8 May 2021

Charulata (1964)

Directed by Satyajit Ray
Music: Satyajit Ray
Starring: Madhabi Mukherjee, Soumitra Chatterjee,
Shyamal Ghosh, Sailen Mukherjee, Gitali Roy

I’ve mentioned the Criterion Channel a few times already. In honour of Satyajit Ray’s birth centenary, they curated several of Ray’s seminal films, available for viewing this month. The well-restored collection is giving us a chance to dive into the auteur’s body of work, and a trip down Ray’s oeuvre would be incomplete without Charulata. Considered by many to be Ray’s finest work, and admittedly Ray’s personal favourite from among his films, Charulata is a delicate drama that moves almost languidly through the period of Bengali Renaissance. Like many of his other films, Ray reflected the larger world through the perspective of an individual or group.

2 May 2021

Agantuk (1991)

Directed by: Satyajit Ray
Music: Satyajit Ray
Starring: Utpal Dutt, Mamata Shankar,
Dipankar De, Dhritiman Chatterjee,
Bikram Bhattacharya, Rabi Ghosh,
Subhrata Chatterjee, Pramode Ganguly,
Ajit Bandopadhyay

In Manik and I, Bijoya Ray’s memoir, she mentions her husband turning to her after filming the last shot of his final film and saying, “Well, that’s it. I’m done. I’ve said all I wanted to say”.  A few months later, on 23rd April 1992, Satyajt Ray, one of India’s best directors, passed away. Today, on his birth centenary, it is fitting, therefore, that I review his swansong, one of the most personal of the Ra‎y’s films – Agantuk.

30 April 2021

Still Remembering You...

Today is Rishi Kapoor's first death anniversary. Yesterday was Irffan's.

And while I didn't have a post planned for today, for various reasons, I didn't want the day to go by without marking the passing of one actor who has given me hours and hours of entertainment, and that of another, who also did not need a great film to give a great performance.

25 April 2021

Manthiri Kumari (1950)

Directed by: Ellis R Dungan, TR Sundaram
Music: G Ramanathan
Lyrics: M Maruthakasi, M Karunanidhi
Starring: Madhuri Devi, SA Natarajan,
MG Ramachandran, G Shakuntala,
MN Nambiar, Sivasooriyan

A year or so ago, Tom Daniels asked me if I would be interested in sub-titling Manthrikumari. I’d subtitled some Hindi movies for him, and edited others that already had [bad] sub-titles and since Tamil is one of my spoken languages, I thought I would give it a try. For various reasons, the project had to be put on the back burner multiple times, and it’s only recently that I delivered the subtitles to him. During this process, I watched this film multiple times. For all the trouble I went through, I thought it merited a review.

19 April 2021

Sangam (1964)

Directed by: Raj Kapoor
Music: Shankar-Jaikishan
Lyrics: Shailendra, Hasrat Jaipuri
Starring: Raj Kapoor, Vyjayanthimala,
Rajendra Kumar, Hari Shivdasani,
Achla Sachdev, Lalita Pawar, Iftekhar

I had never quite liked Sangam. I hated Raj Kapoor's character, I hated the (by then) trope of 'guys sacrificing for one another and hang what the girl wants' bromances in Hindi films, and I'd never liked Rajendra Kumar. So, when the Criterion Channel had a Raj Kapoor retrospective, I watched Awara and Shree 420 at once but dithered for over a month before settling down to re-watch Sangam. Read on to see if I changed my mind.

13 April 2021

I Married A Witch (1942)

Directed by René Clair
Music: Roy Webb
Starring: Veronica Lake, Fredric March
Susan Hayward, Robert Benchley,
Cecil Kellaway, Robert Warwick,
Elizabeth Patterson

My wonderful husband (WH from now on) pays $99 a year for the Criterion Channel. While I have been enjoying Cary Grant and Raj Kapoor, Criterion also throws up thumbnails of various films from time to time. And as my WH kept scrolling through the offerings one Sunday afternoon, he came across a double bill – the first was I Married a Witch. And since he said that he had married a witch, it was decided that we should watch it at once. (Said witch wasn’t given a choice.)

7 April 2021

The Greats: Shashikala

04.08.1932 - 04.04.2021

I woke up yesterday morning to the news of veteran actress, Shashikala’s, demise. It was a shock – not because the death was untimely or sudden, but because we had only very recently watched Sujata (1960) on the Criterion Channel. And because there was something about Shashikala herself - full of life and the joy of living. Was she really that way? I don’t know, but that was my perception of her.

1 April 2021

Pagglait (2021)

Directed by: Umesh Bist
Music: Arijit Singh
Lyrics: Arijit Singh, Neelesh Mishra, Raftar
Starring: Sanya Malhotra, Ashutosh Rana,
Sheeba Chaddha, Raghubir Yadav,
Sayani Gupta, Shruti Sharma,
Natasha Rastogi, Bhupesh Pandya,
Chetan Sharma, Asif Khan,
Jameel Khan, Yamini Singh,
Ananya Khare, Rajesh Tailang,
Meghna Malik, Nakul Roshan Sachdev,
Ashlesha Thakur, Sachin Chowdhury,
Saroj Singh

Once in a rare while, I review new films. Either because it’s totally paisa vasool or because it’s interesting or because it has something important to say. Pagglait ticks the second box.

26 March 2021

Mr & Mrs 55 (1955)

Directed by: Guru Dutt
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Starring: Guru Dutt, Madhubala,
Johnny Walker, Lalita Pawar,
Yasmin, Kumkum
Mr & Mrs 55 is a film that I’m not sure whether I like or hate. I’ve watched it many times, quite enjoying the lightness of a marital comedy, and every single time, I’ve cringed at the regressive ideals propagated in the film regarding the role of women and deplored the misogynistic representation of feminism and feminists. But it stars the irrepressible Madhubala, one of my favourite heroines, and has a stellar music score courtesy the inimitable OP Nayyar.

20 March 2021

Indiscreet (1958)

Directed by: Stanley Donnen
Starring: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman,
Phyllis Calvert, Cecil Parker
David Kossoff, Megs Jenkins

When Devlin walked out with Alicia in his arms during the climax of Notorious you wondered what would happen to the two of them. Well, a dozen years later, you meet Anna and Philip and you know the answer.
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