Monday, June 25, 2012

TMK/Three Times

Film journalists/ critics love dropping names, showing how well-informed they are. Here’s a piece of information floating around: The new Kunal Kohli (‘Hum Tum’, ‘Fanna’) film, ‘Teri Meri Kahaani’ is “inspired” by Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s 2005 opaque romance ‘Three Times’. And, I’d say, using a British expression, it’s tosh.

There’s nothing similar between Shahid Kapoor-Priyanka Chopra Bollywood romance and Hsiao-Hsien’s moving examination of how the contemporary history effects interpersonal relationships — except perhaps both the films are set distinct time periods, and in both the films, in all the three stories, the lovers are played by the same actors.

But, unlike, Hsiao-Hsien’s rumination of history, and to a great extent, individual choice, in Kohli’s film these different time-frames are a novelty, and at best, cosmetic; it helps change the costumes and the background, nothing else. In TMK, it’s essentially the same story told thrice, in different costumes.

‘Three Times’, on the other hand, is more problematic, slow, and fraught with heartbreaks, which Bollywood is essentially ill-equipped to handle. The film doesn’t even arrive at a cohesive end. It’s as anti-Bollywood as it can possibly be, and not an ideal choice of inspiration.

I have attempted to see ‘Three Times’ several times, but could never complete seeing the film in one sitting — as the narrative moves in the slow place, with static cameras and the play of light and darkness. But, if you sit through it, it’s worth the while. However, if you haven’t seen any Hsiao-Hsien film yet, the ideal place to start would be his 2008 film ‘Flight of the Red Balloon’ with Juliet Binoche, and puppeteering, and of course the red balloon floating over the Parisian sky.

Then perhaps ‘Flowers of Shanghai’ (1998), with Tonny Leung, my favourite actor. His other films include, ‘A City of Sadness’ (1989), ‘The Puppetmaster’ (1993), ‘Good Men, Good Women’ (1995), and ‘Café Lumière’ (2003), all masterpieces to varied degrees.

Writes Roger Ebert: Three stories about a man and a woman, all three using the same actors. Three years: 1966, 1911, 2005. Three varieties of love: unfulfilled, mercenary, meaningless. All photographed with such visual beauty that watching the movie is like holding your breath so the butterfly won’t stir.
More here.

More about Three Times Here.
More about Hou Hsiao-Hsien Here.

A filmmaker makes a film to tell a story on the big canvas. Well, here director Kunal Kohli goes on to tell three of them. So, there are three love stories set in three different eras that see Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra meet under different circumstances with the same outcome. Love happens and so do all the side-effects and dramabaazi that come as a part and parcel of falling in love. Thankfully, however, Kunal completely refrains from taking the tried and tested route of depicting the film as a tale of reincarnation, though the soul-mate connection is hard to miss!
Read the complete review from DNA here.

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