Archive for the ‘Hindi films’ Category


I recently saw Hindi Medium (2017), a much feted Bollywood film featuring one of my all-time fave actor, Irrfan Khan. I wanted to watch this one particularly after allegations surfaced that the film has borrowed from the Bengali sleeper hit RAMDHANU (2014), a film that I have quite enjoyed – something that the makers of HINDI MEDIUM has vehemently denied.

HINDI MEDIUM started off on a promising note. I was enjoying the lead couple’s brilliant put-ons & Punjabi flashiness (they enact a  Chandni Chowk trader from Punjab). But after a while, HM loses steam. The affluent business couple suddenly hits upon an idea to present themselves as one from the poorer strata of society in order to secure admission for their daughter in a private school. I felt this portion was rather far-fetched and the weak link of the film. Hereafter, HM became preachy and illogical and meandered towards a predictable end.

The basic theme of Hindi Medium matches with the Bengali film – the hardships parent endure to secure school admission for their child. The protagonists in both the films are deficient and try to hone their English speaking ability providing some funny moments. The central similarity is too glaring to be dismissed. Apart from the basic theme, HM differs vastly from RAMDHANU and the sub-plots doesn’t bear any kind of sameness.

I don’t know why the makers of HINDI MEDIUM are refusing to acknowledge their inspiration. Even in the past we have had several instances of successful Bengali films remade in Hindi which proved to be hits in Bollywood. Films like MERE APNE (Apanjan), CHUPKE CHUPKE (Chhodobesi), MANZIL (Akash Kusum), BEMISAL (Ami se o sakha), KORA KAGAZ (Saat Pake Badha), BAWARCHI (Golpo Holeo Satti) and many others which were successful in the original language and later remade successfully in Hindi. I think the earlier directors of such remakes have acknowledged the original work.




DANGAL (Hindi, 2016)

Posted: August 17, 2017 in Cinema techniques, Hindi films

On Independence day I saw the money-spinner and much feted blockbuster film of recent years – DANGAL. Based on a true story, it is basically a tale of triumph of the human spirit against all prevalent societal norms seen through the story of a stern once-upon-a-time wrestler father (Amir Khan)  who toils hard after his two daughters since their childhood to make them top-notch wrestlers – something unthinkable of in a patriarchal Hariyanvi society. Quite an inspirational tale – every countryman should know and get influenced positively…

Did I like the film? I would have to reply in the negative at this self posed query. Why? … I felt that this three hour long biographical sports film could have been far more effective as a 30-40 minutes documentary. Sustaining interest in a film for three hours can be a challenge for the viewers and unless you have made a SHOLAY (to give an Indian example) it is bound to disappoint. Even Martin Scorcese’s brilliant biographical sports film RAGING BULL with a superlative performance by Robert De Niro had a running time of two hours. In that film there were sub-texts of personal problems of the protagonist boxer with his wife and his brother woven into the narrative to make it cinematic. DANGAL goes on and on about training sessions and the brooding father’s often uncompromising persona acts as a killjoy, making the film a far from pleasurable experience.

Rating: 2.8 out of 5

An exchange with my friend on FB:

Gaurav Dey Purkayastha Actually I read in an interview with one of the daughters that the film barely portrayed a fraction of what the sisters had to go through. Unlike you, however, I think this movie is a tour de force for Amir Khan’s acting.


Subhajit Ghosh
Subhajit Ghosh This is a personal opinion..
The huge popularity of the film and the glowing press it received certainly puts me in a minority


Subhajit Ghosh
Subhajit Ghosh Gaurav
As a film buff I am intrigued by the question ‘What makes a ‘great’ film’? I feel if you have to tell a great story, write a book. If you want wider reach (which btw all of us do) use the medium of TV. And these days you also have the web to reach everyone across the globe.
IMHO the best of cinema need to incorporate newer devices and innovate story-telling mechanism to make it engaging. When a Kurasawa re-creates a Shakespeare or Satyajit Ray makes a film on Tagore they incorporate ‘their’ thinking into such stories. I hear that the director of DANGAL changed the ‘climax’ from the original story. This is just to make it more melodramatic …
Actually my preference in films (Fellini, Chaplin & the early Mrinal Sen & …) have generally been those ones which tells good stories through innovate methods and humor. To give a Bollywood example, I hugely enjoyed Dibakar Bannerjee’s first film KHOSLA KA GHOSLA …


(Written by my wife Rajlakshmi Ghosh)

Words from the Gallery…

That was an era when MEN ruled the screens, both on and off it. And Vinod Khanna was a part of that rare tribe, breathing a machismo and charm that made Mills & Boons heroes seem ever so life-like. If they looked more Vinod Khannaesque in our mind’s eye—the hard jaw, hair carelessly tousled, dimpled chin, tall dark strapping figure with a larger than life presence–can the women of the species be blamed? If you didn’t go for Amitabh Bachchan’s angry man image in the Seventies and Eighties, there was always Vinod Khanna in a cast and style all of his own. He was a natural actor whose look and sheen was far from skin deep, radiating a maturity that gave depth to his cinematic characters.….dappled in shades of grey which made them seem all the more real. Today, when I think of tinsel town’s heroes, aren’t they more boyish and lean? And if machismo is all about muscle and brawn, look up Vinod Khanna’s tall, dark chiseled persona for reference… an animal magnetism that made women go weak in the knees.

It is hard to think that Vinod Khanna is no more. A memory in the chimera of images that keep flashing past. But to a whole generation of women like me, he was the epitome of masculinity….they don’t make them these days, a la Hollywood Gregory Peck mould.

In an age when there were no gyms to create that six pack abs or specialists to cover up every glitch and flaw, Vinod Khanna was the true hero whose likes you are not likely to find in any acting school.

Delving deeper into the failed love of Devdas and Paro, one could possibly attribute it to the epistle that Devdas wrote to his childhood paramour (Paro) from the city. In that letter he mentions of his reluctance to convert their relationship into conjugal union, something that would hurt his parents and their family prestige. Though soon after Devdas rushes to his village to make amends with Paro, everything has been lost by then.

What makes DEVDAS so popular with Indian filmmakers resulting in its several versions or their modified adaptations (Dev D, Muquddar Ka Sikandar). Love blooms abundantly in this novel by Sarat Chattopadhyay (Devdas and Paro love each other, Chandramukhi loves Devdas) but none of the relationship is taken towards consummation. The author highlights that love couldn’t transcend the barriers society had set for those times. Was SC suggesting by way of implication that social mores ought to change for that period, and compassion and acceptances of differences in terms of class, caste and also prejudices about courtesan need to be brought about.


The Bimol Roy version that I saw recently was immensely watchable with competent performances by Dilip Kumar in the titular role, ably supported by Suchitra Sen,  Vjyantimala Bali & Motilal. At some places, Suchitra Sen’s diction had a Bengali slant of speaking Hindi but otherwise she is quite expressive and acts brilliantly. The sequence of a sozzled Motilal trying to hang his walking stick on the shadow of the hanger was quite hilarious.

Rating; 3.8 out of 5

Queen of Hearts….

Posted: September 15, 2016 in Hindi films, Wifey, Women in cinema

(written by my wife Rajlakshmi Ghosh)

They are a SMART and RAVISHING lot. And everyone—from eight to eighty—can’t stop RAVING about their beauty and poise. DELVE deeper, and you find they are beauties with a MIND of their own. It is not easy being Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kapoor, Anushka Sharma or even Sonakshi Sinha in B-town: the spotlight is constantly ZOOMING in on their lives. A lot of hard work and grooming go into being an actress that counts and all of these damsels have taken Bollywood by storm.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…..

Deepa lays her BETS on Anushka when she says that the actress “has a good personality and great acting skills”. Quiz her further and she adds, Anushka is close to achieving the same stature as Kareena Kapoor, Katrina Kaif and Priyanka Chopra. “She did such a good job in ‘Band Baja Baraat’ and I am also looking forward to her latest flick ‘Ladies vs Ricky Bahl’,” says Deepa with stars in her eyes. Move on to Avinash Kaur, a BTech student, and she has the same words of praise for this former model and Yash Raj Films favourite: “Anushka is a good actress and a consistent performer. I liked her in ‘Band Baja Baraat’—where she looked so pretty as a Punjabi girl–and ‘Badmash Company’.”

But then, Deepika too has a fair share of loyalists. Shivam, a XIIth standard student, only BOTHERS himself with Deepika’s films. “I haven’t seen the movies of the rest of the lot. But Deepika looked stunning in ‘Karthik Calling Karthik’, ‘Om Shanti Om’ and ‘Love Aaj kal’.” Pooja, a student of Ryan International, is quite FASCINATED by Deepika’s “height and dusky colour—I just love it”, she says. The rest, she feels, “are dumb. Sonakshi is fat. Perhaps, Anushka comes a close second to Deepika.” Her best words are for Deepika in films like ‘Bachna Ae Haseeno’ and ‘Om Shanti Om’.

But Gajinder Singh, a B.Sc student, believes there is none to MATCH Sonakshi. “She is a great actress and has all the skills to make it to the top. I liked her especially in ‘Dabangg’ and can’t forget her role.”

For sure, these actresses have the ‘it’ factor. In the make-believe world, they are well and truly the Queen of Hearts. And given their huge fan following, little wonder these divas have given many a box office hit!


Bollywood Beauties….

Deepika Padukone: The daughter of badminton ace Prakash Padukone, has had a string of successful films under her belt. Be it her debut Bollywood film ‘Om Shant Om’ or ‘Love Aaj kal’ with Saif Ali Khan, Deepika has made her mark as much for her looks and height as for her acting skills, poise and charm.

Anushka Sharma: She is the girl to watch out for, after Kareena and Katrina. The ‘Band Baja Barat’ girl had a dream debut with Sharukh Khan no less in ‘Rab Ne Bana de Jodi’. Since then, she has moved from strength to strength with a hit like ‘Band Baja Baraat’ as her crowning glory. Now that ‘Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl’ has hit the theatres, Anushka, it seems, is truly on a roll.

Sonakshi Sinha: Ever since she came into the spotlight with Salman Khan’s ‘Dabangg’, there was no looking back for this vivacious actress. Shotgun Shatrughan Sinha’s daughter shows great promise and what with her filmi background, is bound to make it big.

Sonam Kapoor: Another star kid, the daughter of Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor, first made heads turn with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Saawariya’.  Since then, this fashionista’s career has been mostly on the upswing. With ‘Delhi-6, ‘I Hate Luv Storys’ and ‘Aisha’, her foothold in filmtown seems firm.



Innovative women roles in Indian films, especially mainstream cinema, are few and far between. Some creative directors, working within the mainstream format, however have given us some meaty characters. Several women-significant films were made in the early days of Indian cinema like “Achchyut Kanya,” which touched the theme of untouchability. Bimal Roy made a few films inspired by the novels of Sarat Chatterjee like “Biraj Bou”, “Devdas” and “Parineeta.” “Biraj Bou” was a film based on a selfless Indian woman, who endured hardship and pain for the sake of her husband. Films like “Ramer Sumoti,” based on a Sarat Chaterjee work, were remarkable and depicted the love and warmth which existed within the extended Indian joint family.

In later days, filmmaker Hrishikesh Mukherjee gave us memorable heroine-oriented films in “Guddi,” “Abhimaan”, “Mili”, “Khubsuroot”, and “Majhli Didi”. “Guddi” and “Khubsuroot” were simple films in which the heroine matures from a chirpy girl into womanhood. “Abhiman,” inspired by “A star is born,” dealt with ego clashes when a woman’s musical talent and fame surpasses that of her husband. “Majhli Didi” was again based on a Sarat Chandra novel, about a woman’s compassion towards an orphaned child. Basu Bhattacharyya’s “Griha Pravesh” was a realistic depiction of the obsession of a married man for a much younger office colleague. Raj Kapoor’s “Prem Rog” was a convincing portrait of the agony of a young widow. A few years back, Basu Chaterji’s “Triyacharittar” was a powerful film on exploitation of women.

Bengali filmmaker Tapan Sinha has created strong female characters in several of his films viz “Jatugriho”, “Adalat O Ekti Mey”, “Apanjan”, “Nirjan Saikate” and others. “Jatugriho” dealt with marital discord, the bone of contention being the infertility of the woman. “Apanjan” was remade in Hindi as “Mere Apne” by Gulzar, and had an elderly woman as the protagonist who finds, in some unemployed street boys, a reason to live when her own relatives forsake her. “Nirjan Saikatey” dealt with the plight of five elderly widows, while “Adalat O ekti Mey” was on a rape victim shunned by everyone. Asit Sen’s “Deep Jele Jai,” remade in Hindi as “Khamoshi” was on a nurse who eventually becomes insane play-acting with a patient.

Strong female roles have also been witnessed in parallel cinema. Here, Mrinal Sen appears to have an edge over others. His “Neel Akaser Neechey” (1959) was a beautiful film about a brother-sister relationship between a Chinese hawker and a Bengali housewife. “Punoscho”(1961) dealt with the question of economic need of the heroine, a theme later tackled by Satyajit Ray in “Mahanagar.” The roles of the female protagonist in Sen’s “Bhuvan Shome”, “Khandahaar,” “Ek Din Pratidin”, “Antareen” and others have been an interesting mix of innovation and fresh characterization. Satyajit Ray’s films have female characters of substance. In “Pather Panchali” the relationship between Durga, an innocent but mischievous girl and her grandmother Chunnibala was beautifully depicted. “Charulata” based on a Tagore’s novel dealt with marital discord with much finesse. “Devi” was on religious bigotry when an elderly man starts thinking of his daughter-in-law as a Goddess after a dream.

Ritwik Ghatak’s “Meghe Dhaka Tara” and “Subarnarekha” are considered path-breaking films about the agony of the Bangladeshi refugees, shown through the eyes of the woman protagonist. Aparna Sen’s “36 Chowringhee Lane” is an unforgettable film exploring the loneliness of an elderly Anglo-Indian lady. Sen’s other efforts “Paroma” and “Sati” questioned the traditional roles of women in Indian society. Her latest award-winning work “Paromitar Ek Din” is also a women-centric film. Nabyendu Chaterji’s “Atmaja” had a power-packed role of a mother caught between the divergent ideologies of her two sons, enacted with conviction by Gauri Ghosh. Nabyendu Chaterji’s latest “Sauda” (Bengali) reveals negative shades of some women characters. In this film made in the 90s, the director, possibly the first in Indian cinema, portrayed how the wife and the daughters of an accident victim, now in the operation theatre of a hospital, craved for his death instead of his recovery, because the family has been promised a huge sum of money by an industrialist (Vasant Choudhury) as compensation, whose car was involved in an accident with the victim. The latest talent on the Kolkata filmmaking scene, Rituparno Ghosh, has women-related subjects as theme in all three of his award-winning films “Unishe April”, “Dahan” and “Asookh” and his latest “Bariwali” (featuring Kiron Kher). The women characters in the films of Gautam Ghose & Buddhadeb Dasgupta are equally intriguing. In Gautam Ghose’s “Antarjali Jatra” a young bride is forcibly married off to a dying Brahmin, while marital disharmony was the subject of films like Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s “Griha Yuddha” and “Lal Darja” and Aparna Sen’s “Yugant”. Sanat Dasgupta’s “Janani” featuring Rupa Ganguly was a poignant Bengali film about a woman who was ostracized and labeled a “witch,” but in the end sacrificed her life for her son.

Ordinary women characters, rising to extraordinary levels, were witnessed in films like Sushant Mishra’s “Aasha” (Oriya), Arinbam Shyam Sharma’s “Imagi Ningtem” (Manipuri) and Sanjeev Hazarika’s “Meemansxa” (Assamese). “Aasha” dealt with a courageous lady journalist hounded by corrupt politicians. “Meemansxa,” dealt with the agony faced by a woman when she moves to court after being molested by a powerful man.

Shyam Benegal in films like “Ankur”, “Sardari Begum” and “Mammo” have given us some unusual female characters. “Mammo” was an elderly lady who went through an ordeal when she comes to visit her relatives in partitioned India from Pakistan. Govind Nihalani in “Rukmavati ki Haveli”, “Dhristi”, “Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa” has given us women characters of myriad hues. “Dhristi” was on marital discord, while “Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa” saw Jaya Bachchan giving a fine performance as a woman trying to cope with the death of her son. Ketan Mehta’s “Mirch Masala” with the powerful actress Smita Patil demonstrated the strength of women, when a group of village women unitedly bring about the fall of a tyrant police officer. Muzaffar Ali’s “Umraao Jaan” gave Rekha one of her finest roles in her career as a ‘kotha ‘ dancer. A disabled dancer overcoming her problems to rise to great heights in her field was the subject of “Nache Mayuri,” with Sudha Chandran playing the lead role. Prakash Jha’s “Mrityudand” witnessed a new face of the educated Indian women, willing to rebel and fight for her rights.

Likewise, Deepa Mehta’s “Fire” brought to the fore hitherto taboo subjects like lesbianism to the Indian screen for the first time. Women characters in Mahesh Bhatt’s “Arth”, “Swayam”, “Kaash” and “Tamanna” were interesting. Smita Patil and Shabana Azmi gave great performances in “Arth” while in “Kaash,” the wife tries to cope with a failed actor husband who turns a derelict and a little son diagnosed with a terminal disease. Likewise Gulzar’s “Andhi”, Mausam” and “Koshish” and Kalpana Lazmi’s “Ek Pal” was noteworthy. “Aandhi,” was on the life of a lady politician and in “Koshish,” Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri gave mind-blowing performances as a hearing impaired couple. Sai Paranjype’s “Saaz” and “Sparsh” deserves a mention. Amol Palekar’s “Dayaara” and “Kairee,” too, are exceptional. “Dayaraa” dealt with the life of a transvestite. “Kairee” is about a little girl and her relationship with her aunt. “Rao Saheb,” “Chakra” “Mother India” and “Dahej” dealt with the theme of subjugated women who were exploited.

Yash Chopra’s portrayal of women have been extraordinary. Be it Nanda in the role of a murderess in “Ittefaq” or that of Rekha and Jaya Bachchan in “Silsila” women in his films have been consciously different from their peers. Recently the film “Astitva” ( featuring Tabu) explored sensitively a women’s role in a marriage when her husband discovers after twenty-five years that his wife had a sexual relationship with a man which resulted in an offspring, and the offspring is actually the same whom he had been considering his own son.

Lately in Assamese cinema several strong women characters was evoked, like in Bhaben Saikia’s “Agnisnaan”, Jahnu Barua’s “Firongoti”, Dr Shantanu Bordoloi’s “Adajya” and others. In “Agnisaan,” the female protagonist (Moloya Goswami) has a relationship with another man when her philandering husband crosses all limits. “Firongoti” was based on the life of a lady school teacher who tries to bring education among poor villagers.

In films from the South, K.S.Sethumadhavan’s “Stri”, Prema Karanth’s “Phaniyamma”, Girish Kasarvalli’s “Kraurya”, Balu Mahendra’s “Moonram Pirai” (remade as Sadma in Hindi) or Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s “Mathilukal” have intriguing female characterization. “Stri” dealt with the wife of a drunken man, who in spite of all her husband’s faults and their apparent differences, could never forsake her husband. It did carry the message “Pati is Parmeswar,” but in a beautiful way. “Phaniyamma” dealt with the agony of a young widow, whereas “Kraurya” dealt with the neglect of the elderly. In “Sadma,” SriDevi gave a fine performance as a girl whose mental condition reverts to that of a five-year-old when she meets with an accident. Because of my ignorance of films from this region, I will have to end this here.

In conclusion, several filmmakers have earnestly tried to portray women in a dignified, realistic, and an intriguing way and have succeeded considerably. Of this genre, filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Mahesh Bhatt, Amol Palekar, Tapan Sinha and Girish Kasaravalli and a few others seems to have given us the best of such women-significant films.