Friday, November 6, 2009

Madhur Bhandarkar movies

I am back after a month and the main reason why I am writing one day before the Management Accounting paper is this review by Raja Sen (one of my favorite Indian movie of the few critics who understand Cinema and review it without fear or favor)

Review of "Jail" on by Raja Sen

I remember a year back when Fashion released, I was asked to go for it and I torpedoed the proposal saying I find Madhur Bhandarkar a pretentious director. Mind you, just a few days back I had watched Dil Kabaddi (atrocious copy of Woody Allen's gem "Husband And Wives" with a 100% rottentomatoes rating) and I am the same person who can watch all the eighties formulaic movies on Zee Cinema non-stop. But I find the presumed self-righteousness dripping from his movies, stars fawning over him and media lionizing and anointing him the "New Age Director" just plain nauseating.

 Pray tell me what is his "Claim to This Fame"?

A completely undeserved, fortuitous National Award for Chandani Bar or a highly over-rated Page 3 (though marginally better than others in his so-called "realistic" oeuvre -- Traffic Signal, Fashion, Corporate, Jail).

People say he has the ability to "shock your conscience with his hard-hitting realism". If you are referring to the scenes like actress-art director angle, socialite & foreigners with street children in Page 3 or boy being assaulted in Chandani Bar, I would say either I have a very shock-proof, hardened conscience or you need movies to tell you, "You know dude fashion industry is all dirty..It is about drugs, egos, wardrobe malfunction". Thank You Mr. Madhur. We know that. See, we also read the same newspapers from which you cull the stories. What kind of a shock you are talking about? Only shock I feel is when I see such pedestrian cinema being hailed as "showing new direction" to Bollywood in TV channels and only shock I see is, when in the movie breaks of Page 3, advertisements of Havells Switches "Shock Laga! Shock Laga!!' come :-)

Many people have used this strategy of getting a profession/business/social setting and basing their story on that. But it works when you bring some fresh perspectives, when you do a thorough research on the turmoils, trials and tribulations of the protagonists. When the setup is a part of the story being told, but story is not being told only because there is a setup. See, if you start discussing a movie like Shawshank Redemption with friends, you talk about hope, human determination, cool nonchalant acting of Tim Robbins and, most of all, the felicity with which Bob Gunton has played the part of a disgusting, corrupt, cruel warden.[Just watching him say "I want him found. Not tomorrow, not after breakfast - *now*" after Andy escapes is a moment of joy]

Shawshank on RT
Sahwshank movie quotes on imdb

Movie offers amazing insights in prison life, including how that old man refuses to go out of jail after spending most of his youth because he simply doesn't have anyone to go to. Prison is his home. And then when he is released, he commits suicide. Then you start thinking...then you are shocked...not in that Hila Ke Rakh Diya way, but more subtly because the movie has questioned your basic assumption that everyone inside the prison wants to go out to be free..not true..prison has become such a part of their identity that even when we outsiders can see their loss of freedom, they are either not aware of it or are ready to compromise with the curbs put on their liberty..because they derive their identity from it..because they just can't fit in anywhere else.. If you'll allow me some more minutes of your valuable time, let me say that this is a problem you'll see in many of the arguments or issues concerning India (or World) - Prison is just a metaphor and, in reality, you may be caged because you are born in a particular religion/caste/nation and your have sub-consciously tied your identity so closely with it that any attempt of slightest insult to the symbols of your religion/caste/nation by such insular people from some other religion/caste/nation is met with violent retaliation from your side...Result riots and societal disharmony.

You are more than "I am a Hindu upper caste male from the most advanced city of India belonging to the most upper class by income"...You are what you like, you are what makes you laugh, you are what makes you think, you are what kind of books/movies/music/games/hobbies you prefer, "you are what you think should never be done, what can be 'its chalta hai' and what you will always do" i.e. your values, and of course, you are what makes you angry.

Yes! I am talking about movies which can generate that kind of thinking and not those which resort to cardboard characters, stereotypes to tell us what we already know in the name of hard-hitting cinema..To such filmmakers, please hit me a little more hard. I still can't feel a thing.

And for that you need filmmakers who themselves don't live in their ivory towers surrounded by sycophant actors/actresses trying to get in their good books Just read Mughda Godse's interview on

Moghda's interview on about Jail movie

"Working with the same director on films with different genres is very challenging."

Films with different genres ...LOL.  Excuse Me, Ms. Mughda...Though movies can be vaguely made, words like genre have very specific meaning. Crudely speaking, movies can be comedy, tragedy, action, suspense type -- these are different genres..You don't say different genres to refer to similar documentary style movies made with different settings. Just because you have heard someone to use that word, it doesn't obligate you to use that word without knowing how to use it correctly, right Ma'am?

"And such challenges can be taken up only with directors of Madhur's caliber."

"He is a very fun loving person. Jitne serious inke films hai utna hi funny hai yeh."

Have you noticed how before the release of any of these movies such type of fun stories start spreading in umpteen media interviews given by stars. Oh! fun loving..Is it "Made-up-stories-of-actor/director-playing-silly-pranks-on-heroine-meant-to-be-released-to-news-pr-person-just-before-release-of-movie" wala fun or that cliche "He-works-hard-and-parties-harder" wala fun..Please elaborate

"We just didn't realize when we started shooting the film and when we finished it."
(kucch hona bhi chahiye movie mein realize/yaad rakhne ke liye))

 And if you did not already know, this is Madhur Bhandarkar's movie just before Chandani Bar
movie Trishakti on imdb

Yes, he was/is "that" type of director. And then he gets, to his utmost surprise, a National Award..finds a formula and starts milking it.. Kab tak? kaath ki haandi baar baar nahin chadhti, mere bhai.

1 comment:

  1. insightful.... i find it a little harsh on Mr bhandarkar.though. Somehow, I do not want to watch his movies in theaters as it is simply " not fun" to watch his movies. But, i liked "Page 3" and " traffic signal" moderately well.
    I think the best part of Bhandrakar's movie is the perspective of the movie... As you must have noticed in page 3, it was the drivers network who in a away narrated the movie.. (remember..jiski chalti hai uski g%#$ pe mombatti jalti hai).
    I think he does similar gimmicks in other movies too.. like drivers discussing...or the beggers discussing their point of view about the riches and so caleed society people.( i presume..)

    Having said all that, I'm not a Bhandarkar fan..