The E.T – Infinite Ingenuity

ET

It was probably 19 years since I watched E.T on screen. Obviously, I was a kid then. My orientation towards ET had different dimensions. My eyes were filled with tears when the lonely alien lies there in the middle of a hall in Planet Earth and weepingly utters,”Mom Mom!!”. Since then I believe(!!) I’ve grown up. I have discovered my liking towards movies. I’ve watched hundreds of films since then. Have watched the T-Rex walking mightly in Jurassic Park. Have enjoyed the gigantic space ship on the skies on an Independence Day. Have seen Titanic go down, Apollo 13 getting stuck in the space, Robots getting away with Artificial Intelligence and Darth Vader fighting Star Wars. Having this huge line-up of graphical wonders lined up, ET still seems to a wonder of movies. As I watched it yesterday, I still had tears running on the same shot. I don’t call it empathy for an alien. I prefer to call it as the magic of E.T.

Steven Spielberg‘s ET The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) brings out the child in you. As Spielberg says, ET is like a good quality wine. The more the age the better it gets. What a genuine storyteller we have in Steven Spielberg. After E.T, he has a share of heaven reserved for him. He has soothened so many souls with ET just like what Illayaraja and SPB did to millions of tamilians.

When I finished watching the movie, this is what I felt – If only…If only I get to make a movie and If I can weave a story as profoundly imaginative and strikingly humane as ET, I would feel accomplished.

Ab Tak 56 – Count on Cops

Well, I’m late. But it is never too late to watch a good movie. Especially to discover a good movie when you watch it with no expectations. Ab Tak 56 could be Ab Tak 156 by now but it’s only today I got to see Nana Patekar lighten up the screens. Ab Tak Chhappan released more than a year back but would be talked about for the years to come.

It’s not a cop’s saga nor some brave attempt of a single man fighting against all odds. Sadhu Aghase is a normal no-nonsense-cop and if you try to brag him with sentiments, he might not budge. Though he is special. He has mastered the art of encounters and can make great South Indian sambhar. Not just that but he demands grammatically right English. In the life of a cop, he gets into a special crime branch and heads a special division thats is formulated to wipe out long-time criminals by encounters. Though he doesn’t keep count of his encounters, someone keeps reminding him of the count. When things go hayward, things change drastically, but for him it is Ab Tak 56 and still counting….

I hated Ram Gopal Varma’s hyped-up movies. I certainly loved Satya. More than liking it terrorised me about a city called Mumbai. But the so-called on-the-road movies that followed were nothing but hype. Even Company wasn’t great. But with a debutant director, Shimit Amin, Ram Gopal Varma produces a movie that more classier and more stylistic than his earlier movies. I wonder how cop movies are made slicker than the romantic ones. Both Kakkha Kakkha and Ab Tak 56 have great BGMs, camera and more importantly some great piece of editing. Not only Shimit Amin gets us into the plot very soon, he also manages to take the movie without a drag. Until the final 20 minutes, I never felt a need to getup and get myself a cup of coffee. The cop story also encompasses the affairs of internal politics in the police department.

Even with a bad supporting cast, the movie would have survived. Shoulder courtesy; Nana Patekar. As Sadhu Aghase, Nana Patekar is at an all-time ease. He isn’t roaming around like someone dipped in starch like most of the cop movies, smokes too many cigarettes than all the Rajini movie put together and utters Saala and Chutiyaa more number of times than any other hindi movie. Performs like a true spirited actor. Nana Patekar has immense talent thats been under-utilized by stuffing him with pyscho roles with an alto voice. I am unable to stop comparing him to Prakash Raj in Tamil film industry. He can also be on the likes of Nasser if used appropriately.

While I was assuming that Revathi was in there because there was a huge role ahead of her in the movie, her miniscule character gets a bullet in the midway. She was probably there to represent the South Indian wife of Sadhu Aghase. Ram Gopal Varma could have probably gone with the humpteen stand-like-a-doll actresses available in dozens in the Bollywood. Kunal Vijaykar gets a role that demands enough eating as much as acting. A role that he would have waited for a long time. Great show.

What a theme of Ab Tak 56 that was. Salim and Sulaiman well known as Salim Sulaiman just took Ab Tak 56 to great heights. With no songs and pelvic-3D-thrust dances, they have used their music positively in the BGM that grips. If only I was worried that I missed the movie in theatres, it was because of the background score. The titles read Murad Siddiqi as the editor. I don’t know anything about him but his job in the movie is a commendable effort.

Shimit Amin chooses to take the reality path in movie making and emerges as a winner. With no unwanted situations and scenes, the movie has a tight screenplay. Except for the lastpart when the movie begins to loose away from the track and treads on the revenge mode, it has been well made. All these exceptions are however handled in the final conversation that ends by saying, Once a Cop, Always a Cop. Watch it, if you haven’t yet for it’s just 56 as of now.

Rashomon – Three men and some truth

rashomon.jpg
[Pic: sprout.org]

The moment anything is reported or written, truth suffers. This is one of the most fundamental points in reporting news. The eye witness narrative is the most sought out at such times. At all possibility, the eye witness brings his perspective of the news. The moment a perspective is brought in, subjectivity creeps in. He selects which part of the news has to be told, which part of the news he remembers, which part he forgets and which part he compels himself to hide. Thus selection of the scene from eye witness becomes inevitable. Finally, the truth suffers. So what happens when truth suffers?

I copy pasted the above paragraph from my Virumandi movie review without any changed. And that suits Akira Kurosawa‘s Rashomon. Rather it’s the other way. But blame it on me watching Rashomon only now. Rashomon can be celebrated as one of the best all-time movies. I would personally say it’s the most simplest movie ever taken. With the story, screenplay, camera, sets, costumes and all being so simple, the movie was terrific. It was a quaintly gripping. Rashomon is certainly a tour-de-france in it’s own way. For a B &W movie, it had elements of international cinema which could be referenced and debated even now.

Rashmon, a place of workship which was once a building of faith is in shambles. Three men discuss on a extra-ordinary event which two of them witnessed. Eachone has a version of the story. Where the heck is truth. It’s said that the story of Rashomon was built from a shortstory called, In the Grove by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. But it was Kurosawa’s dealing with it made it a evergreen classic. Even in such a negative thread that runs throughout the movie it’s Kurosawa’s brilliance that made all them seem positive at the end. The last scene where the wood cutter walks with
the newborn talks volumes about the gist of the movie. The woodcutter with his heads raised, walks away from Rashomon, carrying the kid in his hand and the sun shining behind him. Metaphorically, the promise for a better future lies only with such altruistic random acts of people, at times of emergency. Class act !!.

I am not sure if the building Rashomon was an erected set or not but it was completely realistic and the rain was perfect. It brought in the required tension without any 360 degree panned jimmy-jip angles. The chasing scenes had some amazing shots with the camera rushing down a bushy slope. Something I got to see for the first time only in Mani Ratnam‘s Pagal Nilavu song. Akira Kurosawa must have been an expert even before he shot Rashomon to have such clarity in the scene sequencing techniques. The protagonist Toshirô Mifune as Tajomoru just walked with best actor award.

For those who haven’t seen, watch it without expectations. You can be positive that you will be rewarded in the end.