Sunday, December 11, 2011


I live to give, I breathe to love

I rule with a smile, I cast fear by silence

I care with the heart, I teach with the mind


My instincts are razor sharp, my intentions as pure as the rivers

My speeches are long, my voice louder than thunder

My hugs are tight, my kisses much too frequent


I find short cuts, while still walking the extra mile

I play, I get played

I am a sounding board, I am the voice of reason


I question, I probe, I demand, I insist

I relent, I agree, I accede, I succumb

I fight, I persevere, I succeed and yes...I fail


I laugh aloud, I cry quietly, alone

I give wholeheartedly, I seldom take

I feed the body, I nourish the soul


I desire to be noticed, I enjoy the gratitude

I love spontaneous hugs and big grins

I do have a life beyond you, but you are still at the centre of it all

I grow old and take on new roles
You grow older and vigorously seek new ones
I see you thrive, I watch you flourish
Even if it’s not in front of my eyes
Yes I grow old, but I never age.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mera Shehar

A poem written in Aug 1998...13 years ago about my beloved city Bombay

Woh elco ki pani puri, woh chowpatty ki chaat,
Woh Naturals ki ice cream, Wah usme thi kuch baat.

Woh tewari ki mithai, woh raste ka dosa,
Woh shivsagar ki pav bhaji aur Guru Kripa ka samosa.

Woh local train ka ‘suffer’, woh juhu beach ki hawa,
Woh chowpatty ke tange aur Joggers Park ka sama.

Woh December ki zara si sardi, woh baarishon ke mahine,
Woh garmi ki chuttiyan, jab chute te they paseene.

Woh holi ki masti, woh navratri ka garba,
Woh divali ke patakhe aur ganpati ka shor o sharaba.

Woh peak hours ki traffic, woh BEST ki rush,
Woh tadapti garmi mien, Snowmans ka ek kala khatta slush.

Woh Juhu beach ka mohol, woh samunder ki leheren,
Woh doobte suraj ka nazara, Wah uske kya kehene.

Woh Sterling ka pop corn aur Cotton World mein shopping,
Woh Fashion Street ka nazara aur Nariman Point ki buildings.

Woh cinema ke queue, woh black ki tickets,
Woh Shivaji Park ka maidan, jahan bachche practice karte hain cricket.

Itni cheezen kehene ke baad, aur kitni karoon mein badaee,
Yeh shehar hain mera apna, jiska naam hai MUMBAI !!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Facing our fears

What is your biggest fear? Fear of losing your life? Fear of losing someone you love? Fear of losing your job? Fear of losing your beauty? Fear of losing your wealth? Fear of losing your youth? Fear of losing out to your competitor? Fear of losing face?

Human being's biggest fear is the fear of losing.

Yes there are things we fear too- snakes (my biggest one), darkness, closed spaces, etc.

And then there are people who instill fear in us. When we think of them, we feel a cold chill. People we don't have the courage to stand up against.

But if you probe deeper, you will realise that its still fear of losing. Losing our dignity, losing our honor, losing our confidence, losing our self worth. And these are bigger losses than jobs, money and fortune.

The only way to deal with these fears is to face them squarely. Looking at them straight in the eye. And not flinching even if voices (or hands) are raised.

Because bullies should simply not be feared. As they are biggest cowards themselves.

What we need to lose is the fear. And the tears.

What can't be won by love, can be conquered by courage. Courage to face our own demons- the ones that live inside us. And the ones who walk the earth.

As I add another year to my life today, I pray for courage to overcome my fears.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I would have been less off...

...had I not had Jagjit Singh in my life. I can’t remember when and where I started listening to his ghazals. But it would be when I was just about to enter my teens. And it started as always when it comes to me, with Hindi movies. I heard Raj Kiran sing “Tum itna jo muskara rahe ho” to Shabana. It’s Shabana’s tears I remember most from the scene and a hauntingly beautiful voice signing the most amazing lyrics.

Girls dream of prince charmings, knight in shining armours (or shining Ferrari) and the tall dark handsome men. My dream harboured a man who could sing soulful melodies like these to me. And it was start of a never ending love affair.
When most girls looked forward to that Chayageet episode where the latest Sanjay Dutt or Anil Kapoor song would be shown, I was the happiest when I could watch Raj Babbar sing ‘Hotton se choo lo tum’ to Anita Raj- the two actors I never liked, but could watch that song umpteen times.

I went on to discover his non-filmy ghazals. The unforgettable ‘kagaz ki kashti’, which I spent hours listening to each and every line so I could note it down in my book. This was the age before you could simply google lyrics. And I had to write it down as I wanted to memorize every line of the song. My favourite line still remains “Na duniya ka ghum tha, na rishton ke bandhan, badi khoobsurat thi woh zindagani”.

My favourite Jagjit-Chitra ghazal is ‘Us mod se shuru karein hum phir yeh zindagi’. The lyrics capture the tensions of a long term relationship that has lost its love. Note the words- ‘Ashkon ki chandni se thi, bhethar woh dhoop mod se shuru karein, hum phir yeh zindagi...har shay jahan haseen thi, hum tume they ajnabee’.
Saath-Saath figures in my blog as one of the Top 10 Love stories. It’s a poignantly beautiful story and Jagjit’s ghazals play a big part in that. Everyone would remember ‘Tum ko dekha toh yeh khayal aaya’- undoubtedly one his best work ever, but my favourite ghazal from that film was ‘Pyaar mujhse... jo kiya tumne.. toh kya paaogi’. Farookh Sheikh sings this ghazal in a college function where he trying to get Deepti Naval to forget him as she will have hard life if she stays with him.

Amitabh had sung a song in a similar vein to Rakhi in yet another college function- ‘Mein pal do pal ka shayar hoon’ (not a Jagjit ghazal). So after Kabhi Kabhi and Saath Saath, I longed for a poet in my life. In fact many years later when I read Vikram Seth’s ‘A Suitable Boy’ I cried when the lead character Lata did not marry Amit the poet. I was so upset with her and I had to remind myself that she was a fictional character, as, sadly, was he.

Jagjit Singh’s ghazals set the tone and pace of my life. I hate loud and fast music. I don’t enjoy instrumental music- its feels incomplete without the words. The soulful nature of my musical preferences as my romantic views in life, are all colored by the magic of his songs. The old-world charm, the misty-eyed look, the unrequited love, the whisper of sweet nothings and every other cliché in the book, all of these made a big mark on my impressionable young mind. And its years of practice since then, which I find very difficult to break now J
Jagjit Singh also opened the world of ghazals for me. In marketing terms, he built the category. I went on to enjoy Talat Aziz, Pankaj Udhaas- though why most his songs always had alcohol references, I never understood then. But as I grew older the meanings became clearer.

Jagjitji has so many beautiful ghazals but the one I can watch over and over again is “Hosh waalon ko khabar kya” from Sarfarosh. The love of my life Aamir with Jagjitji’s voice- wah! And the innocence of Aamir and Sonali is so well captured- something you don’t get to see much these days.

Few other works worth mentioning here are:

Badi nazook hai yeh manzil...from Jogger’s Park (side bar- I had a crush on Victor Banerjee from Kalyug days. And I thought he was adorable in this movie too)
Jaag ke kaati sari raina... a semi-classical rendition from the film Leela- a pretentious movie, but it had Dimple Kapadia and she is a treat to watch no matter how bad the film is

Kis ka chera ab mein dekhoon with the dashing Milind Soman
And Sham se aankh mein nami si hain... a ghazal with a music video- a popular trend in the 90s to make non-filmTop 10 Love Stories songs more commercial. Jimmy Shergil looks so sweet and Simone Singh so young. The words are by Gulzar- “Waqt rehta nahin kahin tik kar... is ki aadat bhi aadmi si hai”. Sigh... Gulzar saab is the only man above 50 who I would marry in a heartbeat if he ever asks me. Yes the poet hangover still reigns supreme.

Today I went back to my old CDs which were forgotten with the advent of iPod. And I found some old Jagjit Singh ones. Discovered a gem of an album called ‘Koi Baat Chale’ with the amazing combination of Jagjit and Gulzar.
Good bye Jagjitji. Rest in peace. Meet your son in heaven and even there spread the joy with your lovely voice.

What about me? I will be listening to your songs till the day I meet you in heaven...provided I reach there. If not, I will have rely on my iPod in hell, but you will never leave my side :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

When was the last time you…

·         Got drenched in the rain and did not mind it at all

·         Sang your favourite song aloud without bring drunk

·         Did something outrageous which makes you blush even thinking about it

·         Went sailing

·         Swan in the ocean

·         Spoke on the phone with your best for over an hour

·         Felt so loved by your child that it brought tears to your eyes

·         Read a book that you simply could not put down

·         Prayed for someone else besides your own family

·         Relived your childhood by spending an afternoon with your brother or sister

·         Had a long lost song stuck in your head and had to download it and listen to it at least 5 times and it sounded better each time

·         Got a phone call from a loved one that made you whoop up in joy at their good news

·         Saw a handsome stranger and you did a double take

·         And he saw you do that…and gave you the once over

·         Took a bubble bath

·         Slept on the train and missed your station

·         Thought of something funny and laughed aloud on the street…when you were alone…

·         Cut class to watch a movie…better still…skipped a meeting to do the same

·         Sat on your window watching the rain fall

·         Took a nice long afternoon nap

·         Went for a walk with your partner and held hands all through the way

·         Watched a film that made your eyes misty

·         Took an unplanned spontaneous holiday

·         Stopped and lend a stranger a helping hand or a friendly smile

I know life is good as I have done almost all of the things on the list above at least once in the last two months. If you haven’t, start today. It will make your heart smile. That’s a guarantee.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Born in the wrong era

Few weeks ago I took my parents to watch to “Black and White”- a show which screened songs from black and white Hindi movies i.e. ‘The Golden Era’ while some young talented singers sang them live on stage. There was a great MC who provided fun facts and trivia about cinema and music from that time.

It was an awesome experience! The songs ranged from Ashok Kumar’s time to Shammi Kapoor’s. Kishore Kumar’s ‘Mein hoon jhoom jhoom jhoom jhoom jhuoomru’, Hemant Kumar’s ‘Hai apna dil to awara’, ‘Hum aapki aankhon mein’ by was a treat for senses. Not only you could hear melodious voices of these young aspiring singers but you could see the black and white visuals on the screen. It was one of the loveliest evenings I had spent in a long time.

And for once in life, I was the youngest person there!

The average age would have been at least 50 if not more. But I have never felt more at home. I knew pretty much every lyric of every song that was sung plus the names of the stars, the singers, etc. It felt like I completely and truly belonged there.

I got my love for old movie songs from my parents. Doordarshan- the whole and sole of Indian TV at the time when I was growing up- bought us Chayageet and Chitrahar. This commenced my education in black and white songs. I used to watch with my parents and dad would recite anecdotes related to the films or some interesting trivia, and I lapped it all up. Strangely, I have not watched many old films- I should rectify that soon. But old songs are a big part of who I am.

Kishore Kumar is GOD. There is no denying that. My dad tells me when I was 3 years old my 2 favorite songs were from Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi- ‘Paanch rupiya bara aana’ and ‘Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si’. I used sing them all the time and I loved watching them whenever I got the opportunity mainly because seeing Madhubala was always a pleasure! She is the most beautiful woman ever- sorry Ash...I know officially the title belongs to you, but no  one can compare to Madhubala.

But as I grew older, I discovered the magic of Hemant Kumar. ‘Tum pukar lo’ from Khamoshi- Waheeda never looked better, ‘Yeh nayan dare dare’ from Kohraa (picturized on Biswajit who lived in my building, and kinda ruined this song for me), ‘Yaad kiya dil ne kahan ho tum’ with Lata, ‘Na tum hamen jaano’ composed by the legendary S D Burman.

From all the old black and white actors, my all time favourite has been Dev Anand. The lopsided smile always did it for me! The song I like the most of all is from Hum Duno- Abhi Na Jao Chhod Kar Ke Dil Abhi Bhara Nahin by the great Mohd Rafi  and Asha Bhosle (one the THE most versatile and passionate singers that Indian cinema has given us).

I can never choose been the 2 sisters- Lata’s voice is the kind that comes once in a lifetime. There will be no one like her. One of my favorite black and white Lata songs is ‘Lag ja gale’ from ‘Woh kaun thi’- a fabulous mystery thriller picturised on the stunning Sadhna.

Dev Anand had some of the best romantic numbers ever. Whether it was the naughty ‘Chod do aanchal, zamana kya kahega’ or the lovely ‘Dil ka bhanwar kare pukar’, which from this fabulous movie called ‘Tere ghar ke samane’ where Dev Anand plays an architect. (And for those of you who follow this blog, will know it’s the sexiest profession of all in my eyes). In fact all the songs from this movie between Dev Anand and Nutan were classics. ‘Ek ghar banoonga tere ghar ke samne, duniya basaonga tere ghar ke samne’ and ‘Tu kahan yeh bata’. Sigh! Those were the days and those were the men.

After watching that show, I was on a trip of old songs for a week at least. And it got me thinking- I am born in the wrong era!

I love black and white songs more than colored ones.
I would much rather listen to Lata than to Shreya

Classic novels trump modern day books hands down

Jane Austen rules, like of Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinesella will merely be one-time beach reads
History was my favourite subject in school. I still know more Indian freedom struggle and World War 2 than I know about the world economy

In fact I am convinced I was a freedom fighter in my last birth and gave up my life for my country. Yeah ok, it may sound rather corny and twisted to most of you, but it’s the only explanation for my fiercely patriotic nature. I can so imagine myself in a white cotton sari in a mukti adolan sabha. But I think I would be the more Subhash Chandra Bose Azad Hind Fauj soldier rather than Gandhiji’s satyagraha champion.
I love old historic forts and could spend hours walking around. I still appreciate a patola silk sari more than a sheer ‘evening cocktail’ chiffon one.

OK, I must admit the modern day conveniences are the only thing going for this era. On every other count the black and white period rules!
If only I could spend a day in that era...and have Hemant Kumar sing ‘Beqarar karke hamen yun na jayiyen’, I would be in heaven! (I think it is one of THE most sensuous songs of that times). And then I could sing back ‘Tera mera pyaar amar’. Actually on second thoughts, I might drop the singing back thing from my little yesterday someone requested me rather politely to ‘never ever sing, as you really can’t’. Sigh! There ends another fantasy...though it does explain a lot of things, like the weird stares I get on the bus when I am singing to my radio. Apologies to anyone who has been offended by tone deaf singing...but then again, if I hear ‘Leke pehla pehla pyaar, bharke aakhon mein khumar, jaado nagri se aaya hai koi jadugar’...I just have to sing it out aloud ;)

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Written on 21April 1999

This happened in Jan 1991. I had gone shopping with my friends to Warden Road. After the regular doze of looking around Benzer, Eternia, etc. and having a sundae at Snowmans, we decided to call it day and head home.

I was 17 years old then and my curfew time was 10.00 pm. It was already 9.30 p.m. and I knew there was no way that I would be home on time. My friends decided to wait for an ‘empty’ bus. I always thought that the words ‘empty’ and ‘BEST buses’ couldn’t be used in the same breath. They are a contradiction of terms!

So, I hurriedly got in the first 80 Ltd. that came by. Luckily I got a place and that too a window seat! “Not bad”, I thought and quickly sat down and started gazing out at the hustle bustle of Mumbai streets (It was Bombay then).

I noticed a middle-aged lady get in the bus. She came and sat next to me. I politely smiled and received a very big smile in return. We got talking and she asked me where was I going. I mentioned that I was on my way home. She expressed her surprise that I was travelling all alone at 9.30 in the night, all the way from town to suburbs. “We live in Delhi” she said, “and I don’t let my daughter go out alone after 8.00 p.m.”

I smiled and with the utmost pride, answered, “Yes aunty, but that is Delhi and THIS IS BOMBAY. Here a girl can travel alone till really late, and there is absolutely no problem. Bombay is one of the most safest places in the whole of India.”

Today, 7 years later, I cannot help but be amazed by that incident! Bombay? Safe place? Cannot imagine saying that now!

I live in Singapore now and last week I met some new people. They were Indians but were born and bought up in Singapore. When they heard that I was from Mumbai, I was bombarded with questions on “Bollywood”. I can never decipher the obsession that Indian’s abroad have about Bollywood. It’s as if Mumbai is only Bollywood!

We spoke about Mumbai in general, the life there, the pace of living etc. Suddenly, one of the girls said, “Yeah but Mumbai is so unsafe! You know there is so much extortion and crime! It’s so sick!”

I tried to maintain my cool but all I wanted to do was to drown her in jug of beer that was kept next to her. How dare she! Nobody says anything bad about my Mumbai! I put up a face and tried to get through the rest of the evening.

We left the bar at 2.00 a.m. and I caught a cab home. While travelling, I thought, “Can I travel alone like this in Mumbai today?” I knew the answer was no, but I hated admitting that, even to myself!

So how do I defend ‘amchi Mumbai’ to other people? Rather, how can I defend, when everything they are saying is true?

The thought made me really sad and I began thinking about Mumbai I once lived in. The Mumbai of my dreams!

The Mumbai before the bomb blasts, the Mumbai before the communal riots, the Mumbai before the underworld rule……

The Mumbai, where thousands starry-eyed people came everyday, to make a future for themselves. Mumbai embraced them and gave them the opportunity that they were looking for.

The Mumbai, where every individual lived by himself and for himself, yet if you were to turn around and ask a helping hand, you would receive a smile and not a look of distrust.

The Mumbai, where communal riots were only found in newspaper stories about Bihar and UP.

The Mumbai, which gave, hope, which offered opportunities, the Mumbai, which fulfilled dreams.

Will this Mumbai of my dreams be a reality again?

Silver Beach- Juhu. Still one of my favorite places on earth

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A movie a year (volume 2)

Let’s continue with the second decade- late 80s beginning 90s. Big changes took place in this era. Amitabh’s reign as super star was coming to an end. Star sons were the talk of the town- Kumar Gaurav, Sanjay Dutt, Sunny Deol, Anil Kapoor. Not sure what the star daughters were doing though? This period was also the onset of the Khan rule- Aamir, Salman, Shahrukh- all of them made their stunning debuts. And they continue their reign till this day almost 20 years since.

Another big trend was that the age of action films was slowly coming to an end, and the 90’s was all about romance- QSQT, Maine Pyaar kiya, Aashiqui, Lamhe...(My romantic expectations in life can easily be blamed to this phase of Indian cinema).

1985: Rahul Rawail gave us Sunny Deol as Arjun. One of my first movies related to underworld and crime. And it set the stage for my interest in this genre (many of Ramu’s initial movies like Satya and Company will make their way to this esteem list of mine). A great film with many twists and turns- or at least I thought so then. The ‘black umbrella’ scene where one of the Arjun’s friend is murdered on a rainy Bombay afternoon at a railway station, made me gasp. This movie was the start of Sunny’s tryst with ‘man against the system’ type of films like Ghayal, Damini, Ghatak. Until it all got very stale.

Another movie I absolutely love was a movie made for television- if I am not wrong it never released in cinemas- a Mahesh Bhatt self-proclaimed autobiography called Janam. One of Kumar Gaurav’s best performances ever! The poor guy never got his due. A story of an illegitimate son of a famous movie director and his mistress depicts the child’s struggles and subsequent success in the most heart touching manner. Another Mahesh Bhatt original- when he made original movies that is.

My 2 picks from 1985 are Arjun and Janam. Though few other movies deserve a mention too. One of them is Saagar- it was the comeback of ‘Bobby’ and the hit Rishi-Dimple pair. Dimple is one of my favourite heroines still and Saagar was when she looked her stunning best. A Sippy production with remarkable performances by the lead pair, but the show stealer for me was Kamal Hasan! He played the childhood friend who loves Dimple since they were kids and even gave up his life for her. So romantic! All songs of this movie were great with the popular ones being ‘O Maria’ and ‘Sagar jaise akhon wali’, but my favourite one is ‘Sach mere yaar hai, bus wohi pyaar hai, jiske badle mein koi toh pyaar de’ (the words always ring true).

1985 was also the year Raj Kapoor gave us Indian first semi-soft porn flick in ‘Ram teri ganga maili’. And Mandakini immortalized herself in the translucent white wet sari (My parents never let me watch that film)

Another movie worth mentioning here is Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Khamosh. A thrilling murder mystery and you don’t very good ones of those from Indian cinema.

1986: Mahesh Bhatt bought us another lovely movie about 2 brothers- Naam. Another good performance by Kumar Gaurav. But this year simply belongs to Karma. A Subhash Ghai movie with stalwarts like Dilip Kumar, Naseer, Nutan alongside the then newcomers Anil Kapoor, Jackie, Sridevi. ‘Har karam apna karenge ae watan tere liye, dil diya hain jaan bhi denge, ae watan tere liye’- one of my favourite patriotic numbers. This was also the start of the ‘modern Hindi film’ villain with Anupam Kher as Doctor Dang, soon followed by Amrish Puri as Mogambo.

1987: 2-way split between 2 very different movies- Shekhar Kapur’s Mr. India and Kaash- which I only found out now thru IMBD was directed by Mahesh Bhatt- makes me feel even sad on what he has come to now. Sigh.

Mr. India gave us India’s first 'science' thriller, Mogambo khush hua, hawa hawai and a film which starred Anil Kapoor but you did not have to see him. Perfect! Sorry, but am not an Anil fan. Never have been. It was one the few well-made kid-friendly movies that even grown-ups enjoyed.  And Sridevi’s dance in ‘Kate nahin kat te yeh din yeh raat’ is one of the most sensuos numbers

Trivia- the film had originally been written for Amitabh Bachchan with his voice in mind. He rejected the "invisible" role.

Kaash was a story about a divorced couple- Jackie who was a struggling actor and Dimple- who have a child suffering from a critical illness. I always felt Dimple looked very good with Jackie as a couple (Gardish, Ram Lakhan were 2 other movies were they starred together) rather than the other contemporaries like Sunny and Anil.

1988: I thought this year would have been very easy. As it was the release of QSQT and the birth of a crush that’s lasted over 2 decades. QSQT was such a filmy-film- all the possible love story clichés found its way to this film. But maybe it was timing of its release- which was dominated by action films, or maybe it was the new comer ‘fresh pair’ of Aamir and Juhi as Raj and Rashmi, or the songs by Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik (who went on to become the romantic song hit pair)- maybe it was a combination of all of this that lead to QSQT becoming one of the biggest hits in Indian cinema. And will always hold a very special place in my heart. Its the only movie I have watched more than 15 times.
Though QSQT is my favourite movie ever and it ruled 1988, but the year cannot be complete without the mention of a beautiful Gulzar film- Izzazat. Great performances by Naseer, Rekha and Anuradha Patel with a lovely cameo by Sashi Kapoor. Beautiful songs and a very touching story. Must-must-watch.

1988 also gave us Tezaab and ek do teen which shot Madhuri to stardom.
1989: The toughest year so far... as the selection process is extremely difficult.

First on line is Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Parinda. A stunning film about the underworld which still sends shivers down my spine. Jackie got rid of his ‘wooden actor’ image with this film. The industry got a great performer in Nana Patekar and Madhuri played a de-glamed school teacher to perfection. The star of this movie was Anil- but as I mentioned before- am not a fan.

This year gave us the 2nd Khan star with Salman in Maine Pyaar Kiya- a Rajshri production. It also bought to limelight the girl next door Baghyashree- who was literally the girl next door as she lived in the house next to my building. A family-entertainer with a sweet love story.
And naturally I have to mention Yash Chopra’s Chandni which also made its way to my Top 10 love stories.

This year Sridevi also entertained us in Chaalbaaz- Hema Malini’s Seeta-Geeta remake- where she showed her superb comic timing as she played Anju and Manju.

1990: After a stellar preceding year, the only movies worth mentioning here are Aashiqui and Dil. Both rather average films, but big hits that year. They propelled the existing trend toward romantic films. The only reason they are special to me is- Aashiqui is the first movie I bunked college and went to watch with a group of friends. And Dil...well... it had Aamir and Mads and I watched it just before I went to get my 10th standard results- which I aced.

1991: goes to Lamhe- a Yash Chopra love story between a younger woman and an older man- only movie I liked Anil in. And Sridevi was simply awesome. Lovely songs, beautiful locales, great supporting performances by Anupam Kher and Wahida Rahman.

Another parallel cinema must-watch is Govind Nihlani’s Drishti starring Shekhar Kapur and Dimple Kapadia as a married couple who are growing apart. 

This year bought to an end the original film era of Mahesh Bhatt films with his last original movie- Daddy- where he launched his daughter Pooja.
1992: And Shahrukh Khan arrived! A small role in a Rishi and then popular and since then dead heroine- Divya Bharti called Deewana. Bad film, in descript performance by SRK and hamming by Rishi. But his second movie- Raju ban gaya gentleman with Juhi was sweet.

However this year belonged to Roja. It is the year I discovered the genius of Mani Ratnam. The movie brought to light the Kashmir issue and had fab performance by the so-handsome Arvind Swamy and Madhu.

Jo jeeta wohi sikandar also released this year and received the best film award in Filmfare. It was an hindi cinema version of Archie comics with Aamir as Archie, Ayesha Jhulka as Betty (seriously! If she can act opposite Aamir, so can I!), Pooja Bedi as Veronica and Deepak Tijori as Reggie. I have very fond memories of this movie- but doubt I could sit through it now unlike other Aamir movies which I can re-watch anytime.

1993: is the year marked in history as the only time ever a SRK movie will beat an Aamir movie in this list. The Aamir movie was Hum hain rahi pyaar ke where his hit jodi with Juhi cast its magic again and it had cute kids and good doze of comedy.

But my favourite movie in 1993 is an SRK film by Kundan Shah called ‘Kabhi haan, Kabhi Na’. Shot in idyllic Goa it depicts the life of simple boy Sunil whose sole purpose in life is to marry Anna. Deepak Tijori played Chris as the rich dude who Anna loves. A love triangle that makes you go awwww.
And my other fav movie this year was ‘Sardar’- a Ketan Mehta film on the life of Sardar Vallabhai Patel played flawlessly by Paresh Rawal. A must-watch for anyone interested in understanding the intricacies of what really happened in 1947- just before and right after Independence.

1994: A very good year for Indian cinema as it gave us Hum aapke hain kaun- one of the biggest grosser ever and a National award winner. The great Indian wedding packed in only 4 hours. I still enjoyed the movie though- the songs, Madhuri’s dances, the love story between her and Salman, all were rather heart warming. No Indian wedding since then has been complete without songs from this hit film. It also marks the end of Rajshri production movies on my list.

Andaz apna apna also released this year- undoubtedly one of the best comedy movies EVER! And the only time Aamir and Salman starred together. I can watch this movie even today and laugh as much as than I did then.

Another beautiful movie this year was 1942 A love story a historic fictional love story in the backdrop of the Quit India movement of 1942. Must watch for Jackie as Shubankar, Javed saab’s lyrics for ‘ek ladki ko dekka’, and Manisha’s performance.

Can’t finish this year without mentioning another Govind Nihlani film called Drohkaal- a riveting suspense thriller about a dedicated cop who leads an under-cover squad against a group of terrorists.

This brings us to an end of the 2nd decade of my life and covers nearly 30 brilliant films. Thinking about it now, I actually marvel how did I do well academically inspite of my addiction to Hindi movies. Well I did not turn out half as bad, and these films are so worth it!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A movie a year (volume 1)

Never ask me what is my favourite movie or my favourite food. I can’t simply answer. (Favourite book is easy- Pride and Prejudice, and yes I know I am an Austen-cliché, but that’s just the way it is).

But favourite food...that’s tough man! Fried pomfret or sindhi curry. Aloo paratha or chilly crab with fried bun. Thai green curry or gambas de ajillo. Bhel puri or Pizza Margarita. And I have barely begun. I love my food and don’t expect me to choose. I get very stressed when I see a man on death row in the American crime shows. And the poor guy is given the choice to have whatever he wants as his last meal. I feel sorry for the guy- not because he is soon going to be sitting on an electric chair, but because he has such a difficult choice to make at this critical time.

And same goes for favourite movie. I hardly ever agree to the ‘best film’ award on any of the popular shows as it’s very unlikely that the popular choice would be mine. And there are just way too many fabulous Hindi movies. How can anyone just choose one?

So here is what I thought. I will pick my favourite film for each year since I was born. Brilliant na? Except now everyone will know my exact age. Which frankly is not a state secret (as much as I would like it to be one)

So here goes decade one of my existence. 1974 to 1984

1974: Ok. I reached a stumbling block on year one itself. Did not find a single movie which I have seen that year, let alone liked. So I shall cheat here and select from 1973- I was conceived that year, so it’s justified.

And I will cheat one more time and pick 2 films. Which is going to be a pretty much ongoing scenario throughout this post, as in most years I have more than one favourite film.

In no particular order my 2 picks for 1973/1974 are: Abhimaan and Zanjeer. Zanjeer shot Amitabh to overnight fame. Brilliant portrayal as Inspector Vijay (his favourite screen name). Also the movie which catapulted his ‘angry young man’ image. While with Abhimaan he made his mark as an emotive actor. He played the role of an established popular singer who found it difficult to deal with his wife’s success. Abhiman also gave us the successful Amitabh-Jaya jodi and beautiful songs like “Tere mere jeevan ki raina” and “Teri bindiya re”

1975: This is tougher than I thought. How can anyone choose between Deewar and Sholay? They both are just awesome!! I still cry even today when I see Jai die in the end in Sholay. And Basanti is one of the most iconic female characters in the history of Indian cinema.

The scene in Deewar where Amitabh buys the building where is mum worked as brick carrier (is that even a word?) is etched in my memory. And the dialogue “Maaf kijiye Daaga saab, lekin business karna aap no nahin aata. Aap agar is building ki doogni keemat maangte, toh bhi mein de deta”. And “Mein aaj bhi phenke hue paise nahi leta”. Salim-Javed! You gotta love them! What writing! And another reason I am partial to Deewar is that it had my favourite Shashi Kapoor- who I loved more than Amitabh. He had the most winning smile!

And to add to the confusion, there is Aandhi to consider. A Gulzar film supposedly based on Indira Gandhi. Best-ever songs! “Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi Shikwa”. And Suchitra Sen and Sanjeev Kumar were just stunning.

I can’t resolve this. 1975 goes to Aandhi, Deewar and Sholay.

1976: This year has a clear winner-Kabhie Kabhie. Directed by Yash Chopra with Amitabh, Rakhi (never looked better), Shashi Kapoor (played such a charming and adorable character in the film and fav profession- architect) and Waheeda Rahman. It also starred the next generation stars (and my favourite on and off screen couple- Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh. A beauty love triangle and one of the best music compositions ever by Khayyam**- a music director extraordinaire but sadly underrated. Who can ever forget the title track and beautiful shayari by Amitabh?

However I would like to mention another lovely film from this year- Chitchor. I used to be a big Amol Palekar fan and loved almost all the films he starred in- until he started making them and Paheli happened-seriously dude what were you thinking? A Rajshri production back when their movies were heart warming but still socially relevant. Rajshri remade this film in 2003 with Kareena, Hrithik and Abhishek in a shameful ‘Main prem ki deewani hoon’. Again guys, what were you thinking?

1977: Amar, Akhbar, Anthony was released this year, and though it deserves a mention for a lot of reasons- the key one being the magic of Amitabh and Praveen Babi on screen, it is not my favourite film of that year. Oh and it also deserves a mention for Vinod Khanna- the most handsome star at that time. His sons are not remotely as handsome, though I always liked Akshaye Khanna very much. Big crush! But not sure where he is nowadays...since the hair loss.

I vote for Hum kisse se kum nahin. I love Nasir Hussain movies (this was even before I knew he was related to Aamir Khan). An out and out commercial plot with fabulous music by R D Burman- I still prefer Rishi’s version of Bachchna ae hasino to his son’s. Other popular songs from this movie were “Chaand mera dil” and the crown gem “Kya hua tera vada”

1978: This year I will pass up a great Amitabh movie- inspite of the fab chemistry with Rekha which was unmistakable especially in the ‘kotha’ number ‘Salame ishq meri jaan’. Yes am talking about ‘Muquadar ka sinkandar’. My favourite movie for this year is Ankiyon ke jharokon se. Loosely based on Eric Segal’s Love story- one of my much-loved books- the movie was so heart-warming and beautiful. And just makes me wonder again what beautiful films Rajshir Productions used to make. The film got nominations for Best Actress, Best Film, Best Direction categories in 1978 Filmfare Award but missed them all. And which makes me realized that Filmfare awards even then danced to the popular beat while ignoring true talent.

1979: Hriskesh Mukherjee is one of my favourite directors. And Golmaal is one of his best movies. But 1979 was also the year that Kala Pathar was released. And its undoubtedly one of my favourite Amitabh movies of all times. Again a Yash Chopra direction- wish he made such movies again instead of only the romantic ones. And Kala Pathar had Shashi Kapoor too- looking so handsome as the young architect (my most sexiest profession ever! Have I mentioned that before?). The heroines Rakhi, Parveen Babi and Neetu Singh played their parts beautifully too. I love multi-starrers! But you don’t see as many of them now. May be today’s actors are simply too insecure to share screen space with each other. And the other important bit of news from this movie is that it’s THE ONLY movie where Shatrughan Sinha was remotely tolerable.

1980: Qurbaani was the highest grosser this year and great masala movie. But I have never been a big fan of Feroz Khan (though I used to find his son Fardeen super hot but marriage has ruined him completely). My biggest gripe against Feroz Khan- besides the arrogance and the weird westernized accent- was that he always kept himself alive in the end of the film and killed the other hero. In this movie it was the handsome Vinod Khanna (in Janbaaz it was Anil Kapoor, in Yalgaar it was Sanjay Dutt). Arrey just because you are the director does not mean you kill the other guy off even if the script does not demand it?

But still a must watch simply for Vinod Khanna and Zeenat.

1980 also was the year of another huge multi-starrer- The burning train. Love it! And in fact recently I saw it on TV when I was in Bombay and even made Sanil watch it. He seemed semi-impressed. But 1980 can only go to Karz! One of Subhash Ghai’s best and needs simply no introduction. The only thing I did not like about Karz was Tina Munim- could not stand her! Actually still can’t do. (And she needs to go her sis-in-law’s way and loose that fat!). And I have to mention here that Himesh Reshamiya needs to be publicly lynched for remaking Karz as Karzz! I will forgive Ram Gopal Verma for the similar sacrilegious behaviour in remaking Sholay- as Amitabh was his partner in crime and I can only attribute it to temporary insanity on both their parts.

1981: gave us the next super star in Sanjay Dutt with Rocky. Teen girls watched Rocky 50 times over and swooned and gushed. I never saw the fuss and don’t see it now either. Manoj Kumar gave us Kranti and being the patriotic person I am, I love that film. Yash Chopra gave us Silsila- a film that was not a big box office success, but was one of the most poignant love stories ever made. The plot, the music, the lyrics by Javed Aktar- "Mein aur meri tanhayi", the cast, the story line everything was just splendid. Another beautiful film that year was Basera- simply worth watching for Rekha’s restrained yet powerful performance and Shashi’s dashing looks.

But my 2 favourite movies of this year are in Naseeb and Kalyug. Poles apart but etched in my memory for completely diverse reasons. As kids we watched Naseeb on loop- I don’t think there is any other movie and my cousins and I watched as much. A dhamaal Manmohan Desai masala entertainer.

And Shyam Benegal’s Kalyug. Based on Mahabharat- from where my fascination of the epic started- and who should play my favourite Mahabhrat character- Karna- but Shashi Kapoor. Rekha made a very convincing Drupadi. Kalyug was my foray into the parallel cinema world. Then called ‘art movies’.

1982: My attraction towards art movies propelled with Arth. It was a life changing film for me. The last scene when Shabana refused Raj Kiran even though she knew he loved her so much, and instead chose to be a mother to her maid’s child was one of my first ever understanding of woman’s liberation and independence. I was 8 when Arth was released, I assume I watched it much later in life, but it left an ever-lasting impression on my mind.

1983: launched 2 other big heroes who became Sanju baba’s contemporaries. One was star son Sunny Deol with Betaab. And one a middle class chawl dweller- Jackie Shroff with Hero. I saw ‘Kishen’ on screen and I found my first true crush*. I still remember going to a cinema in town (South Bombay) with my whole family to watch this movie. And my cousin Sandy who was from Switzerland and did not understand Hindi also sat through the 3 hours of this Subhash Ghai’s masterpiece.

This year also saw the advent of Sridevi with her ‘thunder thighs’ in full glory in Himmatwala and Justice Chudhary. Also known for Jeetu bhai’s most innovative and entertaining dance steps (and white shoes)

But Hero is not my only film for that year. Because 1983 was the year one of the best movies in the history of Indian cinema was released- Shekhar Kapur’s Masoom. Adaptation from another Eric Segal novel “Man, woman and child”, Masoom showed us another side to motherhood. I have never been a Shabana fan- Arth was the only exception- and I think it has its roots in this film. I could never relate to her character in this film. Though technically her character is not really her, but I simply could never forgive her for rejecting Jugal Hansraj- which heartless person can resist the big brown sad eyes of that child as he says “Meri mummy bhi phoolon wali sari pehenti thi”. Even at young age, I was very clear in my head. I was not sure if I could forgive my husband for adultery, but I could never turn away the child. I still tear up when I hear “Tujhse naaraz nahin zindagi”. (And yeah I LOVE Shekhar Kapur- he is at the Aamir Khan level for me)

1984: My love affair with Mahesh Bhatt art movies continued with Saaransh. Anupam Kher’s debut film where he played a man of 60 years coping with his son’s death. He was only 28 years old then! A brilliant film which makes me wonder what happened to that great story teller and film maker?

This year also gave birth to 2 stars who would rule Indian cinema (and my heart) for years to come. Madhuri Dixit in Abodh- she was merely 16. And Aamir Khan in a miniscule role in Ketan Mehta’s Holi.

Another movie that just has to be mentioned is Jaane bhi do yaaron- a hilarious laugh riot! Satish Shah- one of the best comedians this industry has given us and Naseer- one of the finest actors this industry has ever given us, coupled with Pankaj Kapur and Ravi Baswani lead to one of the funniest movies of all times. Best dialouge: "Mein ne cheerharan ka idea drop kar diya hai"

* 13 years later, I was doing my MBA summer internship at Sony Entertainment (where Jackie used to have a stake holding) and one day when I was sitting at my desk, Jackie walks in and looks at me and says “hello sweetheart”. I am not a swooner, but boy did I swoon. And when we went back to college, and everyone exchanged their summer internship experiences like the projects they worked on, the important people they presented to, etc, I just said “Jackie said ‘hello sweetheart’ to me”. Yeah it was extremely bimbotic...but hell he was Jackie Shroff!(and yes I am fully aware he does not look like that now!)

** Khayyam lives in my building in Bombay. As kids, when we played on the building terrace, he used to come up and scold us for disturbing him as his apartment was just below the terrace. Our revenge was to ring his door bell and rung. I feel semi-bad now.

So that ends my top picks for the first decade of my life. And now I can only think how I want to watch each and every of these films again!