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Will ‘Peepli Live’ be India’s Oscar Entry for 2011?

Usually movies come with ratings and reviews which either takes us towards the movie or away from it. But Aamir Khan’s movies come with ‘compulsion’; a ‘must watch’ tag. When Aamir puts himself behind a movie, then all ratings and reviews fly out of the window; and people just want to watch the product at least once. And when that product turns out to be what ‘Peepli [Live]‘ is, we understand what differentiates Aamir from the others.

Everyone has been gushing about the movie; even the media channels who have been mocked at in the movie. The tv channels have accepted it as a backhanded compliment that at least they showed the plight of the farmer, albeit in a sarcastic tone and for TRPs. I would sound repetitive if I said that ‘the movie was great…a satire on the political class and media … authentic … moving’ etc etc. Rather than stating the obvious, let me just say that Shyam Benegal called the movie ‘a landmark film’ on a news channel last week. After hearing the entire discussion, my mind took flight and I started wondering if this movie would be chosen as India’s Oscar entry for the year 2011. Apart from the movie being a fine work of art, a concave view of the farmer’s plight, its also a telling statement on the society. Let me quickly list the things that go in favour of PL:

a. of all the movies that India has sent to Oscars, only 3 movies have been nominated in ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category – Mother India, Salaam Bombay and Lagaan. All three based on people with impoverished background in general, MI and Lagaan based on rural background in particular.

b. having seen the success of Slumdog Millionaire and the various discussions on poverty-porn or poverty sells, PL seems to be just the kind of movie that the jury may favor.

c. most movies that were sent as India’s entry were barely showcased due to lack of funds. We have previously seen how Aamir and Ashutosh gave it their best in promoting ‘Lagaan’. By virtue of having been there before and done the hardwork, Aamir seems to be the ideal producer who can promote the movie. And also, his credibility can bring in the jurors and critics to give his movie a dekko.

Peepli [Live] works on all levels, it tells a great tale in a fascinating manner. The story itself is not all that new, a general apathy displayed by the political class and the discontent of the poor innocent villager. But the media-hawks flying down to the epicenter of the drama and the various bureaucratic procedures/hurdles gave the entire proceedings a satirical tone. Who can forget that line “We are waiting for the High Court orders” being oft repeated or the invasion of privacy where a man cannot answer nature’s call without the presence of security and tv cameras. What have we come to? Reporters/journalists chasing mal-mutra for TRPs!

I have this weird feeling that the movie has a better chance of winning the Oscar[because of above reasons] than of being selected as India’s entry. Within India itself there would be much debate on which movie to be sent to the Oscars. Another movie that comes immediately to mind, which could give competition to PL is LSD.

Technically, LSD is on par with what the western audience has already experienced before in Paranormal Activity etc. A movie that does not look like one, the rough-cut and the jagged edge gives it that extra bit of authenticity; and the story-telling is very understated. The movie does not make a statement, does not ask questions, does not prove anyone wrong or right, does not lecture on ways of life and living; and yet it does all of the above in a very subliminal way. Considering technical finesse, story-telling and the real world story that it chooses to tell, LSD would be a good choice too.

Finally, let me come to my worst fear. Yes, I think you guessed it ! MNIK could just prove to be the dark horse. And the only reason why this could be chosen would be that it sends out a message of unity and the shunning of Islamophobia. And no better country to send out such a message than India. If we see from the government’s perspective, they would rather send a movie that shows India in good light than a PL or a LSD. So, if MNIK gets chosen I would not be surprised at all. Moreover, SRK is an equally recognized face all over the world and would manage to promote the movie well; but I am not so sure about the credibility factor.

Let me hastily add that I have not spoken about any regional cinema here. As much as I have read and watched them, I am not sure any of them could make it. But you never know the way I&B ministry works; we could all be in for some surprise. But my personal choice would be Peepli [Live]. Let me know what you think.

This post was first published on PFC



 
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Posted by on August 25, 2010 in bollywood, movies

 

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My name is Khan, and I am not a perfectionist

mnikI had no plans of watching this movie. So, all of Friday evening and Saturday morning I kept looking for tickets of Ishqiya and Valentine’s Day; so I could celebrate love on that day. But thanks to the ‘n’ number of prints of MNIK, other movies hardly had any good show-timings. I left it at that and just shutdown the laptop.

Come Sunday morning and something had to be done, we drove round the city from Koramangala to Marathalli, heading for Forum Value Mall. But soemthing inside made me take a right at this junction and stop at Innovative. I wanted to quickly run-in and check if Ishqiya was still available but no, I was a bit late for that. With no choice left, I picked up 2 tickets for MNIK for 3pm.

2.50pm, and we were outside the auditorium. We walked in quitely and sat in our seat. In a few moments I was beaming with pride. Fox-Searchlights presents… wow! Fox presenting an Indian movie, that really felt nice. The movie had hardly begun and SRK had already mouthed the lines ‘MNIK, and I am not a terrorist’. Quite a few people turned up late for the show, but they did not miss a thing. The movie was far too slow for that.

Within 50 minutes I was yawning and did not know where to rest my head, on my shoulder or in my palms covering my eyes. The movie was nauseatically manipulative. When a director makes the audience feel for the character, it works well. But when he tries to force something down the throat, all we can do is puke. Here, I did not feel anything for the character because there was no build-up. We could easily see-through the motive, and how contrived it was; just to get the audience to react emotionally. The message was nice, there are just good and bad people. But they went on and on with it; not sparing a sinlge opportunity to use this line to effect.

mnikLot of things were loud, as expected in Karan Johar movie. But I would not like to blame him entirely. SRK was the co-producer and he must take blame for the bad product too. Let me shed light on some of the glaring and obvious over-statements of the movie. All through the movie SRK is in blazer and trouser and other essential casuals. But during the 9/11 homage, he turns up in a blistering white pathan-suit and with a skull-cap. WTF! Why did he suddenly go out of character? And if that was not enough, he suddenly starts chanting verses from Quran, only to exaggerate the Islamic-phobia. That was a dis-service to the the community, more harm than good was achieved and Karan stereotyped the faith. All through Rizvan’s childhood, they neither showed him offering namaz; nor did he ever witness his ammi offering one. But conveniently they slip him into namaz mode only because they happened to write a golden line ‘namaz neeyat se padhi jaati hai’. Intentions are good, no doubt; but over-exaggerated, trying hard to pull every string of human emotions.

Another point of contention is Kajol’s addressing of SRK. Pre-marital mode, she called him Rizwan; but suddenly after marriage she starts calling him Khan. Who calls their hubby by their surname or last-name? But no, Karan Johar cannot cinematically drive home a point; so he has to drill it down by way of dialogs. So, we know that Khan caused the problems and not Rizvan. And last of my complains is with meeting-the-Prez scene. It was shown that SRK did not like shaking hands and he just says a ‘Hi’. But when he meets the Prez, he shakes his hands. No problem with that at all, special situations call for special greeting. But, he says ‘Salaam Walekkum’ to the Prez and not a ‘Hi’. Why? Why in the name of Lord would he do that, if not to show an Islamic pride. I would not have minded this, if he had greeted everyone in the movie with ‘Salaam Walekkum’, but he chooses that moment to say it. How suggestive is that?

As already mentioned before, the movie was long drawn and boring. Kajol’s wailing scene was overdone, reminded me of Karishma’s screech in Fiza; but Fiza at least deserved that scene. Here its done only to make sure that Kajol walks away with all the awards. I am quite sure SRK will also win awards and accolades for it, and not just Indian felicitation but international awards too. Karan will have some more trophies to adorn his showcase. But, do they deserve it! That’s the question they should ask themselves.

Rizvan Khan could have been a simple man with simple needs and how he reacts to post-9/11. But they chose to make him autistic because it suited the purpose of trying to show the inherent innocence of the character and his lack of knowledge of the way this world works; thereby seeing people in black or white with no shades of gray. I felt Jimmy Shergill’s character should have had a better progression than SRK’s, simply because he has done all the hardwork and obtained a scholarship, he has been loyal to the country and still his wife comes under fire. So, his charcater should have grown more and some substanial points should have been made through him. But Karan used Jimmy as a prop, that was a wrong move.

I have one last issue to bring up. Instead of first tackling and speaking about how muslims are discriminated in US, shouldn’t SRK see that back-home in India, in fact in western part of Inida, there were 2 major riots; Gujarat riots and Bombay riots. So, first let us solve our issues and douse the fire at home, then talk about the problems that muslims, not just Indian muslims, face in US. But they don’t have the balls to do that. Firstly, the movie may have got stuck with censors and if not, then the people on other side of the fence would have opposed the release of the movie. So, they took the more convenient path of blaming all ills on the general intelligensia and taking liberty in showing FBI’s iron-fist and tough security measures at airports; thereby generating more sympathy for the character. I would rather watch a stark portrayal of the after-effects of riots in movies like Parzania, Firaaq, Aamir than watch a glossed up and emotionally manipulative movie like this. These guys should just stick to candyfloss stuff rather than take such serious issue and make a mockery of it. By the way, can anyone tell me what was khan’s SSN number and what kind of visa was issued to him?

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2010 in bollywood, movie review, movies

 

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Why MNIK Should Not Be Watched By Mumbaikars!

Let me say in the very beginning that I am not a follower or a sympathiser of Shiv-Sena. I hate their brand of divisive politics and this post has nothing to do with Shiv-Sena’s tirade against SRK.

While the entire media and section of Bollywood rallied behind the star, SRK, in support of his statements; he was amiss. When all fans and film fraternity is trying to get the movie to release in Mumbai, SRK is busy with its premiere in Abu Dhabi. That’s one of the biggest reasons why Mumbaikars should not watch the movie. While the fans are standing by the star, he is not to be seen. I expected SRK to be in Mumbai and urge the crowd to come, watch the movie with him and thumb-down Shiv-Sena etc. But instead, he has chosen the easy path of twittering and making statements. This is general apathy shown towards his genuine fan and I would hate to watch the movie for this very reason.

Another fact is the kind of publicity stunts he is pulling to get maximum eyeballs. Since most of us know the theme of the movie, he is swaying towards Dubai, Pak and Mid-East so his movie is well received in those places; thereby taking Indian audience for granted, WTF!

His chest-thumping statements after IPL auction was ridiculous, to say the least. He said that he would have picked up Pak cricketers in the auction, had he been there. What??? In this day and age of communication, and with SRK being brand ambassador of Airtel and Nokia, could he not have been in-touch with his co-owners during the bidding! Could he not have sent a word to the KKR representatives that so-and-so Pak player is worth his salt and should be picked. But NO. He chooses the easy path of crying foul after the entire event is over. Thereby keeping his fan-base in Dubai and Pak happy and satisfied. He does not want to lose the fan-base there, for obvious reasons. How else is he gonna dance in lavish weddings in Dubai? The irony is that, these very guys will be circulating pirated cd/dvd of the movie.

Coming to the part of his false claims and statements, another publicity for his movie. He recently made a mention of full-body scan in an airport in Uk and autographing the print-out of the scans! The airport authorities came out strongly against this vicious lie stating that they ‘only scan’ and ‘do not have printers’ in the scan area. Hence, his scans could not have been printed at all.

A few months back, he cried hoarse about security measures in US, when he was detained for questioning. The Prez of India did not make an issue when he was cross-checked, Kamal Hasan and Mammooty did not cry foul; then why was our King Khan pissed. Simply becasue he saw an opportunity of bringing his movie into limelight and drawing maximum mileage and cheap publicity; to keep the movie alive in people’s minds and of course to drive home the theme of the movie.

This movie is very important to SRK. Firstly because he has co-produced it and so a lot is at stake. He knows that by angering the Shiv-Sena he can gather maximum publicity from it. Secondly because his numero-uno position is being challenged, Akshay’s and Aamir’s movie have earned more than his movies in the last 5 years. And lastly, his IPL venture and his tv-show have been a mega-flop and he needs to prove himself again.

Anyways, I just wish that his blind-fans can see through this facade and trash his movie. So, Indians in general, and Mumbaikars in particular, please don’t watch the movie for SRK.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2010 in bollywood, indian politics, movies

 

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