Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Something from the Tamil Cinema: Thaam Thaka

It's not enough to be able to act in India, you have to be able to dance too. Unless you're Nana Patekar.

Happy New Year.

Devdas: Maar Dala

Netflix listing here.

Ghajini: Behka

Haven't seen the movie yet but the music is good. A.R. Rahman, of course.

Slumdog Millionaire: O....Saya

Other Western directors have made Bollywood movies, but nobody succeeded before Danny Boyle. It took the director of Trainspotting to do it, and do it so well. All the familiar tropes of a masala film are there, the good/bad brothers, the romance, the death(s) of the loved one(s), the dance number, etc., but Boyle doesn't imitate the formula as other Westerners have -- he has internalized it and so it comes out fresh again. Very Indian. A.R. Rahman's score is another good example of this cultural fusion, as is M.I.A. As my friend Sanjay says, India is all about fusion.

Danny Boyle on Destiny:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mr. and Mrs. Iyer: Don't Look Away

This is a hauntingly beautiful song from one of my all-time favorite movies, Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, from India's most intelligent director Aparna Sen, and starring two of its most intelligent actors, Konkona Sensharma and Rahul Bose. Amazingly, this movie came out the same year as Titli, another fine, fine film in which Konkona Sensharma plays a teenager. Aparna Sen's movies have always been done in English, although she has a Hindi movie in the works. She follows Satyajit Ray, and is followed by Rituparno Ghosh, who directed Titli.

Here is the more languid version of the song for the opening credits. This is a beautiful film. See it if you can. See all of Aparna Sen's movies, starting with 36 Chowringee Lane, starring the luminous Jennifer Kendall Kapoor in one of her last roles.

Konkona Sensharma is Aparna Sen's daughter. Sen lives in Calcutta. (Officially, the name has been indianized to Kolkata, but nobody I know calls it that.) Calcutta is India's intellectual capital. Almost everyone in Calcutta is multilingual, speaking Bengali, Hindi, and/or English, often better than most Englishmen. There seems to be a disproportionate number of fine filmmakers, writers, journalists there. There are all kinds of people there, of course. It is a very cosmopolitan city yet distinctly Indian. It has a spirit that no other city has (except perhaps Mumbai, now, after the terrorist attacks).

In an endlessly fascinating country like India, Calcutta is its most fascinating city. I always break down in tears the first day I am back in Calcutta, and leave more deeply in love with it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Telugu Cinema: Chiranjeevi 2

More from Chiranjeevi, megastar of the Telugu Cinema which is centered in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Chiru is in his late 50s, and can still cut a rug. Again, dig the color combinations in this, and ponder the peculiar scene where it appears dead women are dragged offstage:

Monday, December 15, 2008