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28 May 2024

Italiensk for Begyndere (2000)

Italian for Beginners
Directed by: Lone Scherfig
Starring: Anders W Berthelson, Peter Gantzler,
Lars Kaalund, Ann Eleanora Jørgensen,
Sara Indrio Jensen, Annette Støvelbæk,
Lene Tiemroth, Jesper Christensen,
Bent Mejding
When the Criterion Channel uploaded Italiensk for Begyndere (Italian for Beginners), my husband decided it was time to watch this 2000 movie. Since I had nothing better to do, I sat down to watch as well.

20 May 2024

Dholak (1951)

Directed by: Roop K Shorey
Music: Shyam Sunder
Lyrics: Aziz Kashmiri
Starring: Meena Shorey, Ajit,
Shyamlal, Ved Puri, Shakuntala,
Yashodhara Katju, Majnu,
Tun Tun, Manmohan Krishna,
Rajni, Amir Banu

The lockdown period and my ill-health were only made bearable by a series of ‘watchalongs’ with Shalini. We rewatched our favourite Shammi, Dev and Amitabh movies, watched some new films and many old ‘new’ films – older films that either one, or both, hadn’t watched before. So, on one of those occasions three years ago, we watched Dholak. Once we realised that the story was by IS Johar and that the film was a Roop Shorey production (heroine Meena Shorey’s husband), we settled in watch a film that promised to be both entertaining and thought-provoking). As is always the case with our ‘watchalong reviews’, there will be many comments on the film, and many, many comments on just about everything that crosses our mind. Be warned.

06 May 2024

Laapataa Ladies (2024)

Directed by: Kiran Rao
Music: Ram Sampat
Lyrics: Swanand Kirkire, Divyanshi Sharma,
Prashant Pandey
Starring: Nitanshi Goel, Pratibha Ranta,
Sparsh Srivastav, Chhaya Kadam,
Ravi Kishan, Geeta Agrawal Sharma,
Pankaj Sharma, Daood Hussain,
Satendra Soni, Ravi Kapadiya
Durgesh Kumar, Kanupriya Rishimum

I very rarely write about new Hindi films. Except when they are ‘so bad they are good ‘ or when they are so entertaining that I want to share the film with my readers.  So, yet another exception, this time for a film-maker whose debut film I thoroughly enjoyed.  

01 May 2024

Basant (1960)

Directed by: Bibhuti Mitra
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Qamar Jalalabadi, Shehzan Rizvi,
SH Bihari
Starring: Nutan, Shammi Kapoor,
Pran, Johnny Walker,
Minoo Mumtaz, Murad, Kammo

Shalini and I hadn’t watched a movie together in a long time, so when Fighter dropped on Netflix, we decided to watch it. The movie was so-so [I might do a ‘review’ of it sometime], and while I like Hrithik Roshan [and Shalini doesn’t] we both felt the need to watch some ‘real’ men – not steroid-injected, jacked-up ‘Masters of the Universe’ He-Men. We dithered between rewatching Don [classic Amitabh Bachchan] or watching Shammi Kapoor in this film. Basant won the toss because neither of us had watched this before. Shalini, at least, knew that the film was a cross between It Happened One Night and An Affair to Remember; I had no clue what the film was about except that I loved one of the songs from this film. But… it was a ‘new’ Shammi Kapoor movie, and it co-starred Nutan, and that was all that mattered.

Warning: Since this is a ‘watchalong’, this ‘review’ will be peppered with our comments, most of which may well be along the lines of: “Isn’t Shammi gorgeous?

20 April 2024

The Masters: Shakeel Badayuni

My love for old Hindi film songs is familiar to all those who have read my previous posts. And those who are familiar with my writing know that lyrics play a very important part in that liking. While the melody might initially draw me in, it is always the emotions that the words express that appeal to me, and make the song worth listening to, repeatedly. In the past, I have written about other wordsmiths - Sahir, Shailendra, Majrooh, Hasrat... today, on his 54th death anniversary, I pay my tributes to one of the finest romantic poets who worked in Hindi cinema.

17 April 2024

Char Dil Char Raahein (1959)

Directed by: KA Abbas
Music: Anil Biswas
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
Starring: Raj Kapoor, Meena Kumari,
Nimmi, Ajit, Shammi Kapoor,
Kumkum, P Jairaj, Anwar Hussain,
David, Nana Palsikar, Achala Sachdev,
Jagdish Kanwal, Vishwas Mehra,
Badri Prasad

After watching Pakeezah and feeling sad at how old Meena Kumari looked and how ill, I wanted to watch a film in which she was neither. I’d been sitting on subtitling Char Dil Char Rahen for Tom for over a year now. Tom was remarkably patient, and when I finally completed the subbing, I decided I might as well review it. After all, apart from Meena, it had Nimmi, Raj Kapoor, Ajit, Kumkum and… Shammi Kapoor! Char Dil Char Raahen is an interesting film. Like many films of that period, it does have a socialist messaging, but nation-building was popular then and film-makers who believed in it were not loath to tell stories that advanced their ideology. What makes this film interesting is that it was one of the few films in the Hindi cinema of the time to weave parallel narratives that converged into one. 

07 April 2024

The Teller of Middle-Class Tales

Films have always been defined by the periods in which they were made. Though, initially, films borrowed from stage plays and were, therefore, adaptations of literary works, or told us stories from religious texts or mythology, filmmakers and storytellers soon began to understand the reach of this new medium. Film-makers with a social consciousness began to make movies based on societal ills, harnessing the power of the medium to take their point of view across to audiences. With the birth of a new nation, stories began to express the aspirations of a populace long accustomed to being second-class citizens in their own country, and the hopes and dreams of a young nation as it set forth to become the master of its own destiny. This continued through the 50s.

31 March 2024

Pakeezah (1972)

Directed by Kamal Amrohi
Music: Ghulam Mohammed, Naushad
Lyrics: Kamal Amrohi, Kaifi Azmi,
Majrooh Sultanpuri, Kaif Bhopali
Starring: Meena Kumari, Ashok Kumar,
Raj Kumar, Veena, Nadira, Sapru
Today is the 52nd death anniversary of one of India’s finest actors (and my favourite heroine) – Meena Kumari. I have reviewed many of Meena’s films on this blog before – Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam,Azaad, Kohinoor, Yahudi, Mem Sahib, Miss Mary, Chitralekha, Dushman, Mere Apne,Parineeta, Baharon ke Manzil, Bheegi Raat Yet, when I was looking for a film that would be a tribute to Meena’s talent, I was spoiled for choice. Should I review Ek Hi Rasta? Or Aarti? The songs are wonderful! Why not Pakeezah? After all, I have only been sitting on that review for the last ten years or more. I had almost settled for Ardhangini (only because I hadn’t watched it in a long while) but decided that a tribute to the beautiful actress deserved a far better film. 

Pic courtesy: Filmfare

So, Pakeezah it is.

25 March 2024

The Divas: Nanda


Truthfully, I have never been a great fan of Nanda’s. Perhaps it’s because I first saw her in regressive weepfests like Bhabhi and Chhoti Bahen – where she was saccharine sweet – or in regressive melodramas like Jab Jab Phool Khile, where her western avatar did her no great favours. However, now that I am older and have been exposed to more of her work, I have begun to have a sneaking liking for her vulnerable sweetness.

14 March 2024

Forgotten Composers: SN Tripathi


For every 'great' music director, there are those who were no less talented but whose circumstances did not allow them to rise to the heights their more successful contemporaries did. Yet, their music lives on after them.

I begin this section with Shri Nath Tripathi – or SN Tripathi, as he was popularly known. Except for music aficionados, few people remember the composer even though the songs he composed continue to be popular. But SN Tripathi was not just a composer; he was a musician, a music director, a singer, an actor, a writer and a director. For a man who wore so many hats, and quite successfully at that, his name still does not figure among the pantheon of the greats.  Perhaps it was because much of his work was for the looked-down-upon genres of mythologicals and historicals that he was never considered ‘top-rung’? The question is moot but SN Tripathi’s melodies elevated the films he composed for, and several have overcome changing times and tastes.

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