Friday, March 21, 2008

EASY FLESH



Forest Whitaker received Best Actor Oscar award for his portrayal of Idi Amin in the The Last King of Scotland, a confusing title for a horrifying portrayal to a mad man's psyche. I have read about Idi Amin and the number of people slaughtered during his tenure looked like an over estimation to me after watching lots of documentaries as well in History and National Geographic Channel.

But the way this film tears apart his inner psyche is worth mentioning. The Production Design is noteworthy and casting looks like a great coup. Forest does great justice to his role, seeps down to the character and James McAvoy best known for this role in The Chronicles of Narnia is a most likeable character in the film. When he sleeps with Amin's Wife and the sudden spurt of passion in their relationship clearly reveals what’s is in store of him soon enough later.

The violence is graphic and at time, I had to shut off my eyes, and doing that was quite unbelievable for me, for the very fact that, this is no fiction or heightened sense of reality but plain reality. What really works for the film is the very sense in every sense that something like that in Amin's regime can be easily imaginable.

The story is so simple and predictable that at the beginning I have very low expectations from the film. But, the degeneration of his character in stages was although predictable butgrew scary by every scene. Towards the end of the film, you just couldn't imagine, how worse can it get. The camera work was brilliant and yes, not to forget the production design. Amin histrionics performance when he travels through his constituency and his high handedness in his administration.

McAvoy's performance is worth mentioning and there is a certain aura of innocence all through out the film. The very fact, we are witnessing the film through the eyes makes it a clear caricature of Amin's character, the very fact that he had an easy access and anytime access to Amin's apartment clearly shows the identification of the audience with Amin's character. the vary fact, that it is McAvoy's view in the film, and so is ours, we are equally shared to all information on Amin when we clearly know about Amin knowledge of McAvoy's profanity.

Violent, gory and relentlessly gruesome are some understatement to the last half an hour of the film.

Watch this film only if you have a heart otherwise be happy reading the novel and shutting it after it gets over.

My Rating: 8/10

Story Plot: In 1971, newly graduated Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) quits Scotland for Uganda to escape the talons of his overbearing father. Nicholas arrives in the African nation around the time that a military coup puts General Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) into power. Amin is a magnetic and popular leader. When he is injured in an automobile accident, Nicholas is the nearest doctor, and he is brought to attend to the wound. Amin is taken with the young Scotsman, and offers him a position as personal physician to the President. It's a job Nicholas can't refuse, although he will come to wish he had done so. At first, his experience living at Amin's residence is entirely positive, but as the ruler's paranoia begins to assert itself, Nicholas discovers that no one is safe.

Cast: James McAvoy, Forest Whitaker, Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson, Simon McBurney
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Screenplay: Jeremy Brock, Peter Morgan, Joe Penhall, based on the novel by Giles Foden
Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle
Music: Alex Heffes

A missing day

I never venture out to see the non-stop offering of multi-starrer comedy film churn out by the untiring Hindi Mainstream Cinema machine, be it all about Money, College girl with rich father, Lottery ticket reaching a village or guys acting as blind, dumb or deaf or being plainly confused about their sexuality. There is one of such films every second week heavy with dialogue, mostly driven by no-brainer characters but the bottomline being trying very hard to be comic, there is an absolute dearth of situational comedies, even giants like Om Puri, Paresh Rawal just act in almost everyone due to lack of serious work.

Sunday is truly an exception, a fresh offering from Rohit Shetty, his earlier offering was Golmal, I wasn't quite impressed by it, but Sunday is definitely a welcome change. A realistic scenario, moreover the film is based around a girl and the harmful effects of date drugs, at least some attempts on making a social statement.

The film's story revolves around a young bubbly, dubbing artiste Ayesha (Saher), who parties one night with major repercussions. The characters in the film are well crafted, and Ayesha's future definitely looks bright. The film is broken apart like a jigsaw puzzle and you are tossed around the narrative trying to piece the film together. Well, that is a lovely piece of work, something never normally seen in a Hindi Mainstream film. Most of the efforts in these films goes behind piecing flop actors spewing gimmicky of dialogues to raise the humor quotient. But here, the viewers have to do some serious stitching job to understand what exactly happened on that night.

Arshad Warsi and Irfan Khan are great relief in the film, most of their interludes are shot in real locations in Delhi and they almost work like narrators of the film. Through them, and their confused state we start the film, as we start understanding on to what happened on that night, their involvement in the film also grows exponentially.


They have made the most out of whatever screen time they got in the film, and this clearly shows their acting prowess. Although there is some creative license where one’s credibility meter is stretched. Picture this: a red ambassador cruising down the lanes of Delhi, passing of for a cab. To top it, this is one cab which is never empty.


Arshad's cab always has his chum, the wannabe actor sitting at the back, and he is still picking up customers. What makes Arshad's character endearing and comical is the fact that he is a serious guy in the movie trying to make his living and pay for his kidney operation. But it is what he does, how he does it and what he says that makes him a funny character in the movie.

Ajay Devgan, as usual has his share of brilliance in the film, and it will take time for Ayesha to equal up to him. The film has no major flaws and the comic timings are just right. Great Climax ending all the confusion.

A good watch and a surprisingly good comic treat

My rating: 7/10


Story plot:
Inspired from Telugu hit Anukokunda Oka Roju, this movie is a mystery revolving around a murder on a night of Sunday. A girl named Seher (Ayesha Takiya) who’s a dubbing artist is a simple girl, one day she decides to have a night out, but on that particular night few incident occurred which cause trouble to our sweet and charming Seher. She is actually little forgetful in nature and this all creates trouble, then comes Mr.
Cop ie. Rajvee (Ajay Devgan) who is just confuse if this girl is the suspect or not. Anyways, after that night incident, what she find that she being chased by some mobster
who thinks that she is trouble for them because of that Sunday. Morever, we have Arshand Warsi (He is cab driver, actually gave was hired on that sunday) comes up , along with Irfan Khan now and then and makes some nuisanse. It could be solved easily of our COP can find all about that missing Sunday of Seher (Ayesha).

Director: Rohit Shetty
Producer: Kumar Mangat, Sunil Lulla
Cast: Ajay Devgan, Arshad Warsi, Ayesha Takia, Irfan Khan, Mukesh Tiwari
Music: Sandeep Chowta, Suroor (Pakistani Band), Daler Mehndi, Shibani Kashyap, Raghav Sachar, Amar Mohile
Lyrics: Farhad, Sajid, Kamran Bari, Daler Mehndi, Virag Mishra, Aditya Dhar

A missing day


I never venture out to see the non-stop offering of multi-starrer comedy film churn out by the untiring Hindi Mainstream Cinema machine, be it all about Money, College girl with rich father, Lottery ticket reaching a village or guys acting as blind, dumb or deaf or being plainly confused about their sexuality. There is one of such films every second week heavy with dialogue, mostly driven by no-brainer characters but the bottomline being trying very hard to be comic, there is an absolute dearth of situational comedy, even giants like Om Puri, Paresh Rawal just everyone due to lack of serious work.

Sunday is truly an exception, a fresh offering from Rohit Shetty, his earlier offering was Golmal, I wasn't quite impressed by it, but Sunday is definitely a welcome change. A realistic scenario, moreover the film is based around a girl and the harmful effects of date drugs, at least some attempts on making a social statement.

The film's story revolves around a young bubbly, dubbing artiste Ayesha (Saher), who parties one night with major repercussions. The characters in the film are well crafted, and Ayesha's future definitely looks bright. The film is broken apart like a jigsaw puzzle and you are tossed around the narrative trying to piece the film together. Well, that is a lovely piece of work, something never normally seen in a Hindi Mainstream film. Most of the effort goes behind piecing flop actors spewing gimmicky of dialogues to raise the humor quotient. But here, the viewers have to do some serious stitching job to understand what exactly happened on that night.

Arshad Warsi and Irfan Khan are great relief in the film, most of their interludes are shot in real locations in Delhi and they almost work like narrators of the film. Through them, and their confused state we start the film, as we start understanding on to what happened on that night, their involvement in the film also grows exponentially.
They have made the most out of whatever screen time they got in the film, and this clearly shows their acting prowess. Although there is some creative license where one’s credibility meter is stretched. Picture this: a red ambassador cruising down the lanes of Delhi, passing of for a cab. To top it, this is one cab which is never empty.
Arshad's cab always has his chum, the wannabe actor sitting at the back, and he is still picking up customers. What makes Arshad's character endearing and comical is the fact that he is a serious guy in the movie trying to make his living and pay for his kidney operation. But it is what he does, how he does it and what he says that makes him a funny character in the movie.

Ajay Devgan, as usual has his share of brilliance in the film, and it will take time for Ayesha to equal up to him. The film has no major flaws and the comic timings are just right. Great Climax ending all the confusion.

A good watch and a surprisingly good comic treat

My rating: 7/10

Story plot:
Inspired from Telugu hit Anukokunda Oka Roju, this movie is a mystery revolving around a murder on a night of Sunday. A girl named Seher (Ayesha Takiya) who’s a dubbing artist is a simple girl, one day she decides to have a night out, but on that particular night few incident occurred which cause trouble to our sweet and charming Seher. She is actually little forgetful in nature and this all creates trouble, then comes Mr.
Cop ie. Rajvee (Ajay Devgan) who is just confuse if this girl is the suspect or not. Anyways, after that night incident, what she find that she being chased by some mobster
who thinks that she is trouble for them because of that Sunday. Morever, we have Arshand Warsi (He is cab driver, actually gave was hired on that sunday) comes up , along with Irfan Khan now and then and makes some nuisanse. It could be solved easily of our COP can find all about that missing Sunday of Seher (Ayesha).

Director: Rohit Shetty
Producer: Kumar Mangat, Sunil Lulla
Cast: Ajay Devgan, Arshad Warsi, Ayesha Takia, Irfan Khan, Mukesh Tiwari
Music: Sandeep Chowta, Suroor (Pakistani Band), Daler Mehndi, Shibani Kashyap, Raghav Sachar, Amar Mohile
Lyrics: Farhad, Sajid, Kamran Bari, Daler Mehndi, Virag Mishra, Aditya Dhar

Raise your voice against all social evils

Of course the first reaction when you watch the film is to start comparing it with Rang De Basanti, and yes you would agree with me, after you see the film, Rang De Basanti was definitely a better made movie but it had its own problems. If you have seen any of the Raj Kumar Santoshi films like Ghayal, Damini, Ghatak, Lajja and rest of them, the protagonist is always the victim be it a women or man, and the film is how he/she grows out of their shadow, the underlying message is always social. There are always various layers into the protagonist and that's what makes the protagonist so rememberable.

Halla Bol is Ajay Devgan's film; he shines through out the film, and takes quite a lot of potshots on his co-bollywood actors as well. In Hindi Mainstream cinema, this has become quite a trend after Shahrukh Khan's Om Shanti Om.


The first 20-25 mins. of Halla Bol is excellent in terms of narrative structure, pacing and acting by the principle actors. You are taken right into the middle of the narrative tension building up.

The climax and rather the whole second half is where the film falters, it suddenly becomes a big preachy kind of a film, where everybody is accused of being a co-conspirator to the times of society we live in. By not raising our voice, we become a collaborator to all the corrupt politician, policemen and government machinery. Well, that's what the film is all about, raising our consciousness, okay accepted, but still the climax will disappoint you in the film. The pace build up in the first half somehow fizzles away without much of positive action happening in the film, Halla Bol can't measure up to the great climax of Rang De Basanti, even though it being a negative one.

Two instances in the film is worth mentioning, the dialogues between Ajay Devgan with the politician and his subsequent urinating on the carpet at the minister house leaves you awestruck, the second instance of the fire filled performance by Pankaj Kapoor, his grit and screen presence is powerful and he pulls of a great performance of a stereotypical Leftist Street Activist.

The film could had been shorter and Vidya Balan used more creatively. But still this film is thought provoking and well made, not technically sound like Rang De Basanti, but that's Raj Kumar Santoshi, the dialogues as earlier in his other film, is just too magnificent.

A must watch...well, you can decide later to Raise your voice or not against all social evils, but at least lets start acknowledging that they do exist in the first place.

My Rating: 7/10

Story Plot: A small town boy Ashfaque (Ajay Devgan) aspires to become a bollywood superstar. He joins a street theatre group run by a reformed dacoit Sidhu [Pankaj Kapur], who uses street theatre as a medium to bring about an awakening in the masses. His determined struggle and hard work pays of and he shoots to fame as a super star of Bollywood in a short span of time. With fame and money, Sameer Khan (Ashfaque’s new screen name) gets self-obsessed and looses his real self, and in turn looses the love of his near and dear one’s. An incident that takes place at a party brings transformation within his self. Torn between his false prestige, a superstar image and humanity, Ashfaque emerges as a real life hero.

Director:
Rajkumar Santoshi
Producer:Suresh Sharma
Cast:
Ajay Devgan, Vidya Balan, Pankaj Kapoor
Music:
Sukhwinder Singh, Vanraj Bhatia
Lyrics:
Sameer, Shri Dushyant Kumar, Mehboob

A MAFIA MOVIE - NOT QUITE


A Romantic comedy crippled by a lame script and a serious absence of chemistry between the leads, teamed here with beautiful but horribly miscast Madeleine Stowe and Sly as her bodyguard. The script goes through such turmoil in the middle of the movie, when Stowe marries the mobster in an impromptu ceremony and then induces him to expire of a heart attack by shimmying out of sexy lingerie.

Stallone has absolutely no role to play - the script by Will Aldis and Steve goes from ineffectual to ridiculous. The entry of the Sicilian romance novelist Marcello (Raoul Bova) just makes you go through the dark harrowing spirals of this mundane script.

If films were more organic in terms of how the characters are developed and if they could stop creating such a farce of a movie. I can't even call it a mafia movie when it decides to go a great lowbrow with scenes involving a farting mobster.

Don’t' pick the DVD, well the picked up the DVD thinking of the strange pair of Stallone and Madeleine, and ya; I accept I have this strange weakness of Madeleine Stowe kinds. But really a big price to pay...

My rating: 2/10

Story Plot: Mafia chieftain Angelo (a raspy-voiced Anthony Quinn in his final film role) extracts a promise from his trusted bodyguard, friend and surrogate son Frank (Stallone) to take care of the old man's daughter Jennifer (Stowe). Raised by a Long Island couple, her true identity has been kept secret to everyone including herself, to avoid making her a target for rival Mob violence. When Angelo gets whacked, Frank lands on Jennifer's doorstep to give her a crash course in family history.
Director:
Martyn Burke

Writers (WGA):
Will Aldis (story)
Will Aldis (screenplay) ...

Cast
Sylvester Stallone ... Frankie Delano
Madeleine Stowe ... Jennifer Barrett Allieghieri
Anthony Quinn ... Angelo Allieghieri
Raoul Bova ... Marcello / Gianni Carboni

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

End of Slavery (Contd.)

I shall for all time put an end to slavery
And for once liberate the whole world
Those who perpetrate atrocities no the exploited people,
Shall each and all be visited by deserved retribution

The Tract society published three pamphlets in the beginning, which were declared by the colonial administration as highly objectionable.
Few excerpts:

Tract Three:This tract raised the question: what is the greatest sin? The answer again was: poverty. It emphasized that financial and educational deprivation is the cause of most sins. There are millions of people who commit theft, decoities and murders because of this. A large number of womenfolk are driven to sell themselves and their honour because of hunger. Then the question was raised as to how this problem could ultimately be solved. The answer, according to the revolutionaries, lay in the economic restructuring of society. Private property should be abolished. The means of production should be socially owned and all people should share work and benefits alike

The HSRA leaders repeatedly denied all the allegations that they are blood thirsty tyrants and aimlessly fired at and threw bombs to kill innocent human beings. In the course of their statement, Bhagat Singh and Dutt dealt with their aim in throwing the bombs without hurting anybody. They explained what violence was and what it was not:

Force when aggressively applied is violence and therefore morally unjustifiable. But when it is used in furtherance of a legitimate cause and new movement which has arisen in the country and of which we have given a warning is inspired by the ideals which guided guru Govind Singh, Shivaji, Kamal Pasha, and Reza Khan, Washington and Garibaldi, Lafayette and Lenin
Dealing in the question of violence and non-violence, The philosophy of the Bomb clarifies the stand of HSRA:
…Violence is physical force applied for committing injustice, and that is certainly not what the revolutionaries stand for. On the other hand, what generally goes by the name of non-violence is in reality the theory of soul-force, as applied to the attainment of personal and national rights, through courting suffering and hoping thus to finally convert your opponent to your point of view. When a revolutionary believes certain things to be his right, he asks for them pleads for his them, argues for them, wills to attain them with all the soul force at his command, stands the greatest amount of suffering for them, is also backs his efforts with all the physical force he is capable of. You may coin what other work you like to describe his methods but you cannot call it violence, because that would constitute an outrage on the dictionary meaning o that word. Satyagraha is insistence upon Truth. Why press for the acceptance of Truth by soul force alone? Why not add physical force also to it? While the revolutionaries stand at their command, the advocates of soul-force would like to ban the use of physical force. The question really, therefore, is not whether you will have violence or non-violence, but whether you will have soul force plus physical force or soul force alone
Another manifesto of the HSRA also dealt with the twin question of violence and terrorism saying:
Non-Violence may be noble ideal, but is a thing of the morrow…The world is armed to the very teeth. And the world is too much with us. All talk of peace may be sincere, but we, of the slave nation cannot, and must not, be led away by such false ideology

The manifesto clarified the HSRA’s attitude towards terrorism saying that “terrorism is never the object of revolutionaries, nor do they believe that terrorism alone can bring independence,” but terrorism, according to them, was an “effective means of retaliation. The British government exists, because the Britishers have been successful in terrorizing the whole of India…Only counter terrorism on the part of the revolutionaries can checkmate effectively this bureaucratic bullying.

Bhagat Singh had read Karl Marx and Lenin in jail and had gone into the details of the success of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. He had come face to face with these basic question regarding India’s true struggle.

??What should be the character and shape of the future political, economic and social set up?
Would the levers of power e manipulated by the princes, nawabs, feudal lords, priests, capitalists and money lenders after the white overlords were overthrown?

Bhagat Singh thought that these elements were the biggest stooges and props of British power in India and collaborated with them in exploitation, violence and suppression of the people. Bhagat singh had come to understand clearly that without doing away with these lackeys of imperialism, the Indian freedom would be only for the rich, the communalists, the toadies and the affluent sections of the upper castes, and not for the 95% of the poor and helpless people.

The Bitter Truth

Despite HSRA’s commitment to socialism, its leaders could not shed their petty-bourgeois revolutionism when still persisted to a considerable extent. Their faith in heroic terrorism or ‘propaganda by action’ led them to sacrifice their most useful comrades and in the process, decimated their ranks. They could not withstand bureaucratic suppression and the hostility of the bourgeois nationalist leadership. Their belief that propaganda by deed or by death could help in creating a revolutionary socialism consciousness proved unfounded. Where were the political forces – parties, groups, individuals – in the country which could take advantage of the sentiments released and aroused by their immense sacrifices? Their actions aroused nationalist consciousness but could not convey their message of socialism to the masses. This nationalistic enthusiasm generated by revolutionary actions was made use by the bourgeois leadership of the Congress. Gandhi’s Dandi March in March 1930 was preceded by such ‘action deeds’ like the Assembly Bomb explosion and Vice regal train explosion in 1929. The HSRA could not preach its own programme through its own leaders’ sacrifices while the same was done by the parties which it decried. The very bourgeois nationalist leadership which they had desired to replace through exposure of its pro-capitalist character harnessed their names and sacrifices to make popular their own brand of nationalism. If any success can be ascribed to the Gandhi led Civil Disobedience Movement, 1930-32, in terms of mass court arrest the credit must be given to the heroic sacrifices made by the members of the HSRA in 1928, 1929 and 1930. by their dare devil acts they aroused great political consciousness in the people who, not sharing their level of sacrifices were prepared to take the part of lesser sacrifices charted out by the Congress in the beginning of 1930.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Revolutionaries, Ideologies & A Tight Noose - I


Swami Vivekananda declared:



I am thoroughly convinced that no nation or individual can live by holding itself apart from the community of others and whenever such an attempt has been made under false idea of greatness, policy or holiness - the result has always been disastrous to the secluding one. To my mind, the one great cause of this downfall or degeneration of India was the building of a wall of custom, whose foundation has been hatred of others...


At other place he said:


No man , no nation can hate others and live, India's doom was sealed the very day they invented the word MLECCHA and stopped from communion with others


Is attaining swaraj was only for Hindus, or only Mahomedan, but not a Christian Swaraj. When we seek for freedom, do we seek a different swaraj for each one of us.


I just finished reading "To Make the Deaf Hear" by S Irfan Habib on the ideology and Programme of Bhagat Singh and His comrades. Completely moved and It takes you right into an Revolutionaries psyche. Let me hurl these bombs on you...


Ideology and Programme of HRA - Hindustan Republican Association

The pamplet The Reolutionary began with the words of Neitzsche : "Chaoas is the necessary to the birth of a new star" and the birth of life is accompanied by agony and pain. "India is also taking a new birth, and is passing through that inevitable phase, when chaos, and agony shall play their destined role, when all calculations shall prove futile, when the wise and mighty shall be bewildered by the simple and weak, when great empires shall crumble down, and new nations will arise and surprise humanity with the splendour and glory which shall be all its own"


The manifesto of the HRA tried to condemn the mischievous propaganda against the revolutionaries for being terrorists and anarchists. It said:


The Indian revolutionaries are neither terrorists nor anarchists. They never aim at spreading anarchy in the land, and therefore they can never properly be called anarchists. Terrorism is never their object and they cannot be called terrorists. They do not believe that terrorism alone can bring Independence and they do not want terrorism for terrorism sake, although they may at times resort to this method as a very effective means of retaliation. The present Government exists because the foreigners have successfully been able to terrorise the Indian People"


It further proceeds:

The official terrorism is surely to be met by counter terrorism...Moreover the English masters and their hired lackeys can never be allowed to do whatever they life, unhampered, unmolested. Every possible difficulty can resistance must be thrown in their way.


It almost feels like they are talking about today...today's unmasked imperialism. Just changed the names and these revolutionaries are calling out to us...
(more to come)






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