Friday, February 20, 2009

A century too late...

The National Archives of India (NIA) has suddenly woken up to the fact that prints of early Indian movies have not been preserved – a mere 96 years after the first full length film by Dadasaheb Phalke (Raja Harishchandra) was released!

Here’s what prompted them:

"No prints of Alam Ara are available with the NIA. They are lost, only some still pictures and publicity material is available with them," a senior official in the ministry of information and broadcasting said.

And the NIA is planning on preserving all current and future movies from all Hindi and other language productions:

…the ministry has requested the Indian film industry to give copies of each and every film being produced in all parts of the country and those made till date to NIA, so that they can be preserved for future generations.

O well, better late than never. At least Love 2050 and Drona will be preserved for posterity (though I think Banno has done a better job at preserving Love 2050 than NIA can hope to)!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ek Saal (1957) – the romantic year.

Ashok Kumar and Madhubala in Ek Saal The spate of Madhubala dedications* on her birthday (which falls on Valentine’s day), reminded me of my favorite Madhubala romance that I just had to re-watch This one has her paired with Ashok Kumar in my favorite kind of romance – the bad guy reformed by TRUE LOVE!!!! Now, who wouldnt be reformed by love of Madhubala? Certainly not our revered Dada Mani.

The movie opens with a grim scene - a doctor (Mahmood in an uncharacteristically serious avatar) telling a stunned father (Nazir Kashmiri?) that his daughter has only a year (ek saal) to live.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mozhi (2007) – the language of romcom.

You know you’ve been watching too many old Hindi movies when:

1. Hrithik’s less than perfect Urdu diction bothers you.
2. Hindi accents in all movies leave so much to be desired.
3. the heroines look like they could do with a decent meal.
4. the heroes look like they’re trying to compete with Schwarznegger.
5. the songs sound like terrible background noise.

So, what do you do? You head down South, to the land where the leading ladies are not on starvation diet, where nobody speaks Hindi, and where modern masala is still “cracktastic”! And who do we meet there? Two regular guys on their way to romance and comedy!!! 



Monday, February 2, 2009

Heavenly masala movie-making…

The resounding success of Slumdog Millionaire has temporarily transported Danny Boyle to seventh heaven – a plane not unfamiliar to many of Bollywood’s great directors. While there, DB happened to bump into a permanent resident of the heavenly spheres – masala-maestro Manmohan Desai. Here’s what they talked about:

MD: Danny, my boy, the world needs more masala. The future of films rests on masala.
DB: You’re so right, Man ji. In Slumdog Millionaire, I tried to reproduce your formula with a few innovations. I hope you liked it.

MD: Aah Danny… Innovation is the death of masala. Always remember that. 
DB (taken aback): but…

MD (ignoring the interruption): And when you make a good curry, you DONT STINT ON THE MASALA.
DB (determinedly interrupting): The Laws of Masala Movie Making say that certain departures from formula are allowed. And I did NOT stint on masala. There was poverty, cute kids undergoing extreme hardship, separation and re-unions (I had more re-unions in 10 minutes than you had in one whole film!), unbelievable co-incidences, loathsome villains, destiny, romance, and above all, rags-to-riches and happily-ever after! Thats the required masala allowance.


MD’s smile is a study in patience. Here’s a man, it seems to say, who needs to be taught the ABC of masala. Ever generous, MD is willing to teach this new kid-on-the-block the delicate art of masala movie-making.
MD: Let me enumerate the sacred masala rules you’ve broken: