Movies and posts on this blog

Friday, December 24, 2010

Nashe main hum – my favourite drink buddies

The holiday season is upon us - the season of goodwill, the season of Christmas parties, and the season of sub-arctic weather here in Canada. Time for the daaru to begin flowing freely. Naturally, being a good Bhartiya naari, I never touch daaru, but in the right company, I don’t mind drinking it! And the right company can only be other good Bhartiya naaris like me. In other words, they must be good girls because I think that wicked women are just too blasé about everything to enjoy their vices like a good girl can. Considering how many great Bhartiya Naaris Bollywood churns out every year, Hindi films are the best place to find good girls for a pub crawl. But will the good girls agree to imbibe alcohol? Amazingly enough, I found TEN potential drink buddies…

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Juari (1968): love, lies and gambles

In the late 80s, Thursday afternoons used to be red letter-days at home. Back then, DoorDarshan (Indian TV) had begun to telecast unknown old B/W films on Thursday afternoons, in addition to their regular Saturday and Sunday evening film telecasts. The Thursday ones were much better because we could always expect the unexpected – famous actors in unusually fun films with great songs. That’s when I first discovered that Ajit and Prem Nath had once been handsome leading men, that Dara Singh had played hero to Mumtaz and that even Mehmood wasn’t too jarring in his earlier lead roles! And best of all, there were a slew of Shashi Kapoor films. Back then, I remember loving this one to bits. I no longer love it so unconditionally, but I can forgive it’s flaws for the nostalgia it invokes!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Kala Bazar (1960) - white-hearted people in a black market...

This is a film that I see once every few years. In between watches, I do remember that it’s a great film and I love it, but on re-watch, I’m always surprised at how good it actually is! It has so much goodness going on (Dev+Waheeda = yummy!) that I tend to forget some of it’s not-to-be-missed scenes – like the premiere of Mother India and how relevant it is to the plot.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mini reviews – 2010 edition

Between my new job and my new car, I’ve not had the time or the energy to update the blog very often. But today, chatting with Beth and Amrita about films reminded me of my priorities. Life is too short to watch movies and not write about them. And since I don’t want to waste time deciding which of my recent watches I should write about, I’m going to write about as many as I can squeeze into one post! So here goes…

Do Dooni Char (2010)

Do Dooni Char poster The first thing I knew about this film was that it would bring Neetu Singh back to the screen after a quarter of a century. (No, a mute guest appearance does not count!) I was really excited at the prospect. And when I read some more about it in the blogosphere, I realised that I had more reasons to look forward to it than just Neetu Singh’s "return". The film promised a heart warming story and great performances. After watching it, I must say that it delivers on it promise, and then some!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mahal (1949) – mystery, madness and melodrama

I’ve always maintained that if you wish to see the maximum number of deranged characters in one film, you need to look up Wuthering Heights. But after watching this film, I can assert positively that you don’t need to go so far back in time, or so far from the Indian shores either, to find your fill of dangerously unstable people! I’d seen this film long ago and my dim distant memories warned me that it isn’t a film I liked a lot. But it’s hard to resist the combined appeal of Dada Mani, Madhubala and the lovely music. So I re-watched - with mixed results.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Utsav (1984) – festive entertainment!

I usually shy away from writing about films that I like a LOT because I find myself gushing about everything I liked in them! This is one such film. I like everything about it - the story, the acting, the costumes, the sets, the actors, everything! But it’s Rekhatober, and I was determined to write about at least one film that was a worthy showcase of her talents. This film not only showcases her skilful performance, it’s a very satisfying film on the entertainment and aesthetic counts as well. (I warned you... I WILL gush!)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Taaqat (1982) – artsy masala?

What happens when a masala film starts appearing to be reasonable and logical - and not in a masala sense, either? Does it mean it’s time to get a thorough mental check-up? Or does it mean that the film really is as logical and reasonable as a film can be, without breaking any major masala laws (except for having Rakhee play a dacoit in a film that stars Vinod Khanna!)? Here, let me convince you that my sanity is not really under threat!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sense and Sensuality: advice from THE Diva (part I)

Readers we have such a treat for you during Rekhatober! The reclusive star has graciously agreed to do a question and answer column during this month-long blog-wide celebration of her awesomeness. You may not know, but Rekha-ji has been instrumental in guiding several of her younger colleagues and has often given great advice to her co-stars. Here are some examples (check out Beth Loves Bollywood for part II):

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Car-o-mania – my ten favorite filmi cars!

Car cartoon: You fill up my senses. Between my new job and my new obsession, life has had no room for films in the past few weeks. What can possibly be so interesting that I have abandoned films? One word – CARS! Had someone told me even a month ago that I’d soon be interested in cars, I’d have thought they were crazy. Me? Actually thinking of cars as something more than a means to go from point A to point B? Ridiculous! But there is no denying it. I have caught the disease. From being a person who could only recognise one car – The VW Beatle – I’ve graduated to being a person who can now identify most major car makes (and some models, too) at a glance!

It all began when I made the decision to do my bit toward global warming by burning my fair share of fossil fuel. Why should the rest of the world carry my burden? Ergo, I must buy a car. But which car? I couldn’t pick a Lexus or a Honda or a… in a car park full of two cars! So how on earth do I decide which one to buy? “One does one’s research”, a wise friend pointed out. Aah yes! That is one thing I do know how to do. So I set out to do my research. But nobody warned me that a very serious side-effect of research on all things automative is car-o-mania. I’ve begun to actively notice cars in car-parks, on the road, on the internet, and yes, even in films! I clearly need professional help. While I get it, here’s a list of ten filmi cars that I wouldn’t mind receiving as a gift (Santa, I hope this is enough advance notice for you to get it right, this Christmas):

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Who does not like Robin Hood? He’s the stuff of romance - he robs the rich to give to the poor, helps the needy, fights against oppression and is an all round good guy. Naturally, that isn’t what makes him so popular at the box office. His other good qualities are responsible for that - he is tall and handsome, shows off to good advantage in tights (how many men can do that?), can fight with any weapon (guns excluded), keeps cracking jokes while vigorously fencing with foes, and is extremely chivalrous. In short, filling Robin of Locksley’s shoes is no easy job, even though Errol Flynn makes it look like it is! Of course, you all know the story of Robin Hood, but I’ve just finished watching this beautifully restored film and need an excuse to post the screen caps. So I will tell you the story all over again, with LOTS of screencaps!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sheesh Mahal (1950) - Modi-drama

sheesh_m00001 It’s always nice to see a 40s heroine who isn’t raring to martyr herself on the altar of duty, especially when the film co-stars my favourite - Sohrab Modi. I can see that you’re pointing an accusing finger at the film’s release date, which is, admittedly 1950. But I assure you, this film really does not feel like a 50s film. My womanly intuition tells me that this was shot in 1949. And no, I do not need anybody to ruin my beautiful theory with ugly facts.

Now that we’re all agreed that it’s a 40s film, let’s examine this unusual heroine. She has all the attributes of a "good" woman. Dutiful? Check. Conscious of her family’s izzat (honor)? Check. Always sticking to the straight and narrow and making sure that others do, too? Check. But unlike a lot of other Bhartiya naaris, she does not suffer in silence. She is also educated, independent, sassy and not entirely above modern ideas. Which does not mean that she is a feminist - she is Bolly-naari, after all. But she does her bit to restore my faith in 40s/50s Indian womanhood. The character is named Ranjana, and is played by Naseem Banu. Let’s see what she gets up to…

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bandhe Haath (1973)

Bandhe Haath poster I’ve wanted to watch Mujrim, ever since I read the review over at Dustedoff’s. Since I’m trying to keep to my resolution of curbing my DVD-buying sprees, I decided to settle for it’s remake that I already own – this film! From the synopsis, this appears to be a very faithful copy, and left me just as dissatisfied as the original seems to have left it’s viewers! Why is it that some movies do not quite live up to the promise of their plots? It’s one of the great unsolved mysteries of our times. Sadly, while this film belongs to this mysterious category, it does nothing to help solve the mystery! It begins well enough, the story warms up pretty nicely and even gets along at a good pace – yet it all dissolves into some silly plot-twists and unnecessary melodrama at the end.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Kabli Khan (1963) – swashbuckling patriotism!

Masala patriotism is not my favourite genre, but where there are rules, there are exceptions to rules. And this film is firmly in the exception-to-rules category as far as my no-unsubtle-patriotic-films rule goes. I picked this up because it stars Ajit and Helen, and have no reason to regret my choice.
Emperor Shahbaz (Samson?) has been conquering new territories right left and centre, leaving death and destruction in his wake. His latest conquest is Yakistan, whose king has surrendered, but a loyal patriot – Kabli Khan (Ajit) – refuses to admit defeat. Kabli Khan is held prisoner by Shahbaz’s army, but manages to escape with like-minded prisoners and stolen arms. He gets home to his village, just in time to save the village from being looted by Shahbaz’s soldiers. A further batch of the conquering soldiers are driven out, soon after. They return to Shahbaaz, to get the dressing down of their lives. (If only Sholay were out - Shahbaaz would’ve known how to treat his defeated soldiers!)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Crimes against gender: confessions of a Bhartiya Naari

In a perfect world, everybody would realise that a woman is "feminine" no matter what she does, simply because she is female. Since it’s not a perfect world, only a select few (like yours truly and other such intelligent women) recognise the fact. But the lovely Banno has challenged me to confess my crimes against my gender, so I must show some! How do I find out what constitutes a crime against my gender? I must admit that my only yardstick for this comes from old Bollywood films. So let’s see what they say a woman should be like, and what crimes I’ve committed against Bhartiya naari-hood.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mere Humsafar (1970)- four rapes and a romance!

Mere Humsafar posterWell, "four rapes" is an exaggeration. There is only one rape. The other three are attempts by essentially "good" men who, once their attempted rapes are foiled, turn into their would-be rape-victim’s best friends and protectors!! Why did I persist in watching such a bizarre film? Well, partly because the story was engaging to begin with, partly because I love Sharmila Tagore and was intrigued to see her almost-pairing with Balraj Sahni, and partly because, having started, I wanted to see where it was going! The film is the strangest mix of awful and engaging, with the awful far outweighing the engaging.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Glass Bottom Boat (1966) – fun unlimited!

The Glass Bottom Boat poster The 60s is not my favorite decade for Hollywood comedies - the screwball comedy was largely defunct and the romantic-comedies were usually too sexist for my taste. In spite of that, I can be occasionally induced to watch 60s rom-coms for my favorite actors, and Doris Day is definitely one of them (Rock Hudson is another, but that’s a post for another day!). So it’s a good thing that I did follow Ms. Day into this film, because it is hilarious.

When the debonair scientist Bruce Templeton (Rod Taylor) goes fishing in the Catalina island, the last thing he expects to catch is a real-life mermaid! But that is exactly what he does land up reeling in - a mermaid tail! It’s actually the tail end of a mermaid-suit, with a very angry de-tailed mermaid (Doris Day) close behind. Jenny was doing a mermaid act as a stunt for her father’s glass bottom boat business, in waters that Templeton had no business fishing in.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mellifluous melodies: my favorite Shamshad Begum songs

Shamshad Begum Shamshad Begum The name conjures up images of golden classics, old-fashioned fun songs, and a nasal voice that may be out of fashion now, but never seems dated. She started her career singing for radio Lahore in 1937. From there to singing for movies was but a short step. She recorded her first film-song for music director Ghulam Haider in the Punjabi film Yamla Jatt (1940), and her career as a popular playback singer was launched! She went on to give us hundreds of popular songs in her lovely earthy voice with its distinctive nasal twang. And she is perhaps the only female singers to have provided playback for leading men – she sang for Shammi Kapoor (Bluffmaster) and Biswajit (Kismat)!

Shamshad Begum

For a singer without any formal musical training, she had an amazing vocal range and command over her voice. I love her folksy songs best, but there is no denying that she shone at every genre she handled – from the "Western" Meri jaan sunday ke sunday, to the haunting Dharti ko aakash pukare and the numerous peppy numbers that have been remixed ad infinitum in more recent times. Her biggest hits were from the 40s, most of which I’m not very familiar with. But even limiting myself to her 50s songs, I still had lots of great songs to choose from! The only way I could limit myself to “ten favorites” was by listing the first ten songs that came to mind – though even then it was a tough job since I did want to include some of her 40s songs and some of her lesser known numbers. And here is my list, in all its freshly edited glory (the songs are included in this youtube playlist):

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.

Tuesday, June 22, 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

(Updated:12 Jun 2022)

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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Railway Platform (1955)

Once upon a time, long ago, when there was only one TV channel (DoorDarshan - DD) in India, we used to get one Hindi film per week. If we were very very good (that is, if we lived in areas where Hindi was the local language), we got two films per week. As that was a major portion of our weekly entertainment ration, we’d anxiously scan DD’s programs for hints of what was in store for us at movie-time, and eagerly check the newspaper for information. Any hint that DD was about to bestow an old B/W Sunil Dutt-starrer on us, was always taken as a sign of the DD Gods’ pleasure, and awaited with eager anticipation. Its in those days that I watched this film, and I remember liking it a lot. Twenty years on, I must say that I am glad there are some movies I can watch without blushing for my kiddie-self’s taste!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Khanna-o-Rama: A crisis of romance

Khanna-o-Rama To most of my generation, The Emergency (suspension of fundamental rights and absolute power to the cabinet – 1975-77) was a dark event that happened when we were babies, and was thankfully over long before we were conscious of it. More importantly, it had NO impact on Bollywood and 70s masala. What most of us do not know is that Bollywood, and in fact Vinod Khanna, had a very important part to play in it!
When a journalist friend of Beth’s brought us the inside story of The Emergency and how it was brought to an end, the two of us had a hard time believing it. But the proof was irrefutable. Top secret government documents (they included suppressed press reports) could not lie! It HAD to be true. And some digging on our part confirmed it. Our first thought? People need to know about this! Unfortunately, none of the leading news publications would touch the report with a barge-pole. So, in the interest of informing the public, Beth and I have decided to write it up. And since the star of this week was intimately involved in the whole episode, we bring you the story during Khanna-o-Rama! Lets first go to Jan 1975, when the trouble began, and see what the reporters have to say:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Khanna-o-Rama: Vinod’s shocking decision

I apologise for the delay in bringing you the last instalment of this edition of Khanna Today. Life and work came in the way of main aur Mr. Khanna, and truth to tell, I have been a bit lazy too. With Khanna-o-Rama being extended another week, I gave in to the temptation of watching Khanna films, rather than concentrating on Khanna troubles. Anyhow… I know you are dying to find out how Vinod Khanna solved his woman troubles. So here is the story of his decision and Bollywood’s reaction to the shocking news:
Vinod Khanna's tough decision - 1

Monday, May 3, 2010

Khanna-o-Rama: Khanna Today teaser

No readers, I hadn't abandoned my blog. The blogiversary party kind of distracted me from movie-watching. After all, I only watch movies for the beautiful people in them, and they were right here on OiG’s blogthday party. So there wasn't much point in watching movies for them!
Now its time for a celebration of another sort – a blog-wide Khannathon! Yes, its time for each of us to indulge in some Khanna fandom and talk about our favourite Khannas. Since I don't believe in keeping secrets, I’ll tell you straight out that Vinod Khanna happens to be the most popular of the clan on OiG, but he isnt the only one. His jazz-loving son is gradually rising in the popularity stakes, here, and I wouldnt be surprised if he soon outranked his Papa with one good lead role in a well-made film.
Coming to the agenda for Khanna week, I am afraid that press of work-related deadlines makes it impossible for me to analyse the Khanna kontribution to kcinema, or even review any of the several Khanna-starrers that I’ve seen. So, I’m taking a shortcut and bringing you, instead, select articles from Filmi Times’ enormously popular column - Khanna Today – this week. They’ll bring you up-to-speed with some significant happenings in the world of Khannas, both in the present and in the past.
Here’s the first instalment:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A beauty pageant for OiG’s second birthday!

Cake for second birthday Yes, Old is Gold is exactly two years old, today. I’ve had so much fun in blogland that in the last two years, time just flew past! While the first year was the Year of Discovery (of all the great film-lovers and writers), the last year has been the Year of Fun! I’ve had a ball, discussing movies with all of you who stop by here, and at all my favorite blogs. The highlight of last year was getting to know all of you and meeting some of my favorite bloggers in person. Bolly-blogging zindaabad!!!

An occasion like this calls for a celebration of some sort. Cakes and champagne are so passé. No, I want a party, a BIG one, with lots of beautiful people. How about a beauty pageant? That would be fun, and there would be a parade of beautiful people. Its come to OiG’s attention that there are shocking gender inequalities in the eye-candy department. An injustice that we female bloggers have been doing our best to redress. But its not enough! For true gender equality, male beauty MUST be celebrated more openly, and men MUST be given more credit for their unsung contribution to eye-candy. A beauty pageant for beautiful actors - that is the obvious place to start. So lets have a beauty pageant that rewards beauty and brawn, instead of beauty and brains.

Since this is Old is Gold, we will naturally look to actors of yore. And since the 70s had the biggest compliment of hunks, thats where we'll focus our attention. The panel of judges for this competition is ALL OF YOU! I’ve listed the candidates in my order of preference, and the poll in the right sidebar allows you to pick your own Mr. Bollywood! So lets see who is walking the ramp tonight:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Strange Bedfellows (1965)

Rock Hudson is usually reason enough for me to watch a movie. And when the film co-stars Gina Lollobrigida, there is no doubt about it – I have to see the film! They were great together in Come Septemberone of my favorite 60s rom-coms. So when a “new” Gina-Rock film showed up on Amazon, I knew I had to get it. Commenters on imdb warned that Strange Bedfellows was no Come September, so I held off buying it, for a while. And then, last Christmas, I finally gave in to temptation and ordered it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shabd (2005) – the power of words

Shabd poster Having declared publicly, on the internet, that I NEVER follow new songs into movies, it was perhaps inevitable that I'd break my own rule! The culprit songs in question were the dreamy Khoya khoya sa, and the dance number Sholon si sholon si – songs that I’ve loved ever since I saw them appear on TV promos 4-5 years ago. I am not sure why I suddenly felt the need to watch the film for these songs, but I did, and I certainly dont regret it. Parts of the film left me a bit dissatisfied, but its a very well made film and was an engrossing watch.
The story opens with critical acclaim for Booker Prize Winning author Shaukat Vashisht (Sanjay Dutt). Unfortunately for Shaukat, the acclaim soon turns sour, with reviewers trashing his next book and calling his characters and plots 'unreal'. Instead of using his talents to write for Bollywood, as any sensible writer of 'unreal' stories would, Shaukat goes into hibernation.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

BLB and OiG exclusive – Shashi's top secret speech at the Filmfares

Shammi Shashi Rekha As most readers will know, Shashi Kapoor was recently given the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. What you probably didn't know is that he made a lengthy, significant, and history-soaked acceptance speech that was never televised. You may have read that all he said is "Thank you," but that is far from the truth! How the entire film fraternity (well, with a few notable exceptions) managed to keep their mouths shut about this magnificent oration, we'll never know, but now you, dear readers, have a chance to hear his words in this exclusive report!
Thanks to a fantastic friend at Filmfare, Beth Loves Bollywood and I had a rare opportunity to be present for the awards - if you've seen them on tv or online, we're hunkered in the shadows at the far left of the stage. But our friend only had one pass to spare, so, like good long-lost, recently-reunited masala sisters, we promised to share and share alike. I drew the straw to go in second, so I have the second half of his speech here for you, transcribed word for word off the recording I sneaked with my phone.
Check out part-I at Beth Loves Bollywood. Here’s the second part:

Kaarnama (1979) Part IV – MAA and THE END

Karnaama poster Before intermission, the vilaayti twin Shyam (Shashi Kapoor) was romancing Dhanno (Tanuja) and the desi twin Gopal (also Shashi Kapoor) had just left a drunk Kamini (Sharmila Tagore), to go to Kashmir to figure out why everybody was mysteriously interested in his maternal relative. I must warn you that this is a very looong post (with spoilers), since I’ve had compress the entire second half of the film in one post. For lack of space, I’ve had to concentrate on the main plot and neglect such delights as Helen trying to seduce Mr. Mehra (Shammi Kapoor), Dwarka (Pran, now Dilawar in Pakistani Intelligence) being smuggled into India, Shalu (Bindu) and her hubby Dheeraj (Ranjeet) sharing a cute romantic interlude in the police station where they’re both police officers, etc.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Kaarnama (1979) part III – the mystery edition

Karnaama poster With the vilaayti twin on his way to his watan (country), you’d think that the found part of the lost-n-found formula is almost about to be accomplished. Well, you’d be wrong. Do not underestimate MDbhai’s genius… We leave Shyam on the plane, drinking heavily, with the mysterious lady X (Sharmila Tagore) keeping a sharp lookout a few rows behind.
We fly into India, ahead of the dimpled-duo, to meet the other twin Gopal. As I told you, MD caused him to grow up into a small-time theatre actor. Well, just as we go to find him, he’s landed his first starring role, and rehearsals are in full swing. We come upon him, in his shiny military uniform, playing Napolean Bonaparte, at Waterloo. And we realise why he isnt a big star yet, nor likely to be – he fluffs his lines something terrible.
Napolean (roaring): Wellington kameene, sherni ka doodh pasand karta hai to saamne aa (Wellington rascal, if you like tigress’s milk, come here!)
Wellington, not finding the right cue (which should have been agar maa ka doodh piya hai to… if you’ve drunk your mother’s milk), forgets his lines: Err… I prefer cow’s milk.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Kaarnama (1979) part II – SHASHI!!!

Karnaama poster So the twins were torn asunder in the before-the-credits part of the film. Bunty strayed into vilaayti (foreign) lands, while the twin’s father – Dwarka – strayed into Pakistan. The residual family in India – Parvati and Bittu - relocate to a new town. Parvati begins to work as a domestic help when a dizzy spell at work informs her employer of her pregnancy!
Parvati’s pleasure in the latest nishaani (momento) of her now-dead hubby is a bit mixed. She is happy but worries about making ends meet. Her kindly employers – Durga (Nadira) and Inspector Dev (Ifthekar) promise to take over the child, since they are childless, themselves. So, one fine day, Parvati and Durga go off to Kashmir, leaving Bittu behind with the other half of his to-be-sibling’s to-be-parents. Soon, Mom and Durga return with Durga’s baby daughter Shalu.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kaarnama (1979) part I - twins torn asunder

Karnaama posterNow that you’ve gotten all the preliminary chatter about Kaarnama, its time for you to “see” the movie. I’ve thought about how I am going to put Fimi-eye’s reminiscences and the plot synopsis together, and decided to go the simple way. I’ll give you a scene-by-scene account of the film, and work in the most interesting stuff that went on behind those particular scenes. That way, you can appreciate MDbhai’s masala genius and Shashi’s professionalism, all in their proper context. And since the film follows a linear narrative, flowing in a straightforward, chronological order, that’s how we will talk about the making-of incidents too, ignoring their real-life chronology.

The film opens with two young children – obviously identical twins - receiving a joint first prize at school. They are gifted a copy of the Bhagvad Geeta, which they divide into two parts, in the interests of equitable distribution. After the prize-giving ceremony, the kids happily run home to play. They play hide-n-seek in their barn which is stacked high with ominous looking crates. While Bittu (Master Tito) looks away, Bunty (also Master Tito) hides in one of the crates, and pulls the lid in after him.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kaarnama (1979) – A bromantic break

I know I promised to tell you about this newly discovered masala-masterpiece, after the preliminaries were over, but the need to catch up with my forty winks has gotten to me. I got so lost in chatting with Mr. Khabarwala and getting to know every kaarnama that went on the sets, that I just didnt get time to write it all up. You WILL get the whole story, minus the scandalous gossip, before long, though. In the meantime, check out this fantabulous song from the film: Is ishq mein har aashiq ko, aag pe chalna padta hai (In love, every lover has to walk on fire).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kaarnama (1979) – an interview with Manmohan Desai

Karnaama poster Yesterday I told you about this Shashi- treat that I stumbled across, quite recently. The film was launched in 1977, and right from the mahurat, Filmi-eye had a bird's-eye view of the proceedings. The film took a while to complete, since MDbhai's finances came in fits and starts and dictated a rather scattered shooting schedule. But Filmi-eye was tenacious, and always made a point to catch up with what was happening with the film. He was convinced that this film would be the last word in masala-movie-making and stubbornly clung to this belief, inspite of all the trouble the film attracted. I went through all his Kaarnama write-ups for the next few years to compile a story that makes sense with 20/20 hindsight. There was delicious gossip (too scandalous to be repeated here!) and lots of speculation that wasnt actually borne out by subsequent events - I've used the editor's scissors on those bits. To fit it into a week’s worth of blog posts, I’ve had to edit some of Filmi-eye’s delightful prose, too. Hopefully, the unedited story of Kaarnama will make it to print, one of these days (publishers, are you reading?). In the meantime, here is the lite version, in Filmi-eye’s own words.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Kaarnama (1979): a masala feast for Shashi-week!

Shashi Kapoor Yes, its that time of the year when Beth announces a Shashi-fest and the rest of us rush to celebrate! This year, I’ve gotten my hands on something rather unusual - a newly discovered Shashi Kapoor film! Thats hardly unusual, you might say. The guy never refused a film, so one is always stumbling across "new" Shashi films, all over the place. Well, this one is a masala-swashbuckler-cum-thriller-cum-everything else – nothing less than a "new" Manmohan Desai film, in fact! Yes, I can see that you are about to bring up Aa Gale Lag Ja and Suhaag and tell me that there’s nothing new about a Shashi-Manmohan Desai collaboration.

Hear me out – this film IS rather unusual. Its more than ordinarily unknown. The film was never released for some reason, and only one copy has survived. Luckily for me, I was able to trace the owner of the last surviving copy - Mr. F. Khabarwala. A collector of old films, (and a big fan of Shashi, of course!), Mr. Khabarwala was only too happy to share this filmi treasure. But that isnt the only thing I am excited about. He also has a treasure trove of contemporary news and behind-the-scenes incidents about the film, which he also graciously shared with me. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Nishan (1965) – swashbuckler times three!

No matter how often The Prince and the Pauper, The Prisoner of Zenda and The Man in the Iron Mask are milked for a film, I never get tired of the stories. And when all three are simultaneously called upon, in a single film – well, its just fun times three! Here, they are well blended with the Wadia Brothers’ own version of swashbuckling masala and Usha Khanna’s lovely music – so its 2.5+ hours of pure paisa vasool entertainment.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The glorious 70s: Awards night

MAA statuette Its been a week long marathon of 70s movie goodness, and a festival of fun and funkadelic delight. But whats a festival without an awards night? Considering how much hard work, time, and effort went into the making of a 70s film, it is only right that the people involved be recognised for their good work. So, we end the festival with the Masala Awesome Awards – or MAAs. The festival committee decided to call in an expert jury to judge the entries and pick the awardees. The jury consisted of a panel of distinguished film critics – Bollyviewer, Bollyviewer, Bollyviewer and Bollyviewer. With so much material to choose from, the judges had a hard time deciding between the candidates. You’ll realise just how much talent the 70s encompassed, when I tell you that the list of nominees for some awards ran into hundreds. After long deliberations, the judges finally made their choice. So lets see who gets to take a MAA home, tonight.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The glorious 70s: Shyam Benegal takes center stage

Shyam Benegal'Socially responsible film maker' seems to be his tag. People talk of his brilliant exploration of social issues, of his technical superiority, of the superb performances he extracted from his actors, etc. etc. All this gives one the impression that he was the party-pooper of the decade that was the 70s; that he made "meaningful" cinema which was too artistic to be enjoyed by any but the very intellectual classes (whoever they might be). Of course, there is no denying that his films were socially responsible, that they did have great performances, that they were artistically made. But what all these tags do not reveal is that his films were actually interesting and fun to watch, that he is a brilliant story teller, that his films have a sense of humor that helps you over the grim parts, without ever trivialising the subject.
For me, the Shyam Benegal love started in the 80s with his lovely tele serial Yatra. It was an almost-anthology of tales set within the compartments of a train, journeying from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and back. It sketched the stories of the people who boarded the train in a few beautiful strokes - through their actions and interactions within the train compartment. Yes, it was brilliant film making, but more important to my masala-fed kiddie self, it was fun and interesting. It felt like I was really meeting all these people and getting to know them.