Farewell SHASHI KAPOOR-The quintessential Prince Charming with a strikingly handsome face

By

Sharada Iyer

There is not a single person among his fans and co-stars who has escaped the charm of Shashi Kapoor’s incredible good-looks! It was an integral part of his affable personality which drew the audience towards him and made him a hugely popular star especially a ‘romantic’ star of the sixties and seventies. His easy-going genial and charming real-life personality probably rubbed off on all his on-screen characters making them immensely likeable and endearing.

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But his good looks sometimes overpowered the extremely talented actor hidden behind the charming face. He remained a rare actor who straddled the worlds of theatre, popular Hindi cinema, art films as well as English films effortlessly and quietly without creating much brouhaha. He never liked to boast about his achievements for they stemmed from his sheer love for acting.

THEATRE MAN

He started his career as a theatre actor learning the ropes from his illustrious father Prithviraj Kapoor, who had his own travelling theatrical company Prithvi Theatres which had been founded in 1942. He also did a stint with Geoffrey Kendall’s theatre group Shakespearana where he met the love of his life Jennifer Kendall.

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Young Shashi made his acting debut by playing the role of young ‘Bharat’ in Prithvi Theatre’s maiden production based on Kalidasa’s classic ‘Shakuntala’. He was just six years old then. He loved acting in plays and joined Hindi films only after his first son Kunal was born in order to get extra income to support his family.

Though Prithviraj Kapoor had leased out a piece of land to build his own permanent place, he passed away in 1972 without starting the project. Shashi Kapoor who shared his father’s love and passion for the theatre took it upon himself to fulfil his father’s dream by establishing the iconic ‘Prithvi’ theatre in Juhu, Mumbai in 1978. Shashi Kapoor along with his wife Jennifer Kapoor looked after the everyday nitty-gritties of running it and Mumbai got its first platform for staging Hindi plays. Today his children are looking after it.

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He supported the theatre and nurtured new talents and in 2015 it is in this very special place that he was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke award in the presence of all his family members and many of his heroines who had acted opposite him in his wonderful career spanning more than three decades. Though the award came too late for him in life, it was indeed a rare and beautiful moment.

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A CHARMER IN REAL LIFE TOO…

From the innumerable write-ups that we have got to read in the past few days about him, if there is one thing which stands out about his personality it is the love people had for him in their hearts and how every heroine had been attracted to his friendly demeanour and the killer looks of this romantic star. With his passing away the industry has lost one more heart-throb and a rare gem from the golden-era…

There is an interesting incident mentioned by Sharmila Tagore that took place during the shoot of ‘Kashmir Ki Kali’ in which Shammi Kapoor was her hero. It so happened that during the filming of the song sequence of ‘Ishaaron Ishaaron mein…’ , Shashi Kapoor dropped by to say hello to his brother and stayed on to see the shoot. But Sharmila Tagore was so distracted by his good looks that she could not concentrate and kept giving retakes after retakes. Finally Shashi Kapoor was politely asked to leave by the director Shakti Samanta after which the shot was canned in one go.

Superstar Amitabh Bachchan owes a lot to him for it was Shashi Kapoor who stopped Amitabh from accepting the role of an extra in 1969 for which Amitabh was going to be paid Rupees 50. The film was the Shashi Kapoor starrer ‘Bombay Talkie’ and the scene being shot was ironically the funeral scene of Shashi Kapoor who plays a Hindi film star in the film. Amitabh had a tiny role as an upcoming actor and had two scenes in the film one of which was to stand as part of the crowd of mourners during cremation. The scene was removed later on Shashi’s insistence for he felt that Amitabh was made for ‘better things’ and asked the actor not to accept bit parts! Such a rare and wonderful gesture indeed…

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AS A CHILD ARTIST

Shashi Kapoor started his career in films as a child artist under the name of ‘Shashi Raj’. He acted as the childhood version of Raj Kapoor in Aag (1948) and Awaara (1949) and that of Ashok Kumar in Sangram (1950).

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While most of the articles have mentioned his film as Dharamputra, he was actually introduced by director Bimal Roy in Char Diwari  where his heroine was Nanda. It is the title credits of this film which shows ‘Introducing Shashi Kapoor’. Raj Kapoor is said to have personally requested Nanda to take care of his younger brother whom he treated more like his son than his brother. Both films released in the same year 1961. 

Here is a lovely song from his film ‘Sangram’ where he plays the childhood version of Ashok Kumar. He is seen here with Baby Tabassum and the choreographer of the song was Guru Dutt who incidentally had started his career in the industry as a dance director.

MULTI-STARRERS

To Shashi Kapoor goes the credit of getting what can perhaps go down in history as the most popular dialogue of Hindi cinema- ‘Mere paas ma hai’. Though the film ‘Deewar’ belonged to Amitabh Bachchan whose character ‘Vijay’ gets to play the heart-tugging underdog and takes home the audience sympathy, it is Shashi Kapoor who gets this famous one-liner which pierced the hearts of a generation of cine-goers and made him immortal for all generations. Shashi Kapoor also walked away with the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Filmfare trophy that year for the role.

His real life friendship with Amitabh Bachchan translated into their on-screen chemistry which gave us some of Hindi cinema’s iconic films. They played each other’s friends-Imaan Dharam, Kaala Patthar, Do aur Do Paanch, Kabhi Kabhie, Namak Halaal, brothers in Deewar, Silsila, Shaan and were even cast as twins in Manmohan Desai’s Suhaag!

Shashi Kapoor had no qualms accepting roles in two-hero films or multi-starrers for he was confident of leaving his own mark. In fact he is one of the rare heroes to have acted in almost equal number of solo hero films as well as multi-starrers. With Sanjeev Kumar he acted in Mukti, Trishul, Swarag Narag, with Dharmendra in Krodhi, with Jeetendra and Govinda in Sindoor, with Rajesh Khanna in a love-triangle in Prem Kahani, etc.

He also acted alongside his other family members. With his nephew Randhir Kapoor in Heeralal Pannalal and with Rishi Kapoor in many films like Doosra Admi, Kabhi Kabhie, Duniya Meri Jen Mein, etc.

While he acted in plays directed by his father Prithviraj Kapoor, he played childhood versions of eldest brother Raj Kapoor, he sang only one qawwali with Shammi Kapoor in the film Jabse Tumhe Dekha Hai (1963), where they both made a guest appearance only for the song.

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He also acted opposite his niece-in-law Babita in Haseena Maan Jaayegi, Ek Shreeman Ek Shreemati, etc. and opposite Neetu Singh in several films like Deewar , Kaala Paani, Ek Aur Ek Gyarah, etc.

THE ROMANTIC HERO

Among the heroines though his pairing with Nanda was most popular, he also shared a great on-screen rapport with Sharmila Tagore, Rekha, Hema Malini, Zeenat Aman, Moushmi Chatterjee and Shabana Azmi as he acted in several films with all of them. His pairing with Asha Parekh, Mumtaz , Babita and Raakhee also looked great. He has also acted opposite Tanuja, Ragini, Faryal, Indrani Mukherjee, etc.

Being part of the ‘Golden-era’ of Hindi cinema, he had some memorable songs picturized on him. And to think initially he was against singing songs on screen! It was at the insistence of his close friend-director Yash Chopra who convinced him that he could do it that he finally relented. They made a great actor-director team- ‘Dharamputra’, ‘Waqt’, ‘Deewar’, ‘Trishul’, ‘Kaala Pathar’, ‘Silsila’, ‘Kabhi Kabhie’. It is said that Yash Chopra many times fashioned Shashi’s character in films based on his own real-life friendly nature.

Here are the YouTube links to a few melodious songs picturized on him:

Abhinetri (1970)

Aamne Saamne (1967)

Aa Gale Lag Ja (1973)

Kanyadan (1970)

A FEW OF HIS LESSER KNOWN SONGS:

JUAARI-1968

YEH DIL KISKO DOON- 1963

BIRADARI (1966)

Shashi Kapoor was also associated as a producer or director with some off-beat critically acclaimed films like Junoon, Utsav, 36 Chowringhee Lane, Kalyug which fetched him several awards. Before starting out his career as an actor, he also did a stint as an assistant director in a few films like Shreeman Satyavaadi, Post Box 999, Dulha Dulhan, and Guest House.

THE FINAL GOOD-BYE

On 5th December, 2017, Shashi Kapoor was accorded a well-deserved State Funeral and scores of his fans and industry people gathered to bid adieu to this glorious star and a wonderful human being. Even the skies cried as Mumbai faced unexpected showers the whole day. Though he had left acting many years back, the fact that he was around kept us connected to a living legend of our film history.

Artists never die and indeed he will live through his films…

…Yet the finality of death has come as a blow and the fact that we can never meet this dimpled charismatic star is a reality which is yet to sink in.

I have been a huge fan of Shashi Kapoor and a few years back I had written a letter about him in Filmfare magazine in 2010, when he had received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award for his invaluable contribution to the world of cinema.

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Here is my all-time favourite Shashi Kapoor song:

 

 

 

 

 

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Remembering the lovely actress NAZIMA who died at the young age of 27!

By

Sharada Iyer

Cine-lovers who are familiar with the cinema of the late-sixties and early-seventies would easily recollect her sweet and innocent face with those lovely big expressive eyes and the charming smile which characterized this talented actress. She had gained popularity as the quintessential ‘sister’ of the hero or the heroine and had a pleasing screen presence.

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I have seen quite a few movies of Nazima and used to find her demeanour very appealing. But around the mid-seventies she just disappeared from the scene. I had somehow always thought she had got married and settled somewhere in a foreign country and never came back to the glitz and glamour of the film industry.

It is only recently while browsing some YouTube videos, I came across this shocking piece of news that Nazima had succumbed to cancer and passed away in 1975 itself at the young age of twenty-seven!!!

This is the video I saw…

Apart from the YouTube videos, I also found a few online articles which stated that she passed away at the young age of 27! (http://www.veethi.com/india-people/nazima-profile-6067-14.htm) (http://www.hindustancalling.com/news/bollywood-actress-nazima-hold-record-number-of-rape-scenes-in-movies/)

It was indeed a shocking piece of news and probably explained her disappearance from the scene around 1975. Her filmography boasts of thirty-odd films and it is to her credit that she managed to leave a mark in such a short time and with a small body of work…

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Surprisingly the write-up regarding Nazima is abysmally minimal in Wikipedia and does not even mention her date of birth. But the IMDB page states the year of birth as 1948 and death as 1975. 

This blog is a small tribute to Nazima where I have put together some information about her films and a few lovely songs picturized on her. 

Nazima was born in Nashik, Maharashtra and started off as a child artist under the name of ‘Baby Chand’, but doesn’t seem to have done any significant roles. She was seen in ‘Ab Dilli Door Nahin’ (1957), a film by the prestigious RK Banner. It is a very emotional children’s film produced by Raj Kapoor about a child who goes in search of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and request him to save his father from being hanged for a murder he did not commit. Nazima had a small role in it.

 

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She also acted in the award winning Bimal Roy film ‘Biraj Bahu’ as the main lead Abhi Bhattacharya’s baby sister.

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Nazima was also seen in ‘Devdas’ (1955) in two scenes as part of the class where Devdas and Paro are students. There is one scene where she gets to speak to Baby Naaz separately. The face is unmistakable…

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She is also said to have worked in ‘Hum Panchi Ek Daal Ke’ (1957). It is a film with a story dealing with only a set of school boys. However towards the end of the film there is a dance program which has many girls also participating. Probably she was one of the dancers. But this information needs confirmation.

Nazima’s first adult role as a heroine was in 1961 in the film ‘Oomar Qaid’ opposite Sudhir and if the information on her date of birth is true then she must have been barely 14 years old in this film!

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She was also seen in ‘Nishaan’ opposite Sanjeev Kumar in 1965. Incidentally though Sanjeev Kumar made his first screen appearance in a small role in the 1960 film ‘Hum Hindustani’ and in the 1964 film ‘Aao Pyar Karen’, it is only in ‘Nishaan’ that he gets to play a hero for the first time and his name appears in the credits as ‘Introducing Sanjeev Kumar’!!!

And to Nazima goes the credit of being Sanjeev Kumar’s first heroine. He has a double role in it and here are two songs one with each of the the twin brothers…

Haaye tabassum tera…

Saathiya bekhudi hai…

Perhaps it was this comfort level with each other that was reflected in their on-screen chemistry in two other hit films which they starred in their later years-‘Raja aur Runk’ (1968) and ‘Manchali’ (1973).  Both these films were big hits. Here are two popular songs from ‘Raja aur Runk’…

O Phirki waali…

Rang Basanti…

Nazima also acted opposite Rajesh Khanna in ‘Aurat’  a family film which released in 1967. Being one of Rajesh Khanna’s early films, they both look very young and make a charming couple.

Shola ulfat ka bhadkake…

Hame unse…

But two years later in 1969 while Rajesh Khanna was seen opposite Babita in ‘Doli’, Nazima settled for playing second fiddle to the heroine Babita and was the wife of the villain Prem Chopra in the film.

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There was a lovely Asha Bhonsle number picturized on both the actresses where they are dreaming of their respective fiancés.

In 1969 she also played Jeetendra’s sister in ‘Waris’ which had newcomer Hema Malini cast opposite Jeetendra.

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While many feel that during this period Nazima committed professional hara-kiri by simultaneously accepting ‘sister’ roles, she need not have been disheartened for Nazima left an indelible mark in whatever role she did. She was lucky that the era that she worked in films was the era when family films were made which gave importance to the character of a ‘sister’ or a ‘friend’ and hence her roles never went unnoticed. Also as all these films had melodious music she had many memorable songs picturized on her.

AARZOO (1965)

Jab isq kahin ho jaata hai…

She played Asha Parekh’s sister in ‘Ziddi’ (1964) Saira Banu’s sister in ‘April Fool’ (1965), Sunil Dutt’s sister in ‘Gazal’ (1964), Rajendra Kumar’s sister in ‘Aarzoo’ (1965), Jeetendra’s sister in ‘Waris’ in 1969, etc., and gained a lot of popularity in them.  Yes! She found more appreciation in ‘sister’ or ‘friend roles’ than as a heroine.

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In a way by accepting by playing sister to all the upcoming and established heroes she sealed her own fate. In an interview in 1968, she mentioned that she did this to keep herself busy and to not let go of whatever little work was coming her way. She also expressed her disappointment that though she had got to work with great directors, it was sad that nobody saw her as ‘heroine’ material.

As a child artist she had worked with Bimal Roy and in the popular RK banner as well, somehow they did not cast her in any lead role later on. Those were the days when actors and actresses were more or less slotted into a certain type of image based on the character they portrayed. So when she gained popularity as a major heroine /hero’s sister or ‘friend’ she closed her own doors to become a heroine.

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Some of her memorable performances were in ‘Manchali’, ‘Honeymoon’, ‘Aaye Din Bahaar Ke’, and ‘Beimaan’, where she had almost equal footage as the heroine.  Honeymoon has a unique story-line in which two friends decide to break-up with their boyfriends and agree to settle for arranged marriage with the boys chosen by their parents. Ironically they get married to the other’s boyfriend and what follows is quite amusing and interesting. Nazima’s role is as important as Leena Chandavarkar’s but while Leena gets two lovely Kishore-Asha duets picturized on her and Anil Dhawan, Nazima has none. So people may not immediately recall her name in the context of the film.

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Her other memorable roles include ‘Aarzoo’, ‘Raja aur Runk’, ‘Anjaana’ and ‘Doli’. She was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress award for her role in ‘Beimaan’ where she played Manoj Kumar’s sister.

BEIMAAN (1972)

Yeh Rakhi bandhan hai aisa…

Sadly two of her films-‘Ranga Khush’ and ‘Dayar-e-Madina’ released after her death in 1976. She even got the top billing in the latter. But the co-artistes were not familiar names or faces and not much appreciation came her way.

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Had she lived and continued, she would have definitely graduated to playing significant character roles. But that was not to be. She succumbed to cancer and left the world at a very young age. Not much detail is available about her family or about her illness. But even in her short body of work she acted with top directors, producers, heroes and heroines and had memorable songs picturized on her giving her a great recall value.

ANJAANA  (1969)

Hum behnon ke liye mere bhaiyya…

It is only when we try to go back in time to dig some information about our yesteryear actors and actresses that we realize how woefully inadequate our records are! Not all of them had the good fortune of having reached the zenith but definitely they did light up the cinema screens in their own way with their acting and screen presence albeit for a little while.

BADNAAM (1975)

Bhaiyya phool main phoolon ki rani…

Here is a song from ‘Adhikar’ which boasted of a talented cast like Ashok Kumar, Pran and Nanda. She was cast opposite Deb Mukherjee. This song picturized on her can easily be counted amongst the finest duets of Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle.

Koi maane ya na mane…

In the film ‘Aaye Din Bahaar Ke’ (1966), though she comes only after half of film is over, she has an important role and even her marriage is fixed with the hero Dharmendra before she realizes that her best friend Asha Parekh is actually his true love. This film had a brilliant song by the Mangeshkar sisters Lata and Asha and Nazima is indeed lucky to have done lip-syncing to this immortal number composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal.

Ae kaash kisi deewane ko…

In the absence of more concrete information, I request the readers reading this blog to please share any new information pertaining to this lovely actress…

QARIB QARIB SINGLLE : Irrfan Khan rocks in this delightful rom-com

By

Sharada Iyer

Bollywood which seems to be on a spree to explore unusual plots this year adds yet another feather to its cap with the latest offering ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle ‘(with a double L)!  Director Tanuja Chandra is back after a long gap with a refreshing, engaging, amusing and a thoroughly enjoyable love-story of a middle-aged couple starring the inimitable Irrfan Khan alongside a new face Parvathy- a star from the Malayalam film industry.

THE STORY OUTLINE

The title of the film is actually the name of a dating app which promises positive results for the people who are adventurous enough to register and explore the possibilities in choosing their life partner. Parvathy is a 35 year-old widow whose husband had been an Army officer and had died 10 years ago. She is now a workaholic living alone and is in touch with her younger brother on Skype. To get a break from her mundane and predictable existence, she decides to try her luck by registering on the website. She sees the profile of Irrfan who is a 40 year old bachelor and they decide to meet on a coffee date.

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Their characters are in total contrast and she is initially appalled by everything he says and does and just wants to end the nonsensical date as soon as possible. But obviously destiny has other plans and soon enough they embark on an interesting and fun-filled ‘date journey’ of about 10 days travelling to Rishikesh, Hardwar,through Rajasthan and finally culminating in Gangtok.    

The movie is all about what happens during the journey, the situations they face and the emotions they undergo. The events are laced with a lot of humour. Gazal Dhaliwal’s excellent dialogues are a big plus point and add a natural atmosphere to the whole set-up. The cinematographer has captured the Indian locales so beautifully. There is a small shot of the Ganga ‘aarti’ also.

PERFORMANCES

As the quirky happy-go-lucky character Irrfan rises above the script to deliver a brilliant performance. His dialogue delivery and the little nuances he adds are remarkable. No one could have captured the essence of the character the way he has done. The new actress Parvathy is quite a find and fits the character perfectly. Her guts to accept such a role in her Hindi debut film is indeed laudable and she is definitely a talent to watch out for.

This is not a typical mushy romantic film as there are no foreign locales or any songs to boast per se. The songs which are there are played in the background. The hero and heroine are not wearing designer clothes and looking picture-perfect all the time. Everything is natural and relatable and that is the charm of the film.

I went to see the film only for Irrfan and had no idea of the story. But to my pleasant surprise, the movie turned out to be a treat and I am glad I saw it. As the publicity has been low-key and the heroine being a new face, not many people may venture out to see the film and this gem of a film may get lost in the box-office ‘number-crunching’ game…

REASONS TO WATCH THE FILM

poster-Irrfan’s rocking performance…

-Parvathy’s impressive act…

-The locales…

-The underlying humour…

-The ‘old world charm’ of the narrative…

-Neat direction… 

In fact, for those of you wanting to experience something different in Bollywood romance which has a ‘slice-of-life’ touch to it, a story which unfolds at a leisurely pace and some terrific performances, this film is for you… 

Here is a song which will give an idea of what to expect in the film:

 

 

 

 

ITTEFAQ is intriguing and gripping and Akshaye Khanna’s superb performance makes it a must-watch!

By

Sharada Iyer

NO SPOILERSS AHEAD… only a few thoughts on the film:

-To borrow the subject of a 1969 song-less classic murder-mystery thriller and plan a remake was a big risk but debutant director Abhay Chopra who is incidentally the grandson of late B R Chopra (producer of the original film) and grand-nephew of Yash Chopra (director of the original film), shows unusual talent for his first film. He is in complete control of the proceedings and manages to keep the audience engaged, engrossed and guessing from the first scene to the last.

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-There are two murders and there are two suspects- Siddharth Malhotra and Sonakshi Sinha. His wife and her husband have been murdered and the story here is shown from the investigative viewpoint. The whole film is from Crime Branch Officer Akshaye Khanna’s perspective. He gets order from his senior to solve the case in three days. Both have their own versions of the incidents and in the absence of any clues or witnesses it is up to him to unravel the truth!

-The director engages the audience by intelligently alternating between both the versions of the suspects simultaneously and this is one of the highlights of the film. The audience is alert throughout the film and is mentally and psychologically solving the mystery along with Akshaye Khanna.

-The film has no songs like its original and the background music is very good. The use of dark shades of lighting throughout the film adds to the suspense and the choice of settings in the story-Sonakshi’s house, the police station and the jail cell are also in muted shades of grey, blue and brown to add to the aura of mystery.

PERFORMANCES

-Akshaye Khanna is the life and soul of the film. He has a superbly sketched out character and his endearing persona and brilliant acting lift the film several notches higher. He looks handsome, charming, tough and superbly fit and puts a lot of life into the role to make the character look very natural. This is the third film in which I am seeing him as an investigating officer, the other two being ’36 China Town’ and ‘Mom’.

-Siddharth Malhotra has the tough job of stepping into Rajesh Khanna’s shoes and does a good job. He has plenty of scope and is apt for the role as he conveys both vulnerability and toughness when required.

-Sonakshi Sinha is good but could have been given more screen time to add pizzazz to make her character more appealing. But she keeps her aura mysterious and leaves a mark.

-The only minus point is the supporting cast of sub-inspectors and constables who are not all that good and better actors and more well-known faces could have been chosen. Also they keep cracking jokes pertaining to toilet which could have been totally avoided.  This kind of nonsensical dialogues do not show the police profession in good light.

IN CONCLUSION

It is amazing that a suspense film like this has got a good response from the audience, especially considering the fact that the film is more for a niche audience and may not be a typical family entertainer like the recently released ‘Golmaal’. Further it was released alongside the much awaited Hollywood action film ‘THOR-RAGNAROK’ which has audience of all age-groups clamouring for it! So amidst such tough competition, ‘Ittefaq’ seems to hav fared well and most of the media reviews have refrained from revealing the identity of the murderer.

In spite of the absence of any publicity campaigns and promo events for the film, the collections have shown a steady increase from Friday to Monday and are being attributed to the initial curiosity and good word of mouth audience response. Interestingly, the night show on Friday for which I went had a packed cinema-hall! Maybe it is also an indication that with so much talent in the industry it would be great to explore this genre more frequently in the future…

Here is the promo song which was shot for YouTube but was not included in the film. This song is also a remix of the song ‘Raat baaki…’ from the 1982 film ‘Namak Halal’.

To be honest, I entered the cinema hall with a lot of apprehension as I am generally averse to remakes of any kind of film and especially old classics. I even saw the old version a day before watching this new version just to rekindle my memory and armed to attack the remake.

But I was pleasantly surprised to view a film which has a character of its own and boasts of some real good acting. After all, comparisons are bound to be there as a ‘who-done-it’ thriller is not a common genre attempted by Bollywood and that too in recent times such stories seem to have been lost.

The film is definitely worth watching…

So just go and enjoy racking your brain solving the double murder case…

 

 

 

Seeing Nightingale Lata Mangeshkar at an awards function: An unforgettable experience…

By

Sharada Iyer

It is not every day that one is presented with an opportunity to actually see Lata Mangeshkar in person! And that too for a fan of Hindi cinema and Hindi film songs like me when the moment came it seemed like a dream come true…

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It so happened that a few weeks back when I booked my tickets for the program ‘Amrut Hriday Swarlata’, I never thought (though I did hope and pray) that Lata Mangeshkar would actually grace the occasion with her august and divine presence. After all, with passing age her movements are restricted and she does not attend too many functions. Well! Can you imagine my joy when the curtains opened and the program started? I could not believe my eyes! For sitting there on the stage right in front of us was the very lifeline of our Hindi film songs-Lata Mangeshkar!!! It was like seeing Goddess Saraswati herself!

l2Wearing her trademark white silk sari with a bright orange-red border, her face radiated with humility and a divine grace and it was difficult to imagine that 75 years had gone by since she took her first steps into the world of music… What an extraordinary milestone to achieve for any singer in one lifetime and how calm and peaceful she looked! She was sitting on the dais with three of her family members-sisters Meena Mangeshkar and Usha Mangeshkar (Asha Bhonsle was not there) and brother-Hridaynath Mangeshkar as well as a few political bigwigs.

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THE OCCASION:

On 26th October 2017, Hridayesh Arts -a highly reputed cultural organization for music (celebrating its 28th anniversary)-in association with Jay Satya Charitable Trust, organised a music programme titled ‘Amrut Hriday Swar Lata’ to salute and celebrate 75 glorious years of the musical journey of Bharat Ratna awardee and songstress Lata Mangeshkar.

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The day also happened to be the 80th birthday of Lata Mangeshkar’s brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar. On this auspicious occasion, writer-lyricist-poet Javed Akhtar was felicitated with the Hridaynath Mangeshkar award for his contribution to Hindi cinema. The function held at the Shanmukhananda Hall in Matunga, Mumbai was presented by Annu Kapoor Films Pvt Ltd.

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The Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shri Devendra Fadnavis spoke in praise of Lataji. The other guests included MLA and President of Mumbai unit of BJP Ashish Shelar and Maharashtra Education and Cultural Affairs Minister Vinod Tawde.

Later Mr Tawde spoke in Marathi showering praise on Lata Mangeshkar. Tawde also mentioned that the Government is planning to start a Lata Mangeshkar school of music in honour of the queen of playback singing in India The announcement was greeted by a thunderous round of applause from the audience. This was followed by the presentation of the award to Lataji. Soon the ministers left and Javed Akhtar joined the celebrations.

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In his short speech Javedji regaled the audience with interesting anecdotes from his life peppered with lots of humour and wit. He also reiterated the importance of good lyrics in a song. According to him the ‘atma’ or ‘soul’ of the song resides in the lyrics and hence care should be attached to the lyrics as the words used reflected not only the mood of the situation in the film but in effect conveyed the culture prevalent in that particular era.

He also thanked Lataji for honouring him with such a prestigious award which he felt was the best award he had received and would ever receive in his life. He was then presented with a shawl, trophy and a cheque by Lataji.

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After this Lataji also spoke a few words about her journey in the industry, about her meetings with Javed Akhtar and how she treated him like her younger brother. She said she was very happy to present this award to him. Lataji also thanked everyone for showering her with so much love and affection throughout her life. Though she remained seated throughout the function as her health probably did not permit her to get up or stand too often, her voice when she spoke had the same sweetness and sounded like the way she did when she had been a young singer.

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Incidentally Javed Aktar revealed that indirectly it was Lata Mangeshkar who had been instrumental in him becoming a lyricist. When Yash Chopra announced his film Silsila in 1980, he was on the lookout for a new lyricist as Sahir Ludhianvi was no more. Lataji had heard from one of her friends about Javed Akhtar’s interest in poetry and suggested his name to Yashji. And so started Javed Akhtar’s journey as a lyricist in the film industry and the very first song that he wrote was the beautiful Kishore-Lata duet-‘Dekha ek khwaab toh yeh silsile hue…’

Soon it was time to wind up the presentation ceremony and the curtains closed for a 10-minute break after which the musical night began. During the break Lataji  left the venue.

The musical evening began around 8.00 pm and was anchored by actor-television host-RJ Annu Kapoor. There was a group of 4-5 female singers for singing Lataji’s songs and one male singer to join them for the duets. Annu Kapoor himself joined in for some duets and group songs. Singer Shaan who was supposed to be part of the program could not make it due to to some unavoidable reason. The evening kicked off with playback singer Mohit Chauhan singing Lataji’s song ‘Yeh sama, sama hai yeh pyaar ka…’ from the film Jab Jab Phool Khile.

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As with his radio and TV programs which he hosts, Annu Kapoor in his usual dramatic style took us through Lataji’s musical journey by bringing to light several little known facts about her life right from her birth. For instance not many know that when Lata Mangeshkar was born on 28th September 1929, she was named Hridaya by her parents Pandit Dinanath Mangeshkar ( a classical singer and stage-actor) and Shevanti Mangeshkar. At the time of her birth, one of her father’s Marathi plays ‘Bhaaw Bandhan’ had become very popular and the name of the heroine in the play happened to be Lathika. Inspired by this character her parents changed her name from Hridaya to Lathika and eventually to Lata!

In the stillness of the hall as Annu Kapoor recounted the tough times the family saw when Pt. Dinanath Mangeshkar passed away in 1942, everyone in the audience could feel the kind of emotional upheaval the Mangeshkar family must have gone through. Lata Mangeshkar was only 12 years old when he died and the responsibility of bringing up the five children fell on the mother. That was when the young Lata Mangeshkar decided to start earning to support her younger siblings.

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Another incident which tugged our heart was how as an ardent fan of Kundan Lal Saigal, young Lata had managed to save some money to buy a radio just to listen to his songs. Alas! The very first thing she heard when she switched on the radio set was the announcement of the untimely demise of Saigal Saab. Little Lata was so heart-broken that she went and returned the radio set from where she had purchased.

Each song was preceded by such rare and interesting bits of information by Annuji who in his inimitable style also made many humorous observations. There was a big screen where some of her rare photographs kept flashing. He also mentioned about how Lataji had also acted in a film before she took to devoting her life for singing. Master Vinayak, actress Nanda’s father helped her to get some early work in Marathi films.

She has gone on record to acknowledge music director Ghulam Haider’s contribution as her mentor and the man who had undying faith in her voice. She owes her first break in Hindi films in 1942 to Haider Saab.  

 

In the film Majboor released in 1948, her song ‘Dil mera toda kahin ka na choda tere pyar ne…’ composed by Haider Saab became very popular  but she had to wait for one more year  before hitting the jackpot with her song ‘Aayega aanewaala…’ in Mahal in the year 1949. After 1949, there was no looking back as she scaled dizzying heights of popularity culminating in the Government of India bestowing upon her the much deserved and coveted title of ‘Bharat Ratna’.

Seventy-five years of her illustrious career can never be encompassed in a two-hour musical program. But it was indeed an unforgettable evening with the young set of singers trying to sing some of her unique compositions to the best of their ability but coming nowhere close to her. After all, there can be only one Lata Mangeshkar and our film industry is indeed fortunate that she chose to sing for our films. No doubt there were other greats like her own sister Asha Bhonsle, Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh, etc., but Lata Mangeshkar’s contribution as a pioneer is undeniable…

Some of the songs which the singers sang on stage:

Towards the end of the program, a singer from South came and sang a Tamil song sung by Lataji- a duet with S P Balasubramanian which had been composed by music director Ilayaraja. She also sang a few lines from Lata Mangeshkar’s private album of Meera bhajans composed by Hridaynath Mangeshkar.

Around 10.30 pm Annu Kapoor had to leave due to some prior commitment and he exited after thanking the audience for their love and support. After his exit there were singers with orchestra from Pune who had come to sing Marathi songs. 

As the glorious evening was drawing to an end I realized the value of the precious moments spent in the hall which would soon become a priceless memory to be cherished…

Before I end, here are links to three of the duets which the singers sang during the course of the evening:

 

 

SECRET SUPERSTAR: Heart-warming film with brilliant performances

By

Sharada Iyer

Trust Aamir Khan to come up with something different in every film of his… In ‘Secret Superstar’ his role is only an extended cameo. He appears more in the second half of the film where he is shown helping the protagonist of this film played by young Zaira Wasim in her journey to become a singer. Incidentally she is the child actor who played his daughter-the young Geeta Phogat- in the super-hit film ‘Dangal’.

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Produced by Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao and written and directed by debutant Advait Chandan, this film takes us on a heart-warming, inspiring and memorable journey of a young 15-year old Muslim girl Insiya, who dreams and aspires to be a singer but faces seemingly insurmountable situations and obstacles in her path that almost make her give up her pursuit. On the face of it, the story may seem simple but it leaves a powerful impact and tugs at our heart in several places as we become involved with Insiya’s life and her amazing journey for two and a half hours of screen time.  

Insiya lives in Baroda with her parents, her younger brother and her grandmother and belongs to a lower middle-class conservative Muslim family. Unfortunately her father is not only a sexist showing a clear preference for his male offspring over his daughter but is also an ill-tempered and abusive wife-beater! He has no qualms beating up his wife at the slightest pretext blaming her for anything and everything-even for something as trivial as not putting enough salt in the ‘khana’ (food)!

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INTERESTING ASPECTS OF THE FILM:

Through the story of this film the director touches upon several prejudices and circumstances still prevalent in many families of our society where girls do not even have the liberty to dream let alone aspire to fulfil them. These situations seem very natural as we are all aware of such frustrated male chauvinists present in all strata of our society who think it is their birth-right to dominate women…

At the same time the film is uplifting and empowering as Insiya’s journey tells us the power of self-belief, the power of not giving up hope however desperate the situation may seem, the power to control all the negative feelings and depressing thoughts that may try to stop us and stresses on the fact that only with a dedicated will we can hope to carve our own path and emerge victorious!

The film is also a tribute to all the mothers who toil tirelessly to help achieve their children’s dreams and never seek the limelight for themselves. The film focuses on the mother-daughter bond beautifully and the director deserves special mention for seldom has the bond been explored so realistically in our films.

Insiya has a class-mate Chintan in school who is ready to do anything to win her attention and friendship and their adolescent ‘crush’ has been captured endearingly. For a change it is nice to see real life 15-year-olds enacting these roles!

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After ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, here is another film where the ‘burkha’ comes to the rescue as it plays a significant role in the girl’s life. Here the girl takes refuge under it to keep her identity a secret.

THE PLUS POINTS OF THE FILM:

The talented cast and their effortlessly natural performance is the film’s biggest USP! In fact the film is worth seeing just for the performances alone. Zaira Wasim as Insiya lives the role and brings out all the emotions associated with her character brilliantly. She  is indeed a gifted actress. Even in ‘Dangal’ she stole the limelight from the rest of the cast to walk away with the National Award for Best Supporting Actress!

Meher Vij as the mother is stunningly beautiful. In her previous outing in the limited role as little Harshaali’s mother in ‘Bajrangi Bhaijan’ she had shown her spark of talent but in this film she is simply outstanding.

 

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Raj Arun as the hateful father is so convincing that everyone coming out after watching will end up despising him. Young Tirth Sharma who plays Chintan is also very good and apt for the role.  

The film would not have received the attention it deserved if it had not been for Aamir Khan’s role both as a producer by taking on such a story and as an actor by adding his star value to the project. As the crazy and obnoxious music director cum singer ‘Shakti Kumaarr’, he is spot on. His character is not all that likeable yet his acting is so good that we can’t help but laugh at his antics as he plays effectively to the gallery to bring in the much needed comic relief to the film. Kudos to him for conceptualizing such a unique character and coming out with flying colours!

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THE ONLY MINUS POINT:

For a film based on music and the life of an aspiring singer, the songs by Amit Trivedi are not up to the mark. Even one superb song could have made a significant difference to the film. Singer Meghna Mishra does have a good voice but she has not been given any memorable song.

AN AFTERTHOUGHT

Both the Diwali releases this year get a Thumbs Up as not only do they explore different genres but are also definitely interesting and entertaining films which can  be enjoyed with the family. The box-office collections may not be the same for both the films but they are definitely worth a watch!

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GOLMAAL AGAIN: Totally zany, hilarious and spooky

By

Sharada Iyer

The fourth film in the ‘Golmaal’ franchise released today and combines murder, thrill, comedy and action to serve a solid ‘Diwali’ entertainer which won’t disappoint!

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The film starts with a well-choreographed, energetic and enjoyable ‘song & dance number’ that gets us glued to the screen as we are transported to the lush green beautiful hills of Ooty. This time around Rohit Shetty has decided to discard his usual ‘car-blowing’ action scenes to spin a tale involving murder and ghosts into the narrative which is packed with comic situations.

THE BACKDROP

The very first scene with books falling on their own from a bookshelf in the library sets the tone of the film as we realize the story here is not just plain comedy but has elements of spook in it! It is dark outside and Tabu is shown working alone in the library and we are introduced to a unique gift she possesses whereby she can see ghosts and talk to them at will!!! The fast pace till the interval keeps us guessing about the events unfolding…

The story is set against the backdrop of an orphanage where Ajay Devgn, Arshad Warsi, Shreyas Talpade, Kunal Khemu, Tusshar Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra grow up and the film starts with their childhood. For a while they are split into two groups with Ajay and Shreyas on one side and Arshad, Kunal and Tusshar on the other side.

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Though Ajay is the toughest of them all and capable of beating anyone to pulp in broad daylight he is frightfully scared of even the mere mention of ghosts at night. This weakness in his personality is exploited by Arshad and gang and leads to many hilarious situations till an unexpected twist comes before the interval which leaves them dumbfounded.

THE CAST

Handling an ensemble cast is no easy job but Rohit Shetty handles his huge and brilliant cast with aplomb and weaves a narrative which does full justice to all their talent. Apart from the five protagonists, there is plenty of scope for Johny Lever and Sanjay Mishra as well and these two manage to keep us in splits with their extraordinary comic timing and superb one-liners. They are the real stars here…

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Tabu and Parineeti Chopra manage to bring a fresh insight into the proceedings with their charismatic presence. It was great seeing Tabu shed her ‘serious’ image from her last outing in ‘Drishyam’ to take on this kind of a role where she once again shares screen space with her special co-star Ajay Devgn. Her personality, voice and visage lend the necessary aura of mystery to the proceedings. Parineeti has a comparatively smaller role but leaves an indelible mark and is perfectly cast! South star Prakash Raj as the comic villain and Neil Nithin Mukesh as the main villain are also very good. 

VERDICT:

Kudos to Rohit Shetty for delivering yet another interesting addition to his popular ‘Golmaal’ series! At 2 hours and 30 minutes, some may feel the movie to be a tad long. Two of the songs especially the remixed version of ‘Neend churayi meri…’ from Ajay’s old film ‘Ishq’ (1997) could have been easily edited out. But the length cannot take away the entertainment value of the film. It is certainly worth a watch especially if you have been a fan of the ‘Golmaal’ franchise.

The reviews by critics have not been great for the film but don’t get influenced by that. This is a full-on entertainer with a strong story-line, loads of humour and brilliant acting!

Revealing anything more about the plot would give away the mysterious elements of the film and spoil the fun for the readers. If you are looking for a fun film with ‘paisa-vasool’ entertainment and not too much logic, then ‘Golmaal Again’ is not to be missed.

Here is the title track which comes in the first scene…