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

Lee Grant in Detective Story (1951)

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

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

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

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

Lee Grant in a scene from Detective Story (1951)

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

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

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

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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

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

Nuwan Sen

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On this Day …………

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

TWO EXECUTIONS

The Civil Rights Activist

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

The People’s Leader

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

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BIRTH OF A CAGED BIRD

The Poet

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

Éric Rohmer – Pareveen Babi – Roger Ebert

THREE GREAT FILM PERSONALITIES

The French Director

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

Bollywood Babi69

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

The Death of a 1975 Pulitzer Prize Winner

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

Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense
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Correct Answers to the Quiz (my previous blog-post) Question # 014: Luscious Lips 💋

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A.1

These thin pink lips, that almost looks like a slit (a healing wound) up close; belong to the Angelic featured, JUDE LAW

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A.2

These beautiful pair of lips belong to, Bollywood’s Bellbottomed beauty, of the 70’s (& early 80’s); who set a fashion trend with her, simple n’ sophisticated, minimalistic style; PARVEEN BABI

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A.3

These pair of lips, belong to 1930’s diva; who defied gender roles, with her androgynous style; showcasing a bold femininity in masculine attire; MARLENE DIETRICH

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A.4

Ah!! These seductive Big Lips belong to; the bewitching beauty, actress & humanitarian of the 21st Century; 42 year old, ANGELINA JOLIE

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A.5

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…. AND these softies belongs to Yours Truly 😀 ; just check out my “About” page. Of course, this is from a picture of me, taken back in April 2012; just a couple of days away from being, one month; since I started my BLOG in March 2012. Of course, though I’ve put on a load of weight since, including on my face, my features won’t change, now would they? 🙂  Just age a little!!

Thank you fellow Bloggers for your participation!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense


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Who am I?? Guess who these 5 sensual pouts belong to!!

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Q.1

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Q.2

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Q.3

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Q.4

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Q.5

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CLUES: Take a look at the Tags below (& my About page 😉 ).

Answers: I shall post the Answers as another Blog Post, in a weeks time, after some of you’ve given this a try.
Enjoy

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
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P.S. Also see my posts Question Time # 009: Beautiful Eyes °° & Answers to Questionnaire no.9 from May 2015!!

Happy Chinese New Year 2018!!! The Year of the DOG 🙂    

Dog (狗) Earthly Symbol of the Dog (戌)

Today is the Chinese New Year, and the Year of the Dog starts; and it shall end on 4th of February 2019!!!!!

Click on the Image

According to legend, the Chinese New Year started with villagers wearing the colour RED, and decorating their homes with red scrolls with red lanterns being hung around the village, and lighting crackers, to keep off a mythical beast called Nian. Apparently Nian use to appear on the night of the first New Moon of the year, destruct villages and devour children. But it was afraid of the colour RED. Thus, RED is significant with warding off evil. Today, it is the biggest Asian festival celebrated around the globe!!!!

Chinese Actresses, Gong Li (L) and Ziyi Zhang (R), with their Dogs

British/Nigerian Actor, David Oyelowo, with his three rescue Dogs

French Actor, Alain Delon, playing with his dogs (in various decades from the 1950’s to the 1980’s)

Gingerella (R) & Nudin (L) @ Play (January 30th, YEAR 2018)

The Obama’s with Bo & Sunny
Former American President, Barack Obama, includes his beloved pets, in their official Family Photograph; at the White House, in the Spring of Year 2015

Amazingly YEAR 1994, was the Year of the Dog, too!!! I had no idea back then. Year happens to be the best year of my teen life (from my teenage years). ’twas a crucial turning point in my life, when we went back to live in New Delhi, India, after six years. The next really crucial turning point in my life came 13 years later; whilst residing Down Under.

Born in June 1975, I’m a Rabbit. An interesting coincidence is, that according the Chinese zodiac, the most compatible sign with a person born in the Year of the Dog, happens to be, people born in the Year of the Rabbit. So an amazingly Perfect coincidence, would be if I get someone born in 1994 (so basically someone 18½/19 years younger than me 😀 ). Another interesting coincidence is the fact that, at the moment, I’m attracted to a 23 year old, I met late last year (thus, most probably was born in 1994; unless this person’s birthday was within these two months). We happen to accidentally meet day before yesterday, and I saw a picture of this pretty creature’s latest boyfriend, who’s in Germany, at the moment. Yeah! I ought to be used to unrequited love by now  😦 . Not that I believe in astrology (yet admire it, as a form of Art), but you know; wishful thinking !!!

With a pet Rabbit, in a suburb of Paris, France (17th August 2008)

With Gingerella & Nudin, in our Front Yard, at home (6th July 2016)

Wishing every one a Very Happy Chinese New Year/Dog year 2018 ❤

 

Greetings from
Nu Wan (Sen)
(i.e. Nuwan Sen)

From movies released last year, 2016; I’ve only seen 12 of them so far; 9 of them within last year itself; and only 2 on the Big Screen; from the rest, except for a couple of them, that I watched online, on iflix, the others were on cable TV (either On Demand, or a foreign television channel)!! Here are the Best to the Bad!!!!!

Left: Sonam Kapoor as Neerja Bhanot in Neerja (2016) Right: The late Neerja Bhanot

Left: Sonam Kapoor as Neerja Bhanot in Neerja (2016)
Right: The late Neerja Bhanot

1. Neerja (2016) – Excellent: 10/10!

In 1985, Pan Am (Pan American World Airways) began an all Indian cabin crew for its India/Pakistan/West Germany routes. Neerja Bhanot was the Head Purser, of Pan Am Flight 73, when hijackers attacked the flight, on the 5th September, 1986.

The Pan Am flight had reached the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, from India, that morning. Carrying 380 passengers on board, the flight was on it’s way to Frankfurt, West Germany, and was to travel to New York, USA. As the flight was ready to close it’s doors, at the Jinnah International Airport, four armed Palestinian men of the terrorist organisation, known as ANO (Abu Nidal Organisation), forced their way into the aircraft; disguised as security officers escorting a Libyan diplomat. The brave Neerja Bhanot, quickly warned the trio of pilots, who, following protocol, escaped through an overhead hatch in the cockpit. Thus, making sure the plane does not leave the tarmac. Neerja, though terrified, along with other attendants, hid American passports, so that the ANO couldn’t differentiate, Americans from non-Americans, as the terrorists were specifically targeting Americans. After 17 hours, of their demands being unheard, the terrorists went crazy, and opened fire on all passengers. Neerja Bhanot quickly opened the emergency exit, and managed to save the lives of 360 passengers on board (20 others were killed), and 19 crew members. Bhanot made sure, all the people, who were still alive had escaped, without saving herself first. Ultimately she sacrificed her life, saving the lives of three children, as she shielded them from gunfire. She died of gunshot wounds, just a couple of days, before her 23rd birthday.

Sonam Kapoor does justice to the role of Neerja Bhanot!! Kapoor was spot on. In an interview, when Kapoor was asked, whether she is looking forward to winning the ‘Best Actress’ trophy at the Filmfare Awards, this year; she replied, that she didn’t know, for that was not the reason, she did this movie. None the less, she deservedly won the Critics’ Award, for ‘Best Actress’ at the 62nd Filmfare Awards, held earlier this month. However she lost out in the popular vote, for ‘Best Actress’. The movie altogether won six awards, including the Critics’ Award, for ‘Best Director’ (for Ram Madhvani), the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ trophy (for Shabana Azmi) and ‘Best Production Design’ (for Aparna Sud). The Production Design was truly superb, the way they replicated the whole Pan Am Flight 73, by making the model of the flight and it’s interiors, to perfection. It looked like an actual plane, on the tarmac.

This tragic story, is a must see. A perfect tribute, to the late Neerja Bhanot (1963-1986)!! Bhanot, an ordinary girl, not your conventional super heroine; but when put in an extraordinary situation, showed an inner human bravery, under fear. Also see my mini-write up on Facebook’s AHC page (Link:- https://www.facebook.com/search/str/%2523nuwansensfilmsense/keywords_search?filters_rp_author=stories-feed&filters_rp_creation_time=%7B%22start_month%22%3A%222016-03%22%2C%22end_month%22%3A%222016-03%22%7D)!!

Watched Neerja, on the Big Screen, early last year (in March 2016)!!

Here’s to Neerja Bhanot, an innocent girl, a film buff, a model, an abused wife, a divorcée, an air hostess, and most of all, a humanitarian; who put others before herself! Bhanot was posthumously awarded the Ashoka Chakra Award, India’s highest peacetime military decoration award, for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice, away from the battlefield. She was the youngest, and first female, recipient of this award. She received various more awards, posthumously; for her bravery, her loyalty to her passengers, and humanity.

2. Kapoor & Sons (2016) – Excellent: 10/10!

A fun filled family film, with a gay character. Bollywood is becoming more progressive. It’s a beautiful family movie, about a dysfunctional family, that get together to celebrate, the family patriarch’s, 90th Birthday; post recovery from a heart attack. A lot of drama, secrets, pain, romance and comedy, unfold; into a complex family reunion. With a great ensemble cast, the movie is made in a way, that the whole family can enjoy; from tiny tots to the elderly!! Just loved this Dharma Productions, movie, directed by Shakun Batra.

The Film won five trophies, at this year’s Filmfare Awards; including one for the legendary, Rishi Kapoor; who deservedly won, in the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ category. 64 year old Kapoor, played the 90 year old, head of the house, with perfection; in this movie.

Watched Kapoor & Sons, last year, when it was shown on the Indian cable channel, Colors (July 2016).

3. PINK (2016) – Excellent: 10/10!

“No means No!”, utters Amitabh Bachchan’s character; as he defends three girls (one of whom was molested), when the trio are charged with prostitution and attempted murder by the male culprits.

This is a brilliant Art House film, an excellent courtroom drama, and a women’s rights advocacy. Amitabh Bachchan proves, he is still the best actor around, in the aesthetic world of films. Bachchan plays a retired lawyer; taking care of his ailing wife, while suffering from his own health issues; who takes up this case, pro bono; for the sake of three innocent victims, who are being charged with a crime, and not the other way round. He does it for justice, and a woman’s right to refuse sexual advances.

Amitabh Bachchan lost out, in the ‘Best Actor’ category, to Aamir Khan. I haven’t seen Dangal (2016); for which Kahn won the Filmfare Award, earlier this month; but the 74 year old, Big B (i.e. Mr. Bachchan), was phenomenal, in PINK.

Watched PINK, late last year, on another Indian channel, Star Plus (November 2016)

4. Confirmation (2016) – Excellent: 10/10!

From one fictional tale of sexual abuse, to another based on a real incident. Though in this case the abuse might be merely verbal, and not of a physical nature; it is still a case of abuse of power, and gender discrimination.
confirmation-2016This movie deals with the ‘Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination’ of 1991; when a law professor, Anita Hill; who had previously worked under Clarence Thomas; was asked to ‘confirm’ her allegations of sexual harassment, against Thomas. Another sad, excellent film, with an unsettling ending, for both the protagonist’s of the movie. Kerry Washington is superb as Hill, who is initially reluctant to come forward.

Watched this television drama, Confirmation, when it was shown on the cable channel, HBO Signature (July 2016).

5. Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive (2016) – Near Excellent: 9/10!

A hilarious piece of satire, set during Obama’s presidency, dealing with; making a false proof, of the actual; Osama’s death. Not amongst the greatest comedies ever, but I couldn’t stop laughing. The movie was really enjoyable. Thus, I think I’ve given it a tad higher rating, than I should have. For more details, see my post Mai May Movies 2016 from May 2016, as well.

6. Airlift (2016) – Near Excellent: 9/10!

A true account of Indians trapped in Kuwait, in 1990, as the country was being invaded by Iraq; under Saddam Hussein. Yet again, see my mini-review under, ‘Mai May Movies 2016’, from May 2016.
pink-laden7. Michael Moore in TrumpLand (2016) – Very Good: 8/10!

Despite all Michael Moore had to say in this Stand-up/Documentary, Trump still triumphed; and now, 70 year old, Donald J. Trump; a business magnate; is the President of the United States!!

What I really liked about this documentary, is without directly attacking Trump, Moore slowly tries to make people understand, why he shouldn’t be the political leader, of America; and the dangers they face, if he came into power. This was almost an advertorial campaign for Hillary Clinton. Despite all this explanation, it is a pity, Mrs. Clinton; so much a better politician, lost out, to a business celebrity. I was rooting for her to be the first female President of America. Sad! And many, open-minded, Americans were distraught with the results. And the Women’s March 2017, is proof of that.

Watched this last year, as Trump won the elections, on iflix (November 2016).

8. Passengers (2016) – Pretty Good: 7/10!

I loved, Norwegian director, Morten Tyldum’s, The Imitation Game (2014); and his Hodejegerne (2011), a.k.a. Headhunters, is in my watch list. And when I went and watched, Passengers, in 3-D; I really enjoyed majority of the movie. BUT, unfortunately there is ‘But’!!

A spaceship carrying over 5000 people, under induced hibernation; travelling to a distant planet, in a span of 120 years; has a malfunction. As a result, more than one person, is woken up, approximately 90 years early. The film, with just two lead characters, who have to carry the burden of film, entirely on their shoulders, is very impressive. And it goes on really well, to near excellence; the whole while, a question of ethics, gnawing at you (the audience). But then (spoiler alert), a third person wakes up; and starts to ruin the film; turning the highly clever premise, and the intellectually stimulating story, into a silly, action blockbuster, waste. From here the movie becomes really, unrealistic (sure it’s set space, but the fictional aspects, still have to be believable enough) and, the romantic angle, pretty mushy. None the less, majority of this, stunningly, visually, beautiful movie, is worth checking out!!

Chris Pratt & Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers (2016)

Chris Pratt & Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers (2016)

For next month’s Oscars, Passengers, has been nominated for it’s Production Design; and the interiors of the Spaceship are magnificent; as are the special effects. But then again, CGI/special effects, are practically good in any movie today; and unfortunately, most of the time, that is the only good thing about a movie. I hope this movie bags a trophy for ‘Best Production Design’, at the oncoming Academy Awards. Passengers, might not be a great film, but still quite good, a very enjoyable movie; until they ruin it towards the end.

Watched Passengers on the Big Screen, earlier this month (January 2017)

9. My Sweet Audrina (2016) – Very Bad: 3/10!

A creepy thriller, with a really interesting premise. But a bore of a film. Don’t waste your time on it.

Watched this TV film, last year, online, on iflix (November 2016).

10. Ki & Ka (2016) – Very Bad: 3/10!

The concept of the wife going to work, and husband staying at home, and being a househusband/homemaker, may seem a bit outdated; but that is not reason the movie doesn’t work. It had it’s fun spots, and serious segments; but the movie as a whole, was pretty stale and dull. On the positive side, I love the fact, the man, by choice, decides to be a homemaker; and is very supportive of his wife; and I loved the role reversal, the Abhimaan (1973) moment, in the movie, where the wife pushes him to do an interview on TV, and as he starts becoming a celebrity, she starts to feel jealous. So the concept was enjoyable. The movie also reminded me of, this Hindi sitcom; we use to watch as kids; Mr ya Mrs (1987-1988). But the movie is a bit of drag, and ultimately a waste of time. Enjoyable premise, yet poorly executed.

Saw Ki & Ka, when it was shown on Colors, last year (October 2016).

10+1. 13 Hours (2016) – Very Bad: 3/10!

Based on real events, it’s such bore of film. On the 11th of September, 2012; the US Ambassador’s compound, and an unofficial CIA base, in Benghazi, Libya, is attacked. The movie starts off really well, but then drags on, and is way to long. I felt I sat through the movie for ‘13 hours’ myself.

Watched 13 Hours, on HBO On Demand, late Sunday night (29th January 2017)!!
film-13-hours-201610+2. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016) – THE Worst film, of 2016, that I have seen, so far: 1/10!

It’s not even worth talking about, this crap of a film, by Karan Johar. Johar is a good director, and did a marvellous job when it came to his short film, within Bombay Talkies (2013); an anthology of four short films. In fact his directorial segment was my favourite. BUT, when it comes to feature length films, he sure mucks it up. And he is a good producer; Dharma Productions, is his company, the company that produced, the above mentioned, Kapoor & Sons. Plus, he is quite a good television talk show host. Really enjoy watching, most of his interviews on, Koffee with Karan (2004 onwards). Currently, the latest season, of Koffee with Karan, is running on the Indian cable network, Star World.

Watched Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, when it was telecast, on Colors, on Saturday morning (28th January 2017)!!

Special Note: End of last year, I watched a Sinhala documentary, called Usaviya Nihadai, which I tweeted as being released in 2016, for it was released in Sri Lanka, only last year; amidst a lot of controversy (of course, I watched it on the small screen; rented it out, when it was provided by our cable operator). But according to IMDB, it was released in 2015!!!!! Apparently it was released at a ‘Sakhalin Film Festival’, in Russia (I didn’t even know about an island called Sakhalin; let alone about this festival; till now). I gave Usaviya Nihadai, an Average Fare rating, of 6/10!!

Ki & Ka (2016) is practically a remake of the 70’s classic, Abhimaan (1973); with roles reversed!!

Ki & Ka (2016) is practically a remake of the 70’s classic, Abhimaan (1973); with roles reversed!!

Unfortunately, from the releases of 2016, I haven’t watched any Oscar worthy, English language, movie (except for the great production design, in Passengers). BUT Amitabh Bachchan’s performance in PINK (2016), is definitely an Oscar worthy performance. Pity, I doubt Hollywood has even heard of this movie, let alone, nominate the Big B, for his outstanding acting skills, in general.

Looking forward to, watching the Oscars LIVE telecast, next month (February 2017).

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Last Friday (on 18th of November, Year 2016), watched the DVD of The Devil is a Woman (1935). A story of a man’s obsession for a woman he could never own; and a woman who refuses to be any man’s possession.
the-devil-is-a-woman-marlene-dietrich-1Set in the early 1900’s, during the Spanish carnival season; a hedonistic period of merry making; the entire story revolves around, a woman who seeks pleasure for the self, with no care for others feelings. At the same time, the men who lust for her are no saints themselves; and they deserve what they get (or rather not get), in return. The Devil is a Woman, is based on a French novel, La Femme et le Pantin by Pierre Louÿs; the English title of which reads as, The Woman and the Puppet.
the-devil-is-a-woman-marlene-dietrich-2The Synopsys
The movie begins with the carnival, in the beginning of the last century, in southern Spain, where a wanted man, Antonio Galvan (Cesar Romero), for his revolutionary ideals, walking through the merriment, sees a beautiful veiled woman. He’s instantly infatuated. The woman, he finds out, is called Concha Pérez (Marlene Dietrich). Soon he meets an old friend at the pub, an ex-military officer, Captain Don Pasqual ‘Pasqualito’ Costelar (Lionel Atwill), and tells him of his interest for a woman named Concha. Pasqualito then cautions Antonio against her, telling him to be careful of that woman, and soon Pasqualito tells him of his own past experience, when he fell for Concha, five years before. Told in flashback we see Captain Pasqualito’s obsession for Concha Pérez (back in the late 1800’s, and how she constantly tricks him, and runs off with his money. As the movie proceeds, we realise what a fool Pasqualito is, and at the same time, how violent and nasty he can be.

Marlene Dietrich and Lionel Atwill in a scene from the film.

Marlene Dietrich and Lionel Atwill in a scene from the film.

The Character roles
Marlene Dietrich is hilariously superb as a morally questionable character. Yet she hardly lets the two lead men, enjoy her lips, let alone her body. She definitely cons them, and especially uses, the Captain, Pasqualito, for his money. At the same time we don’t feel sorry for Pasqualito either, for he can be brutal. True, she not much of a lady, at the same time she is honest on issues of her untrustworthiness, but what right has he to hit her black and blue. It makes him less of a man, and not enough to even pity the fool. She, at the same time, is a bold woman, who doesn’t let men overpower her, mentally. After she’s beaten by Pasqualito, she comes off unscathed, with not a care in the world. I’ve seen very few movies of Dietrich, and her portrayals are generally that of very serious characters (with a touch of humour, perhaps); but never seen her do something so farcically fun. Thus, this was something really different for her. A comical Dietrich is practically unheard of. And I loved her mischievous performance. Lionel Atwill is superb as a fool in lust, than love. It’s amazing how much Atwill resembled Josef von Sternberg (the director of the movie). Was there reel life, imitating the real? Was von Sternberg obsessed with Dietrich, and thus portrayed her as a devilish woman (though not necessarily as heartless and vindictive, as the men in movie see her as) in this film? She’s definitely not evil, as the title suggests, though men who can’t have her, might accuse her of being so, out of spite. None the less, after collaborating in seven movies together, this was the last film Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg worked on. He was a superb director, and she was his discovery. A pity, they went on to make movies for another couple of decades (Dietrich even longer, further down the years), but they never ever worked together again. YET, the collaboration of one director, with one actress, creating cinematic magic, in seven films, is till date, unmatched in the history of cinema.

Marlene Dietrich and Cesar Romero in a scene from the film.

Marlene Dietrich and Cesar Romero in a scene from the film.

Besides, Dietrich and Atwill, Cesar Romero is hilarious, as an exiled rebel, secretly in back in Spain, whose character of Antonio Galvan, despite listening to the former Captain’s advise, and agreeing on having nothing to do with Concha; gets a bout of amnesia (not literally), and goes running straight into the arms of Concha. Of course, Pasqualito’s advise, wasn’t out of any good intention, but more due to his own desire to own Concha, for himself; to get Antonio Galvan, out of the picture. The rest of the supporting cast are just as enjoyable in their respective roles; Concha’s mother, a con woman herself; the one-eyed woman who practically makes fun of Pasqualito’s desperate state, straight to his face; the governor, Don Paquito (Edward Everett Horton), who himself has his brain in his crotch, when it comes to the affairs of the seductive Concha; etc etc etc… The actors, and the superb direction by Josef von Sternberg, make the movie, with hardly much of a plot to speak of, an enjoyable affair.

Marlene Dietrich, on the sets of the film, (inset - right) Costume Designer, Travis Banton

Marlene Dietrich, on the sets of the film, (inset – right) Costume Designer, Travis Banton

One of the elegant Edwardian costumes designed, in White Chiffon and Lace, by Travis Banton, for Marlene Dietrich.  The photograph above, this sketch, shows Dietrich in this particular outfit, on the sets of The Devil is a Woman (1935)

One of the elegant Edwardian costumes designed, in White Chiffon and Lace, by Travis Banton, for Marlene Dietrich.
The photograph above, this sketch, shows Dietrich in this particular outfit, on the sets of The Devil is a Woman (1935)

The Production Design & Costumes
With the beautiful scale of art design and marvellous costumes, this movie would have looked spectacular, if it were made in colour. In fact, the film won the award for ‘Best Cinematography’ at the Venice Film Festival.

The costumes itself, besides being marvellous, are symbolic as well. We see Dietrich character wear a lot of lace, and hide her face in veils and masks. It pertains to her personality, as well, besides her love for fine things. Her hiding her face behind a literal mask, could mean she’s also hiding behind a metaphorical one, as well. Is she just a vulnerable young woman, afraid of being owned, afraid of commitment, just pretending to be a femme fatal?? Does she just pretend to have a block of “Ice” where she should have a heart?? Does she really not care, for anyone?? The duel sequence tells us otherwise. We get to see what’s actually beneath her nonchalant attitude. As does her visit to the hospital to see Pasqualito. When she lets go of Antonio Galvan, we see she’s trying to save him from being arrested. Of course (spoiler alert), last minute, at the border crossing, she refuses to run off to Paris with Galvan. She won’t leave her beloved Spain, but at the same time it doesn’t specifically show her going back to Pasqualito, either. She’s an independent woman, even at the end, and belongs to no one.

RIGHT: Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal a Million (1966) LEFT: Marlene Dietrich in The Devil is a Woman (1935)

LEFT: Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal a Million (1966)
RIGHT: Marlene Dietrich in The Devil is a Woman (1935)

The Audrey Hepburn Connection
Getting back to the beautiful costumes (literally speaking), they are the zenith and nadir of fashion. We see her in poverty, conning Pasqualito in gaudy costumes, in the flashbacks (towards the end of the 19th century), and as a very fashionable lady, in glamorous attire in the, movie settings, present (early 20th century). Some of these gorgeous costumes (of the 1900’s), by Travis Banton, reminded me of the stylish costumes of Audrey Hepburn, from My Fair Lady (1964). Of course, both the movies are set during the Edwardian era, one in Spain, the other in UK. But these two movies comprise some of the most stylish costumes from that period, before the Great War; over a hundred years ago. Of course, My Fair Lady is set in the 1910’s, whilst The Devil is a Woman, is set in the late Victorian, to the beginning of the Edwardian era. At the same time the British era’s don’t necessarily apply to Spain. Dietrich’s costumes in the flashbacks are more like that of a gypsy woman (I haven’t posted any of the pictures with gaudy costumes above, but just the more fashionably elite attire, worn by the glamorous Dietrich, thus, below I’ve posted a couple of hideous costumes, worn by her, seen in flashback sequences). Again here, her cheap glittery attire, seen in flashback, to the more elegant Edwardian outfits, in the, films, present day, could again by symbolic of her character. It seems to showcase her improvement in taste, her sophistication, and her growth, as a individual, and not just as a fashionista. In the more elite settings, we see Dietrich’s character have a heart, though see refuses to openly show her kinder, and more vulnerable, side. As I mentioned earlier, she’s seen hiding behind masks, a plenty, both literally and figuratively.

Despite the stylish costumes, worn mainly, in the latter part of the movie, the lace eyewear, worn by Marlene Dietrich, at her initial entrance into the movie’s carnival (she’s seen in lace eyewear more than once), reminded me of the black lace eyewear, worn by Audrey Hepburn, in How to steal a Million (1966), released in the year know as Sexty-Sex!! Of course, How to steal a Million, was set in the mid-60’s itself.

Couple of gaudy costumes, worn by Marlene Dietrich, in the movie, in the flashback sequences, set in the Victorian era.

Couple of gaudy costumes, worn by Marlene Dietrich, in the movie, in the flashback sequences, set in the late-Victorian era.

One thing missing here, is Dietrich’s trade-mark, sharp, clean-cut, masculine trouser suits. Her androgynous sexual ambiguity, and her bold masculine femininity, is something missing in this movie. We don’t see her, even in drag, at least once. Another rare differentiation from her usual roles. Pretty much out of her comfort zone, yet ironically this is supposedly one of Marlene Dietrich’s favourite roles ever. It’s definitely a very non-Dietrich role, in very non-Dietrich attire. Especially in those ridiculous gypsy style clothing, she’s practically unrecognizable.

The Controversy
The movie met heavy censorship, back in the day. Spain was outraged with the depiction of Spanish people in the movie. And once the Spanish government threatened to boycott all Hollywood films, Paramount Studio’s got hold of all prints in circulation, and burned them all. But Marlene Dietrich saved a copy, for herself, thus the movie still survives, in the 21st century. None the less a very bold movie, to come out of the 30’s, and most probably unacceptable back then (due to the crazed Hays Code of Law), that a woman should find herself in charge of herself, and not running behind a man.

The Dietrich DVD’s
Back in mid-September 2016, my father went to the States, for a an official visit. I asked my sister, who lives in USA, to get me some books and DVD’s, and sent her a massive list. She sent me most of the books, and six DVD’s. One of the DVD’s was a collection of Marlene Dietrich films, titled, “Marlene Dietrich: The Glamour Collection”, comprising of five of her films. I watched Morocco (1930) and Blonde Venus (1932), last month (October 2016) itself. Am yet to watch the rest from her collection.
the-devil-is-a-woman-marlene-dietrich-through-the-gateThe Dietrich Films
The first I heard of Marlene Dietrich, was as a teenager, in 1992, the year Dietrich died, aged 90. I saw a magazine full of her glamorous pictures. The first film of hers, that I know of, that I watched, was in 2002. When I was doing my MA in International Cinema (2002-2003), at the University of Luton, Luton, UK; in my first semester, for the module, ‘Post-colonial and third Cinema’, we mostly studied Asian and African movies (third world Cinema). BUT we also watched a Hollywood classic set in Africa, studying the orientalist attitude towards the third world. The film was, The Garden of Allah (1936), starring Dietrich alongside Charles Boyer. Post that I saw her in more mature, yet secondary, roles, like in the noir-classic, Touch of Evil (1958), and, the Audrey Hepburn, rom-com, Paris – When It Sizzles (1964).

And then last month, I saw her; first, in, the near excellent, Blonde Venus (as I mentioned earlier), alongside Herbert Marshall and Cary Grant; and then, in the very good, Morocco, with Gary Cooper, with whom she had a brief love affair in real life. What’s interesting in these movies, is the fact, though an independent woman, in both films, her love for a man, ultimately dictates her life. Morocco was tragic, the way she ultimately runs like a slave after her man. Both movies were sad in their own way. Whilst Blonde Venus had a happy ending, with the family reunited, Morocco was depressing, to what she became in the end. This is where The Devil is a Woman, differs. She seems better off alone, in the end. Marlene Dietrich’s character can also be considered, that of an existentialist, a free spirited individual, who shapes her own destiny.

Though not an excellent piece of cinema, it comes pretty close. Especially worth checking out for; Josef von Sternberg superb direction and cinematography, the fabulous costumes by Travis Banton, and last but not the least, for the, uniquely fun filled, performance by Marlene Dietrich.

The Devil is a Woman (1935)
My Rating: Near Excellent 9/10!!

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The Girl who SURVIVED

Yesterday I watched the short documentary, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015), on HBO On Demand.

Right: The Film Poster Left: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy winning the Oscar, for ‘Best Documentary - Short Subject’; at the 88th Annual Academy Awards, 2016!!

Left: The Film Poster
Right: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy winning the Oscar, for Best Documentary – Short Subject; at the 88th Annual Academy Awards, 2016!!

This excellent Documentary Short, by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, won the Oscar for ‘Best Documentary – Short Subject’, earlier this year, at the 88th Annual Academy Awards. This was the second Oscar, for this brilliant Pakistani director. She won an Oscar in 2012, for the short documentary, Saving Face (released in 2012, itself), shared with her co-director, Daniel Junge.

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, is a beautiful, yet tragic tale, about a brave 19 year old girl, who escaped an attempt on her life, from her father and uncle, for marrying against their wishes. And, the state of affairs in the Pakistani judiciary system (specifically in the province of Punjab).

Saba, a 19 year old girl, who secretly wed Qaiser, with the help of his family; as her parents and uncle (father’s brother), were against their union; was taken away by her father and uncle, soon after her marriage, before they could consummate it. On the way, they stopped the car, next to a river; beat her up, and then, tried to shoot her forehead, but mistakenly shot Saba on her face, for she managed to move her head just in time. She lost consciousness, and the culprits assuming they had succeeded in killing her, put her in a bag, and threw her into the river, to drown, and never be found. When she came to, the brave child, swam up, clung to a branch/roots, with a lost sense of direction. Seeing the light of a motorbike, she climbed out, and walked to the nearest gas station. The documentary starts, with her lying in a hospital bed, with a badly scared face. The film chronicles her recovery, whilst shedding light on what happened to her, through numerous interviews, including the two culprits in jail. The father and uncle, so blinded by their faith, have no reservations of their wrong doings.

What’s worse, is how the girl is pressured into forgiving the attempted murderers. Under the Pakistan law, within that province, if the matter happens to be that of an ‘Honour Killing’, as is the case, with the attempt on Saba’s life; if either the relatives (in the case of a death), but in this case the victim herself, can say, that the two men are forgiven, and they’d be released. It’s hard to believe, that today, the 21st century, such practices still exist, even in the remotest area’s, of the world. It’s really depressing, to see, how, the young girl was manipulated into forgiving those two men, making her believe she had no other choice. In her case, it was her lawyer; who too was actually replaced by the village elders, without her knowledge (initially she had an open-minded, intellectual lawyer, by her side, who was ready to fight for justice); who stated she had forgiven the culprits. Thus, the sad state of affairs, that the two men are roaming the streets of Pakistan’s Punjab, scot-free.

Kudos, to Pakistani director (and activist), Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, for bringing out such a masterpiece on malpractice, set in her own homeland; letting the world know, what life might be like, in majority of places, not just Pakistan, but various other third world countries; especially in countries practicing an archaic system of law; that definitely needs to be rejuvenated and renewed.

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015)
My Rating: Excellent!!!!! 10/10!!!!!

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Go Gay: A Pride Month Special
Celebrate Pride (One Year)

One year ago, today, on the 26th of June, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States of America, legalised same-sex marriage, nationwide!!! This was not just a big win for America, but the world. Even though, Canada, was the first country, outside Europe, to legalise same-sex marriage; and besides Europe, being more tolerant, and open-minded, than anywhere in the world (Netherland was, not just the first European country, but the first country, in the world, to legally recognise, same-sex union); this win in the United States, marked a historic moment, for the entire world. One small step for America, a giant leap for the future of the world (with apologies to Neil Armstrong). Today, Asia, is the only continent, where, not a single country, allows, same-sex unions (although Israel accepts same-sex marriages performed overseas, and in India & Nepal, it’s not explicitly prohibited). In most countries, in Asia and Africa, homosexuality, is a still a criminal offence (including here, in Sri Lanka).

So, to celebrate the very 1st anniversary, of the American Supreme Court’s ruling, of the Obergefell v. Hodges trial; in favour of gay-marriage; I’ve decided to do a blog-post, on the top most (my personal favourite) gay-teamed, Feature Films of The Big Screen! Only movies, where, either the central theme, revolves around a homosexual character, or the main plot, of the movie, deals with sexuality itself, are included here. So here they are, the crème de la crème:-

COOL CLASSICS – That Dared!!!

Rope (1948)
An Alfred Hitchcock classic!! Hitchcock’s very first film made in colour; is loosely based on the notorious ‘Leopold & Loeb’ case of 1924. This is oldest movie I’ve seen, that dared to showcase, a homosexual couple. Even though in negative sense. Not that their sexuality is portrayed negatively, but the fact that the gay couple, also happen to be a couple of murders, is what makes them being a gay couple, more acceptable, during that time period. This was during a height of the dreaded Hays Code. Yet, thanks to the sophistication of Hitchcock’s direction, the movie doesn’t directly state the couple of guys, living together, are a gay couple; but it’s obvious to critical eye, what Hitchcock is implying. Besides, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, were a gay couple, on whom, the two “roommates” of the movie, are based on.

None the less, Rope, is an excellent, suspenseful, thriller, that doesn’t discuss their sexuality, but rather the murder, the couple commits. The two men in question, strangle their former classmate, just to prove their superiority of intellect, by murdering an inferior human being. To the two, psychologically disturbed lovers, this ‘Perfect Murder’, is a true work of art, of geniuses.

Starring James Stewart, Farley Granger, John Dall and Joan Chandler; this is a must see, especially, for any fan of Hitchcock’s. Rope is specifically notable for taking place in real time, plus the brilliant editing, that makes it appear as if the whole movie was shot in a single continuous shot. This was achieved by the use of really long takes. No close ‘cuts’!!! Excellent piece of Hitchcockian drama.

Am glad, my all time favourite director, dared to bring out something, that was still a taboo, without any trepidation. Yet, do it in such a way, as to get away from the censors. Hitchcock was no doubt, a clever genius!!!!!

TOP: Farley Granger, Dick Hogan and John Dall; in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1948) BELLOW: Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn; in William Wyler’s The Children’s Hour (1961)

TOP: Farley Granger, Dick Hogan and John Dall; in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1948)
BELOW: Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn; in William Wyler’s The Children’s Hour (1961)

The Children’s Hour (1961)
A very bold movie to come out in the early 60’s. The issue of lesbianism, dealt so sophisticatedly, at a time, before the hippies and the sexual revolution, were yet to take place, changing the mind set of society for the better. And the best part is, my all time favourite star of class, plays the lead in it. Audrey Hepburn, who else.

Directed by William Wyler, and starring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine, as two school teachers, at a girls hostel run by them; the movie is a about a child that cries wolf; and who accuses the two teachers of being a lesbian couple. This is a shocking story, of how one child’s, nasty lie, ruins, the lives of the teachers, who are ultimately left with nothing. What’s more surprising, is towards the end, when it is revealed that one of the teachers, is actually a lesbian, who’s had to repress her feelings towards the other teacher; afraid of how she’d react. The movie ends in a tragic note. It’s a touching, and a beautifully made movie, that dared to bring out such a tender issue, when the world was still not open enough to accept homosexuality, that too on Hollywood’s celluloid.

Kudos to director, William Wyler, for bringing out such a bold gem like, The Children’s Hour, back in the beginning of the 60’s decade. Wyler directed some marvellously enjoyable fare, back in the day; the likes of, Wuthering Heights (1939), Roman Holiday (1953), Ben-Hur (1959), How to Steal a Million (1966) and Funny Girl (1968); to name some.

Ludwig (1972)
A Luchino Visconti masterpiece, on the life of King Ludwig-II of Bavaria. A brilliant Historical film, about a tragic King, who suffered due to his sexual repression (he was gay), and thus plunged into insanity. The question of his clinical insanity remains unresolved, till date.

Helmut Berger, perfectly, essayed this role, with ease, of the mad King of Bavaria. Romy Schneider, reprised her role of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, which she earlier starred as, in Austria’s, Sissi, trilogy (1955, 1956 & 1957). Also see my post Sissi : 115th Death Anniversary of Empress Elisabeth of Austria from September 2013.

Directed by, Italy’s, Luchino Visconti, Ludwig, has an interesting array of International stars, including, Trevor Howard, Silvana Mangano, Nora Ricci, Helmut Griem, John Moulder-Brown, Sonia Petrovna and Adriana Asti; to name some. A must watch, for any Film/History Buff.

Cabaret (1972)
This is a really good, beautiful n’ camp, musical. Based on segments; especially the segment on ‘Sally Bowles’; of Christopher Isherwood’s, famed Berlin diaries, that he novelised into, Goodbye to Berlin. Love the movie, love the book; enjoyed the book more, of course.

By the 70’s, homosexuality was out in the open; with quite a few campy movies being released. Thus, the trio of leads, Michael York, Liza Minnelli and Helmut Griem, playing gay/bisexual characters, would have been pretty acceptable, by then. The movie is set, in a sleazy night club, in 1930’s Berlin, Germany; as the Nazi Party rises to power around them.

Since many a true movie buffs, most probably have watched Cabaret, and loved it, it’s the novel, Goodbye to Berlin, that I’d highly recommend. It’s really worth a read. In fact, I just read it last year, around this time (June 2015); although, I actually bought it, during my trip down under, back in November 2014.

Victor/Victoria (1982)
From one campy musical, to another; this time, starring the singing and dramatic sensation, Julie Andrews. Andrews plays a woman, who in a guise of a man, performs on stage, as a woman. So basically, she plays a woman, who pretends to be man, in feminine drag. It’s a hilarious musical, again set in the underground gay clubs, this time, of 1930’s Paris, France. James Garner plays the confused millionaire; and owner of multiple clubs in Chicago, USA; who falls in love with her, even though he is straight. Confused, as to why he is in love with her; ’cause he is made to believe this is a gay man, performing dressed as a woman, on stage.

Last of the great musicals, of the last century. Since I have this on tape (old video cassette), I’ve watched it a few times. But still, the last time I saw this movie was, most probably, close to a decade ago. An exceptional musical, directed by Blake Edwards; Julie Andrews’ husband.

Another Country (1984)
This movie is based on a true story, about a Cambridge spy, that defected to the communist east; i.e. Soviet Russia (USSR). With a stellar cast, including, Rupert Everett, Colin Firth and Cary Elwes, this is a brilliant British bio-pic, on a disillusioned member of the ‘Cambridge Five’ spy ring, Guy Burgess.

The BBC mini-series Cambridge Spies (2003), too was based on the actual Cambridge Spies, of the 1930’s. Both, this movie, and the mini-series, are exceptional. A must see for any Modern History Buff!!
Maurice (1987)Maurice (1987)
A movie about repressed homosexuals, set in the Edwardian England. This masterpiece of Heritage cinema, a Merchant/Ivory production, is among the greatest British films ever made. Love this movie, based on E.M. Forster’s controversial novel. This is one rare gay-themed classic, that shows a happy ending, with hope, for a young gay couple, that too, in a very constricted era.

Starring James Wilby, Rupert Graves and Hugh Grant; this, Merchant/Ivory piece of British Brilliance, is a must watch for any film, and literature, buff.

The Last Emperor (1987)
Based on the life of Emperor, Henry Pu Yi; the last of the Emperors of China (the final ruler of the Qing dynasty), and his brief rein, within the walls, of the Forbidden City; this is an extraordinary bio-pic, by director, Bernardo Bertolucci. The film won 9 Oscars, including one for ‘Best Picture’.

Pu Yi’s two depressed wives, are shown to have a sexual affair of their own. So not out an out a lesbian film, yet it’s a classic that dared to show two women’s affection for each other, quite openly. An excellent masterpiece, of movie making.

THE NINETIES & NOUGHTIES – Still risking it!!
By the 1990’s there were quite a few, good, gay-themed, movies coming out of the celluloid closet, and onto the big screen. But the 21st century cinema, has been pretty marvellous, for the amount of, excellent, gay-themed films, that have got recognition around the globe. More than ever before.

My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Based on William Shakespeare play, Henry IV, the movie is about a pair of hustlers, played by River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves. Directed by Gus Van Sant, this movie also happens to be an interesting road movie, taking the young men on a journey of self-discovery; and a brilliant flick, focusing on, male prostitution.

Swoon (1992)
This excellent movie, made in black & White, is based on the actual gay lovers, of the roaring 20’s; Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold Jr., who kidnapped and murdered a child. Another superb flick.

Ironic, that Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (I’ve spoken about, above); which was loosely based on this very same criminal act, executed by these lovers; was made in colour; and this 90’s, more direct approach; was filmed in Black & White. I spoke about this movie, once earlier. See my post ~Famed Female Cinematographer turns 55 today from July 2014.

Fresa y Chocolate (1993)
Known as Strawberry and Chocolate, in English, this Spanish language, Cuban, film; is a very political movie about a gay communist, who falls for a young heterosexual man. A coming-of-age story, told via a close, gay/straight, friendship. Beautiful, touching, and pure excellence.

Fresa y Chocolate, stars Jorge Perugorría, Vladimir Cruz, and the film direction, happens to be a joint collaboration, by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío.
Priest (1994)Priest (1994)
A superb British film, starring Linus Roache, as a catholic priest torn between his faith and sexuality. The film also stars, Tom Wilkinson and Robert Carlyle. A heart-rendering deeply touching, movie, by the late Antonia Bird.

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)
Based on Anne Rice’s acclaimed novel, Tom Cruise, plays a gay vampire, who turns his lustful desire (Brad Pitt), into a vampire as well. It’s an epic hellish tale, of the blood lusting lives of, the two male vampires, who roam for centuries, along with a child, a little vampire (Kirsten Dunst); who practically is like a child the couple adopted. A Vampire Love Story, about a  happy Vampire Family. Move away, Twilight films (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012). Of course the movie doesn’t directly state, that it’s about a gay vampire; but the homoerotism, between the two men, makes it quite obvious, as to why, Cruise’s lonely character saved, the other man, by turning him into a vampire as well. He needed his mate alright!! 😉

Fire (1996)
Two neglected housewives fall into arms of each other. Superb Art House Indian film, by Deepa Mehta; starring Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das, in the lead. This is the first of Mehta’s elemental trilogy. Watched ages ago, but just over a decade ago, I wrote a small critique online, on IMDB.

Check it out (Link:- http://www.imdb.com/user/ur7151691/?ref_=nb_usr_prof_0 Scroll Down)

Wilde (1997)
Tragic bio-pic based on the life of famed poet, playwright & author, Oscar Wilde. Starring Stephen Fry and Jude Law, as the lovers, Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas (a.k.a. Bosie), respectively; this is a touchingly sensitive portrayal of the kind hearted Wilde’s love for a selfish, prick of a, younger man. This British flick has a great star cast, including the legendary Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Sheen, Tom Wilkinson; along with gay cameo’s by Ioan Gruffudd, Orlando Bloom and Adam Garcia.

Mrs. Dalloway (1997)
The whole life of a woman unfolds in one day. Vanessa Redgrave plays the titular character, of Mrs. Dalloway, based on a novel by Virginia Woolf. Mrs. Dalloway is hosting a party, and as she prepares for the party, she reflects on her past. Her sexual repression, in a time when homosexuality was a taboo, is represented, in a way, where, she herself doesn’t consider herself a lesbian; but assumes her feelings towards a woman, is, as that of, a heterosexual male. Her sexuality is fluid. Then again, this was set during the Edwardian era, up to the 1920’s. Beautiful movie. Have had the book, for ages, but am yet to read it.

Directed by Marleen Gorris, this movie also stars, Rupert Graves, Natascha McElhone, Michael Kitchen, John Standing, Lena Headey and Alan Cox.

Bombay Boys (1998)
A hilarious Indian English-language comedy, about a trio young Indians, who’ve been living abroad, coming to India. One of those guys, comes to find himself, and he sure does.

Enjoyable satire, hinting on the underworld ties, towards the Bollywood film industry. Kaizad Gustad directorial debut, is a must watch. The film stars, Rahul Bose, Naveen Andrews, Naseeruddin Shah, Roshan Seth, Tara Deshpande and Alexander Gifford.

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
My favourite movie from the 1990’s. Love the Book! Love the Movie!! Love them both equally.

Based on Patricia Highsmith’s brilliant novel, this was directed by the late Anthony Minghella. This is the movie that made me a fan of Jude Law; shifting from Matt Damon. See my more in-depth critique on The Talented Mr. Ripley, in my list, My favourite J-Law Movies, on IMDB, from five years ago.

Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Superb flick, for which, Hilary Swank, bagged the ‘Best Actress’ Oscar; in the millennium year; Year 2000!!!!

A girl guises herself as guy, to find herself; with disastrous consequences. Directed by Kimberly Peirce, this beautiful movie, speaks on repressed sexual desires and gender issues. The film also stars, Chloë Sevigny and Peter Sarsgaard.

Before Night Falls (2000)
An American Biographical movie, on Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas. Directed by Julian Schnabel, Javier Bardem, takes the lead, as the famed poet, who was imprisoned for being an openly gay writer. Superb!!

Frida (2002)
Another bio-pic, this time on, artist Frida Kahlo; who openly flaunted her bisexuality. A brilliant, English Language, film on, Mexican painter, and her husband/artiste colleague, Diego Rivera. Frida Kahlo’s art was her autobiography; as she depicted all the key moments in her life, in her artwork. This movie, aesthetically, chronicles it.

Directed by Julie Taymor; Salma Hayek plays Frida Kahlo, so effortlessly, she feels Kahlo, in every way. This no doubt, is the best role, essayed by Salma Hayek. Can’t think of anything Hayek has worked on, that ’s better. Besides she doesn’t need to, for this movie, no doubt, is her biggest triumph.

Left: British Author, Virginia Woolf  Right: Mexican Artist, Frida Kahlo

Left: British Author, Virginia Woolf
Right: Mexican Artist, Frida Kahlo

The Hours (2002)
From an artist, to a writer; The Hours, is a partial Bio-pic, on author Virginia Woolf. The issues concerning lesbianism is three different era’s, this movie, stars Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore. Each character plays a lesbian woman, that exists, in three different periods in time. Yet, they are all connected, through Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (see the movie from 97’, mentioned above).

Woolf, writes it; another reads it; and another lives the life of it’s heroine. Nicole Kidman took home the Oscar, for ‘Best Actress’, for her brilliant performance, as, acclaimed author, Virginia Woolf. An excellent movie, by Stephen Daldry!!

Possession (2002)
Two literary sleuths unearth the amorous secret of two Victorian poets, one of whom was in a lesbian relationship.

Lesbianism/bisexuality in the Victorian era. Another excellent flick; with Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jeremy Northam and  Jennifer Ehle.

The Dreamers (2003)
Another great, by Bernardo Bertolucci. This time about a trio of young dreamers, living in their own little world, away from the Paris riots of 68’.

A lot of fun and games, and plenty of homoerotism. Though it doesn’t directly show the two guys engage in any sexual interaction, there is more than a hint, that the two have done it; possibly more than once. Check out my write-up, on Bernardo Bertolucci & His Films from March 2014; to read more about Bertolucci films, including the two, I’ve spoken of here. Bertolucci’s, The Last Emperor and The Dreamers!!!!!

Carandiru (2003)
This Brazilian movie, is set in the largest prison, in São Paulo, Brazil. The inmates consist, of a lot of, gay, bisexual, transgender personalities, and a vulnerability, towards infecting themselves, with the AIDS virus.

This superb flick is based on the notorious, Carandiru massacre, of 1992. With deaths of 111 inmates, this massacre, is considered to be a major human rights violation, in the history of Brazil. Directed by Héctor Babenco, the film stars, Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos (as a doctor) and Rodrigo Santoro (as a transsexual inmate).

Bright Young Things (2003)
Based on Evelyn Waugh’s novel Vile Bodies, this movie is set in the late 1920’s, 30’s & 40’s, London. The movie is about fun loving youth, that existed in the roaring 20’s (through to the 1940’s). Michael Sheen, plays a gay man, that has to leave the country, to avoid prosecution, due to his sexuality. A thoroughly enjoyable film.

The book is more of a futuristic look at world, published in 1930. Thus it’s not that realistic; as no great depression, affects the fun loving youth. But I haven’t read the book yet, though I have it in my collection. Thus it’s hard for me to judge. But, knowing about the content helps, as the film isn’t accurate in it’s period, that it’s set in. Feels Roaring 20’s throughout, than more depressive 1930’s. None the less, it’s an excellent movie, and this was the directorial debut, of actor Stephen Fry.

Alberto Ferreiro and Gael García Bernal; in a scene from, Pedro Almodóvar’s, La Mala Educación (2004)

Alberto Ferreiro and Gael García Bernal; in a scene from, Pedro Almodóvar’s, La Mala Educación (2004)

La Mala Educación (2004)
An excellent Art House film, which also happens to be my favourite Spanish movie ever. Pedro Almodóvar is my favourite director from Spain; and he’s brought out some marvellous movies. This is my favourite film of his.

The movie stars, Mexican actor, Gael García Bernal, in the lead, who does a superb performance of a transvestite, on reel; although we later discover, he isn’t really one, just pretends to be one. García Bernal is another brilliant actor, and no doubt, my favourite Mexican star. He’s had some uniquely great roles, from the noughties, onwards. La Mala Educación, is a must see.

Kinsey (2004)
Kinsey, is based on the life of famed sexologist, Alfred Charles Kinsey. He founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University, today known as the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. He’s most famous for his publications, on his study of, human sexual behaviour.

As Kinsey (played by Liam Neeson) prefers to experience, everything first hand, he does so, with homosexuality, as well (along with Peter Sarsgaard’s character). This is another, excellently educational, biographical film.

A Home at the End of the World (2004)
This brilliant modern epic, chronicles the lives of two best friends, one of whom is gay, the other gay-ish, from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. A beautiful tale, starring Colin Farrell, Robin Wright and Dallas Roberts.

De-Lovely (2004)
A beautiful musical bio-pic, on composer Cole Porter. Chronicles his, hidden sexual, life and career. It’s De-Lovely!!! The movie stars, Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd; with notable cameo’s by, Sheryl Crow, Robbie Williams, Alanis Morissette and John Barrowman; in various musical appearances. A very enjoyable, dramatic, and a tear-jerker of a, musical.

Was Nützt die Liebe in Gedanken (2004)
Also known as, Love in Thoughts (in English), this is an intriguing German movie, starring Daniel Brühl and August Diehl. The movie is about a shy virgin poet, and his openly gay, aristocrat, friend. The movie showcases an all-night party, and deals with a suicide pact. A superb German film.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Most probably, the most popular gay-themed epic ever. This is one of the greatest epic tales, to come out of Hollywood; along the lines of, Gone with the Wind (1939), War and Peace (1956), Doctor Zhivago (1965), The Godfather trilogy (1972, 1974 & 1990), and in this century, Cold Mountain (2003); to name some.

Ang Lee’s magnum opus, is about a secret love affair, between two cowboys, who fall for each other, whilst working together, as young men, back in the 1960’s. They get married, to women, have kids, time flies, but their love for each other never dies. A tragically beautiful epic-Love Story!! It’s a pity, the movie was deprived of the ‘Best Picture’ trophy, at the Academy Awards, the following year. However, the film starring, Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams; did bag a trio of Oscars. ’Twas, Ang Lee’s, very first Oscar win; out of the two, he’s won so far; for ‘Best Achievement in Directing’.

Breakfast on Pluto (2005)
No doubt the best role, that Cillian Murphy, has ever done. He plays a transvestite, from Northern Ireland, back in the 1970’s. The film chronicles his/her life, through the political struggles, of Northern Ireland, to her life in London, as a prostitute; all in the pursuit of finding her biological mother. It’s a sad touching story, of a person not accepted in her own town, for being different, and her quest to find maternal love.

Based on the novel, Breakfast on Pluto, by Patrick McCabe; this is a brilliantly heart-rendering movie. A must see, British/Irish, flick, directed by Neil Jordan. Year 2005, was a great year for LGBT movies, made in the English language; especially in the commercial sphere.

Also see my list Kill Ian Murphy from November 2011 (Nuwan Sen), on IMDB.

Capote (2005)
This Bio-pic, is based on Truman Capote’s research for, his acclaimed novel, In Cold Blood. The basis for this particular novel, was inspired by an actual murder, of a Kansas family. The four members of the Herbert Clutter family, were brutally killed, by two young men; Richard (Dick) Hickock and Perry Smith. The two men were falsely informed, that the house contained a safe with $10,000. However, there no such safe, and the duo murdered the entire family. During his research, Truman Capote extensively interviewed Perry Smith, in prison. Basically, Capote, psychoanalysed, and got to understand the inner workings of the criminal mind. The movie, of , In Cold Blood (1967), is a brilliant cinematic venture, based on the novel. The movie, Capote, is based on Capote’s research, on the 1959 murder.

Year 2005, was definitely a year, when actors did daringly challenging roles; and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, won an Oscar, for his portrayal of the late Truman Capote, one of my favourite American authors. Also want to add, that Catherine Keener was superb as, author, Harper Lee.

Kevin Zegers and Felicity Huffman; in Duncan Tucker’s Transamerica (2005)

Kevin Zegers and Felicity Huffman; in Duncan Tucker’s Transamerica (2005)

Transamerica (2005)
From a epic journey of a transvestite, in the United Kingdom, in Breakfast on Pluto, to a journey on the road, with a transsexual, in the United States, in Transamerica (2005); year 2005, sure was a brilliant cinematic journey for the other sexes (as I stated earlier).

Here, actress, Felicity Huffman, plays the transsexual, who’s had (is going through) a sex change, from a man to a woman; when he/she finds out, that, she has a son (Kevin Zegers), from a one night stand, Huffman’s character had with a woman, when she was a young man. Soon the female father, and son, take a road trip. Superb road flick, by Duncan Tucker. Felicity Huffman, should have won the ‘Best Actress’ trophy, at the Academy Awards, in 2006.

Heights (2005)
Heights is a movie, set in New York, with various storylines, crisscrossing, each other. In one, James Marsden, plays a closeted homosexual, married to a woman (played by Elizabeth Banks).

Another beautiful movie, in the style of, I Heart Huckabees (2004), Crash (2004), Babel (2006), Little Children (2006) et al, which culminate into a brilliant climax. Heights, also stars Glenn Close, Isabella Rossellini and Jesse Bradford. This is the only feature length film, directed by, screenwriter, Chris Terrio. Thus he’s a ‘one film’ wonder, for now.

Infamous (2006)
While Philip Seymour Hoffman, did a brilliant job, playing Truman Capote; Toby Jones in Infamous, felt Truman Capote, in every way possible. From the short height, the rounded face, the small make of a genius, that Capote was; Toby Jones managed to get himself into character with perfection.

It’s rare, I would enjoy two movies, that were made on the same tale, but both, Capote and Infamous, are equally superb. Both based on Capote’s research for In Cold Blood. Watch out for Sandra Bullock’s excellent performance as Harper Lee. Yes, this movie, is the exact same story, with the same lead characters, as Capote.

The History Boys (2006)
The History Boys, as the title suggests, is full of Boys!! Set in a Grammar School, in 1980’s Britain; the movie is about a group of unruly teenage boys. Mainly their relationship towards a young, highly intellectual, professor. A very enjoyable movie, with an old gay lecturer, who enjoys giving the boys a lift on his bike; and the assessment of the possibility of the younger lecturer being gay himself; especially through the seduction of this said young lecturer, by one of the teenage schoolboys.

A superb comedy/drama, based on a play by Alan Bennett, and directed by Nicholas Hytner. The movie stars, Stephen Campbell Moore, Dominic Cooper, Richard Griffiths, Penelope Wilton, Georgia Taylor, and a cast full of charming young men.
Life in a Metro (2007)
Life in a Metro and Barfi! (2012), are definitely, two great Bollywood flicks, by Anurag Basu. He ought to do more movies like that. Like, the earlier mentioned, Heights, this is also a potpourri, about various people living in a metropolis. In this case, in Mumbai. Among the people, there also happens to be a closeted gay couple, who use a female colleague (who’s clueless of their sexuality), when one’s family, visits Mumbai. Hilarious at times, at times heart provoking, this is among the Best of Bollywood.

This movie has a stellar cast, including, Dharmendra, Nafisa Ali, Shilpa Shetty, Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kay Kay Menon, Sharman Joshi, Shiney Ahuja and Ashwin Mushran, to mention some.

Les chansons d’amour (2007), a.k.a. Love Songs (in English)
An enjoyable musical, about a threesome (a guy and two girls). The trio of lovers, enjoy their youthful, carefree, life in Paris, until the death of one of the girls. This forms a rip in the relationship of the two left behind, and movie concentrates on how the death of a loved one, affects the other two.

But soon the focus shifts, as a young gay man, forms an infatuation, towards the guy (of threesome). Before soon, the two men are singing and rolling around in bed.

This is a beautifully made, romantic movie, without making the subject matter, sleazy in anyway. As if a threesome is the norm, and the world has accepted homosexuality whole heartedly. What a lovely movie, handled so sophisticatedly, by director, Christophe Honoré. Starring Louis Garrel, Clotilde Hesme, Ludivine Sagnier and Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet; this is a lovely, modern day, French, musical, to come out in recent times.
Milk (2008)Milk (2008)
A beautiful and tragic, bio-pic, on the life of California’s first openly gay elected official, and iconic American gay-activist, Harvey Milk. Set in the 1970’s, and another excellent political flick, directed by Gus Van Sant, this is among the greatest biographical films ever made. Sean Penn won an Oscar, for his touching performance, as Harvey Milk; Dustin Lance Black took home the Oscar for the ‘Best Original Screenplay’. The movie has roped in a brilliant star cast, of straight actors, playing gay roles; including James Franco, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna and Alison Pill.

Doubt (2008)
Starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis, this is another brilliant film, about the doubt in the mind of a nun, whether she accused, a gay priest, of paedophilia, by mistake.

A very sensitive subject matter, this movie is set in a Catholic School, in the early 1960’s. This, must watch, movie, is directed by John Patrick Shanley, based on his own play. Pure Excellence, lead by Streep!!!!!

A Single Man (2009)
Love the Book, by Christopher Isherwood!! Love the Movie!! Love them both equally!!

Set in sizzling 60’s, the story is about, one day, in the life, of a gay English Professor, living in Los Angeles, California, in USA. One year, after the death of his lover, he sets out to kill himself, at the end of the day; but the events of the day, change his mind. Of course, in the book, he doesn’t try to kill himself, but the end result is the same.

This is a very stylishly made film, by Fashion Designer, Tom Ford (which also happens to be his very first directorial venture); starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode and Nicholas Hoult.

J’ai tué ma Mère (2009), a.k.a. I Killed My Mother (in English)
Unlike all the other films, I’ve spoken of here; majority of which I watched eons ago, within the previous two decades; I watched J’ai tué ma Mère, quite recently, in this decade. In fact, I saw this fabulous flick, just last month, this year!!

See my Blog-Post, Mai May Movies 2016 from May 2016!!!!!

David’s Birthday (2009)
Although, I watched this movie, some years ago, I did work on it, for a Blogathon I took part in, last year, this month.

See my Blog-Post, Beach Party Blogathon: Italian Film ‘Il Compleanno’, in English – ‘David’s Birthday’ (2009) from June 2015.
Natalie Portman in Black Swan (2010)Black Swan (2010)
In the last year, of the first 10 years, into the 21st century, Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan was released; for which Natalie Portman bagged the ‘Best Actress’ Oscar, the following year.

This is a brilliant movie, about a split personality, of a dancer, as she performs two roles, that of the white swan, and the black swan. The darkness of the black swan’s soul, starts take over her life. The movie also explores her sexuality, through an explicitly psychodynamic lesbian sex sequence. Nathalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, along with French actor, Vincent Cassel; are superb in their respective roles.

THE LAST FIVE YEARS – The Future is Here!

Laurence Anyways (2012)
Another brilliant Canadian movie, by young Xavier Dolan; I mentioned his first movie above, J’ai tué ma Mère. This time, a movie dealing with the issue of a transgender personality. A man who slowly transforms into a woman, ’cause he feels like a woman. But he isn’t a gay man. So basically he turns himself from a straight man, to a lesbian woman. The movie is an epic, that deals with the slow transformation, over the years, and stresses on how it affects his near and dear ones. Especially his beloved wife.

Laurence Anyways, stars, Melvil Poupaud, Suzanne Clément and Nathalie Baye. Along with this, director Xavier Dolan films, are among the best Canadian films, I’ve come across. The American television movie, Normal (2003), has pretty much the same premise.

La vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 et 2 (2013)
Known as, Blue is the Warmest Colour, in English; this is an exceptional lesbian themed film, about two young French girls, by, Tunisian-French, director Abdellatif Kechiche.

The French movie is about, the sexual awakenings, of a young girl, through a girl she met by chance. A girl with short-cropped blue hair. The two fall deep in love, and experiment an erotic romance. Beautifully made, this sensual film stars, Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche and Jérémie Laheurte. One of the best, lesbian-themed, films, ever made. Pure Indulgence!

The Imitation Game (2014)
Another great bio-pic; this time on famed Cryptanalyst/Mathematician & Theoretical Biologist, Alan Turning. The man behind the famed ‘Turing Test’. The movie is set during World War II, when he decrypted, German intelligence codes, for the British government. At the age of 39, Alan Turning, was convicted, under indecency laws, for Homosexual acts, in 1952.

Directed by, Norway’s, Morten Tyldum, and having roped in a superb cast; including, Benedict Cumberbatch (as Turing), Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Allen Leech and Matthew Beard; this a superb, English-Language, bio-pic, to come out in recent times.

Eisenstein in Guanajuato (2015)
Yet another bio-pic!! This is about one of silent cinema’s greatest film director’s, i.e. Russian born, Sergei Eisenstein. The man responsible, for bringing out, Bronenosets Patyomkin (1925), a.k.a. Battleship Potemkin (in English). Battleship Potemkin, is a propaganda film, based on the mutiny that occurred in June 1905, when the crew of the Russian battleship, Potemkin, rebelled against their officers. This Soviet Russian film, Battleship Potemkin, is today, amongst the greatest films ever made; and one of my personal favourites, of the silent era. It’s a brilliant cinematic artwork, in the field of visual aesthetics.

Eisenstein in Guanajuato, deals with Eisenstein’s trip to Guanajuato, in Mexico, and his gay sexual odyssey, in the 1930’s, after he achieved fame for Battleship Potemkin. Definitely a great Peter Greenway flick; and now Greenway is working on a sequel to Eisenstein in Guanajuato. Finnish actor, Elmer Bäck, essays the role of the famed Sergei Eisenstein, with ease. He does a brilliant job, and viewers are transfixed onto the screen, thanks to him, the superbly satirical dialogues, and the breathtaking cinematography. A must watch!!

10 Star Rating, for each of the above!! All the films I’ve spoken about are nothing less the EXCELLENT!!!

OTHER FILMS

Above: Whoopi Goldberg and Margaret Avery; in  Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple (1985)  Below: Queen Latifah and Tika Sumpter; in Dee Rees’s Bessie (2015)

Above: Whoopi Goldberg and Margaret Avery; in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple (1985)
Below: Queen Latifah and Tika Sumpter; in Dee Rees’s Bessie (2015)

There are many excellent films with gay characters or (sometimes subtle) gay themes; like in; Rebecca (1940), Les Enfants Terribles (1950), Strangers on a Train (1951), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Ben-Hur (1959), Some Like it Hot (1959), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), In Cold Blood (1967), The Damned (1969), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Midnight Express (1978), The Color Purple (1985), Proof (1991), As Good as it Gets (1997), My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), American History X (1998), Billy Elliot (2000), La Face Cachée de la Lune (2003), Little Miss Sunshine (2006) and Meet Bill (2007) (to name some); that I haven’t included here. Mainly because their main plot doesn’t revolve around homosexuality, or a homosexual character; but they do have gay characters, with quite prevalent, supporting roles; or sometimes even a very significant gay sub-plot, sometimes indirectly. But it’s not the main plot, nor does it have anything to do with the lead characters, thus have omitted some of these greats. Then there are gay-themes in television films like Family Album (1994), Common Ground (2000), No Night Is Too Long (2002), Normal (2003), Prayer for Bobby (2009), Christopher and His Kind (2011), The Normal Heart (2014), et al; that I haven’t spoken of here, as, for this post, I’ve concentrated on Cinematic ventures, only. Nor have I spoken of any short-films, as well; like the brilliant, Fishbelly White (1998) and Blessure (2009); or like the pretty good, Week-end à la Campagne (2007) and Homophobia (2012). Then again, haven’t seen that many Gay-shorts. Not to mention, there are some superb television series (sit-coms, mini-series, long serials et al), such as, Oz (1997-2003), Will & Grace (1998-2006), Cambridge Spies (2003), Angels in America (2003), American Horror Story (2011 onwards), The New Normal (2012-2013), Empire (2015 onwards), Bessie (2015), etc etc….; that openly explore Gay issues, and/or have gay lead characters.

Above: Mark Rendall and  Logan Lerman; in Richard Loncraine’s My One And Only (2009) Below: Kristen Stewart and  Juliette Binoche; in Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)

Above: Mark Rendall and Logan Lerman; in Richard Loncraine’s My One And Only (2009)
Below: Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche; in Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)

I also want to make a Special Mention, on some other near excellent to really good, gay-themed movies (of the Big Screen); From the Near-Excellent (with a 9 Star Rating), to the Very-Good (with an 8 Star Rating). These movies are really worth watching. The likes of; Voulez-vous Danser avec Moi (1959), Teorema (1968), Midnight Cowboy (1969), Deliverance (1972), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Caligula (1979), American Gigolo (1980), La Ley del Deseo (1987), Less Than Zero (1987), Philadelphia (1993), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), The Basketball Diaries (1995), Love and Death on Long Island (1997), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), No se lo Digas a Nadie (1998), Gouttes d’eau sur Pierres Brûlantes (2000), Presque Rien (2000), The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy (2000), Y tu Mamá También (2001), Das Experiment (2001), Yossi & Jagger (2002), Food of Love (2002), Le Temps qui Reste (2005), Crustacés & Coquillages (2005), Douches Froides (2005), Where the Truth Lies (2005), Kinky Boots (2005), Death at a Funeral (2007), Evening (2007), Little Ashes (2008), Latter Days (2008), Taking Woodstock (2009), Everybody’s Fine (2009), My One and Only (2009), Kill Your Darlings (2013), The Kids Are All Right (2010), Bombay Talkies (2013) and Clouds of Sils Maria (2014); to name some.

TOP: Edouard Collin and Théo Frilet; in  Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau’s Nés en 68 (2008) BOTTOM: Fawad Khan and Sidharth Malhotra; in Shakun Batra’s Kapoor & Sons (2016)

TOP: Edouard Collin and Théo Frilet; in Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau’s Nés en 68 (2008)
BOTTOM: Fawad Khan and Sidharth Malhotra; in Shakun Batra’s Kapoor & Sons (2016)

There are other many great movies, I’ve heard of, like, Tea and Sympathy (1956), Victim (1961), The Servant (1963), Les Amitiés Particulières (1964), Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), Les Biches (1968), The Boys in the Band (1970), Entertaining Mr. Sloane (1970), Fortune and Men’s Eyes (1971), Morte a Venezia (1971) Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), Ai no korîda (1976), Die Consequent (1977), Una Giornata Particolare (1977), Un hombre llamado Flor de Otoño (1978), Querelle (1982), Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), The Crying Game (1992), Voor een Verloren Soldaat (1992), Xi Yan (1993), Fucking Åmål (1998), Gods and Monsters (1998), Better Than Chocolate (1999), Monster (2003), Grande École (2004), The 24th Day (2004), C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005), Huhwihaji Anha (2006), Nés en 68 (2008), Plein Sud (2009), Einayim Petukhoth (2009), Les Amours Imaginaires (2010), Habitación en Roma (2010), An Fei ta Ming (2010), 80 Egunean (2010), Howl (2010), Ludwig II (2012), The Broken Tower (2011), Sal (2011), On the Road (2012), Tom à la Ferme (2013), Margarita with a Straw (2014), Yves Saint Laurent (2014), Saint Laurent (2014), Aligarh (2015), Carol (2015), The Danish Girl (2015), Holding the Man (2015), Kapoor & Sons (2016), et al; yet I haven’t watched any of them; but have read some very positive reviews, along with good ratings, for them. These are some gay-themed films, am really keen on checking out.

So here’s to a more open-minded society; the future of equality, understanding human associations, personalities and reason. Giving everyone a fair chance, as they deserve. Here’s to a Brighter Future!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
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Films 2005