Miss Lovely is an engaging watch
by Sailesh Ram
THERE’S high dead body count here in Cannes - no, not literally, I am sure you understand.
Blood, death and gore are much on display in the Indian films on view here at the 65th Cannes Film Festival.
And beyond that, most of the films in the official section do not make for easy viewing and many involve death of some sort.
It doesn’t look like the festival organisers here enjoy a good comedy - though they did screen Woody Allen’s 1930s arty romp, Midnight in Paris in 2011 (though not in competition).
The Indian films here now, Miss Lovely, Gangs of Wasseypur (GOW) I&II, and Peddlers, all appear in different categories as part of the official selection, with Miss Lovely ahead of the pack and in the prestigious Un Certain Regard section that denotes new talent largely.
A period piece set in the Bombay of the 1980s, it’s an engaging watch as director Ashim Ahluwalia delves deep into the low lives, who made seedy horror sexploitation movies at that time. Sure, there’s no happy ending and it’s essentially a dark tale but has integrity, passion and purpose and you can see why Ahluwalia has caught the eye.
For something lighter and without a high body count on the death front (not the nudity!), you have to go to On The Road (of the films I’ve seen), Walter Salles’ tribute to the legendary book by American author Jack Kerouac.
Okay, look, I am biased, it’s a great book - one that undoubtedly helps to make our world more interesting, stimulating and just well, goddamn, liveable or tolerable at worst.
Some might find the erotic scenes a little too free and easy on the eye and the characters very morally dubious, but this was post World War II conservative America and it needed some shaking and the characters sure give that a go. And, as Selles acknowledged here, the book and its ideas had a huge impact on the cultural landscape of the US and our world as we know it.
Ranking alongside On the Road in terms of personal enjoyment has to be today’s premiere of The Paperboy.
Featuring Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron, it’s a tale of a young (white) man’s awakening in Florida in the 1960s, just as the civil rights movement begins to gain momentum.
Kidman and Efron do their best to get all hot and bothered (though one without the other, initially…) with Kidman playing a rather racy 40-year-old who looks and acts a lot, lot younger, while Efron is all frustration, ambition and naivety (and who isn’t at 20?).
Lee Daniels, one of the few Hollywood black directors around, has delivered a fine film that has emotion and style - that’s a winning combination and it has to be in the running for the Palme D’Or.
Just back to the Indian films, they do have a consistent thread running through them and it is not a happy one. Violence seems to be just under the surface - but of course, we are dealing with characters on the margins in one way or another.
There is no doubt that there is much talent beyond the usual Bollywood fare and that a new generation may well be developing, but guys (and sadly it still appears to be only), darkness and death may well be necessary because of the usual popcorn mulch on offer and yet and I wonder whether there’s a warning there too. That’s something Eastern Eye will be picking up on next week.
*Read this week’s Eastern Eye (May 25); Global Ambition - India’s Cannes do
*Extended coverage of the Indian films in competition and general reviews.
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