Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Set in the rural outlaw landscape of Uttar Pradesh (state of India), this magnificient adaptation of Othello is entertaining, gripping and memorable. I didn't see it on the big screen when it was released as I don't enjoy the Bollywood stuff dished out like pancakes; but the praise for the film made me buy a VCD of the movie and from the opening scene to the end I was hooked.
All the names of the characters start with the same alphabet as William Shakespeare's characters in Othello. The title role of Omkara has Ajay Devgan as strong leader (bahubali) in a political gang of Bhaisaab played by veteran Naseeruddin Shah. Kareena Kapoor (Dolly / Desdemona) has clearly done her best role to date as the innocent, beautiful and lovely damsel who falls for the warrior Omkara (Othello). She has played urban characters well and has shown that she is talented enough to depict such a drastically different character in this brilliant movie by Vishal Bharadwaj (he has made earlier an adaptation of Macbeth - Maqbool).
The main catalyst and best performance in the movie is definitely Saif Ali Khan who is proving himself better and better with each movie he does. He shaved his head and mouths the rural dialect and swear words that wouldn't make any layman believe he is a Nawab heir in real life (Royal descendant). His expression, dialogue delivery, timing, everything is too good to be true. He holds great screen presence and lingers throughout the movie and after in the minds of the characters and audience. His role as Langda Tyagi (Iago) should win him more such serious cinema roles in future.
Vivek Oberoi (Kesu Firangi / Cassio) fits the role of the city boy womaniser now an upstart with initial favour from Omkara (Othello) and then his eagerness to prove his loyalty to Omkara. His love interest in the movie, Billo (Bianca), is played by the hottest star in Hindi Cinema, Bipasha Basu. Though Bipasha has a small role in the movie she will be remembered for it and especially after the great success of the song "Beedi" in which she dances at a party with Kesu. She sizzles onscreen and is seductive but falls into the plans laid wickedly by Langda Tyagi as do others.
Other memorable roles are by Konkona Sen as Indu/Emilia, the unwitting accomplice & love of Langda Tyagi. Naseeruddin Shah is authoratative as the Boss who settles scores and gives orders in wise, calm manner.
This is such a great adaptation and it is unfortunate that due to the gangland depiction with abuses, swear words and violence the box office audience stayed away. Internationally it was a hit making the top 10 in UK. Not a film you can watch with family but the tragic love story is a must watch for anyone who thinks Bollywood can't make decent inetrnational standard cinema.
The best memory you will take along from the movie is easily the songs and its picturisation on the characters. Not a single song is distracting from the flow of the movie. I can't get the haunting tune of "O Saathi Re" out of my head and "Naina" sung by Rahat Ali (son of Nusrat Fateh Ali) is the best love song in years. All music composed by the director, writer - Vishal Bharadwaj is an achievement of great merit. The dance numbers, especially "Beedi" is as hot and raw as you can get and enjoy. The music is easily what helped create the great expectations for Omkara. Written by Gulzar all words in all songs are perfectly in tune with the setting, narration and events. Best music album for Bollywood's 2006 is this movie's soundtrack.
For Western viewers it would be great to glimpse this rural lawlessness and the love gone wrong in Indian setting. There is adult language and the passion between Omkara & Dolly, Langda & Indu and Kesu & Billo is somewhat graphic yet expressing the story's progress and theme. Some western newspapers printed the Hindi words in their reviews without knowing that they mean m*****f***ers and worse. If you can understand the setting and lawlessness presented in this political gang's scenes, you would appreciate the adaptation and presentation of this timeless saga of love, greed, envy and death.
This is for any list of Classic Cinema.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Serving the masses need for entertainment or rather catering to the lowest common denominator; reality shows are the reality of today’s freedom to express difference in things you hate. The international incident of
Starting with the success of backstabbing and derelict lifestyle aired in Survivor series, the plethora of reality shows proves the voyeurism, especially for unedited, politically incorrect ones, has a market and sponsorship. Catfights, insults, racism, bullying, rhetoric; if you can package them and show it as a truth rather than having a soap show with actors – you have a winner.
The progress of these TV shows from finding a bride for a rich man, singing to be a pop-star, to peeking into the life of a celebrity family or couple, to eating live insects & sorting hidden nugget through cattle guts; there are educated, informed people willing to spend an hour from their daily life to feast on bull-shit. It is not enough that tabloids screw celebrities with embarrassing videos/images – the new paparazzi is corporate and has volunteers wanting to open their closet and display dirty linen and disgusting behaviour.
American Idol’s new season is said to be the bitchiest best in years. These are common people, they vote, they work with you, among us are this breed who strut their ignorance, arrogance, stupidity and foul nature for shows they know will be aired around the world.
Are they embarrassed? They keep coming back?
Are you embarrassed? Do you keep coming back to your TV?
So where do you go to be insulted? Audition for a new, bizarre, repulsive (to sane humans) show or sit in front of the TV supporting the freaks to take inspiration from their pathetic life. Indian media, who were enthusiastic about an Indian celebrity – and a real celebrity unlike the C-grade representation among the other occupants of UK Big Brother – being part of that show is probably wondering why she (Shilpa Shetty) bothered to be in such company.
A mirror to Western society and its views on the “slum-dwelling” Asians, the show could probably still find sponsorship from some University’s Social Studies department for its groundbreaking reflection of life in the 21st century (A major sponsor, Carphone Warehouse dropped the show); ‘Global Village’ my arse.
The next rock star, the next TV star, the next Supermodel, the next corporate executive; these don’t need your talent, they need to be the mini-starlets in a popularity contest. If you think children can be cruel in school, you don’t know who their parents are and what they represent in society – prejudice, bias, hate, bigotry and pure idiocy.
With police reviewing tapes of Celebrity Big Brother, this reality show is too real for comfort. Issues being raised in
Talk shows have controversial subjects as well; they find success through discussion rather than being outspoken about the members’ delusions about the human race. Humour, especially jokes and cartoons are able to better convey cultural differences notwithstanding the Prophet caricature incident. It’s the motive not the comment that seems to matter.
The incredibly creative and hilarious movie ‘Borat’ has won a Golden Globe. Sacha Baron Cohen lived the role of a Kazakh visitor to perfection. This dark humour gives deep insight into, as the movie’s sub-title says, “Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”. Borat goes around today’s
This is award-winning because no one was victimised; the people expressed their bigotry in front of cameras and crew, willing to accept their nature to a Kazakh national (Borat). It is social commentary you will laugh at but is a serious depiction of Western culture. Those idiots sue Cohen’s team for duping them not accepting the fact that their racism is caught on tape with their clear willingness for it.
So if you too want to grab your 15 minutes of fame, prove your loathing to the many auditions available for international, cross-cultural voyeurism. For better or worse, people will remember you, quote you, praise you, maybe ask you for an autograph on their sacred copy of ‘Mein Kampf’. Get out there and get insulted.
>> Guardian UK's coverage of Celebrity Big Brother controversy
>> Interview with Borat's star Cohen
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
It was the first working day of the New Year 2007. I woke up with a headache and eyes burning such that keeping them open seemed like an exercise in sadistic obligation. I looked at my watch for what seemed like a thousandth time this day. I had slept at 5 am and been rudely awoken into the New Year with words reminding of another dreadful office drag – another year of misery.
Fresh out of smokes (cause that’s what I was doing all night and had to sleep when I ran out of fags), I got ready to get to office for what seemed like the only thing that keeps me from being in hibernation.
After 10 am the streets are littered with people and vehicles moving in such random awkward directions that you would think they have nowhere to go. My trusty Yamaha moved elegantly and BANG – a motorcyclist coming from the opposite direction and in my right of way had destroyed my right-hand-side side-box completely. I was too tired to kick his arse. He looked at his own ugly vehicle and drove off. After that, I had little to do but to drive off in my direction as well. The wonderful people all around of course couldn’t be less interested in this normal scheme of devastation.
Its 10 minutes or less and I am about to cross the
Anyways, I have given up on regrets in life cause they only lead to heartache and depression. Crying over spilt milk? Well you have to realise that if that milk was meant for the floor, all your desire for the milk is just your mortal craving which has no meaning when the Universe wants to reward it to the floor.
Coming to the actual point of reliving and retelling this miserable tale of events is that you don’t have a tomorrow. We live our lives in the illusion created that our short-term or long-term plans have been made to make our life secure. But where is this security – its material in nature and life isn’t.
So you believe you will have a nice time when that new action movie releases in theatres, you believe the appraisal is going to be better and more rewarding this year, you want to make plans for summer holidays in advance so that nothing goes awry, you have a retirement plan in place; is any of this guaranteed to you by any sign that says you will be alive and well for these events.
There is no tomorrow. You are alive now, the building might collapse over you next minute, you don’t know for sure, but we assume such things don’t happen to us, only to those unfortunate people on TV news channels. Being paranoid is not the conclusion I am drawing from all this.
No, paranoia is plain stupid. To assume that by being alert and suspicious you will avert fatalities, as if you were in control of this Universe – that’s clearly, visibly, pathetically stupid.
What you need to know and realise is to appreciate and love your living moment. Make efforts now to make it better and best. These moments are the ones you are controlling, they may go wrong, but you can enjoy it as long as you stop worrying about results and just enjoy being alive.
We have to be thankful to God for the “Now”. This present condition is sustaining us and we have to remind ourselves of God’s mercy that we are living it. The only meaning of life is “to Live”. There is no more purpose to live till tomorrow than to live till the next tomorrow. Live now and keep God in thought and actions. When your life’s activities are not separate from devotion to God, you remember him throughout the day, throughout the year, throughout your life and when that fatal BANG explodes to take you away, you are still remembering God, such that there is no deviating from the path to
So live well and prosper, I have a life to live.