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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
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By email, Anu added this: "Carla, what he said was that he and Geeta Bali and Billy Wilder had watched the French musical on Broadway together. I still cannot trace the video clipping where he talks about it, but here is something I found... " Anu, I don't doubt that Shammi made this claim - I am just a little skeptical that the claim is the entirely true. :/
Toggle Commented 2 days ago on Manoranjan (1974) at Filmi Geek
Hello Sandeep, thank you for the comment! It is interesting that you mention the studio-bound aspect. As I noted in my reply to Anu above, I found the sets very reminiscent of the sets in Irma La Douce, and I really liked them. It was a kind of fantasy Bombay, movie-Bombay-meets-movie-Paris, and that kind of fantastical set is a nice subconscious reminder that when you watch this movie you are entering a world where the rules are just a little different from the rules of the world that you and I live in. Secondly they have a lovely color and vibrancy to them that just enhances the overall festive feeling of the movie. However, with a few exceptions, most of the movie takes place in just a few rooms - it does trace its lineage back to a play - and I can see where that could get a little claustrophobic as you describe. Oh, but do at least watch "Aaya hoon main tujhko le jaaunga," because its sets are MARVELOUS.
Toggle Commented 3 days ago on Manoranjan (1974) at Filmi Geek
What an interesting claim. I wonder if there is any truth in it. I have to admit I am skeptical, even though I would like to give the benefit of the doubt to Shammi Kapoor. It just seems awfully convenient, to say "well even though everyone rips off Hollywood right and left, I was actually the one person in the industry being honest (though not honest enough to credit my source), but my movie just happened to be delayed and came out a full 10 years after this other movie that is pretty much exactly the same." I would have to watch the play and both movies together to really make up my mind. There were a lot of gags in Manoranjan that I know existed identically in Irma La Douce. So the question would be, were these gags in the play, too? The other thing that makes me skeptical is the set of Manoranjan Street, the moment the film opened, looked more like. Hollywood set to me than any Bombay studio set I have ever seen. It looked like Billy Wilder's set. So, yeah, as much as I'd like to believe in Shammi, I remain skeptical. :/
Toggle Commented 3 days ago on Manoranjan (1974) at Filmi Geek
I really did love it! The melody that played during the Shabba Khair scene was definitely the Itihaas song, not the Junglee one.
Toggle Commented 3 days ago on Manoranjan (1974) at Filmi Geek
मनोरंजन Dir. Shammi Kapoor I was just thinking that it had been a while since I watched an instant favorite - one of those movies that I know on first watch will be one I return to again and again,... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Filmi Geek
Gosh, Sev. I like to read but I always feel like I don't read enough. I have made a conscious effort over the past couple of years to read more. I really like lyrical writing, writing that is rich in metaphor and overloaded symbolism - this won't surprise you, it's entirely consistent with my taste in movies. (I am a little bit obsessed with metaphor; if there is one thing I strive for in my writing, it is to find evocative metaphors for concepts that I want to convey.) Some fiction that I have read lately and really enjoyed includes Hild, by Nicola Griffith; Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (talk about overloaded metaphor, woof!). Also really excellent in the lyrical prose category, and favorite writers of mine, are Jeannette Winterson, Isabel Allende, Murakami. The other thing I really like in fiction is long, immersive stories. They still have to be well-written; a long immersive world-builder of a book written with a care toward lyricism is the Holy Grail to me. Murakami's 1Q84 does this, as does Hild which I mentioned above. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell is another, although I didn't love that one as uniformly. George Eliot is perhaps my all-time favorite author of long, immersive novels, especially Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda. A surprising entry in that last category is Neal Stephenson. He is perhaps a little pulpy but utterly brilliant at world-building and painting lovable characters. I read his books over and over again, even the 1000-page ones. Finally, non-fiction - lately I have been trying to read more film criticism because I want to get better at it. I've been reading populist criticism like Pauline Kael - I find her inspiring, because her reviews feel like what mine could be if I had 30 years more experience. I always read the Current Cinema column in the New Yorker (Anthony Lane and David Denby) for the same reason, even though I almost never see the movies. I've picked up some criticism of Hindi films lately so I'll keep you posted on what I think of that. What do you like to read, Sev?
Toggle Commented 5 days ago on Bombay Talkies (2013) at Filmi Geek
Thank you, Orissa. I am glad you are reading and very glad you are commenting!
Toggle Commented 6 days ago on Abhimaan (1973) at Filmi Geek
Thanks! Abhinetri is superb eye-candy for sure! Both Shashi and Hema are about as pretty in it as they ever get. But I found it profoundly disappointing, for a movie that could have made some bold or at least interesting statements.
Toggle Commented 6 days ago on Abhimaan (1973) at Filmi Geek
Thanks Anu. I was just thinking that I don't generally like movies about characters who are themselves superstars - they sometimes seem self-indulgent, more relatable to the people who make movies than to the people who watch movies. Yet this thought didn't even occur to me while watching Abhimaan. I think it is because of what you note - "Hrishikesh Mukherjee's characters were always true to life." Subir and Uma are people first; famous singers second.
Toggle Commented 6 days ago on Abhimaan (1973) at Filmi Geek
Thank you Banno. I have been a fan of Jaya's since very early in my exposure to Hindi films, and she continues to impress with every movie I see. I wonder what the 80s would have looked like, had Jaya kept acting into her 30s. Obviously I would not change the casting of movies like Arth or Masoom for anything, but can you imagine the 80s with Jaya occupying the same universe as Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil? Oh boy.
Toggle Commented 6 days ago on Abhimaan (1973) at Filmi Geek
अभिमान Dir. Hrishikesh Mukherjee As with Silsila, it's been said that Abhimaan hews uncomfortably close to real life for Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri. That is likely an instance of the usual difficulties that the general movie-watching public has separating... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2014 at Filmi Geek
Hello Hema :) Thank you for the comment! It's good to have you here. "Jaunty" and "likable" are good words; I agree with that assessment. I do think you will enjoy it - though like dustedoff, you might be disappointed with the mystery itself. I was talking with a friend about this movie and I had this thought: There are as yet still so few movies about women that we still tend to demand of each one that it be EVERYTHING - she must be bold and strong, but not stupid or bitchy; she should have sexual autonomy, but not have to define herself relative to a man; she shouldn't be too young, because older women have inner lives and desires too, but she shouldn't be too old, because we need movies that speak positive messages to young women and girls; etc. Bobby Jasoos doesn't do everything, either - but the more such movies we have to refer back to, the less and less we will have to ask from each individual movie. I hope that Bobby Jasoos does well enough financially, as Queen seems to have done, and as Kahaani and English Vinglish did, to convince producers that there IS a market for stories like these.
Toggle Commented Jul 9, 2014 on Bobby Jasoos (2014) at Filmi Geek
It will be interesting to see what you think, as a writer of mysteries - the general laziness of the detective aspect of this detective story might aggravate you even more than it did me! But read as a romance and family-relationship story, it has more than enough to carry it despite the weak mystery plot.
Toggle Commented Jul 7, 2014 on Bobby Jasoos (2014) at Filmi Geek
Dir. Samar Shaikh Bobby Jasoos is an adorable movie. It is not flawless; there is a measure of lazy scripting and plot elements that don't stand up to rigorous thought. But I do not feel inclined to be especially critical... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2014 at Filmi Geek
Dir. Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap I would like to write a review of Bombay Talkies that is more than a concatenation of four mini-reviews. But that presumes that Bombay Talkies is more than a concatenation of... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2014 at Filmi Geek
Sanket, I love this comment - thank you! I relate to the point you made - I have already watched AAA many times, and though I only recently saw Naseeb for the first time, I mentioned in my post about it that I expect it to be a rewatcher. I'm not sure about Coolie. I loved all the religious parts of it and would at least watch that stuff again. I want to ask you where you think Parvarish falls in all of this. It is both substantive, like AAA, and pretty nutty masala, in the form of baddies with elaborate lairs and the submarine fight and whatnot. I like it especially because it has awesome female leads, an area shortchanged in some of Desai's other films.
Toggle Commented Jul 5, 2014 on Coolie (1983) at Filmi Geek
Thanks for this set of comments; very, very interesting stuff. I think I see what you mean about the emotional manipulation in parts of AAA or Naseeb. It is also present in Coolie but if I understand what you are saying, it is accompanied by more zaniness, so it lies in a zone between AAA/Naseeb and Mard. Perhaps Aa gale lag jaa is even further into the "tame masala" or "earnest masala" side things than AAA/Naseeb, while Parvarish lands more or less where AAA/Naseeb does. What about Suhaag? I want to put together the entire axis now, see if people agree on the ordering, and see where people fall if they prefer some range of the axis to films outside that range. Quantifying looniness in Desai. I have yet to see Mard but I am increasingly curious. There are a number of Desai films I have yet to see.
Toggle Commented Jul 3, 2014 on Coolie (1983) at Filmi Geek
I've been pondering this distinction you are drawing between Naseeb and Amar Akbar Anthony on the one hand, and Coolie on the other (I haven't yet watched Mard), and trying to decide whether the distinction makes sense to me. Amar Akbar Anthony was one of the first Hindi films I ever watched, and the first masala film. I had not yet surrendered to the aesthetic - heck, I didn't even know the aesthetic existed - so I didn't know what to make of the film that seemed completely nutty and wackadoodle to me. I suppose looking back on it now though I can see some ways in which Coolie is even further along the crazy spectrum than Amar Akbar Anthony, but it really seems a matter of degree rather than kind. Maybe all of his films do lie along an axis of nuttiness and we all just draw the lines between "not crazy enough" and "just the right amount of crazy" in different places.
Toggle Commented Jun 30, 2014 on Coolie (1983) at Filmi Geek
That's a good question; it didn't occur to me that it could just be a scene missing from the available print, though it makes sense. The way it is now, it is interesting to imagine what took place in that car, what Ashesh said to his uncle to bring him around. It would be hard to write that speech in a convincing way. Perhaps the filmmakers chose not to follow them into the car for that reason ...
Toggle Commented Jun 30, 2014 on Barnali (1963) at Filmi Geek
বর্ণালী Dir. Ajoy Kar Beth's thoughtful discussion of this tender Bengali film dwells mostly on its love story. You should go and read it, because on that subject I don't have a lot to add. As Beth notes, the romance... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2014 at Filmi Geek
कुली Dir. Manmohan Desai There is much that can be said about Coolie, a stellar exemplar of the socially meaningful masala movie. It is a rich text packed with social commentary, in which the working poor organize and strike against... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2014 at Filmi Geek
Anu, a story that gives the husband an arc would be interesting to see. It's interesting that in Abhinetri Shashi is so delighted at first by Hema's dancing - it doesn't make him uncomfortable when she is just a girl he likes, but once she is his wife he can't bear it. She is the same girl, so (expanding on what I just wrote above in response to Miranda) his objection can't be to the dancing itself or to the idea that a nice girl could do it. However, his character is presented in such a way that it's hard to get behind the tantrums and the sulking to see any kind of development or thought process there. I would have loved a more coherent, adult presentation of this character - a man with a real moral conflict, between the prejudices and beliefs he was brought up with on the one hand, and love and respect for his wife's art and passion and ambition on the other. THAT would be a movie worth watching.
Toggle Commented Jun 18, 2014 on Abhinetri (1970) at Filmi Geek
I have mixed feelings about Jab Jab Phool Khile, which is probably just a wishy-washy way of admitting that, like you, I rather enjoyed it. True the woman in it is chastened for being modern and hence insufficiently Indian. But she is a straw-man sort of modern woman, a somewhat vapid one. If she were in the process of using all that western education for something productive, like becoming a human rights lawyer or researching malaria cures, Shashi's shaming of her as in sufficiently Indian would have been beyond the pale. As it was, I read the film not as a rejection of modernity/westernness wholesale, but rather of its superficial, questionable elements and the smug attitude of superiority that tends to go with adopting them. Mostly I felt it was not my place to judge the amount of threat those forces posed to Indian society at large at the time - kaise bhool jaaun main nahin Hindustani? Your point about Abhinetri is an interesting one though - though implicit in the movie (and explicit in Anuradha's comments below) is the notion that dancing is a sub-civilized thing for a girl to do, you are especially turned off because you see art as a noble calling and pursuit and are thus more irritated at the attempt to stifle her independent expression through it. It's a neat idea, and points up another tension that the film hints at but doesn't have the guts to confront: is her performance art and worthy of elevation, or is it cheap and worthy of denigration? Her dancing master certainly thinks she is an elevated artist, and speaks of her in the most pure terms. Her fans are considerably more base, admiring her curves and her sexiness. Shashi's character doesn't go all the way to saying that dancing is beneath a nice girl, but he does object to sharing her sexiness (a even just visually) with other men. So it is at least implied that he doesn't value the art aspect enough to overcome the perceived cheap aspect. And we know he doesn't value her autonomy, but then he was raised to be the center of the universe - he may not value anyone's autonomy.
Toggle Commented Jun 18, 2014 on Abhinetri (1970) at Filmi Geek
अभिनेत्री Dir. Subodh Mukherjee (This review is somewhat more spoilery than usual.) Sometimes it's good to let viewers supply their own ending to a story. An audience won't always agree on the best outcome, and letting each viewer decide for... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2014 at Filmi Geek
Thank you! The songs are all lovely even if some of them carry the unpleasant text of the story . :-) I hope you do watch Aan, because it is entertaining in the broadest sense, despite the nasty story. It is a spectacle.
Toggle Commented Jun 10, 2014 on Aan (1952) at Filmi Geek