• Poster of The Man Who Would Be King
  • Poster of Ek Thi Daayan
  • Poster of Final Solution
  • Fantastic Four
  • Dennis Hopper (CC-BY-SA, Georges Biard)
  • Quentin Tarantino in Reservoir Dogs
  • Dennis Hopper in True Romance
  • Steven Spielberg (CC-BY-SA, Romain Dubois)
  • Poster of Rain Man
  • The Epiphany, Director: Neeraj Ghaywan
  • Moi Marjani!, Director: Anubhuti Kashyap
  • Geek Out, Director: Vasan Bala
  • Hidden Cricket, Director: Shlok Sharma
  • Chai, Director: Geentanjali Rao
TBIP Take

filmflam is a new monthly column on the most exciting things to do with the movies online: photographs, art, writing, blogs, websites, trailers, films, tutorials, archival material. Our custom-made curation of cinematic coolth. 

 

Of undeserving kings and the problem with Patriot Games

More than thirty years after he made The Maltese Falcon, the legendary John Huston adapted a Rudyard Kipling short story about two British soldiers serving in India who leave the army and the country to head to the neighbouring—and, indeed, interestingly named—Kafiristan where they plan to crown themselves kings. In The Man Who Would Be King, Sean Connery and Michael Caine star as the two sacrilegious anti-heroes, while Christopher Plummer plays Kipling himself and our very own Saeed Jaffrey shows up as Billy Fish, a most quotable local character. It’s a rollicking entertainer, but only on reading the immaculate screenplay (by Huston and Gladys Hill) a couple of days ago did I realise how well the film stands up even without those great leading men being so marvellous. Great, great words. Here’s a scene I’ve always loved, and here’s the link to the whole script.

Speaking of short-story adaptations, here’s a look at Mobius Trips, Mukul Sharma’s mischievously named short story that was recently adapted into Kannan Iyer’s Ek Thi Daayan. As I said in my review of the film, the screenplay falters significantly in the second half when the film sadly moves away from the beautiful what-could-have-been ambiguity of an enchanted world viewed through a child’s eyes and descends (quite literally) into a rabbit hole crowded with cliché. Published on his own blog, here’s the eeriness as Sharma—the man who wrote that fascinating Mindsport column in the Times Of India, and Konkona Sen’s father—first saw it.

With the newspapers so full of a certain man all set for his own coronation, it is a fine time to revisit Rakesh Sharma’s searing documentary on the 2002 Gujarat Riots, Final Solution. The 2003 film was immediately banned in India, and then distributed through a pirate-and-circulate campaign which encouraged everyone who watched it to make copies and spread it further. You can read more about the film here. Final Solution is a harsh indictment of Narendra Modi’s government, and should be watched as soon as possible— before it is yanked off YouTube as well:

George R. R. Martin always knew which bad guys were worth being villains, as is more than evident by this fan-letter Martin, at 16, had sent to Marvel supremo Stan Lee. The Game of Thrones creator loved his comic books, and it’s most amusing to see which villains he considers worthy of the Fantastic Four—a comic he clearly loves—and which are the weak foes he believes deserve “eternal exile”. Off with their heads, eh George?

“If you’re going to invite me to a dance, you gotta let me dance.” This and other awesome assertions are thrown up during an afternoon where the late Dennis Hopper, easiest rider of all—and the first choice to play the tip-loathing Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs—swung by at Quentin Tarantino’s place to share a conversation while the director was editing Pulp Fiction. The entire conversation can be found here, and it’s gold. Tarantino compares Pulp… to Monty Python, Hopper throws up Satyajit Ray when talking of Éric Rohmer, and the two clearly love each other’s work. As a bonus, here’s the Sicilian scene in True Romance that QT wrote and Hopper dazzled in, alongside Christopher Walken.

Over on Twitter, @clownasylum pointed me to this 1990 interview in which Steven Spielberg talks about how he regrets passing on Rain Man— to go ahead and do Indiana Jones. It’s a Barry Norman interview, so you should naturally go see the whole thing. It also reminded me of just how Spielberg is a true virtuoso of the close-up, which this smashing video essay justifiably dubs the director’s signature stroke. Amazing.

And finally, paanch. (No, not that one. But here you go.) No, I speak of five short films that come from the Anurag Kashyap stable, fast turning into a school for talented youngbloods. The five films here, in my order of preference, have been made by Neeraj Ghaywan, Anubhuti Kashyap, Vasan Bala, Shlok Sharma and Gitanjali Rao— but I implore you to watch them all. Collected back to back thus, they make for very intriguing viewing, and I can’t wait to see each of them making features. Peddlers, Bala’s film that earned plaudits at Cannes last year, should be hitting theatres within the next two months.

~

Oh, and do reach out with your movie effluvia: I’m @RajaSen on Twitter. Add a hashtag #filmflam to your links. Happy clicking, and may the broadband be strong with you all.

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3 comments
niksez
niksez

Hi @rajasen ,

Just a trivia, Kipling's short story was based on a real man- Frederick E Wilson, also known as Pahadi Wilson. Wilson was in the British army and had deserted them during the First war of Indpendence. He later built the bridge over the Bhagirathi river at Harsil and went on to be called the Raja of Harsil. 

He is buried in the Camel's Back Road cemetery at Mussoorie and his old house has become a hotel, called Rokeby's at Landour.

filmflam

Opinion
June 2013
By Raja Sen

Raja Sen is one of India's leading film critics. He also contributes profiles, interviews, culture critique and book reviews to various publications. In his own words he is a W.R.I.T.E.R. Foremost and at all times.