Thursday, July 7, 2011


Recently I watched the cinema of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez after a long time. And I watched it seriously, very seriously this time. I have always been a great fan of Tarantino and Rodriguez and have seen kill bill, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Grindhouse, Sin City, Desperadeo many a times since I got into this rig. But never had I realized why have they always been like this and made such kind of movies. Their style of filmmaking is very unique and different. But it is also very crude and weird at the same time. These two filmmakers work on a genre of cinema which has never been exposed so religiously by any other filmmaker in the world ever. They are working on something which nobody is working on at the moment and that too on such a large scale. To put it simply, their cinema operates on ugly and crude reality of b-grade stuff which in refined language is called ‘pulp’ or ‘sleaze’. They have made billion dollar budgeted movies based on this ‘pulp’ with some of the very famous Hollywood actors and almost all of them have been a great success. But their success is not the point and matter of concern. What really amazes me is the fact that these two persons are so devoted and faithful to this genre that they have created some of the very great and brilliant cinema out of it. Tarantino once said, “I am not making movies for now, I am making them for forty years from now”. His statement seems to be making some sense for me today after so many years since he actually made it.

Pulp is the opium of masses. It has an importance of its own. Pulp is as important for the society as a whole as art is. And sooner we realize this fact, the better for us. No matter how sophisticated and articulated we try to become, more than 90 % of our everyday life is made up of this pulp. To connect to the pulp is like connecting to the reality. And despite being ugly and coarse, the reality is indeed beautiful. Very few Indian filmmakers have now realized the importance of sleaze in our society. It not only makes the cinema realistic but also gives a depth to it. It makes it universally acceptable and likeable without being pretentious. It kind of increases the holistic beauty and widens the scale of cinema. There is no specific reason to it but Indian filmmakers have always remained indifferent towards this facet of reality. They have always tried to wrap it with the sugarcoated layers without making an effort to expose it naked. It much explains the hypocrisy of Indian mind. One may find the cinema of Yash/Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar beautiful but nobody can say it is ‘real’. The reason is these filmmakers have always chosen to stay away from pulp because they are too afraid of it. This pulp is the reality we breathe in and this reality is the real horror. I regard Ram Gopal Verma as the first filmmaker who made a significant contribution to fill this void during 90s by infusing reality into celluloid with movies like Rangeela, Satya, Company, Bhoot and Sarkar. He used pulp to portray the dark and gruesome reality of the underworld mafia and the Indian society. He was then joined by various other filmmakers like Anurag kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj, Dibaker Banerjee, Rajat Kapoor, Sudhir Mishra, Raj Kumar Hirani, Chandan Arora, Madhur Bhandarkar to name a few in the list. These filmmakers should be credited to have changed the pathetic show of Bollywood. They can be called the harbingers of neo-realism in Indian cinema. They have used the local pulp to blend realism and entertainment on celluloid. They all have a significant contribution for spicing up the box office collections and giving new life to Indian film industry.

Dibaker Banerjee is the Tarantino of Indian cinema. He has used pulp very extensively in all his movies to such an extent that our world appears pornographic at certain level. Dibaker uses pulp to expose the nasty land mafia and the disconcerting problem of land in the overpopulated north India in his directorial debut ‘Khosla ka Ghosla’. He also exposes the frightened face of middle class man who is scared of approaching police, law and politics to fix his own personal matter. Dibaker takes us further to the crowded, corrupt and obscure streets of Delhi cluttered with naked electrical wires and patched broken houses impoverished with unfulfilled dreams of starving middle class society in his wholesome entertainer ‘Oye, lucky lucky oye!’ He takes us inside to narrate a story of a funny Sikh family and portrays the rampant promiscuity, father son hostility, marital discord, domestic violence, greed, disgruntled adolescence of teenagers and the crippled social structure of our society. In this chaos, a discontented Sikh boy develops an inferiority complex which carries on throughout his life and makes a thief out of him. He also exposes the filth muddled inside the minds of urban middle class people who try hard enough to be sophisticated cultured English speakers but end up just being a laughing stock for others. In this movie, he shows how a young, polite, homely adolescent greeting card girl talks and behaves with her customers. He shows how a sleazy, flamboyant dancer from a backward community of Delhi who performs in extravagant, loud north Indian marriages and functions in front of a crowd of arrogant and snobbish so called rich lads, behaves and expresses herself in real world. Dibaker is the master of this genre. He understands the nuances of cinema. He uses pulp to represent the hollowness festering and breeding in our societies. He used it further in his experimental masterpiece ‘Love Sex aur Dhoka’. He narrated three different stories in the movie based on the themes of its main title named squalidly as ‘Church Gate ki Chudail’, Paap ki Dukaan’ and ‘Badnaam Shohrat’ respectively. He uses a documentary style to portray the unbridled pornography and worthlessness proliferating in our society in the form of false, bloated high society pride leading to honour killings, spurious relationships ending up in deceit and shame, tricky but the only road to success in the world of glamour and the well planned grubby media strategies to shock and scare the audiences. He explains metaphorically how the camera has become the god of this precarious and ill structured world. Vishal bhardwaj uses pulp to bring authenticity in his script and screenplay. ‘Beedi jalai le’ not only brought him his first big box office success with ‘Omkara’ but it also added enormously to the splendor of the movie. This very sleazy item number explains the ethnicity and culture of the region in which the tragedy of omkara takes place. And also the local slangs used confidently and boldly in the movie help it explain further. Similarly ‘Dhan te nan’ and ‘Raat ke dhaai baje’ added raunchiness to ‘Kaminey’ and made it a success. Furthermore, the exquisite detailing in exploring the subtleties and traditions of Gorakhpur made ‘Ishqiya’ a modern classic. Anurag Kashyap uses pulp to create a cult for his cinema. In his unique style of filmmaking, he uses sexuality to portray the complex mindset of modern Indian female in one of the most anticipated movies of my generation ‘Dev-d’. ‘Emotional Atyachaar’ has become synonymous with the modern times' brief relationships based on love and romance. He also uses pulp to represent the rugged and brutal royalty of Rajasthan in his political satire ‘Gulal’. Sudhir Mishra used it in his recent works ‘Yeh Saali Zindagi’ and ‘Tera Kya Hoga Johnny’ to portray the complex materialism creeping in our society. Raj Kumar Hirani has used it as a hit formula in all his movies right from ‘Munna Bhai MBBS’ to ‘3 idiots’ to expose the politics and mafia behind the education system of our country. There is another very devoted team of actors and filmmakers who are running a successful parallel cinema in this world of commercialization. It includes talents like Rajat Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla, Ranvir Shourey, Vinay Pathak, Vijay Raaz, Konkana Sen, Naseerudin Shah, Om Puri etc who have made some very interesting and hard hitting movies in recent times and also made them popular among multiplex audiences seeking for instant entertainment. They have used the element of pulp to explore the life style of urban sophisticated societies. Their movies like Raghu Romeo, Mixed Doubles, Mithya, Bheja fry, Raat Gayi Baat Gayi, Phas gaye re Obama, The president is coming etc have established new standards in the genre of comedy and satire. There are some more people on the list who have recently come up with shocking and amazing stuff using this pulp. Shimit Amin’s ‘Rocket Singh’, Navdeep Singh’s ‘Manorama six feet under’, Sanjay Khanduri’s ‘Ek Chalis ki Last Local’, Habib Faisal’s ‘Do Dooni Chaar’, Manish Jha’s ‘Band Baaja Baraat’, Raja Menon’s ‘Baarah Aana’, and Anusha Rizvi’s ‘Peepli Live’ are some other interesting projects worth watching and admiring. These people have understood the importance of pulp in our society and cinema. International filmmakers like Deepa Mehta and Mira nair have always used pulp in a very subtle way in their movies. Mira Nair’s ‘Monsoon Wedding’ has an interesting sub-plot of a sleazy love story between a beautiful seductive maid of the house and a hilarious, loud mouthed, dim witted laborer. Deepa Mehta in her controversial movie ‘Fire’ shows a sexually starved servant of the house masturbating and fantasizing about the two leading ladies of the house.Pulp is a genre which should be explored more and more to create better possibilities and prospects on celluloid. It has given a creative space to writers, lyricists and filmmakers to expose the reality hidden behind the garb of hypocrisy for such a long time. Some filmmakers like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Suraj Barjatiya and Karan Johar still choose to stay from it for a reason specific to their own style of filmmaking. In 80s and early 90s, pulp was used in an awful way to make sleazy comedies, thrillers and dramas. It was a period of great depression in Indian cinema. It was a period when Indian film industry suffered huge financial losses and also the popularity of Indian movies in international market shattered critically. Subhash Ghai and Yash Chopra did their best to recover those losses but their style of filmmaking started fading away by the end of 90s. If there had not been any Ram Gopal Verma, Indian cinema would have continued losing its charm and vitality or it would have completely collapsed in the beginning of new century. So pulp proved as a savior for Indian movies. Indian cinema is reaching new heights and establishing better standards every day. Hordes of young and genius filmmakers have appeared in this beautiful world of creativity. They have realized need of the hour and have devoted themselves in creating a sensible and realistic cinema. Few structures have already been destroyed. And some more will be destroyed in times to come. If pulp is the body, art is the soul. So pulp is something required to be delved in for understanding the anatomy of our society and reaching out to its soul. And both of them are required to create something which we call ‘cinema’.

After all ‘pulp’ is what we all are made up of…


A mighty sea
It lives by the shore
Quietly I walk
Upon the sands
And spread my soul
Under the naked sky
I look around
As far as I could see
And I see a silent wave
From far far away
Emanating somewhere
From the caverns of
The burning sun
Dispersing and merging
Every minute
I sit there for hours
Resting and watching
The silent wave
Growing and
Making way
Towards me
I choose to run
But something keeps
Me grounded
And it comes
Like a demon
And engulfs me