21 May 2018

Maheshinte Prathikaram (2016)

Mahesh's Revenge
Directed by: Dileesh Pothan
Music: Bijibal
Lyrics: Shafeeq Ahammed, Santosh Varma
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Anusree, 
Aparna Balamurali, Alencier Ley Lopez,  
Soubin Shahir, Sujith Shankar, 
KL Antony Kochi, Idukki Jaffer, 
Leena Antony, Lijomol Jose
Malayalam cinema has a well-deserved reputation for making films about commoners. It has always been the industry’s ace-in-the-hole – the slice-of-life cinema that narrates stories that we can all relate to, about characters that we all know from somewhere, for audiences that can be highly critical of content, or lack thereof. Yes, we do have our ‘star’ vehicles, but on the whole, we also have a disproportionately large number of ‘small’ films that would probably not even find financing in any other industry.

Maheshinte Prathikaram (Mahesh’s Revenge) is one such.

16 May 2018

Sciuscià (1946)

Directed by: Vittorio De Sica
Music: Alessandro Sicognini
Starring: Franco Interlenghi,
Rinaldo Smordoni,
Annielo Mele, Bruno Ortenzi,
Emilio Sigoli, Maria Campi
In his poem “Works and Days” Hesiod writes about Pandora, the first human woman created by the gods, who comes from Zeus to Epimetheus bearing a closed jar.  Epimetheus welcomes her, disregarding the warnings of his brother, Prometheus, who had told him never to accept a gift from Zeus. Pandora opens the jar scattering “burdensome toil and sickness and death” amongst men. All that is left in the jar is Elpis, the personification of Hope; she hovers close to the lip of the jar but cannot escape as Pandora closes the lid. So, Hope too remains amongst mankind but she’s trapped in the jar. Is Hope a blessing or a continuance of suffering?

10 May 2018

Male Voices, Female Feelings

Once, a long time ago (it seems), I wrote about songs that were sung by characters other than the protagonists that expressed the latter’s feelings. Similarly, there are plenty of songs where the song, picturised on the heroine, is actually a male solo, with the male voice expressing the woman’s emotions. Keep in mind that songs like Chal ri sajni ab kya soche (Bambai ka Babu) and Kahaan jaa raha hai (Seema) which, while they are male solos picturised on female actors, are not quite the sort of songs I mean. These type of songs are lip-synced [or not] by male actors on screen, but are [in one case] a wish for a beloved's future happiness or [in the case of the latter] an exhortation to think her course of action through. 

2 May 2018

Take Off (2017)

Directed by Mahesh Narayan
Music: Gopi Sundar, 
Starring: Parvathy Thiruvothu, Kunchako Boban, 
Fahadh Faasil, Asif Ali, 
Prem Prakash, Prakash Belavadi
From one film based on a small piece of history to another that is inspired by contemporary events; from one woman who becomes an unlikely voice for change to another woman who’s struggling to survive; from one well-made film with excellent performances to another brilliant film that, though fictional, is based on well-researched documented fact. 

Since watching Qarib Qarib Singlle, I’ve been wanting to see more of Parvathy Thiruvothu’s work. My niece (who didn’t like QQS) asked me if I’d watched Take off. So I dusted off the DVD I’d bought last summer and watched it. 

24 April 2018

Made in Dagenham (2010)

Directed by: Nigel Cole
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, 
Daniel Mays, Geraldine James, 
Jaime Winstone, Miranda Richardson, 
Richard Schiff, Rosamund Pike, 
Rupert Graves
Should women be paid less for doing the same job as men, because… they are women? Shouldn’t the pay-scale be based on the job, not on the gender of the employee? It seems like stating the obvious, but corporations often re-graded women as ‘unskilled workers’ so they could be paid less. A glaring fact that was overlooked both by the unions and the governments. 

However, in 1968, in a London suburb, a quiet revolution was underway. Women workers in Ford’s Dagenham factory went on strike demanding equal pay as the men. The three-week walkout caused a furore on both sides of the Atlantic. Between Ford’s threats of moving their factories elsewhere and the women’s fight for equality pitting them against the union bosses, and their own husbands, the strike became not just the news of the day, but also a political landmine for Harold Wilson’s Labour government.

This is the story that Made in Dagenham seeks to tell.

20 April 2018

My Man Godfrey (1936)

Directed by: Gregory La Cava
Music: Charles Previn, Rudy Schrager
Starring:  William Powell, Carol Lombard, 
Alice Brady, Eugene Pallette, 
Gail Patrick, Jeanne Dixon, 
Alan Mowbray
It only happens at the movies. And sometimes, it only happens to the movies – this one garnered nominations in all the four main acting categories and yet missed the ‘Best Picture’. It is also the first film to garner six Academy Award nominations and win none. But US Library of Congress retrospectively did it justice when it was deemed ‘culturally significant’ and preserved in the National Film Registry. At the turn of the century, the film was rated #44 in the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Funniest Comedies. This is My Man Godfrey, adapted from 1101 Park Avenue, a novel by Eric Hatch (who also collaborated on the screenplay).

15 April 2018

The Masters: Hasrat Jaipuri

15.04.1922 17.09.1999
Back when I was used to having Hindi film songs play in the background all the time, names like Sahir Ludhianvi, Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri were well-known to me. Besides, with my father’s fondness for all things Raj Kapoor, it would have been impossible not to know his lyricist’s name. But while I appreciated the lyrics of songs even back then, even writing down specific lyrics in a notebook, I didn’t really pay much attention to the wordsmiths behind the words that captivated me. Back then, I recognised songs by the singers and the films in which they belonged. Music directors were seldom thought of, and lyricists were just names that were read out before the song was played on the radio. However, as I grew older and I really began to understand the craft of writing words set to a particular metre, and wondered at the ability to distill and emotion with such lyricism, I began to appreciate the lyricists more. 

10 April 2018

Paithrukam (1993)

Directed by: Jayaraj
Music: SP Venkatesh
Lyrics: Kaithapram
Starring: Narendra Prasad, Suresh Gopi, 
Jayaram, Geetha, 
Maniyan Pilla Raju, 
Nandita Bose
For quite some time now, I’ve steered clear of ‘serious’ films preferring to be entertained rather than be forced to think. So why I suddenly thought of two movies – both by the same director – neither of which can be slotted as ‘entertainers’, is beyond me. Deshadanam is indescribably tragic and not being a masochist in the slightest, I decided to leave that for another day, preferably not during the dark, depressing winter days.

6 April 2018

My Favourites: Bathroom Songs

Recently, Dustedoff posted a list of ‘Swimming Pool’ songs – songs that were filmed near, or in a swimming pool, for the better part of it. In the comments, I mentioned that I had a similar list which I’d been saving for when our summer begins. (Anyone who wants to go swimming in an outdoor pool on the East Coast in April had better have their brains checked.) I since dropped the idea, but this theme is tangential to that one.

2 April 2018

Qarib Qarib Singlle (2017)

Directed by: Tanuja Chandra
Music: Anu Malik, Rochak Kohli,
Vishal Mishra, Ali Merchant
Lyrics: Raj Shekhar, Hussain Haidry,
Varum Grover
Starring: Parvathi TK, Irffan Khan, 
Neha Dhupia, Pushtil Shakti, 
Siddharth Menon, Luke Kenny, 
Brijendra Kala, Navneet Nishan
I don’t usually review new films. I figure there are enough reviews, synopses, and what have yous about new films that it’s not worth my while to add my two paise of content to it. However, ever so rarely, I do make exceptions. Either because I just had so much fun or because they are films that I love that I think deserve to be better known. Qarib Qarib Singlle (don’t be put off by the misspelling in the title – there’s a reason for it) is both entertaining and good. It definitely deserves a little more love than it’s gotten. 

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