Tag Archive: This Month – That Year


‘‘I sure lost my musical direction in Hollywood. My songs were the same conveyer belt mass production, just like most of my movies were.’’
– Elvis Presley
(1935-1977)

Elvis Presley Beautiful

Elvis the Pelvis, was one of the greatest rock sensations to have ever existed, in the previous century. His unique signature pelvis shake, his hair puff, dashing good looks and baritone voice, brought about a rapid change to the pop scene, back in the 1950’s. Added to which, Elvis, who never believed in segregation, and was anti-racial prejudice, brought black and white youth together through his music. In fact when audiences first heard his songs on the radio, they assumed he was a black man. Young Elvis also broke Memphis’ segregation laws, by attending a local amusement park on what was designated as its coloured night.
Elvis Presley (The king of Rock n’ Roll)Though a great musical artiste, he was however unable to have a similar impact on film. Not much of an actor, yet he wasn’t really given much of an opportunity as such, to explore his cinematic side, as well. He was typecast, even though he played diverse characters like a boxer, an army Specialist 5 (SP5), a race car driver and a jailbird, to name a few of his Big Screen characters.

Only thing worse than watching a bad movie is being in one.
– Elvis Presley
(1935-1977)

Yet, though not necessarily great, none of his movies are out and out bad. Most, in fact, are quite enjoyable, thanks to the melodic music, the soothing songs, talented vocals, the scenic location shots, pretty girls, and of course – the most beautiful creature; batting those long eyelashes and flashing that charming smile, the movie revolves around – Elvis Presley, who else. He’s prettier than his female co-stars. A rarity in Hollywood, back in the day.

Elvis Presley’s brilliant performance in the movie Jailhouse Rock (1957)

Elvis Presley’s brilliant performance, in the movie, Jailhouse Rock (1957)

Set of Seven Presley Pictures I’ve seen so far (& My Ratings)     

Love Me Tender (1956)
Elvis’ very first cinematic venture, was the very film of his I saw. This was as a teenager, back in 90’s. I have no memory of having watched any Elvis film prior to that, as a kid in the 80’s.
I loved the music, loved Elvis’ presence, and was saddened by his tragic end, in this classic western, set just after the American Civil war. This movie isn’t a musical as such, though it contains a few songs, by Elvis Aaron Presley, in his Big Screen debut.

My favourite song from the movie: Love Me Tender!

My Rating: 8/10

Post Love Me Tender, I’ve seen quite a few of his films, within the last 20 years. Here are the rest of his cinematic ventures, that I’ve seen so far, in order of year released.

Jailhouse Rock (1957)
A pretty good movie, where Elvis plays a prisoner, serving time for manslaughter. Post his release from prison, he ends up being a singing sensation. I loved the whole performance choreographed around the song, Jailhouse Rock. A performance, as an ode to his character’s days in prison.

My favourite song from the movie: Jailhouse Rock!

My Rating: 7/10
Elvis Presley movieKing Creole (1958)
Directed Michael Curtiz, produced by Hal B. Wallis and based on a  novel by Harold Robbins, A Stone for Danny Fisher; this is touted as the best performance by Elvis Presley. In fact Elvis himself apparently loved King Creole the most, among his movies. Yet I beg to differ. Though a brilliant story, and a very good Elvis flick, this wasn’t his best performance. He’s capable of doing better. But story wise, yes King Creole, had more of a concrete story line, compared to most of his latter films. This movie also starred Walter Matthau (as a crook) and Carolyn Sue Jones (as the crook’s frightened mistress).

My favourite song from the movie: Crawfish! (the very first song in the movie, a duet with veteran jazz vocalist, Kitty White)

Also see my post DVD Films From Last Month PART-II from December 2014, in regard to King Creole.

My Rating: 8/10

Blue Hawaii (1961)
Another romantically enjoyable musical, with scenic locations, songs, music and Elvis Presley of course. Watch out for the brilliantly comical performance by Angela Lansbury, who plays mother to Elvis’ character.

My favourite songs from the movie: Can’t Help falling in Love with You and Moonlight Swim!

Also see my post DVD Films From Last Month PART-III from January 2015, in regard to Blue Hawaii.

My Rating: 7/10

Kid Galahad (1962)
A pretty good re-make of a 1937 noir classic. A sporty flick, where we see Elvis put on his boxing gloves. In a very different avatar, to the kind of characters he’s played before. The movie also starred Charles Bronson, Joan Blackman and Ed Asner.

My Rating: 7/10

Elvis Presley & Ann-Margret on the sets of Viva Las Vegas (1964)

Elvis Presley & Ann-Margret on the sets of Viva Las Vegas (1964)

Viva Las Vegas (1964)
One of my guilty pleasures. I thoroughly enjoyed this insight into 60’s Vegas. The music, the songs, the dances, the sexy clothes and the great chemistry between Elvis and Ann-Margret.

My favourite song from the movie: The Lady Loves Me! (poolside duet with Ann Margret)

My Rating:10/10 (as I said, guilty pleasure, though I’ve only watched it once, over a decade ago)

Frankie and Johnny (1966)
Not to be confused with the more famous 1991 romantic comedy, starring  Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer; this 1966 (a not so sexy film released in the year dubbed as Nineteen Sexty-Sex) musical, set in a riverboat, where Elvis Presley plays a riverboat gambler, has some amazing musical performances. The movie also happens to be a period piece set in the late 1800’s.

My Rating: 7/10

Unless you are die hard Elvis fan, or love his music in general, you won’t really enjoy sitting through his movies. For it’s the songs that make these movies memorable. But one should still notice that none of his films are actually bad as such, though no where near, among the greatest films ever made. None of films are musicals in the traditional sense as well. A musical is a movie, where the story is told through music. In the case of Elvis films, the music is more of an icing on the cake, that can be tasted without the songs, yet the songs just add to the flavour, and beautify it.

Elvis Presley photographed by William Speer

Elvis Presley photographed by William Speer

The Death of an Icon

I want to entertain people. That’s my whole life. To my last breath.
– Elvis Presley
(1935-1977)

Today is the 38th Death anniversary of the famed King of Rock n’ Roll, Elvis Presley. Presley died on the 16th of August, 1977; at the time believed to be due to years of prescription drug abuse, and a result of suffering from multiple ailments for a long period of time; including – glaucoma, high blood pressure, liver damage, and an enlarged colon. He was only 42 years old. Amidst many a conspiracy theories, in the early 1990’s; in 1994, Presley’s autopsy was reopened. It was deduced that he had actually died of a violent heart attack, and not due to drugs, as earlier stated. A tragic loss for the music industry, a sad loss of a beautiful human being.

Elvis Presley photographed by William Speer

Elvis Presley photographed by William Speer

Elvis Aaron Presley, is till date, the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music, with an estimated record sales of around 600 million, and counting, worldwide.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense!!!!!
Nuwan Sen n’ Musical Greats!!!!!
Nuwan Sen n’ Elvis Presley Films!!!!!

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
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One of the classiest British celebrities, and one of my favourites, especially among the suave and sophisticated actors, with eloquent command of the English language, has finally hit the Big 4&O.
Hugh Dancy, born on the 19th of June, 1975; in Stoke-on-Trent, in the county of Staffordshire, in the United Kingdom; to a University Professor (in Philosophy); though a student of literature, had no desire to follow the academic route, like his father. Yet, acting was something he got into, by fluke; ‘twas luck by a chance conversation in a café.

Hugh Dancy is a graduate from the University of Oxford, with a degree in English Literature & Language.

I’ve been a fan of his, since I first saw him in the television mini-series, Daniel Deronda (2002), 11½ years ago (I taped the show, and have watched it a couple of times since then). Post which, I’ve watched, and loved, his work in; the two television mini-series’, David Copperfield (2000) & Elizabeth I (2005); and films like; The Sleeping Dictionary (2003), Evening (2007); from which, one of his co-stars, ended up being his future wife; The Jane Austen Book Club (2007), Adam (2009) and Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009); whether the films were great, good or just average fare.

He’s a superbly qualified, yet somewhat underrated, example, of terrific talent; who definitely deserves more of a recognition, internationally. The fact that he’s got charming good looks, is just an added bonus. One of the best thing about Dancy is, that he hasn’t fallen prey to the franchise, like many a credible actors, in recent times. And I hope he never does. This kind gentlemanly genius, with a reputation to match, no doubt, has really good taste.

Only role of his, that I wasn’t that crazy about, was from, Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011). In which, though it was a pretty good movie, he hardly had much of a role.

From his movies, I haven’t seen yet, am really keen on seeing; Black Hawk Down (2001), Shooting Dogs (2005), Hysteria (2011) and the television mini-series, Deadline Gallipoli (2015). Hugh Dancy is currently involved in the long running, American television series, Hannibal (2013-till date).

Hugh Dancy is married to Claire Danes, whom he met on the sets of Evening (as mentioned above). Another favourite star of mine, especially love her nutcracker (with apologies to Tchaikovsky) role of ‘Carrie Mathison’ in the political, spy-thriller (TV series), Homeland (2011-till date).

Love the Handsomely Dashing, Hugh Dancy.

Wishing Hugh Dancy, all the best, with his great acting career ahead. And life as it is. Happy 40th Birthday!!!!

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Aamir Khan turns 50 today, and the other two famed Khans shall soon follow suit. The trio of Khans, Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan, dictated the 90’s decade. They were the crème de la crème, of Bollywood in the last decade of the 20th century, and still going strong. Of course acting wise, Aamir Khan is the most evolved of the three.

Khan 50 - Aamir Khan celebrates, his 50th Birthday, a day earlier (on Friday the 13th). INSET - Aamir Khan as a kid in the 1970's.

Khan 50 – Aamir Khan celebrates, his 50th Birthday, a day earlier (on Friday the 13th).
INSET – Aamir Khan as a kid in the 1970’s.

Aamir Khan °  Shah Rukh Khan °  Salman Khan & The Nineteen Nineties
They Came * They Saw * They Conquered (and never looked back)

Aamir Khan – The Actor

Born on the 14th of March, 1965, Aamir Khan began his career, back in 70’s, as a child artiste, starring in Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973). Then as a teenager he appeared in Holi (1984). As an adult, his first lead role was in, a modern day ‘Romeo and Juliet’ styled, Bollywood tragedy, titled, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), along side Juhi Chawla. Winning the very first Filmfare award for ‘Best Debut’ (a genderless award that was introduced that year), for this  tragic love story, and nicknamed ‘QSQT-pie’ (taking a cue from the initials of the above mentioned popular love story), Aamir Khan had made it, as one of the top heartthrobs of the Indian film fraternity. And the rest is history.

LEFT: Aamir Khan in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) RIGHT: Aamir Khan, seen here in his 'Birthday suit', in a scene from his latest film, PK (2014)

LEFT: Aamir Khan in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)
RIGHT: Aamir Khan, seen here in his Birthday suit, in a scene from his latest film, PK (2014)

As a kid, when I saw him first in QSQT, I really liked him. But soon started to lose interest. As I grew into a teenager, in the early-mid 90’s, I felt he was just a pretty face, that my baby sister had a crush on. I happened to like Salman Khan more back then. Soon Shah Rukh Khan appeared, and Aamir Khan fell down even further, among my favourites. But in the late 90’s, while I was studying in Delhi University, Deepa Mehta’s 1947Earth (1998) was released, and voilà, Aamir Khan, proved (to me) he was more than just a pretty face. I’ve been a fan of his since, and soon, in the late 90’s itself I got to see Raakh (1989), young Aamir Khan was superb in that. The 21st century came, the Khans still ruled, but not to the same level as they did in the 1990’s. Today Aamir Khan is not just an actor, but a social activist as well.

My favourite Aamir Khan roles, include movies like, 1947Earth, Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke (1993), Raakh, Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001) and PK (2014), to name a few. The best role he has done so far is, no doubt, that of the ‘Ice Candy man’, in 1947Earth, which is based on the novel, The Ice Candy Man by Pakistan born author, Bapsi Sidhwa (I actually bought the book back in 2012, when I last visited New Delhi, India, but I still didn’t get a chance to read it). Bapsi Sidhwa’s The Ice Candy Man is based on a true incident that occurred when the polio affected Sidhwa was a child. Sidhwa appears in the end of the movie, as the older version, of herself. 1947Earth is not just my favourite Aamir Khan film, but happens to be one of my favourite films ever.

Aamir Khan, supposedly mentioned that he still thinks of himself as being a ‘‘18 year old’’ in his mind. But he is no doubt the most mature of the Khans, so far as acting roles, and film choices are concerned (Also see my post on P.K. Are you DRUNK ????? from January 2015 (and Jalal: Caine – Khan & Bell from a couple years ago)). I have great respect for him as an actor, as well as, for his Humanitarian causes. Wish him all the best, for the next 50 years, of his life and work.

Shah Rukh Khan – Star Power   

Shah Rukh Khan, who’ll turn 50 later this year, was a virtual unknown, a television actor, whom actress Hema Malini signed in, for her Big Screen directorial debut, Dil Aashna Hai (1992). Shah Rukh’s first feature films were Dil Aashna Hai and Deewana (1992), in which he starred opposite Divya Bharti, Chamatkar (1992) and Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992). Then, along side Kajol and Shilpa Shetty, he appeared in Baazigar (1993), his first anti-hero role. He soon started a trend playing the villain, who’s also the lead star. With his psychotic characters in movies like, Darr (1993), Anjaam (1994) and Ram Jaane (1995), he became a star everyone loved to hate, and loved to watch. He was a superstar. A superstar that rose in cinematic power, making the other two adored Khans, secondary to him. Shah Rukh Khan, till date, is the second most popular star, Bollywood has ever had. Second only to the Big B, the angry young man of the 1970’s & 80’s, the superstar of the millennium, Amitabh Bachchan. The Big B, is the most popular celebrity, with such a unique idolisation, that the world has ever witnessed, so far, that’s spanned five decades. No star in the world has had Mr. Bachchan’s kind of star power, for this length of time. Not Elvis Presley, not The Beatles, not Barack Obama, nobody.

LEFT: Shah Rukh Khan, during his anti-hero phase, in the early 1990's. RIGHT: Shah Rukh Khan today, all muscled up and bleached.

LEFT: Shah Rukh Khan, during his anti-hero phase, in the early 1990’s.
RIGHT: Shah Rukh Khan today, all muscled up and bleached.

I’ve been a fan of Amitabh Bachchan since I was a kid. Yet, as a teenager, in the 1990’s, Shah Rukh Khan was my favourite Bollywood actor. After all, he brought in something different. He wasn’t conventionally good looking. He had dark skin (and was still loved, besides modern Indians unfair obsession with fairness and whiter skin tones). And he was the first actor, after the Big B, to succeed, to almost that level, of hero worship, in India.

Shah Rukh Khan soon started appearing in romantic roles in movies like, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Yes Boss (1997), Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), Pardes (1997) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998). By the noughties, I had grown up, and grown out, of the Shah Rukh Khan phase. His taste in film and film roles have deteriorated since. And I find it difficult to sit through most of his films anymore. With exception of a few good movies like, Veer-Zaara (2004), Swades (2004), Paheli (2005), Billu Barber (2009) and My Name Is Khan (2010), majority of his films and roles are practically the same, Shah Rukh being Shah Rukh. Post 2010, I haven’t seen anything of his that’s even worth mentioning. He is still very popular though, but the kind of star power he yielded, both as an actor and a famous personality, back in the 90’s, has blown away, no more in existence. I lost interest, in the beginning of noughties, and have not been part of the Shah Rukh craze, for the last one and half decades. He’s lost that oozing star power, and is definitely not much of an actor anymore. While even an averagely good Big B film, I might still enjoy, unless Shah Rukh, is in something really good, it will feel like a waste of time, for me.

As a Film Critic/Film Buff, I can say, that there is only one really exceptional film Shah Rukh Khan has done till date. That is, Kundan Shah’s excellent venture, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994), with Suchitra Krishnamoorthi and Deepak Tijori, for which Shah Rukh Khan won the Filmfare Critics Award. This was no doubt, his best performance ever. Of course I also enjoyed his other movie choices back in the 90’s, like, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Maya Memsaab (1993), Baazigar, Darr, King Uncle (1993), DDLJ, Yes Boss, Dil Sé (1998), Hey Ram (2000), et al.

Salman Khan – Sex Appeal

Before Shah Rukh Khan, took over the lime light in the 1990’s, Salman Khan was my favourite Khan. As a kid I had watched him in Biwi Ho To Aisi (1988) and Maine Pyar Kiya (1989). He too had great star power, and back in the 90’s I liked him more than Aamir Khan as well, and Salman Khan was second only to Shah Rukh Khan. He had some really interesting comical/romantic roles, in movies like, Saajan (1991) and Hum Aapke Hain Koun…! (1994) with Madhuri Dixit, Ek Ladka Ek Ladki (1992) with Neelam, Andaz Apna Apna (1994) along side Aamir Khan, Khamoshi (1996) with Manisha Koirala, and Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya (1998) with Kajol, to name a few.

LEFT: Salman Khan  in hey days. The hottest of the Khan's back then. RIGHT: Salman Khan today, not so cool.

LEFT: Salman Khan in hey days. The hottest of the Khan’s back then.
RIGHT: Salman Khan today, not so cool.

Yet, more than Salman Khan’s acting talent, it was his striking good looks, that made him a Bollywood superhero, idolised by many Indians till date. With his bulging muscular physique, in skin-tight jeans, and droopy dreamy eyelids, he was Bollywood’s answer Hollywood’s Sylvester Stallone. Oozing with sexuality, and nicknamed the ‘shirtless wonder’, he ruled the 90’s with his star power. But like Shah Rukh Khan, he started to fall down, both in looks and star power. His films today are unwatchable, at least a rare Shah Rukh Khan film, I might be able to sit through. Salman Khan, once a superhero, with super sex appeal, today is a total bore. Yet, he too has a great fan following in India. He’s an action hero, not an acting one.

Salman, the youngest among the trio of Khan’s, shall be the last to turn 50, towards the end of this year (in December 2015).

Amazingly ironic, back in the 90’s Aamir Khan was the actor that least interested me, with his boyish charm and chocolate hero looks. But today, Aamir Khan is one of the few actors, when it comes to Bollywood commercial films, that I happen to like the most. As I grew up, Aamir Khan too grew as an actor.

The three Khans are still going strong, but it was the 1990’s that they ruled. Aamir Khan with his chocolate boy good looks, Shah Rukh Khan with his star power and Salman Khan with his great sex appeal. Whatever happed to the 1990’s?? Can’t believe the Khans are completing their 50th year in Year 2015.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

In front of the Salt March Monument, in New Delhi, India (Sept 2011), whilst on holiday in India.

In front of the Salt March Monument, in New Delhi, India (Sept 2011), whilst on holiday in India.

On the 12th of March 1930, Mahatma Gandhi started the famous Salt March (a.k.a. Dandi March and/or Salt Satyagraha). A march which began in ‘Sabarmati Ashram’, in a suburb of Ahmadabad, in the state of Gujarat (located in Western India) and culminated in the coastal city of Dandi (in Gujarat itself), to make salt, to challenge the tax imposed on salt under the British Raj. As he continued on this 24-day, 240-mile (390 km) march, to produce salt without paying tax, thousands of Mahatma Gandhi’s followers joined in. Gandhi broke the salt laws at 6:30 am on the 6th of April, 1930, which ignited various acts of civil disobedience against the salt laws of the British Raj by millions of Indians. This was a significant event, in Gandhi’s non-violent struggle against British oppression, in colonial India.

Today marks the 85th Anniversary of the beginning of the famous Indian Salt March. One of the main events that finally led to the Independence of India, in 1947. This historic Salt March inspired various other marches around the globe. One of the most significant influences, of this brainchild, in the modern world, was that of the Selma to Montgomery march/es of 1965, 50 years ago, this month, in the United States of America. The Selma to Montgomery marches, were in protest, as part of the American Civil Rights movement, demanding that black American citizens, be given the right, to exercise their constitutional right to vote, in defiance of segregationist repression, that still existed in 60’s USA. Martin Luther King Jr., whose inspiration for his non-violent activism, was none other than Mahatma Gandhi, helped organize the Selma to Montgomery marches of 65’.

Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense (नुवन सेन)

Also See:-

The day that paved the way for India’s Independence

Sixty Six years of Indian Independence

Republic Day of India & Australia Day

The Oscars Ceremony : Year 2015

A Page From History –  Rewind to 1940
A look back at The 12th Annual Academy Awards, held in February 1940.
Oscar FunctionThe 87th Annual Academy Awards, will be held tonight. Really looking forward to catching the live show (tomorrow early morning out here), to see who wins what.

So, for today’s post, I’ve decided, to travel back in time, to celebrate this years Oscars, with an insight, into the 12th Annual Academy Awards, from the ‘Year 1940’.

BEST PICTURE

The civil war epic Gone with the Wind (1939), grabbed the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar that year. No doubt the Best movie to come out of the 30’s decade, Gone with the Wind, has aged well, and happens to be amongst the best loved Hollywood classics ever, from the 120 year history, of global cinema. Gone with the Wind received 13 nominations altogether, and took home 10 Academy Awards (8 from the competition, out of the 13 nominated, plus 2 Honorary awards). Among the winners, of this highest grossing film of 39’, included:-

  • The ‘Best Director’ Oscar to Victor Fleming. Although, initially, after the script went through many a revisions, it was Director George Cukor, who started working on this project. But Cukor was fired after three weeks of shooting, due to a disagreement, regarding the film’s pace and the script, between Producer David O. Selznick and Cukor. Actresses, Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland heard that Cukor was fired, while the ‘Atlanta bazaar scene’ was being filmed, the two actresses apparently went straight to Selznick’s office, in full costume, and requested him to reconsider, as the film had already been delayed by two years, due to various other problems. Then Victor Fleming, took over the reins, for most of the project. But Fleming briefly left the project due to exhaustion, and director Sam Wood, worked on the film for a couple of weeks. Soon Fleming came back to complete the picture. Thus, though Victor Fleming directed majority of the picture, about 15 to 20 percent of the direction, should be credited to Cukor and Wood, each (i.e. 30 to 40 percent of the whole film). Thus, Victor Fleming was responsible for directing about 60 odd percent of this classic film.
  • The ‘Best Actress’ Oscar to Vivien Leigh. The search for someone to play the lead character, of Scarlett O’Hara, led to 1,400 potential Scarlett O’Hara’s being interviewed. Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Jean Arthur, Lucille Ball, Susan Hayward, Lana Turner and Paulette Goddard, were some of actresses tested for the part. None seemed to be right to play Scarlett O’Hara. When David O. Selznick watched the British flick, A Yank at Oxford (1938); an excellent film, related to sports and sportsman, starring Robert Taylor, in the lead; O. Selznick felt the British actress Vivien Leigh, was an excellent actress, but too British to play O’Hara. Yet Leigh was given a series of screen tests to do, and Voilà!! O. Selznick found his O’Hara.
Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American ever, to be nominated and, to win an Academy Award.  She bagged the Oscar for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS for her incredible performance as ‘Mammy’ in Gone with the Wind (1939)

Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American ever, to be nominated and, to win an Academy Award. She bagged the Oscar for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, for her incredible performance as ‘Mammy’, in Gone with the Wind (1939) NSFS

  • The ‘Best Supporting Actress’ Oscar to Hattie McDaniel. Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American ever, to be nominated and, to win an Academy Award. Olivia de Havilland, from this same epic tear jerker, too, was nominated, in this same category.
  • The ‘Best Screenplay’ Oscar to Sidney Howard. Sidney Howard died in August 1939, thus became the first person to garner a posthumous Oscar nomination and win.
  • The ‘Best Cinematography (in Colour)’ to Ernest Haller & Ray Rennahan.
  • The ‘Best Art Direction’ to Lyle Wheeler.
  • The ‘Best Film Editing’ to Hal C. Kern & James E. Newcom.
  • An ‘Honorary Award’ to William Cameron Menzies. The production designer and art director, was acknowledged for his outstanding achievement in the use of colour, for the enhancement of dramatic moods, in the production of Gone with the Wind.
  • The ‘Technical Achievement Award’ to Don Musgrave and Selznick International Pictures. Which was yet another ‘Honorary Award’, for pioneering in the use of coordinated equipment, in the production Gone with the Wind.

Added to these 10 trophies, Producer David O. Selznick, was also given the ‘Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award’ for his body of work, which includes this epical classic. Gone with the Wind was the highest-grossing film of all-time, back then, and remained so until, 1965, when The Sound of Music (1965), displaced Gone with the Wind, as the highest-grossing film of all-time. When adjusted for monetary inflation, it is still the most successful film in box-office history, till date. Added to which, Gone with the Wind, set records for the total number of Oscar wins, and nominations, at the time.

This, almost four hours long, timeless masterpiece was also nominated for; ‘Best Actor’ to Clark Gable, Gable lost out to Robert Donat, who won for Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), a movie I haven’t watched, thus can’t judge, but Gable’s, now famed, role of Rhett Butler, is definitely Oscar worthy; ‘Best Special Effects’, but lost out to a movie called The Rains Came (1939), am bit surprised here, though I haven’t watched The Rains Came, am aware that Gone with the Wind has some exceptional visual effects for it’s time, sans modern day CGI, especially the ‘Burning of Atlanta’, the scene in which Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara escape the burning city, saving three more lives, is so realistic, that the technique used, is till date, one of the most impressive feats in film history, Gone with the Wind was actually a breakthrough in special effects, at the time, despite that, it didn’t bag the Oscar for ‘Best Special Effects’, a pity; ‘Best Original Score’, which went to Herbert Stothart for The Wizard of Oz (1939), The Wizard of Oz is a brilliantly colourful children’s movie, with marvellously rhythmic music, but again, the superb background score by Max Steiner for Gone with the Wind, is unforgettable, and one can just drift off listening to the brilliant score, thus I feel Gone with the Wind, at least deserved two more wins, for ‘Best Special Effects’ and ‘Best Original Score’; ‘Best Sound Recording’, and lost out to a love story called, When Tomorrow Comes (1939), another film I haven’t seen.

Acting Duo, Husband & Wife to be, Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh.

Acting Duo, Husband & Wife to be, Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh.

Other films nominated in the ‘Best Picture’ category, included some amazing movies, after Gone with the Wind:-

  • William Wyler’s brilliant adaptation, that was Wuthering Heights (1939), which was based on one of my favourite novels, spanning three generation, that I studied in school (Grade 8) when I was 13 years old, authored by Emily Brontë. Watched this movie, over a decade ago. Love the movie, almost as much as the book, besides the fact that a whole generation is missing in the movie. The film is still brilliant on it’s own. Nominated for 7 Oscars altogether; including for ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Actor’ to Laurence Olivier, and ‘Best Supporting Actress’ to Geraldine Fitzgerald; Wuthering Heights, won an Oscar for ‘Best Cinematography (in Black & White)’ to Gregg Toland.
  • Ninotchka (1939), a hilarious comedy, where Greta Garbo plays a very rigid Russian woman, (i.e. the Soviet Union back then, under Joseph Stalin), with a lack of sense of humour, who is sent to Paris, France, on official business and learns to laugh and what true happiness is. The tag line reads ‘Garbo Laughs’. She also falls in love with the city, the free spirited and romantic Parisian society (pre-World War -II), and of course a handsome Count (played by Melvyn Douglas). Besides for ‘Best Picture’, Ninotchka, was nominated for 4 Oscars, including a ‘Best Actress’ nomination for Greta Garbo’s hilarious performance. Ninotchka was banned in the Soviet Union, at the time. Watched this a decade ago as well.
  • The much loved children’s classic, The Wizard of Oz (1939), I watched when I was about 14. A little too late for me to enjoy, as I found it pretty childish at the time, but none the less I realised it was an excellent film for kids. Nominated for 13 awards, it won 2 Oscars, for ‘Best Original Score’ (as mentioned above) and ‘Best Original Song’ for the song ‘Over the Rainbow’. Then child actress, Judy Garland, won a special award, ‘Academy Juvenile Award’, for her exceptional performance as little Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz.
Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh at the 12th Annual Academy Awards, held on the 29th of February, 1940

Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh at the 12th Annual Academy Awards, held on the 29th of February, 1940 (They married later that year) NSFS

OTHER AWARDS & FILM NOMINATIONS

Only Angels Have Wings (1939), is a movie I got to study, back 2002, in my first semester, for the module ‘Film Analysis’ (where we analysed films of director, Howard Hawks), for my MA in International Cinema (2002-2003), University of Luton, Luton, UK. Only Angels Have Wings is a very good emotional drama, though not a great movie, starring Cray Grant, Jean Arthur and Rita Hayworth. This Hawks/Grant aviation classic, was nominated in only 2 categories, ‘Best Cinematography (in Black & White)’ and ‘Best Special Effects’, and won neither.

OSCARS 1940 The 12th Annual Academy Awards

OSCARS 1940
The 12th Annual Academy Awards (NSFS)

Thomas Mitchell won the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Oscar for Stagecoach (1939). A famous John Ford directed western (for which Ford was nominated), with John Wayne in the lead, that am yet to watch. Stagecoach also bagged the Oscar for ‘Best Musical Score’. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), another much loved classic, am yet to see, won an Oscar for ‘Best Original Story’. James Stewart was nominated for ‘Best Actor’, as well as Frank Capra, for ‘Best Director’, for this film.
American actor/screenwriter/film director/producer, Douglas Fairbanks, who died in December 1939, was given a posthumous ‘Honorary Award’, as well, for his contribution to the international development of the motion picture industry, as the very first President of the Academy. Douglas Fairbanks had hosted the very first Oscars Ceremony in 1929.
GWTW OscarThe 12th Annual Academy Awards, was held on the 29th of February, 1940, at a banquet, in the Coconut Grove, at The Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, USA. Hosted by Bob Hope, this was the very first Academy Award function, Hope hosted. Bob Hope altogether ended up hosting the Oscars, a total of 19 times. I haven’t seen this show (obviously again as I didn’t, nor did my parents still, exist back then), but would love to check it out, some day. Yet I watched a few scenes from the show; online, on Youtube; including the celebrity guests arriving for the function, a very young Mickey Rooney presenting young Judy Garland with the special award, and Hattie McDaniel’s touching humble speech, paying credit to her ‘‘race and the motion picture industry’’, when she made history by winning the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ trophy.

GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) – Best Picture. Winner of 10 Academy Awards.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ the Oscars

P.S.  Also see my previous post 50 years ago – At The Oscars.

Indira Gandhi30 years ago today, on 31st October 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was gunned down by two Sikh bodyguards of hers. This is a small tribute to one of the most influential personalities to have ever existed in Indian politics. The one and only female Prime Minister the Indian Government has seen till date. India’s own Iron Lady, Shreemati (Mrs.) Indira Gandhi. Indira Gandhi in ColourIndira Nehru graced the covers of Indian politics from a very young age. Being born to Independent India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru (long before he became Prime Minister), whilst India was still under the British Raj, on 19th November, 1917; she was brought up by her, on and off imprisoned, father through letters, educating her on the ways of the world, India’s struggle for independence and modern politics. One of my favourite non fiction books happens to be Freedom’s Daughter: Letters Between Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru (1922-39); Edited by Indira’s daughter-in-law, current president of the ‘Indian National Congress’ party, Sonia Gandhi. Of course I read this book about 13 or14 years ago, and really enjoyed the literary transactions between the father and the daughter. For my Bachelors degree, I also studied Nehru’s independence speech from 1947. Another inspirational piece of English Literature I enjoyed back in the latter part of the 90’s decade. Nehru’s prose is spot on and I highly recommend both the book and the speech to any lover of Literature, as well as any History buff.

Little Indira supported her father, along with his mentor, Mahatma Gandhi, through their struggle for India’s independence, in her own way. One incident was during the Swadeshi Movement, of the 1920’s, when Indira was still a child, where people were advised to burn away all western items of clothing and accessories as a rebellion against western suppression of the third world. Little Indira, did her part, by throwing away her favourite, prettily dressed, blue eyed, blonde haired, doll. Post independence, she helped her father through his political career, serving as his unofficial ‘Chief of Staff’, and after his death, she took over the reins.
Indira Gandhi - Like Father Like DaughterWith socialist ideologies, Indira Gandhi became the 3rd Prime Minister of India, on 24th of January, 1966. She served three terms as the Indian Prime Minister, two terms from 1966 to 1977, and a third from 1980 to 1984, making her the second longest Premier of the Indian Government (the longest being her father). Politically she was both loved and despised for her various political decisions, regarding her Motherland and the bordering countries. Thus she sparked a disposition of both, being great and terrible, of fame and notoriety, all at the same time. None the less, one can’t deny she was one of greatest and most influential assets in the development of the Indian continent. Modern India wouldn’t be India, without Indira Gandhi’s non-violent, people friendly, socialist policy. Despite all of India’s faults, the country has always moved forward, and that’s mainly thanks to the Nehru-Gandhi family. After the death of Indira Gandhi, her son, Rajiv Gandhi, became Prime Minister, until he too was assassinated, in 1991.

Adored or loathed, respected or not, Indira Gandhi will live on in the hearts of all Indians, and others with an attachment with India and a soft corner for the Nehru-Gandhi family. The Nehru-Gandhi family to India, is what the Kennedy’s were to America, what the Bhutto’s were to Pakistan, and what Modern Royalty means to Britain and Monaco.

Indira was not just a political icon, but a sophisticated personality with a great sense of style. When Indira, an Oxford graduate, got married to Feroze Gandhi, she made both a political and fashion statement when she wore the pink Khadhi sari woven by her father in prison. And who could forget her trademark salt n’ pepper hairdo, with jet black hair and a bold fiery white streak parting on one side.
Have a look below at the life of Indira Gandhi through pictures:-

Indira with her father's mentor Mahatma Gandhi during his fast in 1924

Little Indira with her father’s mentor Mahatma Gandhi during his fast in 1924

Indira Priyadarshini Nehru

Indira Priyadarshini Nehru

Indira Nehru with her father Jawaharlal Nehru in Gurez, in Kashmir, India, in the 1940's

Indira Nehru with her father Jawaharlal Nehru in Gurez, in Kashmir, India, in the 1940’s

The marriage ceremony of Feroze Gandhi to Indira Nehru, 26th March, 1942

The marriage ceremony of Feroze Gandhi to Indira Nehru, 26th March, 1942

Indira with father Jawaharlal Nehru and actor Charles Chaplin in Bürgenstock, Switzerland, in 1953

Indira with father Jawaharlal Nehru and actor Charles Chaplin in Bürgenstock, Switzerland, in 1953

Indira with the Dalai Lama

Indira with the Dalai Lama

Indira with Jacqueline Kennedy in 1962

Indira with Jacqueline Kennedy in 1962

Indira with her father & the Kennedy's in India, 1962

Indira with her father & the Kennedy’s in India, 1962

Indira Gandhi at Nixon's Dinner

Indira Gandhi at Nixon’s Dinner

Indira Gandhi with actress Gina Lollobrigida on the Left & son and daughter-in-law, Rajiv & Sonia Gandhi on the Right, in the mid 70's

Indira with Vyjayanthimala & Nargis Dutt

Indira with Vyjayanthimala & Nargis Dutt

Indira Gandhi with her two sons, two daughter-in-law's and two grandchildren

Indira Gandhi with her two sons, two daughter-in-law’s and two grandchildren

Indira Gandhi with the Queen of England

Indira Gandhi with the Queen of England

Indira Gandhi with Margaret Thatcher

Indira Gandhi with Margaret Thatcher

Indira Gandhi with Ronald & Nancy Reagan

Indira Gandhi with Ronald & Nancy Reagan

Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense
Nuwan Sen and a Sense of Modern Indian History
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Roundhay Garden Scene (1888), is a 2 second documentary, shot by Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince, today, 126 years ago, on the 14th of October, 1888.
Roundhay Garden Scene (1888)Filmed in the garden of Oakwood Grange; the home of Elizabeth Whitley Le Prince’s parents, Joseph and Sarah Whitley (the Whitley family house in England), in Roundhay (a suburb of Leeds, Yorkshire), in Great Britain; the movie shows Adolphe Le Prince (Le Prince’s son), Sarah Whitley, (Le Prince’s mother-in-law), Joseph Whitley (Le Prince’s father-in-law) and Harriet Hartley. The characters are shown walking around in circles, laughing to themselves and keeping within the area framed by the camera.

72 year old, Sarah Whitley, died ten days after the film was shot, on 24th October 1888.

Just watched it online on ‘Wikipedia’. Check it out when you can, it’s worth it. A good insight into early cinema through one of the earliest surviving motion pictures in existence.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Bollywood’s eternal beauty, diva and award winning film actress, Rekha, turns 60 today. Born in Madras (now Chennai), in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu; to famed Tamil film actor, Gemini Ganesan, from his love affair with, Telugu film actress (from Andhra Pradesh), Pushpavalli; Rekha made it big up north in Bollywood (Hindi Film Industry), back in the 1970’s, and never looked down again.
Rekha 60Rekha is one of the rare Bollywood actresses to make it big in both fields, of the Commercial (mainstream) Hindi Cinema as well as Art House Films (Parallel Cinema). She started her career as a child actress in 1966 in a film in her mother’s mother-tongue, Telugu, in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Telugu film industry of Hyderabad, is also nicknamed Tollywood. Then she appeared in a Kannada film, from the Bangalore Film Industry, in the state of Karnataka. After having appeared in these South Indian languages, soon she got a chance to act in her first Hindi Film (the national language of India), up in Bollywood, located in Bombay (now known as Mumbai), in the State of Maharashtra. Bollywood is the most internationally acknowledged Indian Commercial/mainstream Film Industry, that too made in the national language. Bollywood to India is what Hollywood is to the world, one of the greatest famed commercial outputs in the cinematic planet. Once a person makes his/her mark in Bollywood, they rarely bother acting in any other regional, comparatively smaller scale, industries that exist around the country, in various other languages, such as Marathi, Punjabi, Guajarati, Assamese, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu etc etc etc… Of course when it comes to Art Cinema, Bengali Art films; from Calcutta, in the state of Bengal; happen to be the most well recognised internationally, much like European and Japanese Art Cinema, and American Independent Films. Hindi Art Cinema and most Indian English language movies, too happen to be of a very high standard.
Rekha turns 60I have been watching Bollywood movies, ever since I can remember. Here is a list of some famous movies Rekha has appeared in, along with some of her greatest roles ever, to the best of my memory (in order of year released).

Gora aur Kala (1972) – I watched it as a kid in the 1980’s, and my memory is extremely vague on this one. But the film is about India’s own racism against dark skin, that exists even today, quite openly, promoting bleach skin creams. The movie, with a historical setting, is about a pair of twins, one fair, one dark. The partially paralysed disowned dark child, turns into a dacoit when he grows up. (Unrated) Hindi Commercial Film. 

Namak Haraam (1973) – Another movie I watched as a child, but luckily got to re-watch it about a decade or so ago. A very socialist film, dealing with social injustice towards poor workers in a factory. A very plump, teenage Rekha, has an insignificant role in this, yet her acting is pretty good, and the film is really good, with a great social message. Watch out for actress Simi Garewal’s minute but effective role of a kind hearted, sophisticated, social activist. Also see Amitabh Bachchan play the ever suffering hot tempered hero. Very Good – 8/10. Hindi Commercial Film.

Nagin (1976) – Yet another movie I watched as a child, but I remember it pretty well, as I watched it in the latter part of the 80’s. This fantasy film dealt with a female snakes revenge on the men who killed her male partner. She takes on the avatar of the men’s love interests and kills them off one by one. Rekha has a minute but very relevant role as Sunil Dutt’s love interest. When the snake takes the human form as Rekha, the seduction scene is scary as much as it is a brilliant performance by Rekha. Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned. Watch out for those big kohl filled seductive vengeful eyes, in a black slinky number. OK Movie – 6/10. Hindi Commercial Film.        

Aap Ki Khatir (1977) – Watched this somewhere in the 90’s. Hilarious comedy about a foolish middle-class wife, played by Rekha, who borrows money from a moneylender to invest in the stock market, unknown to her husband, Vinod Khanna. Soon the stock market crashes, and so does her ordinary stress free lifestyle. Pretty Good – 7/10. Hindi Commercial Film.

Alaap (1977) – Another socialist venture, where a son, played by Amitabh Bachchan, disowns his unfair rich father, Om Prakash, and resides among slum dwellers, to help them. Rekha plays his love interest. Luckily I re-watched this as a young adult, a decade or so ago. Pretty Good – 7/10. Hindi Commercial Film.  

Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978) – The last time I watched this was as a teenager back in 1994, 20 years ago. A very tragic movie about many a suffering souls and tragic misunderstandings. Almost Shakespearean. The bewitchingly beautiful Rekha gives an equally beautiful performance of a modern day suffering courtesan who sacrifices for her unrequited love, Amitabh Bachchan. Near Excellence – 9/10. Hindi Commercial Film.   

Suhaag (1979) – Watched it some years ago. An OK movie, watchable thanks to the great cast including Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Rekha and Parveen Babi. OK Movie – 5/10. Hindi Commercial Film.

Kali Ghata (1980) – Watched this thriller as a child, thus my memory is pretty vague. Rekha does a double role playing twins. One sister travels abroad, another gets engaged to her lover, Shashi Kapoor. As they are having a romantic evening, in a house boat, during a stormy night, Rekha is pushed off from the boat. Suspecting her seemingly innocent fiancé had something to do with it, she fakes her own death, and comes back in the guise of her sister, to find out the truth. (Unrated) Hindi Commercial Film.

Khubsoorat (1980) – Watched it as child, then again earlier this year. Rekha plays a young beauty who brings laughter and merriment to her sister’s in-laws strict household ruled by her sister’s mother-in-law, the authority figure. Rekha won her first ‘Best Actress’ Filmfare trophy for Khubsoorat. Excellent Comedy!!!! 10/10. Hindi Commercial Film.

Saajan Ki Saheli (1981) – Another movie I watched as a child, thus hardly remember it. Rekha plays an illegitimate daughter of a classy sophisticated lady, Nutan, who’s unaware that her daughter from a previous one night stand, before she married, is still alive. (Unrated) Hindi Commercial Film.

Kalyug (1981) – An excellent art movie by Shyam Benegal, watched few years ago. A modern day Mahabharata dealing with two business families. Excellent. 10/10. Hindi Art Movie.

Silsila (1981) – Watched this over a decade ago. Reel life aping real life. Rekha was having an adulterous affair with the very married Amitabh Bachchan in the late 70’s and early 80’s. This movie deals with two married people who have a secret love affair. Very Good – 8/10. Hindi Commercial Film.

Baseraa (1981) – Rekha plays a widow who ends up marrying her mentally insane sisters husband Shashi Kapoor, to disastrous results, when the sister, Rakhee, comes back home from asylum, some fifteen years later. Re-watched this some years ago. Very Good – 8/10. Hindi Commercial Film.

Umrao Jaan (1981) – An aesthetic commercial epic, based on a true story, about a 19th Century courtesan. Watched this some years ago, but the DVD got stuck in the middle. Thus I’ven’t watched the whole movie. But the half that I got to watch showcased a masterpiece of excellence. Rekha bagged the ‘Best Actress’ National Award for her role of Umrao Jaan. (Unrated) Hindi Commercial Film.

Vijeta (1982) – Watched as a little child. A story dealing with a son of a Sikh. I don’t remember this Art House movie that well. (Unrated) Hindi Art Movie.

Zameen Aasmaan (1984) – Watched as a teenager. A movie dealing with a woman (Rakhee), who brings up her late husband’s (Shashi Kapoor) child, from his one night stand with a nurse (Rekha). OK Movie – 5/10. Hindi Commercial Film.

Utsav (1984) – Watched about a decade or so ago. This very adult comical art house movie, produced by Shashi Kapoor, deals with a courtesan, in the 5th Century B.C., Vasantsena (Rekha), on the run, while a man, Vatsyayan (Amjad Khan), does his research for the Kama Sutra (Vatsyayan is the author of The Kama Sutra). It’s a hilarious parable. Excellent!!! 10/10. Hindi Art Movie.  

Faasle (1985) – Watched as a child and later again. Rekha plays the secret lover of a widower, who doesn’t wish to marry her for the sake of his children. OK Venture – 5/10. Hindi Commercial Film.

Jhoothi (1985) – Watched as a kid, but remember loving it back then. A story of a good hearted compulsive liar, played by Rekha. I would like to re-watch it sometime. Near Excellence – 9/10. Hindi Commercial Film.   

Locket (1986) – Vague memory of watching this as a child. (Unrated) Hindi Commercial Film.

Insaaf Ki Awaaz (1986) – Again watched as a child, about a female cop, who juggles her duty to work with her duty to family, as a daughter-in-law, a wife/later widow and a mother of a teenage daughter. OK Film – 6/10. Hindi Commercial Film.  

Biwi Ho To Aisi (1988) – Watched in the late 80’s, a comedy about a daughter-in-law who drives her narrow minded cruel mother-in-law insane, by not folding to her pressure. Very Good – 8/10. Hindi Commercial Film.

Khoon Bhari Maang (1988) – Watched in the early 90’s. A film about a mother of two who becomes a fashion model and plots revenge on her husband who tried to murder her. Very Good – 8/10. Hindi Commercial Film.

Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996) – Watched this Adult movie, back in the late 90’s, on the big screen, and some years ago as well. Mira Nair’s controversial take on the famed ‘Art of Lovemaking’, The Kama Sutra. Set in 16th century India, Rekha played the teacher of the Kama Sutra. Very Good – 8/10. English Art House Movie.

Aastha: In the Prison of Spring (1997) – Watched in 97’ itself, on the Big Screen. Yet another erotic movie for mature audiences, about an ordinary housewife and mother, who is entrapped into prostitution and performing in weird sexual styles, which she later teaches her surprised husband. Pretty Good – 7/10. Hindi Art House Movie.

Zubeidaa (2001) – An excellent commercial venture from Art film director, Shyam Benegal. A real life bio-pic of a tragic Princess, based on a book written by her son, Khalid Mohamed. Rekha plays Zubeidaa’s (Karishma Kapoor) husband’s (Manoj Bajpayee) first wife, Mandira Devi. Watched at the turn of this century. Excellent !!!! 10/10. Hindi Commercial Film.
 
Mujhe Meri Biwi Se Bachaao (2001) – Watched about a decade ago. A silly comedy, watchable thanks to the cast, including Naseeruddin Shah and Rekha. OK Venture – 5/10. Hindi Commercial Film.

Lajja (2001) – A feminist film about the ill treatment of women in India. Watched at the beginning of this century. Near Excellence – 9/10. Hindi Commercial Film.      

Dil Hai Tumhaara (2002) – Enjoyable enough melodrama. Typical modern day Hindi movie. Watched a decade or so ago. Pretty Good – 7/10. Hindi Commercial Film.      

Koi… Mil Gaya (2003) – Watched a decade ago. A Bollywood take on Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Watch out for Hrithik Roshan’s  superb performance as Rekha’s brain damaged, child-like, adult son. He carries the entire film on his shoulders. OK Movie – 6/10. Hindi Commercial Film.        

Parineeta (2005) – Watched in 2006, on the Big Screen. Rekha only has a cameo in this excellent movie based on a Bengali novel by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. She sings with her own voice and performs an elegant cabaret number in a red hot saree. It’s worth it. Excellent !!!! 10/10. Hindi Commercial Film.

Krrish (2006) – Watched in 2006. Bollywood’s take on a super hero sequel to Koi… Mil Gaya. What Crap was that??? 2/10. Hindi Commercial Film.

Rekha in her latest movie SUPER NANI (2014)

Rekha in her latest movie SUPER NANI (2014)

Super Nani (2014) – Haven’t watched it yet. In her latest comedy, she plays a neglected ‘Nani’ (Maternal Grandmother), who takes up modelling in her old age, with the help of her grandson. I plan to check it out just because Rekha is in it. (Unrated) Hindi Commercial Film. 

Besides acting, Rekha has dubbed, with her trademark throaty voice, for a few other heroines, in a few Hindi movies.

Wishing Madame Ré all the best for her 60th Birthday.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense.

68 years ago today, on the 2nd of September, 1946, the Interim Government of India was formed. This was to assist the transition of India (and Pakistan) from British rule to independence. It remained in place, until the 15th of August, 1947, the date of the independence of the two new countries of India and Pakistan.

After World War – II, the British Raj, released all political prisoners of the ‘Quit India movement’, which was a civil disobedience movement, in response to Mahatma Gandhi’s call for Satyagraha, a non-violent resistance movement. Thus preparation began to hand over the country of India to Indians. The Interim Government of India, was headed by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.

Also see my post ‘Sixty Six years of Indian Independence’, from the 15th of August, last year.

Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense
नुवन सेन

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