Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The future is bright, it is sailing in a balloon

These are tough times at Perpendicular High. Just the flood of wannabes posing as the real deal. Hah! Sorry, if you make a bad movie because you didn't know how to make a good one, you can't apply. RGV has recently done a lot of work towards gaining his entry to this exalted space, but he needs a little more time to find his own here.
I am told by a lot of Chennaivasis that Kandasamy is right up there. At those many crores, it is a colossus of bad cinema, they say. I have to repeat to all my friends who frequent Parry's, PERPENDICULAR FILMS AND BAD FILMS ARE TWO DIFFERENT ENTITIES. And I hate capital letters so don't make me say it again.
Still, I will give Kandasamy a go. Who knows what gems lie where.
There have been widespread rumours (which I somehow stopped from going to the press) that people are disappointed at the lack of regular updates. Well, for the last time using all-caps, WAIT! It is worth it.
In order to appease the dissent though, I have introduced a Twitter function to the right of this text. That can be updated with mini-gems now and then.

Anyway, to shoot up the Happiness-Index of our country, here are some of the upcoming posts on the beloved Perpi:

1. Some new movie posters which haven't been made but which I think should be made.
2. Movie reviews of Police Story or Agni IPS or both.
3. A critical analysis of Plan 9 from Outer Space.
4. A telepathic interview with... surprise!
5. A video of the child taking off in a balloon.
6. 5th point just kidding.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Glen or Glenda - Genda' Benda'

After seeing this film, I thought of how much fun it would be to take two words, and from the second word form another duo of words, and so on. Eg. Life time machine gun slinger malinga bandara tilake... etc. After that I thought, what a film, senor!
The relationship between a man and a woman is what keeps the world running. It is purest in nature and has the ability to charm hearts and please souls. For every problem the world encounters, it is balanced by a union of hearts between a man and a woman. Somewhere far off maybe, but it helps. This relationship is the elixir of life itself. This is how life grows. Thanks to the man and the woman.
Somewhere around the 1950s, Ed Wood was thinking about making a film. He got Bela Lugosi's help and began writing a script. He might even have written the above paragraph before I did. Then he thought about his budget and decided there was no place for a man and a woman. There was only place for him alone as a lead actor and so he pushed the limits of the human condition to, and beyond, its limits. He thought, what if a man is also a woman. And he made Glen or Glenda.
Bela Lugosi plays the part of everyone's grandfather. Maybe he doesn't but he'd do worse than that. He looks over some street in the US and says lines like "Pull the strings, pull the strings". After a while, Glen, who thinks he is Glenda, who does look like a woman, goes window-shopping, and after I use one more comma, I'll end this sentence here.
Basically, the film is so convoluted that you are forced to think, "it's so much like life." More than a review of this film, I have to say how much it has affected me. I now know what lay deep inside my human mind. This movie drilled a hole into that deepest part and went deeper. I found depth. I also saw there is no such thing as infinity. It is just the place where that stuff lives, "in finity". That thing is in fact called... LOVE.
Here are some of the enlightening quotes from the film which have affected my depth of thinking brain wave form ula lala la loo la loo.

"No one can really tell the story. Mistakes are made. But there is no mistaking the thoughts in a man's mind. The story is begun. "

Is the last sentence a correct use of a subjunctive by any chance?
"Beware! Beware of the big green dragon that sits on your doorstep. He eats little boys... Puppy dog tails, and BIG FAT SNAILS... Beware... Take care... Beware!"

"The world is a strange place to live in. All those cars. All going someplace. All carrying humans, which are carrying out their lives."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

तू त्रिमूर्ति

याद आती है,
तेरी याद आती है,
अंधेरे की पहली ज्योति,
दुनिया को समेटी गठरी,
तू त्रिमूर्ति,
तेरी याद आती है।

पगडण्डी से हटके,
आंखों से छुपके,
उस दूधवाले के सामने,
नाई के पीछे,
तू त्रिमूर्ति,
तेरी याद आती है।

तू ही तो था,
महानता का स्तंभ,
ग्यान का देवता,
अभियांत्रिकी का आरम्भ।
तू त्रिमूर्ति,
तेरी याद आती है।

तू जब न था
दो साल का अवकाश लिए,
किस्मत भी गया तेरे संग,
टाटा और गुड बाय किए।
तू त्रिमूर्ति,
तेरी याद आती है।

बड़ी मन्नतों के बाद,
तू लौटा एक सर्दी की रात में,
हम सब मिलने आए तुझे,
अपने पप्पाओं की कमाई लिए साथ में।

ज़माना बदला था,
मौसम ख़राब था,
फिल्में तो बकवास ही बकवास,
तूने क्या दारु पिया था?

कहाँ गया वो तेरा टॉप १०,
फेस ऑफ़ की गोली, देस्पेरादो का गन,
अब दिखाई तुने सिर्फ़ कूल सर्फेस,
मदमस्त टेरी दिखाती बेशरम तन।

लेकिन तुझमे जान बाकी था
उस पूनम की रात में,
विदाई की सौगात लिए,
तूने जुगाडा आइस वाइड शट था।

अब साल गए, महीने खोये,
फिल्में आए, फिल्में गए,
मल्टीप्लेक्स में गिरे, पोपकोर्न पे रोये,
तेरी बात अलग थी, तू महान था।
तू त्रिमूर्ति।
तेरी याद आती है।
तेरे बाद भी आती है।

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Of Thought Streams

It is said that our earth is full of invisible, intangible packets of deep currents of thought, that vary in shape, size and distance they reach. Some of these thoughts are so strong that they can change the course of visible elements, by transcending the world and re-routing logic.
Don't bother scouring the internet for a corroboration of this theory. There might not be any. Theories are not for Mithun-da. He chews on them daily thrice. We are ordinary men and women, slaves of gravity. Our thought streams are small, affecting hardly anyone. Our thought streams are strands of hair, blowing aimlessly, forgotten even by their creators. Mithun-da is not one of us. He has divine strength, he has a tantrik metabolism about him, the power of One, the power of Him.
In Military Raaj, all this is so visible. He plays, remarkable as it might seem, a military man. He safeguards honesty, duty and has his plans to defeat diabolical catabolism. Aditya Pancholi also plays a part here. He of course was seen as heir apparent (when he had a lot more hair) to Mithun-da. How promising he was while playing a warrior husband to Madhuri in Sailaab. He had almost made it in Awwal Number when the bomb just wouldn't blow the cricket pitch away. Alas!
Talking of pitches, there is a lot of bounce in the thought stream around Pratibha Sinha. As if on anabolic steroids, her books of other bards act mentally insane. It is this blatantly oppressive outward bound show that draws men into B centers in droves. Then the da takes over.
Akin to the old maharajas who surveyed their lands at night to target nefarious activities, Military Mithun-da goes looking for trouble. He finds a guy asking for "paisha, paisha and more paisha" in a gambling den. Da rounds him up and takes him to a cell.
What follows is the magic of the most fertile thought stream. The goons act like they were direct descendants of Hitler's driver and insult da. Patience is a virtue in da, yes, but impatience is his strength. He decides that it is time for some good ol' ultraviolence and disrobes the military cap off his cabeza (head, in Spanish). But mademoiselle, where does he hang it? Cells don't come with nails to hang your van Gogh and Picasso, do they? Not in these times, no.
So da sends one of his thought streams to find Fleming's right-hand rule. It comes back and this conversation follows:
Thought Stream: Da, Fleming's right-hand rule says that as long as your middle finger faces the camera, and you rotate your index finger clockwise, an electromagnetic flux drives it straight through barriers .
Da: You sure that wasn't the left-hand rule.
TS: Dunno, da. I couldn't confirm it as no one was there.
Da: You should have asked Flemmo himself.
TS: He's retired. Danny is in his place.
Da: Tuck if.

And da nonchalantly applies the right-hand rule. He bores a hole into the wall. Plugs his Reynolds into the hole. Hangs his cap onto it. Hammers the villain. Bravo.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Warning: A significant part of this article contains direct translation from kannada.
Thats actually not a warning. The fact that the translation is of kannada movies, is.
Since the Dravidian languages generally have more than one meaning to them, accuracy might have been sacrificed.

Salutations to the Indian lord with a snake around his neck.

Thus goes the title of this brilliant movie. Die unmarried kid (DUK from here on for convenience) stars as an upright police officer, just he has done in most of his ventures. I think there must have been a double role in the film for him. I saw only a small part of it and that, by itself, left such a profound mark on me that Surf Excel is unable to remove it. I can atleast distribute it, so here I write.
The scene that I saw which stole my mindspace was when DUK, as the chief minister of the state of Do Plays, goes on an errand to inspect his people's woes, first-hand. He goes along with his coterie of ministers who have corruption written all over them, sadly, not literally though. The location of the shoot is the capital city of Do Plays (I restrain myself from naming the city, for my faculties do not allow its translation).
DUK is in a military uniform, presumably not stitched specifically for the occasion; but we aren't too much into imitation clothes of sporting celebrities as we are of ordinary professionals. So, irrespective of the bad dressing, DUK goes on a combing spree. He finds 5-6 young men playing Boundary Twelve under a tree. He goes towards them in customary zeal and asks as to what the young men were up to. This is actually a master-stroke by the director (because, if DUK had pulled the guys up for playing Boundary Twelve, it would imply that DUK had infact played or seen it being played at some point in his life; which effectively corrupts his morality). The HRD minister with him says that it is Boundary Twelve, a game played all over Do Plays by all kinds of people, young and old, women and men, eunuchs and transvestites, naked people and people in military uniform borrowed from imitation shops. DUK is flabbergasted. What the F....allacy man... he thinks. He instructs his HRD minister to enrol these guys into the military, gives the guys a sound lecture and more importantly, faces the camera and redeems a part of the movie-goer's money by letting out a screaming, grunting, speech, which I try to translate for you here.
"From now on, there would be no waste bodies in this place sitting around loitering, ogling at young women, old uncles and trendy sixers. All such miscreants would be placed in the military as that sacred place needs them now. Ordrizpaasd"
The next stop is at a ration shop. This is a place where people are supposed to get staple food items at subsidised rates after the government and the middlemen have had their share of ordinary. At a ration shop, one old women, seemingly having eaten Obelix's wild boar a moment back, complains to DUK that the ration guy refuses to give her rice, as she and her family is dying of hunger. DUK goes to the guy and the following conversation follows, follow me.
"Hey guy, why don't you give her food"
"There is no food"(In Tamil, a language that people in Do Plays love to hate, and apparently DUK has a passing understanding of it, which is not exactly accurate)
"Whyeeeeee not I say?"
"There is no food"
"Hey guy, how many years have you been in Do Plays?"
"14 years"
"Even after 17 years you haven't learnt the local tongue, I will cut your tongue, bullshit fellow."
"Sorry sir, please leave me"
Now DUK faces the camera in the next stunt for money redemption for the movie-goer.
"From now on, everybody will learn the local language if he wants to live in Do Plays. Ordrizpaased." He fires the food minister as an after-thought.
Last stop, a wedding ceremony.
Scene is that the boy's father is raising a stink at the fact that girl's daddy is short changing him in paying dowry. Of course, he doesn't believe in giving subsidies.
Enter DUK, scene changes, figuratively that is.
"What's happening boy's father?"
"Sir, this girl's father promised to give me a 6000 cc car, he just gave me 3000cc one. He said he will give 60x40 house, he gave me 30x40 one. He promised 4 lacs, he gave 2 lacs. Please give me justice."
"Moral science is dead. Revive it, education minister. From now on, nobody will ask for dowry. Ordrizpaased." He orders the boy's dad and his son to prison. As a novelty, he also sends the girl's dad to prison."
The girl is a peculiar human being. She doesnt bother to appeal to DUk to pardon her father. Her immediate concern is her marriage, which according to unsaid folk mythology, once the engagement is done and the marriage doesn't materialize, the girl is ignored by other suitors. Perhaps a hangover of the scooter culture, everyone wants a test ride before buying a product and simply reject models that have been test driven by an eventually dissatisfied customer.
DUK understands her problem and says, look younger sis, you will get married and that too to my PA. The PA is as fat as Paris Hilton isn't and is as good-looking as she is a virgin. But it doesnt matter as DUK gets PA married and I switched that idiotic TV channel went into a break.
If I were a chief minister, I would ban all breaks between movies, Ordrizpaased.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The beginning of the Perpendicular

Not very often in these times does one get a chance to be part of history of any kind, let alone the most outrageous one. I am proud to have been there, just about a decade back. The Perpendicular was a term coined to honour films that dared to avoid both the commercial bandwagon and the pretensions of art. It is a seriously difficult line to tread, for as the name suggests it is movement along a different plane altogether, maybe the z-axis. Right through the history of cinema, there have been concerted efforts to make films which not so concertedly want to fall in this bracket. Perhaps the earliest example could be those of Ed Wood in th US and Joginder in India. It is difficult to class Glen or Glenda, just as it is impossible to straight-jacket Rangakhush. I am not even qualified to comment on these gems of the bygone era. As the master of madness, Klaus Kinski once bludgeoned, “They were not just very good or excellent, they were magnificent, epochal.”

Time doesn’t stop for anyone. But it is advisable for Time that it stop for a moment, at least at certain times, and savour the greatness of the Perpendicular. I think this happened only once in the 90s, when Time stood still, outside the Nataraj theater in a nondescript corner of the Mumbai-Agra highway town, Dhule. Dhule or Dhulia is a buzzing place because of the many colleges there and also because it housed, at least till 2000, 7 cinema theaters inside a very small radius.

On that blessed day in 1998, Nataraj was not lit by serial lights, there weren’t long queues for tickets, certainly no black-marketeers and I don’t remember seeing more than 20 people in the hall. Just the kind of lull before the Perpendicular storm. If movie posters say all about a film, this one was holding on to a great secret. There were three of us in our row of seats, me, Ali and Kamal. Or, in the spirit of this great film, I should call them Ali Albela and Kamal Commando.

Till the movie began, people were smoking, joking, drinking, chewing, blowing their nose, doing push-ups, reciting politically-charged non-rhyming poetry or like us, were catching up on some pre-movie sleep. However, a strange sensation affected us suddenly. There were no curtains in the movie theater (not that I can remember at least), but we were woken up by a tingling feeling as if a joyous spirit had escaped captivity and was calling us to a fairy land. The screen lit up with a magnificently dull font which modestly informed us that we were to watch, “Kanti Shah’s Gunda”. Thanks to Albela, I had been a follower of Mithun-da after watching Military Raaj. I thought that was epochal. I had also seen Dus Numbri in a packed theater and thought it magnificent. But this was something else. It is cinematic bliss, if you may call it so, but its too cheap a phrase these days. Review stars cannot tell you the magic of this film. It has to be associated with a deeper, maybe banal, yet a lot more metaphysical meaning. Have you felt the joy on a giant-wheel when it circles down from a great high? Have you run into a mango grove in your summer holidays and stolen ripe mangoes? Have you smelt the fresh smell of the mud on the first rainy day of the season? Have you held your bladder fast for the entire day and let go triumphantly on your neighbour’s compund wall? Then, dear reader, only then can you understand this bliss.
There is so much to write about this experience, yet you feel as if you are exploiting a native secret. I will desist from this as much as I can, but there is something called duty. Gunda is not just about good versus evil. It isn’t just about retribution. I agree there is an existential angst in Shankar, the protagonist, played with unbelievable restraint by Mithun-da. But that isn’t the point. The symbolism is but a fact of the film, not its truth, as Herzog would tell you. Some art-house fans want to own Gunda as theirs by pointing to the “swinging cots in the kotha” with Razak Khan and his apprentices as being a categorical revolt against the social mores and rigidity in this subtly repressive time. My contention to this is, dear friends, Kanti Shah wouldn’t even think about it. For him, Razak Khan is running a group of hustlers and their “office”, instead of being a dingy room with low candela lights, is a huge hall with swinging cots. If anything, he debunks that theory of restrictive freedom by depicting an atheist communion-like idea inside a very Brechtian setting. Lars von Trier made Dogville with similar imagery, but Gunda was made first.

The other aspect I am always at loggerheads with with my Parallel and Mainstream friends is with the poetic aspect of the dialogues. I can understand why the Mainstream needs Gunda so much. This film has enough poetry for Bollywood to survive for at least three years. It is a simple capitalistic desire of the Mainstream to make business from this masterpiece.

In a film with many characters, it often becomes impossible to sketch each one with conviction. The length of the film is of course important. In Gunda, the problem is handled by an effective use of post-modernist poetry. The Pote character is between a evil boss and a henchman. How do you sketch this character? He isn’t the most important villain, but nor is he a two-cent conman. This dilemma has to be resolved only by deliberating on the character for too long OR like Kanti Shah does here, sort it out with a single line of genius. “Naam hai mera Pote, jo kisi ke baap ke bhi nahi hote.” It is a seminal line in cinema history. At once, the peripheral Pote reveals how independent he is of the sickening hierarchy of rowdy-ism in Indian cinema. At once the character has depth and reason to share space with the monumental Mukesh Rishi’s Bulla.

Take also for instance Harish Patel’s Ibu Hatela. He is but a minor cog in the wheel of Bulla’s regime, but Kanti Shah etches a multi-dimensional character by giving him this eponymous limerick: “Ibu Hatela hai naam mera, maa meri chudail ki beti, baap mera shaitan ka chela. Khayega kela?” Note the various layers here to this character. Again, like Pote, he is a peripheral evil, but he reveals a satanic lineage thus justifying the inherent cruelty of the man. The final line of the rhyme might be a hint at Ibu’s disturbed childhood or perhaps his carnal orientation.

Imagination is a key in Kanti Shah films. It is especially true of Gunda. The audience is transported to a different world. For the money you pay to these films, it must be the cheapest space travel currently available. Violence is a dormant urge in all polite people and second nature in the impolite ones. It is an obvious urge, like death and destruction are obvious possibilities. That is what Kanti Shah’s Gunda says even without wanting to sound preachy. Chutiya (Shakti Kapoor with a ponytail) is a personification of the existential dichotomy of the human being. He has decided though that he wants to be a man, but it is a decision taken from observation, more than intelligence. Maybe, he is “almost” a metaphor for Perpendicular cinema. But unlike him who has decided he wants to choose one rather than swim away from two ideologies, the Perpendicular is happily in uninhibited land. That Gunda has been a significant milestone in ushering this new phenomenon is a true evidence of the film’s longevity and vitality.

(Article lifted with permission from here)