Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Mangal Pandey - a self-interview

Me: Why did you watch the movie?
Myself: Come on! what question is this? Its a galaxy out there man. Aamir, Rani, Ameesha, A.R.Rehman, what else can you ask for? Plus Aamir is coming back to silver screen after four years. The songs are extra ordinary. Its natural for me to wanting to see the movie.

Me: Did you feel that there's something controversial in this movie?
Myself: No, I didn't find anything very controversial in the movie. Of course there might have been a few scenes about which some might have a second opinion (Like a British bidding for Rani Mukherjee).

There was a clear disclaimer in the very beginning stating that a part of the story has been fictionalised for creating a dramatic effect. If you watch the movie having that in mind, I don't think anything will bother you.

Me: What did you like about Aamir in the movie?
Myself: Professionalism, to the core. Being able to bring an image of a person, about whom there is no written record is quite difficult and he has done a good job in portraying the semi-fictional character.

Me: what about the technical aspects?
Myself: The art direction stands out as exemplary. So is the camera, though it cannot be compared with Ravi.K.Chandran's work in Paheli. The background score serves the purpose in most of the scenes.

Me: What are the characters in the movie?
Myself: Aamir plays Mangal Pandey, Toby plays his British friend, Rani comes as a sex worker and Ameesha is a widow .

Me:What's good about it?
Myself: The characterisation of Aamir, Toby and Rani are very neatly done. Their roles are very well-defined in the screenplay. These characters do just what's required of them for the story which is very nice.

Me: What's the bad part in it?
Myself:I am not able figure out the real reason for having Ameesha in the movie. She apprears only in four or five frames and "Jwala" played by her doesn't have any significance as far as the story is concerned.

But my friend Srivatsan, feels that Jwala was introduced to bring out the difference of opinion between Mangal and Gordon, in religious and superstitious beliefs and his arguement sounds convincing.

Me: What did you like about the movie?
Myself: First of all, it was not cinematic. A historic movie can even be like our good old "Veerapandiya Kattabomman" with lots of drama. But this movie stands apart in being very narrative. In fact there's nothing cinematic about the movie at all.

Inspite of the liberty to add fiction, the director didn't do anything silly like a duet between the hero and heroine, or show something like Aamir saving Rani from the dance house and marry her. The screenplay stayed very loyal to the base theme.

The movie proceeds as Toby's version and righfully there is no overdose of patriotism which might have made the narration absurd.

Me: What is that you don't like about the movie?
Myself: The film is not only about Mangal, but also about Sepoy mutiny. I feel that director could have given more importance to the mutiny also. My 8th standard history book says that the mutiny failed because it was not organised well. That's true in the movie also. There is a subtle fact that a small misjudgement (or a coincidental mishap) had put us under the clutches of the British for 90 more years. This is not at all emphasized in the movie.

The second half was too quick in my opinion and it would have been better if the happenings were a bit elaborately portrayed. Who asked for the item number "Rasiya" in a narrative script? The song "Holi Re" also did not gel with the screenplay.

I don't appreciate the documentary in the end showing clips Gandhi, Nehru and others. The movie is about Mangal and it must have ended with him.

Me: What struck you the most in the movie?
Myself: There is no gory bloodshed on the screen. This is simply excellent. This is a movie about a mutiny, about the war of independence and the director has done away with violence on the screen and yet conveyed his story. Its great for Indian cinema as a whole. Some might feel a bit laid down because the director ends the movie with a small documentary, but why glorify violence on screen when you can convey it otherwise.

Me: How good/bad is the movie when compared to Lagaan?
Myself: Please do not compare the movie with Lagaan. This is in a different league altogether.If you watch the movie trying to match every scene with Lagaan, you are going to be utterly disappointed. Just sit back and watch, "Mangal Pandey" is very good.


P.S. I thought I would put my views this way rather than vomitting paragraphs of text. How do you feel?

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