Tag Archive: Released in 1975


Quoting Parveen Babi

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

sidney-poitiers-90th-birthday

To Sidney Poitier Esq.  

Dear Sir,
            First of all, let me wish you a very Happy 90th Birthday. And a big congratulations for being in the acting profession, on both the stage and the screen, for over 70 years.
           Thank you sir, for making it in Hollywood, at a time, when non-Caucasian celebrities, were a rarity. Most of Hollywood was initially made up of, the British, various European countries, Canada, and a few Americans (though those Americans who found fame, were limited to the stars of the fairer skin). Yet, considering the fact, that many a notable Hollywood personalities, were mostly British (and from other Western European countries); it’s obvious that Hollywood is actually, made up of immigrants. Yet, a very big thank you, to you, Sir Poitier, for not only being a leading actor, from the 1960’s (a decade when the world began to change, for the better) onwards; but also, for being the first black male actor, to win an Oscar.
           Legendary, Hattie McDaniel, beat you to it, by winning in the, Best Supporting Actress, category, at the 12th Academy Awards, in 1940; for her brilliant role, as ‘Mammy’, in Gone with the Wind (1939). Thus, making her, the very first African American to win an Oscar. So in a way, she paved the way for you. But it’s only when you won, for Lilies of the Field (1963), at the 36th Academy Awards, in 1964; that darker skinned stars truly started getting a recognition. Of course, in the 70’s, there were a lot of Blaxploitation (a.k.a. Blacksploitation) films. A pity, Afro-Americans, were being reduced to cliché’s. BUT, luckily you were not part of the Blaxploitation cinema, of the 1970’s (not to my knowledge, anyway). So, thank you, for not falling into that trap, and keeping a dignified edge, for Black stars, yet to shine. Plus, thank you, for opening up an avenue for non-white acting talent, in general, in Hollywood. Today, a British born actor, with Indian roots, is nominated for an Oscar; i.e. Dev Patel, who has been nominated in the Best Supporting Actor, category, for his role, of an Indian brought-up abroad, in Lion (2016). So, you started it, by being the first non-white actor to make it in Hollywood (which was already full of white immigrants); and today there are quite a few immigrants, from Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and South America (of various skin tones), making it, in the most celebrated film industry, in the world.

Classic Bromance: Sidney Poitier & Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones (1958)

Classic Bromance: Sidney Poitier & Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones (1958)

          Growing up I had heard about you, but had watched very few films, of yours; like Sneakers (1992), and your directorial ventures, like, Stir Crazy (1980) and Hanky Panky (1982), for instance; but it was in my late teens/early adulthood, when I saw, Stanley Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), that you became one of my favourite stars. What a brilliant movie!! It’s my second favourite film, of yours. My first, is no doubt, the British film, To Sir, with Love (1967), directed by James Clavell. I had heard of , To Sir, with Love, since I was a kid (in the late 80’s). BUT, it was only, finally in 2005, that I got watch it. I actually saw it on the Big Screen, when it was shown at Russian Centre, here. But it’s rarely I get to see good cinema here, especially on the Big Screen. I’ve actually, only seen three classics, at the Russian Centre. First was, Gone with the Wind, in 2002. Then, To Sir, with Love, in 05’. And finally, Tess (1979), in 2012. So it’s that rare (see my Blog post on Tess from October 2012). Of course, the Ethnic Centre, in Colombo, is, comparatively better. It’s still been a while, since they last showed anything worthwhile; but this week, they are showing two of your movies; the above mentioned, Lilies of the Field, and The Defiant Ones (1958). Both are on my Watchlist. And am really keen on going and watching these two films, this week. I heard, you play a modern day saint, in Lilies of the Field. A really kind human being. Humanity, is the best religion to preach. Kindness and open-mindedness, is sadly something still missing in today’s world of greed and materialism. In, The Defiant Ones, I heard, that your co-star, Tony Curtis requested, that your name appeared alongside his, above the movie title. This was a progressive first for you, and all other (non-white) skinned actors. How kind, it was, of Tony Curtis, to request something, so unheard of, at the time. He didn’t see your skin colour, but the fact, that you were a talented actor, and a lead character, in the movie, and not a supporting one. Blackboard Jungle (1955), A Patch of Blue (1965) and In the Heat of the Night (1967), are three other movies, in my Watchlist, that am really keen on checking out.

Sidney Poitier receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, in 2009

Sidney Poitier receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, in 2009

             Besides being a talented actor, you’ve also been a great diplomat. In real life, you’ve played the role of an ambassador for the Bahamas, to Japan; for a decade, between 1997 and 2007. Concurrently you were also the Bahamas ambassador to UNESCO. This most probably was the greatest, and the most significant, role, in life, you had to play.
On top of all the film awards, you’ve received, I must congratulate you, on receiving the great honours, of the KBE (Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1974; and more specifically, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by the previous American President, Barack Obama. Again, thanks to you, paying the way for African Americans, in the United States; Barack Obama, was the very first African American president, that USA, finally had. Him winning the election, in the end of 2008, and becoming the President in January 2009; and during his tenure, the Supreme courts ruling, of same-sex marriage to be a fundamental right, in June 2015; America showed progression. Being an avid supporter of Equal Rights, you shall agree, how progressive and open minded the country was getting. BUT, a pity, with Trump’s triumph, at the elections, held in November 2016, the country seems to have taken a step backwards. None the less, there is still hope for improvement; and the 2017 Women’s March, held last month (in January 2017), not just in your part of the world; but around the globe, is enough proof!! You too were part of an equality march, back in 1963; the March on Washington, headed by Martin Luther King Jr.
              The last time you worked, on screen, was sixteen years ago. I hope, something that interests you comes up, and you wind up doing another impressive role, even today. Or a great directorial opportunity comes your way. I don’t feel, you’ve retired from the film industry, yet.
              And lastly, Thank You, once again, for your great contribution, to the world of Cinema.
                                                                     Wishing you the best of health and happiness
                                                                                                                             With Regards
                                                                                                                                    Nuwan Sen

This Blog Post, in the form of a letter, is my contribution to the, 90 Years of Sidney Poitier Blogathon, hosted by , of The Wonderful World of Cinema.

sidney-poitier-blogathon

Thank you Virginie; for letting me take part, in this wonderful Blogathon.
Please also do check out my Blog posts, To Sidney, with Love and South Africa, The Apartheid, Missing Diamonds and The Wilby Conspiracy, from 20th February 2013 & 23rd December 2014, respectively.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense

Sen 40 Blog Post

I first came across Sushmita Sen, back in early 1994, in New Delhi (we went to re-live in New Delhi, in February 94’, when my father was assigned for a posting at the Sri Lankan High Commission in New Delhi, for a second time), when I read about how she was crowned Miss India for Miss Universe that year, when Aishwarya Rai, who apparently seemed more beautiful, had tripped on her shoe (or something like that), thus Rai ended up bagging the runner-up (i.e. the Miss India for Miss World title) for 1994. I read this most probably in one of my mum’s Femina magazines.

Miss India, Sushmita Sen, being crowned Miss Universe, in May 1994 !!

Miss India, 18 year old, Sushmita Sen; being crowned Miss Universe, in May 1994 !!!!

Then one day, in May 1994, when I woke up, the television was on, my old man was watching the news, when it was announced that Miss India 1994, Sushmita Sen, had bagged the Miss Universe crown. We all gathered round the telly, to see a genuinely (pleasantly) shocked expression on the bewitchingly beautiful face, of an 18 year old Ms. Sen, as she was being announced as the winner that year. I was smitten, by this natural beauty who was the same age as me. Sushmita Sen, was the very first Indian to win the Miss Universe crown (We watched the telecast of the pageant, the same night, I believe). Plus 1994, was a double whammy for beauty queens from around the globe, when 21 year old Aishwarya Rai, bagged the Miss World title later that year itself; making Rai the second Indian beauty to win the Miss World crown (the first being Reita Faria in 1966, in fact Faria was the first Asian ever to win the Miss World title). Since 1994 onwards I’ve followed Sushmita Sen’s progress, as a socialite, a humanitarian and an actress. Today she’s amongst my favourite Indian personalities ever.

Sen's Childhood & Children Main PIX: Sushmita Sen, with her two daughters; Renée and Alisah. Inset: Sushmita Sen in her schooldays, with her brother.

                                 Sen’s Childhood & Children
Main PIX: Sushmita Sen, with her two daughters; Renée and Alisah.
Inset: Sushmita Sen in her schooldays, with her brother.

Within the last 21 years, Sen has achieved a lot in her life. In her mid-20’s, unmarried and single, she became a mother, when she adopted a child. Today she has two daughters through adoption; Renée and Alisah. Plus Sen, being from the Asian continent (more specifically from South Asia), that veers towards the preference to a male child over a female, has been a vocal advocate in India, on saving the Girl Child. Her superb acting talent has been overshadowed by her long limbed sultry persona. Thus she’s been wasted in minor roles, in many a useless movies. Yet she’s also done some exquisite roles, in not so great movies. She definitely deserves way better.

Slut vs. Saint: Chingaari (2006), wasn't necessarily a good movie (average fare). Yet Sushmita Sen was superb in her role of a prostitute.

Slut vs. Saint: Chingaari (2006), wasn’t necessarily a good movie (average fare), yet Sushmita Sen was superb in her role of a prostitute.

From Princess Gayatri Devi (1919-2009), to the first female Prime Minister of India – Indira Gandhi (1917-1984), to Nutan (1936-1991), to Simi Garewal, to Shabana Azmi, to Sushmita Sen, et al; these are some of the classiest, intellectual, sophisticated, open-minded, free-thinking, female humanist’s & fashionista’s of modern India, that constantly thrive/d to make India a better place, constantly moving forward, in the right direction.

Sushmita Sen joins me today, by turning 40!!!! Happy Birthday Miss Sen. Welcome to the Fabulous years of our lives, yet to come (we can hope for the best, can’t we?). Wishing you all the best!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Posters from Sushmita Sen’s most recent film release, Nirbaak (2014)

Posters from Sushmita Sen’s most recent film release, Nirbaak (2014)

P.S. Down with the viral flu, though am better today, last thing I wanted to do was a blog post (I didn’t even switch on my laptop for almost a week, and prior to that being so busy n’ tired, not to mention the unnecessary stress that slithers it’s way in, I’ve hardly got the chance to work on anything properly). But today morning, when I realised that it was Sushmita Sen’s birthday, I felt I had to write something. Especially, ‘cause, since June 2015, I’ve been doing posts on some of my favourite personalities turning 40 this year. And I shan’t skip on this elegant lady, that I’ve been a fan of, since we were both 18, just ‘cause of a heavy head. Thus, please do keep my flu in mind, lest I haven’t done Ms. Sen justice, by doing such a quick write-up, sans research.  

Nuwan Sen (nu Sense on Film)
(Also See: )

Pure British Sophistication!!! Chic & Classy, the Poshest of the Posh, Kate Winslet joins me, by turning 40 today. So, Happy Birthday, to one of my favourite Brits, of the 21st century!!!!!

English Rose: Kate Winslet turn 40!

English Rose: Kate Winslet turn 40!

With her charming smile, her naturalistic simple appearance, and eloquently well spoken British English, that would have pleased Professor Higgins; Kate Winslet today, is one of the most talented British actresses to have graced the Big Screen, both, in her own homeland, as well as Hollywood. Her elegantly well spoken, vocal diction, is the most articulate, since Julie Andrews, ran singing up the Austrian hills in a habit, 50 years ago. Winslet’s acting skills are second to none other than that of, the marvellous 66 year old, Meryl Streep. With her great cinematic choices; grace, elegance, poise, and such a kindly face; she is my favourite actress of this century.

Back in the mid-90’s, I read a small snippet on the movie, Jude (1996), most probably before it’s release, on some magazine, which accompanied a picture of Kate Winslet and Christopher Eccleston. To my memory, this was the very first I heard, and/or saw a picture, of Kate Winslet. I don’t recall coming across anything about her, prior to that. I was really keen of watching Jude at the time, as it was based on the novel, Jude The Obscure, by Thomas Hardy. Soon I forgot the cast, but remembered that there was a movie called Jude, that I wish to see. Then in early 1998, in my second year, at Delhi University, Titanic (1997) was being shown at a relatively newer Cineplex in the city. Multiplexes were quite new back in the 90’s, in New Delhi, thus a craze among young Delhiites, and we had heard about the curved wide screens at this particular cinema, with multiple halls, called Satyam Cineplex. So one wintry night, close to spring, along with some fellow students (friends & acquaintances), we went all the way to Satyam, which was quite a distance, from the north campus, to watch the late night show of Titanic. Getting the tickets wasn’t easy, even at that late hour, and we ended up in the front row seats. Generally not a fan of sitting right in front, but Titanic was totally worth it. As the lead  character played by Michael Pitt, in my favourite film on film buffs, The Dreamers (2003), states, about sitting right up front in the cinema, “it was because we wanted to receive the images first. When they were still new, still fresh. Before they cleared the hurdles of the rows behind us. Before they’d been relayed back from row to row, spectator to spectator; until worn out, second-hand, the size of a postage stamp, it returned to the projectionist’s cabin.” Over five years later, when I watched Michael Pitt’s character, Matthew, narrate those words, I could relate to it, especially since I watched at least two movies in that manner, in my DU years, and one of them was Titanic. I loved the movie; even though somewhat censored, when it came to the innocent, non-sexual, nudity showcased in the film; and everything about it, including Kate Winslet. Post that, I’ve seen Titanic quite a few times.

Kate Winslet in Jude (1996)

Kate Winslet in Jude (1996)

Being a great fan of Sandra Bullock, back in the 90’s, Winslet didn’t become my favourite actress, over-night. Literally!!! Titanic ended past midnight, thus next morning, and it was freezing cold by then. Later that year, I saw Jude, and fell in love with it, and thought Kate Winslet was brilliant. A couple of years later, I got to re-watch it. Consequently, over the next few years, I watched quite a lot of films of hers, some good, some not so, including, Heavenly Creatures (1994), Sense and Sensibility (1995), Hamlet (1996), Hideous Kinky (1998), Holy Smoke (1999), Quills (2000), Enigma (2001) and Iris (2001). Jude happens to be my favourite of Kate Winslet movie from the 1990’s.

Then in 2004, whilst living in Portsmouth, UK, I watched two interesting movies of hers. One was the really good thriller, with a very clever twist, The Life of David Gale (2003). The other, was the brilliant, surreal, masterpiece, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004); for which Winslet was nominated for a fourth time, and which was her second ‘Best Actress’ nomination, the following year. So, Year 2004, was the year, Kate Winslet, became my favourite actress. And since then, she is till date, my favourite female star of the 21st century. Back in 2000, I fell in love with Jude Law, practically replacing Matt Damon, as my favourite actor, when I watched The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), my favourite film from the 90’s decade, for which Law received his very first Oscar nomination. But it was four years later, after watching some more of his movies, that Law really became my favourite male star of the 21st century. So Year 2004, was a crucial year, for both Jude Law (who had quite a few releases that year) and Kate Winslet (mainly in regard to me). Year 2004, was when Law & Winslet, became my two favourite films stars, of the new century; and 11 years later, they still are (though unfortunately, Law hasn’t appeared in anything that impressive lately). It’s an interesting coincidence, to note, that both, Law & Winslet, happen to be Brits. Back then, they hadn’t actually worked together. But post 2004, Law & Winslet, have worked in a trio of films, out of which, I’ve unfortunately watched only, The Holiday (2006). A beautiful Christmassy romance flick, and if I remember correctly, I watched it on Boxing Day 2006, the day after Christmas; in Sydney, Australia. Later, I re-watched The Holiday, with my flatmates on DVD, the following year.

Law & Winslet: Movies in which both, Jude Law and Kate Winslet, appeared in.

Law & Winslet: Movies in which both, Jude Law and Kate Winslet, appeared in.

Then in early 2007, one Summer evening, at the height of the dry Australian heat, I saw Little Children (2006), on the Big Screen. Another excellent, Art House, film, and another superb Kate Winslet performance, for which she received her third ‘Best Actress’ Oscar nomination. By 2005, she was already, the youngest celebrity to be nominated four times, by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars). She was still 29, when she was nominated for a fourth time, for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Then came her magnum opus, The Reader (2008), for which she finally won the ‘Best Actress Oscar’. ’twas about time. I watched The Reader, twice within 2009 itself, the latter was on the Big Screen, in Paris, France. Today The Reader is my favourite of Kate Winslet movies. She’s definitely come a long way since her Titanic days. By now, I’ve seen quite a load of Winslet films of this century, including, Finding Neverland (2004), Romance & Cigarettes (2005), Revolutionary Road (2008), Carnage (2011) and Labor Day (2013). Added to which, I’ve also seen the excellent TV-miniseries, Mildred Pierce (2011), for which Kate Winslet won a Golden Globe award, an Emmy, among other wins, as well, for her performance as the titular character of the show. From her movies, that I haven’t seen yet, am really keen on watching, War Game (2002) & Pride (2004); for which she had lent her voice; All the King’s Men (2006), Contagion (2011), A Little Chaos (2014), Steve Jobs (2015) and The Dressmaker (2015), to name some.

It’s interesting to note, that Kate Winslet has appeared in some of my favourite pieces of literature, including adaptations of, Shakespeare’s Hamlet (an excellent modern adaptation), Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader, and Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road. Love those Books, Love their movie adaptations just as much.

Wishing Kate Winslet, all the best, on her 40th Birthday (Actors, Parminder Nagra and Scott Weinger, also turn 40 today. Best Wishes to them as well).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Kate Winslet in Titanic (1997)

Kate Winslet in Titanic (1997)

Related posts/lists

Six Degrees of Separation: Kate Winslet
Mildred Pierce: TV miniseries
K Winslet
Oscar Winners … and then some 2012.
Labor Day: An Enjoyable Piece of Labour

(NSFS

Pure French sophistication!!! Classy Cotillard begins the 41st year of her life today. So, Happy 40th Birthday, to my favourite French, actrice de cinéma, of the 21st century, Marion Cotillard!!!!!
Marion Cotillard turns 40 (a)Marion Cotillard was born in Paris, France, to an aesthetically creative family, of actors and acting coaches. She grew up around Orléans, in Northern France, and appeared on a stage play of her father’s, as a child. In the early 1990’s, after some theatre appearances, she came in cameo’s in television shows, including in a couple of episodes, of the American fantasy TV-series, Highlander (1992-1998), aged 17. By the mid-90’s, she started working in cinema as well; but it was in the television movie, Chloé (1996), she got her first lead role, alongside veteran Anna Karina. Soon fame would catch up with her, and today she’s one of the most sought out actresses in an international scale.

I got to know Marion Cotillard, back in 2007, after watching movies like, Love Me If You Dare (2003), a.k.a. Jeux d’enfants, and the Édith Piaf bio-pic, La Vie en Rose (2007), a.k.a. La Môme. I fell in love with this beautiful acting talent that year itself, after watching the latter, i.e. Cotillard’s impressive performance as Édith Piaf, for which she bagged the ‘Best Actress’ Oscar, the following year, at 80th Annual Academy Awards; making it the very first time an Oscar had been given for a French-language role, and making Cotillard the fifth actor/actress to win for a foreign language performance. Sophia Loren was the first person to win the ‘Best Actress’ Oscar, for a non-English speaking role, in 1962, for the Italian movie, La Ciociara (1960).

Of course prior to 2007, I had seen some movies she starred in, like, Big Fish (2003) and A Very Long Engagement (2004). But I didn’t know Marion Cotillard at the time, and neither of them were lead roles. Post-2007, I’ve seen her in films like Public Enemies (2009), Nine (2009) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012). More recently I saw one of her older movies, Toi et Moi (2006), which was pretty good too, though not that great. There are quite a few great roles of hers, am really keen on checking out, including, in movies like, La Belle Verte (1996) – a.k.a. The Green Beautiful, La Guerre dans le Haut Pays (1999) – a.k.a. War in the Highlands, Lisa (2001), Une Affaire Privée (2002) – a.k.a. A Private Affair, Innocence (2004), The Last Flight (2009), Lady Blue Shanghai (2010), Inception (2010), Midnight in Paris (2011), Contagion (2011), De Rouille et d’Os (2012) – a.k.a. Rust and Bone, The Immigrant (2013), Deux Jours, Une Nuit (2014) – Two Days, One Night; for which she was nominated for an Oscar, this year; and Macbeth (2015); which was released at the Cannes Film Festival this year, in May 2015, and was among the competitors for the Palme d’Or; to name some. Last year, Cotillard co-wrote, directed and starred in the short film, Snapshot in LA (2014).

Since October 07’, has been in a relationship with, another brilliant French actor, her co-star from Love Me If You Dare, Guillaume Canet. The couple have a four year old child together. In addition to being a film star, Cotillard is also an environmental activist. She’s been a spokesperson for Greenpeace, and in 2013, she caged herself near the Louvre museum, in Paris, demanding to free, 30 Greenpeace activists jailed in Russia, over an Arctic protest. She worked with UNICEF France, to help vaccinate thousands of children in Darfur, Sudan. Her philanthropic work is endless.

Wishing Marion Cotillard, all the best, for a successful & happy life and career, on her 40th Birthday. Hope to see you in more great roles in the future. Kindly avoid films like The Dark Knight Rises.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Marion Cotillard turns 40 (b)P.S. See other Marion related posts on my Blog, including:-
3.3.3.3
Winners & Disappointments – at Cannes 2015
The 68th Cannes Film Festival finalé
Édith Piaf: 50th Death Anniversary
The 87th Annual Academy Awards

Nuwan Sen (nu Sense on Film)
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Juhi Chawla goes rogue, in a negative role, like she’s never done before, in a Bollywood film, inspired by real-life events.
Gulaab Gang PosterMy entry, for this latest Blogathon, I’m taking part in; is a Bollywood film, released last year; for a change.

The Background & A Quick Synopsis  

In a rural village, in Bundelkhand (a region now divided between the states of Uttar Pradesh & Madhya Pradesh, in Northern & Central India, respectively), in the UP section, a pink sari brigade known as the ‘Gulabi Gang’ was formed to fight crime against women, by Sampat Pal Devi.

Born in 1960, Sampat Pal Devi, was forced into marriage, at the age of 12. At the age of 16, she took a stance against domestic violence, when she saw a neighbour being abused by her husband. She soon started standing up for justice for women in her village, and once beat up a husband of a village woman. Soon other abused women started to join her. They’ve been the most notorious vigilante group of women, working towards justice for oppressed and abused women, for a long period. Unheard of till recently, they officially came to be known as the ‘Gulabi Gang’, only about a decade ago. Social activist, Jai Prakash Shivharey, happens to be one of rare male supporters of the gang.

The movie, Gulaab Gang (2014), is an out an out fictional take on this famous gang (thus the slight change in name), and set in the modern day, in the badlands of Central India. The politician Sumitra Devi (played by Juhi Chawla) is a character, not based on a specific person. But Madhuri Dixit, who plays the leader of the ‘Gulaab Gang’, named ‘Rajjo’, was no doubt modelled on Sampat Pal Devi.

Juhi Chawla as Sumitra Devi

Politician Sumitra Devi’s character is one of the most conniving, manipulative, uncaring, selfish, indifferent, heartless people ever seen.

Juhi Chawla as corrupt politician, Sumitra Devi, in Gulaab Gang (2014)

Actress, Juhi Chawla, as corrupt politician, Sumitra Devi, in Gulaab Gang (2014)

When she goes to this particular village, in Bundelkhand, MP (Central India), to campaign, the ‘Gulaab Gang’, headed by Rajjo, are delighted, and wait in anticipation to having a female political leader, who’ll look into injustices towards women, in this remote part of Central India, and work for the betterment of oppressed women. Yet, in general, it’s not always only a case of men oppressing women, but women oppressing women, as well. As seen in many rural areas in India, and it’s neighbouring countries. So here we have a female politician, who doesn’t necessarily care about women’s issues, and has no qualms about suppressing them. In fact Sumitra Devi, isn’t gender biased at all. She treats them all equally, looking down on all, and couldn’t care less, what happens to them. In a way, she’s a modern day, female Rhett Butler, who doesn’t “give a damn”. No pain, no anger, no nothing. In a way, she also a feminist of sorts, who’s managed to rise in Indian politics, which is still to a certain extent, a male oriented workplace. Yet, for Sumitra Devi, it’s all about the self. A power hungry politician. She’s only concerned with her own success, and couldn’t care less, about innocent village folk and their personal problems. In fact she’s the kind of person, who’d use their problems, for her own benefit. Her nonchalant attitude towards women in peril, especially when a rape case concerning a pre-teen girl is brought forward, is appalling.

At the same time, Chawla’s Sumitra Devi, is a very realistic villain. Not the superficial kind, overpowering, with larger than life characteristics, found in many a mainstream films, especially in Hollywood and Bollywood commercial cinema.

When Sumitra Devi, arrives in the village, Rajjo, goes to meet her, letting her know, that a son of a village big shot, had raped an underage girl. To Rajjo’s surprise, Sumitra Devi, sans feeling, coolly puts a price tag on the rape, and asks the big shot, to pay the child victim a lump sum. Of course, Rajjo’s gang, get their back, by castrating the culprit. Seems like a better punishment for rapists, than imprisonment.

Rajjo constantly manages to impresses Sumitra Devi, yet Sumitra Devi doesn’t care less, either way. At the same time, Sumitra Devi is actually in need of the backing of Rajjo and the gang, to win a seat at the elections. Yet, none of their problems seem to concern her. Nothing can touch her, she has no conscience, and never feels pain, until Rajjo cut’s off Sumitra Devi’s right hand, literally. Here though, Sumitra Devi suffers from physical pain, of losing her hand, rather than a psychological one.

Juhi Chawla as Sumitra Devi

Juhi Chawla as Sumitra Devi

Juhi Chawla, is just brilliant, as the vicious politician. It’s astounding, how she has managed to transform herself, into such a villainous character. It’s not just her characteristics; through her walk, talk and attitude, that she portrays; but what’s really amazing is, how she’s managed to turn her adorable beautiful smile, associated with her perky persona, into such a cunning, sly, looking smile, so believably. She didn’t have to say a word, as she made her entry, in her first scene itself, we see her negative shaded smile, which speaks volumes, about the character. Juhi Chawla, who’s appeared in such great movies, and who was at her peak in the 90’s decade, has brought out something really unique here. This no doubt is her best performance till date.

Juhi Chawla’s performance in the film, gained her a lot of praise, by many a critics, as being the best performance of last year. Yet sadly, Chawla lost out on all the awards, she was nominated for, in various award ceremonies.

Juhi Chawla: The Actress

Although; former Beauty Queen (Miss India 1984 for Miss Universe 1984, and winner for ‘Best National Costume’ at the Miss Universe pageant in 1984); Juhi Chawla, who’s been working in films since the mid-80’s, has appeared in a one-off slightly negative shaded character (in Arjun Pandit (1999), which dealt with vengeance, giving her character a reason for being deceptive), this was her very first villainous role. And she was superb in it.

Juhi Chawla’s role as ‘Sumitra Devi’, should be among the most notoriously loved Bollywood baddies, including Pran & Prem Chopra’s many a ‘Gentleman Chor’ (thief in Hindi) roles in various films, from an era of sophisticated cool, Amjad Khan’s iconic ‘Gabbar Singh’ in Sholay (1975), Simi Garewal as ‘Kamini’ in Karz (1980), Aruna Irani as ‘Jwaala’ in Qurbani (1980), Amrish Puri as ‘Mogambo’ in Mr. India (1987), and Shah Rukh Khan, in his various villainous, psychotic, personas, from his films in the 1990’s.

Juhi Chawla (L) as Sumitra Devi & Madhuri Dixit (R) as the vigilante, Rajjo.

Juhi Chawla (L) as Sumitra Devi, & Madhuri Dixit (R) as the vigilante, Rajjo.

The Film’s Controversy
The real life, Sampat Pal Devi, wasn’t so happy about the movie though. She sued the makers of Gulaab Gang, as the film, loosely based on her life, was made without her permission. She lost the case, and the film was released. Yet, Sampat Pal Devi, needn’t despair, for the film ended up being a flop.

Yet the movie is still a must watch, thanks to the powerful performances by Juhi Chawla and Madhuri Dixit. Especially to see Juhi Chawla handle a villainous role, so perfectly and naturally. One of the rare most realistic villains, to grace the big screen, ever.

The real life ‘Sampat Pal Devi’, the founder of Gulabi Gang.

The real life ‘Sampat Pal Devi’, the founder of Gulabi Gang, on whom the character, Rajjo, was modelled on.

Gulaab Gang: The Movie
Gulaab Gang, the movie, isn’t that impressive on it’s own though. If not for the great performances, by the two lead veterans, Chawla & Dixit, the film would have been a total bore. They mange to salvage the film, into being a not-so-bad, average, fare. One of the biggest mistakes of Gulaab Gang, is the input of unnecessary, unmemorable, songs, that’s easy to forget, which just elongates the movie. Director, Soumik Sen, would have been better off, if he made his directorial debut film, as an art-film, sans song & dance, instead of a Bollywood commercial venture. It might still have been a flop, but at least would have gained critical acclaim, and be remembered in the future, among the greatest films ever made. Still Gulaab Gang, won’t be completely forgotten, thanks to the two female leads. And am glad, I got to watch it last year.

My Ratings

The Movie: Gulaab Gang (2014), OK Venture!!! 6/10 !!!
Performance: Juhi Chawla as ‘Sumitra Devi’, Excellent !!!!! 10/10!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

GREAT VILLAIN BLOGATHON

The Great Villain Blogathon, was organised by fellow bloggers, Ruth of Silver ScreeningsKristina of Speakeasy & Karen of Shadows & Satin.
BannerThank you Ruth, Kristina & Karen, for letting me take part in this Blogathon, and for letting me work on Juhi Chawla’s very first villainous role.

Cheers
Nuwan Sen

On the 2nd of December, 2014, watched the television movie; based on real life events, that led to the eccentric lifestyles, of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ aunt and cousin, in their latter days; Grey Gardens (2009). One of the DVD’s I brought from Australia.

From Riches to Rags  Grey Gardens (2009) Based on a True Story

From Riches to Rags: Grey Gardens (2009). Based on a True Story (Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense)

In the early 1970’s, brothers (Documentary Filmmaking duo) Albert and David Maysles, had initially planned to document a film on former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ (widow of late President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and by now re-married, to Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis), young life in East Hampton, New York. But once the project fell through, and having heard of the notorious scandal about ‘Grey Gardens’, a dilapidated house in the neighbourhood of East Hampton, New York, the brothers decided to make a documentary (a reality show), about Mrs. Edith Bouvier Beale (Big Edie) and her daughter, (also named) Edith Bouvier Beale (Little Edie), the residents of ‘Grey Gardens’. Mrs. Bouvier Beale, was Jacqueline (née Bouvier) Kennedy’s father’s sister, thus Little Edie, was Jacqueline’s first cousin, who was almost 12 years older than Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.

Mrs. Edith Bouvier Beale (a.k.a. Big Edie)

Mrs. Edith Bouvier Beale (a.k.a. Big Edie) The Mother

Thus, the direct cinema documentary, Grey Gardens (1975), was born. The 2009 television film, starts off here, in the early 70’s, and flashes back to 1936, where Little Edie (magnificently played by Drew Barrymore), with Gardenias decorating her hair, is nervously getting ready for her ‘Débutante’ (a social event where a young lady from an aristocratic/Upper-Class family , is introduced to society at a formal presentation, once she has reached the age of maturity. Which meant the young lady was eligible to marry, and part of the purpose was to display her to eligible bachelors and their families within their circle). The film flashes back and forth, rendering a beautiful sad tale, of the fall of a high society mother and daughter, into poverty, negligence, loneliness and a dysfunctional, shabby, lifestyle.

Drew Barrymore (as the daughter, Little Edie) and Jessica Lange (as the mother, Big Edie) in a scene from Grey Gardens (2009)

Drew Barrymore (as the daughter, Little Edie) and Jessica Lange (as the mother, Big Edie) in a scene from Grey Gardens (2009)

Such a sad, tragic, heartrending story told, so beautifully, about the Bouvier Beale, mother and daughter. Jessica Lange does a superb portrayal of Big Edie, of her highs and lows, showcasing her high societal status and her decline into a reclusive, unsocial existence. While Drew Barrymore isn’t far behind as the daughter, Little Edie, capturing the tragic decent from class, elegance and sophistication to insanity, an untidy lifestyle and self-imprisonment in her mother’s home. This film brilliantly depicts, the unhappy life of Mother and daughter, living in seclusion, and extreme poverty, within their property, completely cut off from society. A rare real life tragedy, of a mother and daughter’s deterioration from riches to rags.

Drew Barrymore as Little Edie in her younger days.

Drew Barrymore as Little Edie in her younger days.

Their lives and home, were ultimately in such pathetic state, that finally Jackie O’ (played by Jeanne Tripplehorn, in a cameo, in the movie), came to their rescue. Why Big Edie’s two sons, never bothered to help them, remains a mystery. At the same time, Big Edie, never wanted to leave ‘Grey Gardens’, either, for it had been her home, since she acquired it in 1924. So in 1972, Jacqueline Onassis, helped them, donating money and workmen, to bring back the house to a habitable standard, that wasn’t in violation of any New York health codes.

 

Jeanne Tripplehorn as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Jessica Lange as Big Edie, in a scene from, Grey Gardens (2009)

Jeanne Tripplehorn as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Jessica Lange as Big Edie, in a scene from, Grey Gardens (2009)

I heard about the 1975 documentary, over 10 years ago, and had an interest in checking it out back then. Then this television movie came out in 2009, but I thought I’d rather watch the documentary first, and then the feature film. But when I saw the DVD, of the new film, available Down Under, I just had to buy it. Now, after watching Grey Gardens (2009), am even more keen on watching the original documentary, Grey Gardens (1975) by the Maysles Brothers.

Grey Gardens

Drew Barrymore as Little Edie in her older days at ‘Grey Gardens’.

The Maysles duo deserve a great thank you, for bringing out the lives of these amazingly astonishing women, who were helplessly stuck in the past. If not for these brothers’ documentary, these two women, would have been long forgotten, erased from history. And a bigger gratitude to director Michael Sucsy, for bringing out this wonderful feature adaptation for the small screen. This fascinating film honours and sympathises with these two tragic individuals, without making a mockery of them. It’s a sad, yet beautiful, movie to sit through.

Miss Edith Bouvier Beale (a.k.a. Little Edie) The Daughter

Miss Edith Bouvier Beale (a.k.a. Little Edie) The Daughter

After the success of the 1975 documentary, Big Edie passed away, in 1977. Little Edie finally sold the house in 1979. Little Edie died all alone in 2002, and her body was discovered, five days after her death. A sad end to a tragic life.

Grey Gardens (2009), won two Golden Globes, one for ‘Best Television Movie’, and a ‘Best Actress’ award for Drew Barrymore. Jessica Lange was also nominated in the same category as Barrymore. Plus, this movie, won six Emmy Awards, including for ‘Best Television Movie’, and ‘Best Actress’ for Jessica Lange. Drew Barrymore too was nominated in the same category as well. Added to which this television film got various accolades at various award functions. Excellent 10/10 !!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Television Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Watched the enjoyable British thriller, set in South Africa, at the height of the Apartheid, starring Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine, as two very different characters, who are brought together, as two wanted men by the secret police, forced to make their great escape together, across the border, in The Wilby Conspiracy (1975). One of the DVD’s I bought down under.
Wilby Conspiracy posterSet in the 1970’s itself, Sidney Poitier plays Shack Twala, an anti-apartheid activist. The day he is released from prison, after serving ten years for his nationalistic conduct, he, along with his Afrikaner defence attorney, Rina Van Niekirk (Prunella Gee in her introductory cinematic role), and her English boyfriend, visiting British engineer, Jim Keogh (Michael Caine), are on the way to Rina’s home to celebrate; but on the way, South African police trouble Shack Twala for not having an identity pass with him. Rina and Jim Keogh, intervene, and all three find themselves on the run. But Shack Twala, has to retrieve some diamonds stolen ten years ago, to fund their revolutionary movement, known as the, Black Congress (most probably a pseudonym for the African National Congress), which he gave an Indian friend, Dr. Anil Mukarjee (Saeed Jaffrey), a dentist, for safe keeping. Dr. Mukarjee, for his own safely, had thrown the diamonds into a deep pit. Now, with the secret police, led by Major Horn (Nicol Williamson), hot on their heels, Shack Twala, his lawyer, Rina Van Niekirk, her lover, Jim Keogh, and two Indian dentists, Dr. Mukarjee and Dr. Persis Ray (former Beauty Queen, Miss India for Miss Universe 1965, Persis Khambatta, in her first British film), hatch a plan, to get the diamonds, and fly across the border to Botswana, and safety, with the help of Rina’s reluctant, estranged, husband, Blane van Niekerk (Dutch actor Rutger Hauer, in his first British film).

Interestingly the police, have many a chances, to catch the fugitives, but why don’t they?? They seem to have a whole other agenda following the men on the run. And what’s ‘The Wilby Conspiracy’??? It’s only at the end we find out, who, and what, ‘Wilby’ might signify.
Wilby ConspiracyIt’s an engaging political thriller, made and set, when it was still hard to be a free black man, in racially conflicted, South Africa. The best thing about the movie are the two leads, played by Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine. They are both superb actors, and the movie explores their unexpected friendship. Saeed Jaffrey, was really good, as the weak willed dentist, who secretly supports the Black Congress. Persis Khambatta was not bad, as a dentist having her own secret agenda for helping the two fugitives. She served more as a love/lust interest for Poitier. Prunella Gee’s not much of an actress, at least not in her first feature film here. Rutger Hauer was pretty good. And Nicol Williamson was brilliant as the villain of the piece. This movie was a first for many of the stars, including Prunella Gee, Persis Khambatta and Rutger Hauer.
Wilby Conspiracy sceneThe Wilby Conspiracy is a pretty fast paced movie, that moves quickly from one crisis to another, to an unexpected surprise ending. It also gives an insight  into racial friction between the whites and blacks, as well as the blacks and browns, yet at the same time we see secretive alliances between all these races, who act together against injustices of the country. It’s also a great chase film, a road movie, at the same time an intriguing enough political thriller.

 Prunella Gee

Prunella Gee

Spoiler Alert: The entrance of the leader of the Black Congress, most probably representing Nelson Mandela in exile, was an interesting twist at the end.

Though not a great film, a pretty good venture, worth checking out.
Rating: 7/10 !!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense.