The Junoon for The Actor, Shashi Kapoor

I vaguely remember the lanky Shashi Kapoor in his tacky Kurta Pajama with a glitzy waist-coat and a cap jumping and singing, “Hum ko.. tum pe.. pyaar aya….” It was from the movie Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965. This is when Raja (Shashi Kapoor) realizes he loves Rita (Nanda), a rich tourist visiting Kashmir. It wasn’t until 1997 when I first saw the film. That year, I had just turned 7.

A delightful and a heartwarming love story, this genre summed up the 2/3 of Kapoor’s entire filmography. He stared in over 170 films in his lifetime, few of which he produced himself including one of my favorites, Junoon (1978).


Junooniyat for Shashi Kapoor

Shashi Kapoor in Junoon

Shashi Kapoor in Junoon

I never knew I would write a piece on the actor someday I least bothered to know about when I was growing up watching all the Hindi films. I was barely making out of Grade 10 and the only films I had watched of Shashi kapoor were; Do Aur Do Paanch, Namak Halaal, Waqt, Pyar Kiye Ja, Jab Jab Phool Khile and Shaan. Till then, I had only seen him second to Amitabh Bachchhan, Shatrughan Sinha or some other lead actors. I least cared to watch a film specifically for Shashi Kapoor. The first time he caught my attention was only in Deewar (1975) in his angst-y role of a moral cop fighting the immoralities of the society and against his own brother. His famous dialogue from the film, “Mere pas Ma hain!” stuck with me for a while. What a swagger he carried? What a visual Punch!

I slowly started growing a taste for Kapoor’s kind of acting. His mannerisms (swinging his limbs in tacky dance numbers), his way of romancing the leading ladies, and the way he always elongated the last word of his dialogue with a smirk, stuck with me.

I believe, I was in Grade 12 when I first saw Junoon (1978). It was produced by Kapoor himself and was directed by the famed parallel-cinema filmmaker Shyam Benegal. Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Jennifer Kendall and Sushma Seth respectively were wonderful in the film, however it was Shashi’s performance as Nawab Javed Khan which marvelously drove the entire story to the climax.

My favorite scene from the film is when Javed and Firdaus (Javed’s mistress) are sharing the bed. They are in a conjugal, yet Javed’s mind is elsewhere. When Firdaus reaches out and grabs his penis to arouse him, he starts gasping for air. The nonconformity starts showing on his face while he languishes and starts making a gesture seemingly like he’s about to erupt. And, so he does. He gives out a loud shriek of remorse. The scene cuts into black.

The buildup of the entire scene is as such; the entire nation is in the war against the Britishers. The mutiny of 1857 raised the whole band of nationalists and army comprising of soldiers and commoners, yet Javed couldn’t bring himself to fight against the colonists but his household battle. His willingness to marry Ruth Labrador, a British girl, crumbles under Firdaus’s will to disallow the second betrothal of her husband. He starts living with a guilt which slowly builds up into cowardice as he’s unable to convince either his wife or Ruth or himself. He starts considering himself an impotent. Being felt like an impotent can have devastating effect on a man with an arrogance like that of Javed Khan.

 

Junoon, till this day, remains my favorite Shashi Kapoor film. I adore him for bringing such a humongous project, actors and director on board to carve out the National Award winning film.

On his other films

Shashi Kapoor in In Custody

Shashi Kapoor in In Custody

It didn’t took me long to get the hang of Junoon and Shashi Kapoor. I instantly fell in love with that man. Naseeruddin Shah couldn’t stand out in the film for me like he did, although, Naseer Saab is my all-time favorite actor. By that time, I also had gotten my hands on The Householder (1963), Shakespeare Wallah (1965), Satyam Sivam Sundaram (1978), Kaala Patthar (1979), Bombay Talkie (1970) and In Custody (1993). Out of all these, only the performance in In Custody really stood out for me.

Kapoor portrayed the aging Urdu poet Nur in In Custody who’s chasing his former fame and lamenting on the loss of Urdu language. He grows tauntingly self-obsessed and obese while only reciting his esteemed poems to his close peers.

Here’s an Urdu prose from the opening credit of the film composed by Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

Aaj ik harf ko phir dhoondta phirta hai khayal (My mind is groping for a word today,)
Madh bhara harf koi, zeher bhara harf koi (A word as sweet as wine, as bitter as poison)
Dil-nashin harf koi, qeher bhara harf koi (A word that bewitches but is full of rage)
Aaj ik harf ko phir dhoondta phirta hai khayal.. (My mind is groping for a word today)

Harf-e-ulfat koi dildar-e-nazar ho jaise (A word as desirable as the lover herself)
Jis’se milti hai nazar bosa-e-lab ki surat (Whose glance is like a kiss on the lips)
Itna roshan ke sare-mauja-e-zar ho jaise (As radiant as a sea of gold)
Sohbat-e-yaar main aghaaz-e-tarab ki surat (In the company of a lover, where love is blossoming)
Harf-e-nafrat koi shamsheer-e-ghazab ho jaise (A hateful word cuts like a terrible sword)
Aaj ik harf ko phir dhoondta phirta hai khayal..(My mind is groping for a word today)

Ta abad shahre-sitam jis’se tabah ho jayein (A word that could destroy this city of sorrow forever)
Itna tariq ke shamshan ki shab ho jaise (As dark as the grave)
Lab pe laoon to mere honth siyah ho jayein (So dark that my lips turn black)
Aaj ik harf ko phir dhoondta phirta hai khayal…(My mind is groping for a word today)

I disliked watching him as the second lead afterwards. I wanted more of Shashi Kapoor and less of others. Although, most of the films he did a lead role in were quite successful, his films as second-lead were some of the greatest hits of Hindi cinema. I wonder, would Amitabh Bachhchan be him today if it wasn’t for Shashi Kapoor supporting his act through and through? I can only wonder.

A person true to himself

I was more used to watching the suave and handsome Shashi Kapoor that I almost forgot he had gotten really old. The time had gotten the best of him and he was an ailing man by the time I had watched most of his films. I read somewhere about Prithvi Theater of Mumbai and how his daughter ‘Sanjana Kapoor’ manages the overall. It was great to know that the man who had spent so much time in films had decided to offer his time and knowledge on building a theater to fulfill his father’s dream of continuing the craft and offering a home to theater-actors.

 

A bit on his personal life

Shashi, who belonged to the second generation of the Kapoors of Hindi Cinema, was the youngest son of the theater and film legend Prithvi Raj Kapoor. He worked in his father’s caravan-theater as a mere staff. He slowly worked his way up like his brothers did and made a name for himself. It wasn’t until the theater started crumbling down that he decided to do films.

His theater life was difficult as he pointed out in an interview, “My father called us majdoor, not jagirdars.” He also found his future wife, Jennifer Kendall sitting among the audience watching the Prithvi’s play one day. He called their first meeting, “it was love at first sight.”

Geoffrey Kendal, Jennifer’s father and the Shakespeareana theater manager was against their marriage. Shashi’s elder brothers helped a great deal to get them married. Later, Shashi and Jennifer starred in many films together, namely; Shakespeare Wallah, Bombay Talkie and Junoon. He made 36 Chowringee Lane (1981) starring Jennifer in the lead.

Unlike many tumultuous marriages of actors, they shared a special bond which lasted until Jennifer’s untimely death in 1984. The man who was known for his suave look and star-like persona started losing his physical appeal. He grew distant from films and put on weight. And, the rest is history!

The Gutsy Shashi

He was the first Hindi actor to go global. He acted in a total of 12 English films. Although, he couldn’t make a big impact among foreign audience, he did manage to make a dent throughout the world. He helped introduce the real India to the global audience.

Preety Polly, Heat & Dust and Sammy & Rosy get laid are few of his foreign ventures.

 

It was devastating reality to face when he passes away in 2017. It was harder to accept that the man I had been looking up to 2/3 of my life was no more. The first thing I did after learning about his demise was finding an old copy of Junoon and re-watching it.

I wish to keep him in my memory as the Nawab Javed Khan; with his tall Pathan stature, ragged turban, thin mustache, long sword and prideful gait.

Advertisements
A scene from the film

The Courtesans of Bombay (1983)

The title “The Courtesans of Bombay” may sound nostalgic because the fervent tradition of entertainment which takes its root to the palaces of Maharajas and Shahenshahs has fazed out entirely. It had its not so glory days in the late 20th century, when it was replaced by films and modern forms of entertainment.

The British docudrama directed by Ismail Merchant in 1983, as his second directorial project, offered insight into the life of modern day courtesans living in their timid apartments and earning daily bread through entertaining the customers. While dancing and singing was the major highlight of their career, most of the performers resorted to prostitution to earn a better living.

Unlike popular courtesan based films, Umrao Jaan (1981) and Pakeeza (11972), the Courtesans of Bombay offered a less-romantic insight on the life of the so called lowly-born denizens.

About the Film

The film was produced by Merchant-Ivory Productions and distributed by BBC’s Channel 4 and New Yorker Films.

Shot entirely inside Pavan Pul, a small settlement in the middle of Bombay (Mumbai). The entire tenement is occupied by the courtesans, their family, and related personals, accounting for 4,000 – 5,000 tenants in total. Almost 12 tenants living inside a dingy room.

The film begins with the scene of a dawn when everyone is either sleeping or about to start their early chore. What took place earlier that night and the following nights is vividly presented on the latter part of the film. Throughout the day, the courtesans either spend time either ruminating inside their apartments or playing cards, and practicing music and dance. Most young girls, who are trained to become the professional courtesans, practice the craft of dancing and singing with much awe.

As mentioned in a scene, “Here (Pavan Pul) is the only place where the birth of a girl child is a cause of celebration but the other way around,” and rightly so, because, the males in the society spent their day idly while girls earn the bread for the family.

A young girl is basically trained in Kathak and Hindustani classical music, along with modern form of dances to lure in the customers. Once she reaches an age, a benefactor arrives with loads of money to take her away with him.

Saeed Jaffrey, Zohra Sehgal and Kareem Samar are the only professional actors in the entire film who have played the characters of the real life people living inside Pavan Pul.

A scene from the film

A scene from the film

Most courtesans complain of the dwindling numbers of connoisseurs, while others remain adamant in their pursuit for the excellence in dance and music. Most courtesans are also trained in the Bollywood and modern dance forms to appeal the new-age customers.

Almost everyone living in the quarters share the similar dream of making it big in the entertainment industry or films, while none except one has ever made it out. Despite the fluctuating income, cheap customers and an uncertain career, they exemplify the passion for becoming better performers. As for almost everyone, the challenge remains in earning daily bread, while the pressure entirely sums up on the shoulders of a single female in the family.

How Courtesans came to be?

Popularly known as ‘Tawaifs’ in India, the courtesans were known to cater the nobility during the Mughal era. They were admired for their niche skills on dancing and singing. The tawaifs were highly praised and supported by the royals and nobles alike. While sex was incidental, tawaifs weren’t known for being indulged in prostitution, unlike the popular misnomer.

Tawaif or Nautch Girl

Tawaif or Nautch Girl

After the decline of Mughal empire, the tawaifs mostly performed for the British officer and Nawabs. Most experts opine that the classical art was rather vulgarized and was rendered useless during this time, however, the popularity of the art spread like wildlife and people started accepting the form. Kathak, Ghazal, Musayra (Shayari), Urdu poems, Thumri and other forms of North Indian music were part of the daily life.

When the nobles vanished, so did the glory of the tawaifs. The courtesans lost benefactors, hence, most of them resorted to private shows to not-so-noble customers and rampant prostitution. The tradition took its last breath in the late 20th century when it was overtly shadowed by films and modern music.

There still are some remnants of the tradition, however, it remains only as a showcase of the bygone culture.

 

The second narrative on Ramayana

Sita Sings the Blues (2008)

As the title suggests, it is the tale of melancholy and sadness narrated by Sita in a musical rendition of the same.

The emergence of feminism in 70s revealed many grave issues faced by women to the media and films; and it not only talked about female rights but it challenged the prevalent ideas based on the thousands of years of history, philosophy, arts and literature which were curated by men. A female perspective on these ideas told an entirely different story than we have heard or believed for ages.

Sita Sings the Blues Poster

Sita Sings the Blues Poster

Nina Paley, the director, producer and writer, retold the ancient tale of love(less) story of Rama & Sita sketched by Valmiki some 1000 years ago, which has already been retold by numbers of men through generations. The film dealt with the time-span of Sita’s life; from the moment she got betrothed to Rama to the event of her final catharsis.

It is presented through the use animation, however, it definitely isn’t a cartoon for that matter. The choice of medium Nina chose offers an entirely refreshing view to the story. It uses different style of animation to separate and identify parallel narratives. The first narrative is the literal translation of Ramayana’s events. The other two narratives respectively deal with the discourse on Ramayana and the relation of the ancient events with the popular culture of today.

The film extensively uses Annette Hanshaw’s jazz songs, which were popular in the radio in 20s and 30s. A huge sum of the entire budget was used only to acquire the rights to her songs.


The Originally Distorted Story

Ramayana was originally penned down by a Brahman sage, Valmiki, who is believed to have lived roughly between 4th Century – 2nd Century BCE. (As mentioned in Quora.com which has recently been invaded by amateur historians, hence, the exact date of Valmiki’s birth remains a mystery) The actual events probably happened just before Valmiki’s birth or during his lifetime.

As many websites, historians and texts mention varying dates of the events, where some go as far as 7,000-20,000 years before, the proof of actual date of the event is now improbable. (Most historians distorted the date over the time to establish Hinduism’s early prominence among all the religions). The first Ved was written roughly between 1700 -1100 BCE during the Vedic Sanskrit era, hence Valmiki couldn’t have lived before 1st century BCE. The original Pali leaf on which Vamiki wrote the story was discovered in 11th century.

The original translation goes as such;

Rama and Sita

Rama and Sita

The story of Ramayana follows the life of Rama and Sita. Sita, a princess of Mithila Kindgom, is betrothed to Rama of Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh). Shortly after their marriage, King of Ayodhya banish them to 14 years of exile. During this time, Ravana, the mighty Tamil King from Sri Lanka, takes interest on Sita and abducts her. He takes her forcefully to his kingdom and confines her in the palace garden. He demands to marry her, however, on the moral ground attested by Sita, Ravana drops his decision for a while.

Meanwhile, Rama summons the army of men and apes alike and takes Sri Lanka by force. Eventually, almost all the male members of Ravana’s family die in the battle. Ravana’s brother Dushasana takes Rama’s side and helps the latter to avenge his pride by killing Ravana.

Shortly after the end of the battle, Rama demands Sita to prove her chastity. Sita does so by walking through the flame unburnt. Ram accepts her, however, only to banish her later when his realm starts questioning her chastity. Sita later gives birth to her twin sons. When Rama finds out about them, he arrives to take them away with him however, he demands Sita to prove her chastity again to be eligible to become his queen. In a state of melancholy, Sita demands the mother Earth to digest her up inside her womb, hence, seeking relief from the world. The mother Earth appears and taker Sita away, leaving Rama and her two children all by themselves. 


Nina Paley’s Version

The authenticity of the events is questionable, however, over the time the story of Rama and his valor swept through South Asia. Many hymns and literature were inscribed to support the theory. The story of Sita however has mostly been about her perseverance and sacrifices which is used by men to glorify the portrayal of a generic Hindu women; a great sacrificer, a person with zero choice of rights and a basically gender biased citizen.

Nina’s version portrays the truth Sita had to face whilst Rama was busy examining his valor. She offered three different narratives; the first narrative is the literal adoption of Ramayana, the second narrative discourses on the events and its criticisms, while the third narrative presents her own life experiences similar to Sita.

The first narrative is entirely composed using intelligently selected cliparts depicting the popular images of the characters. The second narrative uses shadow puppet and vector graphic animation to portray a modern rendition of the characters. The third narrative uses squigglevision technique of animation to portray her own life experience.

Insight on Ninas version

Nina protests against the men-driven-world for fabricating the history as their will, and to have degraded women and their choices for ages. Alike Sita, Nina is abandoned by her husband which pulls her closer to the life and trials of Sita and the hard decisions she had to make to seek salvation.

She uses Greek chorus style of narration to discourse on the events of Ramayana and its consequences in the contemporary society. The whole discourse is funny yet insightful.

Although Rama hasn’t been portrayed well in the film, she drives her point through the real portrayal of Sita instead. In an interview with India-West, she did acknowledge that Lord Ram is not depicted well in the film. She added to the source: “No one has to like it.

She even offers an insight on Ravana’s perspective on abducting Sita and the events that followed. Although, it isn’t the major issue of the film, it does try to clarify the stand of Ravana to some extent.


You can find the complete film here,

Nina on ‘Sita Sings the Blues’

Court scene from "To Kill a Mockingbird'

Depiction of Racism in Cinema

I was one of many in my neighborhood and school to have called out name ‘bhaiya’ or ‘madhisey’ for the street vendors from Madhesh. It was the earliest misnomer I picked up from my own family and neighbors. It was easy blemishing someone’s identity by just refereeing them with an offensive name; but it never occurred to me then how those small incidents would impact my conscience years later.

It was easy growing up a racist; even throwing subtle racist remarks towards close friends with a laugh to hide it after. Once I got hold of what it feels like, it was harder growing up afterwards. It was tough unlearning the things I learned. The phase of self-analysis and atonement began.

I never had a moral figure in my life, I only had elders and the mainstream Hindi films to look up to. And, I learned what they casually preached. To treat someone different on the basis of their color, language, accent and occupation is a grave offense which often goes unpunished in our society. if it weren’t true, I should have been incarcerated long ago.


Depiction of Racism in Cinema

Films made on Racism or race related issues find a deep place among niche audience, however, most treat them as just movies. Most of the time, they are often branded too controversial for their depiction of the bitter reality or are outright obliterated for being too offensive. Mostly because, real historical portrayal brings unpleasant attention towards certain class of people or group.

Segregation 1940s

Segregation during 1940s

The earliest film ever made on the issue of racism didn’t came out until mid-1950s, around the same time the American civil rights movement took the noble step. It took a while to bring the subject of African-Americans and other minorities into Hollywood. In contrast, these films aren’t only the reflection of the prevalent racism in America but the entire world where the racial minorities are expulsed by the society and the justice system. Racism is prevalent in Asian countries too and extraordinarily in larger number, however, we only have had few films that ever dealt with the issue.

To quote James Baldwin (American novelist and social critic),

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.

When we talk about the depiction of racism in cinema, the earliest films that come to our mind are 12 Angry Men and To Kill a Mockingbird. Both of which are the finest example of films ever made depicting the prevalent racism in the society.

12 Angry Men came out in 1957 and To Kill a Mockingbird in 1962. These two films are only 5 years apart from each other, however, the issue depicted in both the films resonates the sociopolitical strife made on the racial minorities. `The racial profiling and mistreatment of the minorities in America is largely the context for both the films.

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is based on a book, by the same title, by Harper Lee which went to win the Pulitzer Prize. The film too went to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Both the setting of the book and the author emerges from the Southern America in 1930s, hence highlighting the prevalent social issues existing in the South. The story is inspired by the life of a young African-American man, Tom Robinson, who is falsely accused of rape of a young white woman. The accused is indicted; and later killed while trying to flee the court. The movie came out the same year Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was jailed for his involvement in the civil rights movement.

“12 Angry Men” takes on the issue of a young Puerto Rican man falsely accused of a homicide. It closely follows the debate on indictment by the 12 jurors assigned for the trial. The story goes as such, “A young Puerto Rican man is falsely accused of killing his own father on the basis of few unreliable testimonies provided by the witnesses. The jurors base their judgments on the Reasonable doubt and accuse the man for the first degree murder, however, one juror believes in fairer trial for all and persuades others to give a thought before letting their judgement take over. What follows is a long debate on the man’s right for justice, along with reflection on the jurors’ biases and justice system. The jurors reflect on their own life and beliefs before deciding the fate of the young man, but it takes lot of persuasion from one single man to make it happen. At the end, the accused is proven innocent and acquitted by the court.”

Unlike To Kill a Mockingbird, which is set in Alabama during 1930s, the story of 12 Angry Men is entirely set in New York City, hence the outcome of both the stories differ. There were less likely chances of Tom Robinson, an African-American, ever being acquitted in the white-supremacist state. In an interesting theory, neither would the accused Puerto Rican from 12 Angry Men stand a chance of being acquitted if his trial was ever conducted in the southern state of Alabama. Here both the events are triggered by the supposed crimes committed by the person of a racial minority, and both the trails are conducted by the justice system led by white men.

The surprising similarity in both is that they have white male protagonists. Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird and Davis in 12 Angry Men, a lawyer and an Architect respectively. Both are the highly regarded personals of the society. Both the protagonists are well educated and serve as the downright moral hero of the story. They both advocate the civil rights and justice for the weaker class of citizens,

Although, cinema has inclined upwards and many such sensible films have been made in the last 60 years, a colored male or female protagonists with a strong moral characters have been seen only lesser. Few films with such an adjustment can only be seen in the modern era works of Ida Wells: The Passion for Justice (1989), Paul Robeson: Here I stand (1999) and Richard Wright –Black Boy (1994).

In Context of Nepali Films

In Nepal, the racism existed since the creation of the first state. The prevalent Hindu hierarchy has attested the rudimentary practice of racial profiling and differentiation since the inception of caste based system. There are hardly any films in Nepal made on the discrimination faced by people on the basis of their race, caste or color, mainly because we mostly lack audience and filmmakers who can tackle such an overwhelming project with an assertive approach.

Most of the mainstream films made in Nepal tend to exploit the cliché and stereotypical constitution of the racial minorities but discourage it entirely. It still tends to be a fun-stock for the general audience, hence, there are less likely chances of sensible racism-countering films ever being made.

Celebrating The spirit of Khajuraho

A new video surfaced on May 2, 2018 starring two stunning Indian models; Farrah Kader and Elinor Chhris. The video showcased the glory of Sexuality in the Indian subcontinent. Although the video is titled the spirit of Khajuraho, only the Kama and Moksha parts are displayed in the video. The other two symbols; Dharma & Artha, seem to be absent.

Nonetheless, the artistic piece produced by Hummingbee Media and Entertainment is carefully crafted to accentuate the rich history of arts, culture and sexuality in the Indian subcontinent. The overall presentation is fabulous and soothing. It is directed by Surendra Hirawale.

Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Madhya Pradesh, India is famous for its Hindu & Jain temples and intricate art pieces carved on the stone-walls of the temple. Few of the art pieces account for erotic sculptures depicting the sexual positions described in Kamasutra, ancient text on sex.

A still from Bioscopewala

Bioscopewala (2018)

Bioscope stands for a hand driven film projector, whereas wala is a Hindi word for owner or person. When we mix them both, it gives way to a someone who own or runs a bioscope.

Based on the short story of Rabindranath Tagore’s “Kabuliwala”, Bioscopewala is a contemporary rendition of the same but with essential changes to the backdrop of Kabuliwalah’s life and social milieu of the story.

Directed by Deb Medhekar, who puts his strong foot into cinema from advertisements through this film, Bioscopewala carries the overall essence of thoughtful cinema. It isn’t only the story of a foreigner and a small child, but the entire human relationships and complex emotions. By briefly portraying the Afghanistan’s terror state, it takes the story of Kolkata’s (Calcutta) meager locality and goes to the distant places where people face similar problems in life.


Review

Bioscopewala Poster

Bioscopewala Poster

Unlike Rehmun, a dry fruits seller from Kabuliwala, Rehmat Khan in Bioscopewala travel places with his hand-made bioscope projector showcasing clips of Hindi films to eager children and pedestrians. The original story dates back to 1892 when most of Indian subcontinent was still a part of British colony and Kabuliwalah was an economic migrant in India.

Rehmat Khan belongs to Hazara community of Shia Muslims in modern day Afghanistan. After facing constant oppression from major Sunni tribes and Wahabi militants, Rehmat migrates to Kolkata with two Pashtun women. Here he finds his new life as a Bioscopewala. He rejoices in sharing his cinematic experience with small children. Here he befriends Minnie, a Bengali girl of same age as his daughter killed by the militants back in Afghanistan. He sees his own daughter in her.

The story comprises the timeline from 90s till present. Minnie and Kolkata sees much upheaval in 25 years, however, the time is stuck for Rehmat when he is jailed for 20+ years. When he’s finally released, he finds solace in Minnie’s compassion however he cannot make of anything due to his deteriorating health and Alzheimer.

The film covers varied topics, such as; human relationship, communal violence and exodus, however, the core theme revolves around the expulsion of complex emotions, the understanding and concern for a fellow human being and lack of intrinsic value in relations. Director Deb Medhakar began where Tagore left off. He offers insight into the life of a migrant and what causes a person to change over the time. The story isn’t only of Kolkata or Afghanistan but the entire human settlements around the world.

Rafey Mehmood’s brilliant cinematography and Sandesh Sandhilya’s relevant background score lights up the entire film. It runs for a full 91 minutes, however, you do not get bored even for a bit, unless you’re looking for dance numbers or actions.

Synopsis

The film begins with Robi Basu (Adil Hussain) a famous photographer and middle-aged man, traveling to Afghanistan. Due to uneventful circumstances, the plane crashes killing the entire crew and passengers. Minnie (Geetanjali Thapa), Robi’s daughter, comes to know about it and rushes to the airport to find his whereabouts. After he’s pronounced dead, Minnie walks back home to find his Kaku, a housemaid, in grief.

In a state of hullabaloo, Minnie finds it difficult to cope with all the legal procedures. To her misfortune, a stranger lands up in her house; a 70 year old Rehmat Khan (Danny Denzongpa), a freed convict and an Alzheimer patient. She finds out that Robi had secured his custody upon his release from the prison, however, after his untimely death, Minnie has to deal with it. After some time, she recalls that the man is the same person she used to adore in her childhood, Bioscopewala. She tries to find out more about him, however, due to lack of information she isn’t able to find anything important. With the help of Kaku, she locates people from the life of Rehmat Khan and tries solving the mystery of his past life.

Alike her, Rehmat has a daughter back home, whom he hasn’t met for ages. Minnie tries consolidating his remainder life by traveling to Afghanistan and finding her whereabouts, however, in the process she unravels the past of Rehmat Khan’s life. His daughter was brutally killed by the hands of militants and his small home-run cinema burned down to ashes. Upon this, she knows Rehmat migrated to India to find peace and his bleak future.

When she finally returns back home, she finds Rehmat in a state of delusion from Alzheimer and old age. She tries convincing him that she found his daughter. In reminiscence of his early life in India, he sees his daughter in present day Minnie again and rejoices.


Bioscopewala (2018), Adapted from “Kabuliwala”

Directed by Deb Medhakar, Written by Sunil Doshi and Deb Medhakar, Produced by Sunil Doshi, Starring: Danny Denzongpa, Geetanjali Thapa, Adil Hussain and Tisca Chopra

Mukkabaaz

Mukkabaaz (2018)

Mukkabaaz (2018), a sports thriller, is a film rich with enthralling performances by its lead actors and equally original story. Shot entirely in many cities of Uttar Pradesh, the film carries authenticity and essence of Anurag Kashyap’s earlier films. The issues of cow vigilante and mob lynching events are well incorporated into the story.

The film also tackles the burning issue of racism prevalent in Indian society. Mukkabaaz is well worth one or more watch.


Review

Mukkabaaz poster

Mukkabaaz poster

The film generally discusses the poor state of boxing in India due to political interventions. Bhagwan Das, a Brahmin and the head of State Boxing Federation despises Shravan Kumar for his personal grudges and the latter’s lesser caste. He prevents him from participating in any major boxing events and also from marrying his niece. In one scene, Bhagwan Das insults Sanjay Kumar, who belongs to lower Hindu caste, by demanding the waiter to serve separate water jar for him.

The story was penned down by Vineet Kumar Singh himself after seeing the perilous state of boxers in India and prevalent racism hurting the sentiments of sportsmen belonging to lesser castes. Anurag Kashyap took up the project when Vinnet wasn’t able to find potential producers. Anurag agreed on a condition to direct/produce the film if Vineet could train himself and become a boxer. After discreetly training for a year, he took the lead role of Shravan Singh, an amateur boxer trying to make it big.

Sports in India is directly influenced by the local politics. Unlike, major sports, namely; Cricket and Hockey, boxers in India face dire situations regarding the professional training, compensation and international sports participation.

In one of the scenes, Shravan and his new coach are mob lynched in suspicion of consuming beef, depicting the communal tension in most parts of the country The issue first came into light in 2015 when a Muslim man was lynched by a mob in suspicion of slaughtering and eating beef in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh.

Background scores are well composed. The bouts are perfectly choreographed with nothing over the top. It may remind you of the famous bout scenes from the Rocky series starring Sylvester Stallone.

 

Synopsis

Shravan Singh (Vineet Kumar Singh) is an amateur boxer trying his luck under the tutelage of the local goon and the head of State Boxing Federation, Bhagwan Das Mishra (Jimmy Shergill). When he tries reiterating his stand on performing on the ring but running errands for Bhagwan Das, the latter kicks him out and prevents him from competing in any major boxing events.

Shravan is madly in love with Bhagwan Das’s mute niece Sunaina (Zoya Hussain). Both decide to get married despite Bhagwan Das’s warning. He competes and win the state level boxing championship with the help of his new coach Sanjay Kumar (Ravi Kishan). He earns a government job and tries balancing through married life, new job and boxing.

The story takes a new turn when Bhagwan Das abducts Sunaina and her family, and forces Shravan to either quit boxing or his wife. Despite much difficulties, Shravan manages to save Sunaina and her family.  Seeing this, Bhagwan Das prevents him from competing in the final match of the National Boxing Championship. Shravan persuades Bhagwan Das to let him compete for the last time and retire on the ring as a sportsman. Within the first minute of the match, Shravan lets his opponent hit him so he could pretend to have been knocked out swiftly and walk safely out of the ring.


Mukkabaaz (2018)

Directed by Anurag Kashyap, Written by Vineet K Sing and Anurag Kashyap, Produced by Anand L Rai, Vikramaditya Motwane, Madhu Mantena and Anurag Kashyap, Starring: Vineet K Singh, Zoya Hussain, Jimmy Shergil, Ravi Kishan and others

Charlize Theron in Monster

World Cinema lacks Female Films

I mostly grew up watching action and drama films that were rampantly available in VCR and Cassettes in my school days. We could rent it at just Rs. 10-15 apiece, so it wasn’t difficult to choose from variety of commercial cinema. The video showroom named ‘B.I.L.L.B.O.A.R.D’ was located just about 200 meters from my home. The way to the showroom passed through the busy street with small portable shops laying across the both sides. The crowd at the street then was as large as it is now, but there were fewer vehicles back then.

My yore was basically shaped by seeing the highly fictitious action films of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, and sometimes melodramatic and cheesy romantic Hindi films. Amidst this, there were less likely chances of encountering a movie with sensible content. It wasn’t until I watched Deepa Mehta’s ‘The Earth’ and Mira Nair’s ‘Kama Sutra’ (Adult rated filmed weren’t completely banned from the TV back then) that I realized I could see a film from female’s perspective. It was an artistic and thoughtful experience and it entirely shaped my future course of film-viewing. I delved into Art-house cinema and devoured works made by some of the greatest and sensible filmmakers, ranging from; Shyam Benegal, Satyajit Ray, Bimal Roy, Mani Ratnam, Deepa Mehta and Aparna Sen.


Compared to the films made by men in the last 100 years, female films are only handful. It took a long road for some of the most quintessential female filmmakers to pave their way and challenge the prevailing male hierarchy in cinema. Although only handful, their work stands out against the many films made by their male counterparts,

Avant-garde and Feminism in Cinema

Although Alice Guy-Blanché, who made La Feé aux Choux in 1896, became the first women to ever make a film, it took another 25 years before any other woman could do the same. The new wave in Cinema was brought by the Avant-garde movement in Arts, Literature and Music. It gave birth to some of the most important female filmmakers that we know today. They came to be the one to built a stronghold for the equally capable female filmmakers to come.

Germanie dulac

Germaine Dulac

World War I left an undying impact on the arts and culture of Europe. The political and social strife gave birth to new form of movement, better known as Avant-garde. The upheaval in the European society birthed many great creators and artists, including some of the pioneer women-centered filmmakers.

Germaine Dulac, who started her career as a writer in the feminist magazine and impressionist movies, and Maya Dereen, one of the Experimental filmmakers and the advocate of Avant-garde cinema, became the major influence in film-making. Their work challenged the existing mainstream film culture and introduced social and political edge in judging cinema.

The only other person at that time experimenting with his film/genre was Charlie Chaplin, and he was quite successful doing it.

The Second Wave feminism in 1960s brought the grave issues faced by women into cinema. The films started making impact by delivering message to the audience and for advocating the change in justice, social and commercial states of the nation. The movement started in America and lasted for roughly two decades.

The cinema during second wave feminism touched the taboo subject of female sexuality; and Lesbianism found its way into mainstream films.

Barbara Hammer, the American feminist filmmaker, was one of the pioneers in lesbian films whose career spanned for over 40 years. She dealt with the controversial titles of lesbianism, menstruation and female orgasm.


Female Filmmakers in the Mainstream

The modern cinema that we see today birthed from the social upheaval brought by former filmmakers. People started to accept the introduction of sensitive contents in films. Today, there are many renowned female filmmakers and artists who have succeeded in bringing the finest and unique films into the mainstream.

Kathryn Bigelow

Kathryn Bigelow

Kathryn Bigelow, Patty Jenkins, Ava Duvernay, Dee Rees, Deepa Mehta, Mira Nair, Mika Nishikawa, Agnes Varda and Jane Campion are few of the flag-bearers of modern cinema. Their works are popularly known for being experimental and for tackling social issues mostly faced by women, LGBTs and racial minorities. They made films with male lead presented through female’s perspective. These ideas were less or none exploited by the male filmmakers before.

Kathryn Bigelow, an American filmmaker and writer, is the first female director to receive the Academy Award for Best Director. She made couple of films before getting a big break through The Hurt Locker (2008). The film received universal acclaim and landed her first Academy Award win, beating James Cameroon’s highest grossing movie of all time ‘Avatar’. Her other works include, Zero Dark Thirty (2012) and Detroit (2017), which are highly acclaimed by the critics.

Patty Jenkins, an American film director and screenwriter, made her first feature-length debut with the highly acclaimed Monster (2003). The Academy award nominated film was based on the life of an infamous serial killer/prostitute who killed 6 men in the late 1980s and early 1990s. (Charlize Theron went to win Academy award along with many other accolades for her role in the movie.) Patty was presented with multiple awards and recognition for the same. Her recent and most overwhelming project came in 2017 as ‘Wonder Woman’, a Superhero movie. The film is the highly discussed subject regarding the appearance and representation of females in superhero genre and female power in general. The film was highly praised by critics and global audience. Patty is equally praised for tackling the prevalent sexism and pay-gap in Hollywood.

Ava Duvernay and Dee Rees are both African-American filmmakers and screenwriters. Ava did her double Major in BA English Literature and African-American studies. She humbly started her career filming documentaries and short movies. Selma (2014) based on the short life event of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr became her highest acclaimed film. The film went to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, making her the first African-American women to have her film in the nominee’s circle. Dee Rees found critical success with Pariah, Bessie and Mudbound.

Their works advocate rights for African-American community, marginalized group and women. They with few others have been credited for starting the Black film renaissance.

Jane Campion is a New Zealander filmmaker and screenwriter. She is one of the five females ever to be nominated for Academy Awards for Best Director. She also won Palm d’Or, the only female recipient so far. Known to be the most unconventional filmmaker, she started her career with short films. She made her debut in feature-length film with Sweetie (1989). Her best work so far is known to be The Piano (1993), a film based on the life of a mute pianist and her daughter.

She unveiled female sexuality in her films. The eccentric female roles were rarely seen before and were mostly pushed away from the award circles. Her 4 major Oscar category wins came as a surprise to many.

Deepa Mehta and Mira Nair, Indo-Canadian and Indo-American filmmakers respectively, are equally praised for their unique work and taste. Deepa made Elements Trilogy; Fire (1996), Earth (1998) and Water (2005), her most famous work showcasing the issues of homosexuality, racial conflict, partition and war, widowhood and prostitution in the Indian subcontinent.

Mira Nair is known for her quintessential Indo-American films. Few of her famous works include; Monsoon Wedding (2001), The Namesake (2006), Kama Sutra (1996), Salaam Bombay (1988) and Queen of Katwe (2016).

Their crafts are known for bringing rich flavor and issues of Indian subcontinent into world cinema. They have been highly regarded by critics and audience alike, however, they have equally been shunned by certain groups for showcasing taboo and controversial subjects endemic to India.

The use of sensible content, reference to dark history, subjects of women, LGBTs and oppressed citizens, and aesthetically appealing stories help them in making their films the unique work of art.

Nonchalant Appearance of Nepali Female Filmmakers

In Nepal, we have hardly handful of female filmmakers. The first feature film ever directed by a women was Prem Yuddha in 2005. Since then, only few projects have ever been handled by other female directors. It is mostly because the entry of female filmmakers is constrained due to the prevalent male hierarchy in the cinema, practical problems of finding a benefactor, creating a niche film or assembling sensible audience.

On the other hand, the theater in Nepal is well led by female playmakers. The budding interest of the audience in theatrical plays lately and highly ethical work space has given an advantage to female artists. They have managed to create assertive plays on social, political and racial issues. The female theater artists are on the rise for the same reason. However, the theater based audience is way lesser compared to the cinemagoers, hence, the plays made by and with women remains limited to only a small number of people.

Massey Sahib (1985)

Massey Sahib (1985) was adapted from the popular international novel Mister Johnson by Joyce Cary set in the African town in 1939 during the British colonial rule. The entire story of Massey Sahib is based in a rural setting of India, however, alike Mister Johnson, it also depicts the duration of British colonial rule in most parts of the world.

The film follows the life of a young Indian man, a recent Christian convert and a government clerk with high expectations from his colonial employers. Massey Sahib is the maiden direction of Pradip Krishen, who has only made three films in his entire career.


Review

The British Colonial rule prided itself of its political and technological advancement achieved in India, despite the unaccounted hard labor provided by poor Indians. Set in Central India during the last two decades of British rule, Massey Sahib depicts the life of a young man seeking gratification from his superiors and counterparts. Frances Massey is a Christian convert and English speaking lad working for District collector’s office. He works hard to earn the respect of the Britishers, however, his innocence and mischief often lands him up in trouble with the authority.

The film portrays three difference class of people. Britishers, Educated Indians, and Tribal and needy.

The Britishers exploit common people to maintain their autocratic regime, while the educated Indians oppress the tribal and needy to prove their loyalty to their superiors. The colonists believe in general oppression; while offering fewer rights and benefits to the oppressed. Offering a lowly government job to Massey signifies Britisher’s common mentality. Their biased treatment of both Charles Adam and Massey’s mischief only gets the latter being suspended from his duty, while Adam enjoys the benefit of continuing working on his post.

Massey’s innocence and his earnest dependence on his ‘English Sahibs’ lands him in loosing end almost all the time. With his newly adopted religion and government job, he feels a superiority over most of his fellow Indians, however, he never gets adopted into the elite class maintained for and by the Britishers. His marriage with a local tribal girl is troubled by his poor economic condition, he however is willing to continue his assistance to the Britishers despite his hard luck.

The setting, costume and dialect resemble that of the remote region of India in the earlier part of 20th century. The tribal culture and their rugged lifestyle is well portrayed through natural setting, tanned skin and lack of proper clothing. Barry John, the founder of Barry John Studios, looks suave in his Colonial avatar. Raghubir Yadav, in his feature film debut, steals the show with his authenticity and apt performance.

Synopsis

The film begins with an Indian clerk, referred as “English type babu” or Massey Sahib (Rahubir Yadav), being reprimanded by his senior officer at District Collector’s office for defaulting on loan obtained from the locals. He secretly wishes his senior to be replaced by a more liberal officer, Charles Adam (Barry John), who fortunately gets posted after few weeks.

Massey with his wit and charm manages to win heart of the new District collector, however, he befalls in a new trouble of marrying a tribal girl (Arundhati Roy) by promising to pay a huge sum of dowry which he isn’t able to pay. He convinces the bride’s family to accept his offer of paying a large sum and accessories, and get married at a local government office, however, he fails to pay the sum and the bride is taken away by her family.

Amidst this, Massey persuades Adam to adopt illegal methods to obtain fund for completing the major road work started by the Adam which is temporarily halted due to lack of fund. They basically funnel funds out of office overheads and use them to built the road, however, the auditor knows of it and suspends Massey from his duty, despite his good intentions.

To earn bread and butter, Massey becomes street vendor and starts taking up odd jobs. He comes to know of Adam’s dilemma in finding new labors for completing the road project before monsoon, and seeks to help him by persuading the local village head in sending the workforce. He manages to bring the workforce and complete the work before deadline, and even win hearts of the locals and officers alike, however, his mischief of collecting illegal tax comes into light and is highly reprimanded by Adam. Massey tries proving his innocence and hands over the daily book he maintains, however, his outcry goes useless. In a state of delirium and guilt, Massey kills a local and is sent to jail. He strongly believes that the colonial rulers, specially Charles Adam, will protect him from harm, however, he pleads guilty and is sentenced to be hanged.

In the end, Officer Adam is seen reconciling Massey before he gets into his deathbed. Adam strongly feels subjected to help Massey, however all he could do is console him. Massey goes into his last sleep with a large smile on his face.


Interesting Facts about Massey Sahib

  • Though adapted from the foreign novel, both the film and the novel tend to have coincidental similarities. They both depict the time during the latter phase of British colonial rule in Africa and Indian subcontinent.
  • Mister Johnson (the protagonist from the novel) and Frances Massey (the protagonist from the film) are both natives and have obtained English-class education.
  • Massey puts himself above his counterparts and talk lowly of the tribal, however, he marries a tribal girl for her physical appeal.
  • Charles Adam admits to Massey that the Britishers may not be staying long in India and he fears that the common people may soon start revolting against them.
  • It depicts the outright racism and profiling even among the commoners, which highlights the issue of prevalent racism in India.
A segregated trolley in New Orleans

Les Américains: A Narrative on the Segregated America

Robert Frank is an American photographer and documentary filmmaker. Born in Switzerland, he emigrated to United States in 1947. His father was a German Jew and his family resided in Germany. During Second World War, they migrated to Switzerland and obtained the Swiss passport.


Les Américains

Les Americains was first published in France in 1958 and a year later in USA. Popularly known as The Americans, it was a photography journal/book about post-WWII journey though America. He took his family along on the road trip and extensively traveled over the next two years during which time he took 28,000 pictures. 83 of these were eventually selected for the publication.

The book initially received harsh criticism in the USA, where the tone of the book was perceived as derogatory to national ideals.

His photo journal was basically the analysis of cultural and social milieu of Post-WWII America. Racial issues were common theme in almost all.

The irony Frank found in that of American society gave his photos the distinct taste. he stood out among his contemporary for his taste, and so did his use of unusual focus, low lighting and cropping that deviated from accepted photographic techniques.


Memorable Stills

A segregated trolley in New Orleans

A segregated trolley in New Orleans

The Elevator

The Elevator

Young girl smoking a cigarette

Young girl smoking a cigarette

An Italin couple

An Italin couple

sitting-talking

Sitting

Water fountain down the South

Water fountain down the South

Driveway

Driveway

Busy diner down the South

Busy diner down the South

Public park, Michigan

Public park, Michigan

New York

New York

At cremation ground

At cremation ground

Newspaper stand

Newspaper stand

A nurse carrying a baby

A nurse carrying a baby

At Butte, Montana

At Butte, Montana

A couple riding on a bike

A couple riding on a bike

Barber shop through screen door

Barber shop through screen door

The American Flag

The American Flag

 

Copyright @Les Americains, Frank Robert

1947: Earth (1998)

The Britishers left India in 1947. The dawn of August 14, 1947 saw the creation of Pakistan, a predominantly Muslim nation; and the midnight of August 15, 1947 welcomed the birth of a new nation, India. What shortly followed these two events is a sad tale of inhumanity, violence and atrocity for millions of displaced people.

Millions of Hindus and Sikhs left Pakistan for India while the similar number of Muslims left India for Pakistan. It brought one of the largest exodus of people at the border of these two new nations. The bureaucrats and leaders of both the nation were jubilant and busy drafting new constitution, while fewer officials were left to dealt with the issue of the mass movement of mankind. Amidst this, quarrels broke out. People from both the sides had scores to settle, and what better than reprimanding the new moving migrants.

1-2 million people lost their lives, and many were left displaced. Most of the affected included women and children. Many women faced sexual atrocities.

1947: Earth which was released in 1998 dealt with the issue of 47’s partition and what followed shortly after with a semi-fictional account including four different lives.

Hindustan had become free. Pakistan had become independent soon after its inception but man was still salve in both these countries –slave of prejudice…slave of religious fanaticism…slave of barbarity and inhumanity. ~Saadat Hasan Manto


Review

Based on Bapsi Sidhwa‘s novel Cracking India, 1947: Earth explores the life of the greater inhabitants of Lahore during 1947’s partition. Entirely presented from the perspective of an 8 year old home-schooled Parsi girl, the films unravels the incidents in a small town during the partition.

Cover of Earth (1998)It is one of Deepa Mehta’s three films which made into the Elements Trilogy. Her adaptation of the story by Sidhwa is to showcase the darker side of the modern civilization. Although, set in a small town in Lahore, the events of the film were similar in nature to other parts of India where violence engulfed the humanity.

Religious fanaticism and communal regression brings about the large change in the landscape of Punjab region. The partition divides the region into two, where West Punjab remains in Pakistan with its 100,000 Hindu and Sikh population. Most of these inhabitants are forced to leave the city and migrate to India.

In one scene, Shanta and Lenny baby attend a local wedding. It turns out that a young teenager is getting married to an Septuagenarian, because the bride’s family couldn’t find any other suitable and rich groom. Communal unrest is one part of the film, while social injustice is another.

Dil Nawaz

Aamir Khan as Dil Nawaz

Aamir Khan as Dil Nawaz

A once suave, reasonable and delectable man, Dil Nawaz turns into a war-mongering person. Grown with an astute belief of non-violence, love, cooperation and joy, Nawaz shines as a messiah till the first half of the movie. He fashions a smokey mascara, Soorma, and dons a Taqiyah.

The rejection from Shanta coupled with wrongful events later changes Dil Nawaz’s pespective. He turns bitter against Shanta and his non-Muslim counterparts. He assists in finding and killing them.

Aamir Khan as Dil Nawaz shines throughout the film. His wit charms you for the first half, however his vile side dejects you in the second half. His deafening muteness and prolonging stares could send a shiver down your throat.

Synopsis

Lenny Sethna or Lenny baby is a polio stricken 8 years old Parsi girl living with her parents in Lahore at the time of partition. Her life is mostly spent with her Hindu nanny Shanta (Nandita Das), Dil Nawaz and Hassan. Despite the peaceful household, the issue of partition is brawling in the background.

In span of few months, Britishers leave the subcontinent creating two new nations. Being a predominantly Muslim region, many Hindus and Sikhs consider moving to India. Those who decide to stay behind are being brutalized vehemently. Dil Nawaz proposes to marry Shanta, however, Shanta is head over heels for Hassan. This leaves Dil Nawaz heartbroken.

In one incident, Dil Nawaz is anxiously waiting at the train station for his sisters to arrive from the Gurdaspur, India. When the train finally arrives, he sees that the entire passengers are massacred, and his sisters brutally raped and killed. This leave Dil Nawaz in a state of emotional turmoil. In fit of rage, he turns against his Hindu & Sikh friends and compatriots. .

Lenny baby is still young to make anything of the events. Even when Shanta is taken away by the mobs, she couldn’t make anything of her’s fate.


1947: Earth (1998)

Directed by Deepa Mehta, Written by Deepa Mehta and Bapsi Sidhwa, Produced by Anne Mason and Deepa Mehta, Starring: Aamir Khan, Nandita Das, Rahul Khanna, Maia Sethna and others

Stanley Kubrick Movie Montage

Stanley Kubrick – 63 Years Later

As confessed in my previous article on Room 237: Documentary, my love for Stanley Kubrick is undeniably a respect for his work. Starting from Fear & Desire (1953) to his last, Eyes Wide Shut (1999), every film made by him managed to awake my docile senses. There are many of his films that I still enjoy re-watching, and there are few which I fear watching again.

As quoted by Kubrick himself,

The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle.

To talk about the popular scenes from his films, watching the final sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey was a delirious experience. From the time Dr. Bowman enters alien atmosphere of Jupiter (Planet) to his transformation from a human into a Starchild is so magnificient.

When Peter Sellers donned the character of the cynic and war-mongering doctor in Dr. Strangelove , I found a sense of hilarity and fear watching his performance. The absurdity of one psychopath and the willingness of others can destroy the entire world. Dr. Strangelove referring the US President as “Mein fuhrer” depicts the fascist government that has been running the first world country.

The critics often panned his films upon release only to hail them as great years later. Over the time, his style of film-making became an inspiration for most filmmakers, and his character; Alex DeLarge, Hal 9000 and Dr. Strangelove, became the cult figures. His carefully chosen subjects; pedophilia in Lolita, beyond the future in 2001: ASO and sex-fantasied communal congregation of the few wealthy in Eyes Wide Shut are still fresh in people’s thoughts.

A perfectionist and experimental Kubrick never stopped testing his ideas and neither failed in his endeavor, which is why he is regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers ever lived.

What made him Great?

Stanley Kubrick in his early days

Stanley Kubrick in his early days

A film-maker who never managed to win a single Academy Award, for which he can be considered the Leonardo DiCaprio of the filmmakers, was in the league of his own. He made movies not to please the award ceremonies but his niche audience.

An adamant director and a thrifty producer, he never made a single bad movie in his life. His films can be considered the masterpieces of modern cinema. Over his career span of 48 years, he made only 13 motion pictures and 3 short movies with an average of 4 years in between each release.

2001: ASO, Spartacus and Barry Lyndon are ranked among the epics of the films produced in Hollywood. Dr. Strangelove, Lolita and A Clockwork orange are among the highly lauded and critically acclaimed movies ever.

Most Clichéd about Kubrick

1. Slow and protracted scenes

A scene from 2001: ASO lasted more than 15 minutes. In one scene, Dr. Bowman is pulled into a tunnel of colored light and other cosmological elements of Jupiter, and in another, Dr. Bowman deactivates HAL 9000 for its mischief. The sedated and lengthy scenes often became the major trademarks of Kubrick’s craft which followed suit in Barry Lyndon, A Clockwork Orange and The Shining.

Capturing the time and space of entirety of a particular sequence [2001: ASO] were followed religiously by Kubrick, for whom there were no cutting shorts. When a scene required to be long, he made them generously long.

 

2. Reverse tracking shots

After Hitchcock, Kubrick would be the one to popularize the dolly zoom method of tracking shots in the movies. The popular scenes from Paths of Glory tracking Col. Dax (Kirk Douglas) walking in the trenches, A Clockwork Orange tracking Alex Delarge (Malcom McDowell) walking around the London mall and Gen. Sgt. Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) and his recruits marching in Full Metal Jacket were all done using reverse tracking shots.

 

3. Subliminal messages

The Shining is probably more famous for its subliminal messages that Kubrick tried delivering. The length of controversy of discreet messages went furor, even Rodney Ascher (Room 237) made a documentary film on it.

…as it happened!

#1 Lolita (1962)

Lolita happened in the spring of 1962. An independent venture of Kubrick and James B. Harris, Lolita became the most controversial movie of the time. Their experiment with the sensitive subject of pedophilia and lust landed the movie in troubles with the censors. The British Board of Film Censors rated the movie ‘X’ therefore, barring the audience under the age of 16.

Despite, the comments it may have received from the then audience and the critics later, Lolita opened up a space for film-makers to make and promote movies as they pleased.

#2 Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to stop worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

The year 1964 began with the release of Dr. Strangelove or…, a comic take on Cold War and the brewing hatred between two giants of the World; USA and Russia. Assimilating the great cast, creating life like sets and adapting a dark story of war and nuclear weapon into major motion picture was quite a tough task for Kubrick.

Peter Sellers as the Dr. Strangelove himself and his alien hand syndrome, along with addressing the US president with “Mein Führer,” stole the show entirely. The implications of the movie is to portray the dire consequences of brewing hatred among two nuclear powers of the world, along with a comic gesture on what could happen to the world if a nuclear war is to take place!

#3 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

The most challenging and expensive venture of Kubrick has to be none other than 2001: A Space Odyssey. Made in 60s’, it explored a Science-fiction tale of how the world, mankind and Space would land up in the 21st Century. Kubrick employed the specialists from the fields of science and technology, Arts, Special Effects and Sounds to give his movie a real-life like experience.

From building a rocket capsule to creating a cosmological phenomena of an unseen Jupiter’s atmosphere, he mastered the craft of making stories that are far-sighted and thoughtful.

Most critics and audiences panned the movie when it was first released. Today, it’s a cult and is used in reference to every possible space exploration movies made post-2001: ASO.

#4 A Clockwork Orange (1971)

The year 1971 ended with the horrors of Alex DeLarge‘s criminal past. As it happened, a controversial story of A Clockwork Orange established Kubrick as the film-maker who could make movies on any subject given, despite the level of visual intolerance it could render On-screen. Alex’s character portrays a sociopath; he glorifies rape, assault and loot. He’s an imagery of evil, yet the movie established him as a profound character of behavioral psychology and morality.

It’ was banned in UK for 27 years, following the controversy surrounding the violence occurred in the English society which were believed to be inspired by the movie.

#5 Barry Lyndon (1975)

Alex’s story was followed by the exploits of the 18th century Irish Adventurer in 1975, when the year ended with the Luck of Barry Lyndon. A movie of epic proportion, after Spartacus, Barry Lyndon explored the rise and fall of a hearty character –Barry Redmond, an Irishman who managed to experience the harshest treatments and sweetest pleasures the world has ever to offer.

3 hours long, the movie is considered one of the finest movies of Kubrick. Despite its rather slower and darker tone, the movie doesn’t fail to capture your attention and constant critical consensus. It’s a masterpiece!

Ryan O’Neal, donning a Victorian-aged suit with a curly blonde locks and quirky smile,  shines throughout his adventures in the movie.

#6 Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Labeled an Erotic-Thriller by the critics, Eyes Wide Shut took on the complex premise of Illuminati and their quasi-religious-sexual rituals. Exploring the taboo subjects, Kubrick showed how a regular family suddenly disparages into the mess. Sexual fantasy, envy, dishonesty and boredom are its common themes.

Released few months after the death of Kubrick, Eyes Wide Shut remained his final project and marked the 13th motion picture his career.


For complete Stanley Kubrick Filmography, The Kubrick Site and Kubrick Collection @WarnerBros

The 400 Blows (1959)

The 400 Blows (1959) portrays the life of a misunderstood boy in post WWII France. It is a journey from troubles to solace for Antoine and his likes in a strict social milieu which has traces of the past fascist government. The movie is one of the earliest from the French new wave cinema. It is the first in a series of five films in which Jean-Pierre Léaud plays the semi-autobiographical character.

American Army trucks parade down the Champs-Elysées the day after the liberation of Paris by French and Allied troops, August 1944

American Army trucks parade down the Champs-Elysées, Aug 1944

Almost entire France embraced the Nazi occupation in 1945, while only about 1% of the entire population resisted. Post WWII, the government, educational institution and commerce still had the traces of the fascist regime the occupation had left. More rigid and stricter laws were adopted to uplift the nation to its past glory and to erase its Nazi history.

The new wave of cinema began in France to break through the existing socioeconomic condition. The experimental films made in the era highlighted the issues of identity crisis, choices, freedom and embrace of newer culture. The new wave in French cinema and Italian Neo-realism began on the same decade. Italy, a previous Axis-power, had many different socioeconomic issues post-WWII. Poverty and famine were the major themes of the Neo-realism cinema.

Post-WW II France, a nation formerly occupied and controlled by the Axis power, was built on an idea of escaping it’s horrendous past. To assimilate with the western nations, French schools introduced teaching English to the pupils.

Children were often reprimanded and isolated as reformation for their deliquency.

Review

The 400 Blows is shot entirely on Black & White, offering a dark texture to the entire film. The plots are simpler and weave intricately into the story. Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Leaud) as a rebellious adolescent and his experiences add charm to the entire story.

The underlying issues of post-war France and its adverse effects on the younger generation is seen through the experiences of Antoine. The country is moving forward, and so are its government, justice and educational institutions. The people who do not fit into the society are brandished rebels and are outcasted into reforming institutions. Antoine is a symbol for the entire generation of his kind who wish to see a less controlling state. Antoine’s major contemplation is finding his identity and representing the same in the society without any judgement, repercussion or biases.

The 400 Blows is an Escapist film. It deals with adolescence in a post-fascist and post-war French society. 

★★★★★/5

~Synopsis~

The movie starts with an opening scene showing Eiffel Tower of Paris, France.

The movie starts with an opening scene showing Eiffel Tower of Paris, France.

The All Boys School, the students are seen poking fun at the lecturer

The All Boys School, the students are seen poking fun at the lecturer

One of Antoine Doinel's classmate, dancing his way off the street

One of Antoine Doinel’s classmate, dancing his way off on the street

Children reacting while watching a Puppet show

Children reacting while watching a Puppet show

Antoine and his friend comprehends a double-crosser who tries stealing their typewriter

Antoine and his friend comprehends a double-crosser who tries stealing his typewriter

Antoine's thrown into a cell after he's nabbed by his father and after being handed over to the police

Antoine’s thrown into a cell after he’s nabbed by his father and is handed over to the police

Left: Antoine looking outside the police van, Right: He's crying over his unfortunte fate

Left: Antoine looking outside the police van, Right: He’s crying over his unfortunate fate

One of the most powerful scenes, Antoine makes a cigarette out of tobacco and stray paper inside his cell

One of the most powerful scenes, Antoine makes a cigarette out of tobacco and stray paper, inside his cell

Antoine's punished by the monitor of the Juvenile Detention Home for eating before everyone else started

Antoine’s punished by the monitor of the Juvenile Detention Home for eating before everyone else

3 young girls, probably aged 5-7, are locked up inside a cell of the Detention' Home

Another powerful scene; the 3 young girls, probably aged 5-7, are seen locked up inside a cell of the detention home.

Final scene of The 400 Blows

The protagonist, Antoine Doinel, runs away from the Detention in search of an unseen future –possibly, a happier one


The 400 Blows “Les Quatre cent coups” (1959)

Directed by François TruffautWritten by F. Truffaut and Marcel Moussy, Produced by F. Truffaut and Georges CharlotStarring: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, Calire Maurier and others

Distributed by Cocinor

12 angry men cover photo

12 Angry Men (1957)

Right to Justice is an indispensable birthright of every human being. The Justice system is built on the structure of right to justice without any biases or prejudgment of any kind. Fair trail for any defendant in the court of law is equally a rightful entitlement which upholds their right to justice and fulfills the cause for a fairer society.

Many a time, justice fails to serve those who need it the most. In a society, which is built on the supremacy of one race, class or culture and domination of other, justice triumphs for only those who enjoy the privilege of controlling it.

12 Angry Men is one of the earliest films to be made on the issue of racism in America and the trial of a racial minority.  Roger Ebert has cleverly summed up the film;

In form, “12 Angry Men” is a courtroom drama. In purpose, it’s a crash course in those passages of the Constitution that promise defendants a fair trial and the presumption of innocence. It has a kind of stark simplicity.

Review

12 Angry Men provides an important insight on human conscience, rationality and decision making. It also raises the question of rationality and prejudgment which accompanies any juror in the court. As rightly pointed out, Jury duty is a moral duty. The film brings out the moral in the jury duty.

Official Poster of 12 Angry Men

Official Poster of 12 Angry Men

It starts with 12 men from different walks of life complaining, contemplating and grudging about their respective lives in a small jury chamber. It begins with a simple vote counting 11 ‘Guilty’ and a single ‘Not’. What follows, is a lengthy course of reasoning for a fair trail, questioning of the justice system, attacks on personal choices and personal conflict with biases. The end brings the unanimous 12 votes counting ‘Not Guilty’.

Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) is the one who challenges the vote for ‘Guilty’. He reasons with each one of jurors to make them understand the need of righteousness in this case which may serve as the finest example for many cases to come later.

The assertive dialogues and the greater gesticulations of actors add life to the entire story, many sub-plots are interweaved into one to create a single plot which serves as the story lasting a full 95 minutes. Juror 8’s immense persuasion in bringing facts and possibilities on the table for discussion brings a general disapproval but at the end he is able to bring a change.

Set in a single room, the film shows few glimpses of the court room. Evidences are shown only second-hand, as reasons for disposition of the case. The background score is less yet subtle. Sydney Lumet‘s directorial debut proves to be a an important film for all the generations.

 ★★★★★/5

~Synopsis~

Not Guilty – 1/11

12 angry men snapshot

Jurors are sent to a room to decide on the fate of a young accused

Not Guilty – 2/10

12 angry men snapshot

Jurors being ready to vote

Not Guilty – 3/9

12 angry men snapshot

Only one, Juror # 8, calls “Not Guilty,” rest jurors are convinced of the crime

Not Guilty – 4/8

12 angry men snapshot

Juror #10 makes bigot and prejudiced remarks against the accused, which other find offensive

Not Guilty – 5/7

12 angry men snapshot

Juror #8 tries hard to convince others to find a reasonable doubt

Not Guilty – 6/6

12 angry men snapshot

Juror # 5 is the most articulate person in the entire team, who doesn’t even break sweat at all

Not Guilty – 7/5

12 angry men snapshot

Juror # 9, an old man, is supportive of Juror # 8’s approach in analyzing the truth

Not Guilty – 8/4

12 angry men snapshot

Juror # 8 makes some insightful criticisms on the evidences and witnesses provided

Not Guilty – 9/3

12 angry men snapshot

Juror # 3 is the one who is most stubborn and declares Juror #8’s reasons a filth

Not Guilty – 10/2

12 angry men snapshot

Juror #3 tries proving the method of killing to Juror #8

Not Guilty – 11/1

12 angry men snapshot

All the jurors find Juror #3’s remarks against the case offensive

Not Guilty – 12/0

12 angry men snapshot

Juror #5 and #6 watch Juror #3 as he blabbers about his personal angst against criminals.


 

 

12 Angry Men (1957)

Directed by Sydney Lumet, Written by Reginald Rose, Produced by Henry Fonda, Reginald Rose, Starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Martim Balsam and others

Distributed by United Artists

Tarantino Vs Taratino, and My Big List of Tarantino favorites!!

His movies are famous for their violence and bloodshed; their blaring soundtracks; their offbeat, Pinteresque dialogue; their startling performances from actors you had almost forgotten about.

~NY Times

Tarantino Vs Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino‘s movies are mostly made up of nonlinear narratives. His movies are subject to Glorification of violence. His subjects are revenge and justice, which are indifferent from many other filmmaker’s subjects, however, what he can make out of it can completely be different in projection from the others. He’s inspired by movies from different genres made in the past, he brings old elements in his own story and mash’em up into a single theme containing of a justice seeking protagonist. He’s an amazing collaborator and a magnificent music connoisseur —picking background scores himself for his evenly eclectic scenes from the movies.

Quentin TarantinoTarantino’s repetitive and very much predictable, yet his craftsmanship is on a level of a such class that he can always get away with it by creating a niche piece of thoughtful movie that can cache on his superb direction and trademarks.

Starting from Reservoir Dogs to Django Unchained, his movies experienced a gradual development in story telling. His characters grew up and so did his film-making ability. He leaped from only telling an amazing story through nonlinear narratives and his Trademarked elements to more of a conventional narratives with his Trademarked elements still intact and flourishing.

The Tarantino we know today is different from the Tarantino that existed 10-15 years ago. His craft haven’t changed much and he still carries the same panache as before. His movies still follow similar story line; Loss, trail, retribution and revenge, however, his ability as a film-maker has grown to even wider and unimaginable horizons and he can now implore things that were rarely seen in his previous movies. We all know him best for his rougher cut movies, now they are more fine cut and well-tuned.

Advent of Grindhouse mashed with Spaghetti Western+Slasher and Retro Sound

grindhouse is an American term for a theater that mainly shows exploitation films. It is named after the defunct burlesque theaters […] where ‘bump n’ grind’ dancing and striptease were featured.

~Wikipedia

Grindhouse is the most commercial theme of Tarantino’s movies. He creates an unimaginable concoction of Grindhouse with spaghetti western and slasher. Now, slashing always has a greater purpose in his movies. Beatrice Kiddo couldn’t have gone away without slicing, dicing and chopping her enemies nor Sin City could have even more brutal without it.

There are many ways of torturing a character in Tarantino’s universe, you can either shoot them with a shotgun from a close range, cut off their limbs with a Ninja sword or just pluck out their eyes so they can’t see again their entire life. He can bring out the aesthetics and beauty of action well contrasted with the backdrop of the scenes; be it machine gun shooting Nazi occupied Germany, the Antebellum era with black slaves plucking out cotton or the fast food joint at Los Angeles.

“Music sets your soul free.”  Sure it does! He has a rare quality of picking unconventional sound for the very right scene. Isn’t it weird to hear a Jazz playing in the background when Django’s busy killing his enemies in a White supremacist South? That’s very unconventional.

[Sound Samples]

Most Clichéd about Tarantino

1. Blood Spillage

Tarantino pleasures blood. Blood plays a significant role in his movies. A movie without fountain of blood spouting out of someone recently sliced arm is non existent in his world. The gushing out of red fluid from a human body describes the occurrence of two things, either the crime has been committed or the justice has been served.

The malevolent practice of glamorizing blood spillage defines Tarantino’s style of brutality.

2. Homicide

Tarantino loves massacre. The protagonist’s lust for killing and finding the way through to accomplish the mission is what drives the entire movie. It won’t start until the protagonist kill his first victim and move on through the large crowd of dead before killing the only person that matters.

Crazy 88 from Kill Bill

Crazy 88 from Kill Bill

Homicide has a greater purpose of retribution for Tarantino and his characters. Killing is a need but pleasure. Antagonists in his movies are surrounded and covered by numerous henchmen or bodyguards, taking them off before killing the antagonist is essential because; to ensure nobody comes around from the back and stab you while your on the verge of your mission and to minimize the chance of leaving behind a potential nemesis.

3. Triumph of Truth and Justice

Tarantino supports the very idea of Truth and Justice. Audience may find his movie violent and all gore but that doesn’t mean the theme of it’s all about killing people. The greater idea is always the triumph of truth and justice through retribution. A protagonist always finds a way to seek justice, in the case of Tarantino’s movies they only find it after quenching their thirst for revenge by killing every man on sight that differs with them.

Django smiles after killing everyone of Candy's henchmen

Django smiles after killing everyone of Candy’s henchmen

It’s has never been a case when an antagonist has gotten away from the final scene without getting what he deserves. Beatrice Kiddo manages to kill Bill at the end and quench her revenge, so does Lt. Aldo Raine, he carves a SWASTIKA over Landa’s forehead to remind him of his wrongdoing for all his remaining life, and Django avenging the brutal torture he and his family suffered from the Slave owners and their henchmen.

At the end, Justice is always served. May the degree of treating a crime differ from many conventional films or what’s defined by the Standard Law, the ultimate reason for which justice stands is always served at the end.

My Big List

(Best Tarantino’s movies, listed #9 to #1)

#9

Jackie brown (1997)

Jackie Brown Movie Cover

#8

Death Proof (2007)

Death Proof Movie Poster

#7

True Romance (1993)

True Romance Movie Poster

#6

Sin City (2005)

Sin City Movie Poster

#5

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Reservoir dogs movie poster

#4

Django Unchained (2012)

Django Unchained Movie Poster

#3

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction Movie Poster

#2

Inglorious Basterds (2010)

Inglorious Basterds Movie Poster

#1

Kill Bill (2004)

Kill Bill Movie Poster

Resources

Quentin Tarantino’s Trademarks
Quentin’s World

Norman smiling in the last scence

Psycho (1960)

A Magnum Opus, a Cult, a movie of epic proportion, a brilliant visual production; whatever one says about ‘Pscyho’, is lesser to describe the film. One of great classic American films, Psycho is also the greatest film ever made by Alfred Hitchcock.

Hitchcock started making it when his previous films were failing to attract audience and critics alike and his personal life was in turmoil. With the support of his wife, Hitchcock completed the film and it indefinitely became one of his greatest crafts ever.

It also gave a huge break to the upcoming actor Anthony Perkins. The film inspired the popular TV series Bates Motel and many films that followed later.


Review

Psycho Poster

Psycho (1960) Official Poster

Psycho (1960) is Alfred Hitchcock’s own blood and soul. Despite being filmed entirely in Black & White during the time of Technicolor films, it still managed to capture audiences’ attention and them in larger number to the theaters. Psycho is a Thriller Drama with the motive of portraying the underlying criminal intents of humans. For every person is a potential criminal.

The film primarily deals with the theme of criminal psychology. It can be said that it’s a batter of neo-noir mashed with Suspense and Thriller.

Simpler narration, well composed scenes and unique sound effects are some of the USPs of the film. Most of the techniques were never tried before in any of Hitchcock’s films. Especially, the shower scene when Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is brutally stabbed and murdered by Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) really imposes itself into you.

Over the time, the film earned the cult status. Many films that followed later were more or less inspired by Psycho. American Psycho (2000) and Bates Motel (TV Series) are the prime examples of it.

Norman Bates, the favorite villain

Norman smiling in the last scence

Norman sarcastically smiling at the end of the film

Norman Bates (played by Anthony Perkins) tends to be one of the popular reel life subjects of (Criminal) psychologists and experts worldwide. He preys on women. Norman suffers from Disassociated Identity Disorder, where he generally lives two different life. The experts believe, due to his strict and imposing mother, Norman at a young age started detesting women. The passion for killing may have come from this.

Norman as a faithful and caring son generally stands out as the hero of the film. His sad past evokes empathy and his wrongdoings supposedly aren’t his faults. He even makes Marion realize her mistake and shakes up her conscience. It is here when Marion is self-absorbed with guilt for embezzling money, Norman brutally kills her. These multiple facets of Norman’s personality makes him one of the favorite villains of modern cinema.


Synopsis

View of Phoenix, Arizona

View of Phoenix, Arizona, as shown at the beginning

Marion Crane making love with her boyfriend

Marion Crane and her boyfriend after making love in a hotel room, decide to run away with embezzled money

Marion tries fleeing the city after embezzling $40,000 of her Boss's money

Marion tries fleeing the city after embezzling $40,000 of her Boss’s money

Marion driving through Interstate 10

Marion drives through Interstate 10

Bates Motel Sign

Marion decides to spend the night at Bates Motel, owned by Norman Bates

Norman Bates telling his story

Norman Bates, the motel owner, talks about his life to Marion

Marion lying dead

After a while, Marion is dramatically killed while taking a shower by a mysterious looking woman, possibly Norman’s mother

Norman dumps Marions and her car in a pond

The obedient Norman dumps Marion and her car in a nearby pond to hide his mother’s crime

Norman scared with Detectives questions

A Detective is sent from Phoenix to investigate on Marion’s whereabouts. He questions Norman but finds nothing

Norman outsmarts the detective

Norman assumes he manged to fool the detective

Norman crosdressed as his mother trying to kill lila

Marion’s sister Lila tries unfolding her sister’s absence. In the process, she finds Norman killed her sister. Norman generally cross-dressed and killed his victims,

Corpse of Nroman Bates deceased mother

In a lonely chamber of his house, Norman hid the corpse of his dead mother

Norman confined in psychiatric ward

Police finally nabs Norman and sends him to a psychiatric ward. It’s revealed that he’s suffering from Disassociated identity disorder.


Psycho (1960)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Written by Robert Bloch, Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, John Gavin, Vera Miles and others

Distributed by Paramount Pictures (Original) & Universal Pictures

Is Porn a Crime?

Porn is defined as,

printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement.

Porn and Voyeurism

Caraglio Voyeurism

“Mercury and Herse”, scene from The Loves of the Gods

In real life, voyeurs are motivated by their fetish to secretly watch someone undress or indulge themselves in sex or sensual acts, whereas, Porn, unlike the fetish, is a common human nature to seek out sexual gratification through digital media.

Both possess the underlying risks. A voyeur might be caught by the person while a porn addict can be caught by internet police, internet service providers and countless numbers of hackers. However, a major similarity between both these medium is that people rarely indulge in these acts in public in fear of repercussions. They both enjoy their existence in a secrecy, hence, increasing the enticement and arousal, hence, voyeurism and porn is most alike.

Should Porn be branded a Crime?

Although, Pornography has been banned by many nations, branding it an outright crime is still a question unanswered. Being caught with porn is liable for jail term. More so, being caught with underage porn accounts for a severe jail term.

Softcore porn

Softcore porn

We are a curious being, and we learn from our experiences. We seek knowledge on the subjects we are unaware of. So, should porn be stopped? Can we find an alternative to pornography? Can it be prevented for the certain age of audience? Should we stop it or control it?

Most feminists call it an outright abomination. They seek an immediate end to it and they have great points to support their belief. Brandishing female body in camera for male pleasure is an offence against womanhood. As most audience account for men, most themed-porn is solely made to cater male sexuality where inhumane treatment of women is common.

As porn is one of the largest and most profitable media, stopping it is impossible. Most of it can be controlled but why whom and how? Even if people are made aware about these facts, will they ever stop watching porn?

Alike voyeurism, porn cannot be prevented. People will always find an access. It can’t be called an outright crime, however, most of it must be prevented, especially exploitation of underage girls, women without their consent and brutal themes in porn.

Some Experts even suggest that pornography can be used for treating Voyeurism and rape-intent. That is a great thing, as it will save one person from committing a crime, however, what form of porn will they watch can’t be assured. I would like to leave it open-end.

Mother India Poster

Mother India (1957)

Mother India (1957) came out a decade after the India got its independence. In the decade preceding the film, many political and social upheaval had taken place. The new constitution was drafted, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated and the country was stepping into drastic modernization under the leadership of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

The film purposely commemorates the idea of freedom and the unchained spirit. As opposed to Katherine Mayo’s book “Mother India,” which primarily criticized Indian culture and the role of women in the society, Mehboob Khan decided make his film with the exact title to Mayo’s book.


Review

The film is mostly remembered for the fictional character Radha and Nargis’s portrayal of the same. She exemplifies courage and greater sacrifices throughout the film. She is even bribed by Sukhilala, the money lender, to sell herself, however she refuses and chooses to face the dire consequences instead. It was a unique experience for the audiences too for there never was a film with a female protagonist before, and that too a woman who glorified womanhood.

There are many great scenes in the film. It was reported, the local villager willingly flooded his 500 acre land for the famous flood scene in the film. Sunil Dutt as Birju, the youngest son, shines throughout with his unique charm and rebellious attitude. It is for his attitude, that he gets killed in the end. He is killed by his own mother who refuses to let him take away a women’s dignity. In the shocking scene, Radha shoots him without a single doubt whatsoever.

Rajendra Kumar, Rajkumar and especially Kanhaiyalal as Sukhilala beautifully carried their respective roles.

The music was given by the legendary Naushad, and the cinematography was directed by another legend Faredoon A. Irani. No one can ever forget the song, “Duniya main hum aye hain to jeena hi padega,” which is sung by Radha when the entire village decides to migrate elsewhere after a great flood.

Critically acclaimed and awarded with countless accolades, Mother India became the finest example of Indian films. The greater idea of the film was also to bring global attention towards the Indian cinema, when the world was mesmerized by Hollywood and fresh European cinema, namely; Italian Neo-realism and French new wave.


An excerpt on Nargis

Nargis Dutt

Nargis Dutt

Nargis Dutt (1929-1981) was one of the most popular actor of Indian cinema. She was born ‘Fatima Rashid’ to Jaddan bai, another famous actor, singer and composer. With a career spanning over 30 years, she starred in many popular Hindi films.

In Mother India, she portrayed the role of a Radha, a single mother. Unlike many female characters in Hindi films, her portrayal vastly differed from the cliche and stereotypical portrayal of women in films. Radha still remains one of the most iconic fictional characters in film.

Nargis later married her screen-sharing co-actor Sunil Dutt and gave birth to Sanjay Dutt, another popular actor.