Silsila: The Best “Romantic Hindi Movie”

 

Silsila is the most “Mature” love story of Bollywood crafted by the “King of Romance” Yash Chopra. It deals with passionate love, sacrifices, marital bond & extra-marital affair. It flopped after its release in 1981 but gained a strong cult following and remains a classical phenomenon on T.V screens till date. This movie shows us the passionate as well as the wicked side of love.

 

The movie is rumoured (accurately) to have been inspired by the alleged love affair of its lead pair (the most talked about scandal of Bollywood). In his last interview, Yash Chopra revealed the stories behind its making. He had originally chosen Smita Patil & Parveen Babi as female leads but found something missing. After consulting AB & with his approval he approached Rekha & Jaya. The cast assured him of no issues at their end and promised him a thorough professional support ; while Shashi Kapoor was casted as the brother, Sanjeev Kumar was sceptical & initially refused as he didn’t want to get side-lined once again after Trishul & Sholay. However after the narration he agreed as he enjoyed working with Jaya (they belonged to the same school of arts). The cast participated in their best capacity. AB gave his voice for the songs; Neela Asman was composed by him along with Shammi Kapoor while shooting for Zameer & the folk song was a beautiful Harinvansh Rai Bachhan composition. The song “Ye kahan” was recorded separately by Lataji & AB and they missed the opportunity to record together. The films Music was melodious & gained instant popularity.

Rekha was enchanting, fascinating, ravishing as Chandni, a role she played with her classic “Original” sensuality. Chandni was lively, sultry, romantic & Rekha portrayed her gracefully.

Jaya portrayed a mature role, a simple woman who has lost her love and has to marry his brother. Shobha was intelligent, composed, brave & a determined lady. She acted through her eyes, at times with a look or a toughened jaw (that’s her forte).

I personally admired Sanjeev Kumar’s performance…….it was an exceptional one after Sholay & Trishul etc. His scenes with Jaya were brilliant (true to his caliber).

 

But AB presented us with a Vivacious, Handsome, extremely Romantic & Charming Amit. He was flirtatious & Loud & Flamboyant yet Adorable and Simply electrifying; he re assured his fans that he was just not limited to playing the angry young man.

The transformation of the actors is amazing. Amitabh is funny & intense in initial half but transforms into a poetic, resigned man who is forced to act responsible for his brother’s lover…..when he meets Chandni his hidden sparks liven up and he is transformed back to his elements…. The way he sings Rang Barse…. with a naughty and a wicked intention!!! Sanjeev Kumar is a Suave, good-hearted Doctor who feels the pulse of the tensed up situation, yet maintains his sense of humor. When he finds out about his wife’s past, he handles it delicately.

Yash Chopra filmed this movie in a tentative style & evidently tense atmosphere, adding to the enigma of their secret/notorious affair. Every dialogue of this movie was flawless and powerful. There were no subplots in the movie, and the locations chosen for songs were typical of his style of film making. The music was melodious & the picturisation of the songs was way beyond any one’s creative imagination. The tulips & the Alps………… As a complete piece of Cinema, Silsila was impeccable.

This was also the last film that featured Rekha & AB on screen, putting an end to this sizzling On-screen/Off-screen Romance.

 

What is the Enigma called Silsila? Why is it amongst the most popular Films? Could a separate casting save it from the rejection? Why did our parents fail it? Why do we love it? Well there have been so many tales attached to it, while the fact remains that it is one of the finest Love Stories of Bollywood. It flopped for that period of time where the audience were highly emotional about their Super Star & were hesitant in accepting another woman in his supposedly visible “Happily Married” Life. The gamble paid for Jaya, Rekha lost the battle. And we had a brilliant Movie in our hands.

“Marriage is a sacred tradition in India and when the director created sympathy for the 2 lovers who were willing to go outside their marriage to continue their love affair- he didn’t carry the audience with him” – Pamela Chopra said this on behalf of the Film.

“Why should he not have done it? He did it to protect his image, his family, his children. I think it is beautiful. I don’t care what the public thinks of it. Why should the public know of my love for him or his love for me?” – Rekha said in her “1989” interview with FF.

“We are human beings who love & accept each other for what we are. There’s more happiness in our lives than misery. Nothing else matters. But as long as I’m with that person I don’t care” – said Jaya.

Simi garewal asked Rekha “Did you…. Fall in love with him?”

“Absolutely. Duh! That’s a dumb question. I have yet to come across a single man woman or child who can’t help but fall completely, passionately, insanely, desparately & especially, hopelessly in love with him.”

In news and realm of social media AB kept & maintained his silence.

It was a risk…. Taking on this subject and having the lead cast execute such a scandalous story ; the story which was obviously theirs. I am sure there were women who ended up rendering wrath for Rekha as she was termed a home breaker; it was clearly Jaya’s victory that the film was rejected by the audience at that point. The message was clear. The verdict was in her favour and AB-Rekha never worked together after that. Some papers ran the story of Jaya declaring that the audience’s verdict will be hers as well, and that she would separate for the lovers to unite if the audience accept their togetherness by applauding the movie.

Unlike KANK, the lovers decide to return to their spouses, yet the ruling was clear.

It flopped because of the subject but became a master piece with Time. Silsila will remain my personal No. 1 choice as the Best Romantic Movie of Hollywood.

Silsila

 

 

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Padmavati: The most awaited Film this year.

Padmavati

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movies are like a “Banquet” of visual spectacle. He launches a project & the countdown begins for his Fans. I have been living with “Padmavati” ever since he declared the project & have read all the folklore & stories about “Maharani Padmavati” of Chittor. On my recent visit to Rajasthan, I re-discovered her legend and carried home the tales of her ultimate Bravery. Though not much has been written about her in the name of Books & Literature, she is undoubtedly an icon of Honor & Dignity.

The humiliation and danger the Queens & their fellow women were exposed to during the era of Mughal Dynasty is known to all. Rani “Padmini” is the epitome of self-sacrifice for she chose to rest in the arms of wholly Fire & surrendered to Jauhar; she chose death over the privileges of Khilji’s harem. And she brought back her King alive from the clutches of Emperor “Alauddin Khilji”  before he could force his brutality upon her & the women of her Kingdom.

Who was Padmini/Padmavati? Poems have been composed, songs have been sung in her name; it is believed that she was so fair, when she drank water you could see it passing through her throat. She had a talking Parrot who told her about “Rawal Ratan Singh” & recited tales of his bravery to her.

Rawal Ratan Singh won her hand in Swayamvar & returned with his new “Queen” to Chittor. “Raghav Chetan” was a musician in his court who was expelled over his magical practises by Ratan Singh. He was banished from the kingdom so he vowed revenge before he reached Khilji. He recited a song to him praising the immaculate beauty of Padmini (even taunted him that there wasn’t a single woman of this genre in his harem) upon which Khilji swore to include her in his Harem. He visited Chittor & Ratan Singh treated him as a guest. He asked for a meeting with Padmini but she declined. After his repeated insistence she agreed to let him see her reflection in a mirror. It was a reason enough for Khilji to capture Ratan Singh & take him hostage. With the help of her uncle Gora & his young nephew Baadal, Padmini rescued the King from Khilji’s prison. Disguised as Padmini, Baadal helped Padmini & Rawal Singh to escape while Gora fell martyr. Khilji attacked Chittor in vengeance hoping for a submission by Padmini after capturing Ratan Singh again. But he learnt that she has chosen Jauhar to retain her Honor along with 38 thousand other women. This ghastly news made him infuriated so he massacred 30,000 men &  humiliated Ratan Singh by carrying him back alive to his Kingdom.

The trailer arrived yesterday and the grandeur of Bhansali’s project has left me with goosebumps. The canvas, shots of forts & battles, the red colour of Rajputana women’s costumes & the dark shades of Khilji… it has all the ingredients to make Dec 1 the most awaited event of this year. Deepika & Shahid (as Padmini & Ratan Singh) share a few tender moments on screen in this teaser & their chemistry is visibly “Electrifying”.

 

Ranveer as Khilji is the one who has gathered maximum attention for his intense “Diabolic” look. But wasn’t that expected? Have a look at his posters & shots in the trailer and you’ll be left with a “Game of Thrones” feeling. His “Sultan” demeanor, his evil laughter, his lustful eyes; he is simply “Stunning” & like they say……..has “Nailed it!”

Well! I will break the surprise for you. “Jim Sarabh” will be playing the role of “Malik Kafur” , the slave-general who was also the love interest of Khilji.

No more teasers please Mr. Bhansali! The wait for Dec 1 will become harder.

My Favorite “4 PC Moments” by Priyanka Chopra.

 

Priyanka Chopra, the Indian “Superstar” who has been taken seriously by Hollywood, has signed another movie & “Quantico” will have another Season. “Alex Parrish” is established on home screens. Though “Baywatch” was unable to impress, her vicious “Vamp” Diva act hasn’t gone unnoticed. It has successfully escalated her career today. But the lady, who holds a superior “star-power” back home, didn’t have all of this served on a platter, did she? She is a hardworking (stubborn) “Cancerian” who has always followed her instincts when it came to fulfilling her passionate dreams. It might sound easy to many, but portraying a role based on a World famous T.V Series, standing amidst sultry “Lifeguards” is risky. Victoria Leeds was something PC did as though it was a task as easy as walking through a corridor. Her craft seemed Effortless yet oozing of what defines her on-screen persona. For me, she was the best thing ever to have happened in this otherwise “unconvincing” show.

 

I don’t think she is lacking in popularity in India for she has an enormous fan following with equal no. of fan clubs. She can still inspire directors to compose meaty roles; give her a classical, historical or just about anything to perform & she will be collecting Awards for it sooner. She has recently turned a Producer (Punjabi, Sikkimese & Marathi) with her movies gaining major regional attention, International accolades as well as National Awards. You think she’s stopping here? No ways!

What does is take, then, to be her? That’s something a fan, born on the same day as her can define pretty well. It’s called “Passion” for a “Passion” of a crab. She is the she-roe, like the familiar side of “Salman”, who remains single yet in demand from all corners of the world of entertainment. No clutches known as “Godfathers”, no camps & mentors and definitely no fears in crossing the 7 seas for work…….that’s how she functions. She wants to sing so she sings with rappers in English because she promised her dad the same.

 

Priyanka Chopra is a Star who is well versed in the nuances of acting and is standing tall amongst Deepika, Kangana, Alia, Anushka & Kareena, Sridevi, Kajol & Madhuri. She can inspire them while providing worthy competition. A wanderer, A conqueror, An Icon who has proudly acclaimed Beauty Pageants, National Awards, People’s Choice Awards on U.S television (for 2 consecutive years) while sweeping the Popular Trophies & Red Carpets internationally. This enchantress presented an Oscar Award and also has provided voice over for Planes (2012) & Jungle Book (2016).

“The Daddy’s girl” at heart turns 35 today and as her true fan I share my favorite “4 PC Moments” on Screen.

 

 

FASHION (2008)

The National Award winning role- “Meghana” remains my favorite till date. Her struggle to fulfill the ambitious journey of a Model from Chandigarh to Mumbai, the pain she undergoes while finding herself heartbroken over a married man and her eventual rise from the pit of failure was the highlight of this film. There’s a scene where she wakes up in bed with a strange man after a heavy dose of drugs & alcohol. The guilt & the awakening, the disgust over her plight and the innocent acceptance of her failure were portrayed beautifully by her in one frame. Her confidant walk on the Ramp after losing Shonali in the final scene set me in awe. It’s my ultimate choice for a re-run.

 

 

AITRAAZ (2004)

Based on “Disclosure”, this role seemed like an impossible task to reciprocate as “Demi Moore” had already immortalized the wicked act in Hollywood. It was difficult indeed to come on Screen in front of Indian audience in this role of a “lusty & vindictive” woman. It was also the beginning of her career but she took the gamble which paid off. Not in a single scene could you see “Sonia” altered on the theme. The scene where she seduces Akshay and chases him before declaring a threat of vengeance (after his rejection) showed a new comer in the Industry offering us mean “Sexuality”. She delivered a fiery performance which was good enough for the Industry to notice her raw talent.

 

 

BARFI (2012)

It was tailor made for Ranbir and a one man narration but “JHILMIL” conveyed her innocence and womanhood alongside. There’s a crucial scene where she wants to relieve herself.  Her genuine plight, the embarrassment & the relief that someone cares was depicted through a subtle demeanor. It moved me more than Barfi’s tale.

 

 

BAJIRAO MASTANI (2015)

It must have been a tough decision to share the screen with the lead pair in a Historical but this movie was barren without “Kashibai”. Not for a single moment did she lose the prestigious glory of this brave woman. Her confrontation scene with Mastani, her anguish over witnessing her husband embracing another woman and the point where she hides her tears while watching her “Rao” die in the climax scene were few of the remarkable moments I carried home.

I wish her a very “HAPPY DAY OF BIRTH” with a genuine beam of pride as I await the latest challenge she chooses to accept at her home front. Missing you on screens PC!!!

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Baahubali: The latest Indian “Tsunami”.

 

Baahubali, Sivagami, Devasena, Bhallaladeva & Mahishmati are popular names in India today with people from every nook & corner idolizing them. Janta is celebrating this month of May; even my mother who has no clue about Iron Man & Avengers & other Modern superheroes is familiar with this “Cult”. We have popular Cinema Critics promoting the “Mahishmati” Palace to be accepted by Lego for its latest building blocks “Model” series. My friend’s children are playing Telugu beats aloud in their homes. And finally, Ramya Krisnan gets the much awaited status after she was haphazardly launched in “Khalnayak”. “Kattapa ne Baahubali ko kyon mara” is no longer a secret. There is a Blockbuster after-all which can match the opulence of Hollywood’s top 20 ever made.

 

After HAHK (1995) we have a Mammoth “Masterpiece” which has hit the Indians like a tsunami. The scale of the movie is undoubtedly magnanimous, besides having a single screenplay distributed in 2 parts. Viewers have had a rare “maiden” experience while awaiting the story to conclude & this “6” hour fable couldn’t have been better. The ambitions of S.S. Rajamouli have conferred upon us our very own “Ben-Hur”, “The Ten Commandments” & “Game of Thrones” to boast of. Most of us are rushing to the halls for a second time. Cinephiles have seen visual extravaganzas before (e.g Exodus & Marvel series etc) but is VFX & Visual Effects the sole reason for this mass hysteria? Not for me.

 

We Indians love Drama. We cheer for intense performances & sway upon emotional narrations….And we do believe in “Super Heroes”. Yes, we do , for who hasn’t grown up on our mythology and “Bhima”, “Arjun”, “Hanuman”, “Raavan” and others? For us the Spiderman’s meek personality with his unbelievable “Spider Webs” which can stop a raging Bullet Train seem less authentic than Baahubali’s strong arms, which can lift a giant Statue or his gigantic strength against an army; we believe in his superior skills with a sword, bow & arrow. Avengers may be the saviors but Baahubali is our God. Because this “Rama” eventually kills the “Ravana” after his prolonged exile.

 

Romance is another factor close to the Indian audience’s hearts & we still appreciate the subtle moments displayed with controlled emotions in this era of “Fifty Shades”. The body language & the exceptional chemistry between “Baahubali” & “Devasena” has offered some remarkable scenes. Like the instant he sees her eyes through the white dupatta slit by her sword; the moment he reaches the palace to save her from the attack & teaches her the form to shoot 3 arrows in 1 shot; her lovely rendering of the “Gopala” song & the ship sequence where he simply offers his shoulders for her to climb upon the boat. These scenes had more of facial expressions conveying their camaraderie through their eyes. Their rich pairing was enough to soothe the audience amidst the High Voltage Drama. And the director did not let any female actor’s role seem insignificant. Ramya acted with her eyes as well, keeping them focused; she just did not blink while delivering those intense scenes. Though she did give “Amarendra” a fearless smile while he tames the elephant which was enough to show a mother’s love & her faith in his prodigal son. She portrayed the pride, ego & undeterred spirit of a fair Queen with perfection.

Tamanna was swift in her action sequences while playing a crucial role in the first part. She never once seemed out of place in the climax where she escorts Devasena towards the finale. The female stars have dazzled with their individual potential on-screen.

The fierceness of “Devasena” in the 1st part & the climax shows an old, battered yet unbroken woman with an ultimate purpose. While in flashbacks we see a brave soldier, a pretty “Princess” & an attractive woman and the sheer credit goes to “Anushka Shetty” for not distracting the audience away from her goal.

 

 

The simplicity of “Prabhas” as an artist on screen & his natural personality has settled him in the hearts of billions today. This is Star Power. Without any typical South-Indian gimmicks, gestures & heavy dialogues, this Actor is simply adorable. Ask any one today……..the favorite star!!! Prabhas is a true Super Star on his own merit. He is the Super Hero of “The Indian Film Industry”. Rana Daggubati, Nassar & Sathyaraj shine in their respective roles as well. These 3 actors have kept their roles in their brackets & have provided a strong supportive cast without whom the plot would have become stale. After all it’s the Indian Favorite story of Revenge for Honor. For a hero there has to be a villain, and both of them need a backing in characters. Sathrayaj was cute in the comic scenes while Nassar was as despicable & cunning as “Bijjaladeva” could be.

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S.S Rajamouli is the “Showman” of today. He has collected the numbers & has provided hope to the Industry. We are capable of producing “Avatars” & “Titanics” and as a movie lover I foresee more of Multi-starrers & Epics being made. Indian audience has come alive.

Regional cinema belongs to the nation as well and it shouldn’t be restricted to Sony T.V channel any-longer. Let’s wait for “Mahabharta” next.

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Sridevi’s “Golden Jubilee”: A fan wants more!

Sridevi completes her “Golden Jubilee” in the Film Industry this year but the magic her name spells has not faded for us. The “Diva” rules our hearts today in 2017, and not a single fan misses to read through the film magazines just in-case there is a project she might, just, bestow with her presence. This Empress of Screen began her journey as a child artist before she went on to play some of the finest roles ever played by any female actor in India. She started very young & played some exemplary roles down South before her march began in Bollywood. Sridevi is the only “Leading Lady” after Hema Malini who reigned at no. 1 position for more than a decade. She conquered Bollywood, and she gave Indian Cinema, a standard, when it came to “Female” power on 70mm.

Her stature was such that the biggest of names like Rekha, Jaya Prada, Meenakshi Seshadri & Madhuri never rose above the no. 2 position. Recently she made a comeback with English Vinglish only to declare that there is none other than her who can portray any exceptional character, better. Her power over her fans prevails even after her face isn’t similar any-longer. Well it’s her personal choice & a true fans shows respect! Her controversial relationships with Mithun & eventual/sudden Marriage with Boney Kapoor & the tag of the “other woman”, her battle in court after her mother’s unfortunate death, her strained relation with her sister & her experiments with facial uplifts…. We have seen all.

There is hardly a single reason for us “fans” to choose not to be her devotees. I still look for any news of a project she might have just accepted………. Her comebacks are awaited. Being a die hard Meenakshi fan , I once wrote to her in my letter that I do not like Sridevi, to which she replied, “Pooja, there is no one like her when it comes to hardwork!”. And that’s when I began to pay attention to her work. I was always a hard-core “Rajni” fan but after I saw “Chaalbaaz” it was Sri who won my heart. I saw it so many times only to accept that I carried her “seductress” charms in my mind, from “Kaate Nahi Katt tte yeh din” , as silent appreciation even after denying her the position she held. It was a hidden hangover which made me re-visit her legend in “Mr. India”. I declared to myself that there was none other than her who could have brought even 10% of sensuality with ease, to that song. And my love-affair with her on screen began.

Sridevi gave earthern “Indian” tadkas to her roles. She played sister to “Julie”, began another innings with “Solva Saavan (79), before setting a new era of “Jeetu/Sri” with “Himmatwala (83), Justice Chaudhary (83), & some 20 films she did with him. The pots & the oranges rolling down the hills, the trademark choreography in “White”..movies full of melodrama, was what we saw in the 80s. She is the only one who had the guts to refuse an “AB” starrer…. she eventually did “Inquilab”, “Aakhri Raasta” & “Khuda Gawah” with him.

But it’s her pairing with Anil Kapoor that brought a kind of a revolution as far as the chemistry within the lead pair is spoken about. What began with “Mr. India” till “Lamhe” is un-matchable till-date. Though Rekha dubbed initially for her, suddenly her squeaky voice was adorable for all. She was a “Naagin” as well, and no-one has ever danced like Sridevi on screen till 2017. No-one! Ask the likes of Saroj Khan and you will not get another name. She danced with “Elaan” “Josh” “Masti” & “Sensuality”. She played pranks with her facial expressions, she danced CLASSSIC.

“Thunder Thighs” was what we named her, “Sexy Siren” was a title she accomplished. From 75kgs- 57kgs is what she achieved for “Chaandni”… an un-matched performance, a role which defines Romance & Yash Chopra. I won’t say more on this bcz it’s like defining the legacy of an Empress.

Her downfall began after “Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja” but she was smart enough to accept roles with youngsters like Sanjay, Salman, Akshay & SRK (Army)… but she failed, with only “Gumraah” working at the box-office. Then her legal battle began, after her mother passed away due to a wrongful brain surgery which ended up with her proximity with Boney Kapoor. She married him secretly & “Judaai” released in 1997. She accepted motherhood to Jaanhavi & Khushi.. did a silly show for t.v “Hamari Bahu Malini Iyer” (2004).

Janhavi is well groomed today to set her feet in Bollywood. And I can’t await “MOM”, Sridevi’s next feature. It might be “50”, but it can never be an end for her……….it’s what every fan of hers believes in.

We still await that appointment with the theatre where they play that role, which is written only for her, for only Sridevi can do justice to some of them.

A happy 50th to you “Sri”. Please do not fade away in oblivion for there are so many of us, who look upto you, as true lovers of indian Cinema.

“OK Jaanu?”…. Not exactly! Because I am a Mani Ratnam fan.

 

I booked myself for the first day first show of OK Jaanu today as I am a dedicated fan of the man called Mani Ratnam, the director, producer, screenwriter of Tamil Cinema, whose work is a standard in itself. His oeuvre means a lot for any Cinemaholic; fans across the globe acknowledge his reputation in Indian cinema. When his name is attached with a project, one tends to expect a feel of the magical spell his movies cast over the audiences down south. He has extracted exceptionally superior acting out of almost every actor he has casted in his movies. His films are intense & possess some of the best musical compositions by the Mozart of Madras A.R Rahman. He ventured into Bollywood with his trilogy on terrorism, Roja, Bombay & Dil Se & since then every piece of work by him has gathered respect.

 

I love Dil Se[1998] till date & refer it to my next generation. Every song from this epic is played in everyone’s playlist today; the lyrics by Gulzar saab hold meaning even in this era where love seems to have lost its meaning; “Ai Ajnabi” gives me goose-bumps every time I play it on my i-pod, “Jiya jalle” is what “Lata Mangeshkar” gifted us for our kinds, SRK & Manisha Koirala delivered magical performances….a chemistry so superior that is stands out as the rarest. Hand me a cinema lover who doesn’t appreciate this movie! Roja(dubbed)(1992) presented us with patriotism along with a hint of romance when I was in my teens. Every song composed by A.R Rahman for this movie is history.  Bombay(dubbed)(1995)… every beat, every note of the compositions, the delicate subject & it’s execution, the sensitive portrayal by its lead cast moved the nation. A simple actor/artist stole our hearts, who went by the name of Aravind Swamy & received a recognition in the era of the Khans (especially in the northern part of the country).

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Circa 1996 – I moved to the southern part of the nation & initiated my romance with Tollywood with “Thalapathy”(1991)- Rajnikanth & Mammooty & Shobhana…my first experience individually with their respective original flair. I witnessed the phenomenon attached with the Thalaivva in his native state & language, and it was a part of him I could never witness earlier; perhaps the way he was presented by filmmakers from Mumbai came with limitations. Nayakan (1987)- unmatchable & a rare masterpiece which could compete with the Hollywood’s Godfather. A movie, which is a cult in its genre, with Kamal Hassan delivering a role which has gone down in history as the finest… we had our own Brando!!

Iruvar(1997) which launched Aishwarya Rai in the industry with Mohanlal & Prakash Raaj & Tabu & Gautami & Revathi (what an ensemble!).

Anjali(1990) is a movie about a special child who ended up winning the hearts of the entire nation. Need I say more? It moved every bit of a father & a mother in India.

Alaipayuthe (2000) showed a glimpse of a couple’s issues post marriage & Madhavan surprised me because he acted really well along with Shalini.

 

Thiruda Thiruda(1993), Kannathil Muthamittal(2002), Aaytha Ezhuthu (2004) which he made simultaneously as “Yuva” (his 2nd venture in Bollywood)  & many more to his credit. This is very little of his work I managed to view on the VCD.

 

Then came Guru(2007) which gave me a reason to bestow my respect upon Abhishek Bachchan for once being able enough to rise above the shadows of his legacy. He gave a memorable performance which earned him accolades but one cannot deny the contribution of the man behind the cameras. Ravaan (2010) was rejected by the audience though but I still rate Abhishek’s version better than Vikram’s from Raavanam.

Coming to the remakes of his originals by others… well Feroze Khan did attempt Dayaavan(1988) but it was a “scene to scene” copy.

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Alai Payuthey– remade as “Saathiya (2002) established Rani Mukherji & Vivek Oberoi as solid actors in our industry. I don’t think Vivek could repeat the intensity Shaad Ali was able to extract out of him. The presentation of this version was received well by the audience simply because of the magnificent chemistry b/w the lead pair. Expectations were elevated when OK Jaanu was promised to the audience as an official remake of O Khadhal Kanmani (2015). Shaad Ali has given some good piece of cinema to us, so the trust went along with him. But he failed this time. Simply because he chose the wrong cast & a narrative not suited for a true “Hindi” Romantic flick. He copied the version without adapting it for movie lovers like me who look for all the elements in a movie: music, chemistry, romance, intensity, drama….suitable to the plot yet adapted not copy-pasted.

Mani Ratnam is not any other guy but a reputation. I am disappointed today because the biggest production house of Bollywood is behind its remake. Shaad Ali took charge but he failed. He failed to show me what Mani Ratnam gave his Tamil audience. I feel sorry for my alike, for the cinemaholics, for the keepers of this tag “lovers of cinema”. The choice of actors, the execution of its plot, the treatment…………it all failed me because I did not carry a single “Mani Ratnam” feeling with me back home. Instead I was bored by the repeated silliness in the name of acting by the Hero. He is cute indeed but not fit  to portray such intensity as Ratnam’s actors are known to exhibit. I did not receive a single moment on screen which was worth carrying in my mind. The lead pair & the build-up of their characters just did not present a single/genuine romantic scene to speak of. They seemed with each other because they were meant to be according to the script.

Please do not promise me a remake which is not replicated with a proper execution; especially a one based on the original work of a maestro. Please do not copy-paste these originals but rather adapt them suitably or just let these creations exist as they are supposed to be. “Originals”. Give us dubbed versions instead… for we have loved them in the past.

Sorry!! Not “OK” Jaanus!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ae dil hai mushkil to wait for “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”.

 

I desperately wait for some movies after their making is announced. After witnessing despicable debacles in the name of “Films” this year, [Well, where are those films these days which could compel me to act silly over a stubborn urge to watch them first day-first show?] when these “most waited” ones are approaching completion, I am beginning to regain my silly movie-buff status. Can’t help being a typical Indian “Hindi” film-fan who has stayed in the dreamy world of “Raj Kapoor”, “Yash Chopra” & “Karan Johar”- The Kings of Romance in Bollywood.

The first look of “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” was released yesterday on twitter (along with the 10.10 am- 30th Aug slot for the teaser release) & it evoked the spirit of Romance after a long time for me. We have had biopics, Sultan, and a couple of Masala films till now in 2016 but not a single Love-story/Musical/Drama with a major star cast has hit the screens offlate. Since Yash Chopra’s demise, I have dejectedly carried a “diminished” hope to see a true “Hindi Romance” feature film which involves a genuine screenplay & a strong star cast to execute it. The moment i laid my eyes upon the poster, the “Cinemaholic” anxiety returned to me and I was impatient while passing the next 16 hours waiting for the teaser. A mere look at Ranbir Kapoor’s subtle stubble, Aishwarya’s composed look & Anushka’s impeccable “Aura” was enticing enough.Some extra heart beats tagged along when I finally got to view the teaser.

Ranbir Kapoor is the only actor today who convincingly plays the role of a vulnerable man torn between love & life [personal opinion]. His distinguished “genes” make it appear like an effortless performance when he walks away with tears in eyes on screen after a conflict sequence. Aishwarya got a guest appearance in “Mohabbatein” (before she played a sneak thief in “Dhoom 2”), but a 24 carat “Yrf woman” role was denied to her. Karan Johar presented Kajol post marriage in My Name is Khan but it wasn’t a love story, so bets are high for his gamble this time. Aish has to look authentic in her role to rub away the cliché for once that heroines fail to sizzle post a sabbatical. Her ravishing original “blue-eyed” looks have to light the screens on fire for this is the role we were waiting to see her play after she announced her return. The most bankable star today Anushka Sharma can never fail her fans (she made me sit through “Bombay Velvet” for heaven’s sake!), she raises her own standards with every piece of work she offers her fans. From what i see in the trailer, it is impossible to declare that she is playing a second fiddle, like we term the other woman in a triangle. She appears like a sorceress out to bewitch you with her spell… Well haven’t we known her for that? Her looks are enchanting in the teaser. She’s gonna kill it guys!!! No more supporting actor titles for this one belongs to her. Fawad Khan is like an added bonanza since the country is already drooling over his charms on screen.

The teaser has made it difficult for me to reach the Friday of Diwali. Totally smitten by this 1.33 min trailer, am keeping my fingers crossed for the show & genuinely pray that KJ shuts the critics by presenting us with a movie which ain’t a stereotype “love triangle”. I want to see the landscapes!! I want to see the Yellow-Chiffon Sari! I want those confrontation scenes & the melodrama & the agonizing background music & the hard-core Romantic dialogues!! I want those goosebumps when the lovers are separating!! I want those tears in my eyes when the hearts are broken!! I want to continue singing the songs even before the movie releases. Because that’s what Indian-Romance is all about. That’s a cinemaholic’s feed!!

“Ek tarafah pyar ki taqat hi kuchh aur hoti hai… Aur logon ki tarah yeh do logon mein nahin bantt-ti  

Sirff mera haque hai iss parr”.

Spellbound!!!

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Successful Re-makes of English Movies in Bollywood.

Hindi film industry has been majorly influenced by Hollywood & some of its successful movies. Directors have taken “Inspiration” from various renowned screenplays and have successfully adapted them to suit Indian set-up. Some of them went ahead and made scene to scene replicas which proved disastrous at the Box-office. In the auteur dominated fifties, the screenplays & plots were original. Raj Kapoor adopted the mannerism of Charlie Chaplin and Dev Anand imitated Gregory Peck (to quote some examples) but the theme of their movies was strictly Indian. Feroz Khan made “Dharmatma” [1975] which was a visible remake of “The Godfather” and hence the trend of “Lifted”/ “Copied”/ “Adapted” Screenplays began. Till date, barring a few films made by experienced directors, most of the re-makes have flopped. Some notable Movies, which were re-made in Bollywood and gathered popularity are:

1. It  Happened one Night [1934]:

Frank Capra’s classical Romantic Comedy [starring Clark Gable & Claudette Colbert] was re-made as Chori Chori[1956] by Anand Thakur. The story of a pampered/rich socialite, who is trying to get away from her influential father; her meeting with a roguish reporter and their eventual journey together, was presented by the “Golden Pair” of classical era “Nargis & Raj Kapoor”. It was the last film they did together & had an extraordinary soundtrack of romantic songs [Ye Raat Bheegi Bheegi, Aaja Sanam, Jahan Main Jaati Hoon etc]. A little bit of “Roman Holiday” was added to the plot, which turned it into a major hit. Later on Mahesh Bhatt directed “Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahin”[1991] ,starring Pooja Bhatt & Aamir Khan, based on the same plot, which was a huge musical hit as well.

2. Seven Samurai [1954]:

Akira Kurosawa’s Japanese masterpiece had a plot of bandits terrorizing poor villagers, who seek help from mercenaries. Its screenplay has been a source of inspiration for many movie-makers globally. In Bollywood, “Mera Gaon Mera Desh”, “Khotey Sikke”, followed by the ultimate “Indian Blockbuster”- “Sholay” [1975] were inspired by its plot. Sholay rose above all, simply because of its perfect narration & orchestration of characters. Some major iconic characters were handed over to the audiences [Thakur, Gabbar, Basanti, Jai, Veeru, Sambha & Kaalia], to be embedded in the minds forever. Ram Gopal Verma attempted a disastrous remake “Aag”[2007] where he handed over the role of “Gabbar” to Big B. Raj Kumar Santoshi made “China Gate” [1998] previously, bringing the biggest supporting actors together with Mamta Kulkarni. “Ramgarh ke Sholay” [1991] with duplicate actors of Amitabh, Dev Anand, Govinda, Anil Kapoor & Mehmood was another silly spoof. In Hollywood, “Magnificent Seven”[1960] was a faithful ‘Western” adaptation of the original script, directed by John Sturges [ starring Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen & Eli Wallach]. Its story was credited to The Japanese maestro.

3. West Side Story [1962]:

The deadly rivalry b/w 2 New York street-gangs, where the best friend of a gang leader falls in love with the sister of the other, was the original theme of this romantic musical drama. Directed by Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins, it became an Oscar award record holder for a musical movie. Hailed internationally as a Cult/Classic Musical, it motivated many directors to adapt the screenplay. Mansoor Khan casted SRK [after the original choice for the lead role, Salman Khan, refused to get paired as a sibling to Ash] & Aishwarya Rai in “Josh” [2000], which was set in Goan ambience as an official remake. With Priya Gill, Chandrachur Singh & Sharat Kapoor in supporting roles, this movie boasted of a song “Appun Bola” sung by SRK in his own voice, and was declared a Hit.

4. The Reincarnation of Peter Proud [1975]:

The formula of reincarnation and revenge was floating in Bollywood since long. Madhumati, Mahal, Neel Kamal, Mehbooba & Milan were successful films based on traditional Indian belief of life after death. “The Reincarnation of Peter Proud” was a supernatural suspense thriller by J.Lee. Subhash Ghai adapted the theme & presented the plot in a refreshing manner with cool Disco Music & freshness of Rishi Kapoor along with Tina Munim in Karz[1980]. The dashing “Simi Garewal” arrived as the latest brand of femme fatale. Kudrat [1981] & Karan Arjun [1995] were the other hits based on this plot. Om Shanti Om [2007] & Karzz[2008]  were official remakes of Ghai’s version which stirred the audience to some extent. Movies like Suryavanshi [1992], Hamesha [1991], Love Story 2050 [2008] & Teri Meri Kahani [2012] flopped.

5. Godfather [1972]:

Francis Ford Copolla’s criminal drama, based on Mario Puzo’s novel, is Hollywood’s No. 1 movie till date. The mafia tale has been copied, adapted & loosely re-invented by various film-makers internationally. Feroz Khan was the first director who adapted it in Bollywood as “Dharmatama”[1975] and played the role of Michael Corleone, while handing over the role of Vito Corleone to Premnath. He added Buzkashi, dances & songs and an Indian theme of Matka[gambling] King while shooting it exclusively in Afghanistan. Feroz Khan reached new heights as he successfully focused the screenplay around his own character while reducing the other highlighted one’s. This movie was a blockbuster and was hugely appreciated by all. He made Dayavan [1988] [loosely based on Godfather 2] which was based on Vito’s journey from Sicily on to becoming the indisputable Don. Viraasat [1997] by Priyadarshan highlighted the dilemma of a family where the son finds himself as an outsider to his own background. He eventually sacrifices his independent ideology to take the seat vacated by his father. Anil Kapoor & Amrish Puri excelled in their respective roles. In Raajneeti [2010] Prakash Jha added some plots from Godfather as well. Sarkar [2005] (followed by Sarkar Raj in 2008) is cited as one of the finest films made on Indian Underworld (It is also considered as RGV’s best film so far). The tale of an aging Don with a treacherous elder son who fails & a younger sophisticated son who takes over the reins from him, is the finest tribute paid to the original masterpiece. Aatank Hi Aatank [1995] starring Aamir Khan is not worthy of a mention here.

6. Love Story [1970]:

Written by Erich Segal in the form of a novel by the same name & directed by Arthur Hiller, Love Story is an epic “Tragic” love saga hailed as the No. 1 romantic film of all times. The simple tale of a rich boy falling in love with a poor girl & eventually leaving his fortunes to marry her, has been adapted from time to time in numerous versions. The opening lines from the classic “What can you say about a 25 year old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved Mozart and Bach? The Beatles? And Me?” and the dialogue “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” are capable of giving goosebumps to movie lovers of all ages even today. Rajshri remade the classic as Akhiyon Ke Jharokon Se [1978]. Ranjeeta received national acclaim for her poignant portrayal of “Lily” while Sachin gathered adoration from all. The soundtrack also became popular like the original movie’s musical score.

7. Return to Eden [T.V Series 1983]:

Rekha’s comeback vehicle was launched by Rakesh Roshan as Khoon Bhari Maang [1988] which was a scene to scene copy of this famous Australian mini-series. A wealthy widow is almost killed by her greedy second husband & thrown among crocodiles in front of her best friend. She gathers her lost courage and sets out for revenge. The screenplay was not tampered with at all & the popularity of KBM broke the myth in Bollywood that only a male protagonist could guarantee a box-office success.

8. Memento [2000]:

Christopher Nolan’s “neo-noir” psychological phenomenon was based on an innovative story which explored the neurobiology of human memory. It was adapted by A. R Murugadoss as Ghajini [2008], who directed & wrote the screenplay for both Tamil & Hindi versions with Asin as lead actress in both. Surya [Tamil] & Aamir [Hindi] played the lead male roles. Aamir went on to defend Murugadoss by saying that he got inspired to write the script after reading about the concept of “short-term memory loss”. It was very well adapted though, to suit the indian audience’s tastes. Aamir built six-pack abs for the movie which went on to become Bollywood’s first movie to cross the “100 Crore” landmark in terms of revenue collection. The hero uses tattoos, short notes & Polaroid camera to hunt for his wife’s murderer while training & reminding himself of his mission. This movie has a rare feature of having been named after the villain.

9. Romeo and Juliet [William Shakespeare]:

The tragic plot by Shakespeare, of children from warring families falling in love and eventually dying in the end, has been the all-time favorite formula of Indian Cinema. Renowned Directors have enveloped the idea in various social surroundings while presenting the original theme of “Love meets Death”. Ek Duje Ke Liye [1981] presented class/cast disparities and also marked the debut of Kamal Hassan in Bollywood, along with Rati Agnihotri. Laxmikant Pyarelal’s soundtrack won instant recognition all over the nation. QSQT [1988] arrived as a breath of fresh air in the action-dominated era. Aamir Khan & Juhi Chawla starred in this most loved Romantic “Tragic” Film. Ishaqzaade [2012] was blended with local politics in U.P and also presented us with a headstrong “Juliet” [Parineeti Chopra] & a cunning “Romeo” [Arjun Kapoor]. Sanjay Leela Bhansali gifted us with a unique version in “Goliyon Ki Rasleela: Ramleela [2013]” with Deepika Padukone & Ranveer Singh’s superb acting, coupled with his superior vision.

Raj Kapoor altered the ending by uniting the lovers in Bobby[1973]; so did Sooraj Barjatya in Maine Pyar Kiya [1989].

10. Macbeth, Othello & Hamlet [William Shakespeare]:

Vishal Bhardwaj is the modern age Master of adaptation. He has presented the “trilogy” of the extra-ordinary “Anti-heroes” and their tragic lives as a Vintage collection. Maqbool[2004] showed us the audacity of the ambitious “Macbeth” [Irrfan Khan] who is torn between loyalty & ambitions; who faces the wrath of guilt. Saif Ali Khan stunned the Bollywood Fraternity & Fans with his brilliant performance as Langda Tyagi, while Ajay Devgan essayed the role of Omkara [2006] based on the fearless, good hearted & suspicious “Othello”. The chocolate boy Shahid Kapoor as Haider[2014] was a 360 degree image make-over; not only did he play the madness of “Hamlet” perfectly, he delivered the fake psychotic behavior with precision.

 

Coming to the second part, which might seem rather silly as a reader, here are the names of some other flicks based on Hollywood Films, only for the sake of general knowledge. I would like to remind the readers that Sleeping With The Enemy [1991] starring Julia Roberts, was remade as Yaarana[95], Agnisakshi [96], Daraar [96] & Koi Mere Dil Se Poochhe [2002] starring Madhuri, Manisha, Juhi & Esha Deol respectively. All flopped! And Raakesh Roshan should get the award for attempting most re-makes. Only Khudgarz & Koyla seem “original” out of his kitty.

Successful:

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers  – Satte Pe Satta

Arthur- Sharaabi

Streets of Fire – Tezaab

A Kiss Before Dying – Baazigar

Sabrina – Yeh Dillagi

Hard Way- Main Khiladi Tu Anari

Breaking Away- Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikander

Twin Dragons – Judwaa

Mrs. Doubtfire – Chachi 420

On The Waterfront – Ghulam

Dead Poet’s Society – Mohabbatein

Consenting Adults – Ajnabee

While You Were Sleepin – Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega

Hitch – Partner

I Now Pronounce You Chuck N Harry – Dostaana

Mickey Blue Eyes – welcome

Good Bye Lover – Race

Boeing Boeing – Garam Masala

All My Sons/Jesus Of Montreal – Rang De Basanti

Miracles – Singh is king

Changing Lanes – Taxi no 9211

E.T – Koi Mil Gaya

Unfaithful – Murder

Body Heat – Jism

Bonnie & Clyde – Bunty Aur Babli

When Harry Met Sally – Hum Tum

The Rock – Qayamat

Disclosure – Aitraaz

 

Disasters:

 

North By Northwest – Inaam Dus Hazaar

Make Way for Tomorrow – Bhagbhan

Indecent Proposal – Karobar/Sauda

One Good Cop – One 2 Ka 4

Duel in the Sun – Jaanbaaz

Beverly Hills Cops – Jalwa

The Front Page – Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani

The Parent Trap – Do Kaliyaan/Kuchch 2 Khatti Kuchch 2 Meethhi/Pyar Ke Kaabil

Bad Boys – Badde Miyaan Chhotte Miyaan

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – Khel

Truth About Cats n Dogs – Mujhse Dosti Karoge

Nick of Time – Baadshah

Coming to America – Dil Hi Toh Hai

The Devil’s Own – Baadal

Blackbeard’s Ghost – Chamatkar

Overboard – Ek ladka Ek ladki

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle – Khalnaika

Kramer v/s Kramer – Akele Hum Akele Tum

The Fugitive – Criminal

What about Bob – Deewana Mastana

Blue Streak – Chor Machaye Shor

French kiss – Pyar Toh Hona Hi Tha

An eye for an Eye – Dushman

The Silence of the Lambs – Sangharsh

Leon the professional – Bichchoo

A Walk In The Clouds – Dhai Akshar Prem Ke

The Wedding Singer – Kahuin Pyar Na Ho Jae

The Fatal Attraction – Pyar Tune Kya Kia

Liar Liar – Kyonki Main Jhoot Nahin Bolta

Jagged Edge – Kasoor

The Whole 9 Yards – Aawara Paagal Deewana

A Perfect Murder – Humraaz

Reservoir Dogs – Kaante

Cellular – Speed

Love Actually – Salaame Ishq

3 Men And a Baby – Heyy Baby

Bruce Almighty – God Tussi Great Ho

Italian Job – Players

Rain Man – Yuvraaj

One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest – Kyonki

I am Sam – Main Aissa Hi Hoon

Cactus Flower – Maine Pyar Kyon Kiya

The Eye – Nainna

Out of Time – Zehar

Double Jeopardy – Jurm

Notting Hill – Humko Deewana Karr Gae

Oldboy – Zinda

John Q – Tathastu

The Collateral – The Killer

Analyse This – Hum Kissi Se Kum Nahin

Primal Fear – Deewanagi

My Best Friend’s Wedding – Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai

What Lies Beneath – Raaz

Suicide Kings – Plan

Dragonfly – Saaya

The Witness – Paap

I Know What You Did last Summer – Kuchch Toh HaiIt

Watching some of them actually requires patience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite Opening Title Credit sequences from Bollywood.

Bollywood is synonymous with Thrill. Way back in 70s & 80s, cinema-lovers would feel the adrenaline rushing through their bodies, the moment lights went dim in the cinema hall. The opening sequence of the film, accompanied by the audio-visual credits unanimously gave a feeling of “I am finally watching it!” to all the crazy fans; fans who would pile up the monthly/weekly issues of film magazines & newspaper cuttings to gather all information accessible to them about the forthcoming movies. The era belonged to blockbusters, show-mans & super-stars.

The biggest directors had their own individual signature style of rolling the credits of their dream projects. Music directors like R.D Burman, would compose special melody tracks to summarize the story of the movie. Punchamda was an expert in such compositions as he presented the entire theme of “Sholay” [1975] [Ramgarh, Dacoits, friendship, revenge, love & tragedy] with a haunting melody. He evoked a western feeling, within an Indian set-up, through purely Indian instruments. He presented the audience with a rare “Bond-ish” thrilling ambiance in “Shaan” [1980], with husky vocals by Usha Uthup & sauntering female-figure “silhouettes” in the background. These are two iconic films by Ramesh Sippy. Previously Shakti Samanta gave us our first musical blockbuster “An Evening in Paris” [1967] where he rolled the credits with Shammi Kapoor dancing in the streets of Paris. We saw him gambol in his unique style amidst French beauties, zipping past the landmarks of the lovely city, singing the title song. Sooraj Barjatya, the creator of the century’s biggest Romantic-musicals MPK & HAHK, began his magnificent show with title tracks. In “Maine Pyar Kiya” [1989] he had to compromise with the two-silhouettes, instead of Salman & Bhagyashree, who danced on the song “Aate Jaate Hanste Gaate”. The sequence was picturised after the completion of the film and Bhagyashree was in the family way by that time. He re-created the magic, as per his vision, in “Hum Apke Hain Kaun” [1995]. He showed Salman & Madhuri swiftly lip-syncing the title song in “Ada” & “Tehzeeb” with “Jhuki Nazar”. The sequence mesmerized the viewers even before it began its historical show. “Yash Chopra” carried the style ahead by bringing all the artists associated in the making of “Dil To Pagal Hai”[1997] together, along with their spouses/partners, for the song “Ek Dujje Ke Waaste”. He appeared himself with Pamela Chopra towards the end of the credits. Aditya Chopra gave his own vision to “Jab takk Hai Jaan” [2012] where SRK  began the show on a bike with an incredible poem .

The Mozart of Madras A.R Rehman, created a musical extravaganza for Rangeela[1995]. Eros cinema hall would present the audience with a special 5 minute smoke & sound show before the movie started. [5 times was less for me to witness this spectacular offering]. It had World-class orchestra comprising of a medley of tunes from all the songs. The credits rolled immediately with a projector reel of famous Bollywood personalities & street-sound effects. Ram Gopal Verma’s name appeared along with a blow up of Sridevi [no prizes for guessing why]. The sweetest introduction came with “Khatta Meetha” [1978]  where the entire cast from the two warring families was presented with a song.

The innovations in the form of caricatures/cartoons came into light with “Do Aur Do Paanch” [1980]. The title sequence was in typical “Pink Panther” style about two cons who were outdoing each other in competition. Director “Rakesh Kumar” gave a spy v/s spy feel from the famous “MAD” comic series through his beautifully crafted opening credit scene. Sai Prajpai’s “Katha” [1983] represented the tale of tortoise & hare – two friends, one who is simple & honest while the other is cunning & crafty. The titles appeared in Hindi in the form of an animal fable. Indian animation veteran “Ram Mohan” created them as he had done in the past for “Shatranj Ke Khiladi” & “Pati Patni Aur Woh”. Recently we had “Ishaan’s” imaginatory world come alive in a wonderful animated sequence in the titles of “Taare zameen Par” [2007]. His drawing book reflected his hyperactive world like magic. But nothing can beat the perfect comic mayhem of “Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi” [1958]. The three brothers created ample chaos through an animated sequence which impeccably reflected the theme of the film.

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Another fine example was given by “Bombay Talkie” [1970] made by James Ivory. It was like a documentary on Bollywood where Shashi Kapoor played an actor with Jennifer Kendall as a novelist in research. Shankar-Jaikishan composed the track for the opening sequence where the credits were put up as posters, placed against various iconic places of Mumbai. The city was treated like a gallery. “Jaal” [1986] is credited with having one of the most innovative credit sequence in title design history. The film opens on a stone wall from a jail from where Vinod Mehra emerges on screen; there were hand painted titles in blood red color, a co-passenger had a newspaper with the name of the writer, doors & signboards had other credits mentioned; in all it was perfectly synchronised with the thriller/suspense theme of the movie. Zoya Akhtar showcased the journey of a boy, who arrives in the city of dreams to be an actor, in “Luck By Chance” [2009]. The opening credits focused on all the people who work with the main team, in all departments, behind the camera. It featured stuntmen, prop assistants, hairdressers, canteen-waalas etc. Rohan Sippy opened the film “Kuchh Na Kaho” [2003] in Abhishek Bachchan’s room in a rather bizarre manner; credits appeared on cd covers, scissors, credit card, books, toothpaste, soap, steamed glass etc.

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A rare example is credited to the Bachchan Seniors Amitabh & Jaya Bachchan. In Bawarchi [1972] we had AB give his voice over for the credits where he read out all respective credits in a mixture of Hindi & English. While in “Paa” [2009]  Jaya reciprocated by reading the credits in her warm/graceful smile.

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M.F. Hussain created an amazing series of paintings as a tribute to the legendary Raj Kapoor for the titles of  Randhir Kapoor’s “Henna” [1991]. Raj Kumar Santoshi took inspiration from the maestro while he introduced “Damini [1993] with portraits of Meenakshi Seshadri in various themes.

The extravagant 7 hour bonanza of the year 2012, “Gangs of Wasseypur” 1 & 2, began in a true Filmi style. We faced a T.V set playing the “Kyonki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thhi” title song [the famous television soap opera] followed by a chase scene with shooting in the alleys. The Indian “Quentin Tarantino” vendetta tale by Anurag Kashyap began with “paisa vasool” thrill.

“Dhoom 2” [2006] presented the titles in “The End” with the sultry “Greek God” of Bollywood making the fans wait till last for his unmatchable Dance.  Same goes for “Ek Thaa Tiger” [2013] where we had to wait for the item song “Maashallah” after the ending.

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Now I present my personal favorite credit /roll/ sound/ camera/ action moment. I have two to name. My ultimate favorite movie in recent times “Tanu Weds Manu” series began with a Vividh Bharati announcement from the Great “Ameen Sayani” , who read out the names of the lead characters of the film in his signature style. While the credits rolled, he announced “Is gaane ki farmaish ki hai Dilli se Manoj Sharma urff Manu, Kanpur se Tanuja Tiwari urff Tanu, Lukhnow se Raja Avasthi aur Azamgarh se Pappi Tiwari ne” while the family was busy arranging for Tanu’s setting with Manu. In the sequel “Tanu Weds Manu Returns” we had a wedding ceremony as a reminder of our own times. “Sun Sahiba Sunn” song plays in the background while Tanu & Manu pose for their wedding album as per the rituals demand. The wedding feast, the iconic poses of the bride & the groom mixed with typical Indian middle class wedding “emotional atyachar”, gave this Masterpiece of a movie, a tasteful start.

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But nothing can beat the phenomenon created by Manmohan Desai in “Amar Akbar Anthony” [1977]. It is a unique style which is termed as “Pre-Credit backstory compression”, a term coined by Rajorshi Chakrabarti. The entire story of a 3 hour extravaganza was shrunk in a short sequence at the beginning of the movie. The family separated, father became a don, mother lost her vision, 3 sons were adopted by a Hindu Police Officer, Muslim Tailor & a Christian priest, they grew up and came together to donate blood to their own mother – bound by the similar blood group. When asked their names they said “Amar” “Akbar” “Anthony”!

Madonna: A magnificent journey from “Like a Virgin” to “Girl gone Wild”

 

Madonna Louise Ciccone, the singing “Diva”, is referred to as “The Queen of Pop” & is recognized by Guinness Records as “The Best-selling female recording artist of all time”. She has undoubtedly been the most successful Solo-Artist in the history of American Singles Charts. A true Fashion & Teen Icon, she broke the boundaries with her steamy lyrics & videos. The “Rebel Heart” star started her career as a dancer and went on to become the most popular singer of the 80s & 90s. She has acted in Evita [winning a Golden Globe], Dick Tracy, A league of their own, Die Another Day etc. & pursues a hobby of writing children’s books.

Her debut single was “Everybody” [1982] and “Holiday” [1983] her first global hit song from her debut album “Madonna”. Her next album “Like a Virgin” [1984] was a blockbuster, though it annoyed the Moralists at that time. Her performance on stage for the song is remembered as an iconic moment in VMA history by MTV, where she appeared atop a wedding cake wearing a wedding dress. She dedicated her next album “True Blue” [1986] to her then husband Sean Penn. With hits like “Papa don’t Preach”, “La Isla Bonita” & “Open your Heart” it went on to become her most successful album till date. She was named “Artist of the decade” by MTV & Billboard at the end of 1980s. Her “The Immaculate Collection” became the best-selling compilation album by a solo artist in history.

Controversies became synonymous with her name. Her scandalous video for “Like a Prayer” made Pepsi cancel her contract. In 1990, the video for “Justify my Love” was banned by MTV for being sexually explicit. Her relationships with Warren Beatty & Vanilla Ice were short-lived after her divorce with Sean Penn. She released her book “Sex” in 1992 which received a massive negative publicity & reactions from critics for containing sexually provocative content [yet sold 1.5 million copies]. In 1993 she appeared, surrounded by topless dancers, dressed up as a whip-cracking “Dominatrix” displaying her sexual aggressiveness through her stage stunts on a World tour. The critics declared her career “Over” after questioning her as a sexual rebel. Madonna had to re-shape her Musical journey to regain & retain her popularity with “I’ll Remember” [1994]. She stunned the critics soon with her impeccable & poised performance in & as “Eva Peron” in “Evita”. With “Ray of Light” [1998] she received her 4 Grammy Awards, long due to her, for her tremendous achievements in the field of Music. In 2003 again, she sparked a fuss over her suggestive kiss given to Britney Spears while singing “Hollywood” with her.

Madonna became a global cultural icon even before the arrival of the “internet-era”. It is said that when “Beatles” fever hit America, they had changed the archetype of performers from “Solo-act” to “Band”- Madonna reversed it back. She redefined & raised the standards for a female singer. Her “Fashionista” image inspired many fashion trends in the 1980s. Her unique style, jewellery & hairstyle influenced women & girls for years to come. “Time” magazine has listed her among “25 Most Powerful Women of Past century”. Madonna started a revolution among women in music, clearly, with her bold/sexual opinions and personal attitude.

Personally, I have grown up listening to her songs; today they are a part of my small world where I sing them aloud and proudly share with the next generation. My favorite   10 numbers sung by Madonna & their Videos, which have left a deep impression on my soul, are:

  1. Papa Don’t Preach: 1986 [True Blue]   

     

    Its lyrics talk of teenage pregnancy & abortion. Madonna underwent a complete image-makeover for this song with a toned, muscular body, cropped “Platinum” blonde hair – the “Gamine” look [which is used to describe the stylish appearance of Shirley MaClaine/Audrey Hepburn]; she wore a black jacket, faded jeans & a navy striped t-shirt. Her image remains ethereal in minds even today; her rare incomparable hold over the teenagers of her era is evident as many fans have carried her legacy ahead for generations to come. “Papa don’t Preach” poster remains my favourite pin-up poster till date! The song has a storyline where she is trying to tell her father about her lover & eventual pregnancy [This song was criticised for encouraging teen pregnancy]. She dedicated it to Pope John Paul 2 & those who opposed abortions. Her tomboyish guise, especially the t-shirt with the slogan “Italians do it better” became a rage. Alex McArthur played her boyfriend & she openly threw a debate on America’s face.

                                                                                    

 

2. Like A Virgin: 1984 [True Blue]

A dance oriented song; it was Madonna’s 1st no. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100. She portrayed a sexually independent woman in the song – sailing in a gondola in Venice, roaming in a Wedding-Dress around a palace looking provocative. While stepping into the city she moved like a stripper. Madonna restored the eroticism of Venice with this song; displaying wild animal passion when she turns her lover [who is wearing a lion’s mask] into a beast. The song was a statement & is her most famous song. It outraged many as they called it an aggressive “vulgar” offering to the middle class ideas of feminism. With the release of this song a new term “Madonna wannabe” was introduced for the girls who went crazy emulating her style.

3. Like A Prayer:1989 [Like A Prayer]

This dark, mysterious & spiritual song was meant for her adult audience. Its liturgical lyrics shaped it into a song of a passionate young girl so in love with God. Madonna was complemented for glorifying ideologies of female subjectivity & womanhood in this song. In the video, she witnesses the murder of a white girl by white supremacists while a black man is arrested. She seeks courage to go forth as a witness from church. Vatican & various religious groups staged protests against this song and Pepsi was boycotted [they cancelled her contract]. Incidentally Pepsi sponsored the MTV Video Music Awards in 1989 and while receiving the viewer’s choice award, Madonna thanked Pepsi for causing the controversy.

4. Frozen: 1998 [Ray Of Light]

Frozen gained instant appreciation for its cinematic melody. Madonna started practising Hinduism & Yoga after the birth of her daughter Lourdes. It inspired her to compose the album and helped her give a mature, romantic & tribal feel to this hugely popular song. Its breath-taking beats & simple lyrics were captured aesthetically in the equally mesmerizing video. She chose “The Cuddeback Lake” within the Mojave Desert in California instead of Iceland for the shooting. Her hands, covered in mehendi, and her black goth gown outfit presented a dreamy/mystic melancholic woman. The song carries a haunting feel & remains eternally hummable.

5. Secret: 1994 [Bedtime Stories]  

A delicately seductive & soulful song which was shot in Black & White, Secret was termed as the most naked performance by Madonna. It featured her as a singer in a night-club whose lover has his young son as his secret. With short cropped dark hair, her appearance on the cover art of the single was compared with Jean Harlow. In the mid-90s [which was unusual in that era] she spoke about the song on the internet with a 30 second sample of the song. She left a message “Hello you cyber-heads, welcome to the 90s version of intimacy. You can hear me, you can even see me, but you can’t touch me- Do you recognise my voice? It’s Madonna. often imitated but never duplicated, or should I say often irritated?”  

6. Vogue: 1990 [I’m Breathless]  

This song was a trendsetter with its funky disco beats & stylish picturisation, inspired from early 1900s. She was deeply influenced by the Vogue dancers from Harlem “House Ball” community and delivered an Iconic Number which was the best-selling video of the 1990s. Before this song, “Vogue” was performed only in bars & discos.  It remains one of the “World’s best-selling Videos” till date. The song has a spoken section where Madonna name-checks various Hollywood celebrities from the Golden era. Beautiful choreography helped this song in starting a trend where dance music enjoyed widespread popularity all across the globe. Critics hugely appreciated Vogue for its Melody & stylish theme. It rocked the music charts all over Europe & Britain instantaneously as “Strike a Pose” became the latest lyrical statement emerging as a new dance craze. Madonna can be seen in the end of this video wearing her iconic “Cone Bra”. MTV has placed it at second on their list of “100 Greatest Videos” ever made.

7. La Isla Bonita: 1987 [True Blue]  

The instrumental version was first offered to Michael Jackson but later Madonna composed its lyrics. She converted it into a “Latino” melody with urban drum beats & Spanish guitar. She talks of a beautiful island & pays tribute to Latin people in this song. Madonna portrayed two opposite characters in the video – a pious girl & a passionate Latina. Termed as a “Spanish Lullaby” by the critics, this “Retro” song captured her inner emotional self for a change. In the video, she is boyishly dressed up as a pale-looking catholic & a Sizzling/colourful Flamenco dancer, in a double role. While the former prays in a room ignoring the invitation of the Latinos on the street to join them, the latter [passionately dressed up in a voluminous red dress] leaves her room to join them. Benicio Del Toro featured in this song.

8. Live To Tell; 1986 [True Blue]  

Madonna used this song for Sean Penn’s movie “At Close Range”. A pop ballad – its lyrics speak of deceit, mistrust & childhood scars and the need to be strong. The video featured her in a complete Image make-over with a lean look, conservative wardrobe & subtle make-up [inspired by Marilyn Monroe]. She was seen as an innocent, unadorned narrator who is speaking for the character. This song is termed as the “Best Ballad” of her career. It is composed from a man’s perspective representing a different facet of her personality. Her mood/desire to focus on something different was reflected and the critics praised the lyrics by terming it as a song which re-wrote the rules of what a Pop song was supposed to sound like.

9. 4 Minutes: 2008 [Hard Candy] 

Featuring Justin Timberlake & Timbaland this song is about saving the environment. An Urban hip-hop song [with dance/pop beats] it carries a social awareness message. She was inspired to compose this song after her visit to Africa. The song was appreciated for its music and went on to be her 37th “Top Ten Single” breaking the record previously held by Elvis Presley. In the video, Madonna & Justin sing while running away from a giant black screen which consumes them in the end. She termed the song as “Having a sense of urgency” in saving the Planet. Propelled by a detonative marching band-beat, this song was also called a “Flirty duet”.

10. Masterpiece: 2011 [MDNA]  

Masterpiece is a song from the movie “W.E” directed by Madonna. It’s a Pop-ballad, reminiscent of her works from the 90s. The lyrical content & the soothing vocals were received with applause by the critics and also gained her a “Golden Globe” award. With its extremely poetic orchestration, Masterpiece became a classic addition to her incredible song list. Though it sparked rivalry b/w her & Elton John [who was nominated the same year for “Hello”], she went on to sing an acoustic guitar version of the song, on stage, with the clips from the movie playing at the back-drop.

Madonna has bestowed music-lovers all across the globe with her immaculate collection of songs which are not confined to a particular period. Each one of her number has a distinctive soupèon which allows me to invariably break out in a personal song-dance “schtick”. Thank You for your Music “Material Girl”! 

From a true fan!

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