28 July 2015

Paying Guest (1957)

Directed by: Subodh Mukerji
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Starring: Dev Anand, Nutan, Shubha Khote,
Gajanan Jagirdar, Sajjan, Yakub
It’s been a long time since I watched or reviewed a Dev Anand film, and I suddenly felt in the need of a dose of Dev. Not in one of his more serious roles either, though C.I.D remains an all-time favourite; a lighter one, which would make me smile. I first thought of Tere Ghar ke Saamne, but I have watched that so frequently, I could probably say the dialogues before the actors on screen do. (I shall write that up as well, soon.) So then, which one? Nau Do Gyarah? I’m not in the mood for Kalpana Kartik, never one of my favourite actresses. As I mentally flipped through my Dev Anand movies, I realised I hadn’t watched Paying Guest in ages. There, that did it. Choice made, I made myself a cup of tea, and sat back to watch, and realised that I didn’t remember quite a bit of the story. That made it all the more interesting. 

22 July 2015

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Music: Bernard Hermann
Starring: James Stewart, Doris Day, 
Brenda da Banzie, Bernard Miles, 
Daniel Gelin, Christopher Olsen, 
Ralph Truman, Reggie Nalder
I'd watched A Man Who Knew Too Much a long time ago when they showed it on Doordarshan. All I remembered of it was the famous Que Sera, Sera and that it was sung by a woman at the piano. I'd even forgotten that she was Doris Day. The only other scene I remembered of it was James Stewart climbing out of the bell tower. 
So I put it on my Netflix queue, since a mystery that you have watched but do not remember, is worth watching all over again. 

18 July 2015

Jhoola (1962)

Directed by: K Shankar
Music: Salil Choudhary
Lyrics: Rajendra Krishen
Starring: Sunil Dutt, Vyjayanthimala, Pran,
Manmohan Krishna, Sulochana,  Raj Mehra, 
Achala Sachdev, Rajendranath
I’d just dragged myself out of bed one weekend, and was sitting with a cup of tea, thoughtfully provided by my husband, when he came downstairs, cackling. Having gone upstairs ostensibly to set up our bill payments, he had been watching Sajna tere bin from Jhoola on YouTube, when the song ended and the video segued into a scene from the movie where Pran, (apparently) nattily dressed, cap and all, says ‘A thief is a self-made man.’ And sundry other dialogues, all of which seemed to have tickled my husband’s funny bone enormously. He insisted he wanted to watch the film just for Pran (and Salilda’s music of course!). 

We were supposed to be clearing out our attic that day, having tackled our sons’ rooms the previous day. I hadn’t slept the previous night, which was why I was up at the unearthly (for me) hour of 6.45 on a Sunday morning. What I had seen of Jhoola, back when I was writing my post on rain songs, didn’t make the film seem very appealing. But hey, lovely Salilda compositions! Pran! 

In any case, I wasn’t in that great a hurry to go cleaning – I was aching in places I didn’t know could ache! So when my husband decided to put it on just then, I didn’t protest. (As long as I didn’t have to move, I was fine.) And since I had no expectations at all, I curled up and watched. 

14 July 2015

An Afternoon Tryst with Madan Mohan and Lata Mangeshkar

Photo courtesy: Rediff.in
You really appreciate summers in Massachusetts, when Winter blesses you with 120 inches of snow, and it's followed by a cold, wet Spring. So here I am, sitting on a lazy Sunday summer afternoon, savouring a plate of roasted sweet potatoes and fresh fennel, a glass of rosé wine by my side, and this is the perfect occasion for Madan Mohan songs. I have long wanted to write a post on him, one of my favourite music directors. I'd even planned when I would post it - on his birth anniversary. But they have come and gone for two years running, and I still haven't buckled down to writing a detailed post on this master composer. 

It is with a sense of shock that I realised that his death anniversary is only a couple of days away. That wasn't enough time to do justice to a 'The Masters' post, so I decided to do the next best thing. His collaboration with Lata Mangeshkar is legendary - it is said that Lata's voice has an added sweetness when she sings her Madan bhaiyya's compositions. So why not a post on Lata Mangeshkar's songs for Madan Mohan - a perfect tribute to the maestro on his 40th death anniversary?

11 July 2015

Aar Paar (1954)

Directed by: Guru Dutt
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Starring: Guru Dutt, Shyama, Shakila, 
Bir Sakhuja, Jagdeep, 
Jagdish Sethi, Johnny Walker
9th July was the birth anniversary of Vasanth Kumar Shivshankar Padukone, more famously known as Guru Dutt. It is only recently that I noticed that I had not reviewed a single film of his on this blog, though songs from his films have made repeated appearances in one post or another. In order to make amends, I decided to review one of his films as a birthday tribute, belated though it is; not the ones that are the most talked about - Pyaasa and Kagaz ke Phool - but one of his 'lesser' movies, the first film produced by his newly formed production house, and his fourth directorial venture.

Aar Paar was a very important film for Guru Dutt - his earlier film Baaz had not only been panned heavily by the critics, it had failed to set the box office ringing; it was very necessary that this film succeed. In a burst of optimism, or foolhardiness, Dutt decided to set up his own production house to produce the kind of films he wanted to make. Friends Nabendra Ghosh, Raj Khosla and VK Murthy came on board, Geeta Bali, who had acted in all three of his previous ventures - Baazi, Jaal and Baaz - was signed on as heroine. OP Nayyar, who worked with him earlier on Baaz came on board for the music, with Majrooh Sultanpuri as the lyricist, and the film was scheduled to roll - when Geeta Bali bowed out and Shyama stepped in.  

24 June 2015

Wedding Songs - And Beyond

Courtesy: Wikipedia
We were watching a film on YouTube the other day (that’s a story for another post) when YouTube, as is its wont, threw up movies on the sidebar. One of them was Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, which a very close friend of ours described to me (I hadn’t watched it then) as a ‘three-hour-long wedding video’.  I must say that while I thought it saccharine sweet, it resonated with enough people that it was the biggest hit of that period. 

Our wedding, the Kerala ones, are were noted for their simplicity. The brides wore either the offwhite/gold-bordered Kasavu saris/mundus or regulation Kaancheevarams, and the grooms wore the traditional offwhite/gold dhotis and white shirts. Even with the traditional homam (a religious ritual), the whole thing took probably a couple of hours. My  whole wedding, including the feast afterwards, took perhaps two hours, the ceremony itself accounting for only 20 minutes. 

15 June 2015

Angoor (1982)

Directed by: Gulzar
Music: RD Burman
Starring: Sanjeev Kumar, Deven Verma,
Moushumi Chatterjee, Deepti Naval,
Aruna Irani, CS Dubey, PK Jain, Yunuz Parvez,
Utpal Dutt, Shammi, Colonel Kapoor
On my previous review, Lalitha, one of my long-time readers, commented that she might have watched Ore Kadal earlier but right now, she was only in the mood for an 'inane movie which does not require [her] to think or feel...'] That reminded me of Angoor, which is not inane by any stretch of imagination; this laugh-fest, is in fact, a brilliant adaptation of William Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors, and is one of those films which can be watched again and again - and again. It is the perfect comfort food to lift you out of the doldrums. 

This review is for you, Lalitha.

10 June 2015

Ore Kadal (2008)

Directed by: Shyamaprasad
Music: Ouseppachan
Lyrics: Gireesh Puthencheri
Starring: Mammootty, Meera Jasmine, Narain, Ramya Krishnan
I bought the DVD of Ore Kadal way back in 2009 or 2010. It stayed on my shelf, unopened, all these years, because I'd this idea that it was a very depressing film. It was obviously not right for a Sunday evening. We kept saying we would watch it on a Friday so we could recover over the weekend, but that weekend never came. Until week before last, when I decided that Sunday or not, we were going to watch it. I still put it in rather hesitantly though. But my reservations were unwarranted. Ore Kadal is a lot of things, but 'depressing', it is not.

Based on Sunil Gangopadhyay's Bengali novel, Hirak Deepti, Shyamaprasad delves once again into man-woman relationships, and their co-relation to social mores as he did in his debut film, Agnisakshi. And once again, the emotional resolution, such as it is, is not a completely happy one. In fact, the ending leaves us with as many questions as the characters ask of themselves and others in the movie.

6 June 2015

Âvâz-e gonjeshk-hâ (2008)

Directed by: Majid Majidi
Music: Hossein Alizadeh
Starring: Mohammed Amir Naji, Hamid Aghazi, 
Hassan Rezae, Kamran Dehgan, 
Maryam Akbari, Neshat Nazari, Shabnam Aklaghi
It's been quite some time since I last blogged. Many things were going on simultaneously and I had neither the time, the inclination, or the energy to blog. That hiatus was broken last week, and I figured that if I had already posted one post, even if only a book recommendation, perhaps it was time I got back to reviewing films again. 

I have watched a few movies during this time, just to unwind. (Watching both Piku and Tanu Weds Manu Returns in the theatre was great, and I cannot recommend the former enough.) Out of them, a few were movies that were decent enough, but didn't make me feel compelled to write about them. But there were a couple that were really, really nice, and worth finding the energy to review. 

3 June 2015

A Recommendation

This is not something I usually do - recommend a book without having read it, but I have read their first book - RD Burman - The Man, The Music (Anirudha Bhattacharjee and Balaji Vittal) - a well-researched, well-written book that deservedly won a National Award, and enjoyed it very much. 
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