31 March 2022

Five More Films - Five More Revisions

When I began this list, I was going to call it 'Ten Films I Would Like to Rewrite'. But the list grew so long and so cumbersome that I decided to make two separate lists. As the comments on my previous post show, we could all make plenty of such lists. The only difference is that the films on that first list were all good films. Here, most of these were successful films, not necessarily good ones. 

26 March 2022

Five Classics I would Like to Rewrite

This list grew out of the discussion that Shalini and I had at the end of Luck by Chance. Of how even ‘sensitive’ directors and writers do an injustice to their female characters. “If only we could rewrite endings,” sighed Shalini, and we both, independently picked Bimal Roy’s Bandini to begin with. As we threshed out what made Kalyani’s arc so problematic, I was reminded of other films that had the same issue – some great films, some good ones, some pet peeves. Rashly, I said, “Oh, that could be the subject of a post, right?” Quite forgetting that it was Shalini I was talking to… She threw herself with great enthusiasm into the task. This post is the result of our deliberations. 

Then, in a comment on one of my posts, Madhulika of Dustedoff, mentioned how she was thinking of a post of abysmal films; films that, on my blog, I tend to lump into the "Avoid, yaar" category. So I quipped that my post would complement hers. After all, she was writing about really bad films with no mitigating factor to recommend them; I was writing about (at least in the first part of my post) really great films with problematic endings. We both agreed to post on the same day.

So here, in the first of a two-part post, I discuss five great films and why, despite strong women characters in them, the all-pervasive male gaze made their endings problematic, if not a complete cop-out. [For Madhulika's companion post, click here.]

Warning: Long post. Also? Spoilers galore. So, if you haven’t watched any or all of these films and would wish to do so, stop reading right now. 

20 March 2022

Gehraiyaan (2021)

Directed by: Shakun Batra
Music: Kabir Kathpalia
Starring: Deepika Padukone, Siddhant Chaturvedi
Ananya Pandey, Dhairya Karwe,
Rajat Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah

I like all things Deepika Padukone. (If that sentence does not make any sense, it is because Deepika turns my brains into mush.) But my favourite actor has been missing from screen for far too long (and no, a cameo in 83 does not count). So, when Shakun Batra’s Gehraiyaan released, I was thrilled. The trailer looked promising. Besides, I liked both of Shakun’s previous films – Kapoor & Sons, and Ek Main aur Ek Tu. That’s to say, I liked his take on dysfunctional families. And because I wanted to chew on this film while I watched it, I asked Shalini if she wanted to watch it with me. Now, that’s a mixed blessing. Watching with Shalini is always fun, but she doesn’t like Deepika (she’s nuts!). But, out of sheer love for me (huh!), she agreed, on condition that she would be allowed to snark. Deciding that I could always ignore her snark (it’s on chat after all, not verbal), I gladly said yes. Did Shalini hate the movie? Did she snark so much I had to stick a voodoo doll with pins to hex her? Read on…

15 March 2022

Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (2001)

Directed by: Karan Johar
Music: Babloo Chakravarty,
Jatin–Lalit, Sandesh Shandilya
Aadesh Shrivastava
Lyrics: Sameer, Anil Pandey
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan,
Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Hrithik Roshan,
Kareena Kapoor, Farida Jalal,
Rani Mukherjee, Alok Nath,
 Sushma Seth, Achla Sachdev,
Simone Singh, Johnny Lever,
Himani Shivpuri

Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham is just a 'pretty people doing pretty things' movie. The film became a cult favourite, and even if you have not watched it, you have seen enough memes and jokes about it to know that it is all about loving your family. I wasn't even sure I would write a review. Then, I thought, why not? Our masala loving hearts had thoroughly enjoyed this candy floss of a film, so here's a long review with plenty of quips and even more screenshots.

11 March 2022

Luck by Chance (2009)

Directed by: Zoya Akhtar
Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
Starring: Farhan Akhtar, Konkona Sen Sharma
Rishi Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia,
Juhi Chawla, Sanjay Kapoor,
Isha Sharvani, Alyy Khan,
Arjun Mathur

Continuing my saga of ‘Watchalong Reviews’, I go from one film which showcased the Who’s Who of the film industry to another in which everyone who is anyone makes an appearance. It’s as different from Naseeb as chalk from cheese, but every bit as entertaining, even if the humour is dark and the tone more serious. Perhaps this is why this film doesn’t have as much of our banter as usual.

The credits show us the ‘unseen people’ – the light men, the makeup artistes, the spot boys, the canteen workers, the tailors, the extras – everyone, without whom the industry would not function. But soon, we are playing ‘spot the star’, with actors, directors, musicians all playing a version of themselves. We even spot ‘Maganlal Dresswallah’, who used to be a famous costume supplier for films in the 70s.

5 March 2022

Naseeb (1981)

Directed by: Manmohan Desai
Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini,
Shatrughan Sinha, Reena Roy,
Rishi Kapoor, Kim,
Pran, Amjad Khan,
Amrish Puri, Kader Khan,
Prem Chopra, Shakti Kapoor,
Jeevan, Shubhan Khote,
Lalita Pawar, Mukri

I have decided that after a month of gentle grieving, I need something to leaven the sadness. For me, masala films, true blue masala films, the kind that Hindi cinema made so beautifully once, are both a solace and an escape from a world that seems to be growing increasingly insane. Most of my masala movie watching is done with Shalini, and our ‘watchalongs’ always double the fun of watching these out and out entertainers. Good films are made even more so, while the bad ones become cause for even more mirth.

So, in the first of these reviews, let me present to you that Baadshah of masala, that Shahenshah of illogic – Manmohan Desai (MD hereafter). We both agree that he’s criminally overlooked when people talk of the masala-verse. He certainly didn’t care for logic in his films, but he always had a good grip on the diverse strands of his cockamamie plot. The emotional core in his films was a solid one. [All reviews will be served with a side of our very ‘intellectual’ comments as a palate cleanser. Shalini’s comments in green; mine in whatever-this-shade-is, and sundry asides in italics.] 

28 February 2022

Nasheeli Songs - Lata Mangeshkar

I have published posts on sharabi songs before this. There has been a post on an intoxicated Dev Anand, another on inebriated songs, a third, warning women about the perils of alcohol. So why this post on a nasheeli Lata Mangeshkar? Blame Shalini. It tickled her funny bone; for someone who doesn’t imbibe, Shalini is hell bent on making me write about women who do. And because she’s a wicked woman who likes to drive me batty, she threw in a condition this time as well – I couldn’t use any of the songs on my ‘drunk heroines’ list. (So, no Kaise rahoon chup?  Or Na chhedo kal ke afsaane.) It ‘builds character’, she said. Huh!

24 February 2022

Club Songs – Lata Mangeshkar

Continuing my exploration of Lata Mangeshkar songs under various themes…

In popular perception, ‘nightclub songs’ were sung by Asha Bhosle. Lata was always the voice of the heroine, sweet and virginal. Partly, this perception also arises from the fact that Lata herself refused to sing songs with overtly sexualised lyrics (which is one of the reasons why she had a falling out with Raj Kapoor after Sangam). But, she’s also on record as saying that while her sister, Asha, could have easily sung most of her songs, she couldn’t sing several of Asha’s songs with the same ease. That said, Lata has quite a few ‘nightclub songs’ to her credit. Once again, my thanks to Shalini who inspired me to explore Lata’s foray into ‘forbidden’ territory.

19 February 2022

Dance Songs – Lata Mangeshkar

Pic courtesy: @FilmHistoryPics - Twitter
As I mentioned in my earlier post, this has been a period of immersion in Lata Mangeshkar’s songs.  Every free moment I get
though there haven’t been many of those these days – has been a moment I could listen to yet another Lata song. And if I were feeling particularly maudlin, her sad songs never failed to arouse an emotional response – that someone ‘gets’ me! Every word of those lyrics was seemingly written to reflect my sadness – and Lata’s voice only added to their pathos. It seems strange written that way – why does the death of someone like her affect you so? 
Why does the sadness linger? Is it for her? Or for the nostalgia that her songs evoke? Nostalgia for a simpler past? When you, at least, didn’t have the stresses or responsibilities of adulthood in an increasingly chaotic world? Or is for the people you have lost? People whose memories you hold dear, and your shared memories that included Lata, in all her glory?

14 February 2022

Love Songs - Lata Mangeshkar

1929 - Eternity

I don’t usually do Valentine’s Day posts. But in the days following Lata Mangeshkar’s demise, I – like many others all over the world – immersed myself in her songs. Sometimes, it was the sad songs because they reflected the mood I was in then. At other times, I sought out her happy songs, the light-hearted ones that made me smile despite the lingering sadness. In the spirit of the day, therefore, I thought I would write up my favourite love songs – after all, what’s more hopeful than love? But many of my favourite love songs are duets – Ye raat bheegi bheegi, Nain mile nain hue baawre, Yaad kiya dil ne kahaan ho tum, Do sitaron ka zameen par, Koi bata de dil hai kahaanand I wanted to restrict myself to her solo songs. But as I began to collate them, I realised that not all love songs are happy ones. After all, sadness, despair and even heartbreak are a part of love. But I don’t want to be sad. 

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