NG Reflections: Rants about Acting!

What can define acting? Whether the emphasis is important or the effectiveness ? How can one know that the actor is justifying the role he is in?Many questions are perplexing,more so when acting is what should actually define the texture of a movie.

Seen Brando in “On the Waterfront”? Would request you all to watch it.The way he evolves through the length and breadth of the movie is absolutely amazing.Why? Because his character and the nuances of it take a course that is in synchrony with the story and the demand of it. Brando is not pitch perfect as you would remark,he is infact vulnerable at many places and that vulnerability that gradually takes the form of resolution and emphasis makes one stand and clap for him.Frankly speaking I never liked Brando in the movie when I watched it first.I felt he was underplaying many emotions at multiple places.But as i went on a revisit,the gradual sigmoid curve of the portrayal seemed evident!One of the finest piece of acting I have ever seen.Appreciate Deewar and Zanjeer for the same way with respect to Amitabh.He never plays it monotonous in Deewar,infact he turns from innocent to rebellious and then traces of megalomania too develop till he finally has a colossal fall at the feet of the Almighty.The portrayal is effective,of course over stressed at places but sums up beautifully in the final cut.Zanjeer on the other hand is a monotonous textured acting but when seen from the angles of character development and the way the script writer visualised the story,the acting comes across as apt. Bachchan is very different from Brando in the sense that he never believes in using small inconsequential expressions of hands,face,eyebrows to add the shine to his expressions.Brando was a master of using minute details to make his presence more effective!
Watch him in The Godfather where he delivers a short speech in the mafia meeting and when he talks to Michael.Brilliance written all over it!Use of the screen with respect to the angle he raises his head and then bends it sideways and the flexing of masseter with adequate utilisation of the voice modulation. Bachchan easily scores above Brando in the usage of voice to add charm to the presentation of character but certainly scores much lower in other aspects!

I also very much appreciate “Blue Velvet” for the phasic elevation in the quality of the feature because of Denis Hooper’s masterful portrayal of a sexual maniac.The character comes of as such that induces a sense of attention and inquiry in the viewer.It does not make you pay attention to the exterior curves of a female body but forces you to dwell on the interior curves of the mental disposition of a maniac for whom sex is an avenue to his subdued feelings. Hooper resurrected himself and the film with that piece of acting.Similar portrayals of character that have made a movie great will include Anand.Khanna was irritating with that fast dialogue delivery of his but then if one reads the character well,he was just using the little time left in his life to speak volumes that he was experiencing.The race of words against time was evident.Life had never been portrayed more beautifully in the cradle of death before!Khanna lived the role with his accurate portrayal–straight head,eye to eye contact,monotonous speech that had wealth of emotions and his beautiful pauses. Wonderful!!

Do watch out for John Voight and Dustin Hoffman in The Midnight Cowboy! Chemistry in acting has no better example than that.Only other that can come near is Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.One can look for pure acting in Daniel Day Lewis’ portrayal of the powerful gang leader cum butcher in Gangs of New York,particularly the famous head butt scene where he looks so deeply immersed in his role such that one can smell the fury and wrath.Pacino in Merchant of Venice as Shylock is menacing enough to define the term–“menacing”.Watch the scene where he asks for a pound of flesh from Antonio loathing him outrightly.Brilliantly done!!

Cinema is just not seen in isolation,it is watched in cumulative assessment module.Reflections abound,you chose yours!!



  1. Shalu
    February 9, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    Milind, I didn’t understand the first para of your comment. Are you saying that whatever roles Pacino has done are superior (and hence more inspiring to you) to the roles of AB I mentioned. And that Pacino has that kind of range?

    One, when I talk about comedy I’m not talking ONLY about slapstick comedy. You gave the example of subtle comedy of Pacino and I say that AB has done, subtle, goofy, loud, slapstick – all kinds of comedies. Giving Sunil Shetty’s example here makes no sense to me – there is a difference between ATTEMPTING slapstick and doing it well.

    I have seen parts of SOAW and Pacino was indeed excellent in it. And yet from the little I have seen of his other works (Godfather) he remains just Pacino to me – an elegant, proud figure. He can never be the chaploos peon of Navratna tel. Or the goofy professor of Chupke Chupke. Or the 12 year old of Paa.

  2. Shalu
    February 12, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    “You are just using the various roles of Bachchan to pin him up.”

    So how else does one pin up an actor? You give examples of 4-5 good scenes that Pacino has done and expect his to be considered a better actor than AB who has hundreds of great scenes to his credit – subtle as well as loud. You yourself say that bollywood is more loud than hollywood – and being loud yet come across as authentic is no small deal.

    Let me give you an example of AB subtleness – in the song ‘yaari hai imaan mera yaar meri zindagi’ Pran is trying to cheer up AB. AB appreciates Pran’s gesture and keeps a smile on his face throught the song though the smile does not reach his eyes. At the end of the song, he really gets moved by Pran’s efforts and breaks into a spontaneous laughter. I remember while watching it I myself felt a lightness of spirit that he if finally feeling good.

    As for Kamal Hassan, he is a joke. His acting is more like ‘look at me, what wonderful expressions I give’. Even in a film like Sagar where all the spotlight was on him, for me Rishi Kapoor did a much better job of conveying his feelings without trying to prove himself a better actor.

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