Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sangam movie 1964

A typical love triangle which supposedly shows sacrifice,true friendship and undying love but in the process of Raj Kapoor's mindless effort of epic dramas,lengthy  scenes and overflowing cup of emotions ,one feels tortured !

Whats it about
Love triangle - need more explanation?  Obviously one has to get the girl in the end. The girl loved friend 1,a calm and non expressive guy,but gets married to the friend  2 she doesn't like,but later falls in love as part of her 'dharma' of wife. This doesn't get into the head of the husband who after a year of love and Europe package tour (dragging a reluctant ex-lover  friend 1 to the tours thus adding suspense (really?) to the story !) finds an old love letter and begins doubting his wife,singing the famous 'dost dost na raha' and in general grant of license to manufacture handkerchiefs to women who 'may' cry at his grandeur epic Deepika -long -legs style movie!

No nothing different about the story
There may be a twist when the marriage happens because as Bollywood die-hards we expect no baraat to come till the true Reebok runners around trees actually milans and their love is allowed by strict parents, forgiving villians and ofcourse McDonalds smiley sacrificing friend.

Rating - really ?

I shall stop by quoting Wikipedia in their description of the movie -

This love triangle is a psychologically multifaceted tale about male bonding, the meaning of love and friendship. In the context of these relationships, Friend 2 is the one who is preventing the other two people's happiness and finally also thwarts his own. He appears as being naive and innocent, yet he seems adamant at only noticing things that suit his own mindset. He is full of self-pity and bullies the others emotionally.
An important and critically regarded theme in the film is male bonding and the informal sharing of a woman between two male friends. Friend 1 indulges in his own "sacrifice", but never thinks of the woman's feelings he ostensibly loves.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ram dhol Lakhan

The perfect masala formula! Bring in dhol, Anil Kapoor and story of revenge. Nothing else is as entertaining as the mix of all this.

Whats it about
1989 - Ram Lakhan is about revenge. Raakhee's husband is murdered over property issues by Amrish Puri and Paresh Rawal. Fitting villians. Her sons are Anil and Jackie Shroff.Anil grows up to be a funloving guy and his inspector brother is just the opposite. Anil is in love with Madhuri but her father,Anupam Kher, is unwilling. Kher provides the comical angle to the story with his innate vegetarianism.

Anil's character provides the change in storyline with his desire to be rich sooner and in any means possible. The idealism of his brother and his apparent lack of it is the bait at which the villains pull. The mother is again torn between the two sons and bhagwaan jaane aage kya hoga!

Not to forget the helpless,captured character of Madhuri who ,I felt ,was not given enough screen presence or meaty role.

Memorable songs

All that dhol and ofcourse the famous song 'aye ji,oh ji,lo ji suno ji' gives memories of Janmashtami and Ganesh pooja days of childhood.'Aye ji,oh ji,lo ji suno ji' is still the song played at small towns during Hindu festivals.

Pakeezah - Cinema in its purest form

Imagine the splendour of Mughal style architecture. Imagine jewelery which enthralls you with its various designs and gems. Imagine music which makes you weep. Imagine lyrics which touches unknown cords in your heart. Kamal Amrohi realised this beautiful imagination into a movie called Pakeezah and Meena Kumari made it a tribute to herself.

The year was 1972 but the movie had been in the making for 15 years. Because of allegedly troubled relationships between the two, the movie almost stalled but was salvaged by Sunil and Nargis Dutt. Apparently Meena was unwell but she determined to get the movie done and her passionate performance is what holds it together.

Whats it about
A common story portraying the plight of courtesans of that time. Meena is a courtesan and dies giving birth illegitimately. Years later her daughter is also a courtesan in the same brothel. Many suitors and many beautiful songs later she meets RaajKumar. There isn't a villian who comes in between but the purity of her love and character, which shows how a courtesan sometimes can be above society. It is this purity (Pakeezah), which is the essence of the movie.

What makes it different ?
The climax and the end. RaajKumar's role as the saviour and then lover. Meena getting stranded in a forest and the aftermath. Her reentry back in the brothel symbolised by the bird in the golden cage whose wings are cut. Her encounter with her illegitimate father changes the course of the story.

 The music is evergreen. 'Chalte chalte yoonhi koi mil gaya tha...' (Lata Mangeshkar), ' Inhi logon ne,inhi logon ne...le liya dupatta mera'  (Lata Mangeshkar)... Songs which have a meaning to what the courtesan goes through ,beautifully emoted and gracefully performed in dance by Meena. The lack of digital music makes you listen to every beat of the ghunghroo clearly. The music is by Naushad and Ghulam Mohammed The lyrics of Chalte chalte is by Kaifi Azmi and Inhi logon is by Majrooh Sultanpuri.

Raajkumar is known for many famous dialogues. 'Aapke pair bahut haseen hain,inhe zameen par na rakhiye,,yeh maile ho jaayenge'  (Your feet is very pretty,don't keep them on the ground,they will become dirty'is one of them in this movie.

Th old world charm of Nawabi shaan and lifestyle is subtly shown. Money is thrown,literally, and there is no end to richness,luxury and shayari. Private daawat in a illuminated boat.There are fountains in which Meena wets her hair. Pathways lighted with lamps on which she strolls. Intricate silverware in which food is served.Golden cages,golden carpets and velvetty diwans takes you to visually appealing arsitocracy. and the language - pure Urdu as always. This was Bollywood's answer to Cleopatra !

I had heard that Meena was known as tragedy queen of Bollywood. This was the first movie of her's which I saw after some hazy memories of her movies watched in childhood. The first scene and her first dialgoue suited her title aptly. The entire deco of the set and movie for the earlier scenes is gloomy to suit Meena's mood and her pain of an abandoned courtesan. When Meena gets abandoned in the forest, it was as if jewelery is taken off a mannequin. Suddenly she is in plainclothes and looks commonplace and real in the bare, natural countryside.

Rare pic of on the sets of the movie. Kamal Amrohi directing the cast.
Rating - for the splendour and music and the climax. If you want to enjoy old world charm then Pakeezah will not disappoint you. Yes it is slow,but it suits the theme and music of the movie.

I shall end by repeating a very touching dialogue from the movie which mocks at the hypocrisy the world lives in.
'Phir meri awara laash is gulaabi makhbare mein laut aayi...haan har tawaif ek laash hai,main bhi.Hamara yeh bazaar ek kabristan hai,aisi auraton ka jinki ruhen mar jaati hai aur jism zinda rehte hain.Yeh hamare palakhaane aur khote hamare makhbare hain,jinme hum murda  aurton ke zinda janaaze saja ke rak diye jaate hain.Hamari kabren baaki nahi jaati ,khuli chod di jaati hain..Main aisi khuli huyi kabr ki besabar laash hoon...jise baar baar zindagi vardala kar bhaga le jaati hai.'

Translated - (My wandering dead body has come back to this rose colour grave called brothel. Every courtesan is a dead body,me too. Our business is a graveyard of those women whose spirit is dead but body is alive. These buildings and brothel are our graves where the funeral prayers for us dead women is decorated and kept. Our bodies do not die out but are helplessly kept out. I am also a helpless dead body like this which is mockingly run down everytime by life.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Teesri Manzil - The rivetting 1966 suspense

Shammi Kapoor and suspense? Though it is hard to imagine the movie will clear your doubts. One of the biggest hits of 1966, this movie was a first for many reasons : Shammi in a suspense movie, R D Burman's first movie as a music composer and the amazing rock and roll music.

 Whats it about
A girl is out to find the killer of her sister and there are 3 villians ! But do you really want to know the rest? Aren't suspense movies best watched than reading it beforehand? :) You will see for yourself what makes you glue to your couch when the screams begin in the credits itself.


He isnt 'junglee' in this one. Except when the rock and roll songs begin. Shammi gave one of his best performances as an actor who can't just jiggle but also the curious and confused character who is taken for a ride by the killer.

The romance between the characters of Asha and Shammi is reserved towards the end but that maybe because of the gripping suspense as to finding out the killer. Brilliantly focused on the storyline, the movie doesn't wither with the romance sequences but rather the relationship between the characters of Shammi and Asha is a key aspect in the plot.

For a newcomer, R D Burman did a fantastic job with the music. All songs of the movie, which we hum even now are truly brilliant pieces. All are by Mohammad Rafi and Asha Bhonsle.

'Deewana mujhsa ambar ke neeche....aage hai..kaatil mera..aur mein peeche peeche ' and

'O mere sona re,sona re,sona re...'  . These songs bring out the lighter part of the movie.

'O haseena zulfon waali jaane jahan...' Watch this and you will see the character of Asha emerge out as someone who is out to find the secret. Innocent flirting of 60's,where the song in the movie gives you a hint of the story.  No wonder Bollywood is musical.

What else! One of the 'must sees' of the century.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chemmeen - God's own country's own movie

'Those who go to the sea,what will you get back for us?'

Thus go the song of the Malayalam classic movie Chemmeen,and also sums up the theme of the movie which I shall review in this post.

One of the landmark movies of Malayalam cinema, Chemmeen is known for it songs,cinematography,simplicity and the acting. Though the story is quite predictive,for that period (1965), watching it is like nostalgia on sea shore.

Whats it about

The shore side people of that period were supposed to be very superstitious. A common belief was that if you are an unfaithful wife then the sea goddess will kill your husband. Sheela is a poor girl and in love with Madhu,the dude of the place. But her father fixes her marriage with Sathyan. Even after marriage,though the the married couple have a good life,occasionally the topic of her old love creates tensions.,like I said,predictive. Since the movies of that time depicted a mentality where people did not understand the concept of 'moving on' and love was innocent and true, you can understand what the ending would be.


Foremost is the rich culture of shoreside people living there. Since the sea gives them fish for livelihood,their innocence makes them worship the sea as a Goddess. There are numerous stories,movies,novels on this cultural aspect of any coastal region in India.

The cinematography is beyond words. For a movie of that genre to focus on different moods of sea and the shore,blending with the actor's situation is amazing. The sea's beauty is captured at all times of the day.

Simplicity : the reason we love old movies. The dresses depict the life of the people,their poverty,work,convenience etc. The houses,the rustic boats,the occupation,genious of catching fish are all showcased subtly. So subtle that you would have to carefully look.

Societal aspects : The zamindaari (landlord ) system was prevalent in Kerala too. Called as modalalli, he is equivalent to a manger of today ; Wives weren't so subservient as we thought. Some had the nagging capacity too! ; eternal pressure on a girl's fmaily to get her married off ; young love of girl boy as a taboo.

Poverty : rope making, fishing, no electricity were common.

Sheela's character personifies the suppressed girl. ( Maybe after marriage women nag! :) ) Always dominated by own mother,father, then in-laws,lover,husband.Ultimately she demeans herself. Through her the director portrays undying love,commitment,fear of sin and the societal norms.

The man's character on the other hand is that of a convenient lover at the beginning and then a lost love drama.

Central Theme

The sea ; everything comes from it,everything goes to it. Whether it is livelihood,superstitions,meeting places for lovers or a place to change your fortunes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Umrao Jaan - the original and the 'best' one

If Sanjay Bhansaali had to make a movie without long saaris, long drama and long actors, then it would be Umrao Jaan of 1981. I'm referring to his genious of mixing art and aesthetics with cinema minus the above factors.

I'm firstly thankful to that anonymous seeder who uploaded the movie in crystal clear quality so that I could stare at Rekha's jewels,silk,chiffon,georgette,long hair and ofcourse the wonderful decorative mehfil. Also all credit goes to Subhashini Ali, the costume designer for the movie.

Yes,the movie is all about aesthetics. Rekha's beauty, the courtyards, the costumes, jewellery: everything delights you.So much so, that it takes away your focus from the story.

Whats it all about

The story is simple. In the period of 1840,a girl is kidnapped and sold to a  famous brothel in Lucknow (all brothels are famous,who am I kidding?!)She grows upto be a famous(again!) courtesan falls in love with a visitor Nawab and they fall in love. But zimedaariyaan and majbooriyan makes Nawab marry elsewhere and this is where the drama unfolds.

Rekha's best performance ever,she portrays a range of aspects in just one character : as the lover to Farooq,the girl who is eager to learn shayari,the suffering woman in rejection, the seductress, the innocence when wooed by Naseeruddin Shah, the lost woman when wooed by Raj Babbar,the dancer ,the shayari and ofcourse adayein when singing the popular evergreen songs of the movie. She carries the movie thruoghout. There is metaphorically no Farooq Shiekh,no Shah and definitely no Babbar.

One cannot forget the evergreen lines - ' Dil cheez kya hai aap meri jaan lijiye...' . Every song in the movie depicts the situation and the actor's emotions well. There isn't more than necessary tears but there is sorrow,there isn't more drama of proclaiming love but there is the sensitivity. The emotions are controlled and maybe the viewer is left to ponder on it.

Surprise factor 

While watching the movie I wondered were the people of Lucknow at that period, controlled in their emotions? Or is just a particular clan or race or group? Nevertheless the movie is different from the 1980s Bollywood we have grown up with.

Thus for the brilliance of the movie making of Muzaffar Ali and music by Khayyam, I could not help but portray them too for this fantastic piece of poem on celluloid.

 Muzaffar Ali