March 9, 2006

Integrity of imagination

As I mentioned yesterday, we have been watching a lot of television lately. I found myself wondering if this was perhaps because the quality of entertainment available when it comes to movies. Is it just me or does there seem to be a dearth of imagination (or rather a lack of originality) with most Hollywood (and Bollywood) offerings these days?

If you take Hollywood, you mostly seem to get either remakes, adaptations or re-imaginings. There used to be a time when a move based on a comic book character was rare – except of course for "Superman" and "Batman" and the occasional (really bad) "Captain America" :p But then came the Marvel invasion when Hollywood suddenly discovered that there was a whole bunch of already tried ideas and a rabid fanbase behind them. You got "Spider-Man", "X-Men", "Blade", "Hulk", "The Punisher", "The Fantastic Four" and a whole heap of sequels and other movies based on marvel characters. Then there are all the book based adaptations like "Harry Potter", "Lord of the Rings", "Five Children and It" and "Narnia". Not to mention re-makes of old television series such as "The Avengers" or "Bewitched".

On the Bollywood side, things have become even more drastic. Sure, Bollywood has never been known for having very complicate plots :p It used to be boy meets girl, boy and girl falls in love, parents oppose the union, they go through tough times and finally it all works out. Of course, after about 40 years of different variations on the above theme, people began to get a teensy, weensy bit tired of it. They then began "borrowing" from Hollywood movies but were a bit circumspect about it. They wouldn’t "borrow" from well-known Hollywood movies or the latest ones. Instead they’d borrow from older movies or ones which were not so well-known. I’ve seen Bollywood remakes of "Coming to America", "Roman Holiday" and "Big", to name a few. The stories weren’t always quite the same as the Hollywood version and they always managed to add a love story, songs and a few fights in there.

However, there’s a new breed of Bollywood movie today – probably because the Indian audiences got tired of the rehashed Hollywood stuff. The new movies aren’t really "borrowing", they steal lock, stock and barrel and from the latest and most well-known stuff too :p They are dropping the songs and dances and going for a much more Hollywood like feel. At first, I kind of liked the new and slick production values but when you start getting the same old Hollywood movies in a Bollywood format, you begin to get tired of it.

In the past few months, I’ve come across not one but two variations on "The Usual Suspects" – "Dus" and "Chocolate". Then there is "Kaante" which rips off a little bit from "The Usual Suspects" as well as a lot more from "Reservoir Dogs" and "Heat". At the moment we are watching "Ek Ajnabee" which is almost a scene for scene copy of "Man on Fire" though they do say that the ending is different – we haven’t finished it and so we have no idea 🙂 We’ve also got "Main Aisa Hi Hoon" which looks very much like a remake of "I Am Sam" …

So my question is – are the major movie industries of the world just becoming lazy? Or are they just learning from each other that they can make more money by "borrowing"/adapting existing properties that they know have been successful elsewhere or in another medium? Or are we actually witnessing a decline in originality and imagination? Either way, this seems to be a rather sad state of affairs …

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Posted by Fahim at 8:03 am  |  No Comments

February 7, 2006

Let the bubbly flow ..

Yesterday we started watching "Bunty Aur Babli" – another Bollywood extravaganza 🙂 This one did have a few things going for it, it had Amitabh Bacchan, it had Rani Mukerjee and the story was written (and the movie produced) by Aditya Chopra. It was also a kind of a landmark because this was another movie which involved two of the big Bollywood families – the Bacchans and the Chopras. Oh yeah, it also had Abhishek Bacchan in it but more about that as we move on …

The film looked good on principle but as the movie started off, except for the first song, nothing really grabbed me. I like get Abhishek’s movies whenever I can because he kind of has his father’s looks but he just doesn’t seem to have his father’s charisma. He always plays things low-key. In this movie, he seemed to be playing it lower still. The character was somehow muted. And Rani, I again like her but maybe it was the influence of "Black" or maybe I had seen too many movies with her playing various characters but she just seemed too old for Vimmi and each time she pranced or cried for her Mummy, I really wanted to throw up :p Well, no not really but she just seemed way too old to be doing that character – at least 20 years too old :p

But despite the not quite believability of the two main characters (or the actors portraying them), I kind of got into the whole Bunty and Babli (which are the two alter-egos of Abhishek’s and Rani’s characters) looting the rich and giving back to the poor thing. Of course, there were all those little Amitabh homages in there as well though I am not really sure that Abhishek actually carried through any of those with the same flair as his Dad, unfortunately :p We stopped around the mid-way point and so will have to see the rest today. Amitabh entered the movie just before we stopped it and so hopefully, it will get better. It is a likeable story so far but nothing extraordinary – the movie certainly had a few good comic lines but the chemistry between Abhishek and Rani was lukewarm to say the least.

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Posted by Fahim at 7:38 am  |  No Comments

June 29, 2003

Amare et sapere vix deo conceditur

I said it wasn’t going to be an entry about love yesterday but unfortunately, I can’t promise the same today :p You see, I watched a Hindi movie yesterday after a long time and as always, it gets me thinking of love, what it means, how I look at it, where I am as far as love concerned and so on and so forth. It’s inevitable with Hindi movies since almost always they are about love or have a touch of love somewhere in them :p But on to the movie itself – it was called "Chalthe Chalthe" and that means something like "on the way" or "during the journey". I loved the movie since it was in a way different from other Hindi films which concentrate on the love story for the entire movie. Here, the love story was the first half and then the problems the lovers face after they are married and the realities of love was the focus of the second part.

Hindi movies are famous for "borrowing" from Hollywood flicks and so I have this sneaking suspicion that this might be an adaptation/localization of a Hollywood movie but if so, I didn’t recognize the original. But I did love the love story – the protagonist falls in love with a girl on the first meeting and she seems to like him too but he loses her phone number and can’t contact her. He searches high and low and finally finds her after a week or so and by that time, she’s engaged to be married to a childhood friend – it’s an arranged marriage as is common in South Asia. Of course, the girl has been brought up in Greece and her family is in Greece (though the story starts in India since the girl has returned to India for something or other ..) and now she has to go back to Greece. The guy tries to tell her that he loves her but she says that they’ve known each other for such a short time and that he’ll forget her eventually and leaves.

The guy decides that he must follow her since otherwise he’d spend his whole life wondering what would have happened if he’d tried to stop her. He gets on the same plane as the girl and the flight gets rerouted somewhere due to bad weather in Athens – which is where they both are going. They spend time together while waiting for the flight to Athens and this was the bit I found interesting – the guy does several things (like jumping into a wishing well to retrieve a coin that the girl had thrown in) just because he realizes that she wants it and of course, as I might have mentioned before, to me that is what love means – doing what the person you love wants, even if that might not be what *you* want. In the end, he drives her to Athens since she is desperate to get home, even though he knows that doing so will only part her from him sooner. Of course, this being a Hindi movie, things end happily during the first half and while they do have fights and problems as a married couple, things do end happily at the end of the movie as well since they realize once again that they love each other very much and can’t live without each other 🙂

So what has all that got to do with me? I did enjoy the movie but it also simply revived my love for love – if that makes sense 🙂 I also realized that while I might be insane in a way to look for that kind of love in today’s world (or in any day’s world perhaps .. I don’t know .. I’ve lived only one life and even that not fully <g>), that the search itself is what counts – even if I never find that kind of love because like the protagonist saying that he’d always wonder about the "what if" if he didn’t go after the girl, I too would wonder about the possibilities if I didn’t go in search of love. At least, that’s the way I feel …

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Posted by Fahim at 6:47 am  |  3 Comments

January 22, 2003

Of this and that …

It was quite a shock (well, OK maybe not a shock but a surprise but not a pleasant one ..) to learn today that one of the blogs on my regular-visit list is no more. I have no idea when that happened since I haven’t visited this particular blog in about a week or two but then again I’ve realized that I haven’t visited any of my regular blogs in a while now – been too caught up in my own stuff – which really is not a good thing. If we don’t have time for others, I feel that we get caught up in our own things and bend more and more inwards till we finally have no time for anybody at all but ourselves – and our troubles begin to seem more and more important and those of others not so significant. Not good – not good at all … I should make an effort to interact with others more but that seems to be not such an easy task for the next few weeks – or maybe even more for reasons that will be revealed eventually …

I watched a Hindi movie (an Indian movie in one of their languages which happens to be called Hindi) on Sunday and at first we thought it was a remake of "The Usual Suspects" but it turned out to be something else altogether. Unusual for a Hindi movie, the whole story was set in the US and in an American setting – there have been other Hindi movies which are set in the US but the settings were still Indian. This was different. It’s about a group of Indians who get together to rob an American bank. The story and the movie itself aren’t what interested me here however – it was the attitudes that the movie implied about the US and about Americans in general. In the movie, the characters say over and over again that if a crime is committed, it’s the Indians who get pinpointed. One character says that the Italians have their mafia, the Colombians their cartels, the Chinese their triads but the Indians only have police records because they are not organized.

Two things struck me here. One was that the America that I knew wasn’t *that* racist and the other was that we always talk in terms of race – even when we are supposed to be one country or one race. Heck, we *are* one race – the human race! But we always forget that and insist on branding, separating, classifying. I’m afraid that I’m guilty of that too since I will talk of Americans and Indians and Sri Lankans but in a sense, I can’t help but do it because people of specific regions or countries do seem to have their own attitudes. While this can be classified as part and parcel of human nature, you still need some way to identify the group and that brings us again back to classifications and categorizations and segregation. There is more I can say on this subject – actually there is more that I *want to* say on this subject but not now since I’d probably be meandering too much :p So let’s save that for another day …

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Posted by Fahim at 9:54 am  |  2 Comments

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