Sunday, April 23, 2006

Rang De Basanti........

**Edit: (Disclaimer!!) - So after arguing with Gaya about this, let me make the following things clear. I am not a movie expert, and speak as a complete layman. I am even more laymanish than your doodhwalla (although doodhwallas can be pretty good experts at movies). More importantly, I confuse Aamir khan the actor, with his movie character, and I blame the director for every technicians fault. Even if there was nothing the director could do about it. I am shamelessly generalizing, and like I mention in the last para, I offer no reasons and justifications whatsoever. We have heard all the glowing eulogies of the movie, poems describing in words beauties that I can barely imagine. Think of this as being in the same vein, except describing not beauties, but uglies, and not describing, as much as mentioning...

So finally, I watched Rang De Basanti today. So here is my review of it. Belated, absolutely...but what the heck, I needed something to fill these pages.

Well, I am honestly not trying to be the rebel in town, but I really did not like the movie. In all fairness though, I had extremely high expectations, and the movie was supposed to be the only bright spot in an otherwise terribly dull day. Thats a double whammy for the movie's chances at being enjoyed, but for the reasons explained ahead, I think they only entrenched what would have been a slightly less extreme, but similar reaction to the movie.

So when I talk about the movie, please do keep in mind, that by the movie, I mean the cinematographic and story-telling aspects of the movie. The movie is not the equivalent of its message, and my thoughts on the message are a different issue altogether.

The first thing I look at when I want to rate a movie, is how much fun I had watching it. Fun, as I define it, is not just the disproportionate amount of laughter fart jokes extract from me, but is a measure of how the movie was able to influence my emotions (not to be confused with motions, in which case 'Kya Dil Ne Kaha' would win the oscars hands down, every year. And Tushar Kapoor would be the next Mr. B.). This includes the ability of the movie to make me laugh, cry, get angry or introspect. And contrary to the tone set by me yet, in this regard, the movie was excellent. I loved the movie for all these feelings it set off inside me. This surprised me, since as I watched the movie, it just seemed to make ill-executed transitions from one bad scene to another even worse. And then it struck that the movie had used a couple of cheap tricks. Patriotism. and Optimism. Yes Ladies and Gentlemen, giving the audience hope does sell, and when you use the words 'Awesome Youth' and 'I love my country' in the same sentence, you have a drug with the potency of viagra.

So am I being a little too harsh on the movie? Probably. I just dont buy into the "Catchy soundtrack + Sure to sell Message = Great Movie" school of thought. I wont deny the "=Commercial Success" connection though.

First of all, the movie is ridiculously slow. Well, it covers a lot of time and territory in a pretty short period of time, but the way it achieves this is by skipping entire sections between scenes. It is like a collage of scenes placed in the order that they occur. There are no logical transitions from one scene to another. Speaking of collages, did anyone else notice how much of the movie is spent showing collages? A significant amount of screen time is spent showing random scenes mashed together, with a cool (sometimes) song playing in the background. I initially called this the Dil Chahta Hai Effect, but thats not entirely true. Dil Chahta Hai lacked a strong plot, message, or story. It was nothing but an attempt at making a movie look as good as possible. And what looks cooler than a bunch of cool images put together in a deliberately careless fashion? However, while it looks good, it does not communicate much information, and in a plot based movie like RDB, providing information is key to advancing the movie.

Before I totally piss of any one who has read this far, let me say that the idea of showing snippets of the past in a relevant manner, is a brilliant idea. Unfortunately, A good idea does not a good movie make. Besides the storyline execution, the technicals were also lacking. They did probably use the most expensive cameras available, but that did not hide from the terrible angles the camera had. I know, they had to be 'different', because thats what sells, but it was still camerawork at its worst. The camera positioning was rather random and neither enhanced, nor complemented the mood of the scene. But those close-ups of Aamir Khan, from that old school black and white camera sure did look glitzy! And the acting? Contrived, and amateurish. Come on Aamir, I am one of your biggest fans, but I get that you represent the quintessential Delhi youngster, hip in actions, but still with his old school heavily Punjabi Hindi. You dont need to rub it into my face every time you accidentally fall within the camera's purview. But Aamir Khan, although the director was trying his (her?) hardest to prevent, was still good. But the rest are seriously in need of acting school. I couldnt help but laugh when the director expects me to picture that wimp like fellow, Siddharth, as Bhagat Singh. Oh Sue, how faulty that visionary eye of yours was. Are you sure you hadnt popped your bhaang cherry when you saw those revolutionaries sitting on that table in front of you? At the very best, your brain was playing a pretty cruel practical joke with your eyes.

And the music...God damn it, I could not stand that cheesy little fruity loop that played every time Sue glanced on her GrandDad's god damn book. It was honestly, the most any music has ever annoyed me. Well, that is if you dont count hearing the Band of Boys blaring from my neighbor's speakers. Except, the Band of Boys stuff wasnt really music, was it? I always thought it was our plan C in case we were attacked by the Independence Day aliens.

Yeah, I agree, I havent really supported my points too well, but honestly, watch the movie without thinking about how you dont want to be considered anti-patriotic by bitch-slapping it, and there is no way you will miss any of these 'facts' within the first 30 minutes itself. There is so much more I could have included, but I dont really expect anyone to read this far anyways, so it would just be a waste of time...


gayatri said...

waiterminuters. you know where the movie went wrong don't you, the storyline. the cinematography was excellent, and why did it appear weak, because of flaws in the storyline, not the otherway round. some briliant peice of shooting, visual pleasure. and really whats wrong with that. do we have to look for meaning in everything? does a close up have to convey something, and a medley of music and lights, too. thats the problem with us, really. sometimes, some things are merely brilliant usage of the camera without any contribution to the storyline. cinema is also about cinematography, and its strong enough to stand by itself. in this, case the movie makes you think, which is a good thing. but the storyline itself, goes to far and could have been handled better. im not particulary crazy about the movie, and i'm no patriot either, but really, id think you might want to reconsider. and aamirs acitng, considering he acted liike a perfect punjabi, tell me, wher'd he go wrong? or it it, weak character sketches again, with little scope?

sleepy sentinel said...

Lol...I loved the should be doing this professionally.Actually I agree with you whole-heartedly.The movie left a rather bad after-taste.It was as if the director was resorting to cheap gimmickry (patriotism) to make the movie a commercial success.If after 60 years of independence our filmmakers still have to resort to showing freedom fighers to sell a movie...there is something seriously wrong with us as a society.

Aamir Khan for me is so consumed with the idea of him being a good actor that the role he is supposed to be playing is no longer relevant...he goes ahead and plays Aamir Khan instead.He was the only half-decent actor in Hindi movies but he too has become just a 'star'.

A movie in a similar vein thar resorted to jingoism to sell itself was Lagaan.I know I will make myself many enemies but I hated it.Not only did it not deserve to win an did not even deserve to be in the top 5.Have you even seen the other movies that were short-listed?

Lagaan too had an immensely weak story-line.It was too melodramatic and failed to break out of the mould of traditional Bollywood cinema.When will we learn that understated does not mean ineffectual?

Where Lagaan did score over Rang De Basanti was that Aamir Khan was not quite as annoying and that the rest of the ensemble cast was significantly better(actually the rest of the cast in RDB seemd like they had been picked up from the streets at random).Notably the English actors in both films have been reduced to props or one-dimensional characters adding colour at best...their abilities have not been utilised at all.

Actually surprisingly the only Hindi movie made in the last 20 years(and Ive probably seen about 6 or 7...the ones that have been the biggest commercial successes and have got the best reviews) is Dil Chahta Hai.I liked the movie because the director or the cast did not pretend to be making a great movie.They achieved exactly what they set out to do.It was a light-hearted,fun movie and made no bones about that fact.I could actually identify with the characters.It goes without saying that it was technically a lot slicker than either RDB or Lagaan,

Anonymous said...

P.S. I thought Band of Boys was Plan B...or is that Nikhar?

vRad said...

Actually surprisingly the only Hindi movie made in the last 20 years(and Ive probably seen about 6 or 7...the ones that have been the biggest commercial successes and have got the best reviews) is Dil Chahta Hai.

I agree with you there. Dil Chahta Hai was simply trying to make a really good looking movie, that was indeed light-hearted and fun, so when they threw in random crazy camera angles, it actually added to the craziness and zaniness of the movie.

I liked Lagaan, but simply as a sports movie, where the underdog kicks ass. It certainly was not Oscar-material. Even the Oscar nominated shorts pack in better storylines, and more drama/humor than Lagaan managed in all of its 4 hours.

beloved_witch said...

The idea behind RDB was to bring back the concept of youth revolution, kind of like the ones by Che or even our own in the 70s. Albeit, it all fell a little flat, given the extravagant dose of optimism that ran throughout it.However, it might also be an attempt to reach a larger crowd, the movie going population who are influenced by songs, dances and star value. Maybe what seemed ludicrous or even larger than life to us, struck a chord somewhere.If it made anyone think for even a minute i'd say its atleast a start.
Speaking of recent films, the best i saw on such a subject was Hazaron Khwahishey Aisi, also one of the best made film i have ever seen, period. Of relentless struggle, without hoping for immediate results, just the belief that perhaps sometime somewhere down the ages, this, would make a difference.Now isnt that what revolution is truly about?

poorva said...

Well you are entitled to your own opinion and btw it was a nice read cuz it was a different opinion afta all the 'ooh RDB roks' sessions lekin all sed n dun I am a super fan of the movie... not because of anythin else but memories associated with it n the sense of connect it provides.. een i thot the end was a bit too dramatic an less on practicality..
i also think thr wasnt much wrong wid was a feast for the eyes (at least my eyes).

Abhay said...

Hope,Optisim and Patriotism have to sell...ya you are right about that...but just cause a movie uses these to entice an audience to enjoy a movie which you too enjoyed befoe u started scrutinising it doesnt make it a bad movie dude...If yu hope to learn how to stae revolution or bring about huge changes after watching this movie you kind of looked at the wrong place....when you compare the patriots Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekha Azand etc to the movies Sid and Aamir (dj)you obviously see these new guys as a flash in the pants but then again thats exactly what they were meant to was an individual decision they took and not a national....they wanted revenge and to scare the govt. into understanding that they would not stand down any longer... not to create a nation wide storm...Ya i agree strength lies in numbers (masses)been led by the intellect and thats the only way change can be got....however Gandhi who did that wouldn survive in todays day and how does one really bring about change???? the film maker i'm sure didnt know but then he is an artist and by potraying his views he hoped the emotions evoked within the intellect would maybe lead them to some answers...your right nothing got better except gossip after the movie released...but then every revolution started as just a small idea somewhere....IN our country blatant injustices occur everyday and go unpunished ..our government is by far the greediest organsiation one can think off...however to make a change you either have to break it (like shown in RDB though they just knocked off one guy a real pity) or you gotta make it like shown in Yuva..or you do both that is by far the fastest ...however also the hardest to do for those who can do it wil never risk all they have for it and those who do any of the above options cant combine both as they firmly believe in one of them....anyways as the new age dawns maybe superheroes will lead the masses frustrations in the right direction and then movie makers will have something to make that can be actually copied lol....s.a. ...take care bro..cya arnd