Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Why "The Loins of Punjab" is almost a cheap skit in spite of its popularity among the English-speaking lot

It had happened with 'Bheja Fry'. People liked it though it was a bad film in cinematic terms. There was however quite a bit of drama in it. 'The Loins of Punjab' is a curious film in the sense that it mocks the mainstream Hindi cinema's melodramatic formula, but goes ahead to use it in a cheeky fashion. The makers of the film are saying without putting it in so many words that they can make a skit -- a college prank, really -- of a time-tested formula and have fun in doing so.

They are also cocking a snook at the mainstream Hindi films with its song-and-dance format, something that the new -- or the so-called new -- filmmakers are incapable of handling. They do not have the craftsmanship and the creative elan to do so. But then there are honest film directors like Shyam Benegal who confess that they do not know how to handle a song-and-dance scene. Benegal said that he admired people like Manmohan Desai who did it with such ease and mastery.

But this new breed of half-educated filmmakers, which includes Kunal Kohli ('Fana'), Vishal Bharadwaj ('Omkara'), Rakeysh Mehra ('Rang De Basanti'), pretend to admire the mainstream Hindi cinema but one can sense their barely concealed contempt and sense of superiority. These philistines pretend to adapt techniques of genuine filmmakers like Akiro Kurosawa, to give that silly gravitas to their own filmmaking effort. Of course, the moron who leads this band of morons is none other than Quentin Tarantino, who again uses the Hollywood formula mockingly to achieve his silly comic effects. They think that they are really paying tribute to the masters of mainstream Hollywood and Hindi cinema by using the motifs of popular cinema to make their pretentious film statements.

In the case of 'The Loins of Punjab', there is also an attempt to make fun of the non-resident Indians, the ubiquitous NRIs in the land of Yankees. But without intending to do so, the filmmakers ended up presenting a pleasant melodramatic film with a sentimental climax. The filmakers set out to make a cocky comic film, making fun of the sterotypes. But the inner strength of the sterotypes is such that it ends up moving the audience almost to tears instead of making them smirk. People in the adutiroium stood up when the American character in the film sings the national anthem composed by Rabindranath Tagore.

The filmmakers can turn around and say that that is what they had intended. But it would be sheer hypocrisy on their part to claim something which they are not capable of. The emotional impact that the film has on the audience is in spite of their worst intentions.

And what is the proof of their bad faith? The proof lies in the fact that thay just failed to make a nice forumal film using the music contest as the template. They failed to present a regular love story, where new songs were composed and pictursied on a young hero and heroine, and shot in different scenic locales across the US of A, which is what a David Dhawan or Raj Kumar Santoshi would have done The satirists are always second-rung artists, but the new filmmakers are not even good satirists. They are uneducated film pranksters.

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