Sunday, August 17, 2008

Actor + Director = Seeking Repeat Success

In last weekend's Globe and Mail, Rick Groen raised an interesting point about the powerful collaborations between actors and directors.

But what of the relationship between directors and their favourite, frequently employed actors? This is pivotal, this has yielded some of the great pictures in cinema's history, but it tends to be examined only in passing, only within the separate contexts of individual careers. And that misses the obvious point. After all, if good directors are the sculptors of film, then good actors are their clay. Okay, maybe their granite (John Ford with John Wayne), or their wood (George Lucas with Harrison Ford). At any rate, the crucial raw material.

He mentions that if the combination works quite well, then the result is two-fold: (1) a worthy film and (2) a wish to repeat the experience and be worthy again. .

Although this collaboration does depend on how a director approaches his or her film. Rick Groen differentiates the two different styles used by Martin Scorsese & Hitchcock.

Consider, for instance, Martin Scorsese, whose finest movies are character-driven and who, by his own admission, gets “bored” directing plot. Well, if your goal is to delve deeply into character, then a great actor, flexible and nuanced, is an essential tool. Luckily for him, and us, Robert De Niro may be the greatest of his generation. In Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, especially Raging Bull, Scorsese's camera gives the work its wings, but it's De Niro's brilliance that finds, and illuminates, the riven heart of the film. This director relies absolutely on the symbiosis with his star – one is unthinkable without the other. And when the actor, his implement, gets too old for the protagonist's job, the director is obliged to find another. Which explains why, in The Aviator and Gangs of New York and The Departed, Scorsese has a new best friend in Leonardo DiCaprio.

By contrast, Alfred Hitchcock had scant interest in character and an abiding love for plot, along with the suspense that plot can generate. Consequently, he cultivated a reputation for regarding performers as little more than human props, set-dressing for his carefully planned story-boards – here insert Actress X in shower, there put Actor Y in cornfield. But shrewd ol' Hitch also had a keen eye for solid human props with commercial appeal, employing James Stewart in four of his classics (including Rear Window and Vertigo) and Cary Grant in another four (among them Suspicion and North by Northwest). These two stars are completely different actors, with different styles and mannerisms, and yet Hitchcock used them to equally strong effect. Still, while their performances enhance these pictures, they're not, like De Niro's, the essence of them. Hitchcock never really made actors' films.

The article is centered around Hollywood combinations with a line dropped in for Ingmar Bergman. So I decided to come up with a separate list of non-Hollywood films where an actor worked with the same director on multiple occasions.

Lee Kang-sheng & Tsai Ming-liang

Lee Kang-sheng has acted in all of Tsai Ming-liang's feature films, playing the same character in all the films, except in Goodbye, Dragon Inn where Lee Kang-sheng had a minor role. The two first worked together in Tsai Ming-liang's 1991 short film Youngsters after which they both ventured into their first feature in 1992's Rebels of the Neon God. Tsai Ming-liang's films contain a loose framework where the real beauty and charm lies in observing the character of Lee Kang-sheng growing up from a teenager to a young man, drifting from job to job and even indulging in few affairs. So naturally it makes sense for Tsai Ming-liang to continue to use Lee Kang-sheng repeatedly as he can count on his favourite actor to ease into any situation or location the screenplay requires. And the result is evident as their films have a consistent feel and have created their own universe set in Taiwan where all the films were shot except 2006's I Don't Want to Sleep Alone which was set in Kuala Lumpur.

In fact, I cannot imagine how the two will ever work without each other. Last year Tsai Ming-liang produced Lee Kang-sheng's directorial effort Help me Eros. The film was supposed to be a standalone effort, separate from the Tsai Ming-Liang films, yet Lee Kang-sheng plays a slight variation of the same character he normally plays in Tsai Ming-liang's films. And since Lee Kang-sheng has worked so closely with one director, it is not a surprize to see that his own directorial effort contains shades of Tsai Ming-liang.

Films and Shorts worked together:
I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (2006)
The Wayward Cloud (2005)
Good Bye, Dragon Inn (2003)
The Skywalk Is Gone (short film, 2002)
What Time Is It Over There? (2001)
The Hole (1998)
The River (1997)
Vive L'Amour (1994)
Rebels of the Neon God (1992)

Note: Of all the films, only Good Bye, Dragon Inn did not have Lee Kang-sheng in a starring role.

Jean-Pierre Léaud & François Truffaut

François Truffaut announced his arrival in an outstanding manner with 400 Blows, his directorial feature film debut in which a young 14 year old Jean-Pierre Léaud stole the show with his raw portrayal of Antoine Doinel. And almost a decade after the two first worked together, Truffaut revived the character of Antoine Doinel by using Jean-Pierre Léaud in Stolen Kisses, followed by two more films. It was a fascinating cinematic series where one could see the continuing adventures of a single character through his teenage years to adulthood.

Films worked together:
Love on the Run (1979)
Bed and Board (1970)
Stolen Kisses (1968)
The 400 Blows (1959)

The practice of using the same character in multiple films inspired Tsai Ming-liang who gives a hint of this in What Time Is It There? when Lee Kang-sheng's character is shown watching The 400 Blows. Also, near the end of What Time Is It There?, Jean-Pierre Léaud makes an appearance, tying a gigantic cinematic loop between France and Taiwan.

Interestingly, Tsai Ming-liang's next feature Visages stars both Lee Kang-sheng & Jean-Pierre Léaud.

Amitabh Bachchan with multiple directors

From the mid 1970's to late 1980's Amitabh Bachchan was the undisputed leading Indian actor who could easily mould himself to any director's need. He could play the street smart Jai for Ramesh Sippy's legendary Sholay, be the icy cold fearless coal miner for Yash Chopra's Kaala Patthar or shift gears and portray sensitive characters such as in Yash Chopra's Silsila or act in hilarious slapstick comedic roles such as in Prakash Mehra's Namak Halaal. There were multiple directors with whom Amitabh regularly worked and there were roles specifically written for Amitabh, especially to harness his portrayal of the "angry man". One director who forged a real partnership with Amitabh was Manmohan Desai. After working with Amitabh for Parvarish in 1977, Desai always found a place for his leading man in all his films until his last directorial feature Gangaa Jamunaa Saraswathi in 1988.

Just some of the major collaborations between Amitabh and his directors from the 1970's-80's.

with Manmohan Desai:
Gangaa Jamunaa Saraswathi (1988)
Mard (1985)
Coolie (1983)
Desh Premee (1982)
Naseeb (1981)
Suhaag (1979)
Amar Akbar Anthony (1977)
Parvarish (1977)

with Yash Chopra:
Silsila (1981)
Kaala Patthar (1979)
Trishul (1978)
Kabhi Kabhie (1976)
Deewaar (1975)

with Prakash Mehra:
Jaadugar (1989)
Sharaabi (1984)
Namak Halaal (1982)
Laawaris (1981)
Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978)

Klaus Kinski with Werner Herzog

Even though I have only seen two of the five features that Kinski worked with Herzog on, both these features left such an impression that I cannot imagine that any other director would have allowed Kinski to freedom to act out his demons so brilliantly like in Aguirre, the Wrath of God & Cobra Verde. There is a priceless scene near the end of Aguirre where Kinski is left on a raft with a few hundred monkeys; Kinski grabs a monkey in his hand, examines it and then throws away the animal in disgust. A simple scene but very effective. Herzog revealed that he did not instruct Kinski to toss the money away but was simply present on the raft with his cinematographer filming Kinski silently. So whatever unfolded on the raft was Kinski's improvisation. In a way, Herzog provided the intelligent spells of silence where Kinski would dive deep into his character and unleash raw emotions.

Films worked together:
Cobra Verde (1987)
Fitzcarraldo (1982)
Woyzeck (1979)
Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)

Shah Rukh Khan with Aziz Mirza, Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar

Long before he became the famous international superstar that he is today, Shah Rukh Khan started his career by working in tv serials such as Circus and Fauji. One of the directors of Circus was Aziz Mirza. When Mirza decided to direct his first feature film (Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman), he naturally turned to Shah Rukh, one of the tv serial's impressive actors. Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman was a sweet charming film about an everyday working class hero and did well enough to allow both actor and director to get a foothold in the industry. Shah Rukh Khan moved onto a variety of projects both from small budget works such as Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa and Maya (Ketan Mehta's loose adaptation of Madame Bovary) to big budget films such as Subhash Ghai's Trimurti. Shah Rukh also played an assorted set of characters from an action hero to even negative roles such as in Daar (an Indian version of Cape Fear) & Anjaam. However, all that changed when Shah Rukh Khan starred in Aditya Chopra's debut film Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge released in 1995.

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge marked the arrival of Yash Chopra's son, Aditya, and its immense box office success established Shah Rukh Khan as a bankable leading man. But the most important consequence of that film's success was that Shah Rukh Khan would become the poster boy for romantic roles in Yash Raj films (production company of Yash and Aditya Chopra), starring in endless love stories and love triangles. Since 1995 Shah Rukh has hardly ventured into any serious acting roles. Even in a historic period film such as Asoka, Shah Rukh Khan's character is busy chasing a girl around trees and waterfalls. Shah Rukh has starred not only in Aditya's films such as the mammoth Mohabbatein, a 4 hour long sugary film which featured 4 love stories, but also played the romantic lead in films which Aditya penned for his father Yash to direct (Dil To Pagal Hai and Veer-Zaara ). On top of that, Shah Rukh Khan has become a critical component of Karan Johar's love sagas, featuring in all of Karan's movies. It is not a surprize to learn that Shah Rukh Khan will star in both Karan and Aditya's next ventures.

Aziz Mirza only used Shah Rukh Khan as his leading man for his first four features. This year's Kismat Konnection was supposed to be the first time that Aziz took on a new leading man in Shahid Kapoor. However, the presence of Shah Rukh is evident as he is the film's narrator and Shahid's character is just an extension of the role that Shah Rukh played in Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman. On top of that Shahid copies Shah Rukh's antics in quite a few scenes. So even though Aziz has not taken Shah Rukh in his new movie, he cannot help break free his association with his main leading man.

Films with Aziz Mirza:
Chalte Chalte (2003)
Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000)
Yes Boss (1997)
Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992)

with Aditya Chopra:
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008), to be released later this year
Mohabbatein (2000)
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)

with Karan Johar:
Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006)
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001)
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)

Govinda with David Dhawan

David Dhawan is known in Bollywood for his crude and vulgar comedies filled with double meaning dialogues laced with sexual innuendo and raunchy songs. Ofcourse, the success of David Dhawan would not have been possible without Govinda's presence. Govinda was the only actor who could have effortlessly carried out the rapid fire dialogues required by Dhawan and could wear the most bizarre wardrobe (including brightly coloured tight t-shirts despite Govinda having a round figure) while dancing some of the silliest moves to ever grace the Bollywood screen.

It was Aankhen in 1993 that set both Govinda & David Dhawan on the crude comedy path and it also marked the first time Dhawan's movie would feature two leading men chasing two women. This pattern was repeated by Dhawan in other Govinda films such as Partner, Jodi No.1, Ek Aur Ek Gyarah and Haseena Maan Jaayegi. A slight variation of this theme was where Dhawan's films (both with Govinda and without him) would have two men chasing one woman (Deewana Mastana, Mujse Shaadi Karogi) or would have one man courting two women (Saajan Chale Sasural, Gharwali Baharwali).

Govinda's films with Dhawan:
Partner (2007)
Ek Aur Ek Gyarah (2003)
Kyo Kii... Main Jhuth Nahin Bolta (2001)
Jodi No.1 (2001)
Kunwara (2000)
Haseena Maan Jaayegi (1999)
Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (1998)
Deewana Mastana (1997)
Hero No. 1 (1997)
Banarasi Babu (1997)
Saajan Chale Sasural (1996)
Coolie No. 1 (1995)
Raja Babu (1994)
Aankhen (1993)
Shola Aur Shabnam (1992)
Swarg (1990)

Not leading men but still vital collaborations

  • Paresh Rawal with Priyadarshan

  • Priyadarshan's Hera Pheri showed that it is possible to make an entertaining commercial Bollywood film with an intelligent script. In a way, Hera Pheri marked a distinct change in Priyadarshan's commercial film direction. After the success of that comedy, he favoured making light hearted entertaining films, unlike some of his earlier serious efforts such as the brilliant Virasat. Hera Pheri also shone the light brightly on Paresh Rawal, who stole the film with his excellent comedic timing. Rawal was at his best in Hera Pheri and since then Priyadarshan has ensured he gets Paresh involved in all his comedic ventures, albeit in small roles. And in virtually all their joined efforts, Paresh has lit up the screen with his unique comedic take.

    Rawal's efforts with Priyadarshan:
    Mere Baap Pehle Aap (2008)
    Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007)
    Bhagam Bhag (2006)
    Malamaal Weekly (2006)
    Garam Masala (2005)
    Hulchul (2004)
    Hungama (2003)
    Yeh Teraa Ghar Yeh Meraa Ghar (2001)
    Hera Pheri (2000)

  • Suet Lam with Johnny To

  • Johnny To has used quite a few familiar faces in his films (such as Simon Yam) but Suet Lam occupies a special place in Johnny To's trademark gangster films. Sometimes Suet Lam has a key role, such as in P.T.U where his character's misplaced gun kick-starts an entire night of events in the film, while in other films he provides a short cameo. In 2007's Triangle, three directors directed a single film with no clear marking where one director's work ends. However, one can identify when Johnny To's portion started as soon as Suet Lam's character arrived on the screen. Indeed shortly after the arrival of Suet Lam, Triangle moves into a climatic gun shoot sequence, which is beautifully filmed Johnny To style.

    Films worked together:
    Cultured Bird (2008)
    Flying Butterfly (2008)
    Mad Detective (2007)
    Triangle (2007)
    Exiled (2006)
    Election 2 (2006)
    Election (2005)
    Breaking News (2004)
    Turn Left, Turn Right (2003)
    PTU (2003)
    Love for All Seasons (2003)


    nitesh said...

    It's sad to see that Ram Gopal Verma too has lost his ability to sincerely mould the cinematic medium and offer coherent narrative driven films. Even his recent offering Phoonk is a letdown, it managed to earn money due to the hype surrounding the film and the dearth of horror films in the genre- But the mainstream press already proclaim this venture as his comeback. Sadly, even when the number of film produced keep increasing, and the money being pumped in the industry yet every week we are feed with rehased junks or media hyped emperors in new clothes. I still fail to understand that 80% of films produced here in India are flops yet most producers sigh away from putting money in good projects.

    Beside you're completely right on about the sad state of film criticism in India. There is absolutely nothing in the name of criticism. Mainstream critics like Nikhat Kazmi, Gautam Bhaskaran and other have even gone to the extent of plagiarizing. People, like Taran Adarsh are better as Trade Analyst than to be called anything close to be a critic.

    It's a pretty sorry state of affairs...But as I read through the pages Chidananda Das Gupta book on film criticism, I realize there is still time and space for young cinephile like us to mold things into a different direction. The outlook is bleak, but definitely not impossible.

    Sachin said...

    Thanks for your comments Nitesh.

    I think Ram Gopal Varma needs to break away from the usual gangster and even horror
    films to make something new. I did not like Sarkar Raj 2 which I thought
    had a wafer thin story backed by new camera angles. Although some of those camera
    angles he tried in Aag. Contract was an unwatchable film, even though
    the story borrowed the idea from Drohkaal, which was a much better film. I was not going to even bother with Phoonk but the media was talking about his comeback with Sarkar Raj 2.

    A few years ago, I had written some criticism on the poor state of Bollywood films yet I find things in a much worse situation. Even the film magazine I wrote some stuff for (NFDC's Cinema in India) stopped publication because of lack of subscribers. I was told that most people are not interested in such film criticism but are interested in mainstream stuff. Yet there is scope for critical analysis in mainstream films as well. Last year, I was lucky that the Hindustan Times published an article of mine. I was told that if I wanted to write more critical analysis, it would be welcomed. Although I have not written anything more since then, but I did find it a bit positive that something other than film star interviews & filmi gossip were being published by the mainstream papers.

    I very much liked Mithya this year and I believe there is an interesting film niche group being developed by Rajat Kapoor, Ranvir Shorey & Vinay Pathak within the confines of Bollywood. Will more such groups be formed? I hope so and there are a few signs.

    I had not heard of that Chidananda Das Gupta and I will try to track that book down. Thanks for that.

    nitesh said...

    Interesting read Sachin, Chidananda Das Gupta too has a chapter in his book, Seeing is Believing on film songs, it talks in details regarding the usage of song in Indian Cinema, more of, the departure of the film song from being close to the narrative of the film (like it added a layer to the characters feeling) to completely existing in an alternative world (when people took a break when the song came). These days Hindi film songs have lost its midas touch- the lyrics, the inclusion of the song within the narrative structure. A number of films have moved into the no-song-category but that is very few in between countless junks.

    I do agree with you regarding the scope of criticism even for mainstream cinema. No matter how much people in Bollywood think they don't need one- since critics are not meant to criticize commercial films according to them. The film industry is not largely to blame for this, because even in the press there is such a dearth for good film critics (not trade analyst, television host, and gossip writers) that the whole vocabulary of talking about films is lost. There is absolutely no mainstream publication in India which seriously talks about cinema, but I think there is a serious scope of people willing to read about it. Even if, the number is not huge, the NFDC publication is bound to close down; after all, that is also the state and fate of this funding agency. But, I think slowly a new breed of cinephile are building here, hoping that new life could be injected in the mainstream press about cinema, but to tell you the truth, lot of us lose the path and turn pseudo-intellectuals or sheer hypocrites. Like recently, a friend went to FTII and meet number of young film students, they had their theories and practices, but just to test them, he simply asked fake random film names, and lo, they responded with their pseudo replies- some had seen the great film, some knew about its actors, others the history- He walked out in disgust, after revealing the truth. For the next two days, he never meet them again in the campus. I have never understood why there is this art of faking about cinema in this so-called-intelligentsia group. Even people in the industry have age old notion about things. A friend of mine who would soon be directing a film called me with exuberance, “Man, this new Jimmy-Jib has come, and you can shoot from helicopter”, well, I said him, what is the use of new equipment, cinemascope, DI, new avid or crap when what you will shoot will be similar like any, if not all, brackets of movies in their mise-en-scene.

    Last year there were few films such as Mithya, Manorma Six Feet Under even Jhonny Gadar which showed a lot of promise. But these films hardly find an audience that most of the time producers are not ready to back such projects again, or the director takes a different route. Rajat Kappor and company have been lucky enough to sustain and create a niche which I think is difficult to do in India. Though things are never easy even for them, Rajat Kappoor’s effort to raise funds for his mentor, Kumar Shahaini is yet to materialize. This year at Osian Film Festival the Indian Film Category had number of film packaged as an art film- by leading Production Houses under their new found banners, yet most of them were really bad. Interestingly, it was the master Girish Kasarvalli’s latest offering which saved the day.

    As for Ramu…well, but, fuck, damn, shit…Where is his mind?

    Well, the rant got too long; well I enjoy reading your blog.


    Sachin said...

    Thanks for your comments Nitesh. I enjoyed reading them and do not consider them as a rant. In fact, one of the articles I had written for NFDC was a massive rant. Basically, I had slammed the then current crop of young Bollywood film-makers (the article was written in 2002) and accused them of spending more money shooting a video for a song and adding un-necessary stunts rather than working on the script. For example, the promos featured the actor talking about how theirs is the first Bollywood film to feature an actor bungee jumping, etc. None of that added anything to the film but got them more publicity. Essentially rehashing the same story in a foreign location with new stunts. And even now things have not changed. I have not seen Bachna ae Haseeno but I heard the film makers talk about how they shot a scene on top of a glacier. Oh man. If they show such interest about a film's story, it would be nice. But no, all effort goes on the song, as that draws people in.

    I do get tired of this classes vs masses argument regarding mainstream films. Sure some people will only go for a certain kind of film but is it necessary that every film be generic for everyone's entire family to attend? From what I have seen of the cinema in the 70's and 80's, while there were some bad commercial films, a parallel art cinema thrived and even the popular Amitabh films had something working for them. But since the mid 90's, the directors have tried to dumb their audience down and these annoying soap-operas (saas-bahu stuff) on tv have made things even worse.

    Yes I do believe there is hope. I have talked to some friends who live in Delhi and they ache to see good hindi films. Amazingly, I sometimes have to tell them of a Johnny Gaddar as it does not last in a local cinema hall too long or not that many shows are booked. Even here in Canada, only a few cinemas actually dare show real cinema. Most multiplexes are packed with junk Hollywood, but atleast Hollywood makes some decent stuff.

    Regarding critics in mainstream Indian media, I have heard from some friends in Bombay that they were asked to stop writing film reviews for some newspapers a few years ago because the papers didn't want a film analysis but opted for more masala stories. So I think the lack of critics out there might also be because of what people in print consider the audience really wanting -- star news. I have a feeling it is these same like minded people wanting to add the same masala to every film.

    Now it is bad to hear how even in the cinephile world, there are people who pretend to know it all. I call this the "dekha-dekhi" problem which does effect a lot of things in the middle class Indian life. I remember when cell phones first came out in India, you heard stories about people talking on remote controls to impress women. I actually have seen this with my eyes but in my case, the guy was talking loudly while there were no women around. Just a few of us guys and some dogs around a dried up fountain. yet, he wanted to look important. But in terms of cinema, it is subjective in some ways.

    Well, I think I have said quite a bit as well. I should really be exchanging this in an email :)

    I have added your blog to my list and will be dropping in from now on. I think you had commented on Girish's blog once before but back then I never ventured to your blog.

    happy film watching :)

    Sachin said...

    hmm..I ended my last comment abruptly there. Basically I meant to say that cinema is subjective to some extent, different people like diff works based on their own interests. Even though one can try to watch as many diff kinds of film genres or styles, there are some that appeal to diff people more. But to pretend to like something just because it is the it thing..well..maybe those guys are there for the wrong reasons.

    There was this guy in a Delhi park. I actually knew him through a friend but a few of enjoyed his antics everyday. He used to jog only when a girl walked by. As soon as the girl went by, he stopped running. Jogging is something one does for oneself, not to impress someone else. But hey, this is what he believed.

    Have you seen the film Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander? I love that movie. That movie came out in 1992 when motorycles were the cool thing in Delhi schools. So that movie in a way captured the essence of the difference between your everday person vs the rich or even the rich wannabee. I have said a lot :)

    nitesh said...

    Well, just the thought of Delhi reminds me of hypocrisy. I mean each day I go to college I see it, on the road, everywhere. But that’s another topic; however, the park incident is really amusing. I have seen Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander a number of times, but not recently, if I dig deep, images of Pooja Bedi, the cycle race still lingers in my memory.

    It was a sweet film for me, another movie in that bracket I like is Kabhi Ha Kabhi Na, and I guess it has more to do with nostalgia, because even today when I look at them I still look at it with innocence (naïve), sadly such films don’t seem to exist anymore. I mean the recent Jaane Tu Jaane Na, I wrote about the film here din’t quite resonate to the youth they reflect in the film.

    It’s quite true regarding mainstream film criticism. Most publication want straight on synopsis with stars, and glorify such people, and give them more workload- lucky them. But seasoned criticism from an Indian is harder to find each day. Beside you’re spot on regarding the mindset of people from the Industry. For example, the promos, interviews and sneak-peeks on the forthcoming Hijack film have more to do with the stunts by Alan Amin than about harnessing and documenting a sensitive topic.

    The dekha-dekhi problem is really hitting the cinephile community, if there is something of that sorts in India. A testimony of the fact can be seen in Palika market in Delhi, where I bump into tons of film enthusiast and try interacting with them- usually to learn and know, but most either ignore the call or fumble away into oblivion. Interesting, a number of this film enthusiast stuff in porn into the criterion films- and each time I see that, it reminds me of Ceylan in Uzak and how he slyly he saw his porn in between Tarkvosky.:)

    I do read Girish’s blog religiously but usually don’t have much to say, so stay away from forming opinion, but learning and observing. I think, earlier as a cinphile, all we, rather I did was watch foreign film and stuff it like crazy. But a quote by Tarkvosky made me go back to India when he said no one can understand Pushkin better than a Russian. So, obviously, until I don’t know my own tradition what’s the use of speaking about Godard and others. The realities of living in India just struck- power gone, lights out, and humidity in, but I guess that’s the beauty of learning the hard way.

    Sachin said...

    Yeah Kabhi Ha Kabhi Na was completely different from the stuff that came around during those times. Plus I had a crush on Suchitra when that film came out :) I will dig up your Jaane Tu.. review. I was quite disappointed with that film. It could have been much better. One of my problems with that film was how it incorporated commerical humour elements (the two Khan brothers who were funny but belonged more in a David Dhawan film, the talking painting) into a film that needed humour within the boundaries of the characters portrayed. Like in Dil Chahta Hai, the humour was introduced by the habits of the characters, not any over the top situations.

    Ah Palika Bazaar. It has been a while since I went there. I remember there being a lot of video shops which sold VCDs/DVDs, but back then I never checked out how much international stuff they had. I remember the scene from Distant where Ceylan's character watched porn in secret but changed channels when his cousin came in. I can't remember if he stuffed the film in a Tarkvosky cover but I remember when his cousin asked what the VHS was, the guy mentioned that it was a boring Russian art film or something like that.

    When I first got interested in literature, I stayed away from anything by Indian, Canadian or American authors. I felt I had nothing to learn from them but over time, I have changed my views. Now I try to read whatever interests me, no matter where it is from. And when I go back to India, I do hunt around Delhi for books, especially those by Indian authors :) Also I do try to find independant Indian films, something which is hard to come across.

    And I know what you mean by only watching Foreign cinema. I went through that phast as well. I moved on and am open to a film from anywhere now. But I have come across plenty of film fans (non-Indians) who would go watch a French or Spanish film easily but not dare to sample a Bengali film or even something from Taiwan. I remember when I had helped book Dosar for CIFF, there were some people who didn't even consider it. Yet if the exact same film had the name Almodovar on it, they would have blindly headed into the theatre.

    I have to say that I think watching other foreign films will enable you to appreciate the Indian traditions much better. So I think you will find that when you start looking at Indian cinema, you will view it in a different light.

    Sachin said...

    errr..typo..I meant:

    "I went through that phase as well."