Posts Tagged ‘films’

You know, it occurred to me that I’ve been waxing about writing for so long – what one needs to do to get published or produced or whatever – and I left out the most important thing. Luck.

You can have talent by the oodles, dedication and determination but if you haven’t got luck you’re pretty much toast. On the other hand, you can average to zilch talent but if you have the lady on your side you have nothing to worry about. Perhaps my placing too much on mere chance stems from the industry I come from.

While luck plays a role in any field in life, its importance is exaggerated in mine. Every day I see talented people struggling away, unable to make a mark. On the other hand you have a music director (I shall refrain from using names), whose sole talent in life is creative stealing. *Gasp* you guessed???!!! And here I was soooo careful.

Of course what I’m saying could be pure baloney. As one erstwhile leading tennis player, talking about the favourable percentage of close net and line calls that regularly went his way, said, “The harder I practice the luckier I get.” Perhaps in sport. I mean, that is one area you need to have some skill. And hone it. You just can’t wake up one day and bend it like Beckham. *Sorry* I couldn’t think of a more original one.

Elsewhere, I think, luck is a necessary and sufficient condition for success. So all you aspiring writers, singers, musicians, you too can get lucky. It’s really a question of practice. *You too can win* Do I sound sufficiently like Shiv Khera? God, where did that name come from? It’s been ages since we heard it! There was a time where he was everywhere. And then he just disappeared. Guess who the lady deserted.

BTW, what do you think of the title of this post? I dithered between luck by chance and oye luck luck oye and chose the latter. I am a Dilliwali at heart. What to do, I’m like this only.

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I was watching the telly a couple of days ago and I happened to catch a 100 richest celebs kinda show on E!

Now, most of them have had to work for their supper but some, like Steven Spielberg get paid on just waking up! Royalties etc, you got it. And guess who was next on the list? JK Rowling. According to the show she’s worth a billion plus pounds. And the show was produced in 2007! Since then there’s been Stephanie Meyers, too.

Now, I was  filled with envy. Cross that. My new age guru will be horrified to hear that. *affirmation to self: Day after day I’m getting better and better and better. The world is filled with abundance and I live in this abundance. I deserve my good fortune and celebrate it*

Anyway, envy or motivation, call it what you will, but I decided to do something about my own, shall we say, considerably less salubrious pecuniary state. I called upon all my experience (and it is vast, spanning investment banking, adventure sports, publishing and writing) and arrived at a winning formula.

As you know, writing a novel is hard work and takes a lot out of you. Added to that is the uncertainty that it will be published. And even if it is, there’s no guarantee that it will sell, let alone be a best seller.

First things first. We have to begin the project by de-risking it. A good way to do that is to attempt a romance. According to the latest trends in fiction, romance still sells. In the wake of the Twilight series, a spate of vampire novels have hit the market but thre’s appetite for more. Well written conspiracies, spelling the doom of mankind, still work.

So, a good beginning premise would be a vampire romance set against the backdrop of an impending disaster.

Now that we’ve de-risked the model, we have to turn it into a multibagger. To do that you have to get attention. And not just the odd newspaper interview/review kinda thing. I’m talking serious, reams and reams of newsprint. The kind that’s devoted to the controversy of the day. Enter Raj Thakeray.

But. But, we can do one better. And that is, we can try and get the book banned. Based on all the above analysis, I’ve decided on what I’m going to write next. Watch out for it tomorrow. Meanwhile, do write in your thoughts on the subject.

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I saw Kaminey last night. And it didn’t appeal to me. And no, it wasn’t the burden of expectation because these days I leave all that behind. Whenever I find everyone raving about a film or a book, I immediately become cautious. So, I went in fully expecting to not like it. However, it wasn’t so much that I didn’t like it. It was more like I found it boring.

To begin with, the theme was boring. I find all gangsta movies boring, unless of course they’re Tarantino films. And in our case, with Ramu having ODed on them, I find I can without one more gangster film. The story is straight forward enough. It’s a classic story of identical twins – one good, one bad – and a mix-up. There it is. That’s the story.

Since the story is neo-noirish  (dealing with the corruption of the soul), predictably Vishal Bharadwaj’s treatment is the same – lots of dark shots, excessive use of the steadicam etc. The film is slow to build up. It takes up all of the first half (whatever happened to grip your audience in the first ten minutes?) and had me fidgeting within the first twenty minutes. While I understand the importance of a build-up, for me it was like get on with the story already. Why? I don’t know. I guess I didn’t find the characters funny, endearing or engaging.

For instance, I didn’t find the hotel scene at the beginning particularly cleverly written or shot. The characters of Francis and the two corrupt policemen were, well, yawn. In fact, most of what happens in that hotel is boring. What does Francis want, what does Tashi want, who are the twins, what do the policemen want…who cares?

At the outset it is clear that Bharadwaj’s inspiration is Tarantino. The story is straightforward enough but the telling lies in the treatment. It is all about random, ridiculous events altering the course of the story and allowing the underdog to emerge the victor. But while Tarantino’s random events are shock and awe (remember the scene in Pulp Fiction where John Travolta gets shot?) Bharadwaj’s are, what the F? The sidekick backing the car onto the senior policeman? Seriously?

And when Tarantino engages us in a long dialogue between John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson, we are riveted. The long, long, long pub scene in Death Proof has us hooked.  But when Bharadwaj does it (the whole episode with Bhope and his cronies in Charlie’s kholi), it induces fidgets. It does not flow naturally even though it does end with a vintage Tarantino shock incident. A case of trying too hard? Maybe.

The climax is long drawn out and seems to never end. The runtime is 150 minutes and I was fidgeting for 120 of them.

Having said that, I also say that Kaminey is the best Bollywood film I’ve seen this year. For one, at least the story is not the run-of-the-mill, boy-meets-girl romance or a ridiculous Neeraj Vora comedy. And two, the performances are good. The stars are playing the characters for the most part and not themselves, although Shahid does slip-up once in a while. Priyanka does a good job of the spunky Sweety.

Only Bharadwaj could have elicited such performances and goes to show that Vishal Bharadwaj is probably the best (commercial) director we have today. If only he could ignore that tag and not be compelled to ‘try too hard’ to live up to it.

And now I’m off on a holiday. See you guys on September 7.

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What makes a Dark Knight or a Transformers or a Star Trek work? Think about it. There are so many action flicks out there. What then makes a handful of them stand out? It is the underlying character story and the structure of the film.

Here, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, two of Hollywood’s hottest writers share their screenwriting secrets.

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Picture this…a delinquent is given charge of a very expensive machine to run it as he pleases. Indeed, run it aground if he wishes….what’s that?…no, it’s not a quirk of fate…it is a carefully considered decision…No, no, I’m not talking about George Bush, although I do see your point. I’m talking about the latest Star Trek.

As for Angels and Demons, let’s not even go there. The plot is this: The Pope dies and the next four cardinals in line to succeed him, the preferati (have I got this correct?) are kidnapped by some sicko claiming to be a member of the secret society Illuminati. Now it’s a race against time if the four cardinals are to be saved and the succession to go off without a hitch.

But fear not, the rules are relatively simple and the only knowledge required is that of the location of ancient churches in Rome and the various statues in them. A job, apparently, only Robert Langdon can do.

No conspiracy theory here. This is an out and out thriller, a genre Dan Brown is not good at. Makes me kinda nostalgic about the strike period.

Oh, I also did an interview with FHM India. Give it a read if you, as the article says, wish to know ‘her quirks, chic lit and also answers to those strange questions you have always wanted to ask writers!’

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Of late, newspapers have devoted an inordinate amount of space to the Fox Studios suing the producers of Banda yeh Bindas Hai story, which they claim is a copy of My Cousin Vinnie. And while they were at it, they dredged up other such instances. Zeher, Ek Ajnabee, even Rang de Basanti joined the infamous list.

Really, I don’t what the whole fuss is about. I concede that some plots are ‘inspired’ from Hollywood projects, but those are minor transgressions. If you really think about it, isn’t it the other way around? Look at the latest Hollywood offerings. Almost all of them are superhero offerings.

Here are a few points to illustrate my claim:

  1. The hero single-handedly takes on the baddie kingpin and his evil henchmen;
  2. The hero, while not the richest or the best looking, gets the girl;
  3. The girl always gets kidnapped by the baddie towards the end, leading to the climax;
  4. The setting for the climax scene is a veritable death trap with movable floors with jaw-snapping and snarling crocs underneath, flip-over chairs, retractable walls, gas chambers, acid-filled cauldrons and what have you.
  5. Okay, no hero wears his chaddies over his pants in Hindi movies but have you seen Amitabh Bachchan in Desh Premi? And Mithun da in Agneepath? And while we’re on the subject of ridiculous styling, how can we forget Raj Kumar and Jeetendra with their white shoes? And Vinod Mehra with his shirts unbuttoned to the navel displaying an even inch thick layer of lush black carpeting?

And we’ve been doing since, like, forever. And then they say, Bollywood plagiarises from Hollywood. Really?

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My sister and I do a lot of things together. We go shopping, we fight, we bicker over clothes (yes, still!). And yes, we end up watching the worst, most inane movies together.

It began with Bunty aur Bably which was followed by Jhoom Barabar Jhoom which was followed by Tashan (you think there’s a pattern in there somewhere?). Then yesterday we saw Hancock.

The choice was between Thodi Masti Thoda Magic and Hancock. It never occurred to us (rather me) to not go at all. One week out of Bombay without movies and TV? It felt like rehab and I was desperate for my moving image fix.

Had we decided on TMTM, we would have perpetuated the pattern and I have a healthy respect for patterns, believing them to be cosmic signs. Instead, in an act of diffident defiance, I decided upon Hancock. What could possibly happen, I figured, if we watched Hancock instead?

A lot, it turns out. Hancock is the worst superhero film I’ve ever seen. No credible back story, no credible baddies, not much humour. I just can’t understand the hype around the film. As Obelix would say, “These Americans are crazy.”

I couldn’t help ruing the fact that with the money I had spent on the movie (and popcorn) I could have bought four copies of Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions at full price (as the author I am entitled to a discount :-)) and distributed them among all those friends and relatives. I could have pleased all those clamouring for a free copy, plus a part of that money would have come back to me in the form of royalties.

Or I could have bought ten movies from my DVD bootlegger.

As it turned out it was money down the drain.

I’ll call myself an ass**** one more time.

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I don’t know why people are bitching so much about the latest Indy film. I saw it yesterday and had a blast. Critiques range from stupid to plain grouchy. They call the film boring. It wasn’t.

They call it an ensemble film instead of a Harrison Ford film. In response to that I’d like to say that had Spielberg gone the other way, the solo Ford way, the same people would have bitched about a geriatric Indy doing implausible stunts himself. And two, they are building another franchise – with Shia Lebeouf (have I spelt it right?) And they can hardly have the future Henry Jones Jr. just sitting around on his ass, can they?

One critic said that they expected a visual marvel from ILM but the effects were off the mark. Especially in El Dorado where they expected to be dazzled (literally) by the gold. Instead what they got was a kitschy set. I guess they must have missed the line when Ford explains that the city was called El Dorado on account of their knowledge, not gold. The Mayans considered knowledge to be their true treasure. As for the other effects (prime accustaion being, most of them have been done on sound stage), I don’t know. All I know is that I was hooked.

My guess is most people have missed the point behind the Indiana Jones series. Vir Sanghvi delves into that at length in his weekly Sunday column in Brunch. Although, he also bitches about the film a bit, it is understandable. Fans of a franchise are rarely satisfied with sequels. Think Matrix. Think Spiderman. (I can’t find the article in the Hindustan Times site else I would have posted a link here.)

Having said that, was the film flawless? Of course not? I personally thought the screenplay could have included some more one-liners. Here’s a balanced review, which illustrates my points best. 

Given a choice would I watch the Lost Ark again? Yes (although personally my favourite it the Last Crusade). But that does not mean the film wasn’t entertaining. And I’m going again next weekend.

Here’s another view by Neohorizons that resonates with mine.

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Okay I’m feeling great this morning. Positively ebullient. Effervescent. Exultant. Elated. Ecstatic. Now that I’ve impressed everyone with my enviable command of the English language, synonyms for happy anyway (did you notice how all of them begin with E?), let me get into the why.

Remember about the project I was griping about yesterday? Yes, the same one authored by me but credited to someone else? Well, I just read that the actor has walked out of the project citing, what else, ‘date reasons.’ (Methinks it’s a monetary fallout as the same actor has recently delivered the only hit in an otherwise lacklustre summer.)

And so begins the cycle of narrations begins all over again. It could take, like forever, before the project goes on the floor.

Juts to give you a little bit of history about the sordid affair, I was approached by this production house, flush from the success of their modest debut film, to pen the script for their next film.  Which I did.

And then waited for them to call to ask me to accompany them on narrations. And waited. And waited.

Then, a little while later, I happened to meet a director who happened to mention that he was directing the aforementioned film which was being written by…

I waited for him to drop my name (and am guilty of a little preening at the time), when I had a round trolley moment. You know when the camera swirls around you feverishly on a round trolley and the room closes in on you? The same.

He dropped someone else name, adding with a wink like he was in on a secret the rest of the world was oblivious to, that the producers had gotten someone else to write the script but decided to credit it to a weightier brand name.

I wondered what to do. After I slapped the smirk off his face, and put a hex on the project and everyone involved with it, of course.


Now I have the original copy, duly registered in my name, as well as the contract. My first impulse was to cry foul right then, and sue their asses, but then I figured it would be more ruinous for the production house if I let them complete the project and then sued at the time of release. As in the case of the music director Ram Sampat who recently sued Rakesh Roshan (click here if you don’t know the story), chances of a huge and speedy financial settlement improve considerably of you threaten to stay the release.


I don’t think there will be any need to sue anymore. I’m happy that the hex worked.


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