25 November 2014

Michael, Madana, Kama, Rajan

Directed by: Singeetham Srinivasa Rao
Music: Ilaiyaraja
Starring: Kamal Hassan, Khushboo, Urvashi, Roopini, 
 Delhi Ganesh, Jayabharati, Manorama, Nagesh, 
Nasser, Praveen Kumar,  Santhana Bharati
I'm neck deep in wedding preparations and travel and work and am living on fumes, grabbing a scarce few hours sleep every night: there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to do all that needs to be done. (One good news amidst all this hectic activity and stress is that my dad has been cleared for travel, and will be attending my nephew's wedding!) My blog has been the first victim of the circumstances. I barely have enough time to breathe, let alone watch a film and write about it. The past few months have also been hectic, and I have resorted to using up my bank of drafts and even exhorted my husband to write a review for me. (Which he very supportively did.) But my bank of drafts is not inexhaustible and my husband is busy with work and home and looking after Son no: 2, and since I cannot, in good conscience, ask him to bail me out again, I had to find a review to revive my moribund blog. 

5 November 2014

My Favourites: Songs of First Love

Original illustration by: E.H. Shephard
Some time earlier, I wrote a post about yearning for someone to love, for someone who returns our love, someone who becomes special in ways that we cannot articulate, someone who 'belongs' to us as we belong to them. This post is a follow-up to that one: What happens when you find that special someone? When Cupid's arrows strike your heart, when one smile, one glance is enough to make your heart beat faster? How does it feel like to be in love? For that very first time?

30 October 2014


Director: Larisa Shepitko
Starring: Marya Bulgakova, Zhanna Bolotova,
Pantelemion Krymov, Leonid Dyachkov,Vladimir Gorelov,
Yury Medvedev, Nikolay Grabbe, Zhanna Alexandrova
Last month has been incredibly stressful for me, and writing for the blog has been the last thing on my mind. That I post at all is thanks to the drafts that I bank for just such occasions as these; and just so that my blog doesn't just shrivel up and die. So, when my husband offered to write up a film for me (he knew I wouldn't), I jumped at the offer. So, for those who are used to my husband lamenting on my blog, and writing dotty little ditties everywhere... over to Sadanand Warrier.

25 October 2014


Directed by: Radhamohan
Music: Vidyasagar
Lyrics: Vairamuthu
Starring: Jyothika, Prithviraj, Prakash Raj, 
Swarnamalya, Brahmanandam
It is very rarely that one comes across a film within the trappings of commercial cinema that tells a simple story in a simple manner. It is particularly refreshing to find it in Tamil cinema which, like its Telugu counterpart and much of Hindi cinema in general (and even certain films by certain Malayalam 'superstars'), likes its heroes to be supermen, its settings to be larger than life, its heroines in roles more miniscule than their outfits. As actor, Prakash Raj has amply proven that he can slip into characters' skin with ease. As producer, he has made films where story is king, and where the characters that people the narratives are simple, ordinary folk, with simple, ordinary feelings and emotions. 

21 October 2014

Musical Shammi Kapoor

Photo credit: Indianexpress.com
Three years ago, I wrote an unexpected (and posthumous) tribute to Shammi Kapoor, a man who, in dark theatres and small television screens, had laughed and cried and danced and romanced various beautiful heroines across verdant hills and vales. He is the man who turned my wayward heart away from my first love, Amitabh Bachchan. (That was the slippery slope of cinematic infidelity, I'm afraid, since I fell for Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand in quick succession after that. Not to mention Cary Grant, Gregory Peck and James Stewart.) His films were filled with an innocence, a zest for life, and a sense of fun. Whatever else he was, or wasn't, he thoroughly enjoyed being on screen. And that enjoyment seeped out of the screen, both big and small, and infected the audience. He changed the face of the Hindi film hero. He was a winsome brat, a macho rebel, a debonair, and swaggering, lover.

17 October 2014

Naya Daur

Directed by: BR Chopra
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
Starring: Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala, Ajit, Chand Usmani, 
 Johnny Walker, Jeevan, Nasir Hussain, Manmohan Krishna
It was when I was looking for back-to-back songs for my Twin Songs post that I took out my DVD of Naya Daur again. Watching the scene that comes before the song piqued my interest in watching the film once again. It's been a long time since I watched it. What impresses me is how well the film has aged. Man vs. the machine is as relevant today as it was more than half a century ago. Perhaps not so much a tanga vs. a bus, but when businesses are downsizing, and automation is shutting down factories and putting people out of jobs, the basic plot point still remains a relevant point of discussion. Even so, I watched the film and, like many of my ideas for posts, filed it away as a 'Hmm, I should probably review this some time.'

But I never did put the DVD away, and so, when we had overnight guests shortly after that post was published, it was still lying around on the couch in the living room. One of them asked if I was going to review it, and I said, 'Oh, yes', still not sure just when I would. But it did give me the impetus to decide that it had to be sooner than later.  As you can see, it took another couple of months to actually get around to doing so. By which time, I'd completely forgotten the the sequence of plot, and in any case, hadn't taken screenshots, so I had to watch the film again. Long story short, I needed to find time to actually watch the film, and take screenshots, and write notes - and I cannot, just cannot do the last two when I'm watching the film because, hey, when I'm watching, I want to watch! Fun!

13 October 2014


Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Prithviraj, Kavya Madhavan, Narain, Jayasurya, Radhika, 
Indrajith, Anoop Chandran, Balachandra Menon, 
Jagathy Sreekumar, Suraj Venjiramoodu, Shobha Menon
When Classmates released, I wasn't very enthused about watching it, even though it starred Prithviraj, whom I have liked ever since I saw his debut film, Nandanam. Another campus romance, I thought, and it's been years since I've been able to watch a teenybopper romance without cringing. Besides, much though I liked Prithviraj, how could they reinvent the wheel? We'd already had some excellent 'college' films in Malayalam - Chamaram, Sarvakalasala, Ulkadal, Shalini Ente Kootukaari... However, my DVD-wala was insistent I take it - 'It's different,' he said, as he pushed a DVD into the already-tottering pile in my hands, 'it's the sort of movie you'll like.' Since I've been buying movies from him for years now, and he had a good idea of the sort of films that I liked to watch, I added that to my purchases. 

I was glad I did. Since then, I have happily recommended this film to non-Malayali friends, even bought copies to distribute to them. So when I was shelving some DVDs and came across this film, I realised with surprise that I hadn't yet reviewed it on my blog. That gave me the impetus to watch it again last week.

30 September 2014

Bhabhi ki Chudiyan

Directed by: Sadashiv J. Row Kavi
Music: Sudhir Phadke
Lyrics: Pandit Narendra Sharma
Starring: Meena Kumari, Balraj Sahni, 
Master Aziz, Seema Deo,  
 Durga Khote, Om Prakash, 
Sailesh Kumar
I watched Bhabhi ki Chudiyan a long time ago, when a friend of mine recommended it as 'another film in which Meena Kumari doesn't cry'. Since that recommendation came just after I had watched Miss Mary and Kohinoor, I was more than willing to watch anything with Meena Kumari in it. It wasn't a comedy or a raja-rani romance like the others, but the film didn't disappoint at all. And when I watched it again, recently, I found that I still liked it very much. 

26 September 2014


Directed by Yasmina Bachir
Starring: Ibitessim Djouadi,Abdelkader Belmokadem, 
Amel Choukh, Bahia Rachedi, Hamid Remas,  
Rachida Messaoui En, Zaki Boulenafed
 The Algerian Civil War was primarily an armed conflict between the National Liberation Front, the incumbent ruling party, and the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) that was gaining in popularity; the protracted battle that began in 1991, claimed somewhere between 44,000 to 1,50,000 lives until 2002 when the FIS laid down its arms. In that interim period, the government banned the FIS and cancelled the general elections, and this led not only to the imposition of military rule in Algiers, but also to the rise of Islamist rebels who resorted to guerrilla warfare against the government and its supporters. The Algerian army began a crackdown on the FIS that resulted in a constant conflict between the Islamic activists and the government. Armed groups targetted the army and the police in the mountains of Algiers and its towns, but soon the violence turned, as it always does, against its own, and countless civilians lost their lives in the eleven years before a special amnesty disbanded the rebel forces. *

Rachida, however, is not about the conflict at all, inasmuch as it is the story of an ordinary woman during that fraught period. It is about the effects of civil war and domestic terrorism on an individual's life. How is it like to live under the shadow of death? Do you become inured to it as long as it doesn't directly affect you? What does it take to change that detachment? Does becoming the target of one deliberate act of violence affect you for the rest of your life? Rachida (Ibitessim Djouadi) becomes the face of those questions.

20 September 2014

My Favourites: Songs of Yearning

Somewhere, some time, as we grow up, we become aware of the possibilities of love. Not just the love we share with our parents and siblings, or even friends, but the very real possibility that out there in the world, someone exists just for us - to love, and be loved. Someone whose very existence makes us thankful to be alive; someone whose presence in our life makes it much more vibrant; someone to laugh with, to cry with, to share in life's vicissitudes, its joys, its sorrows, its worries. 

This 'someone' is a very hazy concept. We don't usually know who, or how or when or where we will meet this particular person; we don't even know that we will meet that special someone. And we do, perhaps - through choice, through circumstance, through fate. Or the someone we find becomes special. But in the meanwhile, we have our own hopes, dreams and expectations of finding that glorious love.
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