Monday, March 29, 2010

At Albert Park

The Australian Formula One Grand Prix 2010.

The wild, thronging crowds, flooding the track post-race.

F1 2010

Seas of Ferrari, British, Italian, Finnish flags.

F1 2010

And, through the masses of people, a sight that gladdened my heart.

F1 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Harishchandrachi Factory: Only two thumbs up

I say only two thumbs up because I would have loved to give it more, but am sadly constrained by the fact that I am not Hrithik Roshan.

Harishchandrachi Factory, a Marathi movie, was India's official entry to the Academy Awards in 2009. It tells the tale of Dadasaheb Phalke and how he went about making the first Indian feature film - Raja Harishchandra - in 1913, thereby setting the foundations for the largest movie industry in the world.

Harishchandrachi Factory

Historicals and biographies inherently carry the danger of being stolid, by-the-book informative and boring (Amelia is an example that comes to mind). But it is to the great credit of the writers of this movie that they tell a very interesting story with the right dose of drama and humour to keep one engaged and enraptured for the entire running time of the movie.

While the writing is the star for me, the movie is elevated significantly by the phenomenal performances of nearly every actor who appears on frame. Each character is brought brilliantly to life - the passionate Phalke, his super-supportive and spunky wife, his concerned neighbours, his rag tag bunch of dedicated play actors (special callout to Sage Vishwamitra!), the stereotypical but interesting financiers... I don't know if any of them are regional stars, but they ought to be. The natural delivery, great chemistry and superb comic timing make watching the movie a true joy. The only cardboard characters (in writing and performance) are the British ones - both the firangs in India and those Phalke meets in London on his quest to learn the art of filmmaking.

On the whole, the movie is pitched as a light comedy, which stays clear of over-dramatising Phalke's struggle or glorifying the enormity of what he achieved. It is subtle and simple, and relies on the strength of its characters to tell a fascinating tale.

Harishchandrachi Factory is easily the most delightful movie I've had the pleasure of watching - in any language - in a long time. It's informative, inspiring and immensely entertaining. Do watch it if you get the chance.