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Geek. Dilettante. Over-analyzer of Hindi movies. World music addict & DJ. Anthropologist of enthusiasms. Other stuff.
Interests: At the moment: India and Hindi films, languages and linguistics, world music, world history, health and fitness
Recent Activity
Ashok thank you so much for that excellent comment. It's been a while since I read the article on Kismet that I linked to in this review, but I think its discussion of how that song got past the censors is oblique, hinting that something back-room went on but not really stating what. Your theory makes a lot of sense and the conflict-of-interest angle is quite fascinating!
Toggle Commented 2 days ago on Kismet (1943) at Filmi Geek
Great comment, Gauri - and I would add Parineeti Chopra as well, who perhaps hasn't done roles quite as offbeat as some of the others (yet) but who I believe definitely has the chops to do so. I agree with you that there is a rich selection of young women with interesting stuff to bring to the roles they play - and I hope filmmakers keep writing material for them. Who are the young guys that you think are interesting? I tend to be more neutral about male stars generally, so few stand out for me. I can't make up my mind about Sushant Singh Rajput - not that I think he's a bad actor but something about his looks annoys me (very shallow, I know, but if you are going to spend an intimate 2-3 hours with an actor it helps to like his face). I think Rajkummar Rao has a lot of talent, especially for everyman-type characters (rather than larger-than-life heroes) but lately he seems to be drifting in the direction of negative or at least ambiguous roles. Both Siddharth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan have proved that there is more to them than Student of the Year showcased but neither has become a plus for me. Ranbir Kapoor has loads of talent, and some of his roles use that talent. Similarly for Ranveer Singh. And what happened to Imran Khan? I liked him.
Toggle Commented 2 days ago on Tanu Weds Manu (2011) at Filmi Geek
Thank you so much for this comment Faryal. Jabberwock is a favorite of mine, too. :) And his analytic style inspires me, to really think about what I watch, rather than just reacting to it. So I'm very glad you find some of that thought coming through in my reviews. Your comment reminds me of an email discussion I had with a friend, an Indian friend maybe ten years younger than myself (I'm actually blindly guessing; I've no idea how old she is) who was blown away by the realness and relatability of this film. I like the way you have put that into words here, "a mature character study in what appears on the surface to be fluffy masala." I like it when movies operate on multiple levels, so that people in different stages of life or different frames of mind can enjoy them in personal ways.
Toggle Commented 4 days ago on Yeh jawaani hai deewani (2013) at Filmi Geek
Hehehe I thought of you the whole time.
Toggle Commented 4 days ago on Piku (2015) at Filmi Geek
Yipes! That's a high expectation. I hope you like it. I have been repeatedly blown out of the water by Kangana Ranaut's breadth - when you think about the pencil-thin range of characters that most young women actors are given to play (bubbly hot girl! shy and nerdy hot girl! serious career-minded hot girl! feisty country hot girl!) Kangana has embodied a fairly staggering range of roles and transformed almost unrecognizably each time. Between this one, and Queen, and Revolver Rani (post coming in a day or two) she has me sold.
Toggle Commented 4 days ago on Tanu Weds Manu (2011) at Filmi Geek
Interesting! I found Manu's reserve and hesitance very believable; my only problem with him was that his first reaction to Tanu was framed as love. It's hard to get past the creepiness and "this has nothing to do with who she is as a person"-ness of that framing. Perhaps his initial acceptance of the match (while she was unconscious) could have been framed as resignation to his parents' wishes - an attempt to bypass having to go through endless rounds of matchmaking. Then the film could have proceeded along the same path, with him only falling for her after the train conversation and the campfire conversation. Framed that way, I might have rated this a flawless movie.
Toggle Commented 4 days ago on Tanu Weds Manu (2011) at Filmi Geek
Dir. Anand L. Rai In one of my favorite scenes in Tanu Weds Manu, Tanu (Kangana Ranaut) and her best friend Payal (Swara Bhaskar) collapse on a bed in squealing laughter. This comes after the two young women have been... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Filmi Geek
Dir. Shoojit Sircar Even when embedded in smart banter and delivered flawlessly by Amitabh Bachchan and Deepika Padukone, a poop joke is still a poop joke. I feel guilty for leading with this thought, because there is so much to... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2015 at Filmi Geek
Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm due to watch this one again myself, having read a few adaptations of the Mahabharata - as I look at my previous comment above, from two and a half years ago, I see that I said the same thing, but did not rewatch the film. Too many movies, not enough time!
Toggle Commented Apr 19, 2015 on Kalyug (1981) at Filmi Geek
Hello Sumana. Look how I failed to write anything about this film - one of the films I watched before I founded Filmi Geek, and I never returned to it to give it more than a limp paragraph or two. And when I read those paragraphs today, I think, "carla, you were quite wrong." Because DIl To Pagal IS memorable. There are films I watched in the last few months the details of which I remember less clearly than the details of Dil To Pagal Hai. So what's going on here? One salient fact is that I was so new to Hindi films at that time, I did not really know how to read its idioms, if that makes sense. And I was so investing in being annoyed by Shah Rukh Khan that I didn't really notice that I was watching a pretty well-crafted movie. (That annoyance still interferes when I watch his movies, but it's not as much a part of my identity as it was then.) I still don't think Dil To Pagal Hai is a super-great film, or anywhere near Yash Chopra's best, but today I understand its context a little better, and understand that at its time it might have stood out from other films as slicker and grander and considerably more polished. Another fact of relevance is that over the years watching Hindi films I have come to like and appreciate pure romances a lot more than I did at the start. I understand that with a romance, it's about the journey - the ending is foreordained, and all the movie has to do is get you invested in the characters enough that you care how they get themselves there. I think Dil To Pagal Hai does that, especially if one isn't as allergic to SRK as I am, and it goes beyond that by giving some thought to the questions you raised in your post. And so if I were to write about it today, I'd still rate it timepass, but I would say kinder things about it than "Yawn."
Toggle Commented Apr 19, 2015 on Dil to pagal hai (1997) at Filmi Geek
Sumana, thanks so much for the lovely and thoughtful comment. As I was reading this I found myself wanting to be a little gentler on the film. So what if the characters feelings don't make sense - since when are feelings rational? We can love someone for a good reason or a bad reason or no reason. Perhaps Viren's love for Pooja is like this, aise hi, just because. But I can't let the movie get away with that, because romance by script fiat really annoys me. At any rate, I do like that the movie speaks to your heart even if your brain has trouble fitting pieces of it together. That happens, too - love for movies is a lot like love for people, it doesn't always make sense.
Toggle Commented Apr 19, 2015 on Lamhe (1991) at Filmi Geek
Hello Zinta, for reasons I do not know, Dum Laga Ke Haisha did not get a North America release. Very unusual for YRF, which usually appeal so strongly abroad. I'm really looking forward to watching it when it gets here, hopefully in a cinema, but I'll settle for a DVD or a stream!
Hello Ashna, nowadays I mostly buy DVDs from, which is located in Calcutta and has about as good a selection of Hindi films as I've found anywhere. Their prices are very low but the shipping to the USA is expensive, so I usually save up a wishlist and make one real big order ever six months or so. Back-up options include various sellers on
Toggle Commented Apr 19, 2015 on Caravan (1971) at Filmi Geek
Dir. Mani Ratnam It's difficult not to compare this movie to Shuddh Desi Romance, as both take on the charged topic of a young couple living together without marriage. The trouble is that it's not at all a fair fight;... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2015 at Filmi Geek
Hey folks, just wanted to highlight my two most recent columns for Outlook. Please read and share with your friends. Rani's Got A Gun, which looks at the recent strain of movies in which women answer male violence in kind,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2015 at Filmi Geek
Dir. Navdeep Singh The lawless countryside does have a law of its own, explains a character in NH10. The laws established under the Constitution make sure everyone drives on the left side of the road, and if someone deviates, people... Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2015 at Filmi Geek
Thank you Samir! The article looks interesting - I've saved it and will give it a read. (I freely admit that now that I am writing for something OTHER than my own blog the stakes seem a little higher, and I have felt compelled to step up and deepen my reading about Hindi films. This of course comes at the expense of reading about other things, which is why I wasn't doing it all the time before.) I love your observations about Rosie. I don't feel like I fully appreciated these dimensions of Guide when I first watched it and wrote about it years ago; I can't remember that post at the moment but I am afraid to go and look at it for fear it will be one of the early posts that embarrasses me today for its narrowness of scope and poor understanding of the significance of what I have seen. Because I did not love the movie at that time and I fear I focused on the things I did not love about it instead of the things that have emerged in my later understanding as what really matter about it. Long and short, I am overdue for a Guide rewatch and possible a revisit on the blog as well. I truly appreciate your comments on the Kishore essay. It's nice to know I can occasionally manage an original thought. :) I felt very happy with the essay when I wrote it and I'm so glad others are enjoying it.
Toggle Commented Mar 2, 2015 on Two more columns at Filmi Geek
What a great story; I love the happy ending. I also see why you want more doctor-nurse love stories! :D Also interesting that nursing is not always considered a respectable profession. How cultures differ. You might think that since nursing is nurturing and caretaking and subordinate in the medical hierarchy to (male) doctors it would be acceptable for a woman who has to work (heaven forfend she might just WANT to work) to be a nurse. I had a feeling the Christian nurse archetype of the movies was based in fact (for at least some localities) but I didn't want to make presumptions. Thanks for the information!
Toggle Commented Mar 2, 2015 on Dil apna aur preet parai (1960) at Filmi Geek
Dustedoff, I was thinking of you as I was watching and writing, because this movie is right in your wheelhouse. :-) Interesting point about nurse-doctor romances. I wonder if it's because heroines are not too often shown as working women. (If Bandini had gone a different way it could have been a doctor-nurse romance, though not a formally trained nurse!) And nurses are so often stereotyped as Christian, which heroines so rarely are.
Toggle Commented Mar 1, 2015 on Dil apna aur preet parai (1960) at Filmi Geek
Miranda I love your comment because it's like a much more succinct and well-turned version of my own comments. :D I especially like this observation that we can be sure Karuna will get by even if she doesn't get the happy-ending romance. I think it ties in with the general relatability to the characters - we've all doodled our love's name in our work like Verma, we've all sobbed on our best friend's shoulder like Karuna. And we've all made it through more or less intact. It just ratchets down the melodrama enough to say hey, we can tell a compelling story without extreme devices. Until the end.
Toggle Commented Mar 1, 2015 on Dil apna aur preet parai (1960) at Filmi Geek
Thank you! :-)
Toggle Commented Mar 1, 2015 on Two more columns at Filmi Geek
दिल अपना और प्रीत पराई Dir. Kishore Sahu Mopey movies about mopey lovers separated by circumstances can be so dreary. Somehow, though, Dil apna aur preet parai doesn't bog down in its own pathos. Given the subject matter, it easily... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2015 at Filmi Geek
My two most recent columns in Outlook India cover some of my favorite movies. Two Films, One Maker pays tribute to Vijay Anand and revisits the timeless question: Teesri Manzil or Jewel Thief? For the Love of a Feckless Goofball... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2015 at Filmi Geek
Aw, I'm so delighted. I happened to watch it again over the weekend (to show it to a friend) and it held up to the second viewing. Good question about what Tariq's parents might have thought about forgiving Gullu. ;) Tariq seems like the kind of guy who would be willing to stand up for her if he needed to. Daawat-e-Ishq II, perhaps!
Toggle Commented Feb 5, 2015 on Daawat-e-Ishq (2014) at Filmi Geek
Veena thank you so much for reading, and especially sparing me comments on my juvenilia, the posts from say 2007 and earlier, when I really had absolutely no idea what I was talking about and no understanding of who might be reading. :) If I had infinite time, I would go back and give many of the films I watched in those first two years a proper revisit. Anyway on Smita-Shabana - there is definitely a perceptible stylistic difference and that no doubt makes one's preference a matter of ineffable personal resonances. I think that to make the comparison today is a little unfair - unfair to both women - because our collective memory of Smita is frozen thirty years ago, while Shabana has added to both her oeuvre and her offscreen personality so dramatically in those years, for better or for worse. I have no fight to pick with anyone who doesn't love Shabana as I do (or maybe I should say, as I once did?). She struck me in a very personal way at a very volatile time and without her my life would be very, very different, because she is the sine qua non of Hindi films for me, and my love of Hindi films has shaped my life in innumerable ways over the past decade. The one thing I can say in her favor is this: When I first saw her, I was gobsmacked and deeply touched by her performance (this was in Deepa Mehta's film, Fire) and at that time I was completely unaware of who she was, the history, the persona, any of it - I just saw a striking woman, a stranger to me, who conveyed in a role with very few words a kind of loneliness and longing that spoke directly to my heart. So I feel with my love of Shabana that I come by it honestly; her performance style IS studied and self-conscious, I think you are correct about that, but it does seem to work for me. When I watch her today it is with the bias and also perhaps the embarrassment of those years of fierce love, but when I watched her in Fire that first time, there was none of that to color my perception. As for Smita, I respect her, I enjoy her work, and I wish she hadn't been taken so soon, because what a thrill it would be to see her with the dignity of middle age taking on some of the kind of roles that other actors with her level of presence - such as Shabana or Jaya Bhaduri or Seema Biswas - have been able to do at 40 and beyond. Some rambling early-morning thoughts for you. :)
Toggle Commented Feb 5, 2015 on Bhumika (1977) at Filmi Geek