There’s a saying that there is a child inside all of us (in some people’s cases it actually looks like they have eaten a child). But in this world of cynicism and pessimism and selfishness and degeneracy and competition and politics and terrorism and Ebola and Justin Bieber and YoYo Honey Singh and Cheatselona, getting in touch with that inner child and making that inner child delighted keeps getting harder and harder. Work and responsibilities keep getting piled up, money is forever a problem (unless you are a crorepati like the Great Indian Chunkubaaz of course), the stress goes sky high and health goes for a toss.
Thus, it becomes more and more important that we try to find out and cherish stuff that can bring out the childish mirth, the childish glee, the childish delight in all of us.
So let’s try and discuss a few such things.
Let’s face it – there are three types of movie watchers
a. Those who see Interstellar and enjoy it
b. Those who see Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan and Michael Bay movies and enjoy it
c. Those who watch Terrence Mallick and Ritwik Ghatak and Francois Truffaut and Jean Luc Goddard and Lars von Trier and Werner Herzog etc (usually found around International film festivals talking complete bullshit and desperately trying to be wannabes – as Darth Vader said The pretentiousness is strong with these ones) and claim to enjoy them
This post is about the 1st lot, mainly because throughout history filmmakers have pushed the realms of possibility and imagination to delight this lot; the 2nd lot will watch anything and the 3rd lot is disqualified for having their heads struck firmly up their own Arsenals.
Movies have captured our imagination ever since they came into being, way way back in the 1890s. The Edison company’s The Execution of Mary Stuart or George Melies’s The Vanishing Lady or George Albert Smith’s The Corsican Brothers all astonished and bamboozled and delighted the viewers of that time.
That was the start and they were the pioneers and over the ages filmmakers have followed their hallowed footsteps in continuously pushing and probing and prodding at the realms of possibility, in the process delighting us. We all know about Chaplin and Buster Keaton and the Marx Brothers and movies like the Ten Commandments, there’s nothing new to say about them. And all this was when movies were in their infancy/toddlerhood.
It has come leaps and bounds since then. Along the way there have been films which make us fall in love with them without creating any ripples in the boundaries of imagination (Good, Bad and Ugly, Shawshank Redemption, Fight Club, Usual Suspects, Indiana Jones, TDK etc) . We love these movies either for the stories or for the acting that left us awestruck at the end.
Just to take a few examples, think of the impact of these films when you first saw them
King Kong (and Godzilla) gave birth to the monster/disaster movies
Enter the Dragon gave us Bruce Lee (and Jackie Chan) and for the first time kung-fu/martial arts came to the world
McKenna’s Gold at the end gave us the climax where everything falls down and covers up the treasure – the 1st time this particular trope was used….later used in hundreds and thousands of movies, tv series etc worldwide like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and the Mummy
Jurassic Park gave us the dinosaurs
LOTR was the first great fantasy film, it brought the book the book to life in a hitherto unimaginable way
Avatar’ story was nothing new, basically thousands of stories/movies have used the same formula but what made this memorable and astonished us was the technology and the visual impact
No doubt I have missed out a lot, feel free to point those out. I will love to watch them again.
This is Bong specific so forgive me for that. But the Feluda stories were an integral part of our lives when we were growing up. A new Feluda story was one of the most anticipated events of the year (usually around puja time, courtesy the pujabarshikis – Desh and Anandamela). It was also a go-to gift for birthdays or as a prize for good results. So our brain associates Feluda with good times and happy times. The stupendously brilliant movies Sonar Kella and Joy Baba Felunath have further left a mark on our brains. We (Bongs of a certain age) have all watched the movies scores of times; invariably the first time was when we were kids; nowadays when we watch them (every opportunity we get, never to be missed) we become those kids again.
2. The Annual Arsenal Boom-Bust Cycle
For those that do not know much about football, Arsenal is a football club located at North London with a long history of bribery and corruption. Their most famous fans are Piers Morgan and Osama bin Laden and their greatest ever player is a Chelsea legend.
It used to be a big and successful and revered and feared club. Unfortunately (for Arsenal fans) and fortunately (for everybody else) the club has turned into a bit of a joke.
The club mascot is a bloody big green dinosaur called Gunnarosaurus Rex, signifying the fact that Arsenal used to be dominant and important once but is now as good as extinct.
Arsenal is owned by Walmart and Alisher Usmanov, a mafia guy from Uzbekistan.
Arsenal is managed by Arsene Wenger (one of the greatest brain washers in history at par with Rasputin, Hitler, Ernesto Guevara and Osama bin laden). He is basically there to siphon off money from the club and as such has no wish or desire to win any trophy. He fools the Gooner faithful (in Arsene They Trust) by constantly claiming that they are a poor club and thus have no money for players whereas the reality is that when ranked by earning, it is the 5th biggest club in the world. Unfortunately all the money goes into his and Walmart’s pockets.
Since Arsene has ensured that Arsenal has not even a penguin’s chance in hell of ever winning any important trophy, and in order to soothe the Gooner faithful (in Arsene They Trust), Arsenal decided to create a new tournament, to be played in their own homeground with the opposition cherrypicked to give Arsenal the maximum chance of winning.
However, they have somehow managed to screw even that up.
So Arsene told the Gooner faithful (in Arsene They Trust) that everybody else in the world uses black money and ill-gotten wealth to develop their clubs and since he and Walmart takes away money fro mthe club instead of investing in it, that somehow makes the club a force of moral goodness.
The Gooner faithful (in Arsene They Trust) bought that and invested in moral high horse riding.
However, if you follow current events of the last couple of years, you would know about the reality of Walmart.
Basically, Walmart uses modern day slaves.
What all this has done is confuse the ever loving Bendtner out of the Gooner faithful (in Arsene They Trust). They are a lost, confused lot. They don’t know whom to believe, where to turn, what to say. They have become a desperate lot, and in their desperation, they have turned to the Annual Arsenal Boom-Bust Cycle, a cause of much hilarity in the football world. Basically, there is not a single football fan in the world who does not enjoy a moment of childlike glee at the very mention of the Annual Arsenal Boom-Bust Cycle.
3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
They are teenagers. They are turtles who can walk, talk etc, ergo mutants and they have been trained as ninjas by a giant rat. They love pizza and skateboarding and they fight crime.
As far as concepts go, its pretty simple and quite far out and infantile. It has neither the brooding darkness and melancholy of the DC comics like Batman and Superman nor the issues of politics, race, feminism, homosexuality etc like XMen, Iron Man, Captain America.
In fact, apart from the standard triumph of good over evil (and the beauty and delights of pizza), it does not deal with anything else.
It should not have been a hit, but somehow it has turned into a global megahit and that too for generations after generations.
And the success lies in the characters themselves. Named after 4 famous Renaissance artists, Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and the coolest of them all Michelangelo each have their distinct and unique personality quirks and quips. It is their chemistry and dialogues which takes the mundane stories and transcends them into something way better.
The comics and the original cartoons were stupendously successful and the original films, despite being campy as hell, were some of the most entertaining pieces ever recorded on celluloid.
The animated film was strangely listless while the Michael Bay film was, well, a Michael Bay film (though Michelangelo, once again, stole the show and was the saving grace of the movie) . But despite all that, it has survived and survived strongly.
There is a new series coming on Comedy Central. I watched it today with a little bit of trepidation but am overjoyed and ecstatic to say that they are back.
Today, while watching, somehow I went back in time and became a 10 year old Wee Fatlad Cheapo once again.
4. Magic (pls check blog post no 7)
The middle of the post is no place for something as wonderful as magic, so I have written a separate blog post. Please read it.
5. The Asterix Series
It has Obelix, nuff said (in case there is some unfortunate soul out there for whom this is not enough, Obelix shows us what it means to be a friend)