Monday, February 28, 2011

January Jinx!

By Anant Mathur (February 28, 2011)

For some reason most producers, distributors and exhibitors believe that there is a phase when films are successful and times when they're not. For example, many believe that January is a bad time to release films. Also included in the bad phases are month when IPL/World Cup matches are scheduled and Exam time.

Over the last decade January of each year has been considered to be an unlucky period for the Indian Film Industry. Very rarely have any films been successful during this period. In fact, from 2001-2005 there were no money makers during the month of January even though 68 films were released in that period. 

In 2006, there was only Rang De Basanti and 2007 just had Guru which managed to make any impact at the box office during January. 2008 was again without any earners. In 2009 and 2010 there were Raaz 2 and Ishqiya, respectively, which made a little profit. So, as you can see even though many films are released in January few are able to leave an impression.

Now lets look at this year... January 2011 took a flying start, there were not one, not two, not three, but four hits in the first month of the year. Each week of the month was able to deliver one solid hit. Week 1 - No One Killed Jessica, Week 2 - Yamla Pagla Deewana, Week 3 - Dhobi Ghat, Week 4 - Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji. The last time the industry had it this good in January was in the year 2000, when Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai and Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge proved to be big hits. 

So, is January really jinxed or is it just a coincidence?
Well, I for one don't believe in jinxes or good and bad phases. The answer is simple there were 4 hits this year because the four films had good stories and the audience appreciated the films. When you have bad stories it doesn't matter what time of the year it is, they won't click. If it was all about phases, no films would fail during the Diwali period which is considered the best time to release a film. But even big budget multi-starers have flopped at Diwali time too.

On one hand producers and exhibitors say that in India children don't have the ability to make their parents take them to movies, that's why children's films and animated films don't do well. Then these same idiots claim that releasing films during exam time is a bad idea. Well, geniuses if children don't have any pull with parents what difference does it make if exams are on? 

Logically, parents can still go see the films. Now don't tell me that they won't go because they can't leave the kids at home.

Contrary to what these filmmakers believe; 1 billion Indians do not go to the cinema halls daily. And certainly, as many fans as cricket has in India, I'm almost positive 1 billion people aren't watching each match on television. In fact, the daily attendance for cinema halls in India is in the millions; less than 1.5 percent of the country's population goes to the cinema hall on a daily basis. Approximately, 4 percent of the population watched the recent 2011 world cup opening match between India and Bangladesh. So, you tell me how a cricket match can have a direct connection with films not performing well at the box office. The numbers tell a different story. Chances are people who watch cricket matches are probably not the same people who frequent cinema halls.

In the U.S., Canada and Europe, sports like Baseball, Ice Hockey, Football and Soccer are very big and played daily, their population is not even close to India's, yet we don't hear filmmakers from these regions complain about their films not doing well due to sporting events.

It's very easy to make excuses when films aren't doing well. But instead of making excuses, why not make better films, so that the audience has no choice but to go to the cinema hall, no matter what day of the year it is. Most people watch films when they're feeling low or want some kind of entertainment to forget their troubles. I'm pretty sure people don't pick phases when they know they're going to feel low or when they would like to forget their troubles. So, it's up to filmmakers to make sure the audience has a reason to be entertained. This year is proof that if you can provide quality cinema, people will watch.

Let's stop all this phases and jinx talk and look forward to seeing quality work on screen.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tip # 4: Editing

By Anant Mathur (February 27, 2011)

Film Editing is the process of connecting shots to form a sequence then an entire motion picture. It is one of the most important aspects of film-making. Many filmmakers believe that an editor can make or break a film. A good editor can take a mediocre film and turn it into a masterpiece. 

When film editing is done well, the viewer can become so engaged that he or she is not even aware of the editor's work, that’s why editing is sometimes referred to as the “invisible art”. 

An editor job isn’t simply to mechanically put pieces of a film together, cut off film slates, or edit dialogue scenes. A film editor works creatively with the layers of images, story, dialogue, music, pacing, as well as the actors' performances to effectively "re-imagine" and even rewrite the film to craft a cohesive whole. Editors usually play a dynamic role in the making of a film.

Take for example Nikhil Advanis Kal Ho Naa Ho, the most obvious choice of all Bollywood films when talking about editing, for it’s not the writing, the direction, the stars or the production values that make this film worth watching, it’s the editing. It’s not difficult to see that Kal Ho Naa Ho truly took form in post-production. A variety of editing patterns are used to narrate the story - this is, in fact, what makes the story so slick and refreshing. The editing gives it a radically different style altogether. At places the editing creates the feel of an MTV video with quick cuts, jerky movements and unusual camera angles.

A film goes through several stages of editing before the editor arrives at the end result. The first pass is typically referred to as an “Editor’s Cut” or a “Rough Cut”. This is the first pass of what the final picture will look like when all changes to the film cut have been done and approved. The editor normally begins work on a film when the principal photography begins. The editor and director will likely see and/or discuss the raw footage shot each day, before a single frame is cut. Viewing the raw footage given the editor a rough idea of what the director wants. At this stage the rough cut might be longer than the final film. While the shooting is on, the editor keeps refining the cut. At times the editing process can go on for months, depending on the type of film, sometimes even more than a year.

When shooting end, the director gives his full attention to the editor and they further refine the cut of the film. Scenes and shots are re-ordered, shortened, removed and otherwise tweaked. This is when editor's first cut is shaped to fit the director's vision and is referred to as “Director’s Cut”. Sometimes it’s revealed that plot holes, shots or even segments are missing and may need to be captured.

After the director oversees a cut, other cuts are administered by the producer(s) and/or Studio. Before a film is released, studios will usually make changes for commercial purposes, or to remove any controversial content. The end result is known as the “Final Cut”.

A sequence of shots that seem to be physically continuous as if the camera simply changed angles in the course of a single event is known as Continuity. For example, if in one shot a man is wearing a hat, he shouldn’t be without it in the next shot.

The script supervisor and director are together responsible for maintaining continuity and averting mistakes from take to take and shot to shot. The script supervisor keeps the physical continuity of the edit in mind as shots are set up. If shots are taken out of sequence he will be alert to make sure that the hat is in the appropriate state.

A Montage Sequence is a technique in which a series of short shots are edited into a sequence to condense space, time, and information. It is usually used to suggest the passage of time. 

In many cases, a song plays in the background to enhance the mood or reinforce the message being conveyed. A well-known example of montage was seen in director Stanley Kubrik’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, which illustrates man's evolution from apes to humans.

Film editing is an art that can steer the telling and pace of a story; generate provocative montages; provide a point of view to otherwise slow paced proceedings; form an illusion of danger; accentuate an actor's performance; give importance to things you wouldn’t be aware of otherwise; and even produce an emotional link to the viewer, amongst its many other possibilities.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tango Charlie!

By Anant Mathur (February 25, 2011)

A fair bit has been written and said about Hollywood actor/Television star Charlie Sheen in the last few weeks. I wasn't going to add to the clutter, but I feel someone needs to write something positive amidst all the negative Charlie babble. Before I begin I would like to point out that I am NOT trying to justify what he did and I don't support or condone his behavior, I am merely going to speak about Charlie the actor.

Unlike hoards of his other fans today, I'm not ashamed to admit, I've been a Charlie Sheen fan since the first time I saw him in Oliver Stone's Oscar winning PLATOON, almost 25 years ago. I took an instant liking to his powerful performance. Since that first encounter with this brilliant and somewhat underrated actor, I've had the pleasure of being entertained by him in films like Lucas, No Man's Land, Wall Street, Three for the Road, Young Guns, Eight Men Out, Major League, Navy SEALs, Men at Work, Cadence, The Rookie, Hot Shots!, Loaded Weapon 1, Hot Shots! Part Deux, The Three Musketeers, The Chase, Major League II, Scary Movie 3, Scary Movie 4, not to mention his unforgettable cameo in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. And who doesn't remember his wonderful guest appearance on Friends as Phoebe's boyfriend Ryan in the hilarious Chicken Pox episode.

People are very quick to jump all over Charlie Sheen when he does something they feel is wrong and they forget all the lives he's touched in a positive way. Who can forget that he single-handedly saved "SPIN CITY" from going under after Michael J. Fox decided to leave due to his illness, who other than Charlie Sheen could accomplish that feat? The show, which should have ended after season 4, ran purely on his charm for 2 more years. Do you know how many people kept their jobs and are still earning royalties from that show because of Charlie Sheen?

Similarly, in an age when shows are lucky to last only one, two or just three seasons, Charlie Sheen's Two and a Half Men has been on air for eight, plus the viewers want more. It's one of the highest rated shows on television and even the kid who plays Jake (Angus T. Jones), Charlie's nephew, on Two And A Half Men is minting money as the highest paid child star on television (earning $300,000 per episode), although he's only in the show for 2 minutes of each episode, he can thank Charlie Sheen for that too. Series creator Chuck Lorre would probably be the first to admit that Two and a Half Men wouldn't last for Two and a Half Minutes without Charlie Sheen.

So, how is it alright for Chuck Lorre to publicly humiliate Charlie Sheen by saying "If Charlie Sheen outlives me, I'm gonna be really pissed" in the vanity card at the end of an episode of Two and a Half Men, but the moment Charlie says something about Chuck Lorre, CBS and Warner Bros. cancel the season? Not only is that being hypocritical, but it also shows the kind of yellow belly people who are running the television industry. If Chuck Lorre can be rude why can't Charlie Sheen. Just because Chuck Lorre is using his vanity cards as a mask doesn't mean he should be able to get away with everything. And why cancel the season when Charlie is on the verge of returning - just because of a few silly comments no one really cares about except for the media, CBS and Warner Bros.

It's disturbing when crew members of a hit show like Two and A Half Men lash out against it's star simply because their show is delayed by a few weeks. Saying things like "We are really pissed. A lot of us do not get paid if we don't work. So, if he's off getting rehabbed, or porn-o-ing, or whatever, we're screwed.", and behaving like poverty-stricken people who get paid less than minimum wage doesn't benefit anyone. How quickly they forget that were it not for Charlie Sheen they wouldn't have had a steady job or paycheck for the last 8 years earning them millions in the process! Are you telling me that in the last eight years the crew hasn't saved enough to get them through a few weeks of trouble? If they're so needy, instead of bitching publicly about it and getting the show canceled, perhaps they could have asked for an advance on their salary. If they were starving and in such bad need of money, I'm sure the producers and network wouldn't have hesitated in paying the crew of the highest rated comedy on TV (they can certainly afford it after all the money the show has made for them)

If at a time, when a man is hospitalized, the only thing you're thinking of is what's going to happen about your paycheck, there's something seriously wrong with our society!

Let's suppose for a moment that Two and a Half Men ended after season 7 as a lot of comedies do. Where would all these people be? I'm sure after being part of a hit show like Two and a Half Men no one would want to hire them, right! These morons forget that Charlie Sheen not only gave them 8 years but set them up to be able to get work for the rest of their lives because they're working on the number one comedy in television. If you have a problem with Charlie Sheen's behavior then you can always leave the show, you don't have to work on it or with him, there are millions out there who would love to be in your shoes and working on a hit show like Two and a Half Men with Charlie Sheen. If the producers and network had a problem with Charlie Sheen why did they give him a new contract? His troubles aren’t a new thing; they should have canceled the show when his previous contract was up. It seems awfully like he's the golden goose for certain people, doesn't it?

Instead of beating him over the head, it should be everyone's responsibility to get Charlie Sheen back on his feet again so he can entertain us once more. Comedian George Burns smoked everyday till his death and he lived to be 100 years old - perhaps somewhere in there lays the solution to your conundrum Mr. Lorre. It's not for us to tell someone what kind of lifestyle they should lead. Unless we want to live in a dictatorship and I fear we're not far from it, last I checked everyone had a right to live their life as they saw fit. If they do something wrong, the law is right there to punish them. Many people have struggled with addiction and if they don't receive the required support they may never come out of it. So, the next time you read about Charlie Sheen, instead of belittling him, perhaps you will choose to support him and help him get back on his feet.

Again I'm not defending his actions, but I would like to leave you with this little quip... Imagine all the people who would be out of work if Charlie Sheen didn't exist as we know him: doctors, lawyers, the so called "experts", Journalists who were nobody's two weeks ago, agents, actors, writers, producers, directors, limo drivers, porn stars, bartenders, waiters, police officers, judges, therapists, the crew of Two and a Half Men and of course Chuck Lorre, etc. etc...

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved

DISCLAIMER: The above post is meant for entertainment purposes only; readers shouldn't take it seriously or interpret it as advice.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Heroes & Villains

By Anant Mathur (February 11, 2011)

One of the first films I remember seeing in the cinema hall was Qurbani (1980), I was 5 years old at the time, and even at that young age I understood one thing: all great films had incredible Heroes & Villains! Since the beginning of films there has been the fight of good vs. evil. But over the years these so called Heroes & Villains have changed drastically.

Today, heroes have gray shades and villains are not as dark and sinister as they once were. Society too has changed. With the emergence of malls and multiplexes the days of Hafta Vasuli and Gang violence have disappeared. In this age of Twitter, Facebook and Google, a new kind of evil is lurking. 

Gone are the days of smugglers and gangsters, now is the time of tech savvy villains. He's no longer ugly looking, he doesn't wear a patch on one eye, a scar on his face or two different colored eyes, he's like the common man, so common in fact that it's hard to believe he's a villain. He's, in fact, a Con-Man.

Instead of being repulsed by this new breed of movie villain we actually awe-inspire them. In a strange sort of way, we wish to relate to them and to a certain degree idolize them. When the villain looks like Hrithik Roshan, Shahrukh Khan or Salman Khan, etc., it becomes difficult not to. 

Perhaps if these Con-Men were still played by the likes of Pran, Prem Chopra, Amrish Puri, Amjad Khan, Ajeet, Danny Denzongpa, Raza Murad, Shakti Kapoor or Gulshan Grover, we wouldn't feel the same attraction towards them.

From the Mid 90s onwards we were introduced to heroes who didn't use guns, knives and fists, instead they were the pride of their family. Even the second guy in a love triangle bowed out gracefully without a single punch being thrown. Films like Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kareeb, Mobahhatein, Dil Chahta Hai, Hum Saath Saath Hain, Taal, Jab Pyaar Kisi Se Hota Hai, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Dil To Pagal Hai, etc. introduced us to a metro-sexual hero - he has style, he has grace, not to mention a pretty face. He respects his elders, he doesn't elope with the girl, he seeks an honorable relationship.

Today, the rules of what a hero is have changed again, in the past a hero was someone who fought against evil, protected the weak and followed certain beliefs/principles. Nowadays, heroes are given characteristics which make it difficult to decide if they're the hero or the villain. They no longer fight against evil, they're usually the cause of it. They're not interested in the weak, they're very power hungry and don't trust anyone. They don't follow any belief/principle that may keep them from achieving their goals/dreams. In short, today's heroes lack honor, respect and discipline - they want to do the right thing, but are willing to take short cuts to do it.

A lot of great heroes and villains have come out of Bollywood over the last few decades, below is a list of my favorites.

Ten Greatest Villains of Bollywood Film:

10. Crime Master Gogo (Andaz Apna Apna) - Shakti Kapoor
9. Bad Man (Ram Lakhan) - Gulshan Grover
8. Lotiya Pathan (Tezaab) - Kiran Kumar
7. Mr. A (Dhoom 2) - Hrithik Roshan
6. Dr. Dang (Karma) - Anupam Kher
5. Lion (Kalicharan) - Ajeet
4. Gokul Pandit (Dushman) - Ashutosh Rana
3. Shakaal (Shaan) - Kulbhushan Kharbanda
2. Mogambo (Mr. India) - Amrish Puri
1. Gabbar Singh (Sholay) - Amjad Khan

Ten Greatest Heroes of Bollywood Film:

10. Krrish (Krrish) - Hrithik Roshan
9. Arun Verma (Mr. India) - Anil Kapoor
8. Ajay Mehra (Ghayal) - Sunny Deol
7. Raju (Guide) - Dev Anand
6. Veeru (Sholay) - Dharmendra
5. Bhuvan (Lagaan) - Aamir Khan
4. Raj Malhotra (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge) - Shahrukh Khan
3. Chulbul Pandey (Dabangg) - Salman Khan
2. Jai (Sholay) - Amitabh Bachchan
1. Rancho (3 Idiots) - Aamir Khan

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Who is the undisputed King of Bollywood?

By Anant Mathur (February 05, 2011)


Amitabh Bachchan  
Shahrukh Khan
Salman Khan
Aamir Khan
Akshay Kumar
Dilip Kumar
Dev Anand
Raj Kapoor
Shammi Kapoor
Hrithik Roshan

Poll closed

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved