EMMY AWARDS 2014: WHO SHOULD WIN AND WHO WILL #TV #SUNDAYGUARDIAN

– Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoonfor The Sunday Guardian

The Emmys are here and with True Detective debuting and Breaking Bad bowing out in the same year, this is one of the toughest years in a long time. My famous show this last season was Fargo (even though I LOVE Breaking Bad and REALLY liked True Detective), so I’ll be cheering for the Miniseries category like I was employed by the IPL. I’m also a little sad that in its final season, How I Met Your Mother didn’t even get a shoutout (here’s my goodbye ode to #HIMYM: http://goo.gl/VfkZmj)For the rest, here’s my take on who should win… and is usually the case, who will.

CATEGORY: DRAMA

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
Breaking Bad | Downton Abbey | Game of Thrones | House of Cards | Mad Men | True Detective

Should win: In a year when three outstanding shows (The Americans, Masters of Sex and The Good Wife) couldn’t even make the nominations, you’d imagine Emmy voters purging each other to help their favourite show win. But it really comes down to a choice between the outstanding first season of True Detective and the EARTHSHATTERINGMINDBLOWINFANTASTICOMGAWESOME final season of Breaking Bad. Yup, you know who we support here.
Will win: Unless Emmy voters are as high as Rust Cohle, Breaking Bad’s got this, b**ch.
Would win in another category: Downton Abbey and Mad Men tied for ‘Best TV series that aren’t *really* the best, y’know?’

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) | Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom) | Jon Hamm (Mad Men) | Woody Harrelson (True Detective) | Matthew McConaughey (True Detective) | Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)

Should win: Jon Hamm will someday win an Emmy for Mad Men, but that day isn’t today. There also aren’t likely to be any shocks or surprises this time (Hey Jeff Daniels Imma let you finish but EVERYONE was better than you last year). It’s going to get right down to the wire between McConaughey and Cranston though, and our hearts are with Cranston because, you know, Mister White!
Will win: This is McConaughey’s moment and he’s going to win this, if only for spouting more philosophies than even our own Mahesh Bhatt does. But it’ll be reallllly close.
Would win in another category: Woody Harrelson for ‘Best Supporting Actor Nominated as Lead’

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex) | Claire Danes (Homeland)| Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) | Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) | Kerry Washington (Scandal) | Robin Wright (House of Cards)

Should win: You know who should win this? TATIANA MASLANY. NO, those aren’t words that we just made up because YOLO, but the name of the actress who’s fronting the best female-led TV series in years: Orphan Black (WATCH IT). Keri Russell (The Americans) would’ve been a fantastic choice too, but we’ll just do with the fact that the phenomenal (and haawwwt) Caplan made it in the noms and we’ll do a victory dance if she actually wins this – because she should.
Will win: Margulies in all probability because The Good Wife in its fifth season killed most television shows this year by just being THE BEST, unless Robin Wright gets this for being Robin Wright.
Would win in another category: TATIANA MASLANY FOR ‘BEST ACTRESS BETTER THAN ALL BEST ACTRESSES NOMINATED’. OK? OK.

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) | Jim Carter (Downton Abbey) | Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) | Josh Charles (The Good Wife) | Mandy Patinkin (Homeland) | Jon Voight (Ray Donovan)

Will win: You know that it’s been a good TV year when Carter, Voight and Patinkin are nominated in the same awards category and they are far from favourites (Patinkin would’ve won hands down if it was Most Sexy Award for that beard). Charles would’ve won this in an easier year, but Dinklage pretty much ensured himself a win with that insane speech and the WTF climax in this season’s GOT. Search ‘Epic Tyrion speech’ on Youtube and we dare you to have another favourite! (P.S. Dean Norris, you are missed)
Should win: It’s really 50-50 between Tyrion (Dinklage) and Jesse Pinkman (Paul) but since the hearts of Emmy voters are made of stone, Dinklage will mostly win this in Breaking Bad’s goodbye year.
Would win in another category: (*Spoilers*) Josh Charles in ‘Best OMGWHYDIDYOUDIE!!!!!!!! Award’

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) | Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey) | Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey) | Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) | Christine Baranski (The Good Wife) | Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)

Should win: Lena Headey, hands down. Cersei’s range of emotions each season, from helpless mother to vicious queen to overall b**ch is amazing in itself, but with this year’s much-talked about abuse storyline, and the shock death (let’s just call them deaths now because it will be a shock if no one dies on GOT), anyone with half a brain should vote for her.
Will win: Anna Gunn, hands down.  For the super performance and Breaking Bad’s final year.
Would win in another category: Maggie Smith in ‘Most Badass in a single person Award’

 

CATEGORY: COMEDY 

OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
The Big Bang Theory | Louie | Modern Family | Orange Is the New Black | Silicon Valley | Veep
Should win: Veep is easily the funniest f**king show on TV and also the one with most f**king swear words than all other stupid f**king shows on air combined (see what I did there?). But if we could give an award from the little money journalism pays us to a comedy, it would be to Silicon Valley, for being the most original, refreshing and hilarious new comedy since, well, Veep (and for featuring the best dick joke of all time – Youtube it).
Will win: Veep should finally break Modern Family’s unbelievable four wins (the show’s not funny anymore!) and if it loses, it can only be to Orange is the New Black because a) it’s a great show and b) it deserves brownie points for choosing to fight in the Comedy categories than the Drama ones.
Would win in another category: The Big Bang Theory for ‘Best Comedy that stopped being funny lightyears ago’

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Louis C.K (Louie) | 
Don Cheadle (House of Lies) |Ricky Gervais (Derek) | Matt LeBlanc (Episodes) | William H. Macy (Shameless) | Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)

Should win: Somebody PLEASE give Louis C.K. an award already! What more does that man have to do! He is only the most famous brilliant comedian on the planet right now, he is easily the smartest funnyman on television each year, even his interviews go viral on the net! Just GIVE THIS TO HIM. GIVE IT.
Will win: If any category can spring a surprise this year, it should be this one: Good ol’ Bill Macy could win this for being good and ol’. Ricky Gervais can win this for being the exact opposite of that. But it will mostly be Parsons again.
Would win in another category: Jim Parsons for ‘Best WILL YOU STOP GIVING ME THIS AWARD EACH YEAR LIKE IT’S AN IIFA? Award’

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Lena Dunham (Girls) | Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) | Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) | Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly) | Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) | Taylor Schilling (Orange Is the New Black)
Should win: Somebody PLEASE give Amy Poehler an award already! (Actually just read the Louis C.K. rant above and apply it to Poehler and you’ll get the picture, pretty much).
Will win: It’s between Louis-Dreyfus for the third time for being so f**king funny (did it again!) and Schilling for the best dramatic actress in a comedy category (also because she’s brilliant).
Would win in another category: Melissa McCarthy for ‘Best Who needs a TV win, I’m a movie star, bitches Award’

OUTSTANDING SUPPORT ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) | 
Adam Driver (Girls) |Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) | Ty Burrell (Modern Family) | Fred Armisen (Portlandia) | Tony Hale (Veep)

Should win: This is a toughie. Even our loyalties are divided between the fantastic Braugher who’s the most deadpan poker-faced black gay cop in the history of deadpan, black and gay comedy portrayals; Hale because he’s so consistently brilliant and Driver, because he’s the most watchable actor in a show called  Girls.
Will win: Hale will probably win this a second time in a row (and deservingly so) because, considering Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s solo nomination, Emmy probably doesn’t think it’s funny.
Would win in another category: Fred Armison for ‘Best Wait, Peeps know my show exists? Whaaaaaat? Award’

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory) | Julie Bowen (Modern Family) | Allison Janney (Mom) | Kate Mulgrew (Orange Is the New Black) | Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live) | Anna Chlumsky (Veep)

Should win: The only thing funny about The Big Bang Theory these days is how Mayim Bialik is being nominated for a third time in a row and is still not a favourite. If anyone else deserves it this year, it’s probably Mulgrew, because Orange is the New Black. We love Chlumsky but she’s got the nom because she’s the only supporting actress on Veep.
Will win: Janey is the hot favourite because she won the Guest Actress Emmy last week, for her role in Masters of Sex, and because she generally is the hot favourite in any awards category.
Would win in another category: All of the above in ‘Best Who are these people, bruh?! Award’

 

CATEGORY: MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE 

These awards usually less relevant than the Drama and Comedy categories because, you know, it’s Miniseries or TV Movie, lulz. But this year, there are big names in the running in its categories: American Horror Story is running again, because it practically owns the category, and so are Brit shows Sherlock and Luther, both of which are on par with any show anywhere in the world, except in number of episodes (three each). There’s also The Normal Heart, the heart-wrenching take on the HIV crisis amongst the gay community in New York in the ‘80s, starring a star cast that starts Julia Roberts and Mark Ruffalo, and end at Jim Parsons and Alfred Molina.

But if there’s one show that validates these awards this year, it is the best new show this year besides True Detective: FX’s Fargo. With a star cast that includes Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Colin Hanks and scene stealing Allison Tomlan, and a quality on par with the best dramas of any year, we’re rooting for the show to do a clean sweep of all the categories. Watch the show and you’ll know why.

 

Note: An edited version of this article first appeared in The Sunday Guardian on August 24, 2014
Link: http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/emmys-predictions-who-should-win-a-who-shouldnt

Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

Follow Nikhil Taneja on FB: /tanejamainhoon, on Twitter:@tanejamainhoon, on Instagram: @tanejamainhoon, on Youtube:/tanejamainhoon

The Pursuit of Happiness: Why I took a sabbatical from MTV and Mumbai #Blog

In Bahrain (at home) for the next 3 months or so. This next phase of my life will be called ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’ . This sabbatical from my career and the madness that is Mumbai has been taken due to certain circumstances to do with the heart than the mind, but having had some time to reflect in the 2 weeks since my last day at MTV, I have come to realise this is possibly the most important decision I have taken in my life since the last one six years ago, when I decided to switch from engineering to media after graduating from NIT Kurukshetra.

I have always had trouble understanding why we conform to the notion of ‘the norm’ defined by our elders, or peers, or our education system, or our culture and traditions, or just generations of people doing the same thing over and over because it ‘works’, against the much underrated desires of our heart, and consequently, against better sense. Because when you think of it, what our heart ultimately desires is the various and glorious ways of finding happiness, whether through momentary joy from the fulfillment of a little wish or the complete and irrepressible exhilaration from achieving a big dream, or the continued and blessed bliss of being in the company of the people you love, or spending your days doing the things that are your life’s passion, the things that you care about and the things that somehow still matter in the chaos of all that is the world today. And if that doesn’t make sense, what does?

July marks six years since I shifted to Mumbai seemingly against all better sense or judgement, as defined by what constitutes ‘the norm’. I didn’t know anyone in the city, I had no ‘contacts’ or ‘network’ or any real understanding of how to go about getting what I wanted – and to be really honest, I didn’t even know what I really wanted. I wanted to write and create and ‘executive produce’ a TV show full of awesome, because Aaron Sorkin did that, but I didn’t even know what an executive producer does; all I knew was that it must matter somehow because Sorkin does it. I wanted to do something related to movies, because that was the only thing that ever come close to the definition of what constitutes ‘magic’ to me, but I didn’t know what I could possibly do because I never believed myself to be a magician. And I wanted to write, because when I write, I realise the full extent of what it is to be alive, to live, to breathe, to be; but I didn’t know what I wanted to write, or even if I really did want to write, because writing was what artists do, and I was a product of a system where conventional thinking teaches you that you will die poor and lonely and hungry, if you take up art.

I didn’t know what I really wanted to do, but I was pretty determined about what I didn’t want to do – and that is to spend the most magnificent hours of the day of my life in front of a computer in a cubicle, somewhere in an office filled with computers and cubicles, only because everyone else does it, because it is safe, because it pays, because someone told me to, or because it is ‘the norm’. Trust me when I say this, there were several times in these six years, where I lamented the fact that I wasn’t born as one of those fortunate enough to enjoy the 9 to 5 life because it fulfills them or because they actually have a passion that involves a computer and a cubicle. There were many times I regretted not being wired in a way where I could earn an honest living doing what so many others do, because I had got placed in two companies in NITK, and it would have been so easy to take up on one of those offers and spend a well-planned life in a well-planned way as part of a well-oiled machine that sees the life and death of so many others just like me, and none of them really ever seem sad. But my problem was, I didn’t want to live a life not being sad, I wanted to live a life being happy. And most importantly, I didn’t want to live a life with the regret that not only did I not have the balls to do what my heart really desires, but that I robbed someone who wanted the same life I didn’t want because that’s the life that would give them happiness, only because I took up their seat in that company I was placed in, just because it is THE NORM.

The six years since that decision have been the most fantastic years, because even when I had a horrible day at work, or a horrible week, or a horrible month or phase, at least it had happened in the midst of doing something I love, and that was always a reason to find a way to overcome it. But of course, these horrible times have been few and far between, and the universe has generally been overwhelmingly kind in these years, and even though I only had a vague idea of what I really wanted, I have somehow miraculously (to me) managed to create, write and executive produce in television and in the movies, and it has only led me to believe that if you listen to your heart and do what you love, you may just get what you really want.

But you know what’s funny about all this? I didn’t have these epiphanies about happiness during most of these six years because during this time, I was only following my heart because it made sense to me. And so, the achievement of these dreams at times was almost like a ruthless goal that I *had* to fulfill because I had many things at stake, and sometimes different things fuelled me at different times – that I had a degree I had no use of, that I had made a promise to my parents, that my batchmates were doing well in the field that I had left, that I had to pay the bills, that I had to ‘settle down’ at some point, and sometimes, just the fact that I had a lot of pride and not doing well wasn’t an option. All these things inspired me, yes, but it was only recently that I realised that while I did attain this intangible ‘happiness’ at the end of achieving a goal, all the time in between seemed lost to me. At one point of time, I had almost completely stopped being social, stopped speaking to or meeting friends, stopped giving time to my close ones, didn’t give a shit about my health (I ADMIT), because I was so driven to ‘achieve’ happiness, I didn’t really care much about being happy in between. Happiness seemed to be some sort of a destination to me, and I had to just focus and spend all my time and energy in trying to get there. I was really moving from one goal to another, one stop to another, doing all the right things, but for some of the wrong reasons.

So now, I want the reasons to be right too. There are many, many things I still want to do, and hopefully, I will someday get to do those things too, but right now, I am taking this break because I’m horrified at the thought that my parents and the majority of their generation all but chugged along from one goal to another, without a larger perspective of the things that really matter; just like I had been doing since the past six years because without realising it, I had somehow still managed to succumb to the norm in some small way. So I’m going to use these months away from the chaos of Mumbai taking care of my mother, spending quality time with family, working on my fitness (finally!!), planning the wedding (because it happens only once so it should happen properly and not for two weeks in between work projects) and of course, writing, writing and writing some more, because these are the things that really do matter. In the middle of all this, I’m going to try to accomplish little things that make me happy: like finishing the IMDB 250, getting back to reading fabulous books into the night, taking long walks and discovering new music along the way, blogging, reconnecting with old friends, ORGANIZING MY COMPUTER & MAIL, possibly learning a new language, taking in the sights and sounds of Bahrain again, and making sense of all the many things that I have really not had the time to understand all these years – from taxes to politics to shares to FCP to the macbook to what women really want (I’m prepared to fail). The six films I did at MTV will be releasing along the way and I’ll resume my journalism gig, but mostly, and as may be obvious from the length of this post, I’ll be writing a lot, so there’ll still be lots of updates from my end.

I don’t know when I’m going to go back to a ‘conventional’ job again, because over the next few months, even after this break, I want to ideally spend some time in figuring out what I can accomplish on my own, without having a brand to leverage. The possibilities are endless and I’m already excited at the thought of going back and finding a worthy cause to get consumed by, and for all I know, I may find the cause even before I go back. But whatever I do from now and everything I do from now, I know for a fact: it will be in the Pursuit of Happiness

Note: This piece was first written on July 27, 2014
Link: https://www.facebook.com/tanejamainhoon/posts/10152547197633618

Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

Follow Nikhil Taneja on FB: /tanejamainhoon, on Twitter: @tanejamainhoon, on Instagram: @tanejamainhoon, on Youtube: /tanejamainhoon

Interview: Danish auteur filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn #SundayGuardian #Film #Unedited

‘Art can be an act of violence’

Nicolas Winding Refn interviewed by Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoon) over phone for The Sunday Guardian

Nothing about Danish auteur Nicolas Winding Refn is ordinary, or indeed, normal. He is a self-confessed ‘fetish filmmaker’ whose movies have raw, unflinching and ‘sexualized’ violence that often put Quentin Tarantino to shame. He has a penchant for the vile, whether it’s through the antics of his characters on screen, or through the reactions they elicit from reviewers across the globe. He’s revered by some with a staunch fandom, and loathed by some with an equal fervor. His films, from the cult classic Pusher trilogy, to the recent critical achievement, Drive, have not only catapulted him on to the world stage, but have also rewarded international stars Ryan Gosling (Drive), Tom Hardy (Bronson) and Mads Mikkelsen (Pusher II) with the career-making acclaim that’s helped them reach where they are today.

Counted, along with Lars Von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg and Susanne Brier, as one of the greatest contemporary Danish directors, Refn is colour blind and dyslexic, and holds, amongst his many idiosyncrasies and inventive style, writing with index cards and shooting in chronological order. As his new film, Gosling-starrer Only God Forgives does the rounds of film festivals in India, in his first interview ever to an Indian publication, Refn is just as intriguing as any of his movies.


Your thoughts on Indian cinema haven’t ever been documented before.
Indian culture was a huge inspiration to me when I was shooting Only God Forgives in Bangkok. But the cinema culture of India is very interesting to me too, and also, I think, musically, India is a very interesting place. While Indian films haven’t directly inspired me, the whole world of colour, that flamboyant style, is inspiring. In terms of cinema, what I usually prefer to look at, and I’m not an expert at it, is to see some of the more fantasy oriented of Indian cinema. India’s fantastical films are not very inspired by European cinema, which of course, is very, very good. I mean, god! It’s fantastic! I like fantasy in the cinema of Europe too, but when I see the fantasy world of India, that’s when I really find it fascinating. Because I feel like I’ve been transported into a cultural time warp, in a way.

You’ve often spoken about your love for fantasy and the Grimm fairy tales, and there’s an undercurrent of the fantastical in all your films. Where did this stem from?
I come from a background of logic, you know. My family is Scandinavian, which is all based on logic of life and times. Religion is not part of our upbringing in any way. What changed my life radically was coming to New York when I was eight years old, and seeing new York. And for me, in 1978, it was really like coming to a fantasy world. So I think that because my life changed at a young age, I became very, very interested generally in fantasy. And when I say fantasy, I mean the language of fairy tales, myths, or fables or something that was removed from my original background, or upbringing.

And then, my mother was always very good at reading me the Brothers Grimm or, you know, obscure science fiction, when I was little. So I guess it also came a lot from my upbringing, thank god. But I do have very much of an interest in the esoteric, you know. When I started making movies, I tried to capture reality in film. I wanted to capture authenticity. But I also quickly realized that it was ludicrous, because there is no such thing, the capturing of authenticity. And I became much more interested in heightened reality, which in essence is fantasy, or fairytale, or whatever you want to call it. But something where it was removed enough from reality, so it wasn’t reality, yet at the same time, it was emotionally accessible, you know. And that is what I find much more fascinating to lose myself in.

You have admitted in the past too that your early career was about trying to make a great film, and now, you are only doing what you like to do. What, according to you, made for a great film?
Well, I guess, that’s the one thing I thought that I could try to capture, when I was young and naïve… what made for a great film? My favourite film is probably It’s A Wonderful Life. But then I also like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. So I realized you can’t capture greatness, you just have to make what you believe in, and hopefully, it works. So that’s why I say my life is in two stages – the first time I was trying to capture the ingredients, and I failed, miserably (chuckles). But, by failing miserably, I also realized that I should approach what I do in a radically different way, in order to really find a reason why I was doing it. I realize essentially all I was, was a fetish filmmaker, that throws everything like a pin up magazine.

Growing up, what was it about the movies that made you want to make a great film?
You must understand, that in the early 70s, when I was born in Copanhagen, there was only one television station. And that one television station would show [content of] maybe 4 hours of 5 hours a day, you know. So something may be for children in the afternoon for an hour or in the evening, and then once a while, maybe something in the morning. But it was very, very, very, very limited. This is before VHS, of course, or whatever they had back then. And I was too young to run to the cinema unless somebody took me. So what really changed my life was the access to American television. I suddenly realized that through television, I had the ability and the power to switch channels and see many different kinds of films that were on TV. And of course, I went to the movies when I became older, and constantly, during my teenage years, or as much as I could.

But it was really television that radically changed my life, because television became accessibility… a bit like how the internet has become a way for us to see mass entertainment because of online streaming. Suddenly, we now have full control of how we wanna see it, when we wanna see it, and what we wanna see. And that’s what I experienced, coming to see television when I was 8 years old in America. And as I said, I liked all kinds of films. Of course, being young, you are more interested in, what are called, entertainment for 8 year olds, but I always liked the cinema of the occult, the cinema of horror, the cinema of fantasy. Anything that was subliminal, I always found interesting.

So is there a reason you make films today? Is it to explore something about yourself or to explore something or somebody intangible?
Very much. I think there’s a reason I make every film. And I think the reason comes purely out of myself, you know. I’m not a political filmmaker, I don’t have a political message that I want to get across. Or a social oriented message, for that matter. That has no interest in me. I like the act of creativity, I like the act of expression, and I think that essentially art with a singular vision is what really can change the world. Every film of mine is an extension of my alter ego. Especially my last three, Valhalla Rising, Drive and Only God Forgives.  Although Bronson was autobiographical in a more direct way, in the sense that I took somebody else’s life and made my own autobiography. And I did that because Charlie Bronson is an artificial character. He’s a made up persona by Michael Peterson. So in a way, I was taking a constructed reality to base it on my own autobiography. Because you know, the first half of Bronson is about a man who aspires to be world famous, not knowing why. Which is very much how I started out.

But, like Bronson, I was very nihilistic in everything I had to do. I was destroying everything around me. I felt art had to annihilate everything, a bit like Bronson. You realize violence is a way to become famous, but of course, it had its limits, because his stage is a prison. And it’s not until his art teacher explains to him that his art can be his act of violence, and for me, that’s when I realized that I should no longer try to capture great filmmaking and, that I was becoming nihilistic about everything. I should actually just enjoy the act of creativity, and not think about the results. And that’s what Bronson did, you know. Of course the consequence is that Bronson’s stage was a prison, because that was the flip side of him achieving everything he always wanted. Whereas, I, thank God, have a wife and children (laughs) who I go home to. But that’s very much an autobiography.

So what do you want the audiences to take back from your movies? Is there a take away you have in mind?
No, except polarization. You can love it or hate it, as long as it has penetrated your mind and implanted a thought, which is a very, very personal and individual experience. I don’t have a personal agenda that I want to get across. I believe art is upto people’s own interpretation. That’s when it becomes interesting. It inspires people to think, but they have to look at it from their own perspective. All I can do is to release it, all I can ask them is to absorb it, and do with it as they wish.

Art is like weapons of mass destruction; it has the same power, you know. War and weapons of mass destruction can change history. So can art. The difference between the two is where war destroys, art inspires. Art inspires thoughts, but it has to come from a singular vision in order to speak to an audience.

That begs the question about your responsibility as an artist. Your movies have often been accused of glorifying violence in your movies. Do you ever worry if that’s the takeaway for the audience?
I think anybody who has the ability to create has the responsibility. But I do think that there’s a big difference between people feeling and seeing something violent or glorified, and being violated. I think a way to react to your responsibility is by always making sure that there is a consequence to the violence. Violence in my movies always brings destruction with it. It is never based on humour or a cartoon.  But people can be violated by the images, because they feel that it penetrated their mind, in a way that it is absorbed, and they have no shield against it, and then it becomes, of course, much more of an experience.

There’s so much more violence in other films or television than in mine, so, sometimes people get confused. They think they see more than what’s actually there. It’s the power of subliminal images, because art works as a two-way experience. Art has to plant a thought, a seed in the mind of spectator, then the spectator continues to build their own visions with it. So it becomes a two-way experience, a flow, and not just a passive viewing of entertainment, which brings nothing because there’s no thinking in it. It doesn’t inspire thoughts, or reaction, should we say.

It’s also to do with the way you design violence in your films. What are you trying to express when you design a beautiful-looking violent seen?
That’s because art can be an act of violence. Why should it not be a seductive sexual experience? The violence of art is much more shocking the more you sexualize it. That goes back to the initial instinct of art. It’s an act of sex and violence. The more you purify that, the more, the more a penetration it becomes. That’s why I always say, art is a combination of sex and violence. It’s just an endless ability how to create the equation, you know.

I’m surprised you don’t factor love into this equation. Your films are essentially about people striving for love, than either sex or violence.
Of course, because love is what makes it all interesting. Sex and violence are the ingredients. You see, in order to get to love, it has to start from somewhere else. You have to fall in love, you know. I am strong believer that the core, in terms of our interests in storytelling, lies in love. If you have love for your characters, the audience falls in love with your characters when you tell a story, whether it’s a story, or  a book or a television show or a painting. There has to be an expression of love, because I believe, like you say, that’s essentially what people want to strive for.

What about romance? Is that important to you too?
I wouldn’t call romance a pure emotion because I think romance means thought. Romanticism is great, and it’s great to make films about romanticism, but, in terms of drama, the initial ingredient of drama, is combination of the two core emotions within us as human beings, which is lust and violence, or sex and violence, or aggression and desire, whatever you want to call it. But those are very, very primal emotional instincts that have nothing to do with logic, they are purely based on instinctual needs, you know. And that’s what drama is based on. Then of course, we can alter it and create stories around it, that can end up being romantic. But romance is a process, you know. You can make something romantic, but it has to be based, primarily, on the, the idea of desire and lust.

I’m very interested in knowing about your writing process. Your interest in primal emotions translates to your writing as well. You use index cards to write, isn’t it?
Well that’s more because realized I wasn’t a very good writer (chuckles). if I approach the movie based more on what would I like to see, then I could create a story after knowing what I would like it to be visually. Like I said, it’s a bit like shooting a pin up magazine. You pose the women in a certain precision. You photograph them in a certain position that you desire. You normally don’t really know what it all means until you start having a series of images. And then you suddenly realize there could possibly be a story in this.

Is your pin-up magazine approach why you shoot chronologically too? You are one of the only directors in the world who does that.
Yes, I always write chronologically, so I shoot it that way. I basically did it because I read that John Cassevetes had done it in his film, so I thought, ‘Well, if he did it, maybe I should try it!’ And yes, it became a way for me to submit myself to the creative process. Doing everything chronologically, like painting a picture, helps your work constantly evolves. I’m not interested in the results anymore, I’m interested in the process. The results are of no interest when it’s over.

Of course, you have to be smart about it. You may have to produce yourself, and that makes it easier, because of the production cost issues. You just have to know your limitations here, but also what it brings in terms of the positive impact. For example, it’s great for the actors. You have to write with the mindset of shooting in chronological order. You can’t just do it. You have to build it into the project from the beginning that you are developing.

Do you think you’ll every attempt anything conventional before you’re done? Do everything the way everyone normally does, just to see how it turns out?
(Laughs) I hope so. (Laughs again) But I don’t know. Because normality is only interesting if you twist it.


Note: 
An edited version of this interview first appeared as The Sunday Guardian cover story on June 28, 2014
Link: http://www.sunday-guardian.com/artbeat/art-can-be-an-act-of-violence

Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

Follow Nikhil Taneja on FB: /tanejamainhoon, on Twitter: @tanejamainhoon, on Instagram: @tanejamainhoon, on Youtube: /tanejamainhoon

Comic-Con 2014 Roundup: Winners, Losers and Others #SundayGuardian

– Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoonfor The Sunday Guardian

In an age where it is ‘normal’ for a fully functioning male adult to own superhero costumes and where there are more superhero movies lined up in the future than romantic comedies exist so far in life, if anyone still has a doubt that the geeks have, in fact, already inherited the earth, then they needn’t look any further for conclusive proof than Comic-Con International, San Diego.

A vulgar display of all that is geek, from comics to video games to comic-book movies to fantasy-themed TV shows, Comic Con is a convention that is geek-gasmic level of awesome for the kind of people who aren’t ready to give away their GI Joe collection even after they’ve birthed other people.

But that isn’t to say that Comic Con is only a place for ‘men’ who’ve had wet dreams to Wonder Woman and Princess Leia; this year, the convention that saw 130,000 people go nuts during the massive 4-day weekend from July 24-27, included a sizeable number of women fans who were there to cheer ass-kicking super-heroines in shows like Orphan Black and Game of Thrones, or go ga-ga over the dreamy superheroes in movies like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice; or just revel in some of the hottest and craziest cosplay outside of the big screen.

Here’s a roundup of the best and worst of Comic-Con 2014 in Movies that would make fellow Indian geeks excited:

MOVIES: #WINNERS

  1. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

How to win Comic-Con: Have a cast that includes the who’s who of big-ticket names like Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill) and Paul Bettany (Jarvis… yes, Jarvis) all turn up on one stage, with some of them dancing (and Downey Jr throwing roses at the crowd!). Add to the cast even more stars in new entries Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Quicksilver), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), James Spader (Ultron) and Josh Brolin (Thanos) wearing the much-talked about Infinity Gauntlet. Then reveal some mad concept art for the movie scheduled on May 1, 2015, and an extended first look that includes Iron Man fighting Hulk, Captain America’s shield broken, Thor crushing a tank, the appearance of Andy Serkis (without motion capture) and a devastating scene with some Avengers possibly dead… and as the geeks go bonkers, you know Comic-Con 2014 is yours to claim.

2. BATMAN VS SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

Where Avengers was the most anticipated panel of the Comic-Con, the Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice panel was Warner Bros’ surprise gift to fans, and what a surprise it was: Director Zack Snyder brought DC Comics’ superhero holy trinity in Ben Affleck (Batman), Henry Cavill (Superman) and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) to wave at the crowd (no one was allowed to interact though); tweeted the first look of Wonder Woman, and revealed a minute of footage of Batman turning on the Bat signal even as Superman is waiting in the shadows with glowing ‘heat vision’ eyes (the leaked version of the footage can be found online). The result: madness! The movie, scheduled for April 28, 2016, had the most number of social media mentions at the end of the Comic-Con.

  1. INTERSTELLAR

Another huge surprise that fans weren’t expecting was the appearance of auteur director Christopher Nolan, who made his debut at the Con two years after the end of The Dark Knight trilogy, along with fellow Comic-Con virgin Matthew McConaughey, the star of his next, highly-anticipated film, Interstellar, to see “what the fuss was about”. A new trailer of the movie, scheduled for November 7, 2014, was shown to squealing fans, revealing first hand the fuss to Nolan. The trailer can now be found online. Watch the trailer here: 

  1. THE HATEFUL EIGHT

Quentin Tarantino was at Comic-Con to talk about an upcoming comic that’s a crossover of his film Django Unchained and masked crusader Zorro, when a fan asked him whether The Hateful Eight, the film that Tarantino shelved when its script was leaked online by Gawker.com, would ever happen. Tarantino replied in the affirmative for the first time since the debacle, to loud cheers from fans, and within the next couple of days, also released the official poster for the film, set for a 2015 release. Rejoice, fanboys! Check out the poster here: http://goo.gl/oSTrmZ

  1. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

With over 8 million views to its YouTube trailer in less than 7 days, one movie that fans all over the world are suddenly dying to watch, as a result of the buzz that its ‘sizzle reel’ generated at Comic-Con, it is George Miller’s reboot of the dystopian Mad Max franchise, that first launched Mel Gibson as a bonafide star. Mad Max: Fury Road, releasing on May 15, 2015, stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron and with the maddest, baddest, biggest and loudest stunts (including an incredible car chase sequence) seen in a long time, wins the ‘Trailer of the Year’ award hands down. Watch the trailer here:  


MOVIES: #LOSERS

  1. SKULL ISLAND/JURASSIC WORLD

Another King Kong movie, you say? A prequel, you say? That may possibly have fan favourite Joe Cornish attached to it as director, you say? Doesn’t sound too bad, right? But for all the geeks who went for Legendary Pictures’ panel at Comic-Con hoping to get a first look at Jurassic World, the ‘surprise teaser’ that featured a jungle with an ape instead of dinosaurs, left everyone confused and slightly annoyed, because the reboot of Jurassic Park releases before next year’s Comic-Con, so why had the geeks paid $200 for this kind of betrayal?

  1. LET’S BE COPS/FANTASTIC FOUR

Another betrayal came at the hands of 20th Century Fox that stabbed fans in the back by choosing not to showcase any footage from its Fantastic Four reboot, instead having a panel on Let’s Be Cops, which is a comedy not inspired from a comic-book, which has no geek book or movie affiliations and which can only be considered fantasy if lead actors Damon Wayans or Jake Johnson are alien cops. This befuddling logic took away the buzz from X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn’s next, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE and THE MAZE RUNNER, both decent properties owned by 20th Century, which would have got a much better showcase if 20th Century Fox had appeased the fans. Watch the trailer of Let’s Be Cops and Kingsman here: 

  1. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3

Instead of giving any sort of a first look at any sort of a thing to do with the Spider-Man franchise or its various spin-offs in the works, Sony Pictures announced that the third part in the Amazing Spiderman franchise has been pushed to 2018 from 2016, and Sinister Six, its villain-centric spinoff, will arrive first in 2016. No news was given about The Amazing Spiderman 4 that was originally scheduled for 2018. All this added more fuel to the fire that the franchise is in trouble after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 failed to live up to the box office expectations and Roberto Orci, who had penned the first two films with Alex Kurtzmann, left the franchise recently.

  1. SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR

Unanimously called the dullest panel of the Comic-Con, even with stars like Josh Brolin, Rosario Dawson and Jessica Alba and fan favourites, directors Robert Rodriguez and Mark Millar participating, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For generated little to no buzz at the convention this year. This could be because the film’s sequel is coming nine years after the first one, or because bigger stars like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis were absent from the panel or perhaps because the movie’s marketing campaign included semi-naked girls gyrating live in different parts of the convention turned people off.  Watch the trailer here: 

  1. BLACKHAT

Legendary director Michael Mann made a surprise visit to Comic-Con to unveil the trailer of his new film, a cyberthriller starring Chris Hemsworth, but unfortunately, the only reason fans at Comic-Con were surprised was because had nothing to do with comics and Mann had no reason to be there.  The trailer’s not online yet so the damp squib of a reception that it received at Comic Con could possibly have to do with the genre rather than the trailer’s merits.


MOVIES: #THEOTHERS:

Production Studio Legendary Pictures revealed that GODZILLA will have a sequel, to nobody’s general surprise, but proceeded to tease that it will feature even more monsters than part one, including iconic Japanese monsters, Rodan, Mothra and Ghidorah, which are apparently bigger and more dangerous than Godzilla. At present time, no humans were announced as part of the film. Peter Jackson premiered the first trailer in the final part of the Hobbit trilogy, THE HOBBIT: BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES. The epic trailer of the movie, which releases on December 17, 2014, can be found online but the movie’s panel, which featured a cast that included the most number of adored celebrities in a single film, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkin and director Peter Jackson, among others, is an equally awesome watch, especially because of the hilarious Stephen Colbert, who moderated the panel in a Hobbit costume. Watch the trailer here: 

Guillermo Del Toro, who is omni-present at the Comic-Con every year, had another brilliant year, as he released a teaser for his next, CRIMSON PEAK, featuring Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and Charlie Hannum, that got loud cheers from the crowd; his upcoming animation film, THE BOOK OF LIFE and his TV series, THE STRAIN. THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART I also debuted its trailer as did PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR, but it was the latter that stole the show amongst most big-budget trailer premieres, because its panel featured Cumberbatch, and everyone loves Cumberbatch, probably including Katniss. Watch the trailer of Penguins of Madagascar here: 

The one other movie that made a splash at Comic Con was ANTMAN that lost its long-term director Edgar Wright a few months ago, to general scorn from the internet community. Marvel Studios released a teaser poster for the movie that stars Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly, and is now helmed by Peyton Reed. It also showcased some test footage that was well-received, which is an indication that the movie will not ‘suck all balls’, as some internet comments have given us a reason to believe.


Note: 
An edited version of this article first appeared as The Sunday Guardian cover story on August 2, 2014
Link: http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/the-winners-and-losers-at-this-years-comic-con

Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

Follow Nikhil Taneja on FB: /tanejamainhoon, on Twitter: @tanejamainhoon, on Instagram: @tanejamainhoon, on Youtube: /tanejamainhoon