1 October 2015

Woh Kaun Thi? (1964)

Directed by: Raj Khosla
Music: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
Starring: Sadhana, Manoj Kumar, 
  Helen, Parveen Choudhary,  
KN Singh, Prem Chopra,  
Dhumal, Mohan Chhoti
It's been a long time since I watched Woh Kaun Thi? It's one of my favourite 'ghost' movies despite the presence of Manoj Kumar. (But there was Sadhana!) So one Saturday evening, my husband and I settled to watch the film, whose songs we know better than we remember the film itself.  

28 September 2015

Bhai-Bhai (1956)

Directed by: MV Raman
Music: Madan Mahan
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan
Starring: Ashok Kumar, Nirupa Roy, 
Kishore Kumar, Nimmi, 
Shyama, Om Prakash, 
Daisy Irani, David
Kishore Kumar is not one of my favourite actors – I tire of his over-the-top antics – and Nimmi certainly doesn’t count as one of my favourite actresses. But because I love Ae dil mujhe bata de, and the music director was Madan Mohan, I decided to give Bhai-Bhai a try when YouTube threw it up on the side for my viewing pleasure one day. I should have known! I’ve suckered myself into watching horrible films because of their songs before, only to be unpleasantly shocked. In any case, I must have been really, really bored that day, because I did watch the film as it meandered to its melodramatic, weepy end, and I did take notes and screenshots, and there it stayed - in my Drafts folder. Recently, while looking through the folder to see what I could write up, I came across this, and thought, why not? After all, it was chock full of some Very. Important. Lessons., and it behooves us to learn them. Right?

23 September 2015

Double Trouble

Literature and cinema are filled with tales of lookalike twins - so identical in their looks and even their mannerisms that their nearest and dearest cannot tell them apart. They are usually separated at birth and therefore, when one's path crosses the other's (as it has to for the story to move forward), it's cause for merry confusion for themselves and for others. (Of course, sometimes the path crossing is deliberate. Think Prince and the Pauper, where the Prince importunes his doppelganger to take his place while he experiences life outside the confines of the palace.)
Anna Salunke as Sita in Lanka Dahan (1917) (Courtesy: Wikipedia)
The first instance of someone appearing in a double role in Hindi cinema is during the silent era; an actor named Anna Salunke was cast as both Lord Rama and his consort, Sita, in the 1917 film Lanka Dahan. To Salunke also goes the credit of being the first 'heroine' on the Indian screen (he played the role of Rani Taramati in Raja Harishchandra).

From what I can glean, the first double role in the talkies was in Saraswati Cinetone's Awara Shehzada / Aout Ghatakecha Raja (1933). An adaptation of The Prince and the Pauper directed by Master Vitthal, the Hindi version featured Shahu Modak in the titular roles. It is interesting to note that Master Vitthal had himself played a double role a few years earlier in the silent film, Prisoner of Love (1927). 
Patience Cooper (Courtesy: Wikipedia)
The first ever double role played by an actress (or female actor, as the politically correct term is, today) was by an Anglo-Indian called Patience Cooper; she played twin sisters in Patni Pratap (1923).

Whilst idly ruminating on the frequency with which 'twins' or doppelgangers have appeared in our films, I realised that I liked some of these films and roles very much indeed. Since I'm always on the lookout for new themes, I thought, 'Why not make a list of some memorable double roles in Hindi cinema?' 

19 September 2015

4 luni 3 săptămâni și 2 zile (2007)

4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days
Directed by: Cristian Mungui
Starring: Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu, 
Vlad Ivanov, Alexandru Potosean
My husband brought this film home from the library a week ago. I have been incredibly busy, and one look at the synopsis on the DVD cover led me to insist I wasn't going to watch it. It was not a film that I would consider 'entertaining'. Nevertheless, in a show of solidarity, I sat with him, working on my editing, while he watched. Ten minutes later, having caught a couple of scenes whenever I lifted my head, the film reeled me in, and I gave up all pretence of working.

15 September 2015

R.D. Burman - The Man, The Music

When I wrote about Anirudha Bhattacharjee and Balaji Vittal's new book on Hindi Film Songs, I mentioned that I'd much preferred their earlier book on RD Burman. So when a reader said, on that post, that she would consider buying the RD Burman book since I spoke of it so highly, I thought, 'Why not review that as well?'
I'd been thinking of reviewing this book for some time now, but never got around to re-reading it. Now, my appetite whetted both by reading Gaata Rahe Mera Dil, and reader Neeraj's comment, I decided to take the plunge. After all, I was only four years late with the review.

10 September 2015

Gaata Rahe Mera Dil: 50 Classic Hindi Film Songs

A few months ago, I made a recommendation on this blog. A recommendation for a book that I hadn't, at that time, read. Anirudha Bhattacharjee and Balaji Vittal's book on '50 Classic Hindi Film Songs' aptly titled Gaata Rahe Mera Dil (HarperCollins Publishers India; Rs350). As I'd mentioned earlier, I'd read their book, 'RD Burman, The Man, The Music', which won them a well-deserved National Award, and had loved it. I was eagerly awaiting this one, my own personal autographed copy, which was being ferried to me by a friend who was coming to the US in August. So, late though it is (fellow-blogger Dustedoff has already reviewed the book here), I decided to go ahead and review the book.

5 September 2015

My Favourites: Swing A Song

It was watching Jhoola that brought this to my mind. Every summer, when school closed for the holidays, my parents would make a trip with us in tow – to my grandparents’ home in Kerala. We looked forward to it with eagerness and excitement; we would not be the only children wending our way thence – one cousin already lived there; two others would join us from their home in the same town; other cousins would be coming from different towns and cities. Soon, very soon, my ammamma (maternal grandmother) and ammachan’s (maternal grandfather) house would be filled with shrieks of laughter, as the adults patiently decided where to fit all of us – finally, all the mattresses in the house would be aired out in the sun, and they would be laid end-to-end in the dark, cool ‘thalam’ the inner room of the house that connected the ‘living room’ with the bedrooms. We didn’t have ceiling fans except in the bedrooms, so come night-time, we would scramble to lie as close as possible to the small, portable fan that whirred tiredly in one corner. However, these were but small inconveniences. 

31 August 2015

Vertigo (1958)

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Music: Bernard Hermann
Starring: James Stewart, Kim Novak
Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore
From one of my favourite heroes (Dev Anand) to another (Jimmy Stewart). Like The Man Who Knew Too Much, I'd watched Vertigo too long ago to remember much about it. The only thing that I did remember was the shot of Jimmy Stewart hanging from a roof.  
For some reason, that shot had remained engraved in my memory. So, when Netflix sent me Vertigo from my queue, I was more than pleased to sit back and watch. A Hitchcock film is usually worth watching, even if we compare one to the other; this film was unusually long at 2 hours and 9 minutes., but a few minutes into the film and we were hooked. Of course, another few minutes later, my husband was saying rather disparagingly [he knows I love Stewart]: 'James Stewart playing James Stewart.' I had to admit that that was true as well. Luckily for me, the 'James Stewart' phase only lasted a couple of minutes. The film was compelling viewing.

26 August 2015

Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963)

Directed by: Vijay Anand
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri
Starring: Dev Anand, Nutan, 
Om Prakash, Mumtaz Begum, 
Harindranath Chattopadhyay, Pratima Devi, 
Rajendranath, Rashid Khan, Zarine Katrak

It was one Dev Anand - Nutan starrer, Paying Guest, their first film together - that kicked off this Dev Anand Marathon on this blog. Since all good things must come to an end some time, it seems apt that I end the month with another Dev Anand - Nutan film, this time the last one in which they starred together as romantic leads. Vijay Anand returns to helm a mad romantic comedy, and like all the films I've reviewed so far, the music stands testimony to Nav Ketan's long history of having an excellent musical score. 

21 August 2015

Solva Saal (1958)

Directed by: Raj Khosla
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Starring: Dev Anand, Waheeda Rehman, 
Sunder, Bipin Gupta, Kammo,
Tun Tun, Jagdev, Bir Sakhuja
The Dev-Nutan and Dev-Waheeda pairings are two of my favourite hero-heroine jodis in Hindi films. It should come as no surprise then that two of the films I chose have Waheeda playing romantic lead opposite Dev, while in another, she is the vamp.  It's also rather nice to see a road movie in Hindi films. This one, like Chori Chori, traces its provenance loosely (very loosely*) to Frank Capra's It Happened One Night, even as it takes a detour (or two) in the telling.  

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