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5 December 2016

My Favourites: Heroes – 1 (40s-70s)

I had earlier made a list of favourite heroines from the 40s-70s, based on an idea that Ava of The Pink Bee had. At that time, I had mentally decided I would also do a 'favourite heroes' list, along the same lines. 

Like the heroines, the heroes from this period have given me hours of entertainment and enjoyment an enjoyment, in fact, that continues, because I blog about films from that period (generally), and that gives me an excuse to keep watching their films. These are the actors with whom I grew up; they were my reference points for films. As with the heroines, many of these actors of my childhood (and my father's youth) have left us bereft. What lives on is their legacy, their body of work, their youth, middle age and even old age captured on crackly celluloid, and our love for them enshrined forever in our memories of them.

30 November 2016

Satte pe Satta (1982)

Directed by: Raj Sippy
Music: RD Burman
Lyrics: Gulshan Bawra
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, 
Amjad Khan, Kalpana Iyer,
 Sachin, Sudhir, Indrajeet, 
Paintal, Shakti Kapoor, 
Kanwaljeet, Sachin, Ranjeeta
Blog reader Shalini and I had once watched a film together apart. Recently, on my review of Majboor, we talked about the possibility of watching a nice masala movie together again to defuse our pre-election stress. We seriously needed the detoxification. Our first pick was Shaan but in her bid to continue the indoctrination of her son in Amitabh-love, Shalini had already watched the film. So we settled on Satte pe Satta. We needed a ‘full on masala diversion’ said Shalini, and I agreed.

So, after settling in bachchoos and bidding husbands to go away and not trouble us, we sat back to watch the film. (Warning: the ‘review’ is going to be interspersed with many, many comments, exclamations, irrelevant musings, spoilers, screenshots and the like. Only our comments in parentheses are going to be colour-coded, Shalini’s comments in green, mine in some shade of brown.)

25 November 2016

My Favourites: Heroines – 1 (40s-70s)

I have long wanted to make a list of my favourite actors and actresses, both in Hindi cinema and from Hollywood, but I put the idea on the backburner. Until recently, when Ava, over at The Pink Beedecided to do a list of her friends’ favourite heroines with a decided twist – she mentioned their career arc, some of their more important roles, and then picked a song that she liked about each of them. Since I’ve only one working brain cell at the best of times, and am now brain-dead following recent tumultuous events here in my adopted land, I decided I needed some candyfloss to clear my brain. So I decided – unashamedly – to poach Ava’s idea. (I did ask – and get – permission, however.) 

13 November 2016

The Day of the Jackal (1973)

Directed by: Fred Zinneman
Starring: Edward Fox, Michel Lonsdale,
Tony Britton, Alan Badel, 
Olga Georges-Picot, Cyril Cusack
Adrian Cayla-Legrand, Eric Porter,
Delphine Seyrig, Jean Martin
When The Day of the Jackal first released in India, I was too young to watch the film. When it returned as a re-run, my father, who had been in France during the period in which the film is set, wanted to share the film with me. I don't know who was more disappointed when we weren't allowed in – the film was certified 'A', and I was still too young. (He ended up taking my brother and sister for it the next day.)

A couple of years later, I was rummaging through my father's bookshelves looking for something to read. My father travelled extensively for work, and usually brought back two bestsellers for himself each time (one on his flight out, one on his return flight), and a book apiece for each of his children. I had finished reading my book, and unable to wait any longer for my brother and sister to finish theirs, I decided to see if my father's book case held anything of interest. Just in my early teens, I'd recently graduated from Agatha Christie, PG Wodehouse and Leslie Charteris to James Hadley Chase, Alistair McLean and Louis L'Amour. Among the Ludlums and Haileys, my eye was caught by the name, The Day of the Jackal. Hmm, Frederick Forsyth. I hadn't read him before, but I remembered the movie that I hadn't been allowed to watch. So I grabbed the book out of the bookcase and began to read. I ended up reading it in one sitting. (That isn't saying much – those days, I read most books in one stretch unless such inconvenient things such as my mother, school and chores interfered.)

Then, years later (I was in my final year of college), my brother borrowed The Day of the Jackal from the local video cassette library – a grainy, not-very-clear print, but I still remember how thrilling it was. Recently, my husband and I were discussing movies and this film came up in conversation. Both of us agreed that we had to watch the film again. No sooner said than done – S was online checking to see if Netflix had the film they did, and so the deed was done, as they say.

The DVD arrived on Friday, but it wasn't until Sunday night, when both of us were so disgusted with the way Gerald Durrell's Corfu trilogy was shaping up that we looked at each other and said simultaneously: S: "I can't see any more of this rubbish!" Me: "Let's watch 'The Day of the Jackal'."

So. Here we are.  

9 November 2016

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Directed by: George Cukor
Starring: Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, 
James Stewart, John Halliday, 
Roland Young, Ruth Hassey
John Howard, Virginia Weidler
Two years ago, I reviewed a charming Cary Grant-Katherine Hepburn movie called Holiday. It was one of the four movies in which the two starred. While Sylvia Scarlett was the first of the lot, and a massive box-office disaster when it was released, the other three (Bringing up Baby, Holiday and The Philadelphia Story) fared better. The last named, in fact, was a thundering success, both critically and commercially. While fellow blogger Dustedoff has reviewed Bringing up Baby, I’d fully intended to review The Philadelphia Story immediately after I’d reviewed Holiday. For some reason, I didn’t, then. So now, being on a Cary Grant kick (as I once was, before), and this came up on the sidebar while I was watching The Awful Truth, I decided it was time to have a re-watch prior to writing it up.  

5 November 2016

My Favourites: Nigahein Songs

A quick glance, a shy smile, a suddenly fast-beating heart. Of such infinitesimal occurrences are woven the gossamer webs of romance. No, not today, when 'romance – that sort of romance – has gone the way of the dodo. I'm not being nostalgic for 'the good old days'. Much has been achieved since those days, some of which were not that 'good' after all. Yet, it is a truism that we lose something to gain something, and it is not merely 'nostalgic' to acknowledge what we have lost. 

They were more innocent times. When an unexpected glimpse of a face when the veil flies in the breeze, or a glance from a pair of beautiful eyes from behind a naqaab, was enough for a young man to lose his heart.   
Kal na jaane main kahaan aur tu kahaan tu ho sanam, 
Do ghadi apni nigaaon ka sahara de de 
And why not? 'Les yeux sont le miroir de l'dme' as the French proverb remarks – 'The eyes are the mirror of the soul.'

2 November 2016

The Lost Legacy

It is in darkened theatres across the various Indian cities that I lived in that I first became acquainted with films. There, sitting alone amidst many strangers, I lost myself in a world that was populated by good looking heroes and beautiful heroines, where love and conflict and revenge and drama all played out in three hours, usually with a very satisfying end – they all lived happily ever after. 

The ‘happily ever after’ was very important. One just didn’t get that satisfaction with ambiguous or outright sad endings. As you can see, my masala roots go very deep. By the time I entered my teens, television had entered our drawing rooms, and the beautiful people had moved out of the dark, musty theatres into our well-lit living spaces. They were still beautiful, their conflicts were still engaging, and coupled with songs by Mohammed Rafi or Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar or Asha Bhosle, we were sufficiently entertained for a few hours.  

30 October 2016

The Awful Truth (1937)

Directed by: Leo McCarey
Starring: Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, 
Ralph Bellamy, Robert Allen, 
Alexander D'Arcy, Cecil Cunningham, 
Esther Dale, Joyce Compton, 
Molly Lamont, Skippy
After watching Arabesque, and missing Cary Grant mightily in the film, I decided I had to watch a Grant movie to make up the Grant-sized hole in my heart (with all due apologies to Jerry Pinto from whom I shamelessly plagiarized this phrase). And so, looking through YouTube, when I came across a movie I hadn't watched before, it seemed like Fate, or Cary, was looking out for me. (Let's just say 'Cary', shall we? I enjoy my delusions.) 

26 October 2016

Bombay - Dreams and Regrets


Sa'adat Hasan Manto
11.05.1912—18.01.1955
picked up Stars From Another Sky a few years ago, when Penguin India inducted the translation (Khalid Hasan) into their Modern Classics library. (The translation had originally been published in 1998.) Along with this, I also picked up Manto's Bombay Stories, simply because they were stories set in Bombay. I must confess that while I'd heard of Sa'adat Hasan Manto, and of his fame as a short story writer in Urdu, I'd never read any of his work until then. So I sat and read Bombay Stories in one sitting. After which, I began Stars From Another Sky but I never got past the first chapter. 

Recently, I revisited the book on the off chance that I might find it more interesting. (It's unusual for me to keep a book aside; I typically finish reading even books I find boring once I start reading them.) Like Bombay Stories, the underlying tone of the book is an aching sense of loss for the city that he loved. Since I can’t talk about one without also talking about the other, here are two reviews for the price of one. 

23 October 2016

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil Jeena Yahan

Sometime ago, we were having a spirited discussion on another blog about stalking in cinema influencing impressionable youth. At the time, apologists for the trope came up with several reasons why it wasn’t ‘all that’ problematic. One of the reasons frequently brought up as a rationalization was that cinema reflected society, and therefore couldn’t (shouldn’t?) be held solely responsible for young women being attacked, abducted, molested or even murdered. Never mind that no one asking to hold filmmakers responsible was saying that films were the only reason for these incidents, or even that they were the most important. All we were saying is that change needs to come from somewhere, and since cinema has such a huge reach and is an even bigger influence than most media, filmmakers and actors need to be a bit more responsible in what they show and how they show it. Pat came the response(s) that films and actors were a ‘soft target’; they were easy to blame, so ‘others’ could avoid blame. We were quick to deny that. Out of that denial came our petition that Iswarya, a post-doc student turned activist, is single-handedly pushing through. While she fights the good fight, other issues have begun roiling up, once again involving films.  

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