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.