Monday, June 28, 2010

Devdas (1955)

Devdas 1955 film poster I have always contended that the key to making a palatable film from an unpalatable story is a good director, and Devdas is a good case in point. Its not my favourite story at best of times, but I decided to watch it just to see what Bimal Roy has done with it. While his version does nothing to reconcile me with my least favourite of fictional characters, it does leave me with the satisfaction of having watched a well-made film.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bhowani Junction (1956) – Raj romance the way it should be!

Bhowani Junction poster I’ve always been keen on watching foreign films set in India, though I’ve seldom liked them! They’re either too Orientalist or too boring, frequently both, for my taste. In spite of that, its hard to resist the pull of seeing India through an alien lens. Bhowani Junction was one of the first set-in-India English language films that I ever saw. I’ve compared every subsequent film of this kind against it, and found it wanting! Its not because Bhowani Junction eschews Orientalism/Colonialism altogether, but because these are kept in fairly good check, and the fast-paced and interesting narrative keeps me too occupied to brood upon the flaws.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Baat Ek Raat Ki (1960) – a misstery thriller

Movies sometimes have the strangest surprises in store for you. Just when you think you know everything about a film, you realise that it fell through the cracks in your memory and disappeared forever! That is exactly what happened to me with this film. I have certainly seen it before, but couldn’t remember it at all! That is pretty useful while re-watching a mystery thriller, but very puzzling when it stars Dev Anand, Waheeda Rehman and the unforgettable Hemant Kumar number Na tum humen jaano. The mystery was solved once I reached THE END. The film is entertaining enough, but not particularly memorable.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The navrasas (9 emotions) of Rafi

Mohammed Rafi When Dustedoff kicked off a Rafi moods fest in blogland, I knew I had to do a Rafi post, too – not just because I love Rafi, but also because there is so much of lovely Rafi around that a post on his songs is possibly the most challenging thing one can attempt! While his most popular songs may be classified as either romantic or sad songs, it isn’t that easy to classify his expressions in them. He was a superb vocal actor and could bring a range of emotions into the limited time (usually about 3 minutes, back then) a song allowed him. From romantic to sensual, angry to soothing, loving to despairing, or outright joy and laughter, there isn’t a single emotion that his wonderfully fluid voice did not express, and express beautifully. Which begs the question – how does one go about classifying the moods and emotions his voice brought to the screen?
Thanks to Wikipedia (where would I be without it?), ancient India came to the rescue. Classical performing arts in India are traditionally made up of the navrasa - 9 rasas or 9 major emotions/expressions. Eight of these rasas were set forth in the Nātyashāstra (a two thousand years old treatise on the performing arts) while a ninth rasa was added about a thousand years ago, giving us the expression – navrasa (9 rasas). Turns out that there are now a total of 11 rasas and ALL of them go into the making of a good Bollywood masala flick! And guess what - Rafi Saab’s voice has given us a song for every emotion. So without much ado I give you the 11 rasas of Rafi.