25 October 2021

When an era passes

The ‘Golden Age of Hindi Movies’ was truly golden because it allowed many unique talents to flourish simultaneously. While the spotlight shone the brightest on those on the top echelons of the profession – the actors, directors, music directors, and some (not all) of the lyricists) – the fact is, the industry wouldn’t have functioned without the second and third tiers of performers, technicians, and writers. And one amongst the many, who carved a unique place for herself, was Malika Begum or Malikunnisa, better known by her screen name – Minoo Mumtaz.

20 October 2021

The Great Indian Kitchen (2021)

Directed by: Jeo Baby
Music: Sooraj S Kurup
Lyrics: Mridula Devi S, Dhanya Suresh
Starring: Nimisha Vijayan,
 Suraj Venjiramoodu,
T Suresh Babu, Ajitha VM,
Ramadevi, Kabani
In one corner of a tharavad, an ancient traditional home, is a kitchen sink. It stands for all that is ‘dirty’ – vessels used for cooking are routinely dumped inside it; its drain leaks, a dirty sack placed beneath to absorb the equally dirty water; the women in the household are seemingly tied to it – both by duty, and by routine. And as the movie plays out, you realise this is a universal truth, not just the story of this one sink in this one kitchen. 

12 October 2021

My Favourites: Devotional Songs

Back in India, the festive season that kicked off with Ganesh Chaturthi has moved into Dussehra-Navratri/Durga Puja/Saraswati Puja (for us Malayalis) this month. Soon, it will be Diwali, and then, Christmas.

I’m not particularly religious. In fact, I veer between atheist and agnostic. I also grew up in a household which didn’t follow very many religious rituals, other than regularly lighting a lamp at dawn and dusk. We were never exhorted to say our prayers daily, even if we were taught them. My mother and grandmother said their prayers when they lit the lamps, but we never heard them – it was just a silent movement of their lips. In other words, religion was a very personal experience, even amidst the family. This despite the fact that we are 'ambalavaasis', 'temple dwellers', hereditarily the people who wove the garlands for the deity, took care of the temple accounts, etc. 

11 September 2021

Karz (1980) – Not A Review

Soon after Rishi Kapoor died, Shalini, my long-time watch-a-long friend and I had independently gone through his filmography, agreeing that Rishi was never bad – even in the worst of his films, and he did plenty of those. Karz, on the other hand, is a good film, and I remember watching it in Majestic, a theatre in Bangalore City – it was the first film for which I had accompanied my second brother. (I don’t remember why my sister wasn’t around.) But Shalini had never seen it before – we needed to remedy that. So, we fixed on a date and watched ‘together’.  

[Warning: This is not a review. This is a peek into our scintillating cinematic discussions as we analyse such deeply philosophical topics such as all things Rishi Kapoor.]

4 September 2021

The Greats: Rishi Kapoor

04.09.1952 – 30.04.2020
Photo Credit: Express Archive

I first wrote this post, thinking I would post it on Rishi Kapoor's first death anniversary. Circumstances hindered that plan. So the next best thing, I decided, was to post this on his birth anniversary later in the year. So. Here it is. 

19 August 2021

It's Time to End This Silence

This is a film and music blog. I rarely make personal posts here, nor do I opine on current matters. But in recent days, the Malayali community has been roiled by allegations of sexual harassment against current and former officials of FOMAA, the Federation of Malayalee Associations in Americas.

I’m aware that most people seek these organisations out to remain connected to their roots. And most of these organisations do stellar work in the community. But – a disclaimer – I am not part of any Malayalee organisation in the US. The general gender separation (I refer to it as the ‘Parting of the Red Sea’), the cliques and gossip made it very uncomfortable for me, personally, to remain in the organisation that I was part of for a few years.

14 August 2021

Dance Songs in Old Hindi Cinema

The Waltz (Camille Claudel)
Source: Wikipedia
I have been in a bit of a bind lately, as is evidenced by the neglect of my blog. So, when Arjun (formerly known around these parts as Young A) offered to write a post for me, I quickly – and gratefully accepted.

Arjun has always been interested in dance and music even as a wee tot – his brother still shudders at the memory of one particularly memorable ride. As a baby, Arjun hated being strapped into his car seat and would squall from the beginning of the journey to journey’s end, stopping to draw breath only when the car paused at traffic lights. The only thing that quietened him then was to play Baar baar dekho. That evening, we played that song on a loop for the 80-mile round trip to my older son's football practice and back. As I pulled into the garage at around 9.30p.m., my then 12.year-old looked piteously at me and said, “I used to love that song, but could you please break that CD?”

1 August 2021

Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1963)

Directed by: Nasir Hussain
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Starring: Joy Mukherjee, Asha Parekh,
Veena, Wasti, Tabassum,
Rajendranath, Pran
Nasir Hussain’s films, even if predictable (he famously said that he came to Bombay with one story in his pocket) are fairly entertaining. Good looking leads, hill stations aplenty, and good music. In other words, just what you need to spend a couple of hours, destressing. So I sat down to watch Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon – which could have been titled Dil Deke Dekho, or Tumsa Nahin Dekha. If it weren’t for the fact that this stars Joy Mukherjee (guitar in tow) and not Shammi Kapoor, you may not even realise the difference.

30 July 2021

How condescending can you get?
Let me count the ways...

I bought Masala Lab because its blurb sounded interesting. ‘Ever wonder why your grandmother threw a teabag into the pressure cooker while boiling chickpeas?” “Why does a counter-intuitive pinch of salt make your kheer more flavourful?” Etc., etc., etc. [And because it had excellent reviews. More about that later.]

Now, a disclaimer – I’m definitely not the target audience for this book. I’ve been cooking for more years than I care to remember. I grew up in the school of, “When I said one handful, I meant the size of my hand!”, or recipes from relatives that asked for “a pinch of this, a dash of that”. I learnt the basics from my mother and from poring over recipes in magazines. I learnt quickly to adapt to not having a certain ingredient or substituting something else for it. But, as I said, the blurb seemed interesting, and I'm always curious to know the whys and wherefores.

16 July 2021

Kohinoor (1960)

Directed by: SU Sunny
Music: Naushad
Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
Starring: Dilip Kumar, Meena Kumari,
Jeevan, Kumkum,
Mukri, Leela Chitnis,0
M Kumar, S Nazir,
Wasim Khan, Tuntun

When times get too depressing, I send an S.O.S to my partner-in-crime, Shalini, asking if she is in the mood to watch something light. She usually is. This time, Shalini suggested Kohinoor, having never watched it before. In the light of Dilip Kumar’s demise earlier this month, it seemed apropos.
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