Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Easily, the best Indian film I've seen in ages. It is a bit gimmicky here and there, but I think Homi Adajania has got what it takes to become a great writer-director. Unlike the wannabes and unoriginal copycats that populate the Indian movie scene, he seems to know his cinema.
Of course, Being Cyrus is not blemish free. Indian production values are still very primitive. The same technical issues that dog most of our films are glaringly obvious here as well. For one, the camera department needs a kick up its backside. I am sure for all the money that Bombay cinema has, it can at-least buy some decent prime lenses. The unhealthy habit of shooting every film on anamorphic cinemascope (despite not properly using the size offered by the format) means there is very little idea or effort spent on quality lenses by the industry as a whole. In Being Cyrus, the DP has chosen to use lazy zoom lenses for many shots. This means that while pulling focus, the picture tends to 'barrel' a little, resulting in a tiny change of focal length. This, despite the fact that the focus puller was possibly asleep for the rest of the shoot.
Finally an Indian film with good sound. Though Andrew Belletty seems to have had some trouble with location sound recording, Indian actors, especially those of the calibre of Naseeruddin Shah and Saif Ali Khan can be trusted to not faff around with ADR and lip-synching. Belletty has done an admirable job with location atmosphere recreation and foley supervision. (A little springy here and there, and a little too triggerhappy with the reverb—but hey, I have done worse, and have got away with it)
Coming to the screenplay, I thought it was paced very well. And I do not think, like most Indian films, its best moments were conceived as happy accidents. Adajania uses the life he knows best and it is this genuineness in capturing Parsi life that I found most impressive. Barathiraja did not show promise as a great chronicler of Tamil rural life by accident. He wrote and directed what he knew best, and showed early success. I heard quite a few complaints that people found the ending a little too contrived and obvious. I state once again that there is nothing wrong with contrivance as long as the pacing is good. In fact a post about that and Shyamalan's The Village is long overdue, and I promise to write about that sometime soon.
Of all things, I am most impressed by Adajania's direction. Yes, his shot selection at places was found wanting, and I am not entirely sure that patronising Indian filmmaking traditions permit a young director to work with 'seasoned' actors to bring out what would be best for the film; yet, he demonstrates a good grasp of the medium.
The performances were very good, but I would credit the director apart from the natural talents the actors bring in. For once an Indian movie in English where the language did not seem forced or pretentious.
I hope Homi Adajania gets to make more than just genre pieces in the future. And I hope it is films like these and not awful nonsense like Rang De Basanti that stand up to represent Indian cinema. There is no point in being the largest manufacturer of motion picture if we've got only crap to sell.
Comments to Being Cyrus
Wonder if you would have praised the sound department had the sound guy been a 'Rasool Pookkutty' (read: indian) than an 'Andrew Bellaty' (read: firang, ok ok australian)
posted by5:22 pm, April 04, 2006
Well me, you don't quite get the point do you? My job is not praising or putting down people, and least of all based on their nationality. I do not even know why I'm explaining this to you, but I try to keep my discussions on my blog rational and unemotional. That includes trying to avoid getting into the sort of discussion you'd prefer. Why you should start questioning my racial preferences I don't know? Is it because I try and complain that Indian films can do better than wallow in the mindless praise of mediocrity?
And to top it all, Andy is half Indian!
posted by Anand7:15 pm, April 04, 2006
it is the so called CRAP read masala movies which sell here, a vijay masala movie, there is no point in striving to write screenplays like wht hollywood does, which is wht u seem to be gettin at. indian movies have their own unique charm, if audiences cant appreciate them, to hell with them!!
posted by ada-paavi!!!!5:37 pm, April 05, 2006
My take on this flick (in Tamil, which I figured you might understand). Not a very 'informed insider' kind of review, but more like the spontaneous reaction of a movie-goer. I do think better Indian movies have been made and will be made.
posted by Voice on Wings7:27 pm, April 05, 2006
Sigh. I pity you dude.
posted by :-)8:33 pm, April 05, 2006
Vatsan: I sometimes chose not be so dismissive about the audience :p And to clarify things... I am not a big fan of Hollywood either.
Wings: I appreciate your reactions and I feel some of them are valid, though unfortunately I have to disagree with you on many counts.
Mister smiley face: The feeling's mutual :-)
posted by Anand11:59 pm, April 05, 2006
I was unsure about watching it, till I read this. Good stuff. I agree about Adajania being on familiar territory - it shows.
posted by BNB1:18 am, April 06, 2006
Cheers BNB! It is so dissappointing to see somebody comepletely agreeing with me... disturbs me :p
posted by Anand1:06 am, April 07, 2006
well, havent watched it... but hav been readin tat it is a well-made movie... hopefully shld catch it up soon!!
posted by kuttichuvaru1:49 am, April 07, 2006
posted by Anand12:21 am, April 08, 2006
Anand - How come your review does not speak a word about how good the story was, how interesting the characters were etc.?
You call this a genre piece.. What genre are we talking about here, please?
And please explain that dream that Saif has in the movie to me.
Good that you mentioned Night Shyamalan in your review here. This movie was very much like a Night Shyamalan movie. Tricks, gimmicks, scene shuffling, sans a story.
posted by swami7:42 am, May 03, 2006
I watched a horrible video copy of this movie (taped to video from a pirated DVD I guess) given to me by a friend, but thoroughly enjoyed this movie! This is the kind of Indian movies that I like to watch. When this is released on a DVD I am going to add it to my collection! I totally agree with your review especially the camera problems.
posted by12:35 am, May 08, 2006
I thought the movie was genuine though I would not dare to compare this movie with some of bharathiraja's classics. I thought a better movie recently was "morning raga" with not too many famous names other than Shabana Azmi to boot.
posted by Arun Venkatasubramanian12:45 am, May 08, 2006
References to Being Cyrus
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