Thursday, July 31, 2008

Understanding Superheroes : The Indian Way

Saw The Dark Knight last week and I am yet to come out of it (those of you who already have seen it, can understand what I mean and if you are yet to see it…go and see your doctor first, there is something terribly wrong with you). As I am waiting for Hellboy II, I was thinking about comic book superheroes who have become a hot property for Hollywood nowadays.

Not only Superheroes but there is a long list of films based on/inspired by graphic novels and miniseries too, whether its LXG or V for Vendetta, Sin City or 300. Looking at soon to be released adaptations like Watchmen, Frank Miller’s adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit (and more than a dozen titles under production), it feels Hollywood has finally started taking capes and masks/balloons and panels seriously.

Now this makes me think of our Desi Superhero Films and before I get into this topic.. I would like to start with a disclaimer.

DISCLAIMER: To call Mithun and Rajni Superheroes will not only be insulting and underestimating them but also over-overestimating the Superhero Genre. So no matter what, we have to keep these gravity defying, bulletproof (infact everything proof) heroes of all time, away from this topic.

We the people of India have a legacy of Superhero films, like our own version of Superman (played by Puneet Issar) in which Sups accidentally kills his foster father (played by Ashok Kumar) by hugging him too tightly or Shiva (played by Jaggu Dada) in 3D Superhero Flick Shiva Ka Insaaf, in which Shiva’s parents are killed by the goons and their child Bhola, who is the only witness, grows up to become Shiva the superhero and avenges the murder of his parents (it is still unknown if Bhola/Shiva and his parents went to see The Mark Of Zorro or, if they went for the same show Wayne family went for??).

Rather getting more into the plots and subplots of these cult classic superhero films (they deserve a separate post) I’ll come back to the topic – Superheroes in Indian Cinema. Indian Filmmakers have an entirely different approach to this genre. They make a Superhero Film/series first; wait for it to become a hit, and once its successful they come up with poorly written-badly illustrated comics inspired by the movie/series. I have seen them doing this with Shaktimaan (which in my knowledge, is the only Superhero Comic book which was published by two different publishers at the same time), Captain Vyom and Krrish etc.

(Chacha Chaudhary remains the only exception, but the TV Series based on cartoonist Pran’s highly popular comic character wasn’t one tenth as successful as the comic book series).

Indian Film/TV Industry’s understanding of Superheroes and comic books has always remained questionable. I am still trying to figure out, how can somebody come up with an appalling idea of creating comics on shows like The Great Indian Laughter Challenge.

(Ahem…Excuse me for deviating again from the topic and let’s come back to Desi Superheroes again.)

Though Krrish was publicized as first Indian Superhero, I think we’ve had many superheroes PK (Pre-Krrish) like Mr. India, Toofan, Shehenshah, Ajooba etc in the past and Hindustani (it was a Superhero Concept wasn’t it) and Anniyan in recent times.

One of the most unforgettable Superheroes on Hindi Film Screen was invisible Mr.India (Salim - Javed wrote Mr.India keeping AB in mind who refused to act in a film where his fans can’t see him. Javed changed the protagonist’s name from Vijay to Arun and rest as they say is history).

Late 80s was the era when anybody who could make a film, was toying with the idea of making a Superhero Film with Amitabh Bachchan. Sadly

the outcome of this Me-Too wave resulted in some really unremarkable Superhero Films like Toofan and Ajooba (an Indo-Russian Co-production). The only film to enjoy little success was Shahenshah where AB played a Vigilante Superhero. (AB was supposed to play another vigilante superhero Rudra, who in a way, was a combo of Shehenshah and Toofan, in S.Ramanathan's shelved film Rudra.)

Talking of Superstar Amitabh Bachchan and Superheroes played by him, reminds me of SUPREMO (a comic book superhero published by Star Comics). It is still undecided if Supremo was inspired by Amitabh or it was publisher’s idea to encash the great fan following AB has/had amongst children.

‘SUPREMO – The Adventures Of Amitabh Bachcan’(for those of you who haven’t read it) had BigB playing Superstar Amitabh Bachchan who dons a mask and becomes superhero Supremo to fight bad guys. AB personally endorsed the series (there used to be this personal letter from BigB himself pleading kids to keep his ‘superhero identity’ secret). It was a mildly successful comic book superhero series, which after an initial success, proved not even Superstar Amitabh can save badly written stuff. Star Comics went out of business and Supremo died a silent death.

Coming back to today’s scene i.e. PK (Post Krrish) we again have a new bunch of Superheroes. From Abhay Deol and SRK’s spoofy Superhero acts in Honeymoon Travels and OSO respectively to forthcoming superheroes Drona (Abhishek) and Toonpur Ka Superhero (Ajay Devgan). But the question remains unanswered- Does Bollywood really understands this genre, or this is another Me-Too wave of people who want to encash on one and only successful Superhero Roshans have created?

Another problem with Indian Superhero genre, I think is the way Indian Audience look at it. They need to be liberated and enlightened to understand that A Superhero Film doesn’t always mean it’s a Kiddie Film. I feel sorry for all those poor little kids, who accompanied their dumb parents to PG-13 rated - The Dark Knight and Hancock (I am serious; they brought their kids along just because these were Superhero Films). Grow up parents!!!

No blog on Indian Superheroes can end without having this here it is: Kimi Katkar & Chichi celebrating the Ultimate Marvel-DC Crossover.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Of Johnnys and Gaddars

Hahaha…don't worry I am not going to talk about Johnny Gaddar or Neil Nitin Mukesh. There is this random thought that’s running in my mind for a while, especially after watching an Italian film called Romanzo Criminale, which had this scene (NO SPOILERS) where a friend calls other JUDAS because he isn’t agreeing to this guy’s ideologies and wants a way out. It is indeed a compelling scene in the film, but what compelled me more was, the parable- Judas.

Judas- The Historical Character, who can aptly be called Johnny Gaddar (Judas was apparently designated to keep account of the "money bags") of the story, where he betrays Jesus into the hands of Romans.

Anyway rather getting into the details of the Judas story, I would like to come back to the actual topic: The Traitors. What makes a traitor a traitor??

The history of traitors is as old as the human history. From Vibhishana in Ramayan to Yuyutsu (one of the 100 Kauravas, who joined forces with Pandavas to battle against his own brothers) in Mahabharat . Despite being having an idiom in common usage for a household traitor dedicated to Vibhishana - घर का भेदी लंका ढाये; one might not consider Vibhishana as a traitor, just because he shook hands with Lord Rama and helped him in defeating/killing the greatest villain of them all- The Mighty Ravana and I believe most of the people don’t even know about Yuyutsu.

I always think shouldn’t these two guys be labeled as traitors for deceiving their own brothers??Motives of a traitor can be different, the outcomes may be different, but deceiving act remains the deceiving act, and a deceiver remains a deceiver. Calling a spade a spade!! ehh…

I still remember I came across this word TRAITOR for the first time in my 5th Standard History book (traitors have a long history, I tell you), where there was this chapter on The Battle of Plassey in which Nawaab Siraj Ud Daulah was defeated by the British thanks to a traitor Mir Jafar. (The fact that was omitted in the book was - Mir Jafar succeeded Siraj-Ud-Daulah as the eighth Nawab of Bengal. It is still unknown to me if he was a good ruler, but the word "mirjafar" in Bengali and the phrase "meer jafar" in Urdu are now synonymous with traitor.)

Despite of the fact that Mir Jafar was a traitor, the teacher asked us to mark the question on him IMP. IMP as we all know stands for an important question, which means you have to mug the answer (no matter how long it is), as the IMP questions always have a better chance of being asked in examinations. I am mugging-impaired since childhood (my marksheets can vouch for this), so I tried to understand the story behind the answer and started hating Mir Jafar more than my classmates (who hated him because of the lengthy reply they had to mug, anyway that’s another story).

I grew up and came to know more about the traits of other traitors like Raja Jaichand of Kannauj, who was responsible for Prithviraj Chauhan's defeat at the hands of Muhammad Ghori (though this story was always omitted in our history books, for some known unknown reasons). I don’t know why I always had this feeling that, Sudhir’s character in DEEWAAR was named Jaichand after this historical traitor only.

Nevertheless, since I saw the film and I am unable to digest the fact that unlike Judas, these traitors from our history and culture have always being deprived of their due credits from media, films and pop culture. हिन्दुस्तानी गद्दारों के साथ ऐसा अन्याय क्यों??

P.S. What will you call a backstabbing friend of yours??

1. Judas

2. Jaichand

3. Mir Jafar

4. Johnny Gaddar

Monday, July 21, 2008

Who Watches The Watchmen!!!

We all would like to watch the WATCHMEN... For those who came in late WATCHMEN is Hugo Award Winning Graphic Novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

Quoting Wikipedia :To date, Watchmen remains the only graphic novel to win a Hugo Award is also the only graphic novel to appear on Time Magazine's 2005 list of "the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present.

I am still reading the Graphic Novel and finding it more and more un-filmable (just like not so long back I found Frank Miller's 300 to be), but since Zack Snyder (who made 300 The Movie) announced to make WATCHMEN: The Movie, I have been waiting to see, how it turns out to be.
The film is slated to be released on 6th March 2009, but looking at the recently released Promotional Stills and the Production Diaries (that Zack, thankfully, kept on updating), we fans/fanboys are convinced that the end product is going to be mind-blowing. Wish Zack could've assured Alan Moore as well, who has disowned the film since the day it was announced.
Nevertheless WATCHMEN is in its post-production stage and like all other fans of this path breaking graphic novel, I keep on checking film's official website to get updates.

Just checked the site to find first WATCHMEN :Trailor . The Trailer is out and trust me guys, it's one of the most amazing trailers I have ever seen...No Exaggeration...Check it out!!

Lots more to say, but have some deadly deadlines to meet..Pray for me

Friday, July 18, 2008

Afterworks 3

Hey there guys, just a quick update (if you still reading my blog)....if you are a comic book/animation entusiast like me this NEWS is just for you..even if you aren't then also I think it's gonna interest you.
We've seen and loved Flight Anthologies. We were kicked when we saw guys from Blue Sky Studios coming together for the Out Of Picture Anthologies Vol.1 & 2.
Latest news from Pixar: After 1st and 2nd installments of their acclaimed Afterworks Anthologies, this group of Pixarians (who used to publish under the guise of E-Ville earlier) is out to make us drool with the next installment of anthology of comics: Afterworks 3.

Check out the links...

Million $ question- are we going to do something as interesting as these anthologies afterwork-ing hours are over ?? or go by the age old tradition of -
समय बिताने के लिए करना है कुछ काम, शुरू करो अन्ताक्षरी ले कर प्रभु का नाम !

have a great day & keep smiling :)


P.S. Will be back soon with a new blog on one of my most favorite topic...Hindi Film Industry

Thursday, July 17, 2008

AIDS JaaGO - Anthology Of Films

Something interesting happened to me this morning. Got a mail from Saumin, which had a youtube link: Positive: A Short Film by Farhan Akhtar. I remember I wanted to see this film for a longtime but as it happens always, the ‘want’ slipped my mind completely till I got this mail. Anyway enough of प्रस्तावना let me come back to the main topic – मुद्दे की बात as we call it.

Film makers coming together to do short films for social causes or otherwise isn’t a new concept for west. Tarantino and Rodriguez have been doing it since you can remember (I know..I know they are not that old to use such a phrase..but still)..Not for any social cause though (yup…if popularizing Grindhouse Movies was a social cause, they’ve done it). Anyway, without indulging into too many details and instances where film makers came together to direct different stories/sections of a film in Hollywood (Twilight Zone-The movie or Four Rooms for example) I would like to get back to the topic.

I was talking about Indian film makers coming together to make a film/collection of Short Film, you rarely get to see such thing here (sorry I don’t consider Sanjay ‘DVD’ Gupta’s Dus Kahaniyaan as a film). Sometime during last year I was pleasantly surprized, when I heard the news of Mira Nair producing a collection of four short films on AIDS Awareness by four acclaimed Indian film makers- Mira herself, Vishal Bharadwaj, Santosh Sivan and Farhan Akhtar.
These films were premiered on various TV Channels including Zoom and Nat Geo but thanks to my anti-cable movement, wasn’t able to see them then except for Mira's Migration.

Just watched the films on youtube and felt like sharing them with the readers (if there are any) of my blog. Do watch them, they are really good.
I don’t know how to add videos to my blog, so I am posting the links.

About the Films:
AIDS JaaGO is A Mira Nair Project funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and has four short films by four different directors. Mira's Migration, Vishal Bharadwaj's Blood Brothers, Santosh Sivan's Prarambh and Farhan Akhtar's Positive.

Every film has its makers' signature style and flavour. Farhan's take is young and urban; Vishal's fetish for dadhiwale heroes and shero shayri is evident in his short film too and Sivan's film's theme ‘Suffering of innocence’ is something we all know him for.
Meera's film was scripted by Zoya Akhtar and had Sameera Reddy, Shiney Ahuja,Vijay Raaz etc, have seen the film at a friends place but unable to locate it on youtube. Badluck!
Here are the links:
Vishal Bharadwaj’s Blood Brother – Part 1

Vishal Bharadwaj’s Blood Brother – Part 2

Santosh Sivan’s Prarambha (With Subtitles) – Part 1
Santosh Sivan’s Prarambha (With Subtitles) – Part 2

Farhan Akhtar’s Positive – Part 1
Farhan Akhtar’s Positive – Part 2

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Po does Master Shifu!!!!

I am wordless...!!!!wanna see it the third time...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

बहुत ही Random Thoughts

Mumbai is an addiction and the worst part is you realize this after you leave the city. The city has a charm that keeps you longing to visit it at the drop of a hat.

Anyway, this wasn’t the topic that I wanted to discuss when I started the blog. (Its just I will be leaving for Mumbai for some work and loads of fun in sometime and went into that retro/introspective mood I go into before starting any journey).

I wanted to talk about lots of other wonderful things like this beautiful NEWS of two of my very close friends becoming The Lord Of The Rings...I mean...getting engaged last Sunday ( with each other, the guy got engaged in Gujrat and Girl in Karnataka) in a total arranged and shocking ‘तो हम ये रिश्ता पक्का समझें’ style.

Friend One (The Guy) used to and still corrects me wherever and whenever I go wrong in making decisions esp. the tough and confusing ones, Thanks SP for being the Zen Monk whenever I needed you and we both know I’ll keep on getting confused and you’ll keep on playing this role forever.

Friend Two (the girl) used to correct my infamous grammatical mistakes in my formal/informal mails in Bangalore. (PP I can’t thank you enough for the recently used Resignation Letter format, that you drafted for me two years back and aptly named the document KANK- Filmy..Very Filmy).


Pune Diaries

I am still finding it very difficult to adjust in Pune, but enjoying the leisure here. I am getting time to catch up with the books I have been buying for past few years and haven’t read, DVDs I have been collecting and haven’t seen.

I am reading books as well as blogs,(though I am writing too, but I feel its way too below the average standard I am trying to maintain for things to be discussed here in my blog).

No matter whether it’s Neil Gaiman/ JRJR’s ETERNALS or Amitabh Bachchan’s Blogs or Blogs of some truly amazing artists (check fav.bloggers list), there is so much to read and learn by sneaking a look into the psyche of so many wonderful people around.

Then there are Special Edition DVDs with Director’s Commentary (the skeptic in me says 50% of the stuff that the Directors say there, is/might be scripted, but still the optimist in me says at least 50% commentary is true and about what that guy had in mind while shooting the film- the fanboy in me enjoys the DVD 100%.Period.). Trying to study and analyze the way these Supparr Greatt Directors think so that I can learn and won’t repeat the mistakes I did in my award winning short THE CAN MAN.

Million $ Question for Fellow bloggers - How do you guys manage to write things in such a flowery language???

Waiting eagerly for your comments, inputs, Kung Fu Panda, Wall-E, Dark Knight and many other movies.


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