KALYUG : Good Cinema

Monday memories…

Earlier this month, Shyam Benegal’s Kalyug completed 40 years of release.

A riveting drama that takes inspirations from Mahabharata and adapts it to modern day living rooms, Kalyug excels in diving deep into complex human psychologies of love and hate, rivalry and compassion, the urge to kill and the zest to survive. A stellar ensemble cast with everyone at the top of their game, Kalyug is possibly a benchmark in ensemble performance. In that ecosystem of overall goodness, the performances of Shashi Kapoor, Anant Nag and Rekha stand out, while Victor Banerjee, Vijaya Mehta and Supriya Pathak (in a strikingly different role) are very very good as well.

Kalyug is what good cinema is all about.

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Copyright ©2021 Jayashree Chakravarti. This article cannot be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL can be used instead.

EK DOCTOR KI MAUT : Sheer Brilliance

With doctors worldwide in the forefront of the pandemic battle today, and vaccines being the talk of the town, Tapan Sinha’s 1990 classic ‘Ek Doctor ki Maut’ comes to mind and how!

Based on Ramapada Choudhury’s short story ‘Abhimanyu’, Sinha’s film delved deep into the passion, power, politics and the pain associated with the journey of Dr. Dipankar Roy (Pankaj Kapur) and his wife Seema (Shabana Azmi), as they traverse the turbulent path of finding a vaccine for leprosy!

Sadly this brilliant film isn’t remembered as often today, but it must be watched for the terrific performance of the lead couple, and the sheer genius of Sinha! The film would certainly feature in any Best of Pankaj Kapur listings. And yes, one can find a bit of early days of Irrfan as well in the film where he left his impact in a smaller role as expected.. The film is available on YouTube..

Remembering ‘Ek Doctor ki Maut’ today, and wishing Pankaj Kapur a very happy birthday!

PIKU – Many Shades, Random Notes

The Silent Frames of PIKU, that tell their own intriguing stories…

  • Piku silently remembers her mother away from the glances of the rest of the family including Bhashkor. Was there a hidden, implicit, not so perfect story of her parents that led to her mother’s demise? Bhashkor definitely wouldn’t have been very easy to live with. Is there a silent unexpressed anguish in Piku that somewhere holds him responsible for her mother’s absence in their lives? It would be so interesting to know Piku’s mother, since a lot of what she possibly was, is what Piku inherited. The compassion, the empathy, the resilience of Piku would have been all her.
  • Work is the place where Piku finds some escape from the madness of her life. And she seems really successful at what she does and has already achieved. As an architect, she builds dreams. The profession requires patience, which isn’t the biggest strengths of Piku. So, she has a constant explicit reminder for her to ‘Keep calm’ and possibly ‘Stay Focused’ at work. As a tea lover, cups become obvious collectibles of her workplace. Her compassion and responsibility ensures that Bhashkor (photoframe) stays in front of her eyes whenever she raises her head from work. The most exquisite accessory of her workspace though? The amazing gramophone speaker, as if to amplify all the random thoughts of her life and relay back to her!
  • The Banerjee villa in Delhi is full of books. They form a recurring motif as part of the film’s cosy interiors, representing warmth, solitude and clutter at the same time. When Piku decides to take the sudden break from work, she is constantly seen clearing off the clutter from her life, drowning herself to dust off a sea of books, or trying to wash a heap of dirty laundry. Who is the reader of all those books? Does the collection belong to Bhashkor? Or her deceased mother? Piku’s hyperventilating aura doesn’t make her a natural avid reader. Or is that the secret flame of companionship that grounds her solitude? There are a few volumes of bengali Rabindra Rachanabali seen scattered in the mix as well. Piku being a ‘probashi’, can she even read bengali? We know her passion for Ray’s films, we see her faith in Ramakrishna Deb and Sharada Ma, so we are inclined to believe that Piku has found a lot of romanticism, strength and stoicism in her life deriving from the rich universe of Tagore. After all, she breaths and feels more Bengali than almost any other character from the silver screen of Mumbai.

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Copyright ©2021 Jayashree Chakravarti. This article cannot be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL can be used instead.

CHUPKE CHUPKE : Unabashedly Entertaining

Jijaji: Aye Pyare Mohan, tum pagal ho kya?

Pyare Mohan: Nahin Saheb, ab to main bilkul pagal nahin hoon.

Jijaji: Ab to! Ab to nahin hoon ka kya matlab, pehle pagal they kya?

Pyare Mohan: Saheb log yunhi mazak me kehte they.. lekin maine kabhi nahin maana ki main paagal hoon.

Jijaji: Arey kitne din pehle kehte they?

Pyare Mohan: … humein lajja aati hai saheb.

Jijaji: Arey bol bol. Arey nakhra chhod bol.

Pyare Mohan: Saheb, Vivaah se pehle. Lekin Vivaah ke uparaant sab yahi kehne lage hain ki mujh me pagalpan ke koi lakshan nahin hain.

Jijaji: Ghalat kehte hain sab. Tum me pagalpan ke saare lakshan hain. Pehla lakshan yeh hain ki tum bakbak bahut karte ho.

Pyare Mohan: Haan saheb, yeh dosh to mujh me hain. Parantu saheb, chandrama me bhi to kalank hai. Anya koi lakshan saheb?

Jijaji: Doosra lakshan ye hai ki tum ati-shudhh bhasha me baat karte ho.

Pyare Mohan: Woh to hum aapko prasanna karne ke liye karte hain.

Jijaji: Nonsense! Aise pagalpan se main prasanna ho jaunga aisa sochna hi pagalpan hain.
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A rare instance where the hindi remake was almost as good as the original bengali film ‘Chhadmabeshi’ !

The world that Hrishikesh Mukherjee created around Parimal ‘Pyaremohan’ Tripathy, Raghavendra ‘Jijaji’ Sharma, Sukumar ‘Parimal’ Sinha, Sulekha, Vasudha, Lata, Prashant and everyone around them is a laugh riot even today ! And that music by Dada Burman infused all the more warmth and charm to the film ! A perfect rewatch for the stressful times we are in!

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Copyright ©2021 Jayashree Chakravarti. This article cannot be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL can be used instead.

ANGOOR : Double Bonanza of Enjoyment

Angoor (1982) was the adaptation of Comedy of Errors by the legendary Gulzar Saab. But it was not the first time Gulzar was trying to adapt the same. Gulzar had earlier written the script for ‘Do Dooni Chaar’ (1968) based on the same idea for Bimal Roy Productions. But since Bimal Roy was on the deathbed at that time, his assistant Debu Sen made the film with Kishore Kumar and Asit Sen playing the leads. That film did not work unfortunately. The failure of Do Dooni Chaar kept haunting Gulzar. It was too juicy a story not to find a fan following, so years later, he remade the film as Angoor with Sanjeev Kumar, Deven Verma, Mousumi Chatterjee and Dipti Naval playing the lead roles. The rest we know is history. #Angoor is celebrated as a cult classic today, and rightfully so. Gulzar had his own ways of mining gold.

(PS : All Angoor fans must watch the terrific ‘Bhranti Bilash’ (1963) in Bengali which was a much earlier adaptation of Comedy of Errors, with the lead roles brilliantly dawned by Uttam Kumar and Bhanu Bandopadhyay along with Sabitri Chatterjee, and is even a bigger personal favorite than Angoor.)

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Copyright ©2021 Jayashree Chakravarti. This article cannot be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL can be used instead.

Kabhi Kabhie – Pot of Gold

Jhanjharon ka ye tham tham ke bajna
Yeh sawarna, nikharna, yeh sajna…
Kiski khatir hain kiske liye hain…
Kiski khatir hai kiske liye hain….
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Zindagi chand sawaal aur kuch jawaab hi toh bankar reh jaati hai !!
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Yash Chopra’s beautifully heartfelt Kabhi Kabhie is a love story for ages. From the outstandingly warm hearted Shashi Kapoor to the restrained & complex Amitabh Bachchan to the amazingly graceful Waheeda Rehman to the affectingly vulnerable Rakhee, there is such a charm and timeless appeal to this passionate tale of love, frustration, attachment and detachment. Add to it the freshness that Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh and Naseem bring to the mix, and the terrific music by Khayyam, and we have a classic that still breaks us, that still makes us fall in love. Like many great films, one always wishes that the ending of the film had maintained the same sombre tonality of the rest of the film. But for everything that Kabhi Kabhie offers, that part can possibly be ignored.

Kabhi Kabhie has aged beautifully and still stays so relevant. Whenever Yash Chopra made films dealing with relationships and unconventional love stories (as we again see with Lamhe years later), he always cracked gold. Wish he made more and more of such classics in his life time.
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Tu apni adaayein baksh inhe.. Main apni wafaayein deta hoon…
Jo apne liye sochi thi kabhi… Woh saari duayein deta hoon…..

#45YearsOfKabhiKabhie

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Copyright ©2021 Jayashree Chakravarti. This article cannot be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL can be used instead.

10 Hindi Films that Boldly Brought the Caste Narrative to Center Stage

Anubhav Sinha’s Article 15 is ready for release on June 28th, and if the promos are anything to go with, it is going to be a hard hitting commentary on the darkest impact of caste based politics on basic human agency and living rights of the common Indian. In today’s date of extreme chaos and cacophony, where almost every other ism is exploited by a select few to evoke mass hysteria and dangerous results, Article 15 may be the film that India needs desperately, and what the Indian youth should watch in masses and retrospect about. Hoping for it to be a well made film just like Mulk was, one that hits it where it hurts and raises the right questions. As we prepare for this experience, here is looking back at a few other Hindi films that made a statement by raising the caste issues unabashedly in a format and tone relevant to their times and left long lasting impressions.

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50 Years of Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne

50 years ago, on May 8th 1969, Satyajit Ray‘s Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne saw the light of the day…

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Manhattan – To beautiful beginnings…

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“He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion…no, make that: he – he romanticized it all out of proportion. Yeah. To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin.”

Uh, no let me start this over.

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GOLMAAL hain bhai sab golmaal hain!

Golmaal directed by the legendary filmmaker Hrishikesh Mukherjee is an all time classic! Arguably the best comedy ever written for the hindi film screen, the film thrives on its brilliant one liners written by Rahi Masoom Raza, so full of unadulterated humor that they can invoke a laugh any time of the day and every single time! They have forgotten to write such films and dialogues now. We also hence do not remember the films of today and their dialogues by heart like that of this classic film!

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Continue reading “GOLMAAL hain bhai sab golmaal hain!”