Monday, August 15, 2005

Halla Bol!

That, for the unintiated is Mangal Pandey a.k.a. Aamir Khan in flowing hair and puffy eyes and striking moustache's call. Yes, I saw 'The Rising: Ballad of Mangal Pandey' first day first show on Friday at the most disgustingly maintained theater in the whole world: Roxy Cinema in Kirkland. The fact that this is the only theater that shows Hindi films in the Seattle area, they charge $10 for a movie experience like none other. The sound stinks, the movie roll might just slide up such that you see the head below the feet (it happened in Hum Tum), the floor is sticky and I don't want to know what caused it to be that way, the restrooms are terrible, and the service is appaling (they wait a good half hour after the movie's scheduled time to fill in more seats). That said, I have seen more movies in this theatre than any other in my life :-( Why do I like Hindi films so much??

What can one say about the Rising? The first Aamir Khan release in 4 years, first after Lagaan, this movie had great curiosity value from the moment it went on the floors. So what is the movie about? Mangal Pandey is the man purported to have started the first freedom struggle of India (called the Sepoy Mutiny by the Brits). The story goes that the British made bullet cartridges made off cow and pig fat which was unacceptable to both Hindus and Muslims. Mangal Pandey protested against this, led a small revolt where he injured some English officers and was ultimately hanged.

So, that's the story. However, there isn't enough matter to fill in a two and a half hours. So, what do we do? We throw in the story of a friendship with a British officer (this was still ok with me), throw in a romance with a nautch girl, throw in three unnecessary songs (barring the title song and the mujra, none were justified), throw in yet another romance with the British officer and a sati, and brief references to other key players in the uprising (Tatya Tope, Rani Laxmibai, Bahadu Shah Zafar etc.).

There are a lot of good talents involved in the movie. Ketan Mehta handles quite a few scenes with flourish, Aamir Khan is superb in portraying the firebrand sepoy, Toby Stephens impresses with his performance and the technical team is in fine form. But the obvious mistakes are too much to overlook. I had hoped that Aamir Khan would have good 'script sense', but he errs in picking the right script here. The music from Rehman is appallingly bad (if someone disagrees, be my guest) for a big production like this, and the women are completely wasted.

I see a great future for indian cinema in the coming years. I have a firm belief that the presence of songs in the story is our USP, and that we should not bend to the diktats of a western audience or an impatient generation. The key to making a quality product is the presence of a good script where the songs flow with the narrative. There are instances of perfect movies (Sholay, Mughal-E-Azam) on that account so there is no reason it can't be done again.

I would definitely recommend The Rising to be seen at least once. I probably succumbed from the pressure of my expectations and came away a litle dissapointed.

No issues. Its Halla Bol, definitely not Dabba Gol!!


aparna said...

:D yeah looking forward to seeing this one!

At least you have a hall there in Seattle, they dont even show hindi movies in theatre out here! :-(

Neovo said...

Aamir Khans return is going to help he film i suspect.

ragini said...

haha.. Loved the last line.. but honestly it was such a let down.
1. The friendship between aamri and toby was bordering gay :D Remember when toby brushes aamirs locks of his face.. Good lord..
2. Even the mujra was unnecessary.So was the lesbian item song and the holi song and every other song.
3. And they HAD to have the mock marriage scene didnt they ?
4. Why exactly did the angrez have to speak hindi while narrating.. its so hard to understand him. Did he say "kitna bache hain?" or did he say "Kitne Bacche hain ?"
5. Plus the whole script had very little to do with history unfortunately.

The only good thing about the movie was AAmir ! He is really good.

Whe are we ever going to learn to tell a story thats our own without ruining it ?

Parth said...

Ragini. You spoke my mind. I know of the exact scene that you spoke off between Aamir and Toby. I thought they were going to kiss next :-) Ditto about the lesbian love song. Also, why did they have Om Puri's voiceover when AB would have happily done it?

Avinash said...

Parth, Thanks for the review. As with all ur hindi film reviews, I am going to subtract one star from the number of stars that u give any movie and give this one a skip. :-)
BTW completely agree with you on the point that the songs shud be part of script and not forcibly jammed into the movie. I may be wrong but I feel modern desi films have a serious dearth of sad or just 'not happy/dancing' songs.

phucker said...

Thanks for the review. I've been keeping my expectations low considering all the delays and scandals associated with this movie. Usually movies with that kind of publicity turn out to be over-hyped trash. But this is Ketan Mehta and Aamir Khan, so there must be some standard. I'm actually not looking forward to this movie, I have a feeling it will be uber-patriotic, not to mention (here comes some blasphemy) that I don't think 1857 is as significant as it's made out to be. Plus this time Rahman has really blundered! :-( Oh BTW, the lesbian love song may be one reason why I DO go watch it :-p x10

Stone said...

bad piece of fiction!!!!
and I wonder why Rani agreed to do this film?

RS said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
RS said...

What's more interesting than your movie review is your description of the theatre that screens Hindi movies - surprising that a theatre in the US is maintained this way...I wonder if the reason is us (Indians) :( ?

RS said...

Drat, I can't get the sad smiley to show up correctly!

Parth said...

RS, that's exclusively why the theatre is like that. I can't imagine an American theatre being maintained that way. We don't protest and take whatever treatment is meted out. Of course, I am one of them too, am I not?

Btw, sad smiley? :-)) Fruedian slip?

Archana said...

The rising or the drowning I dont understand..but as far as Rahman goes...I dont think his music was all that bad. As he says himself, he's unhappy that they didnt choose well and deleted some of his compositions from the movie. All that apart, I think he's way too predictable now