Archives for the month of: August, 2012

In an effort to work on my Hindi and catch up a bit on some classic masala cinema, I thought doing some impersonations might be fun.

Here was my first attempt: A one-liner from a superhero film name Shahenshah from the late 80s featuring Amitabh:

 

Twitter user @MyriadMuser liked my impersonation, but said it reminded him a bit of Bob Christo, the foreign villain in the following clip from the 1980 film Qurbani:

 

MyriadMuser said that though movies from that era could be cheesy, there was definitely a charm to them, and I couldn’t agree more.

I love the tongue-in-cheek way the inspector handles the scene, and Bob Christo is just too much fun with that scarf and brick-breaking bit.

Bollywood has a history of Westerners appearing in roles since the very beginning with the likes of Fearless Nadia, and while 3 videos is a lot to cram in one post, if you are curious to learn more about the Half Australian/Half Greek woman named Mary Evans who did her own stunts and took Bollywood by storm in the 30s and 40s with the guts to deliver her own feminist speech after vanquishing the bad guys after the climax of her biggest film, you should do yourself a favor and check out this phenomenal gem of a 3 minute documentary by Marc Fennell. This video must be syndicated or something, but either way it deserves way more views. Fantastic bit.

 

 

There are days-when I read the news (or look in the mirror after a bad day) and am reminded about how horrible we all can be-that I wish that the world would end, and then there are other days-when I discover the likes of Bob Christo and Fearless Nadia-that I think, “Why would I ever want it to?”

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India’s destiny lies not along the bloody way of the West, of which she shows signs of tiredness, but along the bloodless way of peace that comes from a simple and godly life.” – Gandhi, Young India, October 7, 1926.

In general Gandhi believed that India had to blaze its own trail in order to find its true place on the world stage. It could not merely tack on Western principles and be off and running.

So many books written today rightly look to India as the next-in-line to bear the torch of democracy, and each has its own view of what India must do to be successful.

Bharat’s Chai Stand is my attempt to add to the conversation.

While the characters in Bharat’s Chai Stand do not adopt a pacifist approach to the intruder who runs amok in their village, it’s the way in which they deal with the threat that symbolizes what I believe is one of the greatest strengths India has: adaptability to the unexpected.

Early in the script the villain expresses a sentiment that most first-time visitors to India will understand: a distaste for India’s capacity to rearrange and sometimes steamroll expectations.

But most foreign visitors who find India difficult do so because we only notice the negative “Unexpected” and do not stick around long enough to notice the good “Unexpected.”

Bharat’s Chai Stand is a celebration of “The Unexpected” in India-about how ordinary citizens can utilize their penchant for adaptation to handle challenges in a way that can only be described as “Unexpected.”

When I think of the good “Unexpected,” I think of a middle-aged Uncle from the country who, while crammed beside me on the standing-room-only general seating car of a Delhi-bound train, began showing me web videos on his mobile. He introduced me to this “Don’t-try-this-at-home” video of a guy train surfing in Mumbai.

This encounter was integral in shaping a character like Bharat (which is the Hindi word for India for those who were unaware), a chai wallah who is using his western friend’s GoPro to launch a successful youtube channel featuring “people-are-amazing” style viral videos like this one in which an Indian man carries 22 bricks on his head and then walks the plank as if it’s a sidewalk.

Bharat’s Chai Stand is about six characters whose seemingly small contributions are creatively applied to a life-threatening situation, and the results are…unexpected.

This is a comedy, so you know how this is going to end, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised by “The How,” and I hope it will give you a positive understanding of the good “Unexpected” that India has to offer.

Last night my wife and I celebrated our 9th anniversary by watching The Bourne Legacy, a choice that was not mine by the way. Melissa wanted to see The Dark Knight Rises on her birthday and Bourne Legacy on our anniversary, so I’m not complaining.

There was one scene that I really liked in The Bourne Legacy that very well could have been a disaster (if you are planning on seeing this film, mild spoilers follow).

It’s The Lab Scene, and when you see the film you will know the scene to which I’m referring. I cannot remember a scene in recent mainstream cinema as visceral and horrific that also managed to maintain a real respect for human life. Every death in this scene is horrible, and while I knew nothing about the lives of these characters, I felt for the deaths.

But at a certain point in the film the no-named characters embrace their role in an action film: to serve as soulless obstacles that invariably get shrugged off as collateral damage. The higher-ups kind of have it coming, but when Renner’s Cox snaps the neck of an unnamed security guard in a pharmaceutical plant, I was shocked.

I felt the other three Bourne films were less cynical about these types of characters. Sure Bourne would rough some lower-levels up, but usually he only killed those who knew what they had gotten into.

For some time these chase scenes have been bothering me because the ends always justify the means, no matter how selfish those ends can be. In Legacy, the end is just escape-the world is not going to end.

Some time back my friend Josh Crute (who is graduating from FSU film school today! *CHEERS*) and I had thought about making a short film called Happy Endings in which a series of vignettes of different citizens’ lives are shown right before they are killed. It almost functions as some kind of Final Destination-type film.

At the end we are treated to a chase scene in which some masked superhero or supercop is chasing the villain. The good guy wins, but at the end, we get five or six other angles of the everyday citizen’s deaths, and that’s when you realize that their deaths were direct results of the hero’s good intent.

So that film was the tragic commentary on collateral damage in chase scenes.

Bharat’s Chai Stand is the comic commentary on it: what if a bunch of the bystanders had enough of Jason Bourne wreaking havoc in their gulleys?

What if they fought back?

What if they won?

Although not dealing at all with the film, here’s my most recent video from my youtube channel in which you can see how my Hindi is progressing.

Still quite a ways to go!

This week I’ve been doing some re-writing, and feeling better about how some of the characters are shaping up.