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Some Ramblings - Kaminey
By Srinivas Kanchibhotla

Ever noticed how the world of crime and criminals, as portrayed in the movies, is almost always dull, drab and grey, with the only colorful set pieces are the characters themselves? The lighting choice is intentional, so as to enhance the shock value of any sudden incident. The tones are muted, the colors are subdued, and the pastel itself de-saturated. The film-maker sets himself up, either for stupendous success or spectacular failure, by purposefully going for this toned down look, at least for the shadier sides. With nothing else around in the frame to distract the view, the entire focus of the viewer rests solely on the characters in the foreground, and on their talk. Try to recollect the worlds of Bhavani in 'Siva' or Paresh Rawal's in 'Kshana Kshanam'. Nothing around them grabs as much attention as everything about them - their speech patterns, mannerisms, expressions, and more so, their talk itself. As is commonly mistaken, colorful characters seldom rely on the absurdity of the situation to evoke a strong emotion. In 'Satya' where Bhiku Matre gets shot down by the minister, the build up is purely on the talk, the manic energy of the character, his stupidity and his inability to just shut up and assess the situation. And that remains another important trait for all colorful characters - stupidity. Put a stupid (conversation) right in the middle of an absurd situation, and the result is just explosive. These characters need not deliver intelligent, thought provoking dialogues and try extra hard to oversell themselves. All that they need is the right punchline, and the rest would fall in place automatically, courtesy, their colorful background. In 'Kshana Kshanam', when Chandu walks into his room and before Satya starts wailing on him for deserting her and leaving her at the mercy of Nayar and his gang, Nayar gets up from the bed, walks a couple of paces, looks at both Chandu and Satya, and in a mocking voice, stammers, 'aayanaem alaanTi vaaru kaadu', in a pitch perfect sobbing tone. Just perfect.

'Kaminey' is one more such drab world filled with specimen characters, each more colorful than the next. The setup, obviously inspired by Guy Ritchie's stable of British comic-action-thrillers, is just as convoluted in the beginning, becoming more and more rarefied as the plot moves along, with the 'Of course!' moment arriving right on time to clear matters out. Plotting a twisted story line around a bunch of crazy people, with criss-crossing and double-crossing motivations and machinations, isn't the hardest part. It is getting them all together in an entertaining manner, without sacrificing logic, dumbing down the plot or taking the easy ways out, that needs little more skill (though the ending seemed a little forced down the director's (and the audience's) throat by the producer). And the fact that these characters, operating always on the wrong side of the law, hail from different parts of the country adds even more regional flavor to the color; and to top it, the hero(s) lisp and stammer. The point of using the handicap is for laughs alright, but not for the cheap kind. The interrogation sequence where the stammering hero has to sing his way out of his predicament is pure genius. One cannot but bust out laughing and yet feel guilty for laughing at it (the handicap). The situation reminds of the hilariously serious dialogue of Paresh Rawal from 'Daud', where he is about to execute an inspector's wife right in front of him, all amid high pitch wailing and screaming - 'maathe pe sindoor, aur seene mein gOlee, tu sadaa suhaagan maregi aarya naaree'. Again, stupid dialogue in an absurd situation - bound to drum up serious laughs. It is a tough act to resist the idea of making the characters a little too self-aware, too smart and too self-conscious, as though they already know they are in an intelligent talkative movie (an accusation often leveled against Quentin Tarantino, the master of this genre), and the writer(s) scores on that front for gifting each character its own unique tone, quirk and voice. With the constantly simmering tension underneath the comic surface enough to drive home the point, it was a wise decision to not have overloaded the characters with over-wrought dialogues. Case in point, the 'playful' action between Mikhail and Bhope.

It is not often that all the creative and technical heads deserve equal credit for a movie, including writing, directing, photographing, editing, and even sound designing. Though the editing was a little all over the place during the first few minutes, it gradually settles down understanding and reconciling with the pace of the movie. And the (mostly) handheld camera work (inspired from the Bourne movies) deserves some special mention, which was, mercifully, not as chaotic, quick and frenetic paced as Bourne, but just as immediate and effective. Finally, here is a movie that is unapologetic about what it is about and goes about its way delivering what it set out to do. No over-promises, no under-deliveries. And like the bathroom door with a scantily clad heroine's poster and the hand carved quote next to it 'apnaa haath jagannaath', just perfect.

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More Ramblings on films
District 9
The Hurt Locker
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Slumdog Millionaire
Quantom of Solace
The Dark Knight
Wall - E
The incredible Hulk
Indiana Jones and the kingdom of crystal skull
Speed Racer
Iron Man
Jodha Akbar
There will be blood
Chrlie Wilson's War
No Country for Old Men
Om Shanti Om
Lions for Lambs
American Gangster
Michael Clayton
Happy Days
Chak De India!
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Simpsons Movie
The Grindhouse
Casino Royale
The Departed
Lage Raho Munnabhai
Superman Returns
The Da Vinci Code
Sri Ramadasu
Rang De Basanti (Hindi)
Jai Chiranjeeva!
Munich (English)
Sarkar (Hindi)
Mangal Padey (Hindi)
Kaadhal (Tamil)
Anukokunda Oka Roju
Batman Begins (English)
Radha Gopalam
Mughal E Azam
Virumandi (Tamil)
Lakshya (Hindi)
Yuva (Hindi)
Kakha Kakha (Tamil)
Mr & Mrs Iyer
Nuvve Nuvve


This article is written by Srinivas Kanchibhotla
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