Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Issue of Norm: Slumdog and Ghajini

Anuj Malhotra

PART I : OF DUMBNESS AND THE ISSUE OF THE NORM





From IBN TV18 Film host/reviewer Rajeev Masand’s recent review of Ghajini, a certain line is very interesting, carries great repercussions and yet, is present in such a casual, off-hand manner that it not only discards the gravity of the issue, but makes it seem that the writer has come to terms with it. The line goes-

“Ghajini is a film which is dumb and celebrates its dumbness”

The recent success of Ghajini, all commercial ofcourse, reveals a few collective national tendencies. We as a nation prefer restaurants with waiters instead of the ones which demand of us to self-serve. We love escalator and elevators. The concept of ‘home delivery’, though invented by some shrewd commercial mind in the Western hemisphere, eventually had us as its target. We also are a nation who stand in front of an artificial Taj Mahal background, and get our family portraits clicked. We do not go visit Agra.

Basically, assuming the reader is one of us, the above paragraph implies, that we are a lazy, indolent, sluggish, and slothful group of people. In the communication chain, we believe the transfer is only from one end to another. We are glad being the another.

GHAJINI(2008)
Language- Hindi

The film is a romantic action thriller(starring superstar Aamir Khan) that explores the life of a rich businessman who suffers from anterograde amnesia following a violent encounter. With the aid of Polaroid Instant camera images and permanent tattoos on his torso, the businessman tries to avenge the murder of his vivacious model girlfriend, Kalpana, who was killed shortly before he was also attacked leading to his diagnosis of amnesia.the irony is that kalpana does not know that sachin is sanjay himself. The film is said to have been 'inspired' by the 2000 Hollywood movie Memento directed by Christopher Nolan.

Wikipedia.


THE GHAJINI SYNDROME


The problem is hardly that each film review advises me to leave my brains behind in order to enjoy a film.

Such celebration at the dismissal of our cerebral capacity, howsoever misfortunate, is still acceptable, since it basically is attempting a substitution of thought by entertainment of puzzle-pieces by jokers-in-the-box: simple, normal, fast, warm, cozy, comfortable, escapist entertainment.

The problem is also not with the liberties with logic that most of these films undertake. Cinema, or a particular film, is not subject to the application of an external, ‘real’, logic, and often needs to be judged by its internal logic. If the filmmaker can convince us, we are convinced of action if a galaxy far, far away. No, those are not my problems.

The problem is, the sad equation of each and every film with a nymphet show, by the roadside, where one seeks empty, gratuitous, superficial ‘entertainment’, and is happy not using any brain. The problem is with the creation of this comfortable atmosphere where each viewer is allowed to revel in his or her state of ignorance, while giving them a false sense of assurance that ‘it’s just a movie’. Where dumbness is not only allowed to survive but it is celebrated, and the lack of pretense is equated with an achievement.

If a person struts around displaying his vices proudly, they do not become virtues. A film can be a healthy family entertainer, but it does not have to reduce itself to an evening party- where people come, have their fun and leave. While ‘paisa vasool’(money worth entertainment) is an understandable and, even, honorable intention, it should not imply a maker’s desperation to earn and serve, rather it should encourage the discovery of new methods by which to engage and even disturb the viewer and giving them their money worth entertainment.



A CASE IN POINT : GHAJINI

The film opens. The doctor tells the student who plays the student that the patient has a disease. Listen carefully to how the doctor tells the student. He is infact, not telling her. He is telling us. He does not merely pass over; he ensures that there is eventually no doubt. He bludgeons out each minute bit of ambiguity; beats it to death, puts the remains in an incarcerator as to the nature of the disease. In the movie Philadelphia, the Washington lawyers said, “Now explain to me how you would explain it to a 6 year old.” In the cinemas we are the 6 year olds. The doctor says, “Pata nahin ab woh kya kar raha hoga”,’ (I wonder what he will be doing now) what means the scene will now cut to ‘Ab woh jo bhi kar raha hoga’ (Whatever he is doing now)

In one of the following scenes, we enter the dark, hellishly and rather blue-green aqua lit room of the ‘patient’. The leitmotif appears- Notoriety. It’s a musical cue to the audience. Now we know what and how we have to feel. The camera passes, with unnatural jerks, accompanied by hammer sound effects, uneasy dissolves guaranteed to put your brain into a tizzy, over the ‘detailing’ – a map which means nothing, a few areas circled which mean more nothing, a red diary hanging precariously by a pin, and music plays. We have to be serious now.

The director ensures you notice all his detail work – all the massive research he has employed – by going all the way to the market and buying a DVD, which is besides the point. But he wants you to notice. The patient enters the bathroom. The camera makes an unnaturally fast zoom into a sign by the sink which says, ‘Remove T-Shirt’.


Two issues-:

a) First, I am really hoping that a sudden gush of water does not soak the sign wet and remove it from its place, because we are expected to believe that without the sign, the character would have had a bath with his t-shirt on. I know that eventually, it is only to make him immediately remove his t-shirt and seethe with anger at all the tattoo-work beneath, but it amuses me immensely to think how it would not even let him have a bath now, since he would now have to go find the murderer before his 15 minutes are over.

b) Secondly, how brilliant and deft a touch it would have been had the director only placed the small sign in the background, and let the audience notice it. That would have been some vindication of the philosophy of cinematic realism, through an absence of cutting and through the long take. Besides being an apt reward for those who observe, and a punishment for those who do not.

But no…as I write this, I’m told that Ghaijini might be the first Hindi film to earn over 100 crore at the box-office. Yes, it does reveal few new trends.

On a prime-time television show, the director is asked about the logical incongruities within his work. He finds it amusing. He is thinking, “You think I care?” It is precisely this attitude that we are harboring, and while cinema might be an example of it, its eventually, only a microcosm of a larger societal reflection.



Ambiguity or a state of confusion, which is accompanied by a small hope of a solution, is an element so wholeheartedly amiss from our cinema, that there is no ambiguity to its dismissal. Our cinema feels the need to feed the audience- slowly, and gradually, letting them feel comfortable. If the audience were handicapped, there is a cinema which can help them face that reality and learn, best, to live with the disability. And then there is a cinema which exploits the handicap, explores it, almost insensitively. It allows the handicapped audience to settle down in their comfy chairs and serves them, instead of encouraging resolve to serve themselves, within them. Our cinema is the former, ofcourse. The only issue being – it not only harbors the handicap, it also has begun celebrating it.


THE ISSUE OF THE NORM

When we settle in the theatre seats, we demand of our films to please us, through a happy –go-lucky projection of cheap, vulgar entertainers that provide with a healthy deal of superficial entertainment. Our cinema aims not at satisfying us, but at filling us.

When we go to a cheap restaurant by the roadside, and eat a lot, even despite the food being tasty because we are hungry; we do not like the food, but we stuff ourselves. The hunger is eliminated ofcourse, and we equate being filled with being satisfied. Our cinema is a spectacle, it is not a statement. We love expressionism.

Our movies claim their pride and their exclusiveness in their ability to create falsehood as convincingly as possible. In their artifice. If suspension of disbelief is a requirement to enjoy films, we demand of the audiences to dangle it beyond the sea level. We are fake, mainly ostentatious, and never ashamed of it.

We sleep, we eat, we drink, we wear, we walk, we talk about movies. We talk about movies a lot- any movie. The admission to being touched by the hype of an arriving film, the observation of a memory attached to a old one, but mostly the enthusiasm at a film we just saw. We talk about movies a lot. It is inbuilt, and it’s a phenomenon we cannot deny. Most mainstream cinema is discussed at length no matter how misinformed those discussions are, the sheer force of the enthusiasm behind them can often render them infectious. We talk about everything, from the latest dresses, to the songs, to the songs, to the dresses, to the acting, to the acting – mostly acting. Yes, we love talking about actors and their performances. Nothing else is more essential than the establishment of a star in a role.

Movies affect our daily interactions – we pick dialogues from a film to represent our emotions, we use mannerisms of a character to establish a certain purpose, and we are forever quoting. Movies become a parallel universe, a world of artifice, fakery, and we are always a distant observer. They are set-ups we love to be fooled by.

In a cinema like ours, however, familiarity, like any other place, breeds contempt. Change being the rule of the universe, it is more often than not imperative, that familiarity is avoided as much as it can be. Between people, it’s almost an insurmountable task; movies, however, leave a lot of room for reinvention. The problem, here, however, is that, we do not have either talented writers, or producers who back them, and hence, the process of reinvention is never attained.

They are so much a part of our collective conscious, that over the time, films stop surprising us. Each movie becomes a set of clichés. Because we know so much that we do not believe anymore. And we need to believe. In a cinema that believes its very foundation on its ability to be unreal, the audience needs to believe. But we see so much, talk so much about the medium that we refuse to suspend our belief anymore. Furthermore, when films are so ensconced in our knowing, in such a situation, each line a writer writes becomes a cliché, and each shot runs the risk of being a parody.

In this scenario, any film, which slightly rids itself of the obligation to embrace the norm, is hailed as path-breaking. Whilst proclaiming every bit of it different. Moreover there are films with “filmmakers” so devoid of any motivation that they fail to identify the frailties of a suspension of disbelief. Hence, they create the same old-thus failing. Then therein also lies the existence of a third group of “filmmakers”, not as inspired like the first group, but also not as uninspired as the second. They realize that they cannot let go of the cliché, not because they do not want to, but because they cannot. They do not know anything beyond it, and for them, that is the supreme form of films. So they look for a new way out – they celebrate the clichés.

They take a few leaves out of the pages of a book on post-modern iconoclasm and recycle the old to create new – mostly to evoke nostalgia and to exploit the audience’s popular fancy for those icons. The only difference between the second and the third group of filmmakers is that they are: cheats, they copy, they recycle, and then they create parodies – just that they are proud of it. They are proud of being dumb. They are proud of their impediment of the creative process, and yes, they make a lot of money.

The problem with most of these films is that while they follow the first basic tenet of iconoclasm – i.e. to use an icon, they forget the second, as essential one – to destruct icons and use the destruction to create a new. Clichés are meant to generate nostalgia and evoke memories, but they are not meant to be used as substitutes of the basic narrative. In films like the ones we make, the narrative does not contain the clichés; the clichés contain the narrative.

Recycling is definitely not an easy process. Masala is a term we attach to inanity in our films. Often ridiculed, it is also, when featured in a big-budget entertainer, it is identified as a throwback to a bygone era. Thus, we associate masala with the 70s and 80s, often ignoring the fact that while film stocks, budgets, techniques have improved, our cinema is still stuck in the same time-warp. Perhaps that is the reason why most so-called post-modern homage-induced work, from Tashan to Om Shanti Om to Karzzz, it never really seems like a style which is fish out of water, and more often than not, belongs to the present era itself. Such is the speed at which our cinema has evolved, or has not.

It is, thus, ironical, that a British director uses and incorporates both Indian film clichés – an impossible love story, discernible negative and positive power centers, a rags-to-riches fairytale and foreign film productions –set- in- India- clichés – poor children living in slums, the hardships that the foreigners attach their sympathies with, Taj Mahal, railways; and absorbs them into a new template to make telling statements on the nature of the three new tiers of the Indian society.


OF SLUMDOG

The film shuttles and functions between three clearly defined planes of story-telling – the police station, the TV Studio, and the experiences in Jamal’s life. The three are also a deft representation of the three Indian classes – the middle class, the upper class, and the lower class respectively.

The police station – The cynical, skeptical, questioning middle class. They cannot fathom the exorbitant success of the chaiwallah(tea-seller). They cannot believe he has done so well, and most importantly, they cannot believe that he has done so much better than they have. The proverbial qualities of people like the reader, and the author. We are either jealous, or we are cynical, but we are never really appreciative, unless ofcourse, the icon is so large so as to remain safely at a distance from our personal feelings. Then we jump onto the bandwagon. Yes.

The TV Studio – The studio audience. The upper class. The hypocritical upper class. The levels at which Jamal reaches are representations of the levels of appreciation they have for him. In the first half, they laugh at every snide remark, or offhand joke that the anchor supplies them with. They mock Jamal, ridicule him, and detest him for having occupied a hotseat they presume is solely meant for them. Then he begins winning. And they start cheering for him. They prepare acceptance of Jamal as being one of their own.


The Experiences – Mostly featured in as a series of flashbacks, they are summaries of what Jamal has been through, and how those experiences help him in reaching the level he is at. Throughout this plane, Jamal becomes a symbol of the Indian lower class, forever, trying to attain a higher goal – whether monetarily or spiritually. He is desperate, often helpless, yet hopeful.

It is also interesting to note the transformations in the second and the third group. The second is moving, emotionally. They are always in a state of emotional transition, and are mere spectators, but their habits are not passive. The third group, the experience, is also moving, both literally and figuratively. It is only the first plane, the police station, which remains consistent in its cynicism, even while releasing the prisoner they arrested in Jamal.

At the center of the conjunction of these three is the show host, gleefully played by Anil Kapoor, who as I can imagine, might have wholeheartedly occupied the position occupied formerly occupied by two of the most powerful actors in the country, a position he hoped for in real but attained only on the reel. He is a man who has been through all the three planes – the lower, the middle and the upper. At various points during the story, he represents both, condescension, cynicism and glee, at Jamal’s exploits in the game show, thus becoming, at various points, a part of each group. His is the toughest role ofcourse, and while Kapoor’s clearly not an English actor, he does well.

Boyle’s camera is observant. But it is clearly not a tourist. It is a generally keen observant. It is a robust, moving, curious, curious observer. It does not want to settle down. The trip is short and there is so much to discover. So his camera never really stops. It moves at a vulgar, often indecent speed, and then suddenly, it screeches to a stop- at the most critical of moments- when the hero and the heroine hug. Or when he just looks at her through the large gate, or when he sees her left behind on the non-descript railway station. The observer stops at an emotionality alien to him. It is a kind of sentimentality he does not see back home. It is a sentimentality that he does not have an idea about, but is fascinated by. It is sentimentality so typical of Bollywood, and so when the camera stops, not only is he respecting the most repeated clichés, he is celebrating them.

By placing them carefully and cautiously to convey the same drama that the Hindi industry uses them for. The crucial difference here is, that in his post-modernistic homage, he does not mock them, or satirize them, or makes fun of those clichés. He actually uses them.

The camera thus, observes. And it remains assured of what and when it needs to observe, often through unnatural cants and tilts, a dynamic he captures the so-called grit of Mumbai, and of Agra, and of the police station, and carefully uses mostly the conventional angles of the TV show, and thus opts, reconstruction over original construction, which would in any case, have defeated the purpose of using such a popular quiz show.

It is amazing how Boyle’s filming, and Beaufoy’s script (based on diplomat Swaroop’s novel ofcourse), evokes the most evident Indian icons – the Taj Mahal, the red-light districts, Amitabh Bachchan, the Bombay slums, Kaun Banega Crorepati, and brilliantly, never lets them function in their own isolation or function in their personal context. They exist because they have some relation to our protagonist, and otherwise, they do not exist. When in Delhi, shoot the Qutub, when in Kolkata, shoot the Victoria, and when in Hyderabad, shoot the Char Minar, irrespective of whether a character has anything to do with them.


He shoots in a style I personally can trace back to Jeunet and Caro’s 1991 film ‘Delicatessen’, which though, did not epitomize the style, but did initiate a few of its origins – bright, vibrant, radiant colours, colour contrasts increased to abnormal levels, and a fast, dynamic camera. Lately, City of God employed it masterfully.


The film does not dumb down. It does not feed. Why does the brother die at the end? How does Jamal achieve what he does? Why does the host write an answer on the bathroom mirror? It also is ‘different’, and it also recycles the same old clichés and uses them in a new template and thus achieves a result which our filmmakers are not attempting, and more importantly, are proud of not attempting.



The Modern Times

18 comments:

Jagriti said...

Nice article, ghajini seems like has opened a can of worms. I find it hard to belive that people lined up watch even after knowing its well useless. Imagine the movie without Aamir Khan a total junk. Or Marketing campaing. Slumdog Millionaire with all its Bollywood loaded ref still was enjoyable and fresh. One thing for sure our filmmakers wont take a cue from this movie or if they...we know what to expect- crap after crap

Srikanth said...

"they celebrate the clichés."

haven't seen Ghajini, but this point struck me.

The directors do celebrate the cliches but do not know why. Leone did that, Wes Anderson does that, but all of them know why they do it and how movies work.

More than intentional employment of cliches I gfeel that our directors have become complacent towards these. They think that they score on a couple of fronts and the other weaknesses will be overshadowed by those. In the process of perfecting what they think is the raison d'etre of the film, they lose out on the holistic quality of the film...

Thanks for the article. Looks like I have missed many more. I'll go thru them shortly...

nitesh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nitesh said...

Interesting writeup like always Anuj. Srikanth, I think, the directors you pointed and many masters who are influenced by their peers do incorporate certain clichés, techniques or the idiom of the medium in manners that could reflect the tradition yet they know the degree and extent they influences are taken to.

That's the reason freshness in the mise-en-scene happens. Since as you rightly put they know why they do it and how movies work.

Likewise, how Anuj stated in this article about Slumdog that inspite of all its Bollywood grammar it still is something different.
As for our directors, I’m not sure whether they really know the possibilities of the medium or just to worried about materializing the script or improving their technical know-how.

Anuj Malhotra said...

Thanks for the responses.

Jagriti

Ghajini has become the proverbial example of a Bollywood failure only because it stars a major star, has been promoted so vehemently, and has also earned a huge revenue. As a result, it is clearly more harmful than a simple small bad film. It will only encourage other filmmakers to take their audiences for granted, and let them be at ease with mediocrity. It deserves to be criticised, and slam-banged even more than what it is being subjected to. I do not even hold Aamir Khan responsible, since he felt the need to assert his commercial value, but I am stunned by both the gumption of the makers of the film, and the ignorance of the audience who have loved the film, and there is really no polite way of putting it.

Srikanth

You make a very pertinent point. We have to understand and appreciate the difference between a cliche and a generic convention. For instance, a cliche in a Western film is a code of morality which is often imposed, for instance, in films like The Ox-Box Incident, or even Rio Bravo. More often than not, these cliches can be done away with, and are not indispensable. A generic convention however, for a Western, can be the fact that characters in most of the films under the genre, are working towards a continuous goal - whether monetarily or spiritually. Now that is something that is very tough to do away with. Without the end purpose, what does the film propagate on? Directors like the ones you mention, use generic conventions brilliantly, mould them into their own styles, and most often than not - do away with the cliches, to attain a revisionist version of the genre. Leone, as you said, did it spectacularly with the Western. While he retained the conventions - the sweaty, tough, tired, cowboy fugitives, gunslingers, horses, deserts, he removed the code of morality. He removed the 'perfect do-gooder cowboy', and helped the genre evolve, like how Peckinpah did with a relatively inferior film - The Wild Bunch.

"More than intentional employment of cliches I gfeel that our directors have become complacent towards these."
Maybe. You need to elaborate, but from what I understand you mean, I think the trend today is to understand the cliches and reuse them. Complacency towards cliches would only mean that they are used again, in the worst manner possible - which is also a case with our films. Still, elaborate if you can.


Nitesh Sir

Yes, its about taking your influences and evolving them, rather than holding on to them for dear life. Cinema is never completely original, and always has to derive from something. But it can always evolve.

Srikanth said...

Anuj,

What I meant there was that our directors fix upon a USP for the film and show a "chalta hai" attitude for the rest of the elements. You've given me something to think about in your comment - What a "genre" is...

Anuj Malhotra said...

Srikanth

Yes, agree with you, and that 'USP' is more often than not the one which assures a commercial response.

Srikanth said...

Now if I can convert this thread into a discussion...

Thinking over what a genre is, I feel that a lot of cliches have been included in the definition. Nowadays, Westerns are supposed to have duels and dacoits...

But I am unable to define what a genre is (or even specifically, what the Western genre is).
All I could com,e up with was that the landscape is the primary aspect in a genre definition. You cannot have a war film inside a house or Horror without closed spaces. Then you have the basic feeling the film tries to evoke - sentimentality, fear and humour. And of course you have the primary objective - a heist, spiritual redemption, solution to mystery.

BUt again, can you make a genre film without employing any of the cliches? By cliches I don't mean the characters or morals. I mean you can't do without the hand held cam in the war. You can't sacrifice the eerie score in horror or the darkness can you?.

So the genre system by itself becomes a reason for existence of the cliches in some ways, right?

Yayaver said...

Nitesh, call be sadist but there will not be any time or was there in future when people do not have 'Bhedchaal' or mob tendency.people simply do not care about values but care for mindless fun and economics..They only talk but never imply the ethics ,hence art becomes a form a entertainment.Art was designed for telling true by false symbols.But really we do not want to see hidden forces behind it..

Ankit said...

Ghajini-
Bad film. A plot more suited for a game rather than a film. But the game has already been made - Max Payne. Borrows the plot from there. Uses Memento and follows the style used in cheap action movies made in the 80's in Bollywood.

Slumdog Millionaire -
A good film. But I fail to understand the focus of the film. Is it the game show or the life of Dev Patel. And I disagree that you can actually traverse a person's life with 10 questions and even if there are such 10 questions which actually might do so, then its a huge coincidence that those are the ones that have been asked to you in a game. For me its a huge coincidence. The film is otherwise very good, quite similar to City of God in terms of violence shown between kids.

Anuj Malhotra said...

Srikanth

Thanks for the response.

Using two of your thoughts, would like to respond.

"So the genre system by itself becomes a reason for existence of the cliches in some ways, right?"

And

“BUt again, can you make a genre film without employing any of the cliches?”

While I am not against the genre system or the classification of films based on genre, I do realise its demerits.

We have to understand that genre as a function was devised very early in the performing arts, not to help or enhance the quality of the films or the performance itself, but to help the audience/critics distinguish a specific set of films from another. It helped the paying audience decide which films they liked watching, and helped the critics apply a certain standard to each of the various genres. It was also established as a rule to help producers decide which film to produce and which to not. As such, the genre is, for me, clearly, a commercial function, and not an aesthetic one. As a consequence, while a genre does ensure the formation of certain cliches, or conventions(that is how genres were formed in the first place), it is again, only so that the audiences/critics can expect a certain standard, but in terms of its creative guidance, it should not be restrictive, in terms of a filmmaker having to stick to its rules, and should infact, help to guide and allow the filmmakers to revise and evolve it.

In my support of the claim that the genre is also not really an aesthetic function is the fact that most filmmakers, when they start work on a film, do not really design their work according to the genre that they are making, and that is often the last of their thoughts; but according to his own preference of an aesthetic guideline.

Having established that, every great filmmaker will make a film according to what seems to him, the best manner in which to make it. Do consider here, that the genre, or its rules, are not the filmmaker’s concern. Following thus, a completely personal application of aesthetic, often despite formerly set conventions, a filmmaker can often come up with a very original work. When he does that, he unwittingly, resets the boundaries of the genres, or as we say, makes a genre-defying film. But remember here, as well, that defiance of genre is our concern, and not the filmmaker’s. And thus, I make my point that while the genre system harbours conventions and cliches, it is only to help the audience/critics/producers, and not the filmmakers, and thus, a filmmaker, with a unique vision, can very well, reset the very limitations or luxuries of a genre, though again, that is not his primary attention.

For instance,

“You can't sacrifice the eerie score in horror or the darkness can you?.”
And then again, Polanski’s The Tenant and Rosemary’s Baby, Kubrick’s The Shining, Spielberg’s Jaws, Miike’s Odishon, all films I am sure you have watched, and various other examples, do not use darkness at all. These films are considered to be the best of the genre, and yet, I am sure it is more due to the contribution of the unique visions of their makers than because they were intentionally trying to avoid the trappings of the horror genre.

In the process, they ended up evolving the genre.

“All I could com,e up with was that the landscape is the primary aspect in a genre definition.”
Star Wars is identified as a Western that takes place in the space. :)

So, really, I am not sure how much a genre can really be defined. Its an ambiguous term, very vaguely defined, and really does not serve much purpose now and did, maybe, 40 years ago, when the basic emotions of various films were far distinguishable from each other than they are now. For example, what genre would you put No Country for Old Men in?

In terms of our cinema, however, it is not the genre that forces the cliches, since all our films are multi-generic, but our inept writing, and lackadaisical approach to making a film, that makes us repeat ourselves in the worst way possible.

I hope I could contribute a helpful thought or two.


Ankit

Interesting observation about Slumdog Millionaire, but then again, the whole point is to show that experience is indeed, the best teacher, and more importantly, to show how attentive and intensely observant Jamaal has been throughout his life. For example, to answer the question : What does Rama hold in his right hand?, he recalls the riots, where his mother also got killed. Now, normally, the event of his mother dying would be such an overwhelming event that he really would not be able to recollect anything else, but he does, he remembers a small boy dressed as Rama in some small corner of the slums. There, Boyle is telling us that seeing that little boy dressed as Rama IS NOT Jamaal’s primary experience. It is infact, just a very small part of the entire event. But Jamaal remembers even that minute detail. As such, these co-incidences as you call it, do require a certain suspension of disbelief, but also help establish certain important trait of the lead character – He never forgets. Which is infact, the entire gist of the whole film, because he never manages to forget his first love, Latika.

Ankit said...

Add tot he coincidence, I said in my last post, the fact that, Dev Patel got the answer of the first question(Who was the star in Zanjeer) at the start of his life. Then he knew the answer to his next question (The Lord Rama one) and then so on. So actually not only the questions asked to him traversed his entire life, it did in a sequential manner. I am not against these coincidences, but the fact that the film actually is said to be realistic because of the way it has shown India, poverty, etc., I don't think you can have too much of coincidences in a realistic film.

Anuj


I don't know why didn't he know the answer of who is printed on an Indian Currency note. He knew the answer to the Dollar one which he got once, but because he stays in India, works in a company although as a chaiwalla but still, he must be receiving his salary in Indian currency. So if he knows the answer to the Dollar question which he got once, he must know the answer to the Indian currency not also which IMO he should see regularly. So this makes Jamal not so intelligent and intensely observant.

Kshitiz Anand said...

Whoa ! This was one of the most enlightening writing in a long time! Very well written Anuj! And I do agree on most of the things you have written in the reviews.

I personally had a headache after I left the hall. And especially after discussing so much on film theory and stuff, I feel sorry for a lot of people who had so much hopes in the film. But then, the directors and of course Amir would definitely have the argument that it earned so much and hence it is a HIT. Well... I think that this problem has existed within the Indian Film fraternity since long about equating a good film with its commercial success.

Blame it on the bad seats in the hall, or just the bad acoustics in the cinema hall here... the background score sucked big time!
The usage of exxxxxtra sound effects almost made me feel

However, what i did like was the used of long exposures and time lapsed photography to narrate the passage of time and ofcourse the songs shot in some exotic locations!

Oh ya the song reminded me ... the song to introduce Asin.. whoaaa where did that come from!!!

it is clearly more harmful than a simple small bad film.
I totally agree to this point! In my group of friends, I am the ONLY person who has stuck by the first impression that the movie was CRAP and people stare at me.

I did agree to Rajeev's line, but I felt that he was scared that Amir might bash him up with his "eight pack" body, if he gave a lower rating!

Slumdog Millionaire definitely was a welcome change and good usage of the cliches, put together into something that is watchable. I see the movies a lot visually and I did like quite a few frames in the movie.

More to add after reading the other comments.

Shubhank said...

Haven't watched Slumdog but Ghajini...oh God.
Other than the fact that the movie is dumb it uses anterograde amnesia as a gimmick. Remove that and nothing else remains in the movie.

"Inspired by Memento" is a spat on Nolan's face. Firstly the entire 15 minute memory concept is false. Either the writer wanted to spoon feed the audience or he himself did not understand the concept.

Anterograde amnesia is not associated with a fixed time interval. Its all about the attention span more than anything. You lose concentration of something, you forget that. As simple as that.
For instance, the scene in which the protagonist is sitting on the toilet with the liquor bottle in his hand, he forgets about the guy he just whacked because he starts reading the label on the bottle thus moving his attention to something else.

Nolan captured it very well because he laid emphasis on these triggers which complemented the reverse narrative style of the movie.



Some people feel it is Amir Khan's masterpiece and he probably acted very well. The same thing one hears after every movie. The unwanted praises we love to shower on our actors.
Some of them even hate the movie because they feel the Tamil version was superior because of the lead actor (Surya??).

kdy said...

Never happened before with me, that someone took the words right out of my mouth.

Not literally, cause i could have never put together words in such a lovely way.

Bravo !!!

srikanth said...

Whoa, just read the slumdog part of it. Felt the same - a celebration of Bollywood rather than poverty. India as Boyle sees it (from a safe distance) and not real India. And no mistakes about this.

review up on my blog.

Bharat said...

Nitesh,
Saw your post about slumdog film in the indianrealist blog.
It clearly shows how you guys are desperately missing your "papas" who were forced to leave India by the "slumdogs" a good 60 years ago.
I would say you ought to try something else to achieve that instead of asking "slumdogs" to see the shitty film

Gomolo.in said...

A very well written article by you, Nitesh. It seems you have researched both these movies very well and have found out how the directors have conveyed the things that they wanted to convey. Of course the things both these movies have conveyed to the audiences are totally different.

Ghajini shows the people what they cannot achieve ever in their lives while Slumdog shows them what they can achieve if they put their minds to it.

www.gomolo.in