Category: Era’s of the 20th Century


Happy Birthday Ashaji

Asha Bhosle, one of two most prolific singers of Bollywood (the other being her elder sister, Lata Mangeshkar) turns 85 today.

Born as Asha Mangeshkar, on 8 September 1933, in Sangli State, in the Bombay Presidency of British India, she started her singing career at the age of 9, in 1943; especially to earn for her family (her father died a year earlier, in 1942, Lata Mangeshkar was 13). Though Lata started acting in stage plays at the age of 5, both sister’s, Lata and Asha took up singing professionally, after their father’s demise. At 16, Asha eloped with 31 year old Ganpatrao Bhosle. Her husband and in-laws mistreated her. One day, the ever suspecting Ganpatrao Bhosle, threw a very pregnant Asha Bhosle (pregnant with their third child) out their house, along with their two kids. The Bhosle’s divorced in 1960. Somewhere in the 1960’s, she met music composer, Rahul Dev Burman, six years her junior, with whom Asha Bhosle collaborated on a number of songs. The two first worked together on Teesri Manzil (1966). A decade and half later, Asha Bhosle married Mr. Burman, in 1980. They later amicably separated due to financial difficulties. Yet they worked together until his death in 1994. In the mid-90’s, Asha Bhosle joined the the latest trend at the time, of remixing songs. She experimented with remixing old tunes of the 60’s & 70’s, that she had worked on with her second husband, the love of her life, R. D. Burman (whom she adoringly called “Panchamda”). Her two albums, dedicated to Burman, titled, Rahul and I (Volume 1 & 2), were hugely popular in the 90’s; despite criticism by many, against Bhosle, for tampering with good old melodies. Well into her 60’s by then, she joined the indipop scene of the 90’s, and went along with the India’s MTV and Channel V craze of the times. On 8th October 2012, a month after Bhosle celebrated her 79th Birthday, tragedy struck. Her unhappily divorced daughter, Varsha Bhosle, a singer and journalist, committed suicide.

Today, the very versatile Bhosle; who has over 12,000 songs to her credit (including 20 odd songs in, non-Hindi, Indian languages and various other foreign languages), recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award and the Padma Vibhushanand, and who has been named the most recorded artist in music history, by the Guinness Book of World Records (in 2011), still leads a very active life in Mumbai, India. AND she is showing no signs of backing down, and is in no hurry to retire. In 2016, she released her most recent album, titled 82 (named after her age at the time).

I’ve grown up watching Bollywood movies, and from her 75 year career, here are my Top-25 favourite Asha Bhosle songs, she sang for Hindi Feature Films, only (she has sung, as a playback singer, for non-Hindi language films, as well as, for non-film songs in various languages, including in English).

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TOP 25

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1. “Dum Maro Dum” from Haré Rama Haré Krishna (1971)

This drug infused number, from one of my favourite Bollywood movies, became a Hippie Anthem in the 70’s. Miss Asia Pacific winner, from 1970, Zeenat Aman (a new comer in the world of the cinematic arts at the time, and not really known for her acting chops), was close to brilliant as a Hippie woman (whom Bhosle, lends her vocals to for this song), in this movie. Aman won a a Filmfare Award for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ and a BFJA Award for ‘Best Actress’. Soon she would be the ‘it’ girl, the Bollywood sex-symbol, of 1970’s decade. Unfortunately her sex-symbol avatar would overshadow her talent, and she was used by directors more as a bikini bombshell, than an actress. But she does have some good character roles to her credit, yet isn’t really known for her acting prowess. Director and co-star, Dev Anand (who plays Aman’s estranged brother, estranged due to their parents divorce, in the film), didn’t use the song in it’s entirety, in the movie; as he felt the hip number would overshadow his movie.

None the less, Asha Bhosle’s future husband, composer R. D. Burman’s, “Dum Maro Dum”, was a big hit, and a Hippie favourite. Bhosle went onto win a Filmfare Award for ‘Best Female Playback Singer’; and the song reached a cult status in India and abroad.

This film happens to have one of the best depictions of a Hippie Commune, on celluloid. Haré Rama Haré Krishna (1971) itself, revolves around a group of Hippies, set within few days, in Kathmandu, Nepal. Although Hippiedom was a counterculture youth movement born in the 1960’s, in USA, it spread around the world (the late 60’s was a time when globalization truly took place). With Hippie’s interest in Hinduism and Buddhism, many made their way into India (especially North India) and Nepal. Soon many modern youth from cities like New Delhi and Bombay, embraced Hippiedom with their open-minded, all inclusive, attitudes, and rebelled against tradition Indian notions. The Hippie sub-culture, was very prominent throughout the 70’s decade (and to some extent in the early 80’s), in Northern India and Nepal. Which in turn influenced Bollywood films of the time. Another reason American influenced Hippie lifestyles gained popularity as a subculture, amongst the literary elitist Indian youth (up north), was thanks to the British band, The Beatles, going and living in India, at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in Rishikesh, in 1968. Other western celebrities followed suit, and young, well educated, Indians from prominent families, were not far behind. Of course, most Hippies were too drugged to remember how cool they were. But, none the less, Hippie influence played a major role in modernizing India, back in those decades.

2. “Chura Liya” from Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973)

A pair of glasses clink, then she strums a few chords in a guitar. And some of the most melodious lyrics come to life.

From playing a Hippie girl, in the previous movie, we see her transform into a sophisticated young lady, for this movie.

Picturized yet again on Zeenat Aman, this is a mesmerizing melodic tune. Romantic, dreamy, with the guitar strumming a lovely tune and words to die for, this song pulls at your heart strings. Although, it’s not a completely original composition. The opening lines of “Chura Liya” were copied from the 60’s song, “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium”, sung by Dutch singer, Bojoura. None the less, this Hindi song is pure seduction, hypnotically transporting us into dreamy romanticism. Composer, R. D. Burman, used actual cups and saucers to create the tinkling sound of the song.

Zeenat Aman, looks amazingly chic and elite, in that fashionably simple white culottes, adorned with a choker neck, broach and earrings. This elegant white outfit is my favourite from any Bollywood movie ever. Simple and sophisticated, it compliments and contrasts beautifully, with her light cappuccino skin tone. Naturalistic sense of style, a look that is very 70’s!!!!!

3. “In Ankhon Ki Masti Ke” from Umrao Jaan (1981)

Bejeweled from head to toe, a courtesan, from mid-19th century Lukhnow, sings “In Ankhon Ki Masti Ke”. The movie was Umrao Jaan (1981), based on the 1905 Urdu novel, Umrao Jaan Ada by Mirza Hadi Ruswa. Based on a true story, the real life courtesan, Umrao Jaan, had shared details of her life story, with the author, Mirza Hadi Ruswa.This historical bio-pic is made with such perfection, from the set designs to the costumes, and make-up (down to the Mehendi on her hands and feet), made to resemble the period it was set in. The mid-19th century was a very chaotic time in Indian history, under the British Raj, which gave rise to the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

The classical poetic rendition by Asha Bhosle, is a melancholic ghazal, performed by actress, Rekha! Rekha (later nicknamed as Madame Ré), happens to be one of my favourite Bollywood actresses ever. A very versatile actress, she made her mark in both, commercial Bollywood films, as well as Indian Art House Cinema (Parallel Cinema) made in Hindi and English (i.e. Indian English Language movies). Rekha won the National Film Award for Best Actress, for Umrao Jaan. She was honoured with the Padma Shri by the Government of India, in 2010.

4. “Do Lafzon Ki Hai, Dil Ki Kahaani” from The Great Gambler (1979)

With the breathtaking backdrop of Venice, this song sung in a gondola, is one of the most beautifully lyrical love songs ever. Picturized around, Bollywood’s Badshah, the Big B himself, Amitabh Bachchan (my favourite Bollywood actor, since childhood); accompanied by Zeenat Aman (lip syncing to Bhosle). It’s basically Aman’s character translating the gondolier’s love song, into Hindi, telling a story of love and woe, to her lover (played by the Big B).

Amitabh Bachchan, voted the “Star of the Millennium”, happens to be the most influential actor in the history of Indian cinema, nationally and globally. Bachchan, was appointed as an International UNICEF Ambassador in 2005, and was awarded the Padma Shri (1984), the Padma Bhushan (2001) and the Padma Vibhushan (2015) for his contributions to the arts. The Government of France honoured him with its highest civilian honour, Knight of the Legion of Honour, in 2007. He made his Hollywood debut, at the age of 70, in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (2013).

5. “Yeh Ladka Hai Allah” from Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977)

Kajal Kiran, looking trés chic, in a fuchsia pink short kurta and bell-bottoms (a very 70’s, casual chic, fad), runs around singing, how difficult it to make any sense to this uptight man. Hilarious and clever, the entire song is a dialogue, that neither interprets, what the other is trying to say. Especially towards the end, the girl has no actual idea, what he’s talking about, through his lyrics.

6. “Duniya Mein, Logon Ko” from Apna Desh (1972)

Sung alongside her husband, composer, R. D. Burman (who lends his voice to Rajesh Khanna), this was a hit, mainly thanks to unusual gruffy gurgling vocal sounds made by Burman. That distinct sound and rhythm, became a R. D. Burman trademark. Bhosle wasn’t far behind (singing for Mumtaz), matching vocals perfectly in step, to Burman. Again worth to note the stylish attire. Rajesh Khanna looking slick as ever, in those gold-rimmed octagon shades with green lenses (somewhat resembling John Lennon’s rose tinted round sunglasses, and Khanna looks like a ‘Beatle’ himself, to some extent, here), and that red velvet n’ white designer suit. Mesmerizing Mumtaz, with her natural peaches n’ cream skin, and a blonde wig, looks like a Scandinavian beauty. The eclectic music and dancing is well in sync, and the flawless beauty, Mumtaz, with her deep plunging neckline, double slit, maxi dress, glides barefoot on the smooth terrazzo floor with such ease. In the movie, the duo are in the guise of foreign (Caucasian) investors, to expose corruption at the hands of a conniving trio.

R. D. Burman revolutionized Indian music forever, with this song.

7. “Raat Ke Hamsafar” from An Evening in Paris (1967)

Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore roam around the streets of Paris, to this romantic tune, colour coordinated in navy blue. From the 70’s, now we go back to the 60’s. The era of bouffant hairdo’s, mini-skirts and shift dresses. Here we see Tagore in a tightly draped saree, with a small, tie-knot on the back, blouse. Sharmila Tagore was the first Bollywood actress to appear in a bikini, on a magazine cover, in 1966 (see my Blog-post Classic Movie History Project Blogathon – 1966: The Year dubbed as Nineteen Sexty Sex from June 2015). She wasn’t the first to dare to wear a bikini, but no Indian actress had appeared in the skimpy two-piece on a cover of glossy publication before. Tagore was another versatile actress, who transcended genres, appearing in Bollywood commercial films, as well as Art Films, made in Bengali, Hindi and English (again, Indian English Language movies). She led the Indian Censor Board, between 2004 and 2011, became the National UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for in India in 2005, and she was one of the “International Competition’s” Jury Members at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

8. “Sapna Mera Toot Gaya” from Khel Khel Mein (1975)

Aruna Irani laments in chains, on the loss of her lover. In flashback sequences we see, her lover was Rakesh Roshan. Beautiful, heart rending, stage performance on the tragedy of falling in love and surviving after tragically losing one’s lover.

9. “Kya Dekhte Ho” from Qurbani (1980)

70’s sex symbol, Zeenat Aman, shows her assets, in a heavily cleavaged top, in this song, alongside director and co-star, Feroz Khan. Interestingly in the song, she asks, what he is looking at and what he wants? Of course he replies he is looking at her face and desires her affection, as she flaunts her gorgeous feminine body and unabashedly her soft female sexuality. This ever-green song bagged Qurbani (1980) a special award. Qurbani, was a Bollywood remake of the, English Language, Italian film, Un Uomo da Rispettare (1972), a.k.a. The Master Touch, directed by Michele Lupo.

10. Namak Halaal (1982)

This movie stars three out of five of my favourite Bollywood superstars of the 70’s & 80’s (See my list Bollywood FIVE from July 2018 on IMDB); Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor and Parveen Babi. Parveen Babi sizzels in a one-piece gold attire, with gold stilettos. Glittering away, she looks sexy and sophisticated, without looking cheap and gaudy. Parveen Babi, is known for her trade-mark hair-do, straight long hair, with the famous parted Parveen Babi bangs. But here, she sports a loose perm, and the style looks very early 80’s, and very up to date. Yet, she makes that look her own as well. Her simple n’ stylish dance steps, in high heels (except for one long shot, panning around the room, Babi does barefoot), works well with Bhosle’s vocals. The glamorously expensive set design gels well with this night club number.

The late Shashi Kapoor, hailing from the Kapoor clan (Bollywood’s Royal family) was India’s International star. Not only did he act in, direct and produce, movies in Bollywood and non-Bollywood (including Art Films and Indian English Language films), Kapoor also appeared in British Films of great repute. He is also known as Merchant Ivory Productions’ very first hero. He was honoured with the Padma Bhushan (2011) and Dadasaheb Phalke Award (2014). Sadly, both Shashi Kapoor (the most beautiful man of Hindi Cinema, inside out, both looks and personality wise) and Parveen Babi, are no more. Both suffered from depression, in their lives. Kapoor, due to the loss of the love of his life, actress, Jennifer Kendal, to cancer in 1984 (he never fully recovered from it); and Babi, due to sad life experiences, failed relationships, loneliness and paranoid schizophrenia. She became a recluse later in life, and distrusted everyone. She died all alone, due to organ failure and diabetes, and nobody was aware of her death, till her body was discovered, three days later.

Both Shashi Kapoor and Parveen Babi, were well literate, and two highly intellectual minds, of the Indian film industry. Babi was a graduate of English Literature. Earlier this year, Hollywood paid tribute to actor Shashi Kapoor (along with actress Sridevi), when they honoured Kapoor and Sridevi, in the “In Memoriam” segment, at the 90th Annual Academy Awards 👠 held in March 2018.

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11. “O Saathi Chal” from Seeta Aur Geeta (1972)

Bollywood’s Dream Girl, Hema Malini (another of my favourite Bollywood actresses, growing up), skirts through obstacles as she sings skating with Sanjeev Kumar. In real life, Sanjeev Kumar was madly in love with Hema Malini, but she didn’t reciprocate. She was in love with Dharmendra (who also acts in this movie), whom she later married.

Hema Malini, along with Parveen Babi, held the Number.1 Bollywood position, in two decades, the 70’s & 80’s, a rarity for an actress in Bollywood. Hema Malini can be see in the picture atop, in a pink saree, walking behind Asha Bhosle. This song again, is a good insight into the casual fashion, of the times. Well tailored trouser suits, and Hema Malini, matches hers with a lilac blouse with long cuffs, stylish purple (tie-down) waistcoat and a purple scarf tied like a hairband, and earrings, while Kumar dons a (buttoned-up) jacket with a khadi collar/Nehru collar.

12. Medley of Several Songs from Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977)

This dance n’ song competition from Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977) is super enjoyable. We grew up watching this movie, a kazillion times. Bhosle lends her vocals towards the end, to the song “Mil Gaye, Hum Ko Saathi, Mil Gaye” lip synced by actress, Kajal Kiran, in red bell-bottoms, a red poncho over a halter-neck top, with red platform shoes. Seriously!!! The stylish fashions of the 70’s! WOW!!!! The tailored trouser suits, wide belts, bandanas, floppy long hair, naturalistic minimalist make-up!! One of the main reasons I love the styles of the 70’s, most probably is because I grew up, in 80’s & early 90’s, watching Bollywood films from the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s. The late 60’s & the 1970’s decade, were truly eras of cool. And their disco numbers were fun, stylish, avec a very modern outlook. And these songs are truly Timeless!!!!!

Added to which, the stylish set design, with the dual circular stage, just amazing. This compilation short-songs, is a really good insight into the sights, sounds and styles of a truly unique decade. Again, very 70’s!!!!!

13. “Yeh Mera Dil” from Don (1978)

As the sultry “Mata Hari” type character, played by Helen (of Anglo Indian & Burmese roots, in real life) seduces and Underworld Don, played by Amitabh Bachchan, to get him arrested by the cops, she sings and dances to this seductive club number. Don is responsible for the death of her fiancé. Of course, her plan backfires and is killed by the Don, instead.

14. “O Haseena Zulfanwaali” from Teesri Manzil (1966)

From watching Helen play a spy seductress, we go back a decade, and see Helen do a sexy cabaret, from the 60’s thriller, Teesri Manzil (1966). Helen happens to be the most popular Bollywood dancer, till date. She was known as Bollywood’s own “Nautch” girl, of the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s & early 80’s. Yes, she reined the on-screen cabarets, for four decades. She looks great in the Spanish flamenco dress (she is seen in three different attires, including a reddish-pink flamenco dress). The late Shammi Kapoor, too, looks dashing in that platinum toned blazer with salmon pink lapels.

Teesri Manzil was the first collaboration of Bhosle and Burman.

15. “Zuby Zuby Jalembu” from An Evening in Paris (1967)

From one 60’s Bollywood cabaret to another 60’s Bollywood cabaret. This time picturized with Sharmila Tagore. Donning what looks like a blend of a playboy bunny suit and a burlesque attire, a la Moulin Rouge, Tagore foxily prances around to this rhythmic number. She does justice to the slutty character she essays, in this song.

16. “O Mere Sona Re Sona Re” from Teesri Manzil (1966)

A blend of the old and the new (at the time), a style that should be out-dated, has surprisingly stood the test time, and aged pretty well. Must have something to do with the fact, the remixed release by Bhosle, herself, in the 1990’s, brought about a new found appreciation for this number. Also check out the very 60’s, shift skirt style, skin-tight slawar-kameez, worn by Asha Parekh. In the 60’s, the slawar-kameez, became really tight, and instead of having two side slits, the tops had one slit in the back, to ape the tight skirts of west. Very 60’s, very Indian!!!!!

17. “Hum Ko To Yaara Teri Yaari” from Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977)

This use to be my favourite song from this movie, as a kid, but growing up, as I matured, and understood the lyrics and tunes, “Yeh Ladka Hai Allah”, with its deeper meaning (See no.5, atop) became, my favourite from Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977). None the less, this is a fun filled song, and again, the stylish bell-bottom trouser suits of the 70’s. So cool!! Especially the camel coloured leather suit worn by Rishi Kapoor. Kajal Kiran’s white bell-bottom attire with the red shawl, and white purse/handbag, too looks really hip.

This fashionable generation most probably didn’t expect to grow old. It’s truly hard to believe, such stylish modern Indians of the 70’s, are in their 70’s today (some would still be in their 60’s). These were stylish attire our parents, in their prime, wore, and for younger generations, grandparents. They were so much more cooler than people today. In fact, our dress sense seems pretty bland, in comparison.

18. “Raat Baaki Baat Baaki” from Namak Halaal (1982)

As Bhosle croons “Raat Baaki Baat Baaki”, picturized around Parveen Babi (alongside Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan), we see Babi’s tensed character in a dilemma. She is hosting a party in a ship, and her mission is to help kill Kapoor’s character, or her mother shall meet her end. Might seem pretty clichéd, but women in history have found themselves being put in uncomfortable situations. Here we see Babi, in her trademark hairstyle, with the famous Babi bangs, and minimalist make-up, she was famous for, back in the 1970’s. She sure had think, luscious, long tresses. AND, she looks gorgeous in that figure hugging black dress, with a long slit at the back, adorned with simple long earrings and high heels. Very Classy!! There is a thing about wearing black badly, not everyone can carry it with grace and elegance. Babi sure could, and she looks bewitchingly beautiful in it.

19. “Aaja, Aaja, Main Hoon Pyaar Tera” from Teesri Manzil (1966)

Back to the “Third Floor”, i.e. Teesri Manzil (1966), this time with a night club scene of the 60’s. And yes, the twist was a craze in 60’s India as well. Asha Parekh (playback singer Bhosle, of course) looking mod, in tight black pants and a pink top, twists around with Shammi Kapoor, to this crazy beat.

20. “Sare Shahar Mein” from Alibaba Aur 40 Chor (1980)

Based on the, 18th century, Arabian Nights tale, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, this Indian-Soviet Russian co-production, has some memorable songs. More interesting for children than adults, it’s set designs and Arabian costumes are amazing, as well. This particular Arabian style song, is more memorable, for it’s a duet, Bhosle sings with her elder sister, Lata Mangeshkar. This song is picturized with Hema Malini (for whom Mangeshkar sings) and Zeenat Aman (sung by Bhosle), who are stuck among two groups of gangs. Hema Malini’s real-life husband, Dharmendra, playing reel-life husband, Ali Baba, makes an appearance at the end of the song, wondering what’s wrong with these two women.

21. “Reshmi Ujala Hai” from Sharmeelee (1971)

Picturized on, Marathi actress and dancer, Jayshree T. (who also worked in some Bollywood movies), we see her do a striptease at an elite club. We also see, the lead actress of the movie, Rakhee, in a dual role; one watches the show from above, as the other enters the club later, with her husband (played by Shashi Kapoor). Lyrically seductive, Jayshree T. dances (and strips) holding a pair of, aesthetically placed, still rings. She’s also joined in by a muscular male stripper, later.

22. “Parde Mein Rahne Do” from Shikar (1968)

Another Arabian dance, and another Dharmendra – who walks in the middle of song, still looking quite confused (see no.20, above); or rather surprised in this case. This time though, the film has a contemporary setting, and the Arabian style number, is actually a stage show. The lead actress of this murder mystery, Asha Parekh, performes as an Arabian princess, who pleads people not to lift her Pardah (or Purdah), and expose her identity. Another beautiful song, by Asha Bhosle, sung in an Arabian style. Shikar, literally means The Hunt!!!!!

23. “Hum Jab Honge Saath Saal Ke” from Kal Aaj Aur Kal (1971)

Past, Present and future clash!!!!! In this song, the couple ask one another; when they grow old, and their youthful looks have faded, all wrinkled up, and unable to do much for each other; whether the other will still be there for them. What’s truly fascinating is that, Randhir Kapoor and Babita (the couple the song is picturized around), married in real life, after the release of this movie, in 1971, itself. They later separated, in 1988, due to their elder daughter’s desire in pursing an acting career (conflict of interest). Babita, left with her two daughters. Several years later, Randhir Kapoor finally came around, accepting his two daughters’ film careers, and showing his support. AND thus, almost two decades after the couple split up, Randhir Kapoor and Babita reconciled in 2007. So now they are actually together again, in their old age. Both are 71 years old now.

This movie, Kal Aaj Aur Kal (1971), literally translating to Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, has three generations of Kapoor’s starring as three generations in conflict. The Grandfather (played by Prithviraj Kapoor) and the grandson (Randhir Kapoor) are constantly at loggerheads. Caught in the middle, is Raj Kapoor (son of one, father to the other). He understands his son’s progressive thoughts, who rebels against foolish backward traditional notions, such as the cast system, and a woman’s place is in the home by her husbands side, and all that archaic rubbish. But at the same time, Raj Kapoor’s character, is afraid to speak up against his ageing father, who is stuck in his old ways of habit, foolish and ignorant, who still believes in cast system, blinded by religious faith, and finds it difficult to accept the changing times (of the late 60’s & 70’s), including influences of American Hippie lifestyles on Indian society. Prithviraj Kapoor’s character, can’t stand women’s lib, feminism, women daring to wear skirts instead of Indian clothes, women driving, women daring to divorce their husbands, hippies, unmarried couples, premarital sex and promiscuous lifestyles of modern youth. So there are good and bad points, brought out from both sides. But mainly, the open-minded grandson brings out the good points. There is this one hilarious moment, when the grandfather is repulsed at seeing a write-up in a newspaper about a woman divorcing her husband. He speaks of how great Sita (from Valmiki’s Ramayana) was, where she has to undergo an Agnipariksha (trial by fire) to prove her chastity to her husband (after being saved, post her kidnapping by the ten headed Ravana, king of Lanka); and how now women have no qualms about leaving their men. Randhir Kapoor wittily retorts, that there was no such as divorce in ancient times, otherwise Sita would have divorced Ram as well. It’s a rib-tickling moment, and seeing the annoyed horrified look on the Grandfather, is priceless.

This movie came out during the height of globalization of human attitudes and it reflects the changing times in India, at that period. Ever progressive, especially amongst the city folk and the well educated, specially in Northern India, it’s a country that has always moved forward. Of course, it’s a slow n’ steady progress. Transgender acceptance as a ‘third gender’, and India’s Supreme Court ruling from day before yesterday (6.9.2018), legalizing gay sex, thus decriminalizing it as a sexual offense, overturning Section 377 (a colonial rule, introduced in 1861, during the British Raj), is proof of it’s slow and steady rise. India being a third world country, and that too a (hard to maintain) massive one, with an equally massive population of over a billion people, with a high illiteracy rate – mainly due to poverty (something impossible eradicate in such a vast nation), it’s surprising how far they have come, despite their pitfalls. With progressive Indian cities (economically and psychologically), press freedom, freedom to voice one’s opinion, Indian intellectuals and artistic society’s constant leap forward; one can just imagine – if India were a tiny nation, with a small population, less poverty (which practically equals to no illiteracy) – India would be a first world country floating in the Indian ocean, today.

24. “Piya Tu, Ab To Aaja” from Caravan (1971)

Another strip-tease, this time, yet another cabaret performance, by Bollywood’s famed “Nautch” girl, Helen. The stage show, in the movie, is an entire story being told by an unhappy woman, waiting for her man, at a club. The clock strikes midnight, and slowly customers start to leave. Ultimately it’s just her, drinking her misery away. Soon, her lover comes. She’s ecstatic!! She daces, strips, twirls on a pole, and ends up with him in a birdcage. The song, the performance and the props are very symbolic, to the runaway girl (played by Asha Parekh), seated watching the stage show. Caravan (1971) was inspired by the low-budget, 1950’s American Independent film, Girl on the Run (1953).

25. “I love You – Haré Rama Haré Krishna” from from Haré Rama Haré Krishna (1971)

Back to the Hippie Haven (see no.1, right at the top), with another Hippie melody, from Haré Rama Haré Krishna. Composer R. D. Burman’s later trademark style is visible here, before he himself lent his voice to “Duniya Mein, Logon Ko” (see no.6, above), from Apna Desh (1972).

With lyrics like “Black or white, we are all inclusive, nobody here is an alien” in Hindi, it’s no wonder many modern Indian youth openly embraced Hippie’s bohemian life styles, and rebelled against ignorant traditionalist, back then. Bhosle sing for Zeenat Aman, and Usha Iyer (now known Usha Uthup); who use to be a famous (literally underground) nightclub singer of the 60’s, in Madras, South India (before she made it up north, in Bollywood); sings the English verses. Noticed by actor Shashi Kapoor, the first two songs she sung as a playback singer, were for, the Indian English movie (Merchant/Ivory Production), Bombay Talkie (1970) starring Shashi Kapoor along with his wife, British actress, Jennifer Kendal (where Usha Iyer did an English number), and of course, the English verses in this song, “I love You – Haré Rama Haré Krishna” from Haré Rama Haré Krishna.

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English Couplets

Besides my Top-25, Asha Bhosle numbers, I thought I’d add a couple of, non-film, English numbers she appears in.

As Asha Bhosle was experimenting with re-mixing her old tunes, and Cable TV’s MTV and Channel V phenomena, of the 90’s, Bhosle sang this English number (in English) with the 90’s British Boy Band, Code Red, for the Indian version, of their song “We Can Make It”, from their album, Scarlet, released in 1997. Code Red, was a group, that only lasted five years.

Australian cricketer, Brett Lee, wrote and recorded the song, “You are the One for Me”, with Asha Bhosle, when he was in India, for the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy. Not such a great song, and the tune feels like a cheesy copy of the country song, “Juke Box Blues” by June Carter (later known as June Carter Cash).

Bhosle’s Ode to a famed British Band

The song, “Dekho, Ab To, Kisi Ko Nahi Hai Khabar” from Janwar (1965), is not just an out and out direct copy of The Beatles “I Want to Hold Your Hand“, but an ode to them. The famed British Invasion of the American music industry, had invaded India too. This was the second British Invasion to hit India, but this musical invasion was one that India embraced and welcomed openly. “Dekho, Ab To, Kisi Ko Nahi Hai Khabar” features a boy band aping The Beatles, giving the background vocals, while Shammi Kapoor, looking like a ‘Beatle’ himself, prances around singing and dancing. Actress, Rajshree (whom Bhosle lends her voice to), in that blonde wig and tight dress, looks a bit like, Bulgarian-French singer, Sylvie Vartan. Rajshree most probably was modeled on her (also see my first two posts regarding in January 1964, from January 2014).

The setting of the song is that of a Wedding Reception. Towards the end, the Bride and Groom, join in the twist. Yes, as I said before, the twist was a craze in India, in the 60’s. Some Bollywood movies of the noughties, still had musical numbers which showcased the twist, in all it’s splendor. Towards the end of this song, we also see, the late Shammi Kapoor’s father, the late Prithviraj Kapoor.

The Brits tribute to Asha Bhosle

In 1997, the British alternative-rock group, Cornershop, paid tribute to Asha Bhosle, with their song, “Brimful of Asha”. It was an instant hit, in the UK, and India.

A Tête-à-Tête between an Indian Legend from the previous Century & a 21st Century British Singer (of Indian roots)

To round up the number of videos added here, to ’30’, I thought I’d add this conversation piece, between the legendary Asha Bhosle (who was presented with the ‘The Lifetime Achievement Award’), and British singer, Jay Sean, at the 2nd Asian Awards, held in the United Kingdom. The two sing a few lyrics, from my 2nd favourite Asha Bhosle song, “Chura Liya”.

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Saaz (1997)

Saaz (1997) is a brilliant movie, which was loosely based on the lives of the two sisters, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. The movie shows a sibling rivalry, which both sisters deny. The siblings were actually very close as kids, but when Asha ran away and got married (mentioned above), Lata felt her sister had been irresponsible and abandoned her, and Lata was left to earn for the family alone. The two were not in speaking terms for a long time. But it had nothing to do with their singing talent, or that Asha Bhosle playing second fiddle to her elder sister, as the movie suggests. Lata openly disapproved of the alliance. Later, the two made-up. Asha Bhosle called Saaz, a three hour exaggerated waste-of-time. Why couldn’t the filmmakers simple ask the two sisters, for their real-life story and make a proper bio-pic.

None the less, Saaz is a beautiful movie, and Shabana Azmi does a brilliant job, essaying the role loosely based on Bhosle.

Mai (2013)

Asha Bhosle stands next to the film poster, of her movie, Mai (2013)

Though Asha Bhosle, has appeared in cameos as a singer in a film or two, and a couple of short films, she made her acting debut, at the age 79, in Mai (2013). A very good movie, and Bhosle was superb in it, as a 65 year old lady, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and neglected by her children and grandchildren (except for one daughter who cares for, played by Padmini Kolhapure). Critic’s praised her amazing performance. So far, she hasn’t appeared in any movie, post Mai.

Wishing the very versatile, Asha Bhosle, a very Happy 85th Birthday. Keep on Singing!!!!!!

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Nuwan Sen n’ Style

Nuwan Sen n’ Music

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Nuwan Sen’s Fashion Sense

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On a Sunday afternoon, at Prescient 21, New York City, an assortment of coulourful characters, from crooks to thieves to innocent first time offenders, swarm around, waiting to be booked. One such character is a shoplifter, played by Lee Grant, witnessing all the crazy goings-on, in the squad room. Lee Grant reprises her well received role, in her film debut, in Detective Story (), for which she won the award forBest Actress at the Cannes Film Festival, in 1952.

Lee Grant in Detective Story (1951)

As the movie begins, Lee Grant arrives in a not-so-well maintained car, dragged by a shabby looking cop. She’s taken upstairs into the squad room of New York’s Prescient 21. Her crime – she picked up a purse, due to a kleptomaniac impulse. A bag she didn’t even like. And it seems this was a first time offense, or at least the first time she got caught. Naive, innocent, stressed and nerve-wrecking, she is more worried than she should be. In fact, the cop tells her, that it’s not as if she committed a murder, she most probably will be acquitted, with no charges; and it will all be a waste of his time.

When she is asked to call a lawyer, she’s apprehensive, the only lawyer she knows is married to her pregnant sister. But as things start to heat up in the squad room, she finally asks her brother-in-law for help. Meanwhile, we see what a good heart she has, and what a social person she is. She innocently tries to comfort a young girl, whose sister’s ex-boyfriend, is being booked for embezzlement. She tells one of the detective’s he is quite handsome, and doesn’t look like a cop. She is amused with a watch in a comic strip, and compares it to the wristwatch worn by the cop that arrested her. This shoplifter, might have accidentally committed a crime, but is a very genuine person. More genuine, than most cops. Of course, the cops here treat her well. When one brings her food, she is truly grateful. As Grant’s shoplifter leaves the station, she bids adieu, to all the detectives at Prescient 21.

Lee Grant is superb as a nervous wreck, a foolish and somewhat comical shoplifter. A bit of an oddball nut-bag. A very naturalistic twitchy portrayal of a scared little kitten, feeling guiltier than she should be. Grant learnt the weird New York accent, she uses in the play and movie, when she heard two girls on a crosstown bus. Yes, she eavesdropped on total strangers, not because she wanted to know what they were talking about, but to study their mannerisms. A true testament to great acting.

Based on a 1949 play by Sidney Kingsley, Detective Story, and directed by William Wyler, the movie comprises of a superb cast, including Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker, Joseph Wiseman, William Bendix, Craig Hill, et al. Set in a single day, the main plot of the story, however, is about a tough cop (played incredibly by Kirk Douglas), who doesn’t believe in second chances, with a temper he can’t control. As the movie progresses, he learns of a past mistake by his elegant wife (gracefully played by the beautiful Eleanor Parker), which he finds difficult to accept. He is not a forgiving man. Detective Story, is a brilliant movie, with many a sub-plots. Lee Grant is seen through most of the movie, and is well fashioned with a scarf over her shoulders (it’s worth checking out some of cool ties and suits worn by some of the male cast, as well, including Douglas and Wiseman). Basically the movie is, out and out, a Kirk Douglas venture. He is the protagonist, the only lead character of the film. The rest are all supporting characters, revolving around the main plot within Prescient 21. So it is baffling, why Lee Grant, won an award for Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival, the following year. She was no doubt superb, yet she was a supporting character; as was the cop’s wife, Mrs. Mary McLeod (played by Eleanor Parker). Parker received a Best Actress Oscar nomination, along with Lee Grant, for Best Supporting Actress‘, at the Academy Awards. In fact, with just over 20 minutes appearance, Eleanor Parker’s performance is the shortest role, to ever be nominated for aBest Actress Oscar. Like Grant, Parker ought to have been nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, as well. The movie garnered two more nominations, including one forBest Director, for William Wyler. Detective Story lost out at the Oscars, but happens to be among greatest study of varied character-sketches, on film.

Lee Grant in a scene from Detective Story (1951)

Despite the accolades, Lee Grant received for her unique Oscar nominated performance, in Detective Story, she found it difficult to find work for the next decade. In 1952, she refused to testify against her husband at the HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) hearings, and thus was blacklisted. This was during the notorious McCarthy era, under which the Hollywood Blacklist began, in 1947; where famous people were being persecuted for supposedly having ‘Communist’ beliefs. Sadly many great influential personalities lost work during this period, including Hollywood celebrities, such as Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles and Dalton Trumbo, to name some. Lee Grant was removed from the blacklist, in 1962, after which she rebuilt her career in film and television.

From playing a shoplifter in her first movie, her last Cinematic appearance was in a film titled, Going Shopping (2005). She hasn’t worked in films for the last 13 years, but she did appear on stage, where it all began, in a revival of Donald L. Coburn’s 1976 play, The Gin Game, in 2013; directed by her daughter, Dinah Manoff.

Detective Story (1951)
My Rating: Pure Excellence – 10/10 !!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

This write-up, is my contribution, for The Lovely Lee Grant Blogathon, hosted by Gill of of Real Weegie Midget and Chris from Angelmans’s Place!!

Thank you Gill and Chris, for inviting me to join this Blogathon.

Nuwan Sen

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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

 

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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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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Today happens to be, actress n’ beauty queen, Michelle Pfeiffer’s, 60th Birthday!!! A very Happy Birthday to the Pfabulous Ms. Pfeiffer !!!!! ❤

Michelle Pfeiffer has worked with an array of interesting co-stars, from much older men to way younger men, women, teenagers and children, in her Pfabulous Pforty year career. And she’s shared a great onscreen chemistry, with practically anybody, she’s worked with. In this post, I shall be briefly discussing some of the best chemistry, she’s had with certain male co-stars, on the Big Screen.

I’ve titled this post, Catwoman Chemistry, not just ’cause she played the comic book character of ‘catwoman’, onscreen; but also as a poetic allegory to her graceful catlike gait. 👠

Mrs. Scarface & Johnny Montana

Scarface (1983), no doubt happens to be one of the best movies she’s appeared in. And what a superb performance, early on in her career. Plus, to star opposite the brilliant Pacino; in a creation written by Oliver Stone, and directed Brian De Palma; that itself would have been a great honour. They later appeared together in the romantic 90’s love story, Frankie & Johnny (1991).

Scarface, no doubt happens to be one of most violent films ever made; a brilliant masterwork, to come out in a decade, Hollywood was on a notorious decline, with cheesy B-movies (B-grade Blockbusters; which are a craze today, among tasteless youth of the 21st century; and other immature adults). Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer, are superb together, and they compliment one another to perfection.

Michelle Pfeiffer & Al Pacino in scenes from Scarface (1983)

Michelle Pfeiffer plays a cocaine addict, and had to starve herself for the role. Recently, at the 35th anniversary showing of Scarface, Pfeiffer was asked how much she weighed. Initially horrified, but soon realizing why she was asked the question, she answered that she was starving by the end of the shoot. A virtual unknown at the time, yet already a professional to give so much for her role. She plays a wife of a drug dealer (Robert Loggia), who, when she’s widowed, ends up marrying the man responsible for the death of her much older husband, Tony Montana (Al Pacino). With perfect chemistry Pacino & Pfeiffer, showcase a couple in love, lust and abuse.

Of course, I watched this excellent mobster film, a re-make of a 1932 classic (that am yet to see); the setting of which was brought forward into the 1980’s; around 15 years ago. I’d love to re-watch it, truly a masterpiece of film making.

From the glamorously sexy portrayals of Pacino & Pfeiffer, in Scarface; almost a decade later, they re-unite; this time playing lower income, yet similarly emotionally scarred, individuals, working in a diner. Too intense to be called a rom-com, this is more serious; somewhat realistic piece of a cinema; which ends up being a really good (though not excellent) Love Story. Again, Pacino & Pfeiffer, are a pure perfection together. This movie, inspired by a song composed in 1899; of which various movies were made prior to this 1991 classic, from the 30’s to the 60’s, including a (i.e. 66′) version, starring Elvis Presley; is a touchingly bleak depiction, of love and loneliness, lost in the vast cascades of the crowded hustle and bustle of the city of New York.

Pfeiffer Trivia: Michelle Pfeiffer has received 3 Academy Award nominations to date, ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for Dangerous Liaisons (1988), ‘Best Actress’ for The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), & ‘Best Actress’ for Love Field (1992). She is yet to win an Oscar!!!

Catwoman & Batman

Now to one of her most seductive roles, the catty Catwoman. This near excellent comic book adaptation, by Tim Burton, paired Pfeiffer opposite Michael Keaton. She, as Catwoman, vows vengeance against the man who tried to kill her; yet her revengeful nature affects her towards such a negative point, she ends up wanting to get rid of the heroic vigilante, of the dark, Gotham City, Batman, himself.

Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Keaton, in a scene from Batman Returns (1992)

Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer have superb chemistry, as Frenemies. Lovers, in their civilian personas; as Bruce Wayne & Selina Kyle; and foes under leather/latex (Batman & Catwoman). Pfeiffer endured 12 to 14 work hours at a time; dressed in that skintight outfit. Getting in and out of the costume had been thoroughly laborious, as it was designed to fit around her body. Her hard work paid off, as there has never been a better Catwoman, to date; despite many other credible actresses donning a similar catsuit, to play this iconic character.

That Romantic Comedy Co-star

One Fine Day (1996), is an enjoyable romantic-comedy depicted within (as the title suggests) “one fine day”. Though it has the notorious, “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” type, battle of the sexes, similar to the American sex-comedies of yore; sex-comedies, like The Seven Year Itch (1955), Pillow Talk (1959), Some Like It Hot (1959), Irma la Douce (1963) and Sex and the Single Girl (1964), to name some; One Fine Day, is no doubt, a rom-com. 1990’s was definitely the last decade to bring out romantic-comedies; today most rom-coms, tend to be just silly chick flicks; meant for giggly headed teenage girls. They don’t make rom-coms, like It Happened One Night (1934), Ball of Fire (1941), Sabrina (1954), Ariane – Love in the Afternoon (1957), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Annie Hall (1977), When Harry Met Sally… (1989) Notting Hill (1999), et al, anymore. The only excellent rom-com, from this century, I can think of, is Prime (2005); which too I liked more because of Meryl Streep’s brilliantly hilarious performance, as a psychoanalyst of her son’s much older girlfriend.

George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer are perfectly in sync, in One Fine Day. Their witty banter, their mutual dislike for one another (which obviously meant they’d fall head over heels by the end of the movie), and their similar situations. A film the whole family can enjoy.

Beaus from Period Pieces

Besides starring in modern day settings, Pfeiffer has some brilliant roles in period films to her credit. In Dangerous Liaisons (1988); set in 18th century Paris (before the start of the French Revolution, of 1789, an era of decadence); Michelle Pfeiffer plays Madame de Tourvel, a chaste, devoutly religious wife of a member of Parliament. Soon she’ll be seduced, by the corrupt, Vicomte de Valmont (played with brilliance, by John Malkovich). She is doomed, yet Valmont falls for her too. A truly excellent tragic drama. John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer were perfectly cast, although it’s hard to imagine them together in a more modern setting.

If she was a victim in, Stephen Frears’, Dangerous Liaisons, she plays the predator in The Age of Innocence (1993) and Chéri (2009).

Period Pfeiffers
Left: Pfeiffer with John Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
Right: Pfeiffer with Daniel Day-Lewis in The Age of Innocence (1993)
Inset: Pfeiffer with Rupert Friend in Chéri (2009)

In Martin Scorsese’s, The Age of Innocence, we see her character seduce a young lawyer, played by Daniel Day-Lewis (though not in a conniving way, as Valmont did in Dangerous Liaisons); and similarly her much older character in Chéri, seduces a much younger man (Rupert Friend), a son of a courtesan. Pfeiffer again has perfect chemistry with both her co-stars. With Day-Lewis, her peer, it’s obvious why they are well suited; but what’s surprising is how well Friend and Pfeiffer, fare, together. The Age of Innocence, set in the 19th century, is yet another great adaptation of a classic novel. But, unlike Stephen Frears’ earlier venture (i.e. Dangerous Liaisons), his Chéri, falls short. None the less, Chéri, set in early 1900’s, late Belle Époque period, in Paris, is still a pretty good movie.

Real Life on Reel Life

The Beauty Queen
Left: Michelle Pfeiffer won the Miss Orange County beauty pageant in 1978, and participated in the Miss California contest the same year. Seen here winning the 6th place.
Right: In Hairspray (2007), she plays an ageing Beauty Queen.

In the really good cinematic remake, that was Hairspray (2007), she has fun and looks great, in a catty performance. We see Pfeiffer, quite unsuccessfully, trying to seduce a hilarious Christopher Walken character. They have a fun musical number together, and Michelle Pfeiffer proves she’s still a knockout, in the 50th year of her life. She was 49 years old, when the new Hairspray was released (I haven’t seen the original 1988 version). In the movie, we see that Pfeiffer’s character was beauty queen, in her youth, which she was in reality too (pictured above).

Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds (1995)

Besides the 7 male co-stars, of hers, I’ve spoken of; Michelle Pfeiffer has appeared in so many notable roles; whether the films themselves were great or not. Some other movies of her to watch out for, include, Dangerous Minds (1995), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999), The Story of Us (1999), What Lies Beneath (2000), White Oleander (2002), The Family (2013). As I said, some of these might not be great; a couple of them, far from it; but still it’s worth checking out, for Pfeiffer’s sake; especially if you are a die hard fan.

Of course, I watched these movies ages ago. So, this post, entirely relied on my memory. It’s been a while since I last saw a Michelle Pfeiffer movie. In fact, the last film of hers I saw was The Family, co-starring Robert De Niro; and that would have been a year, or so, or more, ago. I don’t remember, it wasn’t a good movie, ’twas alright though; Average Fare. There are still, quite a few movies of hers, am yet to see; and would love to.

This Blog Post, CATWOMAN CHEMISTRY, is my contribution to the, THE MICHELLE PFEIFFER BLOGATHON, hosted by Paul S of Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies (in celebration of Michelle Pfeiffer’s 60th Birthday)!!!!!!

Thank you Paul, for letting me take part in this Pfabulous Pfeiffer Blogathon.

Nuwan Sen

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On this Day …………

Martin Luther King jr. – Maya Angelou – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

TWO EXECUTIONS

The Civil Rights Activist

On the evening, of 4th April, 1968; globally well know American activist, Martin Luther King Jr., was shot by James Earl Ray. King Jr. succumbed to his wounds, and died an hour after the fatal incident. He was 39 years old. Today marks the 50th Anniversary of his death!!

The People’s Leader

Educated at Berkeley and Oxford, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was a very prominent and progressive figure in Pakistani politics, in the 1970’s.  First as the President of Pakistan (1971 to 1973), and then as the Prime Minister of Pakistan (1973 to 1977). On the 5 of July, 1977, the military, led by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, staged a coup, Operation Fair Play; relieving Prime Minister Bhutto of power. After various appeals and legal battles, Bhutto was finally sentenced to death. On 4th April 1979, 51 year old, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged to death, at Central Jail Rawalpindi. General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq imposed Martial Law, and his military dictatorship ruled Pakistan, until his death in 1988, in a plane crash. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s eldest daughter, Benazir Bhutto, soon came into power, after the death of her father’s assassin; bringing an end to military rule, and in turn becoming the first woman leader of Pakistan; as well as the very first woman to head a democratic government in a Muslim majority nation. The irony is, the more modern, open-minded, progressive country of the United States of America, is yet to have a female leader. Benazir Bhutto, too was assassinated, in 2007. She was 54 years old.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BIRTH OF A CAGED BIRD

The Poet

Maya Angelou was born on April 4th, 1928; in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. She was named Marguerite Annie Johnson. Having gone through childhood trauma, including rape and child abuse, she grew up to be a prolific poet, singer, and civil rights activist. Having published 7 autobiographies; the most well known happens to be I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings from 1969. This memoir helped increase black feminist writings in the 1970’s. She received many accolades in her lifetime, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2011, which was presented by President Barack Obama. After suffering from poor health, in her old age, Maya Angelou died on the morning of May 28, 2014.

Éric Rohmer – Pareveen Babi – Roger Ebert

THREE GREAT FILM PERSONALITIES

The French Director

According to IMDB, French Film Director, Éric Rohmer, was born on the 4th of April, 1920. BUT, this is disputed by other sites, including Wikipedia’s “Rohmer” page (although if you go to other links, on Wikipedia, his birthday is listed as 4th April). But the Year is definitely, 1920. None the less, he was among the most influential directors, of French New Wave movement. Aged 89, he died on January 11, Year 2010.

Bollywood Babi69

If Parveen Babi were alive, she would’ve been 69 years old. Born into a noble Muslim family, in Junagadh, Gujarat, India; on 4th April 1949; grew up to be the quintessential heroine of 70’s Bollywood. With her minimalistic modern style (parted Babi bangs & bellbottoms) and brilliant acting talent, she captivated audiences of that era; as both a star and an intellectual actress. She was the first Bollywood star to appear on the front page of America’s Time magazine (July 1976 issue) as the modern face of Indian Cinema. But, alas, she suffered from schizophrenia, almost her entire life. Once her illness was out in the open, thanks to Mahesh Bhatt’s feminist films, Arth (1982); she left the industry (in 1983, after completing her film projects; which were released throughout the 80’s decade, keeping her fame intact) and took refuge under the patronage of U. G. Krishnamurti, and embarked on a spiritual journey. She returned in the late 80’s, by now suffering, not just from her ailments; but from deep depression as well. Soon she became a recluse. Parveen Babi died all alone, on 20th January 2005, and no body knew; until two days later. Her death, till date, is not clear as to what truly happened; police ruled out any foul play, and apparently she starved to death. She was 55 years old. Bollywood ought to have been more empathetic towards her.

The Death of a 1975 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Roger Ebert, the most prestigious American Film Critic, who was a film critic for Chicago Sun-Times, from 1967 until his death; won a  Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, in 1975. Ebert was the first Film Critic, to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Having lived with cancer of the thyroid and salivary glands since 2002, Aged 70, Roger Ebert, died on 4th April 2013; as he was preparing to leave the hospital.

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……………………… – – these lines were spoken by, the character of, Ann Shankland (played by Rita Hayworth); in a scene from the brilliant movie, Separate Tables (1958). Late last night, I watched this amazing downloaded movie; which has been magnificently transported from the stage to the screen. Separate Tables, directed by Delbert Mannis, is based on a collective of two one-act plays by Terence Rattigan (namely Table by the Window and Table Number Seven).

This entire very bold Hollywood movie, is rigged with Sexual Tension, Sexual Repression and Sexual Harassment! AND 2018, with Hollywood’s #MeToo movement, feels like the perfect time to watch this movie. With a spectacular cast confined into the lonely Beauregard Hotel in Bournemouth, in the southern coast of England, UK; the film deals with love, lust, loneliness, bitterness, desire and depression. The star that stole the show (for me) was Gladys Cooper, as the harsh, unpleasant and domineering, Mrs. Railton-Bell; although it’s Wendy Hiller (as Miss. Pat Cooper), that took home the Oscar, for ‘Best Actress in a Supporting Role’. Nominated for 7 Oscars, this movie grabbed two. The other went to, actor David Niven (for ‘Best Actor in a Leading Role’); for his marvelous performance as the kindly n’ somewhat comical, yet pretentious, retired army officer; Major Angus Pollock. Another sidekick worth checking out is May Hallatt, as the stoic, yet enjoyable, Miss Meacham (who appeared in the same role on the original, West End and Broadway, stage production)

Several story lines intersect one another; but there are two major tales, that surface to prominence. One deals with Major Angus Pollock’s close platonic friendship with a repressed spinster, Sibyl Railton-Bell (Deborah Kerr); and Sibyl’s mother’s (Mrs. Railton-Bell) various schemes to ruin it. When it’s reported in the newspaper, that Major Pollack has pleaded guilty of sexual harassment of six women, at a local cinema; this gives Mrs. Railton-Bell a perfect reason, not to just get the Major, away from her fragile daughter’s life (who on learning this has a sort of nervous breakdown), but to be thrown out of residence from the Beauregard Hotel; and sent as far away as possible, in disgrace, from Bournemouth. Apparently, the original draft of this 1954 British play, however, saw the Major, not pleading to a misdemeanour of sexual harassment of women, but homosexual importuning, and suffering from his sexual repression in a homophobic world. In the movie, he does hint at it; saying he can’t help the way he is, and speaking of how he was picked on, at school, for being less masculine. It’s a pity, due to code of ethics of that era; the play and film were repressed from showing, what it initially intended. By the changing of the sexual repression of a gay Major, into that of a straight man sexually harassing women; ironically makes it an actual perversion; that needs to be forgiven. A sympathetic light is thrown the way of the Major; but for something, that in reality is far worse than just being a gay man struggling to keep his sexuality a secret, at the same time secretly acting on his desires; ironically in a public place. The world has definitely come a long way since then; or has it?

The other story line deals with a divorced couple, who meet after several years, at the Beauregard Hotel. We discover that the sophisticated wife, Ann Shankland (Hayworth) had sent her ex-husband, John Malcolm (Burt Lancaster), to prison for assaulting her. The washed out, drunk, John Malcolm; is another lowly character, Mrs. Railton-Bell has no regard for. After divorcing John, Ann had later re-married and re-divorced; it appears to have happened more than once; but she’s never lost her love for John. John, though he has a secret girlfriend, Miss. Pat Cooper (whom he says, he wants to get married to), is still in love with Ann. John & Ann, suffer when they are together, and suffer when they are apart. It’s a love-hate relationship; that cannot survive, without one another. Despite the sexual assault and the tensed, stressful, coexistence; they need each other; in a savagely animalistic sense, of love and lust.

Separate Tables has some superb character sketches. An excellent study into human psychology in the modern era. Everything about the movie blends in beautifully; the characters, the set of the hotel, the dinning tables. Along with the two leading plots, the other story lines that intersect, include; a modern young couple secretly in love (Rod Taylor & Audrey Dalton); the compassionate and understanding, elderly, Lady Matheson (Cathleen Nesbitt); the “self sufficient” hotel owner/manager and secret lover of John Malcolm, Miss. Pat Cooper; the elderly gentleman, Mr. Fowler (Felix Aylmer); and the strong built and bravely blunt, Miss Meacham, who too like the Major, seems to be afraid of people, as she states comically “..they are so complicated, …that’s why I prefer horses”. She’s a tough broad, with a touch of masculinity; which could imply her own sexual repression, that of a lesbian woman, but that’s unclear. Of course, though a dull spinster herself, Miss Meacham, is very different to the other young spinster, whom we see openly suffer from sexual repression; i.e. Deborah Kerr’s Sybil (spoken of above). It is obvious that the homely, plain-Jane, Sybil (a complete contrast to her stylish mother), has feelings for the major; but she’s unable to do anything about it. The Major doesn’t reciprocate to her subtle advances, but happens to be sympathetic towards her. Again, which makes sense, as in the original draft, the Major was meant to be gay.

Another thing to look out for, are the glamorous costumes designed by Mary Grant, and the Oscar favourite, Edith Head. Overall a wonderful movie; despite the significant change of the homosexual subject matter, into sexual harassment towards women (even though one’s sexuality oughtn’t have been a crime, even back then; while sexual harassment, always should be).

Separate Tables (1958)
My Rating: 10/10 !!!!!!!!!!

Bookish Nuwan
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

P.S. Also see my Special Blog Post, I did yesterday, as a PAGE; That Book, That Movie (of 2017)!!

 

Call Me By Your Name (2017): The Perfect Picture

A very pure form of storytelling, brought out by Luca Guadagnino, Call me by your Name; is one of the greatest English Language movies to come out of this century. The innocence, the romance, the sensuality; Guadagnino seduces his audiences into a heart-rending love affair; with the 17 year old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), his desire for the much older archaeology scholar, Oliver (Armie Hammer); and the Italian landscape. In the past, I’ve spoken about Why I love, films like Roman Holiday (1953), Jules et Jim (1962), Annie Hall (1977); et al; on IMDB!! The purity of the realistic, natural feel of these tear jerker romances, and sad, yet beautifully told love stories, with a mature understanding of human emotions; immerses you into these movies, empathizing with the characters; and being deeply involved with their intellectual conversations; understanding, and accepting their bonds, along with their eventual separations or tragic rides to death of their romantic flings (either metaphorically or literally). The style also reminded me of the Art Films of Éric Rohmer; especially Pauline à la Plage (1983); English Title – Pauline at the Beach (which was, also a coming of age story, released in the year Call me by your Name is set in); and Rohmer’s famed “Tales of the Four Seasons” series of films.

Everything about this movie is uniquely brilliant. The story/narrative (based on the novel by André Aciman); the script/screenplay by the renowned James Ivory (collaborated with Luca Guadagnino and Walter Fasano); the music/soundtrack by Sufjan Stevens; the cinematography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom; film edit by Walter Fasano, the film direction by Luca Guadagnino; – They all come together to bring out something pure and touchingly sublime.

From the artistic title credits, at the beginning; which look like chalk on board (most probably a shout out to the 80’s, when chalk was still used on Blackboards; by the 90’s schools slowly transitioned to Whiteboards with gel markers) with pictures of Hellenistic sculptures showcasing the beauty of the male form; to the finalé, with the burning fire in the cold winter reflecting on Elio’s crying face (like an allegory of his burning desire; being submerged with an unbearable depression of lost love); as the end credits roll; with Sufjan Stevens lending his vocals to the melonchonic Visions of Gideon; this movie completely encapsulates the audience emotions. Though the movie might have ended, the deep impact it leaves us with, stays on for days and days. It feels so real.

Regardless of it being a love story between man and a boy; the emotional turmoil, of experiencing first love, is something every human being can relate to; immaterial of his/her sexual orientation and racial/religious background. It’s a great coming age story, of two gay men; shown in such a naturalistic and non-judgemental manner; it makes one believe in love and romance. The best line of the movie is delivered by Perlman Sr. (i.e. Elio’s father), played by Michael Stuhlbarg; towards the end of the movie. Such an understanding parent, who doesn’t condemn his son’s act of love, with a much older man. Both Elio’s father and mother, Annella Perlman (played elegantly by British born actress, Amira Casar); are very accepting, modern, open-minded individuals; who trust their teenage son’s maturity; yet cuddle and shower him with love kids desire from their parents. Age has nothing to do with maturity. There are so many fully grown immature adults in the world; incapable of intellect, deep though and understanding. Here we see a teenager, along with his caring parents; who are highly mature and sophisticated, in dealing with emotional problems with dignity.

Speaking of elegance and dignity; the Perlman’s definitely are a very privileged family; yet they aren’t obsessed with materialism; even though their superior taste in the world of arts is well acknowledged. They are well in tune with nature and their natural surroundings around the beautiful Villa, in the region of Lombardy, in Northern Italy; that they reside in. We see Elio and Oliver (an American Jewish visitor for the summer, working as an assistant to Elio’s father) exploring the natural countryside, cycling, swimming and dancing. Added to which, we see Elio as a book worm and a lover of classical music.

From the music, to the cinematography, the atmosphere created within; the entire movie seduces us, without necessary showcasing graphic sex. The much talked about peach scene, has a naïvety entwined with it’s sensuality; as erotic as it is, it’s also a touching moment. Elio’s desire to penetrate Oliver is obvious (as it’s led to believe Elio is on the receiving end), the touching of the soft skin on the peach, exploring the hole atop, it’s aesthetically sensual without being cheap and vulgar; yet Elio feels humiliated when Oliver teases him for it. Innocence, eroticism and misery, all rolled in one; making one feel sorry for Elio.

Nature and the aesthetic male nude, play a crucial role in the movie. There is a scene where the archeology professor (i.e. Elio’s father, mentioned above) takes Elio and Oliver to see the ancient Kouros statues that have washed up close to shore, at Lake Garda. Elio and Oliver admire the statue of the male form in all it’s beauty; later the Professor tells Oliver of his admiration for the bronze kouroi, the aesthetic male nude of the bygone era; an understanding of artists’ affections for the youthful male body (which practically was like an understanding, and acceptance, in part of the professor, of Oliver’s love for the Professor’s fully developed young son). And then there is a scene where we see Oliver’s naked physique standing in the dark, from behind, standing at a windowsill; and his beautiful body looks like a Hellenistic works of art, discovered at the Lake Garda, itself. Armie Hammer was 30 years old, and in marvellous shape, when he did this role. The then, 21 year old, Timothée Chalamet, is very believable as a 17 year old Elio, who looks 15. Yup, Chalamet; is capable of portraying an even younger teenager, if he had to. What is more impressive is the fact, that both these actors are actually heterosexual; yet they play their on-screen homosexual romance with such ease, it makes the movie entirely more believably brilliant. And the atmosphere created with the landscape and background score; helps us cherish their beautiful May/December romance, admiringly.

Speaking of music, Call me by your Name also has a great soundtrack; especially with Elio being a musical prodigy of sorts. We get to hear Elio’s own renditions of maestros of classical music, the likes of Bach; and the way Liszt might have played Bach. Added to which there are some beautiful modern day songs, like Sufjan Stevens Mystery of Love and the very 80’s Love my Way by The Psychedelic Furs (from their 1982 album, Forever Now). Speaking of the 80’s; as I mentioned earlier, this movie is set in the Summer of 1983. Yet, Luca Guadagnino manages to make the 80’s feel very today. In other words; instead of making the 80’s, vintage; without making the setting a blast from the past; Guadagnino transports us, the audience back; making us feel as if we are currently living in the 1980’s. It feels like the present. The movie unravels in front of our eyes, as if it were happening, at this moment. Not in a nostalgic sense.

Teenage angst, sexual awakening, first crush; these are coming of age themes; all humans can relate to (whether it’s a love for an older person; where the adult reciprocates; or whether it’s a painful experience of unrequited love). Elio, in one sense, is a very lucky teenager; he not only falls in love; but his love with an adult is consummated (without marriage, of course). Added to which, he has very understanding parents, who give him the freedom teenagers desire, without suffocating him; at the same time, they are there for him, when he needs them the most. When Elio, heartbroken, calls his mum to come and get him; his mother rushes to his aid. The father, consoles the heartbroken child, advising him, not to stop feeling human emotions; because of the pain of losing his first love. Yet, we do sympathize, with Elio. The moment, he whispers “Elio, Elio, Elio” (reminiscence of a romantic moment they shared, where they called each other with their own names; “Call me by your name, and I’ll call you by mine”); to his ex-lover over the phone”, pulls at your heart strings. And Elio sitting and staring at the fire, the emotionally devastated state he is in, when he finds out, Oliver is getting married to a woman; is heartbreaking. Similar, yet so different, to the silent; not speaking a word, yet facial expressions betraying their emotions; type ending from Roman Holiday. That Peck & Hepburn love story is till date, my all time favourite movie; and Call me by your Name, no doubt is my favourite gay themed love story; and amongst my favourites from this century.

This artistically told delicate romance, made with a small budget; has been nominated for 4 Oscars. From ‘Best Motion Picture of the Year’, to ‘Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role’, to ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’, to ‘Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)’ for Mystery of Love; all the nominations are deservedly so; yet it is sad, that Luca Guadagnino, has not been nominated for his superb film direction. Call me by your Name, should at least bag the top prize, for ‘Best Picture’; if not for all four. Yet, I highly doubt, Timothée Chalamet, would win the ‘Best Actor’ trophy; as the academy tends to look at the Body of Work as well (which is absurd, as there is something called a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for that); but anyway, I felt Gary Oldman did a slightly more brilliant role (of playing past British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill), in Darkest Hour (2017). Besides Call me by your Name and Darkest Hour; the only other ‘Best Picture’ nominee I’ve seen is, Dunkirk (2017). All three films are superb in their own right; but Call me by your Name, definitely deserves the coveted Oscar statuette, THE most. No matter, how great, the rest of the films nominated are; I highly doubt, that any of them come close to the unique masterpiece that is Call me by your Name!!!!!

Call Me By Your Name (2017)
My Rating: 10/10 !!!!!!!!!!

I first watched Call me by your Name, last month, on 11th January 2018, streamed online, on a useless website, with a pathetic copy of the film (the quality was soooo bad); BUT the movie was totally worth it. The fact I fell in love with this movie, despite watching it in such bad quality; says a lot about what a great movie it is. So I wanted to re-watch it, on a better quality. Earlier this month, I downloaded a copy of the film, from another site. It took 7 hours or so; felt like the whole day. To see, it was a 30 second clip, stating, to watch the full movie, go to some website!! I was infuriated, and utterly disappointed. Then, on 22nd February 2018, I downloaded it from the site I started downloading films, for the first time, last year (see my post Mardi-Gras, Movies-Gay from March 2017). Initially Call me by your Name was not available on the said site. It took only a couple of hours, and I watched it for a second time, then and there. The quality of the downloaded version was crisp and clear (sadly just the English subtitles for the French and Italian segments were not available; but I can make out some phrases in French, anyway ’twas not much of an issue). The film was worth re-watching, in better quality. It’s sad these great movies are rarely shown in Cinemas here; even then they don’t last for more than a week (watched Darkest Hour, at the Cinema; which lasted only one week). I’d love to re-experience this movie, away from the Laptop; and on the big wide screen someday. Until then ….

Later!!!!!
Nuwan Sen
(Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense)

🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑

Photograph-V

On Facebook, I was challenged; on the 1st of November, Year 2017, to post a Black&White picture per day, without posting any people, and no explanations, yet it had to do with my life. This was a 7 day challenge, that ended today. Whilst, the rest of the photographs are pretty self explanatory (to some extent at least), this is a picture, which is very personal, and has to do with my childhood on wards, till date. It does not simply depict my love for Books & Films!!!

So here is an explanation for this picture, I posted on FB, for Day V (i.e. 5th November 2017) :-

So past 4th midnight, I thought of posting something uniquely personal for Day V, of the B/W photography challenge. I started taking out the close near dear reads and views, from my shelves, and set them on my bed. It was already next day, with 9/10ths of a moonlit sky shining above the wet clouds outside. At 00:55 am, 5th morning, I took the snapshot. Yet, ’twas a pity, I won’t be able to explain it. But today morning, after posting the last picture of the challenge, I went back to this. And decided, I can’t explain it on FB, but I have a Blog, where I can.

So the picture; let us start with Audrey Hepburn. So, as many of my fellow bloggers and close friends are aware, that Hepburn happens to be my all time favourite actress. I’ve been a fan of hers since I watched My Fair Lady (1964), as a little kid, back in the mid-1980’s. I wanted to grow up and marry her, and remember asking my mum, how old Hepburn was (of course I realized Audrey Hepburn was somewhat older than me, but what I didn’t realize at the time was that this musical, set during the Edwardian era, was made long before I came into existence). Anyway, Audrey Hepburn starred alongside the suave gentleman, Gregory Peck, in ROMAN HOLIDAY (1953), which happens to be my all time favourite movie. I watched this in the summer of 1994, just before my 19th Birthday, whilst living in New Delhi, India. Plus, 1994 was the best year of my teenage life (coming of age in Shit Lanka was a nightmare, so it was a refreshing change to go back to India in 94′, after a hellish six year stay in monstrous Lanka. And now am back, going through a lot of stress due to being stuck in a narrow minded extremist country like Shit Lanka. Been here for just over eight years now. Getting anything done in SL is a hassle, including trying to work on this simple blog-post without unnecessary disturbances and distractions). Anyway, even though a fan of Hepburn since childhood, it was once I watched ROMAN HOLIDAY, I truly fell in love with Hepburn. AND soon both her debut movie; about a Princess walking around the scenic architectural delights of ancient Rome, in modern day Italy, as a commoner, having an accidental fling, a tragic love story set in 24 hours, this B/W tearjerker romance that pulls at your heartstrings; along with Hepburn herself, became my all time favorite movie, and actress, respectively. I was simply smitten by her charmingly naturalistic acting. In 2003, after handing in my final dissertation titled “Marriage on Hitchcock Films: From Rebecca to Marnie”, for my MA in International Cinema, at the University of Luton, Luton, UK; I treated myself to an Audrey Hepburn Box-Set of Video Cassettes, which included my all time favourite, ROMAN HOLIDAY. The cassette cover that can be seen on the picture above.

Having mentioned Hitchcock, many of you know Alfred Hitchcock is my all time favourite director; and that REBECCA (1940) happens to be my favourite Hitchcockian classic. Thus, when I was studying his movies, doing an out and out psychoanalysis of varied character sketches, from his best period of Hollywood movies (his first 25 years in Hollywood) for my final dissertation of 25,000 to 30,000 words; I bought some of his movies, and rented others, in Oslo, Norway (as that’s where I resided, during my final semester, as I had no classes; thus working full time 5½ days a week, and concentrating on my dissertation on Saturday evenings and Sunday the whole day; I was exhausted). The video tape of REBECCA which can be seen above was one of movies I bought. But there is more of a history I share with Hitchcock’s REBECCA. I fell in love with this hauntingly magnificent tale of woman living under the shadow of her husband’s dead first wife; when I first saw it as a kid, in the mid-80’s. So this most probably was my all time favourite, till I watched ROMAN HOLIDAY, almost a decade later. Around that time, at school, The British School, in New Delhi, India, we had to write a film review. REBECCA being fresh in my mind, I remember writing my very first film review, on this noirish perfection by Alfred Hitchcock, aged 11; whilst I was in Senior-I. Later, aged 12½/13, I read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (on which the Hitchcockian masterpiece was based on). And this so called women’s book, my very first piece of Adult Fiction, instantly became my all time favourite novel, and it remained no.1 till aged 20, I read the English translation of CITY OF JOY, a French novel by Dominique Lapierre. I bought the book of CITY OF JOY (pictured above) in 1994, though I read it later. And from the age of 20, till now (I’m 42 now), it has remained my favourite novel. BUT, am currently reading Arundhati Roy’s latest novel, THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS (pictured above as well), since I located it at the end of August 2017 (yup, am a very slow reader; and it’s not like I get to read my book every single day); and THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS seems to be fast becoming my all time favourite. That I’ll know for sure, once I finish reading it.

From Novels, to non-fiction; FREEDOM’S DAUGHTER: LETTERS BETWEEN INDIRA GANDHI AND JAWAHARLAL NEHRU 1922-1939 (also pictured above), edited by Sonia Gandhi; happens to be my favourite text of non-fiction; which I read in my mid-20’s. When it comes to print media, there seems to be a major Indian connection. It’s just a mere coincidence. But still, even though with unfortunate Sri Lankan roots, that constantly try to pull me down into the mud with them, I was born and brought up in New Delhi, India. And I had a pretty good childhood (maybe not necessarily a great one, as I was badly bullied in school, it was still better, than when we ventured south into an inhumane and war torn island). Thus having such a strong Indian connection (altogether spent 17 years of my life in New Delhi, 12½ years in row); and a soft corner for my Birth city; plus being a movie maniac; I cannot, not add, my favourites in films, to do with India. My favourite Indian movie, is a Bengali/English bilingual Art House Movie, from the state of West Bengal, directed by Aparna Sen. I bought the DVD of THE JAPANESE WIFE (2010), which can be seen above, along with Kunal Basu’s book of Short Stories (one of which happens to be the basis of this movie), when I visited New Delhi in November/December 2010, on holiday. This was a holiday I took to India, after a break of 9½  years. Aged 35, I thoroughly enjoyed the short story, of The Japanese Wife, as well as the movie. Having watched Indian films throughout my life (especially Bollywood movies, though I happen to be a bit of an Art House snob), it’s amazing how Aparna Sen’s cinematic adaptation of THE JAPANESE WIFE, ended up becoming my favourite Indian movie ever. But having been brought up on Bollywood commercial cinema, I cannot not point out my favourite commercial Hindi Film, from Bombay (now Mumbai) from the state of Maharashtra, India. Mahesh Bhatt‘s ARTH (1982), the DVD of which can be seen above as well. ARTH; which I actually first saw as a kid, and few times later; is a reel life adaptation based on Mahesh Bhatt‘s real life extramarital affair with actress Parveen Babi, who suffered from schizophrenia. A tragic beautiful mind, that soon left the film industry once her illness was out in the open, thanks to this excellently made movie. died under mysterious circumstances, in 2005 (see my post related to her Death Anniversary from January 2013).

Speaking of extramarital affairs and coming back to short stories, I read Anton Chekhov’s THE LADY WITH THE DOG (pictured above), an adulterous love story, when I was 15. This Russian romantic short, happens to be my all time favourite short story, till date (du Maurier’s The Apple Tree, comes a close second). My favourite novella (a text too small to be a novel, yet way too long to be considered a short story), happens to be Truman Capote’s BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S (pictured above as well); which I bought, and read, in 2009, whilst living in the most beautiful city in the world, Paris, France. Fell in love with this beautifully written piece of prose, a quick read (Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, happens to be next favourite novella, and I love Kubrick’s surreal adaptation, from 1971, of the book, as well). The movie version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), which also happens to be among my favourite films, directed by Blake Edwards, also stars my all time favourite actress, Audrey Hepburn.

So, I’ve come a full circle, from Hepburn to Hepburn!!!! Almost like a of .


#‎NuwanSensFilmSense
Bookish Nuwan (NS)