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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
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 a moment ago 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 8 minutes ago 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 yesterday 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
Anu! Your comment didn't get caught in the spam trap. :) Yes, I think it's worth watching despite mostly lukewarm reviews. Since I posted this review a few other people have said they liked the movie as well. Maybe as Jess said it suffered from timing? Or maybe it's just not flashy enough to have become a big hit.
Toggle Commented Jan 30, 2015 on Daawat-e-Ishq (2014) at Filmi Geek
Thanks for the comment! Khuda Gawah strikes me as the sort of movie that is made to be loved without reason. It's just so MUCH.
Toggle Commented Jan 28, 2015 on Khuda gawah (1992) at Filmi Geek
Thanks for the comment, Nabeel. I haven't yet seen Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi - I should add it to my list. I hated Highway, but you are right that it is an attempt to take internal conflict and bring it into the audience's line of sight. Actually it achieves that very well; that isn't what I hate about it. But yeah, with respect to Govind Nihalani and rest of the art-house generation of actors and directors in Hindi I agree completely. I do think some directors today are experimenting with different storytelling style, and while the relatively quiet approach of folks like Nihalani and Shyam Benegal and Mrinal Sen and the like is out of fashion right now in favor of grit and violence, they have had their influence in the encouragement of directors and actors to convey internal states with actions and expression rather than with flowery dialogue.
Toggle Commented Jan 28, 2015 on Ardh satya (1983) at Filmi Geek
Yes, that was Hasee to Phasee, earlier in the year. I have very good feelings about Parineeti and love that she is getting more interesting roles to play - even if they don't always work, she is pushing boundaries and getting the chance to try things. As for Daawat-e-Ishq, I think it came and went pretty fast to very lukewarm reviews. I left for Europe the day it opened so I wasn't as connected via Twitter and whatnot, but my impression is that it fell completely flat. It's a shame as it's a better movie than that, and that qawwali especially deserves to be remembered.
Toggle Commented Jan 28, 2015 on Daawat-e-Ishq (2014) at Filmi Geek
दावत-ए-इश्क़ Dir. Habib Faisal If Daawat-e-Ishq has a lesson for me, it is not a lesson about the grim injustice of dowry practices. Rather, it's that there is no substitute for seeing a film for myself before I judge it.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2015 at Filmi Geek
Not too long ago I went on a bit of a tear and watched about half a dozen Govinda movies in the space of a couple of weeks. My latest column in Outlook is my brain on Govinda, comparing his... Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2015 at Filmi Geek
"IMHO most of his early movies are best watched muted for the lovely cinematography and only unmuted for songs." --> This made me laugh out loud! Thanks for the great comment. I am pretty sure I have Chhalia and will watch it sooner or later, with expectations accordingly lowered after suffering through Aag and Barsaat (the alphabetical death-march of RK films). I'd love for you to write an essay about the effect of RK movies on gender norms. I was recently reading an essay that described Aag and Barsaat as portrayals of "young love" and that made me pause and think for a bit. Certainly all of Barsaat's Byronic tortured-artist, love-is-pain indulgence could be seen as an adolescent fantasy of what love is like. Aag is even more narcissistic but possibly young people could have related to its "search for the perfect woman" idea (because only young people are naive enough to think such a person exists) and to the overdramatic "my-face-is-disfigured-my-life-is-over" theme (because pimples are the end of the world when you are a teenager). The idea makes me chuckle. It doesn't at all elevate the films' art in my mind; it just makes it silly, to present such immature ideas in such earnest and thoroughly uncritically. It's not like a Twilight movie where the audience IS teenagers and no one is under any illusions that they are making art for the ages. But RK, man, his notions of love were possessive and objectifying and immature and it sure does show in his movies.
Toggle Commented Jan 16, 2015 on Barsaat (1949) at Filmi Geek
I thought the script was rather tight. Shatrugan does have a good complex role, I agree with that. I actually like everything about this movie.
Toggle Commented Jan 16, 2015 on Kaala patthar (1979) at Filmi Geek
Amitabh ji, many people disagree with me about Anand. I am truly glad that the movie touches you, even though it didn't work its magic on me. I thank you for reading and for expressing your disagreement kindly. If you read some of the other comments on this post, you can see that not everyone is confident enough in the validity of their own opinions to handle difference with civility! :-)
Toggle Commented Jan 15, 2015 on Anand (1971) at Filmi Geek
Glad you could find it - I can't get "Look Inside" on the book but maybe that's a limitation in the USA only. I did pick up a print copy of the book so for anyone else reading these comments, the essay on Deewaar is by Susmita Dasgupta, and is excerpted from Amitabh: The Making of a Superstar. As to the movie, I have largely forgotten the details you mention - just underscores that I need to watch Deewaar again!
Toggle Commented Jan 15, 2015 on Deewaar (1975) at Filmi Geek