Do Indian Films need an Oscar?

Every year during this time of year, we have our own tamasha for Oscars. We are more excited for Oscars than probably say Harvey Weinstein.

How we select a film as official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film categroy is still a mystery to most Indians. How FFI nominates members is a bigger mystery than the big bang theory. Thanks to the influx of social media, now we have an opinion on which film we should send to Oscars. Sadly it does not depend upon on the person’s own choice, but it depends on what this person thinks that the Goras will like.Continue reading “Do Indian Films need an Oscar?”

88th Academy Awards (Oscars 2016): The Complete List of Winners

All the winners from 88th Academy Awards, we will be updating the list as when they are announced.

Best Original Screenplay: Spotlight

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Big ShortContinue reading “88th Academy Awards (Oscars 2016): The Complete List of Winners”

Tatsumi : An Animated Experience Of A Lifetime!

(Smaran Savanal, Animation Director, Ripple Media, shares his experience of working on TATSUMI (2011), a Japanese animation feature based on the life and work of the late Yoshihiro Tatsumi, a Japanese Comic Art Legend.)


TATSUMI 2Singapore. June 2010; a month that proved to be a turning point in my life. Years and years of hard work, patience, staying power, blood, sweat and tears finally bore fruit. An opportunity to transit to mainstream feature film animation had beckoned! It was a ‘Dream come true’!

During the final year exhibition, the Animation department of Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore hosted HR heads from various studios at the exhibition space on Campus (this was primarily to butter them up for placements 😉  ) Ahem..anyway, moving on, I was chatting up with colleagues and faculty with a beer and a pizza slice when I felt a tap on my shoulder.  It turned out to be one of my classmates from China, urging that someone wanted to meet me and was standing by my screen (we had screens displaying our work)

To my delight, it was the then Vice President of Infinite Frameworks studios (now Infinite Studios) Singapore and Indonesia. In a very pleasant chat that followed, he said he liked my work and that they (Infinite Frameworks) were hiring interns for a Japanese animation feature and that I should apply. Needless to say, I wasted no time in doing so J.

Post an animation test, a telecon and an interview at a coffee shop, I found an offer letter in my email inbox stating that I was hired as a junior animator! This was my ‘Chandler moment’ per se. (those who have seen the episode from ‘FRIENDS’ will know what I am referring to 😉 ) In no time, I was on my way to the island of Batam in Indonesia! The animation studio was based there at Nongsa Riau whilst the Head Office was based in Singapore.

Continue reading “Tatsumi : An Animated Experience Of A Lifetime!”

Liar’s Dice is India’s Official Entry to the 87th Academy Awards (2015)

Liar's DiceActress turned filmmaker Geetu Mohandas has had a dream outing so far with her very 1st feature film as director, Liar’s Dice. Produced by  Alan McAlex and Ajay Rai of Jar Pictures, the film is written by Geetu as well. Featuring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Geetanjali Thapa and Manya Gupta in the main roles, the film has won 2 National Awards at the 61st National Awards earlier this year (Best Actress-Geetanjali Thapa and Best Cinematography-Rajeev Ravi). Liar’s Dice has also been doing well in the festival circuits, with official entries to Sundance, Rotterdam, Seattle, Sofia etc. Now Liar’s Dice has been selected as India’s official entry for the Best Foreign Film Category in the 87th Academy Awards (2015),beating quite a few other contenders in the process.Continue reading “Liar’s Dice is India’s Official Entry to the 87th Academy Awards (2015)”

Silver Linings Playbook Movie Review

First things first, Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely the first reason why one must watch this movie. That girl is pretty, she is smart, is immensely talented and oh boy is she is a smoking hottie! And yes for women there is Bradley Cooper. (Yawn)Continue reading “Silver Linings Playbook Movie Review”

Cloud Atlas -They finally made one like they used too

You know you are seeing something different when the guy behind you says, ‘Yaar, Inception bhi itni complicated nahi thi.’  In Cloud Atlas you see, a man helping an African American slave hide in his ship cabin in the 1800s. The same actor then plays a man in the 22nd century, trying to rescue a Soomni (a futuristic humanoid cyborg workforce) from her eminent ‘recycling’.

Filled with so much, even the poster seems to be bursting at the seams. Do note the Warli-like painting on Tom’s face.


Seems complicated and unrelated? It is. I won’t defend or even try to detail the six parallel storylines you will see in Cloud Atlas. And, as if taking on six parallel story lines weren’t enough, these storylines span over a period of 5 centuries and have different actors playing different characters in them.

The make-up used here is so flawless that apart from a few instances, you won’t even be able to recognise these characters. For example, you see that  weird looking alien thingy below, it’s actually Hugh Grant.

He’s come a long way from ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ as you can see.


You ask what the point of it all is. I guess on your first viewing of the Cloud Atlas, you won’t get it. In its entirety at least. On repeated viewings, you might get an outline, but it will still be blurred. But, I assure you on every subsequent viewing you will be delighted and awed. You will feel a generous amount of gratitude and understand through the ages, and despite our difference we always have been and always will be similar. Or simply put, you’ll experience an efficient demonstration of the term literati calls ‘The Human Condition’.

The movie nudges towards karma, reincarnation and other spiritual ho-hum. And you don’t even have to believe in it to enjoy it. It shows that as a race, we humans tend to repeat the same mistakes again and despite that, we all mean to be good in the end.

The word epic somehow doesn’t do justice to this movie. It’s ambition personified. In its spirit and its scale, it embodies the spectacle and scope sci-fi and cinema can cover. And you might say, what’s the big deal with spectacle? We’ve seen Avatar, giant robots squash each other to death and even had 7 superheroes come together for rescuing our world.

Right when you feel you’ve seen it all, Cloud Atlas takes a different approach to spectacle. Its stories are more in line with the works of sci-fi greats like Richard Matheson and Arthur C. Clarke. It uses sci-fi and spectacle not as a plot devise but to raise profound questions about humanity and our very being. What’s even more impressive is that its film makers had the courage to not answer those questions for you, or nudge you towards the answers. ‘Atlas’ is way too mature to indulge in that kind of cinematic spoon-feeding.

Sounds a bit daunting? Well, don’t forget it’s got the Wachowkis (The Matrix Trilogy) at the helm. You also enjoy a sumptuous feast of visuals and some stunning chase scenes too. It took 3 years to decide the editing of its sequences and its thoughtful influence is evident through the film. Its editing helps simplify things and make it easy to follow. The editor Alexander Berner avidly uses match cuts to connect one character’s actions to another character in some other century. So you see a character rushing to open a door in one storyline and a door being opened in another storyline. Thanks to Berner’s deftness, the near 3 hour length passes by like a breeze.

Let’s not forget the music. ‘The Cloud Atlas Sextet’ is one of the most haunting themes ever to accompany a film. Part mellifluous, part chilling, it closely walks the line between a dirge and love-song and makes you want to take out your smartphone and download it right away.

Now to wax poetic on the direction. It always surprises me when 2 directors direct a single film. I think it’s most uncommon to find two people sharing the same distinct vision. When the 2 directors involved are brothers (the Coens, the Hughes, Abbas-Mustan: D) the common background and upbringing must help. But here as the German genius Tom Tykwer joins the Wachowskis to form a 3-headed director tour de force, the result still is a seamless feature without any tonal shifts. If it took 3 directors to tame this beast of a film that’s based on David Mitchell’s Man Booker nominated tome, then it surely needed some gifted actors to ensure the magic on paper seamlessly translates on the screen.

Tom Hanks and Halle Berry do most of the heavy lifting here as star crossed lovers, separated in most centuries who finally come together in the final segment. You see, there are happy endings in the distant future too. And once you see Hanks as an angry Irish writer, you can only wonder why don’t you see him do this more often. We have all come to find relief in seeing our good ol’ Tom play good ol’ guys onscreen, but this is quite refreshing and Atlas serves as a great showcase for almost every actor involved. There’s much to be said about Ben Wishaw’s haunting performance as a libertine career-climbing composer, who realises his slyness is no match for the cruelty of this world.

I could go on about its overwhelming scale and its heartfelt stories. But, I will keep it short instead – get off your chair and see this movie NOW. For when it grabs the Oscars next year for Make-up and editing, you can act like a true-blue film buff and say I watched it before it came on blu-ray. Now that it’s mostly out of theatres, there’s always the blu-ray.

There’s been a ‘yellow-faced’ controversy attached to the film. You know the whole bit about using Western actors to play Asian roles and just changing the look of their eyes during makeup. Well, I think it’s unfair and hyper-sensitive. Had the directors cast separate Asian actors, it would only make the movie more difficult to follow and besides a movie that asserts the similarities all humans share, the controversy only muddles the message of the film.

Although, there’s one instance that disturbs me. I know this part of the story occurs in 1800s, but why in almost every film when an African American has to show some skills, the skill always involve his physical prowess. When will we get to see an African American ‘Will Hunting’ maths wiz?

Bollywood’s no better either. With its easy-to-stereotype approach it has given us plenty of horny Jatts, silly Sardars and nerdy Malyalis. *Sighs*



Tete-a-tete with Anurag Basu

Noted film maker Anurag Basu, whose latest film Barfi is India’s official entry to the Oscars 2013 was on a visit to XIM, Bubaneswar for a Conclave Summit. I took this opportunity to discuss with him about the issue of plagiarism in ‘Barfi’, the bold scenes of ‘Murder’ becoming a trend-setter and also his forthcoming movie on the life of Kishore Kumar.Continue reading “Tete-a-tete with Anurag Basu”

The Intouchables (2011) : A Highly Recommended French Movie

It’s funny how for both the times I ended up writing a review for a film, they were   movies that I had  seen because of a mistake. The iconic Sean Connery, Kevin Costner starrer “The Untouchables” was what I was looking for, and my friend ended up giving me a French movie “The Intouchables.” And just as before, I sure am glad for his mistake.

Well, let me jump to the point. Although this particular film didn’t seem to make it big on the Academy Awards scenario and most people have probably not even heard of it, in France, it was voted as the “Cultural Event of the Year 2011.” It has become almost a phenomenon in the country, becoming the second most successful film in French history.

The movie starts at night. The first thing that hits you is a riveting background score, the beauty of which only keeps increasing, almost exponentially, through the film. The scene is inside a car. Two men are sitting silently. One the driver, the other the passenger. And then out of the blue, the guy driving the car starts speeding. Cuts through traffic, runs a red signal, and causing enough infractions for the cops to get on his tail. That’s when he bets the other, older guy a 100 euros that he’ll shake them off. The bet is on, and so is the chase. Alas, our man is no Jason Statham. He is stopped. And just when a spark of sanity seems to sparkle in his eyes, he bets the older man 200 euros that the police will actually escort them to where they’re going. What ensues will make you smile no matter what. The older man is a tetraplegic, who feigns a stroke, and the police fall for it. Escorting our two men, who are now laughing away with a puff of weed, to the hospital. After this, the movie runs into a flashback.

Meet Driss, played wonderfully by Omar Sy. An unemployed, young black man from the ghettos of Paris, having recently had a stint in the cooler. He walks the street with a devil-may-care attitude. Seemingly unperturbed about everything. Having no direction in life, yet having the look of a man who has it all figured out. Now meet Philippe, an equally marvelous character played by François Cluzet of “French Kiss” fame. A tetraplegic aristocrat, owing his condition to a paragliding accident, who has servants to do his bidding 24/7. He, with his assistant, Magalie (Audrey Fleurot) is interviewing people for the job of a personal caretaker. Driss, who is waiting in line, has no intention of being hired. He just wants a signature of rejection on his paper, in order to continue receiving his welfare benefits. You’ll end up being as puzzled as Philippe’s assistant as to why he takes Driss seriously. But then again, these events actually happened, so who are we to question? Driss is asked to come the following day to collect his paper. Disappointed, but having no option, he leaves. When he reaches home, we are introduced to a large family, almost culturally typical. His aunt, upon seeing him, throws him out for not having been home for the last six months. But as I said before, Driss is hardly bothered. The next day morning, he reports back to Philippe’s mansion to collect the paper. And that’s where the real movie starts. Instead of rejecting the man, Philippe hires him on a trial basis, making sure to mention that nobody before has lasted more than a week, owing to Philippe’s strict schedules. Driss, having nothing to lose accepts the job. However, the first day itself on the job, being asked to put medical stockings on Philippe’s feet, and then later to help him with his, erm.. bowel movements proves too much to handle for Driss. Yet, for some reason, he holds on. Now, it is important for me to state that while Driss is an almost wasted young man, flouting authority and with nothing to live for, Philippe happens to be a man of discipline and respect. How is the first supposed to run around at the bidding of the other, is difficult to put in mere words. Yet, a bond forms. And only gets stronger through the remaining length of the movie.

One of the best scenes is where Driss pulls out Philippe’s neighbour from his car and asks him to not park it again in front of Philippe’s gate. Something that no caretaker had done before. As Philippe later tells his lawyer, that though Driss is on the edge of danger, he shows no empathy for his tetraplegic employer. But he is tall, strong, healthy and not as dumb as people think. Throughout the rest of the movie, the former of Philippe’s aforementioned statements shine out. The fact that Driss does not feel much empathy or pity for Philippe’s condition, in spite of the fact that this is probably the worst condition a man can possibly be in. Too much of sweetness from the people around you can eventually lead to a bitter, repulsive taste on the tongue. And so, Driss’ bluntness is a welcome relief for his employer. Normally we would cringe at a man who shows a lack of pity, yet there’s no way you won’t smile when Driss asks Philippe, “Where will you find a tetraplegic?” and answers- “Where you left him!” 🙂 What Philippe always had required was someone to treat him like a man who was still alive, and not as someone who was already half dead. And this is precisely what he gets from Driss, who passes the trial week, and gets a full time employment. The employer happens to be a connoisseur of the finer arts and Mozart’s music. The employee however is one who believes that the “finer” arts are nothing but blobs of paint, and music ain’t music if you can’t dance to it. How these lives, which not even the most battle scarred poker player would bet on to co-exist is shown beautifully in the movie. That credit goes as much to the directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano as to the sincere and sublime acting by almost all the actors. Soon, Driss wins over the hearts of everyone in the house, almost a la Munnabhai, only better. The house in-charge Yvonne (Anne Le Ny) brings in another few moments worth flexing your smile muscles.

The one scene which will definitely remain with you after the movie is where Driss and Philippe go for assisted paragliding. The background score, especially in that scene had me googling for the composer. It happens to be the genius of a man called Ludovico Einaudi. When someone tells you of an overall storyline of a film about a lonely tetraplegic man, being taken care of by a caretaker, one would normally think of it as a sad film. At least in the hands of an Indian director, there’s no doubt there would be tear jerking scenes throughout the film. But this French masterpiece leaves no room for tears. There are jokes- subtle, blunt, and unexpected. Basically the whole lot. This is a movie that is made to make you laugh. This is a story that just NEEDS to be told! Forgive the cliche, but the way the two men blend despite being like oil and water, is worth every second of the 112 minutes of the film.

I really feel like writing about more scenes and moments, but that would be like ruining a perfectly beautiful movie. You’ll involuntarily smile seeing how Driss grows as a person, learning to appreciate those “finer” things. And on the other hand, how Philippe changes from being as mechanical as the chair he’s in to rediscovering the fact that though he is paralysed from neck down, his heart still beats, and now with an increased vigour. Believe me, gems like these don’t come along very often. There’s almost no room to find faults. It’s not like they’re non-existent, but when seeing something as believably innocent and beautiful as “The Intouchables,” you’d be an utter arsewipe to point them out.

So, it goes without telling that watching this movie is an absolute recommendation for your summer’s to-do list. Also note that Omar Sy beat Jean Djuardin (nominated for “The Artist” ) at the César Award for Best Actor. The only reason the movie didn’t make it big in mainstream Hollywood was because of Driss’ unempathetic take on tetraplegism. The righteous men in Hollywood believed that to be blasphemous.Nevertheless ‘The Intouchables’ is a heartwarming and a highly recommended film. Don’t Miss It.

By Pranav Deshpande

The 84th Academy Awards(2012 )-List of Winners

The Artist

So finally after all the speculation and discussion regarding the same,the 84th Academy Awards were declared & given away a short while ago today ( 27th Feb,2012 ). The Artist and Hugo and have topped the list with 5 awards each.Given below is the complete list of all categories along with their nominations & the winner respectively-Continue reading “The 84th Academy Awards(2012 )-List of Winners”