17 December 2017

Teen Batti Char Rasta (1953)

Directed by: V Shantaram
Music: Shivram Krishna 
Background: Vasant Desai
Lyrics: PL Santoshi
Starring: Sandhya, Karan Dewan, 
Nirupa Roy, Sheila Ramani, 
Shashikala, Smriti Biswas, 
Meenaxi, Diwan Sharar
The other day, I was idly flipping through YouTube’s offerings when suddenly it threw up Teen Batti Char Rasta on the side bar. I’d heard of the film but had never gotten around to watching it, Sandhya not being one of my favourites. (It seemed to be the bane of Shantaram’s films – that he inevitably cast his wife in the leading role.) However, Shantaram, like his contemporary Sohrab Modi, generally had something decent to say through his films. Because it starred Sandhya, I trawled the web to see what the film was all about, not wanting to waste my time on a film that starred her and wasn’t appealing, and came across Richard’s review of the film. (He and I generally agree to disagree on Sandhya.) It sounded interesting, and since I’d nothing better to do with my time (but didn’t want to waste it looking for another film to watch), I decided to give this a try.  

12 December 2017

Behind the Curtains

Before I left for India, I ordered a few books as is my wont. One of these was a book I've long wanted to read – the first biography of Shashi Kapoor. My sister told me it had been delivered; unfortunately, I was in Kerala at the time. By the time I came to Bombay, the subject of the biography was no more. It’s an unfortunate coincidence that I should have ordered the book just before his death. Somehow, I feel a sense of guilt... like I am responsible for his demise... 

Perhaps it was that sense of guilt that made me hesitate to begin reading the much-awaited biography. It is not as if I didn't know he was ailing. Yet, it was difficult to accept that Shashi Kapoor was no more, even if his death was probably a welcome release.  

4 December 2017

The Final Curtain

18.03.1938 –  04.12.2017
This was not the post I intended to write. Actually, I had no intention of posting anything at all. With a spotty internet connection, and a very crowded itinerary, the blog was going to be neglected for a fortnight anyway. However, I couldn't let this occasion pass without acknowledgement. Five years ago, I wrote an article on Shashi Kapoor saying I didn’t want to ‘remember’ him after he died; I would much rather commemorate his life. And I did. But now, another era has ended with the demise of yet another much-loved actor of the golden age. Perhaps I will review one of his films later, but for now, a quick but sincerely meant tribute.

27 November 2017

My Favourites: 'Carpe Diem' Songs

My husband’s aunt, R – his mother’s cousin – is one of my favourite people in all the world. She’s always cheerful, and despite having been dealt quite a raw hand by life, is one of the most positive people it’s been my good fortune to meet. When I’m feeling low, a quick phone call to her to hear her carol ‘I’m fine, molu (child) wipes the doldrums away and never fails to put a smile on my face. It doesn’t matter what she’s going through – I have never heard her say anything other than ‘I’m fine, molu!’ in response to ‘How are you?’, as opposed to certain people who, if asked ‘How are you?’ never failed to give me chapter and verse of doom and gloom for the next hour or so. She’s one person whom I happily visit on every trip to India, not out of duty, but because I genuinely respect her attitude and love her company.

A couple of years ago, a blog-reader became, quite by chance, a rather good friend. ‘X’ has been going through some major health issues for some time. Again, like Aunt R, the response to my ‘How are you?’ is ‘I’m okay’ however badly X is feeling that day.  If I press, X will give me the updates in a very matter-of-fact manner. It’s not in X’s nature to sit and brood – X is always too busy to have much time for ‘woe is me’. 

23 November 2017

Parichay (1972)

Directed by: Gulzar
Music: RD Burman
Lyrics: Gulzar
Starring: Pran, Jeetendra, 
Sanjeev Kumar, Jaya Bhaduri, 
Asrani, AK Hangal, Leela Misra, 
Master Raju, Baby Pinky, 
Master Ravi, Master Kishore, 
Veena, Vinod Khanna
I’ve just realised that the blog is nearly seven years old, and I haven’t reviewed as many of Gulzar’s films as I would have liked. While Ijaazat and Mausam (two of the three films I have reviewed – the third being Angoor, an out-and-out comedy) are among the more serious of his films that deal with relationships, Parichay – his second film (along with Koshish the same year) was a lighter look at the same. Supposedly inspired by The Sound of Music but in actuality based on Rajkumar Mitra's Bengali novel Rangeen Uttarain (which was brought to Gulzar's notice by Raakhee, his wife), and with four delightful songs by RD Burman, Parichay was a lovely little film that provided simple, wholesome entertainment. 

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.  
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