WHEN BOLLYWOOD ACTRESSES DECIDED TO MASQUERADE AS ‘MEN’!

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Sharada Iyer

When I wrote my blog titled ‘Bollywood’s Drag-Queen Acts’ last year (https://myviewsonbollywood.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/bollywoods-drag-queen-acts/), which dealt with a few instances of Bollywood actors dressed up in female attire in our films, there were a few requests from friends to do a post on the ‘Drag-King’ acts wherein our actresses decided to dress up as ‘males’ on screen! So here goes…

Though the variety of scripts demanding the actresses to don the guise of a man was far lesser than in the case of actors dressing up as a woman, I managed to find 19 films (from 1954-2014) where our heroines took on this challenge! While some of the actresses had quite a few scenes in the male guise, others got to masquerade in the get-up only for one scene. The reasons for donning the male get-up varied from as simple a thing as playing a prank to something as grave as taking refuge in it to escape from being forcibly married off to a man of their parents’ choice. In some instances it was to take revenge  and in some it was to save their dignity from lecherous men ready to pounce on single women living alone. In one instance it was just to be included in an ‘all-boys’ sports team! 

VIDYA BALAN in Bobby Jasoos (2014)

Vidya plays Bilqees Ahmed a Hyderabadi girl who takes the name of ‘Bobby’ to become a ‘jasoos’ or private detective and solves the neighbourhood cases. During one of her cases she gets the opportunity to don several disguises as a guy to find the necessary information regarding the whereabouts of two girls in the area and to track them down. Vidya looks very convincing in the various get-ups but sadly she has not been allotted enough screen-time to make a great impact.

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RANI MUKHERJI in Dil Bole Hadippa (2009)

In this Yash Raj film Rani Mukhejee plays Veera a  village girl who is crazy about cricket and wants to be in her village squad as a batsman but is rejected by the selectors and the team captain (Shahid Kapoor) for being a girl. So she decides to become Veer Paratap Singh – Veera’s brother. Her make-up as Veer is very convincing, her acting is outstanding and the film is thoroughly enjoyable. Shahid who falls in love with Veera does come to know of the real identity of Veer Pratap for a long time. The final innings of the match in the climax has both these’batsmen’ at the crease and has an interesting ending!

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RAVEENA TANDON and ISHAA KOPPIKKAR  in Ek Se Badhkar Ek (2004)

This was Kundan Shah’s last directorial venture. Here Raveena Tandon is a police inspector and Ishaa Koppikkar plays a RAW agent. To get some important information to nab the real culprits, these two dress up as Sikh guys. They do look convincing but the scene is a very short one and there is not much to write about.

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SHILPA SHETTY in Pardesi Babu (1998)

Shilpa Shetty is the daughter of a rich businessman and is going to be forcibly married off to the guy chosen by her father. She runs away from her house and lands up in Govinda’s small rented accommodation. But the landlady’s condition before renting out had been that since Govinda was a bachelor, he should not bring any woman into his room! For a while Shilpa Shetty disguises as a Sikh guy to escape being spotted until the truth is revealed and the two get thrown out of their tenement.reverse32reverse 33

SRIDEVI in Mr India (1987)

In this fun-filled film, Sridevi dresses up as ‘Charlie Chaplin’ in a scene. In this guise, she enters a casino along with a young boy and inadvertently ends up creating havoc. Unknown to her Anil Kapoor, who is invisible to everyone except the young friend who can see him through a special lens, bashes up the goons in the casino and to the onlookers it looks like Sridevi is the one doing it. This hilarious scene was included to elicit some fun and expectedly the audience loved it.

Here is the link to the above scene from the film:

SAIRA BANU- Victoria No.203 (1973)

This is a fast-paced comedy cum thriller which involves the theft of some valuable diamonds which are hidden in the Victoria No.203 unknown to its owners Saira Banu and her father. Unfortunately her father gets blamed for a murder he didn’t commit and she and her younger sister are left alone to fend for themselves. She decides to become a Victoria driver but she has to disguise as a man because she is informed politely that the license to drive a Victoria is given only to men. Saira Banu looks quite convincing and the hero Navin Nischol becomes chums with ‘him’!

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KUM KUM in Lalkar (1972)

This Ramanand Sagar war film starring Rajendra Kumar, Dharmendra, Mala Sinha and Kum Kum  was well-made and had lovely songs. Kum Kum plays a tribal princess who secretly loves Dharmendra and to help him from getting attacked by the enemy camp, she disguises as a tribal boy and helps them by being their guide and accompanying them on the dangerous mission. Of Course! After a while Dharmendra does find out the truth!

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TANUJA in Do Chor (1972)

Tanuja dons the guise of a man at night and goes about robbing specific pieces of jewellery from the houses of some rich businessmen and leaves a Swastik sign as proof of the thief’s presence. As the film’s name signifies, the film’s hero Dharmendra also happens to be a thief and catches her during one of her robberies, falls for the disguise and decides to become ‘partners in crime’ with this new thief. Tanuja fools him for a while and pretends to be the normal Tanuja’s brother but ultimately the truth is revealed. Tanuja has quite a few scenes in the thief’s get-up and looks smart and quite believable as a guy.

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PADMINI in Mera Naam Joker (1970)

This magnum-opus acted and directed by Raj Kapoor for R K Films was a classic and had a unique story-line. There are three leading ladies whom Raj Kapoor meets at different stages of his life and Padmini who comes in the third part of the film is initially introduced in the film as a boy working in a circus. Later when Raj Kapoor discovers her true identity she explains that it was to protect her dignity from the lecherous gaze of men and to earn a decent living that she had to forcibly pretend to be a boy. There are however very few scenes of her in the get-up.

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MUMTAZ in Himmat (1970)

This film directed by Ravi Nagaich had just one scene in which Mumtaz disguises as a young lad. After the death of her parents, the man she looked upon as a brother tries to molest her and she runs away in this disguise. She gets into a truck waiting at a level crossing which is incidentally being driven by Jeetendra and his friend Jagdeep. Taking her to be a boy, they decide to help her.Though Jeetendra finds out her reality he teases her for a while pretending not to know just to have some fun.

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BABITA in Kismat (1968)

This film has the evergreen Asha Bhonsle- Shamshad Begum duet composed by OP Nayyar-‘Kajra mohabbat waala, akhiyon mein aisa daala...’. The film released nearly fifty years ago yet this unique song retains its freshness and charm and remains a top favourite even today. This film is a fast-paced thriller, where a man hides an important coded message inside a guitar before he is murdered. Now the gang of crooks is after Biswajit-the owner of the guitar and thereafter the whole film is just a series of chase sequences with the villains running after his life and his guitar. He meets Babita and a friend on the way and to ward off the gangsters, they enter a dance troupe’s tent, disguise themselves and sing this awesome number. She dresses up as a guy and he as a girl.

ASHA PAREKH in Love in Tokyo (1966)

In this musical rom-com, when Asha Parekh learns of her father’s idea to marry her off to Pran-the man she dislikes, she dons the disguise of a Sikh and runs away from her house. She meets Joy Mukherjee and falls in love but continues to fool him in the guise of his Sikh friend as well. Expectedly after a while the truth is revealed. Though her outfit is well done, her shrill voice does seem a giveaway but then poor Joy Mukherjee does get fooled!

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SAIRA BANU in Junglee (1961)

In her debut film itself Saira Banu gets to disguise as a man albeit for just a scene. To play a prank on Shammi Kapoor, she disguises as a ‘sadhu’ or ascetic and  predicts that to avoid a catastrophe in his life he is required to travel to a distant place and bow before the Lord regularly for 15 days. He falls for the trick and starts on the journey but soon discovers that it was Saira Banu fooling him.

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MALA SINHA in Bewaqoof (1960)

In this full-on comedy film starring Kishore Kumar, I S Johar, Pran and Mala Sinha, this get-up is used just to play a prank. To escape from Pran who is following them, Mala Sinha and her friend (I do not know the name of this actress) decide to dress up as bearded men and drive away to a distant place. Coincidentally at the same time, Kishore Kumar and I S Johar who have also decided to disguise in ‘drag’ end up getting a lift from Mala Sinha in her car. On reaching the destination, the girls discover their truth and decide to fool the guys for some more time before revealing the truth. The scene is quite hilarious. While Mala Sinha and her friend look decent in their get-up, Kishore Kumar and I S Johar look obnoxious dressed as females!!!

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KALPANA KARTIK in Nau Do Gyarah (1957)

Vijay Anand makes his directorial debut with this film produced by Dev Anand. In the film Kalpana Kartik is being forced by her father to marry the good-for-nothing Jeevan. On the day of her marriage, when she is pondering over her plight, she overhears a conversation between Dev Anand (who had just dropped by to attend the wedding) and his friend where he suggests jokingly that if he were in the bride’s place he would run away. Taking a cue from this idea, she decides to run away. She disguises as a boy, caries with her some cash and jewellery and hides in Dev Anand’s trailer-truck conveniently parked outside her house.

She becomes his companion for a while before the truth of her identity is revealed. Interestingly later on towards the end of the film she reverts back to this disguise to thwart Jeevan’s plans to usurp a hidden ‘will’ meant for Dev Anand which would make him inherit Rs 9 lakhs of cash and Rs 2 lakhs worth of property (nau do gyarah! )

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MADHUBALA in Raj Hath (1957)

Produced and directed by Sohrab Modi, the film has him playing the King of an empire whose ego is hurt when his proposal to have his daughter (Madhubala) married to the neighbouring kingdom’s prince (Pradeep Kumar) is rejected. He then declares war on them but is aware that to enter the enemy’s fortress and navigate through its various secret passages, they need to get hold of the blueprint of the palace which has to be retrieved and for this purpose, a brave person is required to enter that kingdom stealthily and get the map from inside the King’s palace.

Madhubala dressed up as a young warrior comes forward for the task and is proud when ‘he’ is lauded for ‘his’ bravery by the King and granted permission to undertake this difficult task. She returns home after successfully completing the mission and in the process also ends up falling in love with Pradeep Kumar. But her disguise is successful as no one comes to know of her true identity.

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GEETA BALI in Rangeen Ratein (1956)

This is a unique film because here Geeta Bali does not just dress up as a man for a few scenes, but plays a male character ‘Gullu’ in the film. It is said that Shammi Kapoor and she were at the height of their romance around the time of the shooting of the film. The shooting was to be in the hill station Ranikhet which would require Shammi Kapoor to be away from Bombay for a while. So in order to be near him, Geeta Bali requested the director Kidar Sharma (who had incidentally given her the first break in films) to create a role for her. As there was no scope for a female character in the script, a male character was created and so Geeta Bali turned into a man for the film.

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VYJAYANTIMALA in Kismet Ka Khel (1956)

Vyjayanthimala is a street urchin and she and her street friends indulge in petty thieving and robbery to make a living. During one of her late-night outings where she had gone to steal some bread and bun for her friends and herself, she comes across Sunil Dutt who is hiding in the bakery. She is dressed up as a boy but a few scenes later her real identity is revealed.

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KALPANA KARTIK in Taxi Driver (1954)

In this film Dev Anand plays a taxi-driver and during one of his trips manages to rescue Kalpana Kartik from the clutches of two goons who take her to a lonely place and try to misbehave with her. After this, he takes her to live with him in his small tenement as she is new to the city and has come in search of a music baron who had promised to give her a break. Unexpectedly his old and orthodox ‘Bhabhi’ (sister-in-law) decides to come and stay with him for a few days. Dev Anand realizing the problems that can crop up if his Bhabhi comes to know that a girl is staying with him decides to chop off Kalpana’s hair, gets her to dress up in his loose-fitting clothes and turns her into his ‘cleaner and helper boy’ who is staying with him.

Kalpana looks convincing as a helper boy and also acts well.

Interestingly, the film produced by Dev Anand himself is directed by Chetan Anand, with dialogues written by Vijay Anand. The story  is by Chetan Anand, his wife Uma Anand and Vijay Anand and it is during the shooting of this film that Dev Anand and Kalpana fell in love and got secretly married also!!!

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Here are the YouTube links of a few songs featuring our ‘drag-kings’:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Badrinath ki Dulhaniya: A well-crafted rom-com

By

Sharada Iyer

Badrinath ki Dulhaniya is an out and out ‘paisa-vasool’ entertainer and makes for delightful viewing thanks to the dollops of humour laced into the enjoyable narrative and superb performances from Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan. But it is not just another flimsy entertainer because entwined in the plot are topical issues like dowry, male chauvinism, our society’s ridiculous obsession with a male child and above all the parental pressures which mentally and emotionally influence the youngsters and rob them of their freedom to choose the kind of life they want to lead or the life-partners they want to be with …

 

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To writer-director Shashank Khaitan goes the credit for putting across all these points without making it look too grim and preachy yet conveying the message loud and clear. The dialogues are really hilariously written and in a way the movie is like a mirror being held in front of the audience to show them the senseless mind-set which still exists in our country especially in the smaller towns and villages. Here young girls are still not allowed to dream, their wings being clipped as they are forced to ‘to settle down’ due to various reasons. And guys grow up thinking that just being a guy (literate or not) and that too the son of a rich landlord not only makes them ‘perfect’ groom material but also grants them the right to stalk the girl they fall for and harass her till she says yes! (Yes, that is a frightening reality!)

The story of Badri (Varun Dhawan) and Vaidehi (Alia Bhatt) who hail from the small towns of Jhansi and Kota respectively starts off when he sees her at a friend’s wedding and he falls for her immediately but at that time she is not interested. However being the film’s hero our stalker is in reality a good man but brought up on warped principles which have instilled in him the wrong perceptions of marriage and relationships. So he is not able to handle or understand her rejection.

And Alia-our new-age ‘dulhaniya’ is no Madhuri Dixit of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun who wordlessly agrees to marry her brother-in-law when her sister dies or Kajol of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge who accepts her fate and is ready to bury her love for SRK to become the bride to the man of her father’s choice. Alia has a mind of her own and is not willing to compromise at any cost. However she is also in a dilemma for she genuinely starts liking Badri. But the claustrophobic old-fashioned outlook of his parents and his inability to fight for her leave her with no alternative but to turn him down. When her repeated pleas to him and to her parents fall on deaf ears, she agrees to the proposal but leaves him in the lurch at the marriage altar much to the embarrassment of her parents and humiliation of her would-be in-laws.

She flies off to Singapore to become an air-hostess. Not one to give up Badri follows her there too till circumstances start to change his understanding and he learns it the hard way that a woman wants respect more than love and that her ideas are also equally important in a marriage for there is but one life for everyone… He is deported  and he comes back a changed man. He realizes that the free-spirited Vaidehi would be miserable in his household where his father’s rule dominates unless he has the guts to stand up and oppose him.

Of course! In the end things are sorted and the lovers do get together but not before the interesting scene where Badri gathers enough courage to confront his father on the day when his family is conducting a puja to pray for a grandson to be born to their pregnant daughter-in-law! Badri then has a show-down with his father and questions him on the absurdity of the very idea of such a function and reminds him that the city of Jhansi where they live is known for a daughter –the Rani of Jhansi– and not for any son. The era of gender equality had arrived and the earlier people like him accepted this truth, the better it would be for all of them…

The story may sound clichéd but the treatment is definitely not. Further it is a fact that however much we may talk of women empowerment in reality social evils of dowry and patriarchy still exist. Hence such love-stories will always find takers and hit the jackpot in whatever era they are made.

(Note: Actors Yash Sinha and Shweta  Basu Prasad  playing Varun’s ‘Bhaiyya’ and ‘Bhabhi’ respectively will definitely remind us of Mohnish Behl and Renuka Shahane from Hum Aapke Hain Kaun!)

The choice of Kota as the film’s setting deserves a special mention for attractively capturing the ‘Seven Wonders Park’ on the banks of Lake Kishore Sagar . Frankly, I had no idea of its existence and now it has made it to my list of ‘must-see places’!

Finally, no film is perfect and there are situations and scenes which need to be taken with a pinch of salt. And yet the film does stand out for raising some pertinent issues. As the framework is within a typical family drama, it will appeal to a large section of the audience across the country. Added to that the songs are catchy, the canvas is colourful and pleasing and the performances are good. Both Alia and Varun are not only perfectly cast and look good, their acting is spot-on and their on-screen chemistry is terrific!

So just go and enjoy this ‘typical’ Bollywood block-buster… It won’t disappoint you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 9th Royal Stag MIRCHI MUSIC AWARDS: An unforgettable night of music and ‘masti’

By

Sharada Iyer

Being a die-hard fan of Hindi films and an ardent lover of Hindi film music, I was thrilled to get an opportunity to attend this year’s Mirchi Music Awards held on 18th February, 2017. Though this was the 9th year of these awards, this was the first time the function was thrown open to the general public and the tickets were sold online through ‘BookMyShow’.

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For those who may not be aware, the Mirchi Music Awards were instituted by the FM radio station ‘Radio Mirchi’ in 2009 to honour both the artistic and technical excellence of the professionals in the Hindi film music industry of that particular year. The awards are given in seventeen different categories and include awards like Best Arranger, Best Sound Engineer, Best Song Mixing, etc. apart from the usual ones like Best Lyricist, Best Composer, Best Singer, etc. These winners are chosen by an eminent team of jury members which include lyricists, composers, singers and film directors and the jury this time was headed by veteran lyricist, writer and poet Javed Akhtar.

Source: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirchi_Music_Awards)        (http://www.mirchimusicawards.com/?rm983=mma)

A night to remember:

Unlike the innumerable Bollywood award shows held throughout the year where the film stars hog the entire limelight, here the focus was only on the music fraternity of Bollywood- the inimitable veterans, the upcoming young talents and the current top-notch favourites…

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I have seen so many award shows on Television and YouTube but nothing can match up to seeing the actual event live.Indeed it is not every day that one gets to attend such a unique award show…so not wanting to miss out on any part of the fun, I had booked my ticket well in advance and procured a seat in one of the front rows- the ‘Diamond’ row!!!

mirchi24The show was being held at NSCI Dome, Worli (National Sports Complex of India). As I reached an hour ahead of the show time, the excitement at the venue was palpable. Each person entering was greeted with a huge smile making us feel like a celebrity and there were plenty of volunteers to guide us personally to our seat…

The atmosphere inside the dome was charged, the stage decoration looked exciting and the fabulous semi-circular seating arrangement of the dome ensured that the stage would be visible beautifully from wherever one was seated. A surprise gift in the form of an attractive hamper of pastries and cookies had been kept on the chairs for people seated in the first few rows of the seats…and yes, my ‘Diamond’ row was one of them !

While some last minute final touches were being done for the show to begin, the previous year’s programmes were being screened on two giant TV screens on either side of the stage. Finally the programme commenced around 8.00 pm with a medley of the hit songs of 2016 with the younger generation of singers like Amit Mishra (Bulleya’ song) Aman Trikha ( ‘Jaaneman aah’ song ), Jonita Gandhi (‘Break-up’ song), Aditi Singh Sharma (‘High heels Te Nachhe’ song) singing their hit songs while dancers from Shiamak Davar’s dance troupe performed energetically to these songs.

Sonu Nigam who was the host of the evening conducted the program excellently and with his magical voice he regaled the audience with many superb songs. He also had a good sense of humour and turned out to be great mimic as well. With a line-up of artistes which included the legendary Usha Uthup who walked away with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ to the current heart-throb of the music industry Arijit Singh who won the ‘Best Male Vocalist’ of the year for the song ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’, the evening turned magical with every performance…

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When Karan Johar was called on stage to be honoured with ‘Mirchi Make it Large’ award for his immense contribution to Bollywood music, many of the older lot of singers like Shaan and Udit Narayan, music director Jatin Pandit and Sonu Nigam himself sang a few lines of  some  of the melodious songs from his films.

 

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The young sensational musical duo of Armaan Mallik and Amaal Mallik (Anu Mallik’s nephews) sang superbly and so did newcomers Jubin Nautyal, Papon, Jonita Gandhi, Neha Bhasin and Aditi Singh Sharma. The King of Rap- Badshah and veteran Sukhvinder Singh brought the house down with their unique style of rendering.

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Amaal Mallik and Armaan Mallik

Usha Uthup received a standing ovation when she took her award from Anandji (of Kalyanji-Anandji fame). Incidentally they were the ones who first gave her an opportunity to sing in Hindi films with a small part in a song from Purab aur Pashchim.

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The two young sensations- Sartaj and Sarvar Khan Barna– discovered by music director Pritam and who sang the immensely popular track ‘Haanikaarak Bapu’ from the film Dangal were awarded the ‘Best Upcoming Male Artistes of the Year’. When they sang their award-winning song, there was no doubt in anybody’s mind regarding the magic in their voices.

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The film ‘Basant Bahar’ (1956) received the award for the ‘Best Album from Golden Era’ and as a special gesture any one family member (son/daughter/wife) of the people associated with the album were invited on the stage to receive the award. So Pallavi Jaikishen, Shahid Rafi, Dinesh Shailendra, and Kishwari Jaipuri were all invited on stage and as the audience welcomed them with resounding applause and with the songs of the film being played in the background, everyone present felt a tinge of nostalgia remembering the music of the days gone by…

Some film promotions also took place. We had the young stars Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan (to promote Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya) as well as Anushka Sharma and Diljit Dosanjh ( to promote Phillauri) on the stage dancing and announcing some awards. Alia Bhatt- one of the finest talents to enter the industry in recent times looks even more youthful, charming and petite in person than she does on the screen and all in the audience went crazy just looking at her…

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We had directors Ramesh Sippy and Subhash Ghai, actors Jimmy Shergill and Shilpa Shetty and even cricketer Virendra Sehwag called upon to give some of the awards.

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Not surprisingly, the film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil won most of the honours- Album of the Year, Best Music Director, Best Song , Best Male Vocalist and Best Lyricist…

Here is the audio of Channa Meriya with lyrics …it won the ‘Song of the year’ and  Amitabh Bhattachrya won the’Best lyricist of the Year’…

‘Listener’s choice Song of the year award went to ‘Soch Na Sake’ from Airlift

Female Vocalist of the YearJonita Gandhi for the song ‘Gilehriyaan’ from Dangal:

The program went on till almost 2.00 am but neither the enthusiasm of the audience nor the energy level of the performers waned. As the program came to an end I carried with me memories of an unforgettable night and it was a surreal feeling of having been part of the glitz and glamour of the film world albeit for a short time…

An afterthought:

Songs have always been an integral and inseparable part of our films and yet the people associated with the music of films- the lyricist, the arranger, the sound engineer, the composer and the singer take a backseat as compared to the stars acting and doing the lip-synching in the film. Kudos to  Radio Mirchi  for instituting these awards exclusively for acknowledging and encouraging the music fraternity!

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For those who are interested, here is a link to a blog-post I had written on the best songs of 2016: ( https://myviewsonbollywood.wordpress.com/2016/12/)

 

 

 

 

RANGOON: Kangana steals the show in this ‘love and war’ saga

By

Sharada Iyer

Director Vishal Bharadwaj spins an intriguing, interesting and imposing tale of love set against the backdrop of World War II packing it in his inimitable style with well-etched out characters, authentic settings, excellent cinematography, imaginative song sequences, unique music and a touch of suspense.

Rangoon is probably the director’s most lavishly mounted project and transports us to the year 1943-1944 when many wars were being fought across the world. It was the period when Indians were on the brink of getting Independence from the British but within the country there was a clash between Gandhiji’s principle of ‘ahimsa’ and Subhash Chandra Bose’s ideology of war. It was also the time when Bose’s INA joined forces with the Japanese army and Hitler’s German forces to get the British out of India. At the same time, many Indians were part of the British army and were forced to fight for them because we were ruled by them.

Though the backdrop sounds heavy-handed, it cannot be called a war film as the actual war scenes though spectacularly shot are limited and the concentration is more on the ‘Saif-Kangana-Shahid’ love story…

AN OUTLINE:

Russi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan)- who was once an action hero but now a film producer loves his discovery and protégé Julia (Kangana Ranaut)- an action heroine and reigning queen of the Bombay film industry. He is in favour of the British and has no qualms in accepting their request to send Julia to Burma to entertain the troops there and raise their spirits. Much against her wishes she sets off without him and though she is assured of security of the highest order, things go haywire when the train they are travelling by is stopped and they become vulnerable targets of an unexpected and horrific aerial bombing attack by the Japanese war planes.

Jamadar Nawab Malik (Shahid Kapoor ) – an escaped POW from the Japanese camp has been assigned to be her bodyguard and gets stranded with Julia after the bomb attack. In their quest to find a path to safety, the two unexpectedly end up spending quality time together and their close proximity ignites unbridled passion. Now the triangular love story gets interesting with unexpected twists which keep us engrossed till the end.

THE PLUS POINTS:

The USP of the film is the brilliant performances of the three protagonists. Saif Khan is superbly cast as the suave, classy and polished gentleman who can be ruthlessly possessive of his Julia. Shahid  Kapoor as the serious soldier with an unwavering focus on his mission is comparatively restrained but equally brilliant in his act and comes up with another memorable performance.

The film however belongs to Kangana right from her grand introductory scene where she is seen swinging on chandeliers and doing stunts to the very last scene where her action scenes leave us asking for more. It is her character we carry home with us when we leave the cinema hall. Easily one of the best roles a heroine can dream of getting, Kangana excels in every department-action, emotion, romance and dance- she goes about them all with great panache and her unique charm is endearing.

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She gets to display a wide range of emotions ranging from an innocent vulnerable girl in love with her mentor, to a passionate lover totally besotted by the soldier, from a compassionate human being who is torn inside on witnessing cold-blooded killings to a fearless rebel who fights with an unabashed fervour to prove her love. Her persona is modelled after our very own stunt film heroine of the forties ‘Fearless Nadia’ and it is evident that Kangana has worked very hard to come out on top.

The stunning locales of Arunachal Pradesh form a perfect setting and have been captured brilliantly. Meticulous detailing of every little thing to recreate the era is really praiseworthy. The aerial bombing scene is fabulously shot and deserves a special mention and so does the well shot climax scene.

Music in Vishal’s films always sound different  and two of the songs-‘Bloody Hell’ by Sunidhi Chauhan  and ‘Yeh Ishq Hai…’  by Arijit Singh deserve special mention.

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THE DOWNSIDE:

At 2 hours 47 minutes, some people may find the film a tad lengthy and maybe some tighter editing would have made it crisper. With the result, the first half is a little slow.

There is a British actor Richard McCabe who plays Major General Harding and gets ample scope as the main antagonist. After a point his dialogue delivery gets a little irritating  and unfortunately he has a lot of scenes in the film.

WORTH SEEING !

It is not everyday that one comes across films with the backdrop of war and when the project is helmed by a director of Vishal’s calibre, the result is bound to be splendid! On the whole the film is definitely worth seeing especially for Kangana’s outstanding act. Three cheers to her!!!

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THE GHAZI ATTACK: A gripping war saga

By

Sharada Iyer

Debutant director Sankalp Reddy comes up with India’s first underwater war film and needs to be lauded for his superb attempt. Well scripted and brilliantly directed, The Ghazi Attack is a gritty tale of the possible events which could have led to the sinking of Pakistan’s Naval submarine ‘PNS Ghazi’ near Vishakapatnam on 3rd December, 1971.

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Though at the beginning  of the film there is a big disclaimer stating that it is a fictional account and cannot claim authenticity, yet some of the startling facts revealed about the war at the end of the film succeed in making us believe this fictional account of courage and heroism of our Indian Navy. It is said there is still a mystery shrouding the sudden sinking of PNS Ghazi on 3rd December and coincidentally it is a fact that on the same day Pakistan launched a series of pre-emptive air strikes on Indian airfields…

THE DRAMA

The movie starts with the rich baritone of Amitabh Bachchan briefing us about the tense political scenario existing in 1971 in the Indian subcontinent with fighting and mayhem on both sides of our border (East Pakistan and West Pakistan-as they were known then) adding to the chaos. It is against this backdrop that the war drama unfolds and directly gets to the plot with no distraction and maintains the grip to engage the audience for the next 2 hours and 20 minutes.

The Indian Naval headquarters intercepts a coded message which makes them suspicious of a very sophisticated and powerful Pakistani submarine ‘PNS Ghazi’ ‘to have entered our waters surreptitiously. To rule out the possibility of any impending secret attack and to be on high alert, the Indian Naval High Command decides to send our own submarine ‘S-21’ to search the waters around The Bay of Bengal. There are strict orders to keep it a classified mission and to not make the first attack without orders from headquarters.

Thereafter the movie takes us on a thrilling ride of attacks and counterattacks with firing of torpedoes adding to the excitement. Some scenes give us goosebumps and the movie definitely makes us pause and salute our armed forces as they go about facing dangers and making sacrifices to protect our borders for the safety of the citizens. The film is indeed a tribute to The Indian Navy!

THE PLUS POINTS

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Heading this mission are Captain Rann Vijay Singh played by Kay Kay Menon, Lt. Commander Arjun Verma played by Rana Daggubatti and Execitive Officer Devraj played by Atul Kulkarni. Apart from dealing with the tension of the enemy submarine, the crew is witness to the tension mounting inside S-21 in the form of clash between the Captain and his Lieutenant-at every step. Atul Kulkarni as the XO tries to pacify them both but is clearly inclined towards the Captain in his support.

ghazi attack-2.jpgThe performances of these brilliant actors and the authentic atmosphere recreated inside the submarine form the USP of the film. Each one of them has done a brilliant job and makes the mission look so believable. The supporting crew members are all unknown faces thus adding to the authenticity of the proceedings. It was nice watching Om Puri who fits the role of the Naval High Command  perfectly. This is probably one of the last films he acted in.

The director takes his time to introduce us to the working of a submarine and skilfully manoeuvres the riveting plot by alternating the scenes between the Indian and Pakistani officers and their attack strategies. Shots of torpedo attacks add thrill to the proceedings.

WORTH A WATCH ?

Absolutely!!!

It is not that the movie is without minor flaws. There are places when the proceedings get a little dramatic and the special effects of the underwater shots could have been better but there is no doubt that the film has its heart in the right place. These points can easily be overlooked as they do not in any way take away the essence of the film.

Our industry is not known to make too many war films and even if they do the plot generally deals with Army (Haqeeqat, Border, LOC Kargil, etc.). Films like Vijeta and Mausam had the hero playing a fighter pilot. This is perhaps the first attempt at a full-length naval war film played out at the seas and it is definitely worth a dekko!

Once in a while it feels nice to just watch a film for its story and cinematic experience where the director does not have to twist a good plot to cater to a star’s image and The Ghazi Attack is one such film…

The film has been made simultaneously in Hindi and Telugu and dubbed in Tamil. The Hindi version has been distributed by Karan Johar.

Here is the trailer of the film:

A MUSICAL SOJOURN REMEMBERING MADHUBALA’S LESSER KNOWN SONGS

By

Sharada Iyer

The very mention of Madhubala’s name brings to our mind her dazzlingly beautiful face, her enticing smile and her charmingly sensuous persona. Acknowledged by fans and industry people across all generations as the most beautiful face to have graced our industry, she has rightfully been accorded the title of ‘Venus’ of Indian cinema!

Veiled behind this beautiful face was also a brilliant actress, who could do both light-hearted as well as intensely emotional roles with equal ease. However, most of the time her beauty did not allow her to get the appreciation she deserved as a superlative actress of the ‘Golden era’ because of which she was mentioned only after Nargis and Meena Kumari…

Though articles on her invariably focus on her on-screen and off-screen- romance with Dilip Kumar and her comedy roles opposite husband Kishore Kumar, what is overlooked is her superb chemistry with her other co-stars like Ashok Kumar, Prem Nath, Pradeep Kumar, Bharat Bhushan as well as Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor , Sunil Dutt and Guru Dutt.

Her repertoire boasts of entertaining films like Howrah-Bridge, Barsaat ki Raat, Badal, Jhumroo, Passport, Gateway of India, Do Ustaad, Boyfriend, etc. with these actors. She belonged to an era when there was magic in the Black &White cinematography and melody set to brilliant lyrics reigned supreme. With the result her close-up shots during song-sequences remain etched in our minds and singers like Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle and Geeta Dutt added their own inimitable charm to her appeal …

Many of her popular songs are played on radio and television quite regularly but there is a treasure trove of songs from her lesser known films as well which remain buried and somehow seem to have been relegated to the background with the passage of time…

This blog is an attempt to reminiscence some of these hidden treasures. So instead of the usual songs from Mughal-e-Azam, Howrah-Bridge, Mahal or Kaala Paani, the blog includes some unusual yet delightful songs which reveal some more enigmatic facets of her personality.

BASANT (1942)

At the tender age of nine, little Madhubala entered the film industry as a child artist. Born on 14th February, 1933 as Mumtaz Jehan Dehlavi , it was Devika Rani of Bombay Talkies who changed her name to Madhubala when she started coming in lead roles. She is said to have been very impressed with the beauty and charm of the youngster when she saw her on the sets of Neel Kamal and felt her original name was too long and needed a change to suit her sweetness.

NEEL KAMAL (1947)

Five years after Basant, she made her debut as  a heroine. This film is remembered for introducing to the industry Raj Kapoor and Madhubala in their first lead role. Looking at these two youngsters it is difficult to imagine that they were destined to become icons of our industry…

MEHLON KE KHWAB (1960)

Madhubala is seen with her younger sister Chanchal in this fun-filled 1960 starrer where they play best friends. When one of them wins a hefty amount in a lottery ticket, they decide to pack the dough and run away for a while to have some fun and the film deals with the incidents that happen to them. Her sister bears an uncanny resemblance to her and is ironically paired opposite Kishore Kumar while Pradeep Kumar is Madhubala’s hero…

 

AMAR (1954)

This Mehboob Khan directed love triangle starring Madhubala , Dilip Kumar and Nimmi had a bold story and was way ahead of its time which probably accounts for its failure at the box-office. The film had our hero raping a village girl in a drunken stupor on a stormy night but does not have the guts to own up to his act the next day. The girl played by Nimmi meanwhile keeps mum as she loves him secretly. There are ten songs in the film and the song chosen here is my favourite. In this song, he is seen in a pensive mood (maybe out of guilt) while Madhubala unaware of his act sings on playfully…

SHIRIN FARHAD (1956)

This love story of doomed lovers Shirin and Farhad tells the tale of unrequited love much on the lines of Laila Majnu, Sohini Mahiwal etc. and starred Pradeep Kumar opposite her. A film with lovely songs of which I have chosen two songs …

A beautiful solo…

 

A lovely duet…

RAJ HATH

This Sohrab Modi directed film is about two youngsters from two warring camps unknowingly falling in love much to the chagrin of their parents. Expectedly their path is not without obstacles but their love wins in the end but Sohrab Modi kills himself in an unnecessarily violent way…he  song chosen here is popular, though not many are aware that this is picturized on Madhubala…

SANGDIL (1952)

This film was directed by R C Talwar and had an intriguing storyline written by Ramanand Sagar laced with suspense and a psychological angle. Their acting in the film is simply brilliant and their romantic scenes endearing. Easily one of the most lovable pairs of the industry their powerful on-screen chemistry is amazing…

 

EK SAAL (1957)

This film has an interesting theme wherein Madhubala is suffering from brain tumour and has only one year to live. Ashok Kumar in a slightly negative role has a girlfriend-Kuldeep Kaur but pretends to love Madhubala in order to get her property after her death. Madhubala looks stunningly beautiful in this film and acts so naturally. She sings this song after discovering his reality…

 

NIRALA (1950)

This romantic movie has Dev Anand playing a doctor but Madhubala who loves him is forcibly married off to a ‘Raja Saheb’ whose three earlier wives have already died. Even in this weird film, her acting is flawless as usual…Here is a lovely song form the film…

 

RAIL KA DIBBA (1953)

Directed by P N Arora, Madhubala teamed up with Shammi Kapoor for the first time. Today it is difficult to imagine yet it is a sad fact that two of the industry’s most charismatic stars could not deliver a hit film whenever they came together. In 1962, they tried to recreate the magic  when Ashok Kumar’s super hit Kismet was remade again as Boyfriend but the magic of the original was missing…

 

 

DO USTAAD (1959)

After Neel Kamal and Dil Ki Rani both of which released in 1947, the two glamorous stars teamed up again after a gap of 12 years in Do Ustaad which had several foot-tapping numbers. Here are two rare  duets from the film. Interestingly it is Rafi who is singing for Raj Kapoor who apparently is in disguise and his gestures remind us of his younger brother Shammi Kapoor…

 

 

MAHAL (1949)

Written and directed by Kamal Amrohi this suspense thriller turned out to be super-hit at the box-office launching both Madhubala and singer Lata Mangeshkar into stardom. Madhubala was just 16 years old in the film and was paired opposite Ashok Kumar. Instead of the famous ‘Aayega aanewaala…’ here is another beautiful song from the film…  

 

PASSPORT (1961)

A racy suspense thriller involving diamond theft and murder, the film has music by Kalyanji Anandji. Here is an outstanding song from the film…she looks stunning!

 

 

KAL HAMARA HAI (1959)

In this film Madhubala has a double role that of twin sisters-Madhu and Bela. Bharat Bhushan is her hero. While one of them is a simple girl the other is slightly westernised in her approach and is a dancer in the club. Her acting in both the roles is superb…

 

BADAL (1951)

This film had her opposite a slim and handsome Premnath and they became a popular pair. The story involves princely states and is on the lines of Robin Hood. Madhubala is rescued by Premnath who keeps his identity hidden for a while from her. Here are two fabulous songs from the film…

 

 

DULARI (1949)

One of the highest grossers of 1949, the film was a triangular love story starring Madhubala , Shyam and Geeta Bali. Naushad came up with some memorable songs…

 

INSAAN JAAG UTHA (1959)

The film starring Sunil Dutt opposite Madhubala had a rural backdrop and it was director Shakti Samanta’s attempt at a social-genre theme.The story involved industrialization and construction of dam in the village but somehow the film flopped. Music by S D Burman was superb. Here is a lesser heard number from the film…

 

MUGHAL-E-AZAM (1960)

For someone who never lived to see or act in colour films, she immortalized herself in the pages of Indian cinema with her mesmerizing portrayal of Anarkali in the film. This classic film was released in a digitally mastered and restored coloured version fifty years after its release. Each song is a nugget but this song chosen is probably marginally lesser heard than the others. This is the only film of hers where we can get to see her in colour…

 

Recalling some of Waheeda Rehman’s superb on-screen dances

By

Sharada Iyer

Waheeda Rehman with her exquisitely chiselled features, a rare simplicity, amazing grace and immense talent had a truly transcendental appeal. Her beautiful presence lent dignity to every character she portrayed in her long and illustrious career spanning more than three decades. From the vamp of CID in 1955 to the grandmother of Delhi-6 in 2009, she was fortunate to have got a variety of roles and her career graph is not only studded with memorable performances but also some remarkable on-screen dances.

 

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Waheeda Rehman danced like a dream and being one of the few dancing heroines to have entered the industry she brought with her the beauty of our cultural arts. She put life into all her dances and her eyes beautifully captured the different emotions and nuances required for the song situation. Apart from typical classical dances she also performed other lighter styles and left her graceful stamp in all of them.

This blog is an attempt to highlight her memorable dance numbers which remain a delight for the viewer even today…

Waheeda Rehman attributes her entry into Hindi films to be nothing short of divine intervention for she never really went out of her way to approach anyone and offers just landed on her lap. Her entry into the industry happened because of her dancing talent. Born into a Tamil and Urdu speaking family in Chengalpetu near Chennai in Tamil Nadu, she and her elder sister Sayeeda learnt Bharatnatyam from a young age and they used to perform on stage for some shows. Seeing her talent and beauty, she started getting offers from Telugu and Tamil films but her parents felt it was too early to think about a film career.

Tragically she lost her father when she was only thirteen and they continued the stage shows to keep the money coming. When she was seventeen she got a call from the director Tapi Chanakya to do a dance number in his Telugu film Rojulu Marayi. This time she decided to give it a try little knowing that this song was going to transform her life and catapult her onto the journey eventually turning her into one of the best actresses of Hindi cinema!

ROJULU MARAYI (music director- Master Venu)

Even though the film had top stars like Nageshwar Rao and Sowkar Janaki, it was the song ‘Eruvaaka Sagaroranno Chinnanna…’ picturized on debutante Waheeda Rehman that became a sensational hit! People flocked to see the film only to see this dance and she became an overnight celebrity. (Incidentally S D Burman used a part of this tune for his song ‘Dekhne mein bhola hai dil ka salauna…’ in the film Bambai ka Babu)

CID (music director- O P Nayyar)

Fate intervened and it was at the success party of the Telugu film in Hyderabad that actor-producer-director Guru Dutt spotted her and offered her to come to Bombay (now Mumbai) and join Hindi films. He cast her in the role of a vamp in her first film CID, directed by Raj Khosla. She had a simple dance number in her first film itself ‘Kahin pe nigahen…’ which scaled the popularity charts in no time and she was noticed by one and all…

NEEL KAMAL (music director-Ravi)

Throughout the sixties she had many melodious dance numbers picturized on her. In 1968 came the film Neel Kamal starring Waheeda Rehman with Raj Kumar and Manoj Kumar. It was re-incarnation saga where she had been a dancer in her previous birth and Raj Kumar’s ghost haunts her and takes her back in time in an attempt to make her remember the past when they had been lovers.

In the current birth she is married to Manoj Kumar. Here is a dance number on stage where he is sitting in the audience. Waheeda Rehman surprisingly dances both as the female and male dancer simultaneously- wonder how she was supposed to have accomplished it!!! She is also seen in a western getup for a small part which is a rare sight…

EK PHOOL CHAAR KAANTE (music director Shankar-Jaikishen)

In 1961 she teamed up with Sunil Dutt in this light-hearted comedy where Sunil Dutt has to impress four of Waheeda’s uncles to get Waheeda…hence the apt title (meaning one flower and four thorns). The song  ‘Matwaali naar thumak thumak  chali jaaye…’ by Mukesh became very popular and is remembered for Waheeda’s graceful dancing.

MUJHE JEENE DO (music director- Jaidev)

In 1963, Waheeda Rehman once again teams up with Sunil Dutt in this dacoit drama where she essays the role of a courtesan Chamelijaan.  When performing at a wedding, the dacoit  Jarnail Singh is so infatuated with her (as can be seen from Sunil Dutt’s lusty expressions) that he abducts her right after her dance. Jaidev’s brilliant composition is lifted to divine heights by Lata Mangeshkar’s soulful singing and Waheeda Rehman’s dance steps are in perfect sync with the enigmatic setting of the song.

Pandit Lachhu Maharaj choreographed the song beautifully and gave delicate mudras and soft facial expressions to her. In the song she dances on a plain mirror which had been painted black and reflected everything thus making the lighting of the set technically very tricky but managed to impart a mysterious effect…

SHATRANJ (music director Shankar-Jaikishen)

Waheeda Rehman and Rajendra Kumar came together in this spy thriller in which she played an Indian dancer. The song featured here is a spectacularly mounted peacock dance and giving her company in the dance is Madhumati. I wonder if this kind of setting and choreography has been seen in Hindi cinema…

TEESRI KASAM (music director-Shankar Jaikishen)

In 1963, lyricist Shailendra decided to produce a poignant film about a dancer and a bullock cart guy and Waheeda Rehman was his first choice for the dancer’s role while Raj Kapoor was offered the hero’s role. The film had magnificent songs which included some lovely dance numbers picturized on Waheeda Rehman:’Paan khaaye saiyyan hamaro…’-a bouncy and lively Asha Bhonsle number which remains a cult song till today, ‘Aa aa aa bhi jaa, raat dhalne lagi…’- a sad song by Lata Mangeshkar, ‘Hai ghazanb kahin taara toota…’-another lively Asha number. Note the difference in Waheeda’s expressions and dance movements…

As the songs are not permitted to be included here, one has to see them on YouTube only

GUIDE (music director- S D Burman)

The character of Rosie essayed by Waheeda Rehman in this bilingual easily ranks among the top five all-time remarkable characters ever played by heroines in Hindi cinema. Incidentally she won the ‘Filmfare’ best actress award for the Hindi version and the best actress award at the Chicago Film Festival for the English Guide. The music of the film also remains one of Burmanda’s career-best efforts. The story which had scope for some fabulous dance sequences were brought to life on screen by the combined efforts of the lyricist-music director-singer and the actress.

Here is an outstanding song-cum-dance sequence from the film:

There is another brilliant song ‘Mose chal kiye ja…’ and it has an interesting trivia. Incidentally the ‘tabla’ in the song has been played by the Santoor maestro Pandit Shivkumar Sharma. In a recent interview on radio he disclosed how R D Burman managed to convince him to play the instrument and the results were spectacular! Very few are aware that Shivkumar Sharma used to play the tabla before he decided to concentrate only on the santoor…

KAUN APNA KAUN PARAYA (music director- Ravi)

This 1963 film had her act opposite Vijay Kumar, brother of comedian actor Johny Walker. Vijay did  not have much of a personality and seemed to lack any special screen presence due to which he never really made it in films. But the song here is a melodious number which gives Waheeda Rehman a chance for a dance number…

DHARTI (music director-Shankar-Jaikishen)

Waheeda Rehman teams up with ‘Jubilee’ Kumar once again in 1970 after her successful outings in Palki and Shatranj. The story which involves around Princes, Princesses, usurping of territories, villains, disguises, etc., had enough scope for dance sequences as well…

A very catchy number where Rajendra Kumar is disguised

An item number by Waheeda Rehman- an avatar of hers not seen often during her career but beeing Waheedaji, the song is very decently picturized…

Here is another dance number form the same film:

PREM PUJARI (music director –S D Burman)

This is the first film directed by Dev Anand and the story revolves around a soldier who after being court-martialled he becomes a spy. The song here is sung at a party where Waheeda Rehman is shocked to see her beloved not only refusing to recognize her but introduces himself as Zaheeda’s husband! This song conveys disbelief, hurt, humiliation, anger and pain –all brought out beautifully by the lyrics of th song and her apt expressions…

EK DIL SAU AFSAANE (music director- Shankar Jaikishen)

A romantic drama of 1963, the film starred Raj Kapoor and Waheeda Rehman with Lalita Pawar as Raj Kapoor’s grandmother proving to be the obstacle in their path. But for a change, Raj Kapoor has the guts to get married to Waheeda and walk out of the house and thy decide to lead a happy life…

BAAZI (music director-Kalyanji-Anandji)

A 1968 suspense thriller with a murder and some mysterious events also thrown in, the film had our dashing Dharmendra joining Waheeda Rehman along with Mehmood, Johny Walker and Helen. Though the music of the film did not become very popular, there was a dance face-off between Waheeda Rehman and Helen which makes for an interesting watch. Coincidentally, the golden wig worn by Waheedaji seems to be uncannily similar to the one she is wearing in the song from Dharti…

PHAGUN (music director-S D Burman)

This film released in 1973 had Dharmendra playing her husband and Jaya Bhaduri as her daughter. Somehow after this film she did not get any heroine roles as such and slowly she graduated to doing character roles. This song picturized during a Holi celebration in the film is easily one of the most ‘decent’ picturization of a Holi song…

DELHI-6 (music director- A R Rahman)

In this film released in 2009, she plays grandmother to Abhishek Bachchan and sportingly agreed to shake a leg during this song which has catchy beats. Though not a proper dance, it is her last Hindi film to be released on the big screen and thus becomes precious. She will be seen in Kamal Hassan’s ambitious bilingual Vishwaroopam 2 to be released this year…

Here are two dances where there is no song and she dances to only a music piece. The first one is a dance in a temple in front of Lord Shiva’s deity. Her proficiency as dancer of high calibre has been brought out beautifully in this dance piece…

ROOP KI RANI CHORON KA RAJA (1961, music director- Shankar-Jaikishen)

GUIDE (1965)

The ‘Snake’ dance from the film Guide was one of the highlights of the film. The number of hours of hard work Waheeda Rehman put in to perfect the choreographer Hiralal ‘s steps almost broke her bones and by the end of the final shoot she was feeling dizzy. But the brilliant results of her relentless efforts have been preserved forever in the film and continue to dazzle us every time we see it…

For her outstanding contribution to Indian cinema, Waheeda Rehman has been the recipient of many awards important among them being Filmfare awards (Neel Kamal, Guide), National Award (Reshma aur Shera), the coveted Padma Shri in 1971 and the prestigious Padma Bhushan in 2011.