You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘India’ category.

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

Delete

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

Delete

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

Delete

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

Delete

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

Delete

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

Delete

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

Delete

…to open this discussion, a disclaimer.

This opinion is mine, formed through various conversations, reading and also first-person observations….the bulk of my first-person observation has been in Bangalore, though Hyderabad, Gurgaon/Delhi and Pune and Mumbai (to a lesser extent) also figure…

…the reason I have often heard being voiced for the sustainability of the Indian economic miracle (esp in contrast to the Chinese one) is the fact that India is finally a functioning democracy where the deprived ones have a legitimate non-violent means of effecting a regime change when desired. I have myself often cited the several changes in the ruling coterie in Delhi, all brought about by a supposedly uneducated and ill-informed population.

…12 months into a closer interaction with India, I am less convinced of this. The democracy seems to work in fits and starts. In most parts of the country, the rule of the mob prevails. Karnataka, supposedly the destination for most IT majors worldwide, rules the roost in terms of the pervasiveness of corruption. Gujarat, my favorite state and once the industrial hub of the nation, is riven by a communal divide that will take a lot of statesmanship to heal….

…even within the little conclaves that are being formed by the elite around the country, the operative term is their unsustainability. The mall-worker syndrome, as my friend Pallab most eloquently described it in a conversation, will catch up. As the humble mall-worker, often living miles away from the mall where he/she works at, usually unable to even dine at the same mall where he/she works, always unable to live the life of the nouveaux riche in their spaghetti straps and designer jeans, comes to terms with the hopelessness of his/her existence, I am dreading that he/she will snap one day….the outcome is terrifying….whether one thinks of Gurgaon or Koramangala or Phoenix Mills in Mumbai.

…the gap between the haves and the have-nots has become untenable…even amongst the haves, the gap between those enriched by IT and related services and those unable to partake of the dollar-driven wages of the IT/ITES sector is growing…the country is still blissfully celebrating the 25th year of Infosys’ existence – and not dwelling enough on the disaster waiting to happen…

…it will take a lot of political fortitude and seasoned statesmanship to stem the rot. Someone needs to call Mulayam Singh Yadav’s bluff. Someone needs to contain Narendra Modi. Someone needs to tell Deve Gowda that enough is enough, and that the time has come for true champions of the farmers to emerge. Someone needs to tell Sonia-ji that backseat driving is ok if it is a Karl Rove doing it; if the Prime Minister of the country has to start his day by paying obeisance to her, it is not acceptable or appropriate….

…I doubt whether such persons exist…will the businessmen of today take on a different hue if they get into politics – or will they change politics for the better? Rajeev Chandrashekhar of BPL is an MP, Vijay Mallya is an MP, Anil Ambani of ReliAAnce is into active politics – and yet while leveraging power for their business interests, they have done little to leverage their business savvy to improve the body politic….

…I am totally anguished by the politicization of the entire reservations business. just because Senor Arjun Singh wishes to score political points off Dr Manmohan Singh is no reason to bastardize the entire education system in the country.

It is bad enough that nearly 60 years after Indian independence, the oppressed and deprived class continue to toil in misery and hopelessness. Worse is the insouciance of the ruling classes that tends to opine that reservations (in higher education and in jobs) is the only form of affirmative action that needs to be tried out.

Why dont these people ensure basic physical safety, sanitation, and primary education, for these poor-est of the poor? I have seen classmates at the IIT that came in through the SC/ST reservation system – 90% of them did not deserve to use it since their respective fathers had used the same system before them to rise to the top rungs of their own public sector jobs! Unless this creamy layer is contained, and the realization sets in that deprivation applies to so-called forward castes as well when they live in poverty, no affirmative action program will be effective.

Most wonderful is Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav’s munificent offer to reserve seats in colleges for the so-called forward classes based on percentage of the population…

Go ahead, dilute educational brands that have been developed over the past 40+ years in a single diabolic stroke of the political pen.

While travelling in the US, almost every Pakistani I met (and there are several of them, all very nice to know, etc) had come there for under-graduate studies (since the college education system in Pakistan has totally collapsed after Bhutto successfully politicized the campuses in the 1970s). Indians seemed to typically come there for post-graduate studies.

Give the devils here in India a chance and I am sure this ratio will change – and an increasing number of even middle-class parents whose children do not get through to a premier college will start sending their offspring, and a whole boatload of foreign exchange, abroad to educate them in the US and Australia and elsewhere, and fund US and Australian universities and the education systems there.

Eventually the best faculty will be disheartened about teaching at the so-called temples of learning in India and avoid taking up employment there, in the same way that abysmal salaries and work conditions are keeping the best and brightest away from becoming school teachers.

This will be the death-knell of our much-vaunted education system. Talk of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

…and a solitary vocal voice in support…

Kaiser said…
There is no use in reserving seats in educational institutions .It would lead to dilution of standards set by these institutes. Rather the government could start strengthening the primary education system for these less privileged classes. Reserving those jobs and seats is like putting cart before the horse

…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

Delete

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

Delete

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

Delete

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

Delete

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

Delete

I have been to several weddings and similar large social events in India over the past 8 months. I typically prefer the wedding ceremony itself to the reception afterwards for closer friends and family as one gets to be a part of a smaller more intimate group.

But for the ubiquitous photographers, I really enjoy people-watching at these events. The photographers seem to have decided that since they will be recording the event for posterity, they are the most important persons in the hall. Hence regardless of the seating position, the most prominent sight for you is the posterior of one of these abominations.

And then they turn away from the event itself, only to show their backs to the dais and now click the audience trying to gawk around their girth at the goings-on that they came to see. I have seen the indulgent photographers miss entirely on clicking key events such as the tying of the mangalasutra no less, and then ask for an action replay so that they can provide it for future replays by the families…

I always thought we meet to create memories, and that we part to preserve them…and that photographs are only an aid to memory, not the memory itself!

It was with some anxiety that I first contemplated the idea of shifting to India from the US when it was broached about a year back.

The crowds are maddening and the traffic worse, especially in the one-time garden city of the country. Tech palaces built by the likes of Infosys and others rub shoulders with squalor and filth of a kind that is alien to those who knew of the Bangalore of the 1980s and before. An interesting study quoted in the Times of India here a few weeks back stated that Bangalore has perhaps the slowest average traffic speed in the country of about 14 or 16 kmph – the best is Hyderabad at about 24-26 kmph, a singular tribute to the previous Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and his vision for Hyderabad.

Yet Bangalore continues to grow, and grow rapidly. Companies are still expanding here despite an ongoing outcry for civic improvements. Housing prices are soaring sky high, and yet any new development is being lapped up in a hurry. Public transport is non-existent, crime is rising with pollution keeping pace and yet there is no other Indian city I would rather LIVE in than Bangalore.

The weather is still much more moderate than any of the contenders in India – Hyderabad and Pune are much hotter in summer and Chennai (and Mumbai) are both way too sultry. Crime is still lower than any city from the North, the choices of cuisine for eating out are outstanding!

The Bangalore airport must rank as one of the worst I have seen anywhere, period. The domestic departure terminal is bad; the international departure terminal is worse. And international arrivals – all one can do is to hope and pray. They have exactly ONE baggage carousel in international arrivals – and around midnight, there are jets landing from Frankfurt, Paris and Singapore, full of people and their baggage. Retrieving your bags and getting out can take anything from 30 minutes (if you are lucky) to over 2 hours.

And yet I love Bangalore and am thoroughly enjoying the move back. Now that I have been back for just over 9 months, I must confess it has been an exhilarating experience.

and the solitary comment this drew when first published…:

Aruna said…
way to go! thats the beauty of india………despite the numerous flaws its the one place u can call HOME………..is someone reading this and getting the message?!!!!!!!! ;-)))

1:27 AM

….it is my belief that open economies prosper.

I am sure history will bear me out on this. When a society or nation prospers, it attracts talent from all over. A large part of the talent infusion is of semi-skilled or unskilled persons from nearby lands coming over for a better living – a smaller but significant proportion is of inherently smart people coming over for better opportunities.

The semi-skilled and unskilled segment help meet the needs for labor for the more mundane tasks. The talented/educated lot help sustain these successful economies through the cycle of continuous innovation required to keep them at the forefront. Without this infusion of talent, one is left reliant on regurgitated ideas and thoughts and this is the death-knell of any civilization.

The English civilization from the 17th through the 20th centuries, the French civilization, the German dominance of the early 20th century, the US domination from the mid-20th century and even the ongoing emergence of China has all been characterized by the infusion of new talent into the economies. Perhaps the only significant recent boom economy that has been the exception to this rule is Japan – while they did borrow from Deming and more, and while Nissan did gain from the induction of Carlos Ghosn, there has not been the usual infusion of large numbers of expatriates into the Japanese economy.

I was reading a Goldman Sachs projection (“Dreaming with BRICs: The Path to 2050”, 1st October 2003″) where they spoke about China and India as the leading economic powers in 2050 AD along with the US. I have a feeling the analysts have gone overboard yet again with their projections – akin to the dot-com boom era of the 1990s. There are so many flaws in the Chinese and Indian socio-economic structures yet that the jury is still out in my opinion.

Unless China and India can each demonstrate the economic freedom, social equity and access to comfort and security that has been provided by the US, Great Britain, western Europe and even Hong Kong and Singapore in their respective hey-day, they will not emerge as a magnet for top-notch talent.

The education systems need to be strengthened to not only cover the under-graduate level education but also for graduate studies. In addition, there is a need to raise the overall IQ of the colleges – the standards fall off rather dramatically after the premier institutions. Finally, can India and China ensure that the female child is not punished for her gender. The gender ratios in the two countries is already atrocious and this kind of an imbalance is unhealthy to say the least.