Sunday, February 28, 2010

why i won't see ' 3 idiots '

I have not seen last year’s winter blockbuster ‘3 idiots’ and I am pretty sure that I won't see it ever. I know for a movie that has collected more than 400 crores, my ticket money is nothing, zilch. Someone else would watch it twice over or more .The opening and of box office collection run has been unprecedented for it. And I am not saying this to stand out, in fact I made the decision not to watch ‘3 idiots’ as back as December 1st week and I intend to stick to it .But I did catch one joke of the film –the induction motor one ,briefly when it came on cable in early January .And I am sorry for that .But that joke is at best a recycled one, one that has been doing the rounds of colleges nationwide since at least 5 years. So I was not impressed with what little I saw, not original material.

But without getting into what the movie is, I will quickly come to the point and say why I refuse to watch the film. It’s because-

‘A 44 year old is playing an 18-21 year old fresh faced student.’

That is just unfair, morally unfair as far as I am concerned. Because ,however great an actor anyone might be, that freshness of youth is something that no amount of make up, yoga sessions or badminton games can bring .Agreed that there are awkward, fat and gawky people in colleges,infact they are the overwhelming majority .But same kids should look at themselves and see how they look in college and judge. Aren’t the guys too old? And honestly are the producers saying that they couldn’t find 3 young actors who had enough potential to play the roles that Aamir Khan, R Madhavan and Sharman Joshi have essayed. Did they really search or audition with heart or purpose?

Rajkumar Hirani says Aamir was the perfect choice to play the lead. He may be, but I for one think that casting him is an entirely commercial decision. No other newcomer would have been able to give such an advance booking.

I know I am sounding really negative, but spare a thought.

For a moment imagine, hypothetically if ‘3 idiots’ were a flop .Only then would the media noticed the lines and folds on the actors, the eyebags and so on. That’s why they say nothing succeeds like success. The point I am trying to make is that a 20 year gap is just too much, however well the 3 may have acted .At the least, Aamir Khan should have known. Have a look at his looks above in picture posted in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), a movie that catapulted him to stardom. That was because he and Juhi Chawla looked their part and were believable and relatable. What if some senior actor had done that film? What if Mansoor Khan had cast somebody established instead of the newcomers. Would we have Aamir and Juhi?

Hirani is a good director, who had the power to give breakthroughs to young artists and you can’t say that the script didn’t demand it.

A 70 year old can pass of as a 50 year old, but to play a fresh teen is some thing else. I have immense respect for Aamir’s work as a producer and I really felt bad when he didn’t win the Filmfare for Rangeela, he so richly deserved it .But here, he should have passed on the role.

What instead has happened is that the industry has been robbed of 3 potential actors who could have given their defining break-though performances. So what if they turned out to be one film wonders? Even Hrithik Roshan was dubbed a one film wonder,but is he? Wouldn’t that have spoken volumes of the director’s caliber and his faith in the story?

Think about it. Would Leonardo DiCaprio at 35, still play a collegian? He can, but he wouldn’t .If he does ,would we have Michael Cera? Would Tom Hanks play a guy in his 30’s? No, there are younger guys for that .He would pass the script even if it comes his way. And that is why in Hollywood they have a pool of 20-25 actors who can carry a film.

Better sense should have prevailed and actors should stop being excessively greedy. So I stick to my theory and would not watch this flick, though I get the film’s message- that you should be brave enough to chase your dreams and excellence. But in one line, the casting makes economic sense but lacks morality and courage to repose faith in the new.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

When will Shantaram get made ?

I have been hearing about Shantaram: the movie for almost 2 years now. The question is -as so when is it going to be made.It has already been delayed due to the writers strike of late 2007-08 and pre production and scripting is taking way longer than initially expected.

Owing to the book’s immense popularity worldwide, the cinematic adaptation of the novel is a reasonably anticipated and a project with immense potential.

I have surfed the net and lots of stuff that pops up is too old and dates to 08’ and early 09’.According to ,Shantaram is till under development ,although there has been no official announcement –from the studio Warner bros or producers about the tentative schedule or release date.

At helm as the director would be Mira Nair who last year made Amelia, the biopic on Amelia Earhart and the Suketu Mehta written story in NewYork,I love you- starring Natalie Portman and Irfan Khan.

The novel Shantaram-itself is so detailed and loaded with information that there would be a problem of plenty for the screenplay writers .What do they chose to include and what to avoid?

Lin’s escape from Australia, his flight to New Zealand, his arrival and antics in India, the plague, the jail torture, the 6 month maharashtrian village stay where he is named ‘Shantaram’, the elaborate philosophical conversations with don Abdul Khader Khan, his brief stint as a Bollywood extra, his chasing of Karla to Goa, Leopold cafe, the friends, Prabhaker, Madame Zhou, Sapna mystery, Afghanistan, the lechers of dingy bylanes, counterfeit money, ingenious passport makers, the Russians and loads more.

Maybe the best way would be to leave some of the thing to the book itself and invent new scenes for the screen.

The cast is going to guarantee an opening. Any Depp movie will, which also includes Mr.Bachchan who will play Abdul Khader Khan. For Depp, even though the next blip on the radar is Pirates of the Caribbean: fountain of youth, he has stated that he is committed to Shantaram. Brad Pitt‘s production company is associated with the project and Depp is the co –producer.

There are sites with threads that criticize Depp’s choice as the hunky escaped Australian convict, but I disagree. You have to keep faith, he will be really good.

I am curious to see them create the Bombay of 80’s.How they are going to return to slightly saner time in an increasingly maddening and crowded city.Mira Nair also has Irfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma and possibly Pankaj Kapoor into the project .There is a decent chance of a fairly large number of Indian cast members working in an a list Hollywood production.Vishal Bhardwaj is to score sound track and the shooting will take place in Mumbai ,Afghanistan and New Mexico .When? That remains the question.

Nair will be aware of its Oscar potential and so the timing of the release is important .Late 2011 seems ideal –exactly 3 years after a film based in Bombay swept the Academy awards.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Oh Sharjah!

The Sharjah Stadium, holder for hosting the maximum number of ODI’s, added another feather to its illustrious cap when it became the first venue in the world to host 200 one day internationals. Sharjah, which hosted its first match in 1984, was built painstakingly in edifice and reputation by Abdul Rehman Bukhatir, reached the milestone in 24 years(1986-2010) should have reached it much earlier.

On Feb. 18, Sharjah breached the milestone, with the ODI between, can you believe Afghanistan Canada!! It’s a shame that 200 was reached via a match of extremely low significance .Although I must add that it was a thriller of a match that the Afghans won by 1 run. Sharjah entertained, true to its DNA.

Sharjah also has the unique distinction of having two tied games in, the last one between Pakistan and Sri Lanka which I saw live. It is also the venue of that last ball six by Javed Miandad in Australasia cup finals v India in 1986, which established the legend of the venue. An oasis in the gulf.

But for me, Sharjah now is synonymous with the Coca-Cola Cup 1998, which gave us the stage for Sachin Tendulkar’s back-to-back invaluable gems

The Sandstorm innings (143) and the Birthday innings (134), the day after against the Australians. It was something else those innings, magical, impervious batting.

I remember reading in the papers the next day after the sandstorm innings -

India lost ,Australia won and Sachin won.

India as a policy has stopped playing at neutral venues after the Hansie Cronje match fixing scandal broke .So since 2000, it doesn’t go to earlier popular venues -Toronto, Abu Dhabi, Nairobi, Singapore or Sharjah. However India did play a tri-series in Kuala Lumpur in 06’with the West Indies and Australia. And India not coming to Sharjah is the worst thing to have happened to the stadium. It may be play quasi host of Pakistan, but unless India plays, the money and enthusiasm will not come easily.

Also,over the last decade, it's thunder has been stolen by more enterprising emirates –

Dubai’s Sport City Stadium and Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium .Sharjah would have continued to be one of the leading international venues had it wouldn’t have become such a hotbed for bookies and a haven for fixed matches. By conservative estimates, 20 % of the matches were fixed. No big surprise that.

After all, it was Dawood Ibrahim’s backyard in the 80’s where famously he was photographed in the stadium aisle with his associates and also yesteryear starlet Mandakini. For years that is the only archival footage that intelligence agencies had of him.

Sharjah was a stadium started with noble intentions (it has an ex- cricketers beneficiary fund), flourished immensely leaving MCG and SCG far behind and then fell victim, almost inevitably to the match fixing fiasco and its aftermath and the subsequent economics of cricket politics.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oscar's best director award

The Oscar nominations for the best director this year at the academy awards have been out for some while now.And this is what I think about the films and their directors and who I think should win ,but not necessarily will win.The players in contention are

"Precious " (Lee Daniels)
"Up in the Air" (Jason Reitman)
"Avatar" (James Cameron)
"The Hurt Locker" (Kathryn Bigelow)
"Inglourious Basterds" (Quentin Tarantino)

Precious that premiered last year at Sundance film festival ,then titled ‘Push’ has always had a buzz around it which also made me see it. The story of a morbidly obese teenager who is raped twice by her mother’s boyfriend. With Oprah Winfrey being one of the high profile executive producers, it has got it fair share of praise and publicity.

The story is grim and the Direction by Lee Daniels good too. But will he have a chance at the Oscars, not much. It’s not that worthy to walk away with the best director award. It will the first entry to be pushed out.

Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds is simply brilliant. Tarantino made a film that he loved and he didn’t care as to whether the critics would like it or the audience wouldn’t .He didn’t care if the public was up for it or not .If he likes what he has made, there is a pretty good chance that the viewers will too. To write a screenplay version of World War II and the Nazi’s end, it takes some doing and some directing! I loved every minute, every chapter.

Another filmmaker whose films I appreciate is Jason Reitman, who came out with ‘Up in the air’, also nominated for adapted screenplay .The modern recession tale of the corporate firing executive and frequent flying miles accumulator Ryan Bingham. Reitman always humanizes his characters that are normal and we get at ease with their flaws. Anna Kendrick’s scene with George Clooney just after she is dumped by her boyfriend by SMS was really well acted and directed.

As far as products, I personally would put Inglorious Basterds and Up in the air above The Hurt Locker, because I found their last scenes and dialogue to be wonderful. Brad Pitt’s ‘I think this is my best one yet’ and George Clooney’s ‘ that one light shining brighter than the most would be the taillight of my plane’ respectively were beautiful lines to end their respective films.

Jason Reitman’s best is yet to come and he will not win this year, neither will Tarantino. The fight is really between ex- spouses- Kathryn Bigelow; who has a realistic chance of being the first woman to win the best director award and James Cameron.

The Hurt Locker-Bigelow’s gritty tale about a bomb disposal squad stationed in Baghdad, where every other thing could be an explosive is the critic circle’s darling and this year’s sleeper hit. It just takes out the motive behind the war and focuses on the soldiers and their single mindedness to their purpose. To make a wrong choice is to die. There is no room for gore or bloodshed, just the ordeal in the desert and how they cope and come out of it.

But tell me if Pandora was not something really out of this world? Avatar so easy could have sunk to be one of the massive flops of all time, but it didn’t. Cameron’s half decade long in production epic can’t be ignored by the Academy .I run out of superlatives to describe the detail and amount of thought that went behind the blue skinned 10 foot Na’vis , their world, language. Cameron has created something new, entirely revolutionary and made movie watching a never before spectacle, an experience that will always remain with you. And for that, he ever so truly and richly deserves that golden statuette. You just can’t snub that sort of an achievement in filmmaking.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

EPL - Chelsea or Manchester United

The EPL points table is increasingly looking like a two horse race after 2/3 of the season has run its course after Chelsea slammed in Arsenal 2-0.The league is now for Chelsea’s to lose,because surely they have more depth and latitude in their squad.

Manchester United only have Rooney ,Giggs and some other fringes.Apart from that nobody is having an outstanding season. Anderson and Berbatov have been massive let downs; and Nani and Valencia for me don’t make the cut yet and some of them will surely be let go after this season. United need to buy someone cheap and someone to support Rooney, in the mould of Arsenal’s Fabregas,for Rooney is even more dangerous floating in the midfield as the playmaker .

If someone comes up from their youth programe, nothing better.

Although there’s talk of the United gaining moment; for me, it’s a surprise that they have not lagged away from Chelsea as yet . But really, if United clinch the title, Chelsea will be themselves to blame.They still have to take on United at Old Trafford on April 3- potential decider,so its all in their hands.

But this season, I would have been delighted to see Arsenal win after their ‘invincibles’ squad of 2004.They are such a young team and I like most of their front half.Fabregas,van Persie,Rosicky,Arshavin, everybody .They are a team that play positive football, even when they lose, as on Sunday to Chelsea in the London derby of massive significance. The gunners fell back 9 points off the pace, yet they earned praise from Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelottti .Ancelottti would never do that to a team like Liverpool.

Frankly I hate their brand of football. They shut out the rivals. Liverpool believe in canceling out the strengths of their opposition and its not worth watching them .And I don’t think they will add to their trophy cabinet anything this year or the EPL any time soon and remain at 18 titles.

It would really have been great if Arsenal had won, as Sir Alex wished and then we would have been witness to a tight as ever top three dogfight for the title. More so because each team is playing well. Arsenal will surely claw back, and the top two will drop points too. Here’s hoping the rest 1/3 of the season delivers the anticipated thrills.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What is it about Megan Fox

What is it about Megan Fox…. that so entices the guys all over the world? She is not the pin –up actress in the classical sense of Hollywood, which favours the Caucasian blondes with blue eyes. But this was until Angelina Jolie came in to the picture .There are comparisons aplenty of Fox to Jolie, who both share a love for tattoos .Megan has 8 or so on her; with the prominent ones she flashes being on the right back shoulder rather her scapula that reads- ‘We will all laugh at gilded butterflies’ and her Marilyn Monroe on the inner right arm usually because she is holding a designer clutch in her hands.There is another one inked with Old English text on her left rib cage that is more like a small para ‘There once was a little girl who never knew love until a boy broke her HEART’.

All of her tattoos strategically placed .

But what makes her top the sexiest woman list time and again? Megan is not a brunette too, she is more into the raven haired category. Her skin is not porcelain perfect, but is riddled with freckles, she is not tall at 5’4”and frankly is not just quite an actress yet .What makes her so incredibly hot is the oomph that she oozes with her sensuality bordering on the brinks of an outrageous sexuality .A look that promises you much more than plain old sensuousness.

Didn’t every boy either salivate or had had his mouth dry when he gaped at her in that scene from Transformers when she opens the car bonnet in that tiny orange T-shirt and jeans. Guys and geeks absolutely dig into a chic with oil and grease on her and that scene will always make the higher ranks in any sexiest scene compilations ever.

But if you have heard any of her interviews, you will know that she likes most of the things that boys do like bikes, cars, video games and she is a complete geek. She is like one of the guys ,only for a kick ass figures and an extremely pleasing personality .She was describing her kissing scene with her co actress in Jennifer’s Body and once the tape rolled and we saw the scene, she had an expression that said demurely and semi -modestly–“ ya I know , pretty cool ,right?”

That is why brands like Armani are falling into her lap and although her photo shoot is not as raunchy as say Eva Mendes, it is a treat to stare at her as he stares back from huge billboards. She has years on her side and a following that is bound to keep growing .Its is kind of asking –

Is a hot chic cool or a cool chic hot?

Because she is both .She is magic on the red carpet of award functions and also boringly domesticated yet exciting on a variety promoting her films, which gives her an edge, and she knows that does Foxy Megan.