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Location: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

The permanent temptation of life is to confuse dreams with reality. The permanent defeat of life is when dreams are surrendered to reality.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Short takes - Guru, Rocky Balboa


Guru

Too episodic and fragmented and derivative to be coherent . The screenplay is just a selection of events lined up in a chronological fashion, with very loose editing not helping its cause any.

In an effort to make the audience empathize with the protagonist, Gurubhai, Maniratnam portrays him as a opportunistic entrepreneur who fought against the license - permit raaj to build one of India's largest conglomerates. Very obviously modelled on Dhirubhai Ambani, the screenplay plays down the shades of grey in Gurubhai and paints him as a lovable rascal. Maniratnam, as is usually the case with him, after taking on a topical enough theme, backpeddles and refuses to go the whole distance (probably because of the issues Mr. Mukesh Ambani was supposd to have had with the making of the movie) and presents the movie as a linear narrative that is ‘boring’ to say the least often interspersed with songs that break an already tedious pace. Almost all the other characters are poorly defined, because too much effort is spent in trying to polish the central charcter's role.

There is unintended hilarity towards the end when Ashwarya Rai, who plays Gurubhai's wife, acts as a translator to Gurubhai at teh Justice Commision hearing. The speech at the end was so hilarious and badly written (and am not even referencing to the Gandhi comparison), that it sounded amatuerish…I mean Gurubhai’s speech is completely off-context to the charges he has been read out and the ludicrousness is compounded by the appreciative nod by the Justice Commision chairman.

Redeeming elements were the lush cinematography and music.

Why is it that, people in the north india, specially bollywood, have this big thing with Maniratnam. I mean he is one of the better directors, but off late his movies are too derivative. His iconic status, I guess, is primarily to do with people identifying good movies with cinematic flourishes and picture perfect frames.

Rocky Balboa

A movie that rides on a nostalgic wave, Rocky Balboa is surprisingly effective and entertaining.

The dialogues are corny and the situations cliched, but the audience is willingly cajoled and nudged to partake in the final journey of a not so smart underdog, who only knew how to be an effective pugilist...especially when the chips were down. Boxing was incidental to Rocky, but each of his fights were more about seeking something deeper inside than about the actual fight itself. In this, what is to be the final chapter of a series that started more than 15 years ago, Rocky wants to fight one last time and this time its for self respect and dignity and seeking redemption.

The languid pace of the movie, with inserts from previous installments allows us understand the rut his life has fallen into. There are plot points that attempt to flesh out Rocky's character like a developing romantic angle or his alienation from his son, but these serve just as the backdrop. It is when Bill Conti's unforgettable theme starts to the montage of Rocky training that you really feel like singing aloud and you want to stand up and whistle - which is what a few people in the audience did. This is one of the few times, I felt that audience involvement was necessary for the enjoyment of the movie. The last fight is visceral but brief, that serves as an effective sending off to this hunk of a man who got his one last shot to rest the demons.

This has been Sylvester Stalone's best acting job in a long time and if it was the last movie he acted in, he should be reasonably proud.

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