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Liz C

Magadheera rules! I love just about everything in this movie, from Mumaith's bosom thrusts that turn men to stone (see above), to the awesome horse stunts, and the cheesetastic musical theme that repeats at all of the key moments.

katherine

I know! -- I haven't seen a film like this, just such a Whole Package, in such a long time.

I kept thinking I was going to be disappointed when they move back to the present day, but I wasn't. And so many small details that just tie up nicely.

And just when I thought they couldn't do something else to delight me, the did.

Ness

Magadheera is So. Totally. Awesome. Basically, as soon as there was A MAGICAL SPARK when their hands touched, I was like "Yep, I'm in!" And it only gets exponentially better with every frame!

katherine

Yup, the spark absolutely had me hooked, and it was so well used.

Every time they added some layer in, I thought, "Oh, this is just all going to fall apart at some point, they'll never hang on to all these ends." And they did. And tied 'em up nicely with a nice big finish.

Can't stop thinking about our Twitter discussion re: SI films and literacy rates and what it allows in terms of complexity in films, too. Which means I look at those rumours of a remake and think, oh, don't, don't, unless you're prepared to buy into the whole package and not strip it down.

Sigh.

Ness

I found the quote (attributed to Ajay Devgan, allegedly from a rediff interview which I CANNOT find anywhere):

"In the South, it is different, they have a audience that is literate. The literacy rate in the South is 90%. The filmmakers in the South have a conditioned audience. For Hindi films, our audiences are all over the country, and the literacy rate in most parts up north is considerably lower. I mean, even our comedy cannot be subtle because of this, as subtle comedy will go over the heads of our audience. Which is why everything - our stories, our comedy tracks, our romances and even the violence in our films, is overstated."

It does make me want to watch and compare, actually - I've only seen, for example, the Hindi versions of Wanted and Ghajini. And had heard the widespread opinion that the originals were so much better, but had never really known much or had much interest in SI films.

What an idiot I was. SI is where it's AT! (not dissing Hindi films, because I still love them, SO MUCH but yeah, very interested to see the originals now and see how they differ).

katherine

I wrote/recorded something a while back when Shortkut came out. I was so unimpressed with the promo stuff that I wasn't going to see it, and then I watched the Sreenivasan (Malayalam) film on which it was based, and it was So Wonderful I decided to go see Shortkut after all.

Which. Was. Awful. They just so did not get the point of the film at all, and added all this....stuff....in that just didn't make sense.

And Ajay's quote got me thinking about Do Knot Disturb, too. I've been meaning for a long time to do a comparison with the Francis Veber film they lifted the theme from, but I was just so distressed by it all I couldn't bear to write about it. But they stripped out all the intelligent stuff from Veber's film, which is why DKD just didn't work at all. Or, one of the reasons.

Good Hindi films are still being made. And good remakes: I'm betting Wanted is a pretty decent remake, all things considered, even if the original is better (which most people say it is).

What troubles me most about a Magadheera remake, honestly, is the thought of putting one of the over-35 actors in the role. I mean, I'm all for not writing people off (because they're NOT old or anything) -- but it's just such a role for one of the up and coming talented younger actors, for so many reasons. I would be so totally distressed to see them get Aamir Khan for it (oh, well, plus the fact that I don't actually care for him).

Ness

Ah, DKD. I was going to do a comparison too, because I LOVE Francis Veber's films...I think I wrote a big long comment about this on my blog somewhere, but ultimately I just couldn't face watching DKD again all the way through. I can handle little bits of it - snippets of Govinda and Riteish, because there are scenes in the film that DO make me laugh. IN ISOLATION. As a whole, what a freaking travesty. Way to miss the entire point of what could have been a decent, if probably ultimately still mediocre, adaptation.

Wanted I think, is a decent film, because (though I know you're not a big Sallu fan) I think Sallu GETS it. I think he knows what works and what the audience wants from a film, and he doesn't underestimate them, and I think he is a strong enough personality and a big enough star that he can make the kind of film that he wants to make.

Maybe if Sallu produced the Magadheera remake it could work, with a young newbie in the lead? I don't know who though. Or they could bring a Southie star over to be in it.

katherine

Wanted was terrific, and Salman was terrific in it -- I may not be a fan, but I know when he gets it right, and he did then. I loved him in that. I'd be on board for him producing if he really does get Magadheera (but I honestly thought -- oh, I just know they'll remake this and they'll put him in the lead, and he's wrong for it).

I do believe the remake rumours also involved having Kajol Agarwal play her role in the Hindi version, too, which could be interesting, because I can't think of any of the younger actresses who are actually right for that role, not in the way she was.

I know what you mean about DKD. I know I'm going to have to deal with it one day. But it was the first time a Govinda film made me cry, and not in a good way. (And, I think it's the only Govinda performance I've seen so far that was actually....not...good....except for a few bits.)

Even Ssukh, for all its flaws, is a better film.

Ness

DKD is still better in its entirety than Money Hai Toh Honey Hai. UGH. I think Govinda's performance in DKD is fine, it's just the ROLE is wrong and the script is an abomination.

katherine

Aw, man, now you'll make me watch it again. Because I left the theatre thinking it was the first time I'd seen him in a film where nothing felt like it was natural.

Of course, that could be the role.

(Somewhat happily, I don't actually own the DVD yet. So I can't actually do it right now, as I'd be tempted to, and then it would just make me depressed.)

Ness

Ha, don't let me make you do anything, especially if it's more likely to cause you grief than not! But, for example, and for the sake of knowing whether it's actually worth a rewatch, one part of the film that I actually find funny and think Govinda is great in:

the scene where he and Sushmita Sen go to the restaurant and discover that Riteish and Lara are already there on a fake 'date', having to pretend to be in love because the private detective is following them. I LOVE the way Govinda plays jealous, first in the way he orders for him and Sushmita, and then the confrontation between him and Riteish in the bathroom, where he oscillates between angry and jealous and having to be amazingly accomodating to Riteish's whims.

It's a crappy crappy film, but there are redeeming bits. The making of has interviews and things where they talk about how there was a lot of improvisation in one scene (in the hotel with the little girl blowing the trumpet thing as Govinda goes to sit down). Knowing stuff like that makes it more interesting to watch Govinda work as an actor, for me anyway, when the story turns to crap.

Shamefully, the other part I find hilarious is the bit where the detective forgets who he is, and is convinced he is named John, is married, divorced, and happily single, depending on who he meets. IT'S SUCH RUBBISH but Ranvir Shorey sells it.

Ness

Compared to Money Hai Toh Honey Hai - I cannot think of a SINGLE REDEEMING QUALITY of that film. Not even Govinda saves it.

katherine

Agreed, that scene is good (as is the trumpet bit, that still makes me laugh out loud) -- I think part of the problem with his performance is there are these occasional moments when he's on, and then these moments where he's just not, and it's one of the few times I've seen that.

I actually thought the premise for MHTHH was good, but what a waste of it. That's also a case where I thought the role was a dreadful fit for Govinda, but there were flashes of good stuff despite it all. But that's also one I've avoided a rewatch on.

katherine

To take this a step further: Life Partner.

The role was dreadful for him. You could see it had been written for Akki, and it just didn't suit him at all, and the moments which were so very, very Akki he clunked in, but, overall, he made a mostly unbearable film bearable. That's the kind of thing I would have expected in DKD, and it didn't happen.

katherine

And to loop back to DKD. The stuff about improvisation is interesting, because if there's one thing I know about Veber, is that there is No Room for Improvisation on his sets.

I remember an interview with Gerard Depardieu re: Le Placard, where at one point he questioned Veber -- wouldn't it be funnier if I did this, here? And Veber looked at him and said, "Yes, Gerard, except if you do that here, then this is no longer the set-up for what happens on page X of the script, which is the *real* place the humour should fall."

And he was right.

All his actors sign on knowing they have to trust his vision implicitly, and not question the script. (The cast for Le Valet all confirmed that in interviews, too.)

So no wonder DKD failed, because you can't paste one working style over another and expect the story to still work.

Le Valet is like a piece of clockwork. Remove a piece, and it all stops working.

(Also, there are some very interesting comparisons to be made re: the roles of the women.)

Now, of course, I've got to get the film and write the post.

katherine

And also, because I'm tired and watching Italian teevee, I've mistaken the name of the movie. The Valet in English, La doublure in French.

(Often I have no clue what the English names are.....sigh...)

Ness

Re: Life Partner. I had no idea that the role was written for Akki...but now that you say that, OF COURSE IT WAS! It's SO obvious. The film itself - meh, timepass - but yes. Govinda playing the part of a womanizing cad? SO AGAINST EVERYTHING his stardom has been built on (see Vanessa's "Amateur Bollywood Stardom Psychoanalytic Theory 101") and thus, he could give it everything he had and still fall flat. Whereas Akki coul sleepwalk through the role and end up rocking it, since it is Pure Akki Tailormade.

Your extensive knowledge of Veber will make any comparitive analysis you do of DKD and The Valet SO FASCINATING. What I would love to see is an attempt to adapt a film without adding extraneous storylines, added comedy tracks, improv, whatever. A pure and simple FAITHFUL adaptation.

I guess it comes (finally) back to what we were talking about with Hindi and SI films, how Hindi films are made for a broader audience and filmmakers assume that a mainstream film HAS to be made with broader strokes. I don't think that is necessarily true though, but it would take a lot of courage to radically test the theory, I guess.

But how PERFECT is the role of Francois Pignon for Govinda? If someone in Bollywood made a truly faithful, sophisticated, clever, Veber remake, with Govinda as Pignon (any of the Pignon films will do, I'm not fussy) then I would DIE OF JOY. I would die.

katherine

Yeah, there was this whole thing about how the role had been written for Akki, and he'd even suggested the title, but then couldn't do it, and recommended they ask Govinda, and they did and he did it as a favour.

But bottom line -- any role that gives Govinda a one-note negative -- womanizing cad, for example -- ends up being a bad role for him. We need that belief that no matter what he appears on the surface, underneath it all, there's that core of goodness. That even exists in Shikari.

And it's why the DKD role was highly unsuitable. Auteiul's character in the Veber film is a truly not nice man. He has a veneer of niceness in the beginning to make us sympathetic to him until Veber starts his clockwork in motion and makes us truly want to see him skewered.

I am perfectly serious that a straight-up adaptation of L'emmerdeur with Govinda as Pignon would be awesome. I'd even put Salman in the role of the hit-man (Actually -- I'd prefer Sanjay Dutt. I think he has better acting chops to cope with this type of role, and he and Govinda would be good together in such a thing). I wouldn't let David Dhawan touch it with a ten-foot pole. (Which is kind of sad, because he has done a few almost absolutely faithful remakes which end up as not bad films, Raja Babu being a case in point, and I have a small soft spot for him and his films. Some of his films.)

(It, of course, does the sad thing of pigeon-holing him in comedy, but it's at least a comic role that requires some depth, as do any of the Pignons -- Jaques Villeret's Pignon in Le diner de cons is probably the best case in point for that -- we think he's a buffoon and a loser, and we find out he has hidden depth after all. We start out laughing at him, and then we start sympathising with him.)

Sigh. All I need to do now is win the lottery, because the minute I do, I'm buying rights from Veber and sending a script to Govinda.

:-)

Aside: I find it interesting that we both adore Govinda AND Auteiul. Don't know if you know, but early in his career, Auteiul did quite a few comedies, then veered into drama and everyone forgot that he was actually quite good in the comedies, until one of his older films (the very excellent Ma vie est un enfer/My life is hell) was released on DVD. His own turn as a Pignon came not too long after that.

I kind of love the opposite career trajectories they have, and I've often said they have so much in common as actors, which gets me the strangest looks.

katherine

I am also, now, composing a list of rules for Govinda for selecting his films:

Rule No. 1: Don't immediately do anything as a favour for anybody.

Rule No. 1: Hire me to vet scripts and give you some honest advice.

Rule No. 1: No womanizing cads or one-note negative roles.

(I could go on. And of course, they're all RULE NO. 1, how could they be anything else.)

But I'd better write the post on DKD/La doublure soon, so we can have a chat about Magadheera there when I'm done (insert big evil grin here).

katherine

And while I'm here: I'll also get around to dealing with Bheja Fry, and why I think Josiane Balasko's 1998 film "Un grand cri d'amour" would make a fabulous remake starring Govinda and Sridevi.

Ness

Spooky - I was thinking about it last night, going "Well, if Govinda is Pignon then who do you cast opposite him?" and Sanjay Dutt was my first choice too! WE NEED TO WIN LOTTO AND FORM A PRODUCTION COMPANY, LIKE PRONTO!

I actually don't think it would perpetuate the problem of being stereotyped as doing comedy = because I think the problem is he has become stereotyped into doing one KIND of comedy film, that have become repetitive even down to their storylines (he knows it too, it was in one of the interviews I linked in Chi Chi Week - and that would be boring and frustrating as an actor, but at the same time, work is work, you have to make a living somehow). Doing something a little bit out of the box, though still a comedy, would rejuvenate his career. People would go "THAT'S WHY he is famous".

Haha I like your rules. Except the first Rule No.1 is a bit paradoxical because it is Govinda's very willingness to help his friends that contributes to making him down to earth, loveable Govinda - a nice guy - even though it seems to do him no actual favours career-arc-wise.

Shoutout to anyone reading through all these comments in the faint hope we'll mention Magadheera. Ram Charan Teja does an excellent job in the film.

katherine

Note that Rule No. 1 is carefully phrased. Not "don't do it", but don't do it "immediately".

One must always consider helping one's friends. But one also must take a step back and think about the best way to do that. And sometimes people line up for help because they know the first word out of your mouth will be yes.

I think some help with the future career-arc thing with some advice on wise choices, balanced with the occasional "I'm doing this because I remain a nice guy" role, and I want to help someone out, wouldn't be inappropriate. Even SRK does that once in a while.

Because, basically, the whole need for work roles plus the favour roles far outway the good roles, and there should maybe be a reversal of that.

OTOH, I was reading a very sad article earlier today that traced Govinda's career and concluded with some thoughts that he really doesn't care enough about his career to really bother building a "next phase", that he'll be fine if someone throws him a bone here and there from now on.

And it's sad, because I've half wondered if he'd given up like that, or if it's really just still the aftershock of that complete crash he went through. I'm hoping it's the latter, and that the fact, say, that he took the Raavan role and is sucking up as diplomatically as he can at how it turned out is a good sign.

Ram Charan Teja is Totally Excellent, and if I were twenty years younger, I'd be drooling over him.

Ness

I think if he had given up totally and was that...arrogant, I guess, that people would just bail him out, then he wouldn't have done Raavan. Mani Ratnam, as far as I can tell, isn't a close friend, nor are the Bachchans...so maybe it was a combo of work, doing something different, plus proving himself to people who matter in the industry?

I think it sucks for Govinda that people make statements like that, that he hasn't tried to build a next phase. Because he has, I think, or did. Ssukh was an attempt to do something different, more mature, a return to 'acting' and...it was a risky move that failed because of so many factors. But to say he didn't try, or isn't trying...that's cruel.

katherine

I have to say, I was a little stunned to see it laid out like that. I think I'm constantly surprised at the people who do this to him, who shoebox him, who....I dunno. It just depresses me all over again. What is it that possesses people to want to keep hurting someone? And honestly? There's a part of me that wouldn't blame him for an attitude of just giving up (that's what I mean when I say I wonder myself), but still, I wouldn't say, "Oh, look, he's washed up and he doesn't want to try anymore." Because how do you know?

I keep looking at him and wondering what he is thinking through all this. Sometimes he looks like he's floundering (totally understandable). Sometimes he looks resigned (which could be a good thing. It's the kind of attitude that maybe makes you take a Raavan, just for the heck of it, just for trying something different to move you out of the place you're maybe a little stuck in). Sometimes he just seems sad. (Also? Understandable.)

And then? He goes to the IIFAs and just Turns it ON! and is amazing, and I think -- okay. That spark *is* still there. You just have to figure out how to channel it.

And if "figuring out how to channel it" after having to make a total comeback from out of the void looks like floundering around figuring out what to do next, then I think maybe that's not a bad thing, as painful as it might be sometimes.

I'm going to keep on believing. And keep on pointing out the good stuff. And hoping the Universe listens.

Ness

Yeah, and I think it's worth remembering that there have been lots of other stars that looked like they were going nowhere and floundering that have come back, all it took was one good role, or fate, or something in their favour. Saif Ali Khan has done it...a couple of times actually, if I'm not mistaken (but I might be!). He has come back from career limbo at least once. Akki slogged away for ages in sort of nowhere-land, and while he hit big a couple of years ago, he also had some crushing flops - but his attitude is "keep going, don't let flops dictate my career, do better next time". Whereas the impression Govinda gives is that each flop, especially after Ssukh, THE BIG ONE, wears him down a little more. It's like he needs to be a little tougher and less of the big-hearted village boy, yet retain that onscreen.

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