Archive for June, 2007

June 28, 2007

Rajnigandha (1974)

First off —- aaaaaarrrrrrgggghhhhhh! Hindi movie subtitles make me crazy sometimes, the way they randomly appear and disappear just when you need them most. In this case, the *most important line* of the film was lost to me. I have no clue what happened at the end (or more accurately, WHY what happened at the end happened). All I know is that Deepa was happy and there were subtitles:

deepa happy

Then she became sad and disturbed, and the subtitles were gone:

sad deepa

I do know that on the way there I enjoyed sumptuous 1970’s era fashions and general grooviness*…


and nostalgic views of Bombay and Delhi. Amol Palekar was sweet, Vidya Sinha and Ranjita Thakur very beautiful (in spite of it being the 70s, and who among us can say that)…and the story slow as molasses. I don’t know why, but I just need more action in my films. But it was a trip back in time for sure.

And if anyone reading this can explain the end to me, I will be most grateful.

*Sunglasses so huge they would completely engulf poor little Nicole Ritchie’s head

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June 25, 2007

Life in a Metro (2007)

This is a refreshingly mature film about life, love, disappointment, responsibility and all those things that make us happy and sad. And, unlike most attempts at this before it, the movie manages to juggle a large cast of characters AND give them dimension and substance so that you actually care about what happens to them (see Salaam-E-Ishq for contrast).

Konkona Sen Sharma and Irfan Khan showed their comedy chops, and their story unfolded with a lot of sweetness and humor. A great scene had Irrfan teaching the buttoned-up Konkona some primal scream therapy. I would love to see them paired up again. Sharman Joshi was a revelation to me; I had never seen him before* and found myself rooting for his geeky entrepreneurial character. I would bet that he becomes a very versatile actor. In fact, I found myself rooting for almost everyone in this movie — the notable exception being Kay Kay Menon’s cheating, hypocritical husband (which only means that Kay Kay’s acting was v.v. good). Shilpa Shetty was very good as his long-suffering wife**. I hope she continues to get good roles like this and Phir Milenge. I imagine that not many people could NOT find at least one of these characters to relate to.

It was also a joy to see Dharmendra and the gorgeous Nafisa Ali, in a sweet twilight-years love story. Dharmendra’s entrance was like seeing an old familiar friend in an unexpected place. His presence added more warmth to an already heart-warming film.

The other great character in this movie was Mumbai itself during the monsoons. Beautifully photographed and atmospheric, perfectly suited to the tone of the movie: I wished I were there standing on a terrace overlooking the city drenched in rain. The musical interludes jarred me a little as they appeared out of nowhere suddenly and felt like an interruption, although the soundtrack is very nice listening on its own.

I would show this movie even to my most stubbornly “anti-Bollywood” friends.

*Well, actually, I discover that I have, in “Rang De Basanti” which maybe validates my next sentence, because I don’t remember him in it
**Although long-suffering self-sacrificing Indian wives have long gotten on my last good nerve

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June 22, 2007

Aag (1948)


I must confess that I don’t enjoy Raj Kapoor’s movies*. The ones I have seen are just too slow and I can’t maintain interest in them. It usually takes me about 4 days to get through one of his movies.

In Aag, you have a protagonist (Kewal, played by RK) with no luck at all. At the age of ten he is deprived of his first love (also ten) when her parents move away and take her with them. Things go downhill from there until he is finally setting himself on fire to make himself less attractive (it works!) to the woman his best friend and mentor** loves, but who loves him instead. In between is a second love ripped away, failure in his college exams, disappointed and angry parents, and two whole days of starvation before he finds his savior**. The in-between takes a loooonnnngggg time to get through and I grew tired of it all.

But there IS a happy ending. It comes when he marries a total stranger and discovers that his new bride is none other than his first love. And kismat is satisfied, finally rewarding sacrifice with happiness. I guess that was supposed to make me happy too, but I just wanted those three hours of my life back. I’ve got a lot more Hindi movies to watch before I die! Perhaps not being the self-sacrificing type myself, I just can’t relate.

I did love Shashi Kapoor as the ten-year-old Kewal. He was just as cute as a button:


Ram Ganguly’s music is beautiful*** and in keeping with the sombre tone. Shamshad Begum’s voice suits the mood perfectly, and is perfectly complemented by Shailash Mukherjee’s voice in “Dekh Chand Ki Or”. Whatever happened to Shailash Mukherjee? I can’t find any record of him singing in any other movies.

This is the thing: a movie needs some humor when it has so much drama in it. I just can’t BE that oppressed for almost three hours. Johnny Walker, where were you?

*With one exception (so far), more on that some other day.
**A young, handsome, Premnath!

***With assistance from Shankar and Jaikishan, who so impressed RK that he used them as music directors in his next production “Barsaat” (which I haven’t seen yet)

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