Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Killing me softly with their voices

Many of us often complain about the mindless drivel churned out by directors of Bollywood in the name of cinema. I do. I think contemporary Indian movies stink. To high heavens. And beyond. If you still don't get the drift -- I don't like today's Indian cinema. I long for subtlety in acting. I wish an actor would convey emotions through body language and looks and not say what he / she is feeling. I wish they would not shine spotlights on subjects from all angles and shoot them in soft focus. I wish they would stop doing that. Not on top of all things I ever wanted in my ripe life of 31 years, but fairly high given the impact it has on my well being, I wish someone would make an original movie. Something which I would not, somewhere down the line, be reminded of while watching a movie from another country / age / director.

But one aspect which I personally find absolutely untapped in Indian cinema is voices. I wish they would start focusing a bit more on different intensities with which people speak at different time, different scales, different pitches, different tones. If you have watched an obscure movie called The Million Dollar Hotel, produced in 2000, you may remember that the soundtrack had a few songs sung by Bono. One song, which absolutely blew me away was Never let me go by Bono. It starts with some narration by Jeremy Davies (played the translator in Saving Private Ryan and an actor in The Laramie Project), where he speaks softly, taking his time to taste the words, almost feeling the emotion of what he says himself. I am in constant daze because of those lines, everytime I hear that song I get goosebumps.

This weekend I watched The ladykillers, a Coen brothers remake of a movie by the same name from 1955. Tom Hanks has given one of his best performances in the movie, where he plays a Southerner gentleman, well versed with ancient and contemporary literature. In one of the scenes he narrates To Helen, a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. I, personally, am not very good with poems. I take time to understand and appreciate them. Sometimes, time is not sufficient. Tom Hanks got around that barrier with his rendition of the poem. He speaks with ease, taste and music in his voice (and I personally never thought he had a good voice). That, my friends, is another facet of acting.

In Indian cinema there definitely are a few actors who can deliver vocally. Amitabh Bachchan, Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah promptly come to mind. I so wish they had found directors who could tap that aspect of their talent.


At 10:39 PM, Anonymous Gina said...

Tom Hanks is astonishing. Although Jack Nicholson is considered a wonderful actor, in every movie of his, I'm always aware that it is Jack Nicholson playing a character. Not so with actors such as John Reilly or Tom Hanks or Daniel-Day Lewis. They become the character they are playing.

I've seen four Coen brothers movies and O Brother remains my favourite. Especially like it for the American roots music.

At 11:58 PM, Blogger Anurag said...

Hi Gina,

I agree with you. Jack Nicholson is Jack Nicholson -- evil grin, low pitch voice... Just like SRK is SRK in all his movies.

Which Coen Brothers movies have you seen? I have seen O Brother (terrific), Fargo (brrr), and The Ladykillers. I have the soundtrack of O Brother at home -- I absolutely love it.

Talking of Daniel Day Lewis, you should see In the name of the father. It is based on the real life story of Gerry Conlon, the alleged IRA bomber who claimed he was innocent and proved so.

At 2:48 AM, Blogger Senthil said...

Now THIS conversation can qualify for a strip in "The Better Half". :)
I'm still laughing...

At 3:39 AM, Blogger Anurag said...


Stop laughing and start writing. Or drawing cartoons. :))

When do you want to learn photography? I also know sketching, long distance running, cryptic crosswords, cooking pasta, the value of Pi till 7 decimal places, and the cure for hiccups. That is around 7 beer sessions, I think. Unless the value of Pi calls for 3.14 sessions.

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Senthil said...

"Well, it's kind of funny..it's not exactly `ha ha' funny..or what you'd call `ho ho' funny, or even `hee hee' funny...I'd say it's what you'd call, `not bad considering it's from a dog' funny."

--Lucy (in yet another critique of Snoopy's writing)

And as for my writing, I did try today, but the words, they refused to go out with me. Sigh...

At 3:02 AM, Blogger The Arbit Council said...

there was an obscure artyfarty movie called 'mammo' (iirc) released a few years back.. you should hear the few dialogues that Kaifi Azmi delivered in it.. ah the baritone!


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