Tag Archive: Music


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

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

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

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

Manisha Koirala as Nargis Dutt

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

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

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

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

Sonam Kapoor as Ruby

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

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

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

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

Dia Mirza as Manyata Dutt

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

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

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

Anushka Sharma as Winnie Diaz

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

Karishma Tanna playing a slut

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

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

The trio of actresses playing Sanjay Dutt’s two sisters

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

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

‘Sanju’s’ Two Male Anchors

Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt

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

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

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

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

Vicky Kaushal as Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi

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

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

The Verdict

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

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

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

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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

JANAAN (2016)

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

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

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

MATA NAM AHUNA (2015)

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

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

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

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

BISORJON (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

POORNA (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HALDAA (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WATERFALL (2017)

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

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

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

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

BAHUCHITHAWADIYA (2018)

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

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

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

THE SAARC FILM FEST EXPERIENCE

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

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

MY RATINGS (Set of Seven):-

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

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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

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

Enjoy

Nuwan Sen’s Fashion Sense

German Film Director, Wim Wenders

Spanish Husband & Wife: Javier Bardem & Penélope Cruz

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

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

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

Young Russian Film Director, Kantemir Balagov

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

The Frenchmen: Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Honoré and Vincent Lacoste

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Marion Cotillard (Cannes 2018)

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

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

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

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

Chinese Actress, Bingbing Fan

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

Winnie Harlow goes Green @ Cannes 2018

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

American Actress, Amber Heard

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

Deepika Padukone in Hot Pink Ruffles (Cannes 2018)

More of Daring Deepika: Deepika Padukone in Purple Pant Suit

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

John Savage @ Cannes 2018

Milla Jovovich looking like a Greek Goddess

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

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

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

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

Goodbye Cannes Film Festival (for )

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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

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

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

Mrs. Scarface & Johnny Montana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catwoman & Batman

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

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

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

That Romantic Comedy Co-star

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

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

Beaus from Period Pieces

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

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

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

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

Real Life on Reel Life

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

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

Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds (1995)

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

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

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

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

Nuwan Sen

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
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Correct Answers to the Quiz (my previous blog-post)

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A.1

Hollywood’s Million Dollar smile: Marilyn Monroe

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A.2

Best of the Brits (with Nigerian roots): David Oyelowo

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A.3

Bollywood’s Million $Dollar smile (converted to Indian Rupees₹, of course 😀 ): Madhuri Dixit

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A.4

One of the last two great Pop Stars, of the last Century (80’s & 90’s): Michael Jackson

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A.5

Foxy Frenchwoman, an International Superstar: Marion Cotillard

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Thank you fellow Bloggers for your participation!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Movie Sense
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Who am I?? Guess who these 5 super smiles/toothy grins 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.

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 Movie Sense
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P.S. Also see my posts Question Time # 009: Beautiful Eyes °°/Answers to Questionnaire no.9 👀 & Question # 014: Luscious Lips 💋/Answers to Questionnaire no.14 (Luscious Lips 💋) from May 2015 & March 2018; respectively!! 😁

Couldn’t sleep a wink last night, kept getting up to check the time. Finally got off my bed by 4:30am (0430hrs); made my instant coffee, and got ready to catch the Oscar Red Carpet coverage LIVE (on this side of the Globe), at 5am (0500hrs); and continued to watch the entire show, until the finalé at 10:20am (1020hrs).

James Ivory giving his Oscar speech; after winning for Best Adapted Screenplay, for Call me by your Name (2017)
89 year old Ivory (who’ll turn 90 in June) became the oldest person to win an Oscar, ever!!

I was pretty disappointed, when Call me by your Name (2017) and Loving Vincent (2017); didn’t win the golden statuettes, for ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Animated Picture’, respectively. BUT I wasn’t surprised either. Though I haven’t watched The Shape of Water (2017) and Coco (2017); which won the earlier mentioned awards; in their respective categories; I highly doubt, they are as unique, as the naturalistic delicate love story that was Call me by your Name, and the spectacular literally moving impressionist artwork that was Loving Vincent. Added to which Coco also grabbed the award for ‘Best Achievement in Music written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)’. Poor Sufjan Stevens; his “Mystery of Love”; is such an amazingly melodious creation. Love that song.

Yet, luckily James Ivory was awarded the trophy ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’; for Call me by your Name. Aged 89, this was the very first Oscar win for Ivory; making him the oldest Oscar winner ever. Being one third of the trio behind the famed Merchant/Ivory Productions (which included Ismail Merchant and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala), and today, with only Ivory being among the living, of the trio; he gave a heartfelt speech paying tribute his two co-producers/directors/writers and close friends. I’ve been a fan of Merchant/Ivory Productions since I can remember. They made some brilliant Indian English language films, from the beginning of the 60’s decade, to the early 80’s; before they went onto make beautiful British Heritage Films, like the E.M. Forster trilogy for instance; A Room with a View (1985), Maurice (1987) & Howards End (1992); and other eloquent creations set in eras of elegance.

Another touching speech, that was given, was by Frances McDormand; who nabbed the ‘Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role’ Oscar, for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017). Albeit pretty hysterically; but heartfelt. She got all the female nominees and winners to get up, and stand with her (though not on stage). I was really happy when, as expected, Gary Oldman won ‘Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role’ for Darkest Hour (2017). For he was brilliant as Churchill, and ’twas not just ’cause of the prosthetics. He truly embodied the character. At the end of his speech, he asked his mother to put on the kettle, for he was bringing home an Oscar. Darkest Hour, quite deservedly, also won for ‘Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling’. Jordan Peele, became the first Afro-American Screenwriter, to win the prestigious award for ‘Best Original Screenplay’; for his horror venture, Get Out (2017). Though Dunkirk (2017) sadly lost out to Blade Runner 2049 (2017) for ‘Best Achievement in Cinematography’; it did bag a few in technical categories.

During the In Memoriam, the academy paid tribute to various stars like Harry Dean Stanton, Roger Moore, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lewis, et al. Added to these great American celebrities, they had also mentioned actor Shashi Kapoor (1938-2017); the very first star of  Productions; which was not a surprise, as he was an international star. But, somewhat of surprise, of course a pleasant one at that, was the inclusion of Sridevi (1963-2018), a national star of India; who bridged the gap between Bollywood (Films mainly made in the national language of India, Hindi) and South Indian Cinema (she’s worked in various South Indian languages made in various Southern Indian States).

Black & Gold: Lupita Nyong’o & Sandra Bullock

Rita Moreno, when she won for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for
West Side Story (1961), at the 34th Academy Awards, in April 1962; along with Best Actor in a Supporting Role winner (for the same film), her co-star, George Chakiris (L); and actor Rock Hudson (R)

From Oscars 1962 to Oscars 2018: 86 year old Rita Moreno, wore the same skirt she wore when she won the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role; 56 years ago

Fashion and a great sense of style, are a dominant feature at the Academy Awards; and this year, it was the Black & Gold combination that struck me as the best. Both Lupita Nyong’o & Sandra Bullock, looked amazing in their Black & Gold garb; but it was the 86 year Rita Moreno, who stole the show; when she wore the skirt that she originally wore for the Oscars, in 1962. She topped it off with a strapless black top, simple jewellery, a headband, gloves, and spectacles. She made spectacles look good. The attire that disappointed me the most, was the crude chandelier of a dress, that hung on Salma Hayek. Too gaudy for my taste!!!

In a chic pantsuit, Emma Stone presents the Oscar for Best Achievement in Directing; which went to Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water (2017)

Red n’ Bright: Meryl Streep & Allison Janney
Allison Janney won the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for I, Tonya (2017)

True Blue: Nicole Kidman & Jennifer Garner

The Gentlemen looked dashing in their tuxedos; but it’s always the Ladies who steal the show at Award Ceremonies; or any function, when it comes to dress sense. But what is even more impressive is when a Lady dons a Trouser suit; and at this year’s , it was the chic style adorned by Emma Stone, that caught my eye!!!👁

Overall, the 90th Annual Academy Awards, was an interesting show; with no slip-ups this time!! And Jimmy Kimmel did a wonderful job, second time round. Bringing in Bonnie and Clyde (1967) veterans; Warren Beatty & Faye Dunaway; a second time, as well (after last years debacle), was a icing on the cinematic cake.

Congratulations to all the Winners!!! Here’s to 2018!!

Nuwan Sen

Nuwan Sen n’ Style

Timothée Chalamet with his mother, and Armie Hammer with his wife (Oscars 2018)

Comical moment with host Jimmy Kimmel and Helen Mirren

Daniel Kaluuya congratulates Jordan Peele on winning the Best Original Screenplay Oscar (inset) Daniel Kaluuya

Nuwan Sen Film Sense
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Call Me By Your Name (2017): The Perfect Picture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑

Quoting Parveen Babi

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’ve been quite a few fantastical tales, on celluloid reels, of humans falling in love with the unreal, and vice versa. Lets take a look at some great, and some far from great, renditions of this unusual phenomena, explored mainly on the Big Screen. Fairy tales for more mature audiences (teenagers and/or adults), if you may.
What brought about this sudden urge to write about unrealistic romances, portrayed in a realistic style on celluloid? I watched, Her (2013), back in March 2015 (on 22nd), and never got to write about it (of course films today aren’t made on celluloid, but am speaking in a general term, to reference cinema of the past). Plus it brought about memories of some really great films (as well as certain terrible movies), I’ve watched in the previous decades, going way back to my childhood.

In Her, a writer, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) falls for an electronic voice, without a body (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). In Lars and the Real Girl (2007) a lonely, simple headed, man, Lars (Ryan Gosling) falls for a sex toy, a female without a voice.

In Ruby Sparks (2012) a writer, Calvin (Paul Dano) creates a fictional character Ruby Sparks (played by Zoe Kazan) that comes to life. He fall in love with her, but treats her like his possession, in contrast to the sex toy, to whom, Lars, tends to show so much respect and affection towards. Ironically Lars doesn’t treat the sex toy as play thing, but Calvin treats Ruby, as a toy, making her do what he wants. An egoistical male’s god complex, of being in control of his woman. While Lars of Lars and the real Girl and Theodore from Her, are the exact opposite. Of course, when Theodore finds out the voice of Her is ‘in love’ with thousands of other human beings, he starts to feel jealous, knowing he wasn’t special. While we sympathise with Theodore and Lars, we can’t help but feel Calvin is a bloody prick.
Stranger than Fiction (2006), has a similar unreal premise, but am yet to watch it, so I shan’t comment on it further.

In the animated movie, Corpse Bride (2005), a man, Victor Van Dort (voiced by Johnny Depp), accidentally marries a corpse (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter). Of course in this case, it’s the corpse, who falls for the human. Yet, the corpse, itself, was a human being once, who was tricked and murdered by her paramour, on her wedding day. Similarly in the comedy, Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), an Invisible man (Chevy Chase) and a woman (Daryl Hannah), fall for each other, yet the invisible man, being an actual human being, it makes it comparatively realistic. As in the case of Mr. India (Anil Kapoor) in Mr. India (1987), a vigilante who can become invisible with help of a devise created by his late father, happens to be the romantic object of many a women. He is still a human being. Yet, we see, the reporter, Seema (Sridevi), fall for the invisible vigilante, than his human self. In fact, she initially despises ‘Mr. India’ in his human form as Arun Verma, unaware that he is in fact her invisible hero. In Hollow Man (2000) and Invisible Strangler (1978), once the protagonists of these movies, find they can get away anything, in their invisible form, nothing stops them from acting on their lustful desires, committing rape/murder, on beautiful women.

In various superhero tales, you find a similar dilemma, as in Mr. India, faced by the love interest of the story. In Superman (1978), reporter Louis Lane (Margot Kidder) falls in love with Superman (Christopher Reeve), who actually is an alien from a distant planet. But she refuses to acknowledge, the affectionate advances from her co-worker Clark Kent, who happens to be her superhero in his human avatar. There have been quite a few ‘Superman’ films since.

Of course Superman is from another planet. But if you take other superhero’s; American conceptions like Batman (played on the Big Screen by many stars from 1966 till date), Spider-man (Nicholas Hammond, in the 70’s, Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield & Tom Holland, this century), or Bollywood creations like Shahenshah (Amitabh Bachchan) from Shahenshah (1988) and Krrish (Hrithik Roshan) from Krrish (2006) and Krrish 3 (2013), sequels to Koi…. Mil Gaya (2003); in all these stories, the superhero happens to be human, with superpowers, but their leading ladies don’t necessarily, easily, fall for the man, but have more of a desire for the vigilante, unaware the two are one and the same. In love with not just the unreal, but impending danger as well. Dangerous, risk taking, hero’s, seem sexually more appealing to the fairer sex, than a realistic human companion. These kind of films actually also put pressure on growing young men. As kids, most guys like the idea, of imagining themselves as superhero’s, for fun. But when in their teens, it’s more to do with appeasing the opposite sex, through false perceptions of masculinity, showcased in such movies. Sometimes foolishly young men might try and take unnecessary risks, just to get the attention of their female peers, with disastrous consequences.
If you take classic fairytales, we read as little children, like Beauty and Beast and Princess and Frog, this phenomena of man and beast is nothing new. Yet at the same time, both the ‘Beast’ and the ‘Frog’, are actually human beings, making it somewhat acceptable for children. If you take Greek mythology, there is the famous tale of Minotaur, where the Minotaur is the result of the Queen of Crete mating with a white bull. Added to which there are plenty of tales of Gods and human love stories, as well, in Greek Mythology. Then there is Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream. There have been plenty of movie versions of these classic tales and great old literature. In I, Frankenstein (2014); as I stated on twitter ‘another 21st century ruination of a 19th century classic’; this dull horror movie ends with the hint, that Frankenstein’s monster, a man made being, has found a human companion, after searching for over 200 years. On a lighter vein, in not so great films (yet no where as near as terrible as I, Frankenstein), like the comedy, Hercules in New York (1970), Arnold Schwarzenegger falls from the skies (and not to forget Schwarzenegger’s ridiculous Terminator franchise, from 1984 onwards, with the craziest and cheesiest storylines, ever). Like in Corpse Bride, a man accidentally awakens a goddess, in the near pathetic, Goddess of Love (1988), while in Love-Struck (1997) we see a woman who doesn’t believe in love (Cynthia Gibb) fall for Cupid (Costas Mandylor) and vice versa; and Cupid has to decide if he wants to leave his immortal form, and become human. Similarly in City of Angels (1998), an angel (Nicolas Cage) gives up his human form, for his love for a human being (Meg Ryan). Date with an Angel (1987) is about another union between a man and beautiful angel.

In the 80’s and 90’s, there were quite a few teen comedies, based on this concept of unrealistic love, helping a young man find the perfect looking partner, especially if the lead character is a geek or considered a loser, who cannot attain the affections of the opposite sex.

Weird Science (1985) and Virtual Sexuality (1999), are two films I haven’t watched, but the concept of the two teen movies, are the same. In Weird Science, two geeks create a ‘perfect’ woman (Kelly LeBrock), while in Virtual Sexuality, a girl creates herself a ‘perfect’ man (Rupert Penry-Jones).

Similar to Corpse Bride and Goddess of Love, in Mannequin (1987), an artist (Andrew McCarthy) falls for a Mannequin (Kim Cattrall). Big (1988) and Date with an Angel; the two movies combined resulted in the crappy Bollywood take, that was Chandra Mukhi (1993). The film was so bad, that it was credited as being a Salman Khan idea (the lead actor of the movie). Getting back to Tom Hanks, star of Big, back in the 80’s he did a lot of run on the mill comedies; that weren’t great, but were enjoyable enough, thanks to Hanks. In Splash (1984), we see Hanks falling for a mermaid. This adult fairy tale, is similar to the classic children’s fairy tale, The Little Mermaid.
Funny though, how all these Hollywood romances, dealing with unreal love, where the perfect looking lover, be it a mannequin, a fairy, a goddess or mermaid, were all hot white women. What happened to the browns, blacks and yellows? Where are the gays and lesbians? Are they considered less than perfect???? Added to which why is it most of time a man finding the perfect mate? And that too preferably a Blonde one? Even better if the blonde’s in a red hot attire? Like the sequence in The Matrix (1999), where Neo (played by Keanu Reeves), suddenly turns to take a good look at a blonde in a red dress. Why did she have to be blonde? What if he saw an African-American? or an Indian beauty? What if he turned to look at a man? Even in Virtual Sexuality, though it’s creation is a male, the man is a white male, Blond, with a perfect physique. Of course when it came to the Bollywood films, the perfect hero/heroine are both Indian’s, obviously. But United States of America, is a diverse country with all colours and creeds, where the indigenous people of the country are actually Red skinned, not white. Yet the 80’s (and 90’s to a certain extent) target audience, were the straight white American youth. Even though these reached beyond borders. And in a way, 80’s was one of the worst periods for Hollywood, with a load crappy B-movies, being made. Not all, but most, including these fantasy flicks.

Getting back on the topic of films based on unrealistic romances, there are some interesting films of ghosts and people falling for one another. Like in Corpse Bride (discussed above), these dead spirits were humans at one time, and are scavenging earth ’cause of some unfinished business. In the classic Bollywood film, Ek Paheli (1971), a modern man, Sudhir (played by Feroz Khan) falls in love with a mysterious woman (Tanuja), whom we discover later, to be a spirit of a dead pianist, who had committed suicide, during the Post-war era. The only way for the two to be together is, if Sudhir leaves his bodily form, releasing his spirit. Similarly in Somewhere in Time (1980), a modern day Chicago playwright, Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) falls for a photograph of an Edwardian beauty, a stage actress, Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour). He manages to travel back in time through self hypnosis (see my post DVD Films From Last Month PART-II from December 2014). Yet, they can’t be together, as he’s thrown back into the late 70’s, due to a small mistake, he made, where she doesn’t exist anymore. The only way for them to be together, is for him to die of a broken heart, and letting their spirits unite in heavenly paradise forever.

In Paheli (2005) the exact opposite happens, a woman falls for a ghost, who’s taken her husband’s human form, and trapped her real husband’s spirit.

In Ghost (1990), when a banker, Sam Wheat ( Patrick Swayze) is killed by his best friend, he tries desperately to communicate with his fiancée, an artist, Molly Jensen (Demi Moore), with the help of psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg). While in Love Can Be Murder (1992) a ghost of a former private detective brings chaos into the life of a living private detective, (Jaclyn Smith).

Then, there are on-screen figures/cartoon characters, where the real world intervenes with the celluloid/animated characters. In Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), an animated character; based on classic Hollywood stars, Rita Hayworth, Veronica Lake and Lauren Bacall; seduces more than one human in the movie, and spectators alike. Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), has a movie character, walk off the screen and seduce his most ardent fan.

Getting back to man and beast/alien, PK (2014), sees a humanoid alien fall for a human. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), shows a great friendship between an alien and a human child. Planet of the Apes (1968) there is a famous kiss, between a man and an ape. In The Animal (2001) a man becomes sexually attracted to a goat in heat. He talks to the goat while rubbing her back and sloppily kisses her on the head. He then slaps her butt. All the popular Hulk films have a love interest

The Sixth Sense (1999), Warm Bodies (2013), Transcendence (2014), The Fly (1958 & 1986), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), Bewitched (2005), Pleasantville (1998), Ex Machina (2014), all have similar unusual human and non-(real)human interactions.
The Stepford Wives (1975 & 2004), tells of how an intelligent woman finds it difficult, to integrate into a narrow minded society, when she moves into a new neighbourhood. Of course, all the wives (in the original 75’ film) turn out to be machines (while in the 04’ version, only one husband turns out to be a robot, while the other wives have been brainwashed). This is also symbolical, of how difficult it is, when a lone intellectual person gets trapped in an archaic society, that constantly tries to drag him or her down with them. I personally know how hard is to stay afloat, without changing for the worse, living in an extremist narrow minded country. It’s not easy not to be influenced by negativity. And just like Katharine Ross (in the original), and Nicole Kidman (in the comical remake); I have to fight to stay sane, not to be swayed by the rest.

In Moon (2009), we see a clone in love with the image of a dead human; while in The Space between us (2017), a human born in Mars feels like an Alien on Earth; and falls for a human, who decides to leave with him to Mars.
Then there are people who fall for wordsmiths, that they’ve never met. In Saajan (1991) we see a woman (Madhuri Dixit) fall deeply in love with a poet (whom, nobody knows what he looks like), when a man claiming to be the poet (Salman Khan) seduces her, she falls for him. But does she truly love him? If he turns out not to be the poet, would she still love this man? In the Bengali (Bengali/English bilingual)Art Film, The Japanese Wife (2010) and the Hindi (Hindi/English bilingual) Art Film, The Lunchbox (2013), two people have an entire love affair through letters, without ever meeting each other. In The Japanese Wife, they even get married; through ink.

Last but not the least, lets have another look at the union of onscreen humans & Aliens (besides ‘Superman’). Similar to Meet Joe Black and Paheli (as spoken of earlier) Jeff Bridges in Starman (1984), plays an alien who clones himself, into a dead man’s form; and gets the widow to help him escape. In The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), David Bowie plays a humanoid alien, sleeping around with women of earth. And not to forget the Vampires/Werewolves and human unions; in films like, Nosferatu (1922), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), The Hunger (1983) and the recent Twilight franchise.

Some great films on this unusual conception, some terrible, and some in between. But when they bring out something exceptional, those films are really worth checking out.

An ode to unrealistic romances.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Special Note: I actually worked on this post, one day (on the 22nd of April 2015), exactly a month after I watched the movie, ‘Her’, in March 2015, I wrote most of In Love with the Unreal, and left it incomplete, hoping to work on it the next day or so. I never got back to it, and left it pending. Then, five months later, in September 2015, I re-worked on it a bit, stopped, and didn’t touch it at all through out the Sweet Year of 2016. So it was just hanging there, untouched and incomplete.…That is until today. This was my second incomplete post, from April 2015, that I left unpublished; the other being The Beatles in Art movements through the ages. But I did mange to post in … the following month, May 2015. Anyway, back in April that year, I hardly got anything much done, so far as blogging was concerned. I only posted one blog-post, i.e. The Great Villain Blogathon: Juhi Chawla as corrupt politician ‘Sumitra Devi’ in GULAAB GANG (2014), on the 15th of April, 2015. Now there are no more pending posts. All done!!

Nuwan Sen (Pending Posts from April 2015 !! All Complete!!!!!)
Also see (my), Nu Film Site of Nuwan Sen – Nu Sense on Film (nu Sense on Film), started in August 2015.

Now though, later in Year , am actually planning to close nu Sense on Film!!! I prefer to continue blogging here, on No Nonsense with Nuwan Sen.

Nuwan Sen