Raja Nawathe: Gumnaam (1965)

You know I had never quite been a huge Hindi cinema buff. No doubt, I had watched numerous films over decades of my life in India, but had never really bought film magazines, nor bought tickets from the fellas who paced up and down, muttering something under their breath while you’re waiting in queue with that occasional mood to go to the movies to watch a Hindi film.  More often than not, by the time you reached the ticket window, they would have no good seats left, except the stray ones in the first few rows, and you certainly did not ever want to sit that close to the screen… instead, we ended up going for lunch, or dinner. But that’s so far back I can barely remember what we did. Well, every now and again I seem to be writing something about Hindi cinema… nothing quite of consequence, I guess. But, this came as a surprise just now.

A few years ago, I had created this page about a not-so-widely-renowned film director, Raja Nawathe. Again, if I had told someone at the time I created that page, they would have said, “Yeah, so…  who’s that again?” Not much was known about him on the internet search at the time… so I pieced together the little I could. What do you know!  I just came across this scholarly article by Dr Iain Robert Smith, Lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College London. In it, I found a link directly to that page. So I’m smiling, at least someone found that page useful. 🙂 Although Raja Nawathe himself directed only a few films, the songs from his films are by no means gumnaam (or loosely translated, forgotten… ) e.g. here are a couple of Shankar-Jaikishan composed favorites, one is the haunting title  song that Lata Mangeshkar sang in the background song where actresses Nanda and Helen, hero Manoj Kumar and others  seem lost; and the other one is while feisty Laxmi-Chhaya is in rock-n-roll mode in a club scene for which Mohammad Rafi sings with such pizzazz.  🙂

Surprise, the lyrics for this one are written by Shailendra, while the sombre one is Hasrat Jaipuri’s writing. Enjoy both… listen to whichever you feel will fascinate you more. 🙂

 

 

 

The song: ‘Saanvre, Saanvre’ – Film “Anuradha” (1960)

Outstanding in every way, ‘Saanvre, Saanvre’ is a splendid example of lyrics, composition and the singer’s voice unifying into a sublime creation! Shailendra the poet-lyricist, sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, and melodious Lata Mangeshkar were all in their prime, as was the gorgeous actress Leela Naidu making her Hindi film debut with the title role “Anuradha” (1960). Paired with Balraj Sahni, my favorite actor from that era, the film has an interesting role for Abhi Bhattacharya also (I’ve surmised from another song that I listened to).

I was so overwhelmed by Saanvre Saanvre feeling compelled to transcribe it straightaway, lest it escaped me and was forgotten from my memory. Of course, it is in Hindi. Someday, if I get a chance, will transcribe in English as well… As the film begins, this ‘ten-year-old’ song plays on the radio, with the announcer/anchor introducing the listener to the singer “Anuradha Rai”. The film credits begin to scroll onscreen, but I’m not certain if this song appears again later. I should watch this award winner some point when I have time. https://youtu.be/ikeys1kkQCs

फिल्म: अनुराधा
गीतकार: शैलेंद्र
संगीत: पंडित रविशंकर
साल: १९६०
गायक: लता मंगेशकर

सांवरे … सांवरे

सांवरे सांवरे
जाओ सांवरे सांवरे
काहे मोसे करो जोरा-जोरी
बैयां ना मरोड़ो मोरी
दूंगी दूंगी गारी हटो जाओ जी
सांवरे सांवरे

संग ना सहेली, पाएके अकेली
संग ना सहेली, पाएके अकेली
अब ना जाहते मोरे शाम
रोको ना डगर मोरी
हा आ आ आ

सांवरे सांवरे
जाओ सांवरे सांवरे
काहे मोसे करो जोरा-जोरी
बैयां ना मरोड़ो मोरी
दूंगी दूंगी गारी हटो जाओ जी
सांवरे सांवरे
जाओ सांवरे

गोपी-ग्वाले, देखने वाले
गोपी-ग्वाले, देखने वाले
बिन विचारे कहेंगे सारे
पकड़ी राधा की चोरी
हा आ आ आ

सांवरे सांवरे
जाओ सांवरे सांवरे
काहे मोसे करो जोरा-जोरी
बैयां ना मरोड़ो मोरी
दूंगी दूंगी गारी हटो जाओ जी
सांवरे सांवरे

मुरली बजाओ, गैयां चराओ
मुरली बजाओ, गैयां चराओ
हमरी गैल छोड़ो ऐ छैल
मिलो जब आवे होरी
हा आ आ आ
सांवरे
हा आ आ आ
सांवरे
आ आ आ
सांवरे
आ आ आ
सांवरे

Drawing Parallels: “The Railway Man”

Last evening I watched “The Railway Man” (2014), a film based on the true story about this British officer, Eric Lomax from Edinburgh up north in Scotland, who at age 24 in 1943 was held PoW at a Japanese camp in the Far East. Inhumanly tortured while in the clutches of the Kempeitai until end October 1945, he suffered for several decades, long after his return to Britain, and after the war had ended. He was an avid railway enthusiast, almost obsessively so. In 1995, basically 50 years after those traumatic life-altering experiences during World War II, his autobiography was published. In the film, Lomax is portrayed as an engineer. Well, as a matter of fact, in 1939, Eric — all of 19 — had joined the Royal Corps of Signals!

Story: Eric Lomax | Screenplay: Andy Paterson, Frank Cottrell-Boyce | Director: Jonathan Teplitzky |
Actors: Colin Firth | Nicole Kidman | Jeremy Irvine | Hiroyuki Sanada | Tanroh Ishida | Sam Reid | Stellan Skarsgård (Stellar performances!)

Strange and far-fetched as it may sound, I just couldn’t help but think of Hindi film lyricist Anand Bakshi. Some segments of his early life cross my mind often, so here are some parallels. Long before our man reached popularity as song-writer, young Bakhshi, at age 14, had joined the Royal Indian Navy. Within two years, when the Empire was in free-fall after WW II, the uprising in the docks i.e. the Naval Mutiny of 1946 was essentially the hot-bed of revolt against Colonial power. Anand Bakhshi, from Rawalpindi (erstwhile North-West India)  participated in the Mutiny. This act of treason at the time, invited the wrath of the rulers, and he could have faced capital punishment, but ‘somehow’ (a story for another day) he had a narrow escape. He was ‘merely’ expelled from the Navy. The following year brought mayhem in the sub-continent, not unlike the atrocities of the Kempeitai which are likened to the infamous Holocaust in Europe. In the aftermath of India’s Partition, Anand Bakhshi joined the Indian Army, but now in what capacity? You bet… as Signal Man “Azad” in the Corps of Signals… for two years! Now wait… thereafter he attempted to find his place under the sun (oh, well… in “suneema-cinema“, but failed)… so Bakhshi was back in the Army and now, where did he join? He joined The Corps of Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (E.M.E.) when he was 21 and stayed on until 1956 when the film bug that had continued to bother him, he could bear it no more. That’s a long story that merits a biography.

Anand Bakshi was too busy writing film songs until he passed away on March 30th, 2002. He did not have time to pen an autobiography, alas… but he has expressed a myriad emotions through his songs… through characters in films –  men, women and kids — he lives on. Some of his most memorable songs are visualized on railway men, or using the train as a metaphor… but as a fan of this film song writer, I had to write this… let’s call this my tribute – a few weeks ahead of his 14th death anniversary. While Eric Lomax lived on until October 8th, 2012, and was born eleven years ahead of the Indian songwriter, they both lived with a deep pain in their heart that stayed with them for a lifetime… the biopic is poignant; as are the lyrics of many songs I have hummed for long.

Film: Vidhata (1982)

Composer: Kalyan ji-Anand ji | Lyrics: Anand Bakshi | Singer: Suresh Wadkar
Actors: Dilip Kumar | Shammi Kapoor

 

Film: Dost (1974)

Composer: Laxmikant-Pyarelal | Lyrics: Anand Bakshi | Singer: Kishore Kumar            Actor: Dharmendra

 

“Robyn Davidson” quotes I love… but who is Robyn?

“And there are new kinds of nomads, not people who are at home everywhere, but who are at home nowhere. I was one of them ”
― Robyn Davidson, Desert Places

This quote caught my attention right away. I knew I had to watch the film until the very end… no falling asleep like I often do when we begin a film as late as when it’s time for most folks to call it a day, especially on week nights. Robyn is a nomad first, a writer later — that’s how I view her. This is an opinion I’ve formed last night after watching just this single film, “Tracks”, based on her own book, “Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback”.

It was not as much the cinematography, nor some fantasy depicted on celluloid… it was this young girl’s arduous journey that was utterly fascinating. No one urged Robyn to embark upon this long trek… an idea that was preposterous in itself. Was it the turmoil within her that spurred her into seeking camels, training them to accompany her across the desert — miles and miles and miles of land that would eventually lead her to the Indian Ocean. Yes, she had chalked out her route, and with a compass that her father – an explorer (or gold digger) – gifted her before she left Alice Springs, a town located in the geographic heart of the continent, Down Under, she set afoot on her journey.

Referred to as “The Camel Lady” by those who saw her walking with Diggity, her best friend – her dog, (you guessed right) and a train of four camels lugging all she would need along the way, she went on and on relentless… Dookie, Bub, Zeleika, and Goliath followed her. Somewhere along the line her trek was sponsored by The National Geographic Magazine – no less. She disliked the idea – intensely – but finally relented, accepting their assistance, and Rick Smolan’s attention — albeit, sparingly. She wanted to be alone. Period. She did not set off on this journey for money, and nor did she seek fame. But those who seek not, shall receive.

Robyn Davidson — I looked her up this morning – and voilà, what do I find? An accomplished author in her own right, for some time she was in a relationship with Salman Rushdie… really! My guess is it must have been during the time he was writing The Satanic Verses, but before his book was published in 1988. Just my wild guess… no doubt, Robyn’s trek across the wilderness of the outback had been long completed in the late 1970s – in fact, during the most part of 1977 – nine months in all. She had been there, done that, and then some… shot wild camel bulls, traversed through land of the indigenous Australians (but respecting their ‘secret’ rites and rituals) – but not without ‘Eddie’, her Warakurna guide and companion for many hundred miles.

“FOR THE NEXT TWO DAYS Eddie and I walked together, we played charades trying to communicate and fell into fits of hysteria at each other’s antics. We stalked rabbits and missed, picked bush foods and generally had a good time. He was sheer pleasure to be with, exuding all those qualities typical of old Aboriginal people — strength, warmth, self-possession, wit, and a kind of rootedness, a substantiality that immediately commanded respect.”
― Robyn Davidson, Tracks: One Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback

People, if there’s even a little of the Bohemian in you, a dash of daring, or the armchair curiosity to see the grit and gumption of this ‘dynamo’, here’s a film you must watch. Mia Wasikowska, who plays the lead role of the adult Robyn will keep you glued to the edge of your seat, while she gazes at the stars above, laying on her sleeping gear in the wilderness of Australia.

Yes, “Tracks” (2013)  brings drama, adventure and the zest to tread into the unknown… all at once, in your living room.

“I could not get used to the idea of there being classes of people inherently inferior to oneself, to whom one could be as odiously condescending or downright brutal as one likes, yet with whom one lived as intimately as family.”
― Robyn Davidson, Desert Places

“… It is better to proceed with one’s duty in the service of others than wallow in the pain attachments bring”
― Robyn Davidson, Desert Places

“To be free one needs constant and unrelenting vigilance over one’s weaknesses. A vigilance which requires a moral energy most of us are incapable of manufacturing. We relax back into the moulds of habit. They are secure, they bind us and keep us contained at the expense of freedom. To break the moulds, to be heedless of the seductions of security is an impossible struggle, but one of the few that count. To be free is to learn, to test yourself constantly, to gamble. It is not safe. I had learnt to use my fears as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks, and best of all I had learnt to laugh.”
― Robyn Davidson, Tracks: One Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback

“Because if you are fragmented and uncertain it is terrifying to find the boundaries of yourself melt. Survival in a desert, then, requires that you lose this fragmentation, and fast. It is not a mystical experience, or rather, it is dangerous to attach these sorts of words to it.”
― Robyn Davidson, Tracks: One Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback


 

Remembrance (2011): My Take

Last evening, I watched this foreign film, “Remembrance”.

It is the story about a Jewish woman, Hannah Silberstein, who struggles to break free from the dark memories of her past life in the Auschwitz concentration camp during Poland’s SS occupation.

Young Hannah falls in love with an inmate, Tomasz Limanowski. Together, after they escape from the camp, he returns home, introducing Hannah – his fiancée – to his mother. Instead of warmth and joy, they face Mrs. Limanowski’s wrath. Circumstances compel Tomasz to leave his too-ill-to-travel fiancée in maternal care — for just a couple of days. 30 years later, Hannah catches a glimpse of him on TV. Truly, was this the same Tomasz who had rescued her? Where did he go? Did his mother reconcile? Now, what?

Remembrance2011Film2

An interesting story set in the mid-’70s, the film’s narrative moves back and forth spatially and temporally, transposing audiences from Brooklyn, NY, to a tiny village in Eastern Europe. Paced perfectly, you will savor the romance and anticipation, while feeling the pain of separation when two people are in love, the circumstances notwithstanding.

The older Hannah – played by Dagmar Manzel – plays a fine role of an anguished woman battling her demons during her 30 year old marriage to an affluent businessman. Based on the true story of Jerzy Bielecki, a Polish social worker born in the early 1920s, and Cyla Cybulska, a young Polish-Jewish woman, the only one to have survived after her family was murdered. Played poignantly by Alice Dwyer, you will see glimpses of defiance and determination even during her stricken youth. Mateusz Damięcki and Lech Mackiewicz, as the young rebel Limanowski, and as the older Tomash, respectively, both portray the character deftly, and with just the right portions of passion and aggression.

Remembrance2011Film

Director Anna Justice has delivered a fine film, with the entire cast in tune with the story. In 105 minutes of the film’s duration she has unfolded the characters at a pace that holds your attention, while developing every one of them – short, or tall – as a strong presence – whether brief, or long. Hannah’s husband, their adult daughter, Tomasz’s brother and his wife, Janusz – a family friend… every character is memorable.

This German film was released in late 2011, so NetFlix aficionados are fortunate to be able to watch it now… before they pull it off from their drama and foreign film categories. Original title: “Die verlorene Zeit”.

Bollywood fans? Awaara Dream Sequence Interpretation

By sheer accident a few minutes ago, came upon this site… Now what was I searching for? Yeah, Awaara – interpretation of the dream sequence in this film. For a project I’m working on in collaborative mode, I’d considered a very different interpretation for the end of this song… (without having ever watched the iconic classic of the early ’50s; had just read the storyline).
Wondering whether Raj Kapoor calls out Seeta, Seeta Seeta at the end, or is it Rita, Rita, Rita… or as someone suggested – Neeta Neeta Neeta… 🙂 I thought he utters “Seeta Seeta Seeta” – his mother is banished by her husband on grounds of infidelity when she’s abducted by a rogue character. But in fact, the rogue had learned that she’s an expectant mother. So he leaves her untouched. After a few days, he allows her to return to her husband (he’s a judge by profession, and the abduction by Jagga was some vendetta of sorts). But the Judge would not accept his wife on grounds of possible tainted chastity. She’s now a destitute. Her baby grows up into this young man, a role played by Raj Kapoor. Nargis, leading lady in the film, is the daughter of the Judge (well, he had raised her, it seems and she’s a lawyer by profession). For Raj Kapoor’s misdemeanor she stands as his advocate. (He’s obviously smitten by her beauty+brains). As a consequence of the inner conflicts of his mind and heart this dream sequence conjures up in his head. It could also be a nightmare of sorts. Towards the end of the sequence he calls out to Nargis, who’s being pulled by this evil genie like Jagga and she’s fast fading away. Raj Kapoor calls out… now was he all mixed up and calling out to save his mother who’s the virtuous Seeta Maiyaa  type character in the film? Seeta who was abducted  by Ravana in the epic tale Ramayana? On her return to Ayodhya, she’s banished by her husband Rama (who had rescued her from Lanka)  under pressure from the people. She had to prove her chastity! Oh well, so… I viewed RK as calling out to Seeta… Never mind all of the above. 😉
If you’d like to watch the dream sequence here it is:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLCmhNeaYfA
If the storyline I wrote in a mish-mash manner piqued your interest, bookmark this page for further info.
For the plausible interpretation, check this out… http://www.letstalkaboutbollywood.com/article-20545057.html
Now I just found yet another reference to the ‘direct inspiration’ for the dream dance from Uday Shankar’s “Kalpana” (1948). Check this out. http://cinemanrityagharana.blogspot.com/2013/04/simkies-choreography-in-awara-dream.html  This page also has the link to the older film itself. (Am watching it here now). 😉

 

The About Me reads: “I’m a French lover of Indian cinema, but I’m also interested in literature, science, art, and reflection in general. This blog will reflect these tastes more or less!French lover of Indian cinema, but I’m also interested in literature, science, art, and reflection in general. This blog will reflect these tastes more or less!” Wow… kudos to him/her for the interpretation. We may never learn the late actor Raj Kapoor’s true metaphoric intentions.  A bit more about the actor for those who’re interested is an interesting read @ http://southasiainstitute.harvard.edu/website/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Raj_Kapoor_film_comments.pdf

Dancer, Photographer, Soprano Singer, Writer, Director, Movie maker… Dreamer?

A short while ago a couple of people ‘followed’ me i.e. this blog. Now that can seem mighty flattering, if you too blog, be it on Blogger, WordPress, or wherever else… By the way, can someone tell me if there’s a ‘word’ for someone who blogs on WordPress?

Pronto, like for the 99.99% out there, curiosity got the better of me so I checked out these followers, and whoa, what do I see? One of them is an actress with her very own IMDb page. But for me, this lady is accomplished in ways that hold a greater significance. Well-traveled across four continents, that too solo; a photographer, a dancer, beautiful and bold enough to battle with a baboon… no, kidding I’m not! I won’t plagiarize, or re-post what Lena has posted, photographed or written about. To get to know a bit of her very interesting character, you may want to begin here, and she will lead you thereon. 😉 Thank you, Lena. I recall visiting your page many months ago and then again moments ago. What a fantastic journey you’re on. Lovely, and my best wishes to you for even more exciting times ahead.

Another person that I listened to yesterday is a soprano singer. It is simply amazing when I learned of her achievements. It speaks to her sheer dedication, and in no small measure her determination. Searching for a link to add here, I visited Charlotte‘s blog even as I’m typing these words. It’s just fascinating to see the dreams of people taking shape, in one form or another… music, dance… wow!

Recently, I wrote about an indie film. It took the writer/director over seven years to bring his dream to fruition. I do wish his film too meets with the success it deserves… both, for his effort, for taking on a subject that is both intricate as it is difficult to explain in a few scenes.

Thank you people, for allowing me, and the world, to peek into your vast universe that’s brimming with dreams. Pray, where’s the dream catcher?  About some of the others I will write again another day. 🙂

The Wisdom Tree film… a spiritual journey that traverses farther yonder!

On a dark, stormy night, driving on an empty road in Northern California, Steve Hamilton, a self-conflicted quantum physicist meets with an implausibly bizarre car accident! Dr. Trisha Rao, a compassionate but unwavering neurologist attending to Steve’s injuries, and an anguished FBI Agent, Mike Parker, attempt to untangle this baffling accident. The mystery deepens as the trio stumbles upon clues rooted in fine art, music, mysticism, spirituality, and science. The confounding clues trigger a cascade of questions; before long, the troika foresees the inevitable — the human race is at risk! With twists in the plot, this sci-fi drama progresses to avert a looming catastrophe.  A haunting background score with ethereal vocals, integral to the story, lends to the timeless dimension of The Wisdom Tree film, essentially a fiction story.

The Wisdom Tree melds quantum physics with eastern mysticism in a riveting mystery that swirls around human desires and their latent fears. The knotted plot of this sci-fi drama tangles around an exquisite backdrop of fine art paintings, Indian classical music, and new age elements, alluding that the universe is multidimensional, strange, and harmonic; and, as some eastern spiritual traditions have long maintained, “All is One”. Amidst this harmonious confluence of colors, shapes, shadows, light, space, time, mystery, math, music, and the mystical, lurks a profound question, “Could this be true?”

Recently, did you watch the film première at AMC Metreon in San Francisco? Or, their next screening in Orinda, East Bay, California? Well, if mysticism, mystery, sci-fi, spirituality, art, music are your scene, you may not want to miss this film. Ever since its private screenings earlier in 2013 at Emory University, Atlanta, and at the Science and Non-Duality Conference, San Jose, audiences and invitees have been intrigued by this indie. Here’s the small catch… it isn’t mass-distributed. Hence, you may want to sign up to request a screening in your town. If this subject excites you, you may even want to volunteer and get your friends, family, like-minded folks near you at your Meet Ups or Groups to sign up. The sooner you all sign up, and the more number of folks express interest, the sooner it will be screened in a town near you. Well, I’ll make this easy… watch The Wisdom Tree film trailer. 😉

Oh, I almost forgot to mention… the ravishing Sheetal Sheth is in the key role as neurologist, and Patrick Alparone, a fine theater actor you may know of already, plays his first film role as quantum physicist. Check them out. There are many fine actors this film has drawn. The crew also includes some eminent Oscar winners and other award nominees. Personally, it all speaks well of Writer/Director Sunil Shah, and the co-producers of the film, Laura Techera Francia and Renu Vora. There are many names you may recognize. Visit their facebook page, or join their growing number of followers on twitter… indeed, they’re active.

Fateless…

Close your eyes. Turn away. Forget. But can you? Is ‘catharsis’ the driving force behind the making of numerous Holocaust-based movies?

With the deluge of films like “The Pianist”,  “Schindler’s List”,  “The Diary of Anne Frank”,  “Judgment at Nuremberg”, “Europa Europa”, “Out of the Ashes”… the list goes on. Will the hurt that was inflicted so long ago ever heal? Are the movies meant to delude us? Or are they meant for us to never forget the heinous atrocities inflicted on a singular race!

Last night, I watched a film directed by Lajos Koltai in 2005. A Hungarian film, “Fateless” is based on Imre Kertész‘s ’74 novel, Sorstalanság. The author, a Nobel Prize winner, is a survivor of the Holocaust. The perspective depicted in his film is uniquely removed from that portrayed in numerous other films I’ve watched on this intense subject.

In a recent article in International Herald Tribune, A.O. Scott touches upon “Why so many Holocaust films now, and for whose benefit?

Genocide has recurred time and again in different parts of the world. The people may differ, and geography apart, time and again, history has proof that humans are completely capable of annihilating fellow beings. To what end, for whose benefit?

Flawless… about diamonds, stars, and movies I’ve enjoyed!

Today, I watched “Flawless” starring Michael Caine, Demi Moore, and… diamonds. Not a patch, though, when compared to “Blood Diamond”… which I watched yet again, last night.

It lead me to think what an amazing star Leonardo DiCaprio truly is… a mercenary, out from Rhodesia a.k.a. Zimbabwe, “Danny Archer” teams up with “Solomon Vandy”, the fisherman who was wrenched from his family, his village, and dragged to labor in the “conflict-diamond” mines! Played superbly by Djimon Hounsou as Vandy, together they set out to search for the 100 carat pink diamond… amidst the mayhem lead by the RUF in Sierra Leone in 1999. The movie juxtaposes Vandy’s search for his abducted son-turned-rebel, over Archer’s search for the “rare pink” that would ‘release’ him from the African continent.  Try finding flaws in Edward Zwick’s direction of “Blood Diamond“. I see none!

Zwick floored us as Producer of “Traffic” with Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro, even as Steven Soderbergh shone as Director for this film. Soderbergh has also given us other memorable films, including “Erin Brockovich” starring Julia Roberts; thrillers as in the trilogy “Oceans Eleven-12-13”; “Michael Clayton” with Oscar winners Tilda Swinton, and George Clooney was a Soderbergh production. Back again, Edward Zwick was outstanding as Director of “The Last Samurai” – starring Ken Watanabe and Tom Cruise – and set against a backdrop of late 19th century Japan. Zwick’s “Legends of the Fall” with Brad Pitt & Anthony Hopkins was also visually stunning… of course, by bringing the beauty of the Rockies in Montana, John Toll bagged the Oscar for Best Cinematography for this movie that year (1995).

It reminds me, it’s time to make another animoto clip starring posters of these favorite films.