Sunday, March 05, 2006

Rang De Basanti

I watched most of the Oscars. What a waste of time. I watched it for Jon Stewart, but he was lame most of the time too. But he said "You know what? I think it just got a little easier out here for a pimp". That was hilarious! Anyway, the whole three 6 mafia thing, who cares. They were more entertaining than the other 2 performers, for sure.

Crash winning best picture. Did not deserve it. Did not deserve best original screenplay either. I'm not jumping on the bandwagon of the backlash against the film, I've always felt this way since I first watched it in December. The film can be seen as being well-written, because of its multiple storylines and how they "crash" into each other. At the same time, the film, while addressing racism and stereotypes in America, I think reinforces them. Which isn't productive at all.

Case in point: they showed a clip during the oscars of the TV producer talking to his wife, in their bedroom after the policeman felt her up. He says to her something like: "You don't even know what its like to be black! You've never been arrested!" Those aren't the exact words, but what is this implying? That she doesn't know what its like to be black in America because she has never been arrested?

That is just one example of what I find wrong with the film. I think its great that there's a popular film out there that talks about racism and that sort of thing, but I don't think Crash does it well, not really. And how is this film so shocking? Its all been seen in cinema before, perhaps just not all at once in one film. People felt like they were slapped in the face after watching the film. I thought it was provocative, but that's it.

Syriana deserved best original screenplay. It really did.

Ok so now my critique of Rang De Basanti. (IT'S AN INDIAN FILM OK JI HA) If you haven't seen it and don't want to know what goes on, don't read ahead. I'm a huge Amir Khan fan, and I was able to see this in the cinema with my Mum, which was really fun. This is not a typical Indian film, it is actually using the medium of film to express viewpoints, which I don't find very common in the Indian films that I've seen. I have a very pessimistic view of current Bollywood cinema, so when a film I feel actually uses the medium to full benefit, I am surprised.

This film I think is Western and Eastern. For example its aesthetics combine both, in a very interesting way. The beginning of the film, of the director in London, doesn't feel like an Indian film at all.

Now this is going to be in no order at all, these things that I will point out. I like the film a lot. I think its great, and well-made, and says a lot about corruption in India, which needs to be addressed. So I like what this film has done. But these are my criticisms:

let's start with the characters. The character of Suki seems very one-dimensional. He is the joking, laughing, drunk guy. We don't see much else to Suki except when he doesn't want to a part of their murder plot, and similar stuff. The character of Arjun Rathod (I think that's his name) - his is a convenient character, which is fine. But, he's just seen as the greatest guy ever, there is nothing wrong with him. His character doesn't have much complexity, and then he gets killed off halfway through. Which is probably why he's made out to be so great, but I would have liked to see more to him.

The girl. So at the end its the 4-5 guys who go to the radio station, tell India what they have done, and stay to the end, and all die. The girl in the meantime, is in the hospital with her dead boyfriend's mother (the Arjun guy), who is in a coma. It didn't seem to me that the girl knew that the boys were in the radio station in big big trouble. So the guys are out there, proclaiming their message, and getting killed, while she's in the hospital taking care of the mother. Which is fine...but what does this imply? Because she had done all the other stuff too, but ahh, she wasn't there at the murder scene, but then neither was the whole group, I think. However, she's there in the hospital, while they're at the radio station. I dunno that was just interesting to me.

Another thing. I don't remember the London director's name, the white girl with blonde hair. Let's just call her Laura. Laura goes to India, becomes an Indophile, and convinces these guys to be the actors in her docu-drama. They are college boys who like to laugh around and party. They wise up later on when the pilot dies; as she says, they're waking up. However, she's the one instigated this alarm, this wake up call. She's British. Her grandad, whose diaries are what inspired her to make this film, and are about his days in the British Army in India, witnessing people like Bhagat Singh being executed, is what started this whole thing up. She's the grand-daughter of this guy, who seems very sympathetic to the plight of the Indian people. She gets inspired to make a film about these revolutionaries. She inspires these Indian guys to get up and do something, and do something in very drastic and extreme ways. It took a white girl, a Briton, to get these guys riled up. Someone whose family worked for the Empire.

And the whole pilot issue. So these guys were just regular college kids, indifferent to their nation's history and India became independent. That's realistic, but this is what I think. Mind, I haven't been to India in 10 years, and don't know many fresh-faced immigrants from there. But don't most Indians admire these revolutionaries? They wouldn't laugh them off so much, as these guys did in the film. Whatever, I understand they were trying to make a point, and they did.

The pilot thing. So their friend Arjun, and the Indian girl's boyfriend, is this wonderful bloke who dies in a plane crash. Something was wrong with his plane, and instead of ejecting his seat, he crashed his plane into some unpopulated location like a forest or lake or something, so that he wouldn't kill people in the village he was about to fly into. Good stuff. After he dies, his friends become incited, and even more when the Indian Defense Minister defames the dead pilot, by saying he was irresponsible, when he was actually a great pilot, and the DM (defense minister) won't acknowledge the faulty parts of the plane. So his friends become real pissed off because of that too, and decide to murder the DM.

Now isn't that a bit drastic? They did do a demonstration first, in which they got beaten up by a political party (something that closely resembled the BJP - the former ruling Hindu nationalist party), and this political party comes out and beats these demonstrators, and the police do too. Which does happen in India, a lot. After this they hold a meeting, decide to kill the minister, then shoot him. I get what they're trying to say. That the corruption of the Indian government has replaced the tyranny of the British Empire. I just don't know if shooting the DM was the answer. And the pilot stuff? There are much more huge issues that people get boiled over. So that to me, was a bit unrealistic, but considering he was their friend and was defamed in public after death and everything, yeah I'd get pissed off too. But still the writing could have been better.

Ahh, one last thing. Aslam. Aslam is the Muslim guy. And the tallest one too, which I find kind of funny. Aslam's family is very Muslim, very overbearing, etc, and when he comes home one night they say that he should make friends in their community, what is he doing, and his dad claims that the family has never made friends with people outside their community, or something like that. Basically saying, Aslam you should hang out with Muslims, and only Muslims, just like your family.

This is EXTREMELY UNREALISTIC. I am Muslim. I am an Indian Muslim. What the hell did they write here? I find it to be extremely stereotypical against Muslims. FIrst of all, the family is shown to be the stereotypical overbearing, isolated Muslim family, right down to their clothes, are very Muslim in costume. Great way to portray Muslims. Not all families are like that. Second. His dad claims that the family only has Muslim friends? They live in the middle of bloody Delhi! How can a Muslim family isolate themselves like that and only have Muslim friends? This shows that Muslims are very hostile towards others. In my experience, this is absolutely not the case. I know countless Musilms, including myself, who have many Hindu friends. Sigh, this part really upset me. This film shows this Muslim family as extremely strict and overbearing, and hostile towards Hindus and others. Thanks. I'd like to disagree. They had a chance to show what a real Indian Muslim family is like, and they just reinforced prejudices and stereotypes.

Anyway there was probably other stuff but who cares. As I've said, I really do like this film though. I've voiced my criticisms on it, because it's an Amir Khan film, because of its message, because I'm into that type of message and theme, and so I felt it important to state my points here.

The Indian film industry needs to take cue from such films. Amir Khan...what can I say. It could only be, an Amir Khan film.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Miro Cafe on Broadway

So this is my 2nd time in New York, and I'm seeing a lot of the same streets and buildings again. I've met some interesting people.

On Monday I walked into a Starbucks. I'm not a fan of Starbucks but I needed internet, but it turns out I couldn't get free wireless there anyway. Anyway, the guy behind the counter was skinny and Latino. I loved the way he talked. He had a long ponytail and a very thin beard, and said he liked my accent. And he went "no, you go ahead, you were first". He was so friendly and charming. I wanna meet more people like that.

Then yesterday I was in Brooklyn with a friend, and she ran into a person she knew. This lady had the cutest daughter, who had to be around 6 or something. I was introduced and the woman spoke to me in Arabic, I just nodded along. Her daughter was bugging her to get going and she replied brashly in Arabic. I was told later that she was saying very foul things to her kid, and does this often!

Anyway, these are a couple of the people that I've encountered so far. This place is so much more interesting than Michigan. Even this cafe, it has the weirdest architecture. And I'm sitting by the inside window that has a view of a courtyard, and there's gotta be about 10 floors on top of me. Looks right out of a film.

I was dropped off by my cousin yesterday who lives in Jersey, and we drove on the Hudson River Parkway. I had never been there before. It was really cool, and I looked to my left and there were tons of high-rise buildings with people inside, and I could see inside them and saw people watching TV, that sort of thing. Another thing that was straight out of a film. I couldn't take photos of it though because we were in the car, going fast.