R S Prasanna

Spam that tries to be literature.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Dear Mr Drona,

Subject: Avatar.

“The visuals look splendid.”

That I heard is the correct password to enter. There, I have said it.

May I introduce myself as a student of yours who stole lessons by watching you work. I am guilty of stealing. Before you get all angry and ask for my (useless) thumb, let me hasten to add something that will make this crime seem petty in comparison. Not only have I stolen lessons from you, but I am daring now to question you about your latest work.

Hold on a sec and consider this before swooping down on me in 3D splendour. This once I did not steal from you. I paid for the ticket to watch your latest work – 'Avatar'. That grants me certain rights. Like the right to have thoughts triggered by your work, and express them. Call it 'Thoughts from the Dumb One'

1) Once again the Truth of cinema was revealed. As was revealed in your brilliant “T2” and “The Abyss” by presence, 'Avatar' proved it by absence. However splendid the form of a movie is, what matters in the end is the screenplay, acting, and direction. If I yawn at places, look around the theatre interiors and predict the lines that are to roll out of my lead actors' lips every so often - I am watching a bad movie. Alright, a splendid looking, jaw-droppingly-luscious 3D bad movie. When a guy invests 1000 crores INR in making a visual spectacle, what prevents him from buying a good script for a teeny weeny fraction of that humongous amount?

2) Why gripe about a 'bad' movie? Becasue this 'guy' happens to be the one who taught me big-action-spectacle movie writing with his T2 and The Abyss (and yes, even Titanic). He is a master. A master can not be forgiven for his small mistakes. (Now is the time, Drona Sir, you may want to huff puff and blow this conceited piece fo dust off the face of Pandora.)

3)More than anything else, I found the politics of the film very very shallow, immature and even plain irritating. So much of 3D layering done on screen, and none what so ever on script. Look at the politics of the film. It is still preaching 'With me or against me'. You have to be a Navi for you to want to protect them. You cannot fight against your brothers. So what does one do? Change the brothers! Reincarnate and get new brothers! You have to choose 'To be or not to be Human' if you want to sympathise with the Navis. Do I have to give up my Indian citizenship if I have to support say, Pakistan on some issue? I have to look and behave like my clan if I want to show them my support. Is that not the problem we are beseiged with today? This regurgitates the same problem of 'Us and the other'. In 3D. If I am a 'Hindu' by birth, by right my other neighbours in the same 'religion' demand my unquestioning support. If I support a cause of a guy from 'the other religion' I am no longer one from my own. I think this movie, more than any other (given the capabilitiy of the director) could have pushed the envelope of this 3D way of thinking too, instead of just the visuals.

4) As for the environmantal 'logic'. I may have been dumb in not getting it, so do tick me off if I am wrong. The humans use fire to fight. (Explosives, fire guns, huge fire balls all around burning the place down.) Isn't this a planet with no oxygen? (Or very very little, if at all? )I mean I saw the humans dying without their gas masks. So how does the fire work without oxygen? And if it is indeed an 'alien fire' burnng out of say methane or some other gas, would not the color be diferent? I am not a great intellectual Sci Fi expert, but I have read some Artur C Clarke books (which is the extent of my scifi exposure - this might be frowned upon by some, I know) I have grown up loving his reconstruction of an alien environment. Well, if I am not wrong (and I still add, I am a dumb guy - did I overlook somethWhen you claim to have created a whole new world in entirety, well, I am left wondering if Drona has just been a tad lazy with his imagination or sci-fi rigour.

It is interesting how every movie is an excuse for us all to don our own avatars and fight for /against the movie. You may not know how many Avatars are floating around (incuding this one and the zillion avatars on Facebook, Twitter and the like) fighting for or against your work. That, dear Master, is indeed your success.

Let me end my arrogant questioning with a disclaimer like the one at the beginning: The movie has within it a zillion man hours of work; some priceless human invention in terms of technology and filmmaking; hordes of creative geniuses working for years to chisel this masterful piece of visual magic. I know. That is no mean feat. Hats off to all of them for that. Cinema is grateful for your work in those departments. I bow to thee with reverence.

But from that bow are launched some arrows. The arrows of Eklavya.

Yours sincerely,
A fan.


Blogger Ani said...

hmm...i saw that you had written a review for the movie before I watched it. Didn't wanna read it then, to see for myself what the hype was about. And I ended up arguin with several folks for hours why this wasn't a great movie. And I'm glad to have found you saying the same things I had to say :)

Absolutely true with the movie and even the exact lines being predictable. And as for the "imagination of a whole new world" concept, it is my personal contention that anyone can come up with a fictional world, purple flowers galore and "isn't-that-something-from-jurassic-park" creatures; why stop there when singing mermaids and gravity-defying turquoise rabbits were just a minute stretch of "creativity" away? I found that there was almost nuthing in the story which couldn't have been told in 30 mins. "Guy meets girl...that's a safe beginning"..."now how do I end this...." ;)

- Ani

6:55 PM  

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