You can see the making of KANK posted on YouTube here:
When tickets went on sale last week for KANK, I heard rumors that there was going to be a midnight showing on Thursday night at Cineplaza 13 in North Bergen, NJ, on six of their screens, but since then cannot get anyone at the theater to confirm or deny that. (Good luck getting through by phone. No one answers and the two voicemail boxes the recording directs callers to are full.)
I checked with the the ImaginAsian theater if they are planning a midnight show and was told the following by Dylan Marchetti, Director for ImaginAsian’s Programming and Acquisitions:
“At this point we are not planning to do this, due to the length of the film (203 minutes with intermission). Plus, due to print security, we can’t guarantee we’ll get the print in time to do a test run. We always run through it before we show it to the public to make sure everything’s perfect.”
Update (5.40pm): A female staffer at Cineplaza 13 has just confirmed that there will not be any midnight shows at their theater this Thursday night.
So, it looks like the press screening Thursday night in Manhattan will be the only opportunity for KANK dekho, by invitation only.
Further update (Tuesday 8.30am): Mr. Vijay Shah, owner of Cineplaza 13, explained in an email sent last night: “The producer has refused to permit any shows on Thursday.”
NDTV is reporting that the trailer for Dhoom 2 will debut at this week’s big KANK release.
I finally found the missing link.
While almost all of AB 2.0′s recent work is pretty solid (other than his sleepwalk in last year’s Sarkar), after having seen Refugee and Kuch Naa Kaho I didn’t really want to see more of the early movies from his filmography, though I had wondered how he got from the somewhat stiff and gangly boyish figure he was then to the smouldering, fleshy man he has become since playing Lallan in Yuva.
And then I watched Ram Gopal Varma’s Naach, released in 2004, the same year as Mani Ratnam’s opus. You can almost see Abhi shedding the skin to reveal Lallan.
Naach tells the story of Reva (Antra Mali), an impoverished – yet principled – dancer and choreographer, living in a beautifully decorated Bombay apartment with a rooftop open-air dance studio all to herself. We meet her as she struggles to get work, being passed over by directors who admit to her that they have to go with other, better known and uninspired choreographers who have connections and the faith of the investors. Reva meets Abhinav after they’ve both come from the same office and their respective tryouts. He needs to learn to dance to make it as an actor and asks her to teach him.
Now, I’m better with a pen or a keyboard than on the floorboards, but I couldn’t help but wonder, why does a guy trying to break into Bollywood movies go to a modern dancer for lessons? Wouldn’t he better served going to someone who teaches the balle balle here-I-am-at-the-engagement-party kind of dance instead?
But ok, it’s a plot twist central to the story, so I’ll play along. Abhi convinces Reva to teach him and soon he’s up on the roof with her doing similar contortions and poses to the ones that she does (except he only wears an anklet at one point, while the sexy and daring Antra – later to become Antara – has a small Om tatoo on her right shoulder and a pierced navel). Even to my amateur eyes, I have to remark that every time we see Reva dancing, there is no flow to what she does at all, rather she’ll crouch down, lift one limb this way or that, arc her arms and hands around her face and pose. That said, I was impressed by Antra Mali’s incredible physical condition, and according to an old Rediff article, she has a history of dance dating back to way before taking on this role.
After some lessons, the two start to become friends. After a day and night hanging out together, as they shelter from a rainstorm, Abhi declares “I love you” and catalogues a list of what he loves about Reva. Had it been better written, the dialogue could have been touching or funny or realistic or all of the above, but in this film it just sounds hollow and stilted. The thing is though, it seems unbelievable that the two have feelings for each other. Antra always looks distant and slightly miffed, and AB 2.0 looks like my ex- used to when he’d pose in front of the mirror, just someone pretending to be doing a modeling shoot, as opposed to inhabiting the skin of a character. In spite of the gorgeous bodies of both actors, there is also not even a frisson of excitement when the two are together. It’s as if they were both in their own invisible, hermetically sealed compartments.
Abhinav’s career takes off and soon he’s rolling in money and fame, both which he’s told Reva more than once he wants very much. Next up, the predictable difficulties between the two as a result. After a huge fight where Abhi tells Reva to get off her high, condescending horse, they break up.
Reva meets Diwarkar (Ritesh Deshmukh), who produces music videos, and who wants her to choreograph his next. She agrees and he is soon smitten with Reva, though she’s oblivious. Her persuades her to be the lead dancer in the video and soon both of them are garnering raves and are all over TV.
After Bluffmaster was released Abhishek often commented, jokingly, that Ritesh was a fool to appear in the Ek Main Aur Ek Tu music video with that Don King hairdo that he sported, but I must say that while his hair is ok in Naach, Ritesh’s facial hair, or rather, the patchiness thereof, is awful. He has a moustache, a soul patch (thank God they’re on their way out!), and this archipelago of tufts of fluff that are supposed to comprise a beard. Then, the costume people stick him in some silly headgear (including a knitted wool cap, ugh, in Bombay??).
Diwarkar next wants to do a musical and both he and Reva realize that the best person for the male lead is (guess who?), Abhi! He agrees, though it seems like his main purpose in this endeavor is to lift or hold Reva.
Diwarkar wears proto-Daniel Liebeskind specs (so we know he’s a serious artiste like Reva), and he gets his actors to wear a variety of questionable outfits in his musical.
Abhishek may not have shaved his head for Yuva, but he did wear this headwrap in Naach, forever memorialized on celluloid:
Antra doesn’t get off entirely scot free either. The costume people thought that the one knee-high look for the outfit she wore while dancing on the beach was good enough to repeat:
In some of the many musical numbers filmed on the beach, Antra looks stunning, and vaguely reminiscent of JLo, though every so often, some of the clothes call to mind old Duran Duran videos:
One thing that is quite remarkable is that for a film about dance, the music is largely clumsy and unremarkable. The only two songs that had any life to them at all are Ishq da Tadka and Berang Zindagi.
As I watched this film I thought to myself “They’re trying to do something here, but what?” Fair play to RGV, there are some creative and different shots and the sets and lighting feel more real than some Hindi movies, but he’s more in his element when portraying the underworld environment of Company and Sarkar. And I had to laugh when one of the producers, viewing his own schloky work says that famous line right out of Company: “It’s bad, but it’s business.” How many directors quote their own lines?
See it or skip it?
Pass on this one. I give it points for trying something different, but with disappointing, bloodless results. This movie is really only for people who are diehard fans of RGV or any of the three actors in this movie.
And here’s more of the “Making of Where’s the Party Tonight?” on YouTube.
I’ve developed a policy for weekend movie-watching over the years: Fridays and Saturdays, anything goes, but Sunday evenings, no depressing films allowed. There’s nothing worse than going to sleep Sunday night after seeing Enemies: A Love Story or Pixote.
Under this criteria, Chandni Bar should be seen no later than Friday night; it’s a terribly bleak, though honest, portrayal.
Madhur Bhandarkar’s 2001 film opens with Mumtaz (Tabu) sitting at a train station in UP with tears streaming down her cheeks, waiting for a train to Bombay. It’s 1985 and she is fleeing with her uncle from communal violence in their small town that has just burned her parents to death and killed many others. Her fate just goes downhill from there.
Tabu narrates at the beginning and end of the film, telling us, in the voice of Mumtaz, how circumstances brought her to dance in a beer bar, and the effect that those experiences had on her life. She is perfect for this role, owing to a certain gravitas she has about her every time I’ve seen her onscreen.
Upon arriving in Bombay, the pair are lucky (depending on how you see it) to meet Iqbal (Rajpal Yadav), a fixer who lives in a poor Muslim neighborhood in Bombay and knows his way around. He finds a small place where the two can live, and he soon suggests to the uncle that Mumtaz could make some fast money dancing as a bar girl. Unworldly, small-town girl that she is, Mumtaz is horrified at the idea, though her uncle takes to it without batting an eye, telling her it’s just so they can survive until he finds a job. (Surprise, surprise, he doesn’t look that hard and quickly abandons his search altogether.)
At first, the girls are indifferent and/or snarky to Mumtaz, but eventually they warm to her and show her the ways, especially Deepa, whose husband drives an auto and is her pimp. There’s one brief scene where the girls go for a day out in Bombay, and as they stop to eat snacks on the seafront, they tell her “This is where Shakti was filmed!” After Mumtaz’s uncle rapes her one night, and she tells the girls at the bar, they hold her to soothe her, then they tell her to stop crying and all explain their own sad stories that they’ve endured.
The set for the Chandni Bar itself looks authentic, badly lit and scruffy around the edges (especially the girls’ waiting area/dressing room, complete with peeling movie star posters on the wall and a cracked window in the door, from where they peer out at the customers and other dancers).
Things seem to take a turn for the better when Mumtaz meets Pothia (played by the very excellent Atul Kulkarni), a criminal who falls in love with and marries her. On their wedding night he learns that she was raped and sets off to find her uncle and avenge the crime. In the years after, they have a daughter, Payal, and a son, Abhay. Mumtaz is able to stop working at the bar and resolves that her children will have better lives, but, her dreams are upset when Pothia is killed on the orders of his own mafia boss, in collusion with the police.
Mumtaz tries to recoup money from Pothia’s criminal partners, but they either shun her or suggest she goes to Dubai and prostitute herself for a couple of years, so she is forced to return to Chandni Bar, and juggle watching the children with dancing for the customers. She’s keeps her head above water for a few years, using all her strength to send the children to an English language school, when her son, then a teenager, is thrown in jail for something another kid has done, leading to a domino effect of tragic events that touches mother and children equally. There is no happy ending in this film. As Tabu narrates at the end in the voice of Mumtaz “I wanted to see my future in my children, but I saw only my past.”
To the director’s credit, the movie does not sensationalize the bar girls’ lives, and the supporting cast are flawless.
See it or skip it?
Skip it except if you’re a Tabu fan or jonesing for a serious, reality-based movie with no musical numbers. For me, the relentless catalogue of one tragedy after another was too much, and the pace of the film is very slow.