Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hail The Anti - Thriller

Hindi film industry is going through exciting times. Rang De Basanti, Chakde! India and Lage Raho Munnabhai were peerless and superior products. These movies excited me because they refuted the norm. These were the movies that will redefine Bollywood for years to come. Rang De Basanti rewrote the rules of drafting a screenplay – it was so clever I must say. Chakde! India brought a whole new set of technologies to depict sporting action in such detail and for sure will spawn a number of sports based movies. Lage Raho Munnabhai brought Hrishida style of comedy to forefront and proved that it can be a commercial success. And all these three had one thing in common. It was the story that was hero in them. Incidentally all these were blockbuster hits. It doesn’t matter to me though. There have been some classics like Andaz Apna Apna and Lamhe which never tasted the box office success.

But if one really tries to make a sense out of it, these movies don’t belong to any particular genre. RDB is not an action drama neither Chakde is a stand alone sports movie (it has its share of patriotism and drama too with sprinkling of so many spices of the real India). LRM isn’t a full on comedy either. These are just unique movies which come once in a while. They wouldn’t be able to raise the standard of average movies. So you needed someone who starts pushing the envelope in the existing genres. Someone who can contest the norm but still appeal to the masses.

The thriller genre is definitely finding some saviors in Sriram Raghvan (Johnny Gaddaar) and Navdeep Singh (Manorama Six Feet Under). The duo of Abbas - Mustaan has played a long innings in this genre. But they couldn’t better their own efforts of Khiladi and Baazigar. Personally I believe that two best whodunits that Bollywood has ever produced are Khiladi and Gupt (Rajiv Rai). While Baazigar reinforced the need of Anti – Hero (SRK catapulted into stardom after that), as a concept it was nothing new. Ashok Kumar played the first Anti – Hero of Hindi Films in Kismet. Audiences had started getting bored of regular whodunits (they aren’t shocked by the culmination anymore or instead found them outright foolish). Also Anti – Hero has been beaten to death and doesn’t hold freshness 13 years after Baazigar. So what excited me in the latest two thrillers JG and Manorama that impelled me to write this piece?

I am sure Manorama won’t be a hit and JG would be a moderate success that also due to Word of Mouth. This is because of lack of star value and limited publicity. After all masses love to see those K titled bawlers which SRK and K Jo are experts in. Still it’s my strong opinion that Johnny Gaddaar is one of the best movies to come in recent times and one of the best thrillers of all times in Hindi Cinema. And Manorama has brought out the small town aspirations and socio economic divide existing in our society so beautifully in the genre as old as thriller. Both the movies are so different that they actually shouldn’t be called the Thrillers. They are Anti – Thrillers. And they are here to stay.

While in JG style meets substance with beautiful camerawork. Each frame in itself is so stimulating. Various colored tints are used to depict the psyche of the characters and background score is haunting. The minimal songs used in the movie carry the story forward and are apt for such genre. The titles at the start of the movie are an ode to movies of 70’s. So the film maker captures you at the very start of the movie and you are at the edge of your seat till end. That too when you already know who the Gaddaar is!

Now that’s why I called it the Anti – Thriller. The movie reveals the Gaddaar in the very start and also describes the way the gaddaari is committed. Audiences seem to think they have caught hold of every detail. But later they are in for shock. The premise of the movie is not to find who the culprit is, but instead it is related to the fact that how the Gaddaar will save his skin or will he not! What further impressed me was the fact the director hasn’t shied away from his inspirations and has clearly illustrated them in the movie. A very sharp screenplay. Go watch it!!!

On the other hand, Manorama titillates you as an audience. It slowly grows on you. Again it’s not a regular whodunit because the audience has the fair idea about the culprit. But it’s the protagonist’s curiosity to find the truth and the obstacles he faces doing the same that makes this otherwise average movie a lesson in making Anti – Thrillers. It’s not a very fast paced slick movie. It makes you think and you fall in love with SatyaVeer, the character played by Abhay Deol, because he is just as fallible as you and me and not a hero. Again a very intelligent movie. It will garner top TRPs when it comes on TV.