Friday, December 30, 2005

Black in Time top 10 movies of 2005

Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Black made it to Time magazines Top 10 movies of 2005. Black is at Number 5. However, it is in the Asia edition of Time. The article can found on the Time Asia webpage.

Time's Richard Corliss says

This is an unofficial remake of the 1962 U.S. film The Miracle Worker, about the deaf-blind child Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan, who penetrated the wall of dark silence to introduce Helen to the world of words. Bhansali, whose last film was the mega-soap opera Devdas, extends and reconfigures Keller's real-life inspirational story. Now the girl, an Anglo-Indian called Michelle McNally, pursues her education at a "normal" university. And her Annie Sullivan is a man — the man of Bollywood cinema, Amitabh Bachchan. As the plot ripens, and the grownup Michelle (Rani Mukherjee) emerges from the girl (Ayesha Kapoor), she must cope with both her teacher's ambitions for her and her emotions for him. This is an unusual film for India: no songs, a running time under 2 hrs. and most of the dialogue in English; yet it became a box office hit. It could also be a test for Western audiences unused to the fever pitch of Indian melodrama; they may need a warning label — Caution: Extreme Sentiment (May Be Contagious). Everyone else can dive right into the bathos and savor the brave, passionate performances of Amitabh, who harnesses gravity and humor to his magisterial machismo in what may be his greatest role, and the two Michelles, who revere and adore their teacher as the one man who matters. In so many Indian films the deepest searches are for romantic ecstasy and for reconciliation with the father figure. By addressing both these needs, Black is more than a noble weepie; it is the ultimate Bollywood love story.

I disagree about it being a love story. Its the ultimate anti-thesis to the Bollywood love story. Bhansali already excelled at the ultimate Bollywood love story in "Devdas" and "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam". The true bollywood love story of 2005 year is "Parineeta". The thing I hate about Western reviewers is that they see a couple of bollywood movies and think they know the entire genre. Imagine seeing a movie like Constant Gardner (another to make it to Time's top 10 list) and making a generalization of all British movies.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The real story behind King Kong : A satire

Two things were always at the back of Peter Jackson's mind. One, Titanic is the all time biggest earner and Steven Speilberg's name creates the biggest buzz. With great resolve Peter Jackson wants to break these shackles and rein over filmdom. He starts looking for a movie to remake that has a truly international appeal. He decides to watch all this favorite movies starts with Titanic, Jurassic Park, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and the Green Mile. As he watches these movies his heart wells up with sorrow. He does not want to remake one, he wants to remake all of them, at the same time. Now we understand that Hollywood was going to let Jackson make pretty much anything he wanted, but how was he going to convince them that it was "ok" to shoot four movies at the same time. He decides to take a few weeks off to think the matter through. At home in New Zealand he feels a new calm descending over him and a power guides him to his journal he wrote as a kid. He looks at an entry where he talks so eloquently as a eight year old about making King Kong. He chuckles to himself wishing if only life were so simple now. Then in a momemt of a lifetime, it hits him. All his sorrows were washed away with a single wave of the ocean. He realizes he could make four movies at the same time. It would just have to be called "king kong".

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Social Progress in India?

Kaushik Basu is Economic professor at Cornell University. He has an article on the bbc about social progress vs. economy in India. He has an article on Whither social progress in India? . The issues he mentions are child labour, gay rights, stem cell research, caste discrimination, gender discrimination. But he only gives numbers and facts for child labour and non-existent gay rights. Why not talk about the others? There are other social issues, like dowry, female infanticide, misuse of the dowry protection law, lack of elementary education facilities in rural places, etc. Punjab has the highest male/female ratio compared to any other state.

Child Labour: Somewhere between 10.25% and 19.90% of all Indian children between the ages of nine and 15 are labourers.

Gay Rights: Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code categorizes homosexuals as criminals.

He claims today's India is more intolerant than 50 years ago.
Rebuttal: India has a Muslim President, Sikh Prime Minister, a communist party part of the central goverment in a country with a Hindu majority. How are we less tolerant than the Indian 50 years ago? India has also had a Women prime minister. In the last two hundred years US is still to have a woman or a black president. Most presidents fit the protestant white male category. If I remember correctly there have been only 2 Catholic presidents, JFK being one.

Even with the so called economic development there are still huge parts of India with there is no running water, electricity, and roads. About 30% of India still lives below the poverty line. Child Labor stems from poverty and not social or cultural situations. Everybody should be able to atleast provide for themselves a basic standard of living. People who cry themselves hoarse about outsouring don't realize that if 10,000 US jobs move to India, is just sliver of the cake. Standard of living has improved for the middle class, but we still have a long way to go to make India a economically developed controy. And if we truly equate social and economic progress, I think we have made equal progress in both.

Nice couplet

Har ek baat pe khete ho tum ke tu kya hai
Tumhi kaho ke ye andaaze guftago kya hai

Rago mein daudte phir ne hum nahi kayal
Zabakahin se hi na tapaka to phir lahoo kya hai

I love the way the words flow. If anyone knows enough Urdu to explain what the last half really means, please do let me know.