Archive for Gulzar

Phir se aayee…

Posted in the good with tags , , , , on February 22, 2014 by Qalandar

I just saw Namkeen, a film I hadn’t previously seen, and nor had I heard any of its songs. The highlight was undoubtedly “Phir se aaiyo, badariya bidesi,” a song of heartbreaking loveliness. Asha and R.D. Burman suffuse this song with great longing as well as restraint (the latter embodied in Asha’s low vocal ranges here); this has to be one of the best songs from the 1980s that I’ve encountered — it is simply bewitching:

In both Namkeen and Mausam, Gulzar uses the somewhat discomfiting trope of the woman/women who need rescue, and can’t be free unless and until saved by a man; that is hardly new, but in both films Gulzar also features the empathetic male figure who seems to be culpable precisely because of his engagement with the women stuck in a horrible situation; this commitment is in fact what enables him to be a traitor of sorts, to enable irreparable injury out of feebleness. The result isn’t entirely satisfying, but perhaps Gulzar is best appreciated as an evoker of mood, of a nameless melancholia that pervades so many of his films: I don’t find it the most successful aesthetic when married to the figure of the lost woman, but transplanted to the terrain of a ruined city — the Mandu of Kinara — it works a quiet magic.

GF on Gulzar’s Mausam & Hu Tu Tu

Posted in the good with tags , , on September 18, 2010 by GF

The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. – Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

My first impression on seeing Mausam some time ago was that Gulzar had drawn rather smartly—if selectively—from the well of Hitchcock, specifically, from Vertigo, with Sanjeev Kumar slipping into Cary Grant’s shoes and Sharmila Tagore as the Kim Novak stand-in. Mausam of course is not the noir-masterpiece that Vertigo undoubtedly is, but is instead a moving, evocative character-drama about the passage of time and the emerging ghosts of one’s repressed past. Like Vertigo, Gulzar’s film examines an uneasy, paranoid reconstruction of memory in its dramatizing a man’s attempt to re-shape a newly-discovered physical twin of a past lover into the essence of that lost flame. The act of reconstruction is even more unsettling here given the paternal undertones of Kumar’s relationship with the second Sharmila Tagore he encounters in this film. Ultimately, then, Mausam works almost like a revenge drama—one where there is no physical, tangible avenger. Vengeance, or balance, is instead struck by memory in this narrative. And the weight of that truth about Mausam—along with all its social and political heft—didn’t reveal itself as completely to me (or maybe as potently) until I recently encountered the director’s excellent and quietly-championed 1999 feature, Hu Tu Tu.
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Qalandar’s Music Review: RAAVAN (Hindi; 2010)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2010 by Qalandar

The music of “Raavan” — supposedly a modern day re-telling of The Ramayana — wasn’t what I was expecting. Instead of a self-contained album confining itself to the world of the film like several other collaborations between composer A.R. Rahman and director Mani Rathnam (such as “Alai Payuthey”, “Yuva”, or “Kannathil Muthamittal”), this album hearkens to the music of the greatest Rathnam film of all, “Iruvar”, in its anthologizing of almost an entire film music tradition. But whereas Rehman’s mode in “Iruvar” was history, with each song representing a different Tamil film era (Rehman’s genius ensuring that none of the songs seemed derivative or stale, as merely nostalgic numbers would have), the “Raavan” album cannot imagine such continuity: the Hindi film musical tradition is here, but in shards as it were. Continue reading