20 April 2018

My Man Godfrey (1936)

Directed by: Gregory La Cava
Music: Charles Previn, Rudy Schrager
Starring:  William Powell, Carol Lombard, 
Alice Brady, Eugene Pallette, 
Gail Patrick, Jeanne Dixon, 
Alan Mowbray
It only happens at the movies. And sometimes, it only happens to the movies – this one garnered nominations in all the four main acting categories and yet missed the ‘Best Picture’. It is also the first film to garner six Academy Award nominations and win none. But US Library of Congress retrospectively did it justice when it was deemed ‘culturally significant’ and preserved in the National Film Registry. At the turn of the century, the film was rated #44 in the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Funniest Comedies. This is My Man Godfrey, adapted from 1101 Park Avenue, a novel by Eric Hatch (who also collaborated on the screenplay).

15 April 2018

The Masters: Hasrat Jaipuri

15.04.1922 17.09.1999
Back when I was used to having Hindi film songs play in the background all the time, names like Sahir Ludhianvi, Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri were well-known to me. Besides, with my father’s fondness for all things Raj Kapoor, it would have been impossible not to know his lyricist’s name. But while I appreciated the lyrics of songs even back then, even writing down specific lyrics in a notebook, I didn’t really pay much attention to the wordsmiths behind the words that captivated me. Back then, I recognised songs by the singers and the films in which they belonged. Music directors were seldom thought of, and lyricists were just names that were read out before the song was played on the radio. However, as I grew older and I really began to understand the craft of writing words set to a particular metre, and wondered at the ability to distill and emotion with such lyricism, I began to appreciate the lyricists more. 

10 April 2018

Paithrukam (1993)

Directed by: Jayaraj
Music: SP Venkatesh
Lyrics: Kaithapram
Starring: Narendra Prasad, Suresh Gopi, 
Jayaram, Geetha, 
Maniyan Pilla Raju, 
Nandita Bose
For quite some time now, I’ve steered clear of ‘serious’ films preferring to be entertained rather than be forced to think. So why I suddenly thought of two movies – both by the same director – neither of which can be slotted as ‘entertainers’, is beyond me. Deshadanam is indescribably tragic and not being a masochist in the slightest, I decided to leave that for another day, preferably not during the dark, depressing winter days.

6 April 2018

My Favourites: Bathroom Songs

Recently, Dustedoff posted a list of ‘Swimming Pool’ songs – songs that were filmed near, or in a swimming pool, for the better part of it. In the comments, I mentioned that I had a similar list which I’d been saving for when our summer begins. (Anyone who wants to go swimming in an outdoor pool on the East Coast in April had better have their brains checked.) I since dropped the idea, but this theme is tangential to that one.

2 April 2018

Qarib Qarib Singlle (2017)

Directed by: Tanuja Chandra
Music: Anu Malik, Rochak Kohli,
Vishal Mishra, Ali Merchant
Lyrics: Raj Shekhar, Hussain Haidry,
Varum Grover
Starring: Parvathi TK, Irffan Khan, 
Neha Dhupia, Pushtil Shakti, 
Siddharth Menon, Luke Kenny, 
Brijendra Kala, Navneet Nishan
I don’t usually review new films. I figure there are enough reviews, synopses, and what have yous about new films that it’s not worth my while to add my two paise of content to it. However, ever so rarely, I do make exceptions. Either because I just had so much fun or because they are films that I love that I think deserve to be better known. Qarib Qarib Singlle (don’t be put off by the misspelling in the title – there’s a reason for it) is both entertaining and good. It definitely deserves a little more love than it’s gotten. 

28 March 2018

Katha (1983)

Directed by: Sai Paranjpye
Music: Raj Kamal
Starring: Naseeruddin Shah, Deepti Naval, 
Farooque Shaikh, Arun Joglekar, 
Leela Misra, Mallika Sarabhai, 
Winni Paranjpye, Sudha Chopra, 
Suhasini Deshpande, Nitin Sethi
I grew up an Amitabh Bachchan fan. His brooding intensity, that sexy baritone, that articulate dialogue delivery – all attracted me. I adored him with all my heart. Watching Farooque Shaikh at the time seemed like watching a ‘boy’ instead of a man. He was okay, teenage-me felt; he didn’t leave that much of an impression. The impression I did have was rather negative because he always seemed like he was going to apologise for something. He was the quintessential good guy and perhaps I liked the bad boys better.  It took years, and many more films to realise that I really did like Farooque Shaikh after all. That he was a fabulous actor, really, but was just so unassuming that he blended into his character. Come to think of it, there hasn’t been a film in which I hated Farooque’s acting.

A long time ago, blog reader Nalini had asked me to review Farooque Shaikh – Deepti Naval movies. Since March is the birth month of both Sai Paranjpye (18th) and Farooque Shaikh (25th), I figured I should review one of their films together. Since I’d already reviewed Chashme Buddoor, Katha it was.   

22 March 2018

Nau Do Gyarah (1957)

Directed by: Vijay Anand
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Starring: Dev Anand, Kalpana Kartik, 
Jeevan, Shashikala, Lalita Pawar, 
Krishan Dhawan, Madan Puri, 
Jagdish Raj, Helen
For all my love of Dev Anand movies, there is one Dev Anand film that I haven’t watched quite as often. Which is strange because Nau Do Gyarah is not only helmed by Vijay Anand, it belongs to the era of DASS – my husband’s short form for ‘Dev Anand Shwet Shyam’. (Dev Anand Black & White). Not to mention the songs, which are my constant companions on my long drives. So, needing some Dev Anand love, I watched this again.

16 March 2018

Suhaag (1979)

Directed by: Manmohan Desai
Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
Starring: Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, 
Rekha, Parveen Babi, 
Amjad Khan, Nirupa Roy, 
Jeevan, Kader Khan, 
Ranjeet, Jagdish Raj
Sometime ago, Shalini – my partner in crime when it comes to watching Hindi movies – and I were talking about the ‘Manmohan Desai Universe’. His movies were larger than life, his characters were over the top, and the melodrama was dialled up to the highest pitch. Yet, wholly illogical as his movies were, Desai’s characters were logical and realistic within the universe they inhabited. And, Desai had a fine grip on the combination of masala that he served forth. So, after watching Naseeb together, Shalini and I made a future date to watch Suhaag, which is considered one of his ‘lesser’ movies, even if it was the top box-office grosser of that year.

Think of a Desai film with two heroes, two heroines, and two villains – also, brothers separated at birth, blindness, some moral conflict, cops and robbers, exciting chases, love, filial duty, revenge, divine intervention… the full range of a masala universe packed into three hours of non-stop entertainment. No one can accuse Desai of stinting on emotion.
So, Shalini and I relaxed, needing some Shashi-Amitabh love for us to tide us over. Onward then…
[Be warned: Lots of asides, declamation, quips, photographs, and swooning included.]

11 March 2018

The Rise of an Emperor

I have been generally writing my book reviews on GoodReads. But I decided that I'd intially begun this blog to write about music, movies and books. So far, my book reviews on this blog had been limited to books on cinema. That changed when I reviewed Madhu's latest book recently. I'd like that to not be a one-off. Therefore, another review of another book not related to cinema - that I read recently and enjoyed very, very much.

My introduction to Chandragupta Maurya, as for many of my generation I wager, was through Amar Chitra Katha, the illustrated comics that we devoured by the dozen. As I grew older, history texts gave me the dry facts about one of the greatest emperors of all time, the founder of the Maurya dynasty, and a man who is said to have been an enlightened ruler as well as a great conqueror. As my interest in history grew, so did my awareness that there really weren’t very many interesting records of our past. The few there were, were dry academic tomes, guaranteed to put anyone but the most diligent history buff to sleep. My interest in historical fiction arose as a direct offshoot of my interest in history. There is a certain joy to a tale well-told, that takes real people from history and puts them into an imaginary (but well-thought-out) world. Unfortunately, reading most historical fiction reveals the severe lacunae of research. Many authors place their stories in a period of which they have very little knowledge except for the myths and legends that abound in popular culture, and therefore, the books abound in anachronisms.

7 March 2018

Archives: Sridevi

This wasn’t the post I’d planned for today. But with one thing and another, that post wasn’t complete. Besides, the events of the last week have been preying on my mind. When I was writing a tribute to Sridevi, I mentioned I’d been surprised to meet a quiet, unassuming woman sitting quietly on the sets, waiting for her co-stars to arrive – a full two hours after the shoot was supposed to start. I didn’t remember much else about the interview, other than that she transformed into someone completely different once the director called ‘Action!’ So, this weekend, I rooted around to see if I still had a copy of the interview. I did.

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