Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Mere Mehboob 1963

If you love shaayari and old Hindi cinema, then you will appreciate Mere Mehboob, the 1963 blockbuster movie. With such giants of the golden era of Bollywood,Rajendra Kumar and Sadhna, this beautiful lyrical movie will capture every nostalgic fancy.



Dripping in poetry, beautiful costumes and the old Lucknowi style of living, Mere Mehboob is a like watching a lovely scenery on your vacation. Inspite of this visual fancy the movie is not just a musical or a moving sonnet. With a strong script, some amazing performances and dependable supporting cast of Ashok Kumar and Johnie Walker, Mere Mehboob will not let you budge or look at your phone ,if I should speak for my generation.



Set in the famed Aligarh University romance blooms in a  innocent way between Anwar and Husna, Kumar and Sadhna respectively. The kind of romance which is veiled and shy. The popular song Mere Mehoob sets the tone for the movie. The story moves to Lucknow where Husna is shown as Nawab Akhtar's sister ,who is extremely proud of his lineage and khaandaan.

 Aligarh University


 This is the thing about old style movies especially set in Lucknow, where the nawabi grace and conduct is so neatly shown without being over the top and being obvious about it. The glamour is subtle and comely.

Nawab Akhtar is also secretly in love with Najma, Anwar's sister. Najma,who is a dancer is played by Nimmi. Though he isn't ashamed of being in love with her or rebukes her profession , he is conscious of the society and thinks it against his refinement to marry her and make her begum of his khaandaani makaan. And a beautiful one at that!





Without any overly emotional dialogues and the obvious shaayari, the movie glides beautifully through showing every character's role in this story of sacrifice, family bond, prestige and love.

 Anwar with his sister


The nazaakat between the lovers


Watch for the Lucknowi andaz,the charming Sadhna or just some classic brilliance.

Old time Lucknow

Director - H.S. Rawail
Music - Naushad

Monday, February 29, 2016

Anupama 1966

Why hasn't Anupama been in the list of women-powered movies? Even though Sharmila doesn't have much dialogue delivery I felt she conveys more than Dharmendra (very strong on his own too though). No long eyelash fluttering, no twisting of sari pallu and no coy smile. Very few Hindi movies make you understand the protagonist's feelings in the right way,instead of sympathy or anger. Anupama agrees with you in the right way.



Anupama, a story of an introvert girl mostly ignored by her father and finding herself in the world. Joined by a host of emminent actors such as Dharmendra,Shashikala, David Abraham, Deven Verma etc, the movie is a discovery of relationships and of self.

Watch it for some finespun performances by Sharmila,Dharmendra and Tarun Bose as her father.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Griha Pravesh

Extra marital affairs in movies are shown with dramatic effects. A weeping wife, hysterical family members,moral value discourse and the unmissable packing of suitcase despite the wife wearing gazillion sarees and jewellery.



In Griha Pravesh ,direcetd by Basu Bhattacharya, I was looking for similar things and was happily shocked. The husband Amar is played by Sanjeev Kumar and his better half as Mansi by Sharmila Tagore. He goes astray with Sapna (Sarika).

I saw the movie some days ago and yet it lingers in my mind like an amazing dessert. All three actors did a fantastic job. Sapna was not seductive with any questionable hemlines and sparkling lipstick. In fact she looked tomboyish with her striped vests and de-glam pants. Amar's role seems to be concentrated on two aspects - his own curiosity as to why Sapna thinks beyond her age and second is, just the basic physical need of sex. Yet there are no sleazy scenes and thankfully no perfume-lingered-shirts to start a 'Who,what,why' exhibition.The attraction was 'mature' if not morally right.





At the same time,Mansi is not dumb or a doormat. In a brief intimate scene(which is at the start of the movie,thus surprising me even more) she depicts a a confident woman who knows her desires.



Mansi is practical yet a dreamer. She wishes of her own home while they manage in a dilapidated,paint peeled,rented house.She has witty replies to their state yet is vulnerable. On knowing about her husband's affair she doesn't confirm to Bollywood tradition by crying or playing blame game. The calmness with which she handles it is why such movies get side-tracked as 'non commercial' cinema.

The best part or the climax of the movie is not when they three meet at,
surprise 1 - Mansi's home,
surprise 2 - at the request of Mansi,
surprise 3 - without any shrewd plan or revenge in mind.
I was smiling at the fact that before the meeting, Mansi gets her house painted ,decorated and set up. She also gets a makeover at the beauty parlour. I'm still trying to think of the symbolism here and what it conveys. I assumed a supreme turning point where Amar realises how pretty his wife and home can be and does a volte-face on the mistress. But nah! The story surprises even in the end.

A movie which pokes in you small ,delicious ways.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Aalkkoottathil Thaniye

Aalkkoottathil Thaniye is 1984 movie about lost love,betrayal, sacrifice and moral questioning.



Rajan (Mammotty) is a village man who loves his cousin Ammukutty (Seema) but his stubborn father  Madhavan (Balan Nair) forces him to marry Nalini (Unni Mary). Nalini is an ambitious woman who wants to study further and achieve an educated status. Rajan on the other hand believes in simple living. They have come to a indifferent attitude to their marriage and live separate lives under one roof.





Years later when Rajan's father is bed ridden,the only person who makes time to look after him is Ammukutty. Inspite of his children only she is available and does so selflessly and without past grudges. In the midst of the ill father,property disputes and jealousies are shown as the norm of a middle class Malayali family. The old love of the two people and happier times are shown in glimpses.

I felt this movie also had a unique feature in Mohanlal's portrayal as a friend of Rajan. Not a friend who bird-watches with him or plans revenge plots. A character who expresses his love for a friend and of life. A friend who later chides him on leaving Ammukutty and questions on his morality.



Overall the movie is a drama which shows the state of thinking in a family. As it is with most, the husband expects a wife to perform and live in a certain way. Whether she is a good wife or a good mother is without meaning, if she is too ambitious. That she should be sacrificing and selfless is a norm to be accepted by most women is the message of the movie. How acceptable is the story in today's changing world maybe debatable. Nevertheless, Aalkkoottathil Thaniye was one of the few movies of that time where a woman protagonist is essayed in a strong, independent way rather than a crying, hollering, helpless waif.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Arth

Shabana Azmi vs Smitha Patil. Passionate vs Sharp. Luminous vs Astute.

If ever you wanted to make synonyms of Arth movie, then the above words should suffuse. So much so that I still have to remind myself Khulbhushan Kharbanda was there too.



A story about betrayal is not just what Arth is. After Inder(Kharbanda) leaves Pooja (Shabana) for Kavita (Smitha), the story, according to me, starts then. Prisoned in loneliness and penalised with the struggle to survive, Pooja is like a hungry,desolate little girl. After having her home snatched away from her, one which she furnished like a mother dresses up her toddler, the acceptance of life in paying guest is not easy for her. Her independance, grit and dissent blossoms.



It's not that she was pampered in a rich luxurious home, its the confusion of this sad,new reality that is heart-touching.
It's brave to have a character portray an emotion which is much less obvious than what the viewer assumes - in this case, Pooja should have been angry or heart broken about betrayal,but she is more confused and disillusioned about her new environment, heart broken about a lack of a house of her own, always having been an orphan.



Kavita has totally different tangents on which she flies. She is wanton, innocent and dominating all at the same time. She rules her lover both with her physical want and her loneliness. Smitha could have let Kavitha be just a bed-magic but being such a deep actor she didn't leave it at that. Her role is strentghened by emotional, childlike qualities too. A role with intensity and Smitha played it well.



Raj Kiran is winsome as the happy friend of Pooja and even more when she politely declines his love for her. No walking sadly with a jhola and singing songs of unattainable love. No speech on sacrifice either. This dude is happy enough to understand her need for freedom and respects her decision.



Arth is a seesaw of remarkable acting between Azmi and Patil.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Gharonda 1977

A movie which should be actually a documentary on Mumbai's housing problems. As a story about a couple in love and planning their life together, its like an everyday picture of Mumbai's lower and middle-class folks. All of the maximum city is the Sudeeps and the Chhayas, the house plans visible on their foreheads as the wrinkles.



Sudeep and Chhaya, played by Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahab are in love and their sweet-nothings are about their dream house and the chatter is about rent negotiations. But after a hasty decision of dealing with a fraud, the foundations start cracking. Sudeep becomes disillusioned and in a hasty moment tells Chhaya to get married to their aging heart-patient boss who already likes her. His frustrated,naive,but not cunning mind says once the boss dies,the inherited money by her will solve a lot of problems. Unfortunately, Chhaya,also wounded,both in heart and self-respect,does so.



However, Chhaya knows her duty  and takes care of her husband. Collectively through their love and humanity, they are able to convey to Sudeep the futility of trying to pursue success through shady bends in the road.

Beautiful songs and a story which will keep your heart on the edge. A tale of relationships, big city living, responsibilites not just towards family but to one's conscience.

Directed by Bhimsain Khurana. Written and screenplay by Gulzar.



Saturday, April 18, 2015

10 things I like about Ennum Eppozhum

1. Mohanlal not acting like a one-man-show. I'm happy also that two women also get meaty roles in this movie. Ok Reenu Mathews doesn't get as much beef,but still plays the snazzy boss to Lal well. (hey, we Keralites love beef ok so quit judging me on the cholesterol levels of this sentence)



2. Manju Warrier's down-to-earth acting. No tears (they must have given all the glycerin to the Asianet serial ladies), no preaching, no silliness and no Oh-my-gawd-its-Lalettan looks.




3. Actor Innocent. Director Anthikad's pillar or man Friday I guess. There's no movie of his where Innocent hasnt acted in.




4. Actor Lena. The spunk her character brings to the movie and the cute schoolboy-schoolgirl fights which she and Lal has.




5. Lack of focus on the past of both the lead characters and concentrating on the present. No flashbacks. Simple straightforward story.


6. Jacob Gregory :) The Akkara Kazhachgal and ABCD actor. Has his own brand of comic sense.



7. The cinematography.


8. The housing colony where she lives. Simple,small,cozy but spacious homes. Far cry from the Gelf-returned money's circus palaces which are usually shown in Malayalam movies. I hate big houses and I cannot lie.




9. This is for the ladies. Manju's costumes. The vibrant designs, the ease with which she wears westerns and the trimmed figure showcases subtlety and grace. Also note, NO sari with jasmine flowers and gold exhibition. (that's national award winning point!) Everytime I saw her in those fresh colorful kurtas, I almost had a complex about my wardrobe,even though I was miles away from my Lifestyle and Westside Rs.499 sale ones(shhhh!) and in a dark theatre.



10. The hope that corporate India will also someday have facility of bath and towel-drying for employees just like Lal had in his office!