Friday, February 5, 2010

Jawani Diwani: A college classic that redefined Urban India

College songs, they used to be called. At a time when even in urban centres, a teenaged "boy" going out with a "girl" was scandalous.
Jawani Diwani was a classic that defined a change in the culture.
There was a discotheque song, probably marking a change from the "club" routine of the 1950s and 1960s.
And breezy songs by Rahul Dev Burman that live on today.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tootsie: Comic drama with a touch of class

I remember one scene in Tootsie, when on a New York street, a man is trying to shepherd two or three dogs. Or was it four? Point: That had no relevance in the movie's script or story, but the scene remains etched in my memory as a moment of cinematic excellence, where, to add a shade of realism, director Sydney Pollack introduces a detail of extraordinary imagination.
Dustin Hoffman playing a woman, with a climax linked to a soap opera's live scene. What a lovely script!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Woodstock: Peace, rock, nostalgia....and youth power

What was it about Woodstock?
The movie that made a rock festival come alive for some of us who were toddlers when it happened?
A movie that scandalised us with its F words and huddling free-sex teens?
The sheer, raw power of great rock music?
The strange anti-war idealism that was so fashionable?

In those days, Chanakya and Archana were the two movie halls in Delhi that usually showed English movies, and I caught Woodstock in a morning show one working day while in college. It was the kind of movie you watched after a rare day bunked from college, so you could mix a strange kind of bluster and nostalgia in recalling that day.
I am doing that now.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro--Satire and Slapstick

A perceptive observation by my friend Karan on Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, the black comedy made in 1983 that lives on as an engaging satire on modern India, its corruption and its idiosyncracies: "The entire cinema hall was in splits-- but the front rows, the back rows and the middle rows were laughing for different reasons."
Who can forget the charms of a movie that combined slapstick humour, clever one-liners and subtle satire that covered contemporary events to please the front, middle and back rows all at once!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pyaasa -- A Movie That Changed Bollywood

So what's special about Pyaasa?
Was it the undercurrent of discontent that spelt the arrival of the Angry Young Man?
Was it the quintessential Indian compassion that supports the sensitive loser?
Was it S.D. Burman's music?
Was it the prostitute with a pristine face?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

La Strada -- Fellini's subtle textures on human character

I recently saw this old 1954 classic by Italian master Frederico Fellini -- and was moved by the story, the ability to depict human follies and layers of character. La Strada (The Road) is a black-and-white wonder that moves like a play, with not much of the razmatazz of the celluloid world, but has a haunting quality. More on the film, which won the Oscar for the Best Foreign Film in 1956 here and a bit more on the film's theme.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mere Apne -- A classic that made Gulzar and a host of stars

I remember Mere Apne not only for its music by Salil Choudhury, but also for the lyrics and script that got Gulzar started. The movie must go down in history as a classic that spawned future stars: Vinod Khanna, Dinesh Thakur, Shatrughan Sinha and Danny Denzongpa