Indian top 10

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Re: Indian top 10

Postby madhuban » Sat Jan 14, 2006 3:43 pm

@ wpqx

ain't upset your dislike of the film made me more convinced that the DVD/VHS should have a commentary by a perceptive film scholar, as well as sensitive subtitling. It is a difficult film, even for many people in India, because it captures the last vestiges of feudalism (many of us were born after its demise). The old man, who you found so irritating, is really an anachronism amidst the ruins of a fleeting way of life. The more he becomes redundant, the more he tries to hold onto the only lifestyle known to him, till he becomes a caricature of a man - absurd, lonely and pathetic. But Ray's deft handling prevents one from dismissing him completely. A stinging critique of feudalism's display of power and grandeur, the film also invites compassion for a man who knows no other way of life. There are several layers to this film that make it far more complex than a straightforward critique. Against the landed gentry of old feudalism, you have the nouveau riche without a noble pedigree. The rules of the game, as it were, have changed (Ray as all of you know, was extremely fond of Renoir), but the game remains vapid and cold. What, I think, rescues the film from being a tirade against a social class and its dominance in the recent past, is the music. Everything was not wrong with feudalism. The landed gentry served a very important function as patrons of the arts. While the motivation for patronage might partially have been self- aggradisement, many of these zamindars were true connoisseurs of the arts, and they were responsible for the survival of many artists and their practices. It is this highly nuanced perspective, the ability to look at something from different points of view, that makes the film a great work.

@ A
I work for an organisation called the India Foundation for the Arts, and we make grants to projects across the arts. Will talk about what i do in the introduction thread.

M
madhuban
 


Re: Indian top 10

Postby Johndav » Sat Jan 14, 2006 5:36 pm

Even as an elitist anachronism, I certainly felt sympathy for him and i agree it's a delicately balanced, non-judgmental film (everyone has their reasons, indeed), that may be more rewarding with further viewings. I appreciated it more second time round, anyway, and it's also lingered in my mind enough to tempt further goes. Actually it's often appeared in critics' top 10's, behind Charulata and Apu trilogy, though one that's split critical opinion more than most by Ray?

Indian music does seem difficult for some of us in the West to properly appreciate! In Cloud-Capped Star the sections i least liked involved the self-centred brother practising his singing (not very convincingly to my ear, but then again, he was working at it!) yet there are a couple of really beautiful musical passages (and he clearly does improve), and i've really enjoyed quite a few songs in other films.
Johndav
 

Re: Indian top 10

Postby madhuban » Tue Feb 28, 2006 2:23 pm

Two contemporary films that I've got to recommend very highly are "Maqbool" and "Raghu Romeo". "Maqbool" by Vishal Bharadwaj is an extraordinary adaptation of Macbeth and according to me can hold its own with the other great adaptations. "Raghu Romeo" by Rajat Kapoor has Vijay Raaz, (the actor who played the decorator, Dubey Ji, in "Monsoon Wedding") turning in a nuanced performance. The tale of a man obsessed with an actress from a television soap, "Raghu Romeo" explores the power of the small screen and its ability to so transfix the viewer that he/she mistakes the fictional story of the soap for real life. But you need the stomach for kitsch.

M
madhuban
 

Re: Indian top 10

Postby arsaib4 » Wed Mar 01, 2006 1:13 am

You might be surprised to hear this but I've seen Maqbool. I once read an enthusiastic review of it in a foreign magazine (the film played at a few International fests), so I decided to check it out. I liked it; especially enjoyed the performance of the overbearing patriarch (not sure of his name).
arsaib4
 

Re: Indian top 10

Postby madhuban » Thu Mar 02, 2006 7:27 am

arsaib, i'm glad you saw "Maqbool" and liked it. The overbearing patriarch was played by Pankaj Kapoor. Many people said that he closely followed Brando in The Godfather. I disagree because he plays an old, god-fearing Muslim who is also a ruthless mafia chief. The film harps on this dualism till his death. What I liked best about this adaptation is that it takes the moral universe of Shakespeare's text very seriously, while recontextualising it in present day India. The stroke of genius is really the tranformation of the witches into two corrupt fortune-telling police officers.

The same director is making "Othello" now. I have great hopes!

M
madhuban
 

Re: Indian top 10

Postby arsaib4 » Thu Mar 02, 2006 11:51 pm

The stroke of genius is really the tranformation of the witches into two corrupt fortune-telling police officers.

True. I think one of them was played by the great Om Puri, right?
arsaib4
 

Re: Indian top 10

Postby Johndav » Sun Mar 05, 2006 9:13 pm

So many helpful suggestions here, and i've been scouring imdb ratings too. Over 18,000 films listed there, so it's quite ridiculous what a miniscule percentage i've seen. I'm ordering the book 100 Bollywood films to help me catch up on the subject.

I'd be interested in any opinions here on the following, which i'd like to see:

Devdas (Barua)
Rang de Basanti (Mehra)
The Bogeyman (Aravindan)
Nayakan (Rathnam)
Chandralekha (Vasan)
Tarang (Shahani)
Ajantrik (Ghatak)
Pushpak (Singeetham)
The Forest (Karnad)
The Seedling (Benegal)
Taxi Driver (Anand)
Black Friday (H.Mukherjee)
Siddheshwari (Kaul)
Sangam (Kapoor)
Piravi (Karun)
Anand (Mukherjee)
The Jewel of Shiva (Vishwanath)
A Folk Tale (Mehta)
Johndav
 

Re: Indian top 10

Postby arsaib4 » Mon Mar 06, 2006 3:42 am

Ratnam's Nayakan, which surprisingly ended up on Time's Top 100 list (not that it matter a whole lot), is an Indianized "Godfather," meaning that it's very violent and... musical. Nayakan is a good film with a great central performance. (I've also enjoyed Ratnam's more "commercial" recent films such as The Youth and Bombay.)

Ankur was the debut feature of Benegal, an Indian 'New Cinema' pioneer. This film, along his later efforts Nishant and Manthan, attempted to expose the oppressive mechanisms prevalent in rural patriarchal societies. I remember it mostly for Shabana Azmi, who also made her debut, I think.
arsaib4
 

Re: Indian top 10

Postby Johndav » Mon Mar 06, 2006 9:58 am

Ah thanks. Someone (Tamil) at ymdb recently picked Nayakan in their 20 and it's in my Encyclopedia, so i'd be interested to see it. I'm all for the empowerment of oppressed minorities, but wonder if the film is too jingoistic and if it glamourises violence. As for Benegal, well i've been waiting to see his stuff for quite some years now. Doesn't seem to be much available here, though.

Thanks for bringing Time's list to my attention- apart from Nayakan (and it also includes Pyaasa) it still has plenty of the usual suspects, so rather less exciting than i'd hoped.
Johndav
 

Re: Indian top 10

Postby madhuban » Tue Mar 07, 2006 7:55 am

Please do not waste your time checking out this awful film. The central problem with this film is that the director could not make up his mind whether he should go on to make a true-to-the-genre "watan" (literally means country, but as a genre signifies films with an exaggerated patriotic sensibility) film, or a parody of it. "Rang de Basanti" oscillates between these two points of view, till it fails to be either. A pathetic and limp film as a patriotic one, and an unsure and wavering attempt at parody, inspite of some peppy dialogue inserted almost as an afterthought. The characters have no history and no context. Added to this already fatal menu, is the story of a "foreigner", Sue, who comes to India to make a film on Indian martyrs, and in the process of making it, inspires patriotism in a group of aimless youth, so much so that they end up assassinating the defence minister for corruption! The film degenerates abominably in the second half. The transformation of the group of friends is ridiculous, possibly because the film is uncertain about both the verite register as well as the demands of the larger-than-life. Stylish cinematography does not rescue it, because the decision to shoot the sequences from the film within the film (the one being made by Sue) in sepia, is simply a gimmick (I strongly suspect that Mehra saw Hou's "Good Men, Good Women" without paying enough attention to the sheer craft of the director). Towards the end, when the friends decide to get rid of the corrupt defence minister, there is a hilarious morphing - each of them start speaking chaste, literary Hindi imagining themselves to be the martyrs whose roles they enact in Sue's film. Though it is supposed to be a dead serious sequence, you cannot stop yourself from rolling on the floor! I tried really hard to think of this film as a parody, but couldn't hold on to the idea for long. Ultimately, all the friends are shot by the rapid action force as they take over the radio station and announce to the nation that they are brave martyrs!!!

Mr Mehra, are you serious? If you are, you've pushed bollywood back by 20 years and more, in spite of your back-and-forth storytelling device, film-within a film gimmick and the technical finesse of the shots! Is there any earthly reason why you should be making a bad rehash of N. Chandra's 1986 film, "Ankush" in 2006?

M
madhuban
 

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