You never know how ignorant you are until you stop talking and start listening: a lesson I learnt with this Movies blog.
There was this reference, in a reader mail, to what I thought was an obscure Hindi film. Obscure, hell. I've since had dozens writing in, giving me the name of the film, its history, its Hollywood inspiration, and lots more besides! Thanks, all.
Incidentally, based on your recommendations, I watched 12 Angry Men last weekend. The film is a stunner. The storyline, script and performances make for a taut, gripping film. That alone is unusual, given that it is a talking-heads film. The fact that you can predict, pretty much inside the first 20 minutes, what the eventual outcome will be does not detract an iota from the suspense.
But to my mind, the most interesting aspect of the film is how it is, in its entirety, shot inside a single room. No great backdrops, no changes of scenery to help set mood and background, no nothing. Just one room, two windows, 12 chairs. Yet, at no point does the interest flag.
To think this was Sydney Lumet's directorial debut -- he shows the skills of a finished, polished auteur.
Thanks again all for the recommendation. It made my weekend.
I was thinking of writing something on a subject that has been bugging me for a bit, but then this letter landed up in my box and it is apropos. So, first, the letter:
Ranjit R Nair, Kerala: I am Ranjit, from Kerala, working as a s/w programmer in Chennai. I dunno whether you will put this in the books category or the films one :), but here goes: some of my ideas for books to movies:
1. 'Rita Hayworth: The Shawshank Redemption' by Stephen King: An awesome story about a prison escape. I know the movie has already been made, and that too with somebody as good as Morgan Freeman, but somehow, I felt something was lacking in the telling of the tale: you know how it is, the movie can never be as good as the book. Imagine the movie with Mohan Lal (or Naseeruddin Shah, I can think of nobody else) instead of Freeman and Shah Rukh Khan as the new prisoner - WOW! a must-watch, wouldn't you think ?
2. 'The Horse Whisperer' by Nicholas Evans: Yet another beautiful book mutilated by Robert Redford & co - with the right actors and director, what a movie it would make. From the time I have read the book, I have been dreaming of who could do the character of Tom Booker (in the book) keeps coming back to Anil Kapoor, at least for me; who else could look as good as the ole-westerner-from-town (remember him in that excuse for a movie Trimurti) ? And as the heroine, it would have to be either Madhuri Dixit (a natural choice with AK) or Tabu (for the sheer skill required). Another brilliant premise, even if I do say so myself :). If you haven't read this book, get hold of a copy immediately.
3. 'FireStarter' by Stephen King: Have heard that there is a movie on this too, but haven't seen it. Abt a man and his daughter who has the 'special' ability to light fires just by glaring at sumthin, the book is a helluva one to add to your collection. Kannathil Muthamittaal has provided a strong contender for the role of the daughter - Keerthana is one helluva actor. Another choice would be the girl who acted in Makdee - I haven't seen so many expressions in any actor after Manju Warrier. As the dad, well, I keep coming back to Mohan Lal or Aamir Khan (remember the rapport he shared with the kids in Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke, Akele Hum Akele Tum). And the bizzare story would defnly excite Ram Gopal Varma, I think :)
4. 'The General's Daughter' by Nelson Demille: Un-put-downable, in one word! Please go by the book and not the John Travolta movie, as the movie is nowhere near the book. Just imagine Shahrukh Khan as the irreverent investigation officer and Kareena in the title role, with Naserruddin Shah as the General. Would be one helluva movie, wouldn't it ? And judging by Chalte Chalte, Rani Mukerji would make an ideal foil for SRK's irrepressiveness.
5. 'The Green Mile' by Stephen King: Oops, this is my third Stephen King book, huh. And that too, an absolutely brilliant movie to boot, enacted beyond perfection by that chameleon of actors, Tom Hanks. Who would have the guts to remake this, one might ask. Hmm, what about a Malayalam remake, with Mammootty as the prisoner and Mohan Lal as the jailor ? Would definitely be an interesting twist, wouldn't it, a story of a cop and a prisoner, starring Mammootty and Lal, and Mammootty not playing the cop ? Here is one movie I wouldn't mind copying frame by frame, dialogue by dialogue. Priyadarsan, anybody?
6. 'Wish You Well' by David Baldacci: A feel-good story about two children and their grandmother. I cannot imagine anybody but Shabana Azmi playing the strong grandmother. The kids would be more difficult to select, though. My choices would be the Makdee-girl, once again and Suraj of Asoka fame. As for the lawyer Cotton, I think Jackie Shroff would be quite a good choice. Catch the book, if you haven't yet. (I was tempted to put down The Winner here instead, and Kamal Haasan for the lead role, but I thought it would be too gimmicky for Kamal to do a role that demanded disguise after disguise).
7. 'The Evening News' by Arthur Hailey: If you want a movie about two strong characters, and Kane & Abel has already been morphed into Khudgarz (ugh!) and Annaamalai, you could not pick a better novel. But unless the second character were conceived and enacted the right way, he could come away looking like a wimp (much like Jeetendra did in Khudgarz), and my man for the role would be Aamir Khan, with of course SRK as the more flamboyant 'other guy'. Its another matter altogether whether Aamir would accept the role, especially in today's post-Lagaan times. Also, the movie also deals partly with the Stockholm syndrome, not shown very much in cinema - kidnappers are the bad guys, aren't they ?
8. 'The Godplayer' by Robin Cook: All about a doctor who plays God - Dr. Thomas Kingsley. This was the first 'adult' book that I read, and o-boy, was I hooked. This character absolutely demands either the Big B, or Kamal Haasan; no one else could possibly fulfil the complex demands of this character. This is definitely one movie I would add to the 'must-watch' category. Plus it would be the first of its kind in India, a true medical-thriller, despite pathetic claims by Armaan to the same.
9. 'Long Lost' by David Morell: A story about a long-lost brother, and what a brother he turns out to be !! I would want SRK and Hrithik Roshan for this one. Would be interesting for the sheer shock value that Hrithik would cause by playing such a character. And SRK because, although the other character is more well-etched, his is the more demanding role. Again, one for the Ram Gopal Varma camp. And with no songs, please.
10. 'Outrage' by Henry Denker: A riveting courtroom drama (much before Grisham's times) about a trial involving a colored man murdering the rapists of his daughter. Would be interesting if the Indian version were set in Mumbai, immediately after the Masjid demolition, and the defendant were a Muslim, wouldn't it? With Aamir Khan as the lawyer and Nasseeruddin Shah as the grief-stricken father, would be one for Mani Ratnam among the Roja-Bombay series. Unfortunately, the plot sounds lazily like Damini, but I still think the movie would stand a good chance at the box-office :)
Oops, my ramblings have gone longer than I intended. Sorry to all the folks who have not read the books, for others, I hope it makes interesting reading.