Monday, January 28, 2008

Movies ‘R’ Us: #2-2008

Movie Review: Bawandar (The Sand Storm) (2000)

Bawandar is a story that needs to be told, ‘n’ number of times and more. Its about Sawari, a lower-caste woman in the feudal society of Rajasthan, the desert-state of India. Sawari is raped by some upper caste chauvinistic males from the village in retaliation for her showing signs of independence. Its about the rape and her subsequent fight for justice……….which was still continuing at the time of the release of the movie.

Based on a true story, Bawandar is a largely watcheable film, mainly for its authentic location shoots, scenes and situations that many of us Indians would identify-with in real life (especially the encounters with government officials), competent (but not excellent !!) acting by all concerned and strong empathy for the real-life Sawari and her struggles that the movie manages to project.

The film does have a script that sometimes sells it body for a few (extra) moments (saved) of reel-time, a bit simplistic at times. What also irks is a city-bred approach to acting, and that’s mainly to do with Nandita Das. She is not extremely convincing as a village woman. Especially in scenes where she cant shed her cosmopolitanism and enter the character of a village woman. At such moments, her acting actually lowers a scene’s impact and makes it insensitive in its handling, caricaturish even. Though she has her moments she aint no Shabana or Smita. How one longs for the ability and depth of a Shabana Azmi or Smita Patil at such times.

The supporting cast is very good at times (especially the villains in the story), plain amateurish (Rahul and Laila) or about average (Raghubir Yadav surprisingly).

What is laudable about the movie is that fact that it highlights the tremendous insensitivity (as per many accounts) shown to rape cases in India. Adding to the litany of woes of the affected woman, the inspector arrogantly asking her for a certificate attesting rape, the leery male doctor who tries to roughly examine her, the doctor who asks for a court order to examine her, the magistrate who is too busy attending a local film premiere to issue a court order to her, the female police who jeer at her (and her caste), the aggressive NGO kitty-party group who want to draw mileage out of the incident and so on.

P.S.: In making movies and acting out parts, small things matter

The fact that when Rahul and Laila get down from the camel cart after a long journey to ND’s village, they don’t stretch their legs. They just start walking away

When RK and LR first meet ND, she is at the potters wheel, handling it with the delicateness of a city-bred woman

Starring: Nandita Das, Raghuvir Yadav, Deepti Naval, Rahul Khanna, Laila Rouass, Lilette Dubey, Gulshan Grover

Screenplay: Ashok Mishra, Sudha Arora

Dialogues: Hariram Acharya, Deepak Purohit

Music Composer: Vishwamohan Bhatt (of the Grammy Awards fame)

Director of Photography: Ashok Kumar I.S.C

Produced: Jag Mundhra, Gaurang Doshi

Written, Directed and Edited by Jagmohan

Baazi (a ‘Gamble’?) (1995)

The only reason I wanted to see this flop movie was because this was Ashutosh Gowarikar’s first movie: AG of course is the one who went-on to direct Lagaan (one of my favorite movies). I knew that Aamir Khan consented to act in this movie for his friend AG. And for AG it was a case of nerves. Rather than following his instincts in this first movie, he followed the dictates of the financiers.

Baazi is an utterly forgettable movie. Masala that just doesn’t work: whether it be the story, the dialogues, the songs, lyrics, music, picturisation, choreography……just about everything about this movie is insipid.

AK looks his dashing-best in this movie though, no wonder girls swooned over him. But you still have to bear the sight of him wearing surprisingly oversized jeans that pop up throughout the movie and you get to see Aamir as the drag queen.

Where you see the influence of the producers is when you come across those sly camera shots to show Mamta Kulkarni’s cleavage, peer under her miniskirts, swift enough to perhaps escape the censors scissors but to satisfy the migrant labour audience. Done tastefully, skin show and the female body with or without clothes is something to admire and gaze adoringly-at. But you go the ‘Baazi’-way and you go on a voyeurs guilt-trip.

To be avoided……even if someone pays you to watch it

Krantiveer (The Brave Revolutionary) (1994)

Get this clear. You have to watch the movie only for Nana Patekar. Once this fact is understood, you will find it more tolerable to just fast forward the fill-in’s and get to the meat of the movie. This is a movie made for Nana’s histrionics. So if you choose to watch just those scenes with those pithy dialogues; divorced from the rest of the movie, then you wouldn’t have missed much.

Nana brings to mind all those actors (mainly from an era gone-by) who drew an audience simply on their own. And after that the story, the songs, the other actors were just that: secondary!

Nana is of course the new angry young man of the Hindi screen.

Nowadays you miss those actors of yore, each of whom had their own unique style: whether it be Dileep Kumar, RajKumar, Shatrughan Sinha, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra etc. Nowadays all you get are actors who are clones of each other. Nana, fortunately retains his own unique style of staccato dialogue delivery with fiery eyes and anger. Like Dharmendra, his dancing (or non-dancing) too is uniquely Nana. He brings to mind all those bad / uncomfortable dancers in Hindi films: Dharmendra, Sunny Deol, Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgan, even Amitabh Bacchan (in his very early days)

Oh and by the way, also acting in this movie are Mamta Kulkarni (the sex-bomb: where the hell did she disappear to?), Dimple Kapadia (you get to watch this poor lady in a stiffly ironed chalk-white churidar walk upto the public tap to fill water; a bit too much to digest)

Instead, watch these Nana scenes…….its vintage Nana




Ghulam-E-Mustafa (Mustafa, The Slave) (1997)

Another Nana Patekar movie. The story? It doesn’t matter. The songs? Pretty pathetic. But we know what we are here for. Its Nana. His every move is arresting, his eyes burning coals, his intensity: moving, his staccato dialogue delivery, his unique style which stands out in the days of Roshan Taneja clones. His acting seems to come from the heart (and not from Chapter 13: ‘How to show Anger’ from your acting school days) and appeals to the heart. That’s why each of his scenes from his movies taken in isolation is watchable again and again.

Movie Review: Chitchor (Heart Stealer) (1976)

Chit Chor is an old fashioned love story; the kind carried out under the kindly and benign eyes of the elders. The non-aggressive kind that frequently reflects real life. Amol Palekar in his time got to act in some excellent niche Hindi films, mainly comedies and quite of few of those were directed by Basu Chatterji. For any Hindi film afficianado, it is a must to wade through some films that BC directed: Choti Si Baat, Khatta Meetha, Baton Baton Mein and Chitchor. These do deviate from the standard Hindi film formulaic films in that the sex (or pseudo-sex and sexual innuendos) and violence are minimal or absent and the realism quotient higher. But of course, the songs cant be done away with, can it?

So to come back to this movie. Its a charmingly told love story (well, of the Indian kind). Built on a very simple premise really. Set in a village, a family (the headmaster (AK Hangal), his wife (Dina Pathak) and of-age daughter (Zarina Wahab)) awaits the arrival of a stranger who is a prospect for their marriageable daughter. In a case of mistaken identity, the arrival of the stranger (Vijayendra) is delayed. His assistant (Amol Palekar) arrives instead and is mistaken for Vijayendra. There follow a few weeks of bliss when the family wooes AP and he in turn wooes the initially recalcitrant ZW. But alas, the headmaster and his wife soon learn of the reality on the arrival of the correct gentleman and they then try to rectify the wrong. But is it too late by then? That’s what the movie is about.

The actors who play the main characters are chosen well and provide a strong backbone to the movie. Amol Palekar as the orphaned young man earnestly in search of love, Zarina as the young girl not even understanding enough to curb her tomboyish acts, Master Raju as Zarina’s ally and neighbourhood kid, AK Hangal and Dina Pathak as the typical Indian parents wishing well for their daughter and Vijayendra as the upwardly mobile and eligible bachelor. All these actors do their job well and are aided in no small measure by the speed at which the script unfolds and the excellent songs (in terms of music as well as lyrics) interspersed in the movie. The romance unfolds at just the right speed. Among Hindi films such a kind of film is a rarity and one must thank Basu Chatterji for his genre of movies.

Watch it for the gentle chemistry between Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahab (one of the few Muslim actresses in Hindi films). AP incidently is an actor who professed that he turned to acting out of necessity and that direction was always his first love. Sure enough he turned to direction later on, directly many films in the Marathi language and also the Shahrukh Khan-Rani Mukherji starrer ‘Paheli’. His approach to acting might seem a bit studious and structured (just like his dialogue delivery) but then it might be because hindi is his second language. Zarina Wahab portrays very effectively the transformation of the frivolous girl to a maturing woman. Watch it also for them and for the bygone era in Hindi films

So to come to the songs: all of them excellent in terms of music, melody, voice and simplicity of lyrics and also they way they gel-in with the flow of the movie. Especially recommended for some great vocals by Yesudas. A special word of appreciation to the blind (visually handicapped) Ravindra Jain who takes credit for the lyrics and music of this film. All the songs would rate high on any list of top Hindi film songs and are remembered by Hindi film afficianados to this day. And that says a lot especially when you can hardly remember a song of note in the Hindi films of the past 15-20 years.

Gori tera gaon bada pyara (young lady, your village is very charming)

…….is when AP first starts wooing ZW by singing to her


Aaj Se Pehle, Aaj Se Jyada Khushi aaj tak nahi mili (I never experienced such happiness and in such measure prior to this)

…….is when the 2 bachelors and ZW go on a picnic and AP is forming plans in his mind for the forthcoming marriage


Tu Jo mere Sur Mein Sur Milale (When you merge your tune into mine)

Is a post dinner sing-a-song when the master (AP) and the student (ZW) demonstrate their talent to the elders


Jab Deep jale Aana (Come when the lights are lit at twilight)

The hindi lyrics of the songs are available at http://www.hindilyrix.com/songs/get_movie_song_CHITCHOR.html

Movies with a throwback to the good old times always makes me nostalgic. When……

when mothers used to knot the long hair of their daughters,

when characters wore everyday clothes and not Manish Malhotra creations,

when low budget constraints were more then compensated by the sheer talent and passion of the actors and the strength of the script and dialogues,

when characters still retained their earthiness and didn’t look like the mass manufactured clones out of Roshan Taneja acting schools,

where cosmopolitanism had not yet stomped over regional bearing,

when characters believed in the gods and goddesses and you believed that they believed,

when film-makers took pride in telling simple stories too

when child characters were still middle-class in looks and behaviour and the metrosexual brand-conscious kid was not yet born

when only 3 brands and models of cars roamed the indian streets

when you felt a warmth envelop you when watching Amol Palekar movies

when picnics were relaxed affairs in the company of one’s own people

Credits

Rajshri Productions present

Starring

Amol Plekar

Zarina Wahab

Vijayendra

A.K.Hangal

Dina Pathak

Story: Subodh Ghosh

Cinematography: K.K.Mahajan

Editing: Mukhtar Ahmed

Playback: Yesudas and Hemlata

Lyrics and Music: Ravindra Jain

Produced: Tarachand Barjatya

Screenplay, Dialogue and Direction: Basu Chatterji

Say It With Numbers: #3-2008

From ‘The Ends of the Earth’: A journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy (From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia) by Richard Kaplan

Sub-Saharan Africa

Only 14 of 46 sub-Saharan African states rate higher in human development than India and Pakistan. And of these 14 states, 5 are islands office the African coast, in 4 cases with small populations. According to the UN, of the 15 countries with the worlds lowest literacy rates, 12 are in sub-Saharan Africa. Of the 12 countries with the lowest per capita GDP all 12 are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest urban growth rate of any region on the planet: 5.9% from 1980-1990

According to the UN Human Development Report of 1994 which rated 173 countries on the basis of literacy, schooling, population growth, per capita GDP and life expectancy, 22 of the bottom 24 countries are in sub-Saharan Africa

Of the 15 million people worldwide whose blood is HIV-positive, 10 million are in Africa

Liberia

About 1% of Liberia’s population of 2.5 million has been brutally murdered – not by armies, but mainly by illiterate thugs with uniforms, guns and machetes

Liberia is one of the last West African countries with significant rain forests………they cover an estimated 44% of the total land area

In the 17th and 18th centuries, as the Dutch, the British and others became involved in the slave trade, it mushroomed. According to scholarly sources some 10 to 12 million African slaves arrived in the Americas

Nile: the worlds longest river, 4266 miles long

95% of Egypt’s people live on less than 5% of its land along a river corridor over 600 miles long but never more than 10 miles wide

Turkey

In 1980, 43.9% of Turks lived in cities. In 1990n it was 59%. By the turn of the century the figure would be 67% and climbing. Istanbul, the largest city in Europe, with a population of 10 million in 1993 was growing at the astonishing rate of 4.5% a year

At least 1 out of 6 people in the Turkish Republic is a Kurd

Christians, including Armenians number 2/10ths of 1% of the Turkish population……….The Turks with assistance from Kurdish merceneries annihilated almost all the Armenians during World War I before Ataturk’s takeover, leaving only small communities in a few cities

The Kurds have inhabited the Zagros and Taurus ranges since the 2nd millennium BCE, 2000 years before the Arabs entered northern Mesopotamia and 3000 years before the Turks entered Anatolia

They are essentially a mountain people, deriving their collective personality from life on the 10000 foot massifs of Kurdistan

Kurdish is an Indo-European tongue rather than a Turkic one

Iran

At the time of the Islamic revolution, 45% of all Iranians lived in cities, by 1994, 57% of the population was urban. When the Shah was toppled, 5 million people lived in Tehran. A decade and half later there were 10 million. Since the revolution, Iran’s population increased from 35 million to 60 million

Whereas in 1977 on the eve of the revolution, the Iranian upper class accounted for 57% of total wealth in the country, in 1992 it still accounted for 45%

Uzbekistan

Has almost 45% of the entire population of former Soviet-Central Asia.

Its population is 23 million compared with under 4 million in Turkmenistan, under 6 million in Tajikstan, under 5 million in Kyrgyzstan and about 16.5 million in Kazakhstan

There are 6 million ethnic Uzbeks who live outside the borders of Uzbekistan. Uzbeks form 24% of the population in Tajikstan, 13% in Turkmenistan and 12.9% of Kyrgyzstan

Uzbeks account for 70% of the population of Uzbekistan itself

The Aral Sea

Is probably the worlds greatest single environmental disaster

once the earths 4th largest inland lake in the last 30 years has shrunk to half its original size and a third of its former volume, in order to provide water for the Soviet Unions cotton monoculture.

In 1989 the sea was 3 times more saline than in 1961: few fish survive anymore in its waters

In the Aral Sea region…1 out of 10 children born does not live to its 1st birthday

37% of Kazakhstan’s population is composed of ethnic Russians who live mainly in the North adjacent to Russia

Though Turkic and other minorities account for roughly 6% of China’s population they occupy over half of China’s land area

Only 13% of all Indians have access to public sewage systems and garbage collection

Thailand

Has been an identifiable nation since the 13th century after the Siamese completed their migration from southern China into Northern Thailand where they established a kingdom. They henceforth referred to themselves as ‘Thais’ or free people

Has never been colonized unlike the rest of IndoChina or sub-Saharan Africa. Nor do Thais have a minority problem to the degree that the Turks have with the Kurds

Thais write in a script that is 700 years old

Over 90% of Thais practice Theravada (also called Hinayana or ‘Lesser’) Buddhism

Literacy now stands at 93%

In 1900, 6% of Thailand’s population lived in Bangkok, now 17% do

Since the economic boom began in the 1960s, Thailand has lost 45% of its old growth forests to illegal logging and slash-and-burn agriculture. The Thai economic miracle has been largely achieved by devouring Thailand’s environmental base

About 1% of Thai women in their teens and twenties – about 200,000 are prostitutes

Cambodia

Under the communist regime of ‘Democratic Kampuchea’, between 1 and 1.5 million Cambodians out of a population of 8 million were shot, bludgeoned, starved or worked to death or died of disease in the most intense and awful attempt at social transformation history has ever recorded.

Cambodia has lost a third of its forest cover since1969. Forests still cover 49% of the country. 3 to 4% of Cambodia’s old growth forests were being lost to illegal hardwood logging

Angkor Wat is the single largest religious building in the world, built by the Khmer King Suriyavarman II between 1113 and 1150 ACE. The compound comprising Angkor Wat is 960 metres – or over 10 football fields – long and 800 metres wide…….it was completed in only 37 years

30% of the earths inhabitants have no access to any health care whatsoever; 50% have no toilet to use

The industrialized countries which accounted for 40% of the worlds population after World War II now account for only 20% though they earn 85% of the worlds income. In the coming decades the industrialized world is expected to make up only 12 to 15% of the planetary population as 90 to 95% of all births take place in the poorest countries

The rich nations of the industrialized world consume 70% of the planets energy, 75 of its metals and 85% of its wood

Friday, January 25, 2008

Mile Sur Mera Tumhara (When Your Tune Merges Into Mine)

Something reminded me of ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’ and I was immediately transported to another world. I knew I had to post the video to my blog for nostalgia’s sake.

Mile Sur was a national integration short song created in 1988 and it captivated millions of television viewers in India. More details at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mile_sur_mera_tumhara

Mile Sur Mera Tumhara (When your tune merges into mine)
To Sur Bane Hamara (It becomes Ours)

Intended to highlight the diversity of India in terms of languages, cultures, races, musical styles and yet bring all those together to promote a national identity, this song became a pseudo-anthem to many and achieved iconic status. It features many famous (and not-so-famous) Indians lip-syncing to the words. Personalities from all corners of India, from sports, films, music and culture (and much to my relief excluding politicians). To this day many of us can sing its various verses in the various languages of India, not necessarily understanding all of it but nevertheless being overcome by the sheer emotion of being an Indian

Any Indophile or person interested in Indian music and culture, in Bollywood would surely appreciate.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Say It With Numbers: #2-2008

There are 49,000 airports in the world, 14,858 of them in the US

Lawrence Summers has pointed out that during the Industrial Revolution the average European’s living standards rose about 50% over the course of his lifetime (then about 40 years). In Asia, principally China, he calculates, the average persons living standards are set to rise by 10,000% in 1 lifetime.

30 years ago, China was a devastated country, one of the worlds poorest. Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution destroyed universities, schools and factories……Since then 400 million people have been lifted out of poverty in China – about 75% of the worlds poverty reduction over the last century

South Africa suffered more violent deaths per capita in 2007 than Afghanistan. South Africa is now one of the worlds 5 most violent places

In 1956, Lebanese Christians made up 56% of the country; today they are about 30%. Bethleham, birthplace of Jesus was 80% Christian when Israel won independence in 1948; now its about 16%. Some 75% of the United States’ 3.5 million Middle Easterners are Christian

The big bang is estimated to have occurred 14 billion years ago.

Indian IT industry

The top 20 companies account for 80% of the total revenues

500,000 employees hired by IT and ITES in 2007 as compared to 350,000 in 2006

India

In the partition of undivided India into the countries of India and Pakistan, between 800,000 and 2 million people died in sectarian fighting. Up to 14 million crossed the frontier, one of the largest mass migrations in humanity

Following the 1857 Uprising in India, the British imposed English as the official language for education and communication. Muslims went from near 100% literacy in Urdu to 20% within a half-century

India is the world’s 2nd largest newspaper market, behind China

India contributes 70% to the global revenues from cricket

Life expectancy has risen from 32.1 years in 1947 to 68.5 years in 2007

Literacy has risen from 16% in 1947 to 61.3% in 2007

In 1600, when the East India Company was formed, Britain was generating 1.8% of the world’s GDP while India was producing 22.5%. By 1870 at the peak of the Raj, Britain was generating 9.1%

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Movies ‘R’ Us: #1-2008

Saw an assorted range of movies in the recent past that don’t really deserve a more detailed mention than below

Gayab’ (Vanished!) (2004) is another one of Ram Gopal Verma’s factory movies fresh off the production line. Directed by: Prawaal Raman, Cinematographer: Pietro Zuercher, Produced by Ram Gopal Varma

It’s a niche movie a bit away from the standard formulaic masala movies but nevertheless retaining essential elements to attract crowds and retain the ethos of Bollywood.

It’s about a miserable loser in life (Tushar Kapoor) who manages to become invisible and then sets-about trying to fulfil his dreams, resorting to villainy if required.

There are 3 reasons why anyone would watch this pretty below-average movie: Rasika Joshi as the nagging mother (of Tushar) and wife (of Raghubir Yadav), Tushar Kapoor who so fits the character and Antara Mali, the sensuous dusky beauty.

Rasika Joshi is aptly cast and is a tremendous character artiste. Tushar Kapoor proves he is a very good actor (his transformation from a timid and pathetic personality is a worthwhile watch) but with his non-filmi looks its always going to be tough for him, pedigree (he is Jeetendra’s son) notwithstanding.

And as for Antara Mali, she oozes sexuality and she knows it and we know it and both enjoy the spectacle. I could just keep on gazing at her. Here’s a lady who delights in cavorting before the camera. She is not ashamed of her body and revels in bathing in camera light. Her voluptuous body is well documented by the cinematographer and no one’s complaining

Watch this movie also for its cinematography. Lots of unusual camera angles, crane shots and crisp editing

Watch this:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8073268394714291893&q=antara+mali&total=76&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

Bees Saal Baad (Twenty Years Later) (1962)

A puerile detective-cum-horror story moving at an imbecilic pace and a script with a decidedly odd ending for an Indian movie particularly of those times. Soppy acting all round, especially from the lead actors, Waheeda Rehman and Biswajit. The beautiful Waheeda acting a bit silly at times as village girls were supposed to do in those days.

With those clich├ęd techniques to enhance the scariness quotient of the movie: the eerie music, the camera movements etc., the villains trying to conform to bookish definition of villains (i.e. a patch covering the blind eye, funny white and black leather shoes, overcoats, sideways glances etc.etc., your patience will be severely tested.

About the only saving grace being 2 songs which are hummable to this day and age

Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil


Bekarar karke hame yun na jaiye – Lyrics are pretty average though

Playback: Lata and Hemant Kumar, Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni, Music and Produced by Hemant Kumar

Chakra (The Wheel) (1980)

An ‘art’ film based in a slum and about the pitiful life of its inhabitants. Based on the novel ‘Chakra’ by Jaywant Dalvi (the famous Marathi writer), the movie is singularly bad in most respects.

Witness the low production values, as visible in the poor quality of the raw film stock, the patchy sets. A dusty and grainy movie just like the slum it roams through. A slum surprisingly shorn of chaos, with lots of open spaces albeit rocky and dusty. Extremely poor editing, sub-standard dialogues, songs that flit through incongruously like ghosts, slum dwellers behaving like caricatures of themselves, Characters trying to act like characters who are trying to say something serious, thought-provoking and deep. The trouble is, you can see through their fake-ness. The movie fails to evoke the pathos of the situation that we see the characters going through.

You almost feel you are intruding upon the script by actually listening to the dialogues. Starring such luminaries of Hindi cinema as Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Rohini Hattangadi; the quality of supporting actors is pretty low

At the end you are no wiser then you were in the beginning.

It is so bad that I would like to put on record the people associated with making it: Special Asst to the Director: Raj Kumar Santoshi, Original background music score arranged by Amar Haldipur, Lyrics: Madhosh Bilgrami, Playback Singers: Lata, Bhupendra Singh, Suresh Wadkar, Ravindra Sathe, Chandrashekhar, Sponsored by NFDC, Script and Dialogues by Shama Zaidi, Javed Siddiqui. Edited: Bhanudas, Photographed: Barun Mukherjee, Original Music composed by Hridaynath Mangeshkar, Produced: Manmohan Shetty, Pradeep Uppoor, Screenplay, Written and Directed by Rabindra Dharmaraj

Sarfarosh (Fervour) (1999)

A relatively modern hit movie starring Aamir Khan and which addressed the problem-of-the-season during that period: Terrorism (specifically the kind carried out by Pakistan-based terrorists) in India.

Although the film garnered much praise (dunno, what for!), scratch the surface and it’s just another masala movie. Nothing about it really distinguishes itself: the script, the acting, the songs, cinematography etc.etc.

The Pakistani ghazal singer (Naseeruddin Shah) as a terrorist recruiting agent really takes the cake!! What the fish, as the ‘OSO’ Shahrukh would say!!!

Die-hard Aamir Khan fans could probably find some take-aways from the movie. The character of AK is unnaturally rude and impatient in the movie but what I like about AK is his studiousness about the character and the script and his insistence on a certain integrity to run through he movie

His companion in the film is the sensuous Sonali Bendre who manages to look sexy without looking vulgar. Though her ‘don’t mind’ takiya kalam gets quite irritating after a while.

If you must watch any particular scene let it be the end confrontation between AK and NS. Two Muslims in real life acting out parts as an Indian and a Pakistani confronting each other and spouting some home-truths. If that isn’t meant to convey something specific, what is? And for a change, Pakistan is overtly mentioned as the villain, the enemy throughout the movie

So lets turn to the key songs, some of which are quite hummable:

Hosh Walon Ko (lyrics: Nida Fazli, Sung by Jagjit Singh. Choreography: Farah Khan) – a delightfully picturised song and Sonali looks sooooo charming


Is Deewane Ladke ko (lyrics: Sameer, Singer: Alka Yagnik, Choreography: Farah Khan)

Music: Jatin-Lalit, Story, Screenplay, Produced and Directed: John Matthew Matthan

Friday, January 11, 2008

'Thought' So

I read the following in some totally different context. And I couldn’t help but think that this so applies to the Bollywood film industry

“People learn more easily and retain information longer when the lesson is housed in a story, illustration or metaphor

If you go back to tribal behavior, one of the most critical people in any tribe was the shaman, the fundamental storyteller: Keep in mind, their job was not one of historical accuracy. Instead, their job was to tell stories that influenced and guided behavior. Stories were modified in order to achieve the appropriate kind of culture.”

For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so
- Shakespeare, Hamlet Prince of Denmark

I would rather that India perished than she wins freedom on the sacrifice of truth……..Democracy is not a state in which people act like sheep. Under democratic liberty of opinion and action is jealously guarded. I am not pleading for India to practise nonviolence because it is weak. I want her to practice nonviolence being fully conscious of its power.
- Mahatma Gandhi

Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to
– Mark Twain

Friday, January 4, 2008

Say It with Numbers: #1-2008

India

Tele-density (number of phones per 100 persons) today is at 22.52. In March 1999, this was at 2.8

Only 3% of Indians i.e. 7 million out of a working-age population of 321 million, invest in the share market. 1 out of every 4 of them owns ‘Reliance’ shares

Reliance: Dhirubhai Ambani’s sons, Anil and Mukesh’s estimated combined net worth at his death in July 2002 was $2.8 billion. When the brothers split in 2005, the figure was $7 billion. This year, in the Forbes list of world’s richest persons, Mukesh was valued at $49 billion and Anil at $45 billion

One in every 6th village in the country does not have electricity i.e. 99,287 villages out of 5,93,732 (70% of Jharkhand villages, 44% of Orissa, 33% of Rajasthan, 25% in Bihar, 14% of Maharashtra are without electricity)

India Software sector

Software export revenue has grown from $100 million in 1991-92 to $32 billion in 2006-07

India accounts for 65% of global market in offshore IT and 46% in offshore ITES

Software sector accounts for 20% of India’s exports and 4% of GNP.

It provides direct employment to 1.3 million IT and ITES professionals

Every direct job in this sector leads to generation of 3 times indirect and induced employment

Over 95% of current exports are from 7 metros – Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata and Delhi NCR

Movie Review: Jaanbaaz (The Bravehearted?) (1986)

This is another of Feroz Khan’s flicks: a story modest in its ambitions, lush locales, female stars exploited as far as the Indian censors permit (i.e. attractive women suitably undressed (or under-dressed)) big budget, foreign shoots, visually stimulating, above average music, songs and photography, full-on masala flick.

At the outset let’s get the story outline done-with and out of the way: Feroz Khan and Anil Kapoor play brothers, the former a do-gooder police inspector, the latter a goon. Dimple is an illegitimate daughter of Kulbhushan Kharbanda who is killed by the drug-lord Teja. She arrives to roost at the house of a distant relative: Sushma Seth (whose hubby is the rougish Amrish Puri) and who is the mother of Feroz and Anil. Feroz’s ex-girlfriend too has been eliminated by Teja. Dimple falls for Anil, but he is of the wham-bam-thank-you-maam mentality. Ultimately they do come together at the house of a friend of Anil’s: Shakti Kapoor who is a lackey of Teja. And the entire story comes together in a gripping finale.

A good reason to watch the movie is for Dimple: the sensuous beauty. Not a great actress, certainly not blessed with a great dialogue delivery or command over the language. Her laugh is not engaging. So all-in-all many flaws fully smoothened away by her disarming beauty. She is there for providing us viewers with visual bliss.

The shapely, buxom Sridevi makes a guest appearance as FKs dead ex-girlfriend. She was the reigning queen of Hindi cinema (roughly in the 80s) before she retired and Madhuri Dixit replaced her (roughly in the 90s). Since then the throne is unoccupied. What people found attractive in her, I am not so sure (certainly not her squeaky voice), but you can check her out in this movie, she is at her seductive best (trust Feroz Khan to bare his heroines as best as possible).

In a sense Hindi films always act as a social barometer of the age they live-in. And the villains of different eras reflect accurately the key problems faced in that era. This film tackles the drug menace.

Teja is the (unintended) comic villain with his chemical laboratories on verandahs of bungalows, that manufacture drugs like cocaine. So in addition to the miscellaneous chemical paraphernalia like beakers with coloured water and small burners with a wick lamp arranged on a small table, lookout for the big fat books in the backdrop including a dictionary which he no doubt reads in his leisure time. Pretty literate drug-lord that.

The songs to watch-out for are

  1. Har Kisi Ko Nahi Milta (a hummable song in which you can watch FK stare unabashedly lustflly at Sridevi and u can perhaps you can understand his predicament)


  2. Jaanejaana


  3. Tera Saath Hai Kitna Pyara sung by the one-and-only Kishore Kumar

I have very little doubts that FK in his films offers tribute to the Penthouse / Playboy kind-of-influences. You can see that in many of the intimate moments in many of his films. And in this movie you see that between Dimple and Anil K. AK in his heyday got to get intimate with the top heroines of his time, I mean, they let him do that. What they found attractive in that hairy bear one doesn’t know but his virility led these top heroines to be very close-up with him

So this is a film which is juvenile in many respects: the dialogues, situations, characters etc. but one in true-blue masala tradition of Bollywood. Wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone as an initiation to Bollywood.

Starring

Feroz Khan

Anil Kapoor

Dimple Kapadia

Amrish Puri

Shakti Kapoor

Jagdeep

Kulbhushan Kharbanda

Sp.App: Rekha and Sridevi

Playback: Kishore Kumar, Manhar, Sadhna Sargam

Lyrics: Indeevar, Farooq Kaiser

Director of Photography: Kamal Bose

Dialogues: Madan Joshi

Written: K.K. Shukla

Music: Kalyanji Anandji

Produced, Directed, Edited by Feroz Khan

And btw, in deference to Bollywood symbolism: the rougish Hindu father (Amrish Puri) shows his subscription to syncretism by praying at the grave of a Muslim saint. Some things never change……………….

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Happy New Year to You

To the thousands of readers and admirers of my blog (may i say that till date you have done a jolly good job in remaining invisible), wish you and your near and dear ones a Very Happy New Year.

If you wish to comment on my blog, this is your best chance. Free Swiss watches to all those who log a comment.

Love

Nirvana

PS: You didnt believe that part about the free goodies did you? But then i am sure lots did, as evidenced by the hordes who regularly fall for the popular Nigerian 'my-uncle-died-but-for-some-indecipherable-reason-
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