Tag Archives: City Lights

Aligarh (2015)

Aligarh review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A cinema not just about gay rights, it’s about humanity. 

My Ratings: 4.2/5.

On the night of 8 February 2010, two men forced their way into a house in Aligarh where two adult people were having consensual sex. These hired goons who later claimed to be from a TV channel, took pictures and videos while illegally invading the privacy of aligarh-poster-1someone’s bedroom, and in the process humiliating and even beating up the residents.

It was the house of Dr. Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, and he was ambushed by these local TV-channel camera crew while having sex with a rickshaw puller; gay sex to be specific.

And effectively the very next day, the 64 year old professor Dr. Siras, specializing in Marathi literature and also the head of the Department of Modern Indian Languages at Aligarh Muslim University, was suspended from his post because of his illicit misconduct resulting to such a scandal.

Fortunately such an act of atrocity, discrimination and injustice was noticed and denounced by those few, who still believe in terms like justice and equality. With the help of efficient lawyers a case was filed against the University and eventually the verdict was in favor of Dr. Siras. But probably, the man was too heart broken to enjoy his victory.

aligarh-poster-3The film Aligarh is a sincere account of Dr. Siras’s life; a calm and composed man by nature, a poet who won the literary award by Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad in 2002. He loved to listen to Lata Mangeshkar songs with a few many drinks at night till he gets drunk.

And Manoj Bajpayee as Dr. Siras has given the performance of a lifetime. Such emotions in his eyes, the way he talks in a slow intellectual manner, his overall body language, even the way he moves his feet enjoying the song ‘Aap Ki Nazron Ne Samjha’ in Lata Mangeshkar’s voice – pure brilliance! 

Rajkummar Rao surely did support Bajpayee very well, the young reporter’s role was rewardless yet so important from the film’s perspective. Ashish VidyarthiSumit GulatiDilnaz Irani all were at their best. 

Almost 2 hours of screen time, slow paced, long single takes,  aligarh-poster-2emotional and brutally honest; the sheer authenticity and conviction of storytelling is enough to make this biopic a special one.

And exceptionally well directed by Hansal Mehta (this is even better than Mehta’s earlier two triumphs Shahid and City Lights).  

Based on the last two months of a man who was the victim of the university campus politics, framed by his own colleagues out of utter jealousy, a man whose life was turned upside down just because he was a homosexual.

‘I spent two decades here. I love my University. I have always loved it and will continue to do so no matter what. But I wonder if they have stopped loving me because I am gay’

Dr. Siras was a man who loved his life and expected to be loved back.

The film Aligarh has managed to keep alive his sentiments, it has the same poetic feel that so resembles Dr. Siras’s nature.

Poster courtesy:  www.bollywoodmdb.comwww.goldposter.com

Best Classic Silent Films – the power of visuals (10+1list)

Best Classic Silent Films – the power of visuals

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Best Classic Silent Films – the power of visuals: In the midst of the endless dialogues, song sequences and background music we shouldn’t forget that Cinema is primarily a visual medium of story telling.  

As Alfred Hitchcock once pointed out:

‘If it’s a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on.’

Alfonso Cuarón in an interview for his film Gravity did mention:

‘I think much of mainstream cinema are films that you can watch with your eyes closed. You enter the cinema, buy your popcorn, sit down, close your eyes, start eating your popcorn the movie begins and the movie ends you didn’t miss one thing because they told you everything. As opposed to you experiencing the film and seeing visual information.’

But believe it or not, in the earlier days of Cinema the directors had no choice but to tell their stories visually (sound wasn’t available due to some unavoidable technological deficiencies).

And yet, what marvelous films they made; the content and the visuals were so empowering that dialogues seemed redundant and pointless.

Well, here is a list of some of the best classic silent films ever made in the history of Cinema.

1. Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916)

FIlm trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzNL5JRTI6I

Intolerance-posterObviously D.W. Griffith is more famous for his film The Birth of a Nation but this particular film is probably his best work.

A blend of four stories, set in four different historical eras – French, Babylonian, Judean and Modern; tied together thematically by the subject of “intolerance”. 

At the time, it was the most expensive film but unfortunately not a commercial success.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: The Birth of a Nation (1915), Way Down East (1920) and Orphans of the Storm (1921).

2. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

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

Directed by cabinet-of-dr-caligari-posterRobert Wiene, probably the first ever horror film (made before “horror” was a designated genre).  

The sets were made out of paper and the shadows were painted on the walls – German expressionism at it’s best.

If you don’t know the meaning of the word ‘somnambulist’ and if you are a fan of serial killer mysteries – this is a must watch for you.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Crime and Punishment (1923) and The Hands of Orlac (1924).

3. Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kS5kzTbNKjs


Voted as the 11th greatest film of all time in 2012 Sight & Sound critic’s poll.

The sailors revolt against injustice which leads to a brutal police massacre (the famous Odessa steps sequence).

The genius of Russian director Sergei M. Eisenstein is best showcased in this particular film – a true masterpiece.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Strike (1925), October (Ten Days that Shook the World) (1928) and Old and New (1929).

4. The Big Parade (1925)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_-BvxzdOr4


The highest grossing silent film of all time, it made $22 million during its worldwide release!

The first ever ‘war film’ of such epic scale, King Vidor directed this unique film portraying the horrors of war and the effect it caused on young soldiers.

And then there was the love story between an American soldier and a French girl – a perfect blend of war, romance and a bit of comedy too.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Wild Oranges (1924), Show People (1928) and The Crowd (1928).

5. The General (1926)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99TdN8W6EAA


More of an action film with good doses of Buster Keaton’s straight faced comedy.

A man almost single-handedly spoils a train-highjack plan and saves his girlfriend too!

Directed by Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton, the film is a fast paced powerhouse of entertainment, physical comedy at it’s best. 

Other notable silent films made by the Buster Keaton: Sherlock Jr. (1924)The Navigator (1924), Seven Chances (1925) and Go West (1925).

6. Metropolis (1927)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSExdX0tds4


The film takes place in 2026 – the first ever SIFi movie and an inspiration to all the futuristic films yet to be made.

Most expensive film of the time, Fritz Lang took a year and a half to shoot and due to it’s commercial failure the production house UFA (Universum Film) went bankrupt.   

A cinematic brilliance, the best of German expressionism.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild’s Revenge (1924), Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922) and Spies (1928).

7. Sunrise (1927)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTID4ZVy6OE


‘Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans’ is voted as the 5th greatest film of all time in 2012 Sight & Sound critic’s poll.

An unique love story and a perfect cinematic experience – often regarded as the best silent film ever.

Directed by the famous German director F.W. Murnau the film is indeed the most emotional and captivating films i have ever seen. 

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Nosferatu (1922), The Last Laugh (1924) and Faust (1926).

8. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQj_3AY-E1g


Voted as the 9th greatest film of all time in 2012 Sight & Sound critic’s poll.

This film directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer is a bible for portraying emotions and expressions with Close-Up shots.

Maria Falconetti, her performance as Joan od Arc is considered by many critics as the single greatest performance ever put on film.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Leaves Out of the Book of Satan (1920), Master of the House (1925) and Vampyr (1932).

9. The Wind (1928)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8Un8SBnjY4


A young girl comes to stay with her cousin in the west but the weather and the people were too rough for her to handle.

Directed by Victor Sjöström and superb performance by Lillian Gish, this one is undoubtedly the best silent western film ever.

The high-velocity wind was created by the propellers of eight aircraft stationed on location at Mojave Desert (where the film was shot).

Other notable silent films made by the same director: The Outlaw and His Wife (1918), The Phantom Carriage (1921) and He Who Gets Slapped (1924).

10. City Lights (1931)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_W1tOngo-w


A tramp who falls in love with a blind flower-girl – The ultimate Romantic Comedy ever.

Favorite film of Orson Welles, Andrei Tarkovsky, Stanley KubrickWoody Allen, and even Charles Chaplin himself considered this film to be his best. 

It was a silent film made during the sound era and still was a huge success.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: The Kid (1921), The Gold Rush (1925), The Circus (1926) and Modern Times (1936).

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

+1. Nanook of the North (1922)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN1qwowbXR4


Voted as the 7th greatest documentary of all time in 2014 Sight & Sound critic’s poll.

Probably the first proper documentary shot, director Robert J. Flaherty followed Nanook and his family in the freezing Arctics for a year to achieve this feat.  

A silent documentary made with great aesthetics and intimacy – an inspiration to all the travel/cultural documentaries made till date.

Other notable silent films made by the same director: Man of Aran (1934) and Louisiana Story (1948).

And now a few other legendary silent films that are definitely worth mentioning:

Director Louis Bunuel‘s surrealistic short film Un Chien Andalou (1929), Edward Sedgwick‘s epic comedy The Cameraman (1928), Henry King‘s revenge saga Tol’able David (1921), Clarence Brown‘s film about love and friendship Flesh and the Devil (1926), Georg Wilhelm Pabst‘s take on lust and erotism Pandora’s Box (1929) and a perfect love triangle Wings (1927) directed by William A. Wellman.

Similar Interest: Best Hollywood Classic Romantic Films

Similar Interest: Best Classic Silent Films – the power of visuals

Similar Interest: Best Classic Short films ever made

Similar Interest: Best Classic Christmas Films of all time

Similar Interest: Best Bollywood Classics

Similar Interest: Best of Film Noir

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

Best of Bollywood 2014.

Best of Bollywood 2014.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

It’s time to ride the flashback roller coaster in search of some meaningful cinema in Bollywood that released in the year 2014.

The phase ‘meaningful cinema’ itself is debatable since everyone interprets cinema in their own way. For me a film that successfully walks the thin line between quality content and entertainment always wins the race.

So, let the race begin.

1. Queen

queen-posterMost entertaining film of the year and an award-winning performance by Kangana Ranaut.

(Click for the film review)

Girl power punched with fun and friendship.

Awesome music by Amit Trivedi, Vikas Vahl’s superb direction – a great story of a girl who learns to live her life Queen style!

film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGC6vl3lzf0

2. Highway

highway-posterBrilliant performance by Alia Bhatt – so natural and spontaneous that she has even managed to eclipse a much senior actor like Randeep Hooda.

(click for the film review)

The film takes you in a tour of the whole North India; the combination of Imtiaz Ali’s direction and A.R.Rahman’s soulful music – a treat for film lovers.

Film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o66nNnGZ5Rg

3. Haider


Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider is a film that doesn’t shy off from it’s attempt to show the real Kashmir (set around 1995), the daily agony of the locales and their struggle to survive the police, the military and the numerous violent groups inflicting terror.

(click for the film review)

A combination of Hamlet and Kashmir that is definitely worth your time.

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xakmvJ0WPa4

4. Ankhon Dekhi

ankhon-dekhi-posterThis film deserves a lot more appreciation, a beautiful story of a man with a strange conviction – he wants to believe only what he sees with his own eyes!

Rajat Kapoor skillfully directs this family drama and Sanjay Mishra gives the best performance of his life.

A rare gem – entertaining and thoughtful cinema.

film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3yKUHI2mE4

5. City Lights

Citylights-posterAfter the National Award winning film Shahid, (director) Hansal Mehta and (actor) Rajkummar Rao comes together with yet another promising film.

(Click for the film review)

A remake of the British film Metro Manila, uncomfortably real and raw, the film forces us to look at poverty and despair from disturbing proximity.

Film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fyO8OFK9yw

6. Ugly


Anurag Kashyap‘s Ugly is a thriller that revolves around the kidnapping of a little girl and the rigorous search that follows. A nasty tale of mayhem, greed and corruption that doesn’t spare anybody – no one comes out clean and innocent.

(Click for the film review)

Probably the most dark film recently made in Bollywood.

Film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fyO8OFK9yw

7. PK


The much awaited film PK is the latest Aamir Khan flick directed by none other than Rajkumar Hirani; a blockbuster that seems to have broken all the records in box-office collection.

(Click for the controversial film related article)

A light-hearted comedy with an important social message! A film surely worth a watch.

Film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fyO8OFK9yw

8. Miss Lovely

Miss-lovely-posterThe underground sleazy film industry of the 1980’s is never been explored before in such gritty details.

Ashim Ahluwalia (the director) has captured the dark underbelly of the C grade industry with brilliant realism.

Anil GeorgeNawazuddin Siddiqui and Niharika Singh have all given superb performances.

film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzoAOoHdACk

9. Filmistaan 

filmistaan-posterA fresh take on the popularity of Bollywood and also the India-Pakistan tension.

(Click to see the film review)

Filmistaan deals with pretty sensitive issues but always with a divine comic touch.

Great acting performances overall; especially the dynamic and hilarious Sharib Hashmi.

Film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-0LWnz8Ut0

10. Children of War

Children-of-War-posterHistory often gets blurred with time but such courageous films revive them and voices the truth.

(Click to see the film review)

The film successfully recreates the horrific crimes orchestrated by Pakistan over the Bangladeshi (Bengali) people in the pre-independence era of Bangladesh in 1971. Great effort by director Mrityunjay Devvrat.

Film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzIa0wYfUwU

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

+1. Mary Kom


Mary Kom, the biographical film on a farmer’s daughter from Manipur, who become a boxer and creates history by being the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six world championships.

(Click to see the film review)

Directed by debutant Omung Kumar and produced by Snajay Leela Banshali – one of Priyanka Chopra‘s best performance till date.

Film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzIa0wYfUwU

And some honorary mentions are Finding FannyMardaaniKya Dilli Kya Lahore2 StatesBhoothnath ReturnsDedh IshqiyaHolidayHawaa HawaaiLakshmi and of course Sulemani Keeda

Charlie Chaplin and his image of ‘The tramp.’

Charlie Chaplin and his image of ‘The tramp.’

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin popularly known as Charlie Chaplin was a man of all trades and also a master of them all!

Mordern times posterCharlie Chaplin was an actor (his screen persona of ‘the tramp’ is globally recognized), a director (one of the best in the world), writer, producer, editor and also a brilliant music composer.

Classic Charlie Chaplin films like City LightsThe Gold RushModern Times, The Kid and The Great Dictator always make the list of the greatest films ever made. Our all time favorites.

I doubt if any other personality in the history of world cinema is capable of such versatility and success.

the kid posterBut the best of Charlie Chaplin comedies are no ordinary slapstick laugh riots.

They have this rare quality of reaching out to us in layers more than we can comprehend in a conscious level. They evoke such profound sympathy for the poor/funny tramp that we cannot help but shed a few tears in the midst of all the apparent laughter.

We can never forget scenes like the one from his film Gold Rush when the Tramp tries his best to impress his lady friends at the dinner table.

And I am sure you remember the famous scene of Charlie’s despair when Jackie Coogan (the kid in the film The Kid) cries out for his father (Charlie Chaplin) while being forcibly taken away by the ‘County Orphan Asylum’ men.

Or the heart wrenching last scene of City Lights when Virginia Cherrill (the blind girl) finally recognizes the tramp who helped her get back her eyesight.

In one of his earlier films The Circus Charlie Chaplin had set the trend by playing the part of the poor lover boy who sacrifices his the-circus posterunexpressed love and takes initiative to let the girl go with some other guy only for the sake of their happiness. Ever since this theme has been a success formula for innumerable films across the world.

A visionary who made us laugh and cry at the same time, a legend to whom we are indebted for films that we absolutely love and will keep on cherishing for generations to come.

I’m emotional about most things but objective about my work. I don’t get satisfaction out of it, I get relief’.—Charlie Chaplin, New Yorker interview, 1950. 

Also check out a rare documentary ‘The Chaplin Puzzle‘ narrated by Burgess Meredith.