Creating hissstory

Creating hissstory
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First Published: Fri, Feb 27 2009. 08 55 PM IST

Deadly duo: John Travolta (left) and Samuel Jackson in Pulp Fiction. AFP
Deadly duo: John Travolta (left) and Samuel Jackson in Pulp Fiction. AFP
Updated: Fri, Feb 27 2009. 08 55 PM IST
What could Mallika Sherawat possibly have to do with one of the most controversial cult movie directors in the world?
There was a time when the classy folks pointed their fingers at Mallika Sherawat and wondered what Bollywood was coming to. This was just after Murder, inexplicably, became a huge hit and no one could figure out why (I’ve seen it seven times trying to understand this myself). Subsequently, of course, Rakhi Sawant became an even bigger superstar and Sherawat began to look like a spinster convent school librarian in comparison.
But that Sherawat girl is capable of surprising. Even though her spectacular international role in Jackie Chan’s The Myth lived up to the movie’s name, she did win many hearts in Pyaar Ke Side Effects and proved to be the only bona fide actor on the rolls of Himesh Reshammiya’s Cap Ka Suroor.
Deadly duo: John Travolta (left) and Samuel Jackson in Pulp Fiction. AFP
However there is reason to be alarmed about her forthcoming spectacular international movie release. The film, known as both Nagin: The Snake Woman and Hisss, is the third film project in 16 years for director Jennifer Chambers Lynch (by the way, Lynch is the daughter of David Lynch, of Mulholland Drive fame).
If the multiple S in the name of the movie were not alarming enough, media reports have quoted crew members describing the movie as a supernatural horror special effects musical. And we’ve already seen promotional images of Sherawat decked up as a sinister-looking woman-snake.
But what interests us today is the man in charge of the movie’s make-up effects: Hollywood veteran Robert Kurtzman.
Kurtzman is one of the most widely used specials, make-up effects and animatronics designers in the business. In a career of 23 years, Kurtzman has worked on several blockbusters, including Predator, Dances With Wolves (where he is credited as Buffalo Effects Supervisor), Vanilla Sky, Bad Boys II and the classic Ed And His Dead Mother.
But there is more to Kurtzman than just a gift for conjuring up weird-looking creatures in gory make-up. In addition to his usual beat, Kurtzman has also dabbled in direction, writing, acting, cinematography, even stunts.
One of Kurtzman’s first such excursions was in 1990 when he wrote a six-page story idea, which he then wanted to expand into a script. He gave the assignment to a young moviemaker and scriptwriter who he paid in cash—$1,500—and kind. Kurtzman promised to do make-up for two of the young man’s forthcoming movie projects. It was the young man’s first paid writing job.
It took six years for that script to be finally converted into a movie.
In 1996, From Dusk Till Dawn launched to mixed reviews and starred George Clooney (in his first major Hollywood role), Harvey Keitel and Salma Hayek as, what else, a vampire queen named Santanico Pandemonium who dances erotically with a python in a memorable scene. Also acting in the movie as Clooney’s brother was the scriptwriter, Quentin Tarantino.
Kurtzman lived up to his promise and oversaw make-up for Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. And he will now transform Sherawat into a woman-snake. Let’s hope and pray that Hayek will dance suggestively with this one, too.
Write to Sidin at whatareyousaying@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Feb 27 2009. 08 55 PM IST