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Music has of course always been integral to Hindi movies, and several great singers have lent their voices to stars on the silver screen….this is a list of my personal favorites from the period 1950-2000.  Hence singers like KL Saigal and Pankaj Mullick who had their prime before that do not make the cut – nor do newer singers, most notably Shaan, from more recent movies.

Also, for me, a solitary classic trumps a career filled with many, but mediocre, songs – hence volume of songs sung is not a determinant of how highly I rate these singers.

Finally, this is my list – so am sure there will be disagreements. The list is in order – and I have tried and picked my favorite song, whether solo or duet, sung by this singer.

1.Kishore Kumar – The greatest ever.  Kishore had the ability to transform mediocre tunes and forgettable lyrics into classics with his voice and rendition, and is the voice indelibly linked to three of the greatest superstars in Hindi filmdom ever, Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan.  My personal favorite song by Kishore is however, the title song from Jhumroo.  I have seen brilliant singers struggle to pull off covers of this at live events, with the sheer effort leaving them perspiring no end.

2. Hemant Kumar – Like Kishore, Hemant was also a great music director.  His rich mellifluous voice had a soothing, lilting quality that has rendered the many songs he sang to be truly timeless ones.  However, my personal favorite of his is a duet with the late great Geeta Dutt to Mukul Roy’s music in Detective….Mujhko Tum Jo Mile

3. Talat Mahmood – I was introduced to this great singer’s songs by my mother growing up.  His songs have grown on me, his ghazals are a thing unto themselves and the many songs he sang live on.  My favorite is his great song from Taxi Driver to SD Burman’s music…Jaaye to jaaye kahaan… .

4. Manna Dey – that Manna Dey ranks 4th on this list is a tribute to the great singers who have lent their voices to Hindi movies.  It was his luck that somehow he got identified as a singer of classical/difficult songs….but the songs that he did get, he rendered them so well that he ranks high on any true fan’s list of leading male Hindi vocalists.  This song from Anubhav is so typical of Manna Dey’s singing.  Understated, lyrical and so aptly suited for the scene the song was being used in….Phir Kahin Koi Phool Khila

5. Yesudas – in a relatively brief career in Hindi movies, this great singer from Kerala left his stamp as a classically trained and versatile vocalist in the Manna Dey lineage. The song that truly stands out to me is the haunting one from Sadma, with Kamalhaasan and Sridevi living out Surmayee Ankhiyon Mein Nanha Munna Ek Sapna De Ja Re

6. SP Balasubramaniam – unlike Yesudas, this doyen of south Indian movies could not totally mask his Telugu accent.  But despite that, he was the voice behind many of the most successful songs and movies of the 1980s and 1990s.  My personal favorite song is his beautiful duet with Asha in Saagar, with Dimple looking stunning and Kamalhaasan showing his acting and dancing skills in ample measure….O Maria

7. Jagjit Singh…Talat Mahmood was the king of ghazals, but it was Jagjit Singh who made them truly accessible to the common man with the simplicity of the lyrics he picked for the songs he sang, usually scoring the lilting music as well.  A great example is his romantic classic from Saath Saath with Chitra Singh – Tumko Dekha to yeh Khayaal Aaya

8. Mohammed Rafi – I so loved Rafi’s early songs, especially in the 1950s when he sang so many beautiful duets with Geeta Dutt, and then later some of his great songs for OP Nayyar and SD Burman.  For this list, I am going back to my favorite Rafi number ever, the greatest ever romantic duet in Hindi movies which he sang with Geeta for Pyaasa…Hum aapki ankhon mein is dil ko basa de toh, Hum moond ke palkon ko is dil ko sazaa de toh….

9. Mukesh – so many great songs from this singer, the voice of Raj Kapoor.  My personal favorite however, is his duet with the one and only Sudha Malhotra.  Only Mukesh, singing for Sunil Dutt,  could have played second fiddle to such a mesmerizing talent as Sudha. joining only towards the end of the song,  and yet truly leave his unique imprint on the tune. In Didi to N Dutta’s music – Tum Mujhe Bhool Bhi Jao to Yeh Haq Hai Tumko, Meri Baat Aur Hai Maine to Mohabbat Ki Hai..

10. Amit Kumar – one of my personal favorites is this underrate singer.  He is the only one ever who could do justice to the Kishore Kumar style of music and yet he never got his due…..maybe if Kumar Gaurav had more success, Amit Kumar could have had a longer run (like Udit Narayan thanks to Aamir Khan’s success).  Still Amit’s songs stand out like this duet with Asha Bhosle from Love Story…Yeh Ladki Zarasi Diwani Lagti hai….

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

  • Abhijeet
  • Kumar Sanu
  • RD Burman
  • Chitalkar
  • Shailendra Singh
  • Mahendra Kapoor
  • Shaan
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One can understand the exuberance of Vishal Bharadwaj and the ones who (mis)managed the publicity for Omkara that caused them to play up the Othello angle.

Mismanaged because by simply calling Omkara an adaptation of Othello, they are doing a great disservice to the multi-talented Mr Bharadwaj. Yes, it is a great juxtaposition of that great Shakespearean tragedy into the rough and tumble of politics in Western UP. One appreciates the cleverness of the character names – so that Othello becomes Omkara, Desdemona transforms into Dolly and so on.

But what this over-emphasis on Othello does is to totally undersell the ability of a great director to interweave every possible element of a masala Hindi movie into a gripping, blink-and-you-miss-something narrative. The music (by Vishal Bharadwaj himself) is epic in its own right, and Gulzar’s lyrics are brilliant as always. The dark light effects, the sweeping panoramas, and the mercilessly coarse and blistering dialogues all contribute to the making of one of the great Hindi movies of our generation. Bipasha Basu’s beautiful cameo with Beedi Jalaile ranks along with Aishwarya Rai’s Kajra Re from Bunty aur Babli and Rekha’s Kaisi Paheli Zindagani (Parineeta) as one of the great “item numbers” in Hindi movies.

Kareena Kapoor is adequate as Dolly, Viveik Oberoi looks his part (though his histrionic limitations come forth in the more dramatic scenes, of which there are many), but the 3 I would pay to see again and again are Ajay Devgun as Omkara (and to think that the first time I went to see a movie starring this worthy – Jigar – I actually walked out 45 minutes into the film), Saif Ali Khan in the much-appreciated role of Langda Tyagi and Konkona Sen Sharma as Indu Tyagi.

Superb movie – and not surprisingly not a great success at the Box Office. I am sure in the years to come, like Guru Dutt’s Kagaz Ke Phool, Omkara will be pulled up for reference as one of the great movies in Bollywood history.

Over the past 3-4 weeks, I ended up seeing 4 Hindi movies from 2006 that really shook me out of my ennui in their own unique ways and left me appreciating one of the most wonderful year’s in Bollywood cinema.

One Rang De Basanti would have sufficed to make 2006 memorable, the year saw other movies vie for the sublime – Omkara, Dor, Lage Raho Munnabhai and Gangster are the 4 I have had the pleasure of viewing thus far – and I have not even seen the big box office grossers such as Fanaa, Krrish and Dhoom 2 nor other acclaimed ones like Khosla Ka Ghosla and Pyar Ke Side Effects.

Nagesh Kukunoor’s journey into the Hindi film industry is itself worth a movie one day. How many of us engineers had the courage of conviction, and the passion, to chuck it all and get back to following one’s heart. Where Nagesh Kukunoor’s heart has taken him is to the very apex of Hindi filmdom. I always thought having Subhash Ghai produce a movie (Iqbal) would be difficult to top. I liked Iqbal a lot, as much as I have liked every movie made by Nagesh from his first Hyderabad Blues. “Dor” is something in a league of its own. A must-watch movie if ever there was one.

The three central characters, Gul Panag, Ayesha Takia and Shreyas Talpade, have together delivered one of the most plausible, lilting and uplifting human dramas in Indian cinemas since Ketan Mehta’s Bhavni Bhavai (with the likes of Naseeruddin Shah and Smita Patil in key roles!). Not once does Dor degenerate into the maudlin, and not once does the cerebral director ever let his intellect come in the way of a simple and straightforward narrative.

Girish Karnad as Ayesha’s decadent father-in-law is a classic case where the director could have been tempted to put more meat into a character. By leaving this under-developed, the focus stays squarely on the interplay of emotions and attitudes between Ayesha and Gul Panag. The story of “Dor” is that of these two young women, diametrically opposite in temperament, upbringing and experience, joined together by sheer destiny. In their very tragedy is the triumph of human spirit and attitude. Gul’s stately and measured approach to life is brought to its knees when confronted with the otherwise demure and waif-like Ayesha’s unexpected intransigence.

Salim-Sulaiman’s outstanding music, Shreyas Talpade brilliant cameo as the bahuroopiya who takes Gul Panag to her destination, and everything else fades into the background as the riveting evolution of the personalities of Ayesha’s Meera and Gul’s Zeenat occupies centerstage in this outstanding movie from one of the great years in Hindi Cinema.

I doubt whether we will ever see better performances from either Ms Takia or Ms Panag than this. I hope I am wrong though – there is so much inner steel in the petite Ayesha Takia’s histrionic ability that she could easily emerge as the Shabana Azmi of this generation of actresses. Likewise, I cannot think of too many contemporary actressses who could have essayed the character of Zeenat without giving in to the temptation to overact – that she could do so in what is only her second movie to date is a real tribute to Gul Panag.

Above all, this marks the high-point in the continuing evolution of Nagesh Kukunoor, the film-maker. He has stayed true to his intellectual roots by not sacrificing the plausible at the altar of expedience. Can’t wait to see what he has up his sleeves for 2007!

and the comments/discussion…

Aruna said…
I am so glad u liked this movie! Could manage to see it only on my flight back from London and i loved it…Ayesha Takia was a revelation wasnt she?!! Every bit of that movie was fantastic…But there was one thing in this post of yours that i kind of dont agree with…rang de basanti making 2006 memorable. no doubt it was refreshing movie, full of fresh energy and vigour…i couldnt kind of bring myself to accepting that the youth of today have no option but to take to violence to get their message across… somehow i couldnt digest that even though it was only a movie!!

11:29 AM

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Anonymous said…
Lage Raho!I’m quite a movie buff and enjoy movies of various genres, be it drama, comedy, action, romance…the comedy lot is much more enjoyable than the rest! Chupke Chupke, Gol Maal, Angoor, Padosan are memorable hindi comedies ever made. Rarely though have I come across a movie that left me with a ‘WOW!’ feeling. ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’ is one such movie that is going to remain on the top of my ‘WOW!’ list for some time to come.

There are good movies and bad movies. Hilarious. Thought-provoking. Fun. Sad. Terrible. All sorts of adjectives are possible. My top-of-mind adjectives for LRMB are: Extraordinary and brilliant! Extraordinary because of the sheer enjoyment and entertainment that the movie provides. And brilliant, because I’ve never seen a better balancing act of comedy and a serious social message. This movie touches the Gandhi ideology without even one hurting slang!! Even the first Munna Bhai got too serious and tragic in parts – you felt like skipping those bits during the second or third watch. But in this one – you just can’t miss any of it…. again and again!!

The feel-good element in the Munna Bhai movies is so strong precisely because none of its characters are ever bad; they have flaws but are never evil. Boman Irani’s Lucky Singh is a conniving builder, but is ultimately a doting father to Simran. Boman Irani, having less to do here than he did as Dr. Asthana in Munna Bhai M.B.B.S., is terrific yet again. He slips easily into his Punjabi character and displays peculiar ticks that are a treat to watch. The other actor from the original making reappearance is Jimmy Shergill who is just as earnest as he was in the previous. One hopes that he’s written a meatier part in the third installment. Various other supporting actors come back in different avatars, and fans of the first will have a good time identifying them. Of the newer lot, Dilip Prabhavalkar makes the most of his role and gives us a Gandhi that we have never witnessed before. Those familiar with this Marathi theatre stalwart’s work know that his supreme asset is becoming the character he plays without falling back on reference points. Dilip does exactly that with his portrayal of Gandhi. His Gandhi is not a cheap impersonation of Ben Kingsley, or a mimic of the several other Gandhi acts that we have witnessed. Dilip plays Gandhi in his own style, and in doing so creates an authentic one. In addition to working on his body language, he has also put in an effort into talking like Gandhi. Kudos to the make-up artist (Vidyadhar Bhatte) who against convention chooses to present Gandhi the way he was, and not as we have been led to believe. Vidya Balan as the love-interest has little to do, but she does well with what she has. Special mention must be made of Vidya’s voice-modulation; she truly sounds like an RJ. Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Saurabh Shukla and Parikishit Sahni turn up in supporting roles. Abhishek Bachchan makes a cameo appearance too!
This movie prompted a long-winded discussion among some friends and then the whole of India about the man himself – the Mahatma, Bapu, Gandhiji. Was the man great, or were his ideals? Was he right because history worked to his advantage, or was he right irrespective of the outcome? Are his values relevant today? Or, his macro-economical vision for the nation, for that matter? In the same situation today, would what he did back then work? Well, it’s a matter of debate with no real black-and-white answer.

One of the thoughts that came to my mind during this conversation regarding his approach: He advocated sticking to one’s stance without resorting to violence. I feel that the greatness of this idea is in its contradiction to the two most natural and instinctive human reactions – fight or flee. He preached a third path – simple, but difficult and requiring great strength and resilience.
Look forward to more of such “Wow” movies…

To sign off with a quote from the man himself:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win
– MKG

7:41 AM

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Music is one of the great unifiers – and dividers. It appeals to something so deep within us that it is difficult to rationalize and understand the why of a choice. It is as personal a choice that people make as any.

For as long as I can recollect, I have been an avid fan of the late great Geeta Dutt. Don’t get me wrong, I love listening to Lata (esp to the music of Madan Mohan or RDB), there are Asha Bhosle songs I can hear again and again, a few memorable songs from the likes of Aarti Mukherjee, Noor Jehan, Mubarak Begum, Shreya Ghoshal and even Alka Yagnik. But with the possible honorable exception of Kishore Kumar, there is no other singer in any language or style I would rather listen to than the former Miss Geeta Roy.

Whether it be her solos or her duets, her great tragic songs and her scintillating ones in a lighter vein, whether she was singing for SD Burman, Madan Mohan, OP Nayyar or Kanu Roy, there is a magic and a pathos in her singing that is unmatched.

She had her first great hit at the tender age of 17 singing “Mera Sundar Sapna Beet Gaya” for SD Burman in “Do Bhai” (1947). It is a tribute to both the music director and the singer that nearly 60 years thereafter the song still stands out as one of the all-time great tragic songs of Indian cinema. In a sense Geeta Dutt got typecast as the singing version of Meena Kumari, as a tragedienne supreme, and why not – only one singer in the history of Hindi cinema could have done justice to songs like “Waqt Ne Kiya, Kya Haseen Sitam” or “Jaane Kya Tune Kahi” and SDB knew it all along!

Yet, it is her lighter vein tunes that are as memorable – and probably greater in number and diversity. The great duets with Mohd Rafi in particular – ranging from “Jaane Kahan Jigar Gaya Ji” to “Udhar Tum Haseen Hon, Idhar Dil Jawaan Hai” and the great pseudo-duet “Aankhon Hi Aankhon Mein Ishara Ho Gaya” (where Rafi sings only the initial two lines of the mukhda and the rest of the song is all Geeta – wonderful juxtaposition of two gifted voices by OP Nayyar!) stand out. And of course the song that is for me is perhaps the pre-eminent romantic song in Hindi cinema, the unmatched “Hum Aap Ki Aankhon Mein” from Pyaasa.

One can never forget the lilting Madan Mohan number, “Ae Dil Mujhe Bata De”, or that quintessential lullaby “…Nanhi Kali Sone Chali, Hawa Dheere Aana” which has probably been sung by more Hindi-film music loving Indian moms (and Dads!) than any other.

Geeta made the monsoons come alive with “Rim Jhim Ke Taraane”, cool summer nights with “Thandi Hawa Kali Ghata…”, sang one of THE original item numbers with “Mera Naam Chin Chin Choo”, the soothing “Chale Hum Kahan..” with Hemant Kumar, and that wonderful song from Detective “Do Chamakti Aankhon Mein”…

She died shockingly early in 1972. However, her swan song was one for the ages, matched only about 20+ years later by RD Burman’s exit with “1942 – A Love Story”. The songs for the Basu Bhattacharyya’s Sanjeev-Tanuja starrer “Anubhav” had been scored by the relatively unsung great Music Director Kanu Roy – and one cannot imagine any other singer even attempting to sing and do any justice to “Meri Jaan Mujhe Jaa Na Kaho…”, “Mera Dil Jo Mera Hota…” or “Koi Chupke Se Aake” from Anubhav.

My Top-10 Geeta Dutt songs are:

1. “Waqt Ne Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam”
2. “Hum Aap Ki Aankhon Mein” with Rafi
3. “Meri Jaan Mujhe Jaa Na Kaho”
4. “Hawa Dheere Aana”
5. “Thandi Hawaaon Mein” with Talat
6. “Tum Jo Huey Mere Humsafar” with Rafi
7. “Mujhko Tum Jo Mile” with Hemant Kumar
8. “Koi Chupke Se Aake”
9. “Yeh Lo Main Haari Piya”
10. “Jaane Kya Tune Kahi”

Very very honorable mention – “Aankh Milane Ke Liye”!

Geeta Dutt came in with the advent of the golden age of Hindi film music – and with her passing away in 1972, the era came to an end. Her music lives on, a reminder of a bygone era and a troubled soul who still rose above her personal tragedy to regale and entertain generations to come.

….comments…

Anonymous said…
Geeta Dutt did some ad jingles too, do you’ve them or any knowledge about it?
I also want to know about her stage shows, which she did in her later years for survival!

12:47 AM

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Buck said…
I have always tried to block out the personal tragedy that Geeta Dutt lived through and focus on her music – but I guess it is difficult to separate the two!I have read that Geeta did some jingles for some soaps (Hamaam and Rexona, I believe) – with the music by Salil Chowdhury so they must have been pretty good. However, I have no personal recollection of those jingles.

Re stage shows, I have heard she used to perform at Durga Puja events and do other stage shows in the tail end of her short life…sometimes I wish Anubhav had been made about 5-6 years earlier and it might have given her the new lease on life post-Guru Dutt.

11:39 AM

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I think in the normal course, I would have faulted this flick mercilessly.

But as it emerged, as the first movie that my wife and I saw in a cinema hall in over 7 years without any little ones to care for, this one escapes.

Plus it is tough to totally pan a movie featuring a standout performance by Abhishek Bachchan, who is quickly emerging as the gold-standard for the post-Khans generation of Bollywood heart-throbs, a phenomenal cameo by Amitabh (difficult to believe he played this high energy role so soon after recovery from the latest ailments), Preity Zinta really living her role and to perfection, and music for the ages from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy…

What detracts from the movie are slipshod editing, a weak story line that leaves too many characters inadequately etched, lazy direction from Karan Johar that results in needlessly abrupt dialogues and interventions, shockingly unconvincing performances by Rani Mukherjee who sleepwalks through her (admittedly poorly crafted) role and Shahrukh Khan, who comes through only in patches….

…if nothing else, this movie shall mark the formal passing of the baton from King Khan to the jr Bachchan, in the same way that exactly 30 years back, Sholay saw the baton of the numero uno star in Bollywood transition from the so-called hero of the movie, Dharmendra, to the one who stole the hearts…Bachchan Senior.

…there are enough arresting scenes and sequences in this 3-hours-plus opus to ensure that Karan Johar recovers his investment and more. It is also a much better movie than the disastrous Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam. Karan’s continuing love-affair with New York City comes through in his wonderful picture compositions across the East River – he captured all seasons and Fall in particular is spectacular. I had a tough time picking my favorite song – Mitva, the title number, and the two party songs featuring the Bachchans are all superb.

…it has been rumored that King Khan is not very happy with the attention that Karan Johar accorded Abhishek…hopefully Shahrukh realizes that he has had a worthy run as the second (and thankfully improved) coming of Dilip Kumar, and that all good things must end….

…and the comments when first published….

Jaunty Quicksand said…
I have not seen this movie and probably will not. I think KKKG did it for me as far as Karan Johan was concerned, with Kal Ho Na Ho striking the last nail in the coffin.Instead I would recommend – Samay – a Sushmita Sen movie which is surprisingly slick and engrossing. (The ending is “inspired” but there is more than enough meat in the story itself to forgive this fact).

10:03 AM

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Anonymous said…
Did you watch the same movie I did???? What *I* saw was a poorly crafted movie with a wafer thin plot, needless (and pointless) characters and eminently forgettable music (except for Mitwaa).I do agree with you, though, that Abhishek is shaping up to be a *really* good actor.

Rupa

1:45 AM

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Buck said…
RupaI think we saw the same movie – except for our diametrically opposite opinions on S-E-L’s music, we are on the same page!

I think the desire to be sensational got the better of Mr Johar and the end result reflects the lack of quality in the screenplay and direction.

4:25 AM

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…For a movie to put a critically acclaimed one like Parineeta in the shade, the bar has to be set pretty high.

In fact, but for the obsession award-givers have with melodrama and seriousness, this “great” movie from 2005 should have given quite a run at the awards as well to the supposedly more appreciated “Parineeta” and “Black”.

“Bunty Aur Babli” is one of those once-in-a-lifetime perfect movies that does not stop to meander at all, that does not give into the temptation to pull in the maudlin though it has no (or minimal) relevance to the core theme.

An amazingly well-made crime caper, with nary a false-step (unless one wants to dwell on the unimportant fact that the action almost never reaches Mumbai though it professes to do so), Shaad Ali Saigal has authored a brilliant offering on the heels of his earlier highly appreciated “Saathiya”.

Bunty Aur Babli is thoroughly irreverential, features two of the most versatile stars in contemporary Indian cinema – Abhishek and Rani – who have acquired an almost chameleoning ability to inhabit the characters they play, wonderful music that blends in so wonderfully into the whole (another outstanding score from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and totally apt lyrics from the RD Burman of lyricists – the one and only Gulzar!), great cameos by stars of yesteryear and in particular, superb use of Aishwarya and Amitabh, and borrows liberally from great ideas from impostors and con-men the world over and weaves them into the Indian context.

More on the music. “Kajra Re” has been written about extensively (and deservedly so – Alisha Chinai did full justice to the song) but I like so many of the rest too (Sonu Nigam and Mahalaxmi Iyer’s “Chup Chup Ke” is delightful, so is “Dhadak Dhadak” sung by one of my perennial favorites Udit Narayan in consort with the uniquely gifted Sunidhi Chauhan, and Sukhwinder Singh and Jaspinder Narula showcase their talent yet again in the title number co-sung by Shankar Mahadevan) that this has quickly risen into my must-own-CD collection (along with Dhoom, Hum Tum, Dil Chahta Hai, Parineeta, Taal, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam,…)

(BTW, have not the last 5 years been one of the most productive ever for fans of Hindi film music in terms of range of selections, quality of songs – lyrics and music, new voices coming up, et al; but this is subject for another post!)

The wondrous part of Bunty Aur Babli is that even the negatives seem to become a positive. For example, after a long time, Rani Mukherjee seems chubby (to put it kindly, especially when she dances around in black hotpants). Yet my wife and I could not agree on whether it was a case of her letting her fitness get away from her, or it was a case of a dedicated actress putting on flab to live the role as a small-town Babli making it good!!! BTW, Abhishek Bachchan is perfect – he lives the role, I could NOT find a flaw in his performance, he lives every disguise and act he puts on, and his body of work (Yuva, Dhoom, Bunty Aur Babli, the cameo in Hum Tum, the supposedly outstanding performance in Sarkar, and more) already puts him on track to match his fathers opus.

Superb movie – this “Bunty Aur Babli”, I will see it again and again; it merits dissection and analysis like a “Sholay” or a “Mr & Mrs 55”

So much so that Bunty and Babli have made it into the common folklore as symbols of the ambitious small town Indian youth…see it to experience it!

and the helpful commentary…

Jaunty Quicksand said…
In the movie, the goal of making enough money to go to Bombay is nothing but a MacGuffin. Simply put, it is an element in the plot that provides an impetus/rationale for the characters to behave the way they do. (For instance, the Ring is the Macguffin in the Tolkein series. It just drives the plot, while itself does not “participate” in the story).I got to see B&B and enjoyed it a lot. Also check out “Sarkar”. If you think you are going to watch a retread of “Godfather” you are in for a surprise. Yes, many elements are similar (and “inspired by the original”), but RGV has his own spin on it and populates his ovies with a good cast of actors. And his habit of using as few words as possible to get a point across is such a contrast to the bombastic scenes of most other movies that it in itself is enough motivation to raise the viewers impression of the movie. I saw it again on Friday and enjoyed it. I also saw “Zanjeer” on Saturday and the similarities between Amitabh’s acting in that and Abhishek’s in “Sarkar” are so uncanny you’d think the two guys were related or something!!

10:47 AM

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Aruna said…
i would recommend ‘Iqbal’ as well from the 2005 releases. A poignant movie about dreams and fantasies of the lesser privileged.

11:46 PM

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Buck said…
Thanks for the suggestion – “Iqbal” it is for the next one we shall watch – though “No Entry” is also in contention as the biggest box office success last year.

2:33 PM

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Over the past month or so, we have seen more movies than we saw in the year before that.

We saw “Rang De Basanti” in a theatre and liked it a lot.

Then we decided to get caught up on the 2005 Hindi movies that we had not seen. We have seen two thus far, were delighted with one while the other was a slight let-down.

Let me start with the “let-down” first. Perhaps if we had seen this first, we might have enjoyed it. But we did not and the other one so enthralled us that “Parineeta” was perhaps doomed from the very beginning.

Having a wondrous and simple beauty as the heroine, one of the most improved dramatic actors as the hero, and a wonderful sound-track from Shantanu Moitra that has dominated the airwaves for over 10 months now (at least), it was but obvious that our expectations were sky high.

I have not read Sarat Chandra’s story so am not sure if the problem is with the original or with the way in which Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Pradeep Sarkar have interpreted it in the screenplay. But the movie begins well and has several lulls that are frustrating.

The worst sequence is the one where a (hopelessly mis-cast and ugly) Sunjay Dutt is bragging about how he became a steel magnate. It really challenges one’s intelligence to think that his sister, who has been gushing over his desire to eat her “hand-made” cake has not told the rest about his life story. It was set in the 1960s so it is possible (though improbable) that this beloved and wildly successful brothers pictures were not available to share with his doting sisters and their “like-family” neighbours. But by making him narrate his own life’s story, it makes the Sunjay Dutt character singularly self-obsessed and arrogant, and contrasts dramatically with what emerges later.

Equally bad is the inadequate direction given to the beautiful Vidya Balan on how to balance laughter with tears. The best example of this is of course Kamalahaasan in Ramesh Sippy’s “Saagar”. But otherwise, it is best to avoid such sequences entirely – the inexperience of Pradeep Sarkar as a movie director shows through here.

And the end was so melodramatic, with the scrawny Shekhar (Saif Ali Khan) suddenly seeming strong and breaking open the wall between his house and Lolita (Vidya Balan) – even though it was plausible that she would have left for the airport before he got through with his efforts.

Great music, a haunting performance from Saif Ali Khan, a beautiful new heroine, excellent supporting cast (other than the aforementioned and aging Mr Dutt), great sets and wonderful recreation of th 1960s era Calcutta, brilliant photography, a director with a brilliant feel for visuals, Rekha in one of the most dignified and stately “item numbers” since her own “Salaam-e-Ishq” way back when, a star turn by using Amitabh Bachchan as the sutradhar providing the voice-over, all of it has gone into making an above-average movie (and not the great one it could have been) because the debutante director did not know where to draw the line on the maudlin.

Thankfully, we still had memories of the great movie to fall back upon…will dwell upon that in a separate post.

Comments when first published included:

Aruna said…
hey! for starters nice to see a posting from you after a while….or i have not been peeping in that often :-((liked your review. yes i didnt like the movie that much as well but i thought the biggest pull for this movie was the music. i just loved it. Secondly, vidya balan is a beauty that comes once in zillion years! (yes! i am grinning from ear to ear – she is a TAMBRAM!!)

Pardeep Sarkar (must be over 50 now!) has spent all these making ad films and i guess Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s touch has not rubbed off on him that much!!

waiting to read ur review on RDB!

1:42 PM

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Jaunty Quicksand said…
I think “RDB” would count as a 2006 release, wouldn’t it?Haven’t seen it, but have been told by some very good friends that it is a must-watch (including a Chennai-born friend who does not know Hindi but he follows along enough to keep up and understand what is being said).

10:50 AM

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…I have heard Rishi Kapoor refer to having launched the careers of 20+ heroines in Bollywood…been struggling to compile a listing of these young ladies. Here is what I have come up with –

  1. Dimple Kapadia – Bobby
  2. Ranjeeta – Laila Majnu
  3. Shoma Anand – Barood
  4. Kajal Kiron – Hum Kisise Kam Nahin
  5. Bhavana Bhatt – Naya Daur – not really this sometime starlet’s first movie but perhaps her only significant one
  6. Jaya Prada – Hindi entry through Sargam
  7. Kim – Naseeb (again benefit of doubt)
  8. Padmini Kolhapure – Zamaane Ko Dikhaana Hai (again benefit of doubt, Ahista Ahista would probably qualify as the former child artiste’s first movie as a leading lady)
  9. Radhika – Naseeb Apna Apna
  10. Sonam – Vijay (a bit of a stretch considering the multi-starrer Vijay but let’s grant it for now)
  11. Vinita Goel (Janam Janam)
  12. Sangita Bijlani (Hathyar – just preceded the more famous Tridev)
  13. Zeba Bakhtiar (Henna)
  14. Rukhsar (Inteha Pyar Ki, technically her second Hindi Movie as heroine)

Anyway, perhaps even 14 is not a bad number in a day and age where stars prefer the safe way out and work with other established names only. I am sure there are several I have missed – do let me know of the other neophyte heroines that Rishi Kapoor has co-starred with.

and some comments from the days when this was first posted…:

Jaunty Quicksand said…
I could not think of any more. But, depending upon your criteria, there are a couple of contenders.
1. Ashwini Bhave – Henna (she was the 2nd lead, but it was her first movie)
2. Divya Bharati – Deewana (it was released the same year as some of her other movies, but I cannot recall whether it was her first release).By the way, Salman Khan is half-way to Rishi Kapoor’s mark.
1. Bhagyashree (Maine Pyar Kiya)
2. Nagma (Baaghi)
3. Raveena Tandon (Patthar Ke Phool)
4. Chandni (Sanam Bewafa)
5. Revathi (Love)
6. Bhoomika Chawla (Tere Naam)
7. Sneha Ullal (Lucky)

3:02 PM

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Aruna said…
wow! thats an impressive list! cant think of any more…. but will try and crack those 6 more….btw, got to your blog from a link on my friend Manish’s blog.

1:23 AM

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Buck said…
..good point – about Salman Khan, he definitely seems to be taking mighty strides in the Shammi Kapoor/Rishi Kapoor footsteps…I like Patthar Ke Phool a lot – personally think that the “Kabhi Tu Chhaliya Lagta Hai” number is a significant improvement on almost any other movie name medley other than the original one of course (Mere Jiwan Saathi Pyar Kiye Jaa from Ek Duuje Ke Liye)

…across a broad spectrum of life, there is a group of celebrities who have, often very quietly, turned 40 over the past 12-15 months.

Stefan Edberg, the gentleman Swede who captivated a whole generation with his outstanding battles with Boris Becker, turned 40 in typical relative anonymity in Jan 2006. He espouses the best of great champions – they know how to win, they know how to win with grace, they live life by their own lofty standards, and when they feel those standards cannot be sustained they go away…very few sports personalities have shown this ability to know themselves and their limitations as well. I have fond memories of the epic come-back at Wimbledon in the summer of 88 against the mysterious and vastly under-appreciated Miroslav Mecir – that to me is a game for the ages… I still remember the impudent Michael Chang upsetting Edberg’s rhythm at Roland Garros by standing inside the baseline for his FIRST serve and costing Stefan the opportunity to win the one grand-slam tourney he never won…

…very different in upbringing and polish, very different in terms of social milieu and comfort in the limelight was Scottie Pippen. More misunderstood than appreciated, Pippen for numerous fans of the NBA from the late 80s through the early 2000s represented the quintessential team basketball player. While showing an ability to light up the scorecard, Scottie is best remembered for the times he did not do anything statistically and yet changed the outcome of games and playoff series. Who can forget the defensive job he did on Indiana’s Mark Jackson taking the point guard out of the game entirely with his swarming defense and leaving the potent offense in shambles…. the series of charges he took from Karl Malone as he proved that he could defend all 5 positions on the court (of course having Greg Ostertag at Center helped!) in the two NBA Finals series against Utah. His occasional blog on espn.com is remarkable for its candor and honesty – hopefully he will find a way to get back and involved in the game of basketball again. The NBA could use grassroots champions like him to sustain the game as it becomes increasingly elitist…

…JK Rowling turned 40 in July 2005… again a champion like Pippen who goes to show that where there is a will, there is definitely a way… how else can one explain the metamorphosis of a single-mother on welfare creating one of the most significant alternate worlds since the heyday of Tolkien…

For fans of Bollywood, Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan all turned 40 over the course of 1965… amazing coincidence this.

And some appropriate comments from when this was first posted:

 

Jaunty Quicksand said…
Stefan Edberg is also the only person to have won the Grand Slam as a junior. For me his most impressive feat was winning the US Open (in ’92?) in spite of trailing by a break in the 5th set in three consecutive matches (I think it was the year he beat Pete Sampras in the finals).A true measure of the guy is that he won the ATP sportsmanship award so many times, it is now officially known as the Edberg Sportsmanship Award.

By the way, he also won the gold when tennis was a demonstration sport in 1984 and two bronzes in 1988.

3:15 PM

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Jaunty Quicksand said…
Steve and Mark Waugh – June 2 1965.

2:07 AM

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Buck said…
..the Waughs indeed..read that AR Rehman is pushing 40, not there yet!

5:54 PM

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Aruna said…
how about vishwanathan anand? should be close to 40 as well i guess….not sure…..

12:49 PM

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Buck said…
I know he is younger than 40 – Dibyendu Barua is in the turning 40 generation, and Anand is 3-4 years younger.