Tag Archive: Italy


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

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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)

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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

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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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

 

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

JANAAN (2016)

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

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

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

MATA NAM AHUNA (2015)

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

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

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

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

BISORJON (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

POORNA (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HALDAA (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WATERFALL (2017)

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

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

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

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

BAHUCHITHAWADIYA (2018)

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

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

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

THE SAARC FILM FEST EXPERIENCE

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

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

MY RATINGS (Set of Seven):-

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

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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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)

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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)

Ink-tober 2017, has come to end. Today, was the last day!!

A recently befriended fellow artist, told me about this. Ink-tober, is a drawing challenge started by illustrator and animator, Jake Parker, back in 2009. So every October, he gives a challenge for 31 days, with one topic per day. People storm the net, posting their ink sketches per day with the hashtags #inktober & #inktober2017! So I joined the challenge, this year. I couldn’t work on it every day, but when I could, I took my time to work on a proper drawing (or did a quick rough sketch), and posted them on Facebook; and a few on Twitter; with the above mentioned hashtags##!!

So now that the month has come to an end, and I’ve done 17 works for Ink-tober, I thought I’d share it with my fellow Bloggers!! 😀

DAY 1: SWIFT

My Topic: SWIFT HAND MOVEMENT

DAY 2: DIVIDED

My Topic: THE DIVISION OF PEACE

DAY 3: POISON

My Title: THE ORIGINAL POISONED APPLE, POISONED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL

DAY 4: UNDERWATER

My Title: UNDERWATER FANTASY

DAY 5: LONG

My Title: LADY LONG LEGS COVERED IN BELL BOTTOMS!

DAY 6: SWORD

My Title: PESHWA BAJI RAO I (1700-1740), OF THE MARATHA EMPIRE, & THE FLEXIBLE SWORD THAT SLAY HIS OPPOSING ARMIES

DAY 7: SHY

My Topic: SHY GIRL

DAY 8: CROOKED

My Topic: … AND THEY ALL LIVED IN A CROOKED LITTLE HOUSE

DAY 9 to DAY 15, I didn’t have time to work on anything!!!!!

DAY 16: FAT

My Title: THE FAT MAJA WITH GIANT BABY RING-NECKED DOVE (STREPTOPELIA CAPICOLA) PERCHED ON HER ELBOW
(Inspired by Francisco Goya’s LA MAJA DESNUDA, a.k.a. THE NUDE MAJA)

DAY 17: GRACEFUL

My Topic: GRACEFUL PRINCESS WITH BABY STREPTOPELIA CAPICOLA, AND POTTED PLANT OF EUPHORBIA CONTINIFOLIA!!

DAY 18: FILTHY

My Topic: FILTHY SELFIES IN GARBAGELAND!!

DAY 19: CLOUD

My Title: EUPHORIA: TO BE ON CLOUD 9

DAY 20 to DAY 22, again I couldn’t work on any drawings/sketches!!

DAY 23: JUICY

My Title: JUICY KISS

DAY 24: BLIND

My Title: BLIND BRAINWASHED LOVE FOR HELL ON EARTH, LAND OF PURE EVIL!!

DAY 25 to DAY 28, yet again I had to take another break from drawing!!

DAY 29: UNITED

My Topic: UNITED STATE OF OPEN-MINDEDNESS !!!!!

DAY 30: FOUND

My Topic: FILM NUWA – FILM SCHOOL & PRODUCTION HOUSE, FOUNDED BY NUWAN SEN, IN THE NEAR FUTURE (HOPEFULLY)

DAY 31: MASK

My Topic: MASKS OF DECEPTION

So that’s it. All 17 creations, I did this month, some good, some not so great!!!

So which of these drawings/quick sketches do you like? Which Topic/Title of mine, interests you the most?

Enjoy

Nuwan Sen

#NuwanARTS

Quoting Parveen Babi

 

The essence of spirituality lies in being a good human, and following, good, positive principles
– Parveen Babi
     (1949 – 2005)

 

Parveen Babi with Shashi Kapoor, in the late 70’s, on the sets of Kaala Patthar (the film was released in 1979)
The Film was based on the Chasnala mining disaster of 1975

Amitabh Bachchan & Parveen Babi in a scene from Deewar (1975)
This tragedy was loosely based on the life of notorious Indian gangster, Haji Mastan

Parveen Babi with her (then) life partner, Kabir Bedi, in ROME, in 1976

Lovers in Rome: Kabir Bedi and Parveen Babi, in 1976

Amitabh Bachchan & Parveen Babi, in the biggest Bollywood blockbuster of 1977; Amar Akbar Anthony
A comedy about three brothers, brought up in three different faiths; Hindu, Muslim & Christianity. The Big B and Babi starred in a number films together, and all of them super-hits

Pink n’ Blue, I Love You
Hema Malini (dressed in pink) in the titular role, of Raziya Sultan (1983), along with Parveen Babi (in Blue)
This bio-pic is based on the life of Queen Razia Sultan (1205 – 1240), the only female to ever rule the Delhi Sultanate; and this was one of the rare Bollywood commercial films to tackle Lesbianism (although the lovers were shown in a purely platonic sense, it was well hinted)

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense
Nuwan Sen (Quoting Quotes)

Da Vinci & Di Caprio: The Two LEO’s
Q.1° Given the chance to be a famous ‘Leonardo’ in your life, which Leo would You prefer to be? And Why?

a) Leonardo Da Vinci

b) Leonardo Di Caprio

c) A combination of both

d) Another Leo, altogether (Please specify, who & why)

Q.2° If, to the previous question, your answer was (c); which of these combined traits would you like to own? [You may answer, if you wish to, even if your answer for the previous question wasn’t (c)]

a) Da Vinci’s Brain (intellect) & Di Caprio’s Heart (seemingly kind personality/down to earth persona)

b) Da Vinci’s Artistic Talent & Di Caprio’s Looks

c) Da Vinci’s Looks & Di Caprio’s Acting Talent

Q.3° Which of these would like to possess?

a) Da Vinci’s (approximately) 550 years of fame, as one of the most celebrated artists in the world

b) Di Caprio’s 25 years of fame, as a talented actor and modern day humanist

Q.4° What is your favourite :-

a) Da Vinci Scientific/futuristic artwork?

b) Di Caprio Film?

c) Da Vinci Painting?

d) Di Caprio Film Character?

Q.5° If you could, which of these would you like to do?

a) Travel back in time, and meet Da Vinci

b) Do Di Caprio, in the present (or by going back in time)

c) Both

Nuwan Sen
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ the ART’s
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nu Sense on Film
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