Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together – Vincent Van Gogh

Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Pele – the man, the art, the Ginga

Movies on sports stars are always motivating to watch. The beautiful synergy of mind and body goes on to do great things, of course, the truly great stories may be few and far between, but when one watches a movie like Pele, which graphically brings out the nuances of the exceptional sporting spirit that man possesses, it undoubtedly fills one with hope, wonder and a euphoric positivity. It fills me for sure.

PelePosterSo that’s why I was drawn to watch the movie Pele, and I did so with rapt attention. Absorbing the angst of his poverty, his deprivation of nurturing sporting opportunities, his grief at losing a friend, his anger at being ridiculed, pain at watching his fathers’ unfulfilled dreams and his tremendous ability to turn this cauldron of emotion into a smoldering flame within his belly.

His parents no doubt played a hugely supporting role in making him the persona he became – larger than life, yet self-effacing in demeanor. In their simple, humble way they encouraged and shaped him. From teaching him how to play sophisticated, subtle ball with a mango, to watching his every match on television, his father was a huge force of guidance and strength for his skill.

But the larger story that follows him from Dico to Pele is Ginga. His ability to capitalize on his once frowned upon cultural inheritance. His willingness to acknowledge that he had a talent that had been built upon by generations before him, and his eagerness to tap into it, his ability to carry others with him on his way up to success – no doubt, only a man of exceptional  brilliance like Pele could have measured up to the task.

A special mention must be made of the incredible foot work – in all its skill, beauty and splendor. Something one does not see easily today. Football today has truly turned into a science, a game of rules and hardly retains that primordial spirit and instinct, where the mind and body coordinate to showcase the grace of the sport.

In the movie, Pele displays some exemplary courage to stay true to himself, his inherited culture of Ginga, even in the face of stiff opposition. He was quick to realize what worked for him and willing to go with it. So often today, we get buffeted by ruthless change in the garb of ‘development’ or ‘modernity’ and abandon our roots, aspiring for a mirage of the superior, the new, the stylish, the fad. Each of us have our inherited core value, what I learned from Pele is that if I have the courage to hold fast to it, I will be able to look at myself in the mirror and keep my head high, knowing that I  am doing right, that I do best, that I am true.

Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire

slumdog_millionaireRecently, Slumdog Millionaire has created a huge buzz, first in the US and now in India. The hype has reached a feverish pitch as it swept the Golden Globe Awards and is now slated to carry away an Oscar or two as well.

With everybody watching, talking and wanting to watch Slumdog Millionaire I finally got myself a DVD and sat down to it, full of expectations.

I watched and waited, waited and watched, laughed once at the guy begging little Jamal to come out of the toilet, drew back in revulsion as little Jamal dived into a load of shit, laughed again as he pushed his way through the crowd covered in crap to get an autograph from Amithab Bachan and ………hummmmmmmmmmm, that’s it. In hind sight, the movie was a rather let down.

I’m not much of a movie buff, but I did watch a few like Range De Basanti and Taare Zameen par, and in my humble opinion, they were extremely good quality films on India. Both are poignant stories, very nuanced and displaced a deep amount of thought in writing the script and skill in direction.

rang-de-basantiThey virtually are social commentaries, Range De Basanti talks about State Power and the aspirations of young people in India and Taare Zameen Par is a fantastic film about little known and highly stigmatized Learning Disabilities. The common factor of course is Amir Khan, who is an exception film personality. Now compare Slumdog Millionaire to any of these super hit, intellectually stimulating films and it is no where in the reckoning.

Taare Zameen Par

I am not critical of Slumdog Millionaire for reasons like that it exposes India’s underbelly and poverty, for that is the truth. With nearly 450 million people living below the poverty line, there is no way I’m burying my head in the sand. Of course, India is moving and things are changing, but it needs to change fast enough so that a sizable proportion of this 450 million people see positive change within their life time.

I think Slumdog Millionaire is a waste, for its terribly loose story and pathetic dialogues. When the slum kids suddenly branch off from Hindi to English I was wondering who taught that slum kid such good English. Initially I thought the name “Slumdog Millionaire” was about creative license, (and I would have given it a miss had the film being a real solid story) but after watching the movie, I think the Director Danny Boyle or who ever decides of the name of a film could have done better. The name clearly crosses the line of polite sensibility. Nobody came across there as a dog, at the most it was about a few street smart kids, and millions of Indian children live by their wits, just like the actors in the film.

Irfan Khan in the Mighty Heart is an excellent actor; Slumdog Millionaire simply did not expose the talent in him. Anil Kapoor is a good actor and probably single handedly carried off the movie. I’m yet to figure out why Jamal had a continuously zonked look and Latika was mediocre at best. Salim was a mere shadow though he had the potential to play of more frontal role.

All in all you got to watch this film just to realize what mediocre cinema passes off as the best in Hollywood. I think those guys have a lot of resources at their disposal, if only they had the brains to use it.

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