Tag Archive: Shakespeare


Another month of MAI MAY MOVIES, comes to an end!!
May Mai Movies for 2016Yet again, there are some beautiful movies, I watched, within this one year, that I never got to write about. Especially, the latter lot of DVD’s; that I bought Down Under, in November 2014 (majority of the films, I bought in Adelaide & Sydney; I had managed to watch back in November/December 2014 itself, and write about them, and a few last year, 2015, but here are some films I couldn’t so far); including, Lorenzo’s Oil (1992) – watched on 7th December 2015 (which coincided with the one year anniversary, of my adoption of ), In Cold Blood (1967) – watched on 16th February 2016, A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) – watched on 11th March 2016 (’twas a, 2Disc, Director’s Cut DVD; a collectors item, with a lot of special features, and documentaries), and On the Waterfront (1954) – watched on 21st March 2016 (now I just had one more film I bought in left, which I finally watched toady afternoon; see the last film on this list). There were also the trio of superb Hindi Films (DVD’s), I got down from New Delhi, India, in February 2015 (thru my old man, who flew to New Delhi, last February, on an official visit, to the Indian capital). The three films were, Haider (2014) – watched on 10th March 2015, The Lunchbox (2013) – watched on 3rd December 2015 (managed to watch, at least 2/3, last year itself), and Mary Kom (2014) on 12th January 2016! And, not to forget, the three Big Screen gems, I saw this year, at the local Cinema; the near excellent, historical epic, Bajirao Mastani (2015) – in January 2016; Leo’s Oscar winning performance (prior to the Oscars), in The Revenant (2015) – in February 2016; and, the true life story of a brave young girl, who sacrificed her life to save the lives of hundreds of passengers on board Pan Am Flight 73, which terrorists had hijacked, in 1986, in Neerja (2016) – in March 2016!!!!! Plus so many other movies; at festivals, special screenings, cable TV/channels et al.

So here is the run down, on all the films I watched, this month (May 2016) :-  

The Hero: Love Story of a Spy (2003) – An out and out Bollywood commercial film. This movie, was actually somewhat a waste of my time, but wasn’t all that bad. Quite OK actually, with an interesting enough premise. Both, Sunny Deol and Preity Zinta, were pretty good in their respective roles. BUT, the one to watch out for, was the former beauty queen, Miss World 2000, Priyanka Chopra (who’s now made her way into the United States, playing the lead in the ABC television series Quantico (2015 onwards)), in her Bollywood debut. Not only does she mesmerise you with her, cool n’ classy, disposition, but also her performance. This was the first movie, I watched this month.

Watched The Hero: Love Story of a Spy, rented on our cable television.

My Rating: Average Fare – 5/10!!!
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Black Sea (2014) – Leading with Jude Law, the film comprises of an all male star-cast, compressed into an old dilapidated submarine. This British, adventurous thriller, film, is about a gold hunt, in the depths of the Black Sea, off the coast of Georgia (the Eurasian country). It’s a good insight into human tolerance, especially when people from two different backgrounds have to work together, to achieve the same goal. This movie is really worth watching, though not among the greatest adventure films, ever made.

Watched Black Sea on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: Very Good – 8/10!!!!
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Harry, un Ami qui vous Veut du Bien (2000) – Watched this movie for a 2nd Time! I first saw this, some years ago. A movie about a man’s obsession with a married man, which proves disastrous, to the married man’s family. Very Hitchcockian, with it’s very claustrophobic atmosphere, set in a lonely house in the countryside. It’s so beautiful, and really good. My original rating stands. Though not necessarily an excellent piece of cinema, it’s really good, and was worth watching a second time.

Watched Harry, un Ami qui vous Veut du Bien on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: Very Good – 8/10!!!! (My Original Rating)
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Les Rides (2014) short film – An OK tale about a group of, fanatic four, senior citizens, who plot to run away from their Old Peoples Nursing Home. This 13 minute short film, is interesting enough, but not that great. Liked the magical realism, input.

Watched Les Rides on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: Average Fare – 6/10!!!
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Nightingale (2014) – A brilliant ‘One Man Show’, with David Oyelowo. Being the only actor, in this movie, set within the confines of his home, Oyelowo carries the entire movie on his shoulders. He plays a psychotic, lonely, war veteran, who is waiting for/expecting, a visit from an old friend. A truly tragic film, that’s worth checking out, for the performance of perfection, by British actor, of Nigerian roots, David Oyelowo, alone. The movie, on the whole, could have been better though.

Watched Nightingale on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: Pretty Good – 7/10!!!!
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Brigitte Bardot in Voulez-vous Danser avec Moi (1959)

Brigitte Bardot in Voulez-vous Danser avec Moi (1959)

Voulez-vous Danser avec Moi (1959) – A hilariously fun filled crime comedy, set in a dance school, in Paris. The movie is about a happily married man, who gets caught into blackmail, for no real fault of his, and in turn for a murder, in a dance school. He is assumed to be the culprit, and only his wife believes he is actually a victim of circumstance. Soon she ventures into the school, in the guise of a dance teacher, to solve the crime on her own, against the wishes of her husband. Henri Vidal is hilarious as the husband, as are the other supporting characters, in their respective roles; with interesting cameos by Serge Gainsbourg and Dawn Addams. But, it’s Brigitte Bardot, as the bewitchingly beautiful and innocent wife, who steals the show, with her stunning performance, her perfect comical expressions and the dancing diva’s well choreographed movements. She’s hilarious, she’s fun. And thanks to her cutesy spy work, she’s the one that ultimately solves the mystery. A sexy young Miss. Marple, or Mrs. Pollifax, if you may (with apologies to Agatha Christie and Dorothy Gilman, respectively).

This movie is a must see, especially if you love Bardot. On IMDB it seems to have an average rating, but I couldn’t help laughing. And kudos to the movie, for  daring to showcase, one hell of comical sequence that takes place in, a queer club, with drag performances, in an acceptable manner; and this was a movie that came out in the 1950’s. In fact, to portray homosexuality, cinematically in the open, as being normal, would have been groundbreaking, back in the day.

Sadly, 40 year old actor, Henri Vidal, died soon after he made this movie. This was his last screen appearance!

Watched Voulez-vous Danser avec moi on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: Near Excellent – 9/10!!!!
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Kill the Messenger (2014) – A Biographical film, on journalist Garry Webb, who committed suicide in 2004. The film is set in the mid-1990’s, when he uncovered the CIA’s major role in bringing in huge amounts of cocaine into the United States. It’s a beautiful, and sad, story about a man, who truly tries to make “America great again”, by exposing the big shots, responsible for ruing his country; thus his family might have to pay the ultimate price for it.

The movie dulls at time, and the suspense isn’t necessarily continuous. You tend to lose focus at times. Yawn a bit, here and there. But it’s still quite good, and worth seeing at least once.

Watched Kill the Messenger on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: Pretty Good – 7/10!!!!
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Squatters (2014) – Two homeless youngsters, break into a house of a wealthy family, when the family is on vacation. The son of the rich family, and one of the homeless kids, fall for each other. The movie actually went pretty well, until the love angle ruined it for me, somewhat. Still the whole experience, was not that bad. In fact, the ageing, Richard Dreyfuss, and the young, Thomas Dekker, were pretty good in their respective roles.

Watched Squatters on HBO Signature.

My Rating: Average Fare – 6/10!!!
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Jean-Claude Brialy, le Goût des Autres (2013) – An interesting insight into the life of legendary French film star, Jean-Claude Brialy. This documentary delves deep into the star’s life of hosting parties to his close friends, in his big mansion. With appearances by celebrities, Alain Delon, Nana Mouskouri, Claudia Cardinale, et al; ’twas an enjoyable show.

Watched Jean-Claude Brialy, le Goût des Autres on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: Very Good – 8/10!!!!
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Poltergeist (1982) – A much awaited venture, I finally watched it. ‘twas a very good horror film. I wouldn’t exactly call it an excellent movie, nor among the greatest of the horror genre (in fact it seemed a tad silly towards the end), but I thoroughly enjoyed this piece of supernatural drama. In fact, as the movie sees it’s ghosts through the eyes of a child, it gives it a creepy cuteness.

The film’s lead character, is the child star, Heather O’Rourke. She’s the first human, to feel the presence of the Poltergeists. And the movie revolves around, her capture, by the spirits, and a couple of television sets. But to me, the star of the film, was their golden retriever named ‘E. Buzz’ (pictured below). In fact this dog, plays a prevalent role, in the entirety of the film. A Very Good Horror Classic!!

Curse of the Poltergeist: Both kids playing the two daughters, died, in real life, within the 80’s decade. Dominique Dunne, who plays the teenage daughter, was murdered by strangulation, by her boyfriend, in 1982, itself. She was 22. And O’Rourke, suddenly fell ill, and died of a cardiac arrest, at the age of 12, in 1988.

Watched Poltergeist on HBO.

My Rating: Very Good – 8/10!!!!
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Horror Films Above: Poltergeist (1982) Below: As Above, So Below (2014)

Horror Films
Above: Poltergeist (1982)
Below: As Above, So Below (2014)

As Above, So Below (2014) – Silly Horror movie, filmed in the ‘Blair Witch Project’ style. No where near as great as The Blair Witch Project (1999). Only saving grace of this, pretty idiotic, horror flick, was that it actually showed the real catacombs of Paris (which I visited back in 2009), before venturing further deep, under the catacombs. As they ventured deeper the film got sillier still.

Though not the worst film experience ever, it’s still quite pathetic. And the movie defies gravity. The more and more, they went deeper into the underworld, I actually expected them to come out of the Pacific Ocean, on the other side of the globe! Yet, actors, Ben Feldman and François Civil (pictured above) were actually good enough in their respective roles.

Watched As Above, So Below on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: Pretty Bad – 4/10!!
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Le Lieu du Crime (1986) – I really enjoyed this film, starring Catherine Deneuve, Nicolas Giraudi, Wadeck Stanczak, and the yesteryear starlet, Danielle Darrieux. The way the movie began, it reminded me of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations (which also happens to be my favourite Dickens novel). The movie centres around, a young boy named Thomas (Giraudi), who’s mother (Deneuve), falls in love with the criminal (Stanczak); Thomas meets, early on in the movie; and has a one night stand, on a rainy night, with tragic circumstances. With a superb cast, headed by Catherine Deneuve, this movie, is really a unique tale, revolving around a ‘boy who cried wolf’. The kid is such a story maker, nobody, except his mother, believes his story, about what he witnessed. This coming of age, tale, is a must see, especially if you are a fan of Catherine Deneuve, like me. And the kid is brilliant, an added bonus.

Watched Le Lieu du Crime on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: Very Good – 8/10!!!!
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Into the Storm (2014) – Yet another, idiotically disastrous, disaster film. About a unimaginably massive tornado ravaging a small town called Silverton. The one good thing about this flick, was that it showed the, ironically calm, inside (the eye) of the tornado. Calm within the storm.

Watched Into the Storm on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: Near Worst, film experience, ever – 2/10!
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Timbuktu (2014) – A masterpiece of movie making!! The term ‘Timbuktu’ is generally a synonym, for some remote unknown place. But, it is in actuality, a name of a city, in Mali, in West Africa. I was always aware it was a place, somewhere in Africa, but this is the first time I saw something/anything about the place known as Timbuktu. The city is full of, beautifully designed, aesthetic, mud huts.

The film itself, is very sad, and a superb Art House film, about the lives of the poor inhabitants of Timbuktu, under Jihadists control. Anyone even slightly opposed to their strict laws, are punished severely. This movie is based around a cattle herder, and his nuclear family, relaxedly residing away from the city of Timbuktu, in the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert. But, sadly, he gets pulled into the city, and imprisoned/sentenced to death, for an accidental crime, he didn’t plan to commit.

Director, Abderrahmane Sissako, has brought out a brilliant piece of socially touching experience; and this film took home two prizes, at the 67th Cannes Film Festival, held in 2014. Sissako was also nominated for the Palme d’Or, that year, for Timbuktu. Plus it won the ‘Best Film’ award, at the Africa Movie Academy Awards; along with a ‘Best Director’ win for Sissako.

Watched Timbuktu on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: Excellent – 10/10!!!!!
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L.A.dy Dior (2011) – This is an advertorial Short film, starring my favourite French star of today, Marion Cotillard. Cotillard plays a crazed actress, who can’t handle the pressure of being the face of a famous brand of handbags (‘L.A.dy Dior’, obviously). A hilarious 6 minute short, where she ultimately throws a tantrum, which only helps the advertising campaign. Enjoyable enough, thanks to Marion Cotillard. Love L.A.dy Cotillard!!!!

Watched L.A.dy Dior online, on Youtube.

My Rating: Pretty Good – 7/10!!!!
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LEFT: Marion Cotillard in L.A.dy Dior (2011) RIGHT: Xavier Dolan in J’ai Tué ma Mère (2009)

LEFT: Marion Cotillard in L.A.dy Dior (2011)
RIGHT: Xavier Dolan in J’ai Tué ma Mère (2009)

J’ai Tué ma Mère (2009) – The two prominent factors, that make this film so uniquely impressive, is the fact, that Xavier Dolan’s directorial debut, was written by Dolan, at the age of 16, and he was still only 19 years old, when he directed it. The movie was released at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival (rather it premiered at the ‘Director’s Fortnight’), in 2009. Not only did Dolan, get a standing ovation, he also walked away, with three awards, at the festival, that year. I first heard about this film, and Xavier Dolan, in May 2009.

The movie, itself is so brilliantly made, and moving, I was hooked to the screen from start to finish, engulfing each and every emotional moment felt by it’s characters. The depth of human emotion, portrayed in the film, is so painfully real, my heart just leapt out. This is amongst the best movies, that I’ve ever seen, and ‘twas a long awaited venture, pour moi.

J’ai Tué ma Mère, which, when translated into English, means, ‘I Killed my Mother’, is a semi-autobiographical film, by Xavier Dolan. It’s deals with a tiresome mother/son relationship. They both love each other, and neither is a bad parent nor bad child, but they were just not meant to live together. Hubert (Dolan) believes he was born into the wrong family, rather, more specifically, the wrong mother (played by Anne Dorval). And he wishes to get away from her clutches, as soon as possible. But Hubert, is still a 16 year old, thus it’s impossible to get away at that young age. His father, who left when Hubert was a little kid, is no where in sight (who turns up only to make a brief appearance, to intervene in the son’s life, and makes things worse for poor Hubert). You sympathise with Dolan’s juvenile character, Hubert, and understand what he’s going through. But, at the same time, he’s still only 16, and has a freedom, some 16 year olds would only dream to have. Plus, his mother is not all that bad. Mothers can be really stressful sometimes, even to their adult kids. But Hubert’s mother, comparatively, hardly does anything to stress him out, even though he seems to lose his patience with her. She’s neither strict, nor harsh. He does what he wants. She doesn’t necessarily interfere with his studies, or future plans. YES, she’s not perfect, nobody really is, but she’s far from being the worst mother ever. Yet, Hubert feels suffocated, and annoyed, with her existence. When the mother finds out about her son’s sexuality, she doesn’t seem to mind that he is gay, but what disappoints her is, the fact she had to find out about it from someone else, rather than her own son. Thus, she’s also an open-minded woman. At the same time, Hubert, isn’t necessarily a closeted homosexual. He is open, but doesn’t seem to think it necessary to let her know, that he has a boyfriend (played by François Arnaud). The film doesn’t deal with Hubert’s sexuality as such, for that’s not what the story is about. The story is about his love-hate relationship with his mother. His sex life, has nothing to do with it. Instead of a girlfriend, he just happens to have a boyfriend, in a very acceptable and normal manner. That’s how the world today, should be. Of course, there is a gay-bashing scene, towards the end. Most probably, just to tell us, that’s something Dolan had to deal with too, in real life, and/or to show us, that the world is still not as broad-minded, as it ought to be.

The film isn’t all serious and depressing, it has plenty of comical interludes. In fact, the movie is sad, but not at all depressing to watch, and very entertaining. Xavier Dolan is really sweet, and adorable, even when he is angry. I love the scene where he comes home one night, all drugged (a one time thing, in the film), and wakes his mother lovingly. She is not at all angry at him. Dolan’s character is really sweet, when he tries to be extra nice to his mother. Of course, he’s not patient enough, for the niceties to last, and his mother doesn’t really help either. Yet, both of them, are actually good people.

There is plenty of screaming matches, in the film, plenty of drama, and more than enough comical moments, to make you cry and laugh (sometimes at the same time), with a few, very Dolanisque surreal moments!! One of the best films ever made. Dolan’s now, most probably, my favourite Canadian director, and definitely my youngest favourite film director. The only other, directorial venture, of his I’ve seen is, Laurence Anyways (2012); another brilliant Canadian film.

Watched J’ai Tué ma Mère on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: Excellent – 10/10!!!!!
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Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive (2016) – Tagged as the “million dollar fake”, this is an almost brilliant piece of satire, from Bollywood.

Released earlier this year, a sequel/prequel to Tere Bin Laden (2010); which came before, the actual Osama Bin Laden was killed; this is a hilarious movie, about what happens post the death of this, FBI’s, most wanted terrorist. Both, the Americans, and a Taliban arms dealer, try to get hold of a Bin Laden look-alike, an Indian actor (played by Pradhuman Singh). The Americans want to film, the death of the fake bin Laden, to prove to the world, that they’ve actually killed, this founder of al-Qaeda, whilst the arms dealer, wants to use the doppelganger, as proof, that Bin Laden is still alive.

The movie is a hilarious parody, on both, the Taliban regime, and America’s ‘War on Terror’. I haven’t seen the original Tere Bin Laden (poster pictured, right atop). In fact I had assumed, that’s the movie, I watched on Sunday morning, the original film, till I read the synopsis now, on IMDB, and realised actor, Manish Paul (who plays a Bollywood director, responsible for making the ‘Osama bin Laden’ doppelganger, popular; and in turn putting their lives in danger), didn’t even star in the first one. So I actually tweeted the wrong movie. Slightly disappointed about that. Now I really want to watch, the original. A lot of people, who loved the original, seem to have hated this. But I really enjoyed this farcical film. It’s definitely worth a watch. Plus, there were no cheap antics, like puking, or passing out excess gas, or any other stale jokes, or anything sickeningly grotesque, that make you feel disgusted, instead of actually enjoying a film. So, I thought it was a really clever comedy. Thus, kudos to director, Abhishek Sharma, for bringing out, such a fun movie, to sit through.

Just wanted to add, an explanation for the title. ‘Bin’ or ‘Bina’ in Hindi, means ‘Without’, and ‘Tere’ means ‘Yours’. Thus the, first three words, of the title could either translate as, ‘Without You Laden’ or ‘Yours, Bin Laden’; I think the latter sounds more like it. Either way, the pun is on the word ‘Bin’. It would have been a more hilarious pun for the word ‘Bin’, if it were in English (title/film), considering what the word ‘Bin’ stands for in the English language. Throw it in the Bin Laden!!!!!

Watched Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive on Star Plus.

My Rating: Near Excellent – 9/10!!!!
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Airlift (2016) – Set in Kuwait, this is based on a true story, of the airlift of Indians based in Kuwait, during the Invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, carried out from the 18th of August, 1990 to 20th October, 1990!! Air India, along with Indian Airlines, helped evacuate 170,000 people by civil airliners, whilst 500 people left by a ship, during the Gulf War. It took 63 days. This happens to be the biggest rescue mission, of human evacuation, in the world. Two Indian’s living in Kuwait; South Indian Businessmen, Mathunny Mathews, from Kerala; and North Indian, billionaire, Harbajan Singh Vedi, from Punjab, putting their ethnic differences aside, came together, and ended up playing a major role, in helping get Indians to safety.

The movie, however, is a fictional account, combining the two Indian’s heroic work, into one character called, Ranjit Katyal (played by Bollywood star, Akshay Kumar). Indian actress, Nimrat Kaur, plays his wife. A near brilliant Bollywood commercial venture, by director, Raja Krishna Menon, about a story that deserved to be told. Thanks to Bollywood movies like Neerja and Airlift, more recent, modern Indian history, won’t be forgotten.

Watched Airlift on Colors (a channel I practically never watch, glad I did on Sunday night).

My Rating: Near Excellent – 9/10!!!!
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10 Things I Hate about You (1999) – A modern, late 20th Century, adaptation of, William Shakespeare’s 16th century comedy, The Taming of the Shrew.

This comedy, could have easily veered towards being just another teenage chick flick, but it’s much more than that. I was pleasantly surprised, how much I enjoyed sitting through this flick. The movie has a brilliant young cast, including the late Heath Ledger, along with Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Andrew Keegan and Gabrielle Union. The movie also stars comedians Larry Miller and Allison Janney, in supporting roles.

Set in a High School, the film is about softening up an uptight girl, who refuses to date. All the absurdism of a perfect Shakespearean comedy, from the 1590’s, brought into the modern world of youth, of the 1990’s. I thoroughly enjoyed it. But it would have been more interesting, if I did actually get to watch it, as a teenager/young adult, than today.

I recently mentioned this movie, last month. See my Blog-post Shakespeare: Intellectual Minds and Beyond!!, from April 2016.

Watched 10 Things I Hate about You on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: Near Excellent – 9/10!!!!
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Jacques Bernard in Les Enfants Terribles (1950)

Jacques Bernard in Les Enfants Terribles (1950)

Les Enfants Terrible (1950) – Watched this, collaboration of two greatly creative talents, today afternoon!! Loved it, just as much as the book!!

3½ years ago, I read Rosamond Lehmann’s English translation, of Jean Cocteau’s famed French novella, Les Enfants Terrible!! Author, artist and film personality, Cocteau’s book, was illustrated, with his own artwork, as well. Being an artist(e) myself, I not only, loved the book, for it’s literature, but also for Cocteau’s works of modern art. And, I blogged about the book; when my Blog, was still pretty young (almost 9 months old). Later, 1½ years ago, when I visited Australia, I bought a lot of DVD’s, including the film adaptation of, Les Enfants Terrible. But it’s only now, I finally got to watch this movie. This is the last, of the movies, I bought Down Under!!

Les Enfants Terrible, the movie, is a brilliant adaptation, of an equally superb, piece of, inked, fiction. Author Jean Cocteau (a film director himself), supposedly, commissioned Jean-Pierre Melville, to make the movie, based on his beloved novel. Beautifully photographed, with dim, darkly lit, interiors; skilfully directed, with superb acting talents, the moody expressions, along with, Jean Cocteau’s, own vocals lending the narration, this is one hell of an extraordinarily exceptional piece of cinema. Now, amongst my, favourite French films, ever.

The movie, was practically word to word, as I remembered reading in the  novel. The only major difference, for me, was the fact that, I envisioned the brother and sister, Paul and Elisabeth (played by Edouard Dermithe and Nicole Stéphane, respectively, in the movie), as two pre-teens, in the start of the book, who gradually transform, into young adulthood, later on. Same with their friend, Gerard (Jacques Bernard). But in the movie, they seemed liked young adults/late teens, from the very beginning. None the less, the film was perfectly made, as perfect, as perfection goes. The crazed games, played by the siblings: their weirdly possessive, yet ambiguous, relationship; isolated, cut off, from the rest of the world; this movie is a deep psychoanalysis into the crazy human psyche, almost just as much as the book. It, like the book, reminded me of Bernardo Bertolucci’s, The Dreamers (2003). The Dreamers, was set in 1968 Paris, during the student riots.

The actress to look out for, in Les Enfants Terrible, is Renée Cosima, who plays Paul’s two androgynous sexual attractions; a young boy named Dargelos, in the first half, and later on a girl (model) named Agathe (since I had read the book, I realised that, the school bully, Dargelos, was being played by a female, in the guise of a male; though it’s really not at all noticeable, otherwise). Her transformation, from a thuggish young boy, to a beautiful young lady, is incredible. It’s hard to believe, the dirty rugged boy, and marvellous model, who shows off her elegant legs, is played by, the one and the same, young French actress Renée Cosima.

With it’s surreal dreamy moments, towards the end, Les Enfants Terrible, is almost Shakespearean, the way it’s conveyed. The inevitable tragedy, that lies ahead, is obvious. The game, they played in their ‘ROOM’, of irritating one another, when younger; continues, to a final finish, that can end, only with death. A sad film. The novel came out in the Roaring 20’s, but the film, seems to be set, in the modern day, i.e. the post-war 1940’s!!

Love the Movie!! Love the Book!! Love the Book more, actually; but as a film, this is an excellent watch. Also do check out my quick write-up, on the novel, Les Enfants Terribles (The Book), from December 2012!!!!!

Watched Les Enfants Terrible on DVD.

My Rating: Excellent – 10/10!!!!!
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Mai May Movies 2016

William Shakespeare By William Blake

William Shakespeare By William Blake

Had William Shakespeare been immortal, he’d have been 452 years old today!! But, just short of, half a century of turning 500; 400 years after his death, at the age of 52, his mortality has stood the test of time, through his great works of Literature.

Why is the Bard, the quintessential element of the highly cultured, even today? The 21st century? He’s an artiste, of great penmanship, that goes beyond borders, race & religion, gender and sexuality. He’s ventured, beyond ink on paper, into the world of art, cinema and now cyberspace. Shakespeare Lives!!

With my family (parents & sister) at Shakespeare’s Birth Place (October 2004)

With my family (parents & sister) at Shakespeare’s Birth Place (October 2004) in Stratford-upon-Avon

In front of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, in London (February 2005)

In front of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, in London (February 2005) – UK

In front of Shakespeare & Company (Bookshop), in Paris (July 2008)

In front of Shakespeare & Company (Bookshop), in Paris (July 2008) – FRANCE

When I was in school, pre-teens, we studied condensed works of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet; and I went onto read other works, such as a condensed version of Othello; and soon, (unabridged) complete works, such as Twelfth  Night, Macbeth, Anthony and Cleopatra, etc etc… and many more (not to mention, the lyrical sonnets of his, we studied); and by the time I was in University, for my bachelors, I studied Julius Caesar and, other studies on, Othello. In my school days, the tragic love story of, Romeo and Juliet, was my favourite, but as I grew older, another, more serious tragedy started to grow on me, i.e. Hamlet. It is obvious, that Shakespeare has been inspired by the Classics; and having been a student of ‘Greek and Roman Civilisation’ (for my A/L’s – Advance Levels), Hamlet, is very much a Greek Tragedy, with a more contemporary setting, in 16th century Denmark; where “the killer must be killed, by the nearest and the dearest”!! In fact, Hamlet, was derived from a Scandinavian legend, of Amleth.

Scenes from Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968), starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey; based on the most popular of tragic love stories of Shakespeare

Scenes from Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968), starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey; based on THE most popular of tragic love stories of Shakespeare

Just as William Shakespeare, was inspired by the literary works of ancient Greece and Rome; Shakespeare has been a great inspiration to the world of modern cinema and computer games. All the romance, the tragedies, the wars; even in the worst of films today; don’t tell me there isn’t more than just a hint of the Bard himself, quite literally “Ghost” writing the story lines. Take a look at all the run on the mill, Hollywood and Bollywood, love, romance and violence; there is so much of Shakespearean comedies and tragedies, underlining the main plots.

BBC television adaptation of Antony & Cleopatra (1981); based on Shakespeare’s famed historical play

BBC Television adaptation of Antony & Cleopatra (1981); based on Shakespeare’s famed historical play

I have seen quite a few, of Shakespeare’s work, that have been adapted onto Television and film, and the ‘original’ screen versions I love, and or generally like, are; As You Like It (1936), Romeo and Juliet (1968), Antony and Cleopatra (1981) along with some other BBC adaptations of Shakespeare (watched as kids in the early/mid-80’s, don’t recall them all), Prospero’s Books (1991), and Much Ado About Nothing (1993). Some excellent, some just pretty good, adaptations of brilliant pieces of great literature, here. Added to these original adaptations there have been some superb modern adaptations, including, West Side Story (1961), set in the late 1950’s, in New York (see the post I did for The Stage to Screen Blogathon, from October 2014); My Own Private Idaho (1991), brought forward into the 20th century, in Portland, Oregon; Hamlet (1996), brought forward to 1800’s Denmark; A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999), again set in the late-19th century, this time in Italy; Titus (1999), mostly a mixture of ancient Rome, and the 20th century; Haider (2014), set in the mid-1990’s, Kashmir. Most modern adaptations of Shakespeare happen to be crap; but the above mentioned films happen to be some of rare greats, transporting the Bard’s work, very successfully, way post his time. Other (original & modern day) Shakespearian flicks, that I’ve seen (good or bad), to my memory, include; The Tempest (1979) pretty Bad; Angoor (1982), remember watching this enjoyable Bollywood comedy as a kid, but don’t remember it well enough to rate it; Hamlet (1990) very Bad; Romeo + Juliet (1996) pretty Bad; Love is all There Is (1996), one of worse films ever made; Dil Chahta Hai (2001), near Excellent; As You Like It (2006) pretty Good; and Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013) near Excellent (see my post Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela: A Pleasant Surprise from February 2014).

An artwork depicting William Shakespeare, with his family (wife and children)

An artwork depicting William Shakespeare, with his family (wife and children)

From Queen Elizabeth I, to the Suffragette movement, to the scientific world of technological advances; Shakespeare’s work is, no doubt, of highly cultural, social and political significance, around the Globe, even today. Back in the early 18th century, a club was formed, by a group of aristocratic ladies, known as the ‘Shakespeare Ladies Club’; who petitioned the London theatres to produce William Shakespeare’s plays, back in the 1730’s. The ‘Shakespeare Ladies Club’ was responsible for getting the highest percentage of Shakespeare plays produced in London during a single season in the 18th century. Thus they ended up being the modern women, of that era, that helped make, Shakespeare popular again. Still in the 18th century, in September 1769, months after the Bard’s 205th Birth Anniversary, actor & playwright, David Garrick, hosted the ‘Shakespeare Jubilee’, a three day festival, as an inspiration to the very essence of freedom, and promise of a new life. This movement, helped cement Shakespeare as England’s national poet. On the second day, of the function, Garrick gave recognition to the ‘Shakespeare Ladies Club’. The ‘Romantic Poets’, of the early mid-1800’s, attempted to revive Shakespearean verse, though not as successfully. Shakespeare had a strong influence on novelists, Thomas Hardy, William Faulkner and Charles Dickens. To celebrate, William Shakespeare’s, 300th Birth Anniversary, in 1864, 100,000 people marched to Primrose hill in North London, and using the Bard’s Birth, pitched a protest, against the departure of, the Italian nationalist responsible for the unification of Italy, Giuseppe Garibaldi, from England. The Suffragettes, used the character of Paulina, from Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, a character that fights against injustices, and stands against an unfair King, symbolically. For the 300th Death Anniversary of Shakespeare, in 1916, a theatre performance was held, in Drury Lane, London. The eulogy, honoured the great, 16th & 17th Century writer, along with the shadow, cast by the Great War (WWI).

Various adaptations of Shakespeare’s Hamlet on the Big Screen

Various adaptations of Shakespeare’s Hamlet on the Big Screen

Added, to these various festivals, honouring Shakespeare, by literature buffs; it’s interesting to note, how many people, today; Shakespeare enthusiasts, or not; Literature literate or not (in English speaking communities); spurt out words and phrases, used by the Bard himself (whether he coined those words, is unclear; but it is obvious, that such words were used in the 16th century as well). Of course, us literature fans, do tend to quote him, with phrases like, “Part(y)ing is such sweet sorrow”, “To be, or not be”, “Friends, Romans, Countrymen”, “All’s Well, that Ends Well’ et al; but everyday, ordinary, English speaking folk, who have no clue, or have no interest, whatsoever, in the Bard, use words/phrases like, “What’s done is done”, “Laughable”, “break the ice”, “Devil’s incarnate”, “give the devil his due”, “not slept one wink”, “arch-villain”, “puking”, “come what, come may”, “mum’s the word”, “Good Riddance”, “faint-hearted”, “a heart of gold”, “in-stitches”, “vanish into thin air”, “stuff as dreams are made of”, “Too much of a Good Thing”, and many many more, from various plays of his. Many a words used in Elizabethan England, are still in use, in modern day English, mainly thanks to Shakespeare. As a matter of fact, Shakespeare’s usage of language, helped shape the modern day language of English.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968)

Being a Film Buff; I’d love to watch, many more screen (Big & Small) adaptations of the Bard of Avon (be it an original or a modern adaptation, be it an English language or a foreign film); like; A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935), Romeo and Juliet (1936) Twelfth Night (1939), Henry V (1944), Romeo and Juliet (1947) Hamlet (1948), Macbeth (1948), Les Amants de Vérone (1949), Julius Caesar (1950), Othello (1952), Julius Caesar (1953), Kiss Me Kate (1953), Romeo and Juliet (1954), Richard III (1955), Forbidden Planet (1956), Kumonosu-Jô (1957), The Tempest (1960), Hamles (1960), Romanoff and Juliet (1961), Sibirska Ledi Magbet (1962), All Night Long (1962), Ophélia (1963), Hamlet (1964), Carry on Cleo (1964), Chimes at Midnight (1965), Othello (1965), The Wars of the Roses (1965-1966), The Deadly Affair (1966), Ages of Man (1966), The Taming of the Shrew (1967), The Winter’s Tale (1967), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968), Quella Sporca Storia nel West (1968), King Lear (1971), The Tragedy of King Richard II (1971), Korol Lir (1971), Macbeth (1971), As You Like It (1978), The Life of King Henry VIII (1979), Measure for Measure (1979), Falstaff (1979), A Performance of Macbeth (1979), Twelfth Night (1980), The Tempest (1980), The Merchant of Venice (1980), Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1980), All’s Well That Ends Well (1981), Othello, El Comando Negro (1982), The Comedy of Errors (1983), King Lear (1983), Ran (1985), The Angelic Conversation (1985), Otello (1986), Hamlet Liikemaailmassa (1987), Twelfth Night or What You Will (1988), Henry V (1989), Richard III (1995), Othello (1995), Twelfth Night or What You Will (1996), Looking for Richard (1996), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), Titus Andronicus (2000), O (2001), Je rentre à la Maison (2001), My Kingdom (2001), The Seasons Alter (2002), Maqbool (2003), Souli (2004), The Merchant of Venice (2004), ShakespeaRe-Told (2005), Othello: A South African Tale (2005), Ye Yan (2006) Omkara (2006), Mark Antony (2006), The Hamlet Adventure (2008), Were the World Mine (2008), Macbeth’s Disciple (2008), Romeo & Julio (2009), Hamlet (2009), Romeo & Juliet in Stanley Park (2009), Verona (2010), Coriolanus (2011), Much Ado About Nothing (2011), Private Romeo (2011), The Hollow Crown (2012 onwards), Romeo & Juliet (2013), The Tempest (2014), Venus & Adonis (2015), Arshinagar (2015) and Macbeth (2015). This might seem like a lot, but it’s just a handful, considering the fact, there are thousands of adaptations of the Bard’s work, on film, within the last 120 years of the cinematic arts.

William Shakespeare – 400 year on! Never say Die!!
This month, literary enthusiast, have been celebrating Shakespeare, around the world, in his honour, for his 400th death anniversary; which was on the 23rd of April, 2016!!

To William Shakespeare (April 1564 – 23rd April 1616)  

Bookish Nuwan
Nuwan Sen n’ Literature
Nuwan Sen’s Art & Film Sense

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)
(Also See: )

Today happens to be the 101st Birth Anniversary of my all time favourite cinematographer, Jack Cardiff. His uniquely brilliant, colourful aesthetics, in movies like. Powell&Pressburger’s Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948), Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn (1949), and King Vidor’s War and Peace (1956), are stunningly splendid, with it’s vivid spectrum of striking colours. His creations on the big screen, are pure art. A massive canvas filled with moving pictures.

Jack CardiffJack Cardiff was born on the 18th of September, 1914, to a couple of music hall performers. By the age of four, he was already a child artiste, who’d worked in music hall productions as well as a few silent movies. As a child actor he starred in My Son, My Son (1918), Billy’s Rose (1922), The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots (1923) and Tiptoes (1927). By 15 he started working as a camera assistant, clapper boy and production runner. By 21, Cardiff had graduated to camera operator and occasional cinematographer. Having already worked with Alfred Hitchcock, in The Skin Game (1931), as a clapper boy; soon he got a chance to work with Powell&Pressburger, as a second unit cameraman. Powell&Pressburger were so impressed that they hired him as a cinematographer, and the rest is history.

Ben Cross and Amy Irving in The Far Pavilions (1984)

Ben Cross and Amy Irving in The Far Pavilions (1984)

Ben Cross and Omar Sharif in a scene from The Far Pavilions

Ben Cross and Omar Sharif in a scene from The Far Pavilions

As a little kid, back in the mid-1980’s, I watched The Far Pavilions (1984), a beautiful mini-series, set in India, in the 1800’s. Back then, I had no idea who Jack Cardiff was, but was amazed by the superbly, epic scale, picturesque, television show, which has been tagged as, “Gone With The Wind (1939), of the north-west frontier of India.” I got to re-watch it in my teens, back in the early 1990’s. Thus, even though unaware at the time, this was my very first Cardiff involved show, that I witnessed. And I’ll end up watching quite a few Cardiff’s aesthetic brilliance of the big screen (on the small screen), before I learn the cinematographer responsible for the visual beauty of these great movies.

The Red Shoes (2)

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948)

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948)

Scenes from The Red Shoes

Scenes from The Red Shoes

Still as a kid, towards late 80’s, when I watched The Red Shoes, I was spellbound. The beautiful colour combination, costumes, the respectable art form of the ballet, the story, the movie as a whole, I fell in love with it almost instantaneously. And at the time I didn’t even realise it was an old movie. Especially ’cause I had no idea who the actors were. By then I knew quite a few classic stars, from Charles Chaplin, Laurence Olivier, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Julie Andrews, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, Al Pacino et al; so I felt these must be very new actors, who aren’t famous yet. In fact, even now, besides The Red Shoes, am not familiar with the work of Moira Shearer (who was actually a renowned ballet dancer, and had appeared in very few films), Austrian actor, Anton Walbrook, and Marius Goring. The story follows the life of a young ballerina, who becomes the lead dancer in a new ballet called, The Red Shoes, a fairy tale. The movie tells a story within a story. One through the ballet, and the other, the movie plot. I remember this scene, where the lead male character, asks the ballerina, “Why do you want to dance?”, she fearlessly quickly answers with another question, “Why do you want to live?”
I only saw The Red Shoes, once, less than 30 years ago, but I still remember, that scene so well, as if I saw it yesterday. That was the scene, that changes the lead character, played by Moira Shearer, Victoria Page’s, life, in the movie. The ballet sequences were mesmerising, telling a beautifully epic tale of it’s own, and filmed so beautifully. My personal favourite was the one with raggedy clothes, portraying an exhausted ballerina, complimenting the frighteningly beautiful visual effects of the time. Eons before the evolution of CGI.

Scenes from War and Peace (1956)

Scenes from War and Peace (1956)

Scenes from War and Peace

Scenes from War and Peace

Audrey Hepburn in a scene from War and Peace

Audrey Hepburn in a scene from War and Peace

The next, was War and Peace, which I watched around the same time, more ‘cause I was already a great fan of Audrey Hepburn by then. A brilliant epic, adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s celebrated novel, War & Peace. With a stellar star cast, including Mel Ferrer, Henry Fonda, Audrey Hepburn, Jeremy Brett, May Britt and Anita Ekberg, this Hollywood adaptation, of a novel based on Napoleonic Wars, especially Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, happens to be amongst my favourite of epic scale war movies. And again, I recall, how brilliant the cinematography was. Of course the movie mainly focuses on complex relationship and personal maturation, of the three lead characters, and two aristocratic families, on the backdrop of the historical events of the Napoleonic invasion. I got to re-watch War and Peace, as an adult, just over a decade ago, whilst living in London. ’Twas  really worth it.

In the 90’s, as a teen, I watched Paul Czinner’s, As You Like It (1936). A pretty good movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s famed comedy. Jack Cardiff worked as a camera operator for this film, starring Laurence Olivier and Elisabeth Bergner. I enjoyed the movie, but I don’t recall much greatness, cinematography wise. Anyway, Cardiff wasn’t responsible for cinematography. Plus this happens to be a Black & White film, and Cardiff was famous for excelling in colourful epics.

Whilst living in Portsmouth, UK, 11 years ago, around this time, most probably to celebrate Jack Cardiff’s 90th Birthday (he was still alive then), one of the British channels, telecast, two of his movies. I already knew about both these films, and had heard about Cardiff. But it was that particular day, 11 years ago, that I got to know who Jack Cardiff was, after seeing these two films, which were shown one after another, that day. Black Narcissus and Under Capricorn. I loved the movie, and learnt a lot more about Cardiff, once I googled him out, back in 2004. And to see he was responsible for the magnificent cinematography, of my childhood films, The Red Shoes and War and Peace as well, was an added bonus. Since then, Cardiff happens to be my all time favourite cinematographer, of yesteryear.

Black Narcissus (3)

Scenes from Black Narcissus

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Cardiff’s work, on Black Narcissus, is undeniably the best I’ve seen till date. Set in the foothills of the Himalayas, near Darjeeling, India, and made as India was on the verge of getting their Independence from the British Raj, it’s another excellent movie, in every way possible, from the narrative, the brilliant cast, the setting, the cinematography, you name it. Starring Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons (playing an Indian girl named ‘Kanchi’), Flora Robson, Kathleen Byron, David Farrar, Esmond Knight, Nancy Roberts and Sabu Dastagir, it’s a touching story of a group of Anglican nuns living in isolation, who have to ultimately, after being tragic victims of jealousy and lust, have to leave their peaceful life in India, under the British Empire. Jack Cardiff won his very first Oscar, for his beautiful creation of Black Narcissus, under the category, ‘Best Cinematography, Colour’. He was nominated for three more Oscars, twice for colour cinematography, and once for film direction, but never won. In 2001, he was awarded an honorary Oscar, as the ‘Master of light and colour’. Prior to that, in 1995, he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award, by the British Society of Cinematographers. And in Year 2000, Jack Cardiff was also awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire).

Scene from Under Capricorn (1949), Down Under.

Scene from Under Capricorn (1949), Down Under!

Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn, is set Down Under, in the depths of the heat and dust of the Australian outback, i.e. Sydney of 1831, a town full of ex-convicts. Starring Joseph Cotten, Ingrid Bergman and Michael Wilding, the movie tells the story of how an Irish gentleman, who visits Australia, comes across his childhood friend, now a married woman, who’s suffering from alcohol abuse, and helplessly watches her decent into madness. Amazingly George Cukor’s Gaslight (1944), a superb piece of noir, too dealt with a married woman’s (played by Bergman as well) decent into madness, and Cotton played, a sympathiser, who saves her from her murderous husband, the man responsible for driving her insane. Under Capricorn, was Hitchcock’s second film made in Technicolor, after Rope (1948).

Death on the Nile (2)

Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, with the Sphinx in the background, in Death on the Nile (1978)

Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, with the Sphinx in the background, in Death on the Nile (1978)

Back then I also got to watch, Death on the Nile (1978), a very good adaptation of crime writer, Agatha Christie’s novel. Which was a really good movie, though not great. But again the cinematography capturing ancient Egyptian monuments was simply brilliant.

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938), in Connaught Place, New Delhi, India

Scenes from Delhi (1938), in Connaught Place, New Delhi, India.

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Five years ago, I saw the documentary short film, Delhi (1938), online, on the BFI (British Film Institute) page, on the Youtube website. Another colourfully breathtaking insight of Old and New Delhi, of the 1930’s, showcasing the beautiful historic architecture, the modern wide roads, and Indian attire, of the period under the British Raj, and captured to perfection by Jack Cardiff. One of the best short documentaries I’ve seen, and this 10 minutes of reel is definitely worth checking out.

Caesar and Cleopatra (1)

Scenes from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

Scenes from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger in a scene from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), based on a play by George Bernard Shaw.

Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger in a scene from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), based on a play by George Bernard Shaw.

Black & White still, with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh, in the technicolor film, Caesar and Cleopatra

Black & White still, with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh, in the technicolor film, Caesar and Cleopatra

Then there was Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), starring Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger. Another classic film with breathtaking cinematography, based on an acclaimed play by George Bernard Shaw. Yet, Caesar and Cleopatra, is no where near as great, as some of the other movies mentioned above (cinematography wise), but still it’s another excellent cinematic experience, altogether. I watched this online as well, on Youtube, a few years ago. Sadly that’s the last of Cardiff’s films I saw, and I don’t own a single. All these movies of his, in which he worked as a cinematographer, is no doubt worth, adding to my home library, collection of movies.

Cameraman - The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010)

A documentary titled, Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010), was released, five years ago. Being a great fan of Cardiff, am really keen on checking it out. It chronicles his career of over seventy years, as a cinematographer, reviews his magnificent work, and details how he ended up mastering the process of Technicolor in Cinema of a bygone era.

Besides being a maestro in cinematography, Cardiff was also a film director. But from his directorial ventures, I’ve only watched, to my memory, My Geisha (1962), starring Shirley MacLaine, Yves Montand, Edward G. Robinson and Robert Cummings. That too, I watched, back in the 1980’s. My Geisha, was a hilarious comedy about an actress, Lucy Dell (MacLaine), who disguises herself as a Japanese Geisha, to bag the lead role, unaware to her husband (Montand), in her husbands new directorial venture, inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s, renowned Opera, Madame Butterfly.

Some of Jack Cardiff's directorial ventures, Sons and Lovers (1960), My Geisha (1962) and The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968).

Some of Jack Cardiff’s directorial ventures: Sons and Lovers (1960), My Geisha (1962) and The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968).

Being a fan of D.H. Lawrence, I’d really love to watch Cardiff’s adaptation of Sons and Lovers (1960), starring Trevor Howard, Dean Stockwell, Wendy Hiller and Mary Ure. Sons and Lovers, was Cardiff ’s very first nomination, for the ‘Best Director’ Oscar. Ironically it won one Oscar, for ‘Best Cinematography, Black-and-White’, for which he wasn’t responsible for. From Cardiff’s other works as a cinematographer, am really keen on watching, The African Queen (1951), Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), with Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe, and Crossed Swords (1977), with Oliver Reed, George C. Scott, Rex Harrison, David Hemmings and Mark Lester, to name a few.

All of Cardiff’s works I mentioned here as a cinematographer, are excellent films as a whole, except for Under Capricorn and Death in the Nile. Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn, is not necessarily Hitchcock’s best film, yet it’s still a near excellent noir flick. And John Guillermin’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s famed novel, Death in the Nile, though not the best adaptation of one of her novels, is still a very good crime movie.

In memory of Jack Cardiff (1914 – 2009), who shall forever be remembered for his masterworks in colour, especially at a time, when colour movies were a rarity, back in the 1930’s & 40’s. I’d love to watch more of his cinematic wonders, be it as a cinematographer, or a film director.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s ART Sense

3 years . 3 months . 3 weeks . 3 days

Bastille Day 2015 Header

3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks & 3 days; that’s exactly how old my Blog is today. I started this Blog on the 20th of March, Year 2012. Today is also Bastille Day, i.e. the National Day of France. So I thought, why not do something different today, that is relevant to both, my Blog, and the French republic, the largest country, in the western region, of the European continent.

So here is my foursome of 3’s (my favourites in each) in relation to this beautiful country, called France.

1st 3.
My trio of favourite hangouts in Paris
I first visited Paris, during my hectic one month Eurotrip of Spring 2005 (April 2005). Spent just one evening in Paris, at the time. Later I got a chance to live there, for almost a year, in 2008 & 2009. I fell deeply in love with the City of Love, the most beautiful concrete jungle I’ve ever lived in.

(i)  The Champs-Élysées

Watching the Bastille Day parade, Bastille Day ((14th July 2008) The Champs-Élysées, Paris

Watching the Bastille Day parade, On Bastille Day (14th July 2008)
Champs-Élysées, Paris

At the Virgin Bookshop  (an Old underground bank vault that has been turned into a bookstore) Champs-Élysées, Paris (August 2009)

At the Virgin Bookshop (an Old underground bank vault, that has been turned into a bookstore) Champs-Élysées, Paris (August 2009)

With a French friend (I befriended in Sydney), in front of one of the Gaumont cinemas, at the Champs-Élysées, in Paris (8th September 2009) The night before I let Paris, France. Haven't returned since.

With a French friend (I befriended in Sydney, Australia), in front of one of the Gaumont cinemas, at the Champs-Élysées, in Paris (8th September 2009)
The night before I left Paris, France. Haven’t returned since.

I loved hanging out around the Champs-Élysées, such a beautiful location, with it’s wide walkways, lined up with trees, leading up to the Arc de Triomphe. Especially being a film buff I was a frequent visitor to the Champs-Élysées, whilst living in Paris, for there are two Gaumont Cinemas, on either side of the broad boulevard. Got to watch some great European & Hollywood films. I went to the cinemas near the Palais Garnier (Opera House), as well. Another beautiful spot, with the Opera House, and the Galeries Lafayette (a posh department store) et al. But I love the whole atmosphere, and the feel, with the hustle and bustle of the walkways, of the Champs-Élysées. On 14th July 2008, I went to watch the Bastille Day parade, at the Champs-Élysées as well.

(ii) Along the River Seine

Along the River Seine, Paris (September 2008)

Along the River Seine, Paris (September 2008)

Along the River Seine, in Paris (August 2009)

Along the River Seine, in Paris (August 2009)

Along the River Seine, Paris (August 2009)

Along the River Seine, Paris (August 2009)

Being a romantic at heart, I can just lose myself walking along the River Seine. It’s just so beautiful, with all those old bridges, ancient brick roads, aesthetically appealing historic architecture, on either side of the river, passing tiny avenues, and the old street vendors, selling old books and souvenirs of Paris, and the fresh clean air. Best to walk alone along these streets, to enjoy oneself. Just get lost in yourself, it’s Poetic Justice, in a positive sense, that is. It’s pure heaven!!!!!

(iii) The Louvre

At the Egyptian Gallery The Louvre, Paris (July 2008)

At the Egyptian Gallery
Louvre, Paris (July 2008)

Under the Glass Pyramid  With my sister, and her husband, when they visited Paris (Spring 2009) The Louvre, Paris (April 2009)

Under the Glass Pyramid
With my sister, and her husband, when they visited Paris (Spring 2009)
Louvre, Paris (April 2009)

With a self-portrait of Eugène Delacroix Louvre, in Paris (May 2009)

With a self-portrait of Eugène Delacroix
Louvre, in Paris (May 2009)

Being an artist as well, I’ve visited this famous museum only four times (it’s free every first Sunday of the month). And yet I never got a chance to complete every nook and corner of this beautiful building, in itself, not to mention, the well maintained, collection of art work from around the globe. The Louvre is my second favourite, yet most visited, Museum in the French capital. My favourite museum happens to be Musée d’Orsay, but I’ve only visited it twice. And I’ve visited other various Art Galleries and Museums in Paris as well. Thus, not just the Louvre, but I can say that the Parisienne museums in the general sense, could be another great hangout, but it’s specifically the Louvre, I enjoyed hanging out in the most, even though I love the Musée d’Orsay more.

2nd 3.
My trio of all time favourite French Films

(i) Jules et Jim (1962)
Jules et Jim (Special Post on France) 3-3-3-3 Photographic PosterMy all time favourite piece of French cinema. Directed by François Truffaut, and starring Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, and Henri Serre, this French New Wave classic, is also among my TOP-10 all time favourite movies. An epic saga spanning over 3 decades, happens to be one of my favourite tragic romances ever. Truffaut was a genius. An excellent love triangle, involving two best friends (an Austrian & a Frenchman), both of whom fall for the same French beauty, with a serene looking smile.
Also see my lists The Essential 60’s (Top 60) (pictorial tribute) and Why I love …. (list of critiques), from January 2012, and November/December 2012, respectively, on IMDB.

(ii) Les Enfants du Paradis (1945)
Les Enfants du ParadisOne of the most beautiful epics ever made. Les Enfants du Paradis, directed by Marcel Carné, made with great difficulty during the second World War, and set in the backdrop of the French Theatre during the 19th century, is France’s answer to America’s Gone with the Wind (1939).
Also see my post Children of Paradise: The French Epic from last year (July 2014).

(iii) Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (1964)
Les Parapluies de CherbourgOne of my favourite musicals ever. Directed by Jacques Demy, this romantic 60’s movie, set in the late 50’s, is about a young unmarried pregnant girl, separated from her lover (who’s gone to fight for the French, during the Algerian war), having no news of his whereabouts, she has to come to a crucial decision for the wellbeing of her unborn child. Love this classic. Love Catherine Deneuve!!!!
Also see my post Being mesmerised by ‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg from August 2013.

3rd 3
My trio of favourite holiday destinations, in France (outside Paris)

(i) The French Riviera (Côte d’Azur)

Beaulieu-sur-mer, South of France  (July 2009)

Beaulieu-sur-mer, South of France (July 2009)

Beaulieu-sur-mer, South of France (July 2009) On the way to Monaco

Beaulieu-sur-mer, South of France (July 2009)
On the way to Monaco

On Bastille Day (14th July 2009) Villefranche-sur-mer, South Of France

On Bastille Day (14th July 2009)
Villefranche-sur-mer, South Of France

Of course, the most beautiful warm holiday resort I’ve ever been to. With it’s rocky mountains, pebbled beaches and luxurious backdrops, the French Riviera is a class apart. Very expensive though, I practically starved. But unlike Paris, where I loved living in, I cannot see myself residing in the Côte d’Azur. I’ll miss the city too much. But it’s no doubt a perfect holiday resort, to take some time off, and just chill. Next time, if and when, I get a chance to visit the south of France again, I should have a load of money saved up, so that I don’t end up poverty ridden by the end of it.

(ii) Le Mont Saint-Michel

Mont St. Michel, Normandy (September 2008)

Mont St. Michel, Normandy (September 2008)

In front of the chapel, on top of Mont St. Michel, in Normandy (September 2008)

In front of the Chapel, on top of Mont St. Michel, in Normandy (September 2008)

Inside Mont St. Michel, Normandy (September 2008)

Inside Mont St. Michel, Normandy (September 2008)

Off the northern coast of France, in Normandy, is an island entirely made up of a steep granite hill, with a black clay based beach, surrounding it. One of the most beautiful ancient citadels I’ve ever visited. Mont St. Michel, is part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

(iii) Giverny

Claude Monet's Garden  Giverny, France (August 2008)

Claude Monet’s Garden
Giverny, N. France (August 2008)

Claude Monet's Home & Gardens Giverny, N. France (August 2008)

Claude Monet’s Home & Gardens
Giverny, N. France (August 2008)

With a Classic Sports Car Giverny, N. France (August 2008)

With a Classic Sports Car
Giverny, N. France (August 2008)

Being an artist, how can I not mention Giverny, where the late Impressionist Artist, of the 19th & early 20th century, Claude Monet’s, house and gardens are located. A must see for any artist, florist and anyone with a sense, or even a tiny streak, of artistry, in them. Also a must see for artists, are Monet’s paintings housed at the Musée d’Orsay (mentioned earlier) – an old railway station, that existed from the beginning of the 20th century up to the late 1930’s, and transformed into, primarily, an impressionist Art Gallery, in Paris, in the 1980’s

Last (4th) 3.
My trio of favourite, French born, French film stars

(i) Catherine Deneuve
Catherine DeneuveBeen a fan of hers, since like ever. This 71 year old actress is no doubt my all time favourite French celebrity. Having started her cinematic journey in the late 50’s, Deneuve had two film releases this year, and has no plans of retiring from the film industry, any time soon.

(ii) Alain Delon
Alain DelonI first discovered the existence of Alain Delon, at the turn of the century. Since then have seen quite a lot of, this 79 year old star’s, great movies; and have loved him, in everything I’ve seen him in. But I haven’t really watched any of his movies, he’s acted in, in his old age. His last film appearance, so far, was in 2012.

(iii) Marion Cotillard
Marion Cotillard (Special Post on France) 3-3-3-3Back in 2007, whilst living in Sydney, I watched the film Love Me If You Dare (2003), when it was shown on a local channel there. I thought she looked beautiful, and she was a good actress, and the film was really good as well, and that was that. Then mid-2007, the Édith Piaf bio-pic, La Vie en Rose (2007), starring Marion Cotillard, in the lead, as Piaf, was released, in Australia. I went to watch it, ‘cause I’ve been a fan of Édith Piaf’s beautiful song, ever since I watched Audrey Hepburn’s rendition of Piaf’s La Vie en Rose in Sabrina (1954), when I was a teenager, back in 1994, whilst living in New Delhi, India. By the turn of this century, I was aware who Édith Piaf was. Thus Piaf was my motivation behind watching La Vie en Rose, and not Cotillard. But Cotillard did such a brilliant job, she was Piaf incarnate. I was instantly hooked by her brilliant performance, and Cotillard became my favourite French movie star from 21st century. Born in 1975, she’s my age, practically (she’ll turn 40 later, in September, this year). At the Oscars, in 2008, she bagged the ‘Best Actress’ trophy for her role in La Vie en Rose. Returning home from work, I just managed to switch on the television to see her name being announced as that year’s winner. I was delighted. And since then I’ve see quite a few of her movies, both from France and Hollywood. Am really keen on checking out her most recent, British venture, Macbeth (2015), where she plays Lady Macbeth, and which was released at the Cannes Festival a couple of months ago (May 2015). Also see my write-up, paying tribute to Édith Piaf, Édith Piaf: 50th Death Anniversary, from a couple of years ago.

So here you are, my foursome of 3’s, honouring my 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks & 3 days, of blogging, till date, as well the French National day, in my own way.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense
Nuwan Sen and the French Republic

 

Congratulations!!!!!______

Palme d’Or Winner - French Director, Jacques Audiard

Palme d’Or Winner – French Director, Jacques Audiard

I waited last night, till past midnight (here), to catch the news on who won what, and to find out who/which film grabbed the coveted Palme d’Or, this year. I switched to France 24, just in time, and saw Film Critic, Lisa Nesselson, speak about how her jaw dropped in horror, when she heard who had won. An unpleasant surprise. And she mentioned how she was looking for her jaw in the ground, when she came on air. Coincidentally, I had a similar reaction, just a few minutes before she stated thus, when I watched the Breaking News strip running below, on France 24, state, that Dheepan (2015), directed by Jacques Audiard, had grabbed the Palme d’Or this year. I heard myself gasp, with an inaudible WHAT??? Lisa Nesselson mentioned that this French Film, dealing with the immigration issue, wasn’t her favourite movie, and though, as I haven’t watched it, and thus can’t really judge, I felt Dheepan was the least impressive seeming movie, in-competition, this year. And I never thought it shall end up garnering any accolade, let alone, the most prestigious prize in the international film scene. I guess it might have something good in it. Yet, am not that crazy about watching it. But if I do come across it, I might give it a try.

Vincent Lindon won the ‘Best Actor’ award for the French Film, La Loi du Marché (2015), and the ‘Best Actress’ recognition went to two actresses, a tie, between, Rooney Mara for Carol (2015), and Emmanuelle Bercot for Mon Roi (2015). The ‘Best Director’ award went to Chinese director, Hsiao-Hsien Hou, for Nie yin Niang (2015), a.k.a. The Assassin (in English).
Cannes 2015 WinnersThe Grand Prix was awarded to the Hungarian movie, Son of Saul (2015). Enumenical Jury Prize was awarded to the Italian movie, Mia Madre (2015). Jury Prize’s went to, the British film, The Lobster (2015), and the Croatian film, Zvizdan (2015). Un Certain Regard Prize went to Film Director, Grímur Hákonarson, for the Icelandic Film, Hrútar (2015). Film Director, Neeraj Ghaywan, and Film Director Ida Panahandeh, were awarded a Special Prize for Promising Future, for the Indian movie, Masan (2015) and the Iranian movie, Nahid (2015), respectively. Legendary Film Directress, Agnes Varda, was awarded the honorary, Palme d’Honneur, for Year 2015!!!!!

Being a big Highsmith fan (though I have only read two of her books, The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train), I was rooting for Carol; which is based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, am yet to read; to gain some sort of recognition. Thus the highlight of the Cannes Festival this year, for me, was Rooney Mara, winning (though having to share her honour with Emmanuelle Bercot) the ‘Best Actress’ award. Carol was also awarded the Queer Palm Award.

Marion Cotillard in a scene from Macbeth (2015) Inset: Marion Cotillard with co-star Michael Fassbender.

Marion Cotillard in a scene from Macbeth (2015)
Inset: Marion Cotillard with co-star Michael Fassbender.

Being a Literature Buff, as much as a Cinema Buff (and more specifically, when it comes to the Bard, the 16th century literary genius, Shakespeare), I was disappointed that Macbeth (2015) didn’t win anything. And, was even more so disappointed, when Macbeth’s lead actress, Marion Cotillard, who’s continuously appeared in Cannes contenders, for quite sometime now, didn’t bag the ‘Best Actress’ trophy, this year.

None the less, all’s well that ends well, and Cannes 2015 has been a spectacular event, which I unfortunately wasn’t part of, living up to it’s, high heeled, classy standard.

Thus, until next year, farewell my lovely film festival. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
 2015 (Special)

Some of the Films In-Competition, at The 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival, held this month, this year(May 2015).

Some of the Films In-Competition, at The 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival, held this month, this year (May 2015).

The Cannes Film Festival is coming to an end, the jury is locked away somewhere, and no more official screenings are going on. The results of this international Film Festival held in the fashionable French Riviera, will be announced tonight. As a film fanatic, am waiting in anticipation, as to who’ll win what, and who (which movie) shall take home the coveted Palme d’Or, the highest honour, in the international arena of Cinema.

Meanwhile, below are a few highlights, through pictures, of the 68th Cannes Film Festival, held in this warm month of May, Year 2015.

The 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival (Day 1) - Opening Ceremony (May 2015)

The 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival (Day 1) – Opening Ceremony (May 2015)

Simple & Sophisticated:  Jane Fonda in a white suit at the Cannes Film Festival 2015

Simple & Sophisticated: Jane Fonda in a white suit at the Cannes Film Festival (May 2015)

Gayish Charm: Young Canadian Film Director/Actor, Xavier Dolan (one of the Jury members this year) was dressed up to suit both, the classy status of the reputed Cannes Film Festival, as well as his own flamboyant personality, at Cannes (May 2015).

Gayish Charm: Young Canadian Film Director/Actor, Xavier Dolan (one of the Jury members this year) was dressed up to suit both, the classy status of the reputed Cannes Film Festival, as well as his own flamboyant personality (May 2015).

Actress, Rooney Mara, Film Director, Todd Haynes & Actress, Cate Blanchett, at the screening of their collaboration, Carol (2015), the Cannes Film Festival (May 2015).

Highsmith Trio: Actress, Rooney Mara, Film Director, Todd Haynes & Actress, Cate Blanchett, at the screening of their collaboration, Carol (2015), the Cannes Film Festival (May 2015).

Bollywood @ Cannes: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor & Katrina Kaif, aping Hollywood styles (May 2015).

Bollywood @ Cannes: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor & Katrina Kaif, aping Hollywood styles (May 2015).

Oozing Sexuality: Marion Cotillard (wrapped around in an expensively Bejeweled mini towel dress) & Michael Fassbender (in a dashing tuxedo)  yesterday at the premiere of Macbeth (2015), at The 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival (May 2015).

Oozing Sexuality: Marion Cotillard (wrapped around in an expensively bejeweled mini towel dress) & Michael Fassbender (in a dashing tuxedo) yesterday evening, at the premiere of Macbeth (2015), at The 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival (May 2015).

Waiting in anticipation, to see which movie, from which country, in which language, shall receive the honour of winning the Golden Palm (Palme d’Or) this year. And wondering, when I’ll get a chance to enjoy, these honoured selection of films.

Also see my Palme d’Or list titled Palme d’Or Winners – from the past, that I’ve watched so far on IMDB, from last night.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
 2015

Tweets from yesterday, today & tomorrow

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

On the Ides of March (15th March), 2015, my maternal grandmother, known simply as Attammi to us (among all her grandkids), passed away. She was 93 years old.

Attammi in a wheelchair. This was the last Picture I took of Attammi (24th June 2014)

Attammi in a wheelchair. This was the last Picture I took of Attammi (24th June 2014)

Was it a shock? A sad surprise? Not really, we were sort of prepared for it, as she had been ill for sometime now. But still, is anyone ever really ready, no matter how anticipated. It’s still sad. When I heard mum that morning, on the phone, speaking about a peaceful death, a chill ran through my spine. I felt it was my beloved Attammi. Still I preferred to believe I might be mistaken. Then mum told me the news. I wasn’t shocked, I had felt it a minute or so ago. We spoke about her for a little while. Neither of us shed a tear, but the pain of her loss was within us. Then Suddenly mum said she needed to cry. I told her to please do. She did, reducing her pain a little, but I still couldn’t. Mum & sis left that day itself, on Sunday. It was the next morning, I finally shed a few tears, before leaving. Dad & I, left for Veyangoda, on Monday morning, the day of the funeral. Once I saw Attammi lying there, peaceful in her coffin, I felt a bit better. I haven’t cried till now. But have been pensively reflecting on all the great memories I shared with her, and planning on working on this tribute to her long journey from an angelic little girl, to her great love marriage, to her philanthropic work for the Kegalle hospital, to letting her two elder daughters travel abroad, to travelling abroad herself, to becoming a mischievous Grandmamma, to accepting the changing modern world through her grandchildren, to losing the great love of her life (her husband) to an accident, to witnessing her grandkids marriages, to turning into a Great Grandmother. She had a beautiful long life, full of ups and downs and survival.

Attammi & I On Attammi's 90th Birthday (18 Jan 2012)

Attammi & I
On Attammi’s 90th Birthday (18 January 2012)

Mini-Bio, Memories & Timeline
(avec excerpts from Atta’s personal ‘Diary of Events’)

Attammi made her entrance into this world, in the Roaring 20’s, in Ceylon, under the British Raj, as Leelawathie (Leela) Dissanayake, to James and Julie Dissanayake, on the 18th of January, 1922. Much loved as a baby, unlike most little ones, she was considered a, non-mischievous, saint of a child. Growing up surrounded by eight siblings, she was the second child and the elder daughter.

Attammi’s parents having eloped, they were estranged from Attammi’s mother’s relatives for a period of time. The first time Attammi met her cousin, my maternal grandfather (Atta to us), was when she was just beginning her teens. Attammi’s mother, was the younger sister, of Atta’s father. But since Attammi’s mother, Julie, had run off and married in secret, Atta’s father had cut her off from his life. It’s hard to say whether the brother and sister ever reconciled, but it took more than a decade or so for Atta’s father to soften down enough to allow any interaction among the cousins (after all blood is thicker than water), and thanks to which my grandparents finally met. For Atta and Attammi, it was love at first sight. Sounds cheesy in today’s non-romantic, digital age, cyber sexed, universe, but it’s true. My maternal grandparents were the most romantic couple I ever knew in real life.

– Silent Love Story

Atta met his first cousin, Wije (Attammi’s elder brother), for the very first time, in 1935. Soon a friendship developed and one day on a visit to Bandarawella, Wije’s family home, Atta was introduced to Wije’s sister (Atta’s future wife). Atta was just 15, and Attammi just 13. A Ceylonese Romeo and Juliet. On the 14th of January 1936, Atta (aged 16) wrote on his diary how madly he was in love with her, but never mentioned it, as he felt they were too young. A couple of years later, when he was 18, he told his father. His father asked him to abandon this insanity. Thus Atta decided not to pursue it any further, but, in his heart, he always held a “soft corner for this girl”, as he stated in his diary (See excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events). In 1939, Atta was recruited into the Army (British controlled Armed forces of Ceylon), with advent of the Second World War.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

Meanwhile, Attammi, waited to hear from Atta, but kept her love for him to herself. Almost a decade went by without her mentioning anything to anyone, but secretly pined for the young man she fell madly in love with, as a 14 year old, her first and only love. In her early 20’s, as proposals started to come her way of fine young suitors, she rebuffed them all. Finally she told her younger brother, Pragne, about her secret crush. Pragne wrote to Atta, letting him know, that my grandmother was still holding on to hope for a future with him. And that if Atta is not interested, to let her know, so that she can move on. Atta was pleasantly surprised, for though he had been in love with her, he never knew she had felt the same. He had barely spoken to her. In January 1944, Atta let his father know, that he truly loved this girl, he barely knew, and was finally granted permission to woo her. My grandparents briefly courted, for a few years, whenever they could meet (as they lived quite a distance to each other, and travel within the island was comparatively more of a hassle, and was slower in speed). Atta lived in Mayfield, and Attammi in Bandarawella. Soon ‘D-Day’ was here, and the long awaited romantics, finally got married on the 10th of July, 1947. And thanks to this beautiful union, my mum is in existence today, and in turn us.

Atta & Attammi on their wedding day.  (10th  July 1947)

Atta & Attammi on their wedding day.
(10th July 1947)

Being a couple of modernists, in their day and age, Attammi was one of the rare brides, to incorporate the traditional Kandyan saree, along with a western veil. And back then it wasn’t a controversy, thanks to the open-minded elite, of that day and age. But in more recent times, in the late 1990’s and the early noughties, to be more specific, with the increasing rate of hypocrisy in this country, along with a fake sense patriotism that exists today, and false pride of being Sri Lankan, a lot of Lankan’s seem  horrified that anyone could dare to wear the traditional Kandyan with an English inspired veil, and that too back in 1940’s. My Grandfather wore a three-piece suit, but that’s acceptable, in this sexist minded country, of the 21st century. I, for one, am proud, to be a descendant of such an intelligent Grandfather, and such a kind-hearted Grandmother (I have never met a gentler soul), and their rare perfect union, with a modern outlook towards life. In a way, though sad, am glad they are no more, to experience, this inhumane extremist society, of racial and religious divisions, and jealousy (after all it’s considered a GREEN country, and not necessarily due to the environment), narrow minded attitudes, with the kind of Hitler mentality (minus the power, thank god) that exists today, in a country that my Grandparents use to hold in such high regard once. They had a peaceful co-existence of a near perfect companionship of contentment, living happily, through majority of the 20th century, and being able to witness the start of the 21st.

– Atta

The year 1920 began, with the birth of my maternal grandfather (Atta). Atta was born as Ekanayake Mudiyanselage Ariyachandra Ekanayake (later simply known as Ariya Ekanayake), in British Ceylon, on the 1st of January, 1920, to James and Agnes Ekanayake. Atta’s mother was a widow with a daughter, when James Ekanayake fell in love with her. James and Agnes married on 4th December 1912. Yet it would be seven years, and almost a month, later, that James would finally become a father for the first time, with Atta’s birth. Atta hardly got to know his mother, as on the 8th of March, 1922, when Atta was just two years old, his mother died, due to postnatal complications, four days after giving birth to a baby girl. Atta’s father later re-married, and the Atta’s step-mother lived up to her status of a being a real ‘stepmother’. She deeply disliked all three of her stepchildren. Besides Atta’s elder half-sister, from his mother’s first marriage, Atta had quite a few younger half-siblings from his father’s second marriage. Some, not all, of his half-siblings, were pretty much like their mother. Atta as the eldest son was obliged to help and make his younger siblings happy in every way possible, and spent majority of his life taking care of every single need of his ungrateful half-siblings, who never seemed satisfied. Relatives sure can be poisonous sometimes. I personally don’t believe in  associating family just for namesake. If there is no genuine friendship within the family, such family members are definitely not worth it. I had a great rapport with both Atta & Attammi, more than any other grandchild of theirs shared with them.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

In April 1932, when Atta was 12 years old, his paternal grandfather died, at the Kandy hospital. It was at his grandfather’s funeral that Atta met his aunt (his father’s estranged younger sister, Attammi’s mother) for the very first time. In August 1932, Atta’s “father took up billet at Mayfield” estate. It’s in Mayfield that Atta would later meet his first cousin (Attammi’s elder brother) in April 1935. Atta’s unkind stepmother, started to suffer mentally in the early 1930’s, and soon was admitted to a Metal hospital in April 1933.

– WW-II & post

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

Aged 19, Atta joined the Army, and with the start WW-II, his “battery took charge of Hoodstower and Ostenburg at Trincomalee”. Atta describes this time of his life as the “worst period” of his “army life”. In October 1943, he was sent to Bombay (now Mumbai), in India, for Coast Artillery training. This is a period he loved, and has told me personally, how much he enjoyed his stay in Bombay, befriending a lot of foreigners. He competed with many Indians, Anglo-Indians and Burmese, and beating them all, was ranked 1st in his course. After he left the army, Atta temporally worked as a clerk, and later trained in the Health Unit’s sanitary department, and took up a job as a Sanitary Inspector. As he disliked this job, he resigned a couple of months after he got married. And in October 1947, he “took up appointment in the CGR” (Ceylon Government Railway). For which he worked for the rest of his life till he retired.

(All lines within double quotes, are straight from Atta’s ‘Diary of Events’.)

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

– Independence & post   

On the 15th of August, 1947, the neighbouring country, India gained independence from the British (see my post Sixty Six years of Indian Independence from August 2013), making India the first British colony to do so. As a result of which, various other British colonies started to gain independence as well. And Ceylon became an independent country the following year, in 1948.

Whilst working for the CGR, Atta was transferred many a times to various locations in Ceylon. My grandparents and mother, have oft spoken about the great times they had, their wonderful experiences, living in beautiful bungalows, making newer friends, from various parts of the country, as they travelled around. ’twas almost like working for a diplomatic mission, but instead of travelling around the globe, they got to travel around the country.

Yet, in October 1948, when Atta was transferred to Colombo, his wife couldn’t accompany him. Attammi was in her first trimester of her pregnancy, expecting their first child, my mother. Atta had written in his diary, as how difficult it had been for him, to leave his pregnant wife. Luckily he was in Colombo for only a very short period of four months. Soon he was transferred to Nawalapitiya, on the 1st of February, 1949, and Attammi joined him on the 7th of February, 1949. Thus on the 24th of May, 1949, my mother came into this world, as Lalitha Damayanthi Ekanayake (a.k.a. Lala, Lala-Damayanthi & Dammi) in Nawalapitiya, and Ariya & Leela Ekanayake’s life as devoted parents began.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

Throughout the 1950’s, wherever Atta was based, his whole family travelled,  living in various locations around the island, from Nawalapitiya To Haputale to Induruwa to Kosgoda. But as the children started to grow older, Atta felt they should have one base, especially as not to break their education, by changing schools. Thus he built a house, and on 3rd January, 1961, they moved into their new permanent home, in Kegalle. So throughout the 60’s and 70’s, the family lived in Kegalle, along with their family pet, or rather my mother’s dog, whom she named ‘Tiny’. Since then, Atta travelled alone wherever he was required to do so. And therefore my mother studied at St. Josephs Convent, in Kegalle, along with her two younger sisters.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

India became a Republic on 26th January 1950. Yet it took another 22 years for Ceylon to become a republic, and the island did so, on 22nd May 1972, and was renamed as Sri Lanka. Yet Sri Lankans have not much of a regard for it’s republic day, as they have for their day of independence.

– History repeats itself.  

Like Atta & Attammi, my parents met for the first time, when they were teenagers. Mum was about 15, and dad was a couple of years older than her. Mum had fallen madly in love with him. She didn’t see him again, as a teen, except for briefly coming across him once more in the 60’s. In her early 20’s, the two older sisters (my mum and her younger sister) overheard Atta mention that they were of marriageable age. My mum having no desire to marry; as she wanted to do a job, and higher studies, plus she had a secret crush on my dad, whom she hadn’t seen in ages; wasn’t too happy about it. My mother’s sister, wrote to my father, who was residing in New Delhi, India, with his family by then, letting him know, and apologised in advance if he had someone else in his life. My father in the meantime, had broken up with his Indian girlfriend. And he accepted. My parents didn’t really court, as they were residing in two different countries, but wrote to each other regularly. It would be a couple of years later, that they would see each other, all set to marry. When my mum first saw him as an adult, in 1973, she was shocked. He had long floppy hair, long sideburns, wearing a tight shirt, and bellbottoms. He looked like a hippie and definitely not, the man she had fallen in love with. Atta told my father, that if my father wishes to marry Atta’s daughter, he ought to cut his hair. He did so. And thus on the 10th of December, 1973, my parents wed. And my mum was Mrs. Senadhira now.

Atta & Attammi, with My Parents :- Top: On my Parents wedding day (10th December 1973)  Below: On my Parents 25th Wedding Anniversary (December 1998)

Atta & Attammi, with My Parents :-
Top: On my Parents wedding day (10th December 1973)
Below: On my Parents 25th Wedding Anniversary (December 1998)

– Bharat Darshan  

Soon after the wedding, my parents left for New Delhi, India, in December 1973 itself.

On the night of 21st June 1975, Lala-Damayanthi went into labour, and 26 minutes past midnight (thus 22nd June early morning), with my birth, Atta & Attammi became grandparents, for the first time; ‘twas the longest day of the year. I was born in New Delhi, India.

Little ME: With my maternal Grandparents on my first Trip to Sri Lanka in 1976 (Me aged One)

Little ME: With my maternal Grandparents on my first Trip to Sri Lanka in 1976 (Me aged One)

Whilst, living in Delhi, we use to travel to Sri Lanka a lot, especially during the Indian Summer holidays (May-June-July), or, during Delhi’s Winter Vacation (December-January). I travelled to Sri Lanka for the first time, during the Winter Vacation of 1976, aged one. Atta & Attammi, however visited India twice in the 70’s. First time was before I was born, and next was in 1978, when I was three years old. Being Buddhists, we all travelled to all the Buddhist destinations in India and Nepal.

My maternal Grandparents Second trip to India. Atta & Attammi, my parents & I, in New Delhi, India, in 1978.

My maternal Grandparent’s Second trip to India. Atta & Attammi, my parents & I, in New Delhi, India, in 1978.

Attammi has often reminisced about her two trips to India. Atta had been so proud of my mum. My mother was working at All India Radio (A.I.R), at the time, as a Newsreader, Announcer & Translator, as did my father, who was also in charge of the Sinhala service at A.I.R. Attammi told me how happy she felt, when my mum took her to see the red bricked round offices, and Attammi described the circular stairway, inside the building. I envy her, for I haven’t seen the inside of A.I.R. It’s a stylish Office building. Added to which my parents had a very international group of friends, including Indians, Chinese, Burmese, Thai, Russian, French, Tanzanians, et al, who worked for their respective stations at A.I.R. We lived at Asia House Flats at the time. My mum has always maintained, that those were the best years of her life.

My maternal Grandparents, Mum & I (a three year old me seated on our first car and shielding the sun from my eyes) in front of India Gate, New Delhi, India in 1978.

My maternal Grandparents, Mum & I (a three year old me seated on our first car and shielding the sun from my eyes) in front of India Gate, in New Delhi, India, in 1978.

Attammi also told me once, how when one day Attammi and I were alone at home, I had asked for Pani (water in Hindi). She had no idea what I needed, and kept showing me various stuff, toys, clothes et al. I just kept asking for Pani. A little while later, the cleaning woman had come, and when I asked for Pani, had poured me a glass of water. Attammi said that she felt so bad, that she had assumed the three year old little innocent kid was desperately in want of some materialistic object, and never guessed he was just thirsty. Due to this incident she would remember the term Pani, for the rest of her life.

India had been Attammi’s first trip abroad, and she was one of the few people I know, who held beautiful memories of her two trips there, and being able to see my mum happily settled in New Delhi, was an added bonus, for both Atta & Attammi.

On the 20th of October, 1980, my pretty little baby sister was born, in New Delhi, India. She was a tiny pink baby, named Sachinta (Sachi) Senadhira. Atta & Attammi became grandparents for a second time, and this was their first granddaughter.

Two Mothers & Two Daughters L-R: Attammi, my sister Sachi, and my mum, at Mum's home (PIX: October 2011)

Two Mothers & Two Daughters
L-R: Attammi, my sister Sachi, and my mum, at Mum’s home (PIX: October 2011)

In 1983, as all of Atta & Attammi’s children (except for mum, who was in Delhi) were moving towards Colombo, Atta decided to move to a closer proximity to Colombo, themselves, yet live in a place, they could enjoy the relaxation of country life. Thus he sold off their house in Kegalle, and all the land, including Paddy fields, he owned in Uttuwangkanda, for a very minimal fee, to the workers of the fields, and he had already, in the past, let the caretaker, build a house for himself, in a plot of land, for free. Atta got a earful, for doing so, from certain half-sisters, who felt he should have given it to them instead of doing the poor workers a favour. Ahg!! Toxic relatives!!! Atta never condemned their behaviour, and let his step-mother, and her kids, treat him badly all his life. Of course, all of Atta & Attammi’s parents, were dead and gone by the 1980’s, including Atta’s Step-mom.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

Having left their beautiful home in Kegalle, on the 4th of February, 1983, Atta purchased a nice looking property, in Veyangoda. Almost two weeks later, on the 17th of February, 1983, my grandparents, along with their son, moved into their new home, where Atta & Attammi, lived for the rest of their lives. Their son, and his family, are the current occupants of the Veyangoda house.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

In the same year, 1983, in the month of September, my father joined the mission (the Sri Lankan High Commission, in New Delhi, India), as a Third Secretary, which was the beginning of his diplomatic career.

– Getting to know my Grandparents better

As a child, my maternal grandparents, like my paternal grandparents, were Achchi & Seeya. Achchi meaning Grandmother, and Seeya meaning Grandfather, in Sinhala. In 1988, we came to live in Sri Lanka, from New Delhi, India, for good. Soon, my sister and I were admonished against calling our maternal grandparents Achchi & Seeya anymore, as all our younger cousins called them Attammi & Atta. We obliged and loved calling them Attammi & Atta. So for the first 12½ years who were Achchi & Seeya, to me, their eldest grandchild, were now Atta (Grandpa) & Attammi (Grandma). We didn’t mind, and thought it cool, to be able differentiate the two pairs of grandparents, like it’s done in India. In the Hindi language, Dadaji & Dadima, are paternal grandparents, and Nanaji & Nanima, are maternal grandparents. So our Nana & Nani, were Atta & Attammi, since 1988 to eternity.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

In 1988, my parents bought a plot of land, and built a house, and we moved in January 1990. And have been living here, on no.56, Siripura, since then (except whenever we lived abroad). The day we moved into our new house was one of the happiest days of Atta’s life, as he felt we were settled down. My mother having her own house to her name, was a relief for Atta. And it is my mother who has lived in this house the most. The rest of us have lived abroad on and off, while, except for in 1994 (when we all – my parents, sister & I – went back to live in New Delhi, India, together as a family, for a year), she only travelled abroad on holiday.

As I was coming of age, these crucial years were unfortunately spent mainly in Sri Lanka (12½  to 18½ years of age), yet on the plus side, it was during this period of my life I really got to know both pairs of grandparents, and other relatives. A few nice relatives, and many many ‘green’ ones, and very Sri Lankan (and definitely not in a good way). Today I have an allergic reaction to such people.

When I was 15 (a month away from turning 16), in May 1991, I sat for my GCE London O/Levels. Atta’s gift to me, for completing my O/L’s, was letting me read his massive personal Diary. That was the first time I came across this biographical work of his, and I really enjoyed his romantically penned down poetic prose. He had never let anyone touch this book till then, not even his children. Atta had two diaries; one massive one, written so eloquently; and another ‘Diary of Events’, in point form, marking essential events in his life. I have kept a few diaries, but not so systematically as he did. But I generally too, do, tend to mark down essential events, and being a film buff, all the movies I watch, on my calendar at least. I guess I get it from him. But I haven’t necessarily saved them all up. Today, I haven’t the faintest idea, as to what happened to the massive, very informative diary of Atta’s. But luckily, my mother did manage to locate, and save, Atta’s less descriptive ‘Diary of Events’, after his death, from which I have a few excerpts here, in this post. Of course I caught the writing bug from both sides of my family. My fathers side happens to be a family with a journalistic background, while my mother and her father (Atta), happen to be skilled in the aesthetic form of penning down their thoughts.

Excerpt from My Calender (March 2015)  Although not as systematically as Atta, in my own way, I too tend to mark down essential events in my life.

Excerpt from My Calender (March 2015)
Although not as systematically as Atta did, in my own way, I too tend to mark down essential events in my life, in my calendar at least.

In 1995; exactly 73 years after the death of Atta’s mother, due to complications relating to childbirth; on 8th March, 1995, my paternal Grandmother (Achchi) died at the Bangkok airport. She was residing in Australia by then, both my paternal grandparents having migrated down under, in the early 1990’s. Achchi came to Sri Lanka, on her own, for a holiday, and after spending a month with us, en route to Sydney, whilst on transit in Bangkok, Thailand, she suffered a heart attack. It took practically a week to get her body back to Sri Lanka. This was the loss of my very first  grandparent. It was on Attammi’s shoulder, 19½  year old me, cried on.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

By June 1996, I had got into Delhi University, in New Delhi, India. Atta and Attammi were delighted. Being their eldest grandchild (I happen to be the eldest grandchild, on both sides of my family), I was the first grandkid to get into college (University). I left in July 1996.

As I mentioned earlier, I was very close to my maternal grandparents. We shared very similar interests. Atta & I had a lot in common. Atta & I shared a love for English Literature (my mother too was a student of English Literature), classic cinema (Atta mostly loved Westerns, and since childhood, besides being a fan of films, I always had a thing for the cowboy look, with the cowboy hat, checked shirts, tight jeans, and boots, and I till date love to dress up like an American cowboy of the Old West, or try to come as close to it as possible (also see my post Holidaying in South Australia from November 2014) ), and we shared a love for old English songs like; She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain, Oh! Susanna, My Bonnie lies over the Ocean, Isle of Capri, Wooden Heart, Welcome to my world and What a Wonderful World; to name a few, and ballroom dance. As a young gentleman, he was member of an elite club, where he use to go ballroom dancing. He spoke about it often, how it was a form tap dance (not the metallic heel & toe styles of Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly/Debbie Reynolds/Donald O’Connor, Sammy Davis Jr. and/or  Gregory Hines). It was a form of dance, where the male would tap on the shoulder of another male on the dance floor, and step in as the next lead dance partner, to the female follower. Atta had danced with quite a few fair ladies back in the day, but he had a reputation of being a real gentleman. Attammi knew about his love for dance, and after marriage he took her with him. But Attammi wasn’t much of a dancer. Thus Atta stopped going to club altogether. If he couldn’t dance with his wife, he had no interest in dancing with anyone else. But he did dance, whenever there was a family get together. Though Atta & I shared a lot more in common, than Attammi & I, it was Attammi, I was closest to among all my relatives. I loved her dearly, and anyone who knew her even briefly, adored her almost as much.

Atta & Attammi, my sister & I, at Home (56, Siripura). Picture taken on my 20th B'day (22nd June 1995)

Atta & Attammi, my sister & I, at Home (56, Siripura). Picture taken on my 20th B’day (22nd June 1995)

– Attammi & I

Attammi was the kindest person I ever knew personally, and everyone who knew her, adored her, and she adored everyone she met. I don’t think she ever disliked anyone. She was one the most non-judgemental persons I knew. She was a great fan of, and had great respect for, the British monarchy, especially the late Queen mother (wife of King George VI, and the mother of Queen Elizabeth II & Princess Margaret), the reining Queen Elizabeth II and the late Princess Diana. She was also a fan of local actresses Rukmani Devi and Iranganie Serasinghe, lace, embroidery, Edwardian white lace dresses and colonial designs. Yet she knew how to move along with the times. She had her own fashion statement, which involved her trademark long necklace. She never liked to leave the house in the way she was dressed at home, though she was always neatly attired. She didn’t accept all changes, yet she was curious to learn of new trends. She liked the bouffant hairstyles of the 60’s, but wasn’t a fan of the mini-skirts, which was a craze in Sri Lanka in the 70’s. Except for my mum, practically every youngster Attammi knew wore mini-skirts in that decade (graceful or not), including her other two daughters. She didn’t like it, but she didn’t speak against it. She accepted women wearing pants though, and didn’t mind my mum wearing bellbottoms in the 70’s. She felt it was both fashionable and practical, and pretty decent at the same time. In fact once she told me she actually liked my mother’s trademark (casual) attire, with her short tunic style Indian Chikan Kurta’s with trousers/Jeans, that my mum has been wearing since the 70’s till date. A perfect blend of the east and west. Yet Attammi herself, never left her traditional Kandyan saree, her Malaysian inspired lungi’s and long gowns. The only thing she added to her wardrobe, was the Kaftan, in the early 80’s, for it was similar to her long gowns. Then the 1990’s came, she accepted the styles of her grandchildren. I remember, when I was 17, I ripped a pair of corduroy jeans, and I asked Attammi to stitch a few patches (on non-ripped areas, of course!). While mum was horrified at me ripping my pants, like a hippie, my grandmother was really excited with the project. She watched in awe, as I cut the two kneecaps, and below one butt, on the pants, slowly removing the horizontal threads, neatly loosening the vertical threads. Not only did she enjoy it, she gave me her own tips. She told me we could add bottle caps, make my pants look really flashy and cool. She was fun, and a great friend. In fact, as a teenager, I use to jokingly call her my ‘girlfriend’. She was no doubt my favourite grandparent.

We were so different, yet so alike. We had really interesting conversations. Of course we didn’t agree all the time. I wasn’t exactly a granny’s boy. After all I have my own brain. Yet we’d discuss and debate. She learnt to accept modernity. She didn’t understand modern art, especially my art, but understood there has to be something deeper and conceptual. She’d listen to reason, and not dismiss anything just because it’s new, yet she was very nostalgic of the good old days. Of course with the 21st century, she wasn’t a great fan of the kind of noisy music, jumping up and down kind of dance popular in this country today, nor did the digital age interest her. She definitely wasn’t a fan of rap, crap and hip-hop. A craze here today. She was a calm and peaceful person in general, and not a fan noise pollution. In fact her voice was hardly audible. We use to joke, what she might sound like when she needed to wisper. She was a person who loved to speak of the way she use to travel in tram cars and double-decker buses (both of which cease to exist here before I came into existence), and the old train journey. Yet in her old age, about a decade or so ago, she even rode on the back seat of a motorbike for the first time, with a helmet, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Tongue-in-Cheek: Attammi goes French, in a Beret, I brought from Paris (26th October 2008)

Tongue-in-Cheek: Attammi goes French, in a Beret, I brought from Paris (26th October 2008)

Attammi always enjoyed my blunt directness, especially when directed to narrow minded, hypocritical comments by Sri Lankans. I remember once when a woman in hippie style skirt & blouse (a terrible fad here), was talking nonsense as to women wearing pants, being indecent, and not being a Sri Lankan outfit et al. I mentioned that the skirt & blouse wasn’t a Sri Lankan outfit either. Attammi cracked up laughing. She was so glad I wasn’t like the present generation of Sri Lankans. Once I remember, standing in queue, in front of the Dalada Maligawa (Buddhist Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic), in Kandy. There was a board asking people not to wear pants inside the temple. I joked that maybe we should remove are trousers before we go in. Attammi started laughing. Though a very silent person, Attammi’s beautiful laughter was audible and very supportive. Of course the pants statement was directed at women. But the hypocrisy of it all, women are seen walking in bikini tops, and short skirts, inside the temple, and even the traditional Kandyan saree, some people wear it, with plenty of cleavage, open backs, belly popping, tops. And the traditional cloth & jacket, don’t even let me start. And the more conservative pant suits are considered indecent. That’s Sri Lanka. Thank God, that was never my grandparents. Though very traditional in attire (in a more decent fashion, than most so called traditionalist of this country), Attammi was very open-minded.

– Philanthropic acts of kindness

At Attammi's place, on the day of the  Veyangoda Dané (December 2008). A Dané she gives on every December Full Moon Day, since the 1980's. She is seen here with two of her creations. The table cloth, and the patchwork seat cover, all made by Attammi. She was superb in needle work craftsmanship.

At Attammi’s place, on the day of the Veyangoda Dané (December 2008). A Dané she use to give on every December Full Moon Day, since the 1980’s. She is seen here with two of her creations. The table cloth, and the patchwork seat cover, all made by Attammi. She was superb in needle work craftsmanship.

Since the early 1980’s, on (Unduvap Poya) full moon day, every December, she gave a Dané (Alms Giving), to about a 100 Síl attained laymen/laywomen, at a Buddhist temple, in Veyangoda, to commemorate Bhikkhuni Sangamitta’s arrival in Ancient Ceylon, in the 3rd century BC, along with a sampling of the Bo-tree, in Bodh Gaya, India, under which Prince Siddhartha Gautama is said to have attained enlightenment, and thus later known as Lord (Gautama) Buddha, whose teachings were the foundation of Buddhism. Bhikkhuni Sangamitta, daughter of Emperor Ashoka of India (304 BC – 232 BC), was the first Buddhist nun to visit this island. She was sent here, along with several other nuns, by the Indian Emperor, to start a lineage of nuns or Bhikkhunis (fully ordained female Buddhists). So Attammi was a feminist of sorts in her own right. Back in the 1960’s she helped patients at the Kegalle Hospital, by taking them meals and stitching clothes for the maternity ward, all by herself, and not for money. She helped the poor with food and clothing. She even gave up her own valuable time, along with Atta by her side, inserting herself, to help needy relatives. She was a practicing Buddhist. Though pretty devout, she accepted the fact that I am a free thinker, and that I didn’t blindly accept anything and everything, just because it was tradition, or stated in religion. But I never put down anyone’s religious beliefs either. She actually liked, I had a mind of my own, and my blend of practicality from the west, and sentimentality of the east. She liked the fact that I am very honest and direct, yet my capability to be diplomatic at the same time. She liked the fact I showed her respect, as my grandmother, at the same time, I could be open with her, as if she were a peer. A true friend.

– Atta’s Demise

The last time I saw Atta alive, was about a month before he died. I was working as a journalist (editorial staff), for a local newspaper then. I mentioned to him that I had applied to a University, in England, to do a Masters. He was pleased, but he gave me a worried look, and said that he was getting too old to worry now. I asked him, “what is there to worry, Atta?”. But that’s Atta, always worried for everyone he cares about. He was worried when my mother went to India in the 70’s , worried when his second daughter went to the middle east in the 70’s, worried when I went to India in the 90’s, worried when my sister went to India in the 90’s. He could never stop worrying.

On 15th May 2002, Atta paid a visit to someone who had taken ill. On his way back, a speeding car ran over him, killing Atta instantly. Atta was a very healthy, 82 year old, when he died. It was tragic, and a sudden shock for all of us. Although; as Atta was so dependant on Attammi; Attammi use to worry, if she were to die before he did, how he would manage on his own, she felt lost without him. And it would be sometime, before she could get on with her life again. Atta and Attammi, were one of those rare couples, that loved each other so much, that it was difficult to think of them, being able to go on living, without one another. Unfortunately for my sister, who was studying for her Bachelors in Delhi University, and had her final year exams at the time, could not attend Atta’s funeral. It was very difficult for her at the time. We let her know he passed away, but didn’t tell her how he died, until she got back.

Atta renewed his handwritten will, a numerous times, practically each decade. The first was in the 60's, and the last was closer to his death.

Atta renewed his handwritten will, a numerous times, practically each decade. The first was in the 60’s, and the last was closer to his death.

About the speeding car that killed my grandfather, that same vehicle had been involved in another accident, killing a young pedestrian, sometime before it killed my grandfather. The driver was a young man, who was a pilot trainee, at the time. Most Sri Lankans excused him, saying he must have been driving the car as if he were flying a plane. What a foolishly idiotic thing to say. If this man can’t handle driving a car carefully, how can he take the responsibility of flying a passenger jet, where the safety of hundreds of passengers is concerned. The man’s family offered us money, but we refused. What good was that. His pilot licence and driving licence should have been revoked. But no such thing has ever happened. In fact, he is still speeding along the streets, with a legal licence that allows him to do so. Welcome to Sri Lanka!!!!

But at least I get to write about it now. The pen is mightier than the sword. Or is it?? Definitely not in this country. A month after Atta’s death, I got my conditional offer letter, from the University of Luton. Even if he wasn’t alive to hear about it, at least I managed to tell him, I had applied for it. I left for England in September 2002.

– Moving along and finding newer reasons to rejoice

Few years after Atta’s death, Attammi finally learnt to let go, there were upcoming events, that would provide her with another reason to continue living. In May 2005, I came back to Sri Lanka, by now a post-graduate, having completed my first Masters, an MA in International Cinema (2002-2003), from the University of Luton, Luton, United Kingdom. Plus my sister was getting married.

Sachi’s wedding took place in our house, at 56, Siripura, on 19th May, 2005. Subsequently, Attammi’s various other grandchildren followed suit, and got married, within the next seven years. Unlike Atta, Attammi had the luck of seeing five of her grandchildren, out of eight, get married. Meanwhile, I went and lived in Sydney, Australia, for a couple of years, where I did a second masters, MA in Painting (2006-2007), at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. And later resided in Paris, France for almost a year. With new found happiness in Attammi’s life, and giving another shot at a will to live, till she was meant to go, Attammi even did a cataract operation, on both her eyes, in the latter half of her 80’s. She ended up being able to see better than any of her descendants. In fact we had to squint to see, what she could see afar. She spent her widowed life, dividing her time, staying at her various children’s homes for short periods of time. But she could never stay too long in one location. Soon she was to reach another milestone in her life.

Attammi & I at a cousin's (One of Attammi's granddaughter's) wedding (August 2010)

Attammi & I at a cousin’s (Attammi’s fifth grandchild’s/third eldest granddaughter’s) wedding (August 2010)

On the 10th of August, 2010, Attammi became a Great-Grandmother, for the first time. My first cousin (Attammi’s fourth grandchild, and second eldest granddaughter), gave birth to a baby girl. This is the first significant event in her life; from becoming a mother, to an in-law, to a grandparent, to a grandmother-in-law, to a great grandparent; that wasn’t related to our family, Lala Damayanthi’s husband and kids.

– Attammi, after turning 90.

On, 18th January 2012, Attammi celebrated her 90th Birthday. Year 2012, would be the last year, she’d be fit travel around.

It was really sad, when she fell ill. Back in December 2012, she fell down, near her bed, while trying to wear her slipper. She was rushed to the hospital, having broken her hip and leg. When I went to see her, she was delirious. She was lying in her ward bed, with a massive plaster on her leg, plucking imaginary flowers. She had no idea where she was, and of her surroundings. I walked up to her, bent down close to her ear, and slowly whispered “Attammi”. She suddenly jerked, stopping what she was doing, and looked at me, and a happy smile came over her tired face. She had recognised me. She asked me something pointing to the roof, and then lost herself to her imaginary world again. We stayed all night as her leg was being operated on, fitted with a metal plate on her thigh.

She soon recovered, and started walking with the help of a walker. I visited her as regularly as possible, which made her really happy, yet sad when we left. Ironically, on the Ides of March (15th of March), 2013, I wrote a blog post, in which I spoke of Atta as well, in regard to Shakespeare’s play on Julius Caesar, Caesar was killed on the Ides of March (see my post Beware, The Ides of March are upon us from a couple of years ago). Atta had been dead for 10 years and 10 months exactly, on 15th March 2013. I even read it to Attammi, back then. Who knew then, that a couple of years later, she’d die on the very same day.

She fell down several times, within the last two years. I saw her grow weaker, and this was the first time I witnessed a person deteriorate with age. She was just skin and bones, and mostly bedridden. Yet, she could manage to briefly sit up with great difficulty. The last time I took a photograph of hers, was in June 2014 (see PIX right at the top). The last time I saw her alive, was when I visited her in December 2014, on Unduvap Poya day, the day of the Dané that Attammi’s been giving since the 1980’s. That day I didn’t go with the others to the temple, but stayed behind with her, as did my mother and aunt. We (my parents, sister, her husband, & I) had travelled to Australia, back in November 2014. I showed Attammi the photographs of the trip on my blog, and spoke about Pam Achchi, Attammi’s sister-in-law (Pragne’s wife), who resides down there (see my post Holidaying in Australia, comes to an end from November 2014) et al. She even asked me about my blonde highlights, on my hair (for I have never tinted my hair prior to this). We had a nice chat, and a nice pleasant day. I never got to see her alive after that.

Atta & Attammi, in Good ol' days.

Atta & Attammi, in the Good ol’ days.

Coincidentally, both Atta & Attammi, died on a 15th day of a month, that too a month of which, the first two letters spell ‘Ma’. Atta died on 15th May 2002, and Attammi on 15th March 2015. 12 years and 10 months apart, exactly.

Attammi was one of the most selfless people I knew. She helped everyone and anyone she could, without expecting anything in return. It’s hard to believe she is no more. She didn’t leave us at once. She helped us get ready for her death. Instead of easing her pain, by dying suddenly, she suffered for about a year, bed ridden, lending us time to prepare. Even in death, this was a selfless act, on her part. It’s already been over 15 days, since her demise. I guess I have been dragging this blog post, ‘cause I wasn’t ready to let go. Once I finish this post, it feels as if it might be over. But I have to let go now. Can’t just sit here typing away. It’s time for me to say Goodbye to my darling Grandmother. She’s no more………………………………………….……………………………………………………………

With Attammi’s passing, now I have One Less reason to visit sri lanka, let alone live here, and Zero reason to ever go to veyangoda.

Attammi might have left this world, but her memories shall stay alive, within our hearts, till the end of our days, and maybe more.

With lots of love
A tribute to my most beloved Attammi, a true friend & confidant.
Your eldest Grandchild,
Nuwan Senadhira (a.k.a. Nuwan Sen)

Atta & Attammi’s Life through pictures

My Great Grandparents On the Left, Atta's parents. I'm not sure who the little girl, in front of Atta's mother,  in the picture is, or the Gent & Lady in the middle, nor the Gent standing on the right. The Lady seated, on the right, in an Edwardian attire,  is Attammi's Mother (Atta's father's sister), before she got married.

My Great Grandparents
On the Left, Atta’s parents.
I’m not sure who the little girl (squatting on the floor), in front of Atta’s mother, in the picture, is, or the Gent (standing) & Lady (seated) in the middle are, nor do I have any inkling, as to who, the Gent standing on the far right, is. The Lady seated, on the right, in an Edwardian lace attire, is Attammi’s Mother (Atta’s father’s sister), before she got married.

Attammi, in her younger days, in saree (Indian Style), before she got married.

Attammi, in her younger days, in a saree (Indian Style), before she got married.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events, from the latter the part of the 40's decade, leading up to his marriage, and post.

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events, mostly from the latter the part of the 40’s decade, leading up to his marriage, and post.

An invitation, from Attammi's parents, for an AT HOME, an informal social gathering, prior to my grandparents wedding.

An invitation, from Attammi’s parents, for an AT HOME, an informal social gathering, prior to my grandparents wedding.

My (maternal) Grandparents, on their wedding day (10th JULY 1947)

My (maternal) Grandparents, on their wedding day (10th JULY 1947)

Ariya & Leela get married (10th July 1947)

Ariya & Leela tie the knot (10th July 1947)

Atta & Attammi on their Wedding Day (10th July 1947)

Atta & Attammi on their Wedding Day (10th July 1947)

The newly married couple (my grandparents seated), with Attammi's younger brother, Pragne, standing behind.

The newly married couple (my grandparents – seated), with Attammi’s younger brother, Pragne, standing behind.

My Grandparents with my mum.

My Grandparents with my mum.

Mother & Daughter Attammi with her first child (my mom), when she was a baby.

Mother & Daughter
Attammi with her first child (my mom), when she was a baby.

Atta & Attammi. with their eldest daughter (my mom).

Atta & Attammi with their eldest daughter, Lala-Damayanthi (my mom).

Attammi with her two eldest children (my mum & her sister), in the early 50's.

Attammi with her two eldest children (my mum & her sister), in the early 50’s.

Atta & Attammi travelling with their two elder daughters (my mother & her younger sister), in the early 50's.

Atta & Attammi travelling around Ceylon, with their two elder daughters (my mother & her younger sister), in the early 50’s.

Brothers & Sisters : Attammi avec her siblings.

Brothers & Sisters
Attammi avec her siblings (She is seated, in a chair, on the right hand side).

Atta & Attammi, with all four of their children, in Kegalle.  My mum being the eldest, is seen standing in the middle in the back row, flanked by her two younger sisters, and her younger brother (the youngest in the family), standing in front of my mum.

Atta & Attammi, with all four of their children, in Kegalle (in Ceylon), in 1966.
My mum being the eldest, is seen standing in the middle in the back row, flanked by her two younger sisters, and her younger brother (the youngest in the family), standing in front of my mum.

Atta's entry in his Diary, the first time he became a proud Father-in-law (10th December 1973).  The Day his eldest daughter Lala-Damayanthi took the plunge.

Atta’s entry in his Diary of Events, the first time he became a proud Father-in-law (10th December 1973). The Day his eldest daughter Lala-Damayanthi took the plunge.

The Proud Parents, now turn In-Laws. My (maternal) Grandparents @ my parents wedding, in Kegalle (10th December 1973)

The Proud Parents, now turn In-Laws.
My (maternal) Grandparents @ my parents wedding, in Kegalle (10th December 1973)

Attammi, with her back turned, on her eldest daughter's wedding day.

Attammi, with her back turned, on her eldest daughter’s wedding day. The Ceremony took place in their home, in Kegalle.

Atta, with his back turned towards the couple, walking in the opposite direction, during his daughter & new son-in-law, Sugi's, wedding ceremony (10th December 1973).

Atta, with his back turned towards the couple, walking in the opposite direction, during his daughter & new son-in-law, Sugi’s, wedding ceremony (10th December 1973).

Atta & Attammi, with their first grandchild (Me aged one), on my first trip to Sri Lanka (1976).

Atta & Attammi, with their first grandchild (Me aged one), on my first trip to Sri Lanka (1976).

My Grandparents, parents & me (aged three), in New Delhi, India (when Atta & attammi came there for a holiday), in 1978.

My Grandparents, parents & me (aged three), in New Delhi, Capital of India, located in Northern India (when Atta & attammi came there for a holiday), in 1978.

Buddhist Pilgrimage Atta & Attammi, my parents & I, at Lord Buddha's birthplace, next to the base of the Ashoka Pillar, in Lumbini, Nepal (1978).

Buddhist Pilgrimage
Atta & Attammi, my parents & I, at Lord Buddha’s birthplace, next to the base of the Ashoka Pillar, in Lumbini, Nepal (1978).

Buddhist Pilgrimage Atta & Attammi, my parents & I, in Sarnath, a suburb of Varanasi (where Gautama Buddha is said to have given his first sermon about the fundamental principles of Buddhism), in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), in Northern India, in 1978.

Buddhist Pilgrimage
Atta & Attammi, my mother & I, in Sarnath, a suburb of Varanasi (where Gautama Buddha is said to have given his first sermon about the fundamental principles of Buddhism), in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), in Northern India, in 1978.

Buddhist Pilgrimage My Grandparents, mom & I, in Shravasti (where the Buddha, is said to have spent 24 Chaturmases (a holy period of four months), in UP state, in Northern India (1978).

Buddhist Pilgrimage
My Grandparents, mom & I, in Shravasti (where the Buddha, is said to have spent 24 Chaturmases (a holy period of four months), in UP state, in Northern India (1978).

Atta & Attammi at their second child/daughter's wedding (22nd January 1980), in Kegalle.

Atta & Attammi at their second child/daughter’s wedding (22nd January 1980), in their home, in Kegalle.

My Sister, Sachi, & I, on holiday in Sri Lanka. With my grandparent at their new home, in Veyangoda (Early 80's).

My Sister, Sachi, & I, on holiday in Sri Lanka. With my grandparent at their new home, in Veyangoda.

Above: An exactly, 11 years, and 11 month, old  me, with Atta & Attammi, at my Uncle's (my father's youngest brother's) wedding ceremony, on the 22nd of May, 1987 (Exactly 15 years after SL became a republic, and exactly one month prior to my 12th Birthday). This was my first holiday, without my parents, I stayed in Sri Lanka for over a month during my summer holidays. It was my worst holiday ever. I don't personally know the short kid, standing next to me, who was about the same age as me, at the time. We were both Page Boys, at the wedding, and I was also the Ring Bearer (this was the second time I was a Page Boy, the first was (aged 4) at my mother's youngest sister's wedding, in March 1980 .  Below: My maternal Grandparents, congratulating, my father's Brother and his new Bride. The professional cameraman afar, is the 11 years, 11 months, old me, with my first very own camera. I loved that camera back then.

Above: An exactly, 11 years, and 11 month, old me, with Atta & Attammi, at my Uncle’s (my father’s youngest brother’s) wedding ceremony, on the 22nd of May, 1987 (Exactly 15 years after SL became a republic, and exactly one month prior to my 12th Birthday). This was my first holiday, without my family (parents n’ sister). I stayed in Sri Lanka for over a month during my summer holidays. It was my worst childhood holiday ever.
P.S. I don’t personally know the short kid, standing next to me, who was about the same age as me, at the time. We were both Page Boys, at the wedding, and I was also the Ring Bearer (this was the second time I was a Page Boy, the first was (aged 4) at my mother’s youngest sister’s wedding, in March 1980 .
Below: My maternal Grandparents, congratulating, my father’s Brother and his new Bride. The professional cameraman afar, is the 11 years, 11 months, old me, with my first very own camera. I loved that camera back then.

Before laying the foundation stone, @ 56, Siripura  The new plot of land, my parents bought, before we built a house. On my sister's 8th Birthday (20th October 1988) Our family came to live in SL, for good, in January 1988. We bought this land, built a house, and moved in, in January 1990. In this picture: we all took turns cleaning the land, before laying the foundation stone, on Sachi's 8th Birthday. Attammi is seen .. Behind her is Achchi (my paternal grandmother). Dressed in a blue frock, is the B'day girl. In a pink dress, a cousin of mine (my mother's niece). A lanky tall 13 year old me. And my mother (far right).

Before laying the foundation stone, @ 56, Siripura
The new plot of land, my parents bought, before we built a house. PIX: On my sister’s 8th Birthday (20th October 1988)
Our family came to live in SL, for good, in January 1988. Later, the same year, we bought this land, built a house, and moved in, in January 1990.
In this picture: We all took turns, on Sachi’s 8th Birthday, cleaning the land, before laying the foundation stone.
Attammi is seen with the mamotie. Behind her is Achchi (my paternal grandmother). Dressed in a blue frock, is the B’day girl. In a pink dress, a cousin of mine (my mother’s niece). A lanky tall 13 year old me, in really short shorts (very 80’s). And my mother (far right).

Two Mothers & Two Daughters My grandmother, mother & sister (22nd October 1989).

Two Mothers & Two Daughters
My grandmother, mother & sister (October 1989).

(L to R) Atta, my mum, Mum's cousin (Attammi's niece), My younger mum's sister, and Attammi @ a function (1990)

(L to R) Atta, my mum, Mum’s first cousin (Attammi’s niece), My mum’s younger sister, and Attammi @ a function (in 1990)

Attammi with her eldest granddaughter, my sister, Sachi.

Attammi with her eldest granddaughter, my sister, Sachi.

On Attammi's 70th Birthday (18th January 1992).

On Attammi’s 70th Birthday (18th January 1992).

Atta &Attammi's 45th Wedding Anniversary, celebrated at our place (56 Siripura) 1992.

Atta & Attammi’s 45th Wedding Anniversary, celebrated at our place (@ 56 Siripura) in JULY 1992.

At my maternal Grandparents 45th Wedding Anniversary celebration. Atta & Attammi avec some of their grandchildren. 17 year old me, being oldest (and tallest) grandchild/grandson, is standing right behind the elderly couple. My 11 year old sister (the second oldest grandchild, and eldest granddaughter), in white, is standing, on the right side of the picture. Sachi is actually wearing our mother's bridal attire, minus the shawl/fall (July 1992)

At my maternal Grandparents 45th Wedding Anniversary celebration.
Atta & Attammi avec some of their grandchildren. 17 year old me, being the oldest (and tallest) grandchild/grandson, is standing right behind the elderly couple. My 11 year old sister (the second oldest grandchild, and eldest granddaughter), in white, is standing, on the right side of the picture. Sachi is actually wearing our mother’s bridal attire, minus the shawl/fall (July 1992)

Attammi avec her two eldest grandchildren (Sachi & I).

Attammi avec her two eldest grandchildren (Sachi & I). Me-aged 17.

YEAR: 1994 Atta & Attammi, with their eldest grandchild/grandson (Me, aged 19, on holiday in SL), and their youngest grandchild/granddaughter (aged One).

YEAR: 1994
Atta & Attammi, with their eldest grandchild/grandson (Me, aged 19, on holiday in SL), and their youngest grandchild/granddaughter (Kasini – aged One).

(L to R) My Grandmother, my aunt (my father's youngest brother's wife), and Mom (@ Mom's home - 56, Siripura), at my 21st Birthday Party (22nd June 1996). That was the last birthday I celebrated with a party.

(L to R) My Maternal Grandmother, my Aunt (my father’s youngest brother’s wife), and Mom (@ Mom’s home – 56, Siripura), at my 21st Birthday Party (22nd June 1996). That was the last birthday I celebrated with a party.

Attammi celebrates her 75th Birthday, with the love of her life, Atta (January 1997)

Attammi celebrates her 75th Birthday, with the love of her life, Atta (January 1997)

Golden Jubilee Atta & Attammi celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary (JULY 1997) On the floor, left side of the photograph, is a painting I did & gifted my grandparents with. 50 years of marital bliss ( a rarity today).

Golden Jubilee
Atta & Attammi celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary (JULY 1997), in Veyangoda
On the floor, left side of the photograph, is a painting I did & gifted my grandparents with.
50 years of marital bliss (a rarity today).

Golden Jubilee Atta & Attammi, with their eldest daughter's family. Seated My mother, My Grandfather, My Grandmother, and My father. Standing: My Sister & I This was the first time, Sachi (aged 16), wore a sari. Attammi was so pleased, it touched her heart. Such a pleasant surprise to see  her eldest granddaughter, in a sari (that too in the kandyian style). JULY 1997

Golden Jubilee
Atta & Attammi, with their eldest daughter’s family.
Seated: My mother, My Grandfather, My Grandmother, and My father.
Standing: My Sister & I
This was the first time, Sachi (aged 16), wore a sari. Attammi was so pleased, it touched her heart. Such a pleasant surprise to see her eldest granddaughter, in a sari (that too in the kandyian style). JULY 1997

Attammi, with her two elder daughters, at my aunt's place. My mom's seated in the middle (21st June 1998).

Attammi, with her two elder daughters, at my aunt’s place. My mom’s seated in the middle (21st June 1998).

Mum & Attammi, at a dinner party (at our place, 56, Siripura), hosting Sachi's completion of her A/levels (4th July 1998).

Mum & Attammi, at a dinner party (at our place, 56, Siripura), hosting Sachi’s completion of her A/levels (4th of July, 1998).

Silver Jubilee  My Grandparents, with my parents, at my parents 25th Wedding Anniversary (at our place - 56, Siripura). DECEMBER 1998

Silver Jubilee
My Grandparents, with my parents, at my parents 25th Wedding Anniversary (at our place – 56, Siripura).
DECEMBER 1998

Father-Daughter Dance Ballroom genius, Atta, waltzes with his eldest daughter, Lala-Damayanthi, during the celebration of her, 25 years of marriage, to Sugi (December 1998)

Father-Daughter Dance
Ballroom genius, Atta, waltzes with his eldest daughter, Lala-Damayanthi, during the celebration of her, 25 years of marriage, to Sugi (December 1998)

At my mum's 50th Birthday party, at mums (@ 56, Siripura). Sachi & I, seen in the background. My parents & my grandmother in the foreground. Behind Attammi, is her youngest grandchild (my youngest cousin, from my mother's side).  MAY 2009

At my mum’s 50th Birthday party, at mums (@ 56, Siripura).
Sachi & I, seen in the background. My parents & my grandmother in the foreground. Behind Attammi, is her youngest grandchild (my youngest cousin, from my mother’s side).
MAY 1999

At my mum's 50th B'day Celebration (L to R) My Great Aunt (Attammi's younger sister), Ammi (my mother), and Attammi (my maternal Grand-mum).  MAY 1999

At my mum’s 50th B’day Celebration (@ our home).
(L to R) My Great Aunt (Attammi’s younger sister), Ammi (my mother), and Attammi (my maternal Grand-mum).
MAY 1999

On my sister (Sachi's) 21st Birthday celebration. Atta & Attammi, with their eldest, now 21 year old) Granddaughter (October 2001)

On my sister (Sachi’s) 21st Birthday celebration(at our place @ 56, Siripura).
Atta & Attammi, with their eldest (now 21 year old) Granddaughter (October 2001).

Attammi with her three elder granddaughter's, at Mum's (56, Siripura). My grandmother is resting her head on my sister.

Attammi with her three elder granddaughter’s, at Mum’s (@ 56, Siripura).
My grandmother is resting her head on my sister, Sachi.

Attammi (September 2005)

Attammi (September 2005) @ 56, Siripura.

Attammi with her eldest Grandchild (Me aged 33) at my Aunt's (October 2008)

Attammi with her eldest Grandchild/Grandson (Me aged 33) at my Aunt’s (October 2008)

On Attammi's 87th B'day (18th of January 2009)

On Attammi’s 87th B’day (18th of January 2009)

Attammi & I, at a Reception. December 2009

Attammi & I, at a Reception.
December 2009

Attammi (with back turned), with me, at a function. December 2009

Attammi (with her back turned), and I, @ a Reception.
December 2009

My Grandmother (with her back turned), with her daughter (my mom), at her daughter's (@ 56, Siripura). OCTOBER 2010

My Grandmother (with her back turned), with her daughter (my mom), at her daughter’s (@ 56, Siripura).
OCTOBER 2010

My (maternal) grandmother, with my sister, Sachi, at Sachi's 30th B'day Party (October 2010). This was the last grand scale function we had at our home. And Attammi was present for all the family functions we had at 56, Siripura.  Who knew back then that this (her eldest Granddaughter's Birthday celebration, would be Attammi's last party at her eldest daughter's house.

My (maternal) grandmother, with my sister, Sachi, at Sachi’s 30th B’day Party (October 2010). This was the last grand scale function we had at our home. And Attammi was present for almost all the family functions we had at 56, Siripura.
Who knew back then that this (her eldest Granddaughter’s Birthday celebration), would be Attammi’s last party at her eldest daughter, Lala-Damayanthi’s, house, she’d be able to attend.

Attammi, my sister & my mum, at our place (56, Siripura).  This most probably was the last time she could visited us. October 2011

Attammi, my sister & my mum, at our place (56, Siripura).
This most probably was the last time she visited us.
October 2011

The Great Grandmother (L-R), My Aunt (Attammi's second daughter, my mum's younger sister), with her eldest grandchild/granddaughter, on her lap (her younger grandchild/granddaughter is seen in the crib), my mum, me, & Attammi, at my Aunt's (April 2012).

The Great Grandmother
(L-R), My Aunt (Attammi’s second daughter, my mum’s younger sister), with her eldest grandchild/granddaughter, on her lap (her younger grandchild/granddaughter is seen in the crib), my mum, me, & Attammi, at my Aunt’s (April 2012).

Nuwan Sen’s Roots
Nuwan Sen’s Family Album
Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense

From the setting of the 1300’s Verona, performed at the Curtain Theatre in Shoreditch, and the Globe theatre, London, to the setting of the 1950’s New York, on the Broadway stage, NY, and West End, London, and onto Hollywood’s celluloid. Romeo and Juliet to West Side Story.

West Side Story Main

Rachel’s Theatre Reviews and The Rosebud Cinema are co-hosting ‘The Stage to Screen Blogathon’; for which I chose to write about the musical, West Side Story (1961).

From the Stage to the Big Screen
In 1957 Broadway staged a musical, West Side Story. A modern, mid-1950’s, adaptation of the much loved tragic play about pre-teen innocent love by Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was conceived between 1591 and 1595, and set in Verona, Italy, in the 14th century). Then in the beginning of the 60’s decade, the movie version, set in the mid-50’s itself, was released, West Side Story (1961). Of course I haven’t seen the stage version, only the movie. The original Broadway and West End runs were before I came into existence, from 1957 to 1960, but I haven’t seen any latter versions either. But would love to if I get a chance. Not many Hollywood versions of stage shows tend to be that great, but West Side Story (1961) is an excellent Hollywood adaptation.

Starting off it’s so beautifully filmed. After the colourful overture, with a screen littered with vertical black lines, of varied sizes, that almost looks like musical notes, which transforms into the skyscrapers of Manhattan, the film zooms from an aerial shot of the city into the darken alleys in the day time, where the Jets are watching boys playing with a ball. Soon we see the rivalry between the two clans of the ‘Jets’ (Caucasians/Americans) and the ‘Sharks’ (Dusky/Latin-Americans/Puerto Rican immigrants), a bunch of out-of-work/school teenage/young adult rowdy boys, who have nothing better to do other than fight each other, for no specific reason, other than racial hatred. Then, as most people know the plot of Romeo and Juliet, Boy-Tony Wyzek (Richard Beymer), of the Jets, meets Girl-Maria Nuñez (Natalie Wood), of the Sharks, by chance at a dance, fall instantly in love, which worsens the rivalry between the two groups, who fight, in which, Tony’s best friend, Riff Lorton (Russ Tamblyn) accidentally gets knifed by Maria’s brother, Bernardo Nuñez (George Chakiris), and in turn, the angered Tony kills Bernardo, in the spur of the moment, and has to hide as the Sharks wow to avenge the death of their leader, Bernardo. More misunderstandings occur when Bernardo’s girlfriend, Anita del Carmen (Rita Moreno) visits the Jets. At the end, the tragedy differs, from the Shakespearean tale, as only one of the lovers’ dies, by getting shot, leaving the other to a lonely life of misery. With this innocent death, the two sides resolve their differences, and start to get along, but at what cost.

West Side Story Pix

It’s a great modern adaptation, with excelled direction and choreography by the famed classical and contemporary ballet dancer, Jerome Robbins (co-directed by Robert Wise), with the rhythmic background music composed by Leonard Bernstein. Love the songs, the dances, the music, the cast, the great sets, the art décor, the cinematography. It all blends in beautifully bringing out a masterpiece of Cinematic history. So far as exceptional dancing sessions are concerned, the two people to watch out for are the two supporting characters, George Chakiris and Rita Moreno. Love the dance off at the neighbourhood dance function. The matching and fitting purple/black outfits worn by Chakiris and Moreno add to the seductive movements. Love the song and dance, ‘America’ on the roof, the same night. The movie has some other great songs like the romantic ‘Maria’, the very comical ‘Gee, Officer Krupke’ and the deep and rowdily calming ‘Cool’, to name a few.

Unfortunately the DVD I have (another movie brought down from the States), isn’t in the original widescreen format, the film was released in, but a television edit with the two sides cut off. I don’t see why they should have cinemascope films (film released since 1953) in academy ratio anymore. After all most people who own a television set, and a DVD player, would have a widescreen television in their homes. Of course most people with a lot of money and no common sense have widescreen televisions and no idea how to use them. Thus they distort an academy ratio picture to fit the widescreen with disastrous results. And worse they wonder why vehicles looks unnaturally elongated and people disproportionately fat, stretched and short. I prefer to watch a widescreen movie as a widescreen movie, but if the picture format shown is a television edit (in Academy Ratio), I wouldn’t stretch it to fit the screen, nor zoom it, cutting off the top and bottom of the picture. After all, the cut off sides aren’t going to magically appear. So as I said, I had to watch West Side Story, in academy ratio, a television edit. I would love to watch the widescreen version someday.

Original vs. Modern Adaptation
The best modern adaptation of a Shakespearean play, for me, happens to be Kenneth Branagh’s very stylish flick, Hamlet (1996), which was brought forward from 16th/early 17th century Denmark to 19th century Denmark. A glamorous upscale adaptation, spoken in the original text, of Shakespearean English, yet believably transformed 200 odd years into the future. The greatest modern adaptation I’ve seen till date. Kenneth Branagh is a superb director, more so when it comes to modern adaptations of Shakespeare. For example, films like Much Ado About Nothing (1993) and As You Like It (2006). I also enjoyed Michael Hoffman’s modern adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999). When in comes to the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet, no doubt West Side Story happens to be best modern adaptation I’ve seen so far, and there have been quite a few. Like Romeo + Juliet (1996), set in the 1990’s in Shakespearean English, it’s the worst adaptation I’ve seen so far, but not among the worst movies ever. Yet it was pretty bad film. It didn’t work for me at all. Then there was the Bollywood adaptation, Josh (2000), for which the basis was more West Side Story, and less the original Romeo and Juliet. Josh was a moderately OK take on the Shakespearean classic. More recently there was Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela (2013) (see my post Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela: A Pleasant Surprise) a near excellence venture set in a fictional Indian village. Which I watched earlier this year and blogged about it, as well, back then (Press on the link above). And there might be so many more versions of this tragic romance. Of course this is when it comes to modern adaptations about the doomed lovers. When it comes to an original adaptation, i.e. set in the 14th Century Verona, out the ka-zillion big screen ventures that exist, the best, and my favourite, happens to be, Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968), starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey.

West Side Story Pix - on the sets

Awards
West Side Story won 10 Academy Awards, out of the 11 nominated. It won Oscars for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ to Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise, ‘Best Supporting Actor’ to George Chakiris, ‘Best Supporting Actress’ to Rita Moreno, ‘Best Cinematography’, ‘Best Art Direction’, ‘Best Costume Design’, ‘Best Film Editing’, ‘Best Original Score’ and ‘Best Sound’. West Side Story was also nominated for ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’, but lost out to Judgment at Nuremberg (1961). Added to this, Jerome Robbins received a special award for ‘Brilliant Achievements in the Art of Choreography on Film’.

West Side Story (1961) is one of the best musicals ever made. It’s aged well and among the greatest classics ever made. Excellent!!! 10/10.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

stage to screen blog

Thank you Rachael, of Rachel’s Theatre Reviews, and Rosie, of The Rosebud Cinema, for starting this Blogathon and letting me work on West Side Story (1961). I really enjoyed being part of the Stage to Screen Blogathon.

Cheers
Nuwan Sen