Tap-dancing a message

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 29.12.06

Tap-dancing a message

happy feet

Director: George Miller Voices: Elijah Wood, Brittany Murphy, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving, Robin Williams 7/10

“It just ain’t penguin,” says a mournful father (Hugh Jackman) to Mumble (Elijah Wood) his son. Mumble doesn’t have a ‘heartsong’ like the rest of them; instead, he has a pair of dancing feet which goes tap-dancing on the icy terrain. Well, he is different.

But that’s not just what director George Miller (also the maker of Babe) intends to tell us. It just ain’t human, the director wants us to understand, to go disturbing the ecological balance. The theme of the film changes suddenly from ‘it’s cool to be different’ to ‘it’s human to save life in Antarctica’.

Mumble sets out on a lone crusade to “appeal to the better sense” of us human beings to realise their plight. After many adventures he lands up in a zoo where he connects with men through his tap-dancing. He leads them back to his homeland to make them see how their fishing is actually starving the poor penguins.

Thoughtful moments, yes, but the film won’t make you feel low. Happy Feet grooves to some overwhelming numbers by Prince, Pink, Gia Farell, Patti LaBelle, Fantasia Barrino, Yolanda, alongside Robin Williams, Nicole Kidman, Brittany Murphy, Hugh Jackman and others. It has mindblowing computer graphics with incredibly detailed and realistic animation. The characters are all very lovable but you just can’t resist the cool-dude penguin Ramon and the fraud soothsayer Lovelace, both fleshed out by Robin Williams.

Madhuparna Das

Hip posturing


Director: Mainak Bhaumik Cast: Jisshu Sengupta, Nilanjanaa, Parambrata Chatterjee, Ananya Chatterjee, Momo, Kaushik Ghosh, Rudranil Ghosh, Rajatava Datta 5/10

Amra. A group of 20/30-something people look into camera, introduce themselves and talk about their lives — first crush, love, sexual encounter. The plot is their parallel stories overlapping, dispersing or entwining. While characters break up, hook up, make up, make out.

Director Mainak Bhaumik thus sets up his film quasi-documentary style with ‘deliberate’ jerky camera movements, justified in the credit titles — with self-admitted disregard for anyone who wouldn’t understand his stance. Sure, it’s refreshing in this age of hype and hyper-budgets to see a small film shot digitally and crafted minimally. But to assume the attempt is so avant-garde it’ll go over our heads? Presumptuous.

Stylistically, the pseudo cinema-verite treatment works well with interviewish scenes and stream-of-consciousness monologue/dialogue. And censor-imposed sound beeps over bad words actually add to candid feel! But overdone indiscriminate, hectic jump-frame edit ruins inherent pace of shots/sequences. And frankly, this once-considered-smart, passé technique, when not used economically, looks smart-aleck gimmicky. The filmmaker gives his new-age take on issues like sexuality, fidelity and stuff but the sentiment is old Baangali romantic. With characters incessantly whining, whimpering, about heartbreak (while being unfaithful!) and relationships-on-rocks love tragedies. So much for “first Bengali sex-comedy”!

So for all its hip, young contemporary posturing, Amra oddly reinforces same old mid-life male kind of sensibility. Like, while musician Parambrata searches for a new sound, his academic ex-girlfriend seeks a prosperous mate.

Mandira Mitra

Drumming it up


Director: Swapan Saha Cast: Mithun Chakraborty, Rituparna Sengupta, Jisshu Sengupta, Anu Chowdhury, Laboni Sarkar, Deepankar De, Dulal Lahiri, Santwana Bose, Shankar Chakraborty 3.5/10

Guru is back again to show his funda (sic). Posters all over the city heralded this film for more than a fortnight. And this time he is back in his drum-beating avataar, and has Rituparna in tow. What more do you need to draw the holiday crowds in droves? Guru literally drums up cheers and ceetees by his clowning and free-style kickboxing, no matter if he has gone bald at the back of his head and looks a perfect Uncle Tom beside Rituparna half his age. He, for sure , is Tollywood’s most prominent brand of avancular lover.

Jisshu, playing second fiddle to Guru, scores some points with his comic timing and Rituparna once again shows that she has talent for low-key acting which is largely untapped. But why Laboni is there in the film defeats all common sense. She looks an absolute misfit in the role of a grand matriarch and is miserable in the comic scenes.

Bollywood and Tollywood film industries have one thing in common. Both get ‘inspired’ quite regularly and if the present movie seems strongly reminiscent of familiar Bollywood fare, don’t get too upset. Inspiration, we should know by now, is infectious.

Arnab Bhattacharya