Best Kung Fu films ever made (10+1list)

Best Kung Fu films ever made.

written by Souranath Banerjee

Kung fu or wushu are chinese words that refers to the age old tradition of Chinese Martial Arts.

In ancient China, Kung fu was first introduced as a method of self-defence and hunting, and was also a part of the country’s military training. Essentially a hand to hand combat system (with different forms and styles of fighting) but then again, certain classic Chinese weapons are often used as well.

Since long time martial art has been introduced in films for entertainment and such action films were very popular in China and in a few other Asian countries.

bruce-lee-posterBut only in the early 70s, the craze for kung fu films hit the west, and the person responsible for giving kung fu a world-wide recognition was none other than Bruce Lee.

Then there was Jackie Chan and Jet Li who prolonged the tradition. 

Nowadays, even in Hollywood action films like The Matrix TrilogyKill Bill, and The Transporter stylized forms of kung fu are extensively used and well appreciated by the audience. 

Listed below are some of the best Kung fu films ever made that can be enjoyed even if you are not a hard core action film lover.

Let’s kick start the list.

10. Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-m3IB7N_PRk

kung-fu-hustle-posterDirected by Stephen Chow also known for films like Shaolin Soccer and The God of Cookery – this one is the most entertaining kung fu film.

According to Bill Murray this film is ‘the supreme achievement of the modern age in terms of comedy‘.

According to famous film critic Roger Ebert ‘Imagine a film in which Jackie Chan and Buster Keaton meet Quentin Tarantino and Bugs Bunny’.

9. Ip Man (2008)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhz4Jl6nf58

ip-man-posterA semi-biographical account of the most influential martial art master Grandmaster Yip Man.

The man who taught martial art to the world, he was also renowned as the teacher and inspiration of the legendary kung fu master Bruce Lee.

Directed by Wilson Yip, the film tries to be as real and authentic to the grandmaster’s life as possible. 

8. Come Drink with Me (1966)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1A6PnPZ6Gk

come-drink-with-me-posterDirected by King Hu, also known for films like A Touch of Zen and Dragon Inn started the modern trend of kung fu films.

This film is said to be the first Hong Kong martial art film which portrayed kung fu as pure entertainment and each ‘fight scene as art form’. 

This film has more historical value than than any other in this list.

7. Ong-bak (2003)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJvMhOkwH9I

ong-bak-posterTony Jaa, the face of the new martial art superstar gets his introduction through this film.

After an extensive four years training, Tony Jaa performed all his stunts by himself, no wires or CGI were used in the fight scenes.

Directed by Prachya Pinkaew, the film was a huge hit for it’s epic fight sequences and the extreme acrobatic stunts.    

6. The Raid: Redemption (2011)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6f6f_kfp1Z8

The-Raid-Redemption-poster1Directed by Gareth Evans, this is one extreme action-packed film, the best in the recent times.

The Martial Art used in this movie is Pencak Silat, which is the indigenous fighting style of Indonesia.

Iko Uwais and his fighting skills are simply awesome. If you like this film then The Raid 2 is also a must watch.

5. The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65GQtH6pzTY

The-36th-Chamber-of-Shaolin-posterChia-Hui Liu plays the guy who firstly gets beaten by the brutal Manchu clan; then he learns martial art and goes back to take his revenge.

Hence forth this learn-and-revenge plot has been done to death in numerous films.   

Directed by Chia-Liang Liu, this one is one of the kung fu classics.

4. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEaGsdiA0y0

crouching-tiger-hidden-dragon-posterYun-Fat ChowMichelle YeohZiyi ZhangChen Chang and Pei-Pei Cheng all together in this exclusive kung fu drama.

Directed by master director Ang Lee, the film was a huge success – the first foreign language film to earn over $100 million in the United States.

A story of passion, love, revenge and much more – an unique action film without any real violence!

3. Hero (2002)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srFhXDZhUZI

hero-posterDirected by Yimou Zhang, who is also famous for House of Flying Daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower.

The most expensive Chinese movie till date, epic fight sequences and visually the most beautiful film ever made!

Jet Li at his best along with Tony Chiu Wai LeungMaggie Cheung Ziyi Zhang and Daoming Chen

2. Drunken Master (1978)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQMNllz6aE0

Drunken-Master-PosterThe film that kick-started Jackie Chan‘s career and also portrayed his unique ability to combine kung fu with comedy.

Drunken Fist Kung Fu is a particular style of fighting that is highlighted in this film.

Directed by Woo-Ping Yuen, this was a landmark film that paves the path for the infinite comic-action films to be made ever since. 

  1. Enter the Dragon (1973)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tB-QGOChuQc

enter-the-dragon-poster1Bruce Lee, the legend of martial arts, the man who made kung fu movies a world wide sensation – this was his last film shot before he passed away at a young age of 32.

Directed by Robert Clouse, the film was a sensation and a landmark in action genre.

The ‘Hall of Mirrors’ sequence, the cave fight were Lee beats 50 people at a go, and then the unique steel hands of the antagonist Han were some of the highlights of the film. This one is one of it’s kind and a must watch for everybody.

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch).

+1. Burning of the Red Lotus Monastery (1928)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=012M83Me6us

burning-red-lotus-posterThe film that successfully introduced martial arts in cinema – it runs for 27 hours and thus it’s the longest film ever produced!

It was split up and released as 18 features between 1928 and 1931, of which Burning of the Red Lotus Monastery is one.

Directed by Shichuan Zhang, this Chinese film is considered as a classic and rightly so.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comwww.topchinesemovies.comen.wikipedia.org.

The Intern (2015)

The Intern review.

written by Souranath Banerjee

My Ratings: 4/5.

I would love to shelve the film in the ‘romcom’ genre but this one does much more than just being a comic-romantic . 

The Intern as the name initially suggests is the story of a 70 year old Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) who gets hired by a fashion-based e-commerce company called ‘About the Fit’ through a senior-intern hiring program.

And the founder/CEO of this company is the successful 32-year-old Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), a young woman desperate to strike a balance in-between her married life and her business endeavors.

intern-posterNow, Ben and Jules – these two individuals (and don’t you forget highly qualified actors) gradually gets acquainted and learn to appreciate each other’s company. They trust and confide in each other and by the end of the film, their association becomes something much more than just a funny young-employer-aged-employee alliance.

Writer/director Nancy Meyers, well known for romantic comedies like The Holiday (2006), Something’s Gotta Give (2003) and It’s Complicated (2009), this time took a bit of risk and played with the involvement of two characters of contrast age group.

And with the perfect casting choices and a crisp storyline, the risk has been paid off pretty well. 

The subtle head movements and little gestures of Robert De Niro speaks volumes as he plays the perfect gentleman, the kind we don’t see anymore. And on the other hand Anne Hathaway so effortlessly portrays the struggles of a working woman/wife/mother and also an ambitious entrepreneur.

Although the jugalbandhi of two such remarkable actors (sharing the screen for the first time) is definitely the USP of the film but the secondary characters have also given tremendous performances and Rene RussoAnders HolmAdam DeVineZack PearlmanChristina Scherer and cute little JoJo Kushner – they all deserve to be mentioned.

Subtle comic dialogues, a few hilarious situations and most importantly characters maintaining their believability throughout the film – overall The Intern is refreshing and makes you smile.

If you are in a mood of some light-hearted comic drama, then you can’t go wrong with this one.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comhttp://goodmenproject.com.

 

Smita Patil – a powerhouse of talent

Smita Patil – a powerhouse of talent.

written by Souranath Banerjee

Numerous popular stage performances, more than 80 films in Hindi, Marathi and other regional languages, a torchbearer of the Indian parallel cinema, two National Awards as ‘best actress’, many Filmfare Awards and also the recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri – all-that in a career which spanned only over a decade as Smita Patil passed away at the young age of 31!

Smita-pic1In the early 70s Smita Patil used to be a television newscaster for Doordarshan when acclaimed filmmaker Shyam Benegal took notice of her and gave her the first role in his film Charandas Chor (1975).

Mr.Benegal who later worked with Smita in numerous other films recalled the first time he met her ‘She had a presence which I felt could be well utilised in cinema’. And indeed so.

Smita patil’s performance in Bhumika (for which she received her first National Award at the age of 21) impressed Jaya Bhaduri so much that she commented ‘makes you sit up and take notice. Her reflexes are uninhibited and she has a face with tremendous mobility’. 

A few starting scenes from Shyam Benegal’s Bhumika.

The most expressive eyes ever to have graced the celluloid; her dusky and sensuous looks and the capability to play any character (no matter how challenging) with extreme ease and perfection soon established Smita Patil as one of the most talented actress of Indian Cinema.

A scene from Mahesh Bhatt‘s precious film Arth (1982).

In the early years of her career she concentrated only on art cinema.

Along with Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri, Smita Patil formed the four essential pillars of the then popular parallel cinema.

A beautiful song sequence from the film Jait Re Jait (1977) along with Mohan Agashe

Smita Patil being an activist for women’s rights became particularly famous for her roles that portrayed women as capable and empowered.

Smita-pic2She was probably the first actress who gave the directors enough
courage to make films with female lead characters in mind, something refreshingly different from the conventional male-dominated cinema that existed in Bollywood.

In films like BhumikaUmbarthaBazaar and Mirch Masala Smita Patil’s performances were intensely appreciated both by the critics and the audience. 

A scene from Ketan Mehta‘s brilliant film Mirch Masala (1987) with Naseeruddin Shah as the notorious Subedar and Smita Patil as the daredevil Sonbai.

On the occasion of 100 years of the Indian cinema, in honor of Smita Patil a postage stamp bearing her face was released by the Indian government.

Probably the only actress who could do justice to critically acclaimed films like ChakraSadgati, Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai, Ardh SatyaMandiAakroshChidambaram and on the other hand be equally comfortable with hardcore commercial films like Namak HalaalKasam Paida Karne Wale KiShakti and so on. 

In Smita Patil’s own words:

‘I remained committed to small cinema for about five years … I refused all commercial offers. Around 1977-78, the small cinema movement started picking up and they needed names. I was unceremoniously dropped from a couple of projects. This was a very subtle thing but it affected me a lot. I told myself that here I am and I have not bothered to make money. I have turned down big, commercial offers because of my commitment to small cinema and what have I got in return? If they want names I’ll make a name for myself. So I started and took whatever came my way.’

Picture curtsey: www.filmimpressions.com. 

Best Jew-Nazi dramas during the Holocaust (10+1list)

Best Jew-Nazi dramas during the Holocaust.

written by Souranath Banerjee

For anybody who is not familiar with the word ‘holocaust‘ (though i doubt that), it is a term used to define the genocide in which approximately six million Jews (including one million Jewish children) were killed by Adolf Hitler through his Nazi regime.   

There were another five million non-Jewish victims of Nazi mass murders as well.

And thus, in between1941 to 1945, while Germany was fighting the WorldWar II in the forefront, approximately eleven million people were executed in a preplanned and secretive manner throughout Nazi-Germany and the other German-occupied territories.

Numerous films and documentaries have been made to portray those unpredictable and desperate times.

Interestingly the films listed below neither emphasize on the WWII nor particularly based on the inhumane concentration camp stories; these films tell the tales of those who defied against the barbaric massacre of human lives, of those who challenged the deadly systematic annihilation and survived (or at least tried to).

Most of these films are based on true stories and are definitely the best Jew-Nazi dramas in the times of Holocaust.

Please have a look.

10. Black Book (2006)

Original title: Zwartboek. Language: Dutch.

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKEDKF8iDUw

black-book-posterDirected by Paul Verhoeven, this one was the official Netherlands entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category for the Oscars.

A Jewish singer who transforms herself from a war victim to a spy, she uses her charms and also puts her life at risk to pass German war secrets to the Dutch Resistance.

A visual treat and a plot that has so many twists to keep you guessing till the end.

9. Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005)

Original title: Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage. Language: German.

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x14U3R3-dFE

Sophie-Scholl-posterThe White Rose was the German World War II anti-Nazi resistance movement and young Sophie Scholl was one of the most prominent members of it. 

The film is a dramatized version of brave Sophie Scholl’s arrest, her interrogation, her trial till her sentence in 1943 Munich. 

Directed by Marc Rothemund, a chilling war drama, a must watch. 

8. In Darkness (2011)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHuPtd9oCSQ

in-darkness-poster

Leopold Socha, a man probably lesser known than Oskar Schindler but then again he saved numerous lives in the Nazi-occupied Polish city of Lvov during Holocaust.

He risked his own life hiding Jewish refugees from the Nazis in the sewers for almost 14 months! 

Directed by Polish female director Agnieszka Holland, a heart touching story of humanity and valor. 

7. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnrRy6kSFF0

inglorious-bastards-posterFiction at it’s best; two separate plans to assassinate the Nazi leaders unfortunately coincide and how!

Quentin Tarantino‘s take on the gruesome times of history – a drama told in his unique style, quirky and essentially violent.

Brad PittChristoph WaltzMichael FassbenderDiane KrugerEli Roth among others. One of the most popular one in the list.

6. Defiance (2008)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-9eUXSzZNk

defiance-posterIn the Belarussian forests the Jewish brothers escapes from the Nazis and built their own village to protect themselves and also 1000 other Jews. 

Directed by Edward Zwick, this is the epic story of defiance as some Jews decided to fought back against their oppressors.  

Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber great performances indeed. 

5. The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7zDyJcF3ko

diary-of-anne-frank-posterIn Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, a young Jewish girl named Anne Frank is forced to hide in an attic with her family and a few friends. 

The film is based on the real accounts of events documented by Anne herself in her diary.

Directed by George Stevens, this one is a brilliant tale of the war seen through the innocent eyes of a young  girl hoping to be free some day.

4. The Pawnbroker (1964)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNLBKdV83co

pawnbroker-posterA Jewish pawnbroker who once survived through the savage concentration camps is too damaged and scarred to trust or love others. 

An unforgettable performance by Rod Steiger, a brilliant actor of his times.

Directed by Sidney Lumet, the film is a gem and deserves much more recognition and popularity than it ever earned.  Please do watch.  

3. Amen. (2002)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McEkNCpTOKs

amen-posterKurt Gerstein, a German sanitation engineer who developed the lethal gas Zyklon-B, didn’t realize that the same gas will be used by the SS to kill millions of Jews in the camps.

He in order to stop the genocide tries to inform the Pope Pius XII and ask for the Vatican’s help.

Directed by Costa-Gavras, a film full of passion and drama.

2. The Pianist (2002)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_jE7-6Uv7E

pianist-poster1Talented Adrien Brody as the pianist who desperately struggles to escape from the clutches of the Nazis and from being sent to the ghettos and executed.  

Directed by my favorite director Roman Polanski, a film so powerful and emotional and yet very realistic. 

The best Holocaust movie ever made – yes, my vote surely goes for this one.

  1. Schindler’s List (1993)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdRGC-w9syA

schindlers-list-posterMaster director Steven Spielberg tells the tale of Oskar Schindler, a German business man who is responsible for saving many Jewish lives (more than 1000) from being gassed during the Holocaust.

Liam Neeson as Schindler has given his career best performance.

Probably the most popular film representing this particular historical period.

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch).

+1. Downfall (2004)

Original title: Der Untergang, Language: German.

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wD1Riwv5wqw

downfall-poster1

This particular film explores the final days of the Reich and of it’s leaders such as Himmler, Goring, Goebbels and Hitler himself.

April 1945, chances of Germany winning the war looks grim but still the paranoid dictator wants to fight till the end. 

Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, one of the most microscopic view on last days of Hitler. 

Similar Interest: Best Concentration Camp films during the Holocaust (10+1list).

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comwww.imdb.com

Sukumar Ray A Documentary By Satyajit Ray

‘Sukumar Ray’ – Screenplay & Direction: Satyajit Ray 

1987, India. Documentary, 30 min, Color
Producer: Govt. of West BengalCredits

Narration: Soumitra Chatterjee 

Cinematography: Barun Raha 

Editing: Dulal Dutta 

Art Direction: Ashoke Bose 

Sound: Sujit Sarkar 

Music: Satyajit RayCast: Soumitra Chatterjee, Utpal Dutt, Santosh Dutt, Tapen ChatterjeeSummary.

The film presents the life and work of the writer Sukumar Ray, Satyajit Ray’s father. Ray made this film as a tribute to celebrate the centenary of his birth. The film comprises still photographs and readings from Sukumar Ray’s writings.

Comments
Sukumar Ray (1887-1923), the eldest son of Upendra Kishore, studied printing technology in England and joined the family business. He was an eminent poet, writer and illustrator of nonsense literature in the tradition of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear.Sukumar Ray fell ill the year Satyajit Ray was born with a dreaded tropical disease of the time – Kala-azar. He regularly contributed poems, stories and illustrations to ‘Sandesh’, a children’s magazine in Bengali which Satyajit Ray’s grandfather had started publishing and printing.

Featured article from Bollywoodirect.Courtesy: Sshoibal youtube channel

Everest (2015)

Everest review.

written by Souranath Banerjee

My Ratings: 4/5.

The film Everest is much more than just another disaster film. It’s about nature, it’s about human empathy, it’s about experiencing the impossible.  

everest-poster2Many people (including me) prefer mountains than the oceans. But only a handful have the courage and the potential to trek 29,029 ft above sea level and conquer the highest peak of the world – Mount Everest!

And this film Everest is about such a group of enthusiastic mountaineers who dared to touch the summit; for them it was a dream come true.

But they must remember the one uncomfortable truth before starting their ambitious climb – ‘The last word belongs to the mountain!’

Everest is based on several books including Jon Krakauer’s ‘Into Thin Air’ and Lou Kasischke’s ‘After the Wind’; these are memoirs inspired from the true story of the 1996 Mt. Everest disaster. Even many survival’s interviews were taken as reference for this film.

everest-posterA film that breathtakingly captures not only the grandeur of nature but also it’s unpredictable monstrosity.

The focus of the film is on a group of professional trekkers teamed up under the supervision of their expedition leader Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) with the sole intention of climbing to the top – Mt.Everest.

The film follows their journey and perfectly captures the dramatic moments (both the joy and the tragedy) and narrates a heart felt humane story of compassion, benevolence and courage.

everest-poster3Director Baltasar Kormákur (known for his earlier films like Contraband and 2 Guns), have managed to gather a very impressive star cast for his latest film.

We have Josh BrolinJake GyllenhaalJohn HawkesEmily WatsonSam WorthingtonNaoko MoriRobin Wright and Keira Knightley just to name a few. 

And each of them have perfectly played their characters and contributed to this thrilling adventurous drama. 

Salvatore Totino have done wonders with the camera and make you experience the majestic Himalayas like never before.

everest-poster4A film that respects nature and also the desire of men/women to conquer it.

The only sad part about Everest is that the film is promoted as a ‘disaster-film’ from the start and that somehow makes you anticipate a tragic ending.

But i still recommend this film to those who are fond of nature and adventure; a good watch for the majority 99.99 % of people who will never get a chance to actually climb Mt.Everest – for us this is the closest experience possible to be on the top of the world.

And for the remaining .01% who are planning to take the big hike, you too watch Everest because at the end of the day the film is all about your passion for trekking the impossibles!

poster curtsey: www.impawards.com and www.broadsheet.

Amitabh Bachchan : The Blender of Perfect Combinations

Over the years, we have seen many great actors; we have seen many entertaining actors and have also seen many popular actors in Bollywood. But, nobody has got the attention and limelight for so long and towered over the rest as Amitabh has for much of his 46-year-long innings.

Amitabh Bachchan is certainly the strongest imprint, Bollywood has left in the lives of Indian cinema lovers.  Amitabh Bachchan kept himself evolving and adapting to the times of Bollywood and kept challenging the undefined boundaries of an actor´s limit. He was popular for his “Rebel” characters and also for his romantic styles. But, one thing which has always been ignored about him was his ability to support the other male protagonist of the movies. He played supporting roles with many actors and each time he adapted himself to their style, like with Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna and many more. Let’s have a hindsight over his chemistry with his male co-stars.

The Tussle with Muscle Man – Vinod Khanna

Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Khanna were the two giants of Bollywood in the ’70s and worked together in 10 films. Sometimes they played brothers to each other, sometimes friends; and onscreen competition was a bonanza for the audience as it brought the best out of them. The super hit pair delivered five enormously successful and entertaining films together – Hera Pheri (1976), Khoon Pasina (1977), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) Parvarish (1977) and Muqaddar Ka Sikander (1978). Even though Amitabh played the lead role in their films, Vinod managed to steal the limelight from him at times with his devastating good looks. While the Big B is a legend, industry naysayers have said that Vinod could have outrun him had he not left the industry at the peak of his career.

Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Khanna -Bollywoodirect

The Superstar who witnessed the Rising star – Rajesh Khanna

The rivalry among the stars is not the talk of today’s Bollywood scenario rather it has been leaving its foot marks since the day one. Decades back, the rivalry between the two superstars – Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan was the hot talk of the town. Rajesh Khanna did only two movies with Amitabh Bachchan and at the two very different point of his career. When Amitabh Bachchan had entered into the industry, Rajesh Khanna was already an established star. As a cancer-stricken patient in Anand, Rajesh Khanna was a delight to watch. Decidedly he had an edge over Babu Moshai, played poignantly by Bachchan. But by the time they appeared together again in Namak Haram, the equations had changed and Amitabh was the new Superstar. But, watching them together in a movie was a delight for the cinema lovers in any period of time.

Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna - Bollywoodirect

The “Do Aur Do Paanch” Combination – Shashi Kapoor

It all started with “Roti Kapda Aur Makaan” and then they worked together in the superhits like Deewar (1975), Kabhi Kabhie (1976), Trishul (1978), Shaan (1980), Silsila (1981) and many more. Together they formed, arguably, one of our most popular two-hero combinations ever, from whom the audience allure and box-office expectations was next to only one pair, i.e. Dharmendra and Hema Malini.

Bachchan ji once said that “Shashi Kapoor and I became inseparable in many successful ventures that followed. Leading ladies would shy away from our projects by proclaiming that there would be nothing left for them to do once SK and AB were there together.” Though both worked a lot in the ’70s and ’80s, the clear secret of their collaboration was their obvious off-screen comfort zone coming up trumps on-screen as well. Their relaxed demeanor at work was there for all to see.

Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor- Bollywoodirect

Partners in Crime “Jai and Veeru” – Dharmendra

Dharmendra was one of the few actors during the 70s and 80s who could come close to matching AB’s charisma and star power. During the 70s and 80s, he gave quite a lot of hits in an era dominated by Amitabh. Dharmendra and Amitabh were very similar in respect of their camaraderie with other male leads. And together they  performed the most popular on-screen friendship of “Jai and Veeru” in movie “Sholay”. Apart from that they worked together in two other movies, “Ram Balram” in 1980 is the lesser known of the two because the other one happens to be the Hrishikesh Mukherjee´s “Chupke Chupke”, which is all time classic. The on-screen rapport between them was as a guarantee for entertainment.

Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra - Bollywoodirect

The Perfectionist “Thakur” – Sanjeev Kumar

From playing Amitabh Bachchan’s father in ‘Trishul’ to playing the husband of his former beloved in ‘Faraar’,Sanjeev Kumar is still remembered for playing a variety of roles on the big screen with Amitabh. At a time when actors were branded as a romantic hero or action hero, Sanjeev Kumar was one actor who was difficult to typecast. And Amitabh Bachchan plays stick to stick and walked a yard to yard while working with him. Who can forget the “Thakur” who manage to convince “Jai” for his motive in Sholay. Or who can forget the duel between father and son in “Trishul”. They worked together in 5 superhit movies like Silsila, ImaanDharam, Trishul, Khuddar and Sholay.

Amitabh Bachchan with Sanjeev Kumar - Bollywoodirect

The “Lambuji Tinguji” Partnership – Rishi Kapoor

Rishi Kapoor worked with Amitabh for the first time in 1976 in Kabhi Kabhi. He later usually played Amitabh’s friend or younger brother in films such as Amar Akbar Anthony, Naseeb, and Coolie. The flamboyant personality of Rishi Kapoor was well matched by Amitabh with his serious persona in the movies. Young Rishi Kapoor came as an answer to the roles, which directors planned for his uncle Shashi Kapoor (who was not able to play younger brother roles due to his aging). Rishi Kapoor took the challenge to substitute his uncle from the super hit combination of Amitabh and Shashi and marked his own partnership with Amitabh. The last time they came together was for Shashi Kapoor’s only directorial venture Ajooba, that was 22 years ago. Now, the Big B and Rishi Kapoor are all set to reunite for Sudhir Mishra’s “Mehrunissa”.

Amitabh Bachchan with Rishi Kapoor - Bollywoodirect

The Yaarana of Jai and Gabbar – Amjad Khan

In normal life, Amitabh Bachchan and Amjad Khan were great friends, but on screen they normally found each other on the morally opposite side of the story. They worked together in more than 10 movies, importantly Parvarish (1977), Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978), Mr. Natwarlal (1979), Lawaaris (1981), Yaarana (1981) & Nastik (1983). But, it all started with “Sholay”, where their stellar performances created the immortal masterpiece of Bollywood.

Amjad Khan kept himself improvising and gave many memorable negative characters against Amitabh. The on-screen rivalry between them kept the audience engaged and thrilled. But, “Yaarana” was a totally different movie in compare to others, where Amjad Khan played a role of a best friend of Amitabh and the song “Tere Jaisa Yaar Kahan” was a superhit. They remain friends until the unfortunate death of Amjad Khan.

Amitabh Bachchan with Amjad khan - Bollywoodirect

The Dostana with Shotgun – Shatrughan Sinha

They came together on screen in Parwana (1971) first, where Shatru just made a guest appearance in the film. The real chemistry between the duo was seen in Bombay To Goa (1972) where Amitabh played a fun-loving guy who came between the leading lady Aruna Irani and the suave villain Shatrughan. They reportedly shared a good rapport off-screen; encouraging producers and directors to cast them together. Even with all the Amitabh-Shatru movies, Shotgun was never really overshadowed by Amitabh’s stardom.

Their next film, Kala Patthar (1979), is the prime example of the classic Bachchan-Sinha camaraderie. Shatrughan Sinha had a role with better lines and even won the audiences’ sympathy with his character dying a brave death. Amitabh, on the other hand, had a silent brooding role. But when they came on screen together, it was pure entertainment. The off screen tussle began at the time of Dostana (1980). With their growing egos, neither Amitabh nor Shatru wanted to work together. However, things looked better when, keeping their personal differences aside, Shatrughan appeared in the next Bachchan-dominant movie, Shaan (1980).

Amitabh Bachchan and Shatrughan Sinha- Bollywoodirect

The Surfing with the Southern wave – Rajnikanth

Amitabh had already some experience to work with the India’s most popular heartthrob like Rajesh Khanna and Dharmendra, but working with Rajnikanth was totally different for him. It was the time when Superstars from The South were trying their hand in Bollywood for the first time. Producer were eager to try Amitabh- Rajni combination to have their reach in the south. They worked together in three movies – Andha Kanoon (1983), Geraftaar (1985) and long after Hum (1991). Even they were the superstar, their humility made each other comfortable on screen and off screen. The most remembered movie was “Hum”, where they played brothers to each other and their comedy timing along with Govinda left everybody laughing.

Amitabh Bachchan with Rajnikanth- Bollywoodirect

The Sehansaah and the Baadshah twain– Shah Rukh Khan

It was a time when Amitabh Bachchan was playing the elderly roles and Shah Rukh Khan was playing the roles, which two decades back would have penned for Amitabh. They have their own styles, but one common thing was their dedication. The first time, they were seen in together in “Mohabbatien” (2000), where Amitabh played a role of strict Principal and Shah Rukh Khan enacted the character of “Raj Aryan”. The On –screen combat of generation was grand to watch and audience gave a very good response to this pair. Then came the movies like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (2001), Veer-Zaara (2004), Paheli (2005) and Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (2006). Their professionalism has always brought the best out of them. Hope there will be more to come from this pair.

Amitabh Bachchan with Shah Rukh Khan - Bollywoodirect

The difference between success and failure is a great team and Amitabh have several great teams.

Featured article from Bollywoodirect.

Black Mass (2015)

Black Mass review.

written by Souranath Banerjee

My Ratings: 4/5.

Comparison with Scorsese’s epic gangster film Goodfellas is inevitable. I think the director is just asking for it.

Black Mass is a true story based on the most notorious American gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger.

black-mass-poster2For 12 years he had been on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) top-ten Most Wanted Fugitives list with a $2 million reward for information about his whereabouts – an amount larger than any other fugitive on the FBI list except for Osama bin Laden!

And Johnny Depp IS the mean and merciless James Bulger. 

I totally agree when the Johnny-Depp-fans claim that this is his best performance; even Depp himself chooses this one to be his favorite film among all his previous works. 

Well, he has not only drastically changed his looks but also his body language, his laugh, his cold and menacing stare are very effective – ‘strictly criminal’ indeed.

black-mass-posterDirector Scott Cooper, known for his earlier films Crazy Heart (2009) and Out of the Furnace (2013), have done a great job in slowly unfolding the drama with a proper balance of thrill and violence.

Joel Edgerton expertly plays the role of the blemished FBI officer who made an infamous deal with Bulger that allowed the ruthless gangster to freely indulge in crime and in exchange he should provide confidential informations about his competitors in South Boston (especially the Italian mafia).

A deal that gave Bulger the license to commit unlimited drug deals and murders. He was ultimately prosecuted for 19 murders based on grand jury testimony though it is said that the actual number of murders he committed were much higher that that.

Then there are a series of most talented supporting actors like black-mass-poster3Benedict CumberbatchDakota JohnsonKevin BaconJulianne NicholsonPeter Sarsgaard whose presence uplifted the overall experience of the film to a different level.

Cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi needs a mention for his measured camera movements which makes most of the extreme violence in the film not too gory yet effectively disturbing.

A psychopath of highest degree, the blue eyed leader of the Irish-American Winter Hill Gang and interestingly enough a perfect family man too. 

Black Mass, the story of James Bulger is surely worth a watch.

poster curtsey: www.impawards.com

The Tribe (2014)

The Tribe review.

written by Souranath Banerjee

My Ratings: 3.9/5.

Undoubtedly the most raw and brutal film i have seen recently.

Original title ‘Plemya’, the film tells the story of a bunch of students from a particular hostel in Ukraine, the so called ‘tribe’ who are young, aggressive and also hearing and speech impaired. 

plemya-poster4A violent group who often punish and dominate each other and doesn’t hesitate to savagely beat up other people (on road or in trains) with the sole intention to rob them. With their teacher’s aid they even pimp each other for money!

And it’s interesting to watch when a new student (Grigoriy Fesenko) joins this hostile boarding school; and how he is being pushed around, mistreated and bullied until one day he decides to retaliate.

The casual approach to extreme violence, the dangers of pure lust and the complete lack of compassion among any characters makes it undoubtedly the most raw and brutal film i have seen recently.

plemya-poster2And on top of that, due to the absence of any dialogues or music the impact of the mayhem is doubly effective.

All the actors performing in this movie (Yana NovikovaRosa BabiyAlexander DsiadevichYaroslav Biletskiy and others) are all actually deaf and the film makes no use of any vocal language nor even subtitles. The only language used is the sign language!

But the uniqueness of the film is that firstly there is never an attempt to make the audience sympathize with the deaf and dumb characters of the tribe; and secondly the audience in spite of not being comforted with any dialogues/subtitles/music never gets out of sync from the general storyline.

plemya-poster3Directed by Miroslav Slaboshpitsky, an incredibly brave concept to make a film about.

As the director himself doesn’t understand sign language, he had interpreters on set to communicate with the actors and also to make sure that the performers were reading the script right.

The tribe is made up of total 34 shots (only).

Great cinematography by Valentyn Vasyanovych, there are a few many lengthy hand-held shots that follow the main character as he walks or climbs the stairs. These shots effectively brings the audience closer to the young man’s emotions or mostly his frustrations.

Uncomfortably real and disturbing, you like it or not this film demands your attention.

poster curtsey: www.impawards.com

Quentin Tarantino – the brilliant use of music in his films

Quentin Tarantino – the brilliant use of music in his films

written by Souranath Banerjee

Quentin Tarantino – the brilliant use of music in his films: One of the most popular American director of our times, Quentin Tarantino is a name that needs no introduction.

His films are a confluence of wacky dialogues, stylish yet graphic violence (often in slow motion), non-linear storytelling and unforgettable music!

tarantino-posterHardly any director in the world has Tarantino’s gift of choosing the perfect soundtrack that would sync and enhance the visuals of a particular scene to another level of  awesomeness.

‘I’m a big collector of vinyl – I have a record room in my house – and I’ve always had a huge soundtrack album collection. So what I do, as I’m writing a movie, is go through all those songs, trying to find good songs for fights, or good pieces of music to layer into the film.’
 

For instance, in his first film Reservoir Dogs (1992) there is this famous torture sequence popularly known as ‘the ear scene’ where Michael Madsen playing a psychopath groves to the happy tune of ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’ by Stealers Wheel while torturing the tied up police officer Kirk Baltz.

Well, let’s just say … Tarantino has an ear for good music.

And then, in Pulp Fiction (1994), before John Travolta takes a ride high on drugs, the whole heroine-trip sequence shot beautifully in extreme close-ups is perfectly synced with the soundtrack ‘Bullwinkle Part II’ by The Centurians.    

‘To me, movies and music go hand in hand. When I’m writing a script, one of the first things I do is find the music I’m going to play for the opening sequence.’

The perfect example, in his film Jackie Brown (1997) the title sequence where the camera follows Pam Grier traveling through the airport while Bobby Womack’s jazzy tune ‘Across 110th Street’ plays in the background – the effect is simply awesome. 

Tarantino often uses music to play with his audience’s psychology.

In Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) the famous whistling tune ‘Twisted Nerve’ originally composed by legendary Bernard Herrmann, prepares the audience with the anticipation of danger as a deadly killer, codename California Mountain Snake (played by Daryl Hannah) is the one who whistles it before a hit.

And finally, a girl (Mélanie Laurent) prepares for revenge; a deadly plan to blast a theater full of Nazis and the epic soundtrack ‘Cat People (Putting Out Fire)‘ by David Bowie is brilliantly played in the background in Inglourious Basterds (2009). 

By the way, the latest Tarantino Movie The Hateful Eight is awesome but then I really missed that one special soundtrack that redefines his movie, the signature of the acclaimed director. Do you agree?

Photo curtsey: www.telegraph.co.ukwww.miramax.com.