Monthly Archives: August 2009

Notes on Kaminey

I have no inclination to do a proper review of Kaminey this late, and, looking at the sheer number of reviews out there, you don’t need another review, and neither do I. These are just notes. Some spoilers ahead.

  • It’s a very good movie, but not a brilliant one. Could’ve been plotted more tightly. I don’t think it should’ve been shorter, but that more things should’ve happened in the same amount of time. Apart from the scripting, I don’t have any major complaints. The music was used well, the camera was used carefully and lovingly, the editing was appropriately intense. (Also, could someone tell me where I could find the song that was used in the climax but wasn’t on the OST? That was nice.)
  • The film crashes into the climax rather than leading up to it. The climax felt dissociated from the rest of the movie. Which brings me to …
  • The plot of the movie did not feel inevitable like a good pulp story should. You should never have to doubt why this happened in this way. With Kaminey, right in the first half hour, I was wondering why some things were happening as they were. If pulp feels arbitrary (which it always is), it makes it too easy for the house of cards to fall. All of which is a roundabout way of saying – lazy plotting. Not very lazy, but I expect better from Bhardwaj.
  • The characters were fine. They made me think about their motivations. Again, not always brilliant (Amole Gupte, for example, does a lot of good work with a character who’s barely sketched out beyond formula), but worth talking about.
  • Shahid Kapoor did a really good job with his dual role. There were moments when his innate Shahidyness showed through (mainly in Guddu), possibly due to his training in the Bollywood star-based cult of personality, but Bhardwaj managed to turn him into the actor whose potential I saw back in Jab We Met.
  • One of the best parts of the movie for me was the homosexual/homoerotic relationship between Charlie and Mikhail (played by Chandan Roy Sanyal as a weird, sensual and rather scary guy). I liked the ambiguity about whether these two were in an actual relationship or had a mutual unrequited love for each other which they couldn’t express due to being Indian manly men. This mirrored the escape route Bhardwaj seems to have left for the insecure straight male who wants plausible deniability and will insist they were ‘just bros’.
  • I admired the directorial choice of leaving Guddu mostly ineffective right to the end. Someone else might have shown him doing something, but, apart from a couple of half-hearted kneejerks, he remains a sap.
  • Sweety (Priyanka Chopra) was the most interesting character in the movie. Shady, playing her cards very close to her chest, fiery to a fault, her brother’s sister to the core. She should’ve been given more screen-time.
  • The choice of interval was odd. It might’ve made more sense a few minutes later, just before the daybreak scene. But I think it was a legitimate experiment on Bhardwaj’s part, just one that didn’t quite work for me.
  • The plot was not a difficult one to understand. As my cousin said to me when we were talking about the movie afterwards, this might be the new Matrix in that it might become fashionable to say that it was a difficult movie but you managed to understand it. It’s not. If you didn’t understand what was happening, you’re a moron. Understanding it doesn’t make you unusually smart. You just had to pay attention.
  • It should be silly to feel good about something that is only right and should be ubiquitous and normal, but I felt happy seeing the words “based on an idea by Cajetan Boy” at the beginning of the movie.
  • I’m going to watch the movie again, sometime. I’m not in a hurry to do so, but I think I should. In spite of what griping I’ve done, it had the unquantifiable ‘It’ factor.

McSweeney’s Book-Haul

I’m writing this post essentially to test out the capabilities of Windows Live Writer. I’ve heard a lot about it, and looking at the interface, I can see why people like it.* It’s simple, intuitive, and lets you concentrate on the writing part of the whole thing.

* I know! Praising a Microsoft product without reservations. Who’d have thought?!

***

Around half a month ago, The McSweeney’s Store had a garage sale of sorts. What they did was take out everything in the attic – the old books, the slightly chuffed ones, the ones nobody wanted for that price – and offer them on sale. I bought those on a friend’s credit card (fully intending to pay her later, of course), and she then announced that they were my birthday gift from her. Another friend of mine who was coming over from the US brought them here for me. One of these had a torn dust-jacket, the other two were simply slightly chuffed.

McSweeney’s #13: This was the comics issue of McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. This was edited by Chris Ware. There are some text pieces in this which verge on, but generally manage to avoid, the hissy ‘comics are literature’ tone. The comics themselves seem to be excellent, ranging from 1842 to 2004 (when this was printed). I haven’t read the whole thing, but it is a lovely-looking hardcover. 263 pages of salty goodness.

Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon: One of my favourite writers writes a whole non-fiction book. Reading Chabon’s non-fiction is always a pleasure. It feels like chatting with an extremely clever, interesting acquaintance. (His fiction, by the way, can be slightly too fluffy or fatiguing at times, but only because he’s always ambitious.) I’ve started on this one, and every reason I like the man’s writing is coming back to me.

Curious Men by Frank Buckland: This guy, it seems, is one of those old English oddities. Except that this one was interested in other oddities. This book is made of 12 essays culled from the thousands of pages written by Buckland. I’ve read a couple of these, and though they are slightly dry at times, they are never less than interesting.

So these are my latest literary conquests. There’ll be more, and you can rest assured I’ll bore you by talking about them.