Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cinefan notes: Schlondorff, Shakuni, Carriere, Oskar

It’s spooky how the Mahabharata has started inveigling its way into everything I watch these days, even the stuff that’s completely unplanned. Just returned from seeing Volker Schlondorff’s latest film Ulzhan at Cinefan. I knew very little beforehand about the film (the catalogues weren’t available at the venue today) and saw it only because of the director and because it was on at a convenient time. My interest was further piqued by the discovery that the screenplay was by the veteran French writer Jean-Claude Carriere, whom I’ve met for interviews a couple of times (including at Cinefan two years ago).

Ulzhan turned out to be an engrossing, nicely shot series of episodes built around a drifter making his way across the Kazakhstan wilderness for reasons that are gradually revealed. It’s very much a contemporary tale too, so imagine my surprise when Charles, the protagonist, runs into a talkative character named Shakuni! I immediately wondered whether Carriere (who also scripted Peter Brook’s fine screen version of the Mahabharata) had anything to do with this development. Quite probable, though I couldn’t see much connection with the mythological Shakuni (except that this character was silver-tongued and enigmatic).

To add to my unsettlement, the actor who played Shakuni looked very familiar but I was unable to place him. It was only after coming back and doing an online search that I realised it was David Bennent, who played the role of young Oskar in Schlondorff’s celebrated movie version of The Tin Drum – a film I had watched at the same Siri Fort auditorium more than a decade ago. What a twisted series of connections – Ekta Kapoor could make a 500-episode soap out of them.


  1. i havent checked out the mahabharat yet... but the way it is all over ur blog i think i will have to watch it ASAP :)

  2. Do, do, but this post was mostly about the Schlondorff film (I hope!).

  3. any tips for cinefan? any movies to look out for?

  4. yes yes it is... just that mahabharat and ekta kapoor have been overpowering ur blog off late and that is also a subject that i enjoy making fun of ;-) the film is also added to my watch list

  5. I think you need a bit more sleep ;)

  6. Do you in any case write for other blogs because the material found at this link
    is a verbatim lift from your orignal Ekta ki Mahabharat post.

  7. Dhananjay: thanks for the link. Looks like another of those many plagia-blogs that lift heaps of content from all over the Internet and then put up ads hoping for pay-per-clicks. I've sent them an email asking them to remove the post, but I doubt they'll respond.

  8. achal: depends on what sort of films you're interested in. This year I don't know much about the new films in the competition sections (Indian and Asian-Arab) so will probably decide based on convenience of time, etc. Otherwise, the films I'll try to go for are old favourites that I haven't seen on the big screen - the silent classic Greed, Antonioni's The Passenger, Fellini's 8 1/2, Govind Nihalani's Aakrosh.

  9. "...nicely shot series of episodes built around a drifter making his way across the Kazakhstan wilderness for reasons that are gradually revealed."

    Could it be Borat of the Bizarro World? :-)

    I had seen Tin Drum too at SF back then. Can't remember what film festival it was. I must have begged & begged the daroga to let me in!!!

  10. Tipu: do you remember if the hall was stinking that day? Strange question, I know, but just in case we saw the same screening, you'll know exactly what I mean. It severely affected my experience of the film at any rate.

  11. Can u Guess ekta kapoor Website
    as ekta kapoor every thing start with so it also with
    Interesting na
    Intersting Links in Websites are

    Ekta Kapoor Profile
    Ekta Kapoor Film
    Ekta Kapoor Review
    Ekta Kapoor Mahabharat