Thursday, February 22, 2007

That Four Letter Word : Y-A-W-N

That four letter word

I wanted to like Sudhish Kamath's new film. I really did. I wanted it to be hip, intelligent, and interesting.

Sadly, it isn't any of those things.

I'll begin with the good stuff. The fact that Kamath has completed the film on a VERY tight budget, and it ended up looking as decent as it does is to be commended. By leveraging his popularity as a journalist to draw attention to TFLW, he's done independent Chennai filmmakers a service by opening up possibilities for their films as well. It takes determination, courage and a great deal of patience to be a pioneer, and, in a sense, this film makes Kamath one.

That's why it's unfortunate that the film itself fails so badly.

That Four Letter Word begins with what is essentially a decent enough ( if hardly imaginative ) premise, and quickly descends into tedium. The story meanders along. The acting is sometimes passable, sometimes atrocious. The screenplay fails to grip. And the less said about the dialogue (in particular, the try-so-hard humour) , the better.

Very ordinary characters sleepwalk through very ordinary situations spouting bad lines and looking rather disinterested most of the time. Only Cary Edwards shows any signs of enthusiasm - and actually manages to be likeable the few times that the contrived dialogues allow him to be.

The music and visuals actually strive manfully to liven up proceedings, but in the absence of any other good stuff - story, dialogues, acting - to support them , they simply cannot salvage enough to make TFLW even moderately fun.

The upshot is this - there's nothing in this film that makes you even remotely want to continue watching it. Other than the vain hope that it can only get better (it doesn't).

In failing to make a film that is worthy of taking the opportunities he has created with his smart marketing, Sudhish Kamath lets himself down. This could have been the film to provide a much needed fillip to independent Chennai filmmakers, but instead it ends up as forgettable and simply boring cinema.

At a recent press screening at Sathyam Cinemas, Sudhish rather charmingly said to the audience : "You can tell us it sucks."

Sorry, mate, but here goes : "Sudhish, it sucks."

Seven Questions for Sumit Mehra

The 'Seven Questions For' series is intended to bring readers closer to some of the more interesting people in the Indian gaming industry, and pick their brains on issue serious and frivolous. And who better to start off the show with than Sumit Mehra, the ever popular, smiling face behind the award-winning UNO. One of the most experienced and knowledgeable veterans in Indian gaming, you can learn more about Sumit at his blog. Oh, well. Here goes -

1. You've been a game developer in India even before the industry really took off. In your opinion, what have been the key moments or turning points that the Indian gaming industry can look to as milestones today?

In no particular order:

  • India Games getting the Spider-man deal.
  • Dhruva features in Tom Friedman's new book, "The World is Flat"
  • IGDA forum realizing and accepting 4 separate Indian chapters
  • Jamdat and Gameloft opening studios in India
  • Reliance getting games to mainstream with Zapak.
  • Microsoft’s official Xbxo360 India release
  • Nasscom starting an Animation and Gaming Conference.

2. There seems to be a lot of focus on the domestic casual gaming (mobile
and online) market? What kind of original Indian content do you see doing
well here?

In short term I can foresee lot of Television and Bollywood content being
super popular; I don’t see this changing for mobile games but online games
would be a tougher nut to crack - without game play it would be very hard
to sell games online.

Bollywood and regional movie industries (Tollywood) will always motivate
game developers to build movie-based content. I won’t be surprised to see some
Indian comic content and some epic stories tuning up into interesting
online games.

3. Online downloadable vs. mobile?

Looking at the current state of Indian Game Industry I would say mobile
games but in the current global state – both have their own space and are
doing equally well.

Though I see mobile game developers having tougher times ahead; they would
need to build high quality game content and more complex game mechanics
for high end phones and at the same time they would need to make these
games run on the low end phones. No surprises if they would actually end
up making two different versions for the same game.

But I am putting my money on CAS, DHT and/or IPTV for providing play

4. How do you get an Indian housewife to play games?

Easily accessible multiplayer social games might be the key. We would need
to re-think the idea of what video games are. Jump, shoot and dodge is
not happening at all.

The problem is when we talk about India we talk about a mammoth
population, my gut feeling says no matter how much I hate the family
drama serials on Star, Sony and Zee, they are successful for a reason.
Maybe this is what Indian housewives want; I won’t be surprised if we can
have game with similar content - but I am sure that the game needs a very
simple mechanic, nothing more than pressing a button and making a choice.

I really like the Women in Games Development Special Interest group. I
strongly believe that we need some women game designers to actually design
games for women.

5. One unforgettable gaming moment ?

8 vs. 8 players capture the flag; Unreal Tournament; Face level. The game
lasted almost 5 hours. With 4 snipers on each side and 4 assault warrior
running all over to capture the flags. I have never ever had more fun
playing any game in my life. (the other 15 players were game developers
and my colleagues and many learned the meaning of game play that day)

6. Worst game design idea ever?

In my opinion game design ideas are never bad; it is the hopeless
implementation that makes them useless.

Worst implementations according to me

Mobile: Day after tomorrow
PC (Rom based): Knight Rider
Console: Shrek

7. Your dream game that hasn't been made yet (what you'd like to play)?

The name of the game is “Chef Rastogi and the food stealing aliens”,
someday I plan to make this, not sure when :)

Understanding the XBOX 360 in India.

by Anand Ramachandran

There’s been quite a bit of interest regarding the sales of Microsoft’s XBOX 360 in India – much interesting talk of sales figures, price points and strategies. But to put these things in perspective, I believe there’s a need to understand some ground realities about India as a potential market for next-gen consoles.

Read the full article at