- The Bollywood Hard-sell
June 29, 2013
Whether it's playing housie with housewives or spooking journos with fake ghosts, the Bollywood hype machine is in top gear.
- Till cinema do us part
June 15, 2013
Films are a great binding factor, or so the late film critic Roger Ebert would have us believe.
- Aam and the woman
June 15, 2013
A little village in Bihar has zero cases of dowry deaths and female infanticide. Why? Because of mango trees.
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LIKE A MOTH TO A FLAME
Late in the evening they stand on the pavement of a rainswept street. The wind blows hard but the feelings that envelop the man and woman are fiercer. She is tormented by contrasting emotions - her desire for him and the fear of an uncertain future. Then it begins to rain once more. And when she joins him under the umbrella, it codifies the promise of a journey together. Her mouth, sensuous and trembling, reaches out to meet his, then moves away in suppressed self-denial.
Few lead pairs have looked so passionately made-for-each-other as Raj Kapoor and Nargis did in the 1950s. And it wasn't just that one scene from Shree 420. Remember the beach sequence with shades of sadomasochism in Awara (1951) where she taunts him. You are a junglee, she says. Stung by the name-calling, he grabs her by the hair and rants about the role society plays in shaping us. At a time when the two were allegedly real-life lovers, the screen almost singes with the heat generated in that scene. The pair's last shot together is equally unforgettable: Nargis in all-white singing the bhajan, 'Jago mohan pyaare, jago', and serving water to a parched bumpkin played by Kapoor in Jagte Raho (1956). He leaves, thirst quenched;the fans are left thirsting for more.
AMAR AUR ANTHONY KI JAI
Once upon a time in Bollywood, when brothers often got lost in the second reel before being found in the 16th, multi-starrers were in vogue. The plots generally required a couple of hunks and hulks who could convincingly send bad boys flying through a brick wall. Over six feet tall each, a rather rare feature in Bollywood then, Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Khanna were suitable boys for the trade. Taking turns to play cops and crooks, the two paired in half-adozen movies - Khoon Pasina, Hera Pheri, Amar Akbar Anthony, Parvarish, Zameer and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar. Barring Zameer, all of them were hits at the box-office.
Unlike Jai-Viru of Sholay or the cop-smuggler brother duo of Deewar, the pair displayed no special vibe or definitive moment. Perhaps the scene where Amar (Vinod Khanna) takes off his shirt and beats up Anthony (Amitabh) in Manmohan Desai's Amar, Akbar, Anthony comes the closest. But the producers and distributors couldn't have cared less as they laughed their way to the bank. The partnership ended when Khanna quit the movies and became Osho's humble gardener. Khanna returned later but the tall men, despite rumours, haven't paired up again.
DHARAM'S GARAM GAL
The seventies was a decade of great pairs - superstar Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore, Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha, to name a couple. But the Dharmendra-Hema Malini match up was always the Jodi No 1. He was the Jat from north India with the irresistible combo of tough body and soft face. She was the dreamgirl from the South who could play both gaon ki gori and shehar ki chori with equal ease. Together they looked like perfect specimens of the human race;a pair you wouldn't mind sending as representative samples to planet Venus. Like Raj Kapoor-Nargis, they were off-screen lovers too. And yes, the man was muchmarried in both cases. But unlike the 1950s pair, their on-screen togetherness seldom smouldered with intensity. They would instead banter and cavort like a teenage pair who simply enjoy each other. Together they acted in the finest of masala movies - Raja Jani, Seeta aur Geeta, Jugnu, Sholay and about 25 more films - selling millions of matinee show tickets and making dozens of happy producers. Like most of their films, their private love story too had a happy ending. Who says the expression - they lived happily ever after - is only for fairytales?
THE RHYTHM IS GONNA GET YOU
In the 1960s, the name Shankar-Jaikishan was almost like an ISI trademark. Their chartbusters had a signature sound - a fullbodied, bursting-at-the-seams orchestra large enough to fill a concert hall. SJ, as they were popularly called, gave Hindi film music a distinctive sound and took it to the next level of refinement. The two found each other at Prithvi Theatre where both worked as musicians. Shankar worked the tabla, Jaikishan the harmonium. The association began when Raj Kapoor wanted Shankar to give music for Barsaat (1949). The latter insisted on partnering with Jaikishan. Together they created the finest blend of melodies and rhythms garnished with quality orchestration. Not surprisingly they ruled Hindi film music for nearly two decades.
In times when you could buy a car for Rs 20, 000, the duo is said to have charged five lakh per film. Like most creative partnerships in India, this was a till-death-do-uspart pair. Even Shankar's girlfriend couldn't separate them. Death succeeded though. In 1971, Zindagi ik safar hai suhana (film Andaz), topped the annual charts of Binaca Geet Mala, a popular radio show. It was the last song of dusk for Jaikishan, who had succumbed to cirrhosis of the liver caused by alcohol earlier that year. There couldn't have been a more fitting tribute to the maestro.
GURU DUTT-VK MURTHY
LIGHTS, CAMERA, SHADOW
In Guru Dutt's black and white movies, shadows speak. Without ever raising their voices, they speak of love, transgressions and of things best spoken about in silences. Few director-cameraman pairs have synergised each other's work as evocatively as Guru Dutt and V K Murthy, who became the first cameraman to get the Dada Saheb Phalke award last year. Murthy's black and white camerawork (Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool, Sahib, Biwi aur Ghulam) offers another dimension to the narrative. Just watch the interplay of light and shadow as the central character Sinha sa'ab slowly climbs the studio stairs in Kaagaz Ke Phool (1960). The camera is like a cardiographer, monitoring every heartbeat of the protagonist. The filming of his death scene - the body is submerged in shadow as onlookers crowd around him - remains an iconic moment of creative collaboration where a director and his cameraman combine to elevate a sequence. But Murthy was more than the prince of gloom. In Pyaasa's early reels, light and shade cavort as Waheeda Rehman teases Guru Dutt with the number, Jaane kya tune kahi. And who can forget the bouyance of girls having fun by the pool as they sing, "Thandi hawa kaali ghata" (Mr and Mrs 55) where the camera moves to the rhythm of their moods.
WE LUV LUV STORIES
She's running to catch a train that's about to leave the station. It's seconds before the doors close. She sees a young stranger offer an outstretched hand. She reaches out desperately and grabs it;in one swift motion he pulls her in as the doors slide. The scene marked the beginning of one of the greatest Bollywood journeys. Not only for the two actors but for an entire generation which, thereby, feasted on similar feel-good romcoms. Shah Rukh and Kajol had acted together in two smash hits before: Baazigar and Karan Arjun. But Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995) made them Bollywood's most winning celluloid couple. He had energy and impishness;she was vivacious and 'real' - a sans make-up rarity in a market flooded with mannequins. The two exuded a new-millennium feel appearing more like friends than passionate lovers. That part was best captured in the first half of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Almost a decade and half since on, their popularity has endured when, post-motherhood, Kajol paired with King Khan in My Name Is Khan (2010). If you have charisma, it's possible to turn the clock back.
MORE BANG FOR A BUCK
Few directors have perfected the art of rehashing Hollywood hits desi style better than the director duo who always dress in spotless white
Bollywood's most durable and successful music directors who rose in the 1960s and ruled the 1970s and 1980s
RAJESH KHANNA-SHARMILA TAGORE |
When Rajesh Khanna serenaded Ms Tagore with Mere sapnon ki raani in Aradhana (1969), a superstar was born. So was a super pair
Together they brought a certain spark and sizzle in films suh as Muqaddar Ka Sikanderand Mr Natwarlal. For most gossip columnists, they were prime beat in the 1970s and '80s
A box office brand by themselves, the duo's screenplays changed the meaning and definition of a Bollywood hero
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