Sudhish Kamath's Pad On The Net

Archive for April, 2010

Hands Up: Laxmi Rai & Nitin Sathya

Episode 9, Part 1

Episode 9, Part 2

Episode 9, Part 3


Preview: Sapno Ke Desh Mein

The Hindi version of Chetan Shah’s Framed, Sapno Ke Desh Mein is releasing in Mumbai, Pune, Baroda & Ahmedabad on Friday 23rd April.

Chetan writes:

“Yes I know it is the weekend of the IPL final but that is the only date that was available to an independent film like ours. Won’t tell you what the film is about, if you want a clue click on the links below. But better, go check the film out at a theatre near you. If you like it, tell your friends, and if you don’t like it tell your enemies.

HD Digital empowers independent filmmaking both in terms of budget and cinematic choices. For one thing we were able to work with tremendously talented first time actors. We conducted auditions, found our cast, workshop-ed them into the characters they play. During the shoot we didn’t have to worry about conserving footage – we went upto 20 takes sometimes; shot 40 hours of footage for a 2 hour movie – a luxury for a low budget production. Also, digital allows easy ways to alter and tweak images in post. Coming to exhibition we could stay with Digital Projection which is gaining currency by the day. More and more theatres are installing state-of-the-art digital projection systems. This not only involves a huge saving on 35 mm print costs but offers pristine clean prints and full surround sound. So at no point in the production – shooting, editing, audio-post, exhibition – did we revert to analogue. HD Digital is the technology of the future and I’m proud we were among the first to embrace it.

See you at the movies.

Chetan”

Here’s everything you need to do know about Sapno Ke Desh Mein:

‘Sapno Ke Desh Mein’ is an independently-made feature film to be released in major metros on 23rd April 2010, followed by release in other metros and mini metros.

In an era of the Digital Technology revolution that has engulfed the film industry, ‘Sapno Ke Desh Mein’ is one of the first feature films that is Digital from script to screen.

Stretching the conventions of production technology and storytelling, the film has experimented in a number of areas: Narrative structure, cinematic form, background score, songs in a Hindi-English, raga-rock fusion. Not bound by norms or formulas ‘Sapno Ke Desh Mein’ makes for an unusual cinema-going experience in the country today. The film is an attempt to entertain an audience without pandering to them.

Synopsis

‘Sapno Ke Desh Mein’ (CBFC ‘U’. 106 minutes) is about a group of college students who think that a harmless prank has resulted in their Dean’s death. They cover their tracks making it look like an accident but as the law closes in on them, they uncover a sinister plot behind the death and have to implicate the real culprits to establish their innocence.

The film is a murder mystery, with humour and romance. Within this murder mystery format the film engages with a broader theme questioning the veracity of what the camera records and the authenticity of what the eye sees. One theme the film explores is that both of these frames – the camera and the mind’s eye – are equally capable of distorting reality.

Making of the film: A classic case of going the Digital way.

‘Sapno Ke Desh Mein’ has been shot on the newly available High Definition Digital format which involves a huge cost saving for independent filmmakers, plus enhanced image and sound quality. Digital offers extraordinary possibilities for image manipulation, colour correction and CG in post. The film is to be exhibited at theatres equipped with HD Digital projection systems which involves a huge saving on 35 mm print costs, offers a clean projected image without pinholes and scratches, top quality six track surround sound, and avoids messy reel change-overs.

Hinglish

The film was originally shot as a Hindi–English mix using live synch recording. The predominantly English version ‘Framed’ had a limited release in Chennai at a time when there were few digital theatres in the multiplexes. A re-edited, predominantly Hindi version is now hitting theatres, thanks to the boom in digital projection.

Music

The theme music and background score – using only guitar sounds – have been composed and performed by Boston-based guitarist Prasanna on acoustic and electric guitar – no other instrument has been used. Prasanna scored the music for the Oscar winning documentary ‘Smile Pinki’. The movie also has four songs composed by four different ad-film music directors. The film experiments in a number of areas, music being one of them: the songs are woven into realistic situations.

Cast and Crew

The cast is a mix of experienced stage actors and first timers. The young ensemble cast have been painstakingly assembled after extensive auditions across the country and largely drawn from Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore theatre. Actor Rohan Gupta studied drama in New York and is working in Mira Nair’s forthcoming production. Lekha Washington was an IPL anchor and has bagged a number of plum Tamil and Hindi film roles. Karthik Kumar runs a successful theatre group and is an accomplished screen actor. Film stalwarts like Dhritiman Chaterji and Tinnu Anand, as well as consummate senior stage actors, gave the newcomers guidance and confidence.

Acclaimed cinematographer Navroze Contactor has wielded the HD Digital camera and noted classical-contemporary dancer Nirmala Seshadri has choreographed the dance movements for natural spontaneity.

Writer – Director

Chetan Shah, a philosophy graduate from Cambridge, worked on David Lean’s ‘A Passage to India’ before he established himself as an independent filmmaker of international documentaries, ads, corporate videos, and TV serials. His Malay language serial for Singapore TV achieved top ratings and won six awards. Chetan Shah has written three plays in English which have been successfully staged. ‘Sapno Ke Desh Mein’ is his first feature film.



Hands Up: Arya & Director Vijay

Episode 8, Part 1

Episode 8, Part 2

Episode 8, Part 3


Jaane Kahaan Se Aayi Hai: It’s all about loving a heavenly body

Genre: Romance

Director: Milap Milan Zaveri

Cast: Riteish Deshmukh, Jacqueline Fernandez, Vishal Malhotra, Ruslaan Mumtaz, Sonal Sehgal

Storyline: Boy meets alien girl. Boy loves alien girl. Boy gets alien girl

Bottomline: Supremely juvenile, extremely predictable and a cheesy romantic comedy with a totally unwarranted soppy climax

When you know it’s a film from the writer of Masti, Jhankaar Beats and Hey Baby, you know what to expect, don’t you?

Jaane Kahaan Se Aayi Hai has every bit of the writer’s stamp – wordplay as pun-ishment, cheap jokes, juvenile humour, male bonding, sexual innuendo and an unhealthy porn obsession that makes you wonder if Milap wrote this film way back when he was 17. But, at least, it earnestly captures the frustrations of the phase of life when girls just wanted to be “just friends”… except with the hottest guy around.

It’s these portions that give Jaane Kahaan Se Aayi Hai a promising start.

To get things started, Milap liberally borrows from Farah Khan’s cinema, not just in spirit and theme but also literally. He casts Farah as a director, recreates Om’s pining for the starlet in Om Shanti Om (cross that, it’s the star’s sister in this case) and lines up self-deprecatory star cameos that will make you smile. These are the most entertaining portions of the film which, otherwise, would have resembled Aladin with Riteish playing a Loser all over again, greatly in need of divine intervention/genie/girl from outer space to change his life.

Often reminding you of Shahid Kapoor’s debut film Ishq Vishq Pyaar Vyaar, (especially with Vishal Malhotra reprising his role as the hero’s sex-starved porn-addict best friend and Satish Shah as the salacious Dad yet again) Milap Milan Zaveri nurses greater ambitions of being the poor man’s Karan Johar (as Farah Khan reacts to the hero’s cheesy lines on love) and this is exactly what jars in an otherwise delightfully juvenile film.

Yet, the first half of the film is a breeze. The film coasts along with the easy-on-the-eye Jacqueline Fernandez playing the alien girl who falls into the boy’s arms at the lowest point in his life. Vishal Malhotra as Riteish’s best buddy Kaushal keeps the laughs coming with his obsession with pornstar Pink Pussycat and his attempts to make Tara (the alien girl) copy her moves.

Jacqueline is no doubt pretty, she does have an other-worldly ethereal smile, luscious long legs and a generous heart (Kaushal knows what I am talking about) to carry off this role and Riteish wears the lovelorn puppy-dog expression long enough to have you rooting for him. Together, the Riteish-Jacqueline-Vishal trio is dynamite as Milap’s writing sparkles with single-boy angst. “What’s a virgin,” asks alien girl. “Virgin is a very ill-fated human,” says the boy.

Where the film falters is towards the second half as Milap tries to get you all sentimental, stretching the climax portions to ridiculous levels with hardly any any real conflict to sustain the drama.

Barring the plot of boy falling for alien girl, there’s hardly anything even remotely original about this film. It plays out exactly as you predict it will, with nothing more than a few laughs and the crackling chemistry between the trio to keep it afloat.

Watch it only if you are 17 till you die. And if you remember what it was to be a single male who made girls’ heads turn… away.


Prince: No Brain-er

Genre: Action

Director: Kookie Gulati

Cast: Vivek Oberoi, Aruna Shields, Nandana Sen, Sanjay Kapoor, Dalip Tahil

Storyline: A thief who loses his memory has six days to live and figure out why three women and many other men want him

Bottomline: Prince wakes up and finds nothing in his brain. True story. His Royal Highness is only for those who are adequately high

Prince offers some textbook definitions for those interested in the different aspects of Hollywood inspired Bollywood.

Casting: The art of employing a human with a constant “What the Hell is happening, What should my expression be, What is this acting thing” as a person who has lost his memory. Example: Vivek Oberoi in and as Prince or Keanu Reeves (in any film)

Writing: The formality of putting pen to paper, irrespective of detail or length, solely depending on hype and action to draw the crowds in. In Bollywood, this is also synonymous with the accounting term “Writing off”. Example: The 40 crores Tips wrote off to not so charitable causes, also known as Prince

Directing: The audacity of a storyteller to believe that the words “It’s showtime” go best with an expression that actually says: “I’m a jackass”. This arrogance also extends to the confidence with which a storyteller peppers his narrative with other gems like: “I am in. It’s time to win” or “I had scanned the virus of greed in her eyes” (Maine Uske Ankhon Mein Laalach Ka Virus Scan Kiya Tha).

Action: Everything that happens between the leading man, the three women claiming to be his girlfriend and the stuntmen in this movie can loosely be classified as action. In a film like Prince, all action is part of the acting. Sample: What Vivek Oberoi and Aruna Shields do before everyone and everything around them gets blown to bits. Girls + Guns + Gangs = Action

Hero: A guy who can do all stunts from The Matrix to Die Hard to Mission Impossible to Dhoom with the absolute conviction that they are being done for the very first time. The Hero, who is some parts James Bond, some parts Ethan Hunt and some parts Austin Powers and Johnny English, always has women behind him and gets even the ones who want to kill him.

Heroine: Girl in leather who loves the Hero who can be identified from a group of similar women from the moderation of cleavage. Not to be judged on the basis of films done in the past. For example, Aruna Shields (in Prince, not in Private Moments)

Vamp: Girl in leather who loves the Hero who can be identified from a group of similar women from the unrestricted nature of cleavage. For example, Nandana Sen (in Prince)

Plot: An excuse for the Hero to get the heroine, the vamp and all the associated action involved. In Prince, it’s the case of him losing his memory that gives him the license to do it all without any moral repercussions. Wipe your moral slate clean, erase your memory, suspend disbelief and let the makers take you on a ride.

Warning: Nausea Alert. This faulty rollercoaster has a few screws missing. Buckle up at your own risk.


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Hands Up: Lekha Washington & SPB Charan

Episode 7, Part 1

Episode 7, Part 2

Episode 7, Part 3


The Hurt Locker: Cheap Thrills

Genre: Action

Director: Kathyrn Bigelow

Cast: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes

Storyline: Every time a bomb disposal expert sets out to diffuse a bomb or IED, he’s setting foot on explosive territory.

Bottomline: A tense, edge-of-the-seat, riveting thriller.

A long time ago, in a galaxy not far, far away, Annie Hall beat Star Wars. And movie geeks made their peace with the fact that the most celebrated epic they grew up with only lost to one of Woody Allen’s best films.

This generation of geeks will find no such peace. The film that snubbed the spectacular Avatar is no timeless classic.

Don’t get me wrong. The Hurt Locker is not a bad film at all. In fact, it’s a tense, explosive, adrenaline-rush of thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat, with your heart in your mouth and your pulse racing. But that’s about it.

It’s one of those movies the boys would love to watch over beer and forget all about the next day – a Die Hard film minus the charisma of John McLane or his trademark Yippie Ka Yay quips and yes, shot with a hand-held camera to make you believe it’s a realistic documentary that takes you right to the middle of action in Iraq.

While the hand-held feel does help in making war seem real, the general lack of detail, shallow characterisation and stereotyping of the faceless enemy reduce this war film to a video game with multiple levels of danger.

Every few minutes, a bomb disposal expert walks towards danger to diffuse an unknown quantity of explosives with suspicious looking Iraqis keeping an eye. How can this not be gripping? The Hurt Locker caters to that basic voyeuristic human instinct of watching a living thing have a near-death experience. An amateur film student can achieve the same effect by filming chicken at the coop as the butcher sharpens the knife to make a hard-hitting statement about vegetarianism.

Remember how No Man’s Land got us hooked with by making a soldier lie on a landmine or how Turtles Can Fly achieved the same result by having children run around mine-infested fields? The Hurt Locker treads exactly the same territory.

There’s something inherently and literally explosive about bombs and, specifically, mines in films. An Improvised Explosive Device, by nature, being one of those things that adds an element of unpredictability to the impending danger, makes for riveting viewing, especially if you are able to create an illusion of reality. This is Kathryn’s biggest triumph though it is shamelessly manipulative and devoid of balance.

The Hurt Locker, though apolitical, is a one-sided account of a bunch of soldiers who are put into such extreme conditions that they become addicted to a life of impending death. It offers no depth or exploration into the psyche of the human fighting machines as the leading man philosophically explains that there’s just one way to do the job. “The way you don’t die.”

The film tells you absolutely nothing you don’t know within the first 10 minutes when a bomb disposal expert gets blown off and another is sent to replace him. Yes, Iraq is a dangerous place and they could die any moment and even the bravest of men could breakdown in these conditions. Tell us something we already don’t know.

If you want to go deeper into the complex mindscape of the soldier battered by the trauma of war, watch The Messenger. The Hurt Locker is pure, unadulterated, raw, war-film action that does absolutely no harm to your brain-cells simply because its agenda is to only make you wonder if the poor bloke walking towards his death will have his brains blown off or not.


Meet the artiste currently known as Prince

“Uncle, photo,” a kid screams out to the Artist Currently Known as Prince as he turns back to scream back: “Uncle? Who did you call Uncle?” The kid smiles not sure how to react. And Prince asks: “How old are you?”

“Ten,” comes the answer.

“I am seven. I just look big because I drink a lot of milk,” says Prince before calling the kid over and asks someone to take a photograph at the Blur Café at Sathyam Cinemas late on Tuesday night.

The press conference scheduled at four kept getting postponed because Prince was stuck in Coimbatore airport. And then, in Chennai traffic. There’s only so much an action hero can do.

But it has to be said that Vivek Oberoi works hard. Here he was at the end of a long day giving at least a hundred interviews in two cities and still at his charming best, promising a leisurely interview over dinner, one hour before midnight with a flight to catch at six the next morning.

Prince is so articulate that he could write the best ever review for his performance in Shootout at Lokhandwala. Sample this: “It took a lot of hard work to create a character like Maya Dolas in Lokhandwala. He was always on drugs, I had to project this laid back, easy, cheetah on the prowl, man who was seething with crazy amount of self confidence that he could do anything. At the same time, his body language was lethargic, arrogantly lazy… If you watch Shootout, it took hard work to achieve that drawl, that easiness in the dialogue delivery, the menace in the eye.”

We disagree on the merits of Lokhandwala but Oberoi has a rather simple yardstick to define good cinema. “I guess when a film fails, it means the audience has rejected your film. It means they didn’t like your work. Mission Istaanbul was a bad film, it didn’t do good for me. Shootout did really well and won awards, it did good for me.”

Does he regret some of the bad films?

“You wake up in the morning, you take the wrong road with crazy traffic driving to office and you regret it. Life is like that, life is about thinking this is going to all right and realising it didn’t work. There’s no science to that.”

He makes it sound like a gamble.

“Do you know what will work? Art by its very nature cannot be manufactured to precision. Art can be born out of a whim, out of an idea, out of a fantasy, out of how a director is feeling on the day he’s shooting the scene, of what weather you had. Bound script is not something handed down by God. Kisnaa, you want to see it? It’s a thick fat bound script in Hindi and English. Mission Istaanbul was a bound script with shot breakdowns.”

That brings us to how to he signed Prince.

“Prince was a film I wanted to do a film that was challenging as an actor and yet in a sphere of pure entertainment. It’s stuff like the Amitabh Bachchan or Rajeev Rai kind of cinema. It’s the idea of a world’s smartest thief. A man who is charming and super smart and the irony is that someone steals his memory. And he has six days to live and he has to find out who I am, why are people behind him and he has girl problems. There are three girls all claiming to be his girlfriend Maya. So it’s paisa vasool seeti-maar cinema.”

But it wasn’t the five months of training, losing 12 kilos, performing death-defying stunt like hanging off the chopper at 8000 feet or jumping from a 32nd storey to a 28 storey building on the other side that bothered him.

“The scariest part of the film was the kiss, man. There were 700 eyeballs looking at me as I was asked to kiss Aruna passionately. And she said, ‘Don’t worry, I will take care of you.’ First I was nervous, now I am pretty much of an expert now. I can put it up on my wall now: Good Kisser.”

“This is a Bollywood hero who can take down 15 guys but with the vulnerability of not knowing who to trust. It’s like Bourne, or the guy in Memento, there are about 84 films (I bet he randomly made up that statistic because 83.967 per cent of all stats are made up) made on guys who have lost their memory. But here the doctor says that he’s medically fine.”

Does this mean we have to lose our memory, leave our brains home and suspend all disbelief?

“There’s Intellectual stimulation and there’s emotional stimulation. It’s the difference between sitting in a park with a nice glass of juice and sandwich and reading a nice book and riding a rollercoaster. Prince is a rollercoaster.”

Nausea-alert for those of you who like to play it safe.


TEDx Talk: How NOT To Make A Film

You can find the original presentation here.

You can download my film  That Four Letter Word from here or stream it from the official IMDB page.


Hands Up: April Fool Special

Episode 6,  Part 1

Episode 6, Part 2

Episode 6, Part 3


April Fool!

That’s the big promo for tomorrow’s Hands Up. The version you saw earlier in the day was fake. :) Don’t miss the last 15 seconds.

Ok, so here’s how we got ourselves some super cheap publicity. Because April Fool is not to celebrate the classy and the intellectual. It’s to celebrate the juvenile and let the mischief out. And since none of us involved here have ever claimed to be mature or serious, we decided to have a little fun only because some of you started taking a rather innocuous comment made by Amudhan rather seriously.

His original reaction to Venkat Prabhu mocking Chennai 28 was: “AM OFFENDED. I AM HURT. I have lost all respect for Venkat Prabhu, Premji, Sudish Kamath & NDTV. To ridicule me is one thing, but to disrespect a defining, epic movie like Tamil Padam is unacceptable. To poke fun of Shiva’s Barathanatyam is simply blasphemous.”

“While I thoroughly enjoyed the whole caper, especially planning these things with Venkat Prabhu and Sudhish, the one thing that was really hard for me to do was to call Tamizh Padam an epic defining movie. I felt dirty after writing that one,” says Amudhan.

The last line clearly indicated that he was joking about the whole response. He only gave his trademark satirical response and he made it rather obvious with his following comment that he was only giving a “typically industry “response (based on a comment made by a certain star who had watched Tamizh Padam). “The one thing i can’t stand is people making fun of other’s work. Don’t u understand that it hurts feelings. It reflects very poorly on your upbringing. I did not expect this from you or venkat sir and premji sir.” (Again, the Sir giving away the tongue in his cheek.)

And to that, Venkat Prabhu responded with: “Mr amudhan… Please kindly take things easy… Like our movies… When u took it on chennai 28 we were cool about it… So chill brother… Next time work on ur story screenplay and direction… U will get much better results… Just as a friendly suggestion…”

Now this is where the game changes because it reads very serious. And I text Venkat asking him if he’s sure he does not want to hint it is a joke. And Venkat texts back saying: “Let’s go with this. Amudhan and me are happy and cool with this.”

Looking at the response it was generating, I decided to add drama to make the tension believable with the Public apology.

And Amudhan suggested we delete his earlier comment lest the smarter ones among you figure out he was kidding. So the reference to Shiva’s Barathanatyam is deleted and I quote him selectively on my blog.
This is where it gets fun (for me). I get about 250 hits on my blog on a Sunday and about 450 hits on a weekday. But four hours after my apology went up on my blog at 8.30 p.m on Sunday, I got a thousand more hits.

On Monday, I got 4300 plus hits. On Tuesday, 4800 hits. And just to make it believable (because people get suspicious around March 31), we stopped posting updates and pretended that the issue was already “sorted out” and insisted that the media leaves the name of the channel out of it. Subversion worked because this is exactly when Behindwoods reported it, followed by Zimbio, IndiaGlitz and some movie buffs who bitch about cinema on Orkut on the Tamil cinema community went overboard with 120 plus responses to What’s the problem of (sic!) C.S. Amudhan? I got another hundred responses over Twitter and Facebook and all this was wholly believable because Venkat Prabhu and Amudhan had a pact to take light digs at each other’s movies in the Tamil press.

Since it was closer to April 1, both of them stepped up the offensive and it got to a place where the entire film industry started talking about it, picking sides, bitching about the other…

So Shiva, Charan, the common costume designer of both crews Vasuki (who also happens to be Venkat’s sister), Vaibhav and other friends of the filmmakers responded and swung into action to patch things up or to advice to stay away from the other. We are pretty sure some of them are going to be pretty uncomfortable facing each other after April 1. :D

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Venkat Prabhu and Amudhan came down to NDTV HINDU for the fake PUBLIC DEBATE episode (which we hope you know by now is the new episode of Hands Up) and I put up tweets saying that Hands Up will return next week, revamped as a clean, fun, family show.

Gotcha guys there again. Almost all of you fell for that one. I am touched that you guys insisted that it shouldn’t change.

A special word about those who thought they guessed it was a prank… Most of them changed their minds because of our responses ranging from aggressive to blocking them off the FB list and blog comments etc while some just assumed it was a prank only because they didn’t know the detail of how far Amudhan and Venkat had gone to make it look real. They had even taken ads in the papers abusing each other’s films and we were not going to let smart asses play spoilsport. So all you people who believe I yelled at you, Gotcha too suckers! :) Will unblock you soon.

But yes, we admit that it is not possible to fool everyone and some of you smart people did get it and mail us privately in the right spirit of the All Fool’s Day tradition.

Also, our apologies to Shakti Girish, Editor of Galatta magazine who went on record to say that the Tamil film industry did not have a sense of humour and director Gautham Menon who responded to our request to the fake Public Debate byte. A big shoutout to my producer Suriya Narayanan who sat all night to edit the teaser promo and the final one today and ran around to get all the quotes needed for tomorrow’s episode.

To see how all these responses have been used and why and to watch directors prove that they could make very good actors, watch (or you are welcome to skip it if you are mad at us) Hands Up at Friday 9.30 p.m and the repeat at 1.30 p.m and 11.30 p.m. on Saturday and 8.30 a.m. on Sunday with one last repeat on Wednesday 6.30 p.m.

Thank you all for taking us to No.4 of the most watched videos on the NDTV HINDU channel on Youtube that has about 1900 videos.

“Yes, it was all for cheap publicity,” as Amudhan says.

You can’t expect anything more or less from us.

Hands Up will continue to be politically incorrect, juvenile and borderline offensive. If you want something else, watch something else.

Have a great All Fools Day. ☺


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