The tourist

More than the verdicts, what intrigues me as a writer is- how does this one go wrong? It has such a good hook to begin with. A woman is tailed by both thugs and police as her criminal boyfriend has stolen some big money. On a train to Venice she befriends a naïve mathematics teacher and makes every one believe that he is this boyfriend of hers. And this ordinary, lonely guy cannot believe his luck- but only until things start going bad for him…. How can such a good commercial concept fail? And that too with the writing credits shared between three Oscar winners?

Yes, then you realise- the key is execution. The hook helps to pull the audience to the theatre. After that it is how the situations, scenes develop on screen. The problem with the tourist is that even though it works as a concept it doesn’t have a single memorable scene. The crux of this story is the developing love between this mysterious woman and the ordinary mathematics teacher. That is the backbone of the whole screenplay. But instead of a relationship which gathers momentum, we have something which jumps back and forth. Continue reading

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The way of the blade

He checked the bridge. No. Kalo was not there. Probably he has moved on to the metro stations.

It was his eighth day out of prison. He had made up his mind. He will have to go back to the blade. He didn’t want to. But he will have to. And he needed Kalo for that.

It is tough without an accomplice. Earlier he used to work with even three. One to create rush in the crowd near the station. One to distract the mark. And one to score and hand over the loot to the first one who would disappear at the station. The last step was crucial. A small detail which stood between many broken bones.

What does it change anyway; he thought. His mother didn’t even come out. His brother was standing on the portico, hands folded. ‘She don’t want to see you,’ he said. Not that it bothered him that much. She didn’t talk to him even before he went to jail. He was dead for her long time. He went hungry most of the days. He begged. To every one at sight. Even to other well to do beggars.

But what really bothered him was the crushes. Continue reading

Phas Gaya Re Obama

Small time crooks hit by economic recession…what would they do? No bullets in their guns, no petrol in their jeeps, kidnap victims bargaining aggressively to cut down blood money… It is in this universe the movie unfolds. The problem and strength of such of a premise is that you can go any where in terms of comicality. And sometimes it does go beyond the better-not-go-there line. The toughest thing about writing comedy is deciding to what extent you want to go to make people laugh. But overall the movie keeps away from the ‘bra jokes.’ Plot does get repetitive and predictable after some time. The saving grace? Well written dialogues delivered well.

And finally- after reading so many reviews on this movie, I have this feeling that there is some kind of reservation going on for low budget movies in terms of grace marks. We have this tendency nowadays to judge positively a movie made on low budget. Yeah I agree- this movie is better than most movies in the last month- but are we going too much in direction of superlatives when dealing with small movies? The scorn against tent pole movies and corporate giants should not end up in our giving extra credit where it is not really due.

Rolling the dice again

Yeah, I know. I should update more frequently about my writing projects. But I don’t want this blog to turn into a bulletin board for false starts. Some one from (or trying to break into) film industry knows something more than every one else. Every film is a miracle in that it happened. It finally got made. Critics and bloggers and audience can debate for years about its merits and demerits. But making (and release) of any film is an unique story in itself depending a lot on chance, the individuals involved and ofcourse sheer determination. So even the most tacky stupid film that we see had a seed idea (could be a creative idea or just some economic calculations) which was powerful enough to convince the crew to go through the pain of making it.

So where were I? Yeah. The volatile nature of the projects I work on makes it exhausting to really keep up with the twists and turns of what happens to them eventually. So it is almost impossible to really blog about it in a comprehensive way.

Still- currently I am working on a few projects. Just finished treatment for a remake of a regional film with a co-writer. It is supposed to be a noir kind of film with some existential themes thrown in. Now it it waiting time as director secures the finances and the stars. Currently trying to zero in on an outline for a comedy film with a friend in Canada. This project has a third co-writer from Canada in addition to two of us. Hopefully we will put it down on paper in 2-3 months. Another thing in the horizon is a low budget love story- again another co-writing gig. Will start writing the script in around March 2011. I have been trying to complete the outlining for a drama for sometime now. Also need to rewrite my heist script. When projects involving others come into picture, they always get pushed into the background. Lets see how the dice falls.

Photo by norton8

WikiLeaks and Julian Assange- the Beast or the Slayer?

‘I have tried to invent a system that solves the problem of censorship of the press and the censorship of the whistle-blower across the whole world’– Julian Assange

Now, the question is, is that all this is about? Or is he just looking for his 15 minutes of fame? Well, as some one said, it doesn’t matter what you think or what your intentions are, but only what you do. It’s true that WikiLeaks has done more than just be a new virtual ‘plaything’ for mass feeding frenzy. A corruption report by Wikileaks led to the loss of office for Prime Minister in Kenya. Among the recent releases, the revelation that some Arab nations are eager for an US occupation of Iran is definitely going to play out in unpredictable ways because until now they have not taken an openly hostile stand against Iran. But the exact repercussions of this is yet to be determined. Another jolt has been that China considers North Korea ‘a trouble maker’ and has been open about the idea of an unified Korea despite its open support towards North Korea. This is going to figure in the future relationship between them.

But what is the other side of it? Is it ethical to publish what an foreign ambassador reports back about a statesman of the country where he is posted? What kind of good can come out of it? Where does the work of a journalist end and interference with the smooth functioning of the state begin? What does Assange say about free transfer of information? Continue reading

Guzaarish

Yeah, there is a palpable attempt in some scenes to make you shed some tears. Some scenes appear artificial and far fetched (The lawyer in the box, Most of the scenes involving Omar, The radio station campaign). Some story elements are just dropped in there in the pile which never merge with the rest (Omar turning up to learn magic, The mother, Sophia’s abusive husband, The competitor in magic etc).

But still…I think we are taking Sanjay Leela Bhansali too much for granted. How many main stream film makers have the courage to make a film about a quadriplegic and euthanasia? That too with Hrithik Roshan. As I overheard some one saying- who wants to watch a movie in which Hrithik Roshan cant stand on two legs? Many may argue that this is an attempt to repeat the magic of ‘Black.’ But still how many are out there who could make a ‘depressing movie’ and expect it to be a hit? Regarding his consistent indebtedness to other movies for his works, why do we have to single out Bhansali in Hindi film industry for finding ‘inspiration’ else where? Another criticism has been that trying to validate a quadriplegic’s need to die ‘because he has suffered too much’ is doing a disservice to all quadriplegics fighting to lead a life with dignity. I agree. Especially because it is a well known fact from studies that among patients willing for undergoing mercy killing, a major proportion is in a phase of depression and would benefit from treatment. For the vast majority, a need for euthanasia is a passing phase from which they will eventually escape once their reserves to cope rebuild and their depression is controlled. But why are we even having a debate about this here? Because Bhansali was ready to make a film about a quadriplegic. Continue reading