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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Art of Vishal Bharadwaj

I just finished what has to be my seventh shot at Maqbool today . It's really remarkable,this funny little thing about great films, every time you watch them, you notice something something fersh,something remarkable which had eluded your eyes till then. One cannot but marvel at the vision of the man behind this modern classic-Vishal Bharadwaj.To take a Shakespearean tragedy and weave a cynical yet compassionate fable around it, takes some serious creativity.

Maqbool is a film belonging to the" noir" genre associated with writers like Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hammett ,and directors like Martin Scorsese ,Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino. These are extraordinary men,but it is company Bharadwaj deserves. Technically,the film is almost obsessively perfect,with the director showing some bold sweeps of the brush,especially in the hallucinatory sequences of Maqbool(Irrfan Khan,at his mesmeric best)
The screenplay is crisp, the dialogues are on the button throughout,but what clinches the issue for me is the characterization,and therein lies Bharadwaj's genius.The portrayal of Abbaji,(Pankaj Kapur,who delivers a masterclass in acting) the dimunitive but chillingly powerful don,is unforgettable. The three wicked witches are transformed into two wisecracking,cynical,middle aged and crooked cops,played by veterans Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah. Macbeth was given an altogether new spin.

Vishal's next film Omkara had more mainstream "stars" like Ajay Devgan,Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, but it was every bit as enchanting as its predecessor.Saif in particular stole the show with a smashing performance as Langda Tyagi. Again Vishal's eye for detail and impeccable characterization came to the fore with the badlands of UP proving to be an engaging backdrop for the movie. I particularly liked the depiction of Omkara as an aadha brahman or a half caste. Remember, Othello as depicted by the bard himself was a Moor, which was a racially ambiguous term. Not a shot is out of place in this powerful, moving tale of love,jealousy and deceit.

A man of diverse talents, Vishal Bharadwaj was an acclaimed music director much before he decide to dazzle us with his directorial ventures. Writer,director , music composer........ in my opinion , he is the closest thing we have got since Ray,for sheer versatility and briliance!
That the legendary Francis Ford Coppola requested him to shoot the indian portions of his recent film(when Coppola was bedridden) is a testimonial to his talents.
Here's to the next big hope of Indian cinema!

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