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Prem Panicker | September 04, 2003 12:37 IST
Amit Gupta: First and foremost, I like your style, its all good...
Next I was hoping you could help me...I just moved to Bangalore from the US.
In the US I have got so used to watching every type of cinema (thanx to the excellent public library that we had), so I was hoping you guys could do some research for us and tell us where we can pick up such movies here in India (Bangalore in particular). I am not looking for popular hollywood movies, I want stuff like foriegn films, film noir, etc etc. Like in all the adam sandler/rob schneider movies "you can do it!".
Prem: Anyone familiar with Bangalore reading this? Any tips for Amit on where to get the kind of films he is looking for? In passing, Amit, have you tried ordering them off the web?
Varoon P Anand/New Zealand: Who told you you could write? Same BS, different bottle? What the hell is that? Taking an illusion to wine and replacing it with bullshit is your idea of metaphor? As a writer, I hate to dishearten other writers. You are not that bad in terms of language, but ideas, well, you are just awful.
Your column, naturally, has no effect on the Bollywood film industry; that does not stop you from writing. But has repeating that the nature of Hindi films will not allow it to change allowed you to present anything novel? I loved Dil Chahta Hai and Company as well, and am glad that more people want it to be heard that these movies need to be made. But self-flattering lists don't seem to serve much purpose. I hope you can come up with something better than pre-bottled cowdung for your site.
Prem: Righto, sir, will give it my best shot. I am sorry my amateur efforts do not match the standards you look for, and I certainly have no intention of debating writing with someone who is, by his own admission, a writer.
Saumit Shah: My favorite is Where Eagles Dare. Based on Alistair McLean's book starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. Probably the most faithful book-movie adaptation.
Prem: Likewise, Guns Of Navarone, from that genre, and that author. Poseidon Adventure is another name that jumps to mind.
Arvind Hariharan/Hyderabad: Read your column on the dearth for meaningful cinema. wanted to share some
thoughts with you
I started my career working for a post production outfit in chennai. Over the years i have worked for many companies as a multimedia consultant and always watched/read about our big brother - The media - with lots of interest.
I have also got an opportunity to watch meaningful cinema over the years. My special interests have been postproduction in cinema and have closely followed/read about the movie making techniques of ILM, Pixar, Digital Domin and Dreamworks. Many a times, i have been worried about the health of the indian cinema industry.
We dont borrow from our rich literature anymore. Movie makers need to elevate the taste of the movie goer instead of finding an excuse that this is what the crowd is dying to see. We have good expertise in making intense family dramas, but waste all the money making patchy action movies and insipid thrillers.
We indulge in blatant sycophany of actors and plots are woven around such nonsense, resulting in terrible movies. We blame VCD technology for the fall in movie revenue. We arent heavy technology spenders. Hence can never make good science fiction cinema. Mushy love stories and hollywood rip-offs need to be stopped to stem the rot. Fresh ideas need to be infused for the indian movie industry to thrive today. Instead of blaming the underworld or VCD technology for their downfall, let the movie moghuls strive to make meaningful cinema.
Works of Tarkovsky and kurosawa need to be studied in detail by every aspiring movie maker today.
Prem: Actually, the other day I was reading the list of Fall releases here, with special reference to the number of books being adapted into movies – and the thought that strikes you as you read that list is how much Hollywood depends on contemporary literature; that contrasts with how little Bollywood in particular relies on our literature for its stories. Which seems a pity, no?
Guru Smaran: Nice article. Sorry for this very late mail. Been caught up with work. I wanted to mail but I just didn't have the time.
I do agree with you. Most indian directors lack originality. All they are bothered about is making hits and more money and in the process, compromise on the quality. In the end, the outcome is a "masala blockbushhter pichcher". Part of the reason they come up with such kind of films is because that's what most of the audience dig. There are a lot of people who claim to not watch such movies but watch them alone, without their friends knowing.
Not only are hollywood movies copied here in india but also music. There's this tamil music director who's hits are indianised versions of already popular english music (by indianised, i mean only the lyrics change. everything else remains the same. Like a dubbed version of a song.) He's copied, for example: That thing you do - The Wonders (from the movie "That Thing You Do") Get Down - Backstreet Boys and a lot more. The worst thing is, a telugu music director copies this indianised version of english songs. Bad, isn't it? A dubbing of a dubbing.
Well, movies i'd ask you to watch... you might have seen them
already. Here they are anyway:
A brilliant movie which captures a boy's fascination for movies. It won the best Foreign Language Film Academy Award in 1990. Don't see the original version. There's a new Director's Cut or Cinema Paradiso: New Version which is roughly 3 hours long. It's a much more complete version of the movie than the original 1990 version. I won't say more about this movie. Watch it and see for yourself. Try seeing the whole movie in one sitting.
Life Is Beautiful
A nice film by Roberto Benigni. It's about a relationship between son and dad in a concentration camp. Dad doesn't want son to know where they are. He instead says they are playing a game and that the first person to get 1000 points wins a real tank. The movie beautifully portrays the extent to which the father would go to keep his son from knowing the truth.
The Bicycle Thief
This is an old italian movie. It shows a poor family consisting of dad, mom and kid. The dad's jobless. He gets a job sticking posters all over town. But he has to have a cycle to get the job. So after selling most of their linen, he gets his cycle back which he's pawned. On the first day of work, he leaves his bicycle unlocked and goes to stick a poster. When he turns around, his cycle's missing. The cycle means a lot to him. The rest of the movie is a search for the cycle with his son. The movie is a classic. It shows the degradation of values and the level to which a person would go if he's desperate for something.
All these movies are italian. Check them out. Will suggest more if you want me to.
Prem: Another 'movie on movies' you might want to catch is Francois Truffaut's Day For Night; Truffaut plays himself – a director making a movie; it kind of starts slow (which is true of the other Truffaut films I've seen – The Woman Next Door, and Confidentially Yours, so maybe that is his style – but it is more than worth your initial patience.