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19 July 2023

Nora Inu (1949)

Stray Dogs
Directed by: Akiro Kurosawa
Music: Fumio Hayasaka
Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura,
Keiko Awaji, Isao Kimura, Eiko Miyoshi,
Masao Shimizu, Noriko Sengoku,
Noriko Honma, Hajime Izu, Ichiro Sugai,
Minoru Chiaki, Eijirō Tōno, Yasushi Nagata,
Teruko Kishi, Iida Chōko, Kan Yanagiya,
Reizaburô Yamamoto, Reikichi Kawamura

I have been away from my blog for far too long. My sincere apologies to my readers, several of whom have sent me private messages asking me why. Since circumstances are still not conducive to my writing or posting, my husband has generously stepped into the breach to keep the blog running. This is his review of one of his favourite Kurosawa films.

05 March 2023

Kishore Kumar's Comic Songs

I am not a great fan of Kishore Kumar, the actor, except in rare circumstances. But his physical comedy is absolutely fantastic, especially when restrained by the firm hand of the director. He seems almost ‘boneless’ at times, and can dance like a dream, albeit in the most comical fashion ever. His yodelling skills, the almost-farcical facial expressions, the uninhibited-ness that he portrayed on screen – together, the combination was lethal. So, the songs picturized on him inevitably become an avenue for him to express his comic side. One can only imagine that he must choreograph them himself. They are tailor made for his brand of physical comedy, and while I don’t usually enjoy his over-the-top comic antics on screen, I find that I can take them in the small doses that songs entail. Not just ‘take’ it, but I quite enjoy them. Here are some of my favourite Kishore Kumar songs where the singer’s vocal calisthenics complement the actor’s clowning. 

28 February 2023

My Favourites: Comic Songs

I have not always been a fan of ‘comedy’ in old Hindi films. They are usually stereotypical, loud, and at least to me, not at all funny. Even the songs that are picturised on these comic side plots are sometimes more irritating than comic. [Especially if they featured Mehmood.] Except, of course, for Johnny Walker, whose songs were as iconic as him. But if you look closely at Johnny Walker's songs, not all of them are ‘funny’ except for the fact that one just has to see him on screen to smile. Many of them were rather philosophical musings, albeit in a funny way – Sar jo tera chakraaye, for example, or even the satirical Ae dil hai mushkil.


23 February 2023

Chhaya (1961)

Directed by: Hrishikesh Mukherjee
Music: Salil Chowdhury
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan
Starring: Sunil Dutt, Asha Parekh,
Nirupa Roy, Nasir Hussain,
Lalita Pawar, Mohan Choti,
Krishan Dhawan, Achala Sachdev

I first watched Chhaya when they showed it on DD. Then, a few years ago, while I was trawling through YouTube to find something to watch, I came across the film, and promptly watched it again. A handsome Sunil Dutt, a very pretty (and not as irritating) Asha Parekh and great songs – what more do you need for lazy Sunday evening?

18 February 2023

The Masters: Jan Nisar Akhtar

18.02.1914 - 19.08.1976

When veteran music director Khayyam was complimented on his compositions, he said, “Where would my songs be without the musicians who bring my tunes to life, the lyricists who adorn those melodies with words, and the singers who gave voice to them?” Composers like Khayyam are vocal in their recognition of the importance of collaborative efforts in creating the classic Hindi film song. So also, directors who used songs, not just as interludes in the script, but as a way to push the narrative.  The songs of the age also demanded a high calibre of lyrics –lyrics that would suit the context of the scene and the character on whom it would be picturized. And for that, the film industry turned to poets who were fluent not only in Hindi or Urdu but also steeped in the rhythm and melody of verse. Since being a mere poet was not sufficient to earn a living, many a poet turned to the more lucrative career of writing lyrics to melodies. One such poet-lyricist was Jan Nisar Akhtar. 

14 February 2023

Ten 'Anti-Love' Songs

Courtesy: Pexels.com - Karolina Grabowska

Ah, February – the season of love. And Valentine’s Day – where love is measured by outpourings on social media. Exorbitantly prized red roses. Boxes and boxes of chocolates. Even Hallmark makes a killing, selling sappy cards. And me? I usually get more and more Grinch-like as the date nears.

It’s not that I am anti-romance. I am not. I do believe in love. Truly What I don’t like are made-up customs that mandate that someone should do something particular (and very expensive) to show you they love you. And on this one day, I find myself ranged on the side of the men against my tribe because the onus of a ‘successful’ romance seems to be on them (and their wallets). The gifts they buy, the flowers they send (in pre-Covid days, to the office), the meals they cook, how special they make you feel – in public – all measures how much they love the women in their lives.

09 February 2023

The Masters: K Vishwanath

Picture Courtesy: India Today
19.02.1030 – 03. 02.2023

This past week, I have had occasion to ponder upon what Kamal Hassan referred to as ‘the transience of life and the immortality of art’. We have lost two luminaries – Producer-Director K Vishawanath, a colossus who reigned over the Telugu film industry for nearly six decades; and singer Vani Jairam, who had a successful career in disparate languages. I will pay my tributes to the latter at a later stage, but now, I want to express my appreciation to a film-maker whose films filled my childhood with the colours of love, humanity, kindness and compassion.  

04 February 2023

My Favourites: Women and Chores' Songs

A long time ago, on one of my song posts, long time reader Subodh Agarwal asked if I would ever do a ‘woman singing while doing household chores’ post. Off hand, I couldn’t remember any such song and so, I added it to my list of possible themes and there it stayed. Once in a while, when I looked up the list to do yet another song list, I would think about the theme. And if I found a song that seemed to fit, I would add it to my list. But, like so many of my other themed lists, I never got around to writing this up. For years! I am not even sure if Subodh reads my blog any more, but recently, I realized I had enough songs to make a post. So, Subodh, if you’re reading, this one is for you. Like some of my previous lists – Piano Songs, Roothna-Manana, Qawwalis – these situations does not exist in our films any more. Partly due to the fact that even lives in the village have changed quite drastically (while remaining unchanged in many ways). I must confess that household chores do not make me want to sing while I do them. I’m more likely to be muttering under my breath.

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.

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