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9 December 2019

The Legends: Geeta Dutt - Part 2

23.11.1930 - 20.07.1972
Despite a glorious career cut short by her untimely demise, Geeta Dutt left behind an exhaustive body of work; her swansong(s) in the 70s showed us that – even ailing and amidst her personal tragedies – she had so much more to offer us. Compared to her contemporaries, Geeta was probably the least trained, musically. But what she had was an innate ability to ‘live’ her songs, to be the emotion in the song, to make us feel that emotion. Despite stiff competition from Lata Mangeshkar (who remained a close friend throughout Geeta’s life), Geeta held her own and for the next decade. 

23 November 2019

The Legends: Geeta Dutt

23.11.1930 - 20.07.1972
This post has been a long time in the coming. Which is strange, considering she is one of my favourite singers. This was not the case when I was younger, however. I was weaned on Lata Mangeshkar. [And while my father liked a whole host of other singers, this was the one place where I remained singularly obstinate.] I still remember the day I realised that I was on the slippery slope to idol-infidelity – back in the day, Vividh Bharati on AIR had a programme known as ‘Vishesh Jayamala’ – a programme for the armed forces, presented by an actor, singer, or music director (among others), who chooses the songs they like for our listening pleasure.

Sometime in the mid-70s [or was it the late 70s? I’m not sure; I was a wee child, then], the Vishesh Jayamala was hosted by Amitabh Bachchan. One of the songs he chose, a song that was his favourite, he said, was Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam from Kagaz ke Phool. There was something about the song I liked – apart from the fact that it was Amitabh Bachchan’s favourite! – something I couldn’t quite explain.

Then, sometime in the eighties, Bhaskar Ghosh, then-director of Doordarshan, decided that the hoi polloi needed culture. He held retrospectives of various directors – Raj Kapoor, Guru Dutt, Alfred Hitchcock, etc., and we film lovers got a feast of good films to watch late at night. One such screening was of Guru Dutt’s Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam. Now, I’d heard several songs from the film before this, but I hadn’t yet watched the film, my father not being a fan of Guru Dutt. When the movie began, and the first notes of Koi door se awaaz de, chale aao… filled the room, I fell in love.  The song was achingly haunting, and the voice seemed to hold a wealth of pain and longing. I had never heard this song before, but that night, watching the story of Chhoti Bahu unfold on our tiny TV screen, and sensing rather than feeling the unfulfilled desires implicit in singer’s voice, I fell utterly, completely in love.

20 November 2019

Un Cœur en Hiver (1993)

A Heart in Winter
Directed by Claude Sautet
Music: Maurice Ravel
Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Emmanuelle Béart, 
 André Dussollier, Brigitte Catillon,  
Élizabeth Bourgine
I fell in love with Emmanuelle Béart when I first saw her in Un Cœur en Hiver in the time of VHS tapes. Daniel Auteuil has been a favourite forever, and I’ve been wanting to review this film ever since. It’s only recently that Netflix made the film available on DVD, and I settled down for a re-watch. I was curious to see how I would feel about the film nearly 20 years since I first watched it. More about that later.

12 November 2019

Andaz Apna Apna (1994)

Directed by: Rajkumar Santoshi
Music: Tushar Bhatia
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Starring: Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, 
Raveena Tandon, Karishma Kapoor, 
Paresh Rawal, Shakti Kapoor, 
Shehzad Khan, Viju Khote, 
Javed Khan, Deven Verma, 
Mehmood, Jagdeep, Tiku Talsania
When it comes to films you love – and have watched a million times (give or take a few) – you just can’t be objective. Just as, in my salad days, Amitabh Bachchan was God. He could do no wrong. And so it is with Andaz Apna Apna. It’s the only film, other than Sholay, where I can recite the dialogues before the actor delivers it onscreen. I know who’s going to say what, I know what the reaction is, and I will still laugh uncontrollably when the scene plays out. Earlier this month, Andaz Apna Apna - which was a box-office disaster when it released, but has become a much-beloved cult classic in the interim with an 8.4 rating on IMDB – turned 25. So let me chronicle my love for this Archies-inspired comedy.

6 November 2019

Bheegi Raat (1965)

Directed by: Kalidas
Music: Roshan
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Starring: Ashok Kumar, Meena Kumari, 
Pradeep Kumar, Shashikala, 
Kamini Kaushal, Rajendranath, 
IS Johar, Hari Shivdasani, 
Moni Chatterjee, Ulhas, Raj Mehra
There are times when I begin watching a film and know, within the first frame or so, that it’s going to be a train wreck. Despite the presence of my favourite actress. I’m adding this to my ‘films you must avoid at all cost’ list, but since I’ve taken one for the team, I figured I would ‘review’ it. With many, many asides.

31 October 2019

The Masters: SD Burman

01.10.1906 - 31.10.1975
This post has been a long time in coming. One year, to be precise. I picked the songs I wanted, badgered my husband into writing down music notes for some of them, and then… a year passed, and I posted but intermittently. A forced sabbatical ensured that the blog was the last thing on my mind. This year, too, I’d finally planned to end this sabbatical with a month-long series of posts on SD Burman. ‘The best laid plans of mice and men…’ But as Antara, an online friend and long-time reader said, ‘Der aaye durust aaye.’ So, here, on his death anniversary, an ode to the great man himself. 

20 August 2019

The Day Music Died

18.02.1927 - 19.08.2019
Har mulaaqat ka anjaam judaii kyun hai
Ab to har vaqt yahi baat sataati hai hamein

I woke up today to hear the news that music director, Khayyam, was no more. For many of us, of a certain generation, the 'golden age' of Hindi film music was bookended by the 50s and 60s. A pantheon of great music directors, singers, musicians and arrangers collaborated to give us enduring melodies – songs that filled our childhoods and adolescence, and became part of our collective consciousness. 

As we grew older, nostalgia tinted our memories of the films for which these songs were recorded, though many of them have not aged well. Nevertheless, music lovers found new ways to discover 'new' old songs – YouTube did yeoman service in this regard. Hitherto unheard interviews, recording sessions, rehearsals – all that we had once heard of, or read, now came alive through the efforts of some dedicated music lovers who uploaded these rare videos for our viewing pleasure. 

27 June 2019

My Favourites: RD Burman

27 .06.1939 - 04.01.1994Photo credit: Decan Herald
Truth to tell, RD Burman's music in mainstream Hindi cinema in the 80s – which was when I was devouring every movie that came out – didn’t really appeal to me. Brought up as I was on the music directors of an earlier generation, the beats of the 80s were, on the whole, unappealing. Of course, RD wasn’t the only culprit. Hindi film music in the 80s was at its nadir, with only stray oases of melody to alleviate a parched landscape.

29 May 2019

Sudani From Nigeria (2018)

Directed by: Zakaria Mohammed
Music: Rex Vijayan, Shahabaz Aman
Starring: Soubin Shahir, Samuel Abiola Robinson, 
Aneesh G Menon, KTC Abdullah, 
Savitri Sreedharan, Sarasa Balussery,  
Navas Vallikkunnu, Ashraf Thangal, 
Abhiram Pothuval
Kerala, Bengal and Goa are probably the three Indian states that can be called football mad. The Beautiful Game is a very serious matter in these states. In fact, when my cousin visited when the World Cup began last year, our home town, she said, looked like it was hosting the World Cup it was bedecked in the yellow and green of Brazil and the blue and white of Argentina.  Soon after, when both nations unceremoniously bowed out Argentina in the Round of 16, and Brazil in the Quarter Finals, it seemed as if Kerala was in mourning. That's how important Football is, to the Malayali heart.

15 May 2019

The Nav Ketan Ladies

I seem to have been gone a long time. Well, seven months is a long time in blog land. It was an enforced sabbatical that went on far longer than I'd estimated. But... like all good things, all bad things must also come to an end. In the meantime, a blog acquaintance contacted me to ask if I would write for an online magazine that is all about films - not reviews of films as I usually do, or song lists, but a personal essay. We threw around a few ideas - ideas that I'd often thought of, and even remarked upon either in my own writing, or in comments on other blogs I frequent. She found one of them rather interesting and asked if I would be interested in expounding on it. I hadn't written anything for these seven months, so I was a bit hesitant, but it was only a momentary hesitation. I had been given an opportunity to brush the cobwebs off my writing and write about something that interested me. It seemed the right time to break my self-imposed exile from my blog. So, onward then, to the article that ended my sabbatical.
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