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May 25, 2017 Thursday     
It really hurts when an exceptional regional classic DRISHYAM (Malayalam) along with one of its outstanding remake PAPANASAM (Tamil) is proudly included in BTC’s Movies To See Before You Die list with a special mention, but its Hindi remake manages to get only above average ratings and mixed responses from the critics as well as the viewers due to its less energetic making and execution.
It further hurts when this ‘thanda’ Hindi remake has also been directed by a reputed name, whose meaningful MUMBAI MERI JAAN already features in the same must watch list at the site.
And it even hurts more when the film features actors like Tabu and Ajay Devgun with contributions from Gulzar, Vishal, Rekha, Rahat and more failing to generate anything even close to the original and its well-adapted regional remakes very surprisingly.
With all honesty, the Hindi version of DRISHYAM gives me no energy to write about it in details being the weakest remake. And having praised its original & an equally impressive regional remake at length, I need to talk about it in a different manner, re-charging myself and informing you about the entire phenomenon behind this indicative word called ‘DRISHYAM’ (meaning The Visuals).
It actually started in late 2013, when I was told that a Malayalam film had broken all previous box office records in the region and was being praised and written about by almost everyone in the south media inventing a new genre termed as ‘Family-Thriller”. Luckily the film was being played in Delhi too in a nearby multiplex so I rushed to watch it feeling the pull, but was informed that it didn’t have any English subtitles resulting in a big disappointment.
Anyway, while reading more about the film the same night, I went through the names of a novel “The Devotion of Suspect X” by Keigo Hiqashino (the third in his “Detective Galileo” Series), a famous Japanese TV series GALILEO (2007 & more), a Korean film PERFECT NUMBER (2012) and a highly appreciated Japanese project SUSPECT X made in 2008, supposedly having the original plot adapted by DRISHYAM’s writer-director Jeethu Joseph in his blockbuster Malayalam film.
So had to watch SUSPECT X essentially as my very next move and after seeing it, I felt short of words expressing the shocking impact it made and was simply left stunned by the mind-blowing stuff presented in those two hours amalgamating one sided devotion, affection, crime and cunning cleverness so beautifully.

And as a reference for all friends, this is what I wrote about the film, right away including it in BTC’s ‘Movies To See Before You Die’ list at the following link:

DrishyamPost watching SUSPECT X, I kept thinking about how can they adapt it as an Indian film, how can they surpass such excellence achieved in terms of unpredictable storytelling and how can they even present the final brutal conclusion with a believable justification of any sort whatsoever in an Indian film having its own social restrictions and limitations.
With that kind of mindset, I bought the DVD of Malayalam Hit DRISHYAM (with subtitles) as soon as it got officially released in early 2014 and started watching it all alone in a dark silent night. And after those three hours of witnessing sheer cinematic magnificence with the flawless Mohanlal emoting on screen and all highly contributing performances together, I was once again left speechless, sitting still with my jaws dropped and all my preset notions about the adaptation, inspiration and copying shattered into pieces like never before.
In fact Jeethu Joseph’s original masterpiece taught me a new path that night…….. that how an inspiration can also be used to develop something highly original, even surpassing its actual source of origin unbelievably. Probably that is the reason why Ekta Kapoor is finding it tough enough to claim the ownership despite having bought the official rights for the original novel, “The Devotion of Suspect X”. 
In short this can easily be termed as one of the rarest of rare cases when you very well know that its all inspired but still cannot claim the same, since it also is an original creation in its own form having many new unrelated insertions and story progressions moving on a different path, which is nothing less than a triumph achieved by the writer-director Jeethu Joseph without any slightest of doubt.
The Malayalam gem was surely one of finest crime thrillers I had ever seen, proudly representing our Indian Cinema and this is what I wrote about the film, right away including it in BTC’s ‘Movies To See Before You Die’ list too at the following link:
PapanasamIn the next few months, I recommended the film to many friends passing on the online buying link and received several thanks messages from those who chose to experience it at my strong recommendation. And with this I was pretty convinced that the maximum has already been achieved and the further remakes can easily be missed without any regret whatsoever.
But No, I was proved wrong once again, as there was one man coming with his own emotional and highly touching portrayal of the concerned, clever father next, who was none other than the master of his art, Kamal Hassan along with the original writer-director of the Malayalam classic Jeethu Joseph.
Here though I would prefer and rate Mohanlal’s approach in his film much more authentic and logical considering the actual demand of the specific character in the script. Still the fact doesn’t stop me to admit that Kamal Hassan too bowled me over completely with his soulful portrayal, simply killing it in the final sequence of the film that actually is the most crucial scene too, justifying the criminal act of hiding a crime committed unintentionally.
Making a confession, Kamal did made me cry in that concluding sequence along with an equally impressive Ananth Mahadevaan, forcing me to include PAPANASAM (Tamil) too in BTC’s must watch list (as a rare inclusion along with the original).
And this is what I had to say about the experience at the following link:
DrushyamBy this time, the release date of Hindi remake directed by Nishikant Kamat was out and where at one end I was excited to see Tabu in the IG’s role, I had my firm doubts on Ajay Devgun and 4 songs in the soundtrack released, not actually suiting the requirement of so intense and well written script frankly.
But then before watching the Hindi release, I decided to see the other two regional remakes too in order to find how two different directors had conceived it (other than Jeethu), amazingly resulting in a similar success at the box office winning hearts all over.
And watching the other two regional versions, where I simply loved the sensitive, controlled portrayal of Daggubati Venkatesh in DRUSHYAM (Telugu) along with the other key characters emoting superbly (following a scene to scene representation of the original), I had to appreciate the new small comic insertions in DRISHYA (Kannada) with much more emphasis given to Cinema and a worth noticing, introspective portrayal by V. Ravichandran getting into the character subtly. Hence though the Telugu and Kannada remakes need to be placed at the third and fourth place respectively (not included in the must watch list at BTC), they still brilliantly find the basic soul of the project in an impressive manner, specifically bringing forward A FATHER saving his small family from getting caught for the crime committed unwillingly.
DrushyaMoreover deserving a strong mention here, it’s an intelligent background score that (more or less) becomes an individual character in all the four regional films with highly realistic performances from their entire cast ensemble enhancing the overall experience.
To give you the exact idea, apart from the lead character of the father, the storyline has four other main characters of the mother, the elder daughter (of 15-17 years), the younger daughter (8-10 years) and a Lady Inspector General of police.
And following the vision of what is termed as ‘perfect casting’, 2 of the above mentioned regional films had the same lady (Meena) playing the wife and 3 of these 4 regional classics had the same child artist (Esther Anil) cast as the younger daughter and the same fabulous actress (Asha Sarath) playing the tensed Inspector General of Police to perfection (she is simply excellent). (Even the IG’s son is played by the same boy in three films.)
Coming to the latest Hindi version directed by Nishikant Kamat, if I think about the experience of watching it keeping aside any of the film discussed above, then its not a bad remake in technical terms since it follows the original film frame to frame and with such a solid script-content is bound to make a decent impact on the viewers who haven’t seen or know nothing about any of the four regional movies made before the Hindi remake.
Using a fresh backdrop and a local feel it has got its impressive moments that obviously come in the final hour when the proceedings become high paced, intense and brutal too with police interrogation crossing all its extreme limits at the orders of its own IG. But at the same time, it doesn’t make any change in its slow first half, following the fixed format that was also pointed out as the weaker portions of the original by few critics. Still, despite the not so happening first hour, one might like it as a crime thriller that doesn’t allow the viewers to move in its concluding hour, offering many unexpected twists and turns keeping them thoroughly engrossed. 
However it’s the missing emotions, lack of energy or fire, average performances, a loud-inconsistent background score, avoidable spoon-feeding and few unnecessary (ridiculous) commercial insertions that don’t let you rate the film more than anything above average or decent. Thankfully they use only two songs out of four (in the soundtrack) as required but fail to en-cash on the emotional aspect of the script that should ideally have been its key feature becoming a ‘family-thriller’.
As a bitter truth, the theme of the film didn’t require any kind of philosophical soundtrack both Vishal and Gulzar are known for. The weak acts of Shriya Saran, kids and more contribute a lot in its feeble impact. Plus confirming my doubts Ajay Devgn remains a miscast in the role of a clever minded, cinema loving father guarding his small family. Moreover the most disappointing feature remains Tabu, who doesn’t come up with anything even close to what was being expected quite surprisingly, whereas Kamlesh Sawant as the cruel sub-inspector scores the most.
In comparative terms, it seems DRISHAYM (Hindi) has been made hurriedly in some kind of available time with the star or team, without giving any major emphasis on solid characterizations as seen in the original. In clear words, where in all the four regional films, the actors seem like sinking deep into their given characters, the Hindi version has them all doing it as another of their professional assignment standing in front of the camera with no home-work done of any sort to play their given roles. Mentioning it specifically I didn’t find any concerning FATHER in Ajay Devgn or a MOTHER in either Shriya or Tabu disappointingly, that was supposed to be the main requirement of the script as my personal conclusion.   
Anyway moving ahead, the latest remake also strongly raises a significant question that,
“How come the three versions of the original in South could deliver the content superbly but not the Hindi one despite having a reputed director, a talented cast and all necessary backing?”
Interestingly I found the answer to this question in the four ridiculous observations made while watching the Hindi remake mentioned below that surely brings down the intellectual level of the film quite severely:
1. Despite knowing that this is supposed to be a “Family-Thriller”, the makers still had the guts to throw in a mention of ‘Sunny Leone’ in some dialogues, spoken with all lust in the eyes and body movements. (Why? – Only they can answer!) May be since they couldn’t include her in person or in an item number, so decided to remember her in some lines written deliberately!
2. If my memory is working fine, then none of the four regional films had the girl’s secretly shot mobile video presented with some sick skin show. Then why the Hindi makers were very much interested in showing the naked back of a minor school going girl clearly? (Only they can answer!)
3. If I am not wrong then none of the four better films had some childish, filmy kind of entry given to the IG’s mature character interrogating some criminals like a typical 80s film. Then why the Hindi re-makers inserted this silly or bizarre sequence to introduce an IG? (Only they can answer!)
4. As I can recall, there is no mention of an adopted girl in the original and even in its remakes, but why such a clichéd reference of an adopted elder girl unnecessarily was included here in the Hindi version? (Only they can answer!) May be they didn't wish to show Ajay and Shriya that old!
Coming back to the original classic DRISHYAM (Malayalam), yes for a few it might have got an avoidable long build up (not for me frankly) and bloopers too. But at the same time its also one of the best crime thrillers made in Indian Cinema till date and strictly needs to be seen before any of its four versions, specifically the Hindi one. In fact the sequence should be the original Malayalam film (Mohanlal) followed by the Tamil one (Kamal Hassan), both written and directed by Jeethu Joseph being the key representatives of this brilliantly conceived theme of ‘family-thriller’ leading from the front.
Otherwise as always it all depends upon the choices we make in life that,
whether we will be okay or satisfied with a Hindi remake generating 60% of the original impact ...OR…. would like to go for the original masterpiece (with subtitles) generating a highly effective and well enacted 100% cinematic impact as rarely experienced before.
However, if for any reason you decide to watch the Hindi version first then you will never be able to get those unexplainable & outstanding, virgin goose bumps ever again going for the original later.
Moreover it would be like the case of a person tasting Masala Dosa in North India and loving it a lot with no idea of what it actually tastes (many times better) when made by the real creators down South.
Cheers to Great Cinema with HIS BLESSINGS

Rating of DRISHYAM (Hindi) – 2.5 / 5
(Gets 0.5 less due to the four silly insertions)
Note : Hope after DRISHYAM many passionate Hindi filmgoers get enlightened that in reality our Indian Regional movies and makers are miles, miles…..miles ahead than the mainstream Hindi Cinema in all respects.
(List of all the films in the series for your reference.)
Drishyam (2013 - Malayalam)
Written & Directed by Jeethu Joseph, feat. Mohanlal.
Drishya (2014 - Kannada)
Directed by P. Vasu, featuring V. Ravichandaran.
Drushyam (2014 – Telugu)
Directed by Sripriya, featuring Daggubati Venkatesh.
Papanasam (2015 – Tamil)
Directed by Jeethu Joseph, featuring Kamal Hassan.
Drishyam (2015 – Hindi)
Directed by Nishkant Kamat, featuring Ajay Devgn

A part of this article, presented as a separate one about the ‘deliberate insertions’ was published on IBNlive.com on 5th August 2015 with the heading :
“Four deliberate insertions in 'Drishyam' that were not present in the original” – By Bobby Sing
Tags : Drishyam Review By Bobby Sing, Drishyam Case Study by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movies Released, New Hindi Films Reviews, New Hindi Movies Reviews, New Hindi Movies Released, New Bollywood Reviews, Bobby Talks Cinema Review, Reviews By Bobby Sing, New Hindi Films Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, Inspired Films, Official Remakes, Articles on Cinema by Bobby Sing, Drishaym as must watch film at bobbytalkscinema.com
31 July 2015 / bobbysing /
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Trying an experimental kind of project just a decade after the Indian Independence in the mid-fifties, Ab Dilli Door Nahin (1957) showcases the creative vision Raj Kapoor had even in the initial years of his illustrious career taking the calculated risk. Moreover, when a similar subject gets repeated after more than half a century in the new millennium, it gets proved that the man truly deserved the title of ‘The Showman” as fondly given to him by the industry and media together due to his exceptional body of work and contribution made to the Indian cinema in its developing stages.
Ab Dilli Door NahinMade under the banner of RK films and directed by Amar Kumar, Ab Dilli Door Nahin (Black & White) is actually more remembered as a children’s film due to its basic storyline revolving around an innocent child and its hugely famous song “Chu Chu Karti Aayi Chidiya” (Hasrat Jaipuri / Dattaram / Mohd.Rafi). However the film did point towards much bigger and important issues through its novel story progression that was indeed a quite courageous as well responsible step to take at that particular time of the century representing the young India.
It narrates the story of an innocent child Ratan’s journey from his village to Delhi in order to meet Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, then Prime Minister of India who was also famous in the kids as Chacha Nehru. He wishes to tell Pandit Ji about his father’s innocence who has been falsely charged with a murder and believes that the PM is the only person who can help his family come out of this serious problem and no one else. Ratan has an important letter written as a proof by an eye witness that he wishes to hand over to Pandit Ji personally and how he painstakingly completes his journey meeting the PM, becomes the main crux of the script capturing human emotions and expectations quite beautifully.
I Am KalamInterestingly after more than half a century post Ab Dilli Door Nahin, director Nila Madhab Panda made his award winning film I Am Kalam in 2010, that also revolved around a young boy who wishes to study and do something in his life inspired from the most beloved national leader of the new millennium, Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam (who sadly passed away due to a sudden heart attack on 27th July 2015).
The kid in the film (working in a roadside dhaba) called as Chhotu, accidently listens to an inspiring speech of Dr. Kalam coming on television and gets motivated enough to continue with his studies (left in the middle) despite many hurdles of poverty and lack of resources. Renaming himself as Kalam (becoming an ardent fan), he even runs away to Delhi in order to meet the (then) honourable President (in the film’s climax) with a personal ‘Thank You’ letter to be delivered by hand just like the child in Ab Dilli Door Nahin. But unfortunately he has to give the letter to a security officer in front of the President’s house who promises him that it will be delivered to Dr. Kalam positively. The film won several awards in India and abroad along with Harsh Mayar winning the National Award for Best Actor in the Child Artiste Category for his brilliant portrayal as Chhotu/Kalam.
Considering the acute similarities in both these films, the most significant point to be noted here is that after 50 years of RK Film’s Ab Dilli Door Nahin and six decades post our Indian independence since 1947, the only man director Nila Madhab Panda and his writers could think of as an honest, influential, friendly, non-political, legendary Indian icon impressing a young, receptive mind was of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and nobody else amongst hundreds of key names representing India and its core leadership.
And this otherwise filmy fact, actually gives us the real scenario of the present, where we still do not have any other name who was, is and will always be unanimously respected as an highly qualified, intelligent, non-political, humble and completely devoted visionary becoming a guiding figure for every young and old citizen of our country as well as the world…….. forever!
With my utmost love and respect for Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Sir,
Tags : AB DILLI DOOR NAHIN and I AM KALAM, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru and Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Articles on Cinema By Bobby Sing, Raj Kapoor's exerimental films, Nila Madhab Panda and his movie on Kalam, Dr. Kalam as the youth icon, Articles on music poetry and life by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com
28 July 2015 / bobbysing /
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When you hear about a film being praised all over with some calm news coverage, then that becomes a decent notable thing asking for your kind attention. But if you get to know about a film getting long standing ovations in the festivals abroad as well as in the country winning a few reputed awards, then that becomes an entirely different concept raising your expectations levels to sky high hoping for an emotionally shattering, path breaking film talking about something fresh not to be missed at any cost.
And many a times that’s exactly what works against a simple, lovingly made film willing to win maximum hearts in the theater to be honest.
So revealing the basic review, where at one end MASAAN does turn out to be a fine, worth watching film as a powerful debut of director Neeraj Ghaywan, capturing the basic essence of Banaras representing life and death together, at the other it doesn’t offer anything outstandingly new in terms of the basic story content and isn’t able to shake you well as expected from a film majorly focusing on DEATH.
Putting it bluntly, the standing ovation from the foreign audience as well as from a particular section of Indian festival viewers, was probably just because of the extensive ‘burning ghats’ shots and sequences shown in the film for the first time ever in such details. Exactly similar to many of those early Ismail Merchant movies that used to exploit the Indian cities, its local people, traditional rituals, caste-system, suppression of women and poverty on screen winning over the influential western audience for the obvious reasons.
As a matter of fact, my above conclusion got confirmed, when I found many of the co-viewers walking out of the theater talking with each other in terms of,
“It’s good no doubt, but….. that’s it….. jitna suna tha utni nahin thi”.
Straight away pointing towards the humongous expectations raised by the several news reports, tweets, FB posts and videos posted at social network about those ‘standing ovations’. Perhaps in absence of them all, MASAAN could have impressed a lot more, making a surprising impact bridging the gap between the mainstream and festival cinema as desired.
Anyway moving on to the film, it presents two different storylines running parallel to each other that finally meet at a mutual point in the end, representing the ‘Sangam’ - a progression we have earlier witnessed several times before in various films. Thankfully, the interesting insertions in this familiar setup remain ‘many’ ranging from ‘young mind's excitement over sex’, ‘mms curse’, ‘police corruption’ and ‘underemployment of educated girls’ (in the story related with Sanjay Mishra and Richa Chaddha) to ‘soft inter-caste romance’, ‘role of Facebook in an affair’, ‘mention of many renowned Indian poets’ and ‘extensive coverage of burning ghats’ (in the second plot revolving around Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi).
Focusing on ‘hope’ guiding every single character in its script, the major strength of MASAAN (a local spoken word denoting ‘Shamshaan’) becomes its rare picturisation of Banaras like never before, with bodies being burnt by the ‘masaanis’ following their daily hard routine, breaking skulls as the traditional ritual setting the spirits free and the ‘pandas’ making an earning by supposedly reaching and feeding the already dead as per the ages old religious customs. So here we have an entirely different city of Banaras/Varanasi/Kashi that is not the usual tourist destination or ‘the holy town’ normally seen in our movies till date.
But since the film offers all these emotionally moving and worth experiencing sequences post intermission only, therefore it just remains a sweet, realistic take on relationships in the entire first half that actually restricts its overall impact on the viewers as mentioned before. In other words, beginning with an otherwise shocking ‘hotel scene’ involving a young sexually excited couple, MASAAN is not a film that grabs you from the neck and keeps you engrossed throughout with something novel happening on the screen on a regular basis. With all well-expressed emotional outbursts coming at long intervals, it takes some time to pull you in and then makes a decent impression in the end with a better second half like a sweet that tastes the best as it ends.
Apart from that, the most significant contribution of MASAAN for the younger generation happens to be the inclusion of respected names of Dushyant Kumar, Nida Fazli, Akbar Allahabadi, Bashir Badr, Brij Narayan Chakbast and more that many might not have even heard before like the hero of the film trying to impress his chosen girl with a song from film QAYAMAT SE QAYAMAT TAK. And with such inclusions MASAAN does fulfill the responsibility of good cinema introducing the current generation with all our masters of the past as required. (Do visit www.rekhta.org if you wish to know more about the works of all names mentioned above and more)
In its worth listening soundtrack, Varun Grover writes meaningful lyrics and Indian Ocean comes up with a beautiful composition of “Tu Kisi Rail Si Guzarti Hai, Main Kisi Pul Sa Thartharata Hoon” sung by Swanand Kirkire (adapted from a ghazal by Dushyant Kumar) shot with a visual metaphor of a train, a bridge and a river in the backdrop along with ‘Mann Kasturi’ (Amit Kilam/Varun Grover) and ‘Bhor’ (Amit Kilam, Rahul Ram, Himanshu Joshi/Sanjeev Sharma).
Giving the much deserving credit to another substantial merit of MASAAN, it’s the cinematography of the film capturing Varanasi and DEATH together with a completely different vision by Avinash Arun (the director of award winning Marathi film KILLA). And Avinash’s silent camera indeed makes a lot of difference to the end result of the product, unarguably.
In the acting department, we once again have Sanjay Mishra excelling in his effortless act of a helpless poor father scoring the maximum and its really a treat to watch his every scene in the film, especially the ones with the small kid. Richa Chaddha tries hard to put up a good show and delivers to a large extent but its Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi who remain completely natural and adorable in their respective parts with Shweta winning every heart in the theater in just a few scenes through her innocent looks and intelligent talks. As usual the talented Pankaj Tripathi makes his presence felt in a small cameo coming in the film’s second hour. And not to forget the little ‘diver’ kid, who frankly comes up with the most moving sequence of the film while trying to win the big race for his old man.
In all, MASAAN surely deserves to be seen as a must because of its unusual execution revolving around the burning ghats and all realistic characters emoting well on screen pointing towards our known social curses still continuing as it is from hundreds of years. Yet as a film specifically focusing on DEATH, I personally found it much less hard hitting, missing that instant emotional connect and ‘cinematic power of transforming the viewer’, to be honest.
Ratings : 3.5 / 5 (Including a big one for the key song and mention of maestro poets in its script)  
(As my humble suggestion for all friendly readers of BTC who are willing to begin/continue/enhance their individual spiritual quest………….)
MasaanAfter watching MASAAN, if you can……. then do essentially visit the holy city of VARANASI for just a couple of days…….only to go through a ‘life transforming experience’ of being at the burning ghats known as MANIKARNIKA GHAT. A blessed place as per traditional tales, where bodies are set to fire in every hour of the day and night without any break and you will find many of them waiting for their turn covered in pure white sheets lying all over the place offering a rare visual. Tons of logs being regularly brought in to fulfill the continuous need and the ‘masanis’ busy doing their assigned duty as a daily ritual without much of their personal concern. The place has got a divine, magnetic pull and as per the traditional belief, every cremation here denotes or ensures ultimate liberation as per the boon given by Lord Shiva himself.
In few words, just sitting beside the holy Ganga, looking at those burning pyres being arranged one after the another will reveal the worthlessness of all silly EGO games we continue playing in our small lives of just 60-70 years, most of which actually finishes off much before we start to realize the real thing.
Just being amongst that thick smoke rising from the numerous fires, the smell of those burning bodies being turned to ashes in few hours and the visuals of relatives standing still with their moist eyes not willing to move back will become the most potent meditation you have ever practiced in your entire life.
So if possible just be there at the earliest and feel the blessings showered upon the place that has a story about a ‘jewelled ear ring’ belonging to Lord Shiva and Parvati that incidentally fell into a kund (water-pit) dug by Lord Vishnu and hence the name “MANIKARNIKA GHAT”.
Interestingly MASAAN too has got a reference of a ring in its few key sequences that goes through many hands becoming the ultimate saviour as destined by The Almighty. And if you do believe in Cinema capable of teaching & transforming lives, then take a hint, book a ticket and be there at THE PLACE to spend a few calm, enlightening hours refreshing your inner soul.
Moreover, just think about the fact, that we all very often wish to plan a visit to a foreign country to be in that ‘advanced environment’, studying their people, historical monuments, tourists spots and religious places, when we have not even explored our own beloved INDIA and its rich traditional cities, still having the divine vibes of every single blessed saint who has been there in the past.
Tags : Masaan Review by Bobby Sing, Masaan winning standing ovations, Masaan winning awards at Cannes, New Bollywood Movies Released, New Hindi Films Reviews, New Hindi Movies Reviews, New Hindi Movies Released, New Bollywood Reviews, Bobby Talks Cinema Review, Reviews By Bobby Sing, New Hindi Films Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com
25 July 2015 / bobbysing /
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Before stating the exceptional merits of this epic project, it first needs to be explained why the reputed critic Roger Ebert called this magnificent creation ‘a murdered movie’ in his four star review written at the time of its release.
Directed by Sergio Leone as his last film, the maestro actually filmed the footage going into 6-7 hours and had an idea of releasing it as a two part film that was rejected by the producers right away (as per IMDB). Further though Leone wanted it to be a 250-265 minutes long film including all the key scenes edited together, the final version remained a 229 minute movie leaving out more than 40 minutes of footage he really wished to be included making the desired impact.
However, the editing process didn’t stop here with the 229 minutes version being premiered at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, since post the festival a severely (rather brutally) trimmed 144 minutes version was officially released for the public in America edited by the producers against the wishes of its director. So where the European and international audience saw a 229 minutes film, Americans were made to see the 144 minutes shorter version that strangely even had a changed script progression, editing all the flashbacks and ‘back & forth’ sequences into a chronological order (with a different ending too) that simply took away the real magic of the film and its actual charm. As a result the ‘cruel shortening act’ got hugely criticized by all and the film flopped at the box office impressing none. It was later also not considered for the OSCARS and received no nominations, not even in the musical score section (for reportedly lack of proper paperwork) that is now regarded as one of the best background music in movies of this particular genre till date.
After (rightly) realizing the mistake, the film was soon released in home video/DVD market with the original close to four hour version that deservingly found both appreciation and commercial success together as expected. But in 2011-12, it was again re-created/restored by adding all the deleted scenes as sequenced by Leone and a 251 minutes long version was premiered at 2012 Cannes film festival (though they wished to present even longer 269 minute film that couldn’t be done due to certain rights issues). So finally now we have a ‘Director’s Cut’ version of 251 minutes released on DVD that essentially needs to be seen in order to understand what was originally visualized by the director and how it went through various unapproved transformations following a faulty vision.
Sharing my personal experience, I had earlier watched the shorter version and a few sequences from the 229 minutes edit many years back and found it great. Whereas witnessing the 251 minutes version recently, I had to admit that the ‘new’ film offered a completely different experience much better than the earlier ones and certainly deserves to be rated as a not to be missed passionate classic by all means.
Now coming to the creation itself, as per many artists and critics this is Sergio Leone’s finest work that should have got a much better release and reception without any unrequired interference in the final edits by the production house. But having said that, it’s not going to be an easy watch for many with a pretty long duration of 4 hours and 11 minutes with a few slow sequences too where we just have the brilliantly scored background music enhancing the visual narration with minimum spoken dialogues as such. So where for the keen students of cinema this would turn out to be a sheer gem, for the regular viewers it might not be a hugely entertaining venture following a set pattern of a gangster classic asking for your four long hours at a stretch.
Largely based on real life gangster Harry Grey's novel ‘The Hoods’ with semi-autobiographical tones, it’s a story moving through five decades with a substantial focus on childhood days of four gangsters of New York city. Having many Oscar nominated and winner actors in its cast ensemble, OUATIA features one of the best performances of Robert De Niro leading the show as Noodles along with Elizabeth McGovern as Deborah and James Wood as Max.
The film has its own share of nudity with few obscene scenes forming an essential part of its descriptive screenplay. And at times one really has to concentrate hard to know what exactly is happening on the screen taking the story forward. Yet after going through the entire glorious effort having a remarkable art direction with terrific detailing of those times and events ending on a hard hitting note you surely feel like having seen a sheer masterpiece in terms of filmmaking, direction and performances reminding you of the cult THE GODFATHER series due to the similar theme. Interestingly, (as quoted in IMDB) Sergio Leone had earlier refused to direct the first part of THE GODFATHER and probably this was his way of overcoming the deep regret as it seems.
Anyway, concluding it with an honest statement, I am recommending this film for the die-hard cinema lovers alone, exclusively for these five outstanding merits of the classic given below.
1. It has an exceptional opening 15-20 minutes wherein you have very few dialogues and only background score slowly guiding you through the unclear progression beautifully.
2. Within these opening moments there is a continuous ringing of phone moving into various sequences as if its ringing in the subconscious of a person. And believe it or not, the phone actually keeps ringing for more than 20 times cutting through the silence like a sword.
3. Watch out for ‘A Frisbee’ coming in on the screen just to represent a change in times, conceived superbly.
4. Look out for the hilarious baby-switching scene in the middle that has been shot really well. And it truly scares you like hell thinking about the outcome in the times when there was no DNA test available to know the actual father.
5. The most intriguing scene in the film remains the meeting of Noodles with Deborah after decades (of a brutal rape), when Deborah is taking off her make-up in the green room, calmly talking with Noodles looking into the mirror. And I would like to rate it as one of the best intense sequences ever conceived, depicting the distance between two wounded souls when they accidentally meet again after a few decades.
6. Lastly Sergio Leone plays his final ace in the climax sequence that keeps you guessing with more than one possible conclusion taking the film to another level altogether.
But remember, this can all be found only in the longer version of the film, preferably the ‘Director’s Cut’ version of 251 minutes. So don’t dare compromise with anything shorter ruining your own experience of watching many maestros at work together led by Sergio Leone.
Tags : Once Upon A Time In America (1984), Movies To See Before You Die, Classic Thriller, Not to be missed movies list by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Must Watch Movies, Exceptional Gangster Movies, Worth Watching Films list at BTC
23 July 2015 / bobbysing /
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