Tag Archives: Guru Dutt

Sacred Games ( TV Series)

Sacred Games Review

written by Anu Gopinath

The series takes a dark undertone from the word go and it’s highly appreciative of the directive duo for discussing the subjects of sex and violence with such level of authority!

My Ratings: 4/5

Long has been the content driven cinema taken a backseat and was pulled into the eroding deluge of memories of a lost generation who
revelled in their Bajaj and bell bottoms! Long has been the pride of Sacred-GamesIndian cinema taken a beating when the world was presented with the narcissistic, megalomaniacal and voyeuristic version of our life and cinema. The same pride that we earned and the respect that we commanded from the world cinema, which took eons of pain and hard work to achieve but still demanded the sacrifices of the lifetime of works of some of the greatest auteurs of Indian cinema like Satyajit RayGuru Dutt, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and company!

And when I completed watching the new web series Scared Games starring “the content “ in the lead, it is with absolute relief and pride that I can say, that all hopes are not lost for Indian Cinema!

Directed by two of the brilliant visionaries of contemporary cinema, Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap, the first Indian Netflix Original TV Series – Sacred Games tells us the story of the intertwined lives of a mafia don nearing the twilight of his life and the struggles of an honest cop trying to do right amidst a corrupt system. The series bears the rare stamp of authenticity and manages Sacred-Gamesto hit all the right tones in its adaptation of the Novel of the same name written by Vikram Chandra.

The series hinges on the story of the rise and fall of gangster Gaitonde, played brilliantly by Nawazuddin Siddiqui and how his life is intertwined with life of the honest cop, Sartaj Singh performed by Saif Ali Khan.

The TV series takes a dark undertone from the word go and it’s highly appreciative of the directive duo for discussing the subjects of sex and violence with such authority that was seldom seen in Indian cinema and has to be considered as one of their masterstrokes. The story deals with religious terrorism with a brilliant screenplay which has a heavy dose of bloodshed, sex, gore and violence and the end product which is devoid of any unwanted transgressions by the censor board, makes it a compelling watch.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays the gangster with such elan and composure of an artist who is in control of his creation, taking his Sacred-Gamesown time to paint the shades of white when in love, dark when he’s avenging his enemies and grey, when keeping his comrades in line.

Saif Ali Khan has finally found his calling and he’s absolutely brilliant as the inspector Sartaj Singh and to his credit, underplays his role of a cop who is constantly being harassed, degraded and kicked around by his corrupt seniors. He in no way comes across as a conventional hero who fights the villains single handedly and saves the day. But he is our below average common man who is scared and thinks a hundred times before taking a step, an under performing overweight policeman who has a conscience, a simpleton who runs towards the warm embraces of his mother when things get too tough for him. And he absolutely delivers the goods with an astounding performance and
Sacred-Gamesfinally is given the platform to display his talents – the same talent which we had a few of the fleeting glimpses in the brilliant Omkara and Ek Hasina Thi. The Nawab is back and how!

But, when brilliance of Nawazuddin Siddiqui is always expected and Saif’s performance is worthy of appreciation, it’s the work of the supporting cast that completely steals the show and is what makes this series apart! Such is the depth and brilliance of their acting that one has the feeling of sitting in an Opera House and has been accorded the rare honour of seeing the brilliant performances of one sopran after the other, with each trying to outplay the other with the performances of their lifetime.

Sacred-GamesSpecial mention should go to Jitendra Joshi who was an absolute hoot as the constable Katekar, Rajshri Deshpande as Subhadra, Kubra Sait as Kukko, and then Neeraj Kabi and Geetanjali Thapa. Each and every single one of them gave a performance worthy of an ovation and carries the story on their shoulders and keeps the story moving.

Radhika Apte, the crown jewel of parallel cinema is surprisingly left with a role that is not as meaty compared to her colleagues but the woman holds her fort whenever pitted against the brilliance of Saif and the cast.

Superbly written by Varun GroverVasant Nath and Smita Singh, cool camera work and brilliant editing compounded with unique storytelling and absolutely mind blowing background score by Rachita Arora and Alokananda Dasgupta makes this thriller an Sacred-Gamesedge of the seat affair. Not to forget the perfect casting by Mukesh Chhabra Sacred Games is probably the best thing to have come out of Bollywood since Gangs of Wesseypur!

Sacred Games is, by no means over and with the serious talents of the likes of Pankaj Tripathi waiting in the wings and with a plot line left at an interesting juncture, one can expect a cracker of a second season in the cards!

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com, Sacred Games Facebook page

Bhuvan Shome – the beginning of the Indian New Wave/Art house Cinema

Bhuvan Shome – the beginning of the Indian New Wave/Art house Cinema.

written by Souranath Banerjee

In history we have witnessed many revolutions; be it the political revolts of common men against some tyrant, or simply a revolution of ideas (scientific, social, economical or cultural) that seemed to challenge and unshackle the primeval customs and convictions of the society.

Cinema being the most significant collective art-form that plays a pivotal role in developing and mirroring the different cultures has also been revolutionized many a times and always for good.

Mrinal-Sen-with-Satyajit-Ray-posterItalian Neorealism, the French New Wave, the Japanese New Wave – and then, finally it was India’s turn to surf the waves of experimentation. 

Renowned directors (the neo-realists as they were called) like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal SenRitwik GhatakKhwaja Ahmad AbbasTapan SinhaChetan AnandBimal RoyGuru DuttV. Shantaram, later joined by Shyam BenegalAdoor GopalakrishnanG. AravindanBuddhadeb Dasgupta, and Girish Kasaravalli, inspired by the foreign film movements made films that were unorthodox in both style and execution.

mrinal-sen-posterThe already popular ‘parallel cinema’ became more radical and avant-garde.

And thus in the late 60s, Indian Cinema was revolutionized once again and it was the birth of the ‘new wave of Indian Cinema’, popularly known as the ‘art house’ cinema.

It is said that Mrinal Sen‘s epic film Bhuvan Shome (1969) along with Mani Kaul‘s Uski Roti and Basu Chatterjee‘s Sara Akash were the very first creations of the Indian New Wave.

bhuvan-shome-poster1Based on a Bengali story written by Banaphool (Balai Chand Mukhopadhya), Bhuvan Shome was Mrinal Sen’s first film in Hindi language.

It had the first appearance of Suhasini Mulay as an actor, ace cinematographer K.K. Mahajan‘s first feature, first music composition for a film by Vijay Raghava Rao and also the first ever voiceover given by none other than Amitabh Bachchan (he wasn’t even introduced as an actor at the time).

That year the film bagged three National Awards Best Feature FilmBest Director and also the Best Actor (Utpal Dutt).

But more importantly, Mrinal Sen introduced a new kind of film-language that was innovative and amusing to both the audience and the critics of Indian Cinema.

bhuvan-shome-poster3The basic story line of Bhuvan Shome is surprisingly uncomplicated.

The lead character named Bhuvan Shome (brilliantly played by Utpal Dutt) is a high-posted railway official, a widower (probably in his late 40s) and also an authoritarianwho steps out of his mundane office routine with the intention of playing the hunter.

But after being touched by the beauty of nature and then an encounter with a sweet and mysterious village girl Gauri (Suhasini Mulay), Mr. Bhuvan Shome’s perspective of judgement changes and he finally learns to relax and enjoy life. 

bhuvan-shome-poster4Though the interpretation of the film is often made from a highly cynical overview – that Bhuvan Shome’s character was actually manipulated by the not-so-innocent villager girl Gauri whose (only) real motive was to save her husband’s job. But again that’s debatable.

In an interview director Mrinal Sen interestingly pointed out: Our intention was never to tame a tough bureaucrat. On the contrary, our intention was to “corrupt” a bureaucrat suffering from Victorian morality.

Probably it was Mrinal Sen’s first attempt to satirize the Indian bureaucracy and indeed a successful one.

Shot mostly in the deserts of Gujarat (such locations were also rarely used that time) the film cleverly exploits the city-to-village contrast scenario – the bullock carts and the muddy roads, the hospitable simple-minded villagers and the picturesque flock of flamingos!

Superbly innovative editing by Raju NaikGangadhar Naskar and Dinkar Shetye.

Right from the first shot of the railway tracks (from the point-of-view of the fast moving train perfectly synced with classical alap) to the creative documentary format of narration and then the extensive use of still frames, use of live footages and also the innovative utilization of animation – Bhuvan Shome was the most stylized and inventive film of that time.

bhuvan-shome-poster2A film so deliberately diverging from the general norms and trends of filmmaking and yet such a visual treat for the cinema lovers. An exceptional artistic triumph!

Bhuvan Shome was Mrinal Sen’s most successful film and also one of the first feature that trumpets the beginning of a new era in Indian Cinema – the rise of Indian New Wave/Art house cinema.

Photo Courtesy: www.mrinalsen.orgPhoto (Sen & Ray) Clicked By: Nemai Ghosh.

Best Bollywood Classics (10+1list)

Best Bollywood Classics

written by Souranath Banerjee

Best Bollywood Classics: Can anybody pin point the place so popularly know as ‘Bollywood’?

You cannot, because interestingly enough Bollywood does not exist as a physical place.

Bollywood’s existence is only in the form of it’s Cinemas; the films that are produced from in and around Mumbai (earlier called Bombay) essentially in the language ‘Hindi’.

When Dhundiraj Govind Phalke (popularly known as Dadasaheb Phalke) made the first Indian silent feature Raja Harishchandra in 1913; when Ardeshir Irani directed films like Alam Ara in 1931 (the first talkie film of India) and Kisan Kanya in 1937 (the first Indian colored film) – little did they know that some day the Bombay-based Film industry (Bollywood) will churn out the maximum number of films in the world!  

Bollywood is our planet’s largest Cinema factory, producing more than 1,000 films annually; about the double of Hollywood’s output!

And now let’s focus on some of the evergreen Bollywood classics; films which are adored by all generations and are directly responsible for Bollywood’s world wide success.

Here we go.

1. Do Bigha Zamin (1953)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmy8B_4bhAQ

Do-Bigha-Zamin-poster

Staring Balraj Sahni and Nirupa Roy, the film is a classic tale of economic exploitation with which we can easily relate to, even today.

Directed by Bimal Roy, it’s the heart breaking story of a poor farmer who in order to free his land-debts takes up rickshaw-pulling as a profession.

The film won the first ever Filmfare award and also got a special mention at the Cannes film festival.

2. Shree 420 (1955)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRg65WuI1tY

Shree420-poster

Probably the most influential film of the time that took Bollywood to global popularity.

A man comes to Bombay with big dreams that eventually comes true but with a price of course.

Director/actor Raj Kapoor sets a trend with his baggy trousers and the Chaplin-hat as he goes along the road singing ‘mera juta hain Japani’.

3. Mother India (1957)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmPzpWQ5v_E

mother-india-poster

Starring NargisSunil Dutt and Rajendra Kumar, it was the first Bollywood film that was nominated for the Oscars as the best Foreign language film from India.

The love and struggle of a single mother bringing up her two sons, director Mehboob Khan made the first ever Bollywood film with a female protagonist! 

4. Mughal-E-Azam (1957)

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

MughalEAzam-poster

A dramatization of the famous Mughal love story – prince Saleem (Dilip Kumar) who falls in love with a court-dancer Anarkali (Madhubala) against the will of his father, emperor Akbar (Prithviraj Kapoor).

Director K. Asif manages to get the best out of these brilliant actors. With only expressions and dialogues – this film is probably the best ‘love-story’ ever made. 

5. Pyaasa (1957)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBZYJAzz5ys

pyaasa-poster

A film about poetic injustice (literally), since it’s the story of a poet and his thirst for love, fame and recognition.

Guru Dutt, the visionary actor/director along with Mala Sinha and Waheeda Rehman brings us this masterpiece.

Soulful songs – Sachin Dev BurmanHemanta MukherjeeGeeta Dutt and Mohammad Rafi at their best.

The 50s and the early 60s were considered as the ‘golden age’ of Bollywood and rightly so.

6. Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCDbIT13MRY

Sahib-Bibi-Aur-Ghulam-poster

Directed by Abrar Alvi, an illicit love story full of passion and desire, hate and loneliness – an epic tragedy.

Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman and Rehman in the star cast but the one who really stands out is Meena Kumari. Her drunken outbursts and the sarcastic laughs are textbook even for today’s heroines who dare to take such courageous roles.

7. Anand (1971)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfGX2AEaMUU

anand-poster

A man who is too busy living his life to the fullest, too busy to notice his terminal illness, too busy to be afraid of his inevitable death!

Superstar Rajesh Khanna gives his career best performance and Amitabh Bachchan is a great support.

Hrishikesh Mukherjee‘s best, the film will make you laugh and cry at the same time!

8. Sholay (1975)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLhzpe3_V_g

sholay-poster

Bollywood enters the phase of hard-core action and this film is an epic in it’s own right. A true entertainer.

Ramesh Sippy‘s direction, the brutal clash between Gabbar (Amjad Khan) and Thakur’s (Sanjeev Kumar) hired ‘hands’ Jai (Amitabh Bachchan) and Veeru (Dharmendra).  

Hema Malini and Jaya Bhaduri takes care of the love stories on the side.

9. Deewaar (1975)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN1ptONRWpE

deewar-poster

Enters the ‘angry young man’ – the era of Amitabh Bachchan best portrayed by this particular film.

The anger and an attitude of revolt against the system, the underworld and the police, the clash of two brothers, and the dilemma of their mother.

Yash Chopra direction, staring Shashi KapoorNeetu SinghNirupa Roy and Parveen Babi

10. Bhumika (1977)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdcVs0nceOY

bhumika-poster

Shyam Benegal was one director who held tight the reigns of art-cinema in Bollywood. This film is one of his greatest work and Smita Patil gives her best performance. 

The story of a girl growing up, her career, her affairs, her joy and her despairs.

Naseeruddin ShahAmrish PuriAmol PalekarKulbhushan Kharbanda all at their best.

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

+1.  Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spkmLziFFg4

Jaane-Bhi-Do-Yaaro-poster

And finally a comedy, an ultimate political satire, full of dark humor and many rib-tickling moments of absolute joy.

Directed by Kundan Shah, the film is about two photographers Ravi Baswani and Naseeruddin Shah who are sucked into a whirlpool of dishonesty, corruption and murder.

Om PuriPankaj KapurSatish KaushikNeena Gupta all at their best but towards the end of the film Satish Shah as ‘Draupadi’ is simply priceless!

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