Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Black Friday

Finally caught Black Friday; full thanks to vcd piracy.
And the film is path-breaking and brilliant, to say the least. We have heard, many a times, claims about a movie that looks at an event objectively in a non-judgemental way. But, in Black Friday, it's as close as it gets.
The movie, ably supported by the "voyeuristic" screenplay (the movie is based on Hussain Zaidi's eponymous book) written by the director Anurag Kashyap himself, describes the events of the 1993 bomb blasts in Bombay, its precursors and the subsequent investigations by the police, in a non-linear format. The ordering of the events is in line with how they were revealed to the police/public (again emphasizing the voyeuristic and objectival narration) rather than the chronological order. Hence, very correctly, the movie starts with the blast itself and the juggles to the past and present.
The movie itself is more like a docu-drama. Since the events involve numerous characters (mostly unrelated), there is no central character in the movie. Even, many of the significant characters in the movie, don't even share their screen presence (well.. mostly), evoking strong reminiscences of the Steven Soderbergh film "Traffic". This is one of the characteristic qualities the movie wants to maintain as new characters come into the main story (which is about the 1993 blasts and nothing else) and disappear.
But, the same cannot be said of the individual chapters. In fact, the best aspect is the way the movie seamlessly moves focus from one character to others - like the radical shift in one chapter to show what Baadshah Khan (Aditya Srivastava grabbing the top acting honours, after a good number of small roles elsewhere and the unreleased Paanch;please take a bow) one of those involved in the blasts, is going through; rather than introducing him when he is caught by the police, that is.
The film is moderately paced and doesn't try to be a thriller or anything of that sort. A remarkably done chase sequence (ending quite humourously) which was the most close-to-life chase I (perhaps, all) have ever seen stands as a testimony to this statement. There are at least a dozen sequences in the movie which a Scorsese would be proud of; like the sequence of one busy night at the police station when the policemen enquire a friend of one of those who was involved in the bomb blasts, when so many things are happenning in the station (remarkably done with tracking shots to-and-fro from one place to another within the station). Talking about the Cinematography, Nataraja Subramaniam's work is terrific and the red tone used to film the investigation sequences is very effective.
The entire cast is full of the low-key usual suspects (i.e., those who emerged with a strong theatre background and/or worked with the likes of Shekhar Kapur, RGV etc.) each of them chipping in very well; including wonderful performances from Kay Kay as Rakesh Maria, who investigates the case, and good old Pawan Malhotra as Tiger Memon who masterminds the blasts.

Last but not the least, here's doffing my hats a dozen times to Anurag Kashyap, himself.
When will the day come when I will be allowed to see his Paanch?

1. My reaction after seeing the film about its release is this: The film is too real (and it will be called biased by all the sides) to have a theatrical release in India.2
2. Yesterday had something to do with unreleased films. First, it was Black Friday which I had rented the day before. Next thing I did was to grab a vcd copy of Makrand Deshpande's Hanan (from Crossword when I chanced upon it!) and watch it. So, that's coming next..

Friday, October 07, 2005


From the discussion I had with Suresh in the the comments section of my rant-post on the Oscar Swindlers, I decided that I will have a neat little write-up on Ghajini. I watched the movie yesterday and I should say that Murugadoss did surprise me in quite some aspects on the genre he was trying to touch upon. I was expecting him to make a 'taut thriller' (a real abused term) in which he will sit back, explain what happenned in every significant scene in the form a stand-in character for the audience, hence making the movie a real bore to watch. Boy, how wrong I was! Not only did the movie come out of the mold of an archetype thriller, it also bowls you over with it's twists.
Firstly, I feel it's quite unfair to say that this movie is ripped off from Memento considering how much of that premise is actually used in the movie. It's very difficult to remake an Indie American movie like Memento maintaining all it's primary elements and still expect the movie to work wonders at the B.O. But, the director goes completely off-track thereby serving the producer's desire (as I hear the movie is doing great business) to see the cash-regsiter ringing as Ghajini is anything but an Indie film. Now, for the actual review.

Ghajini is a film of lost opportunities. With a little care, the director could have sure made an unintentional piece of Altman-esque black comedy. Try revisiting the following sequences and you will know what this movie could have been.
1. The moment in which a Police Officer (played to hilarious effect by Riyaz Khan) desperately looking for the 2003 diary since he is not able to resist his anxiety to know what happenned to their love story on the new year day (reminiscent of Kubrick's idea to have Gen. Turgidson in the toilet when apparently a much significant thing - the bomber wings being sent to U.S.S.R. - happens). This is a recurring theme of the movie. There is also a direct nod to the Kubrick's classic when Nayanthara (again played with remarkable understanding) goes to take bath (mind you, here it doesn't serve as being funny but is a tipping-off-the-hat-act only) after reading the 2002 diary.
2. The hilariously in-your-face death of the Police Officer (Sudhish Kamath points this out in his take as well).
3. The Jyothika-esque Asin helping out handicapped children by helping them swing off the gate entrance floor without stepping on the bars. This seems to be a bold commentary on human being's pleasure (like this review) to indulge in his/her creativity in the name of charity and goodwill. I hope, in the future, this scene find a place in all those black-comedy handbooks.
4. The already much-praised sequence (finding place in every damn review like here, here) as a not-so-intelligent cop (a possible reference to the cops-gone-crazy hollywood flicks) takes his time to find out that the 10-digit tattoos in Sanjay Ramasamy's body must be cellphone numbers.
5. Much has been already said about the BGM by Harris Jeyaraj. All I would like to add is that he gives able support to the proceedings and he has put all the talk, that he could be the next best thing to have happenned to Tamil film music, to rest.

So, is this as entertaining as, say, a Narasimha? Definitely not; It would have been one only if it had completely made sense throughout its duration. But it had those little differences.
1. The stand-alone comedy track in the flashback, involving Surya and Asin as lovers in a strange setup. This would have definitely served very well in some other romantic comedy. But here it was off-track and made one wait helplessly to know what happens to the main story and Riyaz Khan's antics :p.
2. The songs. There are too many of them. These seems to have been added for commercial viability and hinder the film's proceedings in more than one way.
3. If he had completely left behind the rather oblique inspiration from the movie Memento which was rarely put to use (and the little moments when it is put to use, it serves as a spoof of the movie).
4. Surya, in his lone (but failed) crusade trying to make the movie appear like an edge-of-the-seat thriller.

P.S.:- It's too easy for self-professed critics to lampoon Ghajini. Ignore them.
P.P.S:- And for a little saner review, look elsewhere!