Thursday 11 January 2018

Anurag Kashyup's new movie MUKKABAAZ suddenly appears in a remote Sydney location. A quick cobbled together primer on a Hindi director of interest.

Anurag Kashyup
At the time of the release of Anurag Kashyup’s Bombay Velvet, direct from Cannes in 2015, these paras appeared on a Film Alert post: “Three years ago, the Sydney Film Festival, in the first year of Nashen Moodley's term as Artistic Director, shocked a lot of people by showing Anurag Kashyup's The Gangs of Wasseypur (India, 2012). In two parts, over five hours, this was Hindi cinema at its finest, a Godfather tale stretching over generations with interpolations of music and sequences of breathtaking physical violence. Alas the appearance of the film did not denote a new freedom and flexibility in SFF programming. There have been Indian films screened since but none has had the raw energy, the exhilaration, the bravado in story-telling, the twists and turns, the music, the songs. Art films, the conservative selection, have been all that's been offered. Just a thought to set your mind racing.

Since then Kashyup has made Ugly (2013), a police procedural that gets itself into such a plot tangle that finally the life sputtered out of it not withstanding the graphic and violent depiction of, on the one hand police indolence and stupidity, and on the other police violence and victimisation towards enemies. Not necessarily criminal enemies either. Ugly had very little public exposure though you can buy it on Blu-ray and DVD if you know where to look. This is of course only part of his work. The full list of titles he has been involved in as a writer and producer tots up to well over forty films and he's only 43 years old. A prodigy working at the very heart of the biggest film industry on the planet Earth.

I also wrote a note about Bombay Velvet: Bombay Velvet rambles through a story that starts just after India won its independence and goes on into the seventies. As per usual Kashyup is fascinated by the clash of morally principled crooks and corrupt cops but that's a sidelight. The real story is of the small time hood, duped and used by the corrupt political and business masters. They need his brawn and they exploit him ruthlessly. The only redemming features of his life are his loyalty to his childhood friend Gimman and his love for the conflicted chanteuse Rosie (Anushka Sharma, drop dead gorgeous). More to come.....

Psycho Raman
The "more" was Psycho Raman in 2016, and yet another SFF courageous choice, though it was once again a Cannes official entrant and thus had the imprimatur  a screening at that festival and which gives some sort of licence. I was again enthusiastic: Psycho Raman is a portrait of a serial killer. The name chosen is that of India's most notorious such assassin who was active some forty odd years ago and killed 41 people. Kashyup's representation is not that guy but a put upon and abused young man with a strong sense of street smarts. His pursuer is a cop with a drug problem and a girl friend who can see through his bullshit. The cop's personal life causes him to blunder about and notwithstanding his ripped six pack body and supercool sunglasses, he's usually a step behind the naive but brutally vicious killer. Kashyup jacks up the violence quite a bit including additional emphasis with his music track.

"Drenched in this violence and with a wandering narrative that takes a lot of time to tell the twisty parallel tales, the film is clearly intended as n homage to modern noir and crime. in his video intro Kashyup made reference to David Fincher and Seven. Stop for a moment and its logical that for a modern cinephiliac director all of his influences probably take back through the likes of Fincher to Scorsese and his Mean Streets  and Taxi Driver among others. Kashyup has absorbed the lessons of edginess and fragmentation in the narrative as well as the colour saturation."

Which brings us to Mukkabaaz, Anurag Kashyup’s new movie, now screening in India and in Sydney, at least, opening on Saturday at Event cinemas Burwood and screening at very limited sessions (evening only). Hindi Cinema expert Adrienne McKibbins has sent through a domestic review by Saibal Chatterjee which advises the film is:A boxing melodrama…. at its best when the gloves are off… Subtlety isn't the film's forte. Parts of it veers towards the somewhat heavy-handed. But that is exactly how it is meant to be. The screenplay, which is credited to six writers, including director Anurag Kashyap and lead actor Vineet Kumar Singh (both of whom have their roots in Banaras), yields a lively, engaging film that is akin to a boxing bout - ballsy, no blows barred, filled with non-stop action, and marked by nifty footwork. A propulsive musical score by Rachita Arora adds an extra layer of muscle to the film.

You can read the whole review on the Indian NDTV website if you click here

I can say no more but recommend a hardcore trek to Burwood.

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