Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ek Ajnabee: A Review

This movie was meant to reflect on Amitabh's angry young man days and recreate the avtar as a angry old man. The angry young man in the late 1970's and early 1980's was a crusader fighting against socio-economic deprivation and the lack of governance. The angry old man fights for reasons known to himself in an alien land, Thailand.

The director Apoorva Lakhia was the one who made, Mumbai se aya mera dost. He was one of the assistant directors for the crossover Lagaan. Earlier,he was an assistant director for Die Hard 3. Ek ajnabee reflects is hollywood training...well er..superficially.

Surya Singh, Big B,is an ex colonel in the Indian Army, living with a past, when during an operation he inadvertantly shots two children, so he is a drunkard and doesnt know how to make friends nor does he wish to make them. Surya Singh is invited to Bangkok by fellow officer, Arjun Rampal. Rampal is a good looking man with a lovely screen presence and physique..oh how we wish and pray he could act even if remotely.Rampal has been in the industry for about five years and is a classical case of Darwin's error in evolutionary changes even if in the HIndi Film industry. Akshay Kumar and Sunil Shetty are more credible exceptions to Darwin's thesis.

Surya Singh is hired to be the bodyguard of a kid with a great pay package, I suppose, a nice palatial house in Bangkok and a sexy mistress(er.. mother of the kid).Nice job for an Ex Colonel who is supposed to have won some high end Indian gallantry awards! Why do our directors forget that there exists what is called a caste system in India and that Indians mostly take on jobs commensurate with their social status, which I am assuming of Colonel Surya Singh. The rest of the story is over a couple of difficult moments and just a few meters of the footage, the cute and smart kid breaks Surya's wall of indifference and becomes like they all do, the appale of his eyes. The kid, who has done a great job, is then kidnapped and the rest as you might have wisely guessed is the tale of revenge by the angry old man.


I wish A. Bachchan would act instead of hamming. He has been using the same expressions for the past five years. He is a star not an actor and if he is an actor, Amitabh is as good as his directors. The remarkable ability of his, is his failure to get into the skin of the character. Bachchan has always played himself, in the sense that he is a star first and an actor later.In this movie therefore, instead of Surya Singh and ex army officer, you very well are aware that you are watching Bachchan. I think what is hilarious is the closest Bachchan gets to acting these days is playing his own age. Moreover, he is being ridiculously typecast as an aged man in various roles. Burdended with a past (remeber Khaki), add some physical limitation (astham in Khaki),being a heavy drinker in this.

The writers have done a disgusting job. Can we prescribe executions for such people. Imagine its a movie lifted from the Denzel Washington film, Man on Fire, even then. Superficial smooth imitative Hollywood look in a few sequences. The film is rather gory. It reflects Hollywood's fascination with Asia and more importantly Thailand in the 1970's and 1980's. Thailand was an Rest and Recreation(R&R) center for the American troops in Vietnam. A large number of Hollywood films, A grade to X grade were shot in Thailand focussed around martial arts, drugs and the rife prostitution racket. Thailand is that comfort zone where the scum of the earth carried its buisness during the cold war years and most movies had ex US army officers involved in their own vendetta dispensing their own justice. This is exactly what this movie does.In fact, I doubt, anyone in Bombay can be so imaginative, they must have taken this from the original movie they plagiarised. This is a full time job in Bombay, ripping off Hollywood movies, but then I know I aint saying anything new. However, what is important is the fact that such rippers(nice term!huh) are said to be suitably adapted. My recommendation, please copy whole movies, especially when you have an idea that you will rip(again) the movie apart. Mahesh Bhatt's production house was the center in the 1990's, now I think Sanjay Gupta (Kaante,Zinda fame) and Ram Gopal Verma are the leaders today. There is of course that argument that creative plagiarism also exists. Mansoor Khan, the man who gave us Qyamat Se Qyamat Tak, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander, Josh, Akele Hum Akele Tum is a good example. All his movies have been ripped from classic Hollywood. But maybe I am being partisan here, cause I found most of them palatable. Good Question: What is Mansoor Khan making now?

For bad or uncreative plagiasers(is there a word), they should remake the whole film, brick by brick. In their effort at adapting to Indian conditions(or is it sensibility/culture), these movies go haywire. What is worse is that no sincere effort on part of the writers is employed to untie the knots they have tied around themselves and therefore the plot.

Question:Why would Bachchan, a great actor sign such a film. Didnt he read the script,if he did, did he wonder why the child was kidnapped? I am still thinking about that enigmatic kidnapping.

Another important observation is the way natives or local people are potrayed in any Hindi film shot abroad. It appears that these Indians believe like the Chinese that India is the center of the world and the rest are scum or as in the Chinese case barbarians. In this age of globalisation and given five decades of a Non-Aligned Foreign Policy our very own Asian in this movie's case, Thai brethern get shoddy treatment. And factually through these remakes of Hollywood films, the Bombay film makers are imitating and internalising the colonial outlook of the west.There is no effort to provide a fresh perspective, even a caricatured one, in classic Hindi Fillum style(bring the Madrasi in for the laugh track).

Quirk of the movie: A character named Lee Kap. Ma Thailand ki so Lee aur Baap Ludhiana ka Kapoor, therefore Lee Kap!

Last words, a hollow movie with shallow characterisation.Unfortunately the angry old man is a cardboard figure compared to the angry young man of Zanjeer, Sholay, Deewar.Where can we find our generation's Salim-Javed?

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