A tribute to Kishore Kumar – A song list

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Kishore Kumar, the eccentric, multi-faceted singer-actor-music director would have turned 91 today (August 4, 2020).

Words are simply not enough to describe this legendary genius who is still as popular as he was in the seventies or eighties and whose songs still blare across media channels, either in their original form or remixed versions.

Born Abhas Kumar Ganguly on 4th August 1929 in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, Kishore Kumar followed his elder brothers, the legendary actor Ashok Kumar and Anoop Kumar, to make a living as a singer! But that was not to be…. not for a while, anyway.

Despite some fantastic early numbers, mostly set to tune by S.D. Burman and picturised on Dev Anand (or himself), Kishore Kumar was not really considered a top singer in the 1950s and 1960s (which could be called the first phase of his singing career). Mohd Rafi, Mukesh and Manna Dey were clearly ruling the roost then. This was the also a phase where Kishore Kumar was seen more as a reluctant actor – a part comedian, part serious. In fact I remember reading somewhere that part of his madcap antics on screen was to ensure that the film would flop and he would be spared this torture. It was a ploy that completely backfired. These early films, where Kishore Kumar was the hero cum buffoon, clicked and did well commercially. Kishore Kumar, the actor, continued to act – opposite some of the biggest leading ladies of the 1950s – Vyjayantimala, Madhubala, Nutan and Mala Sinha!

By the late 1960s, by when his acting career had slowed down considerably and he was ready to probably even retire, his second and glorious phase as a singer was to commence. Aradhana (1969), the rise of Rajesh Khanna as a superstar in the subsequent years and RD Burman emerging as the most popular composer ensured that Kishore Kumar the singer had finally arrived. His time had finally come! From the 1970s up until his untimely death in October 1987, Kishore Kumar was the undisputed male playback singer around – effectively dethroning Mohd Rafi for the major part of the 1970s. (Rafi was to make a brief comeback in the late 70s just prior to his sudden demise in July 1980.)

What is amazing is that according to statistics, in this second and glorious phase, Kishore Kumar sang a whopping 2000 songs as compared to only around 170 songs in the first phase. (courtesy an article by Aniruddha Bhattacharjee in The Telegraph).

Selecting 10 songs from such a popular and vast repertoire is obviously too difficult.

In this song list – I have restricted myself to solos (with the exception of one, if it could be called a duet), 5 from before 1969 and 5 from the 1970s. Many extremely popular songs do not feature here simply because I like these songs more. If I were to make this same list tomorrow, it is very possible that several other songs would be included instead of these. But for now, without further ado, here are the selected 10 songs sung by the versatile and talented Kishore Kumar:

  1. Chhota sa ghar hoga (Naukri, 1954, Salil Chowdhary): This happy, hopeful number is from one of Kishore Kumar’s earliest movies. Directed by Bimal Roy, this film as its name suggests deals with a persisting social issue – that of unemployment. The song describes the simple aspirations of a young man who wants to provide for his sister and his widowed mother. Kishore Kumar’s funny/ comic roles had probably not taken off by this time yet, hence we see a rather sweet and restrained version of him on screen. No crazy antics on display. I read somewhere that Kishoreda had to convince Salil Chowdhary to allow him to record this happy version. There is that sad melodious snippet of the same song by Hemant Kumar, much later in the movie when the young man is unsuccessful and has been unemployed for a while. Kishoreda’s singing is just apt for the situation – sensitive, soulful and simple.
  2. O Nigahen Mastana (Paying Guest, with Asha Bhosle, 1957, SD Burman): Yes, yes, I know, this song is technically a duet, however, since it is just humming and the alaap that Asha Bhosle does in this song, decided to sneak it in. Like most of Kishore Kumar’s early numbers, this one was composed by SD Burman (this can be a list of its own. Kishore sings for Dada Burman!) and was filmed on Dev Anand. A fabulous score with several super-hit songs (Mana janaab ne pukara nahin, Chhod do aanchal, Chand phir nikla), Paying Guest was just one of the many films which had Kishore Kumar singing for Dev Anand where the music had been composed by SDB. This hummable romantic number has Dev Anand serenading a lovely Nutan on the rooftop while a jealous Shubha Khote looks on.
  3. Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si (Chalti ka naam gaadi, 1958, S.D. Burman): Another SDB song on this list. Even though it was rather inspired by Sixteen Tons (it is said that SDB used this tune creatively after being asked by Kishore Kumar to do so!) A creative inspiration if any, this song is memorable not only because of the singing and music but also for its superb picturisation. And of course the many stories behind the making of the movie. Kishore Kumar made this movie, thinking and hoping that it would be a failure and that he would be able to write off the losses. It however, went on to become the second highest grosser of that year and in a fit of panic, Kishore Kumar signed away the rights to his secretary! A crazy story with the three Ganguly brothers, a beautiful Madhubala and then the music make this a classic. The images of a beautiful, wet Madhubala and a naughty Kishore Kumar fixing a broken-down car are probably etched permanently in most cinebuffs’ minds.
  4. Chhoti si yeh duniya pehchane raste hain (Rangoli, 1962, Shankar Jaikishen): Kishore Kumar’s pairing with Vyjayantimala resulted in several hit movies in the 1950s and 60s – New Delhi (1956), Aasha (1957), and this one. All these films had excellent songs – including some super-popular solos such as Eena meena deeka (Aasha) or Nakhrewali (New Delhi). Personally I prefer this philosophical, romantic song to the others. It is said that these lines were actually written by Shailendra in a letter and which were immortalised in this song by Shankar-Jaikishen. This is the peppier version, while Lata’s tandem version is more melancholic.
  5. Aa chal ke tujhe (Door Gagan ki chhaon mein, 1964, Kishore Kumar): The extremely talented Kishore Kumar wrote, directed and produced this movie, which was an adaptation of an English movie, The Proud Rebel (1958). He also composed a memorable score with some superb compositions besides this one – the sweet Asha Bhosle solos Khoya khoya Chanda, Path bhoola ik aya, the hopeful Hemant number Rahi tu mat ruk jaana, and the plaintive Koi lauta de mere beete hue din. Hopeful and optimistic, this song envisions a perfect world sans any suffering and pain. Sung beautifully by Kishoreda, this has RD Burman playing the harmonica and Amit Kumar is the little boy on screen.
  6. Hawaon pe likh do (Do Dooni Char, 1968, Hemant Kumar): Much before Gulzar adapted Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors into Angoor (1982), he had made Do Dooni Char (1968). This version, which unfortunately flopped, starred Kishore Kumar (in a double role) and Tanuja. Asit Sen plays the role that Deven Verma reprised later. I dont remember any of the other songs from this film, but this song, a melodious paean to nature, is one of my favourite Kishore Kumar songs. One can spot a young Neetu Singh in this too.
  7. Guzar jaye din (Annadata, 1972, Salil Chowdhary): Moving on to a faster composition. One of Salil Chowdhary’s finest scores (at least in my opinion), Annadata had a fantastic overall score – each song was mesmerising – be it Lata’s Raaton ke saaye ghane or Nis din nis din or Mukesh’s Nain hamare. Kishore had two solos – O meri pran sajni Champavati aaja and this one. I am not trained musically but from what I can make out, Guzar jaaye din is certainly not an easy song to sing! But how well Kishore Kumar sings it!
  8. Panthhi hoon main us path ka (Door ka rahi, 1971, Kishore Kumar): Behind the eccentric buffoonish image that Kishore Kumar displayed, was a deeply philosophical thinking human. Nowhere was it more evident than in the type of films he produced and directed. This movie, with its theme of the journey of life, was one such thinking film. The music was composed by Kishore Kumar and had some beautiful songs (Beqarar dil tu gaaye ja). If I were to pick one Kishore Kumar song as my favourite, this haunting song would be my pick!
  9. Tum bin jaaon kahan (Pyar ka Mausam, 1969, RD Burman): No Kishore Kumar list can be complete without songs composed by RD Burman. I know, I know, there are so many other Kishore-Pancham songs that are more popular and I had shortlisted several others – Pyaar Deewana hota hai; Yeh kya hua; Zindagi ke safar mein jo. But I love this song. While I do prefer the Rafi version (with a very charming Shashi Kapoor), the Kishore version (picturised on Bharat Bhushan- shouldn’t it have been the other way round?) is still a sweet song – to listen to!
  10. Aane wala pal (Gol Maal, 1979, R.D. Burman): Ending this list which captures how ephemeral life is and how important it is to live in the moment. Kishoreda’s voice, Gulzar’s lyrics, and Pancham’s brilliant music make this song a masterpiece.

I get it that no list can completely summarise the life of a legend like Kishore da. This is not even an attempt to do so. This is a tribute to a legendary multi-faceted singer-actor-director. Happy birthday, Kishoreda!

My favourite songs picturised on Kumkum (22 April 1934 – 28 July 2020) – In memoriam

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Kumkum, the leading lady who lit up the screen with her expressive limpid eyes and her with her expressive limpid eyes in the 1950s and 1960s passed away this morning (28 July 2020).

Born in Hussainabad, Bihar on 22 April 1934 as Zaibunnissa, her Hindi film career started when Guru Dutt cast her for a song in Aar Paar (1954). The song became a hit and so did the movie. Kumkum’s innings had begun. She was 20 at the time. Over the next two decades, she acted in more than a hundred films – in Hindi and also in Bhojpuri.

My introduction to Kumkum, as with most Hindi actresses was via Chitrahaar and Rangoli – she was a common face on them- after all so many melodious hummable numbers had been filmed on her.

As a tribute to the late actress, here are a list of my favourite ten songs – mostly those songs which came to my mind when I read the news. I am sure that I will remember some more tomorrow…

These are in no particular order – I have tried to stick to as many solos as possible – though some duets have crept in.

  1. Kabhi aar kabhi paar (Aar Paar, 1954, Shamshad Begum, O.P. Nayyar): Starting the list with her debut song from Aar Paar. A common trope in Hindi film songs was that of a narrator – a third party interpreting a scene unfurling in front of them through a song. Here, thats what Kumkum is doing. Shyama’s car has broken down and the car mechanic (a smart Guru Dutt) is fixing it. While doing so, he is, of course, teasing her – along with the urchins on the street (Jagdeep, who passed away just a few weeks back, is one of the young boys here). Kumkum, an unnamed construction worker near the site, is witnessing this scene and commenting on it through this song – which hints at the unfolding romance. Shamshad Begum’s lilting vocals and OP Nayyar’s music make this a classic remembered even now, more than six decades later.
  2. Aye dil hai mushkil jeena yahan(CID, 1956, Mohd Rafi and Geeta Dutt, OP Nayyar): OK, yes, perhaps this is too early in the list that a duet has crept in – however, this iconic song – describing a cynical view on life in Bombay – is too much of a favourite for it to be left out either. Again, in this song, we see two supporting characters share their take on city life in general. Johnny Walker espouses a bleak view – the city is full of thieves, rogues and deceit rules. Not a place for gentle good souls, making every moment lived here a struggle. Kumkum counters this in the last stanza, offering him some hope and gently exhorting him to shed his cynicism and naivete and learn the rules of the jungle! The musical composition of this piece, with its light western touch (perhaps because it was picturised on Johnny Walker), sung expertly by Mohd Rafi (with the right amount of pathos and comic touch) and Geeta Dutt (sweet and gentle) makes it a memorable one. Kumkum is perfect as the supportive Maharashtrian woman here.
  3. Tera jalwa jisne dekha(Ujala, 1959, Lata Mangeshkar, Shankar Jaikishen): Quite a many dance numbers in the late 1950s and 1960s were filmed on Kumkum. For she was a trained dancer – she is said to have learnt Kathak from Pandit Shambhu Maharaj. Skills that were clearly on display in all the dance songs. Even though, her name doesnt automatically come up when dancing stars of that time (Vyjayantimala, Waheeda Rehman, Asha Parekh, Helen) comes up, the classical and non-classical songs filmed on her tell a different tale. Kumkum could emote through her eyes as well as her dance. In this song from Ujala, Kumkum packs in an energetic and spirited performance. Vibrant and graceful, there is something utterly charming and captivating about her here. And then there are Lata’s vocals.
  4. Yeh hawa yeh nadi ka kinara(Ghar Sansar, 1958, Manna Dey and Asha Bhosle, Ravi): This melodious Asha -Manna Dey duet used to be regularly played on Rangoli and in my mind it is forever equated with Kumkum – who looks absolutely gorgeous.
  5. Madhuban mein Radhika naache re(Kohinoor, 1960, Mohd Rafi, Naushad): How could this one be left out? One of the finest classical songs in Hindi movies, it showcases Kumkum’s Kathak skills. I was a bit torn between this song and Jadugar qatil (sung by Asha Bhosle) where Kumkum gets to lip synch while dancing and even playing tablas on screen.  But I picked this one simply because this is a masterpiece!
  6. Kaanha jaa re teri murali(Tel Malish Boot Polish, 1961, Manna Dey and Lata Mangeshkar, Chitragupta): Among Kumkum’s classical dance numbers, I must say that I am rather partial to this one. From a lesser known film, this Manna Dey – Lata duet definitely ranks as among their best – and there are so many. Not only does Kumkum dance gracefully here, her expressions are top-notch. And the way Lata’s voice echoes at Kaanha jaare.…. its simply brilliant!
  7. Dekh Idhar O Jadugar (House No 44, 1955, Asha Bhosle, SD Burman): From a classical number to a not-so-classical song that was picturised as a mujra. Why I remember this is because when I viewed this for the first time (after having heard it on tape many many times), my only thoughts was – oh it doesnt sound like a mujra. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting to see Kumkum dance. But that she does – as it was one of her early movies, a bit of her rawness in terms of her dance comes through. While not one of her best dance songs, this song still is good enough – largely due to the lyrics, music and singing  and her presence on screen.
  8. Daga Daga vai vai(Kali Topi Lal Rumal, 1959, Lata Mangeshkar, Chitragupta): A folksy number which was hugely popular in its time – and is remembered even now. Pretty as a picture, Kumkum dances her way through this song.
  9. Khoobsoorat Haseena (Mr. X in Bombay, 1964, Kishore Kumar & Lata Mangeshkar, Laxmikant-Pyarelal): I know, there are some nice solo songs that Kumkum dances to in this film – such as Chali re chali re gori, but I like this duet much more. Kumkum starred in a number of films with Kishore Kumar in the 1960s – this and Ganga Ki Lehrein being some of the more well-known ones. This romantic, teasing duet has a pleasant soothing tune (one that was lifted by Anand-Milind for a song in Baazigar (1993)); Kumkum is pretty, Kishore Kumar is upto his antics and there is a flying car!
  10. Jaya jaya he jagadambe mata (Ganga ki Lehrein, 1964, Lata Mangeshkar and chorus, Chitragupta): Ending this list with this devotional aarti from this film that I am very fond of. Picturised in a temple, the song has both Savitri (the Southern legend) and Kumkum (in pristine white) lip synching to the lyrics. Even though the movie had some brilliant songs – such as the Kishore-Lata duet Machalti hui hawa mein cham cham (another DD favourite), I went ahead with this one.

Even though this list has been put together hastily – based purely on memory rather than any research, it still amazed me as to how many wonderful songs were filmed on Kumkum.  Like Shakila and Shyama (both of whom passed away in the recent past), Kumkum also did not quite get the recognition, she so richly deserved. This list is a mere tribute – to this beautiful, graceful actress. Rest in Peace, Kumkumji.

Of new obsessions – K-drama

The number of times this poor blog has been neglected and re-activated, I know not! The year since my last blog post has been memorable – not necessarily in the sense we wanted it to be… what with the raging global pandemic since January!

Besides work – professional and household, books, and old Hindi music, if there is one thing that has kept me great company, it has been my new found obsession and love for Korean drama and movies.

I first heard about “how awesome K-drama is” from Madhu when we met for lunch many many years ago. She was raving about some shows. I noted them down – for future viewing and then promptly forgot about them. Then again last year, a school friend went on and on about how she watched only K-drama. By this time, K-Pop (aka BTS, EXO) were also names I had encountered – thanks to a teenage music-obsessed nephew. And so it was, and I took the plunge and watched my first K-drama – The Lady in Dignity. That was followed by another, The Last Empress. And boy, before I even realised, I was hooked. A new obsession had begun.

Instead of watching re-runs of old Hindi movies, I was now scouring the net for more information on what serials to watch and discovered a whole new world in the process. And yes, Madhu and that school friend have been contacted regularly for more and recommendations. Thank you!

As for family and close friends, they are more than ready to pack me off to Korea – yes, the obsession had reached such a limit, where I started taking online classes to learn the language.

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(pic credit – Channel Korea)

As is the case with the newly converted, I am probably more fanatical in my approach and have been evangelising about the cause and spreading the word. Anyone who has spoken to me the past 6-8 months have heard about how amazing and binge-worthy those shows are. And where once upon a time, the likes of Shammi Kapoor and Dev Anand would get a mention, these days, the spot has been firmly taken by the likes of  Ji Chang Wook and Joo Sang-Wook (they are two different stars  – with different personalities – but similar names!)

Now, now, the purpose of this post is not to gush. But also to expand the scope of this nearly-defunct-now-again-revived blog – as in now, along with Hindi music/ movies and books (both of which have rarely been reviewed), I may also post about K-drama.

Ranging from fantasy (While You were Sleeping, Goblin) to time travel (Chicago Typewriter, Faith); historical romances (Love in the Moonlight) to modern day rom-coms (Her Private Life), the dramas offer an escape into a world vastly different from my own (and perhaps equally fantastical to even the common Korean).

With a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief, K-drama is perfect – especially in terms like this when the real world is riddled with challenges.

Dear readers (if there are any left – considering my tardiness at updating this blog), do watch these shows. You probably will hear more about them here!

 

 

 

 

The Curse of Anuganga is out …

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The month of May was a big one for me. My book, The Curse of Anuganga, a historical detective mystery, published by TreeShade Books was released then.

I suppose I can call myself a writer now. Though technically The Curse of Anuganga is my second book – the first being a small children’s story (The Wizard Tales: Adventures of Bun-Bun and His Friends) I had written six years ago (about to go into its second print shortly).

Interestingly this was also the time that The Curse of Anuganga was conceptualised. A conversation about historical detective fiction in India led to my being added to a Facebook Group – of writers who wrote a short story – detective- based in one particular period of Indian history within a stipulated period of time. (Thank you, Madhu)

The era I picked for this writing exercise was the Gupta era – and in particular, the period called the Gupta-Vakataka era – when the King Chandragupta II’s (375 CE – 415CE) influence as a ruler of Pataliputra even extended, by proxy, to the Vakataka kingdom which ruled over present- day Maharashtra through his daughter Queen Prabhavatigupta.  The story that came about from this exercise was called The Gatekeeper’s Son. 

It is thanks to Vineet Bajpai of TreeShade Books, who liked and believed in the synopsis of The Gatekeeper’s Son that it has now become a full-fledged novel. Converting a 10,000 word story to a 70,000 word novel while keeping the basic premise (or as in this case the whodunit) same was rather tough.

Newer characters, subplots, scenes had to be introduced and woven in seamlessly. It also meant that I had to revisit the Gupta-Vakataka period  to refresh my knowledge of the period.

In my experience,  painstaking research, irrespective of where the story is based, is needed, One needs to read – a lot – to be able to write. And a confession here, I personally love the “research” that predates actual writing.

Reading up on the Gupta-Vakataka period threw up so many interesting, enjoyable vignettes that I have tried to include in The Curse of Anuganga – partly as they occurred, while fictionalising a bit. For example, after the death of King Rudrasena II, Queen Prabhavatigupta took over the Vakataka kingdom as the Queen Regent on behalf of her two sons, Prince Divakara and Prince Damodara. It is Prince Damodara, the younger of the two Princes who succeeds her as the King in 410 CE. What happened to Prince Divakara is something that does not come out at all in most available historical material. A brief mention in one of the books on this period indicates the passing of Prince Divakara approximately circa 404-405 CE.  In my story, which is set in 403 CE, I have used this as a sub-plot.

Before I get too carried away with these little historical tidbits, I will stop. For those of you interested, The Curse of Anuganga is about a young man, Shaunaka, a jeweller’s son who lives in Nandivardhana in 403 CE. His life changes when he ends up helping the local police solve a murder he accidentally stumbles upon. The deceased man, Vinayashura, is an affluent trader with mysterious links to the royal family in Nandivardhana. The rest of the story is about how Shaunaka helps the police figure out who killed Vinayashura.

The Curse of Anuganga is available in bookstores across India and on Amazon (both the US and the India site).  You can also read a small excerpt that was featured in The Statesman here.

A Very Strange Man | Ajeeb Aadmi by Ismat Chughtai translated by Tahira Naqvi (Book Review)

A-Very-Strange-Man

I devour anything that I can lay my hands on, especially if it is about Hindi cinema covering the 50s or the 60s. When I came across a mention of this book in an article two years back, I was intrigued. A fictionalised retelling about Guru Dutt, Geeta Dutt and his rumoured relationship with Waheeda Rehman, and that too by Ismat Chughtai – there was no doubt in my mind that I had to read it.

I tried hard to get a copy – in any condition of format – of this book. Went to a numerous book stores in the city and even dragged myself to Nai Sarak; but all to no avail. Not even a single copy was available. The book was out-of-print and was soon forgotten…. until a reminder from Amazon showed up informing me that the book was back in print and had been brought out by Speaking Tiger in association with Women Unlimited.

Set in the heady days of the Hindi film industry (late 1940s and early 1950s), A Very Strange Man (Ajeeb Aadmi) is at once both an analysis,  an understanding of the life of a sensitive, creative genius and a candid, critical account of the film industry itself. An industry Ismat Chughtai was familiar with – her husband Shahid Latif was an established director with whom she had worked – in fact, she had written scripts for more than 10 films, notable among which are Ziddi (1948), Sone ki Chidiya (1958) and Garam Hawa (1973).

A Very Strange Man is about Dharam Dev and his success first as a film-maker and later as an actor, his relationship with his singer-wife, Mangala and his subsequent love for Zarina, a starlet whom he discovered and groomed into a star. A royal mess this story was to be. It is clear that the story is Guru Dutt’s life – with the names of the three main protagonists and the names of Dutt’s movies changed.

Chughtai is true to form – her tone is frank and critical as she exposes the frailties and flaws of the key “actors” in the plot. Along with this, she delves deep into the foibles and follies of the movie stars and the Hindi film industry itself. Using the insights she drew from her personal equations, Chughtai outlines the pressures, ups and downs in the topsy-turvy world of movies. The late 40s and early 50s was a tumultuous time for the nascent Indian film industry. It was a time when the production house system was collapsing and the independent star system was gaining prominence. Independent stars, not tied to any production house  – actors, music directors, directors, singers were becoming more important. They were soon calling the shots and shooting their way to success and fame.  How this transition, the ephemeral and fairly fickle nature of the success that seemed to change on a weekly basis (depending on how the movie fared at the box office), and how this highly volatile and insecure business, ridden with exploitation,  affected the industry people – the stars, producers, directors, writers and their families is what Chughtai explores. The author’s astute observations and analyses  about the stresses, insecurities, creative angst of legendary film personalities are all strung together to create this masterpiece of  a book.

Chughtai, in an interview,  mentioned that she had changed the names of the main protagonists on purpose as she did not want to be sued. However, they are easily recognisable. However, certain well-known personalities, who help move the story along in a manner, are referred to by their real names – Meena Kumari, Mohd Rafi (supposedly a good friend and confidante of Geeta Dutt) and Lata Mangeshkar make their entry in this book as themselves.

While the book is at once a riveting and a gripping read, Chughtai is merciless in her narration, when it comes to the portrayal of the characters. What she does retain is a humaneness in the tone. While candid in her tone, the writer is sympathetic to their failings.

As a major Hindi film buff, I did find the brutal portrayal rather disconcerting. It is hard indeed to digest, even though the older cynical mind knows it to be true, that one’s childhood favourites had feet of clay. For instance Zarine – the ambitious starlet who cleverly used the opportunity she got to further her career, backstabbing her friend and supporter Mangala in the process without any qualms. No she doesn’t cut a fine figure. One lands up feeling more sympathetic towards the creative genius director and his wronged wife. A couple of other characters, names changed, also left me disturbed. Not too sure who were being referred to but I do think Geeta Bali and Shammi Kapoor were the characters.

Even though the Guru Dutt-Geeta Dutt-Waheeda Rehman story is familiar and known to film buffs, the book makes for an interesting and gripping read, albeit unsettling. The writer has definitely achieved what she set out to achieve – an analysis and examination of the topsy-turvy Hindi film industry, while narrating the life of a creative genius whose short life was marred with angst and guilt!

Do read – if you are interested in the topic of Hindi films and stars.

From An-Other Land: Making Home in the Land of Dreams – Tanushree Ghosh (Review)

From An-otherland

“The Land of Dreams”; “The Land of the Brave and Free” – is that not how most Indians view the United States of America? Added to that is the American way of life that most Indians know about only via TV shows and movies.  To most Indians, irrespective of strata, therefore, America has been that aspirational land to which one must look up to. Not surprising, the efforts made to get to that country.

This book, therefore, offers an extremely interesting premise. How is it to make one’s home in the Land of Dreams? The author, Tanushree Ghosh, who has lived and worked in the US for over a decade, brings us this other perspective – that of immigrants who have moved to the US and are living there. 

Going by the overall tone of the introduction, I presumed that this was a non-fiction book- but it is not. It is a collection of short stories – of lives of different people and how they go about the various challenges, relationships in their lives.

The book starts off with a chapter at the airport, where she looks at the travellers.  All of them have reached US and are  going to, perhaps, the same town; but are from different strata and parts of India. Some are nervous, some excited. Her idea of introducing all the characters in the beginning – at least their names – and then delve into each of their lives, one by one, in subsequent stories is clever. However, as a reader, I found the execution of the same confusing- there are too many names mentioned and that too passingly as the characters get through the formalities of immigration.

The individual stories, however, are extremely interesting. The characters, she introduces, are relatable. As an observer, she dwells upon the dynamics of her characters – be it their old relationships with people back home and their home country and their newly-formed ones in the US and their equation and feelings for this strange country they now call home. The stories have underpinnings of humour; irrespective of the grimness that is there in their lives. Introspective and reflective, the stories bring to life the biggest dichotomy an immigrant has to cope with – how to balance the Indian heritage and sensibilities of one’s upbringing  with the vastly different American sensibilities. What is normal in one culture may not be perceived as normal in the other. The insecurities, ambitions and aspirations of immigrants are very deftly brought out in this collection of myriad stories.

By this realistic portrayal of what immigration really entails, the author has demolished the rose-tinted view that most people have of life abroad. Life abroad can be lonely and it is this theme of loneliness and also that of  human resilience that runs through the book.

I enjoyed reading this book – once I was past the first story. While the device of introducing all of them was indeed very clever, the execution failed to deliver and hold the reader’s interest. The author more than makes up for it in the subsequent individual stories and then in the conclusion where she ties in all the characters. They are all people living in the same town in Phoenix and their lives intersect. That for me, bringing all the characters in the last, and tying up their loose ends per se, worked much more.

However, barring this slight peeve, I did enjoy reading about life in the US – from the perspective of so many different people – a housewife from rural Punjab who is forced to marry her brother-in-law for a visa; a new mother coping with postpartum depression; a young techie who falls in love with an American but fails to understand the  the differences in cultural nuances. It is clear that the author has based her characters on real people she has met and interacted with. And precisely this is what works for the book. As she paints their life, with many layers, and explores their personalities, she does not judge them or their frailties. Instead she tries to understand them and their actions and aspirations. The tone throughout is gentle, non-judgemental and laced with humour.

Definitely worth a read!

The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die | Goynar Baksho – Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, translated by Arunava Sinha (Book Review)

auntwhowouldntdie

A few months ago, a friend told me about an extremely entertaining Bengali movie she had watched – Goynar Baksho and urged me to watch, whenever it became available on Netflix/ Amazon. For whatever reason, the name stuck – mainly because it stars Moushumi Chatterjee and I did keep an eye for it in the hope of watching it. Therefore, when I read an article recently about the English translation of Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay’s Goynar Baksho (The Aunt who wouldn’t die), on which the movie is loosely based, and that too by the prolific and brilliant translator, Arunava Sinha, I knew I had to read it.

The book is rather short, a novella, which makes it a quick read.  An accurate and touching portrayal of three women from three different generations, all grappling with the challenges life has thrown their way, the book gives an insight into the workings of a typical Bengali zamindar joint family in the 1940s and how it changes through time

Somlata is a young woman from a poor family who gets married into a joint Bengali landlord family known for its ancestral wealth. Somlata soon realises that the family’s wealth is just for show and in reality the fortunes were dwindling. The wealth was slowly going and so were its possessions, for typical of the landed rich, the men in the family ( her father-in-law, her brother-in-law and husband) did no work and abhorred taking up any profession or getting into trade. They were perfectly happy being completely useless and living off the dwindling family riches.As she quickly adjusts to her new family, Somlata gets to know of their idiosyncrasies and what makes them tick. She is the typical wife – the one who intelligently knows how to manage her husband – and uses her intelligence to avert the impending financial ruin (by helping them start and run a saree shop), by resolving the various disputes and quietly get what she wants – while being in the background.

Then there is Pishima, her husband’s aunt (the aunt from the title – who is by far, the most unforgettable character of the book). Widowed at the age of 12, she is bitter, lonely and angry, with her family, society and world for having been forced to lead a life of deprivation – for no fault of hers! Unfulfilled and terribly disgruntled, Pishima is furious at the callousness and hypocrisy of her male relatives – who have mistresses – when she was denied her desires, for no fault of hers. This rage and bitterness make her mean and petty and that continues after her death, when she becomes a ghost and starts haunting the poor Somlata.

Finally there is Somlata’s daughter, Boshon – modern and ‘feminist’ – angry with men, serious, headstrong and thoughtful. Many in the book feel that she is Pishima reincarnated. Fair enough, she does have her fiery temperament. However, whereas in Pishima’s case, the fury is justified; it is not in Boshon’s case. Unfortunately, it is this character that is a bit of dampener in the book. Also her whole personal dilemma, which is part of her anger, doesn’t really add up. And hence not a surprise that in the film version (according to the synopsis on Wikipedia), Boshon’s story has been etched out in more detail and reinterpreted giving it more depth and a political angle.

This shortcoming does not take away much from this fantastic book which is a must-read. Highly recommended!

Bhumika (1977)

Today is a good day to revive this blog (yet again), which tends to get severely neglected as I juggle my professional and personal commitments.

Let me start off by wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May this season bring good cheer and joy to all!

                                                      ******************

Smita Patil died the day I saw the Taj Mahal for the first time. We had come back from Agra, when Doordarshan relayed the news of her untimely and tragic demise. Memories do have a strange way of resurfacing. This recollection came back as I was surfing through some site and came across an article remembering Smita Patil on her 32nd death anniversary a couple of weeks back. What this recollection did was to hasten my viewing Bhumika (1977), so that it could be reviewed.

Bhumika_poster

Inspired by Sangtye Aika (which I had read and reviewed on the blog), Bhumika, a Shyam Benegal movie won two National film awards (Best Actress for Smita Patil; and Best Screenplay – Shyam Benegal, Satyadev Dubey and Girish Karnad) and the Filmfare award for Best Film.

The film launches into the story straight away, into a set where a Lavani number  Mera ziskila balam na aaya is being shot. As the credits roll in the background, the shooting is aborted mid-way due to a pulled ankle of a supporting artist and the rude director calls the shooting off.  We see the heroine, Usha waiting for her car (that never comes) and she is dropped home by her co-star (Anant Nag). As she gets into the car, we see some studio workers carrying a poster of her new movie, Agni Pariksha. As she reaches home, her suspicious, jealous and mean husband Keshav Dalvi (a brilliant Amol Palekar) is angrily looking down from the terrace and a bitter row ensues. And a defiant, angry Usha packs her sarees (very hastily and badly) into a suitcase and leaves the house as her subdued mother (Sulabha Deshpande) and daughter (a cute Kiran Vairale making her debut. Does anyone know what happened to her? Where is she now?) watch on.

The tone of the movie is set. The movie moves from this tension-filled scene, minimal in dialogues but effortless in conveying the state of Usha’s domestic life, to a flashback of Usha’s childhood in a village. The childhood scenes are shot in black and white. It is said that Benegal was running short of colour stock due to some foreign exchange issues; he decided to shoot the past in b/w and the present in colour, something that the cinematographer (Govind Nihalani) did not approve of, but had to comply with.

A young Usha is running, trying to protect a hen, with her harried mother chasing her. She fails to stop the hen from being butchered; her defiance is unmistakeable. The hen had been slaughtered for the afternoon lunch and she walks out on it. We get a glimpse into their unconventional household – an alcoholic father, a devadasi grandmother and a tired, worn-out mother, Shanta, who wishes for her daughter a semblance of normalcy and social acceptance.   There is also Keshav Damle, a  young cousin/ uncle, who is a frequent visitor to this household. His relationship with the mother can be interpreted as a friendlier than a usual brother-in-law/ sister-in-law one. Interestingly, behind the scenes, he is forcing the young Usha to marry him. Usha finally relents and promises him, just to get him off her back.

While the equation between the mother and daughter is fraught with tension, there is an underlying deep love. Usha cannot sleep at night without her mother. And the mother is trying hard to save Usha from a fate that she seems to be destined for. She does not want Usha to become a gaanewaali. This is made clear when the family is trying to make ends meet after Usha’s death and Keshav suggests that they try sending Usha to become a cinemawali. Shanta protests vehemently; but in the end, tearfully gives in. The four of them then make their way to Surya Movietone where a mythological is being shot, to meet the producer Harilal (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) and find Usha a role in the cinemas. The young Usha is made to sing a song – which has the actress Bala in peals of laughter. Keshav derides Usha, her mother and her grandmother for messing up the audition. As they sit sulking, Bala passes by and informs them that Baby know that she has got the role. Usha has entered the world of movies.

We are brought back to the present. Usha, reminiscing her painful past, is in a taxi – going to her co-star Rajan’s house. Rajan is not there and as she waits for him, she spots a picture of him and her together in happier times.

Another flashback begins. Usha is now an established actress – carefree and playful. She is shooting with Rajan, who is besotted with her. She teases him, laughs at him and is generally having a good time at an outdoor shoot – when Keshav makes an unwanted appearance, subtly asserting his hold on her.  Shanta, Usha’s mother, does not approve of her ‘friendship’ with Keshav and forbids her from meeting Keshav. But a naive Usha is still defiant. She feels bound to Keshav for having helped them out during their troubled times, and yes there was the promise! In her defiance, she runs to Keshav and wants to get married just then and leave films. Soon she announces her engagement with Keshav at a shooting, much to Rajan’s surprise and disappointment, who is unable to understand her choice and come to terms with it. Much drama ensues – Shanta is aghast but since Usha announces that she is expecting Keshav’s illegitimate child, the marriage takes place. Usha is forced to continue working and her dreams of a blissful married life come shattering down like a pack of cards as Keshav turns out to be greedy, controlling, suspicious and boorish and makes her life miserable.  Cut to present – Rajan, her confidante and friend, is back home. She tells him that she has walked out of her marriage. He asks her to stay back and get a divorce. He is ready to wait for her.

As she shifts to a lodge, Keshav also tracks her down and asks her to go back home. Usha refuses and continues to stay at the lodge. It is where she meets Vinayak Kare (Amrish Puri), who becomes a significant part of her life. This turns out to be yet another dissatisfying relationship – as she grapples with her need to belong while retaining her independence and basic freedom.

What happens to Usha? Does she find what she was looking for? Does Usha take up Rajan’s offer of marriage? Does she go back to Keshav?

The rest of the movie answers these questions, as it follows Usha’s life through its various twists and turns.

My two cents:

Interspersed with flashbacks (all in b/w) Bhumika is a fascinating watch – a look into the life of a woman – an impulsive, bold woman who wants to lead her life on her own terms – neither compromising on her dignity or her independence. Longing for an ideal family life, she strives to get away from exploitation, until she realises and accepts her life for what it is.

The acting is superlative. One of Smita Patil’s finest performances, this is her film through and through. She conveys Usha’s character traits subtly – latent anger, her basic kindness and impulsiveness –  using her eyes which breathe fire! No melodrama here. Giving her solid company are the three main male characters, Amol Palekar (excellent – gone is the affable man from Chitchor or Golmaal or Choti Si Baat; instead he excels as a creepy, controlling Keshav); Anant Nag (adequate as the kind besotted Rajan) and Amrish Puri (dignified and convincing as the patriarchal male chauvinist, Vinayak). The supporting cast also delivers – Sulabha Deshpande, Dina Patil and Kiran Vairale all play their parts convincingly.  Using b/w for flashback and colour for present worked extremely well and added to the narrative value. I did not find it jarring at all. The music by Vanraj Bhatia is decent with melodies such as Tumhare bin jee na lage 

All in all, a sensitive film about the life of a complicated woman, from her viewpoint, without judging her or her actions through a conventional prism. A must-watch.

 

Ilaiyaraja reprised – Same tune, different language…

A few days back, the FM channel was blaring “old” songs from the 80s and 90s – some passable tunes and some not-so-bearable. And then a familiar, much-forgotten tune wafted through the sound waves – bringing with it memories long forgotten; something seemed wrong to me. Here was an extremely popular Tamil song (from a movie that is remembered even today – for Rajnikanth and Sridevi’s stellar performances), being reused in Hindi and the result was good but the original was definitely much better! It shouldn’t have been a surprise – the 90s did see a lot of such “inspired”/ plagiarised songs, especially in the case of someone as prolific as as the legendary Ilaiyaraja. However, the difference in this case was that the music director Ilaiyaraja used his older tune in a different film, different language and different context. Not new at all in Hindi music. S.D. Burman, R.D. Burman and Salil Choudhary have reused their Bangla tunes in Hindi to much success – examples are aplenty – and require another list altogether.

Here is a list of Ilaiyaraja songs –  songs from Tamil and Kannada that have been reused/ recreated or blatantly lifted in Hindi cinema. I restricted myself to songs in just these two languages and to songs from either the late 70s or 80s. No song, as in the original version, in this list is post that.

Also, having grown up in the North, I haven’t watched that many Tamil/Kannada movies – just the rare ones that DD showed on Sunday afternoon or the video cassette that would be sourced once in a while from the local South Indian store. So while I have heard these songs a million number of times, I haven’t watched these movies – of course the Mani Ratnam movies are an exception.  Considering these are mainly from the 70s and 80s, the picturisation is not all that great and where I felt it took away from the song/ music, I have included only the audio version.

  1. Kaathal Oviyam (Tamil, Alaigal Oivathillai, 1981) : Released in 1981, Alaigal Oivathillai was a blockbuster movie directed by the legendary Bharathiraja. It was also the debut movie of the lead pair, Karthik and Radha, who went on to make their mark in Tamil cinema. Karthik went on to become quite the heartthrob of the 1980s starring in Mani Ratnam classics such as Mouna Raagam (1986) and Agni Natchathiram. What is interesting is that all the songs of this movie are popular and have been reused in either Tamil cinema or in Hindi cinema. This song, sung by Ilaiyaraja and Jency, makes an appearance in Hindi cinema in a tele-film in the 1990s. Balu Mahendra remade his Kannada hit, Kokila (1977), as a tele-film Aur ek prem kahani (1996), he got Ilaiyaraja to reprise some of his old tunes. This one becomes the plaintive Asha Bhosle ditty, Meri Zindagi. Gone are the opening notes of the Tamil number (shloka followed by the church bells, indicative of the Hindu-Christian plot line) – the music is different, lyrics and language are different, but the tune is the same. In a way, it is a whole new song!
  2. Jotheyali jotheyali (Kannada, Geetha, 1981): This song, starring one of Kannada cinema’s most talented actors, Shankar Nag (Anant Nag’s younger brother), is an absolute masterpiece. Still extremely popular, 38 years after its release, this timeless tune (sung by SPB and S. Janaki) that has been remade in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi is one of Kannada cinema’s best songs!  In a televised tribute to  Ilaiyaraja on his 68th birthday, the ad-film maker turned director, R.Balki, who considers him the greatest composer in the world said that since only one-half of the country has heard the maestro’s compositions. To rectify this and to bring some of Ilaiyaraja’s best compositions to a wider audience, he selected 4 of the maestro’s tunes  and requested him to “recreate” them for his movie Cheeni Kum (2007). This was one of the songs chosen and the end result, the playful, Jaane do na.
  3. Izhaya nila pozhigirathey (Tamil, Payanangal Mudivathilai, 1982); An all-time classic, this lovely SPB solo is said to have been okayed by the music director on the 25th take during recording – it was then that the guitarist got the interludes` absolutely right! The song found its way into Hindi cinema the very next year – when it was “borrowed” by Kalyanji-Anandji for the movie’s remake/ copy and remains popular till date – Neele neele ambar (Kalakaar, 1983).
  4. Thoongatha vizhigal renda (Tamil, Agni Natchathiram, 1988): This sensuous duet based on the Carnatic raga, Amrithavarshini, and sung by Yesudas and S. Janaki is from one of my favourite Tamil movies. Directed by Mani Ratnam and starring Prabhu, Karthik and Amala, Agni Natchathiram was a super-duper hit back then. Each of its songs is an absolute masterpiece. When this movie was remade/ copied in Hindi as Vansh, this song became a melodious Main toh deewani hui!
  5. Mandram vandha thendrulukku (Tamil, Mouna Raagam, 1986): What can I say about this Mani Ratnam classic? I watched Mouna Raagam in the late 80s when Doordarshan telecast it on a Sunday afternoon and the next day to my surprise, many of my classmates in school had watched it too and were blown away. Recess that day was spent discussing and marvelling over this movie. (Ok, ok, we were drooling over Karthik!) Mouna Raagam remains one of Ratnam’s best movies till date and he has so many more to his credit since! This song was one of the 4 tunes picked by R. Balki and the Hindi song is equally popular too: the title track of Cheeni Kum (2007)
  6. Naguva Nayana (Kannada, Pallavi Anupallavi, 1984): Another super popular Kannada song from Mani Ratnam’s debut movie starring Anil Kapoor, Lakshmi and Kiran Vairale. One of my favourites, not just because of the tune, but because it shows Bangalore in all its beauty (and the way I remember it!) R. Balki requested Ilaiyaraja and the film makers for permission when he used it in an ad film he made in 2008. The ad was that of Idea Cellular – it is a popular tune.
  7. Thenpandi cheemayilai (Tamil, Nayakan, 1987): This one is from Mani Ratnam’s collaboration with Kamal Haasan – the gangster classic, Nayakan, that was based on the life of the Bombay don, Varadarajan Mudaliar. Nayakan has been voted as one of the greatest movies of all-time. It promptly was remade in Hindi, the very next year after its release. Dayavan (1988), starring Vinod Khanna, Feroz Khan and Madhuri Dixit, is probably remembered now for some scenes between Vinod Khanna and Madhuri Dixit, if at all. Some of the songs were direct lifts too – and sorry to say, they were butchered. Especially this number sung both by Ilaiyaraja and Kamal Haasan, which plays through the film. I cringe each time I hear the Hindi version, the Mohd Aziz song, Dil tera kisne toda

This is in no way a comprehensive or a complete list – there are so many more tunes of his that have crept into Hindi cinema. An example is Dhak dhak karne laga (Beta, 1992) which was a direct lift of the Telugu song, Abbani Tiyyani (Jagadeeka Veerudu Atiloka Sundari). 

Or pick any Anand-Milind song of the 90s, and you may just find its inspiration in a Telugu / Tamil song. These haven’t been included as these are post my cut-off date, and also mostly they are in Telugu (and I am not too familiar with that language).

Making this list was personally a satisfying experience – I got to hear so many of the maestro’s compositions. A musician par excellence who was awarded the Padma Vibhushan earlier this year, Ilaiyaraaja is a living legend and simply matchless!

Love in Simla (1960)

The first time I heard of Sadhana was when my mother and aunt had dragged me, aged 10, to a hairdresser in Bangalore. Something had to be done about my unruly hair, they had decided. My hair was assessed and so was my broad forehead and the hairdresser pronounced that I should get a “Sadhana cut” – a fringe that would cover my forehead, making it look smaller. I had no clue who the hairdresser was talking about, but the name stuck.

Sadhana

Sadhana Shivdasani, who would have turned 77 on Sep 2, 2018 is still remembered for her immaculate fashion sense and that hairstyle, which incidentally was devised to give her character a makeover and make it fashionable in Love in Simla (1960). And thats the film I planned to watch and review before her birthday. But when do I ever blog on time? Here it is – more than 3 weeks late!

Love in Simla (1960), a Filmalaya production, introduced two new stars – Joy Mukherjee (Sasadhar Mukherjee’s son, who was to become a moderately successful 1960s star, more of a poor man’s Shammi Kapoor), and Sadhana Shivdasani. While it was Sadhana’s first film as a leading actress, it cannot be counted as her debut. She had already made her debut – as an extra and a chorus dancer in Shree 420 (1955) (I have seen Mud mud ke na dekh a million times just to spot Sadhana but have not been able to) and then in a Sindhi film AbaanaLove in Simla, said to be based on an English film Jane Steps Out (1938), also featured two amazing actresses of the 1930s – Durga Khote and Shobhana Samarth (Nutan and Tanuja’s mother) and was directed by R.K. Nayyar. (Sadhana and R.K.Nayyar supposedly fell in love during the shooting of this film and it culminated in their wedding in 1966)

We are introduced to General Rajpal Singh (Kishore Sahu) who lives in Simla along with his haughty wife (Shobhana Samarth), beautiful, spoilt daughter (Azra), a small son and dog. There is also a niece, his late elder brother’s daughter, Sonia (Sadhana), who is a shy, plain, bespectacled chit of a girl. Sonia has been living with General Rajpal Singh and his family since the untimely death of her parents. It is a Cinderella-type situation for the poor Sonia – except that it isn’t that dreary.  Her aunt and cousin are vain, haughty and plain spoilt. Sheela keeps pointing out as to how dowdy and plain Sonia is. Oh yes, there is a kind, witty, likeable grandmother (Durga Khote) also in the household, who keeps sarcastically commenting o her son, a Major General, is so  henpecked and how her daughter-in-law is.  She is genuinely fond of Sonia, who thankfully quickly shows that she has a bit more spunk and does not always keep her mouth shut. Sheela has a special someone in her life, Dev (Joy Mukherjee), who is shortly to visit. And just prior to the visit, other than the introductory song Dil thhaam chale (in which Joy Mukherjee firmly proves why he came to be called the poor man’s Shammi Kapoor), there is a long argument between Sheela and Sonia. Sheela, being the not so nice girl who dances, frequents clubs etc, obviously does not wish to have children and while Dev is dear to her, he is not The One. (She is too ambitious and materialistic to believe in such a concept anyway!) Sonia, appalled at these declarations butts in and extols the virtues of having kids and that she would have some 12 if she could. The argument escalates and the battle lines are drawn. Sheela reminds yet again that poor Sonia is disadvantaged when it comes to the looks department and hence won’t find anyone. Sonia, while hurt, rises up to this challenge and says that she will make Dev hers to prove a point. The audience knows who will win in the end. After all, Sonia is the good Bharatiya naari, while Sheela is a spoilt, anglicised modern chit of a girl.

Dev shows up and Sonia tries to charm him but fails.  She is plain, gullible, and doesn’t seem to have the graces needed or wiles (in this case, to lure Dev) to win a man’s heart.  Dev is genuinely besotted with Sheela. So as Sheela and Dev prance around the house, romancing and singing songs, Sonia is terribly jealous; she gets angry and feels rather sorry for her state. As she breaks down, the grandmother who has been watching all this  steps in for that much-needed Cinderella transformation! Pointing out areas of improvement, she dolls up Sonia and lo, a princess is born. All it takes is getting rid of the glasses (which were being worn to ward off headaches! how very convenient), trousers and yes that now-famous Sadhana cut!

Using her new-found looks and ada to her advantage, Sonia plays on Dev’s jealousies and manipulates situations to spend time with him. You see, the battle lines had been drawn – and everything is fair in love and war. All this goes on while the vain Sheela is playing the belle of the ball or sleeping peacefully (after Sonia spikes her milk). Not surprising, after three / four songs and ridiculous banter, Dev and Sonia fall in love. Sheela also ‘wakes’ up and realises her Dev has been prancing around town with her cousin and she confronts her sister. Of course Sonia points out that she has won the challenge and that this could have been avoided had she not been so unkind all these years. Sonia also tells Sheela in no uncertain terms that she knows that Sheela does not really love Dev; its just his money she is after. Sheela promptly goes into victim mode, wailing and weeping and not eating and Sonia, keeping in line with her good Bharatiya nari image, sacrifices her own love for the sake of her sister!

Does she manage to shake Dev off? Who gets Dev in the end? The rest of the movie answers these questions.

My two cents: Love in Simla is a typical 60s movie – with lovely stars, locales, music and a simple story – fluffy and easy to watch. Sadhana is good – the best thing in the movie. She looks pretty; of course there are too many inconsistencies in the way in the character she plays, but she is a delight to watch. Durga Khote, in a rather limited appearance, is brilliant. She literally lights up the scene with her wit, amusement (at her silly son and daughter-in-law) and her fondness for Sonia. Shobhana Samarth may not have been a good actress – she was just so-so as a vain, haughty, sharp-tongued aunt. But she is beautiful; which is amazing considering that by 1960 her eldest daughter Nutan was 25, married and was a sought-out star and Tanuja (who turns 75 today- yet another post in the pipeline) had made her debut.) Both the male characters were silly too (sillier than the women); General Rajpal as the hen-pecked husband with a roving eye and that idiotic, jobless and aimless Dev. He lands up in Shimla, believing himself to be totally smitten by Sheela. Two songs later, he is head-over-heels in love with a now-pretty Sonia. The music by Iqbal Qureishi is good – especially Dil thham chale and Kiya hai dilruba 

All in all, a time-pass movie that is easy to watch.

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