20 July 2017

Dar bāre-ye Elly (2009)

Directed by: Asghar Farhadi
Starring Taraneh Alidoosti, Golshifteh Farahani,  
Ahmad Mehranfar, Mani Haghighi, 
Marila Zare'i, Peyman Moadi, 
Ra'na Azadivar, Shahab Hosseini

In a scene in the film, Elly (Taraneh Alidoosti) is flying a kite. She has taken the string from little  Morvarid who has asked her for help, and she rushes back and forth on the beach to get the wind to lift the kite.  The camera focuses on her face; there is exhilaration and laughter as she gets the kite to lift. Suddenly, her face clouds over; she tells Morvarid  to hold the kite, she has to go. That is the last we see of her alive.

This vanishing act sets up the rest of the film.

25 June 2017

The Masters: Madan Mohan

25.06.1924 14.07.1975
The radio was a ubiquitous presence in our home when I was growing up, and weekends were rather special – there were hours of Hindi film music to savour, as I sat on the floor reading comics or the latest book. My father was an avid listener of old Hindi songs, and his favourite composers were Shankar-Jaikishen and SD Burman, followed by Madan Mohan. 

Composers didn’t come into my ken, however, though I was steeped in the songs of my father’s youth. Songs were identified by films and singers. Then, I got married – and listening to music was never the same again.

With his ability to recognise a composer by his ‘style’, my husband introduced me to the music behind the songs that I liked, and to his favourite trio, Salil Choudhury, Sajjad Hussain and… Madan Mohan. There’s also a personal connection there – Madan Mohan was a close friend of my husband’s maternal uncles; they went to the races together.

18 June 2017

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967)

The Young Girls of Rochefort
Directed by: Jacques Demy, Agnes Varda
Music: Michael Legrand
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Françoise Dorléac, 
George Chakiris, Grover Dale, 
Danielle Darieux, Michael Piccoli,  
Jacques Riberolles, Jacques Perrin, Gene Kelly
Let it be known that I was not a great fan of Jacques Demy. When my husband ordered Les parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg), I managed to sit through about 20 minutes of ‘singing’ before I gave up. When people on screen are singing every single word of their dialogues, it gets tiring. (You want to hear a man sing ‘I cannot repair the car; I have a date’?) Not to mention grating. I couldn’t relate to the plight of any of the characters because the singing irritated me so much. Expressing an emotion in song is one thing; ‘singing’ prosaic dialogue is another. Suffice it to say that my husband and I disagreed thoroughly on the artistic merits of what’s apparently a classic. I went up to bed, and probably escaped being murdered by my exasperated husband.

12 June 2017

My Favourites: Memorable Scenes From Hindi Films

Did I say I love the rain? I hate the rain. Especially when it has been days since I've seen the sun. Especially when it's June in the US and I'm shivering in the cold. The temperature today is 61oF (160C). It’s June, for heavens’ sake! As I sit here and watch the rain come interminably down, I feel like Scamper does – utterly miserable.* (Never mind that that is his perpetual expression – blast those pesky facts!)

27 May 2017

Mere Apne (1971)

Directed by: Gulzar
Music: Salil Choudhury
Lyrics: Gulzar
Starring: Meena Kumari, Vinod Khanna, 
Shatrughan Sinha, Ramesh Deo, 
Sumita Sanyal, Paintal, 
Asrani, Danny Denzongpa,
Deven Verma, Yogita Bali
In my tribute to VinodKhanna, I wrote that the song that comes to mind when I think of the late actor is Koi hota jisko apna from Mere Apne. As it happens, Mere Apne was his first film with Gulzar, who debuted as a director with this film. Mere Apne also starred one of my favourite actresses – Meena Kumari – in what would be one of her last roles. What’s more, the music was composed by Salil Choudhury. All this combined to make me revisit the film recently.

22 May 2017

Qurbani (1980)

Directed by: Feroz Khan
Music: Kalyanji-Anandji, Biddu
Lyrics: Indeevar
Starring: Feroz Khan, Vinod Khanna, 
Zeenat Aman, Amjad Khan, 
Aruna Irani, Shakti Kapoor, 
Amrish Puri, Kader Khan
Readers of my blog are aware that once in a while, I have a watchalong with friends who share my love for masala films. A couple of months ago, blog reader Shalini and I decided we should watch a film soon – Shalini picked Qurbani for the arm-candy quotient. Readers Lalitha and Sameer asked to join in, and I’m sorry to say we denied Sameer the chance. The reason was purely professional – cross my heart – we weren’t sure how Google Hangouts would work with multiple people. 

So the watchalong was restricted to Shalini, Lalitha and me. Are you ready for a testosterone filled non-stop adventure into machismo land? (Warning: Long post, with many interjections and many photographs. Read at your own peril.)

16 May 2017

Parvarish (1977)

Directed by: Manmohan Desai
Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, 
Neetu Singh, Shabana Azmi, 
Shammi Kapoor, Indrani Mukherjee, 
Amjad Khan, Kader Khan
Ever since I read of his demise, I have been on a mission to watch Vinod Khanna movies – both ones that I’d inexplicably not watched in my misbegotten youth, and ones that I had watched and liked very much indeed. (Or at least, I’d liked him in those films very much indeed.) There was a niggling little voice, however, that told me I was being unfaithful to my original idol. To quieten that irritating voice, I decided to watch a film that starred both of them. That was easy enough. After the Kapoors, Shashi and Rishi, Amitabh co-starred with Vinod in the maximum number of movies. In fact, my husband used to refer to Shashi and Rishi as ‘Amitabh’s favourite heroines’ – they were indispensable to the Bachchan phenomena. (More so than the actual heroines.) 

12 May 2017

In Pursuit of Mediocrity – A Review in Rhyme

A recap: Sometime blog reader Shalini had recommended Leap Year as a cure for my doldrums. Since the film starred Amy Adams, I’d no trouble getting my husband to sit and watch it with me. At the end of it, though, S recovered from having willingly borne the horrors of a critically-panned rom-com by searching frantically for some 'manly' [mindless] action film. Browsing channels, he fortuitously came across a sci-fi horror film known as the Piranhaconda – which, according to him was the illegitimate offspring of a piranha and an anaconda. (Don’t. Even. Ask.)

8 May 2017

Shaque (1976)

Directed by: Aruna-Vikas
Music: Vasant Desai
Starring: Vinod Khanna, Shabana Azmi, 
Utpal Dutt, Bindu, 
Farida Jalal, Arvind Deshpande
In my tribute to Vinod Khanna, I’d written about being introduced to his off-beat roles on Doordarshan. So when I wanted to write about a Vinod Khanna movie he deserves a review – I dithered between writing up Qurbani which I watched along with blog readers Shalini and Lalitha, or Mere Apne, which I’d seen and liked very much indeed. Finally, I decided to write up Shaque, because it is one of Vinod Khanna’s lesser known films.   

1 May 2017

Thus Endeth Another Chapter

It’s been some time since I visited my own blog, and it is doubly sad that it took a death to rouse me out of stupor. I woke up three days ago to learn that Vinod Khanna had died. It was a shock. Because while there had been a spate of deaths the past couple of years, including my idols Dev and Shammi, they belonged to a different era. Vinod Khanna was different – he belonged to my childhood. Along with Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna defined the 70s.
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