Sunday Musings and Random Notes #5

The name is Bond | From Sean Connery to Daniel Craig

It was in 1982 that I watched my first Bond Movie  – the Spy who loved me – in a small town dilapidated Cinema Hall, where it was even difficult to make out the Hindi dialogues blaring out from the theater loudspeakers. I ignored the sounds (or, sometimes the lack of it) and enjoyed the visuals. In those days, my acquaintance with English spoken by the English was such that even if I had seen it in a sophisticated multiplex, I would not have made out anything. Nevertheless I enjoyed the movie for its stunts and the stunning visuals of exotic locations.

Since then, Bond has continued to be a fascination, off and on. Hardly have I missed a bond movie. It is only when I watched Bond movies on TV with subtitles that I could fully understand the subtle humour, the puns and the double  entendres . Then,  it is not my fault that I need subtitles. The sound systems in our cinema halls and TVs do not do justice to English movies. (Frankly speaking, even now my ability to make out when the English speak English through a cinema hall loudspeaker is such that even if I see the movie in a super sophisticated multiplex, I would not understand 100%. Maybe taking a compassionate attitude towards viewers like me now a days they release Hollywood movies with subtitles – even in multiplexes.)

Starting from Sean Connery in Dr. No released five years before my birth, there have been six actors who have signed the ‘Bond’ till date. Among all those who ‘Bonded’,  Pierce Brosnan has been my most favourite, because he accentuated the humour element the best, with Roger Moore coming a close second. Of course from the point of view of close encounters with girls and villains and the use of sophisticated cars and gadgets, (to use the bond 3G analogy – Girls, Guns and Gadgets) no ‘Bond’ is stronger than any other.

With Daniel Craig, the latest to ‘Bond’,  ‘Bonding’ has taken a higly serious turn. It has become less puny and less funny. Of course it has continued to earn the franchise more and more money. It has also brought the ‘Spectre’ of death on some of its own people. Bond’s immediate boss and the most trusted supporter ‘M’ dies in Skyfall (of course not out of a sky fall). Ironically, the Old Q who never won a Nobel in spite of making gadgets hundreds of years ahead of his time, himself looked like a relic from the past.  Now we have a  young Q, bespectacled and a digital geek. Maybe to keep up with the times.

And Bond movies have kept up with the times. In the cold war era, if Russia was the dominant theme, now it is terrorism.

For the next movie in the series, who will play the next Bond? Speculations are on. Some say, the next Bond should be a black, to black out the racial bias. While some ask why not someone from the fairer sex  so as to fair out the gender bias.

Now imagine a lady Bond. When someone inquires about her name will she say, “Bond, James Bond”  or,  James will be replaced with  a feminine name?  Will there be a change in Bond’ s favourite drink, or will she continue to order – Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred – letting the audience wonder whether this too was some sort of a double entendre . And how many men will she be allowed to Bond with in a single movie, that is, if she is heterosexual. And if, she is heterosexual what will happen to the legacy of 3Gs? Or, she will prefer to continue with the legacy of 3Gs even at the cost of being branded a lesbian? (And to make a political statement).

With so many ifs and buts to take care of, will they really give a lady the license to kill? Let us wait and watch.

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 #SanskariBond

The Indian connection of Bond goes back to the days of Octopussy. Major portions of the film were shot in India. There are also two Indians in memorable roles – Kabir Bedi and Vijay Amritraj. One cannot help laughing, when in a chase scene, a person from the villain’s entourage falls on on a bed of nails prepared by an Indian sadhu for his penance. The sadhu shouts,  “Uthja mere bistar se” (Get out of my bed).

When the sansakri sensor board chief Pahlaj Nihalini recommended so many cuts for the India release of Spectre, it created a lot of media buzz. People also took to the social media to vent their protests, many of which were quite creative.

Here is a favourite:

sanskari-bond-2

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Sunday Musings and Random Notes

Our movies are like our food

While switching channels ( Sometimes I enjoy this bad habit), got stuck with Star Action. The movie was – The Other Man. It was supposed to be an action movie. There was so much silence. The dialogues were few. Some of the dialogues were not complete sentences. Yet the movie made such an impact.

Of course such a movie, if made in any Indian Language, may not make any impact. We like our movies like our food, a lot of varieties, a lot of spices, lots of loud and bright colours and of course, lots of sounds.(Have you heard the sounds of a self unconscious hungry person taking a south Indian meal, starting with papad and ending with rasam?)

Even the most macabre of the movies must have a song and a dance thrown in every half an hour in addition to the usual punchlines and lengthy harangues. For us, silence in the theater is unbearable.

For every minute of silence in the theater, the audience may legitimately wonder:

Itna sannata kyun hai bhai

Day of the Bandh

A Bandh rarely solves the problem it is associated with. Of course it causes a lot of inconvenience to a lot of people. Especially people who come on a short visit from outside and are caught unaware. But it has some positive side effects.

For a day, the pollution level of the city falls down drastically. The fuel saved in turn, saves foreign exchange and cushions government subsidy on fuel. It is such a pleasure to drive in the city in the afternoon when the enthusiasm of the protesters have died down. Or, for some busy city souls it may get the much needed surprises rest.

May be it is  good to have a bandh once a while for the sake of a healthy city and its citizens.

 Leisurely Sunday

Sometimes a simple unpremeditated shot taken with a cell phone (not the iphone 6 type) may take on artistic quality. Loved this photo taken by my son Dipayan. Look at the composition of the objects and the use of natural light.

liesurly sunday

Hyder – To Rank or not to Rank

shahid-shraddha

If Shakespear’s Hamlet gave us the famous dialogue “to be or not to be- that’s the question”, the dialogue – “Ek alag nazaria bhi to ho sakta hai” from the movie  Haider haunts me time and again. True to this dialogue – ‘Ek alag nazaria bhi to ho sakta hai’, which has been used in the movie a number of times by various characters,  Vishal Bharadwaj has given a different perspective of the situation in Kasmir. Even though the movie is an adaptation of Shakespear’s drama Hamlet, there is nothing ‘English’ about. In other words, it was hard to find any trace of Hollywood in it.  Contrast the movie with many of the commercially successful Bollywood movies released during the last two years. Many of these movies borrowed heavily from Hollywood, even theme by theme and scene by scene. I expected Amir Khan starrer Dhoom 3 to be something different, but was disappointed. For major part, the movie reminded me of “The prestige”.

In addition to just the right casting, director Vishal Bharadwaj has brought out the best of not only the lead actors like Shahid Kapoor, Taboo, Kay Kay and Shradha Kapoor, but also the actors in smaller roles and cameos. The director himself declares the movie to be his best movie so far and a masterpiece. And a masterpiece it is, in terms of cinematic art.

Barring one  colourful sequence that provides a cheerful backdrop for the  meeting of mother and son, for most part of the movie, the white backdrop provided by the snow fall contrasts with the grim reminder of impending disasters. Murders, betrayals, compromises and the overall atmosphere of distrust overshadows the pristine scenic enchantments of the valley. The movie evokes this unfortunate confluence of contrasts. Gone are the days when, enchanted by the beauty of Kashmir, the  poet could declare, “If there is any heaven, it is here, it is here, it is here”. The poet in Haider could only discover the hell that the modern day Kashmir has turned out to be and wonder whether ‘to be or not to be’ in such a situation.

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Those who have lived in Kashmir would relate with the nuances of the movie better. The director and the actors have brought out in an in-offensive manner the typical way of English and Hindi pronunciation by the natives of Kashmir – school as shakool, chance as chaanas, bhai as bai and so on.

Contrary to the Shakespearean saying – “All is well that ends well’, the movie does not end in an optimistic note. But, it could not have been more befitting. Haider walking into uncertainty amidst gory pictures of violence, is an apt representation of  the current situation in Kashmir.

While the movie has been highly acclaimed by the critics and connoisseurs, another movie that was released on the same day crossed the 200 crore mark in record time. At a time when, with utter disregard to the artistic value, Bollywood movies are ranked  by the crores they have raked in, where would a movie like Haider fit in? Should it be ranked and compared with the contemporary releases? Or, may be, it would be better to put it in a class of its own.

(The article was originally written two days after the release of the movie )