19 November 2017

Timbuktu (2014)

Directed by: Abderrehmane Sissako
Music: Amine Bouhafa
Starring: Ibrahim Ahmed, Toulou Kiki, 
Abel Jafri, Layla Walte Mohamed, 
Mehdi AG Mohamed, 
Fatoumata Diawara, Omar Haidara
Hichem Yacoubi, Kettly Noel,  
Adel Mahmoud Cherif, Salem Dendou, 
Cheik AG Emkani
‘Where is God in all this?’ questions the mild-mannered imam (Adel Mahmoud Cherif) of a jihadi when the latter tries to convince him that they're fighting a religious war. In an earlier scene, the imam had gently remonstrated with the jihadis when they enter a mosque with their shoes on and weapons in hand. His people have a right to pray in peace, he tells them. A woman who is selling fish is more antagonistic – ‘How can I sell fish with gloves on?’ She demands. ‘Here, cut off my hands.

15 November 2017

Rhythm (2000)

Directed by: Vasanth
Music: AR Rehman
Lyrics: Vairamuthu
Starring: Arjun, Meena, Nagesh, 
Vatsala Rajagopal, Manivannan, 
Jyothika, Ramesh Aravind, Lakshmi
Rhythm has been on my to-watch list for months now. Fellow-blogger Ram Murali had recommended this to me a long time ago, requesting that I review it. For a variety of reasons, I didn’t get around to doing so. Until recently, on one of my previous posts, Ram gently reminded me that I hadn’t kept my promise. Already feeling guilty, I ended up feeling even worse when long-time reader and friend, Lalitha, chimed in about the film. So, one evening last week, when I’d finished work, I began watching.

10 November 2017

Raja Jani (1972)

Directed by: Mohan Sehgal
Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
Starring: Dharmendra, Hema Malini, 
Durga Khote, Premnath, 
Prem Chopra, Johnny Walker, 
Nadira, Sajjan
 Like my previous review, this review too came about because of Dustedoff. In my post on Hema Malini, she mentioned how Tum Haseen Main Jawan was a guilty pleasure. So, I promptly encouraged her to review it. I’d already been on a Dharam-Hema film-watching spree and was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining some of these films were. When I mooted the idea of a double post, Dustedoff promptly agreed to a Dharam-Hema special. So here we are with a Dharam-Hema double bill – which means double the fun, and double the awesomeness. [No one said I had to be modest!]

6 November 2017

Lata Sings For RD

Some years ago, I was listening to one of my favourite songs Aa jaane jaa from Inteqaam. S, who usually recognises music directors by the way a song is composed, wondered whether the song was composed by RD Burman, and was quite surprised when he learnt the music directors were Laxmikant-Pyarelal. That got us into a discussion about 'RD's sound'. My introduction to RD had been rather unfortunate – I grew up in the 80s and my father dismissed RD as 'that noise maker'. A long time passed before I realized there was more to RD than 'noise'. This discussion also reminded me that while RD was most closely associated with Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle, he had used other singers to great effect. 

3 November 2017

Kakkothikkavile Appooppan Thaadikal (1988)

Directed by: Kamal
Music: Ouseppachan
Lyrics: Bichu Thirumala
Starring: Revathi, Ambika, 
VK Sreeraman, Krishnankutty Nair, 
MS Thrippunithara, Kaveri, 
Raasi, Anu Anand, Kiran Vergis
Malayalam films in the 80s were relatively sedate, focusing on strong stories and scripts before banking on star power. There were no 'super stars' then; there were, however, super actors, men and women who looked at the depth of their role rather than its length, and did not seem to mind taking on small, intense cameos in films that were headlined by their so-called rivals. The story was king, and the director, the captain of the ship, if you'll forgive me mixing up my metaphors. This was one such film.  

30 October 2017

Abhinetri (1970)

Directed by: Subodh Mukherjee
Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Starring: Hema Malini, Shashi Kapoor, 
Nirupa Roy, Nasir Hussain, 
Asit Sen, Nazeema, 
When I wrote up Anuradha, fellow-blogger and long-time reader, Dustedoff, mentioned another film that had almost the same characters and plot. She suggested it would be interesting to see how the films differed (or were similar). I had watched Abhinetri a long time ago, and apart from remembering Oh ghata saanwri thodi thodi baawri, my only recollection of the film is a tinge of annoyance at the male character. [That seems to be a common thread, anyway!] So I decided it was time to figure out whether my younger self was right in that tinge of annoyance, and whether a much older, perhaps-wiser me could find extenuating circumstances that could – if not forgive – at least understand the circumstances.

25 October 2017

Anuradha (1960)

Directed by: Hrishikesh Mukherjee
Music: Pandit Ravi Shankar
Lyrics: Shailendra
Starring: Leela Naidu, Balraj Sahni, 
Abhi Bhattacharya, Nasir Hussain, 
Hari Shivdasani, Ashim Kumar, 
Ranu Mukherjee, Mukri, David
Asit Sen, Rashid Khan
How much should we sacrifice for love? And is love enough? Does giving up on your own dreams to follow your heart bring you happiness? 

17 October 2017

The Divas: Hema Malini

This category – The Divas – came about because I didn’t know how to categorise the gamut of 60s heroines who, unlike their predecessors, weren’t getting as many author-backed roles – they were mostly arm candy in the candy floss films that came out of the colourful 60s. However, both Sharmila Tagore and Sadhana (my previous entries in this category) had managed to transcend their limited opportunities to make the most of the few good roles that came their way within the parameters of commercial cinema of the time. 

Actresses like Padmini, Vyjayanthimala and Waheeda had already paved the way for the influx of the twinkle-toed South brigade but the one person who broke the dam that began the deluge was a doe-eyed beauty who was packaged as the ‘Dream Girl’ in her very first film, Sapnon ka Saudagar – Hema Malini. The ‘Dream Girl’ sobriquet hasn’t been bestowed on anyone since, even if the veteran actress was gracious enough to say that she thought the tag fit Aiswarya [Rai] very well indeed.

11 October 2017

Anaarkali of Aarah (2017)

Directed by: Avinash Das
Music: Rohit Sharma
Lyrics: Avinash Das, Ram Kumar Singh
Dr Sagar, Ravindra Randhawa, 
Prashant Ingle
Starring: Swara Bhaskar, Sanjay Mishra, 
Pankaj Tripathi, Ishityak Khan, Vijay Kumar,
Mayur More
We learnt what consent means in Pink – a ‘big’ film about three working women – women like us – who face the consequences of a man not taking their ‘No’ for a final answer. Middle class women, coming from ‘respectable’ families, women who work in offices for a living. Urban, well-educated and independent. We felt for them, having had similar experiences where our reputations are scarred only because of the way we dressed, or the way we ‘talked to boys’.

But what happens when the lady in question is a folk entertainer, who dances wherever she gets a gig? Whose songs run the gamut from the raunchy to the frankly vulgar? Who, by her own admission, is no ‘Sati Savitri’ and has no qualms about exchanging sexual favours for money? Does she get to say ‘No’ and have that non-consent respected?

6 October 2017

My Favourites: Songs of Regret

Life, if lived well – ‘tis said – does not involve regrets. Because everything happens for a reason. Even if you don’t really know what that reason is, at that point of time. However, there are very few people who are that sanguine about their actions. Hindsight being perfect, we often dissect our past in the hope that we can find answers to that most frustrating of questions – ‘What if?’ What would our lives have been if we had taken the other fork in the road – the road not taken? What would our lives had been if we had chosen to do otherwise? Not having a crystal ball, no one can answer that question either. That doesn’t stop us, however, from gnawing at hypothetical scenarios. Just as much as for any other recurring life theme, Hindi films have a song to fit the occasion. Here are a few of my favourite songs of regret. 
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