Salim’s Viewing! (updated)

Nayantara’s Necklace (Short)
Konkona’s presence drew me to this. Watchable and somewhat intriguing.

Head and Tales
Translated screenplays of Gulzar’s Aandhi and Hu Tu Tu

Aandhi
Always a pleasure to revisit this Gulzar classic. Two very fine performers in Sanjeev and Suchitra, and what a soundtrack.

Lekin
One of my most favourite films. Needs to be seen at least once a year.

Parivaar
This Bimal Roy production, directed by Asit Sen is a sweet, simple movie about a large joint family. The movie was subtle, relatable, had a very competent large ensemble cast, and lovely songs composed by Salil Chaudhry. Rather than much of a plot, the film focuses on its characters, and is a great watch.

Usne Kaha Tha
Another Bimal Roy production, with more melodious songs by Salil Chaudhry (Aha Rhim Jhim Ke Yeh Pyaare Pyaare Geet Liye), starring Sunil Dutt, Nanda and the wonderful Durga Khote. The setting is a village in Punjab, during the second world war. I didn’t love this film but thought it was decent enough.

Daag
There’s a few early Dilip Kumar films I haven’t seen yet so I’ll try to get through them this year. If one looks at his work only upto and including Mughal-e-Azam, then he is perhaps my favourite actor, but unfortunately mid-sixties he became unwatchably bad.
Anyways, he got a filmfare award for this one and it’s well deserved, playing a heartbroken alcoholic – he’s a sheer pleasure to watch in this period of his career. Nimmi costars and their chemistry is sparkling. A very charming Usha Kiran is also present. And a host of amazing songs by Shankar Jaikishen, sung by Lata and Talat (Ae Mere Dil Kahin Aur Chal).

Deedar
This Dilip Kumar-Nargis-Nimmi-Ashok Kumar starrer is rather gloomy but is a well-made and very well-acted movie. The former pair are childhood sweethearts, separated by social barriers, and so whilst Dilip goes blind and grows up with Nimmi (who inexplicably is in love with him despite him being the most miserable man in the world) and Nargis is a rich girl engaged to eye-surgeon Ashok Kumar. A host of Naushad classic songs helped me get through this film. The very famous climax scene meant that I knew how it was all gonna end.

Aarzoo
This Dilip Kumar-Kamini Kaushal starrer has him yet again playing a complex character who is not particularly likeable, this time causing havoc in the life of his former lover. A lot of the themes in these early Dilip movies seem to have been repeated over the decades subsequently. He’s excellent here, and I can understand why after immersing himself in such characters he ended up needing to see a psychiatrist who advised lighter roles. Unfortunatley the execution of this film could have been better – there’s a lot of deviation from the main plot so that’s a bit tedious. The film has the very famous Talat song Ae Dil Mujhe Aisi Jagaah Le Chal.

Babul
Naushad’s Milte Hi Aankhen Dil Hua (Talat-Shamshad) is the highlight of this Nargis-Dilip starrer, which is basically a love triangle where Dilip unwittingly charms Nargis, whilst only really thinking of her with sympathy. I found the characters slightly hard to sympathise with but the acting is top notch. The mood of these films is all pretty gloomy but this one has some intermittent cheer (Tun Tun!)

Mela
Another Dilip Kumar-Nargis starrer, again with a splendid Naushad soundtrack. They play childhood sweethearts, separated by a scheming uncle, and Nargis gets married off to an old man. Naturally the stage is set for another tragedy. I found Nargis a little unconvincing here (perhaps as early as 1948 she was still honing her skills) but Dilip is faultless.

Rang Rasiya
It stars Randeep Hooda, and Nandana Sen (Amartya’s daughter). It’s about the issue of artistic censorship (Raja Ravi Verma who painted naked portraits of Hindu goddesses) but unfortunately despite the interesting topic, it’s a poorly executed movie.

Naukri
A very early Bimal Roy film, starring Kishore Kumar as an unemployed youth desperate for a job. Kishore gives an endearing, honest performance, and the film has Bimal Roy’s usual sensitive, insightful stamp.

Bawarchi
Saw this again after a long time. Quintessential Hrishida film.

Shandaar
The quirkiness of this fairytale starring Shahid and Aalia made it enjoyable in parts but the total wasn’t a particularly good film.

Dear Zindagi
Being a psychiatrist I was slightly miffed that SRK’s character doesn’t seem to know whether he’s a psychiatrist or a psychologist (he’s clearly the latter, though one is unclear exactly what type of therapy he practices!). Actually though I liked this movie a lot. At the interval I was somewhat frustrated as I felt the film hadn’t quite taken off and I was feeling underwhelmed (particularly in the context of high expectation) but the second half not only soared in terms of quality but also validated the first half. Alia was brilliant but that no longer surprises. We finally have a generation of girls that can act (Alia, Deepika, Anushka) – this has probably not been the case since the seventies, after which good female performers have been exceptions rather than the rule (and their male counterparts have certainly been no better). Speaking of males – Shah Rukh Khan finally is in a movie where he doesn’t make the viewer cringe. Hopefully he will take his career in this direction and work with this type of filmmaker more often. Gauri Shinde has now made two very good movies and will hopefully continue to provide us with these throughout a promising career.

Sahir Ludhianvi: The People’s Poet by Akshay Nanwani
Brilliant, brilliant book covering this complex man’s poetry, work in films and personal character. I high recommend it.

Dangal
“Dangal is better than Lagaan” was a headline that caught my eye on the day of the film’s release. As I was going to see it that evening I had decided not to read any reviews beforehand but social media seemed to be full of similar superlative descriptions of the movie. These did not necessarily bode well; we live in an age where hyperbolic reactions to mediocrity are commonplace. But I felt that if Dangal had lived up to it’s mammoth ecpectations then we were in for a fine cinematic conclusion to the year.
Aamir Khan used to be a normal actor in the nineties, albeit with the label of being a ‘perfectionist’. In 2001 he produced Lagaan, a rare modern-day classic and henceforth everything changed for him and for us. His name has since been largely associated with quality movies offered to the viewer every couple of years. My own favourite is Taare Zameen Par, the only film he also directed, the climax of which is playing on television as I write this, repeatedly distracting my attention (and unfailingly bringing tears to the eyes as Ishaan runs into his beloved teacher’s arms in the final scene). He also chose to make Satyamev Jayate, cementing his reputation as a man with integrity and a social concience.
My own opinion of him dipped a little after his undoubtedly disingenuous comments about Dhoom 3 prior to its release; marketing is part of the game but when one is Aamir Khan the rules are a little different.
Dangal is a very well-made movie; one cannot fault the performances (the four girls, Sakshi and indeed Aamir are all excellant), Pritam’s music fits perfectly (magnificent lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya), the technical aspects of the film are all spot-on, the wrestling is choreographed stunningly and crucially the film’s heart is in the right place (paying a well-deserved tribute to two Indian sportswomen and the father who trained them in circumstances not entirely unlike those of Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena).
But sadly, Dangal is not an interesting movie. The entire first half is very watchable but frustratingly predictable. During the interval I was hopeful that the film would now come alive and take us to the level of cinematic brilliance Aamir’s name promises. Unfortunately, other than a captivating scene where the daughter/student takes on the father/teacher we are left waiting for something, anything, to lift this good film into something spectacular.
2016 is a strange year. In politics we had victories for Brexit and Trump. In sport Leicester Football Club won the Premiership and Andy Murray became the world number one. And now in cinema Karan Johar has unimaginably made my favourite film of the year (Ae Dil Hai Mushkil) and I will suggest that unthinkably, Salman Khan’s wrestling movie, Sultan, is a more interesting one than Aamir Khan’s Dangal. Because whilst Sultan may not be great cinema, it at least makes one think and is relatively entertaining in the process. Dangal on the other hand skirts over the most interesting aspects of the film, the interpersonal relationships that could have made this truly brilliant, and instead gives us a biopic that doesn’t actually say very much.
Dangal is a good movie and is worth both the ticket price and three hours of our time. But it is not a special movie; it is neither particularly memorable nor one that I will be in a hurry to revisit. But as of now, it appears I am in the minority; the masses and the classes still belong to Aamir Khan.

Befikre
Twenty-one years ago, Aditya Chopra made his directorial debut: Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge! The film is a personal favourite, was an unqualified success (still running today at Maratha Mandir), and has aged surprisingly well.
Aditya’s descent from making classics (actually that shouldn’t be a plural) was rapid. Mohabbatein was painful other than the scenes with the primary trio. Whilst DDLJ had a host of great tracks, Mohabbatein’s only memorable song is Lata’s Humko Humhi Se Churalo (the nightingale once again bringing redemption to an otherwise poor movie). Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi was so unwatchable that I couldn’t continue past the interval. And with Befikre Aditya has once again proved that his debut should have also been his swansong.
The first half is inane. The movie attempts to be edgy in a Before Sunrise kind of way (unsurprising given that the film is apparently inspired by a French release) but Aditya Chopra is exceedingly stale (whilst shouting from the rooftops that he has made something bold and daring).
Ranveer plays the world’s unfunniest (which is likely unintentional) stand-up comedian; the scenes where he is on-stage are cringeworthy, unable to even induce a chuckle from the real-life audience. He has always been fun to watch in interviews, but perhaps he is now past his expiry date (whilst he has had box-office success, Ranbir is undoubtledy the ‘actor’ of the two). Vaani meanwhile plays a poorly written French-born Indian who is unnecessarily mean to her parents (hard to resist an unflattering comparison with Gauri Shinde’s sensitive creation Kaira in Dear Zindagi). Shyra is meant to be an incredibly screwed-up, complicated character but I got the feeling that that’s what we are supposed to believe rather than what we feel (if I were feeling kinder I might suggest that Shyra WANTS people to think she’s more messed up than she is, but that would be supposing Aditya Chopra to be far more insightful than he clearly is).
Whilst Karan’s nods to his earlier works was amusing (cute even) in ADHM, Aditya’s hearkenings of DDLJ only induce a sad shake of the head. His climax resembles (and is as bad as) the post-millenium movies of father’s banner (namely Mujhse Dosti Karoge and Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai). However unlike those two unimpressive films that both at least had decent soundtracks (leave alone the dizzying musical heights that the Chopra banner was once famous for) Befikre has consistently forgettable songs.
There were two ‘real’ moments in this travesty. Firstly the looks that Shyra’s mother gives her; here is a relationship (and indeed the one between Shyra’s parents) that we might want to know better but sadly never do. Secondly, when Dharam tells Shyra that it makes him sick to the stomach when he sees her with another man; we sense the film is finally ready to errupt but instead the scene fizzles out. Despite the poor writing, Vaani performance is passable though yet again a comparison to earlier Chopra leads will not flatter her.
The ridiculous climax, where inanity descends into mild hilarity only proves that whilst Aditya can just about manage slapstick, he’s not got the skills to make a relationship drama or even a pleasant romantic comedy anymore. Let alone the epic heights reached by Imtiaz Ali in Tamasha, Aditya cannot even muster up a watchable and relatable film like his one-time assistant Karan Johar. Karan’s cinema attained adulthood this year, eighteen years after his debut, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Sadly, twenty-one years after his own spectacular debut (which perhaps explains my own tendency to repeatedly litter this piece with unfair comparisons) Aditya Chopra, rather than coming of age, has only regressed.

Grey’s Anatomy Season 12
I hope this show goes on forever. Even when episodes dip in quality it remains such a pleasurable hour of the week.


One Yesterday
Really cool book in which the family members or close colleagues of people like Ray, Raj Kapoor, Guru Dutt, Kishore Kumar, Faiz, Chughtai, Harivanshrai Bachchan etc write a few pages about them.

Ki and Ka
Such a crap film – and pointless too. Balki can and should do so much better than this.

Kapoor and Sons
I enjoyed this. Aalia is just such a pleasure to watch, every time!

Suhana Safar
This rom-com starring Shashi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore had a similar plot to It Happened One Night, but was clearly not as famous as the other remakes – Chori Chori and Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahin. Mediocre but mildly watchable.

Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein
I had read that this film is reminiscient of Gulzar’s Khushboo so I was keen to see it. The similarities are the cast (Hema, Jeetendra), the writing (Gulzar) and the setting (village) but the film is not quite in the same league. Rajesh Khanna plays a postman and we see his interactions with the inhabitants of the village. Hema plays a girl waiting for her secret husband to return (another similarity with Khushboo). Indrani Mukherjee plays a small role and its spooky how much (both looks and voice) she resembles Meena Kumari!

Passengers
Magnificent first half; dreadful second half. Pre-interval the movie delves into the grey areas of human character, particularly exploring loneliness; the minutest of occurrences are gripping. Sadly the second half is excruciatingly poor whereby stunning visuals are the only redeeming quality. The dose of drama added is unnecessary and takes away from the central point of the movie, where the ‘space’ factor is only the background context against which the ‘human’ story plays out. But it felt like the writers had used up all their efforts in the first half and couldn’t be bothered to work through the masterful ethical fog they created. So the film limps to a generically dull ending by which point it’s hard to care about characters in whom one was initially heavily invested.

Daam
I watched a few Pak dramas last year, and have started another couple now. This one was fantastic. In life we make compromises, some of which can be incredibly costly and this excellent show explored really well. Adeel Hussein, Amina Sheikh and above all Sanam Baloch are superb.

Behadd
Awesome made for tv movie, starring Fawad Khan, exploring a really sensitive issue. I was really impressed by this. Nadia Jamil was magnificent.

Armaan
Boring made for tv movie starring Fawad and Aamina. Reminded me of those sixties movies starring Shammi Kapoor set in Kashmir, which is unsurprising given its a remake of an old Pak film of the same name. They also reused the old song, Akele Na Jaana.

Aaj kuch nahin kehna
Bizarre, low quality marital drama made for tv movie starring Fawad.

Game of Thrones
Spent a few weeks watching the entire six seasons of this show. Incredibly addictive! Bring on season 7!

Jackson Heights
Pretty watchable Pak drama set in New York, with an ensemble cast that includes Adeel Hussein, Aamina Sheikh and Marina Khan. Explores the lives of first generation immigrants. I actually hated the first couple episodes but persevered as it had been recommended by a friend, and it grew on me.

Rahman Book
Nasreen Munni Kabeer has good taste in subjects for her books: Lata, Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rahman, and then AR Rahman. This follows her preferred style of ‘a conversation with…’ and this took is pleasant if not as engrossing as the other books.

In The Club (Seasons 1 and 2)
A watchable bbc drama set in an ante-natal class with lots of troubled relationship.

The Night Of
Perhaps a little overrated but a decent mini-series about a guy of Pak origin in America who gets caught up in a murder case.

Madhumati Book
Written by Bimal Da’s daughter, this book is her personal journey tracing (and walking through) the steps her father took in making the classic. More such books would be appreciated.

Madhumati
Revisited the film after reading the book and enjoyed it as much as ever. The soundtrack is the highlight.

Sultan
Pretty enjoyable movie but I had issues with the fact that Anushka was made out to be a villain at the end.

Nusrat: The Voice of Faith
Really well written book that not only talks about Nusrat but more broadly about Sufism and the art of Qawalli.

The Day After Everyday (Short)
Similar theme to Pink but a more aggressive response!

I’ve been backpacking around South East Asia the past month (Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam) so during that time the only things I read and watched were Harry Potter (the original plan was War And Peace but I never even opened it!). The rest of the films below are a mop up of things I saw before and after my trip.

Sadhana: Enchantingly Enchanting Enchantress (book)
I bought this in Bombay just a couple of days before Sadhana passed away. It’s not particularly well written (the author is a self-confessed die-hard obsessed fan, and so the quality of the writing isn’t so impressive), but one still learns about the her life and movies (he gives a plot summary of every single film). I’ve always liked Sadhana a lot – not only was she beautiful but her acting style was relatively natural in spite of her glamour appearance (though she could also play simple, non-made up characters for Bimal Roy and Hrishikesh Mukherjee). And what great songs. Rest in peace Sadhana.

Man Mauji
Decided to watch this Sadhana-Kishore Kumar starrer after reading the book because it’s one of the very few of her films I’ve not seen. To be honest I was bored. The only highlights were a young and beautiful Sadhana, and Madan Mohan’s music.

Dhrishyam
Watched this on the plane to Bangkok. I don’t remember the last time I was so engrossed by a thriller. Sometimes these films dip in quality after a promising first half, but this was awesome throughout. Ajay Devgan is fantastic, Tabu is decent and Shriya Saran is beautiful.

Hippocrates
A French film, following an intern during his first six months of work as a doctor. A watchable medical take on the coming of age genre.

Masaan
I had a feeling I might end up thinking this film was over-hyped, but actually it deserves all the praise it’s received. The film follows the lives of two young people in Benares. Intimate, moving and unpredictable.

Neerja
I wasnt actually overwhelmed. I wonder if having read so much about the case meant that eventually seeing the film was less impactful than it might other have been. It was less gripping simply cos I knew what was going to happen. And I had already had my emotional reaction before watching the movie, so this time was milder.
Sonam didn’t particularly impress me either. But I’m glad the film was made and that Neerja’s bravery was saluted, and her memories brought to the fore.

Potter Books plus Movies
Devoured the books for the fourth time – they’re just so good. The movies are pretty mediocre in comparison…

Kapoor and Sons
A well-made, decent film, that has its heart in the right place and is watchable throughout, but with only a few moments of brilliance (unlike something like Piku, which was similar in style but just exponentially higher in terms of quality of both writing and acting). Alia is a pleasure to watch and even though that should be expected from her given that she delivers repeatedly, I’m still surprised each time! Sidharth is fine but Sushant would have been awesome. As for Fawad – huge respect to him for having the balls to take on this role. Especially given that he is Pakistani.

Naamkaran
A pretty cool short film directed by Konkona Sen Sharma. Can’t really describe it but it’s on YouTube and worth a look – only 17 mins long.

Salaam Bombay
Watched this for the second time cos some friends wanted to see it. Was interesting watching it in the light of having just got back from Bombay.

Na Ghar Ke Na Ghaat Ke
I hadn’t heard of this comedy about a naive village guy who moves to Bombay and receives a massive culture shock. Great fun.

Airlift
I really enjoyed this and it far exceeded my expectations. I was expecting an overdose of patriotism but it was actually a pretty interesting take on what that even means. I liked the way the characters were written, and am not sure why Nimrat was panned in some reviews cos I thought she was very good. Akshay did a very good job too.

Dark Star: The Loneliness of Being Rajesh Khanna (book)
Fantastic! One of the best books I’ve read in this genre – far more insightful than usual. A fascinating insight into the ‘superstar’ as well as his movies. His story has the makings of a great movie!

Aap Ki Kasam
After the book I felt I should watch a Khanna movie, and this one has been on my list because of all the great Lata-Kishore duets, and it stars my favorite actor, Sanjeev Kumar (who unfortunately didn’t have much to do). RDB’s sparkling soundtrack is the highlight of this movie about a marriage ruined by the husband’s suspicious nature. The dragged out redemption at the end got on my nerves.

Mahabharat (1965)
I’ve been obsessed with Mahabharat since I watched the BR Chopra show as a child, so was intrigued when I found out that a movie was made in the sixties. Unfortunately it’s not very good! Pradeep Kumar plays Arjun…can’t get much worse than that!!

Smita Patil: A Brief Incandescence (book)
This biography by Maithili Rao is brilliant, and is no doubt going to lead me to revisit many of Smita’s movies. I watched a lot of them when I was a teenager and didn’t really appreciate them fully (especially films like Nishant, Manthan and Bhumika). I saw the book release function where Amitabh and Shabana both spoke, as well as Prateik. She sounds like a fascinating person.

Tamana
I watched this Mahesh Bhatt film on the day of Nida Fazli’s death. I have always loved his lyrics, and in this particular film he’s even inspired Anu Malik to come up with possibly his career best soundtrack (each song is a gem). It’s a shame Pooja stopped acting – she’s very good. It’s based on the true story of a girl brought up by a Hijra (a brilliant Paresh Rawal), after he finds her on the street. Good to see Manoj Bajpai who is a pleasure to watch.

Sadak
I guess Tamana gave me an appetite to watch more Mahesh Bhatt movies. I can kind of see how this love story did so well (apparently seventh biggest hit of the decade?!) but it hasn’t really aged well. Some great Nadeem-Shravan melodies though and an impressive lead pair: Sanjay Dutt plays a cabbie who falls for Pooja Bhatt, a trapped hooker.

Zakhm
Completed a hat-trick of Mahesh Bhatt-Pooja Bhatt movies, and this one is in a league of its own. Incredibly moving and brilliantly acted, with a stunning soundtrack.

Fitoor
There was much I loved about this adaptation of Great Expectations (a novel I haven’t yet read). Tabu, as always, is a joy to observe. The Urdu dialogues and Amit Trivedi’s music are top notch, as are the locations and cinematography. Unlike Bajirao Mastani where the ‘passionate’ love story actually appeared rather hollow, here I was totally convinced by Aditya’s all-consuming love for Katrina. He’s been panned in a few reviews I read but personally I thought he was decent enough (though no doubt Sushant would have been better). I was most concerned that Katrina would ruin the film, but actually I found her less jarring than usual for most of the film (and for once I thought she genuinely looked alluring instead of lifeless). Sadly though, in the few dramatic scenes she has, her inability to act is evident. The first half was brilliant, but unfortunately dipped a little in the second when moments became hard to follow (where are they? whose child is that? who did she just give that package to?) Also, the child performances in the first half were far, far better than the adults in the second half. I think the reviews though are being very harsh – def an interesting film to watch.

I’m back from a long three week holiday in India. Initially I wanted to write a detailed account of my adventures but not sure if that’s going to happen. So in summary, I started in Bombay (which no doubt is the craziest place in the world and I can totally see why its inhabitants find it addictive), then went to Kerala (insanely beautiful and very very green – we started with Munnar, then Thekkadey, both of which had a great climate and hilly/mountainous terrain, then Alleppey where we stayed in a houseboat, and finally Kochi). After that we went to Rajasthan, probably my favourite leg of the trip (Udaipur was crazy crowded because of NYE, and my favourite was Jodhpur – the Mehrangarh fort is one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in my life, and Jaipur was great too.

I loved the food in Rajasthan, and the street musicians were magic – especially when singing Kesariya Balmaa). Then we headed to Uttar Pradesh where Agra lived up to all expectations, and then Delhi which I initially hated but then it grew on me. What I loved about India was the food, the music, the resilience of its people, the languages and the overwhelming sense of life. What I hated was the overload of religion (one evening the roads were noisy and blocked because Muslims were observing Milad-un-Nabi, and the next night it was the same because Hindus had a mandir utsav) – when I went to my own quiet place of prayer (Jamatkhana) all we could hear was the commotion outside – I found the whole thing inconsiderate towards the rest of society, especially as the attitude of the ‘celebrators’ was pretty aggressive. Apart from that, I HATED the pujaris/mullahs I had the misfortune of meeting in Ajmer and Pushkar – all they care about is looting people and it totally ruined the experience of seeing these places (Fatehpur Sikri and Nizamuudin were not as bad, but Haji Ali was actually the best in terms of not being harassed). I must say though, I was pleased at how well all the different communities and religions get along at the ground level – I certainly didn’t see ‘intolerance’ among the regular people (if anything, I felt like I was the intolerant one!). Finally, I found the state of the children in India heartbreaking. Even in East Africa I hadn’t seen this much poverty and child labour. How can one enjoy holiday pleasures frequenting hotels and restaurants when there are hungry children, walking barefoot in rags on the street outside? Next trip I want to see Gujarat, Kashmir, Kashi, Lucknow and Jaisalmer.

Anyway, back to movies – here’s my latest set.

Teen Kanya
A beautiful collection of three relatively short films by Satyajit Ray. Postmaster (a new postman arrives in a village, and develops a relationship with his young maid), Monihara (a ghost story about a couple and their jewels), Samapti (the marriage of a child-woman and her development). This is Ray at his best and one of his very early films after the Apu Trilogy. I’ve been working through his filmography and now only have a few left to watch.

Bajirao Mastani
I found it generally pretty watchable, and for once Bhansali’s addiction to opulence was fitting rather than jarring, given the setting of the film. He also managed to reign the loudness that made Devdas/Ram Leela etc so painful. I thought the performances were decent though nobody particularly impressed me. Surprisingly, I felt Deepika was missing her usual spark. The music was better than Bhansali’s last few attempts at composing, though not on the level of the work Ismail Darbar produced for him earlier. But my problem with the film was that despite the beautiful casing, it lacked soul. I didn’t end up particularly caring about any of the characters and the ‘love story’ that is supposed to be the centre of the film was underwhelming to say the least. Bajirao’s character I felt was rather lazily written, in that his decisions and motivations weren’t convincing. I loved the sets though – the forts and palaces reminded me so much of what I saw in Rajasthan and Agra. Since the movie I’m hooked on Aayat and listen to it several times a day.

Wazir:
Unfortunately it’s a mediocre film with plotholes and silly inconsistency (do these people not bother to watch/alter/amend their movies before releasing them) but elevated to the level of being pretty watchable thanks to Amitabh, Farhan and Aditi (she’s beautiful!). Some moderately decent music too.

Jalsaghar
I had high expectations from this Ray film, which he made between the second and third of the Apu films, but I think I will need to watch it again at some point, because I didn’t quite appreciate it as much as many of his other movies. This probably isn’t the best way to describe it, but to me it felt more ‘observational’ rather than ‘interactional’ (yes I know that’s not a word, but i don’t mean interactive) and so that might be why it appealed less to me. The film reminded me slightly of SBAG, in that it portrays the decline of the Bengali zamindars.

Elf
I watched this on the flight, having seen it a year ago in New York, and enjoyed it just as much this time. A Christmas classic.

Bombay Velvet
Saw this on the flight too and found it very watchable, even though I couldn’t really connect to any of the characters. I think Kashyap’s downfall was the fact that the film was being described as his big chance to make a blockbuster, which it clearly wasn’t going to be – is just not that kinda movie. I found Ranbir kinda unconvincing – I think Abhishek might have been a better choice. Johar was fun!

PK
Saw this on a houseboat in the backwaters of Kerala, as they only had a few working DVDs. Actually I enjoyed it a lot more this time around than when I’d seen it on the day of release. At the time I had been slightly underwhelmed but this time I loved it. And I feel like I lived part of this movie when I visited both Ajmer and Pushkar and encountered monstrous ‘god-men’ in both places whose only purpose in life is to rip-off innocent visitors.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
I’ve avoided this film forever, despite positive reports from friends, but finally caught it on my flight back from India, and actually enjoyed it. Stellar cast, and I could relate to so much (I’m secretly a retired old English white man).

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
I watched this the day after I got back – was good to see lots of Jaipur again.

The Darjeeling Unlimited
Watched this on the flight. It’s about three weird looking estranged brothers who reunite in India. The American humour wasn’t great in comparison to the English wit of Best Exotic but I somehow got through it.

Paper Town
A decent teen drama (I’m a sucker for them) that grew on me as it went on and actually tied up very well.

Boyhood
I’d been wanting to see this for a long time, and wasn’t disappointed. Linklater made this over 12 years (with the plot basically observing a boy’s life at various episodes from the age of 6 until 18), and he remains as insightful as ever about human character and interpersonal relationships.

27 Down
I was afraid this ‘art house’ movie was going to be dull, but I actually really liked it. It’s a 1974 film but is in black and white, beautifully filmed with many scenes showing the railways. Apparently the director died in an accident soon after making this film, so it remains his only work. It is about a young man who’s family experience causes him to develop in a particular way, until he meets a girl (an alluring Raakhee), and this transforms him for a bit…but then do people really change?

Kaun Apna Kaun Paraya
A boring 60s lost and found drama starring Waheeda Rahman, who is the sole positive of this film.

Bombay Talkies
Watched this again recently, and really enjoyed all four segments. I think I liked Zoya’s section best.

Antareen
I picked up the DVD of this Mrinal Sen directed film, which stars Dimple. It is about a writer and an isolated woman who start having random phone conversations. Dimple looks beautiful but this film is painfully dull – lots of staring into the horizon and long pauses. When Rituparno Ghosh makes this kinda movie I usually love it, but this was torture.

Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo
The first half was mildly entertaining. The second half was atrocious – seriously terrible filmmaking. Barjatya has lost whatever magic touch he once had in the nineties (and showed glimpses of again in Vivaah). And he’s let down by a lead actress who can’t act and is utterly unconvincing. Salman carries the film but is let down by the lack of a plot and characters that anyone cares about.

Spectre
I’m not a Bond fan but a friend wanted to watch it, and actually I had fun. But I really don’t like Daniel Craig – I find him incredibly uncharismatic.

Inside Out
What creative brilliance! I’m a psychiatrist so naturally I was intrigued by this animation movie that explores the mind of a young girl, where the ’emotions’ are characters inside her brain. Personality consists of various ‘islands’, there is a ‘thought train’, memory spheres, an area of ‘subconscious’, and a theatre-like dream production set. A great idea for a movie and incredibly thought provoking.

Karma Aur Holi
This very mediocre movie is set in New York, and was clearly made in English but then ridiculously dubbed in Hindi (so you get all these non-Indian characters very bizarrely speaking Hindi. The film stars Sushmita (who is really a pleasure to watch here – so warm and likeable), Randeep Hudda, Suresh Oberoi, Rati Agnihotri, and is about a bunch of people who come together for an explosive Holi party. Not a bad idea but just very poorly made.

Heading to India next week, for a three week holiday – Mumbai, then Kerala (Cochin, Allepey, Thekkady, Munnar) then Rajasthan (Udaipr, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Agra, Delhi). Thanks to those of you who gave me advice about the planning. Any specific tips about these locations are welcome 🙂

So my recent set of viewings:

Haseena Maan Jaayegi
This Shashi Kapoor – Babita starrer was pretty awful. He plays twins (kinda like a reverse of Sharmilee) but the entire movie is irritating, the only positive being some nice songs.

I am Malala (Book)
I wanted to read this before watching the movie. It’s a pretty quick and easy read but is also gripping. It gave me a crash course in the history of Pakistan and it’s political leaders, the Pashto culture (in particular the status of women), and primary source description of life under the Taliban. Malala speaks her mind and is critical of not just the Taliban but also the Pakistani government and army (though also gives credit where it’s due). She isn’t afraid to criticise America either so those calling her a western propaganda tool are not justified. Yes, she may well be used for that purpose, but her message goes far beyond that. As for those saying ‘why her when there are so many others who have suffered more and have achieved more, I would say that Malala too could say ‘Why me? Why did I have to be born in such a society?’ but instead she is committed to improving her own country as well as the world at large in whatever way she can. Respect.

Malala (Movie/Documentary)
Not much to add to the above, other than this was very well-made, and incredibly inspirational.

The Examined Life (book)
Written by an analyst, he describes a series of his cases, each summarised briefly and enlightening us as to how sense can be made of ourselves using psychoanalysis. I’m not sure what to say about the book except it didn’t really work for me.

Katti Batti
It wasn’t until an hour and forty minutes of this imbecilic and utterly unconvincing film that there was finally a scene that was remotely interesting…but then thirty seconds into that scene and the imbecility was back in full form. And then comes the farcical reveal prior to the moving climax.

The Martian
A relatively simple and watchable space film. Far more watchable and enjoyable than Gravity, and perhaps more accessible than Interstellar (but at the same time far less thought provoking).

Talvar
Watched this at the London Film Festival, and after the showing they interviewed Meghna on stage. Very well made film, decent acting, engaging throughout and extremely well written.

Doosra Aadmi
Finally got around to seeing this rather intriguing late 70s film, in which Raakhee plays an older woman who becomes somewhat involved with a younger married man (Rishi Kapoor, married to Neetu) because he reminds her of her deceased partner, Shashi Kapoor. The first huge positive is the soundtrack by Rajesh Roshan. This is possibly his finest collection of tracks: Aankhon mein kaajal hai, Nazron se kehdo, Aao maanaye jashn-e-mahobbat, and the spectacular Chal kahin door nikal jaaye. Lata is on sparkling form, and Kishore/Rafi are no less. As for the movie, I was impressed that they didn’t shy away from exporting certain things (though yes the ending was unimpressive). Performances were fine but can’t say I’m a fan of any of the cast (and Raakhee was not attractive after 1973).

Gustakhi Maaf
For so long I had been looking for this reverse version of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, starring Tanuja in the double role and Sanjeev Kumar (who of course later did Angoor where he took on Tanuja’s role). This isn’t on the same level as Gulzar’s classic (which itself was a remake of Do Dooni Char, starring Kishore Kumar) but Tanuja and Sanjeev are two of my most favourite stars so was fun seeing them amidst the confusion.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
This set of three films (individually called Him, Her and Them) sounded a more interesting idea than it turned out to be. It is the same story of a marriage in difficulty, told in each film from the perspective of the guy, the girl and then a combination of the two (ie an amalgamated version of the other two films). This is no Before… trilogy (which I guess is why I was disappointed).

Jazbaa
Aishwariya’s utter inability to act is well-deserving of this dreadful film. A serious storyline with numerous plotholes, unconvincing performances and a ridiculous colour scheme. Irfan Khan’s lines are about the only positive thing in this ‘thriller’ that is not even mildly intriguing let alone gripping.

Matru Ki Bjili Ka Mandola
I wasn’t sure if I’d like this, given that sometimes Vishal’s films are just too frenetic for me (eg Kaminey) but actually I enjoyed this a lot. Loads of great writing and clever references. Pankaj Kapoor was excellant but I’d have liked someone more substatntial than Imran. Anushka’s character didn’t quite work for me, but she was very good.

Baat Niklegi To Phir (Book)
Really enjoyed this biography of Jagjit Singh by Sathya Saran. There is a lot of very interesting information about his background, years of struggle and his relationship with Chitra (including the tragic deaths of both their children). The image left of Chitra and the end is quite haunting. I would have liked some more discussion about specific songs, albums and other artistes he worked with but that’s a matter of my personal interest rather than a shortcoming of the book.

Joru Ka Ghulam
A really sweet romantic comedy starting Rajesh Khanna (from his peak years) and Nanda (in a glamour avtaar).

Anupama
I can watch this repeatedly, for countless reasons.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Theatre)
So much fun.

Lekin
My flatmate agreed to watch this which pleased me as it’s one of my most favourite films. The soundtrack by Hridaynath, the performances (especially Dimple) and Gulzar’s general magic touch makes this Lata Mangeshkar production very, very special.

Do Chor
Watched this for the cast (Dharam and Tanuja) and the great soundtrack (my favourite being the Lata-Kishore duet Kali Palak Teri Gori). The film itself was just mildly watchable.

Dastaan (Pak serial)
I struggled through this one. It stars Fawad Khan and takes us through the times of partition, and doesn’t shelter us from the brutalities that occurred. At times the show was incredibly insightful and moving, and yet managed to be irritating in other ways. I did feel it was rather anti-Hindu/Sikh at times, but by the end I wasn’t sure because it was shall pretty harsh about the Muslims and their behaviour in Pakistan post the split. I imagine that for those involved either personally or historically through their family, this show may be pretty controversial but I was watching it from a pretty neural standpoint and I don’t really rate it very highly. An interesting effort but clumsy too often.

Tamasha
I’ve now seen it three times (in the space of five days!)
My thoughts after the first time:
It’s hard to talk about this film without giving too much away. Unlike most movies, the trailers for this one kept the important stuff under wraps. So we know the basic plot that Deepika and Ranbir meet in Corsica, have fun without giving away who they are, but then when they meet back home things are not as they were. But that outline barely scratches the surface of this brilliant movie.
There’s so much to talk about that an essay could easily be justified. But in picking out the highlights, I would have to mention:
-The intriguing start to the film, where stories and the art of storytelling are imprinted onto the soul of the young boy. Even before we see the title screen, we know that at the very least we are gonna get an ‘interesting’ film
-At the interval I genuinely had no idea how Imtiaz was going to resolve what was happening on-screen. Even if one might guess the resolution, the path taken to reach it was never predictable. Yet the way it all came together was sheer genius.
-The line between carefully held together sanity and the descent into madness. This leads to some of the best scenes in the movie, both outside Deepika’s flat and in the bar prior to Agar Tum Saath Ho (incidentally the finest song of the year)
-Perfect performances from both Deepika (from whom one expects nothing less) and Ranbir (who is back to the top game he brought to Barfi). The luminous former looks as great as she performs, and the latter is raw, vulnerable and utterly uninhibited; they are very clearly the actors of their generation.
-Rahman’s music is one of his best from the past decade, and Imtiaz uses it perfectly, blending it beautifully between the characters and plot. The lyrics are so perfectly created for the movie that it highlights how unusual this is in current cinema.
-Whilst the Corsica segment might superficially resemble the pretentious nonsense of ZNMD, it’s actually not so in any way, because of how much it tells us about the characters (though we may not realise it until much later).
-Ranbir’s climactic scenes both with the storyteller as well as with his family could have gone so wrong, but Imtiaz and his lead actor pitch it perfectly.
-The post-climax scene (in Tokyo) was a delight to watch, particularly given the preceding jolts one has been exposed to.
I’m not surprised that this film has drawn extreme reactions. It’s not for the average moviegoer and I won’t be surprised if it flops. But Imtiaz Ali has made the finest film of his career, and also given Ranbir the opportunity to deliver his finest performance.
After the second viewing:
So much of what happens earlier in the film makes far more sense now. For example Ranbir’s decision at their first meeting is all part of him wanting to escape his ‘real’ life which isn’t actually his real life, and he can be the version of himself that has been buried away. And then Deepika’s entire behaviour post the birthday party – although on first viewing it appeared that she was being unreasonable and kinda crazy, actually she perhaps saw through the facade and knew what was really underneath, and she was almost playing the role of a therapist in helping him ‘heal’


Kaun
A friend came over and picked this out of my DVD collection. I hadn’t seen it since it first released in the late 90s, and I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable the film still is. Urmila-RGV was a great combo in those days and I pretty much enjoyed every film they did together at that time. And Manoj Bajpai here is splendid.

Bheja Fry
After Kaun we needed something light so my friend recommended this, and it was a blast. I don’t remember the last time I laughed so much. The simple story about a wannabe singer, played by the fantastic Vinay Pathak is a must-watch.

Phantom
If this had someone other than Katrina, it might have been more watchable. It’s a rather mediocre movie but I didn’t have any issues with the politics of it(it’s basically suggesting that India should hunt down the terrorists of 26/11 – if Pakistanis find that offensive then that’s rather concerning, if not surprising).

Shakespeare Wallah
The more of these Merchant Ivory films I watch the less patience I have with them. This one is about a group of touring Shakespearean actors who are less in demand than previously. As usual Shashi Kapoor is there, required only to look charming.

Before Midnight
Finally got around to seeing the last part of this incredible trilogy, which deserves much more than a couple of inadequate lines by me, so suffice it to say that these are a must watch.

Stockholm
A pretty engaging Spanish small-budget film, not so dissimilar in style to the Before… trilogy. Explores how things change between a guy and girl after they sleep together.

Midnight’s Children
I watched this at the theatre over a decade ago, and didn’t particularly like it. I struggled with the novel. And now watched the movie and struggled through that too. I’m not entirely sure what I think of it, and reading Rangan’s review didn’t help much either 😉

Dasvidaniya
This stars Vinay Pathak playing a simple guy who leads a dull life but after being diagnosed with a terminal illness starts to work through a final to-do list. Nothing extraordinary but some really nice individual scenes and lots of good acting. Decent music too.

Welcome Back
We went to see Katti Batti but it was sold out so we ended up seeing this trash instead. But because I didn’t expect anything better, it wasn’t as painful as it could have been. So many good performers in such a dumb film.

Avataar
Finally saw this, ‘must-watch’ James Cameron classic, and was rather underwhelmed. Great graphics don’t make a great film… And the endless noisy fighting at the climax gave me a headache.

Daniel Deronda (novel)
Yet again, George Eliot confirms my view that she is the greatest novelist of all time. Her insight into human character stuns me each time I visit her works, and I’m glad there are still three more books of hers that I am yet to read.

Big Hero 6
Watched this following a recommendation from a friend. It was fun, and more layered than I expected. Tra-la-la-la

Wreck It Ralph
Recommended by the same friend. Very cool idea (it takes us into the world of characters in a computer game) and lots of great lines. My favourite scene is the Oreo song!

Zindagi Gulzar Hai (Pak serial)
The basic premise of this show reminded me of Pride and Prejudice. The lead characters are so brilliantly well written – and their complexities after portrayed very well by the actors. The rest of the cast are excellent too. And so many complex issues about society and human character are explored very sensitively (yet again at times the perspective is not one I agree with). Loved this show and now I miss it.

Sadqe Tumhaare (Pak serial)
I watched this for Mahira and she was awesome as always, but I didn’t enjoy it! The show was pitched like a Bhansali movie, so by the end of 27 episodes I thought my head would explode. Not to say that there weren’t some positives. The music and poetry were both impressive, and Mahira is a perpetual pleasure to behold.

Matilda (Theatre)
Fun overall but some bits were insufferable (whenever her parents were on stage – their performances were so high pitched and irritating).

Arenyer Din Ratri
One of Ray’s masterpieces about some friends who go for a holiday in a jungle area and their ensuing encounters with the local ladies. Must mention that Sharmila Tagore looks luminous.

Asukh
Another intimate Bengali drama from Rituparno Ghosh, on the themes of trust, betrayal and the father-daughter relationship. Gloomy but very good.

Kamla Ki Maut
Kamla commits suicide, leading to all the nearby women reflecting upon their own troubled relationships. Ashutosh Gowarikar plays one of the boyfriends! And one of the girls is the wonderful Rupa Ganguli. Pankaj Kapoor and Supriya Pathak are also there, the former playing a man-whore and the latter one of his many victims!!

Impossible (Theatre)
This West End magic/illusion show in London was spectacular. The run has now come to an end but I would highly recommend it if they perform elsewhere.


Tanu Weds Manu Returns
Watched this without having seen the original. Kangana is spectacular and the dialogues are a delight. I thought the concept of this film was very interesting and I loved how messy everything was left at the end.
Watched it a second time and because I didn’t need to focus on the plot I could enjoy how awesome the dialogues are.

Tanu Weds Manu
Watched this at home the next day. Was cool watching the movies the wrong way around, in terms of seeing the back story of the characters (who are all less crazy to start with!). Enjoyed it but think the sequel is a lot more interesting.

Sonar Kella
The first of Ray’s two Feluda movies. Really enjoyed this one (on par with the second, Joi Babu Felunath). The detective explores a case of kidnapping against the backdrop of past life regression in a young boy.

NH 10
I was a little disappointed with this film. The first twenty minutes are intriguing but then something happens and basically continues for the entire reminder of the film. Decent acting but I found it hard to stay engaged with the movie – so much more could have been done in terms of what was going on in the characters’ minds.

OK Kanmani
So many years after Alai Payuthey yet Ratnam proves that nobody can show romance like he does. I LOVED every single scene of this movie and want to see it again.

Avengers 2: Age of Ultron
This was mildly entertaining but far too long and repetitive – the endless fighting sequences got on my nerves, which is a shame because the sporadic one-liners were pretty witty.

Prem Pujari
This Dev Anand directed film was far worse than I’d imagined. Sensitive boy doesn’t fit in to the army so runs away and becomes a spy. The idea isn’t actually so bad but what we see on screen is dreadful. Utterly unconvincing and Dev’s acting is awful. Waheeda Rahman and the music by SD Burman are the only saving graces. I’ve not watched any other of Dev’s directed films but I hear they just got worse, which is hard to imagine considering how crap the first one is.

Hare Rama Hare Krishna
This Dev Anand directed film, co-starring Mumtaz and Zeenat Aman was surprisingly watchable. Awesome soundtrack, a vibrant Mumtaz and an interesting plot about a brother tracking down his estranged druggie sister make up for the incredibly irritating Dev Anand’s lack of skills as a director (and actor for that matter).

Dum Laga Ke Haisha
I was really disappointed that this never released in the UK (no idea why). Finally caught out online. A sweet rom-com – well written and well acted, especially by Bhumi in her debut. Ayushman bores me though.

Piku
Best Hindi film I’ve seen in a long long time. Fantastic performances, particularly Deepika who is nothing short of brilliant in some scenes. Amitabh and Irfan are great as expected. Really loved this movie. Have seen it three times now.

Pratidwandi
This was the first of Ray’s Calcutta trilogy, but I watched the other two before this one (Jana Aranya and Seemabadha).

Once
This musical set in Dublin, about a street musician and a flower selling Czech girl was recommended by a colleague. I can see why people liked this so much, but give me the Before trilogy any day.

Dil Dhadakne Do
Without being impressive in any way, this film still managed to keep me pretty entertained for three hours. I liked it MUCH more than ZNMD (although the music in DDD was even worse – loud and pointless). The highlight is Ranveer, who is genuinely a joy to watch in every frame that he is present. Shefali is a pleasure as always, and everyone else is competent, except Rahul Bose who is reliably creepy.

Entourage (film)
Loved it. Objectively it might not be great cinema, but it was so good to see the guys again. I really miss the tv show. As for those complaining that the film is sexist etc, I think that’s ridiculous. It’s portraying a world that does exist (and one that I would love to exist in!).

Minnions
I went along with some friends without knowing what to expect. Um, it was bizarre! Strange yellow creatures…

Bajrangi Bhaijaan
First Salman film I’ve seen in the cinema in over a decade. Couldn’t resist the overwhelmingly positive response to the film, and I think it’s justified. Intrigued to see what Salman does next with his career.

Humsafar (Pak serial)
I somehow started watching this Pakistani drama serial (of which there are only 23 episodes), which I hear was phenomenally successful, and i was hooked almost immediately. Hearing the beautiful Urdu was a delight, and the lead pair of Fawad and Mahira were both excellent.

Shehr-e-Zaat (Pak serial)
Very interesting theme, in which a materialistic, self-centred girl slowly learns about the realities of life, and discovers a love for god along the way. Mahira is fantastic, especially given how unsympathetic her character is. I found the perspective of the show quite problematic at times (especially the irritatingly devout grandmother), but that only made watching it more interesting.

Anand
I felt like revisiting this because of some stuff going on in life. Beautiful film – incredible music and moving performances. Hrishida at his peak.

Party
This Govind Nihalani film is set during one evening, amidst the gathering of a bunch of pretentious, rather despicable rich socialites. A lot more fun than I expected (though the philosophical discussions about art and politics got a bit heavy towards the end!). And a great cast of art-house stars.


Subha
Smita Patil is married and has a daughter but takes a remote job running an ashram for destitute women. She has to deal with a rotten system and also the drama of her utterly worthless husband. Smita is excellant and Lata’s diving Tum Aasha Vishvaas Hamaare provides the solace in this dark film.

Alai Payuthey
Been wanting to see this for so many years. Loved it. Beautifully shot. Loved the intimacy. Yet again Mani gives his lead actress a great role.

How To Get Away With Murder (Season 1)
This slightly trashy show about a bunch of law students embroiled in a murder was watchable but not in a high quality way. But I guess now that I’ve watched the first season I’ll probably continue when it returns in autumn.

OK Kanmani
So many years after Alai Payuthey but Rathnam proves that nobody can show romance as awesomely as he does. I LOVED every scene of this film and want to see it again.

Detective Byomkesh Bakshi
I found the first half pretty riveting but then slightly lost interest post interval, until the lively climax. Sushant was awesome – he’s my favourite out of all the new guys and I really hope he does well. I was a little disappointed that none of the actresses were attractive.

Mirch Masala
I have a distinct memory of seeing this film’s climax (involving red chillies) when I was a kid and my parents were watching it.A splendid cast including Paresh Rawal, Naseeruddin Shah in a delightfully evil role, Dina Pathak, Raj Babbar, Supriya Pathak, Suresh Oberoi, my favourite Deepti Naval and a very feisty Smita Patil in this village-set drama where the locals are terrorised by the local Subedaar.

Badlaapur
This was actually a pretty well-made film, with decent performances and some very interesting characters.

Ganashatru
An upstanding doctor discovers that the holy water at a nearby temple is contaminated and showing disease, but encounters problems when he speaks up. An interesting idea but less gripping than Ray’s other final movies. Endearing performances by Soumitra Chatterjee, Mamta Shankar (who I really like!) and Ruma Guha (Kishore Kumar’s first wife!).

Ek Phool Chaar Kaante
I’ve wanted to see this Sunil Dutt – Waheeda Rahman comedy for so long. I was delighted to see it uploaded onto YouTube recently. It’s about a girl with four eccentric unless, each looking for different qualities in her suitor, so our hero had to win them all over in turn.

Vandana
One of Sadhana’s later movies. Terrible melodrama about an orphan who gets unfairly embroiled in legal hassles, co-starring Parkishit Sahni, with a couple of nice sounds.

Margarita, With a Straw
Saw this at the London Indian Film Festival. Yes there is nudity and lesbians and disability and inter-racial promiscuity, but actually this is a very well-acted (especially Kalki and Revatty), well-made movie which not only has it’s heart in the right place but is also very watchable.

The Casual Vacancy (BBC Series)
I really enjoyed the JK Rowling novel when I read it last year. This TV adaptation was not bad but as per usual, too much of the book was missing, leaving me unsatisfied.

Suits (Season Four)
Awesome as always – the season never feels long enough!

The Book of Mormon (theatre)
Brilliant

Four Lions

This comedy suicide bombers didn’t make me laugh very often, but Riz Khan was very good.

Utsav
A period drama set during the composition of the Kamasutra. Rekha plays a prostitute in love with a married man. The film is an interesting cross-section of the society of the time. Good music. The acting wasn’t entirely convincing but Shashi Kapoor is very funny as a lecherous royal.

Utsab
Fantastic family drama by Rituparno Ghosh, set during Durga Puja. As always he creates fascinating, nuanced characters. Genuinely rivetting throughout.

Sati
I’ve loved every film I’ve seen that Aparna Sen directed, so I was pretty disappointed that this one didn’t match up. Shabana Azmi plays a manglik, mute, orphan girl who gets married off to a tree. Honestly I was just bored by the proceedings and struggled to have any interest in the peculiar characters.

Chor Machaaye Shor
I needed to watch something light and Hindi after all the serious bengali movies. Shashi Kapoor plays an engineer falsely convicted of attempted rape, because he was in love with rich girl Mumtaz (who is delightful throughout, not to mention very beautiful). He and his fellow prisoners escape and pose as social workers in a village. The soundtrack is one great song after another, making the film pass effortlessly.

A View From The Bridge (Theatre)
Was great to revisit this play that I’d studied at school.

Mississippi Masala
A girl from a Hindu family of Ugandan Asians, now living in America, falls for a black guy. I found the early scenes showing the expulsion quite moving because my family also went through the same thing. Sharmila Tagore plays the girl’s mother – she looks so beautiful and elegant.

Autograph
I really enjoyed this Bengali film, which tells the story of a debut director who wishes to remake Ray’s Nayak. Nandana Sen is awesome and the film too is very intriguing

Kaapurush-o-Mahapurush
Really enjoyed this pair of Ray movies. The former reminded me of Devdas, where a guy who lacks the courage to embrace his girl has to live with the regretful consequences of his cowardice. The latter is about a ‘holy man’ and the crowd of followers around him. Both parts are awesome, and Ray at his finest.

Shamitabh
Innovative, fresh and funny. Brilliantly watchable performances.

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (Theatre)
Went to see the theatre production with very low expectations but it was great fun, in particular the incredibly sarcastic one-liners by Wonka. The book was a childhood favourite and I’m gonna revisit it soon.

Roy
One of the most pretentious pieces of crap I’ve ever had the misfortune to watch. Hideous dialogues: “Baatein jhooti ho sakti hain Kabir, kahaaniyaan nahin”. Dreadful characterisations paired with atrocious acting by both Arjun and Jacqueline. Ranbir Kapoor wins the award for the most loyal friend of the year as he apparently did the role as a favour. The film limps to an excruciatingly slow, painful and pointless end.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Recommended by a friend. Enjoyed it and given that it’s so cold currently this made me really want to go to Hawaii!

The Woman in Black (Theatre)
I’d gone to see this over ten years ago and enjoyed it this time round too, but not as much as the first time.

Mughal-e-Azam
Always a pleasure to revisit my favourite film.

Dum Maaro Dum
Loud, flashy, chaotic. Not my kinda thing.

Dolly Ki Doli
Quirky and mildly enjoyable. Sonam seemed slightly out of sorts and a more appealing cast would have been appreciated. Loud songs that made me want to go home, but there was a nice Rahat solo.

Baby
This was actually a pretty decent film. Akshay’s inadequacies as an actor were the biggest flaw, but otherwise I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected.

Pehli Jhalak
Vyjayantimala plays a very cool ‘feminist’ who rejects her husband-to-be who insists on seeing her face before marriage to check she’s good looking. She says she doesn’t want such a superficial husband and tells him where to get off. Kishore Kumar and Pran then join this somewhat watchable comedy-drama. Nice songs and dances.

Ek Duje Ke Liye
Figured I should finally see this because of the director’s recent death.

Hawaaizaada
This was one of the most boring cinema experiences of my life. Irritating performances, excessively dull music, ridiculously made-up sets, a plot that elicited no interest and characters that elicited no care. It’s a shame as there clearly had been a lot of effort put into this pointless film.

Heat and Dust
A young English girl travels to India and we simultaneously see Hart story as well as that of Olivia, who had moved there after marriage during the time of the empire and had had an affair with the Nawab (Shashi Kapoor, charming as ever). Nothing special but watchable.

Iti Mrinalini
I love Aparna Sen’s cinema – she makes exactly ‘my’ kind of movies, though they are often called pretentious and self-indulgent by others. The film begins with her writing a suicide letter. She plays an aging actress and in flashback we see Konkona (magnificent as always) playing her younger self, set amidst the Calcutta film industry. Really enjoyed it though the number of tragedies seemed slightly over-done.

Ask The Dust (Novel)
A friend lent me this John Fante book and we only later realised it is the third part of a quarter. The main character is a writer who has moved to LA. The style is so unique that I can’t describe it, but can certainly recommend it.

Her
A friend recommended this as his favourite film of last year. I thought it was an interesting concept (if I was an IT professor I’d show it to my students). I don’t really like the lead actor.

The Substance and The Shadow (Dilip Kumar’s autobiography)
This was obviously an interesting read – Dilip Kumar was introduced by Devika Rani and he’s been present through all the eras of Hindi cinema since. But I can’t say I was satisfied by the book. The brutal honesty one craves in this kind of book was missing. There is a mild air of pomposity (more manipulative than the delusions of grandeur that were evident in Dev Anand’s book) and he skims over the most interesting issues! Most irritating was the way he tries to make it sound like he was tricked into marrying Asma (briefly, before running back to Saira). And also, at times he sounds extremely chauvinistic (indicating that a wife’s role is to basically to dedicate herself to serving her husband). That said, the Dilip Kumar of the 40s up until the early 60s remains in my opinion the greatest actor of all time, and reading his life story is worthwhile.


Sadgati

Krantiveer
Took me twenty years to finally see this film. The fiery dialogues and collection of superb performances were very impressive, led by Nana Patekar and Dimple, followed by Paresh Rawal and Danny. The poor songs meant I skipped a good 30 minutes of the movie but otherwise thoroughly enjoyed it.

Devi
This early Ray film, didn’t quite work for me, for the reason that young Sharmila’s character didn’t make sense to me. But that might just mean the film needs a rewatch. Given that PK just came out this film and the audience reaction to it is interesting.

Mardaani
This was a lot more enjoyable than I expected. Rani was in top form after ages.

Kanchenjugha
Ray’s first colour film (for some reason he didn’t make another one until a decade later). it’s set in a mountain resort, with an upper class Bengali family, with each character dealing with their own drama. There’s a semi-romantic track too and I kept half-expecting it to turn into a Shammi Kapoor style sixties musical set in Kashmir! i found the acting slightly ‘odd’ and I’m afraid I can’t think of any other way to describe it. Watchable, but for me not one of his best.

Aitbaar
A pretty solid marital drama, based on Hitchcock’s Dial M For Murder, starring Dimple (she always looks incredibly beautiful but here she is seriously breathtaking), Raj Babbar and Suresh Oberoi.

Haque
This was a really terrible movie, with a somewhat interesting plot (about a rotten politician who pays goons to attack him and his pregnant wife so he can frame they opposition) but made with no logic or sense. However, the lead pairing of Dimple and Anupam Kher somehow make it watchable.

Sadgati
This 45 minute made for tv film by Satyajit Ray stars Om Puri and Smita Patil. I’ve watched a lot of Ray lately but this was the first one I found quite hard to watch and was grateful that it was so short. It’s a rural film and kinda reminded of Shyam Bengal movies from the same time.

Aankhon Dekhi
Was hoping this highly acclaimed film wouldn’t be a letdown, but I liked it a lot – great performances and do many wonderful ‘moments’.

Maine Pyar Kiya
Watched this whilst lying comatose on New Year’s Day. Really enjoyed seeing it again after so many years. Yes it’s aged but it remains charming. And Lata’s songs…spectacular 🙂

Ek Vivaah Aisa Bhi
I guess seeing MPK got me in the mood for Rajshri movies, otherwise why would I have watched this (and even worse, I actually seemed to enjoy it!!)

Tapasya
Ek Vivaah Aisa Bhi was a remake of this, and is actually a scene to scene copy for much of the movie. But what stands out in the original is the quality of performances by both Parikshit Sahni and Raakhee.

Firaaq
I know the film has led to much discussion here in the past. I finally saw it, and thought it was very well made.

Amar
Finally saw this Mehboob Khan production starring Dilip Kumar – Madhubala – Nimmi. Very interesting premise, where an upstanding lawyer, engaged to a beautiful and kind rich girl, in a moment of emotional turmoil forces himself on a vulnerable village girl. Dilip Kumar is awesome. But Madhubala! Hard to take one’s eyes of her – she is more radiant here than ever. And the Naushad soundtrack, with one Lata gem after the next is the icing on the cake. But as for the film itself, I felt it went downhill halfway through, mainly because much of it wasn’t convincing.

Hobbit Part 3
I hadn’t seen the first two but had read the book a few years ago so didn’t mind joining a friend to see this. Not on the same level as LOTR but enjoyable nevertheless.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist
I read the book some years back and from what I remember didn’t like it too much, and I didn’t really care for this movie adaptation either.

PK
I enjoyed it. But not overwhelmingly so like RH’s earlier films. I’m in no rush to rewatch it.

Chandni Chowk
A rare Meena Kumari film I was very excited to get hold of, particularly so as it’s directed by BR Chopra, whose movies are always pretty engrossing. But this was a misfire. Set in Delhi, amidst the Nawabs, the story never really lifts off.

Hera Pheri
There are so many Amitabh films I’ve not watched yet. Randomly caught this masala-comedy where he stars with Vinod Khanna and Saira Banu (neither of whom I’m a fan of). Watchable.

Dabangg
Finally saw this. I would have enjoyed this a lot if I was a Salman fan, but as it is I was just about entertained. Sonakshi however, is captivating and I wish she would do good movies so I could actually see her (the only film of her’s I’ve watched was the awesome Lootera).

Sun Mere Bandhu Re
Sathya Saran’s biography of SD Burman was a pleasant read. I’ve never considered Burman Dada to be one of the absolute greats (such as Madan Mohan, Salil Chaudhry and Roshan), but having been confronted by the songs discussed in this book, I’m probably being unfair. Guide, Bandini, Pyaasa, Abhimaan, Jewel Thief…all ‘complete’ albums in the true sense that each song is awesome, rather than a few selected chartbusters

Happy Ending
I could only watch 20 minutes of this trash. I’m so happy to see Saif wallowing in the crappy films he deserves, given how low his opinion is of Hindi cinema.

Bewaqoof
I’d seen this crazy Kishore Kumar – Pran – Mala Sinha comedy some time back but recently watched it again with my parents when I was visiting them. Lots of fun.

Main Tera Hero
Not funny.

The Rivals (Book)
This was a great read, about the rivalry over the years between Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. I’m too young (not often I get to say that now) to have seen these guys play each other but Martina is someone I’ve greatly admired. Really enjoyable read. As an aside, I was shocked during my recent trip to America that none of my friends there have heard of Navratilova!! In the UK just about everyone knows who she is. I also watched their documentary ‘Unmatched’ which shows the two of them discussing their relationship and it was very decent.

Peecha Karo
When Farooque Sheikh passed away I remember reading about this movie being a great comedy. Unfortunately I was particularly impressed or amused by this mediocre film.

Kill Dil
What’s up with everyone speaking about Govinda as some kind of legend? He was always the reason that my friend would make fun of Indian movies when I was a kid. Anyways, I kinda enjoyed this movie, certainly more than expected by the reviews. The lead pair are two of my current favourites. And Sajde is a great track.

Joi Baba Felunath
When I went to NYC I picked up twenty Ray dvds in Queens, so I have lots to get through 🙂 This detective story was pretty engrossing and the performance were all very watchable.

Chiriyakhana
Ray’s take on the famous detective Byomkesh Bakshi. I watched this with poor quality subtitles so at times I felt slightly confused. I enjoyed the film and really liked Uttam Kumar’s performance, but this would be one of my Ray favourites.

Shakha Proshakha
Ray’s penultimate film, about ‘honesty’, set amidst four generations of a Bengali family. For want of a better word, the film felt kind of ‘staged’, not to say that I didn’t enjoy it. I really liked Mamata Shankar’s performance (she played the lead in Agantuk, a film I liked a lot more). The film explored aspects of human nature as well as society, and as with Agantuk, left me pondering as the end-credits rolled.

Iyobinte Pusthakam
My first Malayalam movie experience. Set around the time of independence, this feudal epic could have been great but there were just too many repetitive, circular fight sequences. Good performances though and awesome cinematography.

The Perfect Murder
A rather mediocre mystery film in English, starring Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah, Amjad Khan and some Swedish dude.

Inbetweeners 2
Saw this on a flight to America and it wasn’t bad. Not seen the first one but used to love the show in its early days.

The Fault In Our Stars
Saw this straight after, on the same flight. Made me cry like a baby pretty much throughout. Liked it a lot.

Elf
So whilst I was in NYC we figured we should watch an appropriate movie, and as I hadn’t seen this my friends insisted we watch it. So much fun. I’ll def watch it again soon!

Saptapadi
I had very high expectations for this Uttam Kumar – Suchitra Sen romantic classic but it didn’t quite live up to them. A little slow and I’ve seen the story many times (though this may have been the first) – but what made it very watchable were the magnificent performance. And Suchitra Sen looks incredibly beautiful.

Watership Down
Revisited one of my favourite childhood novels and am so glad I did. Brilliant – I enjoyed it just as much as an adult as I did as a kid. It’s about a group of rabbits going on an adventure, LOTR style! And I highly recommend it.

Tales From Watership Down
This isn’t really a sequel, more so a set of add-on stories, written a couple of decades after the original novel. Not on the same level in any way but still a pleasant enough read and a pleasure to meet the characters again.

Interstellar
Like it a lot more than Gravity. I felt the bit with Mr Mann was unnecessary and didn’t add anything, but apart from that, great visuals and very engaging. I would have liked to see more of the personal elements.

Bombay Talkies
A Merchant Ivory film starring Shashi Kapoor as a Hindi film superstar who is married to Aparna Sen but hard involved in a rocky affair with an English writer, played by Jennifer Kendall. I wasn’t so impressed by this one I’m afraid.

Bachpan
A children’s film, with 3 boys called Ram, Rahim and Tom…a precursor to AAA?! Tanuja and Sanjeev Kumar in supporting roles do not manage to lift this mediocre film despite being two of my favourite stars.

Hamlet
Decided to watch this 1954 version in preparation for setting Haider. Kishore Sahu stars alongside Mala Sinha. I’m not a Shakespeare buff and to be honest I was kinda bored by the proceedings. I think someone more familiar with this genre could appreciate this better.

Haider
Given all that’s been written and discussed, I don’t feel qualified to say anything other than the fact that I loved it and was mesmerised by Tabu.

Thalapathi
So this is the first Rajnikanth film I’ve seen and I’m left kinda baffled… Anyways, my reason for watching this is because it’s a Mani Ratnam film and I’ve been working my way through his filmography. I thought the first half was dreadful – lots of dumb fighting (clearly masala is wasted on me), but the second half drew me in, especially as I suddenly realised the story was based on Karna from Mahabharat.

BA Pass
Rather miserable movie about a young guy whose life spirals downwards after his parents die and he starts prostituting himself to rich women so he can support his teenage sisters.

The Householder
A Merchant Ivory film that is basically about a newly married couple adjusting to each other. Shashi Kapoor is an actor who I usually find charming and manages to do what is required of him. But here I felt his inadequacies add an actor are quite evident. The very beautiful Leela Naidu however plays her part well (though admittedly less is required of her). Durga Khote is brilliant as a nightmare mother in law.

Gone Girl
Extremely watchable and a lot of fun. But when I thought about it afterwards I felt pretty unconvinced.

The Lowland (Novel – Jhumpa Lahiri)
Left me with a sense of sadness that I think is going to linger for some time. Highly recommended.

Khuddar
I watched this multistarrer for Sanjeev Kumar but I didn’t really enjoy it. His role was short and didn’t require anything of him. I found Amitabh kind of annoying, especially in the comic scenes, but the emotional scenes felt really over-the-top too. Parveen Babi was good (she’s so much cooler than Zeenat Aman who I can’t stand).

Gulabi Gang
This is the documentary (not the dumb Madhuri-Juhi film). Saw it at a screening in London which was followed by a Q&A with the director, Nishtha Jain. The documentary itself was awesome, but I was equally charmed by the very charismatic filmmaker.

Bang Bang
Too loud, too long, an ‘actress’ who can’t act, and ‘actor’ who used to be cool but is now just cringe-worthy. But for a few wonderful minutes when Deepti Naval came on screen everything felt better 🙂

Californication Season 7
A significant deterioration in quality was evident in this final season of a great show. Will miss Hank and his great great quotes.

Sarkar Raj
I got around to watching this after a long time. As with the first one, watching Amitabh and Abhishek together (not in a comedy) is awesome. Aish needs a better director than RGV to be convincing but she got more impressive as the film went on. Also, I don’t usually notice things like background music and camerawork but both were really annoying ) – the former was loud and over the top and the latter seemed to be suffering from ADHD.

Puja aur Paayal
Lol, YouTube indicated this film stars Jaya Bhaduri and Sanjeev Kumar, but it’s actually a terrible b-grade film where they just make special appearances. So I stopped watching after an awful half-hour.

Badhti Ka Naam Daadhi
Kishore Kumar directs, produces, writes, composes for, sings for and acts in this crazy caper about an old man who decides to leave 10 lakh rupees for the dude with the longest beard in town! Started off quite funny but I lost patience after a while and wasn’t paying attention by the end.

Kashmakash (Dubbed version of Noukadoubi)
This Rituparno Ghosh gem exemplifies everything I love about his movies – poetic, moving and engrossing. It’s set in 1920s Calcutta and Kashi, and stars the Sen sisters in basically a tale of complex relationships. I really enjoyed it, and the soundtrack was also very beautiful.

Hamaari Yaad Aayegi
This was Tanuja’s first major adult role but again reinforces the fact that this great actress was wasted in films undeserving of her talent. She plays a street-dweller who struggles to become ‘decent’ after meeting a nice guy. Then there’s a strange widow hanging around too. A rather dull, and somewhat irritating film. The songs are the highlight, including a couple by Mukesh, and in particular the song of Mubarak Begum’s career – the title track Kabhi Tanhaaiyon Mein Yun Hamaari Yaad Aayegi.

Sureeli Baat
I really enjoyed the 12 episodes of this show I found on YouTube. The host, Mala Sekhri was awesome. She seems genuine, passionate and truly knowledgable about music – I’m gonna try to find out more about her! She interviews various singers and composers but most of the show consists of them singing anything that comes to mind! The best episodes were Sunidhi (listen to her sing a few lines of Mehdi Hassan’s Koplein Phir), Kavita, Shafqat and of course the Lata special. Bappi Lahori is a freak.

Archana
A very bad, over the top, excessively melodramatic version of the Anupama scenario, starring Sanjeev Kumar and Mala Sinha.

The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland
Dreadful theatre show that I went to see with colleagues. There was a rather superficial and poorly thought through anti-psychiatry stance that naturally I wasn’t impressed with.

Rivaaj
Amazing how Mala Sinha still looked so young and beautiful in the mid-seventies. Sanjeev Kumar costars in this moderately watchable film that touches upon the theme of remarriage of child-widows, amidst the usual masala.

Agantuk
I think someone (maybe Satyam) mentioned that Ray’s later films weren’t on the same level as his earlier ones. So I saw this with lower expectations (this was his final film) but I loved it. An uncle (or not…) who has been missing for 35 years suddenly turns up…leading to suspicion, intrigue and lots of fine conversation. I found the proceedings entirely gripping.

Tamasha
I’ve seen almost every available Meena Kumari film, so when I locate one I’ve not seen, it’s a big deal! I was delighted to find this on YouTube – costarring Dev Anand, and also Kishore Kumar and Ashok Kumar (who produced this film). It’s a comedy, in the same vein as the others Meena did in the early-mid fifties. Often the ‘rare’ films are a disappointment but this one was a pleasure to watch. It has the familiar storyline of a young guy bringing in a pretend wife to placate his dying grandfather (who is also pretending to be ill) – lots of fun!

Roja
I’m about 20 years late but finally saw this. Decided to see the Tamil with subtitles rather than the dubbed Hindi. Loved Madhoo’s performance – hope she won an award.

Geethanjali
This is the first Telugu film I’ve watched it, and I found the language much softer/sweeter than Tamil. I think it’s the only Telugu film of Mani Ratnam and I liked it. It’s a romantic movie, set against the backdrop of human mortality. The comic side plot was extremely irritating and unnecessary.

Agni Charitram (Dubbed as Gharshana in Telugu)
Mani Ratnam’s rather mediocre take on the One Tree Hill scenario of two half-brothers who hate each other. One of his early films.

Finding Fanny
Delicious. Had so much fun watching this – the bizarreness is right up my alley and the performances were delightful. Oh and Deepika looks luminous. And apart from that, given what the title means here in England, it raised a chuckle every time it was said aloud 😉

Khubsoorat
I wasn’t expecting much and the first half was just watchable, but then as it went on I started having a lot of fun and by the end could say I genuinely enjoyed the film. The only low point was the exceedingly irritating Kiron Kher – can’t stand her these days and she’s particularly annoying here.

Daawat-e-Ishq
Passable film. Good performances are a big positive but the mediocre music is disappointing as a decent soundtrack is a prerequisite for a good rom-com. After having not seen an Indian film in the cinema since D3, I watched the above three on the big screen in the space of a week!!

Just Another Love Story
This Bengali film marked Rituparno Ghosh’s acting debut, in which he plays a gay, transsexual documentary director, shooting about an aged theatre actor whose life mirrors his own. Although initially I found the film kinda weird, I was pretty engrossed as it progressed, and the acting was first notch.

Chitrangada
This somewhat autobiographical film kind of picks up where the above finished, and again stars Rituparno Ghosh, and is also directed by him. He plays a similar character (that I actually found very hard to like), but this time the step of a sex-change is taken. The impacts this has on the individual, his partner and family, is explored. Some incredibly insightful and moving moments, however the overall gloominess (understandably), makes this quite hard to watch, especially knowing how close to home this must have been for Ghosh who died not long afterwards.

Salaam Bombay
Finally got around to seeing this. Good film. But I need to start watching less depressing films.

Death Comes To Pemberley (novel)
Apparently there are heaps of Jane Austen ‘sequels’. This murder mystery was a fun, quick read, and it was a pleasure revisiting the characters we know so well.

Death Comes To Pemberley (BBC series)
This was pretty average fare.

Suits Season 4
Top notch again. Can’t wait for the next season!

100 Foot Journey
Very predictable and mildly dull. But my friends seemed to enjoy it so perhaps I’m being harsh.

Mera Daamaad
Randomly found this 80s comedy on YouTube, starring Utpal Dutt, Ashok Kumar and Farooque Sheikh. A delightful little film.

Amu
The awesome Konkona Sen Sharma plays an American teen who goes back to India to visit family, and find out about her past as she is adopted. This leads her to the 1984 riots. Very well made, sensitive and extremely well-acted film.

Ghar Basaake Dekho
This was just something I randomly came across on YouTube but ended up really enjoying. It is a true ensemble movie, about a host of married couples, all in slightly different circumstances. There’s Johnny Walker, Mehmood, Manoj Kumar, Shyama, Lalita Pawar, Rajshree, Savitri and others. A surprisingly good film.

Queen
Equally enjoyable second time round. Really impressed with Kangana.

Imaan Dharam
Watched this for Sanjeev Kumar, but his role was actually overly preachy and annoying. The film itself, starring Amitabh, Shashi Kapoor (a pair of good-for-nothings who make money by giving false evidence in court), Rekha (playing a South Indian who keeps bursting into Tamil), Helen (the most interesting character – not playing a vamp and not doing a single cabaret- she has a young daughter and she doesn’t even know who the dad is!), and Aparna Sen!! (playing a blind girl). All the lectures about Geeta=Bible=Quran all got a bit much for me but the film was kinda fun. Laxmikant Pyarelal’s music is mediocre (as usual!)

Shongram
Watched this truly dreadful Bengali film at the London Indian Film Festival. It’s about the 1971 Bangladesh issues, but is simply awful – a screechy female lead, an entirely uncharismatic male lead, jarring background music, and a villain straight out of a bad 80’s film.

As part of the above festival I also went to the short films session, which was really good. And also an interview with Farhan Akhtar (Vidhu Vinod Chopra and his wife Anupama were both present in the audience too). Farhan was just like in his tv interviews.

Mouna Ragam
A friend has given me a few Ratnam DVDs so I’m looking forward to seeing them. This first one was enjoyable – certainly not as ‘refined’ as his later work, but Revathy was charming and her ballsy character was awesome, especially in the climax. The fights/songs were a bit annoying but I acknowledge that Ratman had constraints to make the film within.

Positive
A rather pointless short film by Farhan Akhtar that I came across on YouTube. It stars Boman Irani and Shabana Azmi, in a story that is meant to raise awareness about AIDS.

Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne
A fantasy-musical by Satyajit Ray, based on stories written by his grandfather. Two young guys get granted three wishes and end up on various musical adventures. So different in mood to the other Ray films I’ve seen thus far, but a pleasant watch.

Hirok Raajar Deshe
Ray’s sequel to the above film – I liked this one more. The lead pair continue their adventures and end up in a state run by a tyrannical king. The issues raised remain highly pertinent to the world today. Need to get hold of the final film in the trilogy now, which was directed by Ray’s son.

Jaalsaaz
A silly lost and found film starring Kishore Kumar, Mala Sinha and Pran, made somewhat watchable only for the performances.

Bose – The Lost Hero
Finally got around to watching this Shyam Benegal film. 3 and a half hours long!!! I did learn a lot about him (which I guess was the point of the film), but by about 2 hours in I was dying…

Ek Pal
Set in Assam, this Kalpana Lajmi film about an adulterous wife stars Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Farooq Sheikh. Nothing particularly wrong with the movie but to be honest I was a little bored by the proceedings.

Sautela Bhai
One of Guru Dutt’s lesser known acting ventures – this is a horrible film! Painful melodrama where you just want the characters to get a grip.

Amber
Rather frivolous film, starring Nargis as an orphan girl, brought up by a King as his own after she turns up at his door. But she secretly wants revenge! Raj Kapoor plays a loyal protector of the King. Lots of inconsistencies in the plot but the lead pair prevent the film from being unwatchable.

Aashiana
Another Raj Kapoor-Nargis starrer, with them playing lovers seperated by society. Rather boring, but a fantastic soundtrack – one of the earlier Lata-Madan Mohan collaborations. And it did get somewhat intriguing after the interval.

Anhonee
Nargis in a double role – two sisters living in very different situations. One, rich and respected, engaged to a lawyer, Raj Kapoor, and the other a girl of ill repute, flirting and chewing paan. A decent film.

Open
Really enjoyed reading this, Andre Agassi’s biography. I’ve not read so many books in the sport genre but I’m a tennis buff so had wanted to read this for some time. It’s quite a moving story, made up of family drama, romance, friendship, human character and relations, and of course tennis (with heaps of inside goss on his peers!). The character transformation (or formation as Agassi calls it) made me think of Tolstoy.

Amjad Ali Khan – Documentary by Gulzar
Another insight into a master musician. Really enjoyed getting a peek into a life devoted to music, and Gulzar’s style is really intimate.

Adaalat
Tedious and somewhat irritating film, starring Nargis, a studious but unfortunate girl who ends up kicked out of home, duped into working in a brothel, and the shame of being a secretly wed mother (because her husband Pradeep Kumar didn’t tell his parents that he had married before heading off to London to become a barrister). Pran, plays a devilishly cool villain, in various disguises and costumes, who harasses and tortures Nargis through out. The saving grace is Madan Mohan’s brilliant soundtrack: Asha-Rafi’s duet Zameen Se Hamein Aasmaan Par and Lata’s twin masterpiece ghazals Yun Hasraton Ke Daag and Unko Yeh Shiqaayat Hai.

Ek Villain
What a stupid film. I got seduced by the Galliyan song and Shraddha Kapoor but this was just dumb and pointless – a disappointment after Aashiqui 2 which I had really liked.

Nadal (autobiography)
Not nearly as fascinating as Agassi’s story, but easy and quick to read, and reinforces my impression that Nadal really seems like an awesome person.

Gulab Gang
I saw this with low expectations but that didn’t help – two hours wasted on this stupid film.

Chale Chalo
This documentary which is based on the making of Lagaan was fun to watch. Brought back a lot of memories of the great film – one of the very few of the new millennium that is a genuine classic.

Laajwanti
Balraj Sahni is always a pleasure to watch, and here he plays a busy lawyer who doesn’t have time for his wife, Nargis, who is equally awesome here. He ends up falsely accusing her of having an affair and she understandably stomps off. Great acting and very good songs. The last half hour is slightly weaker but def worth a watch.


Ray on the Jana Aranya shoot

Bharosa
Because Guru Dutt was one of India’s greatest directors, it is easy to forget he used to occasionally act in external films too, including Bahurani and Suhagan with Mala Sinha, and Saanjh Aur Savera with Meena Kumari. Bharosa, co starring Asha Parekh unfortunately is the weakest of them all, the only positive being some beautiful songs by Ravi. I can only imagine that the reason Dutt would have been in such a film would be to raise funds for his own productions.

Jana Aranya
Satyajit Ray explores unemployment in his final part of the “Calcutta trilogy”. From the other two I’ve seen Seemabadha but not Pratidwandi. Satyam mentioned that Ray’s cinema is an endless treasure of riches and I’m discovering the truth in that – this one too was a pleasure to watch. It’s the family scenes that I found particularly impressive, especially the very endearing bhabhi..

Madras Cafe
It took me multiple attempts to get into this film set during the Sri Lankan civil war, and I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it. Nargis Fakhiri is dreadful by the way.

Hazaaron Khwaahishen Aisi
I thought this political movie was far superior. Chitrangada was really very impressive.

Chacha Zindabad
Kishore Kumar in another of his loony comedies – delightful as ever 🙂 Anita Guha joins him as his neighbour – their fathers are best friends but Kishore is super western and Anita likes Indian culture. A lot of fun – hard not to howl at Kishore’s antics – eg when she dresses up as a kid and sings Jack and Jill! And some beautiful songs by Madan Mohan – Bairan Neend Na Aaye

Hum Aapke Hain Kaun
Had this on in the background and ended up watching the whole thing. I’ve seen it several times before but this time more than ever I was struck by how simply awesome Madhuri was. And what to say about Lata…

Ek Gaon Ki Kahaani
As the title describes, this is a melodramatic Middlemarch setting kinda film, starring Mala Sinha and Talat Mahmood, the singer! What I liked was the nuanced characters, albeit in a melodramatic way!! Some nice songs by Lata and Talat.

Dil Diya Dard Liya
As a teenager the only classics I really appreciated were Jane Austen. It wasn’t until university that I discovered the Brontes. The three sisters wrote some great novels, but if I had to pick a favourite, it would be Emily’s Wuthering Heights – I’ve not revisited it since then but the word ‘brutal’ describes my strongest memory of it. Anyways, this film is a poor adaptation, but I had low expectations as nobody has anything good to say about this one. It stars Waheeda Rehman and Dilip Kumar, along with Rahman and Pran. A couple of famous songs by Naushad are the silver lining. Dilip Kumar is a favourite of mine, but with the caveat “pre-1960″ – after Mughal-e-Azam, for me at least, the magic is gone. Waheeda looks beautiful but her character is so illogical that I can see why she too has criticised the film in interviews.

Hulchul
Not long after seeing Dil Diya Dard Liya I started this film, which bizarrely is also an adaptation of Wuthering Heights, and is also starring Dilip Kumar, but made about 15 years earlier, and so he’s at his peak. I liked this one much more. Nargis is his costar this time. Some vintage songs and Balraj Sahni (albeit in a small role) are added pluses.

Ek Shola
Stupid film with Mala Sinha and Pradeep Kumar. Rich boy marries a stage dancer much to his parent’s displeasure. However, eventually they realise that social class isn’t so important because this girl is a devi whilst their other daughter-in-law from a rich family is a biatch. The only good thing in this film is the wonderful Tun Tun 🙂

Nautanki Saala
This watchable but I found the cast slightly dull and meant I didn’t really care too much what happened to the protagonists. Hummable songs and certainly not a bad film – and I loved the climax.

In Conversation with Waheeda Rahman – Nasreen Munni Kabeer (book)
Fascinating read – I highly recommend this to you all. Not only is her personal story gripping but her decades of experience in the changing industry are a pleasure to read.

Grey’s Anatomy Season 10
Having watched this show for a decade now it’s hard to have much objectivity, but for sure I still enjoy it a lot.

Suits Season 3
Some of my friends feel this show is way past it’s best, and that might be true but I love it!

Queen
Sweet film – Kangana was very endearing. But I still like EV more 🙂

Humraaz
Wanted to see this BR Chopra mystery for a long time. Fantastic soundtrack by Ravi, their regular composer, and vocalised by Mahendra Kapoor – Na Moonh Chuppa Ke Jiyo, Tum Agar Saath Dene Ka Waada Karo, Aa Neele Gagan Ke Tale. Starring Sunil Dutt, Rajkumar, Vimi, Mumtaz and the awesome Balraj Sahni, the film seems rather predictable and typical initially but then takes some really Neend

Hamaari Khwaab Tumhaare
A silly but harmless romantic melodrama starring Nanda and Shashi Kapoor. I’ve only seen them together in Mehndi Lage Mere Haath but I think they did quite a few films together. Om Prakash plays a barber, who after winning the lottery, elevates himself by several social classes, and masquerades as a nawab after moving to a new city. His wife (a truly hilarious Manorama) is very obviously ‘low-class’, and their interaction is really so much fun! His new neighbour is Balraj Sahni (always a pleasure!) who is obsessed with ‘khandaan’ and believing that Om Prakash is a real nawab, is happy for their children to fall in love. Nirupa Roy plays Balraj Sahni’s wife and I really liked her role – she gives him a nice lecture at the end about how his views are ridiculous and indeed contradictory to their religious beliefs. Madan Mohan’s music is decent but the highlight is Asha’s magnificent Koi Shikva Bhi Nahin.

Rootha Na Karo
Nanda plays a really dumb heiress who spends this entire dumb film conflicted about whether her dumb long term boyfriend, Shashi Kapoor, only wants her for her money. C.Ramchandra’s soundtrack is a pale shadow of her earlier classics.

Char Diwaari
Another Nanda-Shashi Kapoor film, in fact the first they did together, and unlike the above two, this is a beautiful film. Beautiful soundtrack by Salil Chowdhury, endearing performances (certainly the best of Nanda’s career) make this sweet film a must-watch.

Preet Na Jaane Reet
An obscure Shammi Kapoor film. He loves Saroja Devi (not seen her in anything else – beautiful but not much of an actress) but when he is attending a wedding he ends up marrying the bride to save her honour after the groom runs away. Actually a potentially interesting plot but could have been made better executed.

Chhoti Chhoti Baatein
Motilal directed this beautiful film about a hen-pecked, unappreciated old man who suddenly inherits a fortune and decides to leave his family with some money and goes off to stay in an idyllic village where he meets Nadira (I loved the way she speaks Urdu). The characters for some reason felt like they were Jane Austen creations 🙂 I would highly recommend this one. I found it on YouTube.

Nai Roshni
This is one of the most terrible films I’ve ever seen! And it entirely deserves a few more words than usual. Everyone hams to the hilt – sixties films were often melodramatic but this is more like a farce. Ashok Kumar is a respected professor, who abandoned his first wife (pregnant Sulochana, who has a disease that is making her blind). The son (Biswajeet,) now grown up – hates his unknown father but happens to receive tuitions from Ashok Kumar as he doesn’t know it’s his father. Also, blind Sulochana lives with her still-alive ancient mother. Meanwhile, Ashok Kumar’s new wife is a modern bitch who takes her daughter (Tanuja) to clubs and let’s her hang out unchaperoned with boys (so she gets pregnant by one of them and then takes an overdose and dies, after which the evil mother feels bad so burns herself to death), and her other son (Raajkumar) is a drunk because his mummy had no time for him. Mala Sinha (looking beautiful) is an orphan who lives with them and is treated like a servant by the evil one but loved like a daughter by Ashok Kumar. After the death of his new wife and daughter, Ashok seeks redemption but Biswajeet is in no mood to forgive. So Raajkumar goes to touch his new blind mother’s feet and reunite the family. And they all live happily ever after. Classic!

Gunday
A pile of crap. Besharam was a million times better.

Char Dil Char Raahein
Great film by K.A Abbas (famous writer who worked on most of Raj Kapoor’s films). It is about three love stories, that converge at one set of crossroads. Meena Kumari and Raj Kapoor are seperated by caste. Nimmi has issues because she is a Tawaif. And Shammi Kapoor and Kumkum are Christians struggling for money. Really enjoyed this one. very very few Meena Kumari movies left for me to see now… Also this has the great Lata solo Intezaar Aur Abhi.

Highway
This was kinda what I expected – decent but nothing incredible. However, I have to admit, I was very impressed with Alia in the post-climax part, ie the final 20 mins. She really surprised me.

Mera Gaon Mera Desh
I had no idea how much of an inspiration for Sholay this Dharmendra-Asha Parekh-Vinod Khanna film was. A huge number of similarities. The one area where this film scores over Sholay is the fantastic soundtrack – Maar Diya Jaaye leading the list of Laxmikant Pyarelal numbers, by Lata and Rafi.

Saath Saath
Well-made marital drama with the magnificent pairing of Deepti Naval and Farrioque Sheikh. And Jagjit’s Tumko Dekha Toh Yeh Khayaal Hai.

Aashiqui 2
I had no intention of seeing this film but after I saw the lead pair on KWK I decide to check it out. I enjoyed it. Beautiful songs and actually quite a moving portrayal of alcoholism. I liked Aditya. Shardha was quite endearing – her vulnerability and delicate beauty make allowances for her limited acting abilities. Some really lovely scenes, particularly when he sees her looking at a photo of Lata, and says she is like a child looking up at the moon, and she replies that everyone looks up at the moon, but what does that signify…

Bewafa
Fantastic film starring Nargis, Raj Kapoor and Ashok Kumar, all of whom are excellent, and supported by a brilliant soundtrack. Nargis escapes from a life of poverty and rises up the social ladder by becoming the muse of an up and coming artist, Ashok Kumar. But when her friend from the past, Raj Kapoor shows up, there’s much suspicion, jealousy and drama. I really enjoyed this and recommend it.

Hasee Toh Phasee
Nothing special (I def preferred SDR) but this rom-com was watchable for it’s leads – Parineeti is of course quickly becoming a well-rated actress, and Siddarth was fine too. I was intrigued about whether Parineeti has Asperger’s but I wasn’t watching closely I guess (few films get my full attention).

Ek Do Teen
1949, mediocre comedy starring Motilal, who gives his dying father three promises on his deathbed. Meena Shorey plays his lively fiance.

Vicky Donor
I watched this after Zoya stated on KWK that she found it overrated. I agree with her – I found much of the film rather forced and unbelievable. BUT, some really fun parts with the families on both sides, particularly when they meet for the wedding!

Dedh Ishqiya
Loved it. I had found the first one kinda over-rated but no such issues here. Quirky, classy, very good performances, and a great foundation of Gulzar’s poetry and Vishal’s music. And Madhuri here is fantastic – enough to make one forget (and forgive) her silly Ghagra song in YJHD.

Khoobsurat
This might be the last Hrishikesh Mukherjee film I get to watch (for the first time I mean). This was his last major hit but it’s not really a patch on his earlier comedies. The music is pretty average and the cast is also not as appealing (Rekha and Rakesh Roshan). It’s about a strict household run by Dina Pathak and her meek husband Ashok Kumar and what happens when the bahu’s younger sister comes to visit.

Pyar Ke Side Effects
Shit film (but a fun climax). Mallika was actually not awful but Rahul Bose is so bloody boring.

Shaadi Ke Side Effects
I like Vidya and Farhan a lot so this pretty average film was just about watchable.

Khoj
Eeek! A truly dreadful mystery movie from the 80’s, starring Rishi Kapoor as a man whose wife goes missing, and Naseeruddin Shah plays the local inspector.

Listen Amaya
This would have been just passable but Deepti Naval and Farooque Sheikh are so brilliant that it was a pleasure to watch. They play a couple who meet late in life but Deepti’s daughter struggles to see her widowed mother settling down with another man.

Naunihaal
This sweet film is about an orphan, who ia heartbroken about having no family – so when his school principal tells him Chacha Nehru, the PM, is his uncle, the boy is full of hope. He sets off on a trip to Delhi, via Bombay. Balraj Sahni is a pleasure as always – he plays the teacher. Indrani Mukherjee plays a teacher – she resembles Meena Kumari so much! And Sanjeev Kumar has a small role as her boyfriend. Ah and amazing songs by Madan Mohan and Rafi – Meri Aawaaz Suno and Tumhaari Zulf Ke Saaye.

Kirdar
Ah, Gulzar! So I was delighted to find these 13 episodes, each an independent twenty-two minute short story, some based on his own writings and others on the writings of others, but all directed by my favourite poett. They are funny, moving and very engaging. They are all very different but all worth watching. Sunset Boulevard is the only two parter and stars Nadira, rather touchingly playing an elderly, forgotten actress, heartbreakingly clining to her lost glory days.

My latest batch of movies etc:

Daera
WOW! I’ve searched for this Kamal Amrohi movie for many years and was delighted to see it recently uploaded on YouTube. Meena Kumari plays a young girl married to a very old man – they both appear to be suffering from TB. Meena is magnificent in this very grim movie – this was one of her very first performances and yet she is incredible. Some brilliant songs too.

Mahanagar
Fantastic marital drama by Satyajit Ray, where the wife is forced to take a job but this has all kinds of repercussions on the family, especially her husband’s ego. Halfway through I realised that Humkadam (a movie I saw few months back was a remake of this). Also stars a 14 year old Jaya Bhaduri debuting as the daughter! Anyways, this was a masterpiece in my opinion.

Rajnigandha
Really enjoyed this sweet seventies film starring Vidya Sinha and Amol Palekar. Fantastic soundtrack by Salil Chaudhry especially the title track.

Shuddh Desi Romance
After hearing just about everyone rave about Parineeti on KWK I was keen to watch one of her films, and Sushant I liked a lot in Kai Po Chhe so decided to check out this film. Enjoyed it a lot. Very impressed by the lead pair – natural and endearing.

Half Nelson
I was at a friend’s place and we wanted to see 12 Monkeys but it wasn’t working so ended up seeing this very dull movie with Ryan Gosling playing a drug-addict schoolteacher who has a close bond with one of his students. Blah…

Pakeezah – (Book by Lord Desai)
I enjoyed reminiscing about the film but generally wasn’t too impressed by the book. It made some broad statements that I didn’t agree with and there were errors when song lyrics were quoted. Also, some obvious mistakes, e.g. he says that Bimal Roy convinced Meena Kumari to do a guest appearance in Do Bhiga Zameen, when in fact it is well known that she saw some glimpses of the film (she was shooting Parineeta for Roy at the time) and requested to be part of the film in some way so the special appearance with the song Aa Jaa Ri Aa was created for her 🙂

Mughal-e-Azam (Book – Anil Zankar)
Much better – well researched and well written – I enjoyed this and learnt some new things. But still some mistakes with the song lyrics!! The writer explores lots of different themes and goes on some interesting tangents too. Worth a read for all fans of the movie.

Californication
A friend recommended it to me, so I zoomed through season 1-6 over a period of two weeks. Brilliant show – Hank Moody is a legend (second only to Gregory House). And my most favourite clip:

Wolf of Wall Street
Thought this was a very good film – Dicaprio was outrageously brilliant.

The Lunchbox
Finally got to see this – for sure it was a good film, but I don’t think I could say it was brilliant. For some reason it reminded me of English Vinglish, a film I rate far higher and have seen three times.

Deep Jele Jaai
Satyam recommended this Suchitra Sen classic and I checked it out the day she passed away. She was spectacular, and much as I adore Waheeda Rahman’s performance in Khamoshi, Suchitra Sen here is in another league. Beautiful music (as was the case in the Hindi remake). I’m definitely gonna try to watch more Bengali films that are subtitled.

Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander
I thought it was rather timepass but I can see why this was a popular film – endearing performances by Aamir and Ayesha (this is one of the only films I’ve seen of her). Music could have been better (except for the classic Pehla Nasha).

Dosti
One of those films that is super famous for its songs. Laximkant Pyarelal have composed a host of gems for Rafi in this film about the friendship between two guys, one of whom is blind and the other a cripple. Jaanewaalo Zara Mud Ke Dekho, Chaahunga Main Tujhe Saanjh Savere, Koi Jab Raah Na Paaye, Rahi Manwa Dukh Ki Chinta.

Vishvas
Oh dear, I dunno what induced me to watch this atrocious film starring Jeetendra and Aparna Sen (who looks unrecognisable). Kamini Kaushal plays Jeetu’s westernised, vampish estranged mother who left him and his poor father (Bharat Bushan) but who now wants to get back into her son’s life. Truly terrible.

Desh
Bengali movie starring Jaya Bhaduri, who plays a woman who runs a shelter for women, and who is well respected because of her role of a freedom fighter during her youth – she had shot a British officer. She continues to fight against the evils in society for the same of her country, unwilling to move to Boston with her son (Abhishek in a special appearance). Good film.

Unishe April
I think this was Rituparno Ghosh’s first major success. Aparna Sen plays a famous classical dancer who was widowed many years back – her husband was jealous and unsupportive and her grown up daughter resents her and they have virtually no relationship. I liked the film a lot – very typically Ghosh’s style.

Do Ustaad
Zany film about two long-lost brothers, both criminals, one reformed. Raj Kapoor stars alongside the lovely Madhubala. Average music by OP Nayyar which was a bit disappointing.

Basant
This 1960 Shammi Kapoor-Nutan starrer was a flop and trashed by critics too, and I can see why but I kinda enjoyed it despite the flaws. It’s a breezy rom-com, with added drama as usual. Nutan sparkles and makes it worth watching. Johnny Walker is absolutely brilliant too – one of his most fun performances. It’s basically a variation of It Happened One Night (Chori Chori/DHKMN) and a trace of (An Affair To Remember (Mann).

Dev D

I liked this a lot – it captured the essence of Devdas far better than SLB (not that much is required for that). Very good soundtrack and decent performances. Probably my favourite Kashyap film.

Mahabharat
I was really excited to watch this, but I finally gave up after watching the first couple of months. They have really screwed it up and I don’t understand why. They have made so many changes to the story – and not in the way that one might see it as a reinterpretation of the epic (which could be interesting) but rather just tampering for the sake of it. So Arjun is like the ‘hero’ now, with his brothers reduced to playing his side-kicks. He even turns up to join Krishna in rescuing Rukmini! Really very disappointing. The one good thing that has come out of this is an awesome page on Facebook where they discuss all the inaccuracies and then reference back to the original texts – it is really enlightening.

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209 Responses to “Salim’s Viewing! (updated)”

  1. Have meant to do this for quite some time Salim.. another fantastic list.. will reference some of your older ones here soon..

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    • Thanks for making one. It could be used for commenting on movies which are not current.

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      • mahanagar is is in pretty good quality in youtube, Madhabi Mukherjee was very good in allmost all ray’ s movie another which was much ahead of its time and applies to today other being nayak on celebs(totally deconstructing the original mahanayak before amitabh uttam kumar)

        while on interacting with bengalis one realiexhe was on par if not ahead of dilip kumar and shivaji ganeshan in natural acting

        shankar’ s namesake nayak to is cult film now

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    • Thanks for this! Very nice of you 🙂

      So for next time (in a month or so I guess!) should I find this thread and add the new batch in the comments section, or do I post it in the box-office thread as usual and then you make another one of these?

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  2. Great that Salim’s lists have a home now! Have wanted to see the Lunchbox, hopefully it’s available locally. I love Mahanagar too, a great “urban” film, and it contains one of my very favorite performances from an actress in Madhabi Mukherjee’s work. On the other hand, I like Half Nelson a lot. It’s definitely a very downtempo work, and I’ve come across mixed feelings on it but I find the mood and the two central performances uniquely endearing.

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    • To be honest I probably didn’t give Half Nelson a ‘fair’ viewing – there was a bunch of us and we were in a pretty rowdy mood…

      Yea I really liked Madhabi a lot in Mahanagar and makes me want to see Charulata again, because i think now that I’m enjoying Ray’s films I will appreciate a lot more than the first time.

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  3. ” Music could have been better (except for the classic Pehla Nasha).”
    I thought JJWS music was very apt for the subject.

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  4. Saw Saudi Arabian film Wadjda – Good to see religion, teen/kid spirit in a different environment.

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    • never seen a saudi movie! u watched it online?

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      • On DVD. In US there is DVD/streaming subscription service provided by Netflix. It is directed by a woman and shot in Saudi Arabia. It was nominated for Oscar from that country though it didn’t get shortlisted in top5.

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  5. The new Mahabharat is unwatchable.

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  6. I watched Dosti in a theatre, in my town, when it turned up a few years after its release. I was a kid, and it was a possibly my first film experience. I remember its songs.

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  7. Have been laggin behind on movies for a while…So tried to set it right on a flight…But seems it’s not easy for me to watch a full movie nowadays (unless stuck in a cinema!)

    Inspired by Miss Sally (aka ‘salim’)–I also tried watching a few ..but couldn’t finish any…

    May expand later (shudder!) but The time spent on a movie shall serve as the ‘review’…

    Tirez la langue mademoiselle — 30 min-ish (to be continued)

    The train to Lisbon -15 min (may be continued)

    Hangover 3–25 min –some good fun –maybe continued

    We’re the millers–nearly 1 hour plus (I think!)

    All is lost…(thoughts coming soon maybe)

    Thor (latest version)– a glance at the screen of a neighbouring chick -got a bit put off–saw neither the film nor the gal again..
    And wtf was he carrying that hammer everywhere –in this day n age !!

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    • Just adding a quik word-In continuation to the above list of incomplete list of flicks (also due to lack of patience!)–

      I finally completed a viewing (nearly)–
      A film I expected to be an underwhelming disappointment given some reviews/bo performance —

      But must say im pleasantly surprised–
      That’s how a well mounted film with an A-list cast should be like-
      More details later..

      The Counsellor

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    • Oh contd from above-/even I nearly finished a flick …inspite of impatience issues…

      Had v low expectations from it give the reviews etc–checked it since I like the staircast

      But they pleasantly surprise…may write more on…

      The Counsellor

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  8. thanks for this latest list Salim, will at some point add your older lists to this post as well.

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  9. Agree on Aashiqui 2. I like that film a lot. Recently saw Aurangzeb. I thought it was an underrated gem of a movie. It reminded me a lot of Shakti. Infact the leisurely pace of the movie and 70’s/80’s throwback with twin brothers, good cop, bad cop etc reminded me a lot of Trishul and Deewar too but the movie is not borrowed from any of these movies. Maybe the director was just a fan of this era. Rishi Kapoor is fantactic and Prithviraj is very good. Arjun Kapoor does decently but I do think it would have been better to have a seasoned performer (or atleast someone with more experience) in his role. Also liked that Jackie Shroff got a good role and he does well too. All in all a very good movie which probably did not get the attention it deserved.

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    • I said Shakti because of the leisurely pace the movie unfolded and the drama aspect of it. But no similarities whatsoever

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    • thanks – Aurangeb wasn’t a film I had considered watching (the cast and genre don’t appeal) but I will bear in mind ur recommendation and catch it sometime. cheers.

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  10. Sally–that’s quite a good ‘tally’–u seem to be doing one every night!
    I’m finding handling a few difficult …
    Sounds ‘watching ipad movies on a metro’ seems to be your thing.
    Ps: haven’t seen Hasee to phasee but from the promos don’t think that gal has aspergers–it’s ‘convenient’ bipolar, I think…

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    • she didn’t appear to meet criteria for a diagnosis of biploar. it was more social awkwardness rather than episodes of mood disturbance.

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  11. Thanks for those two Deepti Naval Farooq Sheikh films. Hadn’t heard of the. And for informing that Chhoti chhoti Baatein is on youtube. Wanted to watch this for a long time.

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    • Had you seriously not heard of SAATH SAATH? That is a classic!! How could you miss that?

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    • yeah, chhoti chhoti baatein was something i’d wanted to see for a long time so i was really excited to see it had been uploaded. youtube is incredible for rare movies.

      if you’ve not seen bewafa it’s really worth seeing. talat’s songs are magic, particularly this one:

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    • Agree with Oldgold. Wuthering Heights was dark, dreary and melodramatic.Jane Austen’s novels were sunshiney, ironical, can be read again and again. I have an omnibus volume of Austen’s six novels. Read her occasionally.

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  12. tonymontana Says:

    Really such a pleasure going through Salim’s mini reviews

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  13. omrocky786 Says:

    Salim- I simply love Hazaron, and just can not stand dil diya dard liya ..still have memories of watching it on DD, LOL!!
    found Madras Café pretty watchable, with so many potential controversies, IMO they did a good job.

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  14. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Salim: Thanks for the clip from Bewafa. Talat’s angelic voice is sucha pleasure to listen to. and Raj is such a darling. Would love to see more of his earlier films without the Charlie hangover. ( Loved him in Andaz.)

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    • I’ve recently seen several of his rarer films with Nargis – they’ll be in my next batch of mini-reviews! I agree, he was much nicer to watch when he wasn’t being that weirdo.

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  15. vow! farooq-dipti were a superb pair………

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  16. Saw Chale chalo on YouTube and liked it. There was too much effort in making of the movie.

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  17. I’ve begun to really like these capsule takes. I’m reading and my mood changes as I imagine the times these movies were in. The actors, singers , what were they like. What films were like back then. Its relaxing. 🙂

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  18. Salim, I hope you saw the old films on youtube because I’d search them out and watch.
    LOL @Rootha Na Karo review. 😀

    I have the Gopi Gyne Bahga byne triology in a collector’s pack :-/
    One of them was not as good. I think the third one.

    Chhoti chhoti baaten will be the first to watch since you’ve already mentioned it’s on youtube, and Char Diwari etc

    Of course I’m not sure where the new addition to the list begins and am perhaps talking about older films.

    I liked Dil Diya Dard Liya better than the book Wuthering heights because the book was awwwful IMO: Bronté sisters were perhaps jealous of Jane Austen and said her books were without passion (read melodrama), and so Emily B went on to write this OTT Wuthering heights. So bleak and dreary.
    Interesting to know that Hulchul is also an adaptation of it.

    If you’re interested in Bronté sisters’ novels then there is Sangdil starring Dilip Kumar and Madhubala, an Indianised adaptation of Jayne Eyre – a novel I like almost as much as Jane Austen’s.

    Interesting to read as always. Thanks.

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    • Now there is one tv serial based on based on Wuthering Heights and also one more based on Sense and Sensibility from Ekta Kapoor, they say. Adapted to Indian conditions and tv audience tastes.

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    • Hey,

      Yep I saw pretty much all those movies on YouTube – it’s really incredible how the most obscure films (some of which I’ve been trying to get hold of for years) can turn up on there.

      Satyam kindly breaks up each set with an image, so the newest batch I’ve seen are up until the next image.

      Makes sense that the final part of the trilogy isn’t on the same level as although it was planned by Ray, his son ended up directing it as Ray was ill/passed away.

      I’ve seen Sangdil and liked but, but particularly the music was just incredible. Actually all those Dilip-Madhubala films had incredible soundtracks like Amar, Tarana, Mughal-e-Azam. Ha, I actually loved the Wuthering Heights novel – it was so raw and brutal and unlike anything else. But I also love Austen 🙂

      Let me know what you think of the ones u end up watching.

      S.

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  19. Pity you didn’t care for “Sautela Bhai.” I loved it. The plot is nothing new and Guru Dutt was always a mediocre actor, but for me the fabulous music by Anil Biswas more than made up for any deficiencies in the film.

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    • Hehe, maybe on another day I might have been kinder to the film but on this occasion it simply irritated me…a lot 🙂

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  20. Wolf Of Wall Steet.

    The chest beating & chanting bit by Matthew McConaughey is an actual ritual that Matthew practices before he gives a shot. Martin Scorsese saw Matthew do this and added that into the movie.

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  21. Recently seen some newer and older films too

    Butler – liked it a lot. Nice performances, Oprah was pretty good. Liked the story as it was more about how father and son challenged or did not challenge society views on blacks through 60-90’s.
    Inbetweeners 2 – sorry but this is a British teenage film ala American pie. Not as good as #1. Actually pretty poor.
    The Conjuring – better than the Paranormal activity films but rather predictable
    Bone Collector – Denzel day on Saturday and catching up with some of his older films. Liked it a lot, Jolie is smoking hot! Denzel is well Denzel. Love his films, kick ass actor!

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  22. Sanjana:

    Almost all the films are worth a watch.

    Telugu is a sweet and soft language. Good observation.

    Ghar Basake Dekho stars the talented and beautiful Savitri who was Rekha’s stepmother. All her movies in telugu and tamil are memorable ones.

    Nice to hear positive reviews on Khoobsurat from you, Ami and OG.

    All the bengali films mentioned are good.

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  23. a brief comment on Agantuk here:

    https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/a-list-of-favorite-directors/#comment-176596

    also, part of a longer comment on Bachchan’s blog:

    [Some of these images reminded me of Ray’s Agantuk. A marvelous ‘discourse’ on the ’stranger’ and the ‘guest’ and the ethics owed to such but the film ended in a somewhat mysterious alogether marvelous moment (which connects it in some ways with moments in Ayanyer Din Ratri) with Utpal Dutt dancing with the tribals and his genteel niece finally joining in.]

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    • Thanks Satyam – the thread you’ve linked to looks awesome – will spend some time reading through it. And yes, the final scene in Agantuk was magic.

      I’ve not yet seen ADR – not managed to find an online version with subtitles as yet. Currently I’m working my way through Rathnam’s filmography – next up is Nayakan 🙂 Then that just leaves Kadal, Iruvar, Thiruda Thiruda and his first four films.

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  24. Agantuk- Is arguably one of India’s finest ever. I have never been able to put my finger on what was more brilliant- Ray’s writing or Ray’s direction or Utpal Dutt’s performance. Everything about this film is so much sense making that it doesn’t even feel like a film after a while. The small monologues by Utpal Dutt were simply outstanding,

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    • Agreed. It’s a film I would like to watch again – so much to admire.

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    • Watched Agantuk recently. Loved it. I miss Utpal Dutt and his brand of meaningful deeply felt cinema, real, ironical, funny,relatable.

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      • i don’t think I’ve seen much of his work to be honest apart from his comedies with Hrishida. any recommendations of his movies?

        I’m also a huge Austen fan. My favourite is Persuasion. But I remember being stunned by Wuthering Heights some years back when I read it – such a different Universe to Austen’s – I must revisit it soon.

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        • Wuthering Heights is one classical novel I can’t bear. The so called protagonist is so mean and his obsessiveness (which was described as passion by the author EB) was so sick IMO.

          Don’t know which Bronte sister called Jane Austen’s novels passionless, but that was what they believed and so I guess Emily B went OTT with Heathcliff.

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      • Watched Agantuk last night after reading so much praise for it here. Liked it very much.

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  25. Salim, great read as always.

    Agree, Imaan Dharam was very prechy and salim-javed did state that in their interviews.

    “Laxmikant Pyarelal’s music is mediocre (as usual!)”

    Yes, in this movie it was mediocre but as “usual”???

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  26. From the list of films mentioned I’ve seen Tamasha, Ghar Basake Dekho, and Death Comes to Pemberley. And I thought of them exactly as you did.
    The first two were fun, and Death Comes to Pemberley was not bad. I forced myself to watch it, being BBC and all that. WAs grateful that the story was a murder mystery rather than a life of P&P characters continued where the book ended.
    Among the contemporary I’ve watched Khubsoorat. Liked it.
    What I have chosen to watch, from among the films reviewed, is Mera Damaad.
    Thanks

    Like

    • Thanks, yes I think you will like Mera Damaad 🙂

      I enjoyed reading your thoughts on Khubsoorat when you posted them. The film was a pleasant surprise for me!

      Have you read any of the sequels to Austen books? I hate the idea of people messing with her characters but the temptation to revisit is understandable.

      Like

      • I tried reading some sequels but they seem so fake. The language seems pretentious the characters painfully trying to copy the originals.

        Like

  27. I think you meant Agni Nakshatram when you said Charitram

    Like

    • Oops, yes that’s it, thanks – not sure where I came up with Charitram (I don’t know a word of Tamil or Telugu!)

      Like

      • Actually agni Nakshatram is a sanskrit word. Agni means fire and nakshatram means Star and Charitram means history(charitra).

        Like

        • Hehe, clearly my Sanskrit isn’t so great either 🙂

          Regarding ‘charitra’, I used to hear the word all the time because I had a CD of the Dhadkan soundtrack that had dialogues before the songs and in one of them Akshay Kumar says ‘main yeh maanne ke liye tayaar nahin hoon ke is ke charitra pe daag hai’ (so I guess in Hindi it can mean character).

          Cheers 🙂

          Like

  28. Tamasha is a fun watch isn’t it? I loved Ashok K’s character and the music, particularly “raat mohe meetha meetha sapna” by an especially sweet Geeta Dutt. Sadly the version of the movie I have is ruthlessly edited with huge chunks of the film missing.:-( I hate Indian DVD/VCD manufacturers!

    Since you’re a Meena K fan, have you seen “Magroor” (1950) co-starring Jairaj, Nigar Sultana and a dashing Rehman? Delightful film.

    Like

    • Ooh, I’m actually not sure about Maghroor!! My master list is at my parents’ place so I will check the next time I visit, but I think I might not have seen it – did you see it online? I would def like to watch it!! Thanks for the song – will listen soon.

      And yes, Tamasha was a blast, and the Geeta Dutt song is a beauty. I agree about the morons who dissect up these movies – so disrespectful and unnecessary 😦

      Like

  29. Didn’t mind BA Pass. I thought it was dark and with better director it could have came out much better.

    Like

  30. This the BEST post of all time on Satyamshot – thanx salim and pl. keep it up

    Like

  31. Parveen Babi was a better actress and more charming than the more successful Zeenat.
    Many of those films start well and become meandering like Badhti ka naam daadi. In those times 10 lakhs(its equivalent to crores) was a huge amount but now one cant buy even a one BHK with that kind of money.

    Like

    • Yeah, two films I remember enjoying a lot were Nutan’s Anari and Paying Guest, both of which were so much fun until the final half hour that got unnecessarily serious and rather tedious.

      Agreed. I’ve never understood Zeenat’s success. Especially the bit where people like Abhishek (and so many others) talk about her as their childhood fantasy. I don’t think she’s particularly attractive (especially compared to the very beautiful Parveen Babi). And her acting was awful.

      Like

    • What’s BHK?

      Like

  32. Salim – u may enjoy this interview of DP – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWMaDBw3gdo

    Like

  33. This post continues to be such a pleasure. I will probably never get around to watching most of these, but the sheer breadth of your viewing and the straightforward reviews are extremely impressive. Please keep them coming…

    Like

    • Thanks for the kind words 🙂
      I’m sure my next batch will be up soon enough – I commute a long distance to work everyday so if I’m not reading then I can get through a movie each day 😀

      Like

  34. LOL. It seems you have been unlucky with your choices of hindi films to watch, this time round. There’s not one you liked except a fairly likable Rivaaj.
    Mala Sinha was really one of the most beautiful actresses.
    So I’ll have to watch this film now for her sake.
    Thanks Salim. Your reviews are interesting.

    Like

  35. Salim: Love reading these mini-reviews. And do I want to see Kishore Sahu’s Hamlet

    Like

  36. No offence but if you think Govinda is anything less than a legend, then you are seriously mistaken. Just because the guy acted in mostly comedy movies does not make him any less of a performer. I genuinely believe the toughest craft for a a director is to make a genuinely scary horror movie and the toughest skill for an actor is to make the audience laugh. Govinda not only makes the audience laugh but does so in a commanding manner. In my opinon, he is more skilled (strictly in terms of acting chops) than all the khans put together.

    People may laugh it off, but I put him right at the top with the likes of Sanjeev Kumar, Kamal Haasan, Amitabh Bachchan etc.

    Like

    • Hey, no offense taken. I agree comedy is not easy, and that’s probably why there are not many comedies that I think are great (my favourites would be Chupke Chupke, Golmaal and Angoor).

      I don’t have any major issue with Govinda, I just couldn’t really relate to his kind of comedy or the movies he was in (my issue isn’t that they were comedies they were just not very good films in my opinion). It’s been a long, long time since I watched those 90’s movies but I just remember him being so similar in all of them. And as I said, I remember growing up people would make fun of Indian movies and point out Govinda as the prime example of everything that was wrong with them (that’s not really my view as I have always loved Indian films, but I was never able to defend Govinda).

      I’m happy to concede I may well be rating his skills unfairly, partly because I’ve not seen his films in a long time and partly because the films themselves don’t appeal so I’m not giving his work a decent chance. I’d be interested to hear what others think of him…

      Like

  37. “No offence but if you think Govinda is anything less than a legend, then you are seriously mistaken.”– agree there paapaas
    The few bits I skimmed here are laughable infact shameful

    “Happy Ending-I could only watch 20 minutes of this trash. ”
    Yup that’s all one needs to read before knowing not tot read more of this junk !!

    The problem is not the ignorance but the shameless snobbery

    Like

  38. tonymontana Says:

    Dunno whether Govinda is a legend but at his best his comic timing is unbelievable.

    Like

    • As I just wrote above, it’s been so long since I watched the Govinda films of the 90s, but I can’t imagine ever wanting to revisit them! And I guess that’s possibly why I’m unfairly underrating him (if that’s the case).

      Like

  39. Salim every thought of trying films actor-wise? for eg – how about all films of Meryl Streep?

    Like

    • Well, I’ve watched every film of Meena Kumari that I can find. Still a few I’m searching for… And I’ve worked through most of Sanjeev Kumar’s movies. They are my favourites.

      Currently I’m going through the movies of Ray, Ratnam and Rituparno Ghosh.

      Like

  40. I have watched a couple of Govinda films and he didn’t make me laugh exceptionally more than any other actor being funny.

    Like

    • Ha, I’m glad someone agrees 🙂

      Just finished reading Dilip Kumar’s autobiography. I’ll share my thoughts in my next set of reviews but I’m sure you’d enjoy it. Waheeda Rahman’s book though was way better (the Conversations with Nasreen Munni Kabir).

      Like

  41. Dimple Kapadia is a talent with beauty. Unfortunately her daughters did not have patience to carry the legacy or dynasty.

    Even Satyajit Ray cant please everyone!

    Vivah is a warm movie, tv style.

    Like

  42. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Here is my choice for the best of Bollywsood in 2014.

    Best Film: Haider
    Best Director : Vishal Bhardwaj- Haider
    Best Actor : Aamir Khan – PK,
    Best Actress: Kangana – Queen,
    Best Supporting Actor: Ronit Roy – Ugly,
    Best Supporting Actress: Tabu-Haider.
    Best Story: Raju Hirani, Abhijat Joshi – PK,
    Best Screenplay: Anutag Kashyap: Ugly.
    Best Cineamtography: Pankaj Kumar-Haider
    Best Music:Vishal Bharadwaj – Haider
    Best Lyricist: Gulzar – Aao Na ( Haider)
    Best Playback Male: Arijit Singh – Gulon Mein Rang Bharein
    Best Playback – Female – Sultan Nooran, Jyoti Nooran – Patakha Gudiya

    Like

    • haven’t seen Ugly,..but apart from that

      Best Film: Aankhon Dekhi
      Best Director: Rajkumar Hirani
      Best Actor : Sanjay Mishra (Aankhon Dekhi)
      Best Actress: Kangana (queen)
      Best Supporting Actor: Tahir Bhasin (Mardaani)
      Best Supporting actress: Tabu (haider)
      Best Story: PK
      Best Screenplay: PK
      Best Cinematography: Haider

      Like

    • Ah utkal you have reminded me of some ravishing lyrics: “Jhuk ke jab jhumka main choom raha tha
      Der tak gulmohar jhoom raha tha…” and the opening too: “Khul kabhi to, khul kabhi kahin / Main aasmaan, tu meri zameen / Boond-boond barsun main / Paani-paani khelun-khelun aur beh jaaun / Geele-geele hothon ko main / Baarishon se choomun-choomun aur keh jaaun / Tu.. zameen hai, tu.. meri zameen”

      Definitely my favorite romantic lyrics of 2014…

      Like

  43. Mardaani was good except the climax which was handled in filmy way.
    Absolutely loved Ankhon Dekhi..prefer it to PK for best movie this year.

    ps – I just don’t have any inclination to see old movies when there is so much new to be seen. I do occasionally watch old English movies.

    Like

    • The bad guy in Mardaani was also really really good — I agree with you munna that the ending wasn’t very good, but overall I thought it was one of the best Hindi films of 2014…

      Like

  44. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Qalandar: I was vacillating between Aao Na and Khul Kabhi Toh for the Best Lyrics. Opted for Aao Na because, you know, it ios kind of easier to pen some great lines on a romantic theme. But Khul Toh is absolutely gorgeous. And ‘ Gulmohar ki aag hi mein phenk doon tujhe’ must be one of the most erotic lines in Hindi songs ever.

    Like

  45. What about golden kela awards? Thats much more interesting.

    Like

  46. Salim’s thread is being hijacked.

    Like

  47. Both the films seem to be interesting.

    Sharmila can look vulnerable and beautiful as in Anupama.

    Like

  48. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Loved Autograph. Consider it to be Srihit’s best. I have seen all execeot Misar Rawhosya which I deliberately skipped. I did not like the final twist of Chatuskone. Jaatoshwar the next best. Baishe Srabon, Hemlock Society…almost at par with each other. Looking forward to Rajkahini.

    Like

    • I’ve not seen any of those!! I got the Autograph dvd in nyc but dunno if I’ll be able to see the others, unless they are streaming online with subtitles. Thanks for the recommendation.

      Like

  49. I’d never heard of Pehli Jhalak. I’ll watch it right away (it’s on youtube I presume). 🙂
    Yes, always a pleasure to watch Mughal e azam.

    Like

  50. Yeah I watched it on YouTube – enjoy 🙂

    Like

    • Was very disappointed with the songs. With Kishore Kumar and they year of 50s I can’t believe there was not a single catchy tune there. The story resembled another Vyjayanthimala film College Girl I think.

      Like

  51. Wow, so nice to see that Salim’s list has a page of its own now. Really enjoyed reading the mini-reviews. Hope you’re keeping well.

    Like

    • he’s had a starring part for a long time! His is the ultimate masala list. He can go from a foreign film to an Akshay comedy within the same list. He has all the ingredients!

      Like

    • Thanks dude. Good to see you here. I’m good, still working through my training, still obsessed with Lata and Meena Kumari, and as you can see still watching lots of movies 🙂 Hope all is well with you 🙂

      Like

      • Yes I remember you whenever I come across a Meena Kumari film. Got addicted to a song “Rang Aur Noor Ki Baaraat” recently and liked Meena Kumari’s expressions in it. Still listen to Rafi songs but I probably listen to Kishore and Mukesh equally now I reckon.

        Yep I’m well thanks. Write plays rather than film reviews nowadays lol.

        Like

  52. I have seen most of the new offerings, quite liked Baby, Roy. Shamitabh was okay. In slight older and old : Mississippi Masala and Forgetting Sarah Marshal; liked them.

    I absolutely loved “Her”.

    Like

  53. Vow Salim! u really r a film-lover…………btw – have u seen the TV searial Devo ka Dev Mahadev – every episode is like a mini film and what an amazing show! 820 episodes and each one is worth it. 100 harry potter books can’t match the shiv purana and the actors / music / sets / screen-play………every thing is done in a spectacular way. Easily the finest TV serial in India till date. Here are all 820 episodes online: https://dkdmfan.wordpress.com/devon-ke-dev-mahadev-all-episode/

    Like

  54. Two films I saw this week – hadn’t seen them till now.

    Unbreakable – pretty good. That eery pace of M. Night Shyamalan films made this one a little too slow at times but overall I love the parallel narrative to comic book storytelling and the unfolding of the story. It’s another matter altogether that I could sense the ending very early on but expected a much grander ending than the subdued one. Watching the end of Die Hard with Vengeance just before this it was cool to see Bruce and Samuel again. One time watch but liked it a lot overall

    Scent of a Woman – been wanting to watch this for ages to see what Pacino won the Oscar for. And it took some time to get going but it’s a nice drama and story. Pretty much all about Pacino’s performance really – a good one.

    Like

    • I love Unbreakabale, my favourite Shyamalan film. Incidentally Shyamalan’s TV show “Wayward Pines” is pretty good.

      Not a fan of Scent…as you rightly sum up, it’s pretty much a Pacino show.

      Like

      • I was surprised with Scent. I expected a whole lot more as a film to be honest. Actually I am quite shocked Pacino won an oscar for that considering the rest of his career! Still a good film, but felt like a throwaway Oscar.

        Like

    • I’ve always had a great weakness for Unbreakable. Uneven for sure but one of his most interesting films.

      On Die Hard all the films here were fun except the most recent one which was miserable.

      along the same lines I caught up with the Taken trilogy recently. hadn’t seen a single one here. Neeson makes all of them enjoyable but liked 3 the most.

      Like

    • abzee2kin Says:

      I find Unbreakable to be one of Shyamalan’s most accomplished films technically. Just the opening itself has so many visual cues… the ‘birth’ of Mr. Glass is presaged right at his birth with all the ‘reflection’. What one sees is a reflection of a reflection. And there are so many moments like this in the film. And it is also acts as such a rich glossary for comic-book codes. It is also perhaps the best superhero origin story.

      Like

    • abzee2kin Says:

      On Scent Of A Woman, mine cannot be a valid opinion since I am a confessed batshit crazy Pacino fan. Hoo-ha! But let it be said, that the Oscar was oh-so-very-deserving… not just for the 5 times that he was snubbed during his 70s peak but even as a standalone act of unparalleled bombast and deep humanity. Take this dinner scene for example and observe his graph… something as little as blurting hoo-ha laced with such a reflection of his emotion… the third utterance barely makes it past his throat.

      Like

  55. Remarkably eclectic list as always Salim.. always interesting going through your posts..

    Like

    • Thanks Satyam, and also thanks for maintaining this wonderful place. Though I post rarely I’m here just about everyday 🙂

      Like

  56. abzee2kin Says:

    Lovely list Salim. This is something that I keep revisiting time and again. I cannot envy the amount of movies you see for I see a lot too, but the sheer spread across genres and languages is absolutely remarkable and admirable. And that you get down to write about them is surely what I envy.

    Happened to revisit quite a few films this past week from LA Confidential to Raiders Of The Last Ark and Jaws to A Time To Kill. I’d recommend revisiting films, both seminal and otherwise, every now and then. It can be a most rewarding experience and an eye-opener of sorts. I remember absolutely loving A Time To Kill when I watched it as a 14 year old… but on this viewing it disturbed be to no end how skewed its political message was and how it exploited a father’s grief to further a pro-vigilantism and pro-death-penalty agenda. The climax that had moved me then, I found borderline pornographic this time. But I shall visit this film again in a few years 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks dude. I totally agree about revisiting movies – our subjective experience of a particular movie we’ve watched more than once can tell us so much about the person we were at that point in time.

      Not seen any of the films you mentioned below. I feel I must watch Bahubali at some point, if only to see what all the fuss is about!

      Will look out for that Marathi film – if it’s online with subs I’ll watch it 🙂

      Like

  57. abzee2kin Says:

    At the cinemas, after having seen Bahubali twice, got down to seeing Rogue Nation. Didn’t live up to the hype for me, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. The John Woo second installment remains the only one of the franchise which I outright despise. The first one remains the best for me, and I really think that DePalma’s style really suited this franchise, lending it an instantly different paranoid streak than the other spy films out there. The JJ Abrams third gave the franchise its strongest villain thus far in Seymour Hoffman’s Davian. With him, you would be forgiven to think that perhaps Hunt wouldn’t make it alive. Davian also happens to be the only villain to have actually killed someone that mattered to Hunt and not just threaten. That I felt was the weakness in this fifth outing. The villain for all his shadowy global clout was weaker than the idea of him. What I will be thankful to Rogue Nation for is that it gives us the franchise’s most memorable female character in Rebecca Fergusson’s Ilsa. She kicked ass, and that one shot at the opera where she draws out a long-barrelled gun from between her legs is one of the best shots across the five films- a deliberate phallic invocation just to remind you that this is no ordinary woman… she comes ‘packing’ alright!

    P.S.- Ghost Protocol was a fun installment. It was all set-pieces and the franchise was clearly having a good time.

    Like

    • Haven’t seen this latest but that first one is head and shoulders above all of them. And exactly for the reason you mention. I think De Palma cribs from Hitchcock here to great effect.

      Like

  58. abzee2kin Says:

    Also happened to see a gem of a little Marathi film, Double Seat. It harkens back to the Piya Ka Ghar – Baaton Baaton Mein kind of cinema. The common man, most exemplified by Palekar’s various outings and films such as Katha, etc., is completely absent from the Hindi films nowadays. He lives in regional Marathi cinema, but either as a disturbing relic (Lalbaug Parel) or an innocence past (Time Pass), if not a retributive sociopath (Dombivali Fast). It is refreshing then to see something like a Double Seat, a film that is harmless and easy really (no conflicts threaten to break the social fabric, and eventually there is always a way out) but also a film that is cleverly and slyly pragmatically bleak, in that its supposed happy-ending comes at a certain cost… the Marathi manoos from Lalbaug who resents that the city around him developed while he remained cocooned in the 10×10 chawl waiting for the mills to reopen only to be shooed off to distant transit camps outside Thane even; realizes that his folly was actually ‘hope’! Had he taken up on the ‘compromise’ to move towards an Andheri or Malad or any other northern suburb before they too went out of his reach, he wouldn’t be cribbing now. As it stands, the solution then is to be ‘happily’ move to an even distant suburb like Virar while you can. Ha!

    The film also has one of the most affecting opening Mumbai sequences in recent memory. And the song that accompanies it makes lovely use of the suburban railway beats.

    There’s also a lovely scene midway through the film, in which the film very clearly and for no reason chooses to have an SRK vs Salman argument and emphatically takes Salman over SRK 🙂 Loved it!

    Like

  59. thecooldude Says:

    Very interesting to see your views on Humsafar though I think that song had something to do with Drama’s popularity. It’s so freakin’ good! Shahre Zaat on the other hand was a bit of a bore for me. Also agree with TWM and TWMR…Kangana is simply doing some amazing work these days.

    Like

    • Its funny, I remember that a bunch of girls I knew used to obsessed with that title track, and I couldn’t understand why. But now, having seen Humsafar, it all makes sense. I hope Kangana’s career continues like this and doesn’t fizzle out – I like her a lot.

      Like

  60. Awesome Salim. Keep this going. So educative. And so much fun. A liiele later I will make a post..talking only of films that I don’t agree with your take, or those with which I agree and most in this forum dont.

    Like

  61. You are yet to watch Bahubali. And now it is out of the big screens which gives great experience.

    Like

    • It didn’t look appealing to me in any way, but given how much people have loved it I will check it out at some point online.

      Like

      • thecooldude Says:

        BTW Salim….if you are going to catch any more Pakistani dramas than I would like to recommend MAIN ABDUL QADIR HOON. Different from the usual stuff and a great song to boost.

        Like

  62. Rajen was right about TWMR. It is loud and crass. Only Madhavan looked civilised and the second version of Kangana was good to watch. I felt like watching a tv soap.

    Like

  63. So here it is at last. Michael Billlington’s choice of 101 Best Plays ever.

    ““Why put my head on the chopping-block by writing a book hubristically entitled The 101 Greatest Plays?”, wondered the Guardian’s theatre critic Michael Billington recently. But write it he has – and here is the full list for the first time.

    Unlike Robert McCrum’s recent list of the 100 best novels, Billington allowed himself more than one entry per writer – room for six Shakespeares, and two apiece from greats like Molière, Goldoni and Ibsen. He has focused on the west, “simply because of my ignorance of Asian drama.”

    But has he made the right decisions? Why is there only one living female playwright in the list? And who has he unfairly overlooked? As Michael himself says, “the book was written not out of scholarly omniscience or in a spirit of truculent assurance but as a way of initiating a debate” – so what are you waiting for?”

    http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2015/sep/02/michael-billington-101-greatest-plays

    Like

    • Thanks so much for this. A family member is unwell and he loves theatre so I bought this for him after you posted this and he loved it 🙂

      Like

  64. Bheja Fry is a copy of French movie Le Dîner de Cons.

    Liked Kaun when I last watched.

    Have also liked Big Hero 6.

    Like

  65. Yes, Kaun was a good movie. I liked Bheja Fry too.

    Like

  66. Have a great trip Salim.. and thanks as always for a great read..

    Like

  67. Sanjana:

    Thanks. Your reviews have become longer and more interesting.

    Like

  68. tonymontana Says:

    Thanks Salim. A few added more added to the never – ending list of pending movies.

    BTW, the awards season begins. Quite a handful to check out

    Like

  69. tonymontana Says:

    These seem to be the best of the lot, gathering from this year’s Golden Globes

    Carol
    The revenant
    Room
    Spotlight
    The big shot
    The hateful eight
    Joy
    Spy
    Trainwreck
    Brooklyn
    The Danish girl
    The lady in the van
    Steve Jobs
    Concussion
    Infinitely Polar Bear
    Youth
    Trumbo
    Beasts of no nation
    Ex machina
    Creed
    Danny Collins
    Love and mercy
    99 homes

    Like

  70. tonymontana Says:

    If any film forces you to think, does that qualify as a great film, even if you somehow feel it’ll be too early to call something just that?!

    Tamsha is just that and many more. And what’s with intia ALU and his hauntingly beautiful frames? Even when the locations could be as cliche as just any other scenic spot in Europe or the recognisable local roads, there’s something in them when they present themselves in this man’s films.

    The story if given in someone else’s hands would have ended being prosaic and just another “follow your dreams” statement, but under the helm of Ali, it takes another shape. The solution is convenient, and there’s nothing much to it than the idea of giving some meaning to your life, but it is handled and suffused with depth and complexities.

    Hope imtiaz too continues following the same path and not bow down to the demands of the Indian box office. He’s doing fairly well for himself and there needs to be someone who believes in his kind of cinema. The film is flawed, but certainly not forgettable. I’d rank this up right next to Rockstar.

    Like

    • I need to rewatch Rockstar cos I didn’t like it much the first time, but after Tamasha I feel like I owe it to Imtiaz. Can’t wait for his next film!

      Like

  71. For Salim. Here is another Meena Kumari fan. Watch below

    Like

    • I’m not really a fan of SLB’s movies but one has to respect his passion for and devotion to the craft. And hearing him speak about his idols helps one to understand his cinema better (even if they don’t exactly match up!). I loved how he paid tribute to Mughal-e-Azam repeatedly in BM.

      Like

  72. I watched Will Smith’s Focus last night. Up until the last 30mins I liked it as Will is a smooth actor and the storyline was interesting, however the twist was really poor. Found the premise of a crime caper bring overtaken into a romantic angle rather strange! Much have preferred his muse to be the one to be the traitor!

    Like

    • Watching star wars 1977 now. Must say quite bored but obviously I understand how this film all that time ago could have created so much craze. Technology wise looks good but feels boring. Sorry star wars fans.

      Like

  73. I enjoyed reading about the places you visited. You missed Hyderabad and Mysore. They have some beautiful historical buildings and culture.
    I am glad that you liked PK. Last time I was surprised you did not care for it. And Bombay Velvet was not such a bad movie as it was made out to be. It was watchable.
    I liked RaJesh Roshan’s music in Khoon Bhari Maang.
    I loved Gravity and I hope to watch the Martian. Gravity had lots of motherly emotions which made me teary eyed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hehe, guess I will add Mysore and Hyderabad to my list 🙂 But don’t think I’ll be returning to India for at least a couple of years now!

      Like

  74. Yes, india’s poverty is heartbreaking. It is not only about those kids, it is about the aged and the infirm. Every political party talks about working for the poor but everything seems to be against the poor and the marginalised. The cold winter takes as many lives as the hot summer.

    Like

  75. Loved your ‘blog’ entry on your travels (btw what were you doing watching movie in houseboat in kerala?) and your take on tolerance/intolerance. I think only a well travelled person can ‘judge’ how things are and in that I respect your opinion a lot. On children and poverty: I was pointing out the boy-waiter to my son, waiter being the same age as him (a little boy really) and my son refused to look (it is heartbreaking)…can’t hide your face, can’t face it either. It is brutal. However I must say that there are so many rags to riches stories (and vice-versa too) in India. I myself have seen dhobi/maid and other economically backward people’s kids growing into millionaires. On philosophical note: as I age I now totally believe in karma and somehow seemingly there is no explanation but I have seen healthy die young and people with cancer and myriad of diseases live to ripe old age. Some have success with little hardwork and others have none with loads of hard work…etc. Best to say a prayer. And do your bit. Read this true story yesterday and was moved. Wanted to post it ystdy and didn’t and today you gave fine chance:
    http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/kerala-man-feeds-hungry-street-kids-in-a-restaurant-gets-surprised-by-the-bill/1/575791.html

    Liked by 1 person

    • omrocky786 Says:

      Salim, liked your latest post, I was in India too but could not visit any tourist spots…Have an extended family.

      Like

      • “‘we have no machine to calculate humanity, may god bless you’, he scribbled that HIMSELF….wah. But rest of the story is true except the date. I too was eating at a restaurant in downtown (major city in South, US) and a homeless man (there is homeless shelter nearby and all of them hang around in the areas like parks-playing chess or reading books provided by govt programs like open air library, outside restaurants etc) pointed towards the chinese food, that had gone cold and I had stopped eating it (I have the cold chinese food where the gravy turns into goo), gesturing whether he can have it. So I was terribly ashamed and asked my co-worker to do the honor. He took my plate and gave it to him outside. We were not noble enough to buy him a lunch. I seldom eat out (side of work in a restaurant, unless it is “event” I can’t avoid).
        @Salim: if one where to take a bus, towards downtown of this city, it goes thru’ long areas, which one would have hard time to believe that one in living in “first” world country. We have poverty too. Just that it is not that much glorified. Maybe there may not be child labor like in India but there are lot of teens from these families who become prematurely bread winners instead of going to college.

        Liked by 1 person

    • omrocky786 Says:

      Di-
      The full story !!
      There is a twist to the story of a Kerala man who fed two hungry street kids and didn’t get charged – See more at: http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/there-twist-story-kerala-man-who-fed-two-hungry-street-kids-and-didnt-get-charged-37984#sthash.2bm125Ck.dfjglko3.dpuf

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    • Thanks Di. Haha, well it got dark by around 6:30pm when we were on the houseboat so all there was to do was eat and watch movies for the rest of the night 🙂

      Lol, what a bizarre thing for that dude to write a message to himself on the bill and then post it online… But I was thinking a lot in India that if everyone who can afford it was somehow facilitated to feed a hungry child or elderly person then nobody would go hungry (well I guess not just in India but worldwide). I felt awful seeing the ridiculous excesses of food at the buffet breakfasts at our hotels each morning, when I found out that they do indeed throw away all leftovers despite the countless hungry people outside.

      In your post below you said ‘this’ city – where did you mean? You’re in America right? I live in London, and to be honest the thing I’ve been most grateful for since getting back is our social services system, where everyone is taken take or if in terms of entirely free healthcare and education (I know the American system isn’t like that). I’m not sure how it’s possible for things to really improve in this respect for India unless population is controlled. Perhaps as a westerner my opinion is skewed, but I think that should be an absolute priority, regardless of how unpopular it may make the enforcers.

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  76. I have posted that story in the BO thread.

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  77. There is no seriousness to control population due to many reasons. One of the reasons for poverty.

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  78. Salim is extremely careful in balancing act. We hindus dont frequent mosques to know how they chase and pester. Maybe Ajmer is an exception as it is a dargah. I am not sure whether it is dargah or mosque. As for ground level harmony, it is there but one cant be deceived by what one sees on the surface. It is the groundlevel people who are joining those terrorist organisations.

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  79. Whoa, how did you find time to watch all these movies? You give film critics a serious run for their money! And I thought I was a movie buff, haha.

    I also found Dedh Ishqiya much better than the original. I liked Wazir way better than you did, It wasn’t perfect, but all in all, a taut, engrossing thriller, IMO

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  80. Recent films watched
    Bad Moms (not out of choice) – trashy humour just worth it to ogle at Mila Kunis – she is yummy! Rest not my kind of film but surrounded by women in my life who loved it.

    Bridget Jones’ Baby (half half choice) – I liked it. Renee Zelweger is a hoot in this role, the only one I’ve seen. Comedy romcom not usually my scene but I do like Hugh Grant & Colin Firth. Brit humour rocks!

    The girl on the train – what the heck can I say? Bloody unbelievable! Must watch. Literally glued, ridiculously good suspense drama with great twists and performances. Can’t watch it again though. Once you know what happens it spoils everything. I’d be shocked if Emily Blunt does not get some nominations here. This is not a romcom, full on psychological thriller with some seriously hot & brutal scenes based I believe on a novel. Topics covered such as domestic abuse, adultery, exotic ways to have sex, alcoholism, therapy, limited nudity etc etc

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  81. Joy

    I love Jennifer Lawrence…she is again the best thing about this film. She kicks ass and looks bad ass by the end, a lovely film and story. My two favourite actors in one film, De Niro & Lawrence! Woohoo!

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  82. Befikre – It doesn’t deserve your time to write so much about the movie. But agree with assessment. Vaani was okay. I liked some of the songs but Aditya Chopra should do only production.

    On Dangal – I think you wrote it when it released. because I think I argued on some of the points/comments. And don’t write too many negative things on Dangal or people from other thread will start posting here 🙂

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    • Ha, on Befikre I was probably just in a mood to vent. Yeah I write all as I see and then paste into my drafts folder hence had already posted about Dangal then but added here now.

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  83. I plan to see Dear Zindagi which is on Netflix.

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  84. jayshah Says:

    Agree on Dear Zindagi. Alia is by far the best actress at moment. She’s mixing her choices well too.

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    • She’s just so awesome. I like Deepika a lot too. And also Anushka (but maybe not quite as much as the other two)

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  85. AamirsFan Says:

    I just spent my Friday evening watching my first ever Raj Kapoor solo starrer film (had previously only seen him in Andaz).

    I had known about Jagte Raho but didn’t really read the synopsis. This movie is a masterpiece and Raj Kapoor automatically jumps into my top 5 Indian actors of all-time after just one watch. Now I’m really curious about RK’s other movies.

    Like

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