Archive for the 'Movies' Category

Movie Theater On Board

Long time ago the bus operators (especially the luxury kind) figured that they had a bunch of captive (and bored) audience making a long distance journey and one must keep them entertained by showing them movies or atleast playing some songs. Now, I’m not a big fan of their movie/song selections and they are not smart about the way they use the undivided attention of the travellers either, but there is something to keep you occupied (I’ve ended up watching almost all the movies shown to me in buses – whether I liked them or not!). That brings me to the point of railways.

When I was a kid, my dad used to be posted in locations far away from our hometown and every year or half year or so we did our 3/4 day trip across the country back to Kerala. We did our best to keep ourselves entertained, played games, sang songs, told each other jokes, befriended fellow travellers – but it was monotonous for sure with no other avenues of entertainment. I shudder at the thought of long train journeys today even if I have time – mostly because it is extremely boring. One can carry a lot of entertainment devices on board, but sooner or later your power drains out (not all of the trains are equipped with power points either)

Now, what if Railways decided to put a movie theater on board the long distance trains? Would that change the equation? I’m not saying it should be anything fancy – for starters, it could just be a coach converted into a seating-only arrangement (like the shatabdi) and facing towards the movie screen, have show times allocated and only passengers with valid tickets should be allowed based on a fee to watch the movies. Not a very difficult thing to do! In fact, based on the regions that the train passes through, Railways can even consider getting hold of some advertisements from the companies to show the captive audience!

In our country where services like the railways is very utility-driven, will entertainment hold its ground? What do you think?

Future Bollywood Calling…

I think we are ready for the next generation of heroes to take over. If I’ve to take a call from what I see today, I will have to put my bets on three of them:

1. Abhay Deol – I had written about him in a previous blog too. He exudes amazing confidence on the screen. The capability to carry a movie on his shoulder, on one hand and blend into the background, on the other. I think he will go a long way, if he just sticks to doing what he is doing in a calm and composed way.

2. Ranbir Kapoor – He has a brilliance about him that I noticed in the song sequence “Jogi, Mahi, Heer…” of Bachna Ae Haseenon and a mature presence on the screen. He has a natural pace on the dialogue, finds his space in the screen alongside larger than life actors and rises up to the occasion, when required. He is 2nd in my selection for the post of future Bollywood king.

3. Imran Khan – I see a lot of potential in the kid. He really shines in the latest Coke Ad and has a lot of “impish” charm that he can play to his advantage. Though it is the same thing I would hold down against him, in favor of the two actors above. The new age actors seem to maintain an aura about them that doesn’t necessarily emanate from their “boyish” or “impish” charms.

All the best to the new generation of heroes and may the best man win! I wanted to put these thoughts down. It will be interesting to see how each of them evolve over the next few years and then revisit this space.

Remixes Coming of Age

Two recent remixes I heard in very different contexts set me thinking…probably either the remixes have become really good or I’ve move ahead of the olden numbers. I still enjoy most of the 70s and 80s Bollywood songs so I would have to say the former.

The first song I heard was from a new movie “Road, Movie” that is starring Abhay Deol, called “Tel Malish” (although Dev Benegal, Director of the movie refuses to call it a remix – I’ll use a writer’s liberty and use the word anyway). It has a really slick feel to it and gives the song a whole new meaning in the context of the movie. When I first heard the song it was with some skepticism but all that vanished in the first few seconds of listening to it and by the time it was done I had to say wow. Hear it to experience it – here it is.

The second song is part of the new coke ad starring Imran Khan and an invisible coke bottle 🙂 and it is a remix version of the first few lines of an old Rafi song “tum jo mil gaye ho”, again interpreted so well in the current context and set to a very catchy rhythm.  Here it is.

I can’t help but say it again – would love remixes if they did this kind of a magic on old songs. The old songs get a new leash of life and the new ones their due recognition!

Innovative Ad Formats, Irritating too!

Now when I’m watching TV I don’t know whether I’m actually watching a movie, its promo or an advertisement of a product (not even remotely related to the movie!). Not that I care, but in my mind there was a sense of separation between content and advertisement and slowly but surely, it seems to be fading, a step at a time.

While it is interesting to see innovative ad formats, for example Asian Paints doing an ad jig with Karthik calling Karthik actors and using the movies song too, it is equally irritating when I no longer know what I’m being fed. This is where most of the movie content is headed for sure, in-built advertisements. Product placements were not a new phenomena in the movie world but by pulling the actors, movie concept and song out of context ads are daring to create a grey world of their own. I’ve not even begun to talk about the risks involved if the movie were to flop, right?

What do you think? Is it a good idea to have ads revolving around a movie concept timed with its release and leveraging on its promotional activities?

The Kite Runner – Movie Review

I watched Kite Runner, the movie directed by Marc Foster and based on Khaled Hosseini’s book by the same title, recently. It had such a raw quality to it that it set me thinking about fate, honor and circumstances, as perceived by the characters as well as us, in general.

The interesting part of the movie is that it keeps the scenes, the characters and the emotions very real, no overdramatization. The truth and the unrevealed circumstances are so overwhelming that underplaying it was the best tactic could have been used, while taking the story forward.

In the backdrop of the talibanization of Afganistan, the story unfolds – the strange friendship between the protagonist and the servant’s son; the reality of the father of the protagonist who has an illicit affair, and his attempt to keep his honor by ensuring the child grew up as his servants’, in his own backyard; their journey across the seas seeking refuge in America and going from being a landlord to a gas station owner; the servant and his son are left behind to fend the family house; the protagonist and his wife not having a child; the protagonist’s trek back to Afganistan to reclaim the lost friendship, only to realize that the servant’s son was in fact his own half-brother and that all that is left of their relationship is his nephew in an orphanage; his genuine attempt to take the child back home – and ends where it all began, flying kites!

Worth a watch, I must say…

Losing it at the top but staying in equilibrium

I was watching this sci-fi movie called Equilibrium a few days ago. For those who have not seen it, it is about a world without feelings, people are made to take daily dozes of a drug “Prozium” which suppresses their feelings. In this world there is no poetry, music or art, only utility. People who don’t take this medication are titled “sense offenders” and are subjected to execution.

So, it basically has all the movie-associated paraphernalia – action, execution, rebellion, drama (subtle to begin with but the intensity bubbles up within you due to the suppression visible on the scene). Anyhow, to cut a long story short, the sci-fi depicts the emotional turmoil of a highly placed official in the hierarchy, who has crossed over to the other side and is no longer a “believer” or a “supporter” of the system.

It set me thinking about what happens when someone who is at the top echelons in a company/group/society/tribe/battle loses faith in the concept, the hype, the mantra that is being touted as the reason of its very survival? The few options that one can follow and what people do when they follow their heart vs. mind…

1. Stay and fight – This would be open battle, which was the kind Subhash Chandra Bose attempted in his own way and Mahatma Gandhi achieved in his own way. Both stood and fought, refused to believe in what was established and left their mark on the establishment.

2. Quit, but don’t leave – This is a sure sign of self-deception and close to suicide. But many, many people choose to follow this path, convincing themselves of the very many reasons they had come in and refusing to accept the fact that they had changed and that probably promises were not delivered upon. The process of accepting the system, entering it, having faith, fighting for it had changed them – made them different people and now they wanted to do something different. But since they don’t accept it, they don’t leave.

3. Quit, dont’ leave and fight from within (under subterfuge) – This is the path the protagonist of the movie chose. He continued to remain within the system, as he was increasingly accepting his shift to the other side. Perhaps, it can happen more in movies than otherwise that someone overthrew an entire company/sect/tribe/society on his own. It takes time and sometimes centuries for the effect of an idea that was dominant to die and degenerate into a mere story.

4. Quit and leave – Many people do so. When they don’t believe in a cause any longer, people leave. Excuses can be many, but mostly at the top echelons people leave when the belief is dead.

So, how does the sytem deal with it when a senior member does one of the above or more than one of the above in his attempt to reconcile his own changing preferences/personality? What are the measures that a system can take to ensure that a change in a person at the higher ranks does not result in a domino effect on the division/group she is handling? What are the responsibilities of a person at the top vis-a-vis himself and the group for such a thing not affecting the members of the group adversely? This does not have ready answers and leads to the conflict between the person vs. group very often. Anybody, with any good answers/thoughts…pls do share, would love to hear your thoughts.

Third time is a charm…

Whenever I see Abhay Deol (cousin of Sunny, Bobby and Esha Deol, nephew of Dharmendra) on screen, two things come to my mind.

1. How the success/failure of a person as an actor, even before he/she acts, is determined in our minds. In fact it is the same with people, we make judgements in our sub-conscious minds that reflects an instinct that is dormant in us. All the same it is unexplainable and irrational and knows a star when it sees, we know when someone is saying untruth and all this in the “blink” of an eye (pun intended). Some people trust this more than any other proof that is given to them and a few others, use this as a starting point and change their judgements based on actual incidents around them.

2. The phrase “third time is a charm”, as was obvious from the title, of course! However, this third does seem to have worked his charm at the box office and hopefully will salvage the Deol image (beyond being food for comedy shows) going forward in serious cinema.

So here’s wishing luck to the “oye, lucky, oye” boy.

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