Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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INDIAN CINEMA

Cinema In General

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Pans & Tilts…Deauville Asian Film Fest, In Such Times, Black and White and Serial Kisser…

Deauville, a quaint twin town on the French Normandy coast once famous for the Allied landings during World War II, is now known for its movie festivals.
There are two here: one all exclusive Asian event in March and another entirely American experience in September. The Deauville Asian Film Festival has just opened its 10th edition, and there is an interesting line-up of movies in its three major sections: Competition, Action Asia and Panorama. Apart from these there are a number of tributes and retrospectives to men such as South Korea’s Im Kwon-Taek, Japan’s Koji Yakusho and China’s Jiang Wen among others.

India’s renowned auteur-director Adoor Gopalakrishnan is at Deauville with his latest work, “Four Women”. The film has made a grand tour of the festival circuit – Toronto, Nantes, Warsaw, Rotterdam, Miami and so on – and is now set to wow Deauville’s French citizens. A movie based in Kerala between the early 1940s and the 1960s, “Four Women” is a touching document of what women from different social strata faced, and continue facing. Based on the Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai’s literary work, Adoor’s film is gripping to say the least.

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Nandita Das, who is one of Adoor’s “Four Women” is now about to release her first directorial venture. Called “In Such Times’, it has an arresting star cast of Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Paresh Rawal. Restless and forever rearing to go, Das is always courting controversy. We remember the ire her “Fire” aroused. Her third movie with the Toronto-based helmer, Deepa Mehta, “Water”, led to greater dilemma and damage. Political activists stormed the set of Mehta’s film in Varanasi a few years ago, and the entire group, including a tonsured Das and Azmi, had to flee. Ultimately, “Water” was made in Sri Lanka with a different cast that included Lisa Ray and John Abraham.

Shooting recently at Hyderabad for her own work, Das ran into problems with the police when they booked her for filming in a graveyard without permission. Well, that is Das, for you, and as we await the release of her movie, we wonder what it has up its sleeve.

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Subhas Ghai’s latest “Black and White” disappointed me. Although the director warned us not to expect a “Kisna” or a “Khalnayak”, “Black and White” merely reveals all that is wrong with Bollywood. Ghai’s film is poorly scripted, and there are several scenes or sequences that are far removed from the realm of possibility. Newcomer Anurag Sinha is an Afghan human bomb, Numair, who sneaks into New Delhi to blow up the Red Fort on India’s Independence Day. Fine so far, but he also sneaks into Professor of Urdu, Rajan Mathur’s (Anil Kapoor) home and worms his way into his wife Roma’s (Shefali Chaya) heart. Eventually, hardcore extremism yields to soft-core emotion, and this changeover is hardly convincing. But then that is what Bollywood is all about. Take it or leave it.

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Tailpiece: Actor Emraan Hashmi has firmed up his tag of “serial kisser”. He has kissed the most gorgeous women on the screen, and they have been quite a lipful from Mallika Sherawat to Kangana Ranaut. In Vishesh’s latest work, “Jannat”, Hashmi will get intimate with newcomer Sonal Chauhan. And, he is not complaining. Of course, not.

(Webposted March 13 2008)