Hey guys,This is gonna be a long read.I wanted to write this for long but seems today I feel like writing it finally.Thanks to Sputnik,Baba for their support.Thanks to Shetty bhai for his flattering support.Thanks to Raj-ji for his great inputs from time to time.Thanks to Arise_Awake for his constant “critical” read of my articles.Thanks to Lambu for his comic dissections.Thanks to everyone who has ever read me and will read me.
I had earlier written a short piece “Rants about Acting” on NG that made it to the POTW.Paradoxically they banned me a week later citing reasons that I never could understand.But the point is not that.What I want to speak out here is something that we all keep quizzing “What is acting?” I had a detailed discussion with Satyam too in this regard today and I could appreciate few of his points too.I have had constant discussions with many friends of mine on the eternal question of an “act” that is considered worthy of being recognised and appreciated. Thus whatever I am writing is in a sense a summation of ideas that any man conceives through his life searching for the answer to a question that is confusing,perturbing and vague.
So let’s go! How do you feel when Bachchan dies in the arms of his mother in Deewar.Thematically it is a very important scene in the history of Indian cinema whereby salvation is achieved in the purpose of search for justice through illegal means.The “poetic” justice served in Deewar could have failed badly had not Bachchan endeavoured to layer his death with emotions that made you cry within.The script writers wrote a scene on paper.But when an actor transfers the same to celluloid,he can either make or break the scene.Bachchan made the scene immortal.He not only infused a sense of tragedy but also made it evident that “crime always creates an avenue for justice”. It is not the goal but the means which are important.Hence Deewar serves a treatise about the attempt of redemption, class-differences and exerts to emphasize the inevitable win of good over evil.All this thematic interpretation of Deewar were not solely fulfilled by the altercation between Rishi and Amitabh with the mother being the fulcrum..It needed beyond that.Each movie needs one damn good scene which takes it to another level. Bachchan dying at the end in the arms of mother justified the essence of the movie,the purpose for which Yash Chopra delivered it.Let you not forget the famous “lock and showdown in godown” scene of Deewar.Bachchan is unsurmountable within that confine.As soon as he steps out his past starts to confine him.In an attempt to revenge the past,he refuses the money thrown in by Daavar Saaheb.The implications of such scenes would never have been fulfilled,had not Bachchan’s arrogance reflected in his attitude and demeanor.That same pride eventually would cause his downfall.Bachchan thus encompassed much within the movie,thematically covered a great distance and justified scenes with his effective portrayal.There are a few important scenes in Deewar. The first being the scene where the tall buildings reflect in the “dark glasses” of Bachchan contrasting with his past where “poverty” reflected from his dried eyes.Second is Amitabh with Parveen Bobby in bed.That scene in itself stands as a testimony to the fact that Bachchan is lonely,very lonely and disintegrating from within.Amitabh not only brought depth to such scenes but also painted them with an absorbing loneliness.Ambition,Hunger,Greed,Love,Revenge,Responsibility all are reflected and at the end the “protagonist” loses out to his own infirmities. Amitabh’s acting was emphatic.That is the term I cater to most when I talk about acting.It should serve the purpose of a role.The reason for describing Deewar in many aspects was to show how Amitabh fitted beautifully in each of its narrative.That can qualify for a good piece on acting! Acting is highly subjective but if seen from the “eyes” of the theme associated with it and the previous examples about a similar role and checking for innovations,one might have ones own deduction.Also the context within which a movie is set in or a subject about which movie talks about is a best available prop for measuring the level of act done to justify it.This is an indirect comparison but the nearest one.
Lets shift our focus on an effervescent “tragic” death. Watch out for Dilip in Devdas or better Sehgal in Devdas.These two men make “death” a subject that they subsequently learn over the course of the movie and later embrace it with a losing dignity.Dignity is not lost in terms of perception but in terms of a man losing out on his love and failing to alcohol subsequently.The “weakness” in man is showed beautifully.Man may seen like a strong surface but the lacunae within are justified by the “alochol” dependence that seemingly acts as a substitute for an addiction which was “love” in the original place!Dilip loses himself to alcohol literally in the movie.The “word” Paaro coming out of his throat definitely seem searching for a caress from Paaro.Paaro is replaced by Chandramukhi as an illusion which later gets converted into alcohol.Dilip used alcohol not as a prop but as an innate essential weakness of a lost man and utilised it to a certain toned effect that brought out the tendency of a man to embrace pain as a stigma following a loss in life.Pain cannot be measured.So you have the face to express it.One needs to revisit the classic to see how Dilip moulds the whole film into a package selling the “bitter” truth of life and acts a reference point for possibly every tragic story that might have taken place ever in this world.Dilip comes out as a natural loser,it seems at places,But he was the biggest winner of them all at having masterfully crafted a role that effortlessly portrayed the angst,the repulsion,the irresistible desire,and the subsequent fall into oblivion. All moulded into one! I call that acting! Definitely Yes!
Acting can never be measured in terms of acceptance of a movie.It is more like Raja Hindustani was a big hit but you remember Aamir for a AAA which nearly bombed at the BO. Thus acting is what does justice to the written aspect of the character.Brando was quality in “On the Waterfront”.Thus I consider Aamir as average in Ghulaam as I had previously remarked–There is a definite precedence here.The reference point is too strong for the successor to uproot that.But even that average performance of Aamir is elevated to a level of brilliance because of the paucity of such intense performances in that era.Thus what again works is the comparison with other products in that era.I find Sarfarosh the most accomplished Aamir performance to-date.It is like a character that sees the world through a normal middle class eye and is a no-nonsensical man.The effort to overcome his physical standards to match the agility the character required by his sheer intensive and introverted effort is remarkable.I have always applauded Sarfarosh for its smooth screenplay that suited the character of Aamir.Infact Aamir takes upon himself to underplay the romantic stuff with just a smile or under-developed excitement to make his authoritarian aspect look bright.Middle class sensibilities reflect when he constantly refuses to take Bendre’s romantic signals,whereas he is getting it all the time.Later on his honesty is reflected again in the same underplayed manner.He plays to the communal sentiments by making a statement regards “kaum” and “mulk” till Mukesh Rishi sets the note right by replying him befittingly.There now you see Aamir accepting the fact without the ego being hurt.That is to be noted in that scene.He is not crestfallen at having been proven wrong.He infact understands that his middle class sensibility sometimes clouds his judgement.All this is not said.It reflects from his face.It is the most defining aspect of an actor to be able to say what is “unsaid” or to be able to say the “intended” Such small scenes speak about an actor sometimes.Scenes that one may miss.I ask many friends–Which scene you like in Sarfarosh.They quip– Aamir running on the road and a few pin upon the last scene.” I like the two aspects I talked here.Aamir in Sarfarosh reminded me of Brando at times,very silent,very soft but easily cutting through the substance at hand making a definite point. I call that a good act.Yes I do!
Many have a wrong notion that Romance is an easy stuff on screen.That it can be done by just dancing in Switzerland and having a chiffon saree on. I disagree strongly here. Routine romance is the hardest stuff to do.If that had been so naturally born,people like Suniel Shetty,Sunny Deol and Jacky Shroff along with Sanjay Dutt would have had mastered the art.But on the contrary it becomes very difficult to portray the most innate and basic feeling a man has on screen. The fact that we dismiss “love on screen” as fluffy i the sheer inability to accept that we all have been mushy and fluffy at one point or the other in life.The inability to witness our reflections of private moments seems unbearable at places and we dismiss romance as even a piece that can be acted out.But here is where Shahrukh excelled.I can easily name Swadaes,KHKN,MNIK,CDI and walk away less questioned.But somehow I feel his “Yes Boss” performance remains the best from the lot.Again middle class ambitions at stake.Desire to touch the skies and then the compromise offered between love and money.SRK brings a freshness to the potrayal.In many sense Yess Boss is the extrapolation of Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman. Here SRK very simply displays the compromises a middle class guy might have to make in order to save or make his world of dreams.The scene where Pancholi offers SRK his own office to buy him and the manner in which SRK responds later is a scene that beats many in his career. There is another scene where Juhi who is fed up of staging the marriage has an altercation with SRK.He feels so dejected and refused on the inside but takes it on to listen the humiliation on the outside.He is helpless but yet not showing signs of a nervous breakdown.He is fighting but more with himself but asking Juhi in a sense to chide him.His interactions with Juhi are more of a means to explore his own decisions,his ow infirmities.SRK never makes an earnest desire to brood over it all.He plays it as natural as it can be.Never over-emphasizing the expressions but always allowing the face to speak.The “mischief” in him along with the “pains” provide for a weird combination but even then it turns out to be a lovely treat.What else could a bigger justification of a natural effervescent and composite act!!
There is a scene in HAHK.Salman calls up Madhuri and Madhuri is handling Renuka’s child after her death.Salman starts singing “Mujhse Juda Hokar” and Madhuri listens.That 1 minute is sheer magic.Salman in that 1 minute encompasses the myriad emotions-namely-loss,happiness,responsibility,love,restraint,silence.That 1 minute forms the crux of a movie where he graduates from being an irresponsible guy to a mature and oriented one.Finer nuances and details make acting,I believe.That 1 minute is the most passionate sense of separation I have ever witnessed.The other is SRK denying to Kajol that he loves her in DDLJ and walking off on the station.Infact Salman in HAHK plays to the character neatly.There is no conscious effort to be emphatic.He acts like a guy next door,mischievous and over-expressive.What stands out in this effort is his display of a character that stands opposite to the more mature character of Madhuri.Let me make a comparison here. Tom Cruise in his early films always played a role where his romantic counterpart would be more mature than him.Be it Top Gun or Days of Thunder. Salman in the same manner effectively utilises Madhuri to mature and graduate and when he does he inevitably faces the last lesson that would complete his transformation.Salman is said to have been overshadowed.I strongly resent that.If Salman got overshadowed,every role in the world that requires a mature woman as fulcrum is overshadowed.And mind it,it would include likes of Tom Cruise,Russel Crowe and Dustin Hoffman.Would anyone dare call them overshadowed.The best part of such characterization is that the actor gets to traverse a wide range of personality level and ultimately crosses a threshold where he matures and becomes eligible to match the girl.In this process one must notice that it is actually the male counterpart who is making an effort to portray different shades in that journey from immature to mature and not the girl who already has a platform to execute her role.Thus HAHK remains a very memorabilia in terms of Salman Khan’s filmography.It might have been a Madhuri Show but it was more of a Salman’s journey that was portrayed and HAHK is basically a story that involves Salman as the fulcrum later on thus allwoing for completion of the story!
I have just made an effort to portray the “acts” of few major mainstream actors.I could have talked about Sahni,Naseer,Pankaj,Irrfan but the fact is that they never have to be bound to an image.When you are not bound,you have limitless potential.When you play to the gallery,you have an additional responsibility of maintaining the charm and also make yourself believable.Also I have seen few worse performances from them.Kapur in Dus was pathetic so was Irrfna in Hiss.That is why I respect mainstream actors much more than them as they uphold the herculean task to do same thing again and again and still find variances to give each a certainly different flavour.
Anupam/MilindTags: Aamir Khan acting Amitabh Bachchan Deewar Devdas Dilip Kumar effervescent Ghulam Hum Aapke Hain Kaun Milind Reflection natural Salman Khan Sarfarosh Shah Rukh Khan Yes Boss