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Tale poetically captured

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Memoirs of a Geisha.
Memoirs of a Geisha.

Memoirs of a Geisha
Cast: Ziyi Zyang, Michelle
Yeoh, Ken Watanabe, Li Gong
Genre: Drama
Director: Rob Marshall
Storyline: A girl sold to a geisha house becomes a slave and rises to become the most celebrated geisha.
Bottomline: Umrao Jaan, Japanese Flavour, Hollywood PackagingThe basics first: What or who is geisha? ``Geisha are not courtesans. And we are not wives. We sell our skills, not our bodies. We create another secret world, a place only of beauty. The very word `geisha' means artist and to be a geisha is to be judged as a moving work of art," as Mameha (Michelle Yeoh) tells little Chiyo (Suzuka Ohgo) who grows up to be one of the most celebrated giesha.Despite the most glaring account of Chinese (Ziyi Zyang, Li Gong) and Malaysian (Michelle Yeoh) playing Japanese, giesha speaking English, this Hollywood movie in Asian clothing, directed by Rob Marshall, is certainly among the most fascinating tales retold (considering that it is based on Arthur Golden's novel), and romanticised, all for the sake of cinema.The world of make-believe remains larger than life right from the picture perfect frames in the beginning to the fairy-tale treatment of clear-cut good and evil characters to the epic-scale voiceover that holds the movie together, right from the dramatic first lines: ``A story like mine should never be told. For my world is as forbidden as it is fragile." While the well-researched book has won acclaim for doing justice to Japanese culture with its detailing and credible insights, the intention here seems to bring out the poetry in the tale with the geisha culture just lending itself suitably to remind you of things actresses do in showbiz, behind that mask of make-up and red lipstick.So Rob Marshall's ``Memoirs of a Geisha" uses the novel as just a reference sketch to produce a beautiful painting on a credible looking canvas, sacrificing detail for profundity and soul for technical brilliance.While little Suzuka Ohgo and later, Ziyi Zyang, deliver the protagonist (Chiyo who becomes Sayuri) with effective consistency, Michelle Yeoh lends charm to the mentor Mameha. But it is the pretty Li Gong who clearly upstages the others with her wickedly delightful cameo as Sayuri's arch-rival, Hatsumomo. Ken Watanabe as the Chairman has an even smaller role that you wonder why it's Li Gong who's been singled out as ``special appearance." Overall, the movie appeals to an Indian audience more because of the inherent Asian sentimentality in the plot than the Westerner's depiction of Japanese culture.SUDHISH KAMATH


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