people are happy with Aarush; why write Meghna and Preeti when people actually want bimbos like Deepika Padukone and Lara Dutta, why sketch Amar Mathur and Beera when Riteish Deshmukh is able to make people laugh at his stupid antics? Who is watching the growth and maturity of a character! People are busy sniggering at the immaturity of the 3 hunks with a baby, and the reverse growth of stars like Akshay Kumar. And then, someone like Anurag comes along to give us Rananjay SIngh. What! Is that a real name? What happened to the Raj’s and Rahul’s and Gupta’s and Malhotra’s. Give the characters a real name, please!
Locations & Cinematography Why does someone like Mani Ratnam go to all these beautiful locales in North-East (Dil Se) or the Malshej Ghat and Athirapalli Falls (Raavan)? Why did Anurag Kashyap make a movie in backdrop of Rajasthan in Gulaal? To bring a level of authenticity to the story-telling! But who needs that? People are happy watching an entire cast camped and cramped in a rented mansion (Housefull, SiK, Welcome). So, what if the mansion only has a few rooms, a big dining hall, a grate, huge portraits of prententious people and some make-believe classic paintings. We want to see that, nothing else. Please don’t show us serene environments, breath-taking views and sceneries of visual pleasure. We neither want authenticity nor aesthetics. We are not concerned about how scenes are shot because we are not here to appreciate beauty and splendor.
Music & Lyrics Someone really ought to stop Gulzar from penning songs. What were the lyrics of Satrangi Re, Ranjha Ranjha and Thok De Killi? We don’t want songs that make sense, force us to think, create visual imageries. And Piyush Mishra be damned with the Ranaji song and his stupid take on Ye Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaye To Kya Hai. See, that’s exactly what everyone these days are telling, ye duniya agar mil bhi jaye to kya hai! So, please stop penning such outdated songs and give space to the new breed lyricists who say ‘O Girl You Are Mine’ and ‘Hush Hush Hush, Papa Sleeping’. See, now these sound like some real song and are so convenient to sms our friends. And what was Rahman trying to prove with his tunes in Dil Se and Raavan and many others; that he is Mozart From Madras! Has he not heard of Pritam and his ilk who struggle day and night to create original tunes which leave a lasting impression! With whom is Rahman, Vishal and others competing? Take a break dude! We want songs like Bhootni Ke, Bebo Mai Bebo and not something silly like Behne De, Dil To Bachcha hai Ji and Aarambh Hai Prachand!
Direction This definitely is the most over-rated job. I mean, any Tom Dick and forget it, can become a director. We have had action directors and stuntmen become directors, choreographers turned into directors, photographers and ad-film makers took to direction; and sometimes we have had entire movie being ghost-directed. So, who the hell needs the sophistication of Mani Ratnam or the detailing of Anurag Kashyap or the perfection of a Bhansali or the hardwork of Ashutosh Gowariker, please call on a spot boy to take the next shot.
Production/Finance This has to be the toughest job of all. I mean, if you approach Nadiadwala with script of Swades or Gulaal, then he will need so much time to mull over it because the movies are so unchallenging and silly. And what about all the criticism he will have to face for a good product. Its so much easier to produce a ‘Housefull’ where you have your friends and relatives on the sets having a party; my God, its such a stress-buster. No wonder SRK was so relieved when he produced OSO & MHN but was so tensed about Chak De and Swades because he was not producing such tacky works.
Actor/Actresses The last piece in the jigsaw, did I say last! They ought to be the last, but they are often the first ones to be onboarded in a project. Everything else revolves around them. With my limited knowledge, I assumed that a bound script, location finalisation, camera angles are decided first; and then actors/actresses come into picture. But no, actors make the movie their personal statement; often changing lines and locations to suit their needs. After all, its so difficult to extract good performances from Nandita Das and Seema Biswas; but its so much easier to cast Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif. Oh! please don’t wonder and let me explain. Whatever be the movie, the set, the location; they are consistently bad. They can give you the same expression in the bedroom/bathroom/drawing-room with such perfection, 100% strike rate. They don’t even have to get into the skin of the character, they are the character. Imagine how difficult it would be if actors got so intense that they cannot get the character out of their head. Its so much easier to cast Tushar Kapoor and Fardeen Khan who can walk in and out of characters as if they were changing clothes.
Coming back to the quote on statistics, what it reveals is the changing taste buds of the audience and what it conceals is a dangerous trend of dumbing down the audience as they lap up bad movies without blinking.
A Question To The Movie Critics And Reviewers I know you guys did not approve of Kambakht Ishq and Housefull and gave it 2 or 2.5*, maybe more. But, didn’t Dil Se and Raavan also get the same stars? So, don’t you see any difference between Raavan and Housefull! Was Raavan all that bad or was Housefull all that good? I am actually amazed that all the great performances in Housefull was neglected, all the fantastic music and lyrics went unobserved, all the pains taken by the film crew to shoot in such difficult location of the various bedrooms of the mansion was ignored. And in Raavan, we promptly noticed camera slip-ups, shoddy performances and the carelessness with which certain scenes were shot. I mean, how can you compare an auditorium filled with intellectual dignitaries rolling with the effect of laughing gas and a silly shot where Ash is just falling down a waterfall, clinging onto a branch and then slipping again; how tacky! Shouldn’t both movies have been reviewed without prejudice and bias, based on their individual merits and using the same yardstick. Then how did both these movies get the same kind of rating?
A Question To The Movie Go-ers Do we watch a movie to have a good time and nothing else? Even if we are looking at entertainment, was Housefull all that entertaining and Dil Se all that dull and boring. Did the movie Welcome make more sense than Gulaal? Why don’t we watch movies which go beyond the obvious, which makes a point and brings an issue to light. Or are we merely looking for cheap humor and titillation, hollow entertainment and slipshod quick movies.
And Finally Why should someone make a Raavan and be lambasted when he can easily make a Housefull and get away?
This post was first published on PFC
A woman went to police station to file a report for her missing husband.
Woman: I lost my husband
Inspector: What is his height?
Woman: I never noticed
Inspector: Slim or healthy?
Woman Not slim, can be healthy
Inspector: Color of eyes?
Woman: Never noticed !
Inspector: Color of hair?
Woman: Should be black, I guess!
Inspector: What was he wearing?
Woman: I don’t remember exactly.
Inspector: Was somebody with him ?
Woman: Yes my Romeo (Labrador dog) , tied with a golden chain, height 30 inches, healthy, blue eyes, blackish brown hair, his left foot thumb nail is slightly broken, he never barks, wearing a golden belt studded with blue balls, he likes non-veg food, we eat together, we jog together.
The woman started crying ….
Inspector: Let’s search for the dog first!!!!!!!
Dasvidaniya as predicted, was a nice solemn movie. I liked
the movie in bits and overall, but here and there I felt the
screenplay was a little weak. Especially in the second half, it just
meandered for a while before it came to a fine ending.
I loved Vinay Pathak [amar kaul] in the movie, but I did not like the
hair-do. I have a grouse against all directors as to why should the
hero sport such hairdo to look innocent and genteel. Why can’t
genuinely good people not have a good hairstyle. Why should surinder
sahni comb his hairs that way or why should akshay have his hair
partition from that low[just above the ears as in dhadkan/dtph/yeh
dillagi]?? Why can’t the normal hairdo work??
Talking about weird hairdo’s, well ranvir shorey also sported one. And since he was the first flamboyant charatcter that amar kaul came across, he modelled his inner voice on this character. That was a nice
touch, but the inner voice was a little too loud; subtlety would have
As we all know that the movie is about amar having to face an untimely
death and how he prepares a list of things to do before he dies, the
scene in the hospital where he is informed of this was really well
done; the expression on his face, the crashing of hopes etc. Let me
take you through the movie by way of his ‘to do list’:
1. New car: all of us have dreams of buying a house/car/bike and it
gives us immense pleasure when we actually own one, amar kaul was no
different; he too desired for one but may have postponed it for later.
But now that he has no time, he has to live by the list and fulfil his
desire. So, he buys a shining red chevy. He also happens to see his
brother in the showroom but they don’t feel like acknowledging each
other’s presence; the reason for which is explained later. The joy and
pride in his mom’s words and actions looked so very natural.
2. Guitar: i have always wanted to learn to play a musical instrument
and this story-track just reminded me of my unfulfilled wish. Another
cliche, I don’t know why all guitar teachers have to be goan or
anglo-indian? Anyways, amar kaul goes on to gift his chevy to his
guitar guru; nice touch.
3. Boss ka boss: this track was the most hilarious one, saurabh shukla
was fantastic as the “chomping glory” and his body language was enough
to display his superiority. The detail to minute things was seen when
the boss comes out of his cubicle and walks towards amar kaul’s seat
not knowing where his seat is; really ironical. Another instance was
the bullying sequence where amar and his boss are clothed in school
uniform and it follws the “kya-kuchh nahi” pattern. The moment a movie
induces you to root for any character, we can safely say that the
movie is successful in bringing out the pathos. When amar spills the
beverage on his boss’s head it callled for three cheers.
4. Neha : getting back to someone is one of the toughest thing to do,
especially getting back to someone you loved. Amar’s first and only
love[until then] is still etched in his memory. And making it a point
to meet her was one of the things he wanted to do. He does meet her,
but in what circumstances – she is happily married with a kid. He
still gathers courage and tells her that he has always loved her since
her childhood days; and the manner in which he conveys this is
brilliant, dumb-charade style coz some things are best not said but
5. Rajiv jhulka : its so true that we make the best of friends during
childhood days. Later on, we just make associations as in
college-mates, classmates, study partners, colleagues but rarely a
friend; rajiv jhulka was just that, an old buddy who had grown apart
from amar. Amar decides to meet his long lost friend by way of a
foreign trip. But all his enthusiasm is killed when rajiv’s wife
suspects that amar has landed there to get a free treatment. That was
really heartbreaking and it actually forces him to reconsider living.
Ofcourse the misunderstanding is cleared; but when a broken glass is
joined back the crack still shows. Hence amar does not go back to
rajiv’s house as he wishes to spend the rest of the time on his own.
6. Foreign trip : the trip to russia probably provided the title of
the movie. Well, nothing much was shown aboutt the place becasue that
was not the focus. Just another ‘to do’ item that had to be cancelled
off the list.
7. love [tatiana] : i dont know how far this can be called ‘love’; but
amar likes to call it so. I felt it was more of a situational thing
for both of them, have a guilt-free relationship since they dont have
to take it too far. But amar had never experienced such inbridled fun
and unconditional care/affection, he termed it as love.
8. Vivek : back to his estranged younger brother whom he had seen in
the chevy showroom. He is a director[tv/ads] who now lives separately
because he has been banished from his home. It turns out that he loved
a girl whom his mom did not approve of and so he decided to walk out
of the house as amar could not support his stand. This was very
maturely handled without letting it get too emotional and
melodramatic; there was a pragmatic take on the issue. Vivek does
return home on amar’s request so that he can take care of mom after
amar’s death. Something was missing here, there was not a single scene
of vivek’s wife. I think it got chopped on the editing table. But I
did notice a ‘mtv roadie’ there, sonel singh. She took the call twice
when amar tried reaching vivek. I guess she must’ve played vivek’s
wife; anyways I was surprised to see her.
9. Inform mumma : i had guessed this correctly. People often get to
know of these things by overhearing as in lots of movies. His mother
is terribly shocked and cannot believe it. Here’s where the movie went
a little off-track with amar visting tantric babas etc, that was the
meandering bit. It could have been avoided and a better approach could
have been taken. She should have accepted facts and tried to make his
last days happier, but I guess mom go get frantic and start believing
in all kinds of jadoo-tona; anything that can cure their child.
10. Photo on front page : it finally turns out that amar had planned
his obituary as well and the photo finally appeared on newspaper, but
not on the frontpage.
The movie was a really nice watch and I enjoyed it. By the way, did he
leave anything behind for rajiv jhulka? I don’t think so. He did leave
behind the ‘johny mera naam’ dvd but that was for tatiana.
The movie was heartwarming and made me think for a while that even I
should compile such a list of things to do while I am still alive. So
This post was first published on PFC