Saturday, January 24, 2009

Yet Another Slumdog Post

There are two people who deserve all the awards in the world for their contribution to Slumdog. One of them - Rahman - will probably get most of those since I have not seen a film which has been lifted so much by the background score. 

The second person is Gulzar. 
Behind the stirring music (and really crappy choreography - where's Farah Khan?) of Jai Ho are stunningly simple yet poignant lyrics of the master... 
Aaja aaja jind shamiane ke tale
Aaja zari wale neele aasmaan ke tale
Ratti ratti sach maine jaan gavayi hain
Nach nach koylon pe raat bitaayi hain
Aankhiyon ki neend maine bhookh se uda di
Gin gin taare maine ungli jala di hain

And the third person worth a mention in the very entertaining film is Amitabachchan (sic) - a man for whom people will take a lot of shit. From slumdogs to millionaires. 

Saturday, January 17, 2009

QS Cutie: Aamir Khan's pre-1995 Films

Aamir Khan debuted in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, as a fresh-faced collegiate and quickly caught the imagination of the teenaged girls of the country. He was already married when the film released but that was kept under wraps to keep his lover-boy image alive. In 1988, QSQT and Maine Pyaar Kiya successfully launched its lead stars and relaunched teenage romance as a theme into Bollywood.
Aamir did not win the Best Actor prize at the Filmfare awards that year but to recognise his success, Filmfare started a new award - Best Debut. Even Juhi - who had already acted in films - won the award. Those who remember seeing Aamir in a grey suit and red tie, happily clutching the award would have never imagined that Aamir would one day treat awards ceremonies the same way Sanjay Singhania treats Ghajini Dharmatma!

Each of the major stars of Hindi cinema have shaped industry in one way or the other. Shahrukh, for example, showed that a market for Hindi cinema exists out of this country, which is independent of the vagaries of the domestic box office. Similarly, Aamir brought the work ethic of one film at a time and immersing into it completely, from physicality to mentality to marketing and beyond.
From approximately the mid-90s, which I believe is around the time he worked in Rangeela, he worked on one film at a time (the frequency of which was usually a year). This sometimes extended to as much as five years (between Lagaan and Mangal Pandey). Smaller roles (like 1947: Earth) of course allowed more than one release a year.

Before this 'method' period, Aamir Khan did a delightfully crazy Bollywoodish films that straddled the entire gamut of box-office performance (super-hit to unmitigated disaster) and critical acclaim (deafening applause to pelting eggs).
Here is the list!

Raakh - Aamir Khan's second release (not counting Holi, which never had a release) as an adult (not counting Yaadon Ki Baaraat) was a critical success and a box-office disaster. Aditya Bhattacharya (son of director Basu Bhattacharya) directed this gritty, dark film about a young man hunting down his girlfriend's rapists. Aamir played Aamir Hussein, the young man, who was assisted by a cynical cop, played by Pankaj Kapur. Teenaged girls, who went to see the chocolate box hero of QS Cutie, were shocked to see him in this avataar and they quickly went out and warned their friends.

Love Love Love - The usual rich-girl-poor-boy formula paired the hot pair of Juhi and Aamir, but the film sank without a trace as neither the music nor the treatment of the hackneyed plot could get audiences in. They even repeated Dalip Tahil in Aamir's dad's role (or was it Juhi's dad?) but it remained a Dud Dud Dud.

Jawaani Zindabaad - Noble themes seldom make entertaining movies. But at least, they are applauded for their stand on an issue. This one - on anti-dowry - got shafted both ways. Farha starred opposite him, Javed Jaffrey starred alongside him and all of them contributed to the abominable wastage of celluloid.

Deewana Mujhsa Nahin - Aamir Khan's first pairing with Madhuri Dixit and his first (and last) film wearing spectacles bombed spectacularly. He played a fashion photographer to Madhuri's supermodel character, following her devotedly in the total conviction that she would eventually realise that 'yeh jodi bhagwan ne banayi hain' (sounds familiar?) while she remains blissfully unaware of his existence. A tremendously bad film later, all gets settled in true filmi style. Aamir gets an assignment with Vogue and Madhuri marries Tej Sapru.
You believed that? Har har, not a Bollywood buff, are we?

Awwal Number - This is not an Aamir Khan film, actually. Any film which has Dev Anand cannot be any other kind. And this film did not stop at Dev but also had Aditya Panscholi as Dev's younger brother. One of the greatest films of the So-Bad-That-Its-Good genre, it is a cricket film with Aamir as Sunny (how imaginative!), who replaced his boyhood idol in the Indian cricket team and finally hit a last ball six to win us a match against Australia. In between, he romanced Ekta (a plump Dev Anand discovery). I read a gossip item that in a scene for which Aamir and Ekta had to roll on the ground, he passed out under Ekta's weight. But not many people think Stardust is the benchmark of credible journalism.

Tum Mere Ho - A snake film! Aamir was the son of a snake-charmer, who wore strange headgear made of cowries, waistcoats without anything under them and Juhi Chawla all over himself. Kabila, intequaam, qurbaani and similar words of the genre were bandied about as Juhi died of a snake bite, was revived, killing the audience in the process and eventually the film did not survive either.

Dil - Just when the professional obituaries of Mr Khan were being written, he appeared in this college romance opposite Madhuri Dixit. Their earlier flop did nothing to raise the expectations of the film and neither did the non-entity director-producer. It must have the lucky tree in Ooty around which the title song was shot that turned this nothing-going-for-it into a monster hit. The music was a super success, the loud comedy appreciated at college campuses all over India and the Aamir-Madhuri pairing feted as the Next Big Thing (though they never appeared in a film again).

Dil Hain Ki Manta Nahin - Aamir Khan's fabled perfectionism started to show as Pooja Bhatt expressed concern in an interview that he may just go from cinema to cinema, seeing if the seats are okay and the ACs are working right! It started with the story - which was a perfect lift of It Happened One Night. As the reporter for Daily Toofan, Aamir did a competent job but not a spectacular one though the film was a runaway success.

Afsana Pyar Ka - Aamir and the heroine study in the same college. He irritates her and she challenges him to fight the college boxing champion. Aamir's honourable and valiant behaviour at the boxing ring causes a change of heart... Wait! Wait! Wait! This is the story of Dil. Well yes, but it is APK's story as well! Sanjay Seksaria directed this Aamir-Neelam starrer with at least one very good song (Tip tip tip tip barish shuru ho gayee) and a convoluted sub-plot about his estranged parents (Kiran Kumar and Beena). But everybody had this feeling that they had seen the film already.

Isi Ka Naam Zindagi - A hilarious Bengali comedy Banchharam-er Bagan (Banchharam's Garden) was - for reasons beyond the limits of human comprehension - remade in Hindi. The zamindar's role (in Bengali, played with aplomb by Dipankar Dey) was reprised by Shakti Kapoor and Pran played the garden-owner. Aamir was his son / grandson, a role that was almost insignificant in the Bengali version but expanded miraculously - and needlessly - in Hindi.

Daulat ki Jung - Sometimes, Hindi film titles tell you the entire story of the film. This is one such title (along with Paap Ko Jalakar Raakh Kar Doonga) that makes irrelevant the entire star cast, music and art direction of the film. Hence, I have absolutely no recollection of the film except a song which goes, "Ab teer chale ya talwaar chale, maine dhar li kalai yaar ki". Maybe my sister (The Official Aamir Khan Fan in the family) would be able to throw some light.

Parampara - Yash Chopra's last directional venture outside the Yashraj banner was a tri-generational saga starring Sunil Dutt, Vinod Khanna and Aamir Khan (as also Saif as part of the third generation). Yeh shaadi nahin ho sakti, bhagwaan ko sakshi maan kar tumhe apna loonga, main tumhe jaidaad se bedakhal kar doonga and million other familiar bombasts exploded as Aamir-Saif appeared towards the second half while Vinod Khanna romanced Ramya and Ashwini Bhave for most part of the film.

Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar - Riverdale was brought alive in Doon and Aamir Khan played the quintessential Archie to a brilliant soundtrack by Jatin - Lalit, one of the least awarded but most consistent composers of the times. Aamir - in his late 20s - played a schoolboy (not college, school) in white uniform and tie and did not look too out of place. This was Mansoor Khan's second attempt after QSQT and he did an excellent job of getting the angst of the lower middle-class (pajama chhaap) Model School against the rich, spoilt brats of Rajput. One of the most entertaining movies of the time, Aamir Khan's performance was overlooked by Filmfare to give Anil Kapoor (for Beta, of all things!) a rather blatantly lobbied prize. And that was the last time we saw Aamir at an awards function. Anil had no qualms about his win and is still seen jumping enthusiastically at the Golden Globes!

Hum Hain Raahi Pyar Ke - This was the first time Aamir Khan was credited with ghost-directing a film since this was officially directed by Mahesh Bhatt (then, helming about half-a-dozen films simultaneously, some of which he is supposed to have directed entirely on phone). Since the film was reasonably interesting and had no continuity problems, the industry surmised that somebody would have applied intelligence to the process of the film-making. The film was produced by Aamir's father and Aamir was slowly developing an aura of intellectualism so it was unanimously decided that he be credited for the direction.

Andaz Apna Apna - Enough said about this already.

Aatank hi Aatank - The Godfather has spawned many copies, none of them probably as bad as this one. Aamir plays Michael Corleone, who has to take a break from singing songs with Juhi Chawla to join the family business. Rajnikanth (if I am not mistaken) was thoroughly under-utilised as Sonny and I don't even remember who played the Don. Aamir had a moustache and gelled back hair for the second half of the film. He went around with an AK 47 from hotel to hotel, killing his enemies in elevators - thereby displacing Dharmatma as the Worst Godfather Remake of All Times.

Baazi - Ashutosh Gowariker and Aamir Khan came together for the first time in this cops-and-terrorists tale, which had a climax lifted straight out of Die Hard. Aamir Khan played a 'Special Branch' cop, taking on several get-ups including that of Julie Braganza in which he showed his flair for perfection by appearing with silken thighs and a cleavage! One of the last films in which I saw Raza Murad, playing a baritone-voiced Chief Minister.

Akele Hum Akele Tum - A reasonably faithful remake of Kramer Vs Kramer, Aamir Khan played a self-obsessed music composer ignoring his talented wife, Manisha Koirala. As in the original, the couple fought for custody of their son though the ending is altered to suit Bolly sensibilities. The film had fantastic music (by Annu Malik, of all people!) and even better digs at the contemporary music scene. Satish Shah played Gulbadan Kumar, owner of a music company and there was a composer-duo (one short & paunchy and the other dapper & french bearded) called Amar-Kaushik. Basically, the producers - Venus - took a major dig at their biggest competitors.

Aamir Khan's earlier films suffered from the fact that some of them were signed in an initial euphoria, some others were an exact rehash of earlier successes and some novel ones (which have stayed on with us even today). He tries his best nowadays to restrict himself only to the novel ones, does some-great-some-record-shattering films but I miss the campy look and spontaneous appeal of his earlier ones.
He is now a whiz at marketing his films and speaks sonorously on the reasons for choosing the films he does. Maybe an intrepid film journalist should pin him down for a day or two and ask him to relive the memories and explain the creative rationale behind "Khambe jaisi khadi hain / Ladki hain ya chhadi hain..."

Monday, January 12, 2009

And, finally...

Now that Rehman has won a major international award (and an internationally acclaimed director has named a major Indian star in his acceptance speech), can we now please get over our colonial hangover and stop gushing? 

Actually, can we do a reverse? 
After all, the chances of Vishal Bhardwaj winning an Oscar is significantly higher than Danny Boyle winning a Filmfare! 

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Remembering some numbers...

Around 1992, two singers made their debuts in the Bengali music scene - Suman Chatterjee and Anjan Dutta. Their repertoire was a significant departure from the traditional Bengali music (that seemed unchanged since the death of Rabindranath in 1941). Have written about Suman here
Suman was the first and undoubtedly the more talented of the two. But Anjan Dutta also made a decent enough mark - and continues to do so through the soundtracks of offbeat Bengali films, some of which he directs as well. 
Anjan Dutta's debut album's biggest hit was typical Bong melodrama. A young man has got his first job ("Starting-er ora egarosho debey, tin mash porey confirm...") and he calls up his girlfriend - Bela - to convey the good news. As a routine, the girl's family is planning to marry her off to a better settled alternative. But the boy feels that his stock has improved with this job and the girl should refuse the arranged match. But there are muffled cries at the other end despite his plaintive cries ("Chup korey, keno? Eki Bela, tumi knadchho?"). Maybe the girl has not been able to resist the family pressures. 
The 'title' of the song was Bela Bose's phone number - 2441139 - which is also the recurring line of the song... "Eta ki 2441139? Bela Bose, tumi parchho ki shuntey?
What Anjan Dutta did not realise in the times of pre-historic telephony that millions of youth in Calcutta would be enthused enough to try out the phone number. The phone number really existed and was the home number of the editor of a Hindi newspaper, Dainik Vishwamitra. The poor fellow screamed blue murder as calls came in 24x7, asking for Bela Bose. He was interviewed by a gleeful media and he became bit of a pop icon. I attended at least three quizzes during that time where this bit of trivia was asked as questions. 
A rather contrite Anjan Dutta apologised to the gentleman and explained that he was trying out several phone numbers which would fit the metre of the song and sounded just right. The damage was done and Vishwamitra had to live with it.  
Check out the listing here! More than a decade after 7-digit phone numbers have ceased to exist in Calcutta, 2441139 still has an official status on the 'net. 
Bela Bose lives on... 

In 1982, a film called Yeh Vaada Raha came out, which starred Rishi Kapoor, Tina Munim and Poonam Dhillon. A long story about the film is narrated in Part II, Q6
The film had a hit song - Tu tu hain wahi, dil ne jisse apna kaha - that (like so many other RD songs) got remixed in the late-90s and was released with a snazzy new video. The music video was set in a phone-sex call centre, 'manned' by three ladies wearing pink vests and hot pants. In the dead of the night, three young men call their number and the ladies sing the song (for their benefit) while dancing sensuously (for our benefit). 
The call-centre number as mouthed seductively by one of the ladies and shown flashing on the back wall of the call centre was 022-6400895.
Needless to say, the prospect of finding ladies scantily clad in pink at a non-ISD number was enough for millions of hormonally-charged engineering students to dial it and chat with the Sexy Sirens a.k.a Nubile Nymphets. Except that, the makers of the video anticipated this. It was the Bandra Police Station's number! 
In those days, Bandra did have 64 numbers (264 now) and this pre-historic page even lists 6400917 as one of the Hill Road Police Station numbers. Whether it was really one of the numbers (possible) or a prank by the makers of the video is a little too late to verify right now. And I am not going to dial the number, for sure! 

Channel V did a hilarious promo for one of their shows (which I could not locate on YouTube) in which an elderly couple vouch for the show by saying how even their bowel movements (!) are better after watching it. The promo winds up with the gentleman rattling off a telephone number for those wanting more information from him. So far, so good... 
Except that the number was the new office number of a V creative guy, who had quit recently. So all through the day in his new job, the guy would get calls from random people asking for the old man. Eventually, the guy got fed up enough to come back to Channel V.
This is as much as an urban legend as you can get. Nothing is verifiable but then, Channel V is like that only! 

Which brings me to the latest addition to the Accidental Numbers in Showbiz - 9820189743. One Dr Surekha Verma had this number till it surfaced on the bicep of Aamir Khan in Ghajini as Anthony's phone number. As she says, Aamir Khan placated her with apologies and gifts before changing the number to 9880189743 in the later prints of the poster. 
I though Aamir, the consummate marketer that he is, missed a major trick by using any random number as tattoos for the film. He could have put numbers which could have manned by staff, trained to mouth clues and sending people on a Ghajini chase (maybe, culminating in a meeting with Aamir himself). 
But then, Surekha Verma wouldn't have been remembered for 15 minutes...

The Desert Island 26: Films

Came across a really cool tag. Naming a favourite film for every letter of the alphabet. This is a totally to-die-for post to do because it has all the things that make 'making lists' so much fun.
It is pure fantasy. It has a quirky premise (I mean, why one of each letter? Just!). It requires agonising over some of the choices while some others are unfairly clear (It is like making an All Time Indian ODI XI... who opens with Sachin? Sourav or Sehwag? Or, Srikkanth?). And most importantly, it opens a treasure trove of nostalgia, which is always a good thing!

The way I have interpreted the tag is that you have spend the rest of your life on a Desert Island - with unlimited food and drink but nothing to do. To entertain yourself, you can carry only 26 films (and 26 books, but that's a different post altogether!) and the only condition is that each title must start with a different letter of the alphabet. No cheating. No taking Sholay and Shonar Kella since you can't think of anything to take for Q!

So, here goes...

Andaz Apna Apna
The choice is not as easy as it seems. I had to choose it over Apur Sansar, which is probably the best film of the Apu Trilogy and maybe Ray's best film as well. This rather odd choice (over natural favourites like Charulata and Pather Panchali) is intensely personal in nature. Apur Sansar is one of the finest depictions of marital love, desolation at the death of a dear one and final catharsis. There were significant departures from the novel on which it is based on and the film is so much richer for that.
Oh - why did I take AAA? Here's why.

Basic Instinct
The Sharon Stone slasher-classic is the only erotic film in the trunk, beating a Bengali comedy classic - Basanta Bilaap. The latter stars Soumitra Chatterjee and Aparna Sen in lead roles, with the latter singing "Ami Miss Calcutta 1976" and with three (!) top comedians - Robi Ghosh, Anup Kumar, Chinmoy - coming together in a film that will make you laugh till you turn blue. Seriously inane stuff!

Chashme Buddoor
Not quite Charulata. But love affairs of DU students in a languid and green Delhi are something that have a repeat value like no other. And in between wooing Miss Chamko, Farooque Sheikh gives one of the best reasons to find a job - "Mere dost beediyon pe utar aaye hain..."

The supposed fictional account of Haji Mastaan's life beats two really diverse films - a Bond classic (Die Another Day) and a terrorist thriller (Drohkaal) - to get into the list. But, at the end of the day, there's no contest really. After all, the Perfect Hindi Screenplay has to make it to the Desert Island. 

Ek Ruka Hua Faisla
Basu Chatterjee's remake of a Hollywood classic (12 Angry Men) is about a jury discussing the verdict of a young boy, accused of murder. Every one is convinced of the boy's guilt - except one member. And he starts asking uncomfortable questions. A truly gripping film, set in one room for the entire duration, narrowly beats out Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a film about blotting out unwanted memories. But after you have decided to do so, what if you change your mind? And after you have blotted out the old memories, what stops you from acquiring the same memories all over again?

Few Good Men, A
One of the relatively easier choices in this entire exercise, this courtroom drama easily beats Forrest Gump and From Russia With Love (despite that there might not be a Bond film in the list) for one and only reason. I'd tell you but "YOU CANNOT HANDLE THE TRUTH". Jack Nicholson excelled as the obnoxious Colonel Jessep as did Tom Cruise in an understated role. Demi Moore was there to get 'us all aroused'.

Gupi Gayin Bagha Bayin
A children's film without a single child in it. Set in a Bengal village. Casting two complete unknowns in the title roles. Shot on a shoestring budget. A black-and-white fantasy. Sounds like a perfect recipe for disaster but GuGaBaBa remains one of the most inventive works for children, some four decades after it got made. Satyajit Ray added layers of fun to his grandfather's already iconic fairy tale and the magic continues unabated. If you don't agree, you are a tritiyo shur, shoshtho shur... 

Half Ticket
Kishore Kumar's shorts-wearing, banshee-screaming role as a kid is completely illogical, absolutely childish and almost makes you walk off. Except that, your stomach muscles are aching so much from laughing, you possibly cannot stand up. If you want to die laughing, there is only one film to watch.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Harrison Ford and Sean Connery compete with the Nazis for The Holy Grail. If that does not explain the breathless pace of the film, nothing will. One of Spielberg's best capers, it has action, emotion, humour, suspense in a delightful bhelpuri mix! And if you want to know what to do when German fighter planes chase you on a beach with seagulls, this film tells you.

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron
There's hardly anything to say about this film that has not been said already. I will just say that it beat Jewel Thief and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar to be in my list. Damn, that's saying nothing at all! 


I chose Subhash Ghai's escapist classic, with tremendous music over another big favourite - Khamosh. Alone in a desert island, I'd rather not get scared by a sleep-walking Shabana and dour Naseer trying to find a serial killer in a Kashmir hotel. Its much better to laugh hysterically because "Sir Juda ke chamche aur chamchiyon ko pyar karne ka ijaazat nahin hain" and marvel that Simi looks younger than Tina Munim in some parts of the movie. And of course, there's Ek Haseena Thi...

Again, a solitary nominee. A multi-generational love story with Anil Kapoor falling in love with two Sridevis across Rajasthan, London and Switzerland. Yash Chopra pulled out all the rabbits from his hat but the film bombed. For me, Anupam Kher and the Medley song was more than enough to wasool the ticket price!

Meghey Dhaka Tara
Beating the feel-good Bollywood extravaganza, Mr India, is Ritwik Ghatak's gut-wrenching story of a girl in a Calcutta refugee colony who shoulders her family and braves the rough treatment life metes out to her. And all she wanted in return was to live... Dada, ami bnachtey chaii.

Notting Hill
A bumbling bookshop owner falls in love with the greatest filmstar in the world. That's not the amazing part. She falls in love with him as well. A potentially soppy storyline is completely rescued by the witty dialogues, the super-filmy ending and Hugh Grant's room-mate - Spike. And in the end, it is not about Anna Scott's $15 million paycheck, William Thacker's down-in-the-dumps bookstore but love. And as the film tells us, what is love without a violin-playing goat? 

Om Shanti Om 
Do you chose a gang of cool guys robbing a Vegas casino? Or, do you choose a Bollywood junior artiste born again as a star? As the tagline says - for some dreams, one lifetime is not enough. And I want to remember OSO in my next birth as well! As a clincher, it had more stars than Danny Ocean's Eleven

Okay, so I junked Khamosh for the scariness factor and took this one in. But then I have watched the famous shower scene so many times that I can anticipate the terror and won't get scared. Okay okay, I am lying. But how can I not take Psycho when the other option is probably Pakeezah?

The only 'passenger' in the list, simply because I could not think of a Q movie worthy of this list. But then, Zeenat Aman in a green bikini-and-sarong is not so bad either. Not bad at all are the Nazia Hassan songs. All you have to do is to survive Feroze Khan! 

What is the meaning of Rashomon? In his autobiography, Kurosawa said that it is an interpretation of life and life itself is not clear. A murder happens. A witness testifies. So does the victim's wife. And the accused confesses. Finally, the victim himself is summoned through seance and he tells his version. All of them say completely different things. Who is saying the truth? The first - and only - time I saw it was in Nandan, an auditorium in Calcutta where such films deserve to be seen. I can watch it again and again. 

That's it. 

The Godfather
Part I. Narrowly beating Part II but I find the first of the Trilogy far more 'Indian' in terms of drama and narrative. One of the few easy choices in the list. 

Untouchables, The
He takes out a knife. You take out a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital. You send one of his to the morgue. That's how you get Capone... Sean Connery showed this simple method of tackling organised crime in Chicago and everybody fell in line. One of the sharpest thrillers to have come out of Hollywood. 

Again, a 'passenger' due to lack of choice. But Raghudutt Namdeo Shivalkar's rise from the chawls to the don of Mumbai is not short of entertainment. 

When Harry Met Sally
Is it a chick-flick? Is it a dick-flick? Who cares? I'll just have what she's having

I give up. X-Men, I'd rather pass than take! 

Yaadon ki Baraat
Three brothers witness their parents' murders. Then, they are separated. One grows up to be a crook. One a pop star. And one a happy-go-lucky playboy. Their parents' killer wore shoes of different sizes. And they have a family song, which only the three brothers know. The film is a procession of memories, all right. All the happy memories we associate with a Hindi film are there in this film. Even Aamir Khan. Except that he vanishes after 15 minutes. Some habits come back to you! 

Jab tak baithne ko na kahaa jaye, sharaafat se khade raho. Yeh police station hain, tumhare baap ka ghar nahin... Amitabh made his mark as the Angry Young Man, in a role that was offered to Dev Anand and Raj Kumar before it came to him. Now say the above line in your mind the way these two would say it and thank your lucky stars! 

Achha - can I take Shonar Kella since I am not taking anything for X? 
Please. Pleeeease. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease. Pretty please... Damn you. This is such a silly game that its not even funny, you dolt! 
Nobody will try this game if you are so unreasonable, bastard... 

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Teen Deviyaan... Part II

Due to overwhelming public demand (11 comments on the previous post on the same topic, of which GG's was a rather esoteric wishlist), it is only natural that I do another post on the Teen Queens of the late 80's. And to keep alive the dreadful pun, here are teen aur...


FarHA is not to be confused with FarAH (Khan). Her full name is Farha Naaz - and in her later life, she became known as the elder sister of Tabu. But when Tabu debuted in Vijaypath, Farha was already quite a doyenne (!) of Bollywood. Her first major hit was Love 86 (I think), which she co-starred with Neelam.
She did a large number of films from the mid-80s to the mid-90s. Her initial forte was the outspoken female tapori, who thinks nothing of trying to seduce heroes. Rakhwala, Kaala Bazaar, Veeru Dada, Halal ki Kamaai are her notable (!) films. She soon shifted to some martyr-ish roles in which she played tormented souls (Yateem) or wives of philandering men (Pati, Patni aur Tawaif). After taking a break in the mid-90s, she is now seen in bhabhi roles here and there (Hulchul).
She fell in love and married a man who went by the name of Vindoo (what kind of name is that??) and was only known as Dara Singh's son (Ah! That explains it.). There was opposition from both sides because of their religious differences but love prevailed in true Bollywood tradition. But only till the end credits rolled. They have now separated and Vindoo has married a Russian model.

Shilpa Shirodkar
Contrary to popular belief, the first swimsuit scene of Hindi cinema was not Nargis' in Awaara. The first 'swimmer' is a lady called Meenakshi, who appeared in an ironically named film called Brahmachari. Such things have a tendency to skip a generation as her two maternal grand-daughters were the Shirodkar sisters - Shilpa and Namrata.
Shilpa made her debut as a blind girl in Bhrashtachar (a film by Ramesh Sippy, starring Mithun and Rekha). Usually, blind roles are associated with great histrionics but this one is known for a graphic rape scene (involving a revolving bed, mirrors and Anupam Kher). After this, Shilpa was seen as a rural belle (the Hindi film kind, wearing a mini-sari-sans-blouse), the love interest of Anil Kapoor in Kishen Kanhaiya.
After these two revealing roles, Shilpa's position as a buxom leading lady (usuually rural) was secured.
She acted in films like Lakshmanrekha, Aankhen, Benaam Badshah - all of which required her to perform unusually energetic dance movements under waterfalls (real and artificial).
Thanks to her rapidly expanding girth, most of her roles did not involve wearing skimpy clothes but was restricted to exposing her voluminous shoulders and substantial calves. For people who are impressed with Aamir Khan's physique in Ghajini would do well to watch Shilpa in Aankhen. She sang a song ("Angna mein baba, duwarein pe ma / Kaise aaoon gori, main tohre ghar ma") in rustic attire and the 70 mm screen fell short to accommodate her.
Like most of her other contemporaries, Shilpa too married an arranged match and settled abroad. I read somewhere that she has a daughter. Going by trends, this daughter will surely lead a low profile but her daughter is the one to look out for!

Mamta Kulkarni
With our colonial hangover, we thought nothing of calling Mamta Kulkarni a ghati. She was an outsider, no filmi pedigree, no convent background or accent.
She made her debut in Tirangaa and promptly got lost in the bombastic rhetoric of Raaj Kumar and Nana Patekar. She returned in Mehul Kumar's next patriotic slugfest - Krantiveer - a few years later. But by that time, she had acted in a few indistinguishable films - Aashiq Aawara (Saif's debut), Waqt Humara Hain (starring Akshay Kumar and Sunil Shetty) - and cemented her position as a 'bold' heroine of a pronounced pout, husky voice and very little acting skills.
She was usually the heroine of the junior hero in a multi-starrer or she was the tomboy, shrewish heroine who have to be brought back to Indian culture by the hero. In her biggest hit - Karan Arjun - she was a bit of both!
Mamta's biggest claim to fame was a cover picture for Stardust for their September 1993 issue. Connoisseurs would remember the picture (and probably even have the issue!) while the others don't need to know. It earned her a lawsuit and overnight stardom. 'The Sizzling Siren' had done with a magazine cover what she could not do with her films. A few years later, she was supposed to be having an affair with Aamir Khan (while shooting for Baazi), which she did not bother to refute.
Wherever she is right now (USA? UK? Dubai?), does she know that on Bollywood fan sites around the world, her Stardust picture is still discussed with almost religious fervour?

You know you are really old when you realise there is hardly any dope on the 'net about your adolescent filmstars.
You know you are really jobless when you start putting the dope on the 'net!

Friday, January 02, 2009

From the mouth of babes...

We took our son, Joy, to the zoo yesterday. My parents, who are here right now, were also forced to tag along. But they would go anywhere to spend time with their only grandson.

After a very eventful trip, my wife decided to give him a pop quiz this morning. (Sigh! She is a teacher...)

Wife: Joy, kalke ki dekhley zoo-tey?

Joy: Duck. Haati. Cow (= deer. He calls all four-legged animals cow!). Baloo (accompanied with dance steps of Baloo from Jungle Book). Tigga. Rabbit. Bandot (Meaning Bandar)

(pointing to him): Eta ki bandot?

(slightly offended): Na, Joy monkey!

(pointing to me): Eta ke?

: Cow!!!
Wife dissolves into helpless laughter.

(pointing to wife): Eta ke?

: Haati!!!

I am practising IQ tests from today. My wife is on a diet!