Archive for the ‘Hindi films’ Category

PAAR is a tale of arduous struggle for survival. It narrates the story of a harijan couple (Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi) who flee from their native village in Bihar to escape from the wrath of the upper caste tyrannical landlord (Utpal Dutt) & his men. The landlord’s brother (Mohan Agashe) was killed to avenge the death of the Gandhian school teacher (played by Anil Chaterjee) who worked tirelessly for upliftment of the oppressed villagers.
The initial part of the film, especially the character of the school teacher, invokes the spirit of the Gandhi-Ambedkarite struggle of dalit upliftment. The second half of the film portrays the hardship the couple faces in the city of Kolkata romantically bestowed with an epithet – The City of Joy. The couple finds no such joy in the city but an odd job to drive a herd of pigs across a river with a lure for earning money to finance their travel back home.
Exquisitely filmed, backed by terrific performances, this is one of the greatest films ever in Indian cinema. Om puri does a cameo as a village sarpanch.
Rating; 4.5 out of 5


Nihalani estabhlished himself as a distinguished filmmaker early in his career with films like ‘Akrosh’ and ‘Ardh Satya.’ But speaking personally, I find his third film PARTY to be more stylistically orchestrated, brimming with social commentaryand successful in exposing the dubiousness of the rich and the famous from the Cultural fraternity.
Under the guise of celebrating a recent honor bestowed on one Dr. Barve (Manohar Singh) a party is thrown by one of the female friends (Vijaya Mehta) of the feted writer. Several people arrive in this party and gradually their personal lives get unfolded before the viewer. Wannabe writers, actors from the theatre, social climbers and social activists & gate crashers mingle freely in the midst of free-flowing snacks and drinks. The discussions ranges from whether Political commitment contribute towards a writer’s greatness or the atrocities committed by the State on tribals in the name of development, and the fate that befalls those who speak as voice for the marginalized. In this respect one does find similarity of Gobind Nihalani with filmmakers like Mrinal Sen and Gautam Ghose who seek to address such topical issues in their works. Fine ensemble acting by Amrish Puri, Om Puri, Shafi Inamdar, K. K. Raina, Rohini Hattangady, Deepa Sahi, Pearl Padamsee, Mohan Bhandari, Soni Radzan & Jayant Kripalani add to the strength of the film.
Rating: 4.3 out of 5

Happy Teacher’s day to fellow teachers!!!

Remembering the 1989 Hindi film EK DIN ACHANAK based on a story by Ramapada Chowdhury. No film in Indian cinema or probably in World cinema have depicted so beautifully the frustration of an academically inclined Professor the way this film has done. A Mrinal Sen masterpiece that need an attentive viewing to capture the depth of the feeling expressed in this work. Dr. Sreeram Lagoo acted brilliantly as the Professor …

Pyaasa (1957)

Posted: November 7, 2017 in Guru Dutt, Hindi films


In recent years the film A WEDNESDAY has been much talked about. The subject is contemporary, and overall the director manages to weave an engaging fare. While watching the film I found it quite riveting embellished by great performances by Anupam Kher and Naseeruddin Shah.

However, when the film ended and I pondered over it, some thoughts/question came to my mind for which I didn’t find a convincing answer. If the character of Naseeruddin Shah is representative of the common man, how come he got hold of so much explosives – RDX – which he kept inside a ‘J & K’ marked bag in a police station (as shown in the initial portion of the film). The greyness of the character of Naseeruddin ought to have been hinted at – this I felt a weakness of the film – the lack of character development of its main character. Moreover, the hacker engaged to trace the calls of the mastermind concedes towards the end that Naseer is the best (and so by implication he is unable to trace his whereabouts), then how come Anupam Kher lands up in the same building which Naseer used for his operations as shown in the end?…

Rating: 3.8 out of 5



The inspiration behind the film ABHIMAN could have been any of the following (i) The singer-actor duo Kishore Kumar & Ruma Guha Thakurta and their lives

(ii) The actors Amitabh Bachchan & Jaya Bhaduri (many opined that Jaya was a superior actor than Amitabh in those days) and their lives

(iii) The Hollywood film A STAR IS BORN

Whatever may have been the inspiration, this is a beautiful film laden with wonderful songs unfolding a tale of a singer couple (Amitabh & Jaya) , their quick romance and marriage and thereafter making music together. When the wife starts getting more recognition, male ego gets hurt and husband starts sulking endlessly taking recourse to booze and ex-flame (Bindu). Kudos to Hrishikesh Mukherjee for offering the role to Bindu as a sensitive friend, as it shows her in a different light  and a far cry from her usual vampish roles. The directorial style is muted; to convey the deep agony of Usha (Jaya) upon losing her son at childbirth, the director uses a long shot, and the distance between Usha and her father (A. K. Hangal) in the same frame highlights the gulf that exists between them (signifying the loneliness of Usha) , even though Usha respected and cared for her father immensely.

The acting is first-rate; Jaya and Amitabh are outstanding. David, Asrani, Durga Khote and A.K.Hangal are also memorable in the portrayal of their respective characters. The unspoiled village with its purity and keeper of the classical music tradition alive is contrasted with a materialistic music driven industry in its urban setting.

Rating : 4.1 out of 5


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.