Monday, December 5, 2016

Kahaani 2: A Piggyback Ride

Kahaani 2 has a good story. But not as good as Kahaani.

Kahaani 2 is a powerful movie. But not as striking as Kahaani.

Vidya Balan acted well in Kahaani 2.   But she was far excellent in Kahaani.

Kahaani 2 is shot beautifully. But it doesn't show the personality of its geography like Kahaani do, by showing the various moods of Kolkatha.

Arjun Rampal is wonderful as the assured policeman accomplice. But Parambrata Chatterji's vulnerability is missing.

Character actors have done good in Kahaani 2. But Bob Biswas and Khan are sorely missed.

The movie has good plot twists and suspense. But it is not intriguing like Kahaani.

Kahaani 2 is thrilling most of the times. But Kahaani offers full on edge of the seat thrills.

Background music complement Kahaani 2. It's BGM elevates Kahaani.

We smile of relief after watching the climax of Kahaani 2. We get dumbstruck and start replaying the whole movie in our minds after watching Kahaani.

So the moral of the story is piggybacking on earlier success can seriously damage your end product. If only they had changed the name of the movie instead of marketing it as a sequel of the much superior Kahaani..!

Postnote: Watch out for Jugal Hansraj, our old "ghar se nikalte hi" guy.     

World's Best Movie That Was Never Made..!

Jodorowsky's Dune is a 2013 documentary directed by Frank Pavich. Subject of the movie is a visionary director and his failed attempt to adapt a masterpiece science fiction novel on screen. It tries to state that if the movie was released according to the vision of that director, it would have totally changed the way movies are made thereafter.

Alexandro Jodorowsky is a Chilean surrealist movie maker of such underground classics like El Topo and The Holy Mountain. When his producer felt that it's time for the talented Jodorowsky to make his mark in Hollywood, he offered to produce a movie based on any of the book that Jodorowsky chose. Jodorowsky decided to adapt Dune, Frank Herbert's classic science fiction novel. He had never read the novel and the decision was made on the sole basis of a friend's recommendation.

The movie explains in detail how Jodorowsky went on painstakingly to assemble his team, as per him, his spiritual warriors. For him this wasn't meant to be an ordinary movie. He wanted to make a movie that gave viewers the effect of mind altering drugs without consuming them. He selected talented persons- illustrators, designers, musicians, technicians and actors who he felt were upto the task. In the movie Jodorowsky shares some interesting anecdotes with giants like Salvador Dali, Orson Welles and the music band Pink Floyd and how he convinced them to work for him.

Jodorowsky had a clear idea how his version of Dune had to look, feel and sound. Along with his team of designers and illustrators, he made a giant document that elaborated his story, script, characters, filming techniques. He send a copy to every major Hollywood studios. Everybody rejected it. They thought it too risky a game to spend a fortune on a bizarre movie by a director who made movies that lies out of the comfort zone of average viewer. They were interested in the movie but were afraid of the director. Dune was later adapted by David Lynch as a faithful, within the boundary movie, but failed to impress critics or viewers. 

Jodorowsky's Dune tries to find out how the document made by Jodorowsky was influential in the look of later movies and how the technicians and others introduced by him changed the course of movie making history. It also makes the case that his version of Dune was a missed opportunity that could change the whole concept of mainstream movie making. Some of the scenes are recreated by animation using the drawings from the book which makes for compelling viewing.

The movie consists mainly of interviews with Jodorowsky and many members of his team, movie critics and some directors influenced by him. Initially Jodorowsky seemed a weirdo, but gradually his passion, commitment, honesty and sense of humor won me over. If you are a person who wonder how movies are made, you will like Jodorowsky's Dune, but if you are the person who wonder why movies are made, this is the movie that's meant for you.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Milking Jason Bourne

It's a classic case of over-milking. Jason Bourne, the fifth movie in the Bourne series, (if you also consider the just-average Bourne Legacy starring Jeremy Renner as one among them,) is a huge letdown due to a single factor- greed. I was much excited to watch it when it was announced. The director of Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Ultimatum, Paul Greengrass was not expected to do a sequel and Matt Damon was reluctant to do it without him. That's why they made one sequel without the star. So I expected something grand when they united again. Alas it was late when I realised that the purpose was to serve the greed of a Hollywood studio.

Now, Jason Bourne is watchable if we doesn't know it is a sequel to the much superior Ultimatum. It has decent stunts and some chases, an OK plot that binds it and some pretty good acting from Damon and Tommy Lee Jones. But when Ultimatum comes into picture, these factors aren't enough. The tag-line of the movie is "You know his name." The main issue with the movie was that he knew his name and most of the things about him, which kind of spoiled it.

In the previous movies, the suspense was so good that more than Bourne, we wanted to know about his past. The pacing was so tight that I can still watch all three movies back to back. (In-fact I did it last year.) In Jason Bourne, the suspense factor was pathetic. We could detect the twists from miles away. And the dilemma and confusion of Bourne wasn't evident anywhere. The plot looked totally padded up in order to achieve a respectable running time.

The pacing is severly lacking and the high tension pursuits of previous movies are just shadow-selves in this one. When Ultimatum came, the shaky camera action was a novelty and in that movie it beautifully complemented the shaky self image of Bourne. But here it becomes just another yawn inducing worn out gimmick.

The climax was the worst. The fight was drawn out for another long fifteen minutes after all secrets were let out and justice was served. It was an awesome 'unnecessity'. I was remembering the climax of Speed 2: Cruise Control while watching it, which was also fun but without any point.

Doctor Strange: Marvel on Acid

Every next movie in the Marvel Universe these days adds a different genre to the series. The latest one, Doctor Strange brings elements of fantasy. But the best thing about the movie is that it still stay strong on the ground covered by its predecessors. It feels that it is a movie of the series and a still excels as a stand alone one in its own credit.

Stylistically it is very different from other Marvel movies. Instead of the boy-toy-set look of Iron Man or Captain America, it goes for a look similar to Marvel's own Blade series, but with lot of added colours and better effects. I would say Doctor Strange is more Blade on acid.

Its about how the arrogant and ambitious Doctor Strange meets with an accident and ultimately acquires skill sets to bend time. As an origin story it's plot follows the text closely and doesn't offer anything substantially new. But it is the performance of Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular character (he gave Robert Downey Jr. A run for his money) and breathtaking visuals that make Doctor Strange a compelling view.

Just think of the landscape bending scene of the movie Inception and imagine a movie made out 70 percent of such scenes. Doctor Strange is that movie. Most of the scenes are psychedelic and mind bending. However those who prefer combat scenes on the scale of Civil War may be dissappointed as there are not much of such scenes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book Review: Tale O'12 by Biranchi N Acharya

In our daily life we encounter countless people and incidents. We receive advices and lessons from varied sources. Things happen to us or someone near to us, from which we learn how to tackle a situation more effectively in the future. Many instances happen in which our whole paradigm about the world and it's workings shift dramatically. But how many of us stop by and appreciate them and the impact they have on our life? How many of us show the courtesy to acknowledge them and how many of us transfer these lessons that are learned in the hard way to others, so that they benefit from it?

These are the reasons why after reading it, I appreciated the effort of Biranchi Acharya for his effort to pen and publish a book like Tale O'12. This book is jointly published by and as part of their Blogger to Author program. It is a collection of twelve fictionalised re-tellings of incidents from author's life. They deal with a variety of subjects, like economy, psychology, spirituality, politics and civics. Many of the stories are basically conversations that happened between friends, acquaintances or even total strangers about a particular aspect of an everyday issue that relates to every common man.

The tone of the stories are benevolent and kind, without taking an aggressive or emotional stand anywhere, though the issues they raise have every reason to be so. For example, in the story Religion vs Dharma, an old man convinces a young sadhu that Hinduism is not an organised religion, but a Dharma which in-fact hold together a collection of different religions, beliefs and ways of living. After reading the story, you may either agree or not agree with this point of view. But the tone of the story and the method in which the arguments are organised, motivate you to re-evaluate your personal ideas about Dharma and religion. This I feel itself is a great advancement in a country that takes up issues like religion, politics and spirituality too much emotionally to have an argument devoid of biases.

Most of the other stories follow a similar pattern, but asks questions and try to decipher different issues. My favourite is the one titled The Art of Being Happy. In that author, on a particularly stressful and eventful day, is on his end of his wits. He encounters someone who shares with him the secret to be happy even when misfortune strikes. The idea may sound too superficial and impractical but when we consider that it is our response to an incident that defines our happiness, it makes perfect sense. I would definitely recommend this book for its practical approach to everyday issues that can be helpful to all. The language is very simple and ordinary and easy for anybody- of any age or education, to comprehend.

Now, the only complaint that I have, which I have raised in many other reviews of Indian books, is about something that hampers the enjoyment of even the most well written books with greatest of intentions- lack of proper proof reading. The book has many spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, punctuation errors and I have even spotted a few mistakes in capitalising. Believe me, these things may sound like silly cribbing but for a serious reader even these grossly undermine the reading experience. This has to be taken care by publishers because the writer has used his imagination and intellect and made up this great book of 200 plus pages out of his toil, a few errors are bound to happen. A professional editor and proof reader has to polish this diamond before releasing for public consumption. These mistakes are great disservice to the efforts of the author and I believe the publishers have a responsibility to ensure such errors are corrected.
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