Songs and silences

Nov 04, 2018, 07:58 IST | Rahul da Cunha

That A Star Is Born is Bradley Cooper's debut film as director is quite unbelievable

Songs and silences
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Rahul Da CunhaShallow, Shallow, I'm falling.
In all the good times, I find myself longing for change,
And in the bad times, I fear myself.

Shallow — A Star is Born soundtrack

Yeah okay, so I'll confess, I was once jealous of Bradley Cooper. But things have changed post seeing A Star Is Born. I'm now deeply, deeply jealous of him.

Around the American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook phase, it was easy to place him in the Brad Pitt category — blue-eyed hunk/women do back-flips at the mention of his name/he's obviously much more than just good looks/picks roles that exhibit his versatility. But then he went a small step ahead of Pitt and George Clooney, in my book, with The Hangover 1, 2 and 3 sequels and 'A team' stints. He showed that he could work in broad comedy (even though finally The Hangover franchise, became cult successes).

And then, A Star Is Born happened. I have always been sceptical of remakes. Even 're-dos' or 'based-ons' are a lottery. On the one hand, Mad Max Fury Road took the 'landscape' forward, but Blade Runner 2049, was long and lazy compared to the taut Ridley Scott original. In the case of this one, the Kristofferson-Streisand original was epic.

But Herr Cooper has taken the basic story, and imbued it with a total 2018 feel, Grammy and all, so you don't even remember the 1974 version. It has fresh songs and fragile silences. The screenplay is filled with subtext, as characters struggle with themselves, often unable to communicate what they feel with dialogue. Song provides the answer:

I'm off the deep end, watch as I dive in,
I'll never meet the ground,
Crash through the surface, where they can't hurt us,
We're far from the shallow now.

That A Star Is Born is Cooper's debut film as director is quite unbelievable, considering that he's also acting. This isn't an actor giving direction a shot, but Hollywood's hottest dude, learning how to sing and play guitar for 18 months before shooting began. Plus, he co-wrote 19-odd songs — and pulled off the casting coup of the year, Lady Gaga as the female lead. It's possible that songwriting has become an obsession with me, because I've just co-written a musical.

Lovers in the night,
Poets trying to write,
We don't know how to rhyme,
But, damn, we try,
But all I really know,
You're where I wanna go,
The part of me that's you will
never die.

A Star is Born stays with you for a long time, because everything is a slow burn — the characters are tragic, often tormented. These are back foot emotions, everything is unhurried. Characters use lyrics as weapons:

Don't ask too many questions,
You don't want answers too.
You don't like my direction,
Hey I won't follow you,
I don't lie,
Without an alibi.

Truly with this classic film, a star is reborn.

Rahul daCunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at

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