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30 January 2023

Qala (2022)

Directed by: Anvita Dutt
Music: Amit Trivedi
Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya,
Varun Grover, Kausar Munir,
Swanand Kirkire
Starring: Triptii Dimri, Babil Khan,
Swastika Mukherjee, Amit Sial,
Samir Kocchar, Tasveer Kamil,
Girija Oak, Abhishek Banerjee
Are you happy when you achieve your life’s ambition? Are you satisfied when adoring crowds shower their love and adulation over you? Is success worth doing what it takes to get there? Can you outrun your past?

*Warning: There may be some spoilers.

26 January 2023

Behind the Scenes

When I think of Sai Paranjpye, it is with a smile on my face. Whether it is the memory of her films like Chashme Buddoor or Sparsh; or her television serials like Ados Pados, they were stories one could relate to. In fact, for those of us who watched these in the 80s, ‘Miss Chamko’, ‘Lallan Mian’, tutti-frooti ice cream, the hare and the tortoise, are all cultural reference points for us to bond over. So, when I came across Sai Paranjpye’s memoirs on my last trip to India, I picked it up on a whim.

20 January 2023

Glass Onion (2022)

Directed by: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daniel Craig, Edward Norton
Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn
Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick,
Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson,
Dave Bautista
My husband, Young A and I had watched Knives Out again in preparation for Netflix’s release of Glass Onion on the 23rd of December. So, when the 23rd rolled around, we made a movie night of it. Then, my partner-in-crime Shalini asked me if I wanted to watch Glass Onion with her. Well, why not? So, as I sat down to enjoy the movie again, with the added joy of commenting on it, Young A decided to join us as well. S sat on one end of the couch, reading and watching at the same time (don’t ask!). Unlike our other watchalong reviews, however, I cannot pepper my review with our pithy and intelligent remarks, given that it is a new film and another murder mystery to boot. [There are a few, because I couldn't resist, but not as many as usual.]

14 January 2023

The Masters: Kaifi Azmi

14.01.1918 – 10.05.2002
Picture courtesy: Indian Express Archives
I have always had an affinity for words. As a teen, I would religiously jot down the lyrics of songs that I loved. However, I rarely paid attention to the lyricists who wrote the film songs I loved. I was in my late teens before the names I heard on the radio became fleshed out in my consciousness. And among those very poetic names - Sahir Ludhianvi, Shailendra, Shakeel Badayuni, Majrooh Sultanpuri, etc., was another name, Kaifi Azmi. Today, 14 January, is ostensibly Kaifi Azmi's birth anniversary. I say 'ostensibly' because the poet only chose this date when he needed a birth date for his passport. 
Born Sayyed Athar Husain Rizvi on in Mijwan (Azamgarh, Eastern Uttar Pradesh) in a zamindar family, Kaifi Azmi demonstrated his poetic skills very early on. He was only 11 when he attended a mushaira in Bahraich, where he recited a ghazal:
Itni to zindagi mein kisi ke khalal pade
Hansne se ho sukuun na rone se kal pade
(There must be just so much trouble in life
That it cannot find solace in laughter nor be erased by tears)
Those listening to the young boy could hardly believe that he had written these lines. So much so, his father gave him a line of poetry and asked him to compose a ghazal to the same rhyme and metre, a challenge that the boy ably met. It was the beginning of Athar Husain’s poetic journey. He would go on to write under the takhallus (pen name) Kaifi ‘Azmi’ – a tribute to his birthplace.

10 January 2023

Films Are Art, Not Commerce

Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, better known as KA Abbas was a litterateur, journalist, author, screenwriter, film-maker, and film critic. There were perhaps only a few of the dozen different hats he wore in his lifetime. His body of work remains a testament to this man’s dedication, commitment and perseverance. 

Picture courtesy: Wikipedia Commons
Film aficionados will know of KA Abbas – a a pioneer of the progressive, neo-realistic cinema in India, as the director of Dharti ke Lal (based on the Bengal familine), Saat Hindustani, etc; as Raj Kapoor’s frequent collaborator (he wrote Awara, Shree 420, Jagte Raho, Bobby, Mera Naam Joker); as the writer of films like Neecha Nagar, Dr Kotnis ki Amar Kahani and Garm Hawa. Readers of Blitz will recognize him as the columnist who wrote the longest-running column in Indian journalism – The Last Page for the Bombay Chronicle and later, Blitz. It ran from 1935 when he joined the Bombay Chronicle as a political reporter (and became its film critic) and continued until his death in 1987. (The Urdu and Hindu editions of the paper ran the column as Azad Kalam.)

04 January 2023

Il y a longtemps que je t'aime (2008)

I’ve Loved You So Long
Directed by: Philippe Claudel
Music: Jean Louis Aubert
Starring: Kristin Scott-Thomas
Elysa Zylberstein
Serge Hazanavicius
Frédéric Pierrot
Laurent Gréville
Jean-Paul Arnaud

What happens when you come out of prison after 15 years? The world outside has changed while you were inside. You have changed while you were inside. And you no longer know the people you were the closest to, once. Can they trust you? More importantly, can you trust them? 

31 December 2022

Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957)

Directed by: Nasir Hussain
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi, Majrooh Sultanpuri
Starring: Shammi Kapoor, Ameeta,
Pran, Raj Mehra,
Anjali Devi, BM Vyas,
Ram Avtar, Sheila Vaz,
Kanu Roy
Shalini and I had been going through a host of film ‘watchalongs’ when we realized that we had completely forgotten our ‘dearest Shammi’ for some time now. Along with that came the realization that though I had reviewed quite a few Shammi Kapoor movies, I hadn’t reviewed Tumsa Nahin Dekha. That omission cried out to be rectified – and not just because we were both in the mood for Shammi; it is also because Tumsa Nahin Dekha is a landmark film – it is the film that transformed Shammi Kapoor’s career. Film lore has it that Nasir Hussain was not at all pleased at having to sign Shammi but once he did, he got Shammi to shave off his moustache, blow dried his hair, and gave us a one-of-a-kind devil-may-care hero for the ages. 

30 December 2022

Email Notifications of Posts

I was recently informed by a reader, Dr Rajesh Deshpande, that he wasn't receiving email notifications of my posts on this blog. After some amount of sleuthing to figure out what was happening, I realized that Feedburner, a service I had been using all the while, had stopped sending email notifications. What's more Google had stopped supporting Feedburner since July and hadn't provided an alternative either. This meant that none of my email subscribers were getting notifications of new posts for months on end. 

I have since deleted Feedburner and installed Follow.It.

It is now my alert tool, and I have imported my email subscribers from Feedburner to Follow.It. I'm not entirely sure whether that will be enough, or whether my readers will still have to subscribe again in order for the feed to work. But just in case, these are the options you can use to ensure you never miss another post.

Standard Feed Page: https://follow.it/conversations-over-chai?pub

Lean Follow Page: https://follow.it/conversations-over-chai?leanpub

I apologize for the inconvenience, and thank you once again for reading and commenting.

26 December 2022

My Favourites: Twin Dances in Hindi Films

Two of my fellow-bloggers recently posted almost-similar themes in quick succession – Madhulika Liddle of Dustedoff had a post on ‘Not-Naachnewali’ Gaanewalis, while Anup of Mehfil Mein Meri posted a ‘One Lady Sings, the OtherDances’ post. The posts were similar in spirit but didn’t overlap in terms of the songs each of them chose. That gave me an idea – though my post is not similar in spirt or theme, but is complementary or perhaps tangential to theirs. I am talking here about two dancers appearing together – whether the song is being sung by one singer or two doesn’t matter here. In fact, the first example on my list doesn’t even have a song, merely musical accompaniment to what’s essentially a dance off. So, without further ado, on to my list. (I have tried to feature as many different combinations as possible.)

21 December 2022

Aruite Mo Aruite Mo (2008)

Still Walking
Directed by: Hirokazu Kore-Eda
Starring: Hiroshi Abe, Kirin Kiki,
Yoshio Harada, Yui Natsukawa,
Shohei Tanaka, You

The gentle, lyrical film explores a day in the life of an ordinary family. It is as if we are sitting at the table with the Yokoyamas, who gather once a year for an annual ritual that initially eludes us. The son and daughter have come to visit their aging parents, respective spouses and children in tow. As the movie progresses, one learns that this annual reunion is to commemorate a tragic death – the Yokoyama’s eldest son had drowned 15 years earlier, trying to save the life of a child. It is an event that weighs heavy on the family.

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