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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
Smair, thank you so much for this wonderful comment. Your contemporary memories of Jewel Thief from India and Iran are priceless! I do love this movie. It is one of those rare movies that I can watch any time, even if I just watched it yesterday! I love every second and every frame of it.
Toggle Commented 2 days ago on Jewel Thief (1967) at Filmi Geek
You might be right. I'm giving him credit because of the physicality in his performancethe role - he seemed to know what to do with his body, so perhaps what he was doing with his expression was also willful? Or, maybe Homi Adajania just cast him thoughtfully, as Savio is more than a bit of a dope. ;-)
Toggle Commented 2 days ago on Finding Fanny (2014) at Filmi Geek
There is some real talent among the young women in the movies these days - Deepika, Parineeti Chopra, Alia Bhatt, Kangana Ranaut ... I hope that filmmakers can and do keep giving them good stories to tell when they all reach the other side of 30.
Toggle Commented 2 days ago on Finding Fanny (2014) at Filmi Geek
Dir. Homi Adajania Finding Fanny is a self-consciously quirky story about weird, broken people. At times it tries a little too hard, but for the most part, its peculiar humor works. It is not as sinister as Homi Adjania's earlier... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Filmi Geek
Hello johalr, thanks for this. I had to watch the song again to refresh my memory. I agree with you that it is a gorgeous song with lovely visuals but I cannot get over the fact that it is embedded in a disgusting story. It could be so lovely to see a stressed and damaged young woman rousing herself to life in the open air and countryside, the way that song attempts to show. But in the context of the worn-out "manic pixie girl softens the heart of the meanest criminal" yada-yada, it is, like everything else good about Highway, an utter waste of a whole lot of very fine craft.
Toggle Commented 3 days ago on Highway (2014) at Filmi Geek
"I hold Gulzars movies to an unfairly high standard." I understand that. Sometimes I can be harder on a movie that is almost-great than on one that has more modest ambitions and turns out to be a fun watch without much substance. And I can't really disagree with any of your critiques of Aandhi. Even I detected Suchitra Sen's Bengali accent which must mean it was horridly jarring to someone who actually knows what she's listening to. And you are absolutely right about the timeline - it wasn't as carefully charted as it could have been. Yet I was so blown away by the movie's substance that I just couldn't stop thinking about it afterward. It's likely I'll watch it again in the not too distant future and then maybe these weaknesses of craft will be more present.
Toggle Commented 3 days ago on Aandhi (1975) at Filmi Geek
Anu I agree completely on Iqbal - I liked it but I also felt there was something missing in it, and I am suspicious of some of the narrative choices Kukunoor made in it. In my review of it I didn't go all the way to calling it manipulative but I think that is a reasonable interpretation of some of those choices. I haven't seen Gulab Gang yet. I couldn't fit it in for some reason when it was in the theater, and the reviews were so lukewarm that I haven't brought myself to look at it yet, despite wanting more of Juhi and despite the usually irresistible pull of Madhuri.
Toggle Commented 3 days ago on 3 Deewarein (2003) at Filmi Geek
Swati thank you so much for this lovely comment. :-) I try to remain aware of my cultural biases and potential for misunderstandings when I approach Indian films - and sometimes turning off the feminist critique part of my brain is easier than other times. At any rate, over the years I have been lucky enough to have more people engaging with me than attacking me so I can't be doing TOO badly at it. I am so glad you enjoy my writing - and in turn let me thank you for your always thoughtful comments! On 3 Deewarein: What you say about Naseer doing this role in his sleep - I find that a lot with him, that his performances often seem a bit by-the-book or phoned in. He's such a talent and presence that even in those roles he is still enjoyable to watch, but there it is. Upon reflection I felt very much that way about his role in Iqbal too. Perhaps Kukunoor's direction doesn't draw him in an unusual direction. That said, I just watched Finding Fanny yesterday (review to come) and thought his performance was wonderful in it, a very different flavor from the slick charmer type of character he plays in 3 Deewarein or the Ishqiya movies.
Toggle Commented 3 days ago on 3 Deewarein (2003) at Filmi Geek
३ दीवारें Dir. Naganesh Kukunoor Maybe it's just the character that Naseeruddin Shah plays – the charming criminal with a penchant for poetry and philosophical ponderings – that gives 3 Deewarein the feel of Ishqiya if Isqhiya were not a... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Filmi Geek
Hello Samir, thank you so much for the kind words. Thanks for reading too - please comment more! :D Anyone who loves Jewel Thief is a friend of mine. I love your observation about Guide, Abhimaan, and Aandhi. I wish I had thought of it myself! :D I will make a related observation. One of the things I love about Sanjeev Kumar is that he has a kind of natural, every-man appeal. He has a lot of charisma without projecting the air of a superstar. It makes him very relatable across a variety of roles - a kind of straight-laced old-fashioned guy in Seeta aur Geeta, a loner with a good heart in Namkeen, a comic doofus in Manoranjan, a stern man with a mission in Sholay. And I guess part of that sensibility is knowing how to get out of the way when the story is not primarily about his character.
Toggle Commented 6 days ago on Aandhi (1975) at Filmi Geek
Raza thank you so much for your comment :) I wonder if I should tell you that I was much gentler on DDLJ in that review than I would be today. It was a long time ago, and I was more hesitant in those days to criticize beloved, popular movies than I am now. But I am very glad that you have read and enjoyed what I wrote! Please comment more :D A few people have recommended KHKN to me in the last few weeks. I'll take that as a sign and actually put it on the list to watch one of these days.
Toggle Commented 6 days ago on Positive Outlook at Filmi Geek
Very well said, Pritam - I agree completely. Half-baked is a very apt description.
Toggle Commented Sep 10, 2014 on The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014) at Filmi Geek
Hello Pritam - thanks for the comment. :) I did mention the songs briefly - I even embedded one of them - but you are right that I didn't discuss them in detail. They are very lovely and I am glad you highlighted them for me. Sanjeev Kumar is a favorite of mine, whether in masala or otherwise. After Aandhi he did a number of other wonderful non-masala films like Angoor, Namkeen, Shatranj ke Khiladi. I love them all.
Toggle Commented Sep 10, 2014 on Aandhi (1975) at Filmi Geek
Hello folks! I have some news, for those of you don't follow Filmi Geek on Twitter or Facebook: I'm going to be writing a regular column for Outlook Magazine's web edition with my thoughts and ideas about the movies. My... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2014 at Filmi Geek
आंधी Dir. Gulzar That a nation has anointed a female leader or two is in no way a sign that the women of that nation are treated with equality or full respect by either the powerful or the public. The... Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2014 at Filmi Geek
Hari both Mardaani and Siddharth are good movies, though very different. Both are worth seeing. I was not familiar with Prisoners either so I looked it up. It is interesting how many movies there are addressing this subject. It is a very primal fear, that I bet many parents share. The movies tap into that.
As Anu said, it's pleasant, if not terribly flavorful. Adjust expectations accordingly and it's not a bad way to spend a rainy afternoon.
Toggle Commented Aug 31, 2014 on The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014) at Filmi Geek
Dir: Lasse Hallström This Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg co-production is pleasant enough while it is happening, but like an empty meal that leaves you hungry an hour later, doesn't stand up to much contemplation afterwards. It is so watered-down... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2014 at Filmi Geek
You should see it if you have the chance. It's really only the very ending that is a little much (although walking out of the theater being fairly appalled and saddened by it wasn't the highlight of the experience for me). Rani does well with what she's given; it's one of her best performances. I didn't see Taken either; I have woefully little knowledge of non-Indian film.
Thanks for the comment! I can see watching the movie again from time to time, especially if you fast-forward through the most cringeworthy bits. As I said in the comment above yours, there are bright spots in the movie that made it stick with me longer than I might have expected.
Toggle Commented Aug 27, 2014 on I Can't Think Straight (2008) at Filmi Geek
My not-entirely-rational love for Fire is of a similar ilk (though on a different axis from the racial/cultural one). I know the film has flaws. The English dialogue is terrible, the story is bumpy and has bits that should have been edited out. And yet when I saw it for the first time it pushed so many buttons that it remains very close to my heart. It's certainly true that when something speaks to you in a certain way you find it easier to overlook its obvious weaknesses.
Toggle Commented Aug 27, 2014 on I Can't Think Straight (2008) at Filmi Geek
By coincidence, in the span of one weekend I watched Siddharth (dir. Richie Mehta) and the latest Yash Raj production, Mardaani (dir. Pradeep Sarkar), two films both nominally concerned with India's terrible child-kidnaping and child-trafficking scourges. A title card at... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2014 at Filmi Geek
More thoughts on Moimeme's comment. On further reflection I am more and more intrigued by the analysis of HAHK as a character-driven story. Amazingly - I love this, I have thoroughly amused myself this morning - it was watching Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali and reading various critiques of it that drove me back to this line of thought. Pather Panchali is full of scenes that gently build relationships between characters. Some obtuse critics at the time (perhaps not today? I don't know) expressed frustration with the movie's slowness, asserting that there are too many stretches in which nothing happens. The mistake these folks are making, of course, is failing to see relationship-building and character-sketching as something happening. I was trying to get at this thought above, when I asserted that "no plot" is an ill-chosen shorthand for "no conflict". I don't think I got all the way there, but I now understand Moimeme's assertion that HAHK is character-driven as getting at something like this. Like Pather Panchali, HAHK contains many scenes that establish relationships, which are perhaps misinterpreted in the same way, as scenes in which "nothing happens." But where the story IS the relationships, or where the relationships ARE the story, these scenes are crucial. And as long as the audience is invested in the relationships (which some are and some are not, cf my exchange with Ravi above), they should be just as compelling as when "things happen" in more plot-oriented narratives - for some of us, maybe more so. I do not think I was ever in disagreement with Moimeme about this point - after all, I have always loved HAHK, loved the interplay of relationships, and found it anything but slow and boring - but I do think I had not articulated these ideas well, either in my mind or in my post or comments. Thank you, Moimeme, for giving me such flavorful food for thought. Hats off.
Toggle Commented Aug 15, 2014 on Hum aapke hain koun...! (1994) at Filmi Geek
Thank you Anu. I didn't say it was difficult to imagine the friends being supportive of Aditi. What I said was that they were the only representatives of the outside world, and there is no way the outside world would be uniformly supportive of Aditi. (Actually there was another representative, the son's fiancee, who was ALSO supportive of Aditi.) The film's message is considerably undermined by presenting it as one person's - Shree's - unreasonableness against a unified front of progressive, sympathetic people. It's true that the son also very briefly takes his father's side - but the film is too abbreviated and too expositional for this to provide any kind of satisfactory balance. And at any rate, he doesn't represent the outside world, either. I would say that from a narrative point of view, Shree is a unnuanced. I have no doubt that there are people who take his views on the matters set forth in the film. (Your mention of your mother-in-law underscores my first point - where in this film is the opprobrium of all the people NOT personally affected by Aditi's choices?) But as a matter of narrative structure, of filmmaking craft, there is no artistry in the way he is portrayed. He acts like a jerk, the people around him are shocked, we are cued that we are supposed to be shocked too. As to the ending - it was my favorite part of the movie, as I thought I made clear in. It capped a narratively lazy, unsubtle, and frankly boring film that seemed to be made by people who thought all they had to do was show a Woman's Issue and that would be enough to make good cinema; no delicacy or artistry required. It should have been a thought-provoking film. Instead it's an artless brickbat. Feh.
Toggle Commented Aug 14, 2014 on Astitva (2000) at Filmi Geek
अस्तित्व Dir. Mahesh Manjrekar I give Astitva full marks for trying. It is courageous in its determination to say things about female desire that are rarely said, not just in the movies but in societal discourse at large. It offers... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2014 at Filmi Geek