Bhrigu's question

कभी जो याद भी आता हूँ मैं तो कहते हैं के आज बज़्म में कुछ फ़ित्ना-ओ-फ़साद नहीं - मिर्ज़ा ग़ालिब

Location: the valley, California, United States

Bay Area, Strategy Manager, Haas- U. C. Berkeley, Marathons

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Rising - a review

Product managers in technology firms usually have a checklist that they tick off while planning the feature-set of their offerings. I am convinced that Ketan Mehta must have used a similar checklist while developing the scenes in his latest release, The Rising.

Geoffrey Moore in his book Inside the Tornado, had recommended that product managers ought to ensure that their products offer everything for somebody rather than something for everybody. Ketan Mehta has willfully ignored this piece of wisdom and proceeded with a checklist that attempts to please the three segments of his target audience; the brown front bencher, a particular class of desi film reviewer, and the white critic.

Consider the feature set that perpetuated the stereotypes about India, those that were clearly intended for the pinot noir drinking, pipe-smoking Caucasian film critic who purports to explain Bollywood to his countrymen;

  • Untouchability – check
  • Astrology and superstition – check
  • Ignorance of technology – check
  • Sati (Suttee) – check
  • Drugs – check
  • Slavery – check
  • A fair-playing-minority-in-his-own-country White man – check
  • Snake charmer – err…maybe, a cobra will do – check
  • Nautch girls – check
  • Colorful elephants - check

Mehta did not forget the JNU-educated jholi carrying film reviewer. In addition to the above, he has ticked off the following:

  • Bash free market economics – check
  • Muslim leader/friend – check
  • Sympathy for China – check
  • Opposition to Maharajahs – check

Now the front bencher:

  • Masochistic dialogue – check
  • Item number – check
  • Holi song – check
  • Village fairs – check

And on on, ad nauseum. The result is a bhel-puri that is laughable. I will not spend too much time reviewing a dud. Suffice to say that Aamir Khan, an artiste whom I admire, has taken himself too seriously for this light hearted Manmohan Desai type flick. It is presumably a film about Mangal Pandey. Apart from the name of the main character and one or two incidents, the whole film is a work of fiction. It speaks volumes for the lack of courage exhibited by Mehta in not even attempting to make a serious film.

He should’ve seen Junoon. He would’ve learnt something.


Anonymous raven said...

Mangal and Mrs. Mangal in the rain song & dance - check?

4:33 PM  
Blogger Suhail said...

Quizman, your review sounds very disappointing(depressing?) to me :(
I was hoping to catch if it ever came to Austin. Now I am not so sure.
Especially that - horror of horrors - ITEM NUMBER!! For crying out's suppose to be a period film. What is an item number doing in there? Why can't our film makers for once make a half-decent period even if it's a bit fictionalised account?
So basically four years of waiting for an Amir movie goes waste..mwaaah!!

7:11 PM  
Blogger Suhail said...

Also, much thanks for that Junoon link.

7:15 PM  
Blogger doubtinggaurav said...

But aren't cliches truth got stale by repeations ??

10:54 PM  
Anonymous Charu said...

loved your review:)
but usually the something for everybody formula works - in fact, that is *the* secret formula for successful masala movies - in this case, I guess taking a "true" story and generously embellishing it with stereotypes and factual errors did not work!

10:07 PM  
Blogger doubtinggaurav said...

Name an historical movie which was 100% factually accurate.
If you want fact go and read a book or watch discovery.
Item numbers just means some racy song and dance number not neccessarily cabaret, surely they danced in 1857 !

12:01 AM  
Anonymous manu said...

Pl see also following site:

article on Mangal Pandey and the present context.

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smorgasbord? Just a guess ...

2:02 AM  
Blogger Quizman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

raven - LOL

Suhail - I was very disappointed with the film. Shatranj Ke Khiladi and Junoon were far superior films that were not only accurate, but also enjoyable works of art.

doubtinggaurav - see above comment

charu - agreed, but with Lagaan, which used the same formula (representation of minorities, untouchables, good rajahs, one "nice" white person etc), it was seamlessly into the narrative, which was cricket. Here, Mangal Pandey seemed to be something that was plonked into the director's smorgasbord of formulaic items. '

manu - sure thing.

anonymous - exactly!

9:55 AM  
Blogger Quizman said...

I meant... was seamlessly blended into the narrative.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Twilight Fairy said...

Is it that bad?! havent seen it..but it had everyones expectations up!

2:12 PM  

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