Tag Archives: Film

Why no filmmaker is compelled to do anything

Over the years, there’s been a rising misconception that a fictional film based on certain historical elements or consisting of historical characters (or just people who actually lived) is bound to or by law has to project all the elements as though it were a reflection of a History text book.


NO filmmaker HAS TO do anything, first let’s get that clear. Just like NO potential audience member HAS TO watch any film. 

It’s really that simple.

To explain this for the dummies, who think every filmmaker making a historical film has a responsibility to massage their egos, let me give you the example of Inglorious Basterds. This is a film by Quentin Tarantino, arguably one of the best filmmakers working today. The film won an Academy Award (and was nominated for another 7) and hey, the Academy and Quentin himself know so much more about cinema and film history than most or all of you. So why is this film relevant with regards to the pointless noise around SLB’s Padmavati?

In this film, QT distorted famously known historical “facts” (that even 8 year olds know) to fit into a story HE wove around characters who had lived. ADOLF HITLER WAS KILLED IN A MOVIE THEATRE, IN THIS FILM.The film is largely regarded as one of Tarantino’s Best Films. No body got offended by this distortion. Because it is FICTION. It is not a documentary. This is the first point I’m trying to get across.


Secondly, where are all the comments about Padmavati coming from? How many of those people have even watched the film? Not a single person, making noise for fifteen minutes of fame, having seen nothing but the trailer (which also, I highly doubt they’ve seen). So on basis of PRESUMPTION, they’re already DECIDING that they WILL be offended by the film. Before watching a second of the film. This happened with a lot of films out here. It happened with Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan as well. If I’m not wrong, it happened with a few words in the lyrics of Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai as well and has happened famously with a LOT of films. Many people have USED films to get the fame and limelight they have always been craving.

Thirdly, and this part is overtly disturbing, people are justifying a violent attack on Mr Bhansali which came months before the film, for something that MIGHT be in the film. There are two problems here. One, you are justifying violence for your own misunderstanding surrounding a director working on a film with historical elements and two, you don’t even know what is in the film. So according to these folks, a violent act on an innocent artist is justified because the film he is currently shooting MIGHT have something in it that MIGHT offend SOMEONE.


Fourthly, we have such a rich history. How many filmmakers on a commercial level are even making anything even minutely historical? The ones who are projecting the absolute beauty of those Worlds, always find themselves, in some sort of a problem that inadvertently builds up to a controversy. This discourages filmmakers from making historical films and then people say “Why aren’t they making films on our rich culture / heritage?” It’s because every time someone even comes close to making something about a historical character, SOMEONE decides to stand up and use that to gain some fame. SOMEONE or the other calls for a ban, calls for cuts, and so on.

Take a moment to think about this. All the people who are making this noise at the moment, how many opportunities would they get to get their names on all these platforms? To be seen on TV? To be written and spoken about? To be debated about on news shows? Very few or none. Some of them will use these opportunities to provide a proof of their existence. This is it. They are done now. They got what they wanted. At the expense of a great filmmaker, a large crew, who I’m sure have worked extremely extremely hard to create something that looks this spectacular.

There are no rules for a fiction film. No rules anywhere. That is why it is called fiction. Cinema, literature and the like, allow us to take characters who have lived, put them in different, interesting situations and create something. No filmmaker will ever do something to purposefully offend anyone. An artist will only create something because s/he wants to. It’s that simple.

If we make a list of things everyone in India is offended by, no one will be able to make a single film or even a painting or write a novel. 

Art and literature would cease to exist. 


Is ‘Dunkirk’ Christopher Nolan’s worst film?


For those who’ve followed Christopher Nolan right from his early works including Following, his first feature, have always found it hard to pick Nolan’s worst film. Around the time Dark Knight Rises came out, some of these debates had settled. However, the fact that it was a part of trilogy, it’s criticism found occasional but relevant counters. Before I go ahead with this, I have to say, I think it’s almost impossible for Christopher Nolan to make a bad film. Dunkirk is a very good film. But personally, I think it’s Nolan’s worst so far.

In all of Nolan’s films, his characters have been built remarkably. It might have been out of pure intention, but the fact that he refuses to give it time in Dunkirk, is quite damaging to the entire project. The whole idea, I felt, was to build tension, in a short time frame, throwing us right in the middle of something. This is something that might have worked much better with more build up time. Think about the most gripping scenes from Inception. Take that one where Leonardo DiCaprio says “We are not prepared for this”. The tension in that sequence is at a stunning level but we feel it more because of the build up before. The Joker prison scene in The Dark Knight with that ringing cell phone as another example. Take the scenes from The Prestige or Interstellar or Memento or even Insomnia. Christopher Nolan is the master of building tension. Not in Dunkirk however. Yes we feel the tension pretty well but not as well as we are used to by Nolan.


The counter argument to this can be, this was the entire intention. It can also be that there’s a certain bar Nolan has hit with Interstellar and Inception and so on but he hasn’t lost his right to make a smaller film (scale and runtime wise). Both of these are true. But the impact one usually feels, was much lesser in this one. That is something so natural, you cannot come up with it. It’s what you feel.



It was visually stunning
“Visuals were great”. Well, yes. Name one Nolan film which didn’t have great visuals. Watch his 1997 short film Doodlebug. 


Doodlebug (1997)

Even that had great visuals. You can’t be praising things that are sort of a standard in a Nolan picture, can you? Christopher Nolan is deeply inspired by Stanley Kubrick and his works. Primarily, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Over the years, he has incorporated a lot of what he has learnt from his master extraordinarily well. Visuals in a Nolan film are always stunning.


The Insomnia argument


Insomnia (2002)

What has not only been gravely unfair and frankly quite disturbing, is the treatment Insomnia gets from most people. Only because the film doesn’t have the grandiose Nolan’s other films have, it is barely considered anywhere near his best. (Obviously, by those who discovered him recently and watched his previous films now) I beg to differ. Insomnia is a fantastic film. Also, it is what put Nolan on the level at which he is today. Most have always kept the film aside while speaking of Nolan’s great works. Those who are doing the same to Dunkirk are not necessarily doing it out of the same reason. I personally love Insomnia much more than Dunkirk. It’s a far superior film with a lot of layers.

The bar

Quentin Tarantino candidly confessed that he always wants to top his previous movie. When asked about Inglorious Basterds, he said he wanted to top that too. With Christopher Nolan, who reached a high point with Interstellar that was extremely hard to top, Dunkirk, came nowhere close. Dunkirk to Interstellar isn’t what Interstellar is to Inception. (Don’t mean to ignore Dark Knight Rises, but lets consider Nolan’s works outside the trilogy)


Summing it up

Christopher Nolan’s new film is always a massive event. It has been for quite a few years now. It will always be. After watching Dunkirk twice, I definitely feel it is far, far and extremely far from Nolan’s best. I think it is his worst movie. Probably after Dark Knight Rises, but his worst. Something quite frequent with Nolan’s movies is the fact that they grow on you. Interstellar did, Inception did, Prestige did, Memento did, Insomnia did, The Dark Knight did. A lot of this has to do with the score, the soul of most of these movies. Particularly Inception and Interstellar, both had this effect and a lot of it was because of the exceptional score by Hans Zimmer. In this film, of course, the score was fascinating. Just like Nolan, it’s impossible for Zimmer to produce something bad. But it all felt like scenes / segments from those films mentioned above at best! As a whole, it wasn’t nearly as effective as any of those movies.



It’s harder to label any of Nolan’s films as his best but easier to pick his worst because he’s barely ever had anything that would contend for the spot. Until now.


Why ‘A Ghost Story’ is a modern day masterpiece


There was something about the first look of A Ghost Story that was so brilliant, I couldn’t wait to watch the film. Everything seemed minimal, well designed and in some ways like a painting. After waiting for the film for quite a few months, I finally had a chance to watch it. I was awestruck. The film blew me away.
David Lowery’s imagery is thought provoking and extraordinarily immersive.

Here’s a summary describing the film via IMDB :

“In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife.”

The film is simply fascinating. Anything more than that brief ^ would be giving too much away. Lowery uses long takes, gorgeously designed shots, incredible silences and creates a truly immersive experience. Needless to say, we are mostly watching the film from the Ghost’s point of view. Lowery’s depiction of the wandering ghost is so compelling, it forces you to think and rethink a lot of theories you might have heard about ‘life after death’.

The film is far from a horror. It’s more of a fantasy, drama and in some sense, a journey movie. Needless to say, the film is thoroughly original in it’s entirety. There’s a scene quite early in the film between the Ghost and Rooney Mara that for me, was on par with some of the best scenes from Spike Jonze’s Her. The strangeness, mysteriousness and ambiguity used to establish such an emotional connect has been done so brilliantly only a few times in modern day cinema.

A Ghost Story is a modern day masterpiece. David Lowery has created something so fascinating and original that it will be remembered as a benchmark indie film for years to come.

Oscar 2017 predictions

(Some categories have been left out deliberately)

Best Picture:

LLL d 29 _5194.NEF

La La Land


Wild pick (Should win): Moonlight 

Best Director:

Director Damien Chazelle and Emma Stone on the set of LA LA LAND.

Damien Chazelle (La La Land)


Wild pick: Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge) 

Best Actor Leading Role:


Casey Affleck (Manchester by the sea)

Fences Cort Theatre

Wild pick: Denzel Washington (Fences)

Best Actress Leading Role: 


Emma Stone (La La Land)


Wild pick (Should Win): Isabelle Huppert (Elle) 

Actor in Supporting Role: 


Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)


Wild pick: Dev Patel (Lion) 

Actress In Supporting Role:


Naomie Harris (Moonlight


Wild pick: Viola Davis (Fences)

Writing (Adapted Screenplay):


Wild pick: Fences 

Writing (Original Screenplay)

Manchester by the sea

Wild pick: La La Land 

Animated Feature: 




Wild pick (Should Win) : Red Turtle 



Wild pick: La La Land

Costume Design: 

La La Land

Wild pick: Jackie

Documentary Feature:


O.J.: Made in America 


Wild pick: I Am Not Your Negro

Film Editing:

La La Land 

Wild pick: Arrival 

Sound Editing:


Wild pick: La La Land 

Sound Mixing: 

La La Land

Wild pick: Hacksaw Ridge 

Foreign Language Film:

The Salesman

Wild pick: Toni Erdmann

Music (Original Score) 

La La Land

Wild pick: Moonlight

Music (Original Song) 

Audition (La La Land

Wild pick: City of stars (La La Land) 

Why are people alarming Bollywood about Sairat?

Nagraj Manjule‘s ‘Sairat‘ opened to an explosive response from the Indian audiences. The film is already the greatest economic success a Marathi film has witnessed, in history. But why do we hear Bollywood and Sairat in one sentence? Well, it’s mostly for the positive reasons.
A number of journalists, film writers, film makers among others, are of the opinion that Bollywood must be afraid, watchful and must learn from films like Sairat. Does that really add up though? Does an industry, preoccupied with star obsession, actually care about realism? It’s hard to believe. But there are a number of reasons why Bollywood has been warned, by the film itself and the audience behind it. 


Sairat is a powerful love story. Probably one of the most powerful ones to come out of India in many many years. Why is that significant? Simply because we make countless love stories every year. A love story is the back bone of every second plot that either works or doesn’t in India.
So yes, a small film like Sairat still manages to come out on top, with most others barely in sight.

A 3 hour film with the second half barely lasting 40 odd minutes, Manjule breaks rules at his will. The unknown faces of Rinku Rajguru and Akash Thosar lead the film through it’s vivid and energetic plot. Ajay Atul’s music thumps the film ahead and is key to the level of energy it manages to maintain.


Musician Composer duo Ajay Atul

Coming to the story, we have heard about the plot surrounding a young man and a young woman who fall in love, wish to marry but are stopped by their families time and again in Bollywood films. Go back to all those films that come to your mind when you read the sentence above and ask yourself how different they were from each other. Does anything ring a bell? Most of these films follow a formulaic pattern that conveniently escapes innumerable aspects of realism. How can we say these aspects are escaped? Well, open a newspaper! See what goes on in this country and in the rest of the World, then go back and see how often we are told things the way they are. Very very rarely.


Film maker Nagraj Manjule

Manjule uses a plot of a young boy and a young girl, who fall in love, but the humungous power, influence, financial and political difference brought out by the differences in caste and class, act as an impenetrable barrier for their intentions. He does not spare you the entertainment. The characters, dialogues and most of the set ups are written in the most exciting and thrilling ways possible. Some scenes will make you laugh out loud. Most of these scenes encourage such reactions solely because a large section of the audiences are not used to watching real characters based on people who we see around us. We are usually either exposed to such characters when they are inconsequential to the particular story (peasants, labourers, farmers etc) OR we watch the biggest of stars with all the baggage of stardom they carry (such as Amir Khan in Lagaan) playing such characters. It is not about good and bad, it is what we are. It is what Bollywood is.
Film makers like Manjule bring actors who look, feel and can be perceived as the real characters. They give an impetus to the level of brilliance for each of those scenes.

What will we get by alarming Bollywood about the success of Sairat? 
Not much. Stars rule Bollywood. Currently, it’s about money. How much X film made this weekend? How much Y film made in a particular state? From taxi drivers to children, every body has started opining about ‘100 crore club’ and how much a film made over it’s opening weekend, without having the slightest idea about gross and net.
At most, stars, producers, directors will make a trip to the theatre and tweet about Sairat and speak about how flawless and brilliant it was.
The kind of Bollywood love stories released year in year out have not changed much over the decade. Every new star or star kid who comes out plays the same kind of role. It’s hard to expect a film like Sairat to come out of Bollywood. If you want a task, look up Imran Khan and try to distinguish between the characters he played (other than basics such as profession) in the love stories he’s been a part of (almost all his films)
That is the story of Bollywood.

The film is a Marathi gem. We must be proud of the kind of success it has achieved. Having followed Natsamrat, Court, Killa, Fandry and many such Marathi films, regional cinema has begun it’s own movement. Rather than being delusional about such works coming out of Bollywood, which looks as unlikely as you can imagine, it’s best to just watch and support. Word of mouth played a big role in spreading awareness about Sairat. Commercial Bollywood films bring more money into the industry and hence support the smaller films. In any sense, every film industry has it’s own commercial wing. The smaller film makers have only wanted to co exist.

Nagraj Manjule’s Sairat thwarted everything else, made it’s place, stood it’s ground and became a movement by itself.
As of now, the film is still in theatres, so if you haven’t watched it yet, make sure you do!


Men Saving Film: Tarantino and PT Anderson on 70 mm and The Hateful Eight

Quentin Tarantino is a man who stood his ground on the topic of “Film vs Digital” ever since digital started biting into the gorgeous medium (Film) and one by one, film makers started to turn to the much cheaper medium (Digital). He labels Digital technology as “TV in public” and detests it to say the least.
But this time, QT and the Weinstein Company have done something extraordinary with their 70 mm movie, The Hateful Eight.

In this interview, QT sat down with Paul Thomas Anderson to talk about film and the use of 70 mm in The Hateful Eight.

Quentin: I didn’t realize how much of a lost cause [35mm] was. At the same time I didn’t realize to the same extent 70mm would be a drawing point. Not just to me and other film geeks. There is no intelligent argument to be had that puts digital in front of [70mm]. It actually might be film’s saving grace. Film’s last stand. Film’s last night in the arena — and actually conquer.

Paul Thomas Anderson: It was something that we could grow outside just a specialized thing. I never for a second thought we’d have a legitimate 70mm run. It was clear that people were coming out for that more than the 35mm.