Excellence

Improv – Deserving of a wider stage

At a play – The Diary of a Madman – the wonderful British performer was right into his solo-act as Poprishchin, a minor civil servant in Nicolas I’s time. Poprishchin is going mad and his descent into insanity is subtle & deceptive. That was in the script. What was not there was that there would be a constant titter of mobile phones ringing. The audience was getting mad in it’s own way and this descent was not so subtle; it was rather obvious! The actor was sane on this count. He carried on unaffected. And then it happened. He was half-way into his delivery of a particular monologue when an earth-shattering musical ringtone started to reverberate around the auditorium. Even before all of the audience had heard it, this actor started swaying to the rhythm of the ringtone, even as he continued his talk. It was so effortless that one could almost wonder if the ringtone music was intentional. At another critical instant, a girl sneezed. Without batting an eyelid, the actor said, “Bless you” and carried on! Both adaptations were a…

Movies : An iconic car chase scene

Explosive Action. Intense. Gritty. Peter Yates showcases it in the pulsating car-chase of ‘Bullitt’, the 1968 thriller. If action sucks us in, it has to be because tension has been built upto the moment of release. Most action movie plots shy away from building up tension for just one definitive release. They seek the safety of numbers; and insert scenes that are like short machine gun bursts. Build a little tension here, release; build some more, release; raise the stakes higher; and release again. James Bond movies fit the bill. Action movie buffs like that. To each his or her own. It is too formulaic for my liking. In Bullitt, Peter Yates, the director, does not do that. He builds up the tension for a whole hour into the movie. And how it works! At one level, the tension is built up on the level of the plot itself. Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) is a lieutenant cop in charge of a witness-protection assignment over the weekend.  A legislator has roped Bullitt in for the task. The witness is going to make his political…

Ikiru : A movie for the cinephile

Most people like watching movies that entertain. A few are open to being more patient. These people will strive to engage with the movie on a deeper level, at least to begin with. Later on, it of course, pans out differently for different people. And the few who are in this category, make peace with that. If you are among this select few, you should surely watch Ikiru. And if death and the meaning of life as cinematic themes sit easy with you, you cannot miss Ikiru. It will be a movie you will cherish forever. So, what is Ikiru about? Ikiru means ‘to live’ in Japanese. The story is simple. A lifelong bureaucrat comes to know that he has cancer and has only 6 months or so to live. When death stares him in the face, he realizes he has never truly lived. Caught up in a system that has reduced him to being a cog in the wheel, the man, Kanji Watanabe wonders whether he will ever get a chance to do anything that makes him come alive before…