Tag Archives: Smita Patil

Article 15 (2019)

Article 15 Review

written by Souranath Banerjee

The most significant Indian Cinema of the last few decades!

My Ratings: 4.3/5

1949. Let us begin from the very beginning. A quick recap.

‘… shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of race, religion, caste, sex and place of birth.’ – Indian Constitution. Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar. Fundamental Rights. Right to Equality. Article 15.

Fast-forward to 2014. Badaun gang rape allegations –  a true incident that happened at Budaun district, Uttar Pradesh; two teenage girls went missing and the following morning they were found hanging from a tree. It was a case of gang rape and murder, which both the local police and the CBI tried their best to cover up. Why? Because the murdered girls were poor and belonged to the Dalit community (the untouchables). And the murderers were from the Upper-Class, the rich and the influential.

The film Article 15 directed by Anubhav Sinha (of Mulk fame) is based on the above mentioned tragedy. The movie also takes inspiration from a number of other incidents from across India where people are being humiliated on a daily basis, condemned and tortured, and denied justice just because they belong to a particular caste.

Agar sab barabar ho jaayenge toh raja kaun banega?” (If we all become equal, then who will be the king?)

Farq bahut kar liya, ab farq laayenge.

Ayushmann Khurrana (who has mastered the art of choosing great scripts) does a fabulous job portraying the man who is desperate to change the system by being a part of the system. Thankfully not portrayed as an outsider, otherwise the script shouldn’t have worked so well. Kumud Mishra, Ashish Verma – both play pivotal roles and plays them to perfection. Sayani Gupta and Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub, though having limited screen time still manages to make an impact on the audience.

But Manoj Pahwa is the man who grabs the spotlight; his performance as the corrupt cop eager to derail the case is an absolute delight to watch!

Let’s be Indians firstly and lastly.

Special mention to Ewan Mulligan’s cinematography which brilliantly escalates the suspense and also gives the film the much needed feel of reality. Music by Mangesh Dhakde is so well balanced, just enough to maintain the intensity of the film.

Since Satyajit Ray‘s exquisite drama Sadgati (1981) starring Om Puri, Smita Patil and Mohan Agashe, hardly any other filmmaker have attempted to touch the sensitive subject of Caste-discrimination. And thus Article 15, a superbly directed social-thriller by Anubhav Sinha is surely the most significant Indian Cinema of the last few decades!

A film that dares to shed light over the sinister shadows of our civilisation, on the darkness that a nation unanimously prefers to ignore, on a curse that have been burning human lives for generations. Someone needs to put out the fire that torches the innocents, someone must heal the wounds, and put an end to this vintage shame. Someone must help us regain our faith in humanity!

But as Article 15 effectively points out – the real problem is that we are still waiting for that ‘someone’.

That someone needs to be Us.

Article 15 Trailer. YouTube.

P.S. According to the study of NCRB data on Caste Discrimination in India, the atrocities committed against SC and ST women are disturbingly high; statistics of the year 2016 alone shows 2541 rapes and 786 murders. That too, only half of these crimes are said to be officially reported.

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

Best of Bollywood police officers fighting against corruption (10+1list)

Best of Bollywood police officers fighting against corruption

written by Souranath Banerjee

Best of Bollywood police officers fighting against corruption: The police officers in notorious crime world of Bollywood are rarely taken seriously!

Either they are shown as the corrupt sadistic nuisance with no honor, conscience or sense of duty (generally villain’s sidekicks who will be bashed up by the hero towards the end of the film). Or else they are fabricated into these caricatured super heroes who can singlehandedly beat up an entire town of bad guys (the likes of DabanggSingham and Rowdy Rathore).

In the history of Bollywood only a few handful films portray a cop in the right perspective; someone who has dignity, honesty, the will to fight against corruption and most importantly a common man with no superhuman powers.

And here’s some of Best of Bollywood police officers fighting against corruption, a list that celebrates all those real life brave Indian police officers who respects their uniform and we respect them.

Let’s hear the sirens!

10. Sehar (2005)

Film clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uzJPW7qqxE

Sehar-posterAn uncorrupted cop, Ajay Kumar (Arshad Warsi) when transferred to Uttar Pradesh, clashes with the brutal mafia don Gajraj Singh (Sushant Singh).

Ajay Kumar leads a team of daring officers who took up the mission to stop organized crimes in Lucknow.

Directed by Kabeer Kaushik, the film is a dramatic take based on the real lives of gangster Shiv Prakash Shukla and gallant SSP Arun Kumar. Also watch Pankaj Kapur in a unique role as Prof. Tiwari. 

9. Yeshwant (1997)

Film clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yPO2EA_YEE

Yeshwant-posterMaverick, tough and committed Inspector Yeshwant Lohar (Nana Patekar) is the man to watch out for in this film.

Directed by Anil Mattoo, this is a cop who struggles in-between his professional and personal lives; a man who is too straightforward and undiluted for surviving our current work system.

Basically, a one man show for Nana Patekar and a must watch for his superb energetic performance.

8. Gangaajal (2003)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cf5mD-Q05_8

Gangaajal-posterSP Amit Kumar (Ajay Devgn) is given the charge of Tezpur police station in Bihar, where law and order is known by the name of a corrupted politician Sadhu Yadav (Mohan Joshi).

But of course the situation changes by the time our strict and honest SP is done with the notorious Yadav gang.

As with most of Prakash Jha‘s films, this one too tries to restore our faith in law, constitution, and democracy by the end of the film.

7. Mardaani (2014)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04E-jHtWrDA

Mardaani-posterA girl goes missing and eventually senior inspector of the criminal branch Mumbai, Shivani Shivaji Roy (Rani Mukerji) takes up the case.

Soon she is confronted by the child trafficking mafia kingpin Walt (Tahir Raj Bhasin) who wants her to stop the investigation.

Directed by Pradeep Sarkar, this lady cop drama is one of the pretty realistic sketch of a devoted cop trying to accomplish her duty at any cost.

6. Sarfarosh (1999)

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

Sarfarosh-posterA personal tragedy makes Ajay Singh Rathod (Aamir Khan) to join the police force to fight against terrorism.

And soon famous Pakistan-based Ghazal singer Gulfam Hassan (Naseeruddin Shah) becomes a suspect of Ajay’s hunt for terrorists.

Directed by John Mathew Matthan, this one is a fine crime drama that is portrayed in a very realistic manner, a thriller at its best.  

5. Khakee (2004)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuo5cq2QBcg

Khakee-posterDirected by Rajkumar Santoshi, this is the story of DCP Anant Shrivastav (Amitabh Bachchan), who is responsible to escort a terrorist Iqbal Ansari (Atul Kulkarni) from Chandangarh to Mumbai.

Though determined to accomplish his mission, he faces tremendous resistance from the terrorist leader Yashwant Angre (Ajay Devgn).

Along with Akshay KumarAishwarya Rai Bachchan and Tusshar Kapoor this one is a cool police drama to consider.

4. Ab Tak Chhappan (2004)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tKzKJko34A

Ab-Tak-Chhappan-posterWith Inspector Sadhu Agashe Nana Patekar is back as the encounter specialist, who believes that its better to eliminate the rouges of our society than taking them into custody.

Directed by Shimit Amin, this is one gritty tale of how the volatile equation between the police and the underworld is maintained.

Probably Nana Patekar’s best performance till date.

3. Shool (1999)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqU4vpL-0LA

shool-posterInspector Samar Pratap Singh (Manoj Bajpayee) is transferred to Motihari, in the Indian state of Bihar along with his wife (Raveena Tandon) and kid.

And there, the officer’s honesty and diligence is tested against the local MLA Bachoo Yadav (Sayaji Shinde).

Directed by Eeshwar Nivas, outstanding performances and the film also won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi.

2. Zanjeer (1973)

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

Zanjeer-posterBollywood has never seen such an honest cop story told with such conviction before the release of this super hit film.

The film that made Amitabh Bachchan a super star and gave him the iconic screen name ‘Vijay’!

Along with Jaya BhaduriAjit and Pran, and directed by Prakash Mehra, this film established the well known ‘angry young man’ image!

  1. Ardh Satya (1983)

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

Ardh-satya-posterWhen talking about a lone honest police officer fighting against the odds of the system, this is the first film that comes to my mind!

A newly appointed Sub-Inspector Anant Velankar (Om Puri) wants to make the world a better place but soon finds out the reality of how our system works.

Directed by Govind Nihalani, along with Smita PatilAmrish Puri and Sadashiv Amrapurkar, this is a film that perfectly depicts an honest cop’s humiliation and frustration as he is sucked into the whirlpool of corruption.

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

+1. Black Friday (2004)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NR1mkPQI9z0

Black-friday-posterThe film (though it’s not exactly a story based on an honest cop’s struggle) shows the thorough investigation process that followed the 1993 serial Bombay bomb blasts.

Directed by Anurag Kashyap, one of his earlier films and of course the most controversial one.

A superb thriller and Kay Kay Menon as DCP Rakesh Maria is an absolute delight to watch.

Poster curtsey: en.wikipedia.orgwww.imdb.com, www.koimoi.com/www.filmiclub.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 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.