Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Will the real SRK please standup?

“To all who asked about SRK, we all found it offensive and have asked the US to look into it. SRK himself spoke about the matter with great dignity.”
- Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor

“If they want I can frisk Angelina Jolie when she is here (in India).”

For me, what’s odd about the SRK’s elaborate public tamasha over a ''secondary inspection'' at a US airport is not as much about the racial profiling as it is about his demeanour. SRK, all these yaers, stood as the epitome of irreverence and that is why he has people love him or hate him to extremes. SRK looked as if he is defying all the orthodox norms of humility, soft-spokenness in India's public life. He would routinely proclaim he is the number one, routinely tear down legends of the industry in spoofs and through jokes at award shows. He would even joke at himself and seriously propagate that we all need to laugh at ourselves. His whole entourage of friends like Farah Khan and Sajid follow suit. Farah famously gave a speech to Ashutosh Gowarikar (at an award show) on how he should stop taking himself seriously and realize that, at the end of day, he is just making movies to entertain people. We could understand what she meant. While she made a ‘Main Hoo Na’ and ‘Om Shanti Om’, all Ashutosh managed were a ‘Lagaan’, ‘Swadesh’ and a ‘Jodha Akbar’! Pweh!! Farah Khan surely takes her own idea of filmmaking too seriously!

SRK himself shared the story about how he differed with Ashustosh over the making of ‘Swadesh’. He told the media (much after Swadesh released) how he didn’t like the movie the way it was shaping up (too emotional) but put up with it as Ashutosh wanted to make the movie that way, emotiontionally, as a tribute to his father. SRK did not like the heavy heartedness of Swadesh and that is how he is. Whereas many thought Swadesh has the best of SRK - the actor.

So SRK went on to dance for millions at marriages of the billionaires and quite openly told us he loves to do dance for the monies. He seemingly didn’t have false pride, had wit and oodles of charm. For him, there is nothing humiliating or insulting about what he does. Nor something around (including the legends Bachchans, chopras) can bog him down. That is what it looked like, at least, until this episode broke up.

He now tells the whole world in his own words that he felt ‘hurt’, ‘angry’, ‘humiliated’. And for what?? In his own words, this is what he said about the Immigration episode -

''I told them (immigration officers) I was a movie star and had recently visited the country for the shooting of my film. Nothing seemed to convince the immigration officer. There were other immigration officers who even vouched for me but this particular officer did not listen to anyone. I even told them I had an invitation from the South Asian community and was there to attend an event.'' Khan told ToI.

So one officer didn’t heed and then SRK texts and calls all news channels worth their name in India to announce he was ‘detained’ and so he felt ‘hurt’, ‘angry’, ‘humiliated’! Isn’t it odd? SRK, who doesn’t give a hoot for all that we know about under the sun would have actually found the whole immigration scene comical and would have handled it with the same humor he is so famous for. What could have triggered his media blitzkrieg is anyone’s guess! ‘hurt’, ‘angry’, ‘humiliation’ are things he left long before for the likes of yesteryear stars Big B and Manoj Kumar!

And what followed this whole tamasha is even more comical. A cabinet minister barks about ‘reciprocating’ to the US the same treatment what SRK got. Good for us. If reciprocating means we are going to get as diligent as Americans in our search for better security, we would all give 10 thumbs up for it. But for the honorable minister, the rant was more of a sycophantic nature than a patriotic one. SRK is close to the Gandhi family and is a prominent Muslim. After successfully elevating even an alleged fraud like cricketer Azaruddin into an MP, SRK is too good a bet for the future. So we have the whole ruling party bending over backwards to humor him.
Shashi Tharoor says -
“To all who asked about SRK, we all found it offensive and have asked the US to look into it. SRK himself spoke about the matter with great dignity.”
Perhaps he found SRK’s remark about how he personally likes to be chosen to frisk Angelina Jolie or Megan Fox when they come visiting India very dignified! The pompous star went on to review the US security apparatus in his media conference. Our Home minister Chidambaram couldn’t agree more. He said the Americans ‘overdid’ it. Maybe he should listen to Salman Khan opining how Americans avoided yet an another attack after 9/11 with these very security measures. Look at the pompous ignorance of our establishment which year after year proves we are sitting ducks for the terrorists and yet find gumption in advising how the Americans can do better with their own secuirty in their own country!

Looking back at the issue, it looks as if SRK literally wasted millions of hours of Indians for the one hour he lost at the immigration. He took the whole of the media and a few of our very enlightened ministers for a ride and has surely shown how popular he is. But what he is is still a little mystery. Did he really feel sympathetic to fellow Muslims due to his ‘oredeal’ or is this one more instance of him showing his uncanny intelligence to further his superstardom? Will the real SRK please stand up?

Friday, August 14, 2009

KAMINEY: Vishal Bhardwaj loses his plot for once

After the very brilliant 'Maqbool' and 'Omkara', its only too natural for cinema affectionados like me to expect something of same intensity from Vishal Bhardwaj, especially when he attempts his first big real mainstream commercial potboiler all with twins long lost, mumbai gangsters, drug mafia, anti-narcotic police squads and opportunistic politicians. Vishal looses the only way he could have - by overdoing things. Result: too many characters, too much detail and too little plot and emotional depth. In the end, while we appreciate the new frontiers this movie has won technically, not to mention the fantastic music, we feel nothing about the characters or the story. Make no mistake, Kaminey is a honest, brave effort and could be dubbed as the best in Hindi along 'Dev D' in the new genre but its does not leave an impact on the audience like Vishal's earlier movies did. In entertainment, this succeeds largely through its dialogues but is boring at times.

Vishal expresses his admiration for Quentin Tarantino by injecting a scene in which a nurse dressed in white struts her long legs. Maybe the whole movie being dialog-driven with its parallel narrative, with a mix of humor and violence and some excellent background score is supposed to be a tribute to Tarantino but the 2.5 hour movie leaves behind its audience somewhere in between when boredom sets in. In fact, for a minute towards the end, I wondered if I was watching a Priyadarshan movie!

I can think of only 1 reason right now that spoiled the dish and that is too many characters and although they were all excellently written for, they take up the whole time and the plot is left too thin, too thin to make us all wonder at times what the movie is all about. Vishal worked out excellent details for his characters and the actors, including Shahid Kapur, played them equally well. It was a delight seeing Amol Gupte's opportunistic politician character and the 3 Gangster brothers characters bonded typically in loquacious Bengali style. The wordplay in dialogues is exceptionally witty and yes, its intelligent writing with lot to read between the lines. For instance, in the scene involving the 2 elder Bengali gangster brothers, one is engrossed child-like playing video games from his bed while the other rather worriedly keeps dialling the youngest one Mikhail (who didn't return home by then) from the adjoining bathroom. The scene, without a word, speaks volumes about their brotherhood and its only too natural to expect them to come sometime later with their guns blazing seeking revenge. And how they come!

Notwithstanding all this brilliance and hard work, Kaminey could be limited only to the multiplexes in next few weeks due to the the lack of emotional wiring which disables it from reaching broader audience. For all his awe for Tarantino, I wonder how Vishal could have not noticed that Kill Bill, for all its Tarantino style humor-violence mix, had tonnes of emotional undercurrent as a revenge saga. While Vishal may take a bow for all his technical exuberance with Kaminey, he would have to wait until next time for a decent share at the box-office.