Monday, August 28, 2006

Hrishikesh Mukherjee - R.I.P. - I

Born on September 30, 1922 at Calcutta in West Bengal, one of the finest filmmakers of all time, Hrishikesh Mukherjee passed away on August 27, 2006 at the ripe old age of 84. He is survived by 2 sons and 3 daughters. He died after a couple of months of prolonged illness. He was admitted to Leelavati Hospital due to renal failure and was on dialysis for sometime. He passed away at around 4.30 pm on August 27, 2006.

Personally, Hrishikesh Mukherjee was one of my favourite filmmakers and most importantly, a story teller par excellence. The art of storytelling, unfortunately has died with the sad demise of Hrishi daa and it is very unfortunate that inspite of having all the best technology at its disposal today, Bollywood cannot boast of even one genuine story teller. Even during his time i.e., 60’s and 70’s, Hrishi daa was peerless.

Some of the leading actors of the 60’s and 70’s have given their best performances under the direction of Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Actors like Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bhaduri, Sharmila Tagore, Amol Palekar, Rekha etc. have given their best performances in Hrishikesh Mukherjee films.

May his soul rest in peace.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna - VII

And last but not the least is Masoom (1983) directed by Shekhar Kapur and starring Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Saeed Jaffrey, Tanuja, Jugal Hansraj and Urmila Matondkar. Music was by Rahul Dev Burman and lyrics were by Gulzar. Once again, the music was terrific.

So, although Karan Johar may have made Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna with on such a lavish canvas with a star cast to die for and which may eventually become one of the biggest blockbusters of all time, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna can never find a mention alongwith films like Arth, Silsila and Masoom.

Anybody, any thoughts?

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna - VI

Coming back to genuinely good cinema, in case somebody were to ask me about my favourite movie on infidelity / extra marital affairs, I can readily think of three awesome films that have been based on extra marital affairs and the directors have dealt this sensitive issue very beautifully.

First on the list is Arth (1982) directed by Mahesh Bhatt and starring Shabana Azmi, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Smita Patil and Raj Kiran. Music was by Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh. This definitely remains one of Mahesh Bhatt’s best films of all times and one of the better Hindi films with unforgettable music.

Second is Silsila (1981) directed by Yash Chopra and starring Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Rekha and Jaya Bachchan. This movie had the casting coup of the century as the rumour of Amitabh-Rekha romance was at it’s height. The music by Shiv-Hari is timeless and the lyrics were by Javed Akhtar.

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna - VI

When the movie was released two weeks back, the way media has gone over the top in rating this film just goes on to show that even film reviews can be bought. Each and every news paper, every news channel, every entertainment channel, every radio channel had only good things to say about Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. I just don’t see anybody giving frank and forthright reviews of the films. Everybody has only nice things to say about Karan Johar and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. So much so that a leading news channel which hosts a very popular debate show, had a debate last week on extra marital affairs and panelists were Shahrukh Khan, Karan Johar, Shobha De, CEO of and a psychiatrist. The show was entirely a promotional gimmick for the film. And during the entire debate, the only person who spoke intelligently was Shahrukh Khan.

Omkara was already a huge hit much prior to the release of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. There’s another conspiracy theory doing the rounds is that Karan Johar tried to sabotage the success of Omkara by spreading news in various media that women and children are walking out of the theatre because of the crude and crass language used in Omkara. This was supposed to be a ploy to ensure that people do not go to the theatres to watch Omkara and actually go to the theatres to watch Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. Of course, there is no official “confirmation” on this conspiracy theory, but it’s floating around for some time now.

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna - V

According to me, if a movie is made only around commercial considerations, then you are not being an honest film-maker and you may manage to make a commercially successful film, but it would rarely be considered as good cinema. My take is that the story and characters of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna could have been in any city in the world and it would not have made any difference to the film or its story. I can totally imagine the characters of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna being the same even if they are in any metropolitan city in India or even a small town in India. The only probably difference would have been the box office collections.

One geographical error (amongst a few others) in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna is that the trains shown in the movie are actually SEPTA trains, which operate in Philadelphia, and not in New York City. Of course, I have not noticed this error. It’s been pointed out to me by one of my friend who lives in New York. I found it notable and hence this finds a mention here.

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna - IV

Coming back to Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, Karan Johar has said in one of his television interviews that he has grown as a film maker. He said that New York, where the movie Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna is based, is central to the movie and all the characters in the film are based in New York. According to me, having New York as the back drop to the story of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna was a pure commercial ploy to ensure box office success.

While the movie was being filmed, the shooting was famously covered by the media in the United States of America and the entire period for which Karan Johar shot the film, there was enough curiosity generated amongst the people in the United States of America, especially the Non-Resident Indians. This was one of the best master stroke by Karan Johar to ensure that his movie got a record box office collections in the United States of America. He had applied the same ploy when he produced Kal Ho Naa Ho, which was a super hit as well.

In addition, Karan Johar could not have gone wrong with the star cast. Amitabh Bachchan continues to have a universal appeal, Shahrukh Khan is still undisputed box office champion, Rani Mukherji and Preity Zinta the two out of the top three actresses in Bollywood and Abhishek Bachchan’s rising popularity as the “next big thing” in Bollywood. With this deadly twin combination of New York and star cast, Karan Johar knew he had a winner on hand. In one of his interviews, Karan Johar had said that he has got Veer Zaara and Bunty Aur Babli in his movie.

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna - III

Firstly, I have not seen the film. I do not propose to see the film. And if I do eventually end up watching the film, it would be only because my wife will coerce me into watching it and in which case, I will put up a post setting out the agonizing moments suffered by me while watching the film.

My twenty odd years of “watching hindi films” experience has given me this knack of predicting with amazing accuracy whether the film will be a hit or a flop. I can also predict with an equally amazing accuracy whether I will like the film or not, purely by watching the promotional teasers / footage / clips / songs of the film on television. And when I saw the promos of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna on television, I was absolutely certain that this is one movie I don’t’ want to watch.

Frankly, I haven’t been a fan of Karan Johar school of films. I have not liked any of his films. I did not like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai because I didn’t agree with the way the subject was handled. I liked music of the film very much though. I did not like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham for the obvious reasons viz., too opulent, too garish, too self-absorbing, too weepy, too long and too much. I thought Kal Ho Naa Ho was strictly decent, thanks to an outstanding performance from Saif Ali Khan and a soulful and outstanding title track. I did not like Kaal.

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna - II

The movie has the impressive dream star cast of Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Rani Mukherji, Preity Zinta and Abhishek Bachchan. Shahrukh Khan, in all his modesty, has said in a television interview that no body can go wrong with as talented star cast as this film. The story is by Karan Johar himself and the screenplay is by Karan Johar and Shibani Bathija. The Art Direction is by Sharmishta Roy and the Costumes are by Manish Malhotra. The music is by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and the lyrics are by Javed Akhtar.

Since everybody knows that this film deals with the ‘sensitive’ issue of extra-marital affairs, I will refrain from setting out the basic premise and story of the film. In this next few posts, I will only discuss some of my own views about this film and about its young and intelligent director Karan Johar and other miscellaneous things associated with the film. Of course, these next few posts will read as if I am terribly biased against Karan Johar. Frankly, I am not. My philosophy is very clear. He is a not one of the best directors around, but he’s a decent director. But I think he’s a poor storyteller. However, he’s a fantastic businessman. I have to give it to the man. He’s raking in the moolah like nobody else and like nobody’s business. And I respect him for that.

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna - I

Karan Johar’s “Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna” released two weeks back all over the world and has had a stupendous run at the box office. The movie has been released with 1000 prints all over the world and the cinemas are completely flooded with shows. Most of the multiplexes are running almost 5-6 shows in a day and reportedly some multiplexes in the United States of America are having shows every one hour.

Not surprisingly, the movie has collected 72 crores in just the first three days of its release and also collected a whopping USD 1.4 million in the United States of America, which is a record for an Indian film in the United States of America. I don’t think anybody has any doubts as to the fact that this movie will, in the coming weeks, do bumper business and will add many more crores to the bank balance of Dharma Productions and Karan Johar.