June 28, 2010

Man Movies?

By Mayank Shekhar

Forced to see too many chick flicks because of your significant other? Take revenge with these man movies.


Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya: This gang-war gem, to me, stands tall, right alongside the Godfather trilogy and Martin Scorsese’s finest mob operas. So gritty and real, you can actually smell the sweaty men of Mumbai’s mafia. It’s a bummer that despite Bollywood’s fixation with gangsters, nothing’s come even close to this work of art – Vishal Bhardwaj’s Maqbool was probably a distant second.

Farhan Akhtar’s Dil Chahta Hai: This film gifted to India the metrosexual man: single, city-bred, emotionally soft but not sissy, clean-shaven, dressed fit, hair spiked. Movies in Bollywood may or may not have changed since. The urban Indian man certainly began to look different after.

Rajkumar Santoshi’s Andaaz Apna Apna: There are only two questions that baffle you about this film: How could this craziest, male-bonding, super low-brow, comic masterpiece, with the nation’s top superstars, bomb at the cinemas on its release? And how, exactly, does Crime Master Gogo plan to play goti (marbles) with your eyeballs? The second question’s the easier one to figure.

Kundan Shah’s Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro: Hot editor simultaneously plays two photo-journos. Eager boys go where few men have been before – not to the ed’s bed, but through the city’s posh underbelly: among sold-out bureaucrats, the builder lobby et al. It’s mildly suggestive that the most serious film on the monumentally corrupt India of the ’80s should turn out to be among the finest comedies of cinema ever.

Kanti Shah’s GundA: Set somewhere between a dockyard and the countryside, where rape’s the national sport; all characters rhyme their speech; each is a moron, unique to world cinema: Chuttiya on ‘Vitamin Sex’, Bulla, Natte, Pote, Chikna… Super-star Shankar sets them right. Boys across engineering schools are known to watch this Mithun masterpiece many times over, on shared networks. They apparently sense science in its screenplay, something lay viewers are unable to fully appreciate.

World cinema

Sidney Lumet’s Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon: One’s a crackling, conflicted police drama that reminds you wholly of Govind Nihalani’s Ardh Satya. The other’s a stunning hostage piece that turns into a media circus. Both star an early Al Pacino, the ultimate male icon.

Oliver Stone’s Born On The Fourth Of July and Wall Street: Wars, in movies or otherwise, are about old men talking, and young men dying. Born… taught us another important American lesson: Tom Cruise can act. Wall Street of course let us in on an altogether separate chapter on reading films: We selectively take from movies whatever the hell we want. Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) was Wall Street’s grossest villain. He turned out to be the male, go-getter’s unparalleled role model: Greed is good ‘n’ all. Say that again if you’re still an investment banker.

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner: Male geek gods never quite grow up. This is not a surprise, given sci-fi wizardry (Star Wars) and netherworld fantasies (Lord Of The Rings) are their only reality checks. I’m not the world’s hugest obsesso of the genre, so I know Blade Runner’s the best ever: it can spin my head over, surely it can do a lot more things to others.

Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: All guns, gruffly machismo, silly lines made to sound all-important, and not even a half-written girl character in sight. This is, at its best, the primary, plotless Western: a genre that in itself, across the world, is tailor-made for men alone. How many women have you met who obsessively swear by Sholay? None that I know of.

Bernardo Betrolucci’s Last Tango In Paris: “What is this,” she asks, pointing to his naked body part. “It’s a man’s penis,” he says, “And a woman’s happiness.” He’s a middle-aged, meditative Marlon Brando; she, the gorgeous Maria Schneider. The two anonymously make unconditional love in Paris, with pleasure, without guilt: delicious, equally disturbing, and anything but juvenile porn.