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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Incorrectly titled (Nirala)

I should have steered clear of this one. But, how was I supposed to know? Dev Anand, in 1950, looked simply awesome, Madhubala was as usual ravishing, and the expectation of a breezing romance between these two attractive people surely looked enticing.
But, I was duped. For, the very title of Deben Mukherjee’s Nirala turned out to be stupendously misleading. Yes, it was different, as ‘nirala’ should be, but in a very negative way. What starts out as a fun romance disintegrates into a weird tragedy that is puerile and vague, with no plausible reason for becoming so.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Destination music (Manzil)

I have hardly seen Dev Anand play such a brooding character. Generally this suave and dapper young man entertains with his light frolicky persona. But his Rajkumar Mehta is different. Defiant and determined to the core, Anand, in Mandi Burman's Manzil, is most of the time inebriated and weeping over his unfaithful beloved. But, this 1960 romance's lead pair piqued my curiosity. Nutan and Dev Anand make a handsome couple and the way the film starts, you will be keen to follow this Raju as he scales the heights of success.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Hail Khairoo (Noorie)

Even as the camera pans across the verdant valleys of Kashmir with the beautiful Noorie and attractive Yusuf serenading to Aaja rey o mere dilbur aaja, there is a sense of foreboding that all shall not be well. Blame it on the opening scene of the old storyteller giving out that the innocent Noorie is missing for a long time or the dejected face of Yusuf pining for his lost love, the entire mood of Manmohan Krishna's Noorie is one of sorrow and dejection. The halcyon setting, generally associated with a Yash Chopra production, is conspicuous by its absence.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Memory loss (Dulha Dulhan)

In the hullabaloo surrounding Sangam, the first coloured blockbuster produced under the Raj Kapoor banner, one small film got entirely lost. Dulha Dulhan, an obscure film, or rather a not very celebrated venture, is another 1964 romance starring Raj Kapoor that not many of us have heard about. At least, that was the case with me.
A random Raj Kapoor search on Youtube  introduced me to this one. The pairing of Raj Kapoor and Sadhana sounded quite intriguing and I was hooked.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Into the sea of love (Chori Chori)

Raj Kapoor didn't need to move an inch. His face did it all. When those intense eyes narrow themselves and his lips break into a lopsided grin to say, "Ghum ek kamzori hain, aur main apni kamzori dikhana nahin chahta," not just Nargis is delirious with joy. I too, feel blood rushing to my heart. His nonchalant charm has an alarming effect on my nerves. His casual yet smart demeanour plays hockey with my senses. I get more and more embroiled in the showman's charisma. Gulping down one tumbler of water after another, I sit up to get mesmerised once again by this dashing Kapoor as he entertains with one adventure after another in Chori Chori.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Three in one (Pyar ka Mausam)

Club Nasir Husain's Tumsa Nahin Dekha, Dil Deke Dekho and Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hain, and you get Pyar ka Mausam. But the astute Husain doesn't cheat you in any way by simply rehashing from his 1957, 1959 and 1961 hits. He throws in more drama, twists, colour and characters to make his 1969 romance thoroughly enjoyable. The segments from the earlier films are stitched so deftly that unless you watch closely, chances are you will miss them. For, the plot flows like a brook, peppered with plenty of action, romance, song and dance. With Nasir Husain at the helm, one thing is certain...thorough cinematic entertainment.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

A lot like life (Golpo Holeo Shotti)

I consider myself extremely unlucky for not getting to meet Rabi Ghosh. Especially after learning very soon after marriage that we would have been related very closely. He would have been my uncle-in-law. The thespian from the world of Bengali theatre and films passed away at the age of 66, in the year 1997 (I was in standard 8 and nowhere near to meeting my future husband). If he would have been alive today (he'd be 79), I'm sure he would have regaled us (my father-in-law says that he was a very amiable man) with exciting stories and anecdotes about the film world, bordering on his career and experiences. That would have been quite something. Getting to know about the colourful world of cinema from Rabi Ghosh himself, the man who with his awesome performances in many Bengali films kept the audience riveted to the screen, sounds like super-duper fun.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Drag queen (Tootsie)

When it comes to drag comedies, one thing's sure. Farcical wig-flipping laughter that is OTT sometimes, yet a whole lot of fun. I've been in splits watching the goofy antics of Joe and Jerry in Billy Wilder's Some Like it Hot (1959) as well as Armand and Albert in Mike Nichols' The Birdcage (1996). The recent entrant to this comedy list of mine is Sydney Pollack's Tootsie (1982), a film I've heard only good things about. It stars Dustin Hoffman, who redefines versatility with every role, Jessica Lange, who I always thought oozed raw sex appeal and the straight-faced Bill Murray (one of my favourites) whose very face is enough to induce laughter.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

How green was this valley (Hariyali aur Rasta)

Of 1962's Hariyali aur Rasta, 1964's Apne Huye Paraye and 1965's Himalay ki God Mein, I am most fond of the first film. All of them star the trio of Manoj Kumar, Mala Sinha and Shashikala. All of them pair Kumar and Sinha with Shashikala playing the third woman out to disturb the happy romance between the couple. And, all these films have a roughly similar plot with a tweak here and a twist there. Manoj Kumar falls for Mala Sinha but has to marry Shashikala (either because he is betrothed to her or because she is cunning enough to trap him). But the man can never forget his past love.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Jaded stars (Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki)

Consider Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki over with the death of Asha Parekh. Figuratively I mean. For, even though the film ends after a mind numbing session of bad songs, loud performances and unexciting fisticuffs, there is hardly any more meat in the drama save the strong histrionics by Nutan. I think it is amazing that this Raj Khosla (melo)drama won a Filmfare best film award in 1978. How on earth?

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Red hot (Mirch Masala)

Mirch Masala is like garam masala, the condiment that spices up most Indian curries. Aromatic, flavoursome and full of colour. Similarly, Ketan Mehta's 1985 film is more than just a visual splendour. Set in remote Gujarat, it leaves a spicy and tingling sensation long after Sonbai's gaze fades out. Your eyes start burning once the haze of the red chilli powder clears, you want to drink a glass of crystal clear water because the arid landscape has left you parched and then maybe, you shake yourself up from your stupor of admiration for a second round of the film. Yes, that tingling sensation is truly worth many more tries.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Feminism of yore (Khushboo)

Given Gulzar's sensitive approach, it is but obvious that his handling of a proud woman's emotions would be different. And Khushboo does not disappoint on that count. No matter how sorrowful her life is, Kusum does not sacrifice her dignity and pride to attain happiness. She abstains from grovelling in self-pity and shuns any kind of sympathy from the world. Simply because she feels honoured to address her rights and expects her dear ones to acknowledge that. This is a girl who is strong, dignified and fiesty, yet sober, mature and loving. It is this Kusum who will grab your attention in Khushboo...

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Politically charged (Aandhi)

I'm not comfortable with political mumbo-jumbo. The intricacies of Chandersen and Arti's strategies do not excite me. Neither does the implications of Agarwal's nexus with Lallulal. Hence, I'll steer clear of the political games depicted in Gulzar's Aandhi. 
But, Aandhi is not just a political treatise, though it is said to loosely based on the lives of Indira Gandhi and Tarkeshwari Sinha. It is a significant film, considering that Indian government banned its release in 1975 since Mrs G thought the director had no right making a film that would reveal snatches from her life. It was only in 1977 that the film was set free to be aired on national television, garnering huge critical acclaim and commercial success.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

For all seasons (Mausam)

I've seen Gulzar's Mausam once. But, it left a lasting impression on me. The sensitive and poignant saga on the complexity of human relations is one tale that proves that Sharmila Tagore matured into one superlative performer in the 70s. It reinstates the already famous truth about Sanjeev Kumar's versatility. And, it also strengthens my belief in Gulzar's brand of cinema. Call it poetry in motion or a kaleidoscope of complex human feelings, Gulzar's creations are simply masterpieces, lyrical and emotional.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Unmatched ties (Amar Prem)

My friend summed it well. Three people who share no umbilical attachment are tied by the bonds of love, trust, faith and understanding. A relation that has no name, a love that is illegitimate to society; yet, these bonds are so cordial and endearing. Heartmelting emotions and relations that cannot be put down on paper make Amar Prem a cathartic experience. I say cathartic because after watching this Shakti Samanta 1971 classic, you will be so overwhelmed by the string of emotions displayed here, so overwrought by the delicacies and intricacies of human bondings that you will find a your eyes swell on occasions more than one. A feeling of satisfaction and an empathy for the warm characters will absolutely occupy your soul...

Monday, 2 August 2010

Wildly attractive (Junglee)

If such gorgeous people inhabit the wild, I wish I lived in a wild, wild world. If their eyes are so passionate, their body language so smart and their voice so sexy, I wish God made many more of these junglees. But alas, that is not to be. For, there is just one of them, who I love to love. He is Shammi Kapoor, I say with a loud yahoo...
In his first coloured film directed by Subodh Mukherjee, Shammi Kapoor plays Chandra Shekhar, a rich man hopelessly in love with Rajkumari, the sprightly girl responsible for his transformation from a stiff and gruff man to a more understanding and compassionate person. But 1961's Junglee is famous not just for this irrepressible Kapoor. It also happens to be the debut wagon of Saira Banu, who at 17 went on to rule many hearts.