Saturday, July 29, 2006

movie review "SARCAR"

SARCAR by Ram Gopal Verma a review by anonymous source

Members of the Indian film industry feel insulted sometimes when the industry is referred to as Bollywood. Well, a cheap, wannabe imitation such as Sarkar certainly justifies the label. I have read in places that the movie bears little resemblance to The Godfather. Well, the obvious references to Michael Corleone, Solozzo, Sunny Corleone, McClusky, Kay, Bonasera, the Don himself and a host of others, would beg to differ.

I have always believed that Ram Gopal Varma's films have been the heights of uber-pretentiousness...Sarkar touches hitherto unexplored depths. The long, overdone pauses, overkill melodrama and meaningless camera angles do not speak of good direction. They speak of yet another novice trying to match up to another great director, in this case Coppola. The typical, clich├ęd (might I add wrongful) use of classical and devotional music to emphasize deaths and melodrama do not help RGV's cause. The long pauses may suggest good direction to some. On the contrary, they are pretentious attempts masquerading as good cinema. Think Mani Kaul. It is one thing to have pauses for effect. It is quite another when it is overdone and exaggerated. This is an example of RGVs policy of hammering the message home to the audience. Subtlety has never been RGV's forte. To illustrate an example: Coppola shows Bonasera begging the Don for justice and we see the Don eventually agree to dispense that justice. With that out of the way, we assume that it is done, simply through Brando's impressive manner and later events. In Sarkar, RGV actually goes to the length of showing the justice being dispensed as the perpetrator is pummeled. This is just one example to show the difference between good film-making and RGVs brand of film-making. RGV probably assumes that the audience is so thick that it needs everything driven home with a sledgehammer. If one is to blatantly copy something, one should at least do a good job of it!

In addition, the movie seems to lose its way in the middle, starting off as a story of a powerful man, taking a jab at family drama, rushing down the avenue of a gangster flick and finally getting thoroughly lost. Had RGV managed to incorporate all these elements and wrapped them around the central storyline, we would have had a much better film on our hands. However, this is a point which I have to make regarding most of RGVs films. Even a movie as critically acclaimed as Company, went all over the world in the course of deciding on a plot and themes.The movie degenerates into a typical mainstream flick with melodrama worthy of a soap-opera.

Another important issue that one must consider now is: How long can directors go on making cheap imitations of great movies, calling them 'tributes'? Whether we like it or not, Sarkar bears too many resemblances to The Godfather as regards the plot and characters (the similarity ends here however, as the true film-making element enters leaving RGV stranded in the wake of a truly great film). If one were to consider the direction and cinematography of Sarkar, yes, it is not similar to The Godfather. I repeat, if RGV was going to shamelessly copy something, he might as well have done a good job of it. However, this occurs not through a want of trying. It boils down to one simple fact: RGV is one of the most overrated filmmakers in India today. I just wasted some good money renting out Sarkar. I plan to demand a refund tomorrow! In case you have watched the movie too, I suggest that you do the same. Eminently forgettable. Or, to maul a famous quote: "Forget it Jake. Its Tinseltown." At its very worst I might add.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Review of Devdas (New)

very interesting take on Bansal's devdas. source unknown.

The Devdas dilemma: should literary works be mummified in their original
form or should they be re-jigged any which way possible to create
nouvelle entertainment for those dumb folk who are unaware of the classics?

Las Vegas meets Durga Puja in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas. The result
is catastrophic, tasteless kitsch. The sets are like lost cities of
Xanadu. Devdas's own home is a gigantic statue-crowded,
chandelier-infested Parthenon. Paro's abode is a mutant cathedral ringed
by stained glass verandahs. Chandramukhi's kotha is a part-Mughal,
part-Hindu Gujarati fantasia. The costumes are strictly mythological.
Modern designers dive into Amar Chitra Katha and surface with lengths of
gold and silver that are wrapped around bejewelled L'Oreal encrusted
nymphs. Frescoes, tapestries and Khajuraho images streak by. Gregorian
chants, Hindustani classical and Indi-pop rise in crescendo. The viewer
cowers in his seat, stupefied by the designer horror unleashed by Bhansali.

Yet, the film's a hit. The irritating NRI whose chief aim seems to be to
patronise films that show India as a land of lurid traditions and comic
book landscapes is thrilled. Indeed, the sets of Devdas are being flown
to Brussels for the wedding of a Gujarati diamond merchant's daughter.
At home, folk who have never heard of Sarat Chandra's novels, are
flocking in feverish numbers to inhale Bhansali's monumental mistake.

The entire point about Devdas the novel is that the love of Devdas and
Paro is perennially and tragically hidden. Love is unspoken. Undeclared.
Who can forget that the most romantic sentence Devdas ever uttered to
Paro (delivered in Dilip Kumar's sensual drawl) was, "Tu kitni badi ho
gayee hai, Paro."

In this film, by contrast, D&P prance past 5-star hotel swimming pools,
pose in calendar art tableaux or say "ish" and "theek acche" in
caricature Bangla. And why on earth do Paro and Chandramukhi meet? Their
very raison d'etre was that they were worlds away from each other! And
Devdas was not just a lovesick drunk. Rather, he symbolised the
emotional collapse and pathetic decline of the Bengali leisured class.
But all Shah Rukh Khan does is hurtle through mammoth Arabian Nights
moonscapes brandishing bottles of amber liquid. Oh please!

Yet, some adaptations have been as great as the original. West Side
Story was an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Peter Brook's Mahabharata
created modern drama from a traditional epic. Othello has been
beautifully re-told in Kathakali. Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
was a highly successful take-off from Hamlet. Playwright Jean Anouilh
adapted Antigone, the Greek tragedy into a modern political satire. The
Bible was transmogrified into a brilliant rock concert in Jesus Christ
Superstar. So why not Devdas?

Why not, indeed. Bhansali would argue that more people will seek out the
original story after seeing his film. That the idiot multitude might
even buy a copy of Sarat Chandra's book. Yet the tragedy of Bhansali's
film is that new generations will receive nothing of the emotional depth
of the novel. They will not remember Sarat Chandra's tortured
protagonist and his paralysing inability to express his emotions. All
they will remember of Devdas is a multi-coloured circus.