Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Shabana Azmi vs Smitha Patil. Passionate vs Sharp. Luminous vs Astute.

If ever you wanted to make synonyms of Arth movie, then the above words should suffuse. So much so that I still have to remind myself Khulbhushan Kharbanda was there too.

A story about betrayal is not just what Arth is. After Inder(Kharbanda) leaves Pooja (Shabana) for Kavita (Smitha), the story, according to me, starts then. Prisoned in loneliness and penalised with the struggle to survive, Pooja is like a hungry,desolate little girl. After having her home snatched away from her, one which she furnished like a mother dresses up her toddler, the acceptance of life in paying guest is not easy for her. Her independance, grit and dissent blossoms.

It's not that she was pampered in a rich luxurious home, its the confusion of this sad,new reality that is heart-touching.
It's brave to have a character portray an emotion which is much less obvious than what the viewer assumes - in this case, Pooja should have been angry or heart broken about betrayal,but she is more confused and disillusioned about her new environment, heart broken about a lack of a house of her own, always having been an orphan.

Kavita has totally different tangents on which she flies. She is wanton, innocent and dominating all at the same time. She rules her lover both with her physical want and her loneliness. Smitha could have let Kavitha be just a bed-magic but being such a deep actor she didn't leave it at that. Her role is strentghened by emotional, childlike qualities too. A role with intensity and Smitha played it well.

Raj Kiran is winsome as the happy friend of Pooja and even more when she politely declines his love for her. No walking sadly with a jhola and singing songs of unattainable love. No speech on sacrifice either. This dude is happy enough to understand her need for freedom and respects her decision.

Arth is a seesaw of remarkable acting between Azmi and Patil.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Gharonda 1977

A movie which should be actually a documentary on Mumbai's housing problems. As a story about a couple in love and planning their life together, its like an everyday picture of Mumbai's lower and middle-class folks. All of the maximum city is the Sudeeps and the Chhayas, the house plans visible on their foreheads as the wrinkles.

Sudeep and Chhaya, played by Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahab are in love and their sweet-nothings are about their dream house and the chatter is about rent negotiations. But after a hasty decision of dealing with a fraud, the foundations start cracking. Sudeep becomes disillusioned and in a hasty moment tells Chhaya to get married to their aging heart-patient boss who already likes her. His frustrated,naive,but not cunning mind says once the boss dies,the inherited money by her will solve a lot of problems. Unfortunately, Chhaya,also wounded,both in heart and self-respect,does so.

However, Chhaya knows her duty  and takes care of her husband. Collectively through their love and humanity, they are able to convey to Sudeep the futility of trying to pursue success through shady bends in the road.

Beautiful songs and a story which will keep your heart on the edge. A tale of relationships, big city living, responsibilites not just towards family but to one's conscience.

Directed by Bhimsain Khurana. Written and screenplay by Gulzar.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

10 things I like about Ennum Eppozhum

1. Mohanlal not acting like a one-man-show. I'm happy also that two women also get meaty roles in this movie. Ok Reenu Mathews doesn't get as much beef,but still plays the snazzy boss to Lal well. (hey, we Keralites love beef ok so quit judging me on the cholesterol levels of this sentence)

2. Manju Warrier's down-to-earth acting. No tears (they must have given all the glycerin to the Asianet serial ladies), no preaching, no silliness and no Oh-my-gawd-its-Lalettan looks.

3. Actor Innocent. Director Anthikad's pillar or man Friday I guess. There's no movie of his where Innocent hasnt acted in.

4. Actor Lena. The spunk her character brings to the movie and the cute schoolboy-schoolgirl fights which she and Lal has.

5. Lack of focus on the past of both the lead characters and concentrating on the present. No flashbacks. Simple straightforward story.

6. Jacob Gregory :) The Akkara Kazhachgal and ABCD actor. Has his own brand of comic sense.

7. The cinematography.

8. The housing colony where she lives. Simple,small,cozy but spacious homes. Far cry from the Gelf-returned money's circus palaces which are usually shown in Malayalam movies. I hate big houses and I cannot lie.

9. This is for the ladies. Manju's costumes. The vibrant designs, the ease with which she wears westerns and the trimmed figure showcases subtlety and grace. Also note, NO sari with jasmine flowers and gold exhibition. (that's national award winning point!) Everytime I saw her in those fresh colorful kurtas, I almost had a complex about my wardrobe,even though I was miles away from my Lifestyle and Westside Rs.499 sale ones(shhhh!) and in a dark theatre.

10. The hope that corporate India will also someday have facility of bath and towel-drying for employees just like Lal had in his office!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Charulata - here's to literary,passionate women!

Thank God for a movie about women writing and reading and being proud about it instead of cooking!

The above may be a small aspect of Charulata movie but integral. Literary passion, ambition for a successful paper and words shared in the garden are what will make you tuck this treasure of a movie. A story of love and betrayal. And literature.

Charu is a quiet wife but only till you challenge her. Whether it is to a game of cards, the worth of a Bankim novel to others or making Bengali samosas. She is organised and meticulous. Messed up in her heart and mind though. She cares for her husband Dutta but her smile makes her radiant only when her cousin-in-law comes. Much like the metaphoric storm which blows on his arrival the clean, marbled bhavan is slowly making crevices for the deep barriers between Dutta and Charu.

But Satyajit Ray will not warn you. There are too many lovely hummings of Bengali folk songs, occasional paan made by the bhabhi for the devar and so much dreams for literature knitted that you really cannot imagine anything untoward happening in the mature household where the husband and wife discuss and not just 'get my coat ready'.

Brilliant performances by Madhabi Mukherjee as Charu, Soumitra Chatterjee as the happy-go-lucky Amal and Shailen Mukherjee as Dutta ,who is equally passionate about his Press. Individuals who played the different human emotions with depth.

Thank you Ray, for movies like this in 1964 which lets Indian women of 1870s express her feelings the way she wants.

Saw this beautiful poster and had to upload too.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mahanagar - A classic Bengali gem by Satyajit Ray

So many movies,so little time. This is what happens to movie lovers. We are in a constant film coma. TBWs (to be watched) and wish lists keep our BP high. Ironically its the movies which destresses! So you try your best to not leave any movie worth its reel,somehow a gem will slip out from your greedy hands,as you try to gather what the sea of classics washes to you. One such gem,for me,was Mahanagar - the Satyajit Ray masterpiece.

Being a Keralite, it's only right that I watch Malayalam cinema and then Hindi. I have done so since quite some time. So 'planning' to watch a Bengali film was not in the works. Nevertheless, one of my favourite hobbies is to list movie makers of yesteryear,who made a difference to their art by their courage,whims and 'wierdness'. Which in turn becomes gold,adulterated only by poor replicas.

Mahanagar is a movie about a 1960 middle-class Bengali family's reactions to their daughter-in-law going to work. Also, it's about the woman's shedding of skin to conquer her fears and the cocoon she leaves behind. Arati (Madhabi Mukherjee) is a cheerful mother of a small son and manages a family where no one is demanding. Jaya Bhaduri is the mousy but endearing sister-in-law.The husband Subrata (Anil Chatterjee) is also non-fussy and apparently witty.

So its a household that isn't at war,stretched at ends or sly stories at corners. In this mild pond the ripples begin when expenses pinch Subrata. When Arati suggests her support by working,he doesn't mind (either he doesn't believe she will get or he doesn't prepare for how to deal with it). He even puts in his one liners which probably is the sprinkling of humour in the film.

'Should I sign the application form?' she asks
'Who else, Lady Mountbatten?' says Subrata. Mind you, without smiling even. (sarcasm eh!)

Thus Subrata and Arati march on to the next phase in life, a phase solely focused by Indian families - when the wife leaves house to work. The in-laws are upset, not angry or bitchy. Just that the order of the medicine-bringing woman and in-the-kitchen lady isn't there. Even the son is not happy that the bosom where he rests on, wont be available from 9 to 5.

Eventually, the complexes start trickling in. Surprisingly not the in-laws but the well-educated Bernard Shaw quoting Subrata.

From teasing Arati about what Shaw says about over-worked women to shocked on seeing her in a cafe with a paraya man, Subrata cannot decipher this sun shades spotting,lipstick in bag (not on lips..she still doesn't dare), coming-in-late wife of his who now is the only earning member of the family. Yeah he loses his job so double the wrinkles.

The movie isnt just about a family's perceptions to these changes. There is an office environment where the boss is ambitious,not sleazy though and a Anglo Indian colleague who is kind hearted and not flimsy. The film breaks through stereotypes ever so gently that you almost miss it.

Mahanagar is not bold but courageous. It isn't feminist but about a woman's emancipation. It's not a family movie but about individuals who think,argue and feel together.

You dont need reasons to watch this epic. And not just women or husbands should watch it. Watch it to know togetherness of a different kind, frank discussion with parents, courage to put fears out in the open and of course to see Jaya Bachhan as the original guddi.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Puthiya Karukkal

A Malayalam thriller movie starring Jayaram, Parvathy, Laloo Alex and M G Soman. Set in a hilly,picturesque Tamilnadu place, the movie right away plunges into suspense just like the actress running away from a man,plunges into a stream and then you know you gotta know the end.

 A story within a story, the movie moves back and forth from the past to the present. Jayaram and Parvathy were in love and planned to get married. But the local village goon gets killed by him when he tries to molest Parvathy. Or rather,supposedly killed. When Jayaram serves jail, Parvathy is married off to a rich, kind-hearted, handicapped Soman and now Jayaram is back to kill her.

You may think, the movie may end in tragedy or with a sacrifice on Soman's part to let the two lovers of the past to reunite. But the surprise comes when people are not what they seem to be and identities are tossed in the air for the viewer to catch and place in the puzzle in the right place.

A nice work of suspense but would have been even better with polished performances and strong script. Events seemed to just happen and story seemed to have been shakily written. Even then if I stayed till the end, I guess the 'who did it?' will keep you rooted.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


The length of an Indian woman's hair is directly proportionate to how good as a wife she can we. This is proved in absolute terms in Agreement, a movie starring Rekha and Rekha and Utpal Dutt. Yes Rekha dominates this movie about husband-wife relationship, the usual stereotypes, the jokes ,assumptions and the rules of society etc.

In a time when actresses essayed amazing characters, the press would have reluctantly given them the credit of  a successful movie,unlike what Vidya Balan or Anushka could do today. Nevertheless, thanks to available access to movies of any era today, we shouldn't mince our words of praise for heroines of those times too. That's why, even though its a weak script and really pathetic acting from the male actor, the film is enjoyable for its quirky and bold take on spouse roles. Its a fun ,time pass watch. You may disagree, ofcourse but what would you rather watch.. A retro time-pass or Sajid Khan's Himmatwala?

Now, girls, women and my fellow fashion enthusiasts, if you are interested in vintage Bollywood styles, Rekha has quite to offer as a visual delight in the many outfits throughout this movie. Do not forget to notice the hairstyles that keep graduating to savvy to Saavithri. I loved the tops and skirts!

All short? Snort!

All's fair in long hair

 I refuse to even acknowledge the 'act'or who 'very miserly gives away expressions' (acts) as Rekha's husband. Reliable and enjoyable roles by Asrani and Aruna Irani,as always.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Itni Si Baat

Husband-Wife movies are no novelty in Bollywood. Where else would the bashing jokes come from?

 Itni Si Baat probably goes a notch further to tell you how to keep the bashing balanced so that no feminists or MCPs can have the last laugh (or maybe laugh together)

A typical household of unit family and the complexes of spouses' roles are shown in Itni Si Baat. Husband is played by Sanjeev Kumar who loves his wife but cannot exactly convey the pressures of a working life for her to understand. and vice versa. Haribhai (Sanjeev Kumar) movies are a delight. His pocketful of expressions are sprinkled throughout any movie.

So when it becomes a fight, they both decide to exchange roles and the comedy starts then. 

I wonder if such situations were to happen today, will Moushimi Chatterjee have better career options than the typical secretarial or sari saleswoman jobs available then.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Choti Si Baat 1975

My favourite movie. My best friend. My rainy day companion. How do you 'review' your best friend? What do you say to quantify the aspects of such an exceptional movie. The thought of writing about Choti Si Baat makes me dig out all the magniloquent and baronial-type words (you get it right?) just to express how much I love this film.

So those of you who haven't watched it-

- Do you exist?

- Whats wrong with you?

I'm not sorry to be rude but cinema lovers and whether or  not you love the flashy Bollywood,Choti Si Baat is a must watch. Not your formula movie, not a historical epic, no morals or message. Just a simple girl boy romance.


So you thought the story must be a script worth winning the National award. A parallel flick with some tears,nudity or barren land. Well I respect all kinds of cinema. I appreciate the art and the creativity which comes after a lot of work, ideas and brainstorming. But every art expressed has to be kept simple. Even summarising history of the Bronze Age should be narrated in a simple ,holistic way which the recipient can enclose in the palm of his senses.

Cinema about the everyday life of people like you and me, about the feelings expressed in ordinary sense and tales of relationships are quite tough to make because of the lack of bling in them. There's a lot of thought process and careful scripting which goes in the making of such films.

In laws' torture, revenge, brothers separating, property usurped, crime etc are aspects which have an attraction value equal to the first pizza you see after a long day. Great! But not wholesome are they? I love OhDears and the tears occasionally,but its quite difficult to come across simple homely films,just as difficult it is to make homely food compared to restaurant food.

Choti Si Baat is about the awkwardness of a young man who is secretly in love with a girl. The love is reciprocated but in mutual feelings of hesitance. This is not cowardice but pure sweet confusion. A very different type of comical take on urban lifestyle,the pickle it leaves a single,unsure man in who dreams but doesn't know how to go ahead. So well played by Palekar.

I love how Basu Chatterjee carefully brings out the urban middle-class man's feelings without making fun of him for not being a defiant Angry Young Man or an outright Romantic Hero. No roses, no flashy cars and no villains ...except Asrani who is so endearing as the mock villain that right now I want to stop this blog and watch it for the 3006th time.

Also, watch it for Amol Palekar, Ashok Kumar, Khandala and old Bombay.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Apne Paraye 1980

I was surprised to see a Basu Chatterjee film that I had not heard of, in the YouTube random search list. I thought I had finished most of the Palekar - Basuda films. So this was, as usual, a pleasant watch.

Family movies with the focus on bitching household women and home values is as old as dinosaurs. Apne Paraye is just one of that bundle. Three women - one the neutral eldest bahu, the vamp and then the upright,all consuming,all knowing choti bahu. Though, from a strong, happy, flourishing home to a bickering house the transition in Apne Paraye is thankfully quick and not a string of songs.

Shabana does justice to the role without too much wet handkerchiefs. Infact her strength as a supporting,affirmative wife minus the husband-bashing or patronising value-keeper is a fresh take from the usual.
Palekar plays the quiet, wayward husband as best as only he can. Utpal Dutt, Ashalata Wabgaonkar, Bharati Achrekar all play their roles so naturally that I almost got lost in the big Bengali house and mannerisms only Basu movies have.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastaan

A 1978 movie ,Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastaan was probably among the first few movies of the parallel cinema club.

Directed by Saeed Akhtar Mirza and starring Om Puri, Dilip Dhawan, Shriram Lagoo, Sulabha Deshpande and  Rohini Hattangadi.

Arvind (Dilip Dhawan) is a introspective guy for throughout the story,with deep thoughts on life,poverty,richness and relationships. He seems to question the viewer as much as he asks himself. He accuses, blames ,argues and yet does the same things which provokes questioning.

He is a rich carpet merchant's son and manages a business lackadaisically. Yet he asks his secretary girlfriend why the city cannot tolerate dirt and slums. He enjoys luxury but doesn't like to cheat in business by raising prices. He has a religious mom and a doting girlfriend, yet feels insecure enough to visit a prostitute.

A man and film of contradictions, it will make you question if the end is about meeting with answers and 'adjusting to life' for Arvind,which he detests but is needed.

Watch it if you love parallel cinema esp when the trend had taken Bollywood by storm. All great performances by the cast and esp Om Puri. Also some old world Bombay charm.

Monday, February 2, 2015


The relationship between parents and children is the most vital ingredient in Indian Cinema potboilers. All formula films and niche films too have to show this relationship and all its facets,mostly as an advice or warning on how to better the bond. Yes,what would we grow up to otherwise?

Sandesham is not a formula film. You cannot classify it as just tragedy or comedy. A mix of some, breaks some grounds but mostly is a family movie, if you must put a sticker on it.

 A retired railway employee returns to retirement in his native village in Kerala. His caring wife and daughter are the only white sheep in the family. The three sons are wayward and sideward. The eldest two, played by Jairam and Sreenivasan are into politics and in opposing parties. Like their father, played by Thilakan, says, 'The sons maybe in politics but without any use to home or to the hometown.'

A good story is which uses cliches to its advantages and yet makes it memorable enough to be enjoyed as an original. Sandesham movie is such. It has all the cliches of a complete family with scaffolding support of good neighbours (played by Oduvil Unnikrishnan) and with some jigsaw puzzle pieces ,which is our version of right vs wrong vs tradition, left to be put together by the viewers. Also the comic bits are by Siddique and Oduvil with their queer and charming personalities respectively.

Watch Sandesham to understand Kerala family nuances against the backdrop of the reality of Kerala politics. Also get some gardening and soil lessons from Siddique. (has to be my fav character in this) A very apt title.

Friday, January 30, 2015


The problem with being a mallu growing elsewhere than Kerala is that you will, through your childhood, mock everything remotely related to coconut and the coconut land. Then karma strikes in the form of your parents sending you to college in Kerala. Suddenly a coconut drops on your head,metaphorically ofcourse, and you get enlightenment. The culture of the place piques your interest. You discover the gold mines of Malayalam cinema. You poke yourself with a kappa stick and ask self why didn't you watch them movies before instead of relying today on Asianet and SkipAdstube. I'm not kidding. I had to search over 20 different movie streaming sites to find a decent print of Mazhavilkavadi where I can see the actress properly ( mallus know their heros even in a dark well but the actresses are always forgotten !)

 Mallus if you love your muthassi, weird named cousins, Karimeen fry and mesmerising greenery, you cannot not like Mohanlal, Mammootty, etc. SO you gotta like classics esp 1975 onwards - (because anything before that is silent movie right? 10 on 10) - the kind of cinema which have been done (like Joe's well done steak) to death by mimic artists in All India Malayali associations' events in Dufai,Gelf (ya its time you segregate these areas) and Yumerica.

Mazhavilkavadi is an evergreen hit of Sathyan Anthikad. Anthikad's movies are not just about a particular story,formula or genre. He has unknowingly a genre of his own. One where the story is a simple white sheet of paper,but he takes the viewer through a journey of life.  A journey across paddy fields, thatched huts, sunsets, steamed rice, life of native folks, problems in common households, who eat kanji and the most happening thing in their day is the postman riding his cycle excitedly towards the tea junction. You have to watch his movies to understand the hidden shades in the paper.


So Mazhavilkavadi is about a love affair which is opposed by the girls family because of the boy's lack of wealth and plenty of attitude. The village is with the boy and against the girl's father. The movie is about just that. Though Anthikad has layers which slowly unfolds as you watch.

Watch Mazhavilkavadi with unniappam and tea before Asianet or Kairali stops reruns and resorts to 'macha' movies of today.

Sathyan Anthikad the director.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Manzil 1979

A Basu Chatterjee film starring Amitabh Bachhan and Moushimi Chaterjee.
Basuda is known for light movies sans formula or masala, almost attaining a cult status of his own. Like the light showers of a glorious evening, something you may not acknowledge but still lovely. Think Basuda and you will say Amol Palekar and Utpal Dutt, actors you cannot help loving. You may not be mad fans of them but you will not bypass their movies without a warm smile. Mostly a nostalgic one.

Nevertheless, Manzil in my opinion, wasn't as brilliant as Chameli (1986) ,Shaukeen (1982) and my favourite Baton Baton Mein (1979). Probably because Amitabh Bachhan wasn't used to his potential. I felt Bachhan's acting wasn't deep as the character of a jobless, despairing yet aspiring entrepreneur. The romance seemed casual. The story and the message of the movie - why entrepreneurship needs more encouragement (then and now) - are all well shown, still the movie was a tad less Basuish. My only favourite was and is the evergreen song ' Rimjim gire sawaan...'

Maybe I missed Ramprasad Dashrath Prasad Sharma.