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Monthly Archives: April 2009

most memorable filmfare awards of 1992-93

Most awards, you know, they don’t give you unless you go and get them – did you know that? Terribly discouraging.
Barbra Streisand

The topic of awards is quite a sensitive one. But, at the same time its also a topic of much controversy when the right people do not get it and the wrong ones are awarded, for whatever reasons.

Like the practise goes, of giving away awards a year after they release, obviously; here too the awards were given away in 1993 for the films that released in 1992. This awards  night was the last time that I saw the entire show. One of the reasons being that, I had started losing respect for them.

Anyways, this award night was quite remarkable in more ways than one. This was also the last time that Aamir Khan attended the show. Not just attended the show, he performed too. Aamir and Juhi danced to the Ghoonghat Ki Aad Se Dilbar Ka song from the movie HHRPK. In fact, Filmfare awards was a kind of platform to promote upcoming movies and stars usually performed songs from their to-be released movies, thereby reaching a wider audience.

Shahrukh too performed, alongwith Kajol, to the songs of Baazigar. It was great to see Aamir and SRK on Filmfare podium. It just looked like the future of Indian movies was bright, in safe hands and heading in the right direction.

Coming back to the awards distribution, let me start with the last award of the night. The previous year, in 1992, Dimple Kapadia was called on stage to give away the award for Best Actor. She had pulled open the envelope with great enthusiasm and she shrieked into the mike with all her energy ‘Amitabh Bachchan for Hum‘ and had handed-over the award to Bachchan with great excitement. This being 1993, and Bachchan being nominated for Khuda Gawah, it seemed like it was more than a coincidence that Dimple Kapadia was asked to give away the prestigious award again. When she came onto the dias, she seemed to be so unexcited and disinterested. She did not even pull open the envelope, she just held it up in the air, against the light, and calmly declared ‘Anil Kapoor for Beta‘.

I felt Dimple was being teased, she herself might have felt that. That aside, when there were more worthy nominees like Aamir for JJWS and Bachchan, the award went to Anil for a movie that was carried entirely on Madhuri Dixit’s shoulder. Not just this award, Beta swept the awards with Best Actress for Madhuri, Best Supporting Actress for Aruna Irani, Best Female Singer for Anuradha Paudwal for Dhak-dhak number, and of course the Best Choregraphy for Saroj Khan for the same song.

JJWS won just 1 award for Best Film. JJWS did not win any awards in acting categories, what was more disappointing was the way in which JJWS was deprived of awards in music category. There was a minor goof-up on the stage, while the nominess were being read out for Best Lyricist, Majrooh saab heard his name and mistook it for the announcement of the winner and he just walked onto the stage. The award was very undeservedly given to Sameer for Teri Umeed Tera Intezar Karte Hain, and Majrooh’s fantastic lyrics of Pehla Nasha Pehla Khumar was swept aside. It took Simi Grewal’s experience that she handled, what could have become an utterly embarassing situation, by asking Majrooh to hand-over the award to Sameer.

After that, the Best Music Director award went to Nadeem-Shravan for Deewana, and Jatin-Lalit’s wonderful tunes of JJWS were side-lined; that was really disheartening. The worst was not over yet. The nominations in the Best Male Singer was read out and again the award went to Kumar Sanu for Sochenge Tumhe Pyar Karen Ki Nahi from Deewana. I was so disappointed that Udit Narayan did not win the award for Pehla Nasha Pehla Khumar. Not just disappointed, that was the first, last and only time that I cried for an award not being given to the most deserved one.

That very moment I told to myself, lets see 10 years down the line which song will be remembered. I did not have to wait for 10 years because within 2-3 years people forgot the tunes and lyrics of Deewana while Pehla Nasha became the anthem for all lovers, for everyone who is in love, for everybody who has romance alive in their hearts. The song has become immortal and there is hardly anyone who has not heard the song Pehla Nasha.

Pehla Nasha … a song that pushed an entire generation to fall in love, a song that resonates in our ears whenever we hear about a new budding love-story, a song thats present in every compilation of love songs and Valentine’s Day celebrations. Udit’s mellifluous voice, the simple and melodious piano sequence, the wonderful lyrics…the song is just pure magic.

There onwards, the trend continued and awards were being doled out to all the undeserving people. It turned into a popularity award instead of an award being given for talent or achievement. I soon lost faith in the awards as the sanctity of awards was being destroyed.

I was reminded of the celebrations that took place when the founders of the awards had called upon Gregory Peck to inaugrate the first Filmfare Awards. It was all so promising that we had an awards show on the lines of the Academy Awards [Oscars] and that awards would be given to recognise the contribution and talent of film-makers and as an encouragement to do better work ahead.

And here we had the institution of awards becoming a machinery being oiled by the celebrities whom the panelist/jurist/trustess favoured. The more I hated awards, the more number of awards ceremony sprung up from all quarters. We soon had Zee, Star, Screen, Stardust giving out awards. Anyways, coming back to Filmfare Awards, it was saddening to see the awards being celebritized.

To end the post on a bright note, this year the awards that were given away for movies in 2008 was much better and more fairer. I even wrote about it here. I hope they are in the right track on their way to recover lost glory.

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Posted by on April 25, 2009 in AWARDS, bollywood, movies

 

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Broken Flowers – Jim Jarmusch & Everything Pink

Jim Jarmusch has been on my list for quite sometime, but I was too occupied with other stuff to catch-up with his movies. Finally, yesterday I saw this movie and I wasn’t too impressed with it.

I did read a few articles after watching the movie and stumbled upon views/opinions where people have called him a sell-out, stating that this has been his most commercial venture yet and he has sacrificed art for commerce. Since I have not seen his other previous works, I cannot comment, but I did feel that the movie was a bit ambiguous.

broken-flowers

Anyways, let me get down to the movie itself. Don Johnston is a casanova of sorts and the movie begins with his latest girlfriend walking-out on him. Don handles this in a very calm manner and that’s how he is all through the movie, just calm and cool; never reacting or behaving impulsively. Prior to thism, while the title credits were rolling we are shown a pink envelope being dropped into a mailbox and that letter finally gets delivered to Don on the same day his gf dumps him.

Very non-chalantly Don reads the mail, is perplexed a bit, but never reacts. With total composure he walks across to his neighbour to have some Ethiopian coffee and help him with some technical computer problem. He was into the businees of computers in the past and made some handsome money in it, he keeps repeating this.

So, what is the content of the letter? Its a type-written letter, no handwriting in the mail, no return address on the envelope and he does not seem to recognise the sender. The letter is from one of his ex-gf’s and simply reads that 20 years ago they were in a relationship and that small affair resulted in a baby. Don’s son, who is now 19 years old, has gone on the look-out for his dad, i.e., Don.

Don does not know whether to take this as an absolute truth or some prank being played on him. He has no clue about the veracity of the letter. And even if it were to be true, what can he do about it now! That’s where his neighbour comes into picture, he pushes Don into listing all the women he went-out with, and get in touch with them. Don is not convinced about this at all because he is still in a quandry wondering if its worth it. From hereon the movie is more of a travelogue as he drives/flies from one city to another to meet-up his ex-flames.

Most parts of the movie is dedicated to this, where Don meets each of them and the conversations which take place which are so uncomfortable. There is a brief and spunky appearance of Sharon Stone as one of the ex-ladies whom Don was involved with. Similarly there are 3 other women who have screen presence of about 10 minutes each. But even those 10 minutes seem tortorous to Don which is evident from his expression. The discomfort he faces, the chats they have are all very well handled. He also sounds desperate at times becasue he is a man on a mission, he needs an info, he has a ‘hidden agenda’ of finding out whether he impregnated any of them. He faces harsh words, hard feelings and even a knock is dished out to him in the process.

This is what makes the movie semi-comical at times, his predicament is our pleasure. His misfortune is our entertainment and his quest at finding his love-child is our movie. The movie is fantastic in bits, but overall I was a bit disappointed. It could have turned out better if the director had chosen to make it a comedy or a tragic-drama; but the flip-flopping from funny moments to sudden pangs of sadness gives it an ambiguous feel.

Bill Murray as Don is really good, under-stated and under-played. He does not frown, does not squirm, does not smile etc; only to showcase his displeasure and the worthlessness of the trip. His expression is sullen throughout, but there is an inner churning, a turmoil and it seems justified because he is neither convinced that he may have fathered a child nor does he know how he would react if he were to encounter his son. Not just his son but also his ex-gf’s, how is he to face them suddenly appearing from nowhere at their doors after 20 years.

The way Jarmusch captures the daily life is beautiful – the long drives, the comical moments in-flight, the green-fields and the dry and parched land etc. He is really good with the camera, the manner in which he shoots the residences of Don’s ex-gf’s which range from untidy dwellings to huge mansions, the way Don stares at the bare legs of women in the airport and at the clinic, the nymphet who walks-in nude and surprises Don, the youngman on the streets, all very well done.

Why pink? He receives a pink envelope, he carries pink flowers for each of his ladies and he keeps looking for something pink in every place. And the movie ends with the 360 deg spinning camera shot where Don is left wondering and confused, right in the middle of the street. He is basically lost, lost in the crowd, lost in life, in fact the mail that arrived changed his life forever. He looks to find his son in every youngman who passes him by, wondering if its his son. He has as many questions in the end of the movie as he had in the beginning of it. Where lay a beautiful bunch in the vase, lies now a pile of broken flowers.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2009 in hollywood, movies

 

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Shakti Samanta – A Musical Tribute

ye kyaa huaa, kaise huaa, kab huaa
kyon huaa, jab huaa, tab huaa
chhodo, ye naa socho

humne jo dekhaa thaa, sunaa thaa
kyaa bataaye wo kyaa thaa
sapnaa salonaa thaa
khatam to honaa thaa, huaa

When the end came, it was really sorrowful. But as all good things come to and end, so did the life of Shakti Samanta. The above lines are from his movie Amar Prem and they are so true. Shakti Samanta made a humble start in the movie industry. He came to Bombay with dreams of becoming a hero, but he ended up becoming a producer/director; and he excelled at it.

The music in his movie was always great, he had a fantastic sense of music. These songs continue to be played by radio stations and people hum the songs to this day. But music was not his only strong point. Shakti da’s films had a very strong emotional quotient, sometimes they would turn out to be tear-jerkers as in Amar Prem. But in most cases, the emotional content was well-balanced with the romantic sequences that would leave a lump in our throats, as in Kati Patang, Amanush, Aradhana etc.

After the success of his initial movies like Bahu, Hill Station and Inspector, Shakti da launched his own production house in 1957 called Shakti Films. The first film under this banner was Howrah Bridge made in 1958, a nice suspense thriller starring Ashok Kumar and Madhubala. The song Aaiye Meherbaan of the movie is one of the most seductive numbers sung by Asha Bhosle.

Howrah Bridge had another hit song to its credit, Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu. The movie was a run-away hit and gave more muscle and money to Shakti da to continue producing and directing movies. His next big movie was in 1962 called Chinatown starring Shammi Kapoor, Shakila, Madan Puri and Helen. This movie was written by Ranjan Bose who had earlier written the thriller Howrah Bridge. Chinatown was again a thriller about look-alikes where one Shammi replaces another. This was among the first movies to come-up with that concept which was later copied in so many other movies like Don. Chinatown had a fantastic Rafi number Baar Baar Dekho which is counted among the best Rafi and Shammi songs.

Between Howrah Bridge and Chinatown, Shakti da had directed two other movies; Insaan Jaag Utha with Sunil Dutt which was a rare Shakti da movie about rural India and plight of farmers; and the other was a Dev Anand and Madhubala starrer Jaali Note.

Then came the era of Eastman colour and Shakti da came out with Kashmir Ki Kali in 1964. This time again, Ranjan Bose wrote this nice romantic movie which had a twist towards the end. The movie starred Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore in an unforgettable romantic journey. The movie had a beautiful soundtrack by OP Nayyar and the songs are evergreen with such richness and depth, they are such a pleasure to the ears.

Apart from Ye Chand Sa Roshan Chehra, there were other great songs like Isharon Isharon Mei, Subhanallah Haseen Chehra and Hai Duniya Usi Ki. The lyrics were penned by SH Behari, now totally forgotten. This movie established Shammi Kapoor as a romantic hero of this new era of color movies, especially because he could carry-off comedy scenes so well. A proof of that romanticism is evident in this song as well, Deewana Hua Badal.

This was one of the first hits of Sharmila Tagore and it entrenched her in the Hindi movie industry. And sparked-off a long movie making relationship with Shakti da. After the success of Kasmir Ki Kali, he worked with Sharmila again in his next movie Sawan Ki Ghata, co-starring Manoj Kumar. The movie was quite an indifferent work by Shakti da, who came back to his own self in 1967 with An Evening In Paris. This movie was again among the first few movies to be shot totally outside India. Sharmila was seen again with Shammi Kapoor, and this movie too had a marvellous musical score by Shankar Jaikishan and some great singing by Rafi. He had become the voice of Shammi by then, and he sang four solo songs for Shammi in this movie.

The title song saw Shammi going bonkers on the streets of Paris and infront of Eiffel Tower, but he carried it off very well. The movie had Sharmila playing double role Roopa and Deepa, a bad girl replacing the good one. Raat Ke Humsafar was a beautifully picturised song with slow and romantic moves, then there was the Deewane Ka Naam To Poocho where Shammi continues to prance around. But Asmaan Se Aya Farishta takes the cake in terms of song picturisation and the story of the song recording is legendary.
Shammi was not around when Rafi was in the recording studio. Shammi was unable to reach Rafi and was not sure what kind of nuances Rafi would add to the song. Shammi had that quirkiness which was so well captured by Rafi, but for that Shammi had to be around; that was the reason why Shammi was worked-up. But when he heard the track, Rafi had sung it just as Shammi would have liked him to. The way Rafi matched up Shammi’s madness was like two-body-one-soul.

Again, when the song was being picturised Shammi just could not hear the song because of the helicopter noises and yet his lip-sync is perfect. The song would start and Shmmi would immediately get the rhythm and keep the rhythm going in his mind till the time  the helicopter was lowered. This madcap genius was so fantastically captured by Shakti da.

That was the golden period for Shakti da, whatever he touched turned to gold. After the super success of An Evening In Paris, his next movie was Aradhana in 1969. He continued with Sharmila, their fourth movie together, and Rajesh Khanna was signed. He was barely new to the industry and still struggling, but this movie and a few others following this catapulted him to superstardom. Aradhana was a remake of To Each His Own which was made in 1946.

As with other Shakti da’s movies, this movie too had soul stirring music by SD Burman. The songs have become immortal and will be sung for eons to come. This movie was in a way the much needed boost that Kishore Kumar was looking for. Rajesh Khanna and Kishore Kumar together went on to write history with their face-voice combination. Rajesh Khanna breathed and Kishore sighed, Rajesh Khanna smiled and Kishore romanticized it, it was a rapturous collaboration. On hindsight, Shakti da was responsible for this historical feat which enthralled the nation. Songs like Baaghon Mei Bahaar Hai, Gunguna Rahe Hain Bhawre, Roop Tera Mastana and Kora Kagaz Tha Ye Mann Mera were on everyones lips. These songs continued to be sung despite the absence of any publicity from FM radio, internet, tv channels only because of its merit and melody.

The movie Aradhana again was a double role stuff, wherein Rajesh Khanna played father and son as the movie panned two generations. Sharmila as the mother with greying hairs was as adorable as she was when she danced around in her youth, in the movie. The critics had written off the movie, but against all odds the movie became a huge hit. This was the biggest hit of  Shakti Films and one of the best movies of Shakti da. The way the story unfolded and the way he handled Rajesh and Sharmila was wonderful, and his contribution in music sessions with SDB and RDB is commendable.

After the super success of Aradhana, Shakti da made Pagla Kahin Ka in 1970 with Shammi Kapoor and Asha Parekh. I felt the movie had some traces of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, but was quite different. The title song of the movie became popular, Ashiq Hoon Ek Mehejabeen Ka, Log Kahe Mujhe Pagla Kahin Ka and Tum Mujhe Yu Bhula Na Paoge. The movie was quite forgettable though, coming from Shakti da. But his next movie, also in the same year, Kati Patang was a huge hit.

Shakti da worked again with Rajesh Khanna but this time the actress was Asha Parekh. It was made on a short story called I Married A Deadman by Cornell Woolrich. The movie was made in Hollywood not once but twice, first as No Man Of Her Own and then as Mrs.Winterbourne. Anyways, this fact notwithstanding, the movie was a good entertainer. Asha Parekh plays a widow and Rajesh Khanna plays a misogynist because his wife turned out to be a runaway bride. But Asha sparks love in his barren life and he falls for her. The songs of the movie are sweet and there is a song on every conceivable mood. A sad song Na Koi Umang Hai, a Holi song Aaj Na Chhodenge Bas Humjoli, a picnic song Ye Shaam Mastani, a cabaret number Mera Naam Shabnam, a romantic song Pyar Deewana Hota Hai.

The movie had its own sad moments and Shakti da captured sorrowness with as much expertise as he captured happiness and romantic moments. His next movie turned out to be more of a tear-jerker than romantic. In 1971, Shakti da made Amar Prem whuch had Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore. The movie was a remake of a Bengali movie Nishipadma which starred the superstar of Bengali movie industry, Uttam Kumar.

Amar Prem had a bold theme about society and people’s insensitive and apathetic attitude towards prostitutes. It highlighted how people abhor such acts and call it immoral by day, but revel in their pleasure by nights. Rajesh Khanna as Anand Babu finds peace, love and comfort in the company of Pushpa, played by Sharmila. And Rajesh Khanna’s dialogue ‘Pushpa…I hate tears‘ has become legendary. The movie boasted of really good songs like Raina Beeti Jaye, Bada Natkhat Hai Re Krishna Kanhaiya, Chingari Koi Bhadke, Ye Kya Hua and Kuchh To Log Kahenge.

All the songs were soulful and beautifully written by Anand Bakshi. Once Javed Akhtar had said that he would like to have the pen with which Anand Bakshi had penned the song Kuchh To Log Kahenge.

Shakti da’s next few movies were social dramas like Jaane Anjane, Anuraag and Charitraheen. While Jaane Anjane was a story about reforming a petty thief to live a respectful life, Charitraheen was about how a woman scorned in loved ends up becoming a victim of circumstance and takes to prostitution. The starcast of the movies were topnotch. Jaane Anjane had Shammi Kapoor and Vinod Khanna, Anuraag had Rajesh Khanna, Nutan and Ashok Kumar while Charitraheen had Sharmila Tagore and Sanjeev Kumar.

In 1974, Shakti da came up with Ajnabee where Rajesh Khanna and Zeenat Aman were paired. The movie dealt with marital discord and the re-union of two hearts that love, but not without some suspense and a murder mystery.

Ajnabee had some really good songs like Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mei, Ek Ajnabee Haseena Se and Hum Dono Do Premi, the music was by RD Burman. The Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mei song was remixed by Leslie Lewis and Anupama Verma featured in the video, thereby giving it a new lease of life, people had forgotten about it.

The next year, 1975, saw the release of Amanush starring Uttam Kumar and Sharmila Tagore. The movie was bilingual, in Hindi and Bengali and Uttam Kumar with the help of Sharmila and Shakti da did total justice to the character. The Bengali version was a mega success in WB, but the Hindi version did not do all that well. Kishore’s vocals, though, gave us a very haunting sad song which is sung time and again by us.

Utpal Dutt was seen in a rare negative role, but he was awesome in the movie as the conniving merchant.

Shakti da’s next movie in 1976 was a reincarnation story called Mehbooba. The movie starred Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini who play a singer and a courtesan in a palace. A tragic accident sends them down a valley, and how they are reincarnated years later. Since it was based on singer/courtesan it had to have good music by RD Burman with songs like Gori Tori Paijaniya sung by Manna Dey, Jamuna Kinare sung by Lata Mangeshkar and of course Mere Naina Saawan Bhadon sung by Kishore and Lata, in their own versions and not as a duet. This song formed the recurring theme of the movie as Rajesh was trying his hardest to help Hema recall their past birth.

After the success of Mehbooba, Shakti da made the movie Anurodh in 1977, continuing with the singing character of Rajesh Khanna where he sings for AIR and works as auto-mechanic as well. The movie also starred Vinod Mehra, Ashok Kumar and Simple Kapadia. The movie did not fare well at the box-office and interestingly enough, the reason given out was that Rajesh Khanna was married to Dimple in real life and in the movie he romanced Simple, this did not go down well with the audience. Anyways, the music was just about ok but lacked the punch of previous Shakti da’s movies. This time the music director were Laxmikant-Pyarelal, and two of their memorable songs were Aate Jaate Khoobsurat Awara Sadkon Pe and Aapke Anurodh Pe.

Anand Ashram was Shakti da’s next movie but was a disaster. It spoke of spiritual healing and starred Uttam Kumar. This disaster pushed him to come back with a blockbuster and so came The Great Gambler in 1979. Shakti da was back with another movie about double-role and look-alikes changing camps to get the roller-coaster going. Amitabh Bachchan played Jai and Vijay, one a cop and other a gambler; and the co-stars were Zeenat Aman and Neetu Singh. The movie was extensively shot outside India. Although the music was by RD Burman, just one song registered in the minds of everybody Do Lafzon Ki Hai.

Shakti da worked with Amitabh Bachchan again in Barsaat Ki Ek Raat in 1981. It was a simple story of a forest officer who marries a blind girl played by Rakhi, and how their life is shattered by Amjad Khan who harms his wife. Though the movie was very predictable, it mad e for a good watch. The movie was a bilingual, it was made in Bengali too.

The last time that Shakti da collaborated with Rajesh Khanna was in 1985, their 9th movie together was ironically titled Alag-Alag. The movie co-starred Tina Munim and had Bindu in a vamp role. RD Burman was back as the music director and Kishore sang some very good songs for the movie. Rajesh again played a singer, a street talent whom Bindu finds and wants to groom him for the movie industry.

Shakti da also went on to make some Bengali movies like Anyay Abichar, Debdas and Geetanjali. But he did not enjoy the great success that he had enjoyed through the 1970′s. Although his directorial capability was never in question, nor was his production of movies but the overall quality of movie writing had led to his downfall. Also, age was not on his side. So, he was unable to act with the same energy and vigour.

All these musicals point to the fact that he had a deep sense of music and understood it so well. Shakti da being the producer and director always must have had tough choices, whether to be honest to the movie as a director or become saleable because he was the producer as well. Its to his credit that he has handled movies of such varying themes. It really saddens to see such a poor response to the loss of such an eminent movie-maker. In fact, the last video-song Kabhi Bekasi Ne Maara is quite apt here, especially the second stanza. But let me also add that, whenever anyone sings a song from Shakti da’s movie they will be paying a tribute to him, his works.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2009 in bollywood, movies

 

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