Category Archives: Learning from the experts

#3 Always a bridesmaid never a bride

Leonardo DiCaprio has been all over social media for NOT winning an Oscar, probably more that Matthew McConaughey. I am surprised how people think that Leo is the only mainstream actor who has yet to receive an Academy Award. So here we go with a few of my favourites who have not received an Oscar in the Best Actor category.

1. Gary Oldman

Known for his versatility, Gary Oldman is described as “a very strong candidate for the world’s best living actor” by Academy Award winner Colin Firth. Oldman was nominated for his performance in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) and lost to Jean Dujardin for The Artist. And this is his only Oscar nomination in his career. You can check out this list which puts it in detail why Oldman deserves an Oscar.

2. Jim Carrey

Speaking of being nominated, Carrey has never even got that far. After being praised for going beyond his comfort zone for The Truman Show and overshadowing his co-star in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mindit is extremely disappointing not to get noticed by the Academy.

3. Johnny Depp

Depp has been in the limelight for accepting challenging roles and pulling them off with ease. With the kind of performances under his belt, Johnny Depp has been nominated thrice in the Best Actor category, always leading to disappointment. However, an Oscar isn’t the only recognition one seeks is it? Depp, in 2003 and 2009. He has been listed in the 2012 Guinness World Records as the highest paid actor, with $75 million.

4. Sir Ian McKellen

He is Gandalf, he is Magneto but all those powers are not good enough to pull an Academy award towards him. Nevertheless he has received six Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BIF Award, two Saturn Awards, four Drama Desk Awards and two Critics’ Choice Awards.

5. Orson Welles

At the age of 23, he shook the world with the radio adaptation of H. G. Wells‘ novel The War of the Worlds. When he was 25, he made the film, which is considered as one of the best films ever made. He wrote it and acted in it. He shared an Oscar for the Best Original Screenplay with Herman J. Mankiewicz. Orson Welles gained national and international fame and recognition in mostly every possible media of that era. In 1970, Welles was given an Academy Honorary Award for “superlative and distinguished service in the making of motion pictures.”Rather than attending the ceremony he exclaimed: “I didn’t go because I feel like a damn fool at those things. I feel foolish, really foolish. … I made piece of film and said that I was in Spain, and thanked them.”


An Oscar is probably the most coveted method of acknowledging one’s contribution to Cinema. And in these 86 years we cannot even imagine how many legends have been deprived of it. But the most important part is, regardless of this recognition, they’ve measured success in different terms. Success and failure depends on our choice. There isn’t only one definition of success. It is highly subjective. And this is what I take back from it.


#2 Learning from the experts – Antihero at his best

Alright, so let’s get this straight. You have Al Pacino on one end, and De Niro on the other and you have to choose sides. Damn, that’s a tough call!

I had read a lot about the film Heat (1995) on various online forums. Usually when I anticipate too much from a movie, or anything for that matter, it disappoints me. Frankly speaking, I wasn’t even close to disappointment in this one. From a completely subjective point of view, I can say that Heat is a blend of intriguing script and brilliant performances, both on-screen and behind the cameras.

Imagine how complicated it is to make your audience cheer for your anti-hero with all his idiosyncrasies and imperfections. The following are few of my personal notes on how to make your audiences empathize with your bad guy:

Note:  Most of the references are from popular/ comic based films for better understanding

  1. Everything has a reason: I don’t know if every other successful anti-hero follows this principle, but most of them do. Let them follow their path, commit sins en route. But back it up with such an amazing credible reason that it momentarily overshadows all their vices. Nothing happens in a vacuum, everything has a reason! (Magneto, the X-Men franchise)
  2. Circumstances: Not all of us believe that we are the sole creators of our destiny. Circumstances put is in some situations where we have to do what we seem right then, even though it is the easy way out. (Sandman, Spiderman 3)
  3. It is almost funny: In recent years we’ve seen so many films with characters so self occupied after a point, it is hilarious. You expect your multi-layered characters to do certain things, otherwise unacceptable in the society. And you admire them for that! (Jack Sparrow, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise)
  4. Brute force: Don’t you love a good action film with your bad guy so strong that you would never want him to get defeated? Syd Field says that your film is as powerful as your antagonist. And how true is that? (Bane, The Dark Knight Rises)
  5. Taking it to another level: Some villains are simply masterminds. Making the world dance to their tunes by remote control. Puppeteers! Their purpose is not to get any material benefit. No, no, no. They have higher agendas in their minds. They are simply ‘agents of chaos’. (Joker, The Dark Knight)
  6. Change: On a very positive note, everybody has the potential to change. All of us have made mistakes. We are weary of the turbulence by the things we are not proud of. And all of us have the potential to change. (Doctor Octopus, Spiderman 2)

#1 Learning from the experts – Abhinay Deo

The following are a few points that I noted during a discussion with Abhinay Deo, the Director of Game, Delhi Belly, 24 (TV Series, Indian adaptation) and many advertisements.

  • The film Delhi Belly is written by Akshat Verma. His Wikipedia page is non existent. And that explains how underrated the makers of the film are. People will love and remember his jokes, but not his name
  • It took Akshat nine years to be confident enough with his script to approach production houses
  • Abhinay, the director was introduced to the film after the 15th draft, and so was the rest of the crew
  • What was his (Abhinay’s) contribution to the film, if he was introduced after the 15th draft? – The film was completely a Hollywood film with the bad guy wearing a cowboy hat. Now if you spot someone wearing one in Delhi, he is most likely to get shot in the head (which the bad guy actually does in the film anyway). So coming to the point, the film had to be Indian-ised. Adding elements to the film which would make it more realistic. There are scenes where one of the characters has an unhygienic item off the streets which causes Delhi Belly (upset stomach)
  • All the disgusting fart sounds were made by mouth and by the director himself!
  • As the editor is introduced at a much later stage, what is his role in a film? Does he contribute to the story? – It is said that the film is first made on the writing table and on the edit table. Of course each and every individual involved in the film, contributes something, consciously or unconsciously towards the film. However, storytelling is above all
  • The editing of the film took about 1 1/2 years
  • You need to invest time in what you want to do
  • Television or Film? – Both actually because whether it is advertising, TV or films, everything comes under the bigger term filmmaking. As long as I am a filmmaker, anything would do. If I have to choose, I prefer films over television
  • We knew that 24 will not appeal to everyone. And it didn’t. Certain parts of India did not accept the modern method and different genre in television. But our objective was never to reach “everyone” but the young generation. My mother likes the saas-bahu serials and I can never tolerate them. But that is a matter of personal likes and dislikes
  • It was important to make 24, because it will only encourage others to step out of the regular mundane subjects shown on television. If we have more TV serials like 24 in the future, made by anyone, doesn’t matter, then that will be our success