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Shekhar ruffles feathers in US

Film critic Elvis Mitchell wrote in The New York Times this weekend: “This director would appear to be an ideal candidate to oversee a remake of Feathers, with his penchant for showing how personal politics fit into institutional cruelty, as he did so elegantly in Elizabeth and The Bandit Queen. But Feathers so grandly plays out the imperialist fraternity of the British army that it is as if Mr. Kapur were making a commercial for a way of life that no one misses. If he wants to underscore the macho superficiality of the traditions, the point could have been made much faster.”

Comparing six earlier cinematic versions of The Four Feathers, a novel by A.E.W. Mason, to Kapur’s new offering, Stephen Hunter wrote in The Washington Post that “the bigger changes are threefold, all in the spirit of political correctness. First, a man of colour has been added.... Second, the Dervishes are given credit for a tactical subtlety that they lacked in the original. They aren’t just peasants hell-bent on a trip to the 76 virgins of paradise.... And third, Kapur has removed the movie from history”.

Associated Press film writer Ben Nuckols alleges that “Kapur betrays his lack of interest in representing Englishness in any convincing way by casting an Australian (Heath Ledger) and two Americans (Kate Hudson and Wes Bentley) in the lead roles. Their accents, so thin and casual, invite scorn”.

He writes of the movie as “a war epic for 15-year-old girls, the dunderheaded saga of a dreamboat who loses his courage and his girl, fights to win them back, succeeds and, unfazed by it all, goes back to being a dreamboat again.... Kapur’s cinematic assuredness has eroded in the nearly four years since his last film”.

Critics fear that notwithstanding the controversy Kapur’s new film has created, it may fail to appeal to a broad audience in view of its subject set in colonialism.

They point out that Kapur’s last film, Elizabeth, though critically acclaimed, managed to mop up only $30 million at theatres.

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