Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Ram Gopal Verma is the best. Among the current crop of Bollywood filmmakers, he is one director who has consistently delivered the goods. Excluding a handful, like Daud (1997), Mast (1999) and Bhoot (2003), all his other films have stood out for not only breaking the mould, but doing it successfully.
His latest, Sarkar, made for compelling viewing, but I had a few quibbles.
1. This is definitely not Ramu’s best film till date. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can equal Satya’s visceral appeal, its grittiness, its stark storyline. Company was an improvement, but only as far as technicalities go. In the sense, it had a tighter script, some interesting camera angles and a very sleek feel. Sarkar’s script may have done with some fine-tuning, (the Tanisha-Abhishek sequence was totally unnecessary), but the film’s cinematography is out of the world. If it hadn’t been for the power-packed performances by the lead actors, the film could just be enjoyed for Amit Roy’s (Dil Maange More, Fida, Ishq Vishk) camerawork. Like Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, the entire film is shot using a filter, which makes for interesting viewing.
2. Amitabh’s Sarkar is good, but not impressive. As someone has pointed out, his role is underwritten. In trying to portray Amitabh as a larger-than-life figure (something that Ramu has confessed to in an interview), he seems to have gone against the grain of his film — realism. As a result, Sarkar turns out to be too one-dimensional, too straight a guy and too soft-hearted a man to evoke the kind of terror that is attributed to him. Contrast this to Pankaj Kapoor’s Abbaji in Maqbool. Kapoor’s Abbaji, though taciturn, had a menacing air. Also, Vishal Bharadwaj made him believable by depicting him as someone who was not above sleeping with a film actress who catches his fancy. For that matter, Kay Kay Menon’s character is the best written one. Even though he gets the least screen time among the top three male leads, his role is the most credible.
3. For once, the background score seems too loud and occasionally jarring. Ramu is a great believer in the efficacy of background music as a narrative device. In fact, he has successfully used it in films like Kaun and Satya. As a matter of fact, Sandeep Chowta’s score in Satya was such a big hit that the entire soundtrack was released as a separate album. Sarkar’s “Govinda, Govinda” score is catchy, but too loud and at times detracts from the onscreen action.
P.S. I just read in Etc, The Telegraph’s Friday pullout, that Ramu has described his meeting with Bal Thackeray a “moving moment”. Apparently, Thackeray had hugged him after Sarkar for capturing his life. For a director of his stature, methinks Ramu’s allegiance should lie with his audience rather than his subject.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Bale Fails To Gel aka Not He Batty Hotty
Who the hell cast Christian Bale as Batman? Though he is passable with a mask, as Bruce Wayne he is totally unconvincing. Bale just doesn’t fit the bill. Especially, when compared to his caped predecessors like Michael Keaton, George Clooney and Val Kilmer. While Keaton’s Bruce Wayne had the broody intensity of a person leading a double life, Kilmer was the definition of uber cool as the millionaire heir who fights crime in his spare time. And Clooney at least had moulded nipples on his Batsuit to enhance his eye candy value. In Batman Begins, director Christopher Nolan gets the atmospherics right, but his casting is horribly wrong. It's the Bollywood equivalent of Randhir Kapoor playing Don or Shahid Kapoor playing Bhiku Mhatre. Decidedly unpalatable, huh?!
P.S. According to a certain website, “Before Christian Bale was cast as Batman, many other actors were considered or read for the role. These include Guy Pearce, David Boreanaz, John Cusack, David Duchovny, Hugh Dancy, Joshua Jackson, Eion Bailey, Billy Crudup, Cillian Murphy, Henry Cavill and Jake Gyllenhaal.” Why then, why?

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