Monday, 27 January 2014

The Great Indian LSD Trip

At long last Om Dar-B-Dar, an India film made in 1988, has finally had its theatrical release this month. The reason? It fell foul of India's notorious censor board, who refused to issue it a viewing certificate not because it was too violent or explicit --but because it was weird.

Well, how weird would that be exactly? It has been described as a surreal, postmodern satire, and The Great Indian LSD trip, but I prefer how describes the film:

‘Horoscope. Dead frog. Cloudy sky. Radio show. Terrorist tadpole. Caste-based reservation. Bicycle. Mount Everest. Women’s lib. Communism. Sleeveless blouse. Yuri Gagarin. Miniature book. Nitrogen fixation. Computer. Man on moon. Biology class. Hema Malini. Turtle. Typewriter. Text inside nose. Googly. James Bond. Severed tongue. Shoes outside temple. Gandhi. Hopping currency. Goggles. Helium breath. Diamonds inside frogs. God. Promise toothpaste. Nehru. Aviation centres. Potassium cyanide…."

That is the view in 2014. Way back in 1988 the censor board couldn’t make head or tail of the movie and feared that subliminal, subversive messages were being transmitted through he film that could adversely affect an unsuspecting public. So it got the axe.

Read the full story in Open Magazine:

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Saying it with song (and dance)

For reasons that are not entirely clear, we are having a musical January. It all kicked off with White Christmas over the holidays, followed by Grease, The Sound of Music, Singing in the Rain and Hairspray.

And it doesn't look like it will be letting up any time soon. An American in Paris and West Side Story are in my sights now, and then there is the Bollywood backlist to consider. So why musicals and why now?

Perhaps it is a way of extending the xmas sparkle into the New Year with films that truly kick ass in the way they tell a story. I have always loved musicals, particularly musicals with great dancing, for their ability to transcend a straightforward narrative in the most powerful and emotive way. Music and dance in a film are like a different language, they convey an idea, emotion or sensibility in a way that dialogue cannot. And they are fun.....

What's not to like? Why then are there not more of them? The few recent musicals I can think of --with they exception of Baz Lurman's Moulin Rouge-- are all celluloid versions of musical stage plays. Where are the new, original musical films? Why is this form acceptable in the theatre, but so rare in western cinema?

At the very least, it would make a terrific break from the tedium of the war-without-end blockbusters....