Desi Talk - page 16

16
February 13, 2015
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
– that’s all you need to know
By Abby Phillip
Maryland court has
agreed to allow an
appeal in the case of
Adnan Syed, a Baltimore
County man convicted
of murdering his ex-girlfriend
when he was a teenager.
Syed’s case was popularized by
the smash hit podcast “Serial,”
created by journalists from the
“This American Life” public radio
broadcast. Since the podcast
ended in December, Syed’s case
and his efforts to contest his con-
viction have continued on.
The decision by the Maryland
Court of Special Appeals, which
was filed Feb. 6, allows Syed’s
lawyers to move forward with the
appeals process. It overturns a
Baltimore circuit court’s decision
in January to deny Syed’s motion
to appeal his conviction on the
grounds that his attorney at the
time, Christina Gutierrez, had
been ineffective.
“I’m excited about it,” said C.
Justin Brown, Syed’s attorney. “I
think that it shows that the court
is interested in the issues that we
raised. If they weren’t interested in
them they wouldn’t have granted
the [application for leave to
appeal].”
“We look forward to arguing in
front of the panel and we view
this as a step in the right direction
in our efforts to get a new trial for
Mr. Syed,” he added. Brown said
he has not yet spoken to Syed
about the ruling.
New evidence in the case could
be brought to the surface, thanks
in part to the popularity of the
radio show.
A former classmate, Asia
McClain, says she can provide an
alibi for Syed at the time of the
1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend,
Hae Min Lee. McClain, who did
not testify at Syed’s 2000 trial, has
said that she would be willing to
testify in the case if subpoenaed.
McClain, who attended
Woodlawn High School in
Baltimore County with Syed,
claims in letters that she wrote
him in 1999 while he was in jail,
and in a new affidavit filed in
January, that she remembered
speaking to Syed at the public
library next to their school at the
time prosecutors said Lee was
being slain.
The court’s decision left open
the possibility that new evidence
might be allowed to be introduced
in the case. In a highly unusual
step, the court said that another
three judge panel will address the
issue of whether McClain’s testi-
mony will be admitted.
After McClain indicated that
she was willing to testify, Syed’s
lawyers filed a supplement to
their original appeal, requesting,
in part, that the case be moved to
a circuit court so that they can call
McClain as a witness. The state
requested that the court strike
that request.
The special appeals court’s Feb.
6 decision denied the state’s
request and said a panel of judges
will consider the request from
Syed’s lawyers to admit new testi-
mony along with his appeal.
“Adnan Syed has a due process
right to fairness, and we are
encouraging them and asking
them to let her testify,” Brown
said.
– TheWashington Post
A
By Shilpa Jamkhandikar
D
irector Sriram Raghavan
lives on the fringes of
Bollywood, rarely mak-
ing the scene unless he has a
film about to come out. The
film-maker is also unusual in
that he has made two of the
most underrated but slickest
crime thrillers to come out of
Bollywood in recent times, “Ek
Hasina Thi” (“There OnceWas
a BeautifulWoman”) and
“Johnny Gaddar”, while being
inspired by, but never weighed
down by the kitschy melodra-
ma that most Bollywood
thrillers are known for.
Raghavan’s latest film
“Badlapur” is based partly on a
book by Italian author Massimo
Carlotto, and is a revenge
drama of a man whose wife
and son are
killed, prompting
him to seek
vengeance.
Raghavan spoke
about the film,
his love of the
crime genre and
why his last proj-
ect didn’t do well
at the box office.
What is it that
draws you to the
crime genre?
I have no par-
ticular reason.
Why does
Stephen King write certain kind
of stories and why does P. G.
Wodehouse write the books he
writes?When I started watching
movies, I saw a lot of Hitchcock
films.When I was 10, I saw
“North by Northwest” and
movies like that.We all like to
get scared and (like) the adven-
ture that a thriller promises.
Even within the thriller-crime
genre there are so many types
of films you can do. “Badlapur”
is a drama, a character-driven
story. It is not so much about
plot.
Within this genre, which films
and books have stayed with
you over the years?
In books, even Enid Blyton
had an impact. All those smug-
glers and caves and all that. But
then gradually you move on…
now I read a lot of
Scandinavian crime fiction.
What is “Badlapur” based on?
Basically it is an account
written by a person (author
Massimo Carlotto) who spent a
lot of time in jail. He’s written
quite a few stories, but many of
his stories are actually about
people he met in prison.
The account he wrote is true
but it happened elsewhere in
the world. But some stories are
universal, and I felt that this
was a revenge story with a dif-
ference.
You made “Badlapur” on the
back of “Agent Vinod”, a big
budget, top-billed film that did-
n’t do well. How did that affect
you?
It did affect me, but there
were some flaws in the film.
Excessive length was the one
flaw.
It made it a very exhausting
film to watch. It should have
been 30-40 minutes shorter,
which I knew on paper, but we
finished it so late that I didn’t
have the objectivity to see it. It
also had a lot of good things,
but those got ignored when the
film didn’t do well. That is what
hurt.
What were the good things,
according to you?
We mixed up a lot of things,
tried to tell a story
that was possible in
real life. I love
“Munich” as much
as I love James
Bond. There were
elements of different
spy movies that I
tried to bring
together, and failed.
Somebody told me
“it was too dumb for
the smart crowd and
too smart for the
dumb crowd.”We
also took elements
from the 70s and 80s
spy thrillers of
Bollywood. I love the Bourne
series, I love “Syriana”, so we
tried to incorporate all that. I
think when you love something
too much you can kill it by hug-
ging it too tight.
What are the rules you follow
when it comes to making a
good crime genre film?
I think the most important
thing is not to be corrupt while
making a film. By that I mean, I
have an actor like Varun
(Dhawan) in my film, and he is
a big star. So because he is
there, you try to put a song, or
you dilute the film to please his
fans. Luckily, we were all on the
same page on this film, and the
producer (DineshVijan) told
me that I shouldn’t dilute this
film. Varun also agreed to keep
this character as I had imag-
ined it, rather than tweaking it
and pandering to usual tastes.
We’ve all managed to work
towards an honest film.
The filmmight be honest but
are you being a little corrupt in
terms of publicity? Your cam-
paign has centered on songs,
on a kiss sequence between the
lead pair, etc.
(Shrugs) I find it very
strange, but marketing is such a
monster that I have yet to
understand.
– Reuters
A Minute With Sriram Raghavan
Maryland Court Allows Adnan Syed to
Appeal his Conviction in ‘Serial’ Case
By Shilpa Jamkhandikar
E
very director has his muse.
Farah Khan has Shah Rukh
Khan, Ayan Mukerji has
Ranbir Kapoor, and R. Balki has
Amitabh Bachchan. The one actor
they admire so much that, at
times, their films are nothing
more than a simpering tribute to
their favorite artist.
Balki’s “Shamitabh” (a play on
the names of the two main char-
acters Daanish and Amitabh) is
certainly more tribute than film,
not just to Bachchan but to his
baritone, an aspect of his person-
ality that lends itself to much awe
and imitation. Bachchan was
famously denied employment in
radio because his voice was
deemed too deep for the medium,
and Balki makes sure that this and
many other real life incidents are
referenced during the film.
“Shamitabh” is as much about the
industry that Bachchan inhabits
as it is about the star himself.
Daanish (Dhanush K. Raja) is
speech-impaired since birth, but
his disability doesn’t stop his
dream of becoming a Bollywood
star. His passion and talent catch-
es the eye of assistant director
Akshara (Akshara Haasan), who
asks her doctor father for help.
They discover a technology
that would help Daanish talk
through a voice receptor embed-
ded in his throat, as long as some-
one else speaks for him through
another speaker that is within a
reasonable distance.
Daanish and Akshara set about
looking for that “voice” and come
across Amitabh Sinha (Amitabh
Bachchan), a bedraggled, brusque
old man who lives in a cemetery
and thinks alcohol is his best
friend. Sinha is a failed actor, and
through Daanish, feels he has a
shot at stardom that eluded him
in his youth.
Balki has the germ of a great
idea, and thanks to snappy dia-
logue, he even manages to make it
work for a while. It helps that he
has three electric
performers in his
film. Dhanush,
debutant Hassan
and Bachchan all
share a great
chemistry on
screen. And the
scenes in the
graveyard involv-
ing the three of
them are the best
in the film.
But the movie
never rises beyond
a point and the
director seems to
have no idea how
to take it towards
its logical conclu-
sion. So, like a pilot
who has no idea
where he’s going to
land his plane, Balki keeps circling
round and round, playing out the
same conflicts over and over
again. At 152 minutes,
“Shamitabh” is too long and
exhausting to watch. There are
some good aspects of the film,
most notably the three protago-
nists, but several others such as
the climax and the specifics of
Daanish’s illness are contrived and
come across as gimmicky.
If only Balki had set out to
make a film and not a meander-
ing tribute to his favorite actor,
this could have turned out to be a
special film.
– Reuters
Shamitabh: More Tribute Than a Film
Movie Review
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