23 March 2015

Ijaazat (1987)

1987
Directed by: Gulzar
Music: RD Burman
Lyrics: Gulzar
Starring: Rekha, Naseeruddin Shah, Anuradha Patel, 
Shammi Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor, 
Sulabha Deshpande, Dina Pathak
Over the weekend, while we were driving, my husband played The Kronos Quartet - Songs from RD Burman's Bollywood. One of the songs they picked for this particular album was Mera kuch samaan (Asha re-rendering the song), one of my favourite songs, all the more touching for the matter-of-fact-ness of the singer's heartbreak. That brought to mind the movie it was taken from - a story of marriage and extra-marital relationships, told, unusually enough, from the viewpoint of all three of its protagonists. It is a tale of missed opportunities and regrets over paths not taken, of loving and losing someone, and how ex-lovers sometimes cross paths in ways not imagined - with consequences not quite expected. I'd liked it very much when I first saw it, but that was many many years ago, and I wondered whether it would stand a second watch.

16 March 2015

Khazanchi (1958)

1958
Directed by PN Arora
Music: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan
Starring: Balraj Sahni, Rajendra Kumar, 
Shyama, Chitra, SN Bannerjee, 
Manorama, Anwar Hussain, 
Rajan Haskar, Shammi
When I was browsing YouTube while researching Talat Mehmood's duets last week, the site decided that I could do with some entertainment. I wasn't too enthused about this film at first - it had Rajendra Kumar! But it also had Shyama, and I like Shyama. So I put it on - and got caught up completely in following the fortunes of an ordinary man and his family. It's a simple little film, rather sweet, and quite exciting with several twists and turns that I wouldn't have expected. Of course, some of the twists came thanks to the cuts in the film that the makers probably hadn't expected. Still...

12 March 2015

The Legends: Talat Mahmood - Part 2

24.02.1924 - 09.05.1998
It's been awhile since I published my post on Talat Mahmood's solos. And my post of Talat-Lata duets. Somehow, it was hard to find the energy to blog. But on the bright side, things are - literally - warming up, and it is cheery to actually see bright sunlight and know that Spring is perhaps only a month away. (For all I know, Old Man Winter might decide to drop a foot of snow on us next week! Keeping fingers crossed.)

6 March 2015

My Favourites: Talat Mahmood - Lata Mangeshkar Duets

Photo credit: Indianexpress.com
There has been an inordinate delay between my last post on Talat Mahmood, and this one. Partly, it is because the laptop I usually use decided to shut down on me, and an old one I dragged out to use has something wrong with its speakers. Partly, it is because researching Talat's duets with other singers proved to be an inordinately difficult task. Most of his duets that I liked were those that he sang with Lata Mangeshkar. And partly it's because I've been snowed under, both literally and figuratively, and couldn't work up the will or the enthusiasm to write anything. Well, mostly, it's been the last part.

24 February 2015

The Legends: Talat Mahmood

24.02.1924 - 09.05.1998
Long childhood hours were companionably spent with my father, he smoking one cigarette after the other, reading the latest bestseller, or re-reading Wodehouse, while I sprawled with the newest comic or Enid Blyton that he inevitably bought for us while returning from his many trips. And in the background, always, always, were songs from old films, whether it was on the gramophone that my father had picked up in France before I was born, or on the old radio that was always tuned to Vividh Bharati.  

It was on one of those smoke-filled Sunday afternoons that I was first introduced to Talat Mahmood. The song? Ye hawa ye raat ye chandni... I remember asking my father who the singer was. I cannot claim to have fallen in love with his silken voice then, but I filed the name away, alongside Mohammed Rafi's as someone whose voice held magic. My dad's collection of LPs didn't have many Talat Mahmood songs, though. And even the radio programmes of the day played more Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi numbers than they did that of any other male singer. It was only after my father bought home a stereo player and a regular supply of music cassettes began making their way into our house that I became more familiar with Talat Mahmood's body of work. Sangdil, Aaram, Aarzoo, Waris, Mirza Ghalib, Taxi Driver... now when my father came home, it was not only new books that I waited for eagerly; I would hurriedly 'help' him unpack, so I could see the new cassettes he had bought to add to our collection. 

18 February 2015

Word Play: Shaam

Photo credit: imgkid.com
Many moons ago, I had begun a new category of themed lists. I titled it 'Word Play' and under that category, I began to list songs that began with a particular word. Going through my lists recently, I realised that that category has been woefully under-represented. In all these years, I've written just three posts - Raat, Piya and Chand, probably the most ubiquitous of 'words that occur frequently in Hindi films songs'.

The 'rules' for this category were frighteningly simple: the song had to begin with the chosen word. (At the most, the word could be the second one in the first line.) Preludes to songs didn't count. And two, it has to be the word itself, not its variations.

The advantage, of course, to doing so, was that the songs chosen under this rule were not restricted in terms of genre (they could be of love or heartbreak, meetings or separation, betrayal or helplessness...) or setting (urban, rural, or in-between). I didn't have to worry about the distinctions I make in my own mind, or about explaining those to my readers.

15 February 2015

Nothing But The Truth

I grew up watching films. In Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil, English, Kannada, and when television made its grand entry into our home, in many other languages as well. My first love was Amitabh Bachchan. Then I discovered Shammi Kapoor, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar, Gregory Peck, Cary Grant... my tastes were unapologetically commercial, and as I grew older, I continued to devour the latest Hindi film release, as well as any old re-run.

With the advent of television, a great many 'art' films entered my purview. Doordarshan used to screen sub-titled award-winning films on Sunday afternoons. That slot introduced me to films I wouldn't have watched otherwise, and to a host of actors whose names I'd only read until then (and some whose names I did not recognise) - Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Smita Patil (Shabana had already 'crossed over' and done a slew of commercial films by then), MK Raina, Shafi Inamdar, Rohini Hattangadi, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Anant Nag, Shreeram Lagoo, Pankaj Kapoor...

11 February 2015

Tamasha (1952)

1952
Directed by: Phani Majumdar
Music: Khemchand Prakash, Manna Dey
Starring: Dev Anand, Meena Kumari, Kaushalya, 
Ashok Kumar, Kishore Kumar, 
Bipin Gupta, Sunalini Devi, Shivraj
I was watching Parivar the other day, after reading Dustedoff's well-written review of the film. Now, YouTube throws up 'similar' films on the sidebar, and while scrolling through them, I came across a Dev Anand-Meena Kumari starrer called Tamasha. If I'd heard of this film before, I'd certainly forgotten about it; equally certainly, I had no clue what it was about. But Dev Anand? Meena Kumari? Worth taking a chance, I thought to myself, and I could always stop watching if it turned out to be too dreary. Well, as it turns out, it wasn't. Quite the contrary, in fact.

5 February 2015

The Masters: Khayyam

18th February 1927
This last weekend, we were at a friend's house. As is usual, when everyone is unusually mellow, the talk turned to a discussion of the latest films, and songs. And then one of us wanted us to listen to a Coke Studio recording of a woman who sang her version of Dil cheez kya hai. It wasn't the traditional rendering, but, my god! the woman could sing! I mentioned that my favourite song from Umrao Jaan was Ye kya jageh hai doston, which I thought was the best song in the film. (I must say, though, that I like every song from Umrao Jaan.) It is a song that never fails to move me to tears. That made me think of the music director of the film who, despite having given such a stellar score for this film (and for others), had not really got his due from the industry.


30 January 2015

Unveiling The Chaudhvin ka Chand

I grew up watching her on screen in dusty theatres that showed re-runs of black and white films. I sat in awe as her perfection filled the screen, her beauty so natural, her acting so effortless that often, I quite forgot I was only watching a film unfold. Along with Meena Kumari and Nutan, Waheeda Rehman remains one of my favourite heroines of all time. So when I heard that she'd finally agreed to a book about her life, I was thrilled. The author was Nasreen Munni Kabir, whose Conversations with Lata was a wonderful addition to my collection of movie lore. I'd also previously liked her Talking Films, a conversation with Javed Akhtar. So I promptly put the book on 'my list of books to order before I go to India'. 
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