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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!!

Milind/Anupam

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54 COMMENTS
  1. I.One

    Special article Milind. Liked reading it, thought I felt like reading more of your views at the end on this particular topic.

    A special mentioned for me would be Al Pacino as Michael Korleone. He was just perfect to say the least.

  2. suprabh

    Very good article. Very nicely written..Great job Milind.

  3. I.One

    Let me add one of such brilliance, Robert Di Nero as Vito Korleone in 2nd part was again a masterpiece. Such a short role but much much affective. Of course needless to mention Brando as the Vito in the 1st. In fact the Goddamn Godfather 1st 2 parts are filled with brilliance.

  4. milind

    Thanks all.

    @Sachin Bhai.. Yes Robert De Niro was good,infact very much confident in his short role.But Pacino in Godfather2 trumps all by a mile.He is cunning,calculative,loving and slowly getting away fro his family in the process of running the business of the family!!

  5. Aloof

    So there is no single definition to acting. Our perceptions on acting are at times extension to our own personalities and on some occasions impressions of our exposure.

  6. milind

    ^^^ Partially True and Quite aptly summed up. Rest even if there is no hard and fast rule for acting..there are certainly diffuse boundaries which can be used to understand whether a person is acting good or not. Thus we can understand the difference between a Ashok Kumar and a Arman Kohli.

    Zenith and Nader are the eternal truth..and hierarchy can be set..it will differ person to person but then wont be a radically different one at multiple places.

  7. Jasp the Wasp

    @Milind

    I believe that Brando is known to have begun the proper use and application of the Stanislavski system. Perhaps that’s why he’s such a great actor. Most unfortunately, I haven’t seen any film of his till date (no, not even The Godfather, as I love the book far too much). I must try and catch some of the movies you have mentioned.

    Btw, nice article. Keep at it.

  8. Aloof

    @Milind
    Do you think acting can be taught or is it something which comes naturally? And what about signature styles? There is repetition in portrayals as the career progress. Is it a positive or negative? Or in other words, do you have to be different each time to be good or you have to be good to be different?

  9. milind

    JTW,

    Thanks for commenting! :-)

    Stanislavski’s syste had its major portion of propagation via Lee Strasberg.This man is single handedly responsible for the evolution of Stanislavski’s system,what we know as Method Acting.Method acting is infact a ramification of Stanislavski’s System.

  10. milind

    Acting can be taught.You can demonstrate to someone how to enact a scene,Strasberg did that and thus came out the brilliance of likes of Pacino.Yes there needs to be a very deep rooted skill to be able to act but then it can be polished.Donkeys are certainly turned to horses.

    But again there lies the fact that you cant teach acting to a Rakhee Sawant..she wont be able to do it,lacks the basic orientation of acting.

    Natural Acting on screen and Natural Actor are two different things. Ashok Kumar seemed natural on screen,effortless,smooth but he did tonnes of preparation in front of mirror. Daniel Day Lewis seems so emphatic in his roles but you can see that he has made an effort to get in the skin of it.The strain of that effort is missing in Ashok Kumar.Thus you have two ramification is the “seemingly natural acting on screen”.

    Natural Actor– You can infact on loose terms count many actors in the arena of natural actors,many coz they primarily do not make an effort to act–they dont know or they dont need to. Naseeruddin Saahab and Pankaj Kapoor don’t need to but Tushar Kapoor doesnt know how to.

    Yes signature style develops over years and it is a good thing.Baritone voice of Bachchan,sleepwalking of Salman,hamming of SRK are all sinature styles..repetitiveness also builds up as can be seen in Aamir’s latest outings..but then they all are apt and effective in their on screen projections..thats the best a bunch of superstars can do.isnt it!!

  11. Bilawal

    Havent seen any of HW references here but agree on Anand. Good post Milind.

  12. Aloof

    @Milind
    Certain actors do play certain characters over the top. As in they are loud and not subtle at all. In real life, no one would come up with such expressions or such tone of voice. Some end up glamorizing it and some appearing total fake. How does that work?

  13. milind

    Real Acting may sometimes need dramatization….loudness in correct proportion is seriously needed for some roles.

    Example.– Pacino in Scarface.

    Real life expressions on screen is not natural acting.Embedding the visual medium with expressions that immerse the viewer or elate him,hypnotise him is necessary–the effort may be loud,subtle or plain.

  14. Phoenix

    Milind,

    Don’t you think the signature style that only very effective actors develop over the years, can be distracting and can make the viewer lose interest in the screen development?

  15. Antares

    Good and nice written post milind.
    Congrats!

  16. milind

    Sometimes Bash..like SRK’s hamming sometimes does make negative impact,Aamir’s montonous pitch and tone makes a few of his recent roles uninspiring..but more often than not,this is what has earned them admirers,lovers of their portrayal.

    Signature Style was with Clift and Dean– they portrayed stuffs with a panache very much inherent to them.

    Rest have bad habits!!

  17. rajesh

    Nice article Milind.
    Good to see you back with your reflection.

  18. Rex

    Paatakha Milind, good to have ur reflections back :)

  19. FS

    Einstein of Reflections Dr. Milind, An Awesome post. Great. Just loved everything from your reflection to comments.

  20. Shalu

    Very good post as usual Milind. However, you have a fight on your hands here.

    “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.”

    DISAGREE. I haven’t seen much of Brando so won’t compare. But AB is the king of subtle nuances. He doesn’t even need small inconsequential expressions – his eyes alone do all the emoting. Except for Agneepath and Black (two of his performances I did not like), pick any performance and see how he can convey a variety of emotions with a poker face – doing all the ‘acting’ with his eyes alone.

  21. Alfa.one

    @Milind – Nice post. BTW, whats ur opinion about a scene from Madhumati between Dilip Kumar and Pran in front of painting ? I feel more than any thing their eyes were speaking every thing.

  22. Bilawal

    lol..me saying good post milind got 3 dislikes…

    hahahaha

  23. Bilawal

    Disagree Shalu

    I also havent seen Brando much but agree with Milind here. Bachchan’s acting is mainly in his voice rather than expressions/body language.

  24. joey222

    milind bro..very good article as always..
    examples u have given here are mostly serious roles…what is ur idea of good comic acting? would love to know ur take on it :D
    about using subtle expressions ..thhe performance tht completely bowled me away is actually a female one..coming from preity zinta in heroes…the way she shows her pain in tht role is simply mesmerising n very realistic too..the moment wen she receives the letter from her late husband..the expressions on her face..i haven’t seen a better performance in a scene from any actor till now..
    other performances wid subtle expressions tht lasted wid me are
    - ajay devgan in london dreams wen he gets jealous of salman for being able to compose several versions of the same songs..on the whole i found his performance ok..but tht scene was brilliant..
    -salman khan – in jaaneman wen he n akki are watching preity ion the screen..preity starts crying while watching a movie…n both sallu n akki cries too..very beautifully acted by both sallu n akki..
    also sallu in khamoshi specially his expressions in the song yeh dil sun raha hain
    srk- in swades where he goes to get the rent..tht scene was srk at his best in subtle expressions
    akki-the end speech in waqt..brilliant..thts exactly how u sound wen u r crying n giving a speech
    aamir-ghajini end scene..for some reason i find it absolutely touching n wonderfully acted by aamir
    about amitabh the one scene tht stays wid me is his mirror scene in amar akbar anthony
    anyway milind very good post once again

  25. aryan29

    In bollywood Honestly actor like SRK is overrated as far as acting is concerned and someone like Salman Khan is always easy target for being called a Non-actor and is highly underrated.Agree in films like Ready there was nothing much to talk about his acting or performance but any non-actor cannot give the performamce the way he gave in Tere Naam or even in films like London dreams or Jaan-e-mann or phir milenge Salman Khan always stood out in his performances.

    There are many Diverse performances of Salman Khan which are more than enough (Andaz apna apna,Garv, love, Hum dil de chuke sanam, Veergati,Karan Arjun,Biwi no.1 Khamoshi or even in films like Hum sath sath hai,Baghban,Kuch kuch hota hai and Jab pyar kisise hota hai which are more than enough to prove that he is atleast a GOOD actor if not Great.In both the films AAA and Karan Arjun it was Salman Khan who almost overshadowed Aamir and SRK respectively in comedy and action.

    Infact in 90s Salman was considered BETTER actor than SRK as SRK did almost same Romantic films Raj Rahul etc whereas Salman proved himself as an actor by not only doing ROMANTIC films chocalate boy type but also from Action to comedy to doing serious roles in film like Khamoshi.

    It was in early 2000′s when Salman Khan himself in his interviews started giving statements such as i dont need to do acting or i dont act through which media who was complete anti salman that time got the opportunity to make such impression of Salman Khan and that is from when it became damn easy for all hushaters and critics to bash Salman Khan in terms of acting but if one has to see it in unbiased way then one will easily realise that Salman Khan is decent to good actor with great memorable performances in almost every genre of the film.Action(Dabangg,Wanted,Karan Arjun,veergati etc),comedy(Biwi no 1, AAA,Judwa,Partner and others),Romantic(HDDC,MPK,HAHK,Saajan and others) serious cinema (Phir milenge,Khamoshi).

    While someone like SRK who in his ENTIRE carrer is yet to give a successful film in full fledged Comedy and Action genre or who did 90% Romantic films in his whole carrer is considered Better actor :/ Certainly Overrated thanks to media.

  26. Jasp the Wasp

    @milind

    Is there a difference in method acting and Stanislavski system? I thought the former was derived from the latter? Yup, Stratsberg’s cultivation of method acting has become famous now; part of the reason why the Lee Stratsberg Theater was set up.

    @aryan

    LOL. This article talks just about acting. Nobody is accusing your idol of being a non-actor (though he certainly is one). He may have been under-rated in early 2000s (the period where I actually liked him) but now, nothing to speak of. Anyways, this will be my last comment in response to yours as I know your next statement is “I only state FACTS and TRUTH”, in exactness.

  27. Jasp the Wasp

    @aryan

    Btw, forst thing is that SRK has given quite a solid hit in action genre (Don 2), so your rant about over-rating fails right there. 90% romantic? Baazigar, CDI, Swades and there are several films which are not pure romantic (involve other elements like negative vibes, anti-heros etc.) Don’t blabber something just to push your idol up; you can never do that by pulling somebody else down. Oh sorry, I forgot I’m talking to aryan. He can only pull down other actors to push Salman up. Goes to show exactly how great Salman is :P.

  28. aryan29

    @Jasp the wasp you are a moron.First DON2 is NOT full fledged Action film.There is difference between what action film is and what Don2 is. So get that difference in your 17 year old mind before making such SENSELESS claims.Secondly i said 90% of the films in SRK’S entire carrer and the films you are mentioning are rest of the 10%. So If You have to really understand all this you have to USE your brain and then make comments which is not possible for you.

  29. I.One

    “@Jasp the wasp you are a moron” – Hmmm…. NG has become too lenient again? Sup, Rooney anybody can answer.

  30. Jasp the Wasp

    Note: Since nobody has pointed out aryan’s obvious attack, do not expect me to be lenient.

    @aryan

    Ha ha stop ranting and raving like a mad street dog. I forgot that your definition of a “full action film” is Dabangg. A film where there is 1/3 of romance, Munni etc. LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL. Forget it, roadside beggars will definitely not understand.

    17-yr old mind has better thinking capability that your 19-yr old brain, I must say. Its very possible for me to use my brains as I’m using it right now, so stop wailing like a puppy. 90% romantic films eh, then what has Salman done? Oh yeah, he’s an under-rated gem of a movie star, he’s God, he’s so handsome and sexy, he’s such a great actor, he underplays all his roles. Total bullshit; that’s what i said, its great to have fun reading these crap comments after a hard day’s work.

  31. aryan29

    Forget to add P.S in my last comment.

    That neither Don 2 is a clean HIT nor it is a Memorable performance of SRK for anything to be remembered about it in thw years to come.

  32. Jasp the Wasp

    @aryan

    Yeah yeah, Don 2 isn’t a clean hit the day Main Aur Mrs Khanna becomes a Blockbuster LOL.

  33. Talaash

    Sorry I m a moron that I read d above comments after gng through d wonderful article :-)

  34. aryan29

    @Jasp the wasp RE-Its very possible for me to use my
    brains as I’m using it right now

    BIG LOL :lol:

    So its clear and as expected Your brain capacity is not enough to understand the defination of full fledged action film and that Don 2 is NOT action film.

    No wonder you are making such statements as
    I forgot that your definition of a
    “full action film” is Dabangg. A film where
    there is 1/3 of romance, Munni etc.
    LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL. Forget it, roadside
    beggars will definitely not understand.

    And yes films like dabangg,Singham Force Agneepath are full fledged action films even if there is little romance or other songs are included in it and Don 2 cannot be said as full fledged action Film like dabangg or singham :D anyways as i said before its just not possible for you to understand as your brain is just not capable enough :D

    So continue with your SENSELESS COMMENTS and CLAIMS. :D

    Also its very clear with your such comments that how you are RANTING and RAVING like mad Street Dog Moron :lol:

  35. Jasp the Wasp

    Wow, now seriously this is amazingly funny. Singham, Force, Dabangg full-fledged action films? Carry on mad dog, carry on. Let’s see the next level of stupidity you are capable of.

  36. aryan29

    So according to jasp the wasp calling Singham, Force, Dabangg full-fledged
    action films is SERIOUSLY funny :D and STUPIDITY while he says DON 2 is an action film of SRK. :P

    Way to go jasp the wasp.Moron :lol:

  37. suprabh

    Aryan- You should check your language. Jasp the Wasp has been very consistent and considerate with his behavior lately while you have acted out very differently than usual. As always I say, Attack the article or the actors but not the members.

    Please keep this in mind– DO not attack the members else appropriate action will be taken.

  38. aryan29

    @suprabh Ok i will not call jasp the wasp Moron (will not ATTACK Jasp the wasp).

  39. Gox

    Hmm. Not bad. Good job Aryan and Jasp

  40. danish

    bilawal u r a moron.

    p.s. just checking how liberal ng has become while i was away.

  41. milind

    DISAGREE. I haven’t seen much of Brando so won’t compare. But AB is the king of subtle nuances. He doesn’t even need small inconsequential expressions – his eyes alone do all the emoting. Except for Agneepath and Black (two of his performances I did not like), pick any performance and see how he can convey a variety of emotions with a poker face – doing all the ‘acting’ with his eyes alone.

    My Reply: Bachchan can emote well,certainly yes!! He is a brilliant actor but the manifestation of the acting is limited to the expression of eyes or voice..I have certainly put Amitabh ahead of Brando in terms of voice.Ok let us forget Brando for a moment.

    Amitabh is an actor who tends to not understand the importance of a long face..he fails to utilise the whole horizon of his face and that is where the emphatic elevation in voice comes into play to compensate it.He can be a much better actor if he just could use his face way much than what he does.If you notice long faced actors like Pacino or Broody,they use much of their face to make a statement.Okay one can say Bachchan needs just eyes or voice but certainly he can or must use his face too.Facial Expression cannot be totally compensated by any other stuff.Moreover Bachcha never uses his surroundings. You can see even RajKumar using his keys or cigar in Waqt to add to his pensive moods but bachchan seldom does that.I have observed him do that in Sooryavansham when he plays with his towel around his neck to make his status as a servant perceptible though in reality he was not.Pacino in Scarface when sits on the chair moves around in a hemisphere and looks arrogantly around.Here the movement around the chair depicts his arrogance,you wont notice the changes on his face.So I was comparing such nuances..not necessarily acting prowess.Both are effective..but Brando or Pacino are much pleasant to eyes,not that Amitabh is not who is one of my favourites!

  42. Shalu

    Milind,

    Why does AB need to use more facial expression when less does the trick? And he does use them when needed (especially when he does comedy). That brings me to the point – can Brando or Pacino do as good comedy as him?

    AB not using his surroundings is not a strong argument I feel. His body language is one of the best I have ever seen. Too much emphasis is given on his voice (which is fantastic of course) but one can’t dismiss his immense acting talent by saying that his voice gives it the appeal.

    Just take the advertisements he appears in – as the peon who advises his boss to use Navratna tel or as a pandit advising the newly weds to use Boroline – one see two totally different people. Thats his greatness. When a man of AB’s stature manages to look believable as a ‘chaaploos’ peon….well….just put Brando or Pacino in his place and imagine if they would be able to pull it off.

  43. milind

    Pacino in comedy…watch his subtle expressions in a few scenes of Frankie and Johnny and Dick Tracy.You will understand what I meant by my above comment.It is not about the fact that if less is effective why do more.It is about the failure to do a bit more or might be the inability to do so especially when it can enhance your final presentation.Let us also compare similar roles of Bachchan and Pacino.Pacino in Scarface is a plethora of expressions….infact so accurate that he makes a point to speak in Cuban-American accent which later tends to metamorphose into American as he colours himself with American culture.The expressions also take a course from — a refugee returning home……afraid and ambitious… Resilient…overpowering..imposing…and finally again afraid.You can notice these changing plateaus on his face with distinct demarcations yet gelling beautifully.Bachchan in my opinion does not stand even on the periphery of such a display of acting.Put Bachchan in his own forte of angry young man,Pacino would stand ahead of him there too.

    Acting is about display of various emotions.When you depend on one way to express them all,you become restricted.Bachchan suffered from the same phenomenon.Rest Pacino also has gross limitations but that would require another post.Thanks.

  44. Shalu

    Milind, Maybe but comedy can be done in many ways – not only by subtle expressions. If Pacino has displayed on subtle comedy, then he can’t be compared to AB there as he has done all kinds of comedy – even slapstick.

    I feel really bad when AB’s is dismissed as the ‘angry young man’. He excelled in that role but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that he excelled in others too. The pathos that he depicted in films like Baghban or even Viruddh is not small deal.

    If Pacino displayed a variety of expressions in that film, then in Virudh AB too went from being a mild, henpecked husband to a father crushed by his son’s death to a resolute man fighting for justice to a disillusion and angry man who shoots down his son’s murderer.

    Any comparison between AB body of work and Brando/Pacino – and AB will always come out tops (for me at least).

  45. milind

    Shalu
    Before we go further can you tell of one inspiring role by Bachchan.

  46. Shalu

    Milind, Not sure what you mean by inspiring. Viruddh can be inspiring, so can be Deewar (intense) or Amar Akbar Anthony (perfect tapori with comic touch), or Anand (silent and brooding), or Chupke Chupke (goofy), or Paa (kiddish), or even Ankhen (maniac villain but understated too).

  47. milind

    This is it..when you talk about inspiring roles,you have to present five six roles that can fit the bill.When you talk about Pacino and inspiring,you can be very sure of names without even asking what does the other person mean by inspiring!

    If Pacino has displayed on subtle comedy, then he can’t be compared to AB there as he has done all kinds of comedy – even slapstick

    Slapstick Comedy is a normal norm in India.Even Suniel Shetty might have done it..Ashish Vidyarthi also does it. I was talking about various expressions on the face of an actor–Pacino has varied expressions of various degree that are so beautifully carved that you can easily understand the ongoing act/scene without a hint of the story.I started watching Scent of a Woman from between the length of it and trust me I relished it inspite of having no idea of the story plainly due to Pacino’s acting and the command over expressions.I was relishing his dialogues,his mode of speech,his multiple waves of expression-full face.Bachchan is no doubt a fantastic actor,a par excellence actor but when compared to Pacino[although comparison must not be done] he stands at quite a distance behind.Let me elucidate this with another example. When Pacino shouts in “And Justice for all” the shout is not screechy or a show of anger..it symbolises resilence..an emphatic belief. When Bachchan shouts in many of his films,sans a few,it seems he is angry.Anger is evident but not the layers of anger.Pacino is certainly angry in AJFA but the layers of resilience,confidence and the will to fight back also can be easily seen.

    Thats the difference!

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