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Saturday, 31 December 2011

Shocked to silence (Gazal)

Everything was running just about fine. A charming romance set in old-world Agra nourished by the beauty of Taj Mahal, sublime songs that connect to your heart directly, able actors who know what exactly to do on screen and a very likeable plot. But suddenly out of nowhere, a stray incident that Ved Madan considers imperative to take his story forward completely throws everything out of control. Especially when the event appears forced and uncalled for. Till then Gazal was doing fine. And the songs were seriously soothing the senses.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Evergreen charmer (Paying Guest)

Dev Anand was not just about romance and good looks. He was much much more. He was about freewheeling fun, about harmless naughtiness, about rollicking laughter, about teasing flirtations and about a gorgeous, gorgeous smile. Paying Guest is a film where you see all these facets of this evergreen charmer. Even though you have the lovely Nutan to feast your eyes on, it's Dev Anand who grips you with his uninhibited panache in this 1956 romance. Right from the very beginning.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A changed man (Magnificent Obsession)

Douglas Sirk's romantic feature, Magnificent Obsession, is a poignant take on love and redemption. Unconventionally handled, this 1954 might not appear to have a deep-seated effect on you at first. But it grows on you with every watch. When at first glance you might feel that a man of Bob Merick's stature can get away with the haughtiness he carries, his drastic change of personality is definitely credible towards the end. A life-changing incident later, here is this rich man who learns the real meaning of love and forgiveness, of giving and sharing and of ultimate duty towards humanity. Yes, Magnificent Obsession is a delicate treatise on human relationships and how the good can triumph over evil.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Sealing the deal (Lover Come Back)

The world of advertising can be a fiercely competitive one. It was so fifty years ago, and it continues to be even that today. And like always, and in every field, there are those who pocket the pie honestly, through hard work and diligence. But most often than not, as Delbert Mann shows in Lover Come Back, the 'drones' win them all through manipulation, back-scratching and underhand means. Sometimes their ways and antics ensure they come up trumps and land up with all the accounts, thus leaving the 'workers' gasp and mull over what went wrong with their straight strategy. Well, if you are competing against the veteran Jerry Webster, you might as well twiddle your thumb and keep mulling over. This ad executive is too fast for anybody. Lies, depravity or deceit, this man knows how to pacify clients like it's nobody's business. And Carol Templeton will soon realise that she is indeed dealing with a tough, albeit contorted, nut.

Friday, 9 December 2011

The tree is toppled (Pillow Talk)

There is something incredibly charming about a playboy being cornered. I adore the process of his falling head over heels in love with the woman who obviously sets him straight and mends his gallivanting ways. But when you have the enterprising and glamorous Doris Day carry the baton of straightening the marvellous looking Rock Hudson, you know you are in for a gargantuan treat. This is sheer battle of the sexes, where the man temporarily triumphs in getting into the good books of the woman. But ultimately, the woman wins the power game when the man realises that all this skirt-chasing needs to be put to an end because this is the woman for him. Witty combats and funny interludes culminate in a happy and fulfilling end. That's the beauty of Pillow Talk, Michael Gordon's 1959 romantic comedy maximizing on the onscreen chemistry between Day and Hudson.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Psycho love (Leave her to heaven)

Gene Tierney was a ravishing woman. Her full lips, blue eyes and alabaster skin can wreak havoc on any sane man's mind. She is beautiful and extremely classy. So, it is a bit unnerving to see her projected as an obsessive lover in John M Stahl's Leave her to Heaven, a very popular film of 1945. In fact, till the time she hankers for the attention of her young and handsome husband and loses her cool seeing how he is more happy sharing his time with his handicapped brother and her own family, I can sympathise with her. But then she does what is not to be done. She does a calculated murder and falls from grace. Slowly she stoops to levels that are too low to be spoken of. And then the beauty in her starts disintegrating. But, Tierney does all this with flamboyance throughout.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Teaching him a lesson (Indiscreet)

Sample this. A woman falls in love with a man who is married but separated from his wife. She spends blissful hours with him not expecting him to divorce his estranged partner and marry her. But as soon as she learns of the real matter she starts seething with rage. It so happens that the married man she so loved is actually not married. He is a bachelor who was pretending to be married. Now, that should be good news for the woman. But no, this is bad news because he pretended to be married when he was not so. Which means that he was shirking all ties even when he was so much in love with her! Ahh... too confusing? Watch Stanley Donen's clever romantic comedy Indiscreet to comprehend the tricky situation.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Choosing the right one (Holiday)

I'm currently riding the Cary Grant wave! Yes, I'm going to review yet another classic starring the dashing Grant. And not just this, I have one more super romance lined up where he is cast opposite another lovely lady; a Swede star who rocked the American movie industry during her times. Well, that doesn't end it. I've recently discovered some of the most well-known but difficult-to-lay-your-hands-on Cary Grant films that are making my downtime well worth it. Generally I love being busy with work. But at the moment, when my hands are not very full with assignments and travel (Come December and my life will be transformed into a hectic caravan!), I'm squeezing in a good film every opportune moment! Ah! The magic of old films...

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

To believe or not to believe (Charade)

Those with a yen for murder-mysteries and thrillers, this one's for you. Have it from me: Charade is one of the best thrillers I've ever encountered. Fast paced and riveting from the word go, this is one story that will hook you till the end credits roll. The best part: The dreadful murders happen one after another but instead of chilling the spine they only whet your appetite to learn who will be the next catch. The murders are done just like that and for once there is no sinister element hanging in the air of this 1963 classic. Stanley Donen packs in plenty of romance, thrills and ready wit making his venture a roller-coaster attraction. Yes, this is one murder mystery where I smiled and giggled enough, there was a bit of gooseflesh only towards the end and I kept getting amazed at the surprises and twists unleashed by the the director every second moment here. No wonder I think, Charade is not to be missed.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Courting the Casanova (Love in the Afternoon)

Billy Wilder's salutation to his idol, Ernst Lubitsch, is a cleverly packaged romantic comedy with all the pretty trappings of Paris. High society soirees, elegant costumes, dashing men and attractive women. Add a dollop of the most witty repartee, dexterously contrived hilarious situations and intelligent humour and you have Love in the Afternoon. This is a celebration of magical Paris, the flamboyance of Gary Cooper, the warmth of Maurice Chevalier and the waif-like gorgeousness of Audrey Hepburn. 
I chanced upon this 1957 masterpiece while reading up on the Hepburn girl. I like calling her so because their is a kind of nubile innocence about her in all her films. Her elfin presence gives her a Cherubic air and when she talks it sounds like the childish prattle of a woman who is still a teenager. Her bob bounces around her sweet face, complementing her round slanted eyes and accentuating that ravishing jawline. Yes, I'm very fond of the cute Hepburn girl. Doubling my fascination for this woman is her fine British accent; she opens her mouth well and round when she talks, pronouncing each and every word like it should be. It's a joy listening to her prattle!

Monday, 21 November 2011

True lies (Jhoothi)

Rekha's on a rampage in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Jhoothi.  Not that in her other films she is any bit dull or drab, but in this comic caper, she is just so boisterously marvellous that you cannot help but glue your sight, smell and every other sense on her. Playing the tomboy Kalpana, she dons the role of a pathological liar. But the difference between her and a wicked weasel is that she lies for a purpose--always a good one. Her lies helps long lost friends meet, helps her sister evade an unwanted alliance and charts an escape route for herself from a sticky situation. Most importantly, this habit of hers helps an innocent from being sentenced to death.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Not a Roman Holiday (Three Coins in the Fountain)

For some reason my love for Rome far supersedes my attraction for Paris. Somehow, Paris seems to be hot property, in terms of style, fashion and romance. But, in Rome I get a whiff of romance even when I pronounce the word. Or maybe because the film Roman Holiday, a serious favourite of mine, celebrates love in such a beautiful way on the streets of this wonderful city. There is a simplicity and innocence about Rome that Paris lacks, or so I feel!
Jean Negulesco's Three Coins in the Fountain is another romance that celebrates the halcyon ambiance of Rome in a glorious way. As the lead girls take a walk on the streets of Rome, they are accosted by Italian Romeos who look attractive to the teeth, Italian princes floor with their chivalry, the Roman countryside is blissful and every frame is sunny, jaunty and cheerful. So, what's not to like about Rome?

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Surfs up (Gidget)

Ever since I discovered Sandra Dee, I've liked her quite a lot. She is cute, sometimes pretty, ebullient, spontaneous and has a childlike innocence about her. Her romance has the bubbly effervescence that is absent in most heroines. No wonder she was so apt for those ingenue roles. Like in Gidget, where she starts of as a 17-year-old tomboy so unaware of the matters of the heart, but soon been struck by Cupid and doing the most adorable little things to make the man jealous. This 1959 film may be having sequels and TV remakes, but the fun in the original is unadulterated. Sandra Dee is adorable here and makes this sporty romance, directed by Paul Wendkos, a delectable joyride.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Seven day saga (Woh Saat Din)

If Sonam Kapoor were half as talented as her father, Anil Kapoor wouldn't have to tax his brains double time on how to secure a sound future for his pretty-but-plastic offspring. The father was really a thorough entertainer. He acted well, right from his first films, carried some rhythm in his toes and was cute to look at. Look at his flamboyant portrayal of a village bumpkin in Woh Saat Din and you'd know that Anil Kapoor was serious about the trade he was getting into. In his first lead role as Prem Pratap Patialewale, Anil Kapoor leaves an indelible impression on sensitive minds. The film, a funny yet sweet saga about a simpleton struggling it out in the big bad city, is a window to the talent that Anil Kapoor would only unleash in his later films. That he was not just riding the popularity of his producer father Surinder Kapoor, but striving to prove that he deserved reckoning is only too true in Bapu's Woh Saat Din.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Romance and entertainment (Lukochoori)

This is prime time entertainment. Twin brothers who are very much aware of each others' existence, sisters who fall in love with each of them, parents who are loving and indulgent yet stern, comedy that is absolutely situational, songs that hark back to the time when Bengali music ruled the roost and performances that are so easy on the senses. Set in Bombay of yore, Lukochoori is one film that pits a comic Kishore Kumar against a restrained one, each one having enough screen time and opportunity to show off his colour and ability, thereby confirming the fact that if and when Kumar wanted he could deliver a fine performance.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Judgement day (Bicharak)

When a director is successful in cooking up a compelling drama out of a small but important event from one's past, he has surely passed the litmus test. More significantly, the screenplay of Bicharak continuously flits in and out of flashbacks constantly whetting our appetite to learn of Gyanendra's secret past. What did he do that makes him continuously weigh his actions? Why is there such an eerie discomfiture between the exchanges a man has with his wife? Why does his mind travel back so much to his past? And most importantly, why is the question incessantly raised as to whether Gyanendra is right enough to decide a man's fate?

Friday, 28 October 2011

Marrying a widow (Prem Rog)

There is something that makes Raj Kapoor films immensely enjoyable. Even if you do not like some aspects of the films--say the melodrama, the OTT quotient or the excessive stretching of the plot, his films do rev up my interest in the happening. What mostly attracts me is the believable social thread that he ties his characters with. His characters are part of a community that suffers from some social malady or the other and through his story-telling method, he strives to drive home a point about this evil custom and how the protagonist struggles and succeeds to overthrow this societal sickness. This process is presented by Raj Kapoor extremely well through his films. They start off as family dramas, but in the folds of the plot, he sheds light on some social custom that needs to be demolished. His films become social commentaries without resorting to pontification. And that is the best part about the RK films. Look at Shree 420, Awara, Jagte Raho, Ram Teri Ganga Maili and the like. If you watch them carefully, you'll know what I'm hinting at.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Two misleading letters (Devar)

The cast is as perfect as Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Anupama. The story is believable, the songs are in place, the performances commendable. Then why is it that Mohan Sehgal's Devar left me with a niggling feeling in my heart. The movie starts off so well and as the script is penned, it should have thrown up plenty of firecrackling histrionics. But somewhere down the line, even the talented actors lose steam, or find the going rather tedious. Adapted from Tarashankar Bandopadhyay's short story, Naa, Devar  is a tale that could have been one of the best dramas of 1966. Could have been for sure...

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Till death do us part (Yeh Vaada Raha)

As a teenager, I suddenly got gripped by Danielle Steel romances. It was then that her Promise impressed me. Fate construing against two lovers, only to have the tables turned back against it by the sheer power of their love-- this theme really touched my heart. Then one day, I saw a film called Yeh Vaada Raha, Kapil Kapoor's adaptation of this romance, and I realised how perfectly the story turned out in reel life. Here the love between the young souls appears even more sweeter, the mishap is much more unfortunate than it looks in the book and the incidents that count up to the halcyon ending is so well stitched together. Yes, this 1982 romance is one film I'd recommend to any hard-core mush lover.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Rollicking discovery (Do Ustad)

I've been telling this to people and they are cracking up. My friends are brushing my statements away. My husband wanted me to repeat what I said thrice pretending that I wasn't clear enough. Well, all the reactions are understandable. I do not grudge them even a bit. For, when you tell anybody, yes, anybody, that Mohd Rafi did sing for Raj Kapoor, there might be times when people would suspect your mental stability. Thankfully, before I was declared a loony, YouTube came to my rescue. I promptly searched for the songs of Do Ustad and put them in front of my husband. And, as expected, like me, he stood amazed, gaping at the screen.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Mind full of Monty (Karz)

There was a friend in college who always made fun of Rishi Kapoor. She said he was too plump, too pink and too goofy to be a hero. This was the time when he was making a fool of himself in films like Prem Granth. I'm sure there must have been other duds like that. No matter how much I convinced her that Rishi Kapoor was once a seriously good-looking fellow and a very smart one at that, she just brushed my claims away. Till of course one day when she chanced upon Subhash Ghai's Karz. Next day all I could hear from her was how luscious his lips were in the film, how dapper he dressed and how crazily romantic his eyes were. The 28-year-old Rishi Kapoor had scored big time and I kept saying, "Didn't I tell you!"

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Surprisingly thrilling (Mahal)

I would call this Shankar Mukherjee film a serious washout if not for the gripping last hour. Mahal, like its earlier cousin, turns out to quite a thrilling venture thanks to the taut storyline and the unconventional execution. What appears to be a run-of-the-mill trying-to-be-clever noir mystery, actually unravels as a innovative entertainer. I admit that Dev Anand is past his prime and tries his mannerisms a bit too much, Asha Parekh hardly gets a meaty role, and the character actors are too scattered in their job, but overall I found the film picking up pace towards the end. And trust me, if it would not have been worth it, I wouldn't have been writing this post. For, I wouldn't have spent time completing the film.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Love, after all the trouble (Blackmail)

It's quite funny that one song from Vijay Anand's Blackmail is celebrated as being one of the most erotic melodies of those times. Given the situation that the song is played in, and the circumstances the leads find themselves in, on any given day, one might be more than ready to sight it as signage of consummation. But then, for me, this song is certainly not one that will melt me into a puddle. I'd rather just call it a breaking of barriers between the protagonists, who till now, failed to unify, owing to the battery of misunderstandings concocted by the devious villain. In this song, the man and the woman realise that all shackles of bitterness are broken and if the circumstances so grant, they would be able to lead a blissful life together now. Well, for me, Mile do badan, is just about that.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The delicious dreamgirl (Seeta aur Geeta)

This is perhaps one of the few films which has been rehashed prolifically. Identical twins getting separated at birth. One grows up being tortured brutally by evil guardians, the other is rambunctious owing to an indulgent upbringing. The mal-handled one is shy, apprehensive and thinks twice even before breathing. A freak accident makes them change places and mayhem ensues due to mistaken identities. The extrovert teaches the evil ones a lesson or two, the shy one gets her due love at last. There's fun and loads of laughter before the kingpin of the villains find out the truth and quickly there is more action towards the denouement before everything becomes crystal clear and all go home happy. A film like this can only be awesomely entertaining, with great performances, frothy comedy and sweet romance. Not to forget the great songs. Yes, in totality, films like Seeta aur Geeta are absolute winners.

Friday, 19 August 2011

A feast for the eyes (An Evening in Paris)

It's not just one evening. Shakti Samanta's superhit 1967 romance features the goodies of Paris and other exotic locales in Europe throughout the entire length of the film. Pretty women, flashy cars, stylish clothes and scenic landscape, all this more make the musical drama quite an eyeful. And then there's Sharmila Tagore, all delicate, gorgeous and sexy in her awesome attires, and the prince of entertainment, Shammi Kapoor. Wooing the lady in his inimitable style, this man knew how to win hearts. Here of course, he does it with a completely new Parisian flourish.

Monday, 15 August 2011

If not for Shammi (Janwar)

The irrepressible Shammi Kapoor can be credited for often carrying an entire film on his lone shoulders. Signing this rebel star would mean that with his charm and antics he would see to it that a somewhat likeable film would attain sweet success. Janwar, Bhappi Soni's romance, is a film that falls into this category. If you were to ask me what this 1965 film has apart from Shammi's class histrionics, loads of fun cooked up by him, great songs picturised on the superstar and a nice romantic plot where Shammi rules the roost, I'd say hardly anything else. Even in the scenes where Prithviraj Kapoor hogs the limelight, he is praising Shammi Kapoor, who happens to be his younger son in the film!! That's the magic of our sweet prince, he just takes all the credit away with his characteristic flamboyance.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

I will always love you... RIP Shammi Kapoor

Why should we mourn the demise of Shamsher Raj Kapoor, or very lovingly our Shammi Kapoor? Is he really dead? Gone? Never to be seen, heard or felt again? Is it true that his thundering 'yahoo' will cease to reverberate? NO.

Friday, 12 August 2011

A likeable love triangle (Patthar ke Sanam)

There was a time when I thought that Waheeda Rehman was hardly a looker. Pardon me, but this was before I had seen some of her greatest black and white classics. And yes, I swallow back my words with utmost humility. For Waheeda Rehman is absolutely enigmatic and alluring in her old films. The camera loved her and the monochromes highlight the depth she had in her eyes and cast a attractive sheen on her sharp contours. Today if anyone asks me to talk about Waheeda Rehman's beauty and talent, I'll probably spend much more time waxing eloquent about her participation in the black and white films rather than in the coloured ones.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Behind the scenes (Guddi)

There are several scenes in Guddi that I love. For, there are several scenes in this 1971 film that you aught to love. Deftly balancing a sweet romance with a poignant take on the true life in the inner precincts of film studios in Bombay (yes, I prefer calling the place so), Hrishikesh Mukherjee spins a tale that is so didactic. Interesting anecdotes populate every moment and lovely performances make this film a roller-coaster ride. At one point you feel that it is after all a coming-of-age sage of a young girl heavily infatuated with her matinee idol, at another point it is the stark depiction of the strange world of films.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Battling the odds (Dastak)

Why is it that whenever I discover an obscure film, it turns out to be a tidy little gem? This time, too, after many such experiences previously, I hit upon a rare film that has blissfully passed into oblivion despite its different storyline and cast. Dastak, written and directed by Rajinder Singh Bedi, is a film that should be lauded for its innovative treatment, strong storyline and brilliant acting. It is a film that showcases the way human mind works in tandem with the circumstances in daily life and how desolation, frustration and desperation can drive people to the most extreme of reactions. This film has two superb songs composed by Madanmohan and pits the brilliant Sanjeev Kumar against a battery of actors representing the cruel and caustic world.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Sound suspense (Anamika)

I think I've managed to zero in on my favourite Jaya Bhaduri film. Easily, it's Anamika, the 1973 mystery romance directed by Raghunath Jhalani. There is something very charging about the Jaya Bhaduri here. She is different and immensely enjoyable. Not that in her other films she is not. But here, she is spontaneous, sprightly and extremely jaunty. Her character undergoes several changes in dimension and she slips from one mood to another with utmost ease. There are times when she is funny, clever, endearing, teasing, sad and angry. And this range is hardly ever visible in any of her other films. She wears some great clothes, rather experiments with her looks and makes a sweet romantic pair with Sanjeev Kumar. In Anamika, Jaya Bhaduri shines. But most importantly, it's the script that sails along so properly with the histrionics of its protagonist and the other characters. Yes, Jaya is great in and as Anamika...

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Diary of an actor (Nayak)

In a tantalising move, Satyajit Ray keeps the visage of his protagonist undisclosed till the time his friend questions whether a successful actor is enough to pull off a bad film. The moment Jyoti remarks, "What else does the film have except you?", the camera quickly focuses on Arindam Mukherji's face and with a confident expression, he says, "What else does it need?"

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Back to nature (Aranyer Din Ratri)

Can city souls really be at peace in the vicinity of raw nature? I suppose, even though we are tired of the hum drum of chaotic city life, we somehow have grown so accustomed to the din that too many hours spent in the quietude could tire us out totally. A few weeks back, when my husband and I were spending time in the backwaters of Kumarakom, accompanied only by the lush surroundings and the buzz of insects, there slowly came a moment when both of us wanted to get back to civilisation. The restlessness ultimately forced us to truncate our backwater leisure and rush to the posh surroundings of Taj Kovalam where luxuries abound and most importantly, I got to watch television!!
Yes, we city-breds can be strange. Full of paradoxes and such great subjects of study in behavioural complexities. So tired of the city, yet so very fond of it altogether.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The magic stone (Parash Pathar)

A director who could tap the full potential of Tulsi Chakraborty must have considered himself to be extremely priviledged. For, here was an actor who betrayed the most difficult of expressions with utmost ease. Almost as if he was swatting a fly with a flicker of his palm. He was not good-looking. No, he was anything but attractive or handsome. He was already middle-aged by the time top Bengali directors had started toying with his expertise, he had a huge paunch, he was balding and his face was perfectly clownish. But it was his eyes, his voice and his expressions that conjured up an aura filled with chuckles, amazement and full-throated laughter. Even when the director was making a tongue-in-cheek comment on some insufferable plagues of society, Tulsi Chakraborty drove home the point in such a hilarious manner that you would guffaw and ponder, both at the same time. I often marvel at this man, how effortless he portrayed those special roles. Or was it the other way round? Special roles were created by the film writers because he could essay them with ease. Well, we'd never get to solve the mystery...

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Drooling over this cabbie (Taxi Driver)

There is something about the Dev Anand of the 50s. He is raw and roguish, yet so very sweet and tempting. He has this distinct sex appeal that is unpolished, hence wild and terribly attractive. He was yet to get that quintessential swagger of the 60s, the sweep of his mane and his jaunty persona. But in his earlier films, he somehow appeared more passionate and involved in those innovative roles. He bravely took on the parts of pickpockets, thieves and smugglers and he pulled them off with a kind of unconscious flamboyance that made it so heartwarming. His body language was more natural and he did not feel gawky at wearing his heart on his sleeves. Films such as Baarish and Taxi Driver project him is a unique grey light. He was not scared to don the mantle of the shirker and the cynical and his clean approach towards these roles made him such a joy to watch. He displayed no inhibitions and mingled freely with the narrative to make his characters charming as well as flawless.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Dashing dacoit (Mujhe Jeene Do)

One segment from Mujhe Jeene Do will remain with me forever. Sunil Dutt staring at the pristine visage of Waheeda Rehman as she sleeps peacefully. Just moments before she had scarred him on the face with her nails and had disobeyed his firm orders to dance and sing for him. She insulted him for his lowly trade and sweared that she would never entertain someone who killed and plundered. Then as Dutt's piercing eyes bore down on her weeping face, she stunned him with loud slaps. A reaction so strong was enough to startle the cruel dacoit Thakur Jarnail Singh. He not only was shaken up by the gall of this girl, he also felt instant attraction for this woman who dared to hold her own against him. Something no one ever had done. Probably that's why he pours over her face. Pondering over his feelings for her (after all she is very attractive) as well as trying to gauge the kind of person she is. For, no normal person would dare to challenge a dacoit of his fame and calibre.

Monday, 6 June 2011

For the elixir of youth (Ashite Ashiona)

At the very onset let me tell you what the film's name means. Someone out there is trying to tell every member of the human clan that it's really not worth stepping into your eighties. You are infirm, weak, doddering and helpless. But what is most unfortunate is that your near and dear ones treat you like dirt. They brush away feelings and desires, pay no attention towards your well being and totally forget that you are the person responsible for what they are today. Ashite Ashiona is a tongue-in-cheek look at this age-old phenomena of old parents being neglected. Even if it does not happen in every household, this film is also a reminder to everyone on how not to treat the elderlies in the family. The 1967 film directed by Sri Jayadrath is hilarious, yes, but it drags home such a poignant point that while you laugh, you'll also wonder at the hollowness of so many humans and society in itself.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Wish I had a 'Personal Assistant' like him

There used to be a time in the Bengali movie industry when films didn't much require stars. If the big actors took part, well and good. If not, the directors made up with a fantastic story and a tight cast of able character actors. If you rummage through many old Bengali vintage classic, you will come across a bevy of such masterpieces. Replete with a fabulous storyline, taut editing, lovely music and supported by a planet of super character actors, these films are just as entertaining as maybe a Uttam-Suchitra classic or a Satyajit Ray gem. And the best part is that these films are mostly comedies, balanced by a sweet romantic angle and laudable melody.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Weak procrastinator (Amar)

Mehboob Khan's bold drama Amar happens to have a yo-yo effect on me. There are moments when I am swept away by the tight narrative, and there are times when I brush aside the nonsensical goings-on on the screen. There are times when I love Dilip Kumar for having the gall to undertake this grey part, then there are those situations when I feel like whacking him for tediously lengthening the film with his procrastination. There are sighs that I let out for the unharnessed rustic charm of Nimmi and there is the utter exasperation when instead of breathing fire she whimpers and simpers into love for her violator. But there is one person who takes my breath away... Madhubala, for being so heartbreakingly beautiful, so smart, so compassionate and then in the end doing what she aught to be doing. In relinquishing her rights and love, she emerges as the strongest character of this 1954 super dramatic film, that is hailed as being ahead of its times for no tiny reason.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

More of Jubilee Kumar (Hamrahi)

My tryst with Rajendra Kumar continues...
This time I encountered Kumar playing a philanderer turned good husband. Did he do it well? I didn't get to reason that out because I kept feeling let down by the director's decision to cast Jamuna in the role of the leading lady. A good actress she is, but certainly not gorgeous in the looks department. And definitely not the person for whom Shekhar might be forced to rid himself of his frivolous ways, his penchant for girls and for plunging into total depression when she tells him how unfortunate she is that she had to marry this rich and spoilt individual. Throughout the film, I kept missing Sadhana, who would have added so much meat to the role of this defiant girl. And maybe then Hamrahi would have been so much more pleasing. Great cast, good story but the fun fizzles out in many parts...

Monday, 23 May 2011

Super Shyama (Do Behnen)

I've figured that this has been mostly a Rajendra Kumar month for me in terms of blog posts. But I am loving it. Simply because I've managed to watch some very good films (and some tepid ones). I now agree that this actor did make a mark in the audience's mind through his own mettle and talent. He was a good actor (even if he was not the best looking among them) and did manage to star in some very likeable films. This post of course will talk about a film starring Rajendra Kumar, but will this time celebrate his co-star in the movie--- Shyama.  

Friday, 20 May 2011

Two in one (Sajan)

So this is where Basu Chatterjee got the idea of Pasand Apni Apni from. Even as I watched Mohan Segal's Sajan, I could not help but notice the glaring similarities with Chatterjee's romantic comedy. Everything looked alike. The plot, characters and the developments. Only, while Segal did not give much scope to the character of the theatre company owner, Chatterjee made him a full-fledged comic personality on his film. He took Utpal Dutt for the role and cashed in on his talent. But otherwise Mithun Chakraborty's role is absolutely similar to Manoj Kumar's and Rati Agnihotri borrows from Asha Parekh's character. At least in the first half.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Sweet as Honey (Talaq)

I will not say that Talaq is a path-breaking film. It deals with the very sundry problems that may arise in a marriage when both parties fall prey to misunderstandings, are irrational on some count or the other and when there is that one nosey parker who spoils all the fun and love. In that, Talaq, directed by Mahesh Kaul, sticks to the tried and tested formulae. But, what makes this 1958 film stand out is the way in which the usual dramatics are handled. The narrative is rather engaging, the events are quite interesting and the actors look extremely real in their behaviour. The best part is of course the adorable child actor Honey Irani (for some reason she is credited as wonder child Ashwini) who plays the three-year-old son of the lead actors and who is a testimony to the trying state that a child may be in when parents quarrel like animals.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Before Bharat beckoned (Banarasi thug)

When Manoj Kumar started toying with the idea of portraying severely patriotic roles, someone should have held him by the ears, sat him down and given him a thorough brainwash. For, he not only skewed his own career prospects and popularity doing those utterly inane portrayals, but also fobbed us off with those nonsense characters uselessly steeped in excess doses of nationality. Before the Bharat mania gripped him, he was every bit the hero that girls would fall for, romancing pretty ladies, singing some lovely songs and doing pretty charming and naughty things, too. With a handsome face, an attractive smile and tall debonair looks, he really could have done a whole lot for himself if he had not succumbed to the patriotic fever! What a loss...

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Marvellous Meena (Ardhangini)

I like all Meena Kumari films. Well, almost. Even when the script is faulty or loose, I keep my eyes fixed on the charming lady because I know that she will make the moments picturised on her come alive with her deft histrionics. But then, she alone cannot do much if the film is really bad. In those cases I take solace in the fact that she tried and tried. Luckily, Ardhangini is not a film like that...

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Where the script lacks steam (Mere Hamdam Mere Dost)

I had seen Mere Hamdam Mere Dost a long, long time ago. So, I didn't quite remember much from this Amar Kumar film except for the title track and the scintillating club song, Humko to ho gaya hain pyar , picturised on the dazzling Mumtaz. In fact, I vividly remember the song Na jaa kahin ab na jaa, simply because of the long refrains in the voice of Mohd Rafi, the oh-so handsome Dharmendra in a embroidered kurta-shirt and white trousers and Sharmila Tagore, the picture of charm in a dark grey sari. The very instance of eye-candy and melodious magic in old Hindi films.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Fun departure (Dil Hi To Hai)

Those of you who are accustomed to being bogged down by the conventional role play of Raj Kapoor should watch this romantic comedy. Yes, Raj Kapoor is the hero in Dil Hi To Hai and he does some delightful comedy with panache. Strange isn't it? Even I was a bit skeptical about seeing Raj Kapoor get into the shoes of what would otherwise be the perfect part for maybe his brother, Shammi Kapoor, but the actor pulls off this personality with elan. For me therefore, it reinstates the fact that Raj Kapoor should not be underestimated. He sometimes displays shades that might just flummox and surprise!!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Love in Lucknow (Mere Mehboob)

I had never thought that I'd like Rajendra Kumar. I had also not thought that a somewhat restricted Muslim society would throw up any likeable qualities about it before me. I had also not thought that despite the director squandering away the chance of using a super villain like Pran, I will forgive him. But I guess, there is always a first time. Here is a film that made me experience many firsts.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Love... Set in Paradise (Arzoo)

How important is it to have a romantic ambience to make hearts flutter in love? If you take into consideration that Usha flips for Sarju (the man she found quite irksome inside a aeroplane in Delhi) while at the beautiful valley of Srinagar, you'd seriously think that the spectacular surrounding induces the tender feelings in her. With the verdant valley, the colourful flowers, the brilliantly azure sky and the breathtaking mountains to uplight her senses, it is but a matter of time when the young lovers will serenade in Kashmir. Not to forget the blissful Dal Lake and its magical power that makes every soul see stars in their eyes. Yes, I think there is something about Kashmir that is therapeutic in terms of falling in love. And I speak because I know what Kashmir and its awesomeness can do to you...

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Community feeling (Biradari)

There is a magnanimous old woman, who is forever kind to her poor and helpless tenants. There is a handsome young man who is impressed with her affectionate behaviour when he comes to live in the same chawl. There is a sweet love story that brews between him and the old lady's attractive daughter. There are the simple and funny neighbours who keep the halcyon atmosphere intact. There is the big builder who is scheming to get the building to himself, there are misunderstandings, songs and dances and everything that a chawl film should have. Yet, Biradari comes across as pretty unconventional.