25 June 2018

Jogan (1950)

Directed by: Kidar Sharma
Music: Bulo C Rani
Lyrics: Kabir (bhajan), 
Meera Bai (bhajans), 
Pandit Indra, Butaram Sharma, 
Himmat Rai Sharma
Starring: Nargis, Dilip Kumar, 
Baby Tabassum, 
Protima Devi, Poornima, 
Rajendra Kumar
My Nargis retrospective continues with one of the finest films made during the period. Kidar Sharma’s Jogan. Based on a one-line idea told to him by producer Chandulal Shah (who had been inspired  by an English film in which a man falls in love with a nun), Kidar Sharma took on the challenge of shooting the entire film in 29 days with stars like Nargis and Dilip Kumar. This was one of Nargis’s finest roles, and she – as usual – rose to the occasion.

20 June 2018

Barsaat (1949)

Directed by Raj Kapoor
Music: Shankar Jaikishan
Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri, Shailendra, 
Ramesh Shastri, Jalal Malihabadi
Starring: Nargis, Raj Kapoor, 
Premnath, Nimmi, 
KN Singh, Cuckoo
It is hard to talk about Nargis without mentioning Raj Kapoor a full third of Nargis’s filmography had her co-starring with him. She's been a part of his films since his directorial debut, Aag. Besides, Barsaat is important for another reason – it immortalised Nargis as an integral part of RK films –  in its iconic logo. 

16 June 2018

Raat aur Din (1967)

Directed by: Satyen Bose
Music: Shankar-Jaikishan
Lyrics: Shailendra, Hasrat Jaipuri
Starring: Nargis, Pradeep Kumar, 
Feroz Khan, Harindranath Chattopadhyay, 
Anwar Hussain, Anoop Kumar, 
KN Singh, Leela Misra, 
SN Bannerjee, Laxmi Chhaya
The Nargis saga continues. This time, it’s her last film, a psychological drama about a  woman suffering from multiple personality disorder (or Disassociative Identity Disorder, as it is known today). It seems apt that in the late 60s when garish Eastman colour was the order of the day, this film should be shot in black and white – a reflection of the shades of darkness and light that plague the protagonist’s mind. This is mirrored in the title song as well – Raat aur din diya jale, Phir bhi mere man mein andhiyaara hai…

12 June 2018

Lajwanti (1958)

Directed by: Narendra Suri
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Starring: Nargis, Balraj Sahni, 
Baby Naaz, Prabhu Dayal, 
Leela Misra, Radhekrishan, 
Manorama, Parveen Paul
I had only vague recollections of Lajwanti. I remember being inordinately annoyed at Balraj Sahni’s character. I also remembered this as one of Nargis’s ‘trials and tribulations’ films – so I never revisited it. Once was enough, I thought. However, every time I ended up watching a Nargis movie (invariably her films with Raj Kapoor – as Madhu posted, it is very rarely that I watched a film for Nargis), I was amazed at her mastery over her craft. I marvelled at how natural she was, how charming. Therefore, it’s with a newfound appreciation of her genuine – and overwhelming – talent that I decided to make reparations for ignoring her all these years. When I was revisiting her songs for the previous post I stumbled upon Lajwanti again – this time, I was curious enough for a re-watch. Did it confirm my recollections? Read on.

6 June 2018

The Many Moods of Nargis

As I mentioned earlier, I hadn’t really thought of Nargis as one of my ‘favourite’ actresses, until I realised that whenever I saw her on screen, I loved how natural she was, how charming, and how effortless her performances. Now, I can better understand why she was my father’s favourite heroine. (The fact that he adored Raj Kapoor could also have had something to do with it, so closely associated is Nargis with RK, man and films.) In any case, I have a new favourite actress. To make reparations for having neglected her for so long, June will be 'Nargis Month' here at Conversations over Chai. (To pre-empt Shalini who will remind me that I’ve never had a ‘Meena Kumari month’ yet or a ‘Waheeda Rehman month’, I offer 15 posts (ten films) for the former and 11 posts (8 films) for the latter, not to mention countless appearances in my many song lists.)  

1 June 2018

The Greats: Nargis

01. 06. 1929 – 03. 05. 1981
When I’m asked about my favourite Hindi film heroines, I usually have Meena Kumari top the list, followed by Waheeda Rehman and Nutan. But then, I also adore Madhubala. And Geeta Bali. Funnily enough, if you’d asked me about Nargis, my response would have been ambivalent. She was my father’s favourite heroine, but I kept thinking I'd never warmed to her. Until I actually began watching her on screen. Which is when I realised just how expressive a performer she really was. How charming.  How her smile lit up the screen. And how I liked her very, very much indeed.
Nargis may not have been classically beautiful like Waheeda Rehman or had that scintillating charisma that Madhubala possessed in abundance, but she definitely had a screen presence. And, while I may not like some of the roles she did (Mother India, Adalat), I can safely say I have never seen a bad Nargis performance. Not even when she was a gauche teenager.

27 May 2018

Adl-e-Jehangir (1955)

When my partner-in-masala-watching-crime gave me a homework assignment – erm, sorry, ‘encouraged’ me – to ‘watch Adl-e-Jehangir and write a review’ (she thoughtfully provided me with a link as well), I was only half interested (because – Meena Kumari). The story was somewhat similar to that of Sohrab Modi’s Pukar which I had reviewed some time ago. Much to my surprise, I didn’t recognise any of the songs either. And then of course, I completely forgot about it. Recently, Shalini gently (relative, that) took me to task for forgetting Meena Kumari in my new-found love for the likes of Deepika, Alia, Parvathi, et al. My head hung in shame, I owned up to my slippery slope of cinematic infidelity and promised to make reparations.

First of all, you have to like a movie that starts like this. 
Secondly, this is nothing like Pukar! Now that we’ve established that, onwards…

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. 

Back to TOP