There have been very few movies that have had as much influence on its genre as The Godfather. When I say influence, I am of course using the Pritamian euphemism for “provide a treasure-trove of characters, situations and set-pieces on which the carrion-feeders of Bollywood can feast on for decades as they produce one aatank (terror) after another, including a movie titled Aatank Hi Aatank”. A part of the blame for being ravaged lies with the victim itself (and how often do we hear that). So epic is Godfather’s scope, so compelling are its protagonists and so eternal its dramatic conflict that it becomes genuinely difficult to extricate oneself from its influence, even with the best of intentions.
If you are an alien from outer space and your idea of humanity is formed solely on watching mainstream commercial Hindi movies, you could not be blamed for thinking that human beings are defined by two primary emotions. Anger and love. And that’s about it. Even in this rather restricted palette, there exist little in terms of shades. Anger is typically Sunny Deol snarling “Balwant Rai ke Tattu” (or Taate I forget which) or Amitabh Bachchanian “Aaj Khush to bahoot honge tum” angst. Love fares even worse, that many splendored thing reduced to juvenile “oohing and aahing” of the Ishq-wala love variety, an over-the-top concoction of roses-and-chocolate hyper-romance which frequently requires multiple adjectives to (“Pyar Ishq Aur Mohabbat”) hammer in the “Kaheen na kaheen koi hai” lovey-loveiness. Other expressions of emotions, when and if they are shown, are almost always concomitants to love, “Pyar ke Side Effects”. Thus melancholia has to stem either from the pain of separation between mohabbateins or from unrequited puppy-love. Even lust (“jism ki bhookh”) is defanged and transformed into a pink syrupy love-goo (“pyar ka ehsaas), bypassed from the loins to the heart in a masterful feat of moral surgery.
[ONLY for those who have seen Skyfall. Inside references and spoilers galore.]
As someone who writes genre fiction (Please buy “The Mine” if you have not yet), I always strive to layer in my elements. In other words, I try to hide the real horror of the story beneath the surface of the narrative such that what is being shown is as important (if not more) than what is being implied. Two levels (the outer and the inner) is the maximum I can handle and that too with difficulty. Which is why I doff my cap to Vikram Bhatt, a true master of horror, who effortlessly handles four, five, six and even sometimes seven layers of horror with consummate ease.
Case in point, Vikram Bhatt’s latest blockbuster Raaz 3 aka Raaz 3D aka Raaz the Third Dimension. It has caught the world by storm, getting reviews from NY Times (link) and LA Times (link), setting box-office records in India and perhaps, most impossibly, reviving the career of Bipasa Basu. Raaz 3 has seven layers of horror, which keen readers will note is the same number of circles of Hell envisioned by Dante. This, I believe, is not a co-incidence because sitting through Raaz 3 is like descending into the deepest depths of the Devil’s Lair.
So what are these seven layers you ask. Well, here they are. In no particular order.
As the door swings dramatically open, light streams into the darkened room. A man in an impeccably tailored black suit turns on his toes and points his gun towards the dissolving blackness.
“The name’s Bond, James Bond.”
“Oh for fuck’s sake”, says the voice from inside, “I knew it was you Mr. Bond the moment that Tadatada tune started playing. So enough with the nautanki.”
Jason Bourne never quite liked James Bond. Overtly theatrical and stylishly arrogant with a Cold War-vintage stench of Pussy Galore, Bond made him want to forget everything.
Watching Sunny Leone’s career is like rewinding a porn VHS—it starts out with full nudity and progresses to demurely clothed. She needs no introduction, of course, merely a Google search. Suffice to say, Leone grew up like many others, playing with toys along with other female friends,before moving on to other greater things, like Picasso in his “blue” period, blowing hot and cold and taking as many positions as Mitt Romney. Shooting into prominence for her appearance in a show that may be referred to, without loss of generality, as Big Bs, she caught the talent-spotting eyes of Mahesh Bhatt who then cast her in his daughter’s film “Jizz Em 2″ or, as it is called in India, Jism 2. Purely for her acting abilities. And of course because of her attention to detail, for which it seems she wanted to see health certificates (for HIV apparently) of her male co-stars [Link], perhaps because she did not quite understand what “getting into a character” meant.
[This post contains SPOILERS. DO NOT READ if you have not seen The Dark Knight Rises. For those of you interested in my opinion of TDKR: It is a solid summer entertainer that is well-worth the entrance. However it, in ITSELF, is not a classic for the ages, in the way that The Dark Knight was.]
[Also appeared in the DNA Sunday Mag]
If there is one thing I have learnt in eight years of posts and 57,405 comments at my blog “Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind” (http://greatbong.net) is that, nothing, and I mean nothing, gets the Indian audience more emotionally riled up than movie reviews.
Ridley Scott made a bloody good movie once. It’s name was “Alien”. Scary cat-face. A terrifying ship-horn. A sense of impending doom. Claustrophobia. Excellent use of light. And of silence. Icky jumping cauliflowers that eat faces. Organic dildos that penetrate. But from inside. More gooey stuff splattering in two minutes than two hours of a Japanese bukkake video.
“Alien” scared the shit out of me, each time I saw it. It affected me in such a visceral way that everytime I ate a egg-mutton roll during Durga Pujo at Maddox Square, I expected that alien head to come bursting out of my stomach and say “Guess whose meat it was that you ate. And guess who that egg batter came from.” Yes it was that scary. The food that is.
[Also published in DNA]
Gather round, children. Today I shall tell you the story of Agent Vinod. Not the Saif Ali Khan- Agent Vinod but the one who came before him, the original “Agent Vinod” from the 1977 movie with the same name.
It was a landmark year for international intrigue. Times were so bad that Iftikaar, known to play the staid police commissioner who encircles the bad guys ( “Police tumhe chaaron tarah se gher liya hai”), had crossed over to the dark side. There he was heading an international gang of intrigue, which not content with blowing up what looked suspiciously on-screen like toy-trains and doll-houses, had also hatched a sinister plot which involved kidnapping and imprisoning great scientist Ajay Saxena (Nazir Hussain) in a lair that had sharp dildos descending from the roof and, even more dangerously, lip-shaped TV screens. Why did they do this? So that they could obtain from him a secret formula he had developed, one that could negate even the effects of a Hydrogen-bomb.