Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Al Pacino - not my cup of Cappuccino

Al Pacino! Al Pacino! Al Pacino!

Who has not heard or spoken about him? I too, heard a lot before venturing into watching this guy in action. I must say, I loved the ending dialogues in Devil's Advocate - more for the content than the grasp held by the deliverer, Al Pacino. Honestly, I am not that impressed with this guy.

Watch Scent of a Woman, I agree, he did well. One look at his face and we know he is blind. Appreciated that role. But watch any other movie (from what I watched ;P), say Insomnia, he is pretty much the same. He has the same huskish, hoarsy voice, same way of dialogue-delivery, walk; a frequent 'Aahk' - thats Al Pacino. I am not against him neither am I completely disappointed. He is definitely one better than many around. But, maybe he doesnt deserve the hype he gets!

A school of thought says, hype increases one's expectation leading to disappointment later. I may be one such person to have lived this thought in this guy's example. Similar thing happened when I marketted the latest movie 99 of Kunal Khemu, Boman Irani, Cyrus Broacha, Soha Ali Khan. I went and watched it in Cinemax without any expectation. Came out utterly satisfied for a good choice of watch. But after marketting found it didnt live upto the expectation of its new audience, who had a tinge of adoration even before they saw 9 of 99!
Coming back to Al Pa, my simple anology was this. Watch Amitabh and watch him. People can imitate Amitabh and yet sound hollow. The presence that hits the spectators with Amitabh on
the screen delivering is phenomenal. Al Pa? One can deliver his dialogue and still get away with it. One can imagine some one else there with similar dialogue delivery (possibly with lesser credit). But, one cannot expect same intensity being thrown from the scene if some one else was to deliver Amitabh's dialogues. Look at The Last Lear. Life which Amitabh gave to the words might be even more than what Shakespeare imagined while writing! No doubt, the comparison is a folly on my part, but after the hype, my expectations of this guy were somewhere close to what I would expect from Amitabh. Amitabh is a legend. Surely, Bollywood and for that matter the whole Film Industry owes him for the excellence that he has got acting to.

Undoutedly, Amitabh is one of the finest ever and has just shown how old wine in a new glass is any time better than a budding new wine in an ultramodernized glass. His movies after his come-back are the classics, not the angry-young-man ones. Sure, many will agree with me on this. He shall live as a legend in this world and the world after him.

Al Pa, if you are reading this, you are one of the actors I admire. But you have a long way to prove yourself better than legends from Bollywood :)


  1. Hey! Rampy!
    That was, say, "the bravest thing" you seem to have said. Al Pacino is not and Amitabh also is not, to be judged by the dialogues. They are written for them. How they deliver them is what counts. You are looking at the Indian scenario where the silver screen has to be littered with emotions before it can touch the heart of the audience. Whereas, the simple jab of an elbow or raise of a shoulder gives the subtlety in Hollywood. You are expected to see the subtleties.

    Al Pacino, i am sure, would be relieved if you had made this statement after having a meet with Amitabh.

    His body language carries a lot more. See Black and See Scent of woman! Who did the better acting for a blind man? I would vote for Al pa with my eyes closed (pun intended)

    You only see the bark of Al pa and got put off. You have not measured the appropriateness of the same.


    when i said Meet Amitabh, I meant Das Gupta! In case you have already booked your tkt to Mumbai, my apologies :)


  2. There is a reasoning error, particularly in the conclusion of this post. Al Pacino is compared to Amitabh Bacchan and by default, the comparion is then extended to all the legends of Bollywood. A true worshipper of Bollywood indeed.
    One major point which I have been reiterating to this blogger is to consider the audience to which these actors are catering. More on that later...but for now I will pick up from where Orangemoongaaer left.

    We all knew what lousy performances Abhishek Bacchan is capable of giving us. (the cheesy Dhoom 2 is just the tip of the iceberg) How do you account for the transformation of this chap into Guru (one of his very few dazzling performances) Rajinikanth in Sivaji and Rajnikanth in Thalapathi are indeed at the opposite ends of the continuum. Here is where we see the director's hand in shaping the character.

    However in Al Pacino's case, look at the sterling performances in almost anything he has touched. Donnie Brasco, to The Devil's Advocate to Ocean's 13 as well. Fitting himself to different roles with an ease of adaptibility and yet retaining the natural charm that is so endearing about himself is a skill that actors rarely possess.

    Our good old Amitabh Bachhan wasn't even convincing as a friendly ghost in Bhootnath, and was distinctly uncomfy as a ripped off pirate in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. Can you for a moment pause and think that this was the same actor who delivered the sterling performance in Anand or for that matter Chup Ke Chup Ke? [the old one, the 'karela' one]

    That is why the comparison is specious, and the conclusion...well I reserve my verdict on that.

  3. I am a fan of both, though I doubt whether I can call myself one, based on such inadequate data.

    Of Al Pacino, I know only, Devils Advocate, Scent of a Woman, 88 minutes, The Recruit and Godfather I, in order of my liking. Scent of a Woman and Devils Advocate were amazzoamazing and I was flat for AP's delivery in both. I wish he had some role in The Great Debaters.

    Of Bachchan, I know only the Elder one of later years, because I don't watch movies that were made before I was born, or the ones that were made before I learnt Hindi :) :) . Which counts out, a lot of winners like Anand. And, by and large, I have liked his performances, except for the messy costume ones, like in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. Notably good ones I found are : Aankhen, Armaan, Baghban, Waqt and KANK. Okay, Black too, if you insist. The scene from Aankhen : "Main hoon yey saarey khel key sutradhari, happy ?" is one of my all-time favorites. I wish he was there in 'A Wednesday'. I would have been tempted to write My Amitabh Top 10, but what to do, I know only 12 !! Hmmm, I think the tribute to Last Lear might be way off the mark, I felt it was more of forced-bollywood-style delivery of Shakespeare, it would have been different if it were in Hindi, but I have seen better Shakespeare at school.

    I think the urge to compare both is, quite natural, because of the gruff voice, the build-up of rhetoric and a similar style of delivery in comparable scenes. Both have the ability to make a mark on your mind before they leave the scene, in their worlds that is. Comparison between actors like these, most often strays off into comparison between the two movie universes, Bollywood and Hollywood, which probably are almost disjoint sets, in which to call something good in one universe, you always needed to call the same thing bad in another universe. Or you would sound like it. I think the modern medium is often a different expression of art and culture of a given land, and those of one land need not always be in conformity with the boundaries, expressions and sublteties of another land. Instead of 'knowing to appreciate' the subtleties, why would I not seek that which I appreciate anyway, sans the scholarly subtleties ?

    My view is that, for Al Pacino, if you have a role that suits him, he would make an indelible impact in performing it. Sometimes probably even twice as much as Bachchan would do justice in a comparable role. But I think, AB has the ability to perform reasonably in any role you give him, even the one you always thought won't suit him. Did you like AB in KBC ? I did, and, I doubt if Al Pacino can ever do such a thing. Excellence in a role cast just for you is quite different from pushing for excellence into any role given to you. Failures and wrong decisions there are, like giving away someone's phone number on your blog just because you are some Big B, but if its only on versatility of acting, I would vote for AB, one notch higher than Al Pacino.

    I won't say 'anyday I will vote for AB', because someday, I might have to come back and revise my opinion, after I see more of both and qualify enough to blog about both Top Tens in one go.

    Of my apparently self-righteous audacity to comment on two 'universal' legends, well, as Munnabhai put it in Rangeela: Apun Public hai Public, kya ? Jis pe paisa wasool nahin uska dabba gul!

  4. I am glad (that in some way or the other) you all conform to my thoughts and beliefs! How? Read on...

    In Hollywood they look at subtleties. In Bollywood, at emotions. Me, being from east would thus appreciate Amitabh than Al Pa :)

    Audience paramter is catered to with the above biasness of me being an eastern audience/spectator.

    Next you say, 'Director's hand plays an important role in shaping the character on screen'. Two doubts/conclusions:

    1. If an actor's acting is shaped due to a good director then, is it even spoilt due a bad director? If yes, then does not a actor have any credibility of his own other than be a mere reflection of the director's talent? (I know its no :) Then, isnt there a huge list of contributors and not just director!)

    2. All the movies in which Al Pa played a role, had good directors. Is this a valid conclusion! ;D

    Yeah, there may be some roles in which Amitabh might have faltered( Bhootnath, I did not see for it dint appeal to me right from the beginning). There may be some roles in which Al Pa might have excelled ( I personally liked Scent of a Woman. Donnie Brasco I have not yet seen). Thats the reason, why I was referring to the movies of Al Pa from the list of movies which I saw, gotcha?

    Another consideration other than the audience would be the number of different 'roles' either of them have adorned till now. Admittedly, Amitabh has done scores of movies in the similar lines (which are so very easily forced upon due to the environment of Bollywood). But the ones which he took up after his comeback, are so varied. So, I can compare Al Pa (with his limited set of movies which I have seen) to scores of movies of Amitabh (being a hardcore bollywoodian).

    If any of you have a list of good movies of Al Pa (Donnie Brasco is added to my to-watch list), do pass it on and (fans of Al Pa) hope someday I change my opinion on him with or without any comparison. And for fans of Amitabh, well, lets repeat it Amitabh will always be one of the finest actors ever for us, even otherwise :)

    As Namaji put it, I may some time come back and change my opinion. But, as of now, it is this: Amitabh appeals more than Al Pa.

  5. Hello. See what happened to an actor like Kamal Hassan in Dasavataram. It is a medley of different things happening in the final display that we see on the screen. But just that the director, as the term implies, gives a sense of direction to the acting.

    All movies that al pa acted in had good directors? Wither have thou lost thyself in the murky walls of half baked reasining without taking ground realities into consideration and meandering away from the original argument.

    Amitabh's varied roles? Just because he has acted in cheeni kum and the last lear, doesnt mean that he has got rid of that stereotyped image.

    Actually, the manner in which you seem to be celebrating Amitabh seems to reminding me of the frog in the well story.

    @ Namaji - what is essentially versatility of acting? The ability to fit into different roles? I think you are treading on a dangerous ground by measuring popular consensus against individual excellence.

  6. There are thousand of better actors than these too. Each in their own different spheres. Let alone two distinctly opposite cultures, even within Hollywood or Bollywood there are separate spheres where one excels and another fails. One is not judged by the no. of excellence one renders but by the quality of excellence one has rendered, even if it be just one.

    It's the greatest folly to compare AB with Al. Just like you cannot compare Tendulkar with Maradona. Got it?


Blog Widget by LinkWithin