Posts tagged ‘Shabana Azmi’

October 6, 2010

Toote Khilone (1978)

First of all, thank you to Robert for converting his vhs tape of this film to a dvd for me. It is one more enigma of Indian cinema that this isn’t readily available on a dvd with subtitles: it was produced by and starred Shekhar Kapur (of Mr. India, Bandit Queen and Elizabeth fame) along with his girlfriend at the time Shabana Azmi (obviously a renowned actress herself), and is directed by Ketan Anand, son of Chetan. Although it isn’t entirely successful, it is an interesting film. It’s a story about a little boy who grows up longing to be rid of the strictures which his father (Utpal Dutt in some truly hideous wigs) has imposed on him, and what happens when he does break free. Had it been as sensitively handled all the way through as it is for the first hour or so, it would have been much better; but it devolves into jarring crowd-pandering antics and leaves the psychological issues unexplored and glibly resolved.

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August 9, 2010

Hum Paanch (1980)

(Which shall henceforth be known to me as Hum PUNCH.)

I guess I should begin by talking about the really interesting cast of this film: Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Raj Babbar, Amrish Puri, Mithun Chakraborty, Deepti Naval, Sanjeev Kumar, AK Hangal and Kanhaiyalal. Crazy!! My eyes got wider and wider as the credits rolled by. Halfway into the film I scribbled on my notepad: I love this movie! And I did! It was thought-provoking, interesting, sensitively handled, well-acted and gorgeously photographed on location in Karnataka.

But then it went off the rails, combining revenge masala with religion-mythology in a recipe which I am certain my father would tell my mother to go ahead and throw away. Thoughtful became jingoistic, interesting turned to predictable and cliched, sensitive handling and good acting were tossed out the window in favor of bulging eyeballs and sequinned jumpsuits. What a shame!

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February 10, 2010

Khel Khilari Ka (1977)

Sometimes a film’s music is so fabulous that you don’t even care if the film itself is bad. But when you get a soundtrack like that and a film that is highly entertaining if a *teeny bit* flawed, then life is good! So it is with this one. Kalyanji Anandji have delivered what may be my favorite of all their many awesome soundtracks—every single song, and the background music, is sublime. Toss in Dharmendra, the Indian Luke Perry, a young Shabana Azmi and a very fine Masala Death Trap indeed (operated in part by Helen), and let the fun begin! Just listen to this:

Yeah baby!

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June 3, 2009

Hira Aur Patthar (1977)

hiraaurpatthar

I struggle a bit with Hindi films that are a commentary on religion and atheism since of course by Hindi Film Law the protagonists all have to end up squarely on the side of religion. I grew up on a mission station, attended church every Sunday for the first 17 years of my life, sang in the church choir, belonged to the youth group, etc., until I left home and could finally choose what to do on Sunday mornings for myself (generally I chose to sleep in). So turning my back on organized religion and embracing atheism was an “informed” choice for me and I doubt that I will ever change my mind. Having said that, one of the things I appreciated about this movie was its open discussion of atheism and morality and how they are not necessarily in conflict. Plus: Shabana Azmi, Shashi Kapoor, Ashok Kumar and Bindu!

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October 1, 2008

Khamosh (1985)

Vidhu Vinod Chopra wrote, directed and produced this intriguing murder mystery, which takes place in northeast India on location with a Hindi film unit. Shabana Azmi, Amol Palekar and Soni Razdan all play themselves, and there is much gentle poking-of-fun at the Hindi movie world—changes to the script midstream, casting couch propositions, artist rivalries and insecurities. The “filmi insider” ambiance adds a whole new dimension to this stylish whodunit.

As the murders pile up, the twists and turns of the story are surprising, and everyone becomes a suspect. I love murder mysteries, especially of the British-village variety, and this feels just like that, only with a setting that I find even more engaging, and characters who are also real people. So much fun!

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September 2, 2008

Chor Sipahee (1977)

Ahhhh masala. The very very best filmi masala has at the very very least most of these twenty-one ingredients:

  1. Scenery-chewing
  2. Prodigious use of religious symbolism, preferably encompassing at least The Big Three: Hindu/Muslim/Judeo-Christian
  3. Squishy dil™ (ppcc) (aka “Oh! the humanity!”)
  4. Fabulously mod fashions
  5. Outlandish nonsensically fun plots
  6. At least one weeping mother
  7. Brothers/friends on opposite sides of the law
  8. Incredibly pretty hero(es) and heroine(s)
  9. Disguises, preferably which mock some ethnic or cultural group
  10. At least one child lost at a fair, preferably two who are childhood sweethearts
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August 19, 2008

Vintage magazine photos

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August 14, 2008

Makdee (2002)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again now: Vishal Bhardwaj is a genius. I had the great pleasure of watching his first directorial effort with Filmigeek and her hookah (cardamom tobacco!) last evening. Ostensibly a children’s story (although I would hesitate to show it to any kid under six), Makdee is wonderfully original—a spooky folk tale with touches of Shakespeare and the brothers Grimm, beautifully photographed and perfectly paced. The performances—especially Shabana Azmi as the witch, and Shweta Prasad as twins Chunni and Munni—are superb.

Of course Bhardwaj’s background score and songs are pitch perfect too, and he wrote the screenplay (with Abbas Tyrewala). Genius!

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April 16, 2008

My five favorite heroine roles

Sanni recently posted about her five favorite heroine roles in Hindi films. What a great idea! I am shamelessly stealing it.

Hindi films are of course generally more about the hero(es) than the heroine. And by generally, I really mean always. But there are some performances that transcend that handicap, and also there is the occasional heroine-centric film made. So here are my favorite roles and the actresses who brought them to life, where the heroine manages to hold her own against—if not completely outshine—the hero.

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