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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 10:20 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:57 pm
Posts: 90
Bollywood's reworking of CHINATOWN, writer-director Navdeep Singh's MANORAMA SIX FEET UNDER (2007) is surprisingly assured for a debut feature and indeed holds up well against Polanski's masterpiece, sucessfully transplanting Towne's vision of a corrupt, incestuous water-starved Los Angeles to a small, dusty town in India, and the politicking around a new canal scheme. Abhay Deol (whose previous film was the equally recommendable, Tarantino-esque EJ CHALIS KI LAST LOCAL, also made last year) plays Satyaveer, a writer whose detective novel, and with it his self esteem, has sunk without trace since publication. When a woman knocks on his door one night and asks him to take a few photos of her cheating husband, on impulse he takes the money and tries his hand. In contrast to the worldly, sexually amoral Giddes, the professional investigator of Polanski's film, much is made of Satyaveer being a hen pecked amateur, to whom most lucky breaks occur because of the largesse of his police inspector relative. But, like CHINATOWN's Giddes, he's soon out of his depth in a labyrinthine plot of deceit, sexual secrets and murder. Part of the fun of MANORAMA is seeing how Singh has reworked some of the notable scenes from his source (the famouse nose-slitting scene of which can be seen at one point, a direct visual quote, on Satyaveer's television). Viewers can be reassured that Polanski's hoodlum and chums are here too, painted almost as memorably in their reincarnation as two masala goons, as they stalk the hero. Unlike many, less happy Bollywood projects which are content to just rip off and run, MANORAMA is clearly a careful homage to a great film and genre, and one done with some respect towards the original, although retaining its local flavour. Shot in widescreen and missing the distractions of song, Singh's film grips from the first moments (a striking crane and dolly shot in the desert), through its tangled scheme of events onto a complicated exposition. Although understandably lacking the unique contributions of a Towne, Goldsmith Nicholson, Huston et al, as well as the baroque flair of the Polanski original, MANORAMA remains a fine work, fully reminiscent of its inspiration's atmosphere and with a few judicious innovations of its own - in short another notch in the belt of modern Indian cinema.

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