Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Very British ! Very Knopfler!

"A lovestruck romeo sings a streetsus serenade
Laying everybody low with me a lovesong that he made
Finds a convenient streetlight steps out of the shade
Says something like you and me babe how about it?"

It was those very words, that probably the whole of bangalore and myself were waiting for from the moment Mark knopfler and his entourage took center stage at the palace grounds on the 8th of March. Me, being a great fan of his,” Dire straits" and the British accent in general decided with a few friends to make the sojourn for the one and only "Sultan of swing”. The colonial pampered town of Bangalore , with their "Oh I'm just 2 cool", residents had turned up in full force, which could be easily discerned by the abundance of pierced body parts, weird hair do's and a distinctly "grassy" aroma.
Knopfler, who was the lead vocalist and guitarist for the record breaking band "Dire straits", started out on a glittering career of his own in the mid 80’s. Throughout the show, knopfler would have to formulate a balance, between his own music and the music from his band. But, honestly for me, As long as he allured us with his baritone British accent and this equally alluring bunch of French girl's next to me, kept paying homage to whatever it was they were on, I knew the next 2 hrs were going be something worth writing home about.

In propah British style, Bang on time Knopfler ,casually dressed in a white shirt and jeans kicked off the show , and one of the first songs he played was one his all time great hits "Walk of life". The sound was dynamite; the lighting buoyant and the backdrop being in perfect synchronization with the music, made the whole setting seem almost lifelike.

He then, broke out into some of the best number's from his individual career,” What it is", and "Sailing to Philadelphia", which was followed by the love sick "Romeo and Juliet”, which is one of the few song's, I pride myself on knowing the complete lyrics of. Unfortunately, he chose only that song to improvise, making me look rather inglorious. He then followed that up, with the famed "Sultan of swing" which probably would be best remembered by the sight of at least half the audience, suddenly realizing that this was if ever, the best moment to show the world they had camera cell phone's leaving the deprived one's like me responding rather meekly, in making fervent unsuccessful attempts in trying to connect to a few mates.

He then cooled off with some songs from his latest album "Shangri la". A couple of the song's in his new album "Boom like that" and especially "Done with bonaparte" sent the crowd into rapture's.Knopfler was now in overdrive,He going absolutely crazy improvising on his guitar and the lighting almost seemingly being dictated by him, had to be one of the finest pieces of improvisation ever played in this country.

It was around that time that the cute set of French girls, was suddenly replaced by a stunted group of chinky's(Eastern India, But really who can tell the difference)making the area look a lot like "Chinatown". The chinky's with their melodious voice, being a talented bunch, had the inherent ability of making every song sound like, A jackie chan action scene and soon "You check out Guitar George, He knows all the chords" was sounding a lot like "Khaooo Sueyyyyy!!You kill my sister, I kill yr half brother, and steal yr snake" (no pun intended). Coming back to the concert,Knopfler then moved onto his timeless ballad "Brother's in arm's" and "So far away" , and the by now exhausted bangalorean's had graciously appointed themselves as his "Back up" singer's even though, one suspected that half of them were albeit confidently, singing the wrong lyrics.

wo hours into the show, the audience realized that the show was probably nearing it's end, and they were numerous scream's for some of their favorite songs.All of us being used to people like Remo fernandez going to shameless attempts to coax the crowd. (I remember him once singing, a tamil song, on request, A memorably forgetful experience") "No request's, We’re British”, was seemingly the message cause this show was obviously a planned out scheduled affair. It led us into the Grand finale, the backdrop resembled the night sky, as he and his band played a beautiful instrumental version of "local hero" which was probably the most fitting finale, a show like this could have.

One did feel that it could have gone on, for maybe 15 mins more, but then, in hindsight the final impression I got, was that this was a thoroughly professional performance, perfectly synchronized and played out to perfection. What's more, this was the first time someone had used as many as 37 guitars, in a single concert and did it with such consummate ease; one would think he did this every day.

The most memorable moment of the show for me apart from the chinky's obviously,was when he ordered a cup of tea onto the stage, sipped from it and much to the delight of the crowd said, like only he can " Garam chai". Alas! Only if the organizers had imported scones from back home, what a sight it would have been for him, "English evening tea and scones for Sir Mark knopfler "in front of 20,000 screaming fans.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Hollywood Recipe

“The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday” – Baz Luhrmann.

And it was, on one such arbitrary tuesday evening, that I somehow stumbled onto an article, that spoke about the top box office earner’s in Hollywood in the last 30 years. I have always been a fan of Hollywood for its diversity, the versatility of its actors, and the broad cross section of topics it covers, So I was naturally interested. The list went something like this
1. The Aviator
2. Beautiful mind
3. Fight club
4. Rain man
5. One flew over the cuckoo’s nest

Quite an eclectic bunch of movies, I’d say. Let us look more closely,
In” Aviator”, We have leo playing an eccentric entrepreneur, who suffers from “Obsessive compulsive disorder”, adding a lot of mystery to his character keeping the audience entrenched.
In “Beautiful mind” A truly fantastic film we have Russel crowe playing John Nash, A truly brilliant mathemathician, suffering from Schizophrenia.
In “Fight club”, We have Brad pit, and Edward Norton, indulging in combat, and in the end leaving the viewer himself feeling schizophrenic.
In “Rain Man”, another fantastic Oscar winning film of yesteryear, We have Dustin hoffman with his epic portrayal of an autistic person.
Finally, In “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest”, We have Jack Nicholson and his experiences in a home for the mentally unstable.
You probably, have got the drift by now. As, you must have guessed , What I am trying to convey and what all of us must think about as well is..
Isn’t Hollywood exploiting, the medical field for obscure and uncommon diseases, as it gives their story a cutting edge, and secondly is it morally right?
It just seems, as if a perfect recipe for a Hollywood success would be :
1. Do some research, come up with an obscure disease.
2. Cast a great actor, to play this person.
3. Put in a love story, some good music.
4. Make sure this person comes through this disease, or learns to live with it, and comes out triumphant.
5. Make it a little ambiguous and complicated so that the viewer won’t ask too many question’s in fear of being labeled foolish (Emperor’s new clothes effect)
And voila! We have a Box office smash hit.
Think about it, From the director’s angle, It is a relatively safe option, for firstly not too many people know anything about the disease, so he can adapt it to his storyline. Secondly, It is considered humanitarian, as they are showing the travails of someone, who has to deal with an incomprehensible disease and it is impossible, for someone not to take a sudden interest in the person, and in the disease itself.
Thirdly, No one would dare to say anything discouraging about the movie in fear of suddenly being considered inconsiderate and insensitive. One would more likely hear something like, “Oh Poor thing! He is suffering from Schizophrenia”. When, I’m sure if one were to ask that same person what the meaning of schizophrenia was before the movie began, The most likely anwer would be akin to something like ,”I think it is a species of an African spider”.
And Finally, Most parents would encourage their children to watch such a movie, as they might even term it educational, You get to learn about a new disease. Well, How many of us are really dying to find out about “Schizophrenia” or “Obsessive compulsive disorder” anyway, I wonder.
The question’s to be pondered here, are
a) Is Hollywood that short of good story line’s that it has to revert to medicine, and various memory lapses and disorder’s in order to make a good film.
b) Secondly, How many people do you and me know, who have had even symptoms of any of these diseases
c) On a lighter note, Have the number of doctor’s watching movies suddenly appreciated, that these types of movies are suddenly so well appreciated.
By know, you guys must be coming up with other movies as well, which are on similar lines. Some, of these movies are really good, but you can’t help but feel that , A whole bunch of director’s have suddenly jumped onto what I’d liked to call,” ”The schizophrenic bandwagon”,and raked in the profits. For like I have just illustrated.It does makes great commercial and marketing sense.

Reminds me of that often quoted saying in Hollywood…”Money talks , Bull shit walks, That’s Showbiz!”, or better still "Its all about the money, Honey"