Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Jaani Dushman :Ek Anokhi Kahani

A film way ahead of its time..
n the year 2002, India got a chance to witness revival of a genre, a genre called Raj Kumar Kohili, If you are aware of the name then you will already know what i am talking about but those of you who aren't, let me take you a couple of decades back in time, and remind you of multistarrer blockbusters like Nagin(1976), Jaani Dushman(1979), Raj Tilak(1984) and Bees Saal Baad(1988)..there was a time when this name was a synonym to hard hitting thought provoking and yet entertaining films, these films have broken new grounds in Indian Cinema and taken it to places where it had never been before..RajKumar Kohli gave us our first (and probably the only) Warewolf movie, he also gave us the haunting of the beautiful undead woman whose hands can stretch for miles if someone visits her 'Haveli' and asks her for a hammer ( the concept that got incorporated as remote control in present day)..above all Rajkumar Kohili marked the arrival of supernatural and monster movies, which had been a forte of Ramsey brothers until those times..Rajkumar Kohili introduced the elements of supernatural and horror to the mainstream indian audience and managed to get the top stars work for him in those films..among few most memorable scene that he directed ,was a song from film Nagin(1976) in which Jeetendra(his half naked self) and Reena Roy are introduced to the audience as a shape shifter (Ikchadhari Nag) couple, singing and dancing before they start to consummate (in india its a ritual to sing and dance before you consummate, thats why we have such grand marriages,where everyone dances) and where Jeetendra exudes more sensuality than the female protagonist(Reena Roy). This film came at a time when we thought being happy and Gay is the same thing.
Also its hard to forget the transformation scenes in Jaani Dushman(1979) where the most hairy person in the cast (Raza Murad) turns into a hairy monster at the sight of his bride dressed in Red..and that was the earliest visual metaphor in films ever to grace the silver screen(a hairy man turns into another hairy man when he sees Red..get it).

And then with such brilliant films, he got lost in time, trying to launch his Sons career, and then relaunch it..and then launch it again, and then change the name of his son and launch him one more time. Proving him self to be one of the most doting father in the industry. The career of his son,however, even after his relentless efforts never took off and a decade passed, and then in 2002 a miracle happened..a miracle called Jaani Dushman :Ek Anokhi Kahani ..and this came as a reboot to the quasi franchise of A-grade supernatural flick..and what a comeback it was, a absolute home run..Jaani Dushman (2002) is and will remain a modern classic, a avant grade cinema. A film that challenges every convention and breaks it, a film thats so scary that there are times when you have to turn away from the screen and mute the sound in order to be able to comprehend the ongoing, a film so scary that through out the films i advice you to keep repeating the words,"Its only a movie" to yourself..by the time the movie ends, you are breathless and you just sit there in awe of what you have just witnessed, staring at the screen with your jaws on the floor and yearning for more. A brilliant Star cast, a most original story, amazing dialogs and groundbreaking special effects..it was a shame that the committee who chooses the film to be send to Academy Awards got it all wrong again and instead of Jaani Dushman the ended up sending the lame Devdas(2002).

Now for the story : from a very distant future, a shape shifting Cyborg (Cybernetic Organism :a Robot in Human tissue) is send back , way back in time : and i am talking about the time when Maharashtra had snow capped mountains in winters and it used to look something like the Grand Canyons in Summers..this robot is not just any ordinary Robot..its a much advanced version of T-1000 (Terminator-2) and T-X(Terminator-3) as T-1000 and T-X had there limitations while morphing, this one can also morph into complex mechaines and gadgets..it also has an upgraded attachment that lets him walk on water, so back in 200 AD this Robot (named Kapil- played with amazing restrain by Arman Kohili )ends up falling in love with Vasundhra(Manisha Koirala) and as they are going through the pre-consummating ritual (i already mentioned in India people wear colorful clothes and do some freestyle dancing which pumps the blood pressure and does them good for the real action to follow). In order to execute the carefully co-ordinated dance steps with extreme precision, there continues and relentless thumping and stomping breaks the ground underneath their feets (thats why avant Garde, cause it means ground breaking cinema and this one literally breaks the ground) and they fall on top of a sage(Amrish Puri : hard to recognize under the amazing prosthetic and makeup work) meditating underneath : the sage angered by their juvenile behavior puts a curse on them, which would lead to Vasundhra's death just as the sun sets..and so it happens. Upset from his beloveds death, Kapil decides to morph into a Banyan Tree, waiting for his beloved Vasundhra to be re-incarnated. Cut to present day in one of the most affluent collages of Mumbai, where a gang of 40 something are doing there 2nd year of graduation in some stream which we are never told.. this gang of 40 (years old) something includes the likes of Akshay Kumar, Sunil Shetty, Aditya Pancholi, Aftab Shivdasani, Rambha, Rajat Bedi, Sharad Kapoor, Siddhart, Sonu Nigam and oh yes Mainsha Koirala (Divya:the reincarnated Vasundhra). the Collage only have one person staff, the Principal Joseph(Raj Babbar) who is a one man army as he teaches, specializes in parapsychology, and presides over Boxing matches..this is also the collage where the girls take their showers together (mmmmm ;) )and where a student is allowed to carry a gun to the collage and wave it around infront of his principal with elen.. Divya's Boyfriend Karan Saxena( Sunny Deol in an intense performance) is a pass out from the same collage..before you know Divya makes contact with Kapil and faces a dilemma every Indian girl is scared of ; whether to choose her lover from the present time or whether to choose her lover from previous birth who has been waiting for her for a few centuries . And before she is able to make up her mind she is raped by two of her classmates (Slimy Rajat Bedi and obnoxious Siddhart)..and eventually commits suicide. Now here i will like to pause for a moment and discuss the dialogs laced with sheer brilliance:
Just before the goons attempts to molest Divya for the first time (oh yes they attempt it twice, succeeding only the second time.)

Divya : Tum log kisi ki izzat nahin kartain..!!?? (you people don't respect anybody)
Bad Guy : Aree agar sabki izzat karangey to lootaingey Kiski (if we respect everybody then whose respect are we going to steal).

Believe me my friends this dialogs has a ability to gain the same amount of colloquial usage as Sholay's dialogs, and before you know every rapist in the country will be using the same lines before he attacks his victim.

or the intense exchange of words that Divya has, as she sits , bleeding to death and the rest of the gang arrives.

Diya : Mai tum logon ko Kabhi Maaf Nahin Karoongi
Akshay : Tum hum pe aisa Jhoota ilzaam nahin laga sakti
Sonu : Haan Akhir Hamne Kiya Kya Hai.
Sunil : Blah Blah Blah
Aditya : Blah Blah Blah
Divya :Blah Blah Blah Blah

And the whole gang stands there arguing and explaining themselves and it occurs to no one to call the ambulance therefore Divya dies in the Arms of Kapil who just waltz into the location dressed up like R.N. Tagores Shakuntala, but just before she dies, Divya makes Kapil swear that he will revenge her death from the whole gang (obviously: whatever chances of survival she had were meticulously negated by the gang as they decided to argue and explain their stance in the situation leading to Divya's rape..instead of calling for an Ambulance, therefore becoming partner in crime).

The rest of the film follows Kapil methodically dispatching the members of the gang one by one in few of the most inventive death scene indian audience has ever seen, few deaths includes one of them getting French kissed by an anaconda, another one (Arshad Warsi)getting electrocuted and while a couple of hundred watts of electricity is running through his body, he also makes a benediction and bids a final adieu to all his friend ,(Arshad Warsi ironically played a character called Circuit in another movie), then there is a death by getting bashed with a motorcycle on the head.

the credit to use the cast so immaculately also goes to the director, as all the characters are so well etched, and they never do anything outside the parameters of the characters they play

Akshay Kumar- the atheist who carries gun to the collage, and plans parties to get over the death of the dying crew.
Sunil shetty- angry individual who is so violent that in every dialogs of his, he either talks of breaking bones or killing someone.
Arshad Warsi- the wisecracking guy..who always tells jokes so much so that he doesn't even have a orignal line in the film.
Aftab shivdasani- the poor lover boy who keeps getting beaten to pulp.
Aditya Pancholi : the Rich spoilt brat who carrys 50,000 bucks in his pocket and is always dressed in a coat in sweltering heat of Mumbai..and is very scared of water
Sonu Nigam : actually does nothing until the end where he gives out girlie shrieks proving to all the other producers that he is equally capable of doing female playback singing..as much as he is of doing male playback
Sunny Deol : he plays himself (angry, grunting, bringing down the police station with his red bull power punches)

Besides them there are also cameo appearances by Johnny Lever, Dinesh Hingoo, Atul Agnihotri and Aman Verma..all of whom plays equally important part in taking the story forward.

The special Fx department has done a steller job as well by morphing, exploding and levitating the stuff where ever its needed and even in those places where it wasn't needed..creating visuals that are so amazing that it will difficult to outdo them for any one in a very long time to come.
This brings us to Arman Kohli playing Kapil who got launched probably the 4th time through this film, and as they say 4th time is the charm..he delivers and how, a performance propelled by sheer energy and brilliance..he gets the best and the most complex character(we are talking about a character with the ability to travel in time, morph into organic and inorganic forms, the character who is invincible and is out for revenge) to play in the film and Arman Kohli takes the character of Kapil and runs with it..he gets under the skin of the character so well that i cant think of any other example that even comes close to his performance, when it comes to method acting..the way he uses his eyes and his acting especially when is under going a transformation (he is a shape shifter..remember) is immaculate..there is a part where he transforms into a snake, for a moment there i thought he really is a snake, and that transformation into motorcycle, how can i forget that..Wow..!!

the film works at various levels..its a saga of love and redemption, its a powerful action flick..it also makes you think , what will you do if you if the things in this film have happened to you..how prepared are you to sacrifice for your love - will you become a tree, if someone you loved died, and wait for her/him for several centuries..!! or if you blow someone off with a RPG Launcher and then he comes back to life, what will you do..will you try and blow him again..!!?? or if a shape shifting cyborg from a distant future is after your life ,will you make an appearance publicly and perform a song and dance routine infront of a packed auditorium and keep your words to the sponsors , putting your life at stake for your morals and integrity ..

If there is ever going to be a movie of a millennium..this is it, unfortunately people just didn't get it at the time it was released, , but i can promise you that in times to come this will become a cult film and the screenplay might also get entered in Film Academy's Library.This film is India's answer to Terminators and Matrix and to every body who takes our films as complaisant films. Its a film which is a must for your collection..especially if your the kind of person who is into Drugs and Alcohol.
Do not miss it..........EVER..!!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Lawrence of Arabia : Ripped out my guts and strangeld me with it..and i loved it.

I have been a avid fan boy of horror films and i take pride in claiming that i have almost seen anything coming out of this genre be it slasher, supernatural, French new wave, J-horror, indie,italian giallo or grindhouse ,if you have heard of it, i have seen it- which has made me immune and sedate to on screen scares, jump out of seat moments and psychological tension..never in my wildest dream , i could have imagined i will find the best scare of my life in the most unlikely film, where Argento,Friedkin,Romero, Remi and Cravens has failed in last 10 years David Lean will accomplish that effortlessly..yup!! you heard it..i said David Lean, but more on that later.

Its rare now a days when you can walk into a film and allow the film to draw you in so bloody well that even hours after you walk out of it you keep seeing things in Technicolor, Lawrence of Arabia did just that for me ,for the whole runtime of 3 hrs 50 mins, i was in a state of trance, completely mesmerized..there wasnt a moment in the film when i took my eyes off the screen and the best part was i had this tingling sensation in my spine and goose pimple on more that one occasion. I would be lying if i say that this film caught me off guard (a film which ranks in the top 10 films ever made) so i was aware that i am in for something big and spectacular..but spectacular with so much heart, this is something i did not expect. Each frame (shot on Super 70 Pan Vision) of this film is a work of art. watching it is like watching a poetry in motion, the haunting music score by Maurice Jarre, the immaculate cinematography by Freddie Young and Art Direction by John Stohll is spot on. As for the director, well do i need to say anything, its David Lean for crying out loud, probably with his most ambitious film.
Based on the life of T.E.Lawrence this film adapts from two biographical sources "Revolt in the Desert" and "Seven pillars of Wisdom", the film is an account of how a British soldier(T.E.Lawrence played by the legendary Peter 'O' Toole ) lead Arab insurgents to revolt against Turks, the films cross weaves themas of espionage, friendship,leadership, survival,velor and reluctant heroism..but forget the story, the film is a visual delight..the vast desert landscapes and never ending mirages, the frames painted in hues of blue and reds, i have never ever seen any thing like this before and i dont think i will see it ever again and thats exactly what makes this film so special..it has dated so well , that even if you see it today it will hold on its own among all that thrash thats is produced ever year , masquerading as entertainment.
Those were the times my friend..when you didnt have visual effects and green screen so if there is a shot when an Air Craft flys a few feets from the ground bombing a camp as it goes..its really a Air Craft flying so low..or for instance when there is a hoard of people stepping out of there tents and getting ready to attack the Turkish army for the first time..its no crowd manipulation, and of course how can i forget the best of it..when a Locomotive derails..!!

Coming back to where i started..watch the sequence in which Lawarance, Sharif Ali and a troop of 50 men is crossing the Nefud desert..the journey is an 'edge of the seat with a lump in you throat affair'..it will rate in my "top 10 scary moments of all time" the way they have encompassed the seclusion and how it takes over a mans mind , is just beautiful..!!
Its a sort of film which can not be put together in words, i am finding it extremely hard to continue writing as i am falling short of superlatives and therefore bearing the risk of getting repetitive. But before i end here are few small trivia
  • The film don't have a female lead, as a matter of fact it just doesn't has any actress other than those extras.
  • Dilip Kumar was the first choice for the role of Sharif Ali which later went to Omar Sharif
  • To film Omar Sharif's entrance through a mirage, 'Freddie Young (I)' used a special 482mm lens from Panavision. Panavision still has this lens, and it is known among cinematographers as the "David Lean lens".
  • Peter O'Toole's performance as T.E. Lawrence is the #1 ranked performance of all time in Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time.

So for those of you who hasn't seen this film, buy a 29 inch television or anything bigger (if you don't have it ) and rent the film and watch this spectacle unravel, for those of you who have seen it when it was played on AXN..watch it again and for those of you who got a chance to see it in theater--- Grrrrr!!! I envy you..!!

Statutory Warning : Do not watch this film on any screen which is less than 29 inches.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

WTF 2..!!

Yesterday, there was this major hit and run incident very close to our office, A car trying to make a U- turn was hit by another speeding car, the perpetrators didn't even slowed down ,hitting a Bajaj Pulser which was parked on the curb, while they tried to getaway..the other car went into a spin but fortunately enough, was able to pull over just in time without hurting any passer by.. By Indian standards its was a clean getaway for the guy driving the other car, as there wasn't a way that heat could have caught up to him..and by the time the victim got his composure back, they (the perpetrators) have gotten far far away..
But, here is the thing that elevates this particular incident from the other hit and run i have witnessed- the perpetrators somehow managed to leave there rear fender stuck to the victims car, to make things even worse..they managed to leave the rear fender behind with there license plate stuck on it..

Define Irony now..!!


Now here you have a hot woman with word Silicon imprinted right next to her and an ISI symbol on the top..so i ask ..if there is any thing that remains implicit about it..!!??

Grrrrr...how on earth does that make sense..a plywood company called Silicon a marketing themselves using a well endowed female model..!!

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