Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Truth be damned!

With reference to Mangal Pandey - The Rising, there was a discussion thread raising concerns about historical accuracy in period films. Even though my response below might sound that I am in favour of free cinematic license, total disregard for history is not what I recommend. E.g. to show Shivaji as a complete coward or British Empire as epitome of benevolence would be a travesty of facts. But to exaggerate certain traits or events especially when there is lack of authentic information about them, is not criminal. I dislike the fact that we don't care to capture or document history well enough and then it's bound to leave glaring holes in knowledge about our past - even important events like the First War of Independence. Should film-makers disregard such important events, just because we don't know enough. I don't think so. if anything, we need more films with facts extrapolated with imaginative fiction, so people atleast get a sense of what actually happened.

There is a phrase that goes something like 'History is not how it happened, but how it was recorded'


Was just watching Shakespeare in Love the other day. Now, I can hardly claim to be the literary types, but here is a movie, that is intelligent, funny and cool. Don't be weighed down the fact that Shakespeare was another lesson in college. There are extremely witty dialogues, great screenplay (Romeo and Juliet starts as a comedy because comedy is what audience wants) and fabulous direction.

It would not have happened had the writer (Mark Norman and Tom Stoppard) fictionalized the whole account and added there own bold inventive touches.
About how Shakespeare's affair comes to fundamentally shape Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare has been shown to be inadvertently responsible for Christopher Marlowe's (his contemporary) death. The exchange of roles (Viola in disguise playing Romeo and a guy playing Juliet) due to restrictions on women at that time. Even 'the rose by any other name' is attributed to a sermonising priest.

There is an urchin who constanly makes references to death and gore. I looked up John Webster, his name and lo and behold, a master of tragedy and contemporary of Shakespeare.

Just reading the dialogues will have you rolling in the aisles

Anyway, does any of this need to be true? No, because, on its own merits, Shakespeare in Love is an awesome movie. It humanizes the playwright and throws light on the fact that he could be a wife-cheating plagiariser(masterful one at that) rather than a serious dour wordsmith.
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