The picture above is of one of the statues around the base of Flora Fountain in what is now called Hutatma Chowk. The picture quality is a bit less than satisfactory because back when this photo was taken (October 2003) the digital camera was set to “HQ” mode, which gave me around 140-160 2288×1712 pictures per 128MB card. It’s the default storage setting on the camera, so I let it be. Unfortunately these photos are JPEG compressed (probably 70-80%) done in-camera, which adds a bit of noise that isn’t apparent until you muck around with contrast and gamma settings.
Around January I switched it to SHQ mode, which is still JPEG, but probably 90% (the manual didn’t specify), so now I average around 70 pictures per 128MB card. The quality difference is discernible, and postworked images don’t suffer from that “digital camera look” characterized by aliasing, blue red and green noise dots, and sometimes a glowing edge on objects. Granted, the near filmic quality of the Olympus C4000 has much to do with image quality — I’ve seen raw dumped shots from other digital cameras of a similar level that don’t compare favourably.
So, long story short: if you’re getting a digital camera (for more than just “memory” shots like party and holiday snaps), make sure you set it up (most come with a “My Mode” for default personal settings) so that you have the maximum size/quality. You may get fewer photos per card, but they’ll be of a better quality. If you have one of those fancy higher capacity storage formats (plain old Smart Media here) you can even try TIFF, although they’re huge (only around 8-12 fit on 128MB), and take forever to write to the disk.
Heck, even if you are only going to use it for red-eye pics of inebriated, sweaty companions at social dos, bump up the quality and count their crows feet or decide if he’s wearing a Rolex or a Rolux.
Went out and watched Hum Tum yesterday, and it was nice enough. Whether it’s “inspired” by When Harry Met Sally is moot point for me since I haven’t seen that movie.
Hum Tum is another solid romantic comedy/drama (emphasis on the comedy this time) from Yash Raj films; I think pretty much all the films they’ve made in the past decade have been romances of some kind, although they seem to be branching out with Dhoom (Supari doesn’t count for me because they only acted as distributor in the Maharashtra territory, as far as I know). We know pretty much what the expect from Yash Raj films by now: high production values, designer clothes, great cinematography, foreign locations, good music, happy endings.
This film is no exception. But that’s a good thing. The plot is pretty standard in that it’s Boy Meets Girl (in this case Saif Ali Khan meets Rani Mukherji), Girl Hates Boy, Comedy Ensues, but it’s paced in a very non-standard way. There’s a lot of moving around in this film, since it takes place over eight or nine years. There are handy reminders in the form of little animated doodles giving the place (usually the city’s most famous landmark, like the Eiffel Tower or the Gateway of India) and the time passed (in years).
The manner in which the story unfolds works more for than against the movie, as you do indeed sense the passage of time, but it never seems fragmented. The costumes and hair help immensely in this, as each character’s look changes subtly over consecultive periods, but just enough to keep it noticable. They still wear clothes last seen in a Punjabi Discotheque, but we’ve come to expect over the top clothes from our films. Besides, if you saw 99% of Hindi films today you’d think that this country of one billion and countless enthnic cultures and sub-cultures is populated solely by Punjabis so it is understandable that all these celluloid Punjabis would wear clothes that only Punjabis would.
What strikes you about the story is that the relationship between the protagonists builds up gradually, and is very natural. There’s no “time compression” like other Hindi films where the protags are expected to fall in love by the one-third mark so that they can shove in a love song, and then bide time quietly until the intermission cliffhanger. in Hum Tum there is no moment where the two fall in love; before you know it, they just are which, other than being realistic, is a welcome touch.
The conflict, of course, arises from the fact that the two are about as similar as vada pav and lobster thermidore. In the first half Rani Mukherji’s character is a bit annoying in that she’s overly dismissive of everything, but having met many, many girls who are exactly like her I can at least attest to her character’s realism. Of course, Saif Ali Khan’s character is also a bit obnoxious (a quality Punjabi Hindi film protagonists just have to possess, it seems), but he is much more open and straightforward about himself. Post intermission both characters sober up and act like normal people, thankfully, and this is where much of the movie’s best writing and plotting is.
A bunch of animated bits are sprinkled throughout the film, featuring two characters that the hero — a cartoonist by profession — draws for a living. These are by far the weakest parts of the film, both writing-wise and especially animation wise (luckily there are only a couple post-interval). Some animations are just sub-par, and even the parts that are decent are not even as good as most Hanna Barbera work from the 1960s. Most people will say “Oh, but it’s very good for Indians” but just because we have a pitiful animation scene doesn’t mean that we are incapable of creating top quality, international level stuff, or that we shouldn’t aspire to do so.
Kunal Kohli directs this, his second feature film. He’s much better this time around. His last, Mujhse Dosti Karoge!, was good in parts — funny ,even — and painfully melodramatic the rest of the time. Hum Tum is, by contrast, funnier, not melodramatic even when it has every chance to be, and the dramatic bits pack in emotional bits usually only reserved for ‘realistic’ cinema.
Really, the drama bits (especially Saif and Rani in the women’s bathroom bit) are surprisingly honest and straightforward; no long wailing BG score or rivers of tears, or dialogue more convoluted than legalese. Literally nothing feels stretched in this film, which is a rarity in mainstream Hindi cinema today.
Newsflash: Saif Ali Khan can do serious roles! The man who was branded a hulka-phulka (lightweight) actor from before he even started films, and then turned into a comedy specialist post Dil Chahta Hai, turns in a surprisingly good performance. He’s good in the comedic bits, no doubt, but his serious scenes are very understated and intense without seeming cold. Lookit, our actors are learning how to act without screaming and scowling! What’s next, Ashutosh Rana playing a mime?
Rani Mukherhi is… sigh. What’s left to be said about her? Great comedic actress. Great dramatic actress. Can dance the pants off God. Gorgeous. She was in Kal Ho Naa Ho for exactly five seconds and suddenly made the movie worth watching. All my bad memories of Chalte Chalte and that Govinda movie where he acts like a mute have been erased. Or balanced off, anyway (Chalte Chalte… *shudder*)
So. On the whole, a good movie. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but nor does it just buff and polish it. Well worth your 50-60 rupees, and maybe even Multiplex rates.
Some niggles (i.e. stuff that really doesn’t matter):
– Parts of the film are digitally scanned (especially stuff with overlays, animation etc). The contrast on these are off (i.e. they’re dull), so the same scene in the beginning and in a digitally processed flashback sequence look noticable different. Yash Raj usually do a bang-up job on their postwork, but not so this time. Most people won’t notice, but I did.
– Is Rani Mukherji using some kind of space-age instant drying mehendi?
– Does every cartoonist squeal and bounce around when they draw their characters on paper napkins? Trust me, folks, it’s nowhere as exciting in real life (and if we did laugh a lot when doodling, it would make the lines shaky).
– Jimmy Shergill’s shirt when he goes to pick up Rani at the airport: now I’d love to see the fractal formula and seed for that.
– Abhishek Bachchan gets to be married to Rani Mukherji a lot in movies these days. Lucky littlegrumblegrumblegrumble.
When I go to the theatre I’m usually as interested in the previews of upcoming films as I am interested in the movie itself; we got a good selection of stuff I hadn’t seen before:
Deewar: Let’s Bring Our Heroes Home
They’ve been showing the thirty second teaser for this for what seems like forever (it played before the last two movies I saw), and while it looks sufficiently dusty and green and stuff on celluloid I’m only somewhat interested in it. The more detailed looks I’ve seen on TV have done little to increase my enthusiasm. Sure, I’ll watch it, but maybe not in theatres. Of course, I’ve been seeing trailers for months now, and I vaguely remember a May release date that has obviously passed by now.
Kyon? Ho Gaya Naa…
As with Deewar, this film’s teaser has also been shown the last two times I went to see a movie. On the whole it seems like your typical romantic movie, with Amitabh (He’s in EVERYTHING! Not that I’m complaining…) acting as some kind of ‘sutradhaar’ or something. You know, the wise/crafty/muysterious character who gets the two young’uns together. They’ve started showing a song trailer on TV, and it’s this weird pastiche of Russian Cossack style music (you know, the stereotypical music they show burly guys squatting and ‘kicking’ to).
The song (by Shankar Ehsaan Loy, sung by Shankar) is catchy enough, though whether it will be welcomed by finicky Indian tastes remains to be seen. It follows the usual “Guy says don’t fall in love”/”Girl says fall in love” routine, so I suppose the characters should follow these stereotypes at the start of the film. Hopefully they’ll be more than just that. Posters with Amitabh in a decidedly djinn-like pose are unexpected, and interesting. Worth a look when it comes out, I suppose. Hideous title graphic, though. Looks like the front of a soup can, or worse, a dot com startup.
I think Ram Gopal Varma should just rename The Factory to “Prime Focus’s Bitch”. So now Gayab is presented by RGV as a “Factory Product” in association with Prime Focus, otherwise known as that blue building in the suburbs with all the hash smoking media types waiting out front. The titles in the trailer are very nice at the beginning, then go totally mediocre during the actual stuff. The special effects are quite good (those “empty shirt” animations Prabhudeva did 10 years ago still get the job done, but Prime Focus’s postwork consoles spiffy it up and make it blend better). The one discernable 3D overlay (a floating TV remote) was a bit iffy.
The film itself seems like yet another Ram Gopal Varma “irritating” movie; it appears to be cut from much the same cloth as Darna Mana Hai (same director too, Prawaal Raman). One wonders if it originated as one of the stories in DMH. Tusshar Kapoor looks somewhat uncomfortable as the nerdy protagonist, Antara Mali is just Antara Mali, but not quite as disturbingly emotive as in Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon!. Whether Tusshar manages to pull off the Nobody turned Magically Enhanced Madman role as well as Aaftab Shivdasani did in his segment in DMH remains to be seen (come to think of it, the plots seem very similar, right down to the musclebound boyfriend and abusive parents). Might catch it on DVD, just because there is actually a good actor somewhere in Tusshar.
Now this I’m going to go see in the next week or so. When I first saw Lakshya‘s TV teaser I went “Huh?” because it looked nothing like the deep meditation on a soldier’s life I’d been hearing about; it looked like an out-take from Dil Chahta Hai. Subsequent trailers have made me warm to it, and yesterday I caught one of the “army” trailers on TV before heading for the cinema, where the Theatrical trailer was shown. My Dad complained that there weren’t enough of the songs in it (the songs are very good — Shankar Ehsaan Loy again), but I disagree; the trailer finally concentrated on what the movie is actually about, which is what we’ve been hearing ever since the project was announced. I usually don’t like war movies, but I’ll watch Lakshya because it doesn’t seem like one. Sure, there are soldiers and there are battlefields, but nothing in the trailer suggested that it was anything like the usual armed forces movies we are used to in India.
Preity Zinta was conspicuously sparse in the trailer (I counted two appearances) as was Amitabh (just one), but that was only because the trailer (and the movie, I think) is fully focussed on Hrithik Roshan; it’s nice to see that someone out there isn’t making everything with a cast of a dozen stars with equal screen time in mind.
(on a similar note, Hum Tum‘s promos also only highlighted the two leads, despite the fact that there are at least four other famous actors in it, albeit in supporting roles)
Hrithik Roshan, even in the trailer, shows a newfound depth and believability in his acting. Oddly enough, he had it in his first film (Kaho Naa.. Pyaar Hai) and then became an over-ther-top caricature for the next two years until Koi… Mil Gaya. It’s nice to see that the new (or rather old) Hrithik Roshan is here to stay. And if I can fend off the hordes of Arab and Pakistani women that flock to see his films in the first week, I’ll be watching Lakshya very soon.
So, on the surface it looks like The Fast and the Furious meets Torque by way of Amar Akbar Anthony. I’d still watch it over either of the two American movies. There’s something about a Hindi movie that makes it seem appealing no matter what it’s about (Hey, I actually watched all of Yaadein). Besides, it’s got Abhishek Bachcan shooting things on a bike, so what’s not to like?
Eh… Nope. Not going to see this one. Not even on DVD. I saw Govind Nihalani’s last film, Thakshak, and while I don’t like gangster moview it was worth watching for the good jobs done by Ajay Devgan, Tabu and Rahul Bose. Dev has a stellar cast of good actors, but I just don’t like riot movies. I don’t like “atrocity” movies in general, no matter how socially relevant or “must see” they are supposed to be (If you say “The Passion of the Christ” I will say “The Life of Brian“, if you say “Saving Private Ryan” I will say, “Allo Allo“>). Now I can stand violence, I can even enjoy it sometimes (grinned right through From Dusk Till Dawn). One of the reasons I hated Hindi movies growing up is that from the eighties up until the mid nineties pretty much every movie had some elements of abusive, hateful violence. I don’t pay money to go watch a bunch of people gang rape women (I won’t even watch it for free), even if it is on screen for just half a second. Yes, yes, it goes on in the world, I know, but this is entertainment, and I’ll watch what I choose to, not what people say I should.
None of you told me to watch Shark Skin Man Peach Hip Girl, or The Adventures of Mark Twain or The Bird People of China, or to read The Man from Charisma or Bikini Planet.
But I did.
And look at me now. :hehe: