Watched Baby last night. It’s a great film but a few things that I thought of sharing. (These are my personal views/observations & my direct questions are at the end) I’m sure Neeraj Sir has written it in an incredible way. Plus it is shot beautifully in multi-location.
It does take balls to make films in the first place. And none to write about it once it is watched. With all these observations, I will consider these points as a note to myself as a filmmaker and not as a review.
Despite all the points I would say below, I will give it a 4/5.
Feedback is what we filmmakers should feast on. If films are not watched by the audience, they won’t serve it’s purpose. And to serve that purpose better, feedback saves our ass the next time.
Though, storytelling wise, nothing can beat Neeraj’s “A Wednesday”. I believe that if given TOTAL CREATIVE FREEDOM, the Director could turn around a lot of elements in the narrative with the available footage. I would not like to believe that the Neeraj was responsible for every detailed decision made in the film.
The movie doesn’t seem to have done justice especially from point of Editing & Sound Design. As for stylistic cuts, i.e. transition between shots, it is done incredibly. But as the whole layout of the story, it seems a few opinions from different people might have got mixed.
Some may say that characters played by strong actors like Kay Kay Menon, Sushant Singh , Danny Denzongpa, Anupam Kher etc. were not pushed to their full potential, but I would say it was the best decision to keep their performances subtle.
Some scenes were saved because of music, like the chase scene in Istanbul and some became predictable because of it. Like the end airport scene. Ofcourse, I won’t ask the Argo question (Similar airport scene was shown at the end of Argo).
Everyone predicted the last scene. May be the pause was too long which gave the audience the time to think (editing) or when they introduced the character of the Saudi Police Officer (Hasan Noman), and showed the (Sherlock Holmes style) re-construction of scenario done by the officer [about how Ajay (Akshay) killed Bilal (Kay Kay) and drank water] , and his immediate smile reaction. It gave up what his motivation could be at the end, and the audience subconsciously decoded it (or I did). Everything else before the airport scene was “on-the-edge”, specially the surprise entry of Maulana Mohammad Saeed Rahman (Rasheed Naz) at Bilal Khan’s (Kay Kay Menon) hideout.
Unfortunately, the audience has got smarter and new techniques should be implemented to take them by surprise. And it’s a tough job.
Given that the stakes are high on such big budget movies, it seems there has been an attempt to play safe.
After a long time, I feel, the marketing of an Akshay Kumar film is done right. As compared to the other ‘big starrer’ content coming out of Bollywood (I don’t like that word), Akshay’s films would truly stand out, if only they would be marketed with a better strategy. They seem to be lost in the heap of other Bollywood movies with all those item numbers used for promotion. Thankfully, Akshay Kumar seems to have broken out of his own stereotype quite gracefully in this single movie.
I recently directed a medium-length indie film on a similar issue and I understand how difficult it is to walk on a thin line of Creativity and Responsibility as a Director. I would give a huge thumbs up to Neeraj Sir for that.
Despite all these views, I know I have a long way to go as a filmmaker or even an audience to be as accomplished as these filmmakers. They are one of those 0.1% of directors who have achieved what the remaining 99.9% dream of. And they need to be looked up to, learnt from, take up as an example and build up on it.
It is an achievement that the audience is finally appreciating movies like these. But there is a long way to go.
And if Neeraj Sir reads this post, I have these questions, not only as an audience, but a young filmmaker who might get a better insight:
1. Given that the commercial stakes were so high, were your creative decisions influenced by other stakeholders (Actors/Producers)?
2. What were your top three greatest operational challenges while making the film?
3. What were the practical constraints (on-set or post) that affected the story?
4. Were there situations where you had to take decisions that would define the political stand of the film? What was the major one.?
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KriSang Over and Out! 🙂