Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New York

Its been too long, almost 3-4 months that we could watch a new movie here in India thanks to a spat between producers and distributors. The strike is over and here we have again movies to watch, movies to talk and movies to write :)
New York is the latest released hindi film directed by Kabir Khan and comes out from the Yash Raj production house starring John Abraham, Katrina Kaif, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Irrfan Khan. It was a highly anticipated movie not for its star-cast but for the draught of the movies and straightaway is being seen as the biggest hit of 2009 so far. The story is about the evil treatment of the muslims in America post 9/11 and deals with a complex political issue of getting back the respectful place for them in the american society. The whole plot of the movie is given here.
There are many things that is new in the movie. I think its the first time in Indian cinema that a theme is taken which concerns an international issue. Films with serious political issues are rare in India and that too an issue that, if not the world, concerns south Asia atleast, is still rarer. The other novel fact that I noticed is the place of Muslims in Indian films (esp terror-centred films) which was always given an ugly look and audiences have always condemned them. On the contrary, here we have muslims fighting to regain their pride and respect and the audience is applauding this; indeed a nice change that Kabir Khan brings for us. Like many other terror-terrorist films, we have a terrorist who "is not born a terrorist but circumsatnces have made him one" but this time it is not sympathy that is gained for that change of character but the film very clearly points out the mistake. FBI agent Roshan (Irrfan) admits the mistake on FBI's part for detaining all the innocent muslims post 9/11 as terror suspects and also points out the mistake on Sam's (Jhon Abraham) part in chosing the path of terrorism to take revenge; hopefully Indian cinema is, of late, coming out of its traditional stereotypes and changing ways towards a much positive future.
With these new things what else the movie also gives us as something new is Katrina Kaif. As an Indo-american she stuns me the most and undoubtedly its her best performance till date. Being originally an anglo-indian, this role suited her the most and she was too original for her hindi dialogues with english-accent. John Abraham is improving film by film and this movie will always be rated as one of his best. Neil Nitin Mukesh was good in his first film Johny Gaddar and has impoved a lot in this film and indeed is the show-stealer. I liked him in his first film and now I am his fan. I skipped 'Aa Dekhen Zara' (his second), but now I want to watch it too. No words for Irrfan, he is as usual at his best.
Kabir Khan as a director has done a fabulous job. After his first film 'Kabul Express' being more of a travelogue, I didn't expect much from him but he has really done a great job. Music is good and songs are only there where they are needed. Cinematography is brilliant and captures different mood of the movie very aptly wih the camera.
Of course, there are some negatives also about the film. There were part of movies where there was emotion well in excess of what was required. One such scene was when Omar (Neil) comes to know that Maya (Katrina) loves Sam (John). Omar's reaction looked a lot expressive and could have been better if his emotions were kept somewhat concealed. The climax of the film is also not upto the mark and could have been better (again emotions spoiled it).
All in all, after a long time, something comes out from Yash Raj films that is watchable and even more than that. A good movie, watchable+, 3 stars out of 5!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Need for a Change!!!

I was going through the news headlines today where I got this interesting headline about the Union HRD ministry thinking of some innovative ways to bring a reform in the present day education system of our country. Whether its simply a crap or a real innovation, only time can tell; but this news provoked me to think something about our education system of which we are a part of and which we always keep condemning.
Now, where from this system actually came and when? Was it right from the times of our grandfathers or their fathers or is it an evolution of a much better (or worse) system that existed sometime in the past? Recalling a short story 'बरे भाई साहब' by Munshi Premchand that I (and probably many of us Indians) read in our coursebook of std 5th or 6th, I think, this examination-ruined education system prevailed in the society from the very beginning. This story was about an elder brother's pity with the exams and his scolding of his younger brother for not giving much attention to studies despite which he himself kept on failing in the exams as opposed to his brother who always stood first in his class. The story dates back to the early 20th century and shows the fear and dread of exams and studies even at that time. So, certainly, a torturous sort of an education system was there from very early a time. But, has the system been the same or has it evolved? If evolved, then either positively or negatively?
I remember stories being told to us about our grandfathers who didn't even bother to see their results of intermediate exams or graduation exams for the number of students passed in those exams was so less that the whole district knew the names of such students. Then came the time when a larger number of students started passing although mostly with second or third devision. I know my father getting something around 70% marks (or even less, certainly, not more) and securing a respectable position in the state matric board examination (he was in 40s in the rank list of whole Bihar state). My brother, 15 years ago, did his matriculaton and got 80% marks but was not even the topper of his school. I, myself got 93% marks in the matric exam 6 yrs ago and was along with 11 other students of only my section to get over 90% marks that too in a school where 9 or 10 such sections existed. One can easily estimate my rank in the school. Only 6 yrs since, people are now getting 96, 97 or even 98% of marks in the same exam conducted by the same board. Yes, the system has certainly evolved too much and with this trend of increasing marks and increasing number of students getting such marks, we can say, it is a positive evolution. But, is it so?
Going back to the time of my grandfathers or even till my father's, the basic aim of education was something different. They got education because they had to acquire knowledge, knowledge about the numbers, knowledge about science, our past, our present or even our future. Then, the time came when the students were told that knowledge is nothing but what is written in the textbooks and we students started slurping and swallowing everything written in books, to a height where we could learn by heart even a mathematical equation or a numerical problem of mechanics. Aquiring knowledge is not even a tertiary aim for present days students. They usually say, "Yaar, knowledge can be gained even later first be able to score good marks in the exam". When was the time this change actually occured and what brought them? We need nothing to answer this question but only a little bit of introspection inside our social build-up. It is a gradual process that got the education system to such a point and it all started with the growth of the race to become superior and for that establishment of examination and marks obtained in them as standards of superiority.
Certainly, we do need a change in our present day education system but is this the only thing we should be changing? Do we have nothing to do with our thinking?
We certainly have. We ceratinly have a need for a change.................a change in our thinking, our views and most of all ourselves.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The AB(C) of Bollywood

Recently, I came to know (through a daily) that Reliance Anil Ambani Group is going to organise some kind of a ceremony to mark 40 years of Amitabh Bachhan in hindi film industry. It seems too obligatory for Mr. Anil Ambani to do so for Mr. Bachchan and none in this world can deny the presence of Mr. Amar Singh on this 'auspicious' occasion to felicitate his 'बरे भइया'. Anyways, whatsoever be the relationship between Ambanis, Bachchans or Amar Singh, its not a matter to be discussed in this post. I wouldn't say anything about the aptness of Ambani's idea but one thing I must like to admit that idea about this post came to my mind only after reading about his idea.
This blog of mine, although not strictly filmy, preferentially includes topics of hindi films and bollywood and for such a blog, its hard to restrain for too long from a topic with Amitabh Bachchan, undoubtedly the greatest actor of bollywood ever, as the central theme (though, a post Adorable Awesome Amitabh exists but the central theme there is the film 'The Last lear'). Not much to say about his greatness as an actor or any such thing coz every such thing will be a cliche and a disrespect to the man himself. This post is only my overview of his extensive filmography as seen from my perspective.
In the year 1969, when the hindi film industry was searching for its new superstar after Dilip Kumar, came the film Aradhna starring Rajesh Khanna which made him a susperstar overnight. With this film also came another film 'Saat Hindustani' with AB as a debutant actor in the role of one of the seven protagonists of the film. Fresh with the success of Upkar in '67 and Aankhen in '68, film industry was looking at the patriotic films as ' सोने की चिरिया ' and Khwaja Ahmad Abbas was no exception either. Though the film didn’t fare well at the box office, the film industry saw a young guy with a cute face and a manly voice standing upright in front of the acting giants like Utpal Dutt and got him a National Award for the best newcomer. One more thing that connected Amitabh to us biharis was his character who incidentally was a Bihari. Anyways, Rajesh Khanna became a superstar with Aradhna and gave many beautiful romantic melodramas in the successive years. In 1971, they both came together in Anand, a heart drenching emotional melodrama about a man suffering from a deadly disease. Khanna was the lead actor and AB played his doctor friend Dr. Bhaskar Banerjee. Though, Khanna stole the show with his powerful performance, AB was not behind either. He gave the glimpse of his talent in the climax scene when a calm, composed, self-possessed man suddenly turns into an anxious, agitated and emotional friend on seeing his friend die in front of him. Alongwith Anand some other movies like Parwana, Reshma aur Shera etc were released that year but none were successful. 1972 was also not different and despite 4 or 5 films released none of them were hits at box office.

Then came the year 1973 which can easily be called a year that turned the fortune of AB and with him the film industry and the lakhs of audiences. Zanzeer gave birth to the Angry Young Man of India and heralded a new era in bollywood and what was to follow is everything history now. The rivalry between Prakash Mehra and Manmohan Desai was at its peak and besides AB, we the audience were the most privileged with this rivalry. The angry young man was growing angrier and younger with each film and gave us movies like Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Amar Akbar Anthony, Namak Halaal, Lawaaris, Parvarish, Sharabi, Suhaag, Naseeb, Desh Premee, Coolie, Mard. In between all this rivalry between Mehra and Desai, AB did some of his best films with other makers that included films of different genres in which AB played a complete set of different characters. The list includes Kabhi Kabhie, Kala Patthar, Silsila, Deewar, Trishul, Mashaal etc with B.R. Chopra and Yash Chopra; Sholay, Shakti, Shaan with Ramesh Sippy; Chupke Chupke, Namak Haraam with Hrishikesh Mukahrjee. His other notable hits included Majboor, Abhimaan, Mili, Kashme Waade, Satte pe Satta, Mr. Natwarlal, Khuddaar, Yaarana, Kaalia etc.

After continuing Baadshahat at the box office for almost a decade, the star started fading after he started his career in politics in ’84. He tried to make a comeback in the industry but was not the same AB as before. With only occasional hits like Shahenshah, Aaj ka Arjun, Agneepath and Hum, he was soon out of reckoning and eventually led to his financial collapse.

In 2000, Kaun Banega Crorepati, a TV game show gave his popularity back; he was out of his debts and again restarted his career this time with character roles. He started appearing in big banner Chopras’ and Johars’ films opposite the contemporary superstar Shahrukh and often folding his hands and bowing in front of him was the preferred climax of such films like Mohabbatein, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham which for me was not at all good for such great an artist. Anyways, lately, he did many more movies and is still doing playing different roles, different genres some digestible and many not.

Whatever, the AB which everybody loved in Deewar, Don, Sholay or Amar Akbar Anthony will never be back to us and we as his fans will always be loving him for that. THANX AB!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Infrequency

It has been too infrequent on my blog for a post to be published by me for all these months now, and to this, amazingly, I don't see any concrete justification. These days, I was going through the most earlier of the posts on my brother's blog and happened to read many things that could incite lots of thoughts inside the grey matter, more on those some other time but here is an excerpt from one of his posts that I found very 'अपना सा' in describing my infrequency on the blog.

"Sylvia Plath, the famous American poet, once said:

'Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy of creativity is self-doubt.'"

Whenever I was busy thinking about the reasons why I don't write posts these days, it always came in my mind that there is nothing happening to me that holds even the slightest of 'writability'. But this Plath's statement has shaken my beliefs from inside. I always believed I had the necessary bit of imagination and guts in me to write something and had nothing of the sort of 'self-doubt'. But reading this statement, I couldn't, for even a second, live in the delusional world created by me and fell right on the floor upside down. Now I completely agree to the statement and feel really pathetic for myself for not writing frequently. Interestingly, now I feel that I have left many things in all these months that could well have been the topics of my posts and suddenly, now, I have many things which are 'writable'.