As the opening credits of the film rolled, a plate appears on screen, of you dedicating the film to your father. My mind quickly went back to another film, and easily this year’s best so far, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Biutiful. And strange as it may sound, the actor of the film is Javier Bardem. You may not have seen his film The Sea Inside, or may be its difficult to remember what all films you saw before you decided to make Guzaarish, but whoever told you that making the canvas BIGGER creates all the magic, needs to see the film Biutiful.
Workman 1: Hey, you can’t go down there!
Alfred Borden: I’m part of the bloody act you fool!
Black wasn’t The Miracle Worker, Saawariya wasn’t White Nights, and of course, Guzaarish isn’t The Sea Inside. I remember a friend telling me that after he interviewed you and left, you called him up and asked him to describe you as an “auteur” in the piece that he is going to write. Over the years, those who have access to you, or say those who are granted access to you, including a certain famous fluffer of Patna, and his tribe, they don’t spare the opportunity to put you into that “Auteur” category. But if possible, look outside, get out of your cocoon, take your film outside and ask any film lover, what do they think of it ? No, not the star lovers. Not the production designers. Not the cinematographers. Only those who love film.
Sarah: Alfred I can’t live like this!
Alfred Borden: Well, what do you want from me?
Sarah: I want… I want you to be honest with me. No tricks, no lies, no secrets.
Sarah: Do you… do you love me?
Alfred Borden: Not today. No
Not sure if you will ever read this post, or even if you get to read, one of your fluffer will surely dismiss it as another smear campaign, by someone who belongs to blah and blah camp, one who has no sense of aesthetics. But if you are happy with all the love and respect of all your fluffers who surround you, who nod all their heads in every word that you utter, only because they are all there to gain something from you, then, sir, the artist in you is dead.
Cutter: Take a minute to consider your achievement. I once told you about a sailor who drowned.
Robert Angier: Yes, he said it was like going home.
Cutter: I lied. He said it was agony.
The same happened with another filmmaker. The man who came with his explosive brand of cinema. Bollywood hadn’t seen something like that before. We worshipped him. And then, came the fluffers. He said yes, they agreed. He said no, they agreed. He says anything, they agree. And those who agree, are those who matter to him. Earlier we used to think, he will deliver with his next one. Now, we don’t bother. We will never. Because Ramu is RIP. More than once. Long live the fluffers!
[after showing a little boy how to do a coin trick]
Alfred Borden: Never show anyone. They’ll beg you and they’ll flatter you for the secret, but as soon as you give it up… you’ll be nothing to them.
And you know whats the worst part, your character wants to die. And I don’t feel anything. Because it seems synthetic, its seems just a wish, because you don’t dare to go close to him. To show us how ugly he is. How ugly his life is. In the opening scene ,when Ethan is lying on the bed with just a bedcover on him, the camera goes far away from him, almost scared that he might appear ugly. Or is he really ugly ? He is still the Hrithik Roshan, looks well maintained, body all covered. Now see this picture.
Ackerman: We’ll have to dress it up a little. Disguise it. Give them enough reason to doubt it.
Difficult to stare ? Well, still can’t figure out ? Now, imagine if i tell you that he is one of the hottest hunks around, the heart throb of millions. Its hard to believe, right ? Thats what daring is all about. Shouting out from rooftop that my film doesn’t have an item number doesn’t make it any different or daring. If your memory is still failing you, here is another one to complete the picture…
Yes, its Javier Bardem, easily one of the best actors of our generation. In one of the sequence in The Sea Inside, the camera moves over his body, from toe to head, and nothing is Biutiful there, but unlike your film it doesn’t shy away to get close to him.
You stay far away, making the frames bigger with every film, lighting up million candles, illuminating your canvas from every angle and making it as soulless as possible. Do they have blood in their veins ? Are they just mannequins who can emote ? Since you rarely watch films by other directors, as you claim in every interview, let me introduce you to a small marathi film called Vihir. It also deals with death, almost in a meditative way. As a character tries to understand it, everything goes silent for about 15-20mins. No dialogues. Nothing big. No drapes. No candles. No coffins. Thats Biutiful.
Robert Angier: He lives his act.
Even the one by Innaritu. Biutiful. It also deals with love, loss and death. It moves in breathless and dingy spaces, not a single prop that makes you go wow at the talent of the production designer. But when the lead character is about to die, you want to hold his hand, want to make him believe that this will not happen, and you forget that its just cinema. Innaritu is also accused of telling an intimate tale, being over indulgent, spending millions but when you stare at the screen in that dark room, nothing else matters. There is no shaft of light. Its still gut-wrenching, and yes, its not even dressed in any designer attire.
And the magic tricks ? On screen ? Well, ask the Harry Potter fans. Special effects make it look like nursery kids homework. Even if its a flying flame. The beauty is always in the story, the ones that lead to the tricks.
Alfred Borden : A real magician tries to invent something new, that other magicians are gonna scratch their heads over.
And is Guzaarish again set in timeless and spaceless zone ? The court is all smoky. Or is it magic realism ? News channels, discussions, campaigns, where are you heading SLB ? Does it feels like a scary thought, to go out in the sun and shoot ? And so even the court comes home soon. Yes, we have all read about your bad childhood days and how that has inspired the way you work. Now you don’t want to see anything ugly, you want to control everything, you are the master of every frame, you will beautify the way you want it, the revenge of the childhood scars. But now that the claustrophobic triology is complete, can you please step out ? Perhaps inhale some fresh and ugly air. Remember the joy of aaj main upar, aasman neeche ? Wasn’t that Goa too ?
Sullen Warder: How did you get so famous then, eh?
Alfred Borden: Magic.
And those who have worked closely with you have a theory to offer. Since Khamoshi was all soul and it didn’t work at the box office, you decided to go for all possible decorations to make it bigger and better, and it worked! The obsession continued. To make it bigger than the previous one! The fluffers made sure that you went in that direction, with more vengeance. Yes sir, that looks just WOW! They must have said with every move of yours. But since fluffing is a physical act, I wonder if they could trace the soul anywhere. And may be its high time to report a Lost & Found case for that battered soul.
Nikola Tesla: You’re familiar with the phrase “man’s reach exceeds his grasp”? It’s a lie: man’s grasp exceeds his nerve.
Or, it will remain what it looks like, a big boring pretentious fuck. Much like what google seems to offer as i typed your name and selected the “Images” option. Its all just poses. Here, there, see i am thinking, see i am seriously thinking, see i am making a film! And some more! Where are you, Mr Bhansali ? Still in the cocoon. May be you can’t control everything but the world is not so bad. Come out. We will applaud.
Or hail the fluffers! May be they only make your life worth living. We will move to the next epitaph.
(P S – Please leave the tangible-meet-intangible words for Gulzarsaab. Because everything else sounds like nursery rhyme. Yeh coffee gadhi kaali hai is pure pedestrian, which is trying too hard to belong, and is not really getting any help from Kunal Ganjawala’s voice dipped in sugary syrup. Its making it more synthetic.)