Tag Archive: Paris


Quoting Simone de Beauvoir

Freedom is the source from which 
all significations and all values spring.
It is the original condition of all justification of existence.
– Simone de Beauvoir
(1908 – 1986)


Nuwan Sen ()

Since Audrey Hepburn’s 90th Birth Anniversay (on 4th May 2019), twitter has been abuzz avec Hepburn tweets! I, of course, happen to be among the main culprits flooding Twitter, along with my fellow Twitterians/Audrey Hepburn fans, with Hepburn related tweets! Happily Guilty! So, thought I’d share my tweets, along with some other Twitterians’ tweets, posted on the 4th of May 2019, as well as post the 4th, within this last week, culminating today!

May the 4th Be with You (Tweets Posted on 4th May 2019)

#NSFS

Tweets Post the 4th (5th to 11th May 2019)

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense (#NSFS)

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If Audrey Hepburn were alive today, she’d be 90 years old! Just imagine! It’s hard to even fathom; a post WWII, modern, youthful, energetic, fun-loving and fashionable, foxy 50’s generation; that gave us stars like Audrey Hepburn, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Grace Kelly, Marlon Brando, et al; would ever grow old! And sadly most of them didn’t; and some died way way way too young. The era of cool! I remember it like it were yesterday, when we heard of Hepburn’s demise in January 1993, at the age of 63. I was 17 years old. Where did the 1990’s go?? Am already in my 40’s, and it’s Audrey Hepburn’s heavenly 90th Birthday, today!

To mark her 90th Birth Anniversary, Audrey Hepburn’s Birth place, Brussels, Belgium; is holding a special exhibition, titled Intimate Audrey, which began earlier this week; which includes contribution from Hepburn’s older son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer (who put together this exhibition).

I wish I was in Europe, right now. If any of my fellow bloggers/Hepburn fans are in Europe these days, and happen to be in Belgium, do check it out! From whatever media I’ve come across about the exhibition, it looks amazing. The exhibition includes the green “Vespa Farobasso” scooter she rode, in Roman Holiday (1953), my all time favourite movie; Hepburn’s own fashion drawings & humanitarian writings, and the Oscar statuette awarded posthumously for her humanitarian work.

A screen legend, a style icon, a kind human with a Big Heart!!!!!! My all time favourite actress!! Great personalities never really die! They live on, through us, their greatest fans, forever!!💓

❤ Hepburn ❤

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

 

Welcome!!!!!

The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon begins today

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

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

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

Childhood

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

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

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

In our Teens

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

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

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

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

In our 30’s

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

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

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

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

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ Style

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

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

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

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

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

Some Simple Rules:

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

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

Thank you and Enjoy

Nuwan Sen of No Nonsense with Nuwan Sen

Blogathon Banners

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

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

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

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

Thank you in advance for your participation

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense 🧡

Happy Birthday Ashaji

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

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

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

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

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TOP 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Namak Halaal (1982)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13. “Yeh Mera Dil” from Don (1978)

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

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

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

Teesri Manzil was the first collaboration of Bhosle and Burman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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English Couplets

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

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

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

Bhosle’s Ode to a famed British Band

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

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

The Brits tribute to Asha Bhosle

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

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

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

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Saaz (1997)

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

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

Mai (2013)

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

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

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

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On this Day …………

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

TWO EXECUTIONS

The Civil Rights Activist

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

The People’s Leader

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

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BIRTH OF A CAGED BIRD

The Poet

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

Éric Rohmer – Pareveen Babi – Roger Ebert

THREE GREAT FILM PERSONALITIES

The French Director

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

Bollywood Babi69

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

The Death of a 1975 Pulitzer Prize Winner

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

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Photograph-V

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Bookish Nuwan (NS)

French, Socialist Party member, 39 year old Emmanuel Macron, is the new President of France. Vive La France!!

Emmanuel Macron with his wife; the new First Lady, Brigitte Macron; at the Inauguration, yesterday.

Macron, who ran under the banner En Marche! (a centrist, liberal movement, founded by Macron, which encapsulates a balance between social equality and a certain degree of social hierarchy, without going into extremes) won, by a decisive margin, at the Presidential elections, defeating Marine Le Pen, on 7th May 2017. He was inaugurated into office yesterday, 14th May 2017.
This is exactly what the world needs now. Youthful, progressive, modernists, but with intellect, wisdom and maturity, of a 65 year old; to bring the world into the future. Open minded, great progressive minds, the likes of, what former Presidents, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama were to USA, former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi was to India; and what current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau is to Canada today. Not ridiculous leaders like, America’s George W. Bush (jr.) & Donald Trump; or even worse, the pathetic Shit Lankan Presidents, with archaic, crude, extremist, mentality, that lead/have led this country for the last 28 years. J.R. Jayewardene was the only good President SL ever had, and no doubt the best Prime Minister this corrupt island has even seen. Devil’s own country, with their love for Devilled food; inhumane hot headed humans, and a heat, as hot as hell.

Kudos to France, for electing a young modernist. Let’s hope for the best!!

Wishing Emanuel Macron, all the best, in his future endeavours.

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The Cassandra Crossing (1976)
the-cassandra-crossing-1976A train travelling from, Switzerland to Sweden, is re-routed to Poland; which will have to pass through a disused bridge; once American authorities learn that a deadly (pneumonic plague) virus is spreading on board! An excellent piece of guilty pleasure starring the who’s who of the cinematic world, taking you on thrill ride, across the scenic landscapes of Europe. Love this movie!!!!!

Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren

The Movie & I

When I first watched The Cassandra Crossing (1976), as a 12½/13 year old, in the late 1980’s (1988/89 – more probable that it was in 1988), on the telly, the only star of the film I was aware of, was the lead actress Sophia Loren (for I had a vague memory of having seen her in epics like El Cid (1961) and The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), when I was even younger; plus had heard her name, many a times, in the children’s film, Dream Girl (1977); where a playboy is teased whether he is on a call with ‘Sophia Loren’, as he speaks to his grandfather; a movie we watched as kids, a kazillion times, back in the 80’s & early 90’s). Of course, by now, I have seen so many movies of her, but The Cassandra Crossing, was my proper introduction to her, for that’s when I really got to know, who Loren was. Late last night, I re-watched, The Cassandra Crossing, on youtube, almost three decades later. The quality, not so good, the movie, totally worth it. And today, I practically know majority of the glamorous star cast, of The Cassandra Crossing. Besides Loren, the movie stars, Richard Harris, Burt Lancaster, Ingrid Thulin, Lee Strasberg, Ava Gardner, Martin Sheen, Lionel Stander, O.J. Simpson, Lou Castel, Alida Valli, Ann Turkel, John Phillip Law, Ray Lovelock, Thomas Hunter and Stefano Patrizi; to name some. There was also, an averagely OK, Bollywood disaster movie, with an ensemble cast, roping in the who’s who of the Hindi film fraternity, similar to this, called, The Burning Train (1980), which I watched in the 1990’s. Unless you are fan of Hindi movies, in general, stick to The Cassandra Crossing. The Cassandra Crossing, also reminded me of Sidney Lumet’s Murder on the Orient Express (1974), based on an Agatha Christie novel; which too roped in a great star cast, of the 70’s, but set in the roaring 20’s, in another train journey bound to travel across Europe. Murder on the Orient Express, was yet another Excellent movie, I got to watch, around 15 years ago, in my late 20’s!!! Of course, Murder on the Orient Express, is neither a thriller, nor a disaster film. It’s a murder mystery, set within the confines of a snowbound train.

Behind the Scenes: Ava Gardner, Martin Sheen & Sophia Loren; on the sets of The Cassandra Crossing (1976)

Behind the Scenes: Ava Gardner, Martin Sheen & Sophia Loren; on the sets of The Cassandra Crossing (1976)

My Analysis & The Characters
(Spoiler Alert)

Despite critics panning it down, with an average rating of almost 7/10 (which is a pretty good rating), on IMDB; The Cassandra Crossing, is actually a very enjoyable fare!! The 70’s did have quite a few famed disaster films, but none like this. This has double the pleasure, being a hybrid of a thriller as well as a disaster movie. A thriller about people trying to steal a biological weapon, harboured by the Americans, and the American authorities, to cover up their asses, trying to kill off thousands of people travelling in a train, carrying the said deadly virus, plus a train heading for derelict bridge, that hasn’t been used, since post World War – II. The thrills are never ending, the mesmerising Swiss landscapes please the eyes, the background score, hauntingly brilliant, and a very stylish international star cast, adds to the enjoyment. In addition to which, minus modern day special effects, overpowering and ruining the movie, as is the case of most thrillers of today, this is a great guilty pleasure to sit through.

Sophia Loren and Richard Harris, play a twice divorced couple, who re-meet on a train bound for Sweden; in The Cassandra Crossing (1976)

Sophia Loren and Richard Harris, play a twice divorced couple, who re-meet on a train bound for Sweden; in The Cassandra Crossing (1976)

The movie is no doubt a Sophia Loren vehicle. She looks amazing as ever, and is brilliant as a witty best-selling author, a two-time divorcee (to the same man, who also happens to be on board, as well), whose hunches are never wrong, and heroine of the movie. Richard Harris is superb as a neurosurgeon, and playing (the twice divorced) ex-husband to Loren’s character (the two together have perfect chemistry, and the characters feel, madly in love and hate, with each other, as real-life celebs, Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor, were at the time). Harris’ character is shown trying to save lives of infected patients medically, as well as, trying to save the train from impending doom, along with his, two-time, ex-wife. Interestingly, Harris’ real life wife, Ann Turkel, plays a young hip woman, in a small role, along with many other more famous stars playing really small, and hardly noticeable roles. It’s pity, an actress like Alida Valli, seems to be wasted in a movie, where anyone could have played such an insufficient character. I didn’t even recognise her, until she took her spectacles off.

Clockwise from Top-Right: Ray Lovelock, John Phillip Law, Stefano Patrizi, Ann Turkel and Alida Valli, in small supporting roles.

Clockwise from Top-Right: Ray Lovelock, John Phillip Law, Stefano Patrizi, Ann Turkel and Alida Valli, in small supporting roles.

Yet, the massive star cast is superb, in their respective roles. BUT the best role goes to Ava Gardner, playing a creepy old lady (a wife of a prominent arms dealer), with a young lover, her boy toy (played by Martin Sheen). She is ecstatically humorous, she brings in the comic relief in this otherwise tense drama. Sheen’s character, we initially assume, is suffering from an Oedipus complex; but in reality, as we find out later, he’s a drug trafficker, who just uses the older woman, to pass through customs, without being checked. O.J. Simpson, is a cop, in the guise of a priest, on the trail, of this drug trafficker. Nobody is who they seem. Something which is hinted at the very beginning of the movie, when a trio terrorists, rush into a medical facility, dressed as two attendants, trolleying in a patient.

Burt Lancaster, John Phillip Law and Ingrid Thulin, in a scene from the film.

Burt Lancaster, John Phillip Law and Ingrid Thulin, in a scene from the film.

Burt Lancaster, plays the villain of the piece, as a U.S. Colonel (Military Intelligence assigned to the International Health Organization (most probably a fictional organization, represented, in lieu of the WHO; World Health Organization), in Geneva, Switzerland). He has the least amount of action credited to his character. He is so good in his role, that he is quite convincingly hateable. As he is mostly confined to a room, it’s his facial expressions, body language, and dialogues that have to do all the work. Ingrid Thulin, who is stuck inside the room, with Lancaster, is even better in her role, as a firm humanitarian medical head.

The bridge known as the ‘Cassandra Crossing’, plays a significant supporting role as well. The way the bridge is shot, in a threatening manner, and showcased, on and off, as the train is being re-routed, it appears like a menacing beast, waiting to devour this oncoming train and it’s passengers. The last scene with the parts of the train crashing through the bridge (again without modern CGI) is real showstopper.

The movie blends in all the suspense that make a great thrilling achievement; blending in all the necessary action, chills, thrills, heroism, shootouts, government intrigue, you name it, along with a good plot; making this unrealistic flick of catastrophe, with an almost realistic scenario, very plausible.

Richard Harris & O.J. Simpson in a scene from The Cassandra Crossing (1976)

Richard Harris & O.J. Simpson in a scene from The Cassandra Crossing (1976)

The Background

Most of the interior scenes were shot in Cinecittà, a large film studio in Rome, that is famed for being the hub of Italian cinema. With beautiful cinematography, the location shots were taken in both France and Switzerland. The steel arch bridge depicted in the film, as the notorious “Cassandra Crossing”, is actually the Garabit Viaduct, a railway arch bridge spanning the River Truyère, in southern France. The Garabit Viaduct was built between 1880 and 1884, by Gustave Eiffel, the man behind Paris’ iconic, Eiffel Tower.

The movie flopped badly in the United States, but still made money, thanks to Japanese audiences flocking to the cinema’s to catch the movie. It apparently did well enough, in Europe, as well. Though it flopped in the USA, the movie was critically praised, for it’s beautification through Ennio Guarnieri’s cinematography, as well as, Jerry Goldsmith’s superb musical score.

The Cassandra Crossing, was directed by Italian born film personality, George Pan Cosmatos. A director, whose other works I haven’t watched yet, nor do they really interest me much, thus this movie is an exceptional case. This, no doubt, is his best work. The film was produced by Carlo Ponti, Sophia Loren’s husband. This British-Italian co-production, is an underrated gem. A must see, for film fanatics!!!!!

The Cassandra Crossing (1976) – Pure Entertainment!!!
My Rating: 10/10!!

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