Anand Bakshi – Simple Words, Profound Impact

Man of simple words, but profound impact – that was Anand Bakshi and his prolific body of work!

What gems throughout the career, 10 top of the mind favourites recall are:

  • Yeh kya huya, kaise huya
  • Zindagi ke safar me guzar jaate hain
  • Mere naina saawan bhado
  • Dard e dil dard e jigar
  • Jis gali me tera ghar na ho balma
  • Yeh duniya waale poochhenge
  • Bade achhe lagte hain
  • Diye jalte hain phool khilte hain
  • Bahut door mujhe chale jaana hain
  • Yeh jeevan hain
    …. And there are so so many more of them!

Happy Birthday Bakshi Saab! Thank you for bringing simplicity in our lives!

Top 12 Indian Films of 2021 – Mid Year Check Point

So just like that, six months of 2021 are already gone. And while we had hoped at the beginning of the year that 2021 would be the year of life opening up again including our regular visits back to the cinemas, sadly that was not to happen. The six months went by with us locked up in the corners of our homes, and watching a lot of cinema that saw their releases across digital platforms – big and small, across languages, genres and themes. There has been a lot to appreciate in what we consumed, quite a bit to feel disappointed, but the overall feeling has been of hope because cinema is becoming far more universal crossing the boundaries of languages and geographies and speaking to our sensibilities with their global human themes. As we are at the mid year checkpoint of 2021, here is then looking at a dozen films that stood out at the top, appealing the most to my sensibilities and making a very strong mark. As always, this is a very subjective list and may not match up with your favorites for the year, but it would be wonderful to know what were your favorite films of the year so far, so that I can also catch up on anything that I would have missed out.

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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.

Sahir Ludhianvi : When every Verse was Magic – 10 Gems

Enough and more has been said about the depth, passion and finnesse of Sahir Ludhianvi and his poetry, and how he weaved magic into every word of his verses. Arguably the finest lyricist of hindi films ever, Sahir wrote for every mood, and every beat; and worked for a multitude of composers to create gems across decades. His collaboration with Sachin Dev Burman though stands out, especially the soulful melancholic songs they created together, most of which still echo as evergreen classics.

As the world gets ready to celebrate the centenary birth anniversary of Sahir Saab, here’s celebrating the terrific poet by remembering 10 of his best songs across films over years. There are of course multiple bunches of such tens that one can easily pick up from his amazing treasure of songs, but we restricted ourselves to ten and picked a max of one per film though it goes without saying that a Pyaasa or a Hum Dono or a Kabhi Kabhie would potentially feature all their songs in the Best of Sahir Ludhianvi list.

Too much to love. Too much to celebrate. Happy 100 years Sahir Ludhianvi! You are fondly remembered everyday through your ever relevant gems!

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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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15 Best Performances from Hindi Web Series of 2020

2020 is the year that will be possibly remembered more for its web series content than films. As the world shrinked to the confines of home, people found comfort and engagement in long format story telling, a format that helps the characters to take it slow, breathe and show their complete character arcs. The content creators also upped the game, and created shows with some very interesting characters, and soms excellent performances. The year will be remembered also as a breakout for many industry veterans, who have been here for long, but perhaps were waiting for a 2020 to happen to truly win global hearts. Hope they are here to stay.

Here we look at 15 Best Performances from the Hindi Web Series of 2020. We look at it differently from films, because the scope and span of the two formats makes them distinct with very different arcs of individual or ensemble performances. Also, though we talk about 15 top performances, we list the performances from male and female actors separately. Lastly, we do consider some of the series like A Suitable Boy or Churails whose primary language was not Hindi, but the spirit of the characters or their milieu was very comparable to the rest of the content considered.

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10 Best Hindi Films of 2020

2020 can easily be called the year of the Digital. As the pandemic brought the world to a lockdown state by the end of the first quarter, it was only the content on digital that kept the world sane and going one day at a time. With time, more and more completed films found their direct release on digital, with time new digital content started getting developed with the constraints of social distancing, and the audience were treated with a rather diversified platter of engaging content – human stories of hope, heartbreak, struggles and agency. 2020 was also a very brutal year in the way in which it took away so many artists from the field of Performing Arts and Entertainment, and some of these losses were beyond our comprehension. The films featuring those departed souls also left us teary eyed in their own ways.

So here is our pick of the 10 Best Hindi Films of 2020, films that worked in totality, some of them making a part of our repeat watchlists, and many of them going bold and experimental with themes, narration styles, and challenging the status quo without inhobitions. In spite of many big films pushed out to 2021 as they continue to wait for theatrical releases, 2020 didn’t leave us empty handed and gave us some pretty good films to cherish and celebrate. Here’s to more of that in 2021 and beyond.

Continue reading “10 Best Hindi Films of 2020”