Tag Archive: Books et al


Richard Burton plays Philip Ashley, in the 1952 film adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s acclaimed novel, My Cousin Rachel.

A constantly brooding, suspicious, miserable character, that we rarely see smile. Even his happiness (in rare moments when he seems to be happy) is superficial, taunted by his skeptical nature. His mental state, stained by the loss of his favourite cousin, who raised him, and with the guilt of harbouring lustful desires for a woman who might be the reason for his cousin’s untimely demise, eating away at him; Philip Ashley is never at peace. AND this character is portrayed with pure perfection, by the brilliant British Shakespearean actor, Richard Burton. Predominantly a British star, the UK’s Cornwall set My Cousin Rachel (1952) was Burton’s first foray into Hollywood and it earned him a Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor in 1953.

Olivia de Havilland plays the ambiguous character of Rachel, in My Cousin Rachel (1952)

Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel is about an orphaned kid, Philip, who is brought up by his wealthy cousin, Ambrose Ashley (played by John Sutton in the movie). Ambrose, while away in Italy, meets the widowed Contessa Sangalletti (a.k.a. Rachel), a distant cousin of theirs, and Ambrose and Rachel soon marry. But their marital bliss is short lived, as Ambrose dies of a brain tumour. Yet before his death, he manages to plant the seeds of suspicion on young Philip’s mind, that she’s been poisoning him. Thus, when Rachel comes over to Ambrose’s Cornwall estate, no matter how nice a person she seems to be, Philip is never at peace. He has a love-hate relationship with her; and he suffers throughout, due to the seeds of distrust having taken root in his mind. Even in the end, he is in agony, wondering whether she was guilty or innocent. Something that would haunt him for the rest of his life.

I really liked the ambiguous ending, for we never truly find out about Rachel, though we do feel she might be more innocent than guilty. She’s not a perfect person, but she most probably didn’t murder her husband, nor try to to kill off Philip, as he suspects. And as we get to know later, she doesn’t have any intention of taking over Ambrose’s estate, she doesn’t expect a dime. It’s all left to Philip.

With no real interest in making it in Hollywood, Richard Burton joined this project, due to the recommendation of director George Cukor (whom Burton had great respect for). Originally Cukor was planning to direct this cinematic adaptation of du Maurier’s Gothic novel. But when Cukor and du Maurier, read the first draft of the screenplay, they felt it was unfaithful to the novel, and were both disappointed. So Cukor dropped out. However the project went ahead, without Cukor, and the movie was ultimately directed by Henry Koster. The end result, though different to the novel, was excellent; mainly thanks to Burton’s brilliant acting talent, along with the rest of the cast. Even du Maurier was pleased with Burton’s performance, as well as certain shots filmed in the real Cornwall; but felt de Havilland didn’t capture the mystery of the character of Rachel, well enough. Even though I haven’t read the book, I agree, I felt de Havilland’s performance was quite lukewarm. She wasn’t bad, in fact she was interesting enough; but far from great. Then again the character she played was quite ambiguous, and hard to judge. None the less, the film is excellent; Burton Brilliant; and the cinematography by Joseph LaShelle, hauntingly beautiful. The Cornwall setting and the beach play quite an important role in this story, but I noticed it’s not as significant to the plot, as much as it (especially the representation of the beach) was, in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca; the 1940 film adaptation of which (by Alfred Hitchcock, starring de Havilland’s sister, Joan Fontaine) went on to win Oscars, for Best Picture and Best Cinematography. 1952’s My Cousin Rachel, was nominated for four Academy Awards, including one for Richard Burton (his 1st Oscar nomination), but it won none. Burton never won an Oscar, though he was nominated seven times, altogether.

Apparently, Olivia de Havilland didn’t get along with Richard Burton, whom she hated. She felt he was coarse, crude, unsophisticated. But then again, growing up, she wasn’t very kind to her own sister, Fontaine. Today, amazingly, Olivia de Havilland, is the one who is still alive. Most notable for her role as the kindly ‘Melanie Hamilton’, in Gone with the Wind (1939), de Havilland turned 102, on 1st July 2018, surpassing younger sister, Joan Fontaine, who passed away on 15th December 2013, less than two months after her 96th Birthday!

Olivia de Havilland, Audrey Dalton and Richard Burton, in a scene from My Cousin Rachel (1952)

Back in my teens, in the early 1990’s, I watched the 1983 BBC television mini-series, based on My Cousin Rachel, which apparently is comparatively more faithful to the novel, and which I loved too. YET, I loved this classic movie adaptation, I saw end of September 2018, online on Youtube, with not that clear a sound, and re-watched day before, even more. Although, if my memory serves me right, I do feel, Geraldine Chaplin in the 83′ version, most probably did more justice to the role of Rachel.

Recently there was another film adaptation of this book, released last year (2017), directed by Roger Michell, and starring Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin, in the lead. Am yet to see this newer version, which has had some mixed reviews.

My Cousin Rachel (1952)

My Rating: Excellent – 10/10!!!!!!!!!!

Bookish Nuwan
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

#NuwanSensMovieSense

#‎NuwanSensFilmSense

This Blog Post, is my contribution to the, REGALING ABOUT RICHARD BURTON BLOGATHON, hosted by Gill of Real Weegie Midget!!!!!

Thank you Gill, for letting me take part in this Blogathon, dedicated to a such prolific British Actor of the Stage and Screen!

Nuwan Sen (NSFS)

Advertisements

Hollywood sweetheart (of the last two decades of the last century) Meg Ryan, was no doubt one of the Queens of Romantic Comedies of the 1980’s & 90’s, alongside Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock. AND Ryan definitely came in THE BEST Rom-Com, of the 1980’s decade (and my favourite romantic comedy, from that particular decade, and among my personal favourite Rom-Coms, ever), When Harry Met Sally… (1989).

The Genre known as ‘ROMANTIC COMEDY’

The genre of the Romantic-Comedy, or more popularly known as the ROM-COM; should not be confused with silly notion of bad B-grade films, known as chick-flicks. A Rom-Com, surpasses those narrow minded extreme sexist attitudes of “Dude films/chick flicks/gay films (when used in a derogatory sense)”. Today, this century you don’t really get good romantic comedies. Most chick flicks, which are merely meant for giggly headed teenage girls, tend to ape the genre of Rom-com, but aren’t exactly Romantic comedies. Similarly, silly waste-of-time action packed films that tend to be dude films; aren’t really epic war/superb science fiction/crime/mystery/psychological thriller/horror/sports flicks (all movies have “action” in them, not just dude films with loads of special effects, meaningless violence, and little else). Great Romantic Comedies tend to go beyond gender, and are meant for a broader audience (ironically the broader audiences are limited to a narrow population of more open-minded individuals, with a good understanding and great taste, and true love for the cinematic art form). Films like It Happened One Night (1934), Sabrina (1954), Ariane – Love in the Afternoon (1957), Some Like It Hot (1959), The Apartment (1960), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Irma la Douce (1963), Annie Hall (1977), One Fine Day (1996), My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), Notting Hill (1999), are more than just chick-flicks. These are some of the great films that come to mind, when I think of Romantic Comedies. These are great Romantic Comedies, that can be enjoyed by anyone with good taste. At the same time, if you looks at the list, you can also sense the decline of the Rom-com genre. As much as I love the three 90’s Rom-com, mentioned above, they are no where as great as their predecessors. I feel the best Rom-coms came in the 50’s and 60’s; and in other various decades there were one off great Rom-Coms. Like for example; in the 1930’s decade, It Happened One Night, is a uniquely excellent Romantic Comedy to have been made; and when in comes to the 70’s & 80’s, decade, When Harry Met Sally… and Annie Hall, happen to be the two great Rom-Coms, to come out. Annie Hall was of course, even more unique, ’cause it was an Art House Romantic Comedy. Notting Hill, my favourite Rom-Com from the 90’s decade, even though nowhere near as great as the Rom-Coms, of the previous decades, happens to be the last great Romantic Comedy, made till date. Today, movies made as Rom-Coms, are merely chick flicks, a poor excuse for the enjoyable Rom-Com. With the exception of Prime (2005), which happens to bit an Art House Romantic Comedy, and comes close to the level of the 90’s Rom-Com. But that too, it’s thanks to the supporting role by brilliantly versatile Meryl Streep, that I enjoyed the movie so much, when I watched it over a decade ago. So basically, a good Romantic Comedy (and just because a movie is based on Chick), does not make it a Chick-Flick (Juno, 2007, is about a smart chick, that doesn’t fall into category of the silly chick-flick; for it’s superb piece of a satirical drama, penned down by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman).

So Meg Ryan, luckily walked into the world of Cinematic Arts, when Romantic Comedies, still had a high standard. AND she appeared in one of the best Rom-Coms, ever made, When Harry Met Sally…!!!!!! Pure Excellence!!!!!!

Carrie Fisher & Meg Ryan in a scene from When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

When Ryan became Sally…

I wish I could’ve re-watched When Harry Met Sally…, before working on this Blogathon. But unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to watch a single Ryan flick, specifically for this Blogathon. So like in quite a few previous instances, I’ll have to be completely dependent on memory. The character of “Sally” was loosely based on the film’s screenwriter, Nora Ephron. Yet, Ryan makes it her own. Unlike the moody, cynical character of “Harry” (Billy Crystal), Sally happens to be a very optimistic, direct, honest, fun loving, adorably a tad eccentric and cheerful character, who knows what she wants, and isn’t afraid to ask. The scene in the flight (if I remember correctly that’s where it takes place), where Sally orders some food, and specifically mentions how she wants it; metaphorically it reflects on her personality, showing how aware she is of how she exactly wants something done, without causing people trouble (for example, even in my case, when I order a Muffin or something which comes with ice-cream, I ask them to put it on the side, or if that’s too much trouble for them to comprehend, I’d rather have it without ice-cream, ’cause I don’t want my sponge getting soggy, and nor am I that crazy about ice-cream; same when it comes to Paper Dosa, I ask them to give me the potato masala on the side, rather than it stuffed inside; though I like other kinds of Dosa’s, Crêpes or Wraps, with filling, the wafer thin Paper Dosa tends to get soggy with a filling, and looses it’s unique crispiness).

When it came to the fake orgasm scene, it was thanks to Meg Ryan, it took place. The original script had no such scene, just the two discussing how women are good at faking an orgasm, but Ryan came up with idea actually doing a fake orgasm scene. AND she nailed it. Now it is one of the most infamous scenes in film history. Plus, it was filmed in an actual restaurant. The famous line, at the end of the scene, “I’ll have what she’s having”, is quipped by director, Rob Reiner’s, mother.

The best thing about the movie is the close friendship shared by the two lead characters. The movie basically is a study exploring the age old question, whether men and women can be just good friends. The answer is yes, they can. BUT, it also shows, how sex can ruin a good friendship. Which is so true. In any friendship, between the same sex or opposite sex (also depending on ones gender and sexual orientation), if either the two friends have sex with each other, or have sex with their best friend’s partner, sex could ruin a really good friendship. In this case, since it was a friendship between a straight male and straight female, the fact that they had sex with each other, is what ruined the great bond they had. Though, since this is a Romantic Comedy, they realize they are both madly in love with each other, and get back together, in a romantic sense. BUT in real life, this might not necessarily be the case. So the the main lesson actually is, not to sleep with a good friend, or their significant other (again depending on the gender and sexuality of you and your close friend).

Of course, the basis of a good relationship is also a good friendship, understanding and a mutual respect for each other, another fact this movie showcases, especially through the interviews at the end. But at the same time a meaningless sexual moment/one night stand is capable of destroying a truly good friendship.

Ryan & Hanks

Tom Hanks, who turned down the role of “Harry”, in When Harry Met Sally…, no doubt was the best co-star to compliment Meg Ryan’s perky characters in Rom-Coms (even though Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan had brilliant chemistry in When Harry Met Sally…, which too attributed to it being such a Rom-Com masterpiece). Meg Ryan shared a great on-screen chemistry with Tom Hanks, and appeared in three movies together. Ryan & Hanks, is a rare combination, and it would lovely to see them work together, again.

Meg Ryan & Tom Hanks in Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

The pretty good, but far from great, Joe Versus the Volcano (1990), saw their first pairing together. The best thing about this movie is, it showcases Ryan’s talent, through three very varied characters. This movie is more of a farce, encompassing elements of Romantic and Screwball comedies; but not an all out Rom-Com. Especially as the romantic character comes in much later in the movie, with the third character (who happens to be the smartest and main character of the movie) played by Meg Ryan.

The near-excellent Rom-Com, and first movie of them together that actually is a Romantic Comedy in every sense, Sleepless in Seattle (1993), is their best pairing to date. The most beautiful concept of the film is the fact, that the two don’t truly meet till the very end, and each has fallen in love with other, through a mutual little friend.

The pretty good, again not so great, You’ve Got Mail (1998), re-unites the two, in the internet age. Another proper Romantic Comedy, about two people poles apart and bitter business rivals, who fall for each other.

Although, none of these three films (though Sleepless in Seattle really comes close) are out and out excellent movies, but the pairing Ryan and Hanks, their enjoyable roles, make these movies, fun to sit through. It’s thanks to their great acting ability, and perfect chemistry, that Joe Versus the Volcano and You’ve Got Mail, didn’t end up being bad to just average films.

Other Works & The New Century

Meg Ryan, besides appearing Romantic Comedies; some other Rom-Com’s include, Prelude to a Kiss (1992), French Kiss (1995), Addicted to Love (1997), Kate & Leopold (2001); has proven her acting capabilities through serious roles as well as other comedies.

In the Romantic Comedy, Addicted to Love, she co-stars alongside Matthew Broderick, to seek revenge on their exes who are having an affair. The flick is really enjoyable thanks to Ryan. Similarly Kate & Leopold (2001), a romance through two centuries, co-starring Hugh Jackman, as an 19th Century Duke, who falls (literally) into the 21st Century and falls (metaphorically) in love with a contemporary woman; is fun to sit through thanks to Ryan, as well as the disoriented seeming Jackman. Prelude to a Kiss (1992) and French Kiss, are two Romantic Comedies of hers, that I haven’t seen.

Serious Moonlight (2009)

When it comes to non-Romantic Comedies, she has done some amazingly brilliant roles. Be it, the heart-rending excellence, When a Man Loves a Woman (1994), the near-excellent, D.O.A. (1988) which stars her then husband, Dennis Quaid, Restoration (1995) and Serious Moonlight (2009), to the very good, Courage Under Fire (1996), the pretty good, I.Q. (1994), or the averagely good films like, The Presidio (1988), City of Angels (1998) and Proof of Life (2000), she is a natural, no matter how big or small, the role. Even in her minute role in Top Gun (1986), she makes sure her character is well noticed.

Of course, with the exception of When Harry Met Sally… (which I’ve watched quite a few times), I’ve seen all these movies eons ago, way back in the 9O’s and early noughties. The most recent Meg Ryan movie I saw was, Serious Moonlight, that too was like 8 year ago. Serious Moonlight was again a really enjoyable comedy (though quite underappreciated), mainly thanks to Ryan’s cuckoo performance, as well as her co-stars, Timothy Hutton, Kristen Bell and Justin Long.

Today happens to be, Meg Ryan’s 57th Birthday. Wishing Hollywood’s (80’s/90’s) Sweetheart, a very Happy Birthday. And all the best in her future endeavours.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

This Blog Post, RYAN & ROM-COM, is my contribution to the, THE 3RD ANNUAL MEG RYAN BLOGATHON, hosted by Paul S of Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies (in celebration of Meg Ryan’s Birthday)!!!!!!

I’ve been very ill, and am going through a lot (both physically and mentally exhausted). BUT, as I promised to take part in this Blogathon, I somehow wanted to get it done today. I started writing in the late afternoon, and didn’t stop, till now, 9pm (2100hrs) in night. Glad to have managed to work on it, even last minute, with everything going on.

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

Nuwan Sen

The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon (Day 3)

Costume Designer, Edith Head, celebrates her birthday with, actor, Mel Ferrer, and his beautiful wife, Audrey Hepburn; at a party hosted for Ferrer and Hepburn, at the Beverly Hills Hotel, in Los Angeles, California (circa. October 1955/1956)

So here are the Participants, for Day 3, of the The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon, with their contributions :-

  • On Walter Matthau (1st October 1920 – 1st July 2000)
    Paul of Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies, does an interestingly unique post, one of my personal favourite films ever, the brilliant comedy, Cactus Flower (1969), staring October born, Walter Matthau, along with Ingrid Bergman, Goldie Hawn & Rick Lenz (For Hawn & Lenz; who share a birthday, both being born on November 21st, in different years; Cactus Flower, was their debut movie). What’s unique about Paul‘s post, with his affection for Michelle Pfeiffer and Meg Ryan, is that he does a small analysis of what it would be like if Pfeiffer & Ryan were to replace Bergman & Hawn, respectively, in Goldie, Meg and Matthau, Michelle and Ingrid Bergman too: From Cactus Flower to a Pfantasy Pfeiffer Pfilm
    NSFS
  • On Roger Moore (14th October 1927 – 23rd May 2017)
    Gill at Realweegiemidget, sends in her third and final post for this Blogathon, where she pays tribute to her favourite (and definitely the most good looking, till date) on screen James Bond, Roger Moore, and she also speaks of his non-Bond roles, a parody on his 007 character and a movie she hasn’t seen (i.e. his final performance), in FILM… Remembering When Roger Moore Hit the Bullseye and Moore
    NSFS
  • On the Birth of Cinema with Roundhay Garden Scene (Birth-date: 14th October 1888) & Joseph Ignatius Breen (14th October 1888 – 5th December 1965)
    Tiffany at pure entertainment preservation society, writes a long essay, focusing on; French inventor, Louis Le Prince’s Roundhay Garden Scene (1888), filmed at Oakwood Grange (Le Prince’s in-laws house) in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, UK, which is believed to be the oldest surviving film in existence; the (till date) unsolved mysterious disappearance of Louis Le Prince, as he was planning to exhibit his ‘moving picture’ invention; and delves deep into the life of, American film Censor, Joseph Ignatius Breen, known for enforcing the Motion Picture Production Code (a.k.a. Hays Code) under Will H. Hays; and Breen’s contributions to the Golden Age of Hollywood. Breen came into this world, in the United States of America, the same day, Roundhay Garden Scene was filmed, in the United Kingdom. Tiffany Brannan discusses all this, and more, in her essay, Clean with Breen: “October 14, 1888: The Birthday of the Motion Picture and Its Greatest Contributor” for “The Second Annual Great Breening Blogathon” & “The October Birthdayz Blogathon” – Tiffany Brannan
    NSFS
  • On All Hallows’ Eve (Birth-date: 31st October circa.1556), Bela Lugosi (20th October 1882 – 16 August 1956), Guillermo del Toro (Born on 9th October 1964), along with a couple of great Horror Giants of Literature & Cinema, who, were not born, but died during this month of Halloween, Edgar Allan Poe (19th January 1809 – 7th October 1849) & Vincent Price (27th May 1911 – 25th October 1993), respectively
    Reut of Moody Moppet, to go with the Horror month of Halloween, speaks of an anthology of Edgar Allan Poe’s macabre literary works, squished into an animated movie, where each story uses a different technique of animation. One segment is narrated by, the now Oscar winning film director, Guillermo del Toro. Another segment uses an archive voice recording from the 40’s, of Bela Lugosi (who shares his birth-date with my sister, 98 years apart) narration of Allan Poe’s short story, The Tell-Tale Heart. And another uses a caricature resembling, the legendary, Vincent Price. Reut Zriri ‏accounts all this under Extraordinary Tales (2013) – The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon
    NSFS

A Very Big Thank you, to my fellow bloggers, Paul, Reut, Tiffany‏ and Gill, for their contributions for Day 3 of the The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon. A a special thanks to Gill, for contributing 3 posts, for each day of the Blogathon, even though due to time constraints, she couldn’t do a post especially for this Blogathon, it was very nice of her to send me 3 previous posts, that go well with The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ Style

P.S. Also see the participants and contributions, for Day 1 & Day 2, in my posts, The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon (DAY 1) and The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon (DAY 2), respectively.

The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon (Day 2)

Angela Lansbury, takes a break to celebrate her birthday, during the time she worked on the Original Broadway Musical production of, Mame, in 1966
Starting on 24th May 1966, the play, became a big hit, and ran for 1,508 performances (& 5 Previews), in two Broadway Theatres, till it finally closed on 3rd January 1970. Lansbury, along with her supporting co-stars, Bea Arthur and Frankie Michaels, all won Tony Awards, for their performances.

So here is the only Participant, for Day 2, of the The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon, with her contribution :-

A Very Big Thank you, to Gill, for her contributions for Day 2 of the The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ Style

P.S. Also see the participants and contributions, for Day 1, in The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon (DAY 1)

Welcome!!!!!

The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon begins today

Actress, June Allyson, was born in the month of October (101 years ago), and I was born in June 😊 (the month, that is)
PIX: June Allyson on her Birthday, flanked by, husband/film director, Dick Powell (L), and co-star/young virtually unknown actor, Jack Lemmon (R); during the shoot of You Can’t Run Away from It (1956)

So Day 1, of the The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon, is finally here, and it’s my sister, Sachinta’s (a.k.a. Sachi) 38th Birthday. Spoke to her early morning (rather, face-timed her on What’s App), though it was still yesterday in the United States, where she resides. So Happy Birthday li’l sis, this is for you (at least inspired by this month being your birth month 🙂 )

Some photographs, of the Birthday Girl, reminiscing days gone by :-

Childhood

Sachi, on her 5th Birthday (20th October 1985) Cake: Our Mother’s Aesthetic Creation
PIX: At Home, Sri Lankan High Commission Residence, New Delhi, India

Sachi & I, Winter of 85′ (December 1985) On the way back to New Delhi from a trip to the “Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary”, in Bharatpur, State of Rajasthan, India

Mum & Sis, Horse ride in Nainital (March 86′)
During a trip to Nainital, a Himalayan resort town in the Kumaon region of the Northern State of Uttarakhand, India; in the Spring of 1986

In our Teens

Sis & I (Year 1993) in front of Tiny’s grave, at our mother’s ancestral home, in Kegalle, SL (Me just having turned 18, Sachi still 12)
Tiny was Mum’s pet dog, back in the 60’s & early 70’s. He died about a year after she married and left for New Delhi, India

Sis & I, In Ambepussa (Kegalle District) On the way to Kandy, SL (Year 1993)
Me, aged 18, Sachi is yet to turn 13

In her Twenties (in the 30th year of her life)

Sachi (aged 29), on holiday in Paris, France
PIX: Spring of 09′ (13th April 2009)

In our 30’s

With My Parents & Sister
PIX: At Sachi’s MBA Graduation Ceremony, in Adelaide, State of South Australia, Australia (7th November 2014)

With Sachi, the day before she left for the United States of America (the last time I saw her in ‘real life’ so far)
PIX: Me, still aged 39 (a month & 21 days away from turning 40) At Negombo Beach, SL (1st of May, Year 2015)

So here are the Participants, for Day 1, of the The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon, with their contributions :-

A Very Big Thank you, to my fellow bloggers, Michael, Rebecca and Gill, for their contributions for Day 1 of the The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ Style

Welcome to a New Month, and to The October Birthdayz Blogathon 🍁 2018! 🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃

October, is the tenth month of the Year, signifying the Orangey month of autumn in the Northern hemisphere, the orangish shades of maple leaves, associated with fall, and of course, the month of Halloween (with it’s Jack-o’-lanterns, carved out of orange pumpkins). Though Halloween’s roots originate in Christianity, All Hallows’ Eve, today (pretty much like Christmas), it’s more of a fun filled (non-religious) holiday, especially in the Northern American continent.

The month of October, also happens to be the birth month, of my sister, who actually lives in ‘Modern Day’ Halloween country – The United States of America (a.k.a. TrumpLand) itself. She’s been living there, residing in Princeton, New Jersey, USA, since May 2015. So, dedicating this Blogathon to my baby sister; who’ll complete the 38th year of her life, this month; I decided to host, The, very first, ❝October Birthdayz Blogathon! So in a sense, this Blogathon, is my gift to Sachinta’s upcoming 38th Birthday. Happy Birthday Sis!

So, my fellow bloggers/blog-pals/movie maniacs/film fanatics/cinema enthusiasts/bookish bums, you are all welcome. The Blogathon shall start on the 20th of October (my sister’s birthday) and end on 22nd of October. BUT, there are no hard and fast rules, as to when you can post. You can post, any day within the month, of October, effective immediately. So, even if you end up being fashionably late, do not fret, I shall do a special post for latecomers, on 31st October (Halloween night).

Though there are no hard and fast rules, on what or when you can post (it does have to be within this month), this Blogathon is to do with Movies, Movies and Movies. So below are some terms and conditions, on how to post, on any birthday associated with the Month of October. You are welcome to post, one or more, write-ups; as many as you like.

Some Simple Rules:

  • You are allowed to write about any famous or notorious personality, born in the month of October. But the write-up has to do with films (either Big Screen cinematic marvels or Small Screen movies made for television). So if you want to write about a non-film personality, the blog-post should be about a bio-pic based on his/her life, or a movie based on a true incident, where this particular ‘October born’ person played a pivotal part in (in which case, it has to be a charter-sketch of this famed person).
    [E.g. Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt & Bonnie Parker, were born in the Month of October]
  • If you want to work on an author/playwright/poet, again it should either be a film based on their lives, or (in this case) a film adaptation of one of their works. BUT, it has to be a good movie (doesn’t matter how faithful the movie is to it’s source material). No judgemental and unoriginal clichés of “Books are better than Movies”, please. A good movie has to stand on it’s own merit, whether it’s based on a book or not. You are welcome to do an interesting compare and contrast (in which case both the book and movie ought to be critically acclaimed, or at least you should love both, the book as a book, and the movie as a movie)
    [E.g. Virgil, John Keats, Oscar Wilde & Joan Harrison, were born in the Month of October]
  • If you are writing on a movie starring an actor/actress, then it ought to be more of a character analysis, played by the ‘October born’ star. If there are more than one person born in October, appearing in the same movie, the review can be about the movie, but please focus more on the characters played by the ‘October born’ stars.
  • If it’s a film of an ‘October born’ director, then a movie review is more than enough, yet attributing to his unique directing techniques, as to how well the director crafted it.
  • If you want to speak about a cinematographer/music composer/playback singer/costume designer/set designer (in other words, a non-actor/actress or director, attached to the movie), please highlight this ‘October born’ person’s contribution, besides the film critique.
    [E.g. Costume Designer, Edith Head, and Music Composer, S.D. Burman, were born in the Month of October]
  • You are welcome to write about the personal life of an ‘October born’ film personality, instead of a movie they worked on, if you wish. Again, it ought to be a non-judgemental, non-sarcastic, sympathetic look at a person’s life and career. Exceptions are allowed, if the particular person was highly notorious (like a Nazi spy or a serial killer or something, who was/is a famous film personality).
  • If your, or your own Blog’s, birthday falls in the Month of October, you are welcome to include a bit about yourself/your Blog, within a film context.
  • Duplicates are allowed, but I would prefer, there were none, as there is a vast array of people born within the 31 days of October.
  • You are welcome to write about recently released movies and film personalities of the 21st century, as well; BUT I’d prefer if you were write about a movie/celebrity from the past centuries. There are so many forgotten gems of the past; from Roundhay Garden Scene (1888) (the oldest surviving moving picture – private family footage) to the Lumière Brothers 10 short films released in 1895 (the very first ‘Big Screen’ cinematic releases) to more contemporary greats from post war 40’s to the 1990’s; that need more exposure, and should to be spoken of.
  • Once you have decided, please mention what you shall work on, as a comment below; and once you’ve blogged about a film related subject matter, for this Blogathon, kindly post the link, as a comment below.

Kindly share my post, and invite other bloggers, to join in. And, last but not least, please help yourself to one or more, out of the 10, banners below, I specially made for the Blogathon.

Thank you and Enjoy

Nuwan Sen of No Nonsense with Nuwan Sen

Blogathon Banners

This is the second time I am hosting a Blogathon. The very first Blogathon (and the only one till now) I hosted, was back in September 2014 (See my Blog posts – The Essential 60’s Blogathon, The Essential 60’s Blogathon : Dr Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) and The Essential 60’s Blogathon finalé from September/October 2014). But it wasn’t much of a success, as only four Bloggers (including me) took part in it. This year I hope it shall be more of a success, as I have a bigger blogging community now. Of course, even though am happily hosting this Blogathon, I shan’t take part it myself.

One of the main reasons, I shan’t work on a post for this Blogathon, is, ’cause am very sick (physically, mentally and otherwise). Since, I’ve been working on these banners, and a few more pictures/collages, within the last six days, to host this Blogathon, this month, I am forcing myself to somehow get this post done today, with a heavy sinus filled head, as the forces of Lankan nature are acting against me getting anything done. Am feeling quite exhausted, parched, dehydrated, with tired eyes, a cold and heaty throat and chest, as we speak; and writing this in a sort of a daze. I was down with the flu, when this year started, and am just as sick, as this beautiful month starts. I wonder whether am having an allergic reaction to the new diabetic meds I’ve been on for the last two weeks. I need to speak to my endocrinologist.

Anyway, I hope you shall all take part in this, my fellow Blog-pals and lovers of everything cinematic. I shall do three special posts (including your links of the posts you do) between 20th & 22nd October 2018, and a fourth n’ final one, for latecomers, on the 31st of October, 2018.

Also check out my twitter handle (https://twitter.com/Nuwansenfilmsen) I plan to post an  ❝October Birthdayz❞ special, on twitter, each day of of this month, as well.

Thank you in advance for your participation

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense 🧡

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

#NuwanARTS
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense



#NuwanSensMovieSense

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

#NuwanARTS
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense



#NuwanSensMovieSense

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

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

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

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

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

Manisha Koirala as Nargis Dutt

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

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

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

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

Sonam Kapoor as Ruby

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

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

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

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

Dia Mirza as Manyata Dutt

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

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

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

Anushka Sharma as Winnie Diaz

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

Karishma Tanna playing a slut

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

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

The trio of actresses playing Sanjay Dutt’s two sisters

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

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

‘Sanju’s’ Two Male Anchors

Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt

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

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

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

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

Vicky Kaushal as Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi

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

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

The Verdict

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

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

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

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Quoting the brilliant Indian Historian, Romila Thapar

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

– Romila Thapar
 Indian Historian
   (Born in 1931)

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