Book Review: Bhaskar Chattopadhyay’s 14 Stories That Inspired Satyajit Ray

Satyajit Ray is a name that appears inevitably on any list of great Indian film directors. And often enough (or at least, it should, as far as I’m concerned) on lists of great film directors, regardless of nation or language. For me, half the joy of watching a Satyajit Ray film is not in in the breathtaking beauty of camera angles or the performances he managed to coax out of actors; it’s in the stories he told through his films. Stories very varied, stories that range all the way from whodunits to romances, to tales of human frailty, injustice, and more. You can never say of Satyajit Ray’s films that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay's 14 Stories That Inspired Satyajit Ray Continue reading

Gigi (1958)

I have firmly believed, for the past few years, that Hollywood would have been a lot poorer had it not been for its Europeans. All the way from writers and composers to directors—and, of course, the most visible, actors. Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Hedy Lamarr, Rossano Brazzi, Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, Michael Caine, Curt Jurgens… and, one of my absolute favourites, the very handsome Louis Jourdan. I remember, as a young teenager, being completely bowled over by him in Decameron Nights, Three Coins in the Fountain, and The Swan. And this film, the quintessential Louis Jourdan one, about a wealthy young man who finds love in an unlikely place.

Louis Jourdan as Gaston Lachaille in Gigi Continue reading

Tiny but exquisite: the Bada Gumbad Mosque

A view of the mosque's interior.

Some days back, I’d written about one of Delhi’s large but little-known mosques, the massive Begumpuri Masjid, near Malviya Nagar. In a turn-around, this week’s (or fortnight’s, whatever) interesting medieval mosque is one that’s much more visible, even though most … Continue reading

Ten of my favourite cloud songs

The other day, thinking over the themes for song lists that I’ve posted over the years I’ve been writing this blog, two came forcibly to mind: rain songs (a list, in fact, which has proved very popular—I was even interviewed about it by a Canadian radio station); and wind songs.

Rain. Wind. And what goes with that? Clouds. Clouds, which are so common in Hindi film songs. Clouds, as harbingers of rain. Clouds that thunder, clouds that pour. Clouds that symbolize everything from relief and coolness to bleak despair. Time, I decided, to do a list of cloud songs that I like a lot.

Cloud songs from Hindi cinema Continue reading

Sunday in New York (1963)

This is a somewhat belated tribute, to yet another star of the silver screen. Aussie actor Rod Taylor (January 11, 1930 – January 7, 2015) arrived in Hollywood in the 1950s, and though he never achieved the fame of fellow countrymen like Errol Flynn (and, much later, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, etc), he did star in several big films, including Hitchcock’s The Birds, The Time Machine, Young Cassidy, 36 Hours (and, his last outing, Inglourious Basterds, in which he played Winston Churchill).

Rod Taylor as Mike Mitchell in Sunday in New York Continue reading

Parivaar (1956)

 

Serendipity isn’t something I encounter too frequently while watching Hindi cinema. More often than not, it’s the other way round: I watch a film because I liked the cast, or because the story sounds appealing, or (and this happens with appalling frequency) because the music is wonderful. That I should watch a film about which I know next to nothing—on a whim, so to say—and find that it’s not just watchable but actually quite enjoyable is something to be grateful about. Which is why this review. Seriously speaking, I hadn’t expected much of Parivaar (the name itself conjures up one of those extremely melodramatic social dramas AVM used to specialise in).

Worse, I had my memories (I wish I could rid myself of them) of having watched the utterly execrable Nanda-Jeetendra starrer Parivaar, one of the worst films from the 60s I’ve ever wasted three hours upon. But, back to this Parivaar, which brought a smile of pleased anticipation to my face as soon as the credits began to roll. Directed by Asit Sen and produced by Bimal Roy, Parivaar is set completely within the large haveli of the Choudhary brothers, where all of them, with the exception of one brother, live as a joint family. Over the first hour or so of the film, we are introduced to these men, their families, and their servants. The parivaar, all together Continue reading

Why I love the comforts of old Hindi cinema

There’s this delightful, irreverent new literary journal called AntiSerious. Which, as its name suggests, is all about not being serious. Not being serious about politics, society and its morals, the economy, literature, or whatever. When AntiSerious were starting up, they asked me if I’d like to contribute an article. They left the choice of subject matter to me, and I (gleefully, with a whoop of joy you could’ve heard in Chinchpokli) picked old Hindi cinema. (Yes, well. What did you expect?)

What emerged was this, a brief (really, compared to the usual length of my posts) essay on what it is I like about old Hindi cinema. What makes the 50s and 60s the cinematic equivalent of comfort food for me.

Click here to read on:

http://www.antiserious.com/2015/01/20/love-comforts-old-hindi-cinema/

Armaan (1966)

Comments on blog posts here tend to go off on tangents. I don’t have a problem with that (in fact, I often contribute)—and, best of all, sometimes these completely tangential comments give me ideas for other posts. The other day, commenting on my C Ramachandra post, Harini had remarked that Asha Bhonsle’s voice in Aa dil se dil mila le sounded a lot like Noorjehan’s. That reminded me of the lone Pakistani film I’d seen till then, the wonderful Dupatta (which starred Noorjehan). And I decided it was time to watch another Pakistani film. After all, Lollywood did share a lot in common with Bollywood in the early years, didn’t it?

Zeba and Waheed Murad in Armaan Continue reading