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Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The hills are alive (Kanchanjangha)

What a brilliantly multi-layered film Kanchanjangha is. Every frame is steeped in imagery, every dialogue resonating with the inner doubts clouding the characters' minds. Just like the mist that is blocking out the sparkling view of the majestic Himalayan range. But, by the time the movie ends, every doubt is put to rest, every question answered, every nagging dillemma is solved. And with that the mist clears out of Darjeeling to gift us with the breathtaking view of the Kanchanjangha. Albeit through Satyajit Ray's eyes.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Learning the ways of the house (The Householder)

The Householder, in my eye, is a coming-of-age tale. A delicate love story that highlights the trials and tribulations of a newly-married couple, the various hiccups that lead to their understanding of each other, the small misunderstandings, the sweet patch-ups, everything about Prem Sagar and Indu's relationship is reflective of how a couple, unaware of each other's feelings, likes and dislikes, gradually iron out their creases and grow to love each other. I'm not getting into the spiritual aspect of Prem's evolution as a thorough house-runner and the process of Indu's becoming houseproud. It is but obvious that there will be some channel all the time whereby the concerned parties would become enlightened.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Glimpses of the Maximum City (The Perfect Murder)

I just lapped this one up the very moment I got my hand on it. A small film that impinges on you for its vibrant cinematography, real landscapes and awesome cast. A story that stands out as much for the subtle depiction of crime and deceit as for its humorous depiction of the idiosyncratic characters. In that Zafar Hai's The Perfect Murder is a joyous collage of experiences that are so life-like and easy to relate to. Every character is well-etched and every frame takes you to 80s Mumbai, when it was still yet to earn the famed Maximum City tag.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Saga of sacrifice (Anuradha)

Anuradha is much ahead of its times. At least in its stark representation of the wrongs doled out to a woman who innocently believed in the enormity of love. The director had the gall to show that not everything is achieved when you marry for love. There is certainly much to life for a wife than silently suffering under the shadow of an idealistic husband. In that Hrishikesh Mukherjee is bang on target. His 1960 President's Gold medal winner deals with such oft-forgotten issues in a subtle yet strong manner.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Introducing an anti-hero (Kala Bazar)

Can we call Dev Anand one of the first anti-heroes in the history of Hindi cinema? For, there are roughly three major films where he handles his grey tones with panache. I'm talking of Guide (1965), Asli Naqli (1962) and Kala Bazar (1960). In all these films Anand's character starts off negatively. But after a certain cathartic moment, he emerges from the flames that help to purify him. In Asli Naqli, his metamorphosis happens when he sees that true love actually resides in poor homes because that emotion needn't be validated by money. In Guide, a personal trauma shakes him up and he atones for his sin by helping villagers. And, in Kala Bazar, the change comes through because of his love for a beautiful girl.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Marriage caper (Chameli ki Shaadi)

This is a small film set in a small town. It dwells on nondescript people and their tiny aspirations. But the fun derived from watching these people while they go about their affairs is gigantic in proportion. This is a simple love story with extraordinary twists and turns. This is a tale that will make you laugh and learn. So, enjoy the joyride called Chameli ki Shaadi.
Basu Chatterjee's films are always entertaining. And, this 1986 romantic comedy is no different. Without prevaricating, let's get to the story (but no spoilers, I guarantee).

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Check mate (Shatranj ke Khilari)

Satyajit Ray's films are like onions. With every viewing, they spring new layers. Every film of his guarantee a new thought, a new feeling, a new imagery, a new parallel, a new subtext, a new meaning, with every watch. Unraveling Ray, hence, becomes such a splendid experience.
In his first Hindi film, Ray toys with a story by Munshi Premchand. Shatranj ke Khilari narrates the tale (Amitabh Bachchan is the narrator) of Awadh's last emperor Wajid Ali Shah at the fag-end of his rule. It depicts how the East India Company confiscates his empire by pulling the strings cunningly. But the 1977 film is not merely a historical chronicle.

Monday, 6 September 2010

A musical revenge (Baiju Bawra)

A Baiju Bawra search on Wikipedia reveals that the classical maestro perished of typhoid at the ripe age of 71. Given this (though there's no historical proof to ascertain this claim) information, the climax of Vijay Bhatt's 1952 film is far from satisfactory. The rationale behind bumping off both Baiju and his sweetheart Gauri, is something that I'm yet to decipher. Even after he is victorious in his vocal duel with Tansen and reaching his village at the nick of time to marry Gauri, the film shows both the lovers drowning in the Yamuna. Sad, but very surprising!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Shades of the showman (Shree 420)

Count Ranbir Raj's initiation into the con world complete when with one swift hand move he shows Maya how the honest country lad can don the garb of the smooth Rajkumar of Peeplinagar. In an instant, his eyes look narrower, his lips curl into a devious grin and his adorable face sheds its agreeable quality to attain a roguishly attractive sheen. It is almost as if the bright lights of the rich society of Bombay has affected him inside. The change is not just in his attire. Ranbir Raj becomes a new person altogether. Ready to rob every pocket to better his prospects in this cut-throat world of greed, crime, power and deceit. It is then that Shree 420 comes into its own. Raj Kapoor's tale about an honest and cheerful Ranbir Raj catapults into a drama more entertaining and  enthralling.