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.

5/6/11

STYLE AND THE CITIES

 In the last month, the multiplexes saw a sudden storm of releases which were fighting each other for the three hour attention of their audiences. And most of these films were promising too. Dum Maaro Dum, I Am, Shor in the City and Chalo Dilli were the major Bollywood flicks amongst the other regional and Hollywood films.

It is a #facepalm that we could not catch up with I Am yet, having interviewed Onir himself about the film before its release! But we did manage to watch Dum Maro Dum and Shor In The City. We cannot help but notice some similarities in these films. For starters, both the films have a city as an important character in the film. While DMD's cinematography beautifully revolves around Goa, SITC uses Bombay as its silent character where all the "shor" (noise) is happening (Dhobi Ghat a much much superior film with Bombay playing a similar role). 

Rohan Sippy's DMD is his third experiment with stylish film-making after Kucch Naa Kaho (blah!) and Bluffmaster (slick!). DMD has one of the most fast paced first halves we have witnessed in a long time. Well, the unfolding of the suspense is not bad but a little disappointing after the heightened pulse rates in the first half. DMD is a film of characters and not stars and that is something we liked about the film. The story is intriguing as all these characters have a story in their past which has something to do with drugs and Goa and co-incidentally all of it revolves around a 17 year old guy (Prateik, good presence) being caught at the Goa airport carrying drugs. The drama unfolds and we find out that the bad guys in the movie may not be "the" bad guys and there exists a worse and a more dangerous villain behind the whole drug scene in Goa who is a shadow, an unknown entity. He knows everyone, but no one knows him! The revelation of the climax may be disappointing to some people, but we think it is not as anti-climactic as people are telling it is. 

The thing we were wondering while watching Shor In The City was why does this film look disjointed? As in, some scene will please the critic immensely and the other would be worse than a graduation film made by the worst student of a film school with poor infrastructure :P We wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that there were two directors credited for the making of this film. Like DMD, even SITC has a screenplay in which the first half tells random stories about its characters and the second half weaves those into the climax. But unlike DMD, the screenplay of SITC was weakish, the characters were undernourished in some cases and obese in the others.
Both these films have been made very stylishly. Right from the posters to the trailers to each frame in the film is attempted to be stylish. While DMD clearly wins in this arena also, SITC is pleasing in some parts and plain in the others. SITC had an interesting story line though. The makers have claimed that each of the stories in the film is inspired from a newspaper incident. If that is so, then let us just say that they should have looked for some better stories, because some of them were just blah! 

Why we chose to put both these films in one post is that it brings up an important point in filmmaking. While in Dum Maro Dum the stylishness of the frames and the amazing dialog writing only adds to the awesomeness of the script, Shor In The City is a film where a quasi-dynamic plot was attempted to be set in motion by all the style and glamor. Sadly, it did not work to that extent as a good Hindi film caper does (Johnny Gaddar, Yeh Saali Zindagi)

Talking of the performances, both these films have put forth two new faces to Hindi cinema in the form of Rana Daggubatti (Joki, DMD) and Sendhil Ramamurthy (Abhay, SITC). While Rana seems much more promising as an actor, Sendhil is a brown Greek god but somewhere he looks incomplete in his role, as acting in a Hindi film may not be his cup of tea. But he was not the worst actor in the film. Tusshar did not do that bad a job in SITC, but we were almost constipated in the interval when we saw the trailer of his upcoming film with Amrita Rao (No, we do not really give a fuck to remember its name). The newcomer in SITC, Sundeep who played Savvy the wannabe cricketer who may be a twin of Kumar Sangakkara, was probably the weakest link in the film when it came to the acting part. In DMD, there were some seasoned campaigners in charge (Abhishek, Govind Namdeo, Aditya Pancholi, Bipasha) and they all pulled off a good job. 

Finally, the only aspect where SITC may be at par with DMD is the background score and OST. Apart from that, you may really avoid the "shor" and do the "dum" peacefully :P 

4/19/11

ROHIT TELLS US WHAT HAPPENED "ONE CIGARETTE AGO"



Please watch this one minute short film before you start reading this post.

"One Cigarette Ago" (Oka Cigarette Kritam, Telugu) is a beautiful short made by young filmmaker Rohit Penumatsa. Rohit has been making films on simple subjects based on the society around him from quite some time now. He also writes a very nice blog on cinema which mirrors his cinematic taste...

We think, as aspiring filmmakers, the story behind the making of the film is much more inspiring than the film most of the times. For the first time on Cue For Change, we get to you a filmmaker's story in his own words. The making, the hardships, the luck, the process, the result; enjoy this essay on his own work by Rohit Penumatsa;



About 3 years back I heard of a short story called ‘Budget’. It was a story by an artist named Chandra who had written the story in the 80s. He had written it for a post card story contest and he was trying to reflect on the price rise situation back then. The contest was about writing a short story, a very short one, one that doesn’t exceed the lengths and widths of a post card.

Ever since I’ve heard of it I’ve wanted make a version of it with moving images. And I wrote a two page screenplay almost immediately and in the usual order of things it had gone through so many changes that I hardly remember the pattern of the first draft.
    
A friend called up one morning and told me about a short film contest in Vijayawada. Seemed like the perfect time to make it and with about 20 days to submission, there was ample time left!
   
Now, we wanted a room. A small room which suited the ambiance of the character’s financial state more than anything else. After trying to make a room with a few set properties we had in mind, we luckily found a small abandoned pent house on a friend’s apartment complex. It was previously used by the watchman of the apartment and hence it had all the properties we needed. A few religious pictures (calendars too), clothes dumped in a corner, sweeps and the perfect surroundings we were looking for.
   
Casting – The actual plan was to use a bike mechanic we knew and get an actual prostitute to play the lady. Seemed like the move which would bring in the authenticity. We approached a few sex workers and one of them accepted to do the role, but, when I told her the script she asked whether we were shooting blue films (“Blue film cassetlu teestunnaara?”).  
   
Had to give up on that move, but, luckily we found the guy and the lady at a local drama society. They instantly understood the seriousness of the script and the shoot was done in 2 hours. Couldn’t accommodate a fourth person in the tiny room, hence I had to handle the camera myself.
   
All the difficulties of amateur (free of cost) film making had to be endured through the post production process - editing, grading, sound designing and even the Telugu titling. The sound designer (Raghunath) was a big time technician who had designed the sound for films such as Magadheera.  Raghu liked the film instantly and had even recreated the simple sounds using his Foley artist.

All in all it was another fun ride with glimpses of utter disappointment and long waits in the corridor to get the work done (for free).

Glad that it paid off.


Rohit Penumatsa is a lover of cinema, filmmaker, screenwriter, blogger, photographer and a lot of other things. Find him interesting? Connect with him on Facebook

4/14/11

REMEMBERING SID LUMET







The death of Sidney Lumet was the death of the last of the classic Hollywood film directors. Among his contemporaries in Hollywood, Lumet was distinguishable as a stage and TV director who turned to making films. He brought with himself values from these mediums and these were evident in his work in films.


A comparison with contemporary Delbert Mann will teach us a lot about Lumet. Both similarly successful TV directors, starting out with adaptations of teleplays, Sidney Lumet with his 12 Angry Men in 1957 and Delbert Mann with his very very successful Marty two years earlier. While Mann continued bringing plays to screen till his 1960 movie, The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Lumet stuck to it till 1962’s film Long Day's Journey Into Night. Both moved out of this and since then their worked largely on original screenplays and adapted novels. Mann found success with his next movie, the screwball comedy Lover Come Back (1961), he also got The Outsiders (1961) to rank among classics. But by 1968 and a few movies later Mann had already returned to TV. Lumet made this his momentous phase. The Pawnbrokers and Fail Safe in the same year are viewed as brilliant movies. The latter though failed at the box office it was more because of its similarities to Dr Strangelove, released earlier that year than anything else.


To a stage director to a film director, his transition was becoming. Through his movies we see his astounding adaptiveness. After all, his last film, Before The Devil Knows You Are Dead came out in 2007 when he was 82 years old. We swear it does not look like it. You, like Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman critic may say that the movie is "proof that Sidney Lumet's talent is, in every sense, timeless" but you have to agree that no body survives this long without adapting to the new. To include an example, when Lumet came to film The Verdict, he gave it a visual treatment totally different than any of his past movies. 


According to him, he closely collaborated with cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak, to get a more stylish result out of each frame. Lumet was always a better friend to his cinematographer than he was to his writer. Always honest about his inability to write, he says- “I can’t write. And I have such respect for writers- I don’t know how two writers collaborate.” This was probably one of the values he brought from television and stage. Former directors of the stage and TV were not required to write. Elia Kazan was not known to write excessively (with exceptions such as America, America, adapted from the novel that he wrote himself) neither were any of Mann, Frankenheimer etc.


Another interesting one of these values was the practice of extensive rehearsals for “a minimum of two weeks” according to Lumet. This would have allowed the actors to master their characters. Not all actors were comfortable with it. It would also have been difficult to continue the practice through time into the 21st century changed movie making. But it was such an effort to give a personal attention to his actors that earned him the title of “Actor’s Director”. We will not forget that not only did he work with the absolute best in acting business but can be credited with making good actors out of many of them.


It was the chase for realism that had probably brought him into films; he considered the theater to be a “totally unreal medium”. He called the difference between the stage and movies, the difference between poetry and prose. And he understood this difference, well while making12 Angry Men where he was trying to bring the worlds of poetry and prose together. The confinement of the jury room in 12 Angry Men is the stage. The first take in the jury room is a 7 minutes long shot with the camera focusing into and out of a different set of characters and moving on to the next set, this while the actors out of focus continue to be in the role; a classic stage phenomenon. 


 Through the movie the film is moving towards realism. To quote from article Evolution of Twelve Angry Men, “In the movie, director Lumet achieved movement and variety by frequently varying the camera angles.  The changes in camera angles multiply as the dramatic tension increases.  Also, he progressively lowered the level from which the movie was shot.  The first third was shot from above eye level, the second third at eye level, and the last third from below eye level.  In the last third, the ceiling of the room began to appear, giving a sense that the room was getting smaller.”


This paragraph comprehensively summarizes Lumet’s Art. 


With films like Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico and Network, Lumet has proved to be a legendary filmmaker who has adapted to changing times. He not only made films on contemporary issues but also with contemporary filmmaking styles. Lumet had a long lasting career and a very glorious one at that. With more than 50 films in his filmography, he was one of the most active brilliant directors cinema has seen. In his own words from a 1970 interview, "If you're a director, then you've got to direct ... I don't believe that you should sit back and wait until circumstances are perfect before you and it's all gorgeous and marvelous ... I never did a picture because I was hungry ... Every picture I did was an active, believable, passionate wish. Every picture I did I wanted to do ... I'm having a good time."


His death definitely is the death of the best era cinema has yet seen. We remember this legend and pray his soul rests in peace. To cinema! To Lumet!

References:
- An Interview with Sidney Lumet by Peter Bogdanovich,


- Evolution of 12 Angry Men

    3/31/11

    A TALK WITH ONIR ON HIS UPCOMING FILM "I AM"

    Here is our talk with filmmaker Onir about his upcoming film I AM. Onir has in the past made critically acclaimed films like My Brother Nikhil and also ventured into mainstream cinema with Bas Ek Pal and Sorry Bhai. The film I AM consists of four different stories; Abhimanyu, Megha, Afia and Omar. With an interesting cast and really intriguing story lines, I AM is definitely the biggest thing that has happened to Independent Cinema in India in recent times.

    3/14/11

    Q4C HOLDS ITS FIRST SHORT FILM SCREENING IN NEW DELHI



    As we mentioned in the footnote of our post about the short film, Just That Sort of A Day, Cue For Change is now more than a blog on cinema and in fact is trying to establish an offline presence by screening short films around the country! We plan on doing so by tying up with college film societies in India. And what place better than the capital of the country to kick-start the idea? Hence, we tied up with Gargi College in New Delhi an screened Abhay Kumar's brilliant short film, Just That Sort of A Day. 

    3/8/11

    Q4C EXCLUSIVE: NIKHIL TANEJA ON TWI-FI AWARDS



    Nikhil Taneja, the founder of the Twi Fi Awards speaks to Cue For Change in an exclusive interview on the recently released nominations for the same! There has been huge buzz and a mixed response about the nominations on Twitter and Facebook. Nikhil opens up on this issue...

    3/4/11

    NOT JUST THAT SORT OF A FILM

    In a long, long time, nothing has left us as mesmerized as Abhay Kumar's short film  Just That Sort of A Day. It not only incorporates a beautiful theme, but also presents a unique and non treaded path in film-making. 


    The story revolves around the happenings of a given day in the lives of some characters who have no names,no faces. Using basic animation and stick figures, Abhay and his gifted team have pulled off a sheer masterpiece. JTSAD is a story where its characters question the meaning of their lives, they look for the thread that binds their pasts, presents and futures. The fact that none of them have a name or a face, makes it easier for the viewer to associate and relate with the story. The presentation is very simple and the beauty is that it addresses a very complex theme. Rajat Kapoor has rightly said, "This is a film that is as complex as it is simple; and here is a filmmaker who is innovative and  brilliant..."

    2/26/11

    TOY STORY 3 TO OSCARS, AND BEYOND!



    If Toys Story 3 does not make you want to open the box full of old favorite toys, you probably are heartless.  Such is the impact of Toy Story 3 that it reduces its prequels to preludes. When the original Toy Story came out in  1995, the CGI was new and it impressed the audience. It was followed up by Toy Story 2 in 1999. Having watched
    these movies much later when 3D animation had made large advancements, our complaint always was regarding their storylines which suited kids. As teens we could not entirely appreciate these.

    2/24/11

    THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT AND WHY NOT?



    The Allgoods form a happy family made up of a sporty boy, a smart girl, a loving mom and a loving mom…oh wait…So are they? Yes they ARE. Lesbians. And pretty good at that.

    2/21/11

    THE FIGHTER : TOTAL KNOCK OUT!



    The Fighter tells the story of welterweight professional boxers Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his elder half brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale). The story fades in beautifully with the initial parts mostly describing their life and family in Lowell, a small industrial town in Massachusetts, USA. The story may of course in retrospect be inevitably compared to greats like the Rocky series and Raging Bull but in its heart, David. O Russel has taken a more Clint Eastwood-ish take on the subject, like the great did in Million Dollar Baby.

    2/15/11

    BLACK SWAN AND ITS "FAIR" CHANCES




    Certainly one of the best directors of our time, Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream) calls his latest masterpiece Black Swan , a companion piece to his Mickey Rourke starrer The Wrestler. In the words of Aronofsky himself,  "They are really connected and people will see the connections. It's funny, because wrestling some consider the lowest art — if they would even call it art — and ballet some people consider the highest art. But what was amazing to me was how similar the performers in both of these worlds are. They both make incredible use of their bodies to express themselves. They're both performers."

    Black Swan follows the story of its protagonist, Nina (stunningly played by the brilliant Natalie Portman) a beautiful, young and graceful ballerina. She is innocent, her body and mind under-nourished, she is pure, immature. She is closed in a shell, imprisoned by a smother-mother, who appears to be sweet. Nina cannot lose herself, she cannot be aggressive. She is too polite to even act bad. That is where her ballet director Thomas, thinks she will play the White Swan perfectly, but lacks the aggression that is required to play the Black Swan in their reprise of the "Swan Lake". Thomas also thinks that Lily (Mila Kunis) and her approach to life and dance suits the role of the Black Swan. 

    The movie touches various complexities in an artist. A sort of narcissism that attracts an artist to himself and also self loathing that repels. Aronofsky makes brilliant use of hallucinations, mirror images and twins to express this fight of one with his own self. He doesn't shy away to incorporate torn ligaments, skipped meals, straining limbs to portray the difficulty of the art and also he does not miss to show us the grace and beauty involved on the outside. This basic theme of good vs.evil, the white vs. black , of the 'Swan Lake' also sees incorporated in the narrative.

    The claustrophobic sound editing and Matthew Libatique's capturing cinematography, makes the audience feel the fears and the pains of the protagonist. Everyone pulls off an admirable performance as far as acting is concerned, but Natalie Portman shines and holds the film like none other. Not only her ballet is perfect, but her effortless performance takes you closer to the protagonist. 

    Nominated in 5 major categories in the Academy and a good run at BAFTA and Golden Globes, Black Swan promises to pull off a good show! The Acting honor for Natalie Portman looks the most certain but could also give a tough fight for the editing and the cinematography.

    This is a movie that is absolutely gratifying thanks to Aronofsky's sublime touch. 

    2/10/11

    WINTER’S BONE IS THE LITTLE MOVIE THAT COULD

    Winter’s Bone brings somber mood to the Oscar night. The Sundance Film Festival is believed to be the launch pad for independent movies to the Oscars. It is there where Winter’s Bone won the Grand Jury Prize, “setting off with soft explosion” .This has given it enough thrust to make the cut for the nomination list (and most Top 10 movie lists),but not farther.

    In the grim mountainous lands of Ozarks, USA lives Ree Dolly, taking up the overwhelming responsibility of two kids and a socially withdrawn mother. The landscape is brutish, the children’s games point to a lifeless picture where Ree is shown taking pains for their survival through poverty. Ree is infact 17 years old and the kids, her
    siblings.

    Now Ree has her father to trace else she will lose her house and thrown to the streets with the two kids. As she finds only serious dissuasion on that road, she considers parting from her siblings and prepares the kids for the hard life.

    And if Ree does not find her father (drug dealer, deserter, absconder and the guy who put his family in peril), she discovers him in a new light. The end hits with forceful intent, unfortunately it does not hit hard enough we find it for the reason that drama is lacking in the rest of the movie.

    Character and performances definitely form the driving forces of the movie. Jennifer Lawrence in such a strong character of a teenager forced to grow up, proves immense potential. John Hawkes is excellent as the uncle Teardrop who stands behind Ree, filling the void left by her father.

    The Academy has been know for giving a push to little movies, the two Screenplay categories have been a happy hunting ground for these with Little Miss Sunshine and Juno winning original screenplay in their years. Precious won it the next year for adapted screenplay. It is in this category Winter’s Bone is put. Small chance as The Social Network may walk away with the award. But it is the other Sundance hit, The Kids Are All Right that has a better shot at Best Original Screenplay trophy. Winter’s Bone will probably go the way of the win nothings
    like The Wrestler. Hopefully it will do well at the Independent Spirit Awards like the 2008 Aronofsky classic.

    The movie is like its protagonist. It is small but shows character even if gives only half the satisfaction.

    2/7/11

    TRUE GRIT AND HOW WE LIKE OUR WESTERNS



    After getting a bad snubbing at this year’s Golden Globes, True Grit returned with a hammer to grab as many as 10 academy award nominations. Questions about its worthiness are better set aside because, though no one really gives True Grit a chance at the ceremony, all of these nominations we think are well deserved. 

    Essentially, True grit is a movie about a daughter’s pursuit to nab her father’s murderer played by Josh Brolin.

    1/18/11

    127 HOURS AND WHY BOYLE IS A MASTER


    May contain spoilers....

    Danny Boyle has this brilliant style of presenting the goriest and most depressing subjects with such life that it portrays the more colorful picture and intention behind it. Be it the tremor of drugs and alcohol in Trainspotting, or the flesh eating zombies in 28 Days Later or even for that matter poverty and child abuse in the inferior Slumdog Millionaire, Boyle pulls it off with the human touch and without depressing his audience. In his most recent work, 127 Hours he pulls off a scene of the protagonist cutting off his own arm that got trapped in a rock, drinking his own urine, etc. and yet, you won't be really taking your eyes away from the screen.

    1/17/11

    PIFF JOURNAL 2011- PART THREE

    The third and concluding post on the PIFF 2011 is here. We wish we could have seen many more films, but, alas, it never is enough! This final compilation consists of only three films, but we really liked all of them and thought they deserved a special mention and space.

    SOMEWHERE (2010, USA)

    Johnny Marco, a hard-living Hollywood star leads a life of meaninglessness, booze and strippers. He gives it a shot to reviewing his life after his 11 year old daughter comes to visit him. How the reviewing of your own life helps you change for the better is the theme of Somewhere.

    1/14/11

    PIFF JOURNAL 2011- PART TWO

    Well, here goes our second installment of the three part PIFF Journal 2011. All the films mentioned are contemporary and possess a gripping story line. With our usual 'synopsis and critique' format, we cover the following six movies;


    FAITH (SHAHADA) (2010, Germany)

    Set in Berlin, Shahada follows the lives of three young contemporary Muslims. Their lives are interconnected and the story revolves around addressing various issues like the impact of the orthodox Islamic ideas, the evils arising from misinterpretations of the Holy Book, intolerance towards adultery and homosexuality, hardships of immigrant communities and many more.

    1/10/11

    PIFF JOURNAL 2011- PART ONE

    The Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) is the event we look forward to every year. In fact, PIFF 2010 was one of our motivations to start this blog. As PIFF 2011 also marks, the one year completed by Cue For Change, the event has become even more special to us. This time around, only one of us is able to cover the event and hence the number of films in the journal would naturally be lesser than our last PIFF Journal. Here are the glimpses of few movies that were seen and Q4C's opinion on them;


    PUZZLE (ROMPECABEZAS) (2010, Argentina)

    Maria Onetto plays Maria del Carmen, a housewife in Argentina who is at a strange juncture in her life. With a workaholic husband who hardly has time for her and two grown up sons who can very well take care of themselves, this caring woman needs to find a new purpose in her life. Her strange knack in solving "puzzles" becomes her favorite pastime and her skill in the art takes her on a journey where she finds her true self and happiness.

    1/3/11

    A CLOSURE ON OPEN ENDINGS

    "Box-office statistics prove that no matter how inartistic a happy ending picture may be, it will always get better box office than a more artistic unhappy-ending picture"
                   
        - Herman Lewis in A Practical Manual of Screen Playwriting For Theater and Television Films.

    A truism that was in the 70s and 80s, has found wide disclaim in movies of today such as Inception. The observation of that earlier time goes in line with the philosophical thought that people are desperately looking for an order or certainty. Without certainty, people become anxious and uncomfortable.

    1/2/11

    TWI-FI AWARDS


    A fantastic initiative started by MTV Creative and Digital Content Editor Nikhil Taneja to honor the really deserving Hindi movies of 2010, TWEEPLE FILM AWARDS or as it is cutely called Twi-Fi Awards seems really promising. It is high time that our perception on cinema changed drastically and truly well made films got what they deserved.