"This Is It", a quick fix of nostalgia for Michael Jackson fans hits the screens tomorrow. Mini Anthikad Chhibber on the making of the film

Michael Jackson was a Pop cultural phenomenon who strode the dance floor like a colossus. He was the essence of the Eighties who gave a new meaning to the word showman. All the later strangeness, the multiple plastic surgeries, the collapsing nose, changing skin colour, the child molestation cases and the bankruptcy, could not take away from the sheer performing brilliance of the man who made music and electric dance moves segue together to take the audience breath away.

While Pink Floyd’s stage shows are supposed to be the last word in psychotropic tripping, Jackson on stage had the energy of a gazillion whirling dervishes. Watching him do the moonwalk to ‘Billie Jean’, lead the nimble zombies in the iconic mini-movie ‘Thriller’ or trip the light fantastic to Eddie Van Halen’s screeching riffs in ‘Beat It’ is guaranteed to bring out goose bumps every single time.

While there was no way he could top 1982’s ‘Thriller’, from the mid-Nineties on, Jackson was more in the news for his eccentric lifestyle than his music. So die-hard fans were thrilled to bits when this March, Jackson announced his “final curtain call”, a series of comeback concerts in London’s O2 arena, called ‘This is it’. The response caused the original 10-date concert tour to be increased to a 50-date one.

Just three weeks before the concerts were to begin on July 13 this year, Jackson died of cardiac arrest on June 25 at the age of 50. The world was engulfed in a tidal wave of grief fuelled by wall-to-wall media coverage. All of us dusted off our Michael Jackson albums and swapped stories of how we first saw the moonwalk back in the days of black and white telly on DD’s Friday night western music special, ‘Hot Tracks’.

Behind-the-scenes

And just when you thought it was safe to mourn other things such as Amitabh Bachchan in the weird and wonderful guise of pop philosopher in the strangely titled ‘Bigg Boss’ came the news of “This is it”, a concert movie created from over 100 hours of behind-the-scenes footage of Jackson rehearsing for the show.

Released by Sony Pictures Entertainment, “This is it” will be released on October 28 worldwide for a limited two-week engagement. Directed by Jackson’s long-time collaborator Kenny Ortega, the film is produced by Randy Phillips, Ortega and Paul Gongaware.

Ortega, who also collaborated with Jackson on his ‘Dangerous’ and ‘History’ tours, apart from directing Miley Cyrus in ‘Best of Both Worlds Tour’ and has been quoted as saying the film is a “kind of musical mosaic. It is sort of like you get a backstage pass or a private sort of peek into the world of a great genius and watch him through his last creative process interacting with musicians, dancers, and singers, filmmakers, costume designers, production designers, interacting with all of us.” Travis Payne who has had stars including Madonna and Britney Spears and Jackson dance to his tunes has choreographed “This Is It”.

While the makers insist that the movie is way of shutting up all who said Jackson was too frail and too out of it to do the demanding tour, cynics would see the film as one more opportunity to make money of a memory.

Fans would anyway watch the film for a quick fix of nostalgia. For fans in India, where Jackson’s contribution to mainstream cinema cannot be dismissed, the film would be a chance to watch the original, the baap of Mithun Chakraborty and Prabhudeva, set the screen on fire with his killer moves.