MelodyMedley

Paa
Liked it a lot. Vidya is such a lovely actress…I feel bad that there’s no decent directors around to give her more such roles. She would have fitted in so well in Hrishida’s films. Abhi was okay. As for Amit, he did great, but I was a little perplexed as to why not get a child actor with make up…

The Last Lear
I’m a huge fan of Rituparna Ghosh. This one was also very watchable, tho not one of my favourites by the director. Amitabh was awesome.

Kaminey
I always tend to get a little confused in these gangster flicks! Not my favourite genre, but hard to resist this wild movie. Shahid did well.

Masoom
I made my sister watch this one when I visited home recently. One of my favourite movies. Beautiful.

Well Done Abba:
I loved it. Was a really enjoyable movie. Boman Irani was great, but I was also very impressed with Raima Sen. Sameer Dattani also did well in his small role. I particularly liked some of the subtle dialogues which really made me smile, eg when Boman says to Sameer ‘Baar baar mujhe Abba kyun bulaate ho?’ And Raima says ‘Toh kya hua, bulaane do na’. Or when Raima gets upset because her relatives are being mean to Sameer. A sweet, progressive film which I’d def recommend.

Gulaal

Surprisingly watchable actually. Basically about radical Rajputs…and some poor kids stuck in the middle of the drama!

Aaja Nachle

My flatmate wanted to see this (i’d obviously already seen it(. Was still fun second time round. Shouldn’t have flopped!!

Manoranjan
I quite enjoyed this light-hearted movie about a rather naive policeman, Sanjeev Kumar, who falls for a hooker, Zeenat Aman. It’s pretty funny at times and has a few nice tunes by Pancham. It’s one of the few films I’ve seen with Zeenat Aman, and she’s decent in it, but Sanjeev is a sheer pleasure to watch. He looks quite young and as always has great comic timing.

Love Sex Aur Dhoka
Different to any Hindi film I ever saw before! Very watchable.

What’s Your Raashee
Well, the reviews had warned me about this one, but I kinda felt I had to watch it anyways, as I really loved JA, Swades and Lagaan. It wasn’t a particularly good movie…an interesting concept, but didn’t end up being too enjoyable. Basically, the film needed some great songs and maybe a more exciting cast like Hrithik-Ash, or even better Madhuri-Salman (not that i’m a Salu fan but their chemistry would have worked well in this kinda film). Instead, the average soundtrack, and the average Harman Baweja and the only slightly above-average Priyanka, combined with a very very very long running time of over 3 and a half hours, meant the film really didn’t work.

Dil Diya Dard Liya
Based upon Emily Bronte’s awesome Wuthering Heights. I knew the film had flopped but was nevertheless expecting something good as it starred Dilip Kumar, Waheeda Rahman, and one of my favourite character artistes – Rahman. But what a silly film. They messed up the plot. And the entire extended climax was totally unnecessary and illogical. Grr. A couple of nice songs though by Naushad Saab – Koi Saagar Dil Ko Behlaata Nahin by Rafi, and Phir Teri Kahaani Yaad Aayi…Phir Tera Fasaana Yaad Aaya by Lata.

Tum Milo Toh Sahi
I don’t deserve any sympathy for watching this dull film; the reviews made it clear I shouldn’t have wasted my time…but I love Dimple. She and Nana were good in their scenes. But seriously how much worse can Sunil Shetty get…argh!!!

Morning Raaga
Been wanting to catch this 2004 Shabana Azmi for a long time. It’s in English, located in South India, about a lady who drops her passion for music after her son dies. She is coaxed back into music 20 years later by the son of her best friend, who died in the same crash her son died in. Was average.

Karthik vs Karthik
I really enjoyed it! Farhan has impressed me in each movie he’s acted in, and again does a good job. Deepika is decent too. I don’t wanna reveal the twist/solution to the movie, but I liked it!

Atithi Tum Kab Jaaogi?
Well, this wasn’t anything incredible, but was nice seeing a Hrishida style comedy. Not exactly hilarious, but generally pretty amusing. And Konkona always makes movies watchable.

Aandhi + Mausam
Watched these two on consecutive days when I was visiting my parents for mother’s day recently. Obviously I’ve seen the before but Gulzar’s cinema is always worth revisiting. Great music, awesome performances, and of course fabuolous writing and directing by Gulzar Saab. It’s tragic that he’s not making movies anymore.

Abhinetri
Well, surprisingly I really enjoyed this marital drama with Hema Malini and Shashi Kapoor. Was an interesting movie, in the sense that it brought up an issue that isn’t black and white. Hema plays a stage dancer (so we’re treated to some fantastic dances) and Shashi is a scientist. He falls for her, but after marriage, has major issues with her continuing to dance…ie gets upset when fans comment on her looks etc. She’s unwilling to just throw it all away. Obviously our sympathies lie with her,and her point of view is strongly put accross. However, we can also sympathise with Shashi, who’s not a typical chauvanist, but just can’t deal with people perving over his wife. The film dodged the issue at the end, where they realise they can’t live without each other…put no solution is offered! So we’re left wondering… But surely that’s better than her simply picking her husband over her career. Two major pluses of the film were a host of Lata gems (O Ghata Saanwari etc etc) and an incredibly luminous Hema Malini.

Barsaat ki ek Raat
Boring movie. Bachchan plays a cop, and his blind wife Raakhee (looking old and overweight…such a shame after how incredible she looked in Sharmilee). Didnt like it at all. Decent songs by Lata.

As people may be aware, there’s the Tongues on Fire Film Festival going on in london, and this year there is a Jaya retrospective going on. After the showing of Kora Kagaz yesterday, she was interviewed on stage, followed by an audience Q&A.

After Meena Kumari and Nutan, Jaya is my favourite actress, so I wasn’t gonna miss the chance to see her. She looked good, was very well spoken, and it was awesome hearing her share memories of her time at the film institute, and her directors like Satyajit Ray, Hrishida, Gulzar saab and Sanjeev Kumar.

She also talked about her childhood, her parents, and her husband/kids.

She mentioned that when young people ask for her autograph, she knows it is because she is Aishwariya’s mother-in-law – when the interviewer suggested they may have seen her movies, she said that she doesn’t feel young people today would relate to her movies. I wanted to jump up and say ‘I dooo!’.

When asked about which of her films she found most challenging, she said K3G ‘It was just toooo big’. And she said she was apalled by her performance ‘I was so loud – it was really embarassing when I saw myself onscreen. I’ve now realised that as your face gets older, your expressions look exagerrated’. Then she said that although working with Karan Johar is nice, it is doing Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa which gives her real pleasure, but acknowledged that it was only through the success of K3G that smaller movies were viable for her.

Said she mainly did movies with people who shared her mindset, but that she had a lot of fun doing something like Jawani Deewani.

She described how she though Dharam was a Greek God; when the interviewer asked if she still thinks so she laughed and said ‘The way he is now? …probably not!’

She mentioned that she’s always wanted to play a historical character, in particular Meera, and complained to Gulzar when he picked Hema instead, saying ‘I don’t want a militant Meera’. Shyam Benegal publicly offered her a historical role, so let’s see what happens.

She said that Hrishikesh Mukherjee was extremely strict. He would force all the actors in a movie to stay on the set at all times, learning about the lights, cameras etc. And that when the set designers were putting together the character’s home, then the actor would have to help them, in order to become familar with their props etc. She said Hrishida would get very angry if a star asked for a retake, telling them it was not their call to make, and if they wanted another take they must pay the cost!

She mentioned that she never missed acting, but sometimes Amit would come home and say he’d really missed her, as there was a perfect ‘Jaya Bhaduri’ scene in the movie he did that day. She elaborated that she never does a retake in the same way (and said this is a weakness on her part), but because of this, it leads to an atmposphere where the co-stars have to respond to each other’s spontaneity, which can be very productive. She described how her, Amit and Gulzar worked very hard in altering Bedi Saab’s dialogues in Abhimaan, to make them less literary and more real (Hrishida didn’t want to offend Bedi so he told them ‘just do what you want and don’t involve me’). She said working with Gulzar was a real pleasure.

I was lucky enough to be able to ask her a question. I simply suggested that it had been too long since Parichay and Koshish, and that she persuade Gulzar Saab to direct one more movie…and it sadenned me when she said that she too has been telling him this, but he feels that times have changed and people would not be interested in his type of movies anymore. And Jaya said she thinks he’s probably right. Tragic.

Benegal came across as very intelligent, and seeing as it was International Women’s Day, he spent a lot of time talking about women, in his films as well as Indian soceity at large.

It’s Complicated – Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep.  Loved it!  Really funny film about a couple, who got divorced 10 years ago – and then start having an affair.  Watched in whilst on holiday in Zurich last weekend – had a blast.

Gaai aur Gauri – Okay so I expected an awful film, but watched it neways cos it starred Jaya Bhaduri, who’s always a joy to see onscreen.  And i was pleasantly surprised by a pretty watchable movie!  Jaya is an orphan girl, loved by the whole village – and she’s inseperable from her best-friend…a cow!  It’s really funny, perhaps unintenionally, esp when the cow cries in every emotional scene.  Then the ‘hero’ is Shatru…who Jaya sends to jail cos he behaves badly with her…then he comes back all ‘reformed’, so she marries him out of guilt…then he shows how evil he really is.  It reminded me a bit of Meena Kumari’s role in Kaajal..trying to reform the drunkard husband who’s off playing with tawaifs.  Obviously Lakxmi the cow saves the marriage and Jaya’s life.  Fun times!!

Khosla ka Ghosla – enjoyed it.

Bombai Ka Babu – Starring Dev Anand and Suchitra Sen.  I’ve wanted to see this for a long time.  Fascinating story…a rich family lost their son when he was 5 years old.  Dev Anand is a petty thief who poses as the son 20 years later…but yhe catch is he falls in love with his fake sister.  Her reaction to her ‘brother’ making a move on her is awesome to watch.  She’s totally freaked out…  Wicked songs – mUkesh ‘s Chal Ri Sajni’, Asha-Rafi’s ‘Deewana Mastana Hua Dil’ and Rafi’s ‘Saathi Na Koi Manzil’.     

Manorama – Interesting movie, as is always the case with Abhay Deol’s movies.  Can’t say I loved it though…

Maya – Dev Anand again, this time with Mala Sinha.  A rich guy goes to live in a slum to get away from his superficial life, and falls in love with a poor girl.  Worth seeing for a magical soundtrack…’Tasveer Teri Dil Mein’, ‘Aye Dil Kahaan Teri Manzil’, ‘Jaa Re Jaa Re Udjaa Re Panchhi’.  Sweet film.

Up In The Air – Starring George Clooney.  This was pretty good up until the last 30 mins or so.  Some really good writing in some scenes. 

Jail – Boring.  I was pretty disappointed with Neil (first time i’ve seen him onscreen) – I kinda had high expectations from him for some reason.  Hopefully he’ll be better in other films.

Nazrana – Raj Kapoor and Vyjayantimala.  Two sisters love the same boy…one makes a sacrifice.  Boooring.  Has the wicked Lata-Mukesh duet though ‘Bikhrake Zulfein’.

Tum Mile – When i was in Mumbai in Novermber, this film released and it was ironic that during that particular week there were floods in mumbai!  So anyways, I saw this film finally, mainly because of the songs which I really like.  I do like Soha for some reason.  Not sure what to make of Emraan…the only other film i’ve seen of his was Murder.  He’s not awful, but he reminds me of sunil shetty…which is clearly not a good thing.  The film was watchable…a story of a couple who drift aprt then meet 6 years later in difficult circumstances.

Qila – Not sure how Dilip Kumar feels about this being his last movie…it’s terrible but in a funny way kinda watchable!  Lots of strange characters in a rather unengrossing murder mystery, but Dilip actually shines far brighter than in some of his other films from the 70’s and 80’s (ie he’s not overacting as much as he started doing post 1960’s).   

Faasle – Dunno what made me watch this…it was during a night shift at work…ie i was watch bits in between patients.  I forgot how awful the 80’s were…even a Yaash Chopra film like this was full of swear words!  But actually I kinda enjoyed the movie, even if i’m contradicting myself when i say it wasn’t a good film!  It was basically a poor boy loving a rich girl, who’s daddy doesn’t approve of the boy and wants her to marry a rich boy.  But some things made the film watchable. Really nice songs (Janam Janam Mere Sanam and Hum Chup Hain Ke Dil Sun Rahe Hain – both duets by lata and kishore, as well as lata’s solo Sun Le Yeh Saara Zamaana, and the pick of the album Asha’s stunning Yun Toh Milne Ko Hum Line Hain Bahot…Darmiyaan Phir Bhi Faasle Hain Bahot).  Rekha was captivating as Sunil Dutt’s long-term mistress who he feels unable to marry because he’s not sure how it would look to seciety.  Sunil Dutt is okay as the widower…preferred him in Sujata hehe.  Deepti Naval has a tiny role but looks beautiful in sarees throughout and you really wish the film was all about her.  The lead couple Rohan Kapoor and Farah are not great…Farah’s slightly better.  Farooque Sheikh is okay. 

My Name Is Khan – I was really surprised by SRK – he was really good!  Kajol was average…for some reason I was wishing it was Vidya Balan instead.  Karan’s direction was not bad in dealing with the autism but the politcal stuff was handled in a mediocre way.  I like the songs!

Zindagi Zindagi – I quite enjoyed this one…then the dvd screwed up so i missed the last half hour! Sunil Dutt plays a doctor, and Waheeda Rahman plays a widow with a child…her and Dutt were in love before she was forced to marry someone else…so when she turns up some years later its an interesting reunion.

Shagun – Waheeda Rahman co-stars with the guy she ended up marrying. She’s acused of being ‘manglik’ – ie bad luck. An incredibly annoying movie. But what a magic soundtrack. Each song is a masterpiece. My favourite being ‘Tum Apna Ranjh O Gham Apni Pareshaani Mujhe Dedo’. Also the duet ‘Parbaton Ke Pedon Par, Shaam Ka Basera Hai’.

Aaram – Dev Anand and Madhubala. Quite a watchable film, and an especially engrossing start where Madhu turns up in the rain and takes shelter in Dev’s small house. Wicked comedy,. esp the scenes with Madhubala. She looks absolutley stunning. And a host of nice Lata songs by Anil Biswas.

Namak Haram – One of the few big Hrishikesh Mukherjee movies I hadnt seen till now.  He’s one of my fave directors (obviously) but I was kinda disappointed by this one…just found it a little dull – less engaging and entertaining than most of his movies.  It did pick up in the last 30 mins though.

More and more films are talking about terrorism either because it is the trend or the filmmakers genuinely want to explore the subject. Inevitably, to add punch to the drama, lines are quoted from the Quran or conventional beliefs are questioned. There is a scene in My Name Is Khan where Rizwan (Shah Rukh Khan) listens to a man preaching in the mosque regarding the story of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) and his son Prophet Ishmail (pbuh). The preacher argues that Prophet Ibrahim was willing to sacrifice his son in the name of Allah. So, in his logic, we should all be willing to sacrifice our lives in the war against the kafirs (unbelievers). Rizwan interrupts and says that the story was about faith rather than death or sacrifice. Both the father and the son had faith in Allah and they knew that their faith was being tested. They also knew that Allah would never command the death of any person in His name. The scene ends dramatically with Rizwan proclaiming that it was Satan who had planted the seed of thought in Prophet Ibrahim’s (pbuh) head that a sacrifice was necessary.

On to Khuda Ke Liye where there is a debate between the characters regarding the use of music. Is it haraam in Islam? A character brings up the example of Prophet Dawud (pbuh) who used to sing the prayers of Allah. This scene had the mullahs in Pakistan up in arms claiming it to be blasphemous.

Challenging conventional beliefs in religion is not something that Hindi cinema often does although there have been films that have argued for widow remarriage and equal rights for those of ‘low caste’ (Hinduism). Madhuri as Sita in a stage play in Lajja (2001) refuses to walk the fire to prove her virtue and challenges Ram to do it instead. Regarding Islam, Bollywood normally played it safe in the 1960’s and 1970’s with exotic portrayals of high Muslim society and they rarely challenged the status quo. The only exception I can think of is the rather feminist Heer Ranjha (1971) where a nikaah is officially judged as invalid because Heer was forced into it. It makes the point that a marriage is valid only when two people willingly enter the union without the pressure of family.

It is a positive sign that films are showing alternative points of view within religion. Films should try and push the envelope as much as possible. But in a film like My Name Is Khan, everything is divided into good and bad. Therefore, the character who interprets the story of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) as one of sacrifice is portrayed as an evil man. In a religion, all interpretations and viewpoints should be welcomed. Films should challenge conventional practices but to dismiss one viewpoint as “bad” is rather poor filmmaking. Filmmakers should take care to ensure that they don’t fall into such a trap.

Some people have expressed the view that My Name Is Khan is not really a Karan Johar film. I assume they mean that there is none of the staged melodrama of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham or Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. I am inclined to disagree with this view as I feel that MNIK has the many hallmarks of this director. One particular hallmark is the position of self-pity or victimisation. KKHH had the ignored boyish Anjali retreating for 8 years to lick her wounds. K3G had the orphan leaving the family home. KANK had an injured sportsperson with a wounded ego. Even the Karan Johar produced Kal Ho Naa Ho was all about a selfless cancer-inflicted lover making the ultimate sacrifice. MNIK continues in this vein by taking up the victimhood of Muslims in the post-911 environment and by using Shah Rukh Khan to embody that very sense of targeted persecution.

Like Kal Ho Naa Ho, My Name Is Khan struggles to try to portray the various citizens of the US and has to resort to stereotypes in the end. Thus it becomes a necessary trope to class people in the good and bad category (as the title character does) to make sense of the many characters in the world of MNIK. Nothing wrong with ambition but Johar’s films always feel too big and the characters are pawn in the game of chess. It is perhaps an accidental achievement that My Name Is Khan at least retains some sense of intimacy with the main character. Rizwan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) has Asperger’s syndrome and cannot express emotion verbally but has to write it down. It is a beautiful touch that allows Johar to show restraint and be prevented from going into tearful sermons for the most part. It also liberates SRK from the Rahul factor of Johar’s films but the part still retains the iconic mode by chanelling the simple philosophy of Forrest Gump. Kajol seems lost between the past of Johar’s films and what he is trying to attempt with MNIK. She appears to have walked in from the world of Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. There is, though, a crucial difference between the world of both films. By the end of KANK, all was pretty much well and rosy despite the marital rows and break-ups. But by the end of MNIK, the pain is still there. Nothing has replaced Mandira’s (Kajol) loss even if she learns to let go of her anger. This shows a surprising maturity on the part of Karan Johar as a filmmaker and it is a development that I thoroughly welcome. Now, if only he could make a film on a smaller scale…

Shahid Khan

Okay let’s jumpstart the blog with the anthemic spirit of the Black Eyed Peas. They have the knack of making songs that get the nations worldwide rocking to their beat.

My choice today is Meet Me Halfway. It is a mixture of hip-hop, electro and techno styles. In some ways, Meet Me Halfway shows the traces of their original starting point as a rap group while their other songs in the same album (The End) are much more geared towards funk and electro pop. This demonstrates the band’s commitment to carry on growing and experimenting with different styles of music rather than getting set in their ways.

Meet me halfway, right at the borderline
That’s where I’m gonna wait for you
I’ll be lookin out night n day
Took my heart to the limit and this is where I’ll stay
I can’t go any further than this
I want you so bad it’s my only wish…

Darna Zaroori Hai – I remember going to see Darna Mana Hai at the cinema, back when I was at Uni…and although it was odd, I kinda enjoyed it.  Feel the same way about this one.  Good seeing all those stars.  The stories vary in how good they are.  I really liked the Arjun-Bipasha one.  The Sunil Shetty – Sonali Kulkarni was ok.  Anil-Malika was fun.  Amit-Ritesh was interesting.  Randeep Hooda’s bit was truly weird.  Haha, i saw this during my night on-call at the psychiatric unit, and i gotta admit I was very slightly spooked 🙂 

Bombay to Goa – A road movie set on a coach.  Comedy with Amit and Aruna Irani.  I watched this the night before my holiday to Bombay and Goa 🙂  Watchable film.

Madhumati – Watched this again after reading the Bimal Roy biography.  I enjoyed it so much more this time.  Incredible soundtrack, incredible movie.  Dilip and Vyjayanti are perfect. 

3 Idiots – I agree with the criticisms of the flaws in the story, but who cares, I loved it!  Saw it with family on Boxing Day and everyone had a blast.  Aamir Khan rules 🙂

Good Will Hunting – was persuaded to watch this by one of my mates, who was outraged that i hadn’t seen it… i agreed on condition that he watch an indian movie 😉  Awesome film – can see y it was so acclaimed

Maachis – Think i’m destined never to see this!  I once had the video of it, which broke.  So I bought the DVD from India and it messed up after 30 mins.  It’s the only Gulzar film i’ve not seen (apart from Libaas of course).

Noopur – a dance drama directed by Hema and she starred in it too.  Learned loads bout classical dancing!  Pretty realistic actually, i enjoyed it.

Wake up Sid – Recommnded by a friend – I loved it!  The only movies thus far I’d seen of Ranbir were Saawariya and BAH so this was the first time I was really impressed by him.  Loved the soundtrack too.  And Konkona as always rocks.  Also, it was awesome seeing so much of Mumbai…brought back memories of my recent trip there.

Rocket Singh – This was a little slow compared to the fun of Wake Up Sid, but I liked it.  Reminded of the films Hrishida used to make about young guys struggling to get by financially.  Ranbir was great.

Ajab Prem ki Ghazab Kahani – Well…i tried to watch this but got really bored after 5 mins, so unless anyone recommends it, i’m not gonna bother with this one!

Anokha Milan – A rather dull dubbed Bengali film, with Darmendra and some lady called Pramoti.  Also Dilip Kumar in a nice guest role.  Reminded me of Devdas (childhood friends seperated due to social status differences) and Bandini (women’s prison) but unfortunatley the movie was not of Bimal Da quality! 

Golmaal – Decided that my family needed to see this again when I was visiting home at xmas time.  Classic.  Dina Pathak climbing through the window – hahahahaha.

QSQT – Not sure why I watched this again, but enjoyed it.  Was good seeing Juhi and Aamir when they were so young!  And a great soundtrack.

Phir Kab Milogi – A Hrishida film, starring Mala Sinha and Biswajeet, with Dilip Kumar in a very odd special appearance.  Not a great film by the director’s usual standards.  Some decent comedy scenes.  Only memorable for the awesome Lata-Mukesh duet ‘Kahin Karti Hogi Woh Mera Intazaar…Jiski Tamana Mein Phirta Hoon Beqaraar’.

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