It has been quite some time since I wrote something which wasn't fiction. Have been doing couple of things since the work has almost dried up and I have oodles of time left on my hands. Been reading 'The Best American Noir of the Century', which is an anthology of completely and utterly brilliant noir stories from the pulp fiction era. The stories are compelling enough for me to tweet about it from the phone, but not enough for me sit in the laptop and write. So, I took a break last night from hibernating underneath my duvet, Bangalore is really cold at this time of the year, especially for this time of the year. And my break consisted of watching X – men first class. Which was a good fare, nothing too great or too bad, but you do realize that Professor X is a massive twat and you are suddenly cheering for Magneto. And then I started listening to Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode's movie review podcast.
Now this podcast has become my benchmark for what movie reviews should be like. So on one of the podcasts, Asif Kapadia, director of Senna was a guest on the show. And while they spoke about the movie, I put the movie on the download queue. Now, I have heard and read about Aryton Senna. I may have even watched some of his races on Doordarshan, but I can't really say for sure. The podcast got over and so did the download. It was about 3 in the morning, I wanted to sleep and considering the movie was a documentary. A documentary about a renowned formula – 1 driver (who I didn't know much about0, about a sport which had successfully put me to hypnotic sleep (every single time. And I have done it just thrice till now), I reckoned I would be asleep by the time the movie hit the half an hour mark.
The movie got over at about half past five in the morning. My palms and the back of my hands were wet from wiping the manly tears which seemed to be pouring over my general face area. And I slept like a donkey, with a smile pasted on my face which I believe would have been reminiscent of a well fed and burp induced baby. So when I woke up in the morning and was having my morning coffee, I suddenly realized what makes good cinema and what makes brilliant cinema. Now bear with me, as this is bit of a long explanation.
Now, I realized that brilliant cinema are stories which alternatively make you, the viewer, feel alone, and by alone, I mean just you and your emotions cocooned in a bubble, even if you are in a group. And at times makes you want to turn around and make contact with fellow humans. And this contact could be in any form, a smile, exclamations in unison as a group, [Usually with me and my mates it is usually "DUDE!" or "FUCK!"] or an extended conversation during the movie as the images continue to stream past you on the screen. Brilliant cinema makes you go through all of these emotions during the course of the movie. Very few movies manage to transcend the mythical thin line demarcating good cinema and brilliant cinema.
Good cinema on the other hand has varied definitions, it could be the performance of the lead or supporting actors, it could be the story which engages you, and you talk about it with your mates, probably even insist on them watching it. It probably even takes you out on an emotional roller coaster ride. But the mythical thin line which I was talking about earlier, which separates the good cinema from brilliant cinema is the, inability(?) or failure(?) to cocoon the viewer with an emotional bubble of their own making. And when you watch something like 'Senna', this thin, mythical, imaginary line gets magnified into the proportions of the Berlin wall.
This is the same reason why I suppose I consider Renuka Sahne falling down the stairs as brilliant cinematic moment and Shahrukh Khan rising from underneath hockey sticks in the climax of DDLJ as good cinema. Why the climax of Rang De Basanti is cinematic brilliance and the torture scene in Casino Royale is really good cinema. Why Titanic is brilliant and Avatar considered technologically ground breaking stuff. I think I am just rambling at this point of time. All I can say is go watch Senna. It is not about Formula -1 racing, it is not about the man, it is about the legend. Very few legends exist in this day and age, we as a generation have grown up with fleeting heroes. Very few people have lived their lives like gladiators, and very few have managed to get their legend travel beyond the walls of the coliseums. And the few ones who have, need to have a fitting tribute written, sang and shared with the rest of the world.