Winning the West, filmi style

Eklavya is the Indian entry to the Oscars. I don’t care much about the Academy Awards, at least whether we figure in it or not. But I am really pissed off with the controversy surrounding it. Apparently it won by one vote against Dharm. I have not seen the latter, so shall reserve comment. It is a debut film and from what I hear quite interesting. It is also about social status, though woven into religious belief fabric.

Yet, I do not understand the general voices being raised against Eklavya. (I had earlier written a political analysis of the film vis-à-vis Bachchan, and not too kindly about the latter!) The film has an epic sweep; the cinematography is lush; the performances are way above average – I have to admit that I have never felt so empathetic towards a Bachchan character ever. He is amazing, the pride in his obsequiousness, if it may be called so, just reaches out to you. And then there is the backdrop of the Mahabharata. It has taken just one strain from it – the guru-shishya one and given us a flip side.

When I watched the film, the cinema hall was virtually empty. Two women behind us kept saying, “Yaar, nothing is happening” as they crunched irritatingly on some munchies. The ‘nothing happening’ was the brilliant silences, the darkened screen, and the repose in the eyes of the protagonist even as his lips twisted in an inexpressible agony.

Saif as the son he could not openly acknowledge and Boman Irani as the impotent real father were excellent.

I admit this was largely a male canvas, including the terrain, the high walls, the turrets, the large gates, the blood, the dagger…it is disingenuous to try and feminise everything. But for the sake of argument, I’d say Eklavya in his sacrifice and his quiet nurturing was indeed feminine. When he kills, he later holds the dagger as a woman would hold a child close for having committed a wrong.

This has nothing to do with the Oscars. I had loved the film and stick my neck out and say that Eklavya is an assured film and it is most definitely more Indian and exotic than those silly NRI home movies about aunties gobbling food and match-making young women who look like they have just played holi, wearing such garish costumes.

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I read the news that Akshay Kumar is overtaking (or almost getting there) Shahrukh Khan in the overseas market. Amusing. Are we exporting livestock? Why has it become so important to appeal to the non-resident Indians?

Movies are increasingly catering to their needs and sometimes it is pure sugar-puff.

Isn’t it surprising that for the enlightened West where these people make their homes and where they learn about ‘liberal’ values no female star commands that kind of interest? Aishwariya Rai has a following because she helps market a foreign brand of watches. Making it in Hollywood is such a big deal, it just is not funny.

And when one of their big or small stars visits our country, why don’t these media people stop behaving like fans when they are supposed to be asking questions? And why is it mandatory to want to know what all these LA types think of India? How does it matter?

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Salman Khan has refused to have his wax-work prepared for display at Madame Tussaud’s. They say it is because his ex-girlfriend is featured there. By this logic, he would refuse to pose for pictures in magazines where she has been featured. How puerile.

I should hope he has the good sense to have refused because he has a case against him in court.

And that he does not give a damn about how any Madame legitimises him.


  1. blog
    Academy awards mean nothing. Unfortunately they have become a token of recognition, as a matter of fact they seem as dumb as anything could be....

  2. I am not such a huge fan of the Oscars or any other film award for that matter.

    I was surprised that you liked Eklavya, although in a very, very pleasant manner. I think Eklavya epitomises what movies are meant to be - art. I have been on the receiving side of many aspersions coz I keep saying that Eklavya is such a cool movie. It is what one would call an 'experience' Like Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain.

  3. Good to read another one on Hindi films from Farzana... after the one on Shyam Benegal. Good change of mood and more earthly for me :-)

    Eklavya was a good movie after all.

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  5. Hey! You never told me you failed in Maths!! :P

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  12. Circle:

    Agreed...and I find the ceremony so silly, everything appears staged.


    Good to see you here again. I should be writing more on films given that I am a film buff. Earthly? What is other-worldly about the rest? Oh, ok...I suppose yes...


    'Eklavya' is cool? Ah, nice way of putting it, but then I am not cool...you are right in that it is an experience. I would compare it with Kurosawa, some portions were that scintillating.

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  14. :-)

    I had just 'played' Kalyug when I open Cross Connections and see an article on Shyam Benegal. A friend calls me and imitates Amitabh from Eklavya while I am still reading the Eklavya article. What coincidences.

    Sure you need to write more on TV and films.

    BTW... I saw Tanhaiyan AGAIN! Kabacha!

    Is there a chance of finding 'Waris' ka CD here. I still remember the time when they said that Pakistan ki sarkein khali ho jaati hain jab Waris TV pe aata hai. (That black wala hound/dog was dreadful)Kisi ke peeche lagana chahiye .... hahahahahahahahahahaha


  15. Amandeep:

    This is eerie...I was thinking about 'Waris' (see above) and then saw your comment...

    I watched Chandni Raatein a few days ago..will report on it soon...let me find out about Waris. I do have a collection I have bought, but am not sure about this one...

    Black hound ko bachaa kar rakhna...ab tau aap bhi uss paar ki baatein karne lage jo hai, ab aap ka bhi Afzal se rishta judd jaayega aur kahaa jaayega ki aap bhi apna boriya-bstar baandh kar hamare saath dafaa ho jaaiye!

  16. I will not go... I will die here like the Jagga from Train to Pakistan :-)

  17. I am not going anywhere either...strange but the ones who tell us have themselves left...


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