Samurai cinema, also called “chanbara” or “chambara”, is the Japanese equivalent of the Western genre and it mostly deals with epic period dramas and swashbuckler films generally set during the Edo period or Tokugawa era (1600–1868 AD). Now, it was the Japanese master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa who first introduced the genre to the western audiences through a series of swashbuckling movies such as Seven Samurai (1954), The Hidden Fortress (1958), Yojimbo (1961), and Sanjuro (1962). Kurosawa’s samurai movies usually celebrated and glamorized the samurai tradition (pride, honor, and sacrifice as laid down by the code of Bushido) which basically made the samurai look cool. But there’s a flip side to every coin. Another master Japanese filmmaker Masaki Kobayashi presented a darker, grimmer, and perhaps a more realistic picture. His chanbara masterworks Harakiri (1962) and Samurai Rebellion (1967) are perhaps the earliest examples of realistic portrayal of samurai’s life in feudal Japan. Later on, however, Kurosawa did correct his course by making two of his finest masterworks—Kagemusha (1980) and Ran (1985). Both these films are evidently much closer to Kobayashi’s bleaker interpretation.
For most of the world, these films are an entry point to what it meant to be a samurai and there is hardly anything known beyond the scope of these films as well as others subsequently made by filmmakers like Yôji Yamada, Takashi Miike, and Takeshi Kitano. But what if someone wants to get into the intricacies beyond the scope of these films? What it really meant to be a samurai? What did it take to become one? Where did they come from? Well, if you too are looking for answers then you needn’t look any further than the six-part documentary series by Netflix titled “Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan”. Relying on graphic re-enactments, voiceover narration, and interviews of historians, the series tells the story of the bloodiest period in Japanese history when the country was facing a civil war with several powerful daimyo (warlords) vying for supremacy during the final phase of the Sengoku period in feudal Japan from 1551 to 1616.
Some of the key historical figures that the series brings to life include the unpredictable and bloodthirsty Oda Nobunaga who becomes head of the Oda clan upon the death of his father Oda Nobuhide in 1551. Nobunaga launches a war against other daimyo with the aim of unifying Japan. Ruling with an iron fist and showing zero tolerance for those who dared defy his authority, Nobunaga ingeniously devises an uninterrupted infantry fire (called the volley fire) by shooting arquebuses (an early type of portable gun) in rotating ranks. The ploy proves to be decisive for Nobunaga at the Battle of Nagashino (the battle and the resulting carnage forms the chilling climax of Kurosawa’s Kagemusha) in 1575 where his men decimate the formidable army of Takeda Katsuyori (the son of Japan’s pre-eminent daimyo Takeda Shingen, portrayed by the legendary Tatsuya Nakadai in Kagemusha). But, at the height of his glory, Nobunaga is eliminated by his own samurai general Akechi Mitsuhide in 1582. Mitsuhide in turn is killed by Nobunaga’s loyal retainer Toyotomi Hideyoshi at the Battle of Yamazaki, only a couple of weeks later.
Age of Samurai then follows Hideyoshi’s quest for supremacy. A peasant with no traceable samurai lineage, Hideyoshi had risen in stature under Nobunaga who unlike other warlords put merit about lineage. After Nobunaga’s death, Hideyoshi kills Mitsuhide and goes on to fulfill Nobunaga’s dream of unifying Japan. But soon he is consumed by power and in the year 1592 he sends his forces to invade Korea with the ultimate aim of conquering China. But after tasting some early success, his forces are unable to overcome the local Korean resistance and the invasion ultimately proves to be a suicidal mission. Unable to come to terms with the reality, Hideyoshi grows more and more delirious, refusing to call his troops back. When he breathes his last in 1598, his council finally withdraws the forces from Korea.
Hideyoshi’s death provides an easy passage to power to the cunning and calculative Tokugawa Ieyasu who has been waiting in the ranks for his turn to finally claim the throne for himself. After the decisive Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Ieyasu slowly begins to destroy all the opposing factions. In 1603, Ieyasu is conferred with the title of shogun, having outlived all the other great warlords of his times. The Sengoku period ends when Toyotomi loyalists get defeated at the siege of Osaka in 1615. The Tokugawa shogunate would rule Japan for the next 250 years until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.
Age of Samurai has been criticized for leaving out some important events as well as for its several other minor inconsistencies such as inaccurate depiction of samurai hairstyles, armor, etc. Also, unlike some of the other documentary series relying on re-enactments, Age of Samurai provides little dialog to the actors portraying the various warlords and relies mostly on the voiceover and the interviews which somewhere distances us from these characters. However, despite the shortcomings, it serves as a veritable primer on the most turbulent period in Japanese history.
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‘THE CROWN’ TAKES THE THRONE AT EMMYS 2021
LOS ANGELES: Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ won big at the Emmys 2021. This show which follows Queen Elizabeth’s life throughout the decades of her reign was declared winner of the Outstanding Drama Series award at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards. It also bagged awards for best actors (drama) and best actors in supporting roles. The show also took home the best writing and directing award.
On such a remarkable win, the team of Netflix took to the streaming giant’s official Twitter handle to congratulate the members of the show. “Congratulations to the cast and crew of The Crown for their 11 Emmy wins — including Best Drama Series, Best Actress for Olivia Colman, and Best Actor for Josh O’Connor https,” the tweet read. Apart from ‘The Crown’, ‘Ted Lasso’ also registered a golden win at Emmys 2021. It racked up four wins, including for best comedy and star Jason Sudeikis. Emmys moved to an indoor-outdoor venue this year due to the pandemic. It was held on Sunday at the Event Deck at LA Live.
SHAH RUKH BIDS ADIEU TO LORD GANESH
NEW DELHI: Superstar Shah Rukh Khan, on Sunday night, bid adieu to Lord Ganesh, with a pray to seeing him again next year. Khan took to his Instagram handle and shared a picture of Lord Ganesha’s idol at home. Sharing the picture, the Padma Shri winning actor wrote, “May Lord Ganesha’s blessings remain with all of us until we see him again next year… Ganpati Bappa Morya!!!”
The picture accumulated love from more than one lakh fans within a few minutes of being shared. For the unversed, in 2018, SRK was trolled for making his youngest son AbRam Khan pray to Lord Ganesha during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. At that time, the superstar posted a picture on his Instagram handle which saw AbRam praying to Lord Ganesha at home. Sharing the picture at that time, SRK wrote, “Our Ganpati ‘Pappa’ is home, as the lil one calls him”.
Currently, SRK, who was last seen in Aanand L Rai’s ‘Zero’, has been shooting for ‘Pathan’ which co-stars Deepika Padukone and apparently, John Abraham too.
SONU BREAKS SILENCE ON IT RAID CONTROVERSY
MUMBAI: After tax raids took place at his offices in Mumbai a few days ago, actor Sonu Sood has now finally reacted to the ongoing controversy.
Sonu has been providing assistance to those in need amid the ongoing pandemic through his charitable trust. On Monday, he posted a statement on his social media handles. “You don’t always have to tell your side of the story. Time will. I have pledged myself to the service of the people of India with all my strength and heart. Every rupee in my foundation is awaiting its turn to save a precious life and reach the needy,” the post read.
He also shared that on many occasions, he has “encouraged brands to donate my endorsement fees for humanitarian causes too, which keeps us going.”
“I have been busy attending to a few guests hence was unable to be at your service, for the last 4 days. Here I am back again in all humility. At your humble service, for life,” the statement concluded.
According to Income Tax Department, Sonu and his associates were involved in Rs 20 crore tax evasion and violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) while raising funds from abroad.
TAAPSEE’S ‘RASHMI ROCKET’ TO RELEASE THIS DUSSEHRA
MUMBAI: The makers of the much-awaited Taapsee Pannu-starrer ‘Rashmi Rocket’ have finally announced that the film will be released on October 15 on the OTT platform ZEE5.
On Monday, Taapsee shared the poster of the film along with the release date. The poster gives viewers a quick glimpse of the adrenaline-packed narrative, while Taapsee looks full of grit and determination. Along with it, she penned the caption, “Ye chunautiyon bhari race shuru ho chuki hai aur ab ravan dahan pe hi aake rukegi. Bahot kuch nasht karna hai Rashmi ko iss saal.” “Get ready to run with Rashmi in this race on and off the track. She will need you in this one. #RashmiRocket ready to take off on 15th October 2021 only on @zee5,” Taapsee added.
Following the story of a young girl, who hails from a small village but is blessed with an incredibly large gift, ‘Rashmi Rocket’ is directed by Akarsh Khurana. What seems like an athletic contest turns into her personal battle for respect, honour, and even her very identity.
SALMAN, KATRINA HEAD TO AUSTRIA TO SHOOT FOR ‘TIGER 3’
MUMBAI: After Turkey and Russia, Bollywood stars Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif have headed to Austria on Monday to shoot for the international leg of their upcoming movie ‘Tiger 3’.
Salman and Katrina will perform some spectacular action sequences in places like Upper Austria, Salzkammergut, Dachstein Salzkammergut and finally in Vienna. Katrina also shared a video and a picture on her Instagram Story in which she can be seen travelling in Altaussee in Austria, with members of her crew. “Travelling in style with these cuties,” she wrote.
A source from Austria revealed, “’Tiger 3’ will present Austria like never before and Yash Raj Films’ is ensuring that they present the country in the most spectacular way possible. Salman and Katrina will shoot in some never-seen-before locales in the country. They are currently shooting in the areas like Upper Austria, Salzkammergut, Dachstein Salzkammergut where they are filming some intense action sequences for the film.”
Sharing about director Maneesh Sharma’s “grand vision”, the source added, “Maneesh Sharma has a grand vision for ‘Tiger 3’ and Austria presents a perfect backdrop to Tiger and Zoya’s journey and mission in the film. The country is vital to the plot and the screenplay of the film and Maneesh is going all out to shoot some of the most spectacular sequences of the film in Austria.”
FANS IN AWE OF TAAPSEE’S PHYSICAL TRANSFORMATION
MUMBAI: Actress Taapsee Pannu strives to give her best in everything she does and proof of the fact is her recent Instagram post.
On Sunday, Taapsee on her Instagram shared a picture in which she is seen standing in a field with her well-toned back muscles visible in the photograph. “Bhaut sar pe chada rakha hai ise, kisi ki nhi sunti par khud ki sunti hai ….bahut badi baat hai.#TheCalmBeforeTheStorm,” she captioned the post.
The throwback picture appears to be taken during her training session for the upcoming film ‘Rashmi Rocket’, which revolves around the life of an athlete from Gujarat. Netizens have heaped praises on Taapsee for her “amazing” physical transformation for the role. “Mind-blowing transformation,” a fan commented. “Meri sun, body banwa de yaar,” actor and Taapsee’s close friend Abhilash Thapliyal quipped.
Directed by Akarsh Khurana, ‘Rashmi Rocket’ is expected to release on OTT soon.
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