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There was a time when women use to raise a hem to get a him. Well not anymore (there is not much left to raise in most modern dresses, anyway). AND definitely not the dignified British Royals. But ever wonder, how their soft graceful chiffon dresses never truly fly up, a la Marilyn Monroe style, even in the windiest weather. Royal fashion tricks reveled below.

Marilyn Monroe, when her dress blew up, and ended her marriage

Back in windy Autumn of 1954, during the shoot of The Seven Year Itch (1955), actress Marilyn Monroe was filmed with her dress billowing (a very famous scene from this classic comedy, with the iconic Monroe, halter-neck, light shaded, ivory cocktail dress) at Lexington Avenue, in Manhattan, New York City (USA). This shoot lasted several hours, surrounded by around two thousand spectators, and photographers. The scene was re-shot later in a studio, and both, edited together, ended up in the movie. The jealous Joe DiMaggio, Marylin Monroe’s baseball player husband, was far from impressed. And their marriage ended. What did he expect?? He was married to a much loved actress, and that too a sultry sex-symbol of the 50’s decade. If her sex-siren image, hurt his male chauvinistic pride so much, why did he marry her in the first place?? This popular image has been recreated by many, post Monroe’s death, one of the most notable, that comes to mind is, Kelly LeBrock’s famous red satin dress, from The Woman in Red (1984).

Duke & Duchess of Cambridge: Prince William & Kate Middleton

Today I came across an unusual article, on Yahoo UK, about how the royals have managed to keep their dresses from flying high. So apparently when it comes to the younger royals, a la Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, they use static underwear to keep their dresses in place. Yup, undergarments that help keep your dress in place. But how did royals manage to do so, in the past?????

It seems the Queen of England, Queen of United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms, Queen Elizabeth II, wore dresses with lead curtain weights sewn into her hemlines. Of course, it depends on the fabric. If the Queen wore chiffon dresses, which she did, quite often, in summer months, a pea size lead, or a tiny lead chain, is sewn into the hems. It’s hard to say, whether the late Queen Mother (Elizabeth II’s mother), and her favourite grand-daughter-in-law, the late Princess Diana, did the same. But they sure were just as dignified, in their lifetime.

So below are some, not so Marilyn Monroe style, billowing moments, of the Royal Ladies.

Queen Elizabeth II, during a trip Down Under

Princess Diana battles through windy weather, in Italy

Prince Charles watches, as Camilla Parker Bowles pays tribute to the late Marilyn Monroe

The Queen in Trousers

Queen Elizabeth II in Trousers

Of course, the more sensible thing to wear, especially in windy weather, is a pair of trousers. It’s decent, it’s elegant, it’s fashionable, it’s comfortable, as well as practical. Of course, the queen is rarely seen in trousers, even though she wears them, a plenty.  That’s because the Queen wears trousers, casually, mostly during her private time, with family, at home, for leisure activities, sports and holidays. She is rarely seen in more formal trouser suits/pant suits, during formal functions or visits. In fact, when it comes to her formal engagements, she loves romantic vintage dresses, and loves bright colours with matching hats and coats. Nothing beats Princess Diana’s chic fashion sense, when it comes to the British royals, but the queen has her own signature style, and she is a fashionista in her own right. Apparently Kate Middleton follows suit (pun intended), and loves to wear fashionable dresses for formal engagements, than trouser suits; though casually she might be seen in all-American jeans.

Thus, the secrets to how the Royals remain fashionably dignified in bad weather, reveled.

Nuwan Sen n’ STYLE
Nuwan Sen’s Fashion Sense
Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense

 

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Little Barrymore & Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror 

Born on the 22nd of February, 1975, to the famed Barrymore lineage, Drew Blythe Barrymore, started acting at the age of 11months, when she auditioned for a canine food commercial. Not yet a year old, she got the job on the spot, when she laughed instead of crying when her furry co-star nipped her. By the age of 5 she was acting in Hollywood Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror films (with a few exceptions), one after another, throughout the 80’s decade; from Altered States (1980), to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), to Firestarter (1984), to Cat’s Eye (1985), to Babes in Toyland (1986). She’s among the most well known child artistes of the 1980’s. Her most notable Sci-fi flick, as a child star, was none other than E.T. (mentioned earlier); directed by the man responsible for bringing out the “Blockbuster” phenomena (a ridiculous craze for predominantly tasteless cinema, today), way back in 1975, with Jaws (1975); Steven Spielberg.

Among the fantasy genre of movies, she worked in, two films involved the penmanship of, the crowning glory of modern supernatural fiction, Stephen King.

Drew Barrymore, with author, Stephen King, at the world premier of Firestarter (1984)

Little Barrymore’s King Connection!!!!!

As mentioned, as a child star, Drew Barrymore, appeared in two movies written by Stephen King. The first was Firestarter, which was based on a novel by King; and the next was Cat’s Eye, an anthology of three stories as witnessed by a cat. The first two tales, in Cat’s Eye, are based on the short stories, Quitters, Inc. and The Ledge; the third tale was specifically written by King, for the movie (where both, the cat and little Drew Barrymore, have significant roles). Beware of certain spoilers, below.

Firestarter (1984)

In Firestarter, two college students take part in an experiment orchestrated by a secret government agency known as The Shop (the Department of Scientific Intelligence). Later they get married and have a child together (a daughter). A girl with supernatural abilities, of clairvoyance and pyrokinesis. This child, Charlene McGee, a.k.a. Charlie, is played by an adorable little Drew Barrymore.

The film starts off, with the father and daughter on the run (the mother has been murdered) from members of The Shop. This secret government agency wants to use the little girl’s pyrokinetic abilities to harness a weapon of mass destruction. We see what happened prior to them being on the run, through various flashbacks. Soon the father and daughter are captured, separated, and kept against their will, in The Shop.

David Keith, Drew Barrymore and Heather Locklear, in a scene from Firestarter (1984)

Director Mark L. Lester’s adaptation of this King novel, is a flop show, and the overall experience is pretty bad. Especially thanks to the non-stop vengeful calamities by the little ‘Firestarter’, to destroy The Shop, towards the end. And each time she says, ‘to you “Daddy”, I love you’, you wonder, has she forgotten her “Mommy”, who was murdered, too, not so long ago? Especially when she says it at the end, in front of The New York Times office, it feels silly. The only saving grace of the film is the interaction between George C. Scott (who plays a cold blooded, inhumane, sociopathic, member of The Shop, with no regard for human life whatsoever; John Rainbird) and Little Barrymore. It is interesting to see how Rainbird (in the guise of an orderly) psychologically manipulates Charlie, and earns her trust. Those scenes are so innocently beautiful; and Barrymore shines most, within those moments. The experiment scenes, with a cute angry little Drew Barrymore, are actually quite good as well.

Though Firestarter, is a pretty badly made movie, it has a sort of cult following today. The movie does boast some good acting talent (including Oscar winners), yet not in their best element here. Besides George C. Scott and Drew Barrymore, we see David Keith (playing Andy McGee, the father) and Martin Sheen (as the head of The Shop, Captain James Hollister); along with, in comparatively smaller roles, Art Carney, Louise Fletcher, Moses Gunn, Freddie Jones, John Sanderford, and a young Heather Locklear as Vicky (Barrymore’s mother) in her first Big Screen appearance (prior to Firestarter, Locklear had only worked in television). Though, far from good, this 80’s B-movie is worth a look, due to innocent little Drew Barrymore, and it’s cult status today.

Cat’s Eye (1985)

A stray cat is chased down some suburban street, by a mangy looking dog. It escapes through a delivery truck and ends up in New York City. At a shop window a mannequin of little girl comes to life (only for the tomcat’s eyes) and asks him help her. And so begins the cat’s quest, through a maze of eccentric characters, to locate the real-life little girl, whose image, he saw via a mannequin, and to save her from whatever is threatening her.

A Mannequin comes to life in the form of Little Drew Barrymore, in Cat’s Eye (1985)

Little Drew Barrymore is amazing in a triple role, and she was nominated for the Young Artist Award for Best Starring Performance by a Young Actress in a Motion Picture, in 1986, at an event know as Fantasporto (i.e. an International Fantasy Film Award ceremony) held annually in Porto, Portugal. As mentioned, first we see her as an apparition, of a living person. The cat is picked up from front of the shop window, and thrown into an electric cage and tormented, in front of an addicted smoker. So this is the first segment, of the anthology of tall tales. The cat is tormented as a warning, for the smoker, to kick his habit. This takes place at Quitters, Inc., where smokers seek help to quit smoking. The king of this torturous method is a brainchild of, the Chief counselor of the clinic, Dr. Donatti’s (Alan King), ancestor, who died of lung cancer. The man being warned is smoker, Dick Morrison (James Woods); whose wife (Mary D’Arcy), and then his daughter with down syndrome (played by Drew Barrymore), will be subjected to the same horrors that the cat faced, if he doesn’t comply and stopped smoking. Drew Barrymore appears briefly in this segment, as Alicia Morrison, and we see the close loving bond between father and daughter. When Dick Morrison visits Alicia, who seems to be hosteled in a special needs school, we see Dr. Donatti following Dick, keeping an eye, and reminding him of the consequences of ever smoking another cigarette. As crazy as this satirical tale is, it’s really well made.

The cat soon manages to escape, while Dick’s wife is being tortured, and soon we see the cat leave New York, in the Staten Island Ferry, with a beautiful view of the New York skyline, which includes the now lost, then landmark, Twin Towers (World Trade Center). The skyline with the Twin Towers, was shown earlier as well, during credits. The cat ends up in the resort city, of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Here, at another shop window, he sees a bunch of televisions playing an advertisement with a little girl (again played by Drew Barrymore), as the cat curiously watches, the girl in the advertisement turns into an apparition like earlier, and again pleads the cat to save her. Here the next segment begins, led by Kenneth McMillan and Robert Hays. But Barrymore does not appear in this segment at all, so shall skip it completely. The gist, the cat gets caught by another weirdo, helps save another innocent life, and escapes. Then he jumps into a freight train and travels to Wilmington, North Carolina. And it is here, we finally meet the little girl in trouble, the little girl’s apparition the cat saw twice, Amanda. And the third segment begins.

This third segment, where both the cat, and Drew Barrymore, have a very significant role, is the one Stephen King wrote, specifically for the film. Barrymore is superb, and no doubt was one of the best child stars of the 80’s. But the third segment, is my least favourite of the three tales, especially thanks to the actress playing Amanda’s mother (Candy Clark). The woman can’t act for peanuts. At least not in this movie.

Amanda adopts the cat, against her mother’s wishes, and names him General. A troll secretly has taken residence in Amanda’s bedroom, and tries to steal her breath. A troll, her parents don’t believe exists, and the mother blames everything that goes wrong on the cat. When the troll kills Amanda’s pet parakeet, the mother blames the cat. Ultimately the cat manages to save Amanda from the troll, and when his disembodied parts are found in the box fan; the parent’s finally believe their daughter.

As I mentioned before, this last segment is my least favourite. Yet, it’s a really good children’s horror story. If only Candy Clark did a more believable job here, this movie could have been so much better. James Naughton plays Amanda’s more understanding father.

While watching this Dino De Laurentiis production, directed by Lewis Teague, it felt so familiar, I wondered if I’ve seen it before. I’ve most probably watched Cat’s Eye, long ago, maybe in my teens, back in the 90’s . Am not sure. The entire film was only averagely good, but the first two segments, themselves, were actually really good. Especially the first story, based on King’s short story, Quitters, Inc..

My Ratings!!!!!

  • Firestarter (1984) My Rating: 4/10
  • Cat’s Eye (1985) My Rating: 6/10

For this Blogathon, I actually wanted to watch and work on Rasputin and the Empress (1932), which all three Barrymore siblings (Lionel, Ethel and John) starred in (and the only film the trio appeared in together), but unfortunately I couldn’t find this classic gem, anywhere, online. So, I downloaded the two cinematic adaptations of Stephen King stories, that Drew Barrymore, acted in as a child, back in the 1980’s. Normally for Blogathons, I’ve written on movies I’ve already watched; but this was just the second time, I watched a couple of films, specifically for a Blogathon. The previous Blogaton, I took part in, i.e. THE KURT RUSSELL BLOGATHON: Conversations with a Serial Killer from May 2018, was the 1st time, I downloaded and watched a movie, especially to take part in a Blogathon. It’s definitely easier than writing from memory alone (unless I had an old video cassette or DVD of a movie, or had downloaded a film, that I could re-watch, I had to be completely dependent on my memory, in the past). Of course, there were few Blogathons, where I didn’t work on movies; in that case I had to be dependent on my own personal knowledge and research (books and online information, provided by reputed sources).

Drew Barrymore’s Great Aunt, Ethel Barrymore

This Blogpost is my contribution to The Fourth Annual Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon hosted by Crystal of In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood, in conjunction with Drew Barrymore’s Great Aunt, Ethel Barrymore’s, 139th Birth Anniversary, which falls today !!!!

Thank you Crystal, for getting me involved in this enjoyable Blogathon.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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Quoting Quotes of the Brilliantly Famous

I hate it when people say ‘come back to earth’ or ‘stop dreaming so big,’ 
it destroys all the hope someone had for something
     – Xavier Dolan
    (Born in 1989)

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense!!!!!

RekhaBollywood Superstar of the late 70’s & 1980’s

Check out my trio of Lists of mini-write-ups I posted on IMDB, this month (July 2018). Press on the links below.

1Bollywood FIVE

2 FIVE Feature-Length Gay-Themed Films of 2017!!

3Ingrid Bergman & 40’s Hollywood

I had made way more than 35 lists on IMDB, but for some reason, IMDB has removed lists involving Characters. There were quite a few character studies I had posted on IMDB (Sad!). It has all the rest though, lists of people, titles and pictures.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Immaterial of how accurate the facts from Sanjay Dutt’s life depicted in Sanju (2018) are, as a movie, this cinematic adaptation works flawlessly. Especially thanks to Ranbir Kapoor’s brilliant performance, as actor, Sanjay Dutt. Kapoor encompasses the essence of Dutt jr. to perfection. He feels Sanju, in every way possible, not just thanks to the prosthetics and make-up (although they do help), but the way Dutt moves, talks, his mannerisms; Kapoor manages to capture the Dutt persona, with excellence. Amazingly, Ranbir Kapoor is not a fan of method acting; denouncing great method acting skills of the likes of classic method actors, Marlon Brando, James Dean & Amitabh Bachchan to Aamir Khan & Leonardo DiCaprio (from more recent times); but Kapoor feels like he’s turned himself into one, to become Dutt, inside out.

Am generally not a great fan of Ranbir Kapoor (with his stale jokes, unfunny idiosyncrasies and a boring on-screen personality), but when he wants, he has proven himself capable of doing good roles; with movies like Barfi! (2012) – another excellent movie (a movie that almost made me a fan of Ranbir Kapoor), Bombay Velvet (2015) – an average fare (veering towards bad than good), yet Kapoor is quite good in his role, and now with Sanju (2018) – Ranbir Kapoor’s best role to date. If he follows this with similar good film choices with a good script, he’ll be going places.

Ranbir Kapoor belongs to Bollywood’s film royalty, the “Kapoor” clan. He is the fourth generation of Kapoor’s to grace the screen, along with his successful cousins, Karishma (also credited as, Karisma) & Kareena Kapoor (stars of the 90’s & noughties, respectively). Ranbir Kapoor is the great-grandson of the renowned theater & film personality, Prithviraj Kapoor, grandson of the legendary, Raj Kapoor, and son of chocolate boy hero of the 70’s & 80’s, actor, Rishi Kapoor. Ranbir Kapoor’s mother too, is a well known Bollywood actress, 70’s superstar, Neetu Singh. AND if young Kapoor comes in more movies, like Barfi! and Sanju, he’ll definitely make the family name proud. The sad thing about young Kapoor, is not that he comes in bad films, but sometimes he takes on some really really cheap roles. Box office failures are fine, critically bad movies, are fine too; but so long as he stops doing really cheap ones, even if he doesn’t have good movies to his name, at least he won’t be looked down as a lowly cheap comedian. Look at Barfi! it was mostly a comedy (an ode to great comedians like Charlie Chaplin and Donald O’Connor), but there was nothing cheap about it. So if he loves comedy, he ought to do more of it, without being cheap and tasteless. He is such a good actor, when he wants to be. AND he’s proved himself, with his portrayal of; a member of another family belonging to another Bollywood royalty, the second generation of the Dutt’s, to grace the silver screen; Sanjay Dutt (a.k.a. Sanju).

The Women in ‘Sanju’s’ Life (the reel & the real)

Manisha Koirala as Nargis Dutt

When it comes to women in Dutt jr.’s life, who best to start with, but his graceful mother; Mother India herself, Bollywood superstar of the 50’s, Nargis. Nargis, was a talented actress and a beautiful star, of classics like Andaz (1949), Awaara (1951), Deedar (1951), Shree 420 (1955) and (her most notable) Mother India (1957), to name some. It’s during the shooting of Mother India, when during an accidental fire on the set, actor Sunil Dutt (who was playing her wayward son, in the movie) ran in and rescued her. Both sustained injuries, and film was halted. Dutt was hospitalized, and Nargis nursed him to back health, and they soon fell in love. Eventually they got married, resulting in Sanjay Dutt’s existence, his controversial life, which in turn inspired a magnificent movie. If the sets of Mother India, never caught fire, during a shoot of a fire scene (both were professional actors, and neither used stunt doubles), Sunil Dutt and Nargis might never have happened (a Hindu-Muslim love story of the late 50’s), and Sanjay Dutt would never have been born. Sadly, Nargis Dutt, succumbed to cancer, and died at the young age of 51, in 1981 (less than a month away, from her 52nd Birthday).

Manish Koirala, a brilliant actress of the 90’s & early noughties (who has actually worked with actor Sanjay Dutt, as well), does an incredible role, as a middle-aged Nargis Dutt. Back in 1994, when 1942: A Love Story (1994) starring Koirala alongside Anil Kapoor, was released; there was this famous umbrella scene which was reminiscent of a scene from the song Pyar Hua, Ikrar Hua… from Shree 420, beautifully showcasing an on-screen romance between, Raj Kapoor (Ranbir Kapoor’s grandfather) and Nargis (off-screen too, Raj Kapoor and Nargis were known to be lovers, and were in a long term relationship, back in the late 40’s & early/mid-50’s, but as he was a married Hindu man, not willing to leave his wife for this beautiful Muslim actress, he was madly in love with, Nargis finally broke it off. This was before Mother India happened, and fate took a different route). The fact is, back in 1994, everyone spoke of how the Nepali born, Manisha Koirala, felt a lot like Nargis; especially thanks to that red umbrella scene, at the start of the song, Rim Jhim Rim Jhim from 1942: A Love Story. And almost 2½ decades later, we see Koirala play, an older version, of the renowned actress of 50’s Bollywood.

Manisha Koirala does not feel like Nargis in Sanju. But she essays the role with grace and elegance, and one can imagine, a middle aged Nargis being just as beautiful, kind and elegant. The few scenes with the Mother and son (a mother, who tries to hide her ailing health from the son; and a drugged out son, who witnesses his mother’s death, but is unaware of whether what happened moments before she died, was real or was he hallucinating – something Dutt jr. would regret for the rest of his life) are truly heart rending.

Manisha Koirala, herself, is a cancer survivor. She mentioned how difficult it was to relive the trauma, while playing another person, and that too such a well reputed actress, suffering through cancer.

Sonam Kapoor as Ruby

Adorable Sonam Kapoor, does a touching portrayal of Sanjay Dutt’s girlfriend of the early 80’s. In the movie, the character is fictionalized, and named Ruby. Yet, it’s obviously based on actress, Tina Munim (now Tina Ambani), who was his beautiful girlfriend, at the time. We see Ruby and her parents ridiculed and suffer, at the hands of Dutt jr., again and again. Young Dutt, is so heartless, even when Ruby’s father (a comical cameo by Boman Irani) dies, he has no feelings for Ruby’s family, but his own selfish desire to own her.

Even, when his friend convinces Ruby (as she is about to marry an NRI, as per her parents wish) that Dutt truly loves her, and she leaves her fiancé to marry Dutt jr., Sanju is way too drugged and enjoying an acid trip at home. He has sold the ‘mangalsutra’ (a necklace that an Indian groom ties on the bride’s neck, during an authentic Indian wedding ceremony) he made for her, with a Penguin (Ruby’s favourite bird), for drugs. She had been waiting for ages at the registrar’s office to get married to him (in a civil marriage). The scene where she confronts the drugged out Sanju, inquiring where her ‘mangalsutra’ is, and the drugged-out Dutt insultingly puts the toilet seat on her neck, breaks your heart. How much more can she take? She of course, comes to her senses and breaks up, but feels no animosity towards him. Did young Tina Munim really go through so much, because she loved him?? It’s hard to say, how much is fictional, how much real; but young love can be blind, blind to their partner’s faults. Kudos to her for braving up, and finally leaving him. Which Munim actually did, and she later married Anil Ambani, son of Indian business tycoon, Dhirubhai Ambani; whose life inspired the excellent epic movie, Guru (2007) starring Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai.

The song Mein Badhiya, Tu bhi Badhiya…, from Sanju, which was originally picturized with Sonam Kapoor (and I had seen, and loved the retro 60’s/early70’s style song on Youtube), had been edited. The first bit of the song is there, but the entrance of Sonam Kapoor, driving into the studio, and consequent dance sequence, are not in the movie. The rest of the songs aren’t that entertaining. Except for “Kar Har Maidaan Fateh“, which has a deep meaning dealing with with Dutt’s victory over his drug abuse, Dutt’s surreal LSD fueled trip with “Ruby, Ruby” and the fun filled, Mein Badhiya, Tu bhi Badhiya…, the rest songs from the soundtrack are not that great or memorable, and quite unnecessary. The few classic tunes hummed by various cast members are interesting, and nostalgic.

Sonam Kapoor, happens to be one of my favourite actresses of today. Initially, I loved her as a fashionista (see my post Bollywood’s young Fashionista turns 29 today from June 2014), and since watching her brilliant role in Neerja (2016), a movie I got to see on the big screen, she’s gained more of my respect as a film artiste (also see my post TEN (Plus+2) Movies released Last Year from January 2017). Sonam Kapoor is the daughter of Anil Kapoor, star of films like Mr. India (1987), 1942: A love Story (which I spoke of earlier), and of course the Oscar winning British Film, Slumdog Millionaire (2008) – which propelled daddy Kapoor towards Hollywood fame and international appreciation.

Dia Mirza as Manyata Dutt

Dia Mirza does a decent enough role as, Manyata Dutt, Sanjay Dutt’s second official/third unofficial (explanation further down) and current wife. Dia Mirza was an Indian Beauty Queen, who went onto win the title of Miss Asia Pacific 2000. She later appeared in quite a number of Indian films, but wasn’t that great a success, besides being quite a capable actress. Even here, she doesn’t have much of a role, but she still manages to make it her own, and be noticed, as the ever supporting wife. Sanjay Dutt has two little children (twins) from his current wife (i.e. from Manyata), and an older daughter from his first marriage. Dutt was married to actress, Richa Sharma, in the late 80’s. They married in 1987, and within two years she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Dutt and Sharma separated, apparently sometime after the diagnosis. She died in 1996, in her parents home, in the United States of America. After a major court battle, the custody of their child was handed over to the maternal grandparents (i.e. Richa Sharma’s parents). Dutt’s eldest daughter still lives with her maternal grandparents, in New York, USA. Soon Dutt was involved with model, Rhea Pillai, with whom he had a long-term relationship, who stood by his side, during his first jail stint. In fact, Rhea Pillai was his second wife, through a temple marriage (which makes her his second wife, in an unofficial/unregistered sense). But they went their separate ways/divorced in 2008. He married his third wife (officially/registered second marriage), Manyata Dutt, in 2008, itself. She has been standing by her man through thick and thin, since.

Both, his first wife, and his unofficial second wife, are missing in this bio-pic, Sanju. The movie does mention, he is a notorious womanizer, and has slept with 300 odd women, including prostitutes; but portrays him in a monogamous relationship, since his marriage to Mayanta Dutt (which might be true). Yet the film fails to even mention his first two marriages, let alone that he has an older daughter, from his first marriage. Not to mention how many illegitimate kids, he might have spawned.

Manyata Dutt, celebrated her 40th Birthday, on 22nd July 2018.

Anushka Sharma as Winnie Diaz

Anushka Sharma plays Winnie Diaz, a fictional writer, who is roped into write Sanjay Dutt’s biography. Such a person, apparently never existed. It’s through her eyes, we mostly see Dutt’s life unfold, as she does her research. Though fictional, she is an interesting addition to the movie, where she records different aspects of Dutt’s life through different interpretations, by an interesting array of people. But, it’s mostly Sanju’s character that narrates the story (flashbacks into the 80’s & 90’s), and the rest is shown in real time.

Karishma Tanna playing a slut

Karishma Tanna, plays the love interest of Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi (Vicky Kaushal), a village idiot and Sanju’s best friend, who is still a virgin. Through jet lag, Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi falls asleep, and Sanju (being the notorious playboy who self-admittingly has slept with over 300 women) screws Pinky, with no hang-ups whatsoever. What a jerk?? He might be a playboy, BUT at least, in this context, he ought to have though of his friend, who has been there for him throughout. Sure, the woman is a slut, herself, and has no calms of sleeping with her boyfriend’s best friend, who also happens to be an actor; but Dutt could have walked out, for the sake of his friend. What’s worse is, Dutt jr. has no conscience, he does not feel bad for his friend, for hurting his best friend. Dutt feels devoid of any feelings, in this instance.

It’s hard to say how real the character of Pinky is, but Karishma Tanna most probably portrays, any random slut, responsible for Dutt’s arousal. Yeah, the bugger is so innocent, right???

The trio of actresses playing Sanjay Dutt’s two sisters

Three virtually unknown actresses, play Dutt’s sister’s (the two daughter’s of Sunil and Nargis Dutt). In real life, Namrata and Priya Dutt played a major role in their brother, Sanjay Dutt’s life. Especially Priya Dutt, who was there supporting him, throughout his prison years, along with their father, Sunil Dutt. But the two sisters are hardly noticeable, and have practically no dialogues. Blink, and you’ll miss them.

Back in November 2010, during a visit to New Delhi, India, I came across this non-fiction book, Mr and Mrs Dutt: Memories of our Parents, written by Namrata Dutt Kumar and Priya Dutt. A wonderfully written book, about their family life, struggles and what not. A really interesting biographical read with a spread of a stunning collection of Black&White photographs (colour photographs have been printed in Black&White, for a monotonal viewing pleasure). The fact it was written by Sunil and Nargis Dutt’s daughters made me more interested in reading it, and it was truly worth it. A keepsake. Sadly, more prominence hasn’t been given to these two girls, in the movie, especially Priya Dutt.

‘Sanju’s’ Two Male Anchors

Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt

Paresh Rawal, plays the ever worried father, Sunil Dutt. Worried about his wife’s deteriorating health, worried about his son’s drug addiction and later jail terms. Rawal, feels nothing like Sunil Dutt, but he does a good enough role of a worried father. Any father, worried about his son’s life. He doesn’t play Sunil Dutt, but he plays a concerned father, beautifully.

As much as the movie is about Sanjay Dutt, it is also about Sunil Dutt. The great bond between a father and son, and the father’s never ending trials and tribulations for the sake of his wayward son. Sunil Dutt comes across as a saint, and in a sense he was. Both Sunil and Nargis Dutt were known for their humanity. And humanity is the religion they preached to  their kids, even though Dutt jr. didn’t adhere to their preaching.

Though we see the father going out of his way to save his son, in various instances, one crucial fact is missing. To get bail for his son, through an opposing political party ruling the state of Maharashtra, at the time, Sunil Dutt, a Congress party politician, did not contest in Mumbai’s next election. That’s just one of the things he had to forgo, for the sake of his son.

The scene where Sunil Dutt, a Hindu, mentions he was threatened by an underworld Muslim don, when he wanted to marry Nargis, a Muslim; is bogus. As Nargis was in a long-term relationship with Raj Kapoor, a Hindu, and that too a married man, long before she met Sunil Dutt. Plus, the Bombay (now Mumbai) underworld was not that powerful in the 50’s, when Sunil Dutt and Nargis got married. In fact, Haji Mastan (whom Dutt refers to in the movie), gained power only in the 60’s & 70’s. Haji Mastan’s life was inspiration behind, the Bollywood movies, Deewaar (1975) and Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai (2010).

Vicky Kaushal as Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi

It’s hard to say, who Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi is based on, but he is way too good a friend for Sanju. Various sorces attribute the character to be either Dutt jr.’s close friend Paresh Ghelani, or actor Kumar Gaurav. I don’t know much about this Paresh Ghelani, other than the fact that he is a close friend of Sanjay Dutt’s. So it’s hard to say, whether the fictional character played by Vicky Kaushal is based on him or not. But Kaushal’s character is definitely not based on Kumar Gaurav. True, Kumar Gaurav too is a close friend of Sanjay Dutt’s. Yet, Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi comes across as an unsophisticated village fool, with a good heart, and genuine personality. Kumar Gaurav too might be known to have a good heart and down to earth personality, yet he was a highly sophisticated young man, and 80’s film star, and is truly a sophisticated mature gentleman, today. Gaurav, son of Rajendra Kumar (Rajendra Kumar played the other son of Nargis, and brother to Sunil Dutt, in Mother India) married Namrata Dutt in 1981 (and since then she goes as Namrata Dutt Kumar). Gaurav and Sanjay Dutt had a falling out, when Gaurav married Dutt jr.’s sister, but they regained their friendship, and Gaurav too stood by his brother-in-law, throughout his prison term. So like Sanjay Dutt’s sister’s, Gaurav doesn’t have a part in the movie, in fact he is missing altogether, more like Sanjay Dutt’s first two wives.

Though we see Dutt jr. being a good, though somewhat troublesome, friend; in real life Sanjay Dutt is known to have put several friends in trouble, to the extent of them getting arrested along with him.

The Verdict

There are lot of discrepancies in the movie, on the facts from Sanjay Dutt’s life, which has led to criticism of whitewashing Dutt’s image (after all the film was directed by Rajkumar Hirani, a close friend of Sanjay Dutt). Which could be true, as despite all his flaws, he comes out a troubled human with a good heart, whom we sympathize with. But if you had never heard of Sanjay Dutt, didn’t know anything about his life, and watch this movie; immaterial of the source material being fact or fiction; you’d love this. And that’s how a film ought to be judged. A movie should be able to stand on it’s own merit, it doesn’t matter that it’s based on a book, a play, a real-life incident, et al. No harm in doing a comparison, with your knowledge of it’s source material, but what truly matters is, how well it works as a movie. So, although mostly fictionalized, with removal of key characters and moments applicable to Dutt’s life, is a pity; overall it’s an amazingly well made movie. And I loved it.

Sanju (2018)
My Rating: Excellent – 10/10 !!!!!

I watched Sanju, on Thursday, 19th of July, 2018, at the Liberty Cinema.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Quoting the brilliant Indian Historian, Romila Thapar

“History is not a body of information consisting of debate dates and events, History is an understanding of the past”

– Romila Thapar
 Indian Historian
   (Born in 1931)

Bookish Nuwan
Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense
Nuwan Sen ()

The 8th Annual SAARC Film Festival, celebrating films of South Asia, came and went; and I got to see some films, ranging from excellent masterpieces to pathetic waste of time flicks. Below are my take on the movies that I got the chance to see, my experience of the festival, as well as my ratings for each.

JANAAN (2016)

Janaan (2016) is a Pakistani commercial film, aping the the styles of the Bollywood masala rom-com, with done to death love triangles, heroes and villains, the battle of good versus evil, tragedy and triumph. Though beautifully filmed, capturing the spectacular landscape of Pakistan’s breathtaking Swat valley; with equally beautiful people with flawless skin (not just the younger generation, but all three generation encompasses flawless beauties, male and female, with sharp features, and perfect healthy figures), speaking the very refined and poetic languages of Urdu (national language of Pakistan) and Pashto/Pushto (language specific to that region of Pakistan), with glamorous costumes; due to the cheesy story line and mediocre acting talent, the film disappoints.

The story is pretty simple. A bewitchingly beautiful girl, who’s been living in Canada for 11 years, revisits her ancestral home; and encounters love and sadness, happiness and tears, romance and tragedy, the good, the bad and the ugly; all the melodrama of a commercial movie scene. The Pakistan film industry’s commercial cinema needs to up their game. These directors don’t need to go out of their comfort zones to make Art Films, if they don’t want to (though Pakistan has a few good artsy films; one that comes to mind is Ramchand Pakistani,2008, starring Indian actress Nandita Das); but with a perfect screenplay, superb actors, and catchy tunes; even a mediocre story could turn out to be an enjoyable movie. Look at Bollywood movies; why are they successful, despite most movies coming out of the Indian commercial Film Industry made in Hindi (India’s national language) being crap; because the few good commercial movies they make are brilliant. Though am a bit of an Art House snob; I do love a good commercial movie; which includes Bollywood movies. The likes of Awaara (1951), Mughal-E-Azam (1960), Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963), Teen Devian (1965), Guide (1965), Amrapali (1966), Anand (1971), Haré Rama Haré Krishna (1971) a guilty pleasure, Abhimaan (1973), Chupke Chupke (1975), Arth (1982) which happens to be my favourite Bollywood commercial movie, Nikaah (1982), Rang Birangi (1983), Sadma (1983), Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994), 1947: Earth (1998), Yes Boss (1997) another guilty pleasure, Guru (2007), Aamir (2008), 7 Khoon Maaf (2011), Barfi! (2012), Kahaani (2012), Haider (2014), Mary Kom (2014), Neerja (2016), etc etc Dot Dot Dot …. What’s brilliant about these movies, are not just the unique story lines (in some cases), the catchy music, the costumes, the cinematography et al; BUT good film direction (which I noticed Jannan actually has) and great performances (the main flaw of Jannan, besides the story). Thus a good director and great acting skills are the two key elements for making a good movie. The rest are secondary. Of course, though Bollywood is mostly popular for their commercial ventures, India does have some really good Art Films in Hindi as well, like Ankur: The Seedling (1974) my favourite Hindi language Art Movie, Junoon (1979), Kalyug (1981), Utsav (1984), Saaransh (1984), Mirch Masala (1987), Salaam Bombay! (1988) which was nominated for an Oscar, Raincoat (2004), The Blue Umbrella (2005), Stanley Ka Dabba (2011), The Lunchbox (2013), Masaan (2015), Aligarh (2015) to name some. Of course, India is not just Bollywood; there are lot a regional film, from various Indian states, in regional (and foreign) languages, from English and Urdu, to Indian languages ranging from Punjabi, Bhojpuri, Assamese, Malayalam, Telugu, to Tamil and many more. India is a massive country, with an equally massive population; with a vast array of racial, religious, cultural differences from state to state. Bengali Art Films coming out from India’s State of West Bengal, be it in Bengali or English (or bilinguals) are the best. Other Indian-English language films tend to be superb too. Last year’s The Hungry (2017) was a brilliant modern re-telling of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.

I’ve heard about a new Pakistani movie, called Cake (2018). Really looking forward to checking it out. Sorry Azfar Jafri, your Janaan, was pretty bad; despite having made a whopping at the Box Office. Though I commend you for the excellence in direction, cinematography, editing and the beautiful costumes.

MATA NAM AHUNA (2015)

This Sri Lankan short film from Nadya Perera, was a waste of time. A total drag. Not to mention politically incorrect and tad racist. Nadya Perera had worked as crew member for the Sri Lankan/Italian film, Machan (2008), an averagely good movie, directed by Italian director, Uberto Pasolini, and much loved by Lankan audiences. Mata Nam Ahuna (2015), English Title – While You Slept (2015), is Perera’s second short film. The movie deals with a brothel catering to male Chinese construction workers here. The prostitutes are local girls who cater to these Chinese men’s needs. Once an actual young Chinese girl is brought into serve the men, a girl fears for her job. Slowly her inferiority complex and insecurity takes over and she tries to become Chinese, inside out. A good concept, but what a bore. The movie was only 24 minutes, but I felt I sat through that flick for an hour, at least.

Plus, they’ve got the facts wrong. True there is an influx of Chinese workers coming into the country post war; but Chinese labour is nothing new. And brothels are nothing new in the country. This movie gives the impression that such places are a necessity today, because only Chinese men have such sexual cravings. There have been brothels in Lanka from time immemorial, including the bringing in of prostitutes from abroad. Although the premise of the movie was good, bringing in foreign workers, means less work for locals. Yet, it’s not just post-end of war; it’s been happening since way before.

This was the second worst movie, I saw at the festival.

Jaya Ahsan & Abir Chatterjee, in a scene Bisorjon (2017)

BISORJON (2017)

This Indian Bengali movie was THE best movie I saw at the Film Festival this year, but sadly it was shown “out of competition”. Beats me, why????

With brilliant character sketches, a heart-rending story, and superb performances, Bisorjon (2017), English title – Immersion, is a must watch, for all film lovers. The story is about a Muslim man from West-Bengal, India, who washes into Bangladesh; where a Hindu Bangladeshi widow, saves him, protects him, and takes care of him. The irony of the circumstances is even more intriguing, as India’s state of West-Bengal is a predominantly Hindu region (though Islam is a fast growing religion in that state), and Bangladesh is a Muslim country, with a tiny percentage of Hindus, and other religions. Thus the biggest irony is, the fact that an injured Indian Muslim man, has to pretend to be Hindu, in an Islamic country, as he is living under the roof of a Hindu widow, and her ailing father-in-law. Plus, though they speak the same language (i.e. Bengali); the dialectics differ. So as not to get caught by the Bangladeshi forces, as he is an Indian residing in Bangladesh illegally, she teaches him to speak in her dialect (i.e. the Bangladeshi version of Bengali; or Bangla, as they call it). This beautiful slow-paced love-story without any romance is made with perfection, by director, Kaushik Ganguly. Slow does not have to be a bore, and this is anything but. The suspense of the story keeps you glued, and the exchange of dialogues are unmissable and amusing. It’s the dialogues, the expressions, and beautiful performances, that keeps the story going. The cast is just as brilliant, as the films direction; and the director too plays a significant supporting role in the film. The best work in this Indian movie, was by Bangladeshi actress, Jaya Ahsan (pronounced Joya Ahsan).

Jaya Ahsan plays Padma, the selfless widow; who gives and gives, and sacrifices, without really expecting anything in return. Seeing what a saintly human being she is, one can feel content, that there is still scope for humanity. Her character is uniquely complex. She loved her husband, who died due to alcohol abuse. She spends her time taking care of her, weakened with age, father-in-law. The discovery of a near dead man, re-ignites her dormant passion for a male companion, in her heart and soul. She doesn’t necessarily fall in love with this handsome stranger; but seeing him in her husband’s old clothes, she falls in love with the essence of her husband, that brings back memories, through this stranger. She had submerged all human feelings of desire till now. But this strange Muslim man, from another country, re-kindles her desires for a male lover. Yet, their friendship is purely platonic, and the stranger, Nasir (played by actor, Abir Chatterjee) doesn’t reciprocate. He has a girl, waiting for him back home. Even though he admires and cares, for this Hindu widow, he doesn’t feel any lustful desire for her. But neither does she feel any lust for him, but more for the memories of her husband, brought back to life, through Nasir’s clothing and smoking the cigarette brand that Padma’s husband use to smoke. As she inhales the cigarette smoke puffed out by Nasir, her heart pounds for her dead husband, in this new human avatar. She resides with contentment and misery through this unrequited love. She doesn’t want things to change, and rebuffs the affection of the village headman, Ganesh (played by film director, Kaushik Ganguly). The ambiguity of the character of Ganesh, makes the film more intriguing; as sometimes he feels like the sly villain of the piece, horny headed, helping the widow, with an alternate agenda; and yet, on the other end, his affections for her seem genuine, and he is very protective of her. His sidekick Lau (Lama), provides the comic relief, in the movie.

Then comes the movie’s climax, the day Nasir has to escape (by now we know Nasir is a thief, who trying to escape the cops, jumped into the river, on the day of immersion of the idol of Durga, and got wounded). Padma’s father-in-law is dead, she has no where to go, except maybe back to her parents. Yet, it won’t be easy for Nasir to leave, undetected, with the border patrol. Thus, Padma’s biggest sacrifice. She agrees to marry Ganesh, if he helps Nasir get back through the river, on the day immersion. She comes home, shedding her white attire of a Hindu widow, dressed like the Durga herself. We see the agony she is going through, she drinks, she smokes; and Nasir breaks down on learning of her ultimate sacrifice.

The scene so tragically beautiful is done with exceptional brilliance. Jaya Ashen is superb, your heart goes out to her. For all her affection towards Nasir, she does get one thing in return, his seedling. Initially, with all the border problems, I assumed the movie was set during the Bangladesh war of liberation, in 1971. But then I saw mobile phones, so realized it’s set in the modern day (village attire doesn’t give away the time period, as those traditional styles hardly change). Yet, the mobiles were somewhat older, in style and technology. Which made sense later, as we see Padma married to Ganesh, with a six year old kid. A kid with Nasir’s birthmark on his back.

The finalé is beautifully done, with the camera zooming into the, now dilapidated, house; where Padma and Nasir consummated their desires, resulting in the conception of a child. A child, Ganesh calls his own. Symbolic of the void left behind, by the man that brought back human desires into her heart. A man, that is dead to her, metaphorically (but lives through the son they created, that one night); unlike her husband’s death, literally, which left her with nothing.

The best Indian movies tend to come out of the state of West Bengal (as I mentioned earlier), and Bengali Cinema has brought out some of the best directors ever, including Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Aparna Sen and Rituparno Ghosh, to name some. In fact, Aparna Sen’s The Japanese Wife (2010), based on a beautiful short story, by Kunal Basu, happens to be my all time favourite Indian movie (see my post, Photograph no.5, from six months ago). Having seen Kaushik Ganguly’s, brilliant tribute to the veteran Satyajit Ray, that was, Apur Panchali (2013), and now Bisorjon, Ganguly can be added to these Bengali greats. Last month, director, Kaushik Ganguly, announced that he is making a sequel to Bisorjon.

Indian Film Director, Kaushik Ganguly, announces that he is making a sequel to Bisorjon (2017), as Bangladesh Actress, Jaya Ahsan, looks on; at an event (April 2018)

POORNA (2017)

Based on a true story, Poorna (2017), is Rahul Bose’s second foray into film direction.

Malavath Purna (a.k.a. Poorna Malavath) is an Adivāsi girl from Telangana North, a state in Southern India, who became the youngest girl to scale the highest peak of Mount Everest, at the age of 13 years and 11 months. She, till date, is the youngest girl to have done so. She reached the peak on the 25th of May, 2014. Adivāsis are a tribal community (which differs from regions to regions), that make up a small population of South Asia. Majority of them, are scattered around India. Though Adivāsis are a lower caste, considered primitive, they are not considered impure, by higher Indian castes of India’s Hindu population. Thus, not to be confused with the caste of Dalits, who sadly are also known as “Untouchables”. Unfortunately these caste systems still prevail, in modern India.

Bose’s Poorna, is a bio-pic on this famed young mountain climber. AND a brilliant movie at that. Young Aditi Inamdar, does a marvelous job, as the protagonist of the movie, in her debut performance. The movie demonstrates the trials and troubles faced by this young girl, coming from a lower social background, where child marriage of younger girls to older men, is still the norm; and how she defies social stigmas, overcomes problems after problems, from family issues, training, to the actual ascend onto the Himalayas.

These impressive inspiring tales are nothing new, and there are plenty of films made on sportsmen/women and adventurers. But this is still a wonderfully made movie, that too on real life person. Added to which, this story is about a tribal girl who beats all odds, and triumphs against adversity. If it were any other Indian or other well to do girl, the triumph would have been hers alone; but the fact an Adivāsi girl reached the peak, at such a young age; is an inspiration to the entire Adivāsi tribe. It’s a push forward for the entire community. Thanks to her, young Adivāsis have scope for getting away from monotonous lifestyles, and making something of their lives. Of course, Poorna, has the luck, and help comes in the way of Dr. Praveen Kumar (Rahul Bose), who see her potential and never stops encouraging her, and other children like her. Added to which Poorna’s mentor, her elder cousin sister, supports Poorna, and pushes her forward, despite having no hope for herself. In the end, it’s the memory of her cousin that helps Poorna achieve what she sought out to do.

More recently, in July 2017, Malavath Purna, scaled Mt. Elbrus, the highest peak in Russia, and the European continent.

With Bangladesh Film Director, Tauquir Ahmed, at the 8th SAARC Film Festival 2018 (26th May 2018); post the screening of Poorna (2017), and just hours before the screening of Ahmed’s film, Haldaa (2017)

Tauquir Ahmed gives a small speech, before the screening of his movie, Haldaa (2017)

HALDAA (2017)

Shot around the scenic river Halda, in Chattogram, in southeastern Bangladesh, depicting the lives of fishermen and their families; Haldaa (2017) is a movie with breathtaking cinematography and a lovely story. The story deals with repression, both of fisherman, due to industrial pollution and at the hands of pirates, and women, living under a patriarchal society.

Nusrat Imroz Tisha plays Hasu, a daughter of a troubled fisherman, who is forced into a marriage with a rich older man, against her will. She is the second wife, of this wealthy villain; whose first wife hasn’t borne any children, and is still married to him. One interesting point shown in the movie, is the symbolic representation of killing of the “Mother Fish”, or pregnant fish. It’s not only shown as a superstition, considered wrong to kill a pregnant fish, but also shown with a realistic aspect too, that of the breeding of the fish. If you kill a pregnant fish, the number of fish in river would reduce, which happens to be the main livelihood of those living along these banks. The Halda River, of Chattogram, is the only pure fish breeding center in Asia. When Hasu’s father kills a “Mother Fish”, it upsets both the father and daughter, later when a “Mother Fish” from the Halda River, is sent by Hasu’s husband, she refuses to cook it, and when guests arrive she throws the cooked fish to the groud, in demonstration. She is badly beaten by her husband. Unlike the first wife, Hasu, is a bold woman, and not afraid of her man. Since post marriage, she shows no signs of getting pregnant, people talk about her being sterile like the first wife. Killing of a “Mother Fish” was a sign. But she eventually does get pregnant, but it might not be her husband’s.

This shows a bold village feminist, who refuses to lose her identity; as her mother-in-law, Surat Banu (Dilara Zaman) asks Hasu, while Banu lies bedridden, after a fall, to call her by her name (instead of calling her mother). A tear-jerking scene, as Banu points out, how women lose their identity, as a daughter, daughter-in-law, wife, mother, mother-in-law; and their names vanish along with their identity. Surat doesn’t call her younger independent minded daughter-in-law Bahu (daughter-in-law), as is the custom; but by her name, Hasu. Surat admires Hasu for her braveness, and gives her the household keys, instead of the elder Bahu. This makes the, nameless and conniving, elder Bahu, not so happy.

Nusrat Imroz Tisha is superb as Hasu. With director Tauquir Ahmed’s (a.k.a. Toukir Ahmed) beautifuly filmed movie, and few awesome performances, and a touching script, it’s no doubt a great film from Bangladesh. Yet, the overall experience of the movie was average fare (among international standards). Though I didn’t think it was among the greatest films ever made, there were lot elements of the movie, I loved. The last scene, when just Hasu and her husband are left in the house, with the unexpected twist in the end, was gracefully executed. ’twas just sublime. Tauquir Ahmed, at the post screening , mentioned that he made two versions of the movie. One a commercial venture, for Bangladesh audiences, and the other, an art movie, for the international distribution (the one we saw); which he called the “director’s cut”. It would be interesting to see both, and do a compare and contrast, though no doubt, the version we saw, was the better one.

The next day, this film was awarded four trophies, including ‘Best Film’ at the SAARC Film Festival award ceremony. Though I didn’t think Tauquir Ahmed’s Haldaa, was the best film, am glad it was given the recognition, instead of some undeserved movie. It definitely deserved the win for ‘Best Cinematography’, no doubt about that. A big congratulations to director, Tauquir Ahmed. And all the best with your next project.

These three feature films have beautiful titles with beautiful meanings. Bisorjon/Bishorjan (pronunciation differs according to Bengali dialects) means immersion, as the English title suggests, and is based on the custom of immersing the idol of Durga into water (the ocean or a river), during the famed Durga puja festivities in, certain parts of India, and Bangladesh (this festival plays a vital role in the movie’s plot). Poorna or Purna, meaning fulfilled, is the name of the protagonist, and is based on the life of Malavath Purna, a young Indian mountaineer. AND Haldaa, is the river Halda, in south-eastern Bangladesh, on the banks on which the entire premise of the story is set in. Though not as great as Bisorjon and Poorna, Haldaa is the best film from Bangladesh I’ve seen; and there is scope for Bangladeshi Bangla films to catch up to International standards, akin to great European and other Asian Art House Films.

Nusrat Imroz Tisha, dressed in bridal finery, as Hasu, in Haldaa (2017)

THE WATERFALL (2017)

Seated right at the front, like Bertolucci’s “Dreamers” (i.e. like the trio of lead characters from Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers, 2003), I was one of the first to absorb this short film, before it reached the rest.

Like wasps attracted to a hornets’ nest, people thronged into the cinema, including Colombo’s so called elite. It was as if these uncontrollable crowds were from a remote village with a high level of illiteracy, or people from slums. Such a rowdy crowd for a short film. No, they were there, for the next film, a Sinhala feature film; but these losers came in early afraid to lose a seat for the next movie, Bahuchithawadiya (2018). Not that most of these people care for films at a festival; but a free viewing, that too of a Sri Lankan film, brought in the worst crowds possible.

Anyway, Lipika Singh Darai’s The Waterfall (2017), is an Indian-English language short film. Having worked on documentaries, this was first venture into a fictional movie. It’s a beautiful movie about a city boy from Mumbai, who visits his ancestral home in a scenic hill station, in the state Odisha (formerly known as Orissa). He spends his time enjoying the natural wonders of the village, missing in the city, with his cousin. In particular, there is this one waterfall, that he has great admiration for. Soon he learns that the waterfall is drying up; and urbanization is ruining the surrounding nature. It affects him, and villagers, profoundly; but it doesn’t seem to bother his cousin (who resides there), and other well to do people of the village.

Beautiful little story, about the effects of climate change and construction projects. Averagely good.

BAHUCHITHAWADIYA (2018)

This crude caper is a crapper. And yes, I was still seated right at the front.

What a pathetic waste of time. Ridiculous acting, the actors are thinking of their dialogues then saying it. With long pauses between dialogues, how artificial and unrealistic it looked. What a bore!! These “tele-drama” style acting ought to be obsolete by now (Sri Lankan soaps have been known as tele-dramas, since the invent of these distasteful Sinhala television series’, back in the 1980’s. Lankan’s till date stay glued to the idiot box watching such nonsensical shows, thus their brains are just as slow and narrow).

Even though the premise of virtual acquaintances and promiscuous youth was (though not unique), an interesting area to turn into a cinematic experience; the pathetic execution of the plot, and specifically the fake acting talent roped in, made the viewing unbearable. This was the last movie of the festival. Heavy Sri Lankan egos might not like my take on the film (as they feel they have to love films made in their own country); but me having no false pride, or fake sense of patriotism, nor any brainwashed attitudes of loving everything, just because it’s Sri Lankan, have to say it; Sri Lankan movies are not up to the standard. Gone are the days of Lester James Peries (Rekava,1956, Gamperaliya,1963), Sumitra Peries (Ganga Addara,1980) and Tissa Abeysekera (Viragaya,1987); yet these greatest Sri Lankan films mentioned here, still were average fare (internationally speaking). In more recent times, only director, Prasanna Vithanage (Anantha Rathriya,1996, Pura Handa Kaluwara,1997, Silence in the Courts,2015) comes to mind as local films worth checking out; yet even his movies are only averagely good (but brilliant in Sri Lankan terms). One main reason is, though these were/are good directors; the acting skills even of the best actors here, do not match up. And in Bahuchithawadiya, the acting talent is amongst the worst ever. Added to which, Bahuchithawadiya, is among the worse films ever made, anywhere; and THE worst movie I saw at this year’s festival. Even though, this was given an award for ‘Best Sound Design’; I feel there were better films that deserved the said award.

THE SAARC FILM FEST EXPERIENCE

The poorly organized SAARC Film Festival, with it’s totally mucked up schedule, started on the 22nd of May, 2018. Practically any event in this country, tends to be badly done; yet, this years SAARC Film Fest, was definitely comparatively better than the previous year’s (which was held only six months ago, in November 2017). I couldn’t go the first two days, especially due to the bad weather, and various other reasons. On the third day, 24th of May, I went. I really had a keen interest in seeing this 13 minute short film from Bangladesh, Daag (2017). The story is set during the Bangladesh war of liberation, in 1971; where a woman marries her rapist. I thought the premise was interesting. Already stressed out, as I was leaving for the fest, due to inhumane cruel people of this country; not to mention being stuck in a terrible traffic for close to 2 hours, I missed the short film. So I sat down to watch the next movie, Janaan (I’ve spoken of above). After the disappointment of sitting through the cheesy romance, and going through the stress of the day; I felt too tired to watch the rest of the films. Otherwise I would have seen the next two at least, the local Sinhala film, 28 (2014), and the Indian Marathi movie, Kshitij: A Horizon (2016). Kshitij: A Horizon, is the movie I really wanted to watch, for I could watch the Sri Lankan film, rented on cable TV, or if shown on a local channel. So, on my ‘Day 1’, Janaan, is the only movie I watched. Next day, I went early enough, and caught the short film Mata Nam Ahuna & the feature length film, Bisorjon (spoken about them above). The schedule being changed there was a Maldivian horror movie next, 4426 (2016). Initially I thought of checking it out, even though it didn’t really interest me, but still going through the weariness of the day before, I decided I needed to go home and rest. The next day, the last day of screening, on Saturday, 26th May; I went in the morning, to catch most of the movies. Still, when I reached there the short film, Kalo Meghar Vela (2018) a.k.a. The Cloud Boat, from Bangladesh had already started. So waited outside, and went in to catch the next movie, but happen to see the last bit of Kalo Meghar Vela, as it ran longer than scheduled. The next was Poorna (spoken of above). Post that, I did not see the next film, another commercial venture from Pakistan, which I heard skipped. Technical problem!!! Technical problems are nothing new at film festivals here, it always happens, and that too specially at the NFC (National Film Corporation); where these festivals mainly tend to take place. Added to that the seating is really bad, so congested, there is not enough leg space, for even a person of average height (and am 6ft, 2½”). Anyway, next I went in for Haldaa (spoken of above), which too had a technical difficulty (the sound wasn’t clear), so we ended up watching it on Blu-ray, projected onto the big wide screen. Post that, saw the next two/last two films, The Waterfall & Bahuchithawadiya, seated right in front, as mentioned.

I didn’t go for the award ceremony next day, on Sunday, but am glad the main awards were given to more deserved movies, unlike last year. Hope the organizers of this film festival do a better job, next time around. Even though badly done, am glad these rare festivals occur; as such films don’t really come to cinemas, in this aesthetically depressive country. There is no real understanding, nor an interest for, the arts, in general, in Sri Lanka. But it’s good, they have film festivals here now. After all, there were only two Colombo Film Festivals (back in 2014 & 2015) a festival, funded by the Japanese, and that died pretty young; and this was just the “8thSAARC Film Festival (which I hope shall continue, thanks to the help of other South Asian countries). None the less, looking forward to the next film festival, and preferably a more well organized one.

MY RATINGS (Set of Seven):-

  • Bisorjon (2017) – The Best – 10/10!!!!!
  • Poorna (2017) – The Next – 10/10!!!!!
  • Haldaa (2017) – (higher) Average Fare – 6/10!!!
  • The Waterfall (2017) – (lower) Average Fare – 5/10!!!
  • Janaan (2016) – Pretty Bad – 4/10!!
  • Mata Nam Ahuna (2015) – One of the worse short films ever – 1/10!
  • Bahuchithawadiya (2018) – The worst film at the festival – 1/10!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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The Mean Season (1985) is a pretty impressive thriller, which showcases the talent of actor Kurt Russell in an equally impressive measure. Directed by the quintessential 80’s film director from Canada (born in Australia), Phillip Borsos; who died too young (he was only 41, when he left this world); this Hollywood modern classic, encompasses some of the best traits of the 80’s decade. From technology, to style, the realistic feel; I felt the decade of my childhood run through my veins, with nostalgia. It’s not necessarily a masterpiece, but still an enjoyable piece of post-noir crime caper.

Set in Miami, Florida, USA, in July 1984, during Florida’s notorious “mean season”; the hurricane season that runs through the coasts of the US state of Florida, during the humid summer months (June to September); the movie is a about a reporting journalist, Malcolm Anderson (Russell) working for The Miami Journal (a fictional newspaper) and an (initially unnamed) sociopath (played by Richard Jordan). Exhausted with the never ending crime coverage he has to endure, Anderson is ready to quit and leave for cooler climes, to the more scenic US State of Colorado. A young teenage girl, Sarah Hooks (Tamara Jones), has been killed; and Anderson is given the assignment to cover it. He reluctantly agrees. Once he writes about it; he gets a call congratulating him, by the young girl’s killer. Soon a vocal relationship develops between the journalist; who’s in a dilemma (on one side he wants to genuinely help catch the killer, feeling for the families of the victims; and on the other, the scoop, nabbing the story of a lifetime is an opportunity no journalist wants to let go); and the serial killer, yet to commit more crimes.

Now the suspense begins. Kurt Russell, proves himself as an actor, in a decade Hollywood was infested with run-on-the mill blockbusters, B-grade actors, and cheesy catchphrases like “I’ll be back” (The Terminator, 1984), “I feel the need…, the need for speed” (Top Gun, 1986) and “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” (Dirty Dancing, 1987); to name a few. Soon an unbreakable bond begins, with each having a fascination bordering on homoeroticism for the other. Which in today’s terms, would be categorized as, a “Bromance”!! But this isn’t the typical bromance. For the journalist; he waits in anticipation, to hear from killer, the killer’s latest confession. Meanwhile, the attention loving murderer can’t wait to call the journalist, and letting him know about his latest victim/s. But when the reporting journalist starts to get more attention; not just because of his swell writing skills, but also ’cause he is the only person to be in touch with the killer; added to which the journalist appearing on television, with a hint of him venturing into Pulitzer Prize territory for his articles; is when the “Bromance” starts to turn sour. The killer isn’t happy. He wanted fame, through his newer killings (as we find out later that he had killed before, and confessed, and nobody believed him; thus he is duplicating the killings), and sought the help of Malcolm Anderson for it; but instead Anderson is making a name for himself; mainly just by association. True, Malcolm Anderson is great writer; but if the killer didn’t contact him, Anderson would’ve left Miami for good, and his byline could have gone into oblivion.

The killer finds the best way to get back at his “Bro”, by going after Anderson’s Achilles heal; going after his lover, a schoolteacher, Christine Connelly (Mariel Hemingway).

Kurt Russell and Richard Masur in a scene from The Mean Season (1985)

The Mean Season, is beautifully filmed. One of most beautiful, albeit pretty morbid, scene happens to be murder of an elderly couple. Though the murder itself isn’t shown, the murder’s description of it, along with Anderson’s imagination, shows how his use of a pillow, created an aesthetically spectacular scene, as the pillow feathers fall down like snowflakes. He mentions how he stood there watching this horrendous artistic creation of his.

What is more impressive, about this movie, is the realism aspect. Unlike the CGI blockbusters of today, where computer graphics overpower and ruin the entire premise of a film, instead of helping them (you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all); these films sans CGI, have an element of realism; with neither being overtly realistic nor disconnectedly artificial (though they might be out and out fictional). Of course, the film was based on a novel, In the Heat of the Summer, by a veteran Miami Herald crime reporter, John Katzenbach; who based his book on his own experiences as a newspaper reporter. Director, Phillip Borsos, spent time studying people at work at Miami Herald, he consulted them; and actually filmed on location, at the Miami Herald, with actual staff seen in the background. That’s one of the best things about the movie, the fact the press environment wasn’t recreated in a studio; but filmed in an actual press office. It was very generous of the Miami Herald to let them film there, despite being a very busy newspaper (what newspaper isn’t busy).

Crime & Journalism: Two scenes from The Mean Season (1985), with Kurt Russell (Russell is seen with Andy García, in the picture above). The movie was filmed on location, at the actual “Newsroom” of the Miami Herald newspaper.

Phillip Borsos, recalled later, that in April 1984, the day he, along with his crew, arrived at the Miami Herald; a man suspected of being a serial killer, killed himself, during a confrontation with the cops; “it seemed as though there were about 500 reporters in the office, and everybody was going insane” (quote mentioned in Wikipedia’s The Mean Season page).

Proof of the pudding, is in the preparation of an actor for a particular role, he or she, is to convincingly play. AND actor, Kurt Russell, followed around veteran American journalist and Mystery novelist, Edna Buchanan (who was working at the Miami Herald, at the time) along with Miami Herald‘s photographer of the time, Tim Chapman. And it paid off, as this no doubt is one of Russell’s better character roles. Similarly, Richard Masur, to prepare for his role as the editor of the fictional newspaper, The Miami Journal, spent several days at the Miami Herald‘s city desk.

One of the main flaws of the movie, for me, was that the revelation of the killer’s identity came too soon. It would have been better, if his face was revealed only after he pretends to help Christine Connelly, and we find out she’s been kidnapped. Post that, the revelation of the killer’s name, Alan Delour, came at the appropriate time. The thing is, when Delour, pretending to be a substitute teacher, pretends to help Connelly; we already know she’ll be kidnapped, as we know this is the killer. The other flaw, though a minor one, was the casting of Christine Connelly herself. Though Mariel Hemingway, had nothing great to do in the movie, anyway, she feels a bit out of place. In a way, it goes well with role, as Connelly wants to leave Miami, but only stays on for lover, Malcolm Anderson. Yet, Mariel Hemingway’s acting ability seems pretty limited, even for a side supporting role of small caliber. She’s an average actress; neither good nor bad. But surprisingly this average actress seemed perfectly cast in the brilliant Manhattan (1979), a Woody Allen (Black & White) masterpiece.

Mariel Hemingway in The Mean Season (1985)

Mariel Hemingway definitely looks good though. Richard Jordan is superb as the creepy voice over the telephone; but once his face is revealed, a tad too soon, it starts to go downhill a bit. Plus the done-to-death scene, when we feel all’s well that ends well, but made to realize it’s not over yet; is a tad too predictable. Still it didn’t ruin the movie for me, for most part, it really went well. It could’ve been greater, with certain changes. The one to watch out for, the icing on the cake, happens to be a fresh faced, young Cuban born, Andy García; as a good cop with a sly grin, Ray Martinez. He oozes with boyish charm in this movie.

Kurt Russell and Mariel Hemingway in The Mean Season (1985)

Though not a great movie; with it’s blend of the hurricane season (i.e. Florida’s notorious “mean season”), crime and journalism; The Mean Season, reminded me of some great suspenseful films set in Florida; the likes of Key Largo (1948), Absence of Malice (1981) and Manhunter (1986), to name a few. It also has classic-noir elements of films of the 40’s; an almost Hitchcockian feel; tied in with an investigative journalism style seen in movies like, His Girl Friday (1940), All the President’s Men (1976), Absence of Malice (mentioned above) and The Paper (1994), to name some. Even though this modern classic might not be a movie that has aged well, unlike the other movies mentioned above, it’s not exactly outdated. In fact, it’s quite a good insight into the workings of the press, press of the 1980’s decade. Plus, this would be a great guilty pleasure for die hard Kurt Russell fans. Pretty Enjoyable fare!!!

The Mean Season (1985)
My Rating: Pretty Good – 7/10 !!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

This Blog Post, is my contribution to the, THE KURT RUSSELL BLOGATHON, hosted by Gill of Real Weegie Midget and Paul of Return to the 80s!!!!!!

Thank you Gill & Paul, for letting me take part in this cool Blogathon.

Nuwan Sen

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The 71st Cannes Film Festival finally came to an end, last night. The Palme d’Or for Year 2018, was awarded to 万引き家族 Manbiki Kazoku (2018) a.k.a. Shoplifters, to film director, Hirokazu Kore-eda, by Jury President Cate Blanchett. Like the previous two lazed posts, for this year, let the pictures do the talking.

Palme d’Or Winner for 2018: Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda (seen here with Cate Blanchett)

Caméra d’Or Winner: Lukas Dhont

Grand Prix: Spike Lee (Benicio del Toro looks on, as Lee gives his speech)

Lebanese director Nadine Labaki speaks after winning the Cannes Jury Award for Capernaum (2018); as her husband, Khaled Mouzanar, and actor Gary Oldman, look on

Special Palme d’Or was awarded to the legendary Jean-Luc Godard, for Le Livre d’Image (2018) a.k.a. The Image Book
Actress Cate Blanchett seen here holding the Golden Palm

Congratulations to all the winners (including the ones not mentioned here) of the Cannes Film Festival for 2018!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Simon Emanuel, Chewbacca, Joonas Suotamo & Thandie Newton at the event of Solo – A Star Wars Story (2018), at the 71st Cannes Film Festival

Everything that has a beginning, has a an end; as does this prestigious, 71st Cannes Film Festival, of May 2018!! It ends tonight, and am really looking forward to finding out who’s won what? I couldn’t check out the Cannes updates properly this year, for various reasons, but below are some fashionable highlights from various days & nights at the Film Festival.

Enjoy

Nuwan Sen’s Fashion Sense

German Film Director, Wim Wenders

Spanish Husband & Wife: Javier Bardem & Penélope Cruz

From the Land of the Pharaohs: Austrian/Egyptian Film Director, A.B. Shawky, with Egyptian Actress, Shahira Fahmy

Mexico & India: Salma Hayek & Nandita Das, were among the 82 women that marched for Gender Equality in the Film Industry, at Cannes this year (Inset: Director Das with her lead star, of Manto (2018), Nawazuddin Siddiqui)

Brazilian Filmmaker, Joe Penna, and Danish Actor, Mads Mikkelsen

Young Russian Film Director, Kantemir Balagov

International Belles: Fan Bingbing, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz and Lupita Nyong’o (Cannes 2018)

The Frenchmen: Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Honoré and Vincent Lacoste

Solo Guys (Day & Night): Donald Glover & Alden Ehrenreich; with the cast and crew of Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Solo Wookiee: Finnish Actor and former Basketball Player, Joonas Suotamo, with his ”Star Wars” character ‘Chewbacca’

Jackson Lee (son of Spike Lee), Topher Grace, Adam Driver and Director Spike Lee, attend the screening of Blackkklansman (2018)

Former First Lady of France (and Italian Singer/Songwriter), Carla Bruni Sarkozy

From Russia with Love: Katya Mtsitouridze, in a neatly tailored White attire

Chique Chic: Marion Cotillard at the Cannes Film Festival this year

More Marion Cotillard (Cannes 2018)

Newly Married, Bollywood Fashionista, Sonam Kapoor, in a White Bridal Lehenga (Cannes 2018)

From the Silk Route: Melissa Zuo, shimmers in Silver attire

Walk for Gender Equality: Jury President, Cate Blanchett, with Feminist Film Director, Agnès Varda (of the French New Wave fame); the first woman to receive an honorary ‘Palme d’Or’, at a Cannes Film Festival

Pretty in Pale Pink: Bella Hadid at the 71st Cannes Film Festival

Chinese Actress, Bingbing Fan

Cannes 2018: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan; seen here with her daughter, who accompanied her up to the Red Carpet

Winnie Harlow goes Green @ Cannes 2018

Knife + Heart: French Film Director, Yann Gonzalez, with Kate Moran & Vanessa Paradis (Inset: Nicolas Maury & Vanessa Paradis)

American Actress, Amber Heard

80 year old, Jane Fonda, graces the Red Carpet with charm, at the 71st Annual Cannes Film Festival (Mai 2018)

Deepika Padukone in Hot Pink Ruffles (Cannes 2018)

More of Daring Deepika: Deepika Padukone in Purple Pant Suit

A Sad Affair: 72 year old Helen Mirren, in a comfortable trouser suit, walks away after she tripped and had a bad fall

John Savage @ Cannes 2018

Milla Jovovich looking like a Greek Goddess

Defying Protocol: Kristen Stewart makes a statement against the Cannes Film Festival, by walking barefoot

Lebanese Film Director, Nadine Labaki, with her young actors; Zain Al Rafeea (a Syrian refugee) & Yordanos Shifera, from Capharnaüm (2018)

Franco-Swiss Model, Nabilla Benattia poses near some Stormtroopers (Cannes 2018)

From Deep Down Under: New Zealand Female Model, Georgia Fowler (in a black sheer Saree dress), with Australian Male Model, Jordan Barrett

Goodbye Cannes Film Festival (for )

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense