This blog is 5 years old

Yes. The first post on Dusted Off was published on November 4, 2008.

It wasn’t as if I’d woken up suddenly one day with an epiphany and decided I had to create a blog. It just so happened that everything began to come together for me in 2008. I’d just quit the corporate world after 14 years of hard slogging—years which had left me with almost no time to call my own. I read books in fits and starts. I wrote in fits and starts. I didn’t have time to watch TV, and only very few films, and those too mostly in bits and pieces: half an hour here, half an hour there.

But, in March 2008, having given up my job so I could focus on my writing (I’d just signed a contract for The Englishman’s Cameo, and was busy writing its sequel), I began to spend a little more time doing the things that really appealed to me. Like watching cinema. And seeing what others had to say about the films I enjoyed watching.
Celebrating 5 years

Very soon, I’d discovered Greta’s thoroughly addictive blog. I began commenting, and Greta—sweet as she is—suggested, after a while, that I should begin a blog of my own. I didn’t, for a few months, because of sheer laziness, some trepidation (would anybody even want to read it? Would I get any visitors, or would I end up writing for myself?) Finally, I succumbed. I decided my blog would focus on cinema from before the 1970s, with only the very occasional exception being made for films from about 1971-2, whose tone and style set them in an earlier decade.

And, I decided I wouldn’t restrict myself to Hindi cinema. I’d also do Hollywood and English films.

Thus, Dusted Off was launched. I told my family, and I told Greta. Greta was kind enough to publicize my blog a bit.

And here we are, 5 years down the line. While I still stick very rigidly to my principle of only writing about pre-70s films, other things have changed. For instance, because of suggestions (primarily from blog reader Bawa, who has gifted me some amazingly good Spanish films), I also began reviewing international cinema. Because of a caustic remark left by a one-off reader on a blog, I’ve reduced the length of the story I generally give away during the course of a review.

Along the way, I’ve also gained a lot, learned a lot. I’ve been told fascinating anecdotes and trivia (and I’ve discovered some for myself). I’ve learned about some unsung people without whom cinema might not have been half the joy and fun it is. (Edwina, do you hear me?) I’ve discovered—thanks to Greta again—who Ramu Kaka was. I’ve got to know, even if only in the virtual world, the daughter of Johnny Walker and Noor, and Tarun Bose’s daughter, Shilpi, whose blog is one of my favourites.

And, best of all, I’ve made friends with a lot of people across the world, all of us united in our love for old cinema. Some connections are proof of that dictum about the world being a small place: blog reader pacifist, it turned out, was a relative of a family friend. Another blog reader, Samir, was a relative of an old friend and ex-colleague. And Anu, whose Conversations over Chai is another of my favourites, had first become acquainted with me years ago on Sulekha, before we lost touch—and then found each other again.

I’ve met some of these people in person (some in previous years, three already this year, and another bunch planned for January 2014). And I’ve discovered that, besides the love we share for old cinema, there are other things we have in common. Shared memories of growing up in an India where Doordarshan was the only TV, and where films meant the 5.45 PM one on Sundays. A love for old things, even old monuments. A passion for books. A similar sense of humour.

These years have been fun. Humbling, too, in some ways. I’ve come a long way, from being merely someone who loved old cinema, to someone who has been actually invited to write on cinema (I hasten to add: not in a big, to-be-taken-seriously way). Dusted Off has had over 9,30,000 views as on date, with nearly 18,000 comments (the most commented post has been the one on female duets). I’ve written just over 400 posts. I’ve reviewed almost 150 Hindi films, 120 Hollywood and British films, and 27 (yes, I know I need to focus here more) films in other languages. I’ve compiled more than 60 lists. I’ve written about my own connections to the world of films, and have been as excited as any of my readers to read the guest posts contributed by others.

And, I am grateful. Grateful to those who’ve made these films. And grateful to those who’ve patiently read my blog posts, have taken the time to comment on them, or have even just clicked the ‘Like’ button. Each of those little actions have encouraged me in some way or the other. They’re what keep me going.

So, because this is a very special month for Dusted Off, November 2013 is dedicated to my readers. To acknowledge the part you play in keeping this blog alive and well. To thank you for your suggestions, your requests, your enthusiasm.  Dhanyavaad, shukriya, thank you, dhonnobaad, merci, grazie, gracias… and please stay with me. There’s lots more to come.

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81 thoughts on “This blog is 5 years old

  1. Bas karo, ab rulaoge kya. :-)

    Hearty, hearty congratulations, Madhu on this 5th blog birthday. May there be many, many more.

    And what a fabulous post this is to celebrate the birthday. Comes straight from the heart – and goes straight to the heart.

    All I can say about the blog is,
    bahut shukriya, badi meherbaani
    meri zindagi mein huzoor aap aaye :-)

    It has been an absolute joy to follow this blog. I enjoy reading the posts and comments. Especially the lists – which are so much fun to discuss. :-)

    One thing you haven’t explained in this post. How did you decide on the name “dustedoff”? Is it that since you decided on the content being old movies, it is like “dusting them off the shelves”?

    • “Bas karo, ab rulaoge kya. :-)

      Haai re. Do I write so badly that you weep when you read each post? Is that why you’re telling me to bas karo? ;-)

      Hehe. Just joking. :-D Thank you. Raja. Thank you so much. Honestly, it’s people like you – and all the other readers who come here and have become more than just readers – who keep me charged up and wanting to write more. Bahut shukriya to you all!

      Yes, the name of the blog is because I talk about old movies. In my ‘Hello world’ post (ironically, written after a couple of weeks of the blog having been launched) I ended the post, which was all about my love for old movies, with: “So, dust ‘em off. Slide in the DVD, sit back, and enjoy.

  2. Congratulations. What a milestone and some of those stats are mind boggling for someone like me. I’ve followed your journey from the beginning, loved your posts, not commented as much as I should have, loved your lists, your insightful and hilarious reviews, the conversations and discussions and the vibe on your blog. Loved every bit of it. Keep em coming :)

  3. I have had a lot of fun reading your blog-posts and making friends with co-commentators here and on Greta’s blog. (You guys know who you are)

    This online community that we have developed is because of shared interests. Unlike office friendships which are not really a matter of choice, just circumstance. And relatives, who are again, not always to our taste. Though we have never met, I feel like we are best friends. I am glad we are to meet soon.

    I hope you never get bored of running this blog. We certainly will never be bored of visiting here.

    Cheers and wishing you many more years to come.

    • “Though we have never met, I feel like we are best friends. I am glad we are to meet soon.

      Very true! I was telling someone (a sceptical someone) the other day that I will be meeting up with some very good friends come January. They couldn’t fathom how I could be very good friends with people I’d never met before! Maybe I’d have felt the same way, some years back. Now I’ve changed my mind. And I can hardly wait for January! :-)

      Thank you, Ava.

  4. Congratulations on your blog’s 5th anniversary! May there be many, many years to come. Loved your posts for your unbiased views on Indian and International Cinema.Your blog is been an inspiration to us all bloggers,which fuels a healthy debate of opinions.
    Let there be more such milestones to come :)

  5. Congratulations, Well Done, and Keep On Keeping On.

    Regular reader who enjoys reading your blogs and also comments by your other readers.

  6. Congratulations Madhu ! and best wishes on the fifth anniversary of this wonderful blog for its entertainment value as well for its dispassionate reviews of world cinema and thought provoking lists. May god bless you with very good health, vigor and energy to continue this wonderful work many years to come

  7. Here’s wishing you many, many happy returns of this wonderful day, the fifth anniversary of your blog, and may this journey keep going on forever, giving us pleasure and the company of a great friend!

  8. Hearty Congratulations DO!!
    Through this blog you’ve given us such pleasure. Introduced us to ‘new’ films. Warned us against others :-) Entertained us with your humourous take on many.
    And the lists. Oh yes, those wonderful lists where the readers happily joined in discovering new songs and getting reaquainted with some forgotten ones.

    >Some connections are proof of that dictum about the world being a small place: blog reader pacifist, it turned out, was a relative of a family friend.

    Small world indeed. :-)
    Thanks for all the hard work you put in, and the time spent in doing it DO. May you never tire of it. I know many of us won’t tire of reading it.

    • Thank you so much, pacifist. :-)

      I was thinking, while writing this post, how much my blog readers (many of whom – like you – I now think of as friends, not just readers) influence my movie-watching or even my reading. Just the other day, I was looking at a bunch of films I’ve yet to watch, and noticed Julius Caesar in the pile. I thought “Let’s see that; pacifist might like to read my take on it.”

      • >I’ve yet to watch, and noticed Julius Caesar in the pile. I thought “Let’s seethat; pacifist might like to read my take on it.”

        I really do feel honoured that you talk of me and Shakespeare in the same sentence DO :-)
        Don’t blame me but you, for getting me started. :-)
        If you get the chnace get some DVDs of films directed by Kenneth Branagh. He was great on stage (what I’ve heard). His first film Much ado about nothing has been described as sun drenched and exuberant, and I agree. It is my favourite ‘film’. Except for the Royal plays of Shakespeare most are doing away with the fussy Elizabethen clothes for more modern ones. I, inspite of being a purist, didn’t mind it because the language (which matters) is kept intact and delivered beautifully. The cast of this film was, wow.
        Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves, Emma Thompson, Michael Keaton and a very very young Kate Beckinsale,

        Here’s a clip of it – not as spoiler but to whet your appetite. I know WDIGTT :-) At least watch the first 4 minutes.
        Both he and Emma THompson were hilarious.

        • His other films are;
          Henry V (1989)
          Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
          Othello (1995)
          Hamlet (1996)
          Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000)
          As You Like It (2006)

            • Actually what got me started was Twelft Night (1996) starring Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Kingsley, Toby Stephens. I wasn’t sure about the modernisation , and had been avoiding these. But I liked it so much that I started searching for other DVDs of Shakespeare Comedies and bought A Midsummer’s Night Dream 1996. It was then I got Much Ado about Nothing, earlier this year, and found it extremely likeable (Twelfth Night too) that now I’m hoping to get all of them one by one. I bought Henry V sometime ago. Will watch it (WDIGTT :-D ) asap. Next in line is As you like it.
              But do watch Twelfth Night. It’s great even though not Branagh related.

        • Ah, this is a real coincidence, pacifist! :-) Because I watched Much Ado About Nothing only last month. I loved it too, especially Branagh and Thompson – they’re perfect together. <3 (yes, I know that <3 won't get translated into the emoticon I mean, but I can't help it!)

          • I loved the goldeny summer setting in this. I think I haven’t seen a film where summer was depicted in all it’s glory through the camera lens, the colour, the people’s body language (the languid demeanour) the sheer ambience of the whole thing. Loved it. :-)

            Looking forward to your Julius Ceaser review DO. :-)

            • “Looking forward to your Julius Ceaser review DO.

              I don’t know when I’ll get around to watching it! (Later, I realised that it’s a Hollywood production, and somehow the thought of Shakespeare – and that too Julius Caesar, which is my favourite of his plays – being spouted with American accents put me off). Someday, though…

              • Oh I do remember a conversation about this 2/3/4 years back. I don’t know whether it was here or at Greta’s blog. And we agreed it wouldn’t be the right version. One can’t search comments (I tried :-) ) so can’t find it. Don’t even remember what the post was about.

                • Yes, I think we talked about it on a post about Charlton Heston or something – I think he debuted in Julius Caesar. If I remember correctly, we found a version on Youtube.

  9. Rula diya, na?
    Happy 5th anniversary of the blog, Madhu, and may it see many, many more. Much like a hindi film plot, I have read your writing, lost touch with it, rediscovered it in the blogsphere, and have been honoured and grateful to share in your writing – enjoying your posts, celebrating your lists, laughing at your asides, discussing and debating cinema and film songs… it’s been a long and wonderous journey.

    Along the way, I have come to ‘know’ you, and much as Harvey pokes fun at our shared soul-sisterhood, it does feel like that sometimes. Can we truly know someone and be friends without having ever met them? It does seem like that, because somewhere along the line, you became a friend. Thank you! for all these wonderful memories, and long may you weave some more for us.

    • Tumhe bhi rula diya? Itna bura likhti hoon? ;-)

      But, seriously, all the love and affection all of you are showering on me brings tears to my eyes. Thank you so much, Anu. And, someday, I do hope to meet you in person, too. Soul sisters have to meet!

      • Tumhe bhi rula diya? Itna bura likhti hoon? ;-)
        *grin* Then we wouldn’t be exhorting you to write more, no? (Of course, we could all be masochists!)

        And, someday, I do hope to meet you in person, too. Soul sisters have to meet!
        From your mouth to God’s ears! (I first heard of it as a Spanish proverb; but we have Tumhaare munh se khuda ke kaan tak as well. It’s wondrous how similar sayings can echo around the world.)

        • “It’s wondrous how similar sayings can echo around the world.

          Like ‘Ulte baans Bareilly ko and Sending coals to Newcastle? And more – I keep coming across startling similar sayings in English and Hindi.

  10. Now what do I say? Everyone has said it all, sniff sniff, yes I am wiping my tears, your comments about my blog are quite touching. Like you, I too entered blogosphere after giving up my profession and I was amazed, how instantly I could make friends and relate so easily with people I had never met, you and the others are much like the pen friends I used to have in my childhood. The difference being I somehow feel very close to you all, I hope you continue blogging. I know as you get more successful as a novelist you may have time constraints but try not to give up this blog. To be honest your blog is my favourite hang out spot, it is here that I interact with so many like minded people.
    May God bless you with loads of happiness and success and yes CONGRATULATIONS! on your blogs 5th anniversary.

    • Shilpi, thank you so much! Yes, I agree that connecting with people through our blogs – and beyond, actually, too (Facebook, for instance, and our special hangout there) is a little like the penfriends we used to have in the good old days. The good thing, of course, is that one doesn’t have to wait weeks for a friend to write back! I guess one reason why it becomes easy to make friends with people who frequent the same blogs is that we have similar tastes, at least in cinema – and that counts for a lot.

  11. First, congratulations. I am a frequent visitor although I don’t always leave a comment. I stumbled upon your blog (and a host of others) when I began researching a movie (I’ve forgotten which). It made delightful reading and made me come back frequently.
    Often, blogs start off on a promising note but then fade into inconsequence mainly because the blogger has nothing more to say and keeps padding it with fluff. Hope you will continue to maintain your high standards in the years to come. Your interesting and often witty posts keep me coming back for more.

    • Thank you, Soumya! Even if you don’t comment that frequently (and I have been told, now and then, by various readers, that they are ‘lurkers’), it doesn’t matter. Just the fact that someone’s reading – and enjoying – my writing, is enough to make it worth my while!

    • Hansda, thanks a ton! :-)

      (As I’ve been going through the long string of congratulatory comments, I’ve been reading people’s comments and their names, and for almost everybody who’s commented, an association has automatically popped up in my mind. I read your name, and I immediately thought: “Hansda likes Asha Parekh. I must review an Asha Parekh movie one of these days. It’s been a long time.”)

  12. Happy Birthday to you….
    Happy Birthday to you….
    Happy Birthday to our dear dustedoff.wordpress.com!! Happy Birthday to you…

    Though the age of this blog today is just five,
    but the standards it has set are already very high.
    Madhudi keep on writing & never say bye,
    You rock really, trust me as i don’t lie!!!!

    All the Best for the future and carry on just like this Madhudi.

  13. Congratulations for passing the five year mark! My blog is about six and a half years old, but it’s been closer to just an even six years since Indian films started to become the central focus. And Ava is right that this little online community is quite something. I have certainly learned a lot from blogging, and I think interactions with Dustedoff played a pretty big role in that education. Plus, yes, the sense of community has been great, and for me, its very interesting that the majority of friends I’ve made doing this are in countries I haven’t yet been to. :)

    By the way, I almost planned to go to the January gathering (Reeba Pacifist told me about that on Facebook). I came very close to doing my first trip to India in late December or early January, but I am not having an easy time just resettling in New York after my five-month job in Philly. So, I might put that trip off at least a few months – unless it proves so difficult here that I decide to say, the hell with it, maybe I’ll just try going to India for good. :) (Meanwhile, I am glad that I have gotten to do so much sightseeing vicariously via FB and blog posts from Greta and Carla!)

    Madhu, may your blog go on for many more years – and I hope that you don’t experience a fifth-year slowdown. ;)

    • So, I might put that trip off at least a few months – unless it proves so difficult here that I decide to say, the hell with it, maybe I’ll just try going to India for good.

      Now you’re tempting me to start hoping for something that’s downright selfish on my part! ;-) I’ve had a lovely time meeting Greta (a couple of years back), Carla (this year), bollywooddeewana (this year) and Raja (this September), and Bawa, a couple of times – and I would love to meet you. If not in January, another time? Delhi has fairly good weather all the way till March… *massive hint*

      “and I hope that you don’t experience a fifth-year slowdown. ;)

      God forbid. :-)

  14. Happy Birthday to your blog and Congratulations to you for continuing for th blog so long! Looking forward to more posts, lovely lists and deep reviews.
    I was not with the blog with the very first post, but came to it around Feb 2009, (I think Ek Phool Do Mali was the first post of yours, which I read) and was impressed by the quality of your writing right away. So much that I returned to the older posts and comment on them.
    Here is to more such birthdays!
    Thank you, dear Madhu, for this wonderful blog and the interesting posts!

    • Yes, my blog didn’t draw much attention for a few weeks in the beginning. I remember, for the first few posts, Greta was the only one commenting. Then, she named Dusted Off on one of her posts (I think she gave me an ‘award’ or something), and it brought bollyviewer and a couple of other people to my blog. And then, slowly… you!

      Thank you so much, Harvey. :-)

  15. Congratulations on achieving this milestone. I have not had time to respond to your blogs, mainly because there is so much I want to say and keep putting it off to when I have time – and it does not come. I still read your posts and thoroughly enjoy the memories and images it summons to my mind. And I love reading all the comments too. One of the few blogs where I spend as much time reading through the comments as the post itself.

    • One of the few blogs where I spend as much time reading through the comments as the post itself.

      I always find the comments very interesting, so my blog is blessed in that respect. There are a lot of people here whose knowledge of things – not just cinema, but also literature, language, even life itself – is so wide, it really impresses me. Which is one reason I never try to stop people when they go off on tangents!

      Thank you for your kind words, sangeetbhakt!

  16. Congratulations Madhu! Five years – that is dedication! I thank you for this wonderful site. I visit it not just to read your wonderful posts and learn about movies, stories, melodies, and people in the world of old hindi cinema, but also as a place to relax and de-stress. It is so therapeutic too!

    Keep writing and keep this place alive for visitors like us!

  17. Congratulations. It was indeed a pleasure to go through your posts, especially your film reviews (although I might not have posted my comments on all occasion). My best wishes for many more years happy and fruitful blogging.

  18. Very Enticing going through the journey impressions….. All I can say is…
    ” Jo taar se nikli he wo dhun subne suni hai
    Jo saaz pe guzri he wo kis dil ko pata hai !!!!!!
    GR8 going …. keep it up

    • continuing —-
      I read most posts, and I continue to be educated & entertained; hence congratulations and hope that it continues.
      Thanks for — “Another blog reader, Samir, was a relative of an old friend and ex-colleague. ” — I started reading & liking your blog even before we discovered this link :)

      • “I started reading & liking your blog even before we discovered this link

        Yes! It was a surprise. I remember thinking “Gosh, that’s a small world.” The same thing happened with pacifist – she’d been reading my blog a long time and commenting on it before we discovered that I knew her cousin really well.

  19. Madhu ji, Badhaii! ‘Bar bar din ye aaye’. I am not a movie buff (too demanding on time) and came to this blog for the exceptional song lists, but have since learnt to appreciate your excellent reviews. This is one of the best written blogs. In particular, I find your frank and earthy write-ups and comments and the subsequent discussions by knowledgeable contributors very helpful in greatly narrowing down my ‘must see’ list.

    • You are very kind, Canasya! Thank you so much. :-)

      Part of the reason I work hard to keep this blog going is the contributions of my readers – honestly, I’ve learnt so much from the people who frequent this blog, it’s become almost an addiction for me. Whenever I publish a new post, I’m always eager to read what insights other people have to offer on the movie or the list in question.

  20. Truly a wonderful milestone. I admire the content (ideas, themes) and the attractive way you present them. You must be putting in a huge effort and enjoying every bit of it. My best wishes for you to achieve many more milestones. You are an inspiration for new bloggers like us. I have also grown up with radios and Binaca geetmala and Doordarshan. I can easily relate to your preference for pre 1970s cinema, truly the golden era. I recently completed my posts on the Top 3 composers of the golden era and also wrote a conclusion at http://rsbaab.wordpress.com.

    I also admire the community of regular readers of your blog and the passion and interest they share when your write a post. It is truly inspiring. Next milestone – 10 years and a zillion comments.

    • Thank you very much! Also, I need to apologise to you – I think you left a comment on my website with a link to your blog post on Iliyaraja. I have been really busy these last few weeks, shifting house and writing my latest book (and keeping this blog alive), which is why I haven’t responded yet. I wanted to keep that till after I’d actually had a chance to go through the songs – I must admit that, though I’ve heard of Iliyaraja and how good he is, I am totally unfamiliar with his work. Will certainly check out your blog soon. Thanks for giving me the link!

  21. Madhu ji,

    Heartiest congratulations for First 5 years…….Many more to come….naturally !

    I remember I first visited your Blog somewhere in mid 2011. That’s when I learnt to operate a Computer and decided to jump into writing about old films,Music etc,with help of my ageold notes of 50 years.

    I was very much impressed with your Blog. For a while I toyed with the idea of starting my own Blog,and then realised-yeh mere bas ki baat nahin hai ! In reality I knew I could never ever write as beautifully as you-so flowing,so natural,mild humour and lots of info.

    I thank you for all the enjoyment and pleasure (info filled) , reading your Blog and the knowledgeable comments from your regulars, has given me.

    Best wishes for the future.

    -Arunkumar Deshmukh

    • Arunji, I am very impressed that you learnt to use a computer only in 2011 – you seem to be so proficient, I’d never have guessed you were new to this.

      Thank you so very, very much for your kind words. I am so touched that my blog can bring people some pleasure. Thank you!

  22. I read your each of the posts on first couple of days of postings. However, for such a momentous post, I waited.. for a good many of other co-readers to have their say and of course, your replies to them, too.
    Simply congratulating someone, who so diligently sticks to the original goal, and yet remains so creative ( and engaging, as well), was not what came up as my first response. So, I thought of testing myself, by allowing a good many of responses to come though and then come up with a response that would be (somewhat) different.
    This is where you have been able to draw a very different line, in the choice of your subjects, about what you chose to write about these subjects and the manner in which you respond to each of the responses to each post.
    I had taken up to active reading of the blogs about 3 years ago and started placing my ‘comments’ on some those blogs form about two years.
    I pride myself to be in company here, thoroughly enjoy being in this company and feverishly join in wishing a very long, eventful and trail-blazing journey to this blog.
    To Madhuji, Thank you…. and Best Wishes…

    • Ashokji, you are giving me a swollen head! Your praise does wonders for my ego. :-) Thank you so very much. I am deeply touched by all the support and affection of the readers who’ve joined me in this journey to discover films… journeys are always so much more fun when in the company of like-minded friends!

  23. Congratulations on 5 truly fabulous years, Madhu! Visiting here is always such a delight, an education and a revelation all at once! Who could ask for more?! Here’s to many more wonderful posts.

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