Movie Reviews, Commentary & More

Action: Bombastic Bollywood Vs Effacing Europe

TV5 is a French TV channel that's available in India and most of the movies it features are typically low-budget character based dramas with dry humour always underneath the screenplay. I'd like to present some of the signature elements of those movies (European, in general) against mainstream Indian movies. The first piece is about action.

Action - the word in the world of cinema is commonly associated with fights and thrills. Let me go to the root: action means acting. Acting is like cooking. You can be a mechanical cook like me, just bothering about the process to prepare a dish, which will be without any soul or cook like my mom - forget ingredients and proportions and formula, simply experiment with inspired fun and have heart in the food that's being prepared. I'm a processor, my mom is an artiste. That difference very beautifully captures the essence of our actors and the French actors.

Acting is about imparting a sense of believability to the character in the minds of the viewers. When, as a viewer, I believe in the character, I start caring for him. I concern myself with his problems. I wonder what will happen to his wife. I think for his financial problems. I am in his shoes. For me to be in his shoes, the actor has to stop 'acting' in the traditional usage of the word and glide into the character. It takes a lot of mental effort, and if required, a lot of physical effort to bring that character into foreground and push behind the actor's mannerisms and personality to fade into the background.

European actors observe their real life roles to gain insight: if someone is to play a cab driver, he would hang out with cab drivers, read about them, notice the way they talk to the customers, notice the way they talk among themselves..... and employs his acquired knowledge of the body language of a taxi driver and his terminologies in his role. In India, our actors have a certain pride in displaying their personality in all the roles they play. Be it tragic, comedic, romantic, dramatic, whateveric... Vijay has that expression all the time. When I say "I don't know if I should laugh or cry" I literally mean it because Vijay is wearing that same expression in a comedy scene (which moves me to tears (no pun)) and in a pathos scene (which also moves me to tears(pun intended)).

There is a lot of physical transformation involved too - Actors gain and lose weight in order to fit themselves into the role they play. I perceive Hollywood as a better place when it comes to this physical factor. Christian Bale lost 63 pounds for his role in 'The Machinist' and then he gained back all the weight he lost for his next Batman movie. How is that for an effort to fit a role? My beauty Charlize Theron gained 30 pounds for her role in 'Monster' and won the hearts of critics and an Oscar. Would any of our actresses dare? Tom Hanks, after winning back to back Oscars and proving himself as a bankable actor gained and lost weight for the same movie to deliver a stellar performance. He didn't have to do that to prove his ability.

I'm not saying that the Indian field lacks talent. I think Kamal Haasan is a terrific actor. And we all allowed him to burn his fingers for creating 'Hey Ram'. We have forced him to deliver products, not art works. Ajith transformed his body, but not for any specific role - he just gained weight and lost popularity and he lost weight to gain popularity. There is no dedication for the art here... We have talented artistes, a lot of them, but they are not appreciated. As long as the scriptwriters and directors and producers want white-skinned beautiful people in front of camera, the audience won't have much. As long as the audience cheer mindless masalas and skin-show beauties, the producers and scriptwriters won't change.

P.S: In the forthcoming segments, I plan to write about screenplay, sex, photography and direction.