4 December 2017

The Final Curtain

18.03.1938 –  04.12.2017
This was not the post I intended to write. Actually, I had no intention of posting anything at all. With a spotty internet connection, and a very crowded itinerary, the blog was going to be neglected for a fortnight anyway. However, I couldn't let this occasion pass without acknowledgement. Five years ago, I wrote an article on Shashi Kapoor saying I didn’t want to ‘remember’ him after he died; I would much rather commemorate his life. And I did. But now, another era has ended with the demise of yet another much-loved actor of the golden age. Perhaps I will review one of his films later, but for now, a quick but sincerely meant tribute.

27 November 2017

My Favourites: 'Carpe Diem' Songs

My husband’s aunt, R – his mother’s cousin – is one of my favourite people in all the world. She’s always cheerful, and despite having been dealt quite a raw hand by life, is one of the most positive people it’s been my good fortune to meet. When I’m feeling low, a quick phone call to her to hear her carol ‘I’m fine, molu (child) wipes the doldrums away and never fails to put a smile on my face. It doesn’t matter what she’s going through – I have never heard her say anything other than ‘I’m fine, molu!’ in response to ‘How are you?’, as opposed to certain people who, if asked ‘How are you?’ never failed to give me chapter and verse of doom and gloom for the next hour or so. She’s one person whom I happily visit on every trip to India, not out of duty, but because I genuinely respect her attitude and love her company.

A couple of years ago, a blog-reader became, quite by chance, a rather good friend. ‘X’ has been going through some major health issues for some time. Again, like Aunt R, the response to my ‘How are you?’ is ‘I’m okay’ however badly X is feeling that day.  If I press, X will give me the updates in a very matter-of-fact manner. It’s not in X’s nature to sit and brood – X is always too busy to have much time for ‘woe is me’. 

23 November 2017

Parichay (1972)

Directed by: Gulzar
Music: RD Burman
Lyrics: Gulzar
Starring: Pran, Jeetendra, 
Sanjeev Kumar, Jaya Bhaduri, 
Asrani, AK Hangal, Leela Misra, 
Master Raju, Baby Pinky, 
Master Ravi, Master Kishore, 
Veena, Vinod Khanna
I’ve just realised that the blog is nearly seven years old, and I haven’t reviewed as many of Gulzar’s films as I would have liked. While Ijaazat and Mausam (two of the three films I have reviewed – the third being Angoor, an out-and-out comedy) are among the more serious of his films that deal with relationships, Parichay – his second film (along with Koshish the same year) was a lighter look at the same. Supposedly inspired by The Sound of Music but in actuality based on Rajkumar Mitra's Bengali novel Rangeen Uttarain (which was brought to Gulzar's notice by Raakhee, his wife), and with four delightful songs by RD Burman, Parichay was a lovely little film that provided simple, wholesome entertainment. 

19 November 2017

Timbuktu (2014)

Directed by: Abderrehmane Sissako
Music: Amine Bouhafa
Starring: Ibrahim Ahmed, Toulou Kiki, 
Abel Jafri, Layla Walte Mohamed, 
Mehdi AG Mohamed, 
Fatoumata Diawara, Omar Haidara
Hichem Yacoubi, Kettly Noel,  
Adel Mahmoud Cherif, Salem Dendou, 
Cheik AG Emkani
‘Where is God in all this?’ questions the mild-mannered imam (Adel Mahmoud Cherif) of a jihadi when the latter tries to convince him that they're fighting a religious war. In an earlier scene, the imam had gently remonstrated with the jihadis when they enter a mosque with their shoes on and weapons in hand. His people have a right to pray in peace, he tells them. A woman who is selling fish is more antagonistic – ‘How can I sell fish with gloves on?’ She demands. ‘Here, cut off my hands.

15 November 2017

Rhythm (2000)

Directed by: Vasanth
Music: AR Rehman
Lyrics: Vairamuthu
Starring: Arjun, Meena, Nagesh, 
Vatsala Rajagopal, Manivannan, 
Jyothika, Ramesh Aravind, Lakshmi
Rhythm has been on my to-watch list for months now. Fellow-blogger Ram Murali had recommended this to me a long time ago, requesting that I review it. For a variety of reasons, I didn’t get around to doing so. Until recently, on one of my previous posts, Ram gently reminded me that I hadn’t kept my promise. Already feeling guilty, I ended up feeling even worse when long-time reader and friend, Lalitha, chimed in about the film. So, one evening last week, when I’d finished work, I began watching.

10 November 2017

Raja Jani (1972)

Directed by: Mohan Sehgal
Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
Starring: Dharmendra, Hema Malini, 
Durga Khote, Premnath, 
Prem Chopra, Johnny Walker, 
Nadira, Sajjan
 Like my previous review, this review too came about because of Dustedoff. In my post on Hema Malini, she mentioned how Tum Haseen Main Jawan was a guilty pleasure. So, I promptly encouraged her to review it. I’d already been on a Dharam-Hema film-watching spree and was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining some of these films were. When I mooted the idea of a double post, Dustedoff promptly agreed to a Dharam-Hema special. So here we are with a Dharam-Hema double bill – which means double the fun, and double the awesomeness. [No one said I had to be modest!]

6 November 2017

Lata Sings For RD

Some years ago, I was listening to one of my favourite songs Aa jaane jaa from Inteqaam. S, who usually recognises music directors by the way a song is composed, wondered whether the song was composed by RD Burman, and was quite surprised when he learnt the music directors were Laxmikant-Pyarelal. That got us into a discussion about 'RD's sound'. My introduction to RD had been rather unfortunate – I grew up in the 80s and my father dismissed RD as 'that noise maker'. A long time passed before I realized there was more to RD than 'noise'. This discussion also reminded me that while RD was most closely associated with Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle, he had used other singers to great effect. 

3 November 2017

Kakkothikkavile Appooppan Thaadikal (1988)

Directed by: Kamal
Music: Ouseppachan
Lyrics: Bichu Thirumala
Starring: Revathi, Ambika, 
VK Sreeraman, Krishnankutty Nair, 
MS Thrippunithara, Kaveri, 
Raasi, Anu Anand, Kiran Vergis
Malayalam films in the 80s were relatively sedate, focusing on strong stories and scripts before banking on star power. There were no 'super stars' then; there were, however, super actors, men and women who looked at the depth of their role rather than its length, and did not seem to mind taking on small, intense cameos in films that were headlined by their so-called rivals. The story was king, and the director, the captain of the ship, if you'll forgive me mixing up my metaphors. This was one such film.  

30 October 2017

Abhinetri (1970)

Directed by: Subodh Mukherjee
Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Starring: Hema Malini, Shashi Kapoor, 
Nirupa Roy, Nasir Hussain, 
Asit Sen, Nazeema, 
When I wrote up Anuradha, fellow-blogger and long-time reader, Dustedoff, mentioned another film that had almost the same characters and plot. She suggested it would be interesting to see how the films differed (or were similar). I had watched Abhinetri a long time ago, and apart from remembering Oh ghata saanwri thodi thodi baawri, my only recollection of the film is a tinge of annoyance at the male character. [That seems to be a common thread, anyway!] So I decided it was time to figure out whether my younger self was right in that tinge of annoyance, and whether a much older, perhaps-wiser me could find extenuating circumstances that could – if not forgive – at least understand the circumstances.

25 October 2017

Anuradha (1960)

Directed by: Hrishikesh Mukherjee
Music: Pandit Ravi Shankar
Lyrics: Shailendra
Starring: Leela Naidu, Balraj Sahni, 
Abhi Bhattacharya, Nasir Hussain, 
Hari Shivdasani, Ashim Kumar, 
Ranu Mukherjee, Mukri, David
Asit Sen, Rashid Khan
How much should we sacrifice for love? And is love enough? Does giving up on your own dreams to follow your heart bring you happiness? 

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