I am a very, very picky person in many ways, and in many things. And this pickiness definitely applies to films (refer “Thank God For “different” Hindi films” on this blog). The state of Bollywood being what it is it takes quite a lot, these days, to get me excited about a film. The reason that I am so looking forward to Kaminey is the pleasure of the many layered experience of a Vishal Bharadwaj film.
I am a blind fan! From his Makdee (2002), all the way to the perfect Omkara (2006), Vishal has progressively shown me qualities that are seriously lacking in most, if not all, other Indian (Hindi) film makers, he has given me the complete experience time and again. He has over time, made movies which are well written, or brilliantly adapted; he combines strong storylines with brilliant direction; coaxes amazing performances out of the cast; brings great technical values, and fabulous music to the mix, to serve up a complete movie going experience.
Before Vishal Bharadwaj showed Bollywood how it was done, Hindi movies were frankly a totally incomplete experience for me. Even the so called good films ended up being good in any one way or in another. If it had a good storyline it had bad acting, if it had both story and acting, it probably lacked technical values; if it had polish, the story, or acting, or screenplay sucked big time. Any which way you looked at it, it wasn’t complete. Most of Bollywood worked on the theory (and to a large extent still does) that more is more, where acting or direction or even special effects and camera work were concerned; the movies thus end up becoming one 3-hour-long ham scene. It’s not as if India doesn’t have good actors, it does, it always did, but they were forced to become either hams or bad comedians. Just think of what a Naseerudding Shah or an Anupan Kher was reduced to in a mainstream film. All true potential was destroyed, and “visible acting” was what was expected and extracted, painfully.
Over time, Bollywood has perpetrated such heinous crimes as turning the super sensitive Dharmendra of Anupama and Stayakam into the old fart, beefcake, action thing of Veeru Dada. Superb actors like Ajay Devgan, sensitive, effortless, and intense as they have now proved themselves, were forced into the yelling screaming, overacting “action hero” mold in Bollywood, where they rotted until Vishal came along.
Although Ajay at least had started to showcase his talent with films like Zakhm, until vishal made Omkara, no one in India could have imagined, even in their wildest dreams, that the uber-urban Saif could give such a brilliant performance. From the very beginning of his career, Saif Ali Khan has been the “Chhote Nawaab”; foreign educated, polished, anglicized, and very, very sophisticated. It was a visceral shock to me, to see the raw, uneducated, violent, gruff, Langda Tyagi that Vishal managed to create out of those raw materials.
Now, with Kaminey, Vishal has turned his magic hand to two other young actors with possible potential, but no opportunity to develop it. Shahid Kapoor is a Star. In India you don’t have to be an actor to be a star, in fact, it is better if you are not. Shahid has, so far, been a victim of the age old star syndrome. With Pankaj Kapoor and Neelima Azeem as parents, he has the right breeding (definitely) to be a great actor.
It’s started to come to the fore in a few small ways. In one or two recent films, like Jab We Met, he has shown promise. However, his talent has been methodically squashed by mainstream Bollywood, which went about making him a STAR. Now, with this double role in Vishal’s latest, I expect much from the young man, where real acting is concerned. Priyanka Chopra has also shown that she is a natural actress with a fair bit of potential, in films like Fashion. But, she too has been hobbled by mainstream Hindi film stardom, which is worse for the women, who end up getting glamorous bit-parts with little or no scope to show talent. I sincerely hope that Kaminey will give her the much awaited opportunity to show her true capabilities. After all, if Vishal can get the cartoon character called Kareena to turn in the kind of performance she did in Omkara, much can be expected from Priyanka.
Another hallmark of Vishal’s films, and something I always look forward to, is his superb music. Normally directed by Vishal himself, it turns out to be a brilliant fusion of Indian classical, sufi, folk and international styles of music. He encourages non-mainstream voices, often giving me a taste of something new, and showcases such unusual voices as his own and that of his wife Rekha, among others. His soundtracks, as evident from those of Makdee, Maqbool, the Blue Umbrella and Omkara, are all quite well rounded, complete, and a pleasure to listen to.
To top it all, there is slick cinematography, great look and feel, brilliant camera work and very impressive art direction. No wonder I think Vishal’s films are genuinely complete films that are worth waiting for! I sure hope Kaminey will live up to expectations. Oh well! We’ll know in a few weeks!