Four and a half reasons

Dear Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences,

The next time Mr. Daniel Day-Lewis does the lead role in a motion picture, I request you to simply disqualify all other potential Best Actor nominees for reason of not being Mr. Day-Lewis and present him with the statuette forthwith. To support my humble request, I present four and a half reasons:

0.5: If his performance in his Oscar winning turns (as well as some others like my personal favourite — The Age of Innocence) is anything to go by, you are unlikely to find a better performance in that year. Ordinarily, this would count as a full reason, but I give it only half points because on the odd occasion, some actors do manage to do better. (Although even if they did, you manage to ignore brilliant performances often enough that this wouldn’t really be noticed.)

1.5: Cutting down the time taken for to go through the nominees for even one award would cut the time taken for the Oscar telecast by a precious few minutes. Some of us have to get to work after the show’s over, ya know?

2.5: Consider his first Oscar win for My Left Foot. Look at how Morgan Freeman (nominated that year for Driving Miss Daisy) was cheering when the winner was announced. My guess is, he knew what was coming: a witty, wonderful, yet short speech that stayed in the memory.

3.5: Now, despite the fine example he set back then, so many of his contemporaries insisted on blubbering up there with the statuette in their hands, reading out prosaic laundry lists of thank-yous and making us admire, instead of their acting abilities, the writing abilities of the screenwriters that made them so watchable in the movies they won for. So he obliged by winning again and There Will Be Blood and giving us this object lesson:

4.5: One would imagine that a lesson twice-taught would be heeded, but no. We still got laundry lists. We still do, come to that. So he has won — yet again — this year, just so he could teach his dim-witted colleagues once more how it ought to be done.

However, dear Academy members, I doubt that he will be successful in his endeavour despite his repeated attempts. Therefore, I humbly request you to put both him and us out of our misery and do the needful.

Regards etc.

Ramsu

No Snoop no roar

Dear S. S. Rajamouli

Apparently, Snoop Dogg reconnected with Bob Marley’s spirit on a visit to Jamaica and is now Marley reincarnated. In other, possibly related but equally weird news, he’s renamed himself Snoop Lion.

Not only do you now have the basis for a sequel to your successful recent venture involving bigger animals, you might just have found your ticket to Hollywood. Kindly do the needful.

Sincerely

Ramsu

Dear Virender Sehwag

Dear Viru,

Congratulations on that knock. After scoring less than 150 in your previous hundred (other than being prime, 131 has no redeeming qualities), I thought maybe you were losing your touch. Good to see that this is not the case.

I do, however, have one request. Would you please, for the love of God, just SHUT THE F*** UP?

Try and understand this from the opponent’s perspective. Take Muthiah Muralitharan, for instance. Highest wicket taker in tests, just 12 wickets shy of 800. Quite a feat, don’t you think? Especially considering how much mental strength he had to have had when the world and its grandmother-in-law was suggesting that he try out as a baseball pitcher and leave the bowling to people with straight elbows. Whether or not there were optical illusions involved, that couldn’t have been easy to deal with. Here he is, at the fag end of his career, pushing his body to bowl one more ball. His figures at the end of the day: 20-0-119-0. Not that any of the other bowlers fared any better.

Now, I don’t expect you to go easy on them. I don’t expect you to gift your wicket to Murali and help him along to 800 before he retires. If the ball is there to be hit, hit it, and hit it hard. I’m as patriotic an Indian as anyone else, so you’ll hear me cheering all the way.

But when someone asks you about your innings at the end of the day, don’t say something like: I try to hit only the bad balls.

Are you f***ing kidding me? You hit 40 fours and 7 sixes, dude. How bad could those balls have been? It just sounds ridiculous. Not to mention insulting to a bowling attack that you just destroyed. Leave the soundbytes to the gentle souls and leave the mayhem on the pitch when you walk out, okay?

Regards

Ramsu

Three reviews, one post

I went on a spree recently and ended up watching three movies in more or less quick succession. Hey, people gorge on chocolate, I watch two movies back to back at a multiplex. So sue me. None of them really deserves a longish review (actually they do, but I’m a lazy bum), so here’s a paragraph or two about each of them.


Quick Gun Murugun


After a minor tribute to Tarantino’s Kill Bill right at the beginning, the opening credits of Quick Gun Murugun show our hero being ferried to heaven by Yama on what seems like Thailand’s answer to the buffalo. Heaven turns out to be something like a large Government office, complete with an old watchman sleeping at the gate. When Murugun alights, Yama asks him, half-sheepishly, “Saar, meterukku mela konjam…” And when the former walks on without even responding, the latter mutters what must be the most appropriately worded insult in recorded human history: Saavu kirakki. (My apologies to those who do not understand Tamil — my translation skills aren’t quite sufficient to make this joke work in any other language.)

With such auspicious beginnings, one would expect QGM to be an absolute laugh riot. Sadly, this doesn’t turn out to be the case. Like Woody Allen’s Take the Money and Run, it all sounds amazingly funny until you actually sit down and watch it. It’s eminently chuckle-worthy all right, and one never really tires of all the sly references (lines like “Make my day, machchaan” abound), but by and large, the movie manages to be clever without really tipping over the edge into laugh-out-loud-funny.

I have watched both of Shashanka Ghosh’s movies now — Waisa Bhi Hota Hai and this one. Neither of them will rank as a work of comic brilliance, but maybe these will turn out to be the opening notes in a brilliant career. Who knows, the man might even give us our own Annie Hall sometime in the future.


Dil Bole Hadippa

Dear Yash Raj Productions,

Despite my better judgement, I have watched most of the movies you have come out with in recent times. I do not need a refresher.

Sincerely,

Ramsu

The trouble with DBH, I suppose, is that while it isn’t really a bad movie per se, it doesn’t seem to be bothered much with being a good one. Then again, if all you have is the idea of an ambidextrous Punjabi kudi wanting to play cricket with the boys and masquerading as one in order to do so, just how good can it get? At least Twelfth Night added more complications (like the business of twins) to disguise the fact that it was basically just fluff.

Nobody really stands out. Rani Mukherjee tries gamely, but quite frankly, she just doesn’t have what it takes to elevate this material. The best you can expect from her is to do justice to a well-written part — this one isn’t. Shahid Kapoor moves his career up one square by playing an essentially likeable character yet again, except with a bigger banner paying him to do nothing this time around. Rakhi Sawant moves her career up one square by getting a more-or-less non-speaking 5 minute part in addition to her item song. Sherlyn Chopra turns up with seemingly one purpose — to increase the per capita exposure in the movie by a few dozen square inches. She does well at that. A non-speaking part would’ve been even better, but as it stands, it doesn’t really hurt the movie. The others convert O2 to CO2. On the whole, I’d have been better off doing the same at home.


Wanted


I doubt I can say it any better than Amrita has in her absolutely wonderful review of this movie. The best I can do is say the following: Wanted is exactly what it claims to be, and it is very good at what it aims to do.

I was initially skeptical about the casting choices — I felt Salman was too old for the part, and that Prakash Raj’s performance might not work as well in Hindi as it did in Tamil and Telugu. I was wrong on both counts. Both of them seem to be having the time of their lives, and from what I could see in the multiplex, the public absolutely loved it. Ayesha Takia proves yet again that, were it not for the occasional little gem like Dor or Socha Na Tha, all we might end up remembering of her is how she fills out a t-shirt. (Very well, I might add.)

As for the supporting cast: Vinod Khanna has a nice little role doing nothing. Inder Kumar seems to be raking in millions in steroid endorsements. Mahesh Manjrekar is suitably sleazy while managing to be a mite less over-the-top than his counterparts in the Southie versions — which is saying very little and very much at the same time. And a bunch of interchangeable goons seem to growl and die in the background often enough to keep the story going. One even commits suicide instead of letting the hero kill him — I’m not sure how he sees this as a better option, but I’m disinclined to argue the point.

On the whole, this is an absolutely wonderful B-movie. And if you need any other reason to watch it, here’s one: as toothpaste ads go, it’s much better than Hum Aapke Hai Kaun.

To Kate Winslet, Part Deux

Dear Kate,

Ref: My earlier letter to you regarding accepting awards that are surely your due by now

Congratulations! I couldn’t be happier.

Good speech, too.  Not outstanding, but definitely an improvement. Asking your dad to whistle — and, to our delight, actually hearing him do it — was an especially nice touch. My only regret at that point was that Lauren Bacall wasn’t around for a reaction shot.

Keep ’em coming!

Regards

Ramsu

To Kate Winslet

Dear Kate,

Congratulations! I am extremely glad that you won not one, but two Golden Globes for your performances this year. I haven’t seen either movie, but I am sure you deserved them.

I am fairly certain that the Oscars aren’t that far away. The Academy has a habit of awarding people a statuette on the basis of cumulative achievement, so there is only so long that you can keep racking up the record for maximum number of nominations before a certain age.

But when you do win, could you please spend some time preparing a good acceptance speech? Practice before a mirror, learn to compose yourself before you walk on stage, do what you have to do. Spend some quality time with Brits who seem to know how it should be done with class and wit — Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson… It can’t be all that difficult.

Whatever you do, just don’t stand there gasping thank-yous like you’re orgasming after a mercy fuck. It doesn’t become someone of your stature.

Okay? Okay.

Sincerely

Ramsu

ps: Youtube link attached for those of you who haven’t seen it. To her credit, she starts off by apologizing to the other nominees for having taken more than her share 🙂

Kuruvi

On the way back from the multiplex, I spent a considerable length of time trying to figure out what to put in my review of Kuruvi. I came up with nothing. I could claim that the movie was beyond even my capacity to describe it, but that would be dishonest. Truth: I just ran out of nasty. I’ve already used whatever creative insults I could come up with, in my earlier reviews of movies I didn’t like.

So, instead of actually reviewing the movie, I’m just going to list the various attempts I made and discarded.

Attempt #1: Rant by Letter

Dear Dharani,

Whatever you’re smoking, it can kill you.

If it doesn’t, I will.

Wake the f*** up and start making some good masala again.

Regards

Ramsu

Attempt #2: Rant by Review Reference

National Treasure is so silly that the Monty Python version could use the same screenplay, line for line.

— Excerpt from Roger Ebert’s review

Now, replace the words National Treasure with Kuruvi and the words Monty Python with the words Lollu Sabha. Read the sentence again with the replaced words.

End of review.

Attempt #3: Rant by Literary Reference

Kuruvi is what happens when someone watches Waiting for Godot and decides to make an action film adaptation.

My suggestion to you, dear reader, is that you watch or read the Samuel Beckett play and rent a DVD of Gilli or Dhool afterwards. That way, I can keep this review really short, and you can thank me for some good recos. Good night, and good luck.

Attempt #4: Just Rant

One third of the way through Kuruvi, I realized that it was futile to hope that this was a Locomotive 38 movie. There was really no explanation other than that the makers were crazy. They were deadly serious about this plot and the way it was handled, I realized. They actually thought this was a good movie.

The plot involves an illegal diamond mine in Cudappah (“Blood diamond,” the villain proudly declaims at one point, maybe to claim coolness by association) where a number of workers, including the hero’s father, are kept enslaved. How he liberates them forms the story. How he moves from one fight to another while looking perpetually pissed forms the screenplay. How Trisha manages to keep the same moony expression throughout the movie forms the romantic sub-plot. How I managed to tolerate all of this without actually barfing forms my review.

Do I really need to go on?

ps: Okay, so I didn’t quite run out of nasty just yet. But one more Vijay movie like this and I’ll probably hang up my boots.

pps: Oh, and here’s a brilliant rant by Baradwaj Rangan on the movie.

Anjaathe

Dear Myshkin,

This is a line.


On one side of this line is a hard-hitting movie about two friends, one who wants to be a cop and another who becomes one. And how their paths slowly diverge until they are on opposite sides of a loaded gun. And a serial rapist and kidnapper who stands between them and drives the action. It is devoid of flab, features good acting and realistic dialogue and is absolutely riveting.Now, on the other side is a bloated mess of a movie involving two actors whose heavily accented dialogue delivery detracts from the authenticity of most scenes they are in. And a serial rapist and kidnapper whose actions speak louder than his acting. And much kidnapping and rape, never shown (thankfully), yet hinted at in so many ways that the movie feels at times exploitative. And dialogue that is so clunky, you feel like taking the writer out and shooting him in the kneecaps. And overused camera angles that sometimes detract from the storytelling.

Okay, you see that line? You see what’s on both sides on it? Now listen carefully:

You are on the wrong side of that line.

To your credit, you did get some things right. The movie has a good plot that attains serious momentum in the second half. It has some scenes that are written so well, they almost belong to some other movie. Like one where a distraught father pleads for help from the cops to figure out how to use a feature on his phone. Or one where the hero realizes that his casual approach to his job may have cost someone his life — you made that point so beautifully without actually verbalizing it. Nice work!

The shot composition and camera work is something I noticed throughout the movie. However, I don’t necessarily mean this in a good way. Like the way the aforementioned scene is shot so that the viewer is a participant in the action rather than an observer – fantastic. Or another scene shot entirely at foot level, simply to underline one character’s fear of being caught doing something wrong. These scenes work because of how they are shot. However, these tricks are used so often in the rest of the movie without much reason that I figure it’s a case of a stopped watch telling the right time twice in a day.

And then there are all those scenes that are designed for dramatic effect rather than with any sense of realism. A fight with a bunch of goons in a hospital, where each of them approaches the hero one at a time, even after the first couple of guys got injured trying to take him on. A badly done song featuring the lead pair when just the look in her eyes and a little snatch of music in the background would’ve sufficed. And don’t even get me started on the fistfight between two characters with guns. Seriously, dude, WTF?

On the whole, this is a movie that could have been wonderful. You missed that mark by a wide margin. Pity.

You got some writing skills. I won’t deny that. But what you lack is the discipline to keep it taut. Develop that, and you’ll be a force to reckon with.

And please, for the love of God, get someone else to direct or learn the art well enough to do it yourself.

Regards

Ramsu