09 June 2006

An intellectual treat

I’m critical of Hindi films and the Indian cinema-going audience. Formula plots bore me. Artificial love scenes through song-and-dance routines embarrass me. Bad copies of scenes taken from foreign films frustrate me. I feel insulted… because life, as I know it, is not like that. And, films are supposed to be reflections of life.

I can’t understand how a film as outstanding as ‘Crash’ can be wiped out of the Box Office in India within weeks of launch, when idiocies like ‘Pyare Mohan’ or bland entertainers like ‘Being Cyrus’ can run for months. Most Hindi films fail to deliver intellectual value – which is what I look for in a film, apart from the entertainment.

So, at the risk of adding fuel to the fire, I’ll tell you how disappointed I was last night when I went to see Spike Lee’s ‘Inside Man’. There were only nine of us in the cinema hall and there was a brief talk of cancelling the show. However, somewhere, wisdom prevailed and the nine of us were treated to one of the best films of this year.

‘Inside Man’ seems to be a typical bank robbery which turns into a hostage situation. The police and the hostage negotiators are called in. The bank’s owner volunteers, eager to speed up the negotiation process. When that fails, he solicits the services of a beautiful power-broker in order to protect something mysterious, and important to him, which lies in the bank’s vaults. The city Mayor gets involved too, by default. The detective in charge of the hostage negotiation takes advantage of all this to get a jump-up in his career. That’s on the outside.

But inside? Inside, something else is happening. The bank robbers don’t seem to be too interested in robbing the bank or making demands or killing the hostages or, for that matter, in any specific hurry to leave the bank. On the contrary, the chief bank robber not only seems to be an educated man, but a man with a heart. What’s going on? Have the bank robbers outsmarted everyone in the game?

If you want to know what’s going on or what happens finally in the film, go see ‘Inside Man’ and you’ll never regret your decision. It’s a real treat, intellectually. You’ll also enjoy a very famous Bollywood (Hindi) film song which is used in the film.

‘Inside Man’ stars British actor Clive Owen as the chief bank robber, Denzel Washington as the hostage-negotiating detective, Jodie Foster as the beautiful power-broker, Christopher Plummer as the bank’s owner with a past, and Willem Dafoe as the police chief in charge of staking out the bank.

No comments: