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Let's make a movie

Last updated on: September 04, 2003 12:49 IST

Naresh Govindarajan: rediff.com has become a site that I logon to for everything. More importantly, for following the Cricket and movie news. Any talk about movies in India was usually gossip & scandals about film actors. But your articles in the Rediff Movies Section has changed that completely. The last article that I just finished reading and the one that prompted me to write you this e-mail, was the article about reading a movie. This is something I do very frequently when reading a book. Think about whether it would be suitable as a movie. I usually don't pay attention to the casting like you have done but I do picturise the scenes and the camera angles the scene should be picturised in. Also the quality of special effects that the movie should entail. For eg: after I read Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire, I thought this book would be the toughest to make as a movie in terms of the special effects.

This could be a really good discussion topic on Rediff or probably an article. We can run surveys or put up discussion boards on various aspects of one movie. The one movie which would be the most popular to make. At the end of it all, if we could have a script ready to make, I think it would be the most brilliant movie to watch if ever made. I know this is a bit dreamy but aren't all far flung ideas dreamy? I am not able to think any further at the moment. But would love to involve myself in this if you ever think of doing it.

Prem: Actually, that's a thought – an interactive movie script, with everyone contributing ideas, shaping the thing from idea to plot to storyline to finished script, all online. Any takers out there? Also, any ideas how to structure this? It could be a whole heap of fun doing this -- and who knows, the thing just might work, too.

Ravi Aron: Just saw your latest essay on books and films. As always, 'twas a goodly read. Here are a few entries for the books-to-movie genre.

1. The English Patient - A film by Anthony Minghella (he directed the The Talented Mr Ripley too). For a while I resisted seeing the film. The texture of remembered experience and a narrative that unravels into memories -  Ondaatjes signature - I didn't think that any filmmaker could reproduce that on screen. Minghella produced a fine cinematic reflection of the original - without trying to recreate Ondaatje's prose on screen he framed it in light and sound.

2. To Kill A Mockingbird: Gregory Peck played a marvelous Atticus Finch. It is very difficult to reproduce the ruminative feel of Harper Lee's work on screen. But the film was the closest that you could have come to it.

3. Dr Zhivago: The critics panned David Lean. I thought that Omar Sheriff was a very convincing Zhivago. The opening sequence was movie magic - ending with the little boy looking into the Russian winter as wind and water reached for him at the window. The boy gazing into the expanse that was Russia - a vast sprawling land in many moods - a series of images set in adagio presaging the sweep of history waiting to happen. When I first saw it Julie Christie nudged me into my adolescent years  if this is love it must be wonderful.

4. My Fair Lady: The film (and the musical) were so good, because Warner brothers retained most of Shaws pungent passages from Pygmalion. I liked that ending too - as Jack Warner put it  I couldnt let Eliza go unhappy.

5. A Tale Of Two Cities (old one): Nicely done. Sidney Carton  was pretty tightly drawn (was it Tyrone Power?) by Ronald Coleman and Basil Rathbone was quite the nasty aristocrat. Madame Defarge was very much the menacing, embittered face of peasantry.

6. Witness For The Prosecution: Sir Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich. The director didn't have to direct the film  he just had to play referee. Marlene Dietrich was magnificent and Sir Charles  was the perfect barrister with billowing jowls all over his face and bearing down on witnesses with his bulk and gladiatorial polemics. Great film. Again it was so good because they had retained so much of Christies original script.

7. Gone With The Wind: The film reflected the sentimentality and grief of the book. The keening wail of a land and people being raped - painted in sound and light . The book launched a thousand bodice rippers and the film got them marching to score. David O. Selznick is often referred to as the producer of GWTW although he also produced A Tale Of Two Cities and if I am not mistaken, Rebecca.

8. Rebecca: From the opening  - "last night I dreamt I went to Mandalay again"- the film did for D Maurier what all her other novels could not - evoke wonder and fear at once. Olivier was a fine DeWinter, although the only character of Du Maurier's that would pass literary muster - Mrs. Danvers - was just about alright. Still Selznick gets his third entry in with Rebecca.

Thats a dusting of movie memories on a long weekend even as summer recedes from my 10th floor sit out.

Prem: Ravi, hey – interesting post on movies, where once I got them from you on cricket. A list I found myself nodding at, having seen all these films, and read almost all the books, the exception being that somehow, I bypassed English Patient, the book.

Usha Padmanabhan/University of Dundee: I have seen Ek Rukha Hua Faisla....it was a thought provoking and intense movie...definitely worth seeing at any time.. actually at about that time there was another movies called The Party released, which was also quite good...

Rather than ranting about the general run of the mill movies that Bollywood has and will be churning out...I would like to point out a few good movies which have come out.. in the recent and not-so recent past.. they are not all hindi but from all over India ..they are woman oriented topics but not the main meri pati ki hatya ka badla loongi types...

Tanir Tanir: an old Tamil movie depicting the plight of the farmers in Tamil Nadu and how they are made pawns in the political power game.

Dahan by Rituparna Ghosh was based on a real incident where a woman gets nearly raped in front of a suburban railway station..the direction was crisp and the movie so close to reality that it frightened me..

Paramitar Ek Din by Aparna Sen... what I liked was that in some scenes, Sen just used the beauty of Rabindra Sangeet (songs written and set to music by Rabindranath Tagore) to convey the mood of the situation

Kandukondain Kandukondain... Rajiv Menon has craftily adapted Austen's classic Sense And Sensibility into rural Tamil Nadu.

Gulzar's Arth, Shekar Kapur's Masoom and Mahesh Manjrekar's hard hitting Astitva.

Finally .... Monsoon Wedding.. wonderful watching...

Prem: Tanneer Tanneer has to rank with my all time favorite K Balachander movies – the list would in fact include almost all of his early oeuvre – and exclude almost all he made in the 1990s through to today, which admittedly isn't that many. There was this time when he was way, way ahead of his time in terms of themes and treatment, I sometimes wonder what happened to that KB.

Vikram Gahlot/IIM Calcutta: How can Apocalypse Now (adapted from The Heart of Darkness) go missing from this list!!

Prem: Hey, that is the idea – for you guys to make up the list. So now we have this in here, too.

Aravind Gaddalla: I would like to add my contribution on this subject of Movies. I have long  wondered why the Indian audience-- except for a few like me ;-) -- does  not understand or appreciate new subjects (Darna Mana Hain) / novel climaxes ( Lamhe) / nuances and screenplay ( Iruvar) etc. Based on this, though I might not be able to act as a consultant for movie makers on how to produce a hit , I feel I can definitely advice them on how to avoid the path to flopdom:

1. Do not leave the final punch to the very end (Manoj Shyamalan's Sixth Sense)

2. In fight sequences show blood and gore but only after a prolonged dishum-dishum (unlike in Gladiator)

 3. Show women characters as equating Sex with Love with Marriage (an Indian movie for a change Vaastav - I would say, do not, do not do not build the character of the women in your movie on the lines of Aditi Srikant Pandit)

4. For Indian youth Sex should mean the REAL , COMPLETE thing , do not even use the m.......ate word (American pie be damned)

5. Parental love is not something to be made fun of / and it is without any ulterior motives (Prem, i need your help in identifying the name of the movie it was something to do with parents of a small town sending their kids to be brain washed etc; for the sake of discipline)

6. Do not use the flash forward technique (though Kaante used it, it could get away because of Big B's presence)

7. Leave things /people/subjects which are considered sacrosanct alone or  half the country will burn and time in the parliament will be wasted( do not attempt to show what MK Gandhi did in his bedroom or the life of  Gautama as a prince before he became The Buddha; i think Passion is something to be left to Mel Gibson)

Phew...

I do not claim that the entire class of Indian movie goers think alike or have one taste. But as I have said movie makers can definitely ignore my advice and here i am referring to only those classes of movie makers who make a movie only for the sole purpose of a hit.

Prem: Query from a reader for readers – anyone know the name of this film that Aravind is talking about?

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