Saturday, September 08, 2007

There's something about Ramu

Okay, so everybody's derived sadistic pleasure out of Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag and its subsequent collapse. My editorial director Thomas Abraham particularly likes to chestbeat about the how Varma is a "twit" to make a remake of Sholay. All he can suggest is that RGV se bhaag.

I object to this issue on two fronts that people fail to realize - One, is that people somewhere knew down the line that the film would in NO WAY be as good as the original. So, the moment the critics panned it, audiences also went into the "I told you so," mode.

Two, nobody for that matter admired RGV's enthusiasm for the film, least of all realise that here was a man making a film centred around a villain, rather than a conventional hero.

So with RGV Ki Aag, here is a film whose villian was pegged as its USP, and for many viewers it must have been the prime reason for watching it in the first place. Some "gurus" believe that the original Sholay itself was an erroneous script, since Gabbar as the villain shot to fame quicker than the 'positive' characters. RGV exploited the same sentiment and pegged a film around him, titling him 'Babban'.

RGV, however screwed it up in the adaptation to the current milieu. Mumbai's underworld has been quiet since a long time. Varma's earlier gems on the subject have made audiences acclimatised to this setting and it comes across as repetitive today.

RGV should learn a thing or two from Vishal Bharadwaj, who skilfully adapted Macbeth and Othello into gems like Maqbool and Omkara respectively.
But the saddest story came only after Aag released. Pritish Nandy has announced plans to make a prequel, a remake, a sequel and an animated version of the same old Sholay. Talk about obsession with old ideas and a vacuum of new concepts. If only that bald head of Nandy's struck a eureka spark, he'd do it. Otherwise he's quite a bum.

PNC's plans are only being echoed by some more remakes which by the way are actually coloured versions of good old Guide by Ketan Anand. Goldstone Technologies has acquired the rights to digitally colour the film and re-release it.

The trend will give a lot of veterans a chance for their aakhri khwaish to see old movies in colour. Also, it might possibly lure the current Gen X to experience golden days of yore.

What worries me though, is the direction in which the industry is heading. A man like Pritish Nandy can do wonders. He almost did so with a brave Chameli and a tongue-in-cheek Pyar Ke Side Effects. If only he had those grey hairs to differentiate the right from the wrong...

This reminds me of Lagaan, the making of which I recently saw on VCD, in the form of Chale Chalo. The film attracted all the attention from its cast, crew, media, foreign press only because of its unique screenplay and storyline. If only, we could create that celluloid magic again.

Another round of gems please, oh you industrywallas...!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Bollywood talking BIG

Bollywood is the big adda
Bollywood is talking BIG in sheer numbers. The corporatization of the Hindi film industry is suddenly taking giant strides on the global frontier and testimony to this is UTV's Ronnie Screwvala, who's now on the cover of Newsweek. The media conglomerate is going places not just in terms of his Bollywood and television plans (8-10 TV channels), but also for his Hollywood projects. Hats off to this bawa gentlemen who's minting money in return for good, solid entertainment.

Welcome the titans
The Bollywood success story is seeing some biggies emerge in the entire scenario. Yashraj is huge, alright but new players emerging are Eros, Reliance and UTV. Eros recently received funding from Citibank group to the tune of $400 million, especially for its film production business and this I think, speaks volumes for the industry as a whole which is seeing investments from non-film players. Citibank is a banking company, after all.

SUB ka bheja fry
About me, things have reached a crucial juncture at work. I've discovered a firm footing on desk, and I'm learning it quick and enjoying it. I've discovered that reporting is not my forte, nor is pestering people to give me a story. I'm enjoying subbing and of late, rarely being pulled up by my managing editor for subbing goof-ups. It's a good sign and moreover he's acknowledged it, that I'm potential subbie in the making. An industry senior says that the print medium has a dearth of good sub-editors and I could offer my services to Print, in the coming days. Let's see. The desk is not a bad place to be. And I can do features alongside. Makes it more relaxed and focused.

Chak de Indiantelevision!
Team will watch Chak De India today at Fun Republic. That's about 40 of us. It's a part of a corporate team-building exercise. We can draw inspiration from this film to function much better as a team, by pushing harder towards better quality work. It's a different story though, that most of us have already seen the film. It's also another different story that the film is 'tax-free' now that the office has arranged for a trip. :-)

There she goes
Our editorial team faced a blow this week when our 'centre-forward' Renelle put in her papers. She'll join Vir Sanghvi-headed INX News in October. She's been with us for over a year, rising from a trainee journalist to staff reporter to sub-editor to senior reporter. She's an asset to the team apart from being a friend and a wonderful colleague to me. I've learnt a lot from her and I wish her all the best, although it makes me nervous how we'll cope up without her.

The buzz, though is that we're poaching senior journos from DNA Money and HT Cafe. This is good news. The value of the brand will go higher if journalists from print publications turn to the web. It helps us garner much more respect not only as a brand, but also as a web-based B2B medium.