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Monthly Archives: August 2010

Four’s A Fun Crowd

What happens when you cast Errol Flynn in a movie tailor-made for Cary Grant? Rather pleasant things, it turns out!

Flynn Week, thus far, has brought you Flynn in period costume, army uniform, and cowboy outfit. In Four’s A Crowd (1938) he breaks out the tuxedo and top hat, giving the world a glimpse of a career that could have been.

The movie begins with Jean Christy (Rosalind Russell), fast-talking, fact-gathering, breezy reporter who sails into her workplace one day to find her newspaper about to down shutters thanks to the incompetence of young Pat Buckley (Patric Knowles), who inherited the company from his father without having the least idea how to run it other than hope to stay in business by printing what amounts to glowing PR releases for important men.

Jean knows what, or rather who, will fix their woes – Bob Lansford (Errol Flynn), the managing editor Pat fired for humiliating him by saving him from a disastrous marriage with a girl who just happened to be a full-blooded Native American. Ah, the olden days.

Anyway, Pat doesn’t have the time to think about silly things like a newspaper getting dismantled and reporters being thrown out of work – he’s madly in love with Lori Dillingwell (Olivia de Havilland), a slightly dim socialite he adoringly calls “Cootchie-cootchie-cootchie”.

Of course, this is not acceptable to Jean – his cavalier attitude towards the sacred press or his terms of endearment – and so she proceeds to con Lansford into helping the paper survive by dangling Lori in front of him. Lori, you see, is the granddaughter of The J. P. Dillingwell – the richest man in America. And also the one rich man severely disinterested in entrusting his reputation (and a couple of million of his money) to the greedy hands of Lansford who now makes a comfortable living polishing up the public images of men too rich to be well-liked through the judicious use of philanthropy.

“I should think you’d want to clean yourself up, if only for the sake of Posterity!” says Lansford.
“Posterity?” sneers Dillingwell. “What did Posterity ever do for me? Why should I do anything for Posterity?”
Right on, Grandpa!

A nasty newspaper campaign, orchestrated scenes reminiscent of the French Revolution, 21 baying hounds, assorted bits of animal abuse (seriously, what the hell is up with that in these movies? I guess I’m just not conditioned to the sensibilities of an era wherein children were treated better than animals), and a well-buttered railroad later, Lansford has landed his prized deal and convinced the two dimwits that he and Jean are in love with them. His troubles, of course, have just begun.

In the hands of Cary Grant, Lansford would be a charming rogue. Flynn is almost every bit as charming, but he is also a bit more slimy, a bit more of a stone-cold cad, a bit less believable as a man flustered by his complicated romantic life, and not in the least bit comforting the way Grant could be. The difference is most marked when you see the two men kiss their costars. When Flynn takes a woman in his arms, no matter how tightly they keep their mouths closed and how distorted the camera angle, you can’t help but suspect he’s slipping her a little tongue. With Grant, you know he’s being a gentleman – no matter how long Alfred Hitchcock kept him plastered to Eva Marie Saint.

If Flynn’s is an excellent performance, Four’s A Crowd belongs just as much to Rosalind Russell, who would go on to movie immortality and refine her ace reporter act opposite Grant in His Girl Friday. “You play hop-scotch from one double-cross to another,” says Jean, every bit as clever as him but much more principled. Jean is nobody’s fool, the only person wily enough to track and lay Lansford low through his many complicated machinations, single-handedly saves her newspaper as well as her boss’ dumb butt, and even gets her man in the end. My kinda hero.

In direct comparison, Olivia de Havilland is just annoyingly studied as the flibbertigibbet Lori. Her best scene is her introduction to Lansford but there are enough moments like the impromptu dance she puts on in the middle of the night to hoodwink her grandpa that hint at the lost potential of this role in the hands of an accomplished comedienne.

Patric Knowles, at the end of this rectangle, is the other pleasant surprise. Unlike his other roles with Flynn, he actually gets to do a fair bit here and he’s pretty good as the rich idiot who just wants to fall in love with a pretty girl and bring Lansford down a notch.

Unfortunately for Flynn’s possible career as a leading man in comedy, Four’s A Crowd is simply not in the same league as the other, more famous screwball comedies from the era. But I’d say that has a great deal more to do with director Michael Curtiz, who simply doesn’t have the magical touch of his contemporaries Howard Hawks or Preston Sturges even if he’s pretty good at injecting humor into his adventure movies, than Flynn. Still better than 90% of the trash you’ll see these days though.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Review

 

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Getting the Hell Into Dodge

“The only native of Kansas,” Wade Hatton informs Abby Irving, “is the buffalo. He’s got a very hard head, a very uncertain temper and a very lonely future. Apart from that there is hardly any comparison between you.”

Today in Flynn Week, we take a trip to Dodge City (1939), the heart of the Wild West, a “town that knew no ethics but cash and killing.”

The movie starts evocatively with an impromptu race between a stagecoach driven by a grumpy oldtimer and a steamengine pulling a carriage full of rich old assholes. America, in the wake of the Civil War, is changing forever and the railroad is only a sign of the things to come. If you’re looking for a comment on how America was settled, however, Dodge City is not your movie.

On board the train, you see, is Colonel Dodge, who hopes the little settlement he founded would one day become an important economic hub inviting settlers from all over the country. Six years later, “Dodge” is indeed a bustling town central to the cattle business that settled the American West. Unfortunately, with shootouts in the streets and whoring and gambling in the buildings, it’s also a byword for lawlessness.

Enter Wade Hatton (Errol Flynn), a restless adventurer his friend Rusty (Alan Hale) describes as a “moving man”. An Irishman who served the British army in India before fighting for the South in the War, he helped build the railroad but left for Texas rather than help settle Dodge the way the Colonel hoped. Back on business for the first time in six years, he has little interest in playing sheriff the way the townspeople want him to even if he has a personal animosity towards Jeff Surrett (Bruce Cabot), the man responsible for everything that’s wrong with Dodge. That only reinforces Abby Irving’s (Olivia de Havilland) poor opinion of him. She hasn’t felt too friendly towards him since he shot her brother, which contributed to his death in a stampede.

One tragedy later, everything is different. Hatton, with his friends Rusty and Tex (Guinn “Big Boy” Williams who looks eerily like President Bush), clean up the town by banning guns in the main streets and taxing the hell out of everything. Soon, families are moving in and people are going to church on Sunday, which gives Hatton plenty of time to support the freedom of press and act upon some investigative reporting. I guess the lesson there is, in the Wild West, Jesus votes Democrat.

I must say one of the things that’s always interesting about watching these movies is to wonder how they’d hold up in public opinion if they were made today. And while there is a default assumption that these movies must only be offensive to politically correct lefties, the truth is, these are the product of another era entirely and it shows. Pretty much every argument and norm of today stands on its head in these. I spent a few minutes, for example, wondering why the saloon girls (including Ann Sheridan as Ruby, the main draw) wouldn’t raise their skirts above the knee until I realized, “duh! 1930s!”

The most charming bits of the movie, predictably, are the ones which feature Flynn and de Havilland together. But the rest isn’t bad at all, even if Dodge City is not the kind of western we’re used to today.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video

 

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C’est de la Folie

C’est de la Folie

The Charge of the Light Brigade is one of the best movies ever made about war. It is about class and the thin line that separates foolishness from bravery on the battlefield; the aloof decisions of powerful men who choose between life and death for other human beings. Extensively researched, it tells the story of one particular battle in the Crimean War, the Battle of Balaclava, later made famous by Lord Tennyson in his poem of the same title.

That movie, of course, was directed by Tony Richardson in 1968 and starred John Gielgud, Trevor Howard and Vanessa Redgrave. But this is Flynn Week, so we shall discuss the version made thirty-odd years before that, starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Patric Knowles.

If you’re the kind of person who finds Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom offensive then The Charge of the Light Brigade is definitely not for you. In fact, eating monkey brains at a dinner hosted by a manic Amrish Puri playing the head of a cracktastic Kali temple is probably the kinder depiction of the two.

Directed by Michael Curtiz, The Charge of the Light Brigade begins on the Northwest frontier of British India. A clearly know-nothing envoy of the crown is in “Suristan” to meet the cagey new ruler Osama bin Laden Surat Khan (C. Henry Gordon) and somehow convince him to remain friendly to British interests while cutting off the annual allowance with which the British government bought the cooperation of his predecessor and the tribesmen he ruled.

Captain Geoffrey Vickers (Errol Flynn), a veteran of this treacherous terrain, doesn’t really think much of the mission, the envoy or the supposedly “gentlemanly” Surat Khan who lives in an amazingly chic mausoleum with some truly fashion forward pillars in the midst of which he naps on his throne and breeds vultures that he keeps in giant birdcages right smack in the middle of his audience chamber. Coz he’s a savage, see, fancy British education or not.

With England firmly embroiled in The Great Game, rulers in sensitive and potentially hostile areas like Suristan are vitally important. Vickers isn’t all that keen on the idea but ends up saving his hide anyway when a gorgeous spotted kitty is about to make him her dinner while they’re out on safari. Surat Khan immediately pledges friendship and eternal debt to Vickers.

Meanwhile in Calcutta, Vickers’ fiancee Elsa (Olivia de Havilland) is reconsidering quite another pledge. Love being blind, she has fallen for Vickers all right – Perry Vickers (Patric Knowles), Geoffrey’s dorky little brother. Elsa’s father, predictably, doesn’t think much of a man who would make out with his brother’s fiancee, even if he thinks his elder brother is the jolliest of good fellows who’d be willing to hand the love of his life over to his younger brother, all neatly tied up in a bow. He’s much kinder to his daughter as he points out that Geoffrey is Errol freakin’ Flynn, dummy!

Turns out Elsa’s dad was on to something as Geoffrey chews his brother out when he comes clean about Elsa and him falling in love with each other. This creates a misunderstanding between the brothers, especially since weepy Miss Elsa is “a respectable lady” who can’t bring herself to hurt wee Geoffrey’s feelings even though she managed to fall in love with his brother in his absence. Oh, boo fucking hoo. Not even Olivia de Havilland can sell this selfish little drama queen to me.

Now I know what you’re thinking because I was thinking the same thing by this point – why are we spending all this time in India when the movie is about a battle fought in Ukraine?

Well… here’s the thing: when your popcorn movie is based on a poem, no matter how stirring its lines, you need to jazz it up a little. All that stuff about office politics and incompetent aristocrats running the army is all well and good, but when you’re making a movie about Errol Flynn leading a suicide charge against an enemy many times the size of his force, there better be a honking great reason for it.

The filmmakers chose the massacre of the surrendered British, including their women, children, and servants, at Kanpur (or Cawnpore as they spelled it in those days) during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 (or The First War of Independence as we learned to call it in India) as the motivational event. Except the Battle of Balaclava took place before that so they relocated the events to a fictional outpost and made savage, vulture breeding, Russki-loving Surat Khan the aggressor.

Although Vickers is sadly mistaken about how low Surat Khan’s willing to go, even the blackest of villains has their limit. He spares Vickers his life (and that of Elsa) for having once saved his own. Just as Vickers lived to regret his good deed, Surat Khan will presently repent his momentary lapse into honor when the two come face to face in the Crimea.

Apparently, when the Russians saw the incredibly outnumbered British charge the guns at Balaclava, they thought the Brit soldiers must be drunk. A French Marshal said: “It is magnificent but it is not war. It is madness.”

Curtiz takes this sentiment and runs with it. When Vickers comes to know that Surat Khan is present behind enemy lines in The Charge of the Light Brigade, he unilaterally takes the decision to change the more sensible orders handed him by his superior to avenge the deaths of the women and children Surat Khan murdered. Naturally, a spot of insubordination and horrific carnage is incidental to the whole process as befits an officer as bold, principled and courageous as Vickers.

It’s almost genius. At one stroke the movie reclaims an act of such foolhardiness that it actually worked; and sanitizes the very real revenge the British exacted for Kanpur by way of the extremely bloody suppression of the revolt, all of which took place in India instead of some faraway country and was visited on the heads of all sorts of Indians instead of just one villainous one.

It’s a little difficult to find a copy of The Charge of the Light Brigade as Warner Brothers never re-released it, owing to the production’s practice of using trip wires to bring down the horses during the battle scenes, which led to hundreds of the animals getting either killed or having to be put down. Yeah. Um. But another way of looking at it, to follow in the movie’s silver lining example, is to remember that the American government was so horrified, Congress passed the law about harming animals during shoots. Yay?

If you can look past the fact that The Charge of the Light Brigade is stolidly a product of its times, it’s a great blast from the thankfully past and includes a performance by a young David Niven, who went on to use one of Curtiz’s phrases from this movie as the title of his memoir Bring on the Empty Horses. Always worth it.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video

 

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Rob(b)in My Heart

Rob(b)in My Heart

In The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Errol Flynn runs around a forest in green tights with his BFF who looks like he’d like nothing better than a cuddle from his comrade in arms, and falls for a girl dressed in medieval Europe’s version of the hijab. Directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, it is an enduring classic. And watching it again for the purposes of my self-declared Flynn Week made me remember why.

If you speak English, you know the story. In fact, it’s been made and remade so often, for television and film, that I was pretty sure I had Robin-fatigue. Part of the reason for this feeling, quite apart from the individual merits of the films or television shows made after the 1938 version, I realized, is because when you’re remaking an old classic, the burden is on you to find “something new” to justify the remake.

Better sets and better costumes that introduced moody lighting and did away with the famous tights. New interpretations of old characters that gave them a bit more to do than be candles to Robin’s star. Realistic styles of warfare involving a great deal of blood and screaming. A hook that announces to the audience that this is not the same old stuff that you saw in your childhood.

By that same token, however, the charm of The Adventures of Robin Hood is that it is precisely that movie you saw in your childhood… and loved very much. The sets seem made out of play dough; the costumes are hilarious; the fighting is choreographed like a slightly less graceful ballet; the story is a wafer thin concoction of action scenes culled from lore; and any true unpleasantness like blood and death are presented in a way calculated to preserve the innocence and sensibilities of the infants of an era past wherein incredible amounts of mindless, desensitizing violence wasn’t the cultural norm. And yet, it is a benchmark because, quite simply, it is fun.

I’ve lost count of how often I saw this movie as a child, or even as an adult because I never missed it if it was on TV, but it has been a few years now and this is the first time I’m writing about it. That brings the realization that my idea of what it means to be A Hero has been indelibly shaped by Flynn’s portrayal of Robin Hood.

“He’s brave and he’s reckless,” gushes Maid Marian (the very lovely Olivia de Havilland) to her nurse (the very funny Una O’Connor). “And yet, he’s gentle and kind, not brutal…”

Flynn’s Robin is indeed all these things and more besides. In fact, my deeply held belief that true heroes are wonderful men who must be a phenomenal pain to know in person stems from his portrayal of Robin in this movie. Childish me thought him exceedingly romantic – grown up, stodgy me doesn’t grudge poor Marian a lifetime of following in the wake of the fires he’s bound to start because he thought the night called for some warmth and by building the biggest bonfire he could, he’d have some fun and something pretty to look at besides. But the magic of Flynn’s Robin is that despite knowing all this, you still either want him or want to be him.

His hot-headed nobility would be insufferable if it weren’t for his humor and obvious intelligence. Of course, it helps that Flynn is also the personification of male beauty at his very prime, with a truly excellent pair of legs he puts to good use during intensely acrobatic fights that require him to run, jump, and swing around like a monkey. And then there is that cocky little grin doing a lot more damage than any of the arrows he lets loose in the movie.

Helping him along is his chemistry with co-star de Havilland. Unlike the majority of versions, in The Adventures of Robin Hood, Maid Marian is not the childhood sweetheart of Robin of Locksley. She is instead a snooty Norman ward of the King of England, very much a partisan in the on-going ethnic strife between Saxons and Normans, and doesn’t care all that much for Robin at first sight, pretty face or not.

You can’t really blame her: Robin has a taste for mouthing off to royalty in the guise of the villainous Prince John (Claude Rains), appears at parties with the carcasses of forbidden game that he dumps on the main table, a habit of jumping up on tables where food is being served, his friends are a ragtag bunch of extremely common commoners, and his main occupation is running around shooting or robbing her friends, especially her would-be beau Guy of Gisborne (Basil Rathbone). Hardly endearing behavior.

Once she adopts his cause, however, Marian is anything but a wilting flower. She gently nudges him back to the path of duty when he starts dreaming of a countryside idyll with her by his side, and plots his escape when he inevitably gets into trouble through his reckless actions. She is also the one who puts her life in danger to send him word of King Richard the Lion-Heart (Ian Hunter), who has returned to England after escaping his captors.

And in the midst of all the things that are going on – kings to be restored to thrones, villains to be defeated, fair maidens to be rescued, a kingdom to be freed from the greed of a racist tyrant – The Adventures of Robin Hood even takes a moment to comment on current affairs circa 1938. The Merry Men of Sherwood Forest, you’ll be happy to know, were decidedly non-interventionist. Oh, irony.

The Adventures of Robin Hood is one of those rare movies that delivers exactly what it says in the title: Adventure with a capital A. If you somehow passed your childhood without access to its magic, you need to rectify it today!

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video

 

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Peeping Through My Fingers at Peepli Live

Peeping Through My Fingers at <i>Peepli Live</i>

Written and directed by Anusha Rizvi, Aamir Khan Productions’ Peepli Live is about as funny as a heart attack.

Farmer Natha (Omkar Das) is the very picture of the word gormless. He’s bullied by his elder brother, the marginally more cunning Budhia (Raghubir Yadav) before whom he regresses into a state of infantile uncertainty; pegged as a twerp by his mother (Farrukh Jaffar) whose selfish refusal to die when she gets sick in her old age leads the brothers deeper into poverty and debt; and harassed by his wife Dhaniya (Shalini Vatsa) whose native shrewishness is only exacerbated by a pretty good recognition of her husband’s lackluster character.

It is easy to laugh at Natha’s stoic bovinity as he shuffles along behind his brother, trying to make sense of his life. If his hapless form makes an easy target for his wife’s taunts, his mother’s deprecations and his brother’s manipulation, it is no less convenient a target for the blows of the pissed-off local politician’s goons, a young reporter’s ambitions or our own derision. But it’s not quite so funny when you realize that those dazed eyes that peer out underneath that tangle of dirty hair and facial scruff no longer dream of anything but escape.

One particular day, when death is all anybody can talk about, a few careless words from an uncaring overlord, an equally carefully engineered conversation with his brother and a momentary impulse to do something, sets him on the path to what could be the ultimate escape: death.

A chance meeting with Rakesh (Nowaz), a young man who also wishes to do something – and suddenly Natha is an unlikely national headline in an election year. Everybody wants to know if he’s going to kill himself for the compensation money or not; if yes, then when; if not, then how come. Even as his unhappy family is imprisoned in their home, the area around his miserable hut turns into a fairground as the media, politicians and the locals turn his possible suicide into a thriving mini-economy where everything but reality has value.

Like any other movie, Peepli Live works best when it forgets that it has Important Things to say and show. The climax in particular with the big boom that kills real journalism was unworthy of a movie that gave us an exquisite scene in which the Agriculture Secretary daintily drinks the finest Darjeeling tea while passing the buck on poor farmers killing themselves on his watch or the hilarious scene in which Natha receives a “Lal Bahadur” and is sternly informed that he can no longer kill himself because the long dead Prime Minister has come to his rescue… even if his largesse has absolutely no bearing on Natha’s problems.

The news bits are particularly plastic. Cable news in India is so incredibly fevered, trivial, kiss ass, shrill and just terrible overall that a partially deaf blind man could see it – as the actors self-consciously attempt to parody something that is already a parody of real news, the cardboard scene collapses flat on its face. And rightly so.

The one standout of the whole news section is the vainglorious Deepak, star reporter for a Hindi channel and an unparalleled master of bull (and other species’) shit, played by Vishal Sharma with an earnest egotism that is instantly memorable. The political bits, meanwhile, are mostly ho-hum even if Naseeruddin Shah periodically makes an appearance to spray silky venom and a bureaucrat takes you on a brief yet entertaining tour of red tape in our republic.

In stark contrast are the scenes of the village. Perhaps somebody who has actually lived in a rural area might have a different opinion, but to this city brat Peepli Live came alive in the dying fields of Peepli.

“What is the answer to farmers committing suicide?” asks the shiny reporter.
“Industrialization!” replies the Agricultural Minister.

Peepli Live is funny but I’ll laugh the day I can eat a steel curry with iron rice.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2010 in Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video

 

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For the Birds: Lafangey Parindey

For the Birds: <i>Lafangey Parindey</i>

“Born wild. Born to fly.” announces the poster with two pretty people in workout gear. No, it’s not an ad for underwear or deodorant. It’s the new YRF movie Lafangey Parindey.

Pradeep Sarkar is evidently working his way through time. First came the 1960s in Parineeta, his feature-length debut as a director. Next came Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, a movie set in the present with a heart that beat out a 1970s-style social message about… female empowerment, I think, is what they were shooting for. And now we have Lafangey Parindey, a modern day fairytale that feels weirdly 1980s.

In a Mumbai chawl is a little boy who worships the brawler he calls his older brother. The brawler’s name is Nandu (Neil Nitin Mukesh) and he fights illegal “boxing” matches for the local kingpin Usman (Piyush Mishra). Having opened the movie with his face making sweet, painful, bloody love to another man’s fist, Nandu staves off brain damage long enough to half-heartedly hint to the little guy that he might do better.

Continuing the circle of life in the chawl, Nandu and his bleeding nose want to be like Anna (K K Menon – growf!), the kingpin’s left hand man whom he worships as a role model.  Anna, in his turn, advises Nandu to stick to the straight and narrow – advice Nandu disregards to his cost, and that of Pinky’s.

“What am I doing here with these people?” Pinky (Deepika Padukone) wonders in the actress’ stilted Mumbai patois, wind in her hair and dreams in her eyes. Pinky has ambition and a talent for roller skating, both of which are going to take her far away from the hopeless hole into which she was born. Her destiny, she says, was written in English – so she can’t really understand all of it but she knows it’s gonna to be something else.

Unfortunately for Pinky and her grand plans, she meets the consequences of Nandu’s hero worship head on – and apparently her destiny in English read “Thwarted Ambition.” The silver lining is that the newly sightless Pinky is every bit a brawler like the guilt-stricken Nandu, coincidentally a man whose talent is for knock-down, dirty, bare-knuckle fights… while blindfolded. Artistic bruising optional.

Lafangey Parindey is the kind of story that chugs along by itself. You know the moves to this dance: grubby boy hurts princess girl, boy fixes girl, girl fixes boy right back.

Somewhere in the background is a real movie about petty crime and stunted ambition – the ancient waiter of the local teahouse drops a hint when pretty girls are on the horizon; the self-righteous Pinky who rails against the neighborhood trying to drag her down doesn’t think twice about mocking the scholarly ambitions of her kid sister; the police can’t be bothered to differentiate between one poor Muslim boy and another; Nandu’s decision to get a steady job instead of getting his skull bashed in gets incredulous stares from his friends. Nandu’s illegal fights earn him (and by reflection, them) respect, after all, a currency more valuable than mere money just as his partnership with Pinky is making national headlines. “It’s great!” one of them enthuses. “You can dance and you can fight!”

Throttled by the leads’ unrelenting prettiness, however, the movie soon settles down into a never-ending courtship daze. It’s true that the two of them try. In his short career, NNM has thus far displayed a genius for choosing roles that allow him to play a tense, jittery, one-wrong-look-and-I-bolt kid floating out of his depth and he seems to be settling deeper and doing better with it every time. Deepika’s gratingly awkward delivery of patois and the saccharine ending aside, there is a scene in which she quietly tears up as her goal comes within sight – and it’s really nice work. If only there were more moments of “try” rather than “trying”.

To Sarkar’s credit, he takes every opportunity to make sure the two of them are seen rather than heard. But there’s only so far that the power of pretty can take you. “One, two, three!” says Nandu, and abracadabra! Pinky gets the jedi powers necessary to navigate Mumbai’s slums on her own. “One, two, three!” says Pinky in her turn and Nandu transforms into a master skater, momentary stage fright notwithstanding, beating out Pinky’s former partner, the guy who put in so many years of practice, he was actually working with her at a skating rink.

But these aren’t things you really focus on – not if you want to get to the amazing climax when Shiamak Davar, Juhi Chawla and Javed Jaffrey show up as judges on India’s Got Talent and proceed to turn into giant oinking pieces of freshest ham. It is utterly fabulous! Totally worth my money.

Lafangey Parindey isn’t what I’d call a worthy follow-up to the charms of Parineeta, but at least Sarkar isn’t swinging for your head with the hammer of preachiness like last time. Props for that.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2010 in Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video

 

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Bittersweet

Some places are gone forever.

The best part about moving on is that which is yet to come – the busy-ness of it, the sense of purpose, the future that awaits, the anticipation builds. You see a door and you don’t know what lies behind it. A whole another world to explore. A new house with new neighbors and new idiosyncrasies to learn; a new room with new shadows that wait to make friends with your old dreams and forgotten nightmares; new sounds that announce themselves in drips and creaks. A new life with new possibilities.

The worst part about moving on is that which is past – the sadness of it, the sense of loss, the memories that fade into a sepia tint despite promises of forever. You look over your shoulder and you see all that you’re leaving behind. You grieve because you know you’ve said goodbye even though you pretend it’s au revoir. The old house with its worn knowledge, its mysteries exposed; the shadows you know by name; the sounds you’ve investigated a million times; the walls pitted with your deeds. It is home.

Sometimes a song, the music of horns, snatches of conversation, the sound of someone’s laughter, wind rustling through leaves along an endless line of defiant trees, the smell of tobacco warming the morning air, squirrels at play, the squeaky tones of an adventurous toddler’s sneakers, mustachioed men at gates, the milky warm smell of a happy puppy, aged stone warmed by sunlight, the smooth grain of polished wood, bright red blood welling from a cut – and there you are again. In that place with no address; that space you carry within you. Fold by fold it opens to envelope you, until you stand there, just as it used to be.

Nothing has changed. But you don’t live there anymore. Nothing has changed, but these streets don’t look the way they used to. The trees have been cut down. The flowers aren’t the ones you love. It was the people who made it real but where have they gone? Nothing has changed except you.

The monster ate them. The bulldozer got them. The man bought them. They lost the directions. It’s a bittersweet realization, but some places are gone forever.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2010 in Personal

 

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