Don’t Worry…Be Barfi!!

Young people in love — language and physical limitations be damned! Anurag Basu is a wunderkind, and Barfi! — like its namesake — is fantabulous!

If you’re one of the few who managed to see Barfi! — the new sentimentalized Bollywood rom-drama starring Ranbir Kapoor as an endearing, off-kilter deaf-mute — at either Nishat or Capri before their untimely demise yesterday, then of course you would have come out with one of twon otions. One: you’d love to hate its simplistic, at times shuffled, turn of events. Or, Two: You’d hate to love its simplistic, skillfully multi-layered, characterization.

Ranbir Kapoor, we’re shown in song and sepia toned flash-back, is born to a poor, yet loving, couple in Darjeeling. As it was the olden-days before television, the couple was smitten by their radio. And so when they had a boy, they named him “Murphy” – ala, their radio’s brand. The boy, in a cruel twist, is born deaf-mute, and pronounces his name Barfi.

The name sticks, like a staining Popsicle drip. And it had good reason to.

Barfi is a riot —a readily love-struck character whose muteness is twisted to Buster Keaton/Charlie Chaplain-esque grandeur by co-writer and director Anurag Basu. Basu, whose previous credits are MurderLife in a Metro – and more recently – Kites, cranks-up and winds-down Barfi!’s emotional beats with pin-point precision. And his casting couldn’t be more spot-on.

As Barfi, Kapoor channels the right measure of old-school physical comedy to cement the fact that his character is non-affected by his handicap. Playing-up at his own expense (he runs and jumps all over the green and concrete of Darjeeling, but never mimics or puts down any of the film’s supporting cast) there’s a visible emotional change in him as the film matures.

Barfi’s alteration is simultaneously minute and evident — as is Kapoor’s powerhouse performance. In some ways, his pragmatism compliments Barfi!’s purposely fractured story-telling.

The story opens with Shurti (Ileana D’Cruz, in white hair), receiving a telegram about Barfi’s old-age collapse. As she makes her way to Darjeeling, we see pieces of Barfi’s life via Shruti or the film’s other chief narrator, Saurabh Shukla.

One of the easiest (and clichéd) ways out of dealing character-driven stories is to nail unfolding events to the voice or presence of a direct or in-direct chronicler. Telling a multi-layered, content-heavy life-account without a narrator is as tricky as it is perspiring for the writer; Filmmakers (say Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Guzaarish and Black, or Paul Thomas Anderson in Magnolia) turn to a chronicling voice by instinct. Sometimes the voice stay’s for select moments appending the narrative. Sometimes it takes over the movie.

So while at first Shruti’s narrative voice did “sound” conformist to the idea of “serious storytelling”, it took a while to realize just how right Basu’s aesthetic call was  — Like most of the Barfi!’s deftly crafted finesses.

While some may argue Basu’s inclination to add a mystery angle to a romantic-drama, the idea – like the soundtrack by Pritam and the visual effects by Pixion– slip and slides comfortably into Barfi!’s painstakingly maintained, quirkiness or its genuine warmth (a large helping of the film’s dazzling warmth comes from cinematographer Ravi Varman, by the way).

As Barfi!’s emotional barometer hikes-up, one cannot help but applaud Basu’s distinctive transformation into a cinema-auteur.

Basu, in total command of his dominion, offsets a characteristic divide between Barfi’s initial romance with Shruti and his more intuitive, and involuntary, attachment with Jhilmil. With Shruti, he seals his first-love with a soft kiss. With Jhilmil, the response is as simple as a head-butt.

Sometimes, a head-butt is all it takes to seal the deal.

Happy Watching!

S

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Top Twenty Horror Movies of All Time

Why the heck aren’t ALL TV stations playing ALL of these movies ALL the time ALL month?!

Hmphf! I mean, these are the BEST scary movies, EVER.  Well, according to me.  And I even have my own categories for them.  Of course, this is utterly subjective, and based on my own personal psyche, but in any case, here is my List of the Top 20 Horror Movies of All Time, by category.

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Terrifying Trilogy of Greatness:

1.  The Exorcist.  Just ask my mother what she thinks of this movie.  According to family legend, she and my dad went out for a romantic date night to see The Exorcist, and came home to me, 4 years old, creeping down the hallway playing Scary Monster, in hopes of spooking them.  My efforts apparently inspired such horror in my mother that she started screaming, and then I started screaming, and, no doubt, my dad spent the rest of the night calming down his hysterical girls.

2.  Rosemary’s Baby.  (This belongs in the Fearfully Fabulous Fashion section as well.) Mia Farrow’s dresses in this movie are to die, and kill, for, but, aside from that, from the creepy old people, to the devil sex scene, to the idea — mind you, just the idea, we never get to see IT) of a yellow-eyed baby with HOOVES (o, god, o god!!!), this movie is just plain chilling.

3.  The Omen.  I personally prefer the Julia Stiles/Liev Schrieber version, but that’s just because I got a thing for Liev, and I’m not always crazy about 70′s fashion, by which the Lee Remick/Gregory Peck version is badly infected.  But both are super scary because of the Devil.  Like, the Devil taking possession of a little boy so he can grow up and become President of the United States and thereby rule the world!! O, and then there IS the matter of that jackal.  Shudder.  Jackals are freaking creepy.

Fearfully Fabulous Fashion:

4.  Halloween (the Jamie Lee Curtis original, not that remade junk!!).  Despite what I just said about 70′s fashion, I do like SOME of it, and the gals in this movie look really cute! Before they get stalked and chopped up into bits by Michael Myers, that is!

5.  Carrie.  Again, 70′s high school outfits.  Love them.  I mean, ok, I hate the knee-high athletic tube socks  ever-worn with the colored-hem short-shorts (I’m telling the truth when I say I hated those even when I was in the 70′s; uh, I was VERY young, you snarks).  But never were such a pack of nasty mean girls so turned out, hair-do’s and all.  Too bad they dumped blood all over Sissy Spacek and Sissy had to burn them all up with her special powers! O, and we can’t forget Piper Laurey: dirty pillows, dirty pillows!!

Generally Just Freaking Scary and Awesome and Classic:

6.  Amityville Horror.  OmyGOD, red pig eyes in the darkness!!!!!!!!

7.  Hellraiser.  I really can’t even talk about this one.  It’s too frightening.

8.  The Ring.  VHS tape, anyone?

9.  Candyman.  O, beeeeeeeeeeeeeees!!

10.  The Entity.  I think that demon just wanted a little lovin’.  I mean, didn’t everyone love Barbara Hershey?

11.  The Exorcism of Emily Rose.  Demons again.  And Jennifer Carpenter.  And based on a TRUE STORY!!

12.  Paranormal Activity.  I know, I’m a sucker for the cheap shocks.  But I think they worked in this!!

13.  Blair Witch Project.  If I ever, EVER, see anyone standing in a corner with their back to me, I’m going to wet my pants.

14.  The Shining.  Wendy? I’m home!

15.  Psycho.  What does a woman get for stealing money and having sex in a cheap motel with her married boyfriend back in black-and-white-movie times? A crappy sandwich and chopped up in the shower, that’s what!

16.  Willard.  Rats.  Enough said.

Scary but Also Kind of Depressing and Sad:

17.  Cujo.  This one is definitely scary, but the mom in this always reminds me of my mom (I think because of the outfits and the pixie hair), and the little boy always reminds me of my little brother when he was still little (I think because of the shaggy hair). :)So, I usually won’t watch this, but, still, it’s stomach churning!

18.  The Fly.  I mean the Jeff Goldblum/Gina Davis one.  That poor man-fly at the end is just so tragic, especially because Gina Davis is all preggers with its baby.  I’ll watch this one, but always turn it off before the sad parts come.

19.  It.  LOVE this movie!! It could be the most terrifying movie on this list because there is nothing more scary than a demon clown in the drains, but it’s also a really great movie about friendship and love and overcoming evil.  Just love this one.

20.  Ghost Story.  Yeah, this is definitely frightening, but it’s also a real ghost story, in the old-fashioned sense, and thus sad, mournful, and maybe not the choice for scary laughs.  Definitely an excellent choice for a stormy night if you want a real haunt, though.

An Extra: In a Category All Its Own

May.  Hey, she just wants the perfect friend.  And if she can’t find him or her, she’ll makethe perfect friend.  O, yes, she will.

Close to my Heart:Paranormal Activity 3

Happy Watching!

ShubiXbox

Paranormal Activity 3

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In 2007, Oren Peli directed what has since become the most novel horror film of our time: Paranormal Activity.
Running in the same conceptual vein as Gareth Edward’s 2010 monster movie,Monsters, or even Dibakar Bannerjee’s Love Sex Aur Dhokha…lolWinking smile the underlying intent of Paranormal Activity was to approach a seemingly extravagant concept (in this case, that of a supernatural horror film), and to make it work, on as low a budget as possible.
Hence, the film was shot in Peli’s own home over a period of seven days, recorded on household video cameras with the chief actors being paid just $500 for their work.
The result was nothing less than impressive, and the same lo-fi cinematic techniques have been employed once again in filming the third installment of the Paranormal Activity franchise. The results are, yet again, phenomenally impressive.
The plot here is so simple and so hackneyed that at first, one instantly begins to wonder how exactly the directors (Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost) are going to make this interesting.
Dennis, his girlfriend Julie and her two daughters Katie and Kristi move into a new home. But little do they know that… well yes, the house is haunted. No surprise.

Admittedly, a little girl talking to spirits is very cliched too. As is light-bulbs spontaneously exploding and doors opening and closing of their own accord. Verbally, this all makes for one boring horror story.

But then again, in Paranormal Activity 3, the narrative is hardly what matters. This film is not a story; it’s an experiment, and a successful one at that, to create horror out of very real, everyday situations. The attention to detail in order to scare you, whether visual or aural, is painstaking and remarkable. It isn’t WHAT happens on screen that’s important, it’s HOW it happens. If, by chance, your phone goes off in your pockets while watching this film, don’t be surprised to find yourself waking up on a hospital bed soon after…right Suchi, how will you go to the loo then?Smile with tongue out
As for the story, written by Christopher B Landon (anyone remember that Shia LaBeouf starrer Disturbia , which tried so hard to be scary?), it’s a prequel, and the events taking place here trace Kristie and Katie Rey’s supernatural connection back 18 years to their childhood.

Yet, the plot is easily comprehensible and audiences who haven’t seen either Part One or Part Two will not sense any absence of detail (even though there is).

Ultimately, the real masterstroke in the writing process is the absence of conflict resolution. There is no happy ending. Actually, there is no ending at all. The vagueness of the plot is the scariest aspect of the film and will keep you engaged long after the movie is over. Where the ghosts come from, what exactly the ghosts want, why they do what they do… we don’t know. We aren’t meant to. We don’t ever see the ghosts, and the ghosts aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’. They’re just… paranormal.

And therein lies the beauty of Landon’s script. There’s no bloodshed, there’s no violence, there’s no erratic camera movements.
To make what is probably the most crucial statement, however: No, Paranormal Activity 3 is not a patch on Oran Peli’s original masterpiece. But we aren’t complaining. And no, we don’t miss the nightmares.

So, while part three of the Paranormal Activity franchise won’t shake you to the bone or send you running to the bathroom, it still clicks, eroding all the cliches attached to the age old Haunted house premise at both, a technical and narrative level. The idea may have originally been Oran Peli’s, but as Jean Luc-Godard said: It isn’t where you take things from, it’s where you take them to.
This isn’t revival. This is reinvention. Really, Vikram Bhatt (Haunted), we hope you’re listening. And watching too!
Paranormal Activity 3 is a must-watch for horror fans! huuuuaaaaah!Smile

Cheers

ShubiXbox

Avatar

Lets do it in space!

Rape another planet of its natural resources…“The reason why we are here is this little grey rock, it sells for $20 million a kilo!”

Pandora is the planet somewhere out of the beyond, a lush green rain forest, perfect and beautiful, pregnant with possibility, full of the most fantastic flora and fauna, a naturalist’s dream, a biologist’s paradise, an army commander’s nightmare…the locals are evolving “savages”, humanoids who have developed language, art and culture but who are still on the bow and arrow stage. The little grey rock will solve earth’s energy crisis. Too bad that their entire village of a few thousand is sitting right on top of the biggest deposit on the planet. The humans come up with an attempt to a diplomatic solution, trying to get them to relocate…but right from the start you know that the attempt is an eye wash, and force will be used when it inevitably fails…

The diplomatic solution consists of a body which is created using human DNA mixed with the DNA of the locals of Pandora, thus creating a link between the two (don’t ask me how…the link is there)Winking smile. So when the human counterpart is sealed inside a hi-tech box, his awareness is transferred to the corresponding body and he takes it over. This body becomes his Avatar in Pandora so that he can mingle with the natives and seek out some compromise with the locals…

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Marine Jake Sully has lost the working of his legs, his twin brother who was a brilliant scientist whose DNA was used to create a local body manages to die in transit from Earth to Pandora. Conveniently Jake’s DNA matches his twins and so he can take control of the local body… It can become his Avatar. The commander of the marines has no doubt that force will be eventually have to be used and so bribes Jake to become his man… give him tactical knowledge about where what is, so that when the time to strike comes, its smooth, efficient and he can be back to the base in time for dinner. The bribe? A very expensive operation that will bring back the use of his legs to Jake in his human body…

The commander had not counted on the power of Love, the sheer joy of being in the alien body and the tremendous inspiration that can come to anyone who utterly believes he is doing the right thing. The commander was going to be very late for dinner :)

The story is quite predictable after the first 15 minutes or so but absolutely brilliantly executed.The music will have your pulse pounding and the action, the drama, the tragedy and the triumph against unbeatable odds will have you spontaneously clapping and cheering, at least it did for me… This is a wonderful feel good movie that must be watched on the big screen, preferably in 3D… though truth be told, the 3D technology has not really been exploited much and you will miss almost nothing if you watch it in regular 2D…like how I did!

There are many scenes in the movie that seem to be inspired by Art of Living. There is a particular group Kriya scene that’s unmistakableSmile … there is also some group chanting that could have easily been a type of Satsang … It’s wonderful to see popular media being influenced positively by Art of Living and becoming a run away best seller…lol!

Happy Watching!

ShubiXbox