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14 February 2018

The Many Moods of Madhubala

14.02.1933 - 23.02.1969
Madhubala. That one word is enough to evoke a memory of a dazzling smile, a trademark giggle, and an on-screen charisma that remains hard to beat. Catapulted to fame in Kamal Amrohi's Mahal when she was barely 16, a slew of unremarkable films before maturing into a fine actress. Her career, cruelly cut short by her untimely death, was however, marked by variations of the usual Hindi film heroine. Her obvious beauty blinded people to her talent, and her ill-health didn’t allow her much of a chance to explore roles that might have rewarded her latent talent. 

3 February 2018

The Many Moods of Waheeda Rehman

03.02.1938
My Waheeda love has been chronicled in these pages many a time. Like Meena Kumari, she’s always been one of my favourite actresses of all time. She holds my attention every time she appears on screen; no matter how bad the film or even her role in it, I’ve never seen Waheeda Rehman give a bad performance. Her presence is riveting, her performances natural and her beauty, well… what need one say about it? To me, she was beauty, dignity, simplicity, grace and talent personified.My Waheeda love has been chronicled in these pages many a time. Like Meena Kumari, she’s always been one of my favourite actresses of all time. She holds my attention every time she appears on screen; no matter how bad the film or even her role in it, I’ve never seen Waheeda Rehman give a bad performance. Her presence is riveting, her performances natural and her beauty, well… what need one say about it? To me, she was beauty, dignity, simplicity, grace and talent personified.

31 January 2018

Bahar (1951)

Directed by: MV Raman
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan
Starring: Vyjayanthimala, Karan Dewan, 
Pran, Pandhari Bai, 
Om Prakash, Leela Mishra, 
Baby Tabassum,
Sundar, Indira Acharya

The way I watch old films is like this – a) it’s nostalgia – I’ve watched this before, and I come across it again when I’ve nothing else to do b) I’ve heard of the film but have never watched it, and either YouTube throws it up on the sidebar piquing my curiosity, or one of my fellow-bloggers posts a review recommending it, or c) I – as bollyviewer once put it – follow a great song into a bad movie. 

This post is a result of option C. It was Shamshad Begum’s ‘Saiyyan dil mein aana re’ that caused my downfall. I love the song, and since Bahar was Vyjayanthimala’s debut in Hindi (she reprised her role from the Tamil original Vaazhkai), and I really like Vyjayanthimala, I actually went looking for the film. Much to my dismay – in hindsight – I found it. Before I get to what I thought about it (if you haven’t already guessed), onwards to the saga of an ideal Hindi film heroine (with many asides, and exlamation points).

25 January 2018

Traffic (2011)


Directed by: Rajesh Pillai
Music: Mejo Joseph, Samson Kottoor
Lyrics: S Rameshan Nair, Vayalar Sarath Chandra Varma
Starring: Rehman, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Sreenivasan, Sai Kumar,
 Kunchako Boban, Asaf Ali, Remya Nambeesan, Lena, Anoop Menon,
Sandhya, Roma, Namitha Pramod, Jose Prakash
Four strangers. One unfortunate incident. What happens when Chance plays a disproportionate role in their lives? This is their story, and that of their families and friends the story of how that one incident binds hitherto unknown people’s fates into a web from which they cannot escape. This is the story of a crime of passion and of compassion, forgiveness, and redemption.  

21 January 2018

The Greats: Geeta Bali


1930 – 21.01.1965
Geeta Bali. The name is synonymous with a pair of impish eyes, a retroussé nose, and a smile that lit up the screen. Naturally gifted, spontaneous and with a terrific sense of comic timing, Geeta acted in nearly 70 films before her untimely demise.

Born Harkirtan Kaur in 1930 in Sargodha (pre-partition Punjab), Geeta had done a few small roles in films including The Cobbler and Badnami (1946). It was in Bombay, however, that she would meet Kidar Sharma, soon to be her mentor. Impressed with her verve and exuberance, he offered her the role of the heroine in Suhaag Raat (1948). She was an over-night success, and soon, she was besieged with offers. Perhaps it was the family’s straitened circumstances, but Geeta signed ever film she was offered, even when they were supporting roles (Dulari) or that of the villain’s moll (Baazi). 

16 January 2018

Of Whiners and Doormats

The other day, I was thinking about a couple of long-ago conversations on my blog. Blogger Chitrapat Sangeet had posted one of his favourite Lata Mangeshkar-Manna Dey duets on the post on Manna Dey's duets, and I responded that I hated the song because of its lyrics. He called it a 'samarpan' song, but he didn't convince me then. I’ve since changed my mind about the doormat factor of that song – I still don’t think it’s ‘samarpan’; it is one of those self-deprecatory ‘I have to show I’m inferior to you’ songs. Fortunately (or unfortunately), both (man and woman) seem to feel that way. When another fellow-blogger, Madhulika of dustedoff, mentioned she had the same reaction to Aap ki nazron ne samjha, I'd jokingly mentioned that perhaps I should do a song list of 'doormat' songs. After all, Hindi cinema thrives on role models – especially for women. Films of a certain vintage had a litany of life lessons for ‘good’ women. Madhu concurred. But there the matter rested.

6 January 2018

To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Directed by: Ernst Lubitsch
Music: Warner R Heymann
Starring: Carole Lombard, Jack Benny,
 Stanley Ridges, Robert Stack, 
Tim Dugan, Felix Bressart, 
Lionel Atwill, Maud Eburne, 
Charles Halton, Henry Victor
I’d seen the Mel Brooks version of To Be or Not to Be many years ago and found it hilarious. It was only later that I discovered that the 1980s film was a remake. So, while I ordered the Mel Brooks film again, I decided I had to watch the original film made four decades earlier. Strangely, Netflix sent me the original, which was great.

2 January 2018

Madhumati (1958)

Directed by: Bimal Roy
Music: Salil Choudhury
Lyrics: Shailendra
Starring: Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala, 
Pran, Jayant, Johnny Walker, 
Tarun Bose
Ever since I did the Dilip Kumar post, I’ve been on a mission to watch the actor’s movies. I’ve deliberately kept to the lighter part of his oeuvre – Ram aur Shyam (since that came up so much in the comments), Tarana (again!), Kohinoor, Madhumati, Yahudi… when I realized to my horror that I hadn’t – yet – reviewed Madhumati. That was insane – it’s a movie I love (I love this type of ghost stories), I love the music, and I really, really like Vyjayanthimala and Dilip Kumar. And of course, it was a Bimal Roy film.

29 December 2017

Munimji (1955)

Directed by: Subodh Mukherjee
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi, Shailendra
Starring: Nalini Jaywant, Dev Anand, 
Pran, Nirupa Roy, Ameeta, 
SL Puri, Prabhu Dayal, Kanu Roy
I’d never been a great fan of Nalini Jaywant until, in recent years, I saw a couple of her movies, and found her extremely engaging. My love for Dev Anand is well chronicled in the pages of this blog for all to see. So, one day, when I was idly trawling the web for something to watch, and the sidebar threw up the crisp, restored version (thanks to Tom Daniel), it seemed inviting enough.

25 December 2017

It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947)

Directed by: Roy Del Ruth
Music: Edward Ward
Starring: Victor Moore, Charles Ruggles, 
Ann Harding, Gale Storm, Don DeFore
I try to watch a classic Christmas film every December. Frank Capra’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is usually on some channel or the other during this period, as is ‘Miracle on 34th Street’. I’ve watched both multiple times. Strangely enough, this film is one I’d never watched before. Originally slated to be directed by Frank Capra, who chose instead to film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, this film went through a few hiccups before seeing the light of day. 

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