Tuesday, January 10, 2012

'Bad' Films

This post is that obvious publicity gimmick in today's Bollywood - the sequel (or the remake).
Even if you make a film that has a passing resemblance to an earlier classic, it is cool (and probably profitable) to call it a 'remake'. So, you have a remake of Agneepath - a film on the world's most articulate, angry, not-so-young man - that features only an item number (and a fleeting bedroom scene) in its promos.
For me, Agneepath (remake) is a bad film.
And this post is a genuine sequel of an earlier post on Bad Songs.

I define a bad film as one that fraudulently creates expectations contrary to its content. (I wrote about it some time back. For me, Aakarshan is a bad film because it bored me to death and tried to sneak in a story while only promising sizzling 'hot scenes'. Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna pretended to be a 'serious look' at marital infidelity while it was a comic-book on the topic.)
There is, however, another kind of films.. the So Bad Its Good (SoBig) genre. Just as one man's Kurosawa is another man's Kanti Shah, one woman's Bad is another woman's SoBig. Actually, one man's Good might be another man's Bad and yet another man's SoBig. While most people would puke in their own shirt pocket rather than watch Benaam Badshah, some people actually watch it willingly and even like it.

Whatever the label the film might be saddled with, there are increasingly large number of people who are willing to come out and say out aloud how much they love Mohan Bhakri. As I noted in an earlier post on Kanti Shah, it was not possible earlier. The ease of finding like-minded people on the great World Wide Web makes it possible for us to confess our guilty pleasures with confidence.

This post (and the long-winded introduction) was prompted by the latest issue of Open magazine, which contains a treatise on - what they call - C-grade cinema, profiling purveyors of this genre and their reasons for liking them.And I thought this is as good a reason as any to list down some of my favourite articles on good films, bad films and ugly films. Only the same film can be classified in each of the three categories by three different people.
So, here are five of my favourite articles on personal choices in Bollywood.

The first one is by Suketu Mehta, who wrote in The New York Times on why Indians loved movies. It had some of the pithy generalisations that become inevitable when explaining the concept of an ichhadhari nagin to an American audience but overall, the happiness and pride of seeing a second-grade school production in Brooklyn set to the music of Lagaan!

Anupama Chopra claims that having to review all films every week is a dirty job but somebody has to do it. She retains her sanity by remembering the really bad ones. And laughing out loud at Dunno Y Na Jaane Kyun. She - in a moment of possible blasphemy - laughs at Jimmy as well, possibly causing deep anguish to the devotees of Prabhuji.
Bonus Article: Her undying love affair, for the treasure trove of stories that abound around Bollywood.

Sandipan Deb recounts his love affair with Hindi cinema - which began with almost suicidal passion but had to meander and end because it remained one-sided for the most part of it. All of us would have given our all to the cause of Bollywood and only a few are lucky enough to have something to show for it.

One of the few people who do indeed have something to show for their childhood passion is Dibakar Banerjee. If a skinny Bong from Karol Bagh had to hold the attention of the likes of Conan the Barbarian of East Patel Nagar, he had to commandeer his entire learning gleaned from cinema shows at Liberty. The greatest screenwriter of our times honed his skills on Bus C2 and told us all about it.

And finally, you have Bollywood's hottest young Turk telling us about his guilty pleasures that made him the director that he is today. Anurag Kashyap is our Quentin Tarantino - who not only walks the far edges of creativity but eggs (and even funds) proteges to do the same. He should have named his article Tarantino Dhishum Dhishum!

Lovely, no?

1 comment:

Sachin said...

Talking about "Guilty Pleasures" I think a real bad film is one that denies that as well...

I remember when I was in school, precisely at 1 AM without fail, my cable operator used to submit to basic instincts and turn into the supplier of food for thought for male fantasy. There used to be a local channel that underwent a significant change in programming content which otherwise used to play versions of bollywood bhajans (you know chappa chappa charkha chale version of chalta chalta bhakta chale..by Lakhbir singh lakhha)

Everyone who was watching this at night 1 am, knew what to expect, but guess what I remember some films that denied that too...I don't remember the name now but one of these films really pissed me off...

The point i want to put across is, "if" there is a particular "motive" of making the film, and if the director does justice to that motive, chances are that the film would not be a bad one.