Tag Archives: Hollywood

I’m Not A Real (Something Something)…

Do you know the number of times this sentence trips us up?

I was watching ‘Julie and Julia’ last night. It reminds me of the beginnings of Write Click. And it takes me back to why I do what I do, how much I love it and why I’m so blessed, privileged to have stumbled upon something that makes me feel that way.

This scene, like so many other resonates with me. I don’t know if other beginning bloggers feel this way. And if you do, let me say, I’ve been blogging for 9 years now and I still feel this way. We cripple our own flights of fancy, injure our fantasies and maim our desires with that sentence that starts with ‘I’m not a real (something something)..’.

I was lucky, so lucky, that I chanced upon blogs when blogging wasn’t a ‘thing’, when nobody was talking about it and feeding me their impressions of what it should or should not be, imposing their quality expectations on me. Blogging happened to me the way love happens – unexpectedly, suddenly and forcefully. And just like love, I don’t know how I lived without it before. Well, that’s probably more writing than blogging. But blogging took me down that adventure which led to the treasure chest of a love of writing. I am glad I had the opportunity to discover something without ‘I’m not a real (something something)’ standing in my way.

Then there are fulfilled dreams that get in the way of new dreams. Steve Jobs in his famous Stanford graduation address said,

“The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything.”

Every now and then I wonder if the chance that I took in the last 4 years has been a stupid one. Then, when I hear or read the above sentence, it makes me remember why I took it – I wanted an adventure. And I got one. The lightness of starting again gave me wings.

BATRetreat-63

BATRetreat-63 (Photo credit: MammaLoves)

And finally, there’s thwarted expectations. The movie Julie & Julia, is based on two real stories – the better known life of Julia Child, chef & cookbook writer and the lesser known Julie Powell. Julie Powell is a real person with an ordinary life and regular wishes. She wrote a blog, it turned into a book (how ironic that the movie starts with her lamenting about her not being a ‘real writer’ because no one wants to publish her), which turned into the movie. Along the way, the real Julia Child was asked to comment and her indifferent response disheartened Julie Powell (at least in the movie).

I find getting started on a new pursuit relatively easy but when people whose opinions matter, seem less than moved, where does that leave me? Passion but also validation and appreciation fuel my drive. I guess that’s when it’s time to remember another line from the movie.

“The Julia Child in your head is perfect.
The Julia Child who doesn’t understand what you’re doing, is not perfect.”

I guess what I’m trying to say is, ‘something something’ and everything else is just that. You are as real as your dreams.

The one time I’m willing to say that…

If Bollywood made ‘The Avengers’

I caught the movie that’s been big on comicbook fans’s minds for over two years now and that everyone on my timeline is talking about – The Avengers. I’m a borderline viewer, which is to say that I enjoy the comics medium and know a bit about the characters, but I’m not a fangirl. This means I get to enjoy a good summer blockbuster movie but I’m not so tied in to it that I can’t let my mind stray.

During the fight sequences (admittedly awesome, especially at the Imax former dome theatre), here’s what ran through my head. The Hulk was SMASSSSHING his fists on the ground before launching into his attack and I murmured,

Yeh dhaai kilo ka haath!

That launched me off into a curious daydream of a Bollywood Avengers movie, which kept me sufficiently occupied during the more extended action sequences. The Hindi dubbed version of The Avengers is called ‘Vinashak‘, which translates to The Destroyers, not the Avengers. I’m yet to think up a good name for the film since ‘Badlewaale‘ doesn’t pack the same punch as Avengers. More on that later.

What’s the cast to be?

The Hulk/ Bruce Banner

With the 2.5kilo reference, the big, green ‘other guy’ Hulk cannot be anybody but Sunny Deol. Sunny paaji also has an equally sunny smile but it’s also accompanied by a raw, earthy force. I rather liked Mark Ruffalo in this role, even over Edward Norton because he essays the mild, affable, slightly hesitant character of Bruce Banner much better. Norton, in comparison looks too collected and in control, a look that suited Fight Club but not the ‘I’m a wreck inside’ alter ego of The Hulk. To come back to Bollywood, Bruce Batten needs a subtler, milder look so how about the more polished, ‘civilised’ member of the same family? He even looks a little like Mark Ruffalo. I’m thinking Abhay Deol in his wry, slightly sardonic avatar as the mild-mannered scientist turning into a roaring Sunny Deol (remember Gadar?) when he’s angry and well, green. Hee, that ought to satisfy the intellectuals and the salt-of-the-earth alike!

Iron Man/ Tony Stark

Genius, billionaire, philanthropic playboy. Read flashy, irreverent, flirtatious showman? That can’t be anybody but Salman Khan. Nuff’ said. Well, he might have something to say about the metallic armour that covers up the torso. For a desi version, he could have the electromagnet embedded in his bare chest and flashing cool lights. (If this were the 80s, that electromagnet would be in the shape of an ‘Om’ or perhaps ‘Ma’).

Thor

This Viking demigod wasn’t too hard to place either. Maybe it’s because I’m a fan of the mythology that inspired the character and the comic/film version doesn’t seem to do justice. But I’m convinced that Thor is the token pretty boy of this group, the oldest but curiously enough the winner of ‘Most Likely To Go Metrosexual’ award. Golden flowing locks, not too quick on the uptake (especiall with Batten & Stark around)…give it up for Hrithik Roshan!

Now, let me explain. Like any female Indian who was at a hormonal stage when Kaho Na Pyaar Hain was released, I greatly enjoyed the Golden God on the silver screen. But Agneepath put that to paid when I found every man in the movie laughing at being beaten up, except the hero who took the opportunity to bawl. These muscles are for flexing, not wielding and the God is for show only. Besides, he’s the only one who can carry off that bare-chested/skirted warrior suit.

Nick Fury

This gets tricky since according to my informed sources, this character was drawn keeping in mind Samuel L. Jackson (who plays him in the movie). How do you compete with THAT? The clichedness of it pains me but it’s time to call in the senior Bachchan.

I am rather tired of seeing him play the ‘I’m older but kicking more ass than you’ role but who else? Irrfan Khan? Nah, that’s a good actor but not one who owns the screen the way Jackson does. This role needs the kind of screen charisma that doesn’t rely on good looks or acting talent. I’m drawing a blank. If you think of an alternative to Amitabh Bachchan, say it in the comments.

Black Widow/ Natasha Romanoff

This one had me stumped for awhile. It’s appalling how cookie cutter, the current crop of Bollywood actresses are. No Kareena or Katrina for me. Rani has the sensuality but not the menace of Black Widow. Deepika Padukone has the perfect body type but her face conveys no more emotion (never mind menace or guile) than the Iron Man costume. Anushka Sharma was a contender. My only problem is that she seems too sunny, too chirpy to essay a dark character like Black Widow. If she were one of Charlie’s Angels, she’d be Drew Barrymore whereas we’re looking for Lucy Liu. I don’t think Scarlette Johansson is a very good actress but she has just the right look for Black Widow. The body is right on of course but the face really nails it. When she looks at you (or into the camera), you get the feeling you don’t know all there is to know and that you should be uneasy around her. Who then, can essay that?

The boy thought Mahi Gill would be a good choice. But personally I think she’s too earthy, too ‘heavy’ (not in a body mass way but in a body language way). This Black Widow needs a certain lightness of the sort that makes words like ‘lithe’ and ‘sinous’ make sense.

Much thought & discussion flowed before the image of another very beautiful and slit-eyed lady popped into my head. Remember the striking Chitrangada Singh (from Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi)? Perfect.

Captain America/ Steve Rogers

Capt. America is a squeaky clean, whitewashed character. Who is the squeakiest clean man in Bollywood (umm, to the point of boring? Imran Khan. But a superhero? Noooo. His uncle wasn’t bad at all balancing chocolate boy looks with tough machismo. So Aamir Khan it is.

Hawkeye/ Clint Barton

This one didn’t have a major role in the film but since he is an important character (and because I could think of someone who fit), he’s on this list. A sleek, lithe guy who starts off loyal, goes over to the dark side and then switches back again? It’s all in the eyes and that’s for Bollywood’s master brooder, Ajay Devgan.

Agent Phil Coulson

That covers the superheros, leaving just one notable good guy who was also responsible for some comic relief (in a wry way). I think Irrfan Khan wouldn’t be wasted on the role of Agent Phil Coulson.

Loki

Who’s left? Just a manic, boyish, seedy villian who is also a Viking demigod-gone-wrong. Loki, like all villians is an interesting character, both in folklore and the movie. I’d really like to see Ranbir Kapoor in this role. He’s got the looks (chocolate boy-turned-menacing), the talent and the body structure to carry it off.

* Images via Wikipedia, Funrocker & Entertainment Wallpaper

If you liked this post, drop me a comment telling me which other pop culture reference you’d like ‘Bollywoodized’. And do read this post about iconic Bollywood characters blogging.

Urban Angst

Don’t you hate it when you tune into a channel you never watch and the last ten minutes of a movie you love are on?

Juno on Sony Pix right now. Gaaaah!

Film poster for Juno - Copyright 2007, Fox Sea...

Film poster for Juno - Copyright 2007, Fox Searchlight Pictures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MOVIE-Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows

Just earlier this week, I was talking about the revamped James Bond, played by Daniel Crag and why I wasn’t a supporter. The boy said that James Bond (Ian Fleming’s original) was not relevant in modern times. While that may be true, my point is that if a movie is using a character’s brand to pull me into the theatre, I feel cheated when I get something else. James Bond is supposed to make me go weak in the knees, not make my heart bleed for him.

I could say something similar about the Sherlock Holmes movie franchise. Still, the first movie made me want to consider that I could look at it as an independent storyline, not a depiction of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s hero. It’s very hard to be this objective about a character one loves so much, but if the movie is entertaining enough, it is possible.

Sadly, the second movie Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows did not permit me the same grace. Many things did not work for this film, the biggest of which was that it simply did not entertain. Halfway through the movie, I was already straining to look at the time and I actually groaned when the plot took another turn, indicating another half an hour at least.

Let’s start with the most obvious bits. Even as an independent character, a detective is fun to watch when you can see how he figures out a mystery. The ‘Show, don’t tell’ rule of story-telling was conspicuously absent in the film. The characters rushed about in what seemed like a wild-goose chase, interpersed with a sprinkling of rapid left-right head movements, presumably indicating Holmes’ brilliant mind at work. But none of those workings were ever shown satisfactorily. It was like someone stepped in and said, “There ought to be some Sherlock Holmes in this movie. Let’s pick at random and throw it into the film at some arbitrary points.”

The second most compelling thing about a Sherlock Holmes story is the case itself. Human foibles, grey emotions are all brought out in a compelling way in the books. The film completely missed that too. An extremely cardboard villain whose motives are explained away with,

“Bad people do bad things because they can.”

left me with an unpleasant taste in the mouth. I’m not stupid, Mr.Guy Ritchie.

Even if I were to hold on to my original premise of not expecting the same of the film story as I would from the books, it didn’t work. Robert Downey Jr. looks wasted through this film (worse than the earlier one). If that’s a tip-off to Holmes’ opiate behaviour, how does he manage to be fit enough to perform the stunts that are shown? He’s a detective, not a superhero. Even in an independent world, that means a regular human being whose prowess is more in the mental realm than the physical. As a fan of the detective fiction genre, I’m offended by one who is so stylised that he’s almost a drunken dandy, a guy who draws so much attention to himself when his profession involves moving in the shadows.

If the overextended action sequences weren’t bad enough, what was a generous orgy of gunfire and bloodied limbs doing slathered all over the second half of the movie? If I had known this was going to be a war movie, I’d have refrained from walking into the hall.

And then there were the characters. Some of the Holmes universe’s best known people make an appearance here but they were all nothing more than props for the main character. The tiny handful of smart lines were reserved for pseudo-homosexual banter between Holmes & Watson. Jude Law (Dr.Watson) and Rachel McAdams (Irene Adler) both looked thoroughly fed up with the movie and delivered their scenes like they were parodying in a small out-of-the-way theatre.

After the movie had managed to tick me off in all these ways, I also had adequate time to notice other things. The look/feel of the film looks all incongruous given the times that it is set in. Machine guns in the 19the century? And never mind the weaponry, what about the people? Did women really move that way, with such confidence (even arrogance)? Even Mad Men (set in the 1950s) seems primmer, more prudish and chauvinistic than these times. It doesn’t make sense at all.

This movie might have had a chance to entertain, if it could only make up its mind what it wanted to be – action flick, superhero caper, war film, comedy. In the case of the first movie, I’d have said watch without expecting Sherlock Holmes. For this movie, I’d say, don’t expect to be entertained unless repetitive stunts and tomfoolery are your thing.

What Does Pop Culture Have Against Bloggers?

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories logo. C...

Image via Wikipedia

The boy tells me that a Grand Theft Auto (GTA) mission that he just completed, is called ‘Blogger This…!‘. In the game, a blogger has raised the shackles of a nightclub owner because of his negative posts about the club, after being denied entry into it. So the mission involves hunting & beating this blogger down to pulp. I know GTA isn’t exactly a posterchild for politically-correct or even rational messages. But I can’t help but wonder what pop culture has against bloggers.

One of the Castle episodes involved interrogating a blogger as witness in a case. The blogger was depicted as an overweight, socially inept woman. When asked if she had an alibi, she mentioned a couple of names.

“Roommates?”

“My parents!”

she replied, surprised that it wasn’t obvious. Even as far as offensive stereotypes go, that seems closer to software geek than blogger. When did these two become the same thing? Or is anyone who spends time behind a computer, to be perceived as socially inept, laughable, unattractive and a nerd?

Cover of Last week, I was watching ‘State of Play. This crime drama pushes through on the chemistry between a senior journalist and his blogger counterpart, both employees of a reputed publication. The blogger is a young woman, depicted as willful & intelligent but also brash and superficial in her work. That sounds to me like an echo of what a lot of journalists say about bloggers. The funny thing is, my experiences with traditional media, especially print journalists has thrown up negligence, stupidity, shallow to no research and an uppity attitude to boot. Yet, the blogger is the one taking the flak and indeed the audience derision in Hollywood’s depiction.

At an immediate level, I’m usually offended by such narrow, prejudiced messages. But beyond that, I am inclined to think that these are but fearful, defensive responses of a traditional, control-hierarchy mindset. It’s just sad to see it revealed in the promoters of pop culture, who are responsible for shaping a lot of attitudes. Blogging and bloggers are here to stay whether traditional media likes it or not. What’s more, it’s not even an us-versus-them situation. Anybody who is online, can be a blogger. To condemn that is like a prisoner sneering at those who walk free and are holding out a key to him as well. Funny, indeed.

Drive Away From This Movie, FAST!!

Ryan Gosling

Image by gdcgraphics via Flickr

A day ago, I’d have laughed at this. Funnily enough, I can almost relate to this lady.

A packed and very tiring weekend ended on a thoroughly unsatisfactory note with the movie Drive. I don’t remember where I saw Ryan Gosling last but now all I can think is that a tree has more range of expressions than him. And what is with that minute-long lag before he answers any question? I mean even questions like,

“Do you want some water?”

If the first half made me want to blacklist any reviews that called this movie great (“a slick, highly romanticized pastel look calculated to win friends and influence people“….really??!), the second one made me think it should have had a different name. (Yes, it was THAT boring…I had to find ways to while away time till time till I could leave). Drive, or at least its second half should have been called, ‘10 Gory Ways To Kill – A Tribute To Trashy 80s Slashers.’

The Superhero Fiasco

A common joke doing the rounds a couple of years back was that the measure of a man’s love for his woman was his willingness to sit through a romcom (especially Sex & The City, Confessions Of A Shopaholic & the Twilight series). By that same logic, I think I’ve achieved the status of devotion since I’ve sat through numerous superhero movies (we won’t talk about such disasters as Predators here).

A few months ago, I was made to endure the rather horrible The Green Hornet. Last month there was Green Lantern. And this weekend, we were taken to meet Captain America. I say we because The Third Toothbrush is the boy’s partner in comicbook crime and his girlfriend was made to suffer the same fate as me.

I quite happily ascribe to the stereotype of the girl who doesn’t get superhero stories. Capes, chaddi-over-tights, secret identities & stupid ‘smart’ gizmos are things best left to the boys. Still, there has been a Batman Begins & The Dark Knight which films I’d watch even reruns of. There is room to appeal to the non-fanbase through the medium of cinema.Green Lantern, I’m afraid did not do that. The boy tells me that there’s way more to the character of the green jewel-toting superhero but I didn’t see any of that in the movie, which was only a couple of smartish lines & Ryan Reynolds in a creepy green face mask (that made him look eerily like Hrithik Roshan).

Ryan Reynolds

Image by cmjcool via Flickr

This photo was taken by my uncle, Aashish Chat...

Image via Wikipedia

 

And then there was Captain America. I spent the first hour of the movie guffawing & ‘you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me’ ing and the remainder (nearly 2 more hours) shifting uncomfortably in the seats trying to fall asleep. Apparently this character was created as American propaganda but grew to story hero status through comics, a fact that’s referenced in the movie. I’m guessing the sepia feel to give it the authentic 1940s look was mighty appealing to a certain crowd too. But I struggled through the film, this even though I was flanked on either side by an enthusiastic fanboy supplying extraneous details & pointing out references. It just wasn’t an entertaining movie. Picking a popular theme does not guarantee a good movie. I just call it lazy film-making & a film-maker who tests my patience this way pushes me from indifference into outright loathing.

One of comics' most iconic covers: The Avenger...

Image via Wikipedia

I spent much of the last hour, ready to bolt. But noooo! Every potential end stretched into another extension! And finally, when the credits began rolling, I almost couldn’t believe my good luck. And then again, my hopes were crushed cruelly. We were made to sit through the 15-minute credit rolling, watching the names of every spotboy & extra (Lady with dog, man in trenchcoat 1, man in trenchcoat 2). All for a 5-second trailer of the upcoming Avengers movie that has apparently been tagged on to the end of every Marvel comics movie of the recent years. The boy & BBB maintain that it was worth it. Well, let’s see what they say when we’re buying 4 tickets for the next Shopaholic movie.

Cover of "Confessions of a Shopaholic"

Cover of Confessions of a Shopaholic

Ideamarked Mar2011: Food, Music & Comfort Reading

March seems to have passed even faster than February. I went to Lavasa to cover the Women’s Rally and met a great bunch of women bloggers. Mumbai’s rare winter turned into the hottest summer I’ve seen in this city. I started a style blog (and style section on this blog), got trolled, survived and came back. Say hello to Divadom! I was almost tempted back into the corporate world but survived temptation island with my words intact. Much has happened on the personal front too, upheavals and life-changing experiences which show up, camouflaged as posts. But here’s what gave me respite online this month:

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