7/2/15

Dear Soaham


                                       

That was abrupt, Soaham. You know, the kind of endings I've always had difficulties swallowing. Which one are you thinking of? Inception? Of course!! I had something like The Departed in mind. You can see that my shock is Billy Costigan times Vincent Vega times million. You are also thinking of About Elly now, aren't you? You would. It was the first movie we watched as bloggers together. Today I would happily embrace the uncertainty of it's ending, hoping that Elly didn't drown. If she did, it should be just as unfair as this. But it really wouldn't. No matter how much those sad film endings hurt us, this hurts way more. No, not even Anand could compare. Though you were definitely as awesome as Anand in you life.

Between our first conversation about Don and our last conversation about Interstellar, I have known you as a crazy film buff, a brilliant mind and a true friend. It was a friendship that I failed when I let things come between us and I regret this immensely. I must admit today that this blog ran as well as it did, till it did, because of you. You were it's soul. You know, I would have never written an article without your push. I needed you to sort out my ideas for me. I will miss that push, Soaham.

I remember our time together during the 2009 PIFF most, along with the time spent watching all the other movies in theaters together. I can remember every one of them. Also, watching and re-watching Gunda and Pulp Fiction. You made that year of my life count. Just as you have made their time with you count for so many of your other friends. Remember our plan to drink for the first time on the New Year's Eve? Then after a call from home warning me against drinking, you wouldn't let me. Just walking around camp and hanging out at Toons, then taking the train to Akurdi meeting your friends and staying over at your hostel was all so exciting. Thank you for those memories.

I feel bad for all the movies that we won't be seeing together. You always overdid those 'Kabhi Alvida Na Kehnas' to my byes and now it's you who's left us. I don't like writing this thing, one bit. I hope at least the sprinkling of movie references was to your satisfaction. "Resonance" was what we called it when we thought of the same thing at the same time. There were so many of those. I hope you would have liked me to write this exactly as I have.

For the last three years, we have discussed reviving this blog on and off but we just haven't been able to give it time. The blog has itself seen tough times recently, losing it's domain name and then losing it's favorite creator. There was always the belief, if faint, that some day we will make Q4C much bigger than it is. Q4C was our escape. Discussions about turning it into a production company were only in half-jest.  We may never have done it but the dream was alive. Without you, Soaham, it can't. It is sadly the time to pull the plug on this. This will be our last post.

I'll leave everyone with a chat we had on a random night, reminiscent of the dreams we had for ourselves. I hope it's okay with you.

I love you, man! See you at the Movies!

Ameya



"But only in their dreams can men be truly free. 'Twas always thus and always thus will be."


A Chat from 1/12/11

me: hey?
 Soaham: hello man!!
  super happy today!!
 me: kaiko?
Soaham: boss
  jury!
  10th!
  its symbolic that
  twitter thinks
  Q4C
  is the 10th best film blog
  in the country
  !
me: you just got a mail from yourself?
  wow
  really
 Soaham: lol
  :P
  i dint get a mail at all
  :P
 me: i would personally disagree but wtf
Soaham: hm why so?
  i think we are even above 10
 Soaham: 5-6 something
 me: really
 Soaham: :p
 me: there are hundreds of great blogs
 Soaham: yeah man
 me: and we are only infants
 Soaham: that we are
 but two 19 year olds
 with a strong idea
  of our blog? :P
 me: yes
 Soaham: ameya love, you know what
 me: yes a little
  :p
 Soaham: we can take q4c so so far
 me: ameya love u know what?
 Soaham: and we'll do it
  we can take
 q4c very far
 me: yes we will
  inshaallah
 Soaham: :)

9/1/12

PVR'S DIRECTOR'S RARE AND NFDC'S CINEMAS OF INDIA: GOOD TIDINGS

PVR has four lined up this month- Delhi in a DayBel AmiMoonrise Kingdom and Fire in Babylon. While Robinson Pattinson (No emphasis supplied) starrer Bel Ami looks the least appealing of the four, Indian theaters have normally been unreceptive to a €9 million budget indie label like this one has. It was pleasing to learn then that Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom with a similar budget was plotting a ‘director’s rare’ release here. The bottomline is that Independent Cinema, World Cinema and films of those feathers do not get shown as often as we would like.

Indian Indies, documentaries especially had absolutely no place in the theaters before movies like Delhi in a Day, Supermen of Malegaon, Harud and The Untitled Kartik Krishnan Project made it to a few PVR screens.

This is indubitably a product of a new audience growing up on Internet and torrents and only of late have we seen the distributors and the exhibitors extending to meet their hungers just as parallelly filmmakers and producers have made similar efforts this year.

Of course for most people of the generation watching such movies in theaters is a still just option. In no time after The Tree of Lifecame to PVR screens, the Blu-ray rips were available. Most people would have caught excellent prints of Hugo much before it came to the screens (remember #WeWantHugo). It was when Viacom 18 made an unusual engagement with the audience and was coaxed to release it with the words “Fans! We're happy to announce that we're releasing the 3D version this summer in India!”

 Through PVR’s Director's Rare project too, the audience has been acknowledged. It is an audience the same dare not piss off. We know of at least three and a half people who ‘boycotted’ Gangs of Wasseypur because of the ‘mass website ban- Bombay H.C. John Doe (deserves to be named after  John Wayne) order’ fiasco. 

Nothing stops them from downloading this. Nothing stops them from downloading those films PVR is releasing (with the exception of Indian Indies), yet it is the scale of the big screen that people desire. It is co-dependent really, love for the films that the Internet creates also creates such a demand and watching The Tree of Life on the big screen makes us fall into love with Cinema even more. It’s a circle that should not be disturbed.

With that, the job done by PVR’s Rare Film Club to release movies like Delhi in a Day is even more exceptional. Last heard PVR was inviting 6 Indian feature length documentary films for a similar release. You can see the announcement here.

This seems to be the first time that filmmakers such as Supermen of Malegaon’s Faiza Ahmad Khan are getting to showcase their movies to a larger audience.The fact that the movie is now out on DVDs may have something to do with the embrace by those who watched in theaters. The release will please those who missed out on watching it earlier.

 PVR Rare Film Club is, as everyone thinks a great thing to happen to India. We do have a concern though. It is that while PVR has brought such movies like The Tree of Life and Moonrise Kingdom, it has done so apparently by monopolising the distribution and charging a not-very-insignificant ticket price (it has been known to reach around Rs. 1000). There have been some smaller movies that have come to India outside a PVR release in the last year. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy for example got a wider release which we caught for Rs. 150 on a screen near-er to us. A new CAG report is now doing rounds which suggests a competitive bidding process (no its not.) PVR we hope aren't standing in the way of a greater influx of diverse cinema into India. 

We now come to National Film Development Corporation’s ‘Cinemas of India’. NFDC and Film Finance Corporation before it, powered the parallel cinema moment in India in the 1970s and the 1980s. The films produced in that period and later have now been restored, remastered and recirculated courtesy of NFDC’s Cinemas of India DVDs.

The quality is excellent and the DVDs are reasonably priced. 35 movies that are already out in the market include movies from directors such as Mani Kaul, Saeed Akhtar Mirza, Sudhir Mishra, Shyam Benegal and Tapan Sinha along with some of the lesser known alongside some Marathi, Malayalam and Oriya titles.

After the initial gush, the release of titles has slowed down a bit but it hasn’t stopped entirely. It will eventually unless NFDC keeps acquiring titles from archives outside its own and restores it. The body of work produced under NFDC banner is not big enough to make it as epic in proportion as the Criterion Collection which consistently releases about half a dozen titles every month.

Thankfully some of the films that have made it under ‘Cinemas of India’ are those that were produced by Film Finance Corporation, the predecessor to NFDC. Mani Kaul’s Uski Roti and Duvidha are amongst these while Saeed Akhtar Mirza’s Arvind Desai ki Ajeeb Dastaan was privately funded.

If more resources can be pulled together, National Film Archives of India (NFAI), Films Division (FD) and NFDC can bring out several thousand titles. Film Division alone has 8000 short films, documentaries and news reels including some from before independence. Considerable funds have been allocated by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, but as this report suggests, NFAI drew the shortest straw. There is a sort of internal strife between the three institutions.

Ideally, the three institutions should have been cooperating to carry out the project. NFAI can certainly boast of a much larger library than NFDC’s 300 title strong one. While NFAI has contributed less than enough (excusable for the lack of funding) to what should have been a collective cause of bringing forgotten films to the Indian audience and NFDC raking in all the accolades, the Film Division has quietly implemented something that is quite surprising. Check out their website where you can see hundreds of the films they have produced.

It is just not NFDC then but the whole idea of restoration and recirculation that is genuine. A pat on the back of NFDC’s new leadership is obligatory. In this and many of their other recent initiatives (Screenwriters' Lab, Film Bazaar and movie release tie-ups with Director's rare) they tell us that NFDC is finally doing something. But the efforts of the numerous historians, archivists and those involved directly in the preservation, digitalization and restoration too have to be recognised. The funding however needs to be come to all bodies and the objective must be that of reviving as many movies as there are titles in these archives and recover ‘lost films’ from other collections regardless of who owns them now. The next step is bringing them to the audience that is in all likelihood more than any time before this enthusiastic about the cinema and the lack of financial support to these institutions will hopefully not defeat the cause.

Together PVR and NFDC have shown an acknowledgement of a changing audience. While the restoration of old films should be a process that is continuing, the recirculation cannot come at a more appropriate time. We all stand to be enriched from the great Indian cinema of a bygone era, a lesser glorified contemporary one and the partially accessible foreign one.

This adds to the first stage of a ‘cultural revolution' (which we will be ready to talk about later). The next step is to take the cinema to the villages, the masses and breaking the elitism around movies. While Internet in many ways has worked to create a bigger audience, PVR and Cinemas of India indulges mostly an existing audience. There is an absence perhaps of movement, perfectly ‘legal’ that increases the diversity in the audience. This is something for the future but for now NFDC and PVR have been enterprising enough. 

8/18/12

A STRAIGHT TALK WITH "PERPENDICULAR"


It did well at Cannes and it is doing well at the box office. This is something that could rarely ever be said for an Indian film. But with Gangs of Wasseypur, Anurag Kashyap has changed certain notions in the Indian Film Industry. While many trade pundits believe that this is the future of the Indian mainstream, independent film makers have crowned Kashyap the king of their movement and are now more fearless than ever to just go out there and make their film.

Also, with unusual (read brilliant) casting in the form of a Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the lead and a Tigmanshu Dhulia as the bad guy, Kashyap's masterpiece has after a long time made the Indian audience fall in love with characters and not stars. Playing the lovable yet up to no good teenager, Perpendicular in part-two, Aditya Kumar, leaves a strong impression on the audience, even if his character appears for roughly 10-15 minutes in the film. In this exclusive interview to Cue For Change, Aditya opens up about his character, the preparation and working with Anurag Kashyap.

Q4C: Before anything else, how old are you?
AK: 24!

Q4C: And you played a 14 year old most convincingly. What kind of effort went behind that?
AK: Firstly, I lost a lot of weight. But more importantly, I followed the mannerisms of kids- the way they talk, the way they walk and carry themselves. For me, it was a trip back to childhood. 

Q4C: Your character, "Perpendicular" appears for merely 10-15 minutes, yet leaves such a strong impact on the audience. Would you call it your dream debut?
AK: If your first film is an Anurag Kashyap film, it has to be a dream debut. Though I would love to do longer roles as well, but I think that the strength of the character is more important than the length he appears on screen. I couldn't have asked for more from my first film. 

Q4C: Tell us more about working with Anurag Kashyap...
AK: Every moment you spend around Anurag Kashyap is a valuable lesson to learn. He is a very passionate filmmaker and I wouldn't hesitate a bit to say that he is way ahead of his time. His works are study material for other people in cinema. His ideas are so advanced that most of the times when he says something, we understand it an hour later!

Q4C: How did you get so good with the blade?
AK: I practiced keeping the blade in my mouth for about 8 months. Initially I would get a few scratches, but eventually I got the hang of it.

Q4C: And how were you so natural with the lisp?
AK: Usually in films, actors tend to exaggerate when they play a character with a speech impediment. I wanted to be as natural as possible because I think that is what makes the audience relate to the character. I remembered a man in my village who had a lisp. I shot some footage of him speaking and by repeatedly watching that, I could do my best to make my lisp natural.

Q4C: Probably the best scene involving Perpendicular was the one where he was being chased by the cops. How difficult was the making?
AK: I have explained the making in detail in another interview, but in short, I had to chase the camera, the distance was short and so was the time, hence it was a difficult scene to shoot. Also, it was the first ever action sequence I have done in any form of acting. We did many rehearsals before shooting it, but the end product came in a single take. 

Q4C: There is no doubt that Gangs of Wasseypur has given a huge stride to the Independent Cinema movement in India.  What are your thoughts on this?
AK: Definitely! The film has been well received by critics and has done well commercially. But the important thing is that there was never a film like this made before in India, at least in Hindi cinema. Anurag Kashyap is leading the independent cinema movement right now by fearlessly doing what he wants to. And I think THAT is the message to aspiring filmmakers. And if you see the trends, everyone is following Kashyap, even the ones who make commercial cinema. From Zoya Akhtar to Karan Johar, everyone's work has been affected in some form or the other by the elements of Kashyap's works. The audience today is learning more about good cinema and demands a film to have a good story. Kashyap is simply telling good stories backed by his technical and creative brilliance. I frankly don't understand why many of today's filmmakers are bereft of ideas for a good story. There is a story to be hold in every Indian household. But then again, only able hands can convert those stories to good cinema.

Q4C: The soundtrack has a song by your character's name. Flattering?
AK: Indeed. It is a background score called Perpendicular (Theme). But it is very nice, I like it.

Q4C: And what about Sneha Khanwalkar?
AK: Brilliant. She is simply brilliant. She is a nice human being, young, energetic, beautiful and simply amazing at what she does. Tell me one music director in our industry who does so much research before giving music to a film. Sneha, being a Mumbai girl recreated Delhi's feel in Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, and in Gangs of Wasseypur, her music makes us explore the sounds of Bihar in a very progressive and entertaining manner. In a world where popular music usually comes from Sajid-Wajid, Sneha might just be changing some trends here!

Q4C: Did you know that Tigmanshu Dhulia could act so well?
AK: Tigmanshu Dhulia is an exteremely talented director, but indeed he has a great command on his acting and also on his language. He did a fantastic job playing Ramadhir Singh.

Q4C: The rise and rise of Nawazuddin Siddiqui... 
AK: Nawaz bhai has undoubtedly given his career best performance. Of course, he has the capability to pull something off like this, but I would add that getting a master director like Kashyap pushes you to your extreme limits, which is most vital for an actor. He is a very talented actor and has struggled his way through to become Faizal Khan. Great guy.

Q4C: What kind of films would you like to do ahead?
AK: I am open to all kinds of cinema.

Q4C: What are your future projects?
AK: Right now, I am just chilling!



2/20/12

THE NEW GOLDEN AGE OF TAMIL CINEMA

                                                                                                                                                    
           Tamil cinema, long seen as the poorer southern cousin of Hindi cinema and known more or less by the histronics of its superstar(s), has been undergoing a revolutionary transformation in the last decade or so. Led by a barrage of new directors, actors and producers, Tamil cinema has managed to reinvent itself as, possibly the foremost film industry in the country. But are these changes enough to warrant the tag of a 'Golden Age'?

It is quite clear that Tamil cinema at the moment possesses possibly the best crop of actors in the country. These actors have actively and continuously sought out new, varied and often very risky roles, whether it be Vikram in Pithamagan, Suriya in Vaaranam Ayiram or Karthi in Paruthiveeran, which have not only won them accolades but also resulted in box office successes. There has also been a wave of new film makers such as Gautham Menon, Selvaraghavan and Ameer Sultan who have pushed the boundaries of conventional film making, often taking subjects that are raw, edgy and not exactly what one would call 'mainstream'. This is best exemplified by the critcally acclaimed noir Aaranya Kandaam (Jungle Chapter) released last year. The movie follows six different characters who are brought together by a packet of cocaine in the space of a day. Though such cinema always had a niche in the Tamil industry, with the likes of Mani Ratnam and K.Balachander, it is only in the last decade that it has become mainstream.
A poster from 6 National Award wining Aadukalam

Tamil cinema has also long been blessed with the best possible technicians, from cinematographers to sound mixers, and still boasts of the best possible technical crews in the country, with the likes of Santosh Sivan, P.C.Sriram, Thotta Tharani, and Resul Pookutty.

But, one of the greatest advances of the last decade was the growth of corporate production studios and the ability to get finances through banks and other institutions. The entry of corporates changed the face of the Tamil industry, with budgets skyrocketing. The average budget of a Tamil movie with an A-list star now routinely matches the average budget of a Hindi movie with an A-list star. Any big movie now is made with an average budget of around 40-45 crores. Sometimes the budgets go higher. Way higher. The 2010 release Rajinikanth starrer Endhiran remains India's most expensive movie with a budget of 162 crores (with marketing 200 crores). Last year, the Suriya starrer 7aum Arivu was made at a budget of 85 Crores.

Further, these big budgets have been made commercially viable with the growth of multiplexes and the ability to directly release movies outside India to meet the demands of the huge Tamil diaspora. Endhiran is touted as the highest grossing movie in India's history, breaching the 300 Crore barrier, and according to some sources getting as much as 375 crores. Whether these statements are true or not
what can't be denied is that Endhiran definitely features among the top three highest grossing Indian movies of all times.The top three grossers in Tamil cinema last year are Mankatha (150 Crores), 7aum Arivu (110 Crores) and Velayudham (90 crores). Of the top five grossers of all times in Indian cinema, two are Tamil movies, Endhiran (275-300 crores) and Dasavatharam (250 Crores).

Tamil cinema now also has the biggest world wide audience after Hindi cinema, with movies being routinely released in South Africa, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan. In fact Rajnikanth is a cultural icon in Japan, with his movies grossing more than Japanese releases.

And finally, it is possible to say that the Tamil audience has really matured in its outlook. This can be only explanation for why last year, the highest grossing movie Mankatha (The Game) did not have a 'hero' per se. The protagonist in the movie played by the Superstar, Ajith, is a scheming devious womanizing alcoholic corrupt cop who is planning on stealing 500 Crores and bumping off his accomplices in the process. Hardly what one would expect from a mainstream blockbuster with a mainstream actor. This could also be the reason why the audiences lapped up Shankar's sci-fi extravaganza, “Endhiran”, with Rajnikanth in as non-Rajnikanth a role as possible.

So is Tamil cinema in a new Golden Age? I would argue that it undoubtedly is. But what finally clinches this argument for me is the sheer range of movie being released or planned. Take the list of movies to be released in 2012 for instance. You have Yohan: Adhayayam Ondru (Yohan: Chapter One) a spy thriller; Karikalan, a historical epic; Kochadaiyaan, India's first motion capture movie, starring Rajnikanth; Kamal Hassan's Vishwaroopam, another spy thriller with a budget of 150 Crores; the Suriya starrer action thriller Maatran; the cop drama Thaandavam with Vikram; the gangster flick Vettai Manan; the tragic love story 3 (the Kolaveri movie) and Vada Chennai (North Chennai) by the director of the six-national award winning flick Aadukalam. And these are just a few of the movies being released. So my advice? The next time a Tamil movie is playing near you, grab a ticket, watch (Tamil movies outside Tamil Nadu are generally released with subtitles) and enjoy film making at its finest.

By Shashank Reddy

2/13/12

US AND THEM: THOUGHTS ON PIRACY & INDIA

Things to India either come very late or never at all. This goes equally for Hollywood Films, the news that our domain is under threat or the debate on piracy/ copyright. Though I am sure the whole world is optimism stricken about the matter. Angry but optimistic anyway. We in India are just optimistic. And this is the second issue which has the world in storm that we are commenting on. Even as you read this, things have changed for worse and another one of our favorite sites is no more.

Yet we console ourselves with saying that when one door closes another opens. Well this is what history of piracy has told us. If torrents stop working they say the next technology is just round the corner. And technology has kept ahead of the efforts to stop piracy. We aren’t exactly sure today what this new revolutionary technology looks like. Nobody really knows and nobody seems to be working on it. But such is its nature, circumstances change quickly and unimaginably. But does this mean we can take it for granted?
So we suggest that all of us should be prepared in the least for that day there will be no more downloading movies. Would it be that bad? For us at least we would rather pack our bags and go to Alaska and die the Christopher McCandless way. We think we should all be a bit realistic about the risk.

But it isn't over till The Pirate Bay is still running wild. Not just because it is “the biggest in the galaxy” (as they proclaim) but because it is “the galaxy's most resilient bittorrent site” (as they proclaim louder). TPB has also given us the only victory over Hollywood bullies and TPB is also from where new technology is being ushered.  

In 2006, optimism was quite understandable as TPB is back online in a space of a few hours after the raid on their offices. Now as 2012 has begun with the shutdown of Megaupload, FileServe and FileSonic, BTJunkie is the most recent casualty to the fear. And so the fear has reached torrent portals as well. We have been told again and again that file sharing through torrents is impossible to stop. But BTJunkie’s closure tells us how torrents are as vulnerable.

They may not stop p2p networks but they can prosecute the service providers that lead us to these files. Two things are come out, they don’t need you to have the files on your servers and they don’t need SOPA/PIPA too badly. Piracy is illegal anyway. Now if you can give us a few sites that will substitute BTJunkie in our lives, we can tell you they will shut shops voluntarily tomorrow and they are not answerable to us. And if they leave us only to remorse at their departures, how vulnerable does it make us?

And that leaves us with the Pirate Bay, the rare torrent portal with a voice. Feel no sympathy for that dirty rich Megaupload loon who undergoes trial. He is just stealing money. But the point that TPB drives to is that it isnt about money. Studio lobbying tells us that it is.

They want our money but the insensitivity that they show us is just awful. Nick Ross here builds a case for piracy just by using examples of this disregard (of film, television and music industry mainly) showing that sometimes it leaves us with no option. Isn’t it the same case here? The real threat is that the sphere of knowledge available to us will get smaller.  

In India especially, anti-copyright debate is hardly ever found into the catalog of policy issues. The movement is centered at specific countries- countries where legitimate Pirate Parties are formed and are pushing for debates. Boy, if this was anything like Sweden! These issues have not come to limelight because like Sweden we are not home to a major felon website like TPB. It has so far been good because Hollywood film industry has never cared much about us anyway. We don’t host sites and we don’t upload your copyrighted material (we don’t have access to your movies!) and we are so poor that we cannot afford to buy your movies.

This is changing. You have seen international works in the video store stands for a few years. And you are getting to watch ‘almost’ all the important Hollywood movies in your theatres. And now they have reasons to pressurise your Government to value international agreements. The basis of the anti- piracy strikedown is that the flimsy belief that every illegal copy of the movie competes with the legit DVD/ ticket that people would have definitely bought. The pro-piracy movement says that industries try to create unnatural scarcity for maximising their economic interest.

Now this half way house is SO enormously terrible that although the scarcity is going nowhere considering the one week that a good English movie will be in 10 theatres around. In the past year just how many times have we been disappointed by the distributors cancelling India release of a movie?
And now they might be eyeing your money. Of course lawsuits filed by a Hollywood paid lawyer in India prosecuting you might seem to be a far-fetched possibility at this moment. The point is that the property- their films will still remain quite scarce here. And a tough law against an action that deals with a scarce resource is insensible.

They tell you in their advertisements that Piracy affects the poor hard working souls who work at Hollywood. Would they lose employment? A ‘best boy’ working at a studio might but Johnny Depp will never. If the stars and executive producers might lose some of their greed instead they might save the jobs of best boys and lighting technician. Isnt it shameful then, that the MPAA begs in the name of these technicians?  You don’t have to lose their jobs. You will lose the excess profits.

It’s a remote cause but we have proved (to each other as usual) that file sharing will lead to more equitable distribution of wealth uniformly and India stands to gain economically. I am certain that in the half decade of its popularity file sharing has seminated a whole generation of future filmmakers with pronounced influences. As of today even if the file sharing online stops altogether I believe there are several thousand more youths in India between the ages of 16 and 26 that have already been persuaded to take up filmmaking. The critical understanding that people show in online forums could only have been enriched by easier access to movies. In fact the growing popularity of Hollywood movies and the money they make at the box office here is quite easily attributable to this generation of new film buffs. Demand pushes supply (if only studying economics was this interesting!)   

So if filesharing of copyrighted stuff stops eventually our generation will be known to give India back the golden age of films. Proud that we will be, for the sake of future generations and a prolonged period of good films, we must fight to provide them this opportunity. This is really our best argument in favour of piracy.
Of course it might just set the ball rolling because this new generation of filmmaker in India and hopefully at most places believes in filesharing and will allow a free consumption of their work, licensing them under open content license (or alternatives) as Mr. Lawrence Liang’s advice goes. 

We know some remarkable short filmmakers already doing so.We personally think if we do become filmmakers (exceptional possibility), we will have 1000 screens to show the movie at while we release it on torrents (you can pay us if you like) and maybe we won’t have swimming pools in our houses.

This remains our last hope.

Even if most people who download are not in touch with the political debates (RIP Pirate Bureau) on it, the most insightful portal available to us is the TPB blog and TorrentFreak.com.
One of the most thought provoking thing that TPB has ever spoken about is ‘the next step in copying’ that they think will be in physical form. They say-

“The benefit to society is huge. No more shipping huge amount of products around the world. No more shipping the broken products back. No more child labour. We'll be able to print food for hungry people. We'll be able to share not only a recipe, but the full meal. We'll be able to actually copy that floppy, if we needed one.”  

“We'll be able to print food for hungry people.” What?? A world without hungry people in sight? No because even if that happens the food industry will be very furious. How can they ever let this happen? Of course this debate is for a time in the future and we cannot weigh out the arguments today even if a hunger free world is thought to be an ideal but to reach a conclusive answer to that debate we must answer this one. How the debate on copyright goes will set precedence for that one. We might end up deciding that it is okay to starve people (intellectually of course) for protecting economic interests of a few or perhaps the concepts of private property will have to change. Spare a thought.   

The debate is here now, because every shut filesharing portal affects you. So everytime you say that we will find the next website you should be saying that this is enough! And we are going to do something. Do what? We don’t really know. But we know that they call an entire generation criminal and there will be a time when we will be the people making decisions on whether we want file sharing or not. We also know going the aimless ‘Anonymous’ mass hacking way is just ill-thought. We arent’t criminals. Meanwhile we are talking to a few people to see whether we can float a registered Pirate Party.    

We cannot claim all the ideas are our own (but many.)

We watched: Steal this Film Part 1, Steal this Film Part 2
Some more Kick-ass stuff courtesy TPB- http://thepiratebay.se/legal


1/30/12

DESERVES BETTER TRIBUTES, OR NONE.


It has been a while since we were last seen. And as all good things come to end all good things must also get a last chance. So believing that if we take another long break we don’t deserve to continue writing and waste time, we are here.
 
In the new phase, we intend to take some of the most pressing issues cinema faces today (not Agneepath) head on and the most appalling piece of news we have stumbled upon since our unceremonious departure (“We were on a BREAK!”) is the fact that none other than David Dhawan is remaking the cult classic of the early 80s Chashme Buddoor into a contemporary Bollywood comedy for which he is relying upon the acting "prowess" of the pitiful Ali Zafar and the average Siddharth. Why this piece of information agonizes us does not entirely emerge from the unnervingly huge and shoddy filmography attributed to Dhawan, but also because Chashme Buddoor is one of those rare Indian classics that are independent of the era they are being watched in. And this particular film, directed by Sai Paranjpye, has the beauty of being thoroughly and accurately descriptive of a particular era in the ever-dynamic Indian society, yet cements itself as a timeless classic.

Chashme Buddoor tells the story of three roommates Omi, Jai and Siddharth. While Omi (Rakesh Bedi) and Jai (late Ravi Baswani) are futile yet relentless womanizers, Siddharth (Farooq Sheikh) is the more reserved kinds who is a nerd of that degree where he finds equal thrill in a book of Economics as a normal man finds in a James Hadley Chase novel. When the new girl in the neighborhood (Deepti Naval) arrives, Omi and Jai, the womanizing slackers that they are, jump onto the opportunity to woo her while Siddharth unaware and uninterested about these developments provides superficial moral support to both of their attempts, which of course prove to be futile. But both Jai and Omi despite their incapability to have the smallest of conversations with the girl Neha, come up with an entirely contradictory, false and dreamy tale of their romances and exploits with her and then simultaneously conclude that they should stop their pursuit for a female of such  ill character. To add to the twist further, the nerd is the first one to find a girl for him and it happens to be the same Neha (an amazing first rendezvous between the pair and of course the unforgettable and hilarious reference to Miss Chamko).

Bertrand Russel, Gandhi, Vivekananda adorn Siddharth’s walls, juxtaposed by the almost nude bikini models that cover up most of Jai and Omi’s walls and imaginations. The movie beautifully narrates its tale, unfolding the story of its characters and in backdrop throws light on the menace of abduction of women in the Delhi of the late 70s and early 80s, which then goes on to play a major role in the climax of the film.

It is simply marvelous how effortlessly Paranjpye drives the film with powerful dialogs, strong unfolding of the story line, and stylized representation of the pleasures of the youth. The simple art direction, the things scattered here and there in every frame of the film add to the nostalgia and help magnify its cult status. The constant lighting of cigarettes (on credit), ranging from Dunhill in good times to the plain Indian Beedi in bad, the humorous encounters of the trio with the cigarette seller; the much bright and vibrant character of Lallan Miya (Saeed Jaffery), his Hyderabadi accent and rants on how his business is making losses because of the rascal duo (Jai and Omi) who never ever clear their dues. Chashme Buddoor succeds in making an impression by this simplicity and precision; which is not just admirable but is compelling to a viewer who is captivated by the narration, the performances and also by the quality and the wit of the dialogues and even the songs.

While Pyaar Lagavat stands out as the best song of the film, every other track is apt and contributes to the storyline instead of intruding it (the latter, a more common observation in Hindi cinema). All credit to the legend of a music director, Rajkamal. Other loved tracks include Kaali Ghodi Dwaar Khadi and Kaha Se Aaye Badra.

Chashme Buddoor is important as it belongs to the few rare movies in Hindi Cinema of that time which planted the seeds of the Indian New Wave cinema (which no one can be sure when it came or is coming), where the technical brilliance of the West would meet simple yet moving tales of India and result in something like a Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron,Dil Dosti Etc, Taare Zameen Par, Dev D, Dhobi Ghaat, etc.

So much we admire all these small and vital elements of Chashme Buddoor that the reader we hope is not amazed anymore on our apprehension that Dhawan is remaking the classic. More so because, Dennis Dugan, a Hollywood director, in 2001, adapted Chashme Buddoor into the rather insipid American comedy Saving Silverman. Well of course, making a bad remake in no way affects the greatness of the original work, but what unnerves us is the fact that a work of the stature ofChashme Buddoor deserves a much better tribute; we hope our article is close to something of that nature.

PS. What is it now with the story of Zanjeer remake by Apoorva Lakhia(him?!) ? Deserves better tributes or none at all. 

7/5/11

THE LATE INTERVIEW WITH BEJOY NAMBIAR




Cue for Change interviewed Bejoy Nambiar, the director of the thriller Shaitan released last month. The interview comes late but comes packed with his experience of working on the flick, his thoughts on the medium of short filmmaking, lessons learnt in his career and even more of his insights into cinema.






Cue for Change: Are you happy with the way Shaitan has turned up? How many times have you watched it yet?
Bejoy Nambiar: Yeah, very happy with what we have.

Q4C: What do you think of the response you have got for your movie?
BN: I am very overwhelmed by the response. Quite happy with it, I didn’t expect it to be liked by so many people. I am glad that it has.

Q4C: Has it has fallen short of your expectations at the Box Office?
BN: In terms of numbers, yes. I would be lying if I said I didn’t expect it to go over this. I really expected to get better numbers. But I guess we are still evolving as an audience so even though the word of mouth was so positive and people loved the film, to cut across to the average movie-goer the audience still needs to expand. I know for a fact that if it stays on for a few more weeks, it will gain more momentum. In the third week also it is still going well in all the pockets. If it stays on it will get better numbers. But there are so many releases happening I know it’s hard.  At least it has recovered its money. It’s got a nice shelf life now. I am not entirely disappointed by the response.

Q4C: You targeted people through the internet that includes the Facebook group. What are the kinds of reaction you got there?
BN: Very overwhelming again. The response that we got online was terrific. People have really gone out and voiced their opinions. They voiced what they loved about the film. They voiced what they didn’t like about the film. In a way it’s been a great platform. I am glad that we could connect to people this way.

Q4C: Do you actually see it attaining a sort of a cult status?
BN: When you are making a film you can’t think of all that. You don’t think whether it will achieve a cult status or not. You just make the film with best intentions and hope it connects. If it attains some kind of status I will be more than happy.

Q4C: Is the box office success something that a director should worry about?
BN: I think it will be foolish of any filmmaker to not worry about it. He should definitely have that in mind. But you can’t only keep the BO in mind in making a film. As a responsible filmmaker you have to make sure the people investing that kind of money are happy.

Q4C:Aren’t you annoyed really with the comparisons people make with Paanch?
BN: I can’t be bothered about it. If people want to keep drawing parallels with it then I can’t help it. I know for a fact that I have not made it inspired from Paanch or any other (god damn) film for that matter. When my writer and I wrote it, we were not thinking of Paanch. I have not seen Paanch and that is the truth of the matter. I know some leading critics have said it is a rehashed version of Paanch. Just because it has 5 protagonists and a kidnapping plot does not make it so. That way all love stories are same. If they still want to compare it I really can’t help much.

Q4C: As a producer what has Anurag Kashyap’s role being?
BN: He came with the money. He set things up for me and he just left. And finally when the film was ready he went all out to promote it. I think that’s the best way to put it. When he really believes in something, he goes all out. I couldn’t have asked for a better producer for my first film. I am very glad that he came on board to give this film so much credibility.

Q4C: Anurag Kashyap in an interview called Shaitan very much like a David Fincher flick set in Mumbai? Could he have been an influence?
BN: Not at all. It is pretty gracious and sweet of Anurag to say that. But it is not like I was influenced by anyone. Definitely David Fincher is one filmmaker a look up to but doesn’t mean that I was trying to ape him.


Q4C: Many of us know you won the Gateway to Hollywood, and Shaitan was supposed to be made as Spiral under the Contract from Ashok Amritraj’s Hyde Park Entertainment. But then what happened?
BN: Yes, it was going to be an English film set in Mumbai but Ashok was somewhere not convinced. He was happy with the story initially but after the first draft was written he wasn’t very convinced and wanted me to pursue something else. It happens a lot of times. Producers are not convinced on what you want to do. That is what happened.

Q4C: Do you think Gateway was an important experience?
BN: Of course if Gateway wouldn’t have happened, Shaitan wouldn’t have happened. I was writing something completely different for my first film, so I am glad gateway happened, it also led me to people. It was a great experience. I only have good memories from gateway.


Q4C: You are one of the few directors to have graduated from making short films to feature films. One of the only ones perhaps whose work is accessible to us. Is making short films a crucial lesson for an aspiring director?
BN: For me it was like a learning curve. I was constantly making short films only to get better at what I wanted to do and keep showing people that I am capable of handling bigger material so for them to have faith in me as a filmmaker I kept doing these short films. For me it was only a way of showing people my craft. I still look at it as a great format for an aspiring filmmaker.

Q4C: Here, in India it doesn’t seem to be the usual path for an aspiring filmmaker. A lot of directors in Hollywood in contrast have stated their careers by making Shorts. Then is the Short Filmmaking scene here different here that does not give out feature filmmakers regularly?
BN: I don’t think that is true. Over a period so many avenues have developed for short filmmakers. The more you showcase your work the more attention it gets. It makes it easier for you to get access to people with whom you want to work with. Of course there are different aspects here and there. In fact in India it is much more intimate. It is much easier to connect with people if you have something to show. It is much more accessible.

Q4C: So why don’t we see a lot of short filmmakers making it into the mainstream films?
BN: That depends on the filmmaker to filmmaker. How much perseverance you have and how much you try to get ahead.
                
Q4C: You managed to bring Mohanlal, a star in Malayalam cinema to act in one of your early Short film, Reflections. How did you do that?
BN: I completely believe that if you really want to work with someone, in our country it is actually possible. It is not difficult to get in touch with anyone. So I actually tracked Mohanlal down, found his number, got an appointment. It took me a couple of months.
Finally if that actor wants to work with you or not that is a completely different thing. As a first filmmaker, yes you will be shunned, you may not be entertained, but it depends on how much you keep trying. And that is what happened with Mohanlal, once I had explained the concept top him, he was on board.     




Q4C: Who would you call influences of your filmmaking? Or somebody you admire a lot?
BN: There are a lot of these. I admire Anurag Kashyap very much. He is a definitive hero for aspiring filmmakers, somebody that all look up to. Mani Sir (Ratnam) of course is another. He is one of the reason I joined the media. It is also because of the association I have had with him. He has been a driving force in my career.
Besides them, Mukul Anand and Manmohan Desai. Padmarajan, Bharathan and Ritwick Ghatak are also few of my favorite filmmakers. There are a lot of filmmakers I keep admiring because of their work.

Q4C: Anybody from Hollywood?
Coen brothers, Brian De Palma and David Fincher in fact there are so many of them. They are the big guys.

Q4C: Can you give us a list of your top 5 films.
BN: You can’t ask this to a filmmaker. There are far too many films I like. I just don’t have any favorite five films. As a film-buff you keep updating a list. You keep adding more films to it. It’s never like you have a set of five or ten films that you love. If I stick to a list I will be doing a great injustice to the other films that I like. 
 
Q4C: So, any movie that you watched recently and really liked?
BN: The Secret in their Eyes, I keep talking about that film a lot. I also love A Prophet that I saw recently and Mother, the Korean film that I thought was very nice.

The interview ended thus. We are grateful to Bejoy for the opportunity to converse with him. 
Interview dated 27.06.2011

6/23/11

ME AND SATYAJIT RAY

                                                  

Akira Kurosawa:
"Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon."

Martin Scorcese, Director, 1991
"We would like to bring to your attention, and to the attention of the distinguished board of directors of the Academy, a master filmmaker, Satyajit Ray... Though somewhat unwell, during the past few years he has completed two additional films, centered around his deeply humanitarian vision. His work is in the company of that of living contemporaries like Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa and Federico Fellini."

As most people know Satyajit Ray is arguably the finest film director to emerge from our culturally rich country.There are many articles which analyze the movies of Satyajit Ray. But this article is from a personal point of view. This article is about what Satyajit Ray and what his films mean to the author.

As a child,born in the state of Bengal, Satyajit Ray’s movies are a part of your growing years-Movies like Goopi Gyne,Bagha Byne,Hirak Rajar Deshe,Sonar Kella,Joy Baba Felunath are among a staple diet of movies on which a Bengali boy/girl grows culturally. But as one grows,one comes to realize how Satyajit Ray’s movies are so much more and how even the movies he made for an young audience also have some deep lying messages.

Coming to his works for the matured audiences,Satyajit Ray’s movies are usually celebrated for their warm humanism,their sympathetic outlook, their realistic take on the contemporary Indian society but one feature of his movies which can be easily overlooked is his not-so-veiled contempt for the Indian middle class masses, their bourgeoisie values and their narrow-minded perspective of the world. Yes, poking fun at the bourgeoisie was one of the features of his movies which I admired immensely besides the warm humanism and gritty and realistic nature of his movies. It’s ironic that Francois Truffaut, another director whose trademark was the warm humanism much like Ray’s films, walked out during the screening of Pather Panchali as he thought Ray was using the poverty in India to make a name for himself.(He later realized his mistake and is said to have apologized to Mrs Bijoya Ray for this.)

Movies can change your lives.Or at least affect your life and change your outlook. I would like to think movies of many directors have affected my perspective. From Stanley Kubrick to Martin Scorsese to Frank Capra to Woody Allen, different kind of directors have a varied effect on your mentality. Similarly I belive anyone who has seen Satyajit Ray’s movies will also be deeply moved. His movies have a wide range of emotions-love,ambition,ruthlessness,class consciousness, jealousy, anguish, compassion,self-righteousness you name it and it’s there. Ray’s speciality was that he could portray such a wide range of emotions and feelings in an absolutely commonplace everyday situation. He showed how the day to day life the common man led was a treasure mine and how extraordinary ordinary life can be. Thank you Mr.Satyajit Ray for enriching the cinema with such a goldmine,and on a parochial note-thank you Mr Ray for putting India on the world map of cinema.

Ray's people have genuine emotions and ambitions. By contrast, Hollywood films with exploding cigarette lighters and gasping starlets and idiot plots are the real "foreign" films. They have nothing at all in common with us, and Satyajit Ray of India understands us better than Jerry Lewis.”- Roger Ebert(excerpts from his review of Satyajit Ray’s “Mahanagar”)


Anish Dutta comes from the quarter where Bengali pride and Film fanaticism overlap. In battles on film communities online he may be found, ferociously taking the sides of Nolan, Bale and De Niro. But his words are believed to speak for themselves.

5/8/11

MOTHERS AND BOLLYWOOD

In a film industry that gives out the most inequitable treatment to women, the role of mother has always found some space. A male dominated industry allows female characters to survive only in relation to the “hero”, hence either as “the love interest” or our archetypal “affectionate mother”.

What started out as a “tribute to mothers”
 we took the road less travelled by and instead of celebrating the Mother’s Day by listing out the The Top Moms in Hindi Cinema we analyse this role. One might still call it a tribute. But tribute to a mother just cannot shape up akin to our special post on fathers’ day even if attempted, although that was not a Bollywood tribute but blatancy will throw at us mothers from Hindi film cinema while doing this. 

A typical tribute will ignore the differences between the roles of cinematic fathers and mothers. Let us structure such a tribute. It can reasonably be expected to start with the quote “Mere paas maa hai.” On this journey that the author takes us on, we shall pass  
Deewar, Karan ArjunRam Lakhan among others, celebrating such character actors as Nirupa Roy, Lalita Pawar and Rakhee. A long list of movies that these have played mothers in can be easily produced. All tributes in the market keep reproducing them. But the important questions were being skipped. What made the role of mother end up as a stereotype and thus scripted the emergence of these character actors? There is something within the meaning of character actors that points to triviality. Hindi films treat mothers as something abstract. The misery of Rakhee playing mother to an older Amitabh Bachchan in Shakti is seldom recognized.

Men never faced such a stereotype. There has been nobody to parallel Nirupa Roy, someone who would have made a career out of character roles of a father. Thus if we were to pick out these poor, poor mothers of Bollywood we are not adhering to the same logic we did for the father’s day post. 


The Bollywood films that could have been included (
Akele Hum Akele Tum) are the ones in which fathers can still be the centre and the child’s presence is in respect with the father, with a relationship from the top. If not that, then as equals in conflict, Mughal-E-Azam, ShaktiTrishul are some of the numerous examples. In case of mothers and sons (it has to be sons because daughters too cannot be central) the relationship is from below.
While Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor save the character to be pushed into peripheral, it is Kirron Kher etc continue to play to the limits of the formulaic mother.


A careful study of the industry cannot draw a blank. Since this post is more on what does not celebrate mothers as what does, we do not cover all movies giving true tribute to mothers. Restricting it to few,
Mother India we cannot not exclude.

Surely one of the best films in Bollywood ever, 
Mother India was made as early as 1957 and yet hardly any film in the next six decades has dealt with the character of a mother in as much depth. In Mother India, the beauty lies in the fact that various dimensions of a mother, both in the dynamism of her role (wife, widow, daughter) and also presenting the facets of her personality as a mother itself. Mother India shows the protagonist Radha as a nurturing, caring and strong mother who teaches her children the right values in life and does her best to take care of them in the worst of hardships. In contrast, she also is a person of her word and expects her beloved son Birju (Sunil Dutt) to keep his promise of not harming their exploiters in the past (Sukhilala). As he breaks his promise, Radha kills his own son to stay true to her values and promise. Mother is not at all an abstraction but is in “flesh and blood.”

It is unfortunate that not many films in the future could support a script where the mother was the lead character. Nobody is yet contesting the impact scored by the mother’s in Bollywood. 
Deewar’s Nirupa Roy is also very much flesh and blood.  Mothers are there to instill values into their sons that will grow up to be heroes.  Banally we refer to My Name is Khan. The impact of his mother on Rizwan Khan is important. Interestingly, the same film shows another mother-son relationship but here from above. Kajol may not be the lead (there is always only one), but her efforts to bring justice to her dead son are not exactly peripheral.

One can say while on a tribute that “there’s no place that reveres mothers more than Bollywood”, and describing their “adoring smiles, strokes that sooth away fears, soft voices singing lullabies and those pain-filled eyes reflecting the sacrifices made for the sake of their children”. People have done this. Descriptions such as these define the limits for such roles.  Most of our criticisms are against the articles obtained as top results on Google for “Famous mothers of Bollywood”, also the widespread view.


We only wish for an equal share for women in films. Celebrating the stereotypical roles of mothers is defeatism. This mother’s day realise that your existence rests on your mother and not the other way around.