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Posts Tagged ‘Hollywood’

One of the classics which Hollywood can justifiably be proud of is ‘Ben-Hur’. Here is an interesting post which many of you may like!

Dustedoff

When I was compiling my post of English-language films that might appeal to a lover of old Hindi cinema, I needed to check something about Ben-Hur (which was on my list) on IMDB—and I discovered something I hadn’t realized. That Ben-Hur was being remade. In fact, it was due for release less than a fortnight after my post.

Now, if that isn’t coincidence, serendipity, fate, call it what you will—I don’t know what is. So I made up my mind: this remake had to be watched, and the original (no, I’m not counting the earlier, silent version of the film, but the record-breaking, many-Oscar winning one, directed by William Wyler). Comparisons, of course, would follow.

A moment from the memorable chariot race

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There is no dearth of movie fans who straddle the worlds of Hollywood as well as Bollywood. Here is a delectable post from Madhulika Liddle that such souls are bound to relish!

Dustedoff

Specifically, Hindi cinema of the 50s and 60s.

This post had its genesis in a post sometime back, in which blog reader and fellow blogger Rahul commented that he tended to not watch foreign films. I decided, then, to create a list of ten foreign films that might appeal to a lover of old Hindi cinema. Then, a couple of weeks down the line, when I reviewed The Woman in Question, Rahul reminded me of that promise, asking me when I’d be posting that list of English films. There had obviously been a misunderstanding somewhere; I had meant non-English films. But it gave me an idea; why not a list of English-language films too?

After all, it’s not as if the plots and themes of Hollywood and British cinema from the Golden Years were completely alien to Indian audiences. In fact, many of them would be familiar to watchers…

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What is it that makes us label a movie as a classic? A unique blend of enchanting visuals, a rich story line, fine acting, lilting music and captivating lyrics are some of the features a successful movie invariably has. However, to be considered a classic, it would also have a multi-layered narrative with a social message which connects with us at a deeper level. Its theme would have an underlying timelessness, often brought in by the values it espouses.

Values which happen to be eternal in nature. Family values. Faint stirrings within a society to transform itself. The need for a soul to be free and joyous. The assertion of independence which demolishes societal norms of the time. The harmony in working towards a jointly shared goal or ambition. A meteoric rise in terms of materialistic goals. The frustration of having hit a plateau of sorts. The complex interplay of human emotions. The gradual transformation of relationships. The downfall arising out of human greed. The introspection. The burden of guilt. The beginning of a spiritual awakening. The search for a utopia. The redemption.

Here are some movies released fifty years back which remain as fresh as ever in one’s mind.

GUIDE

Released in 1965, this movie, directed by Vijay Anand, was based on a novel of R. K. Narayan, The Guide. The U. S. version of the movie was written by Pearl S. Buck.

The heroine, Rosie, walks out of a loveless marriage, so as to be able to pursue her passion of dance. The hero, Raju, helps her in achieving stardom. The song ‘Tere mere sapne’, though four minutes long, had merely three shots, each helping the heroine to gradually overcome her hesitation to accept the offer of reassurance and love from the hero.

The movie had great dance performances by the inimitable Waheeda Rehman. Other than the snake dance, we got treated to the six-part extravaganza – ‘Piya to se naina laage re’.

With success comes the fading away of love, which gradually gives way to self-interest. The transformation of tender love depicted in ‘Tere mere sapne’ gets eventually replaced by an emotional chasm between the main protagonists, so delectably captured in the song ‘Din dhal jaaye’.

The movie had a female lead character who was ahead of her times. The climax was rooted in superstition, though. The hero attained a spiritual enlightenment of sorts.

The charm of this landmark movie remains undiminished even after fifty years of its release, proving the immense possibilities of artistic collaboration.

The Sound of Music

Based on the memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp, the film is about a young Austrian woman studying to become a nun in Salzburg in 1938 who is sent to the villa of a retired naval officer and widower to assume charge as a governess to his seven children. She brings love, spontaneity and music into the lives of the family through kindness and patience.

The manner in which mutual respect and affection grows between the naval officer and the governess is delicately captured in this tender piece.

The governess ends up marrying the officer. Together with the children they find a way to survive the loss of their homeland through courage and faith.

The musical scores stand out for their richness and the way in which they advance the plot of the movie. The heroine, though plagued by self-doubt, shows ample pluck and resource to win over a bunch of defiant children and their disciplinarian father. Characters of all the kids are well etched out and enamour us no end. Underlying the whole narrative is the value of family togetherness, delicate love interwoven with the need for discipline, and the loyalty towards each other.

Even after fifty long years, the movie does not fail to cast a spell. Watch any portion of fifteen minutes and one would come back refreshed and invigorated.

Chemmeen

Even though one is not familiar with Malayalam language, one has heard a great deal about this movie. Released on August 19, 1965, it acquired a cult status in the minds of movie buffs.

The success of this movie is said to be due to its heady combination of social-realistic melodrama, bolstered by high production values. It had creative inputs from some of the most talented persons from the Indian movie industry at that time – music by Salil Chowdhury, editing by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, cinematography by Marcus Bartley and lyrics by Vayalar Rama Varma.

The tale of Pareekutty and Karuthamma is a tragic romance. It makes one cry. It gives one a feel as if one lives close to the sea-coast, listening to the incessant roar of the waves, rising to the cries of fishermen and joining their yells of glee when their catch is a bumper one.

At a deeper level, in a muted manner, the movie argues for social transformation. It portrays the problems that arise when an Araya girl falls in love with a Muslim trader. This is a chasm that most of us are still grappling with.

This New Year eve, one would be tempted to curl up in bed to soak in the delectable cinematic brilliance on offer in any one of these movies. As the New Year rings in, we could be joining the Von Trapp family in its trek across the Alps, looking ahead to the future with hope, faith and goodwill!

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With its scenic promenade, picturesque locations, an old world French ambience, Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville, Puducherry offers the lay visitor a curious combination of hedonistic as well as spiritual opportunities. One could go on a spirited binge and simply freak out. Otherwise, one could soak in its spiritual glow and get mentally uplifted.

True to the innate character of Puducherry, most of the films shot in the town also reflect a somewhat similar bipolar tendency. Amorous endeavors get captured on celluloid. Themes with a spiritual strain also find Puducherry attractive. Occasionally, one would find the town getting mentioned in a block buster!

Here is a quick recap of the Hindi and English movies which have had a Puducherry connection.pondy movie Jism

Jism (2003, Amit Saxena) was an erotic thriller. Obsession with the pleasures of the flesh and greed for wealth eventually drive the main protagonists towards a tragic end.

pondy movie black 1

Black (2005, Sanjay Leela Bhansali) was based on the life and struggles of Helen Keller. Ayesha Kapur from Auroville played the childhood role of the main protagonist and went on to win several awards and critical acclaim for her performance.

pondy movie 3_idiots

3 Idiots (2009, Rajkumar Hirani) argued in favor of innovative thinking and showed us the perils of learning by rote. It also exhorted us to follow our hearts when choosing a vocation. No part of the movie was shot in Puducherry. However, one of the main characters, Chatur Ramalingam, declares having gone to school at Puducherry.

pondy movie Aashayein-

Aashayein (2010, Nagesh Kukunoor) was about a compulsive gambler learning to live to the hilt within the limited life time available to him. It captured life within a rehabilitation center for those with an incurable disease in a poignant manner.

pondy movie 7 Khoon Maaf_poster_ver1

7 Khoon Maaf (2011, Vishal Bhardwaj) belonged to the black comedy genre. It also had a couple of steamy scenes. Having killed six of her husbands, the heroine finds redemption, solace and true love in Jesus – at Puducherry.

pondy movie Talaash_poster

Talaash (2012, Reema Kagti) touched upon various ills plaguing our society. A mystery thriller, it also described the state of happiness one reaches upon overcoming one´s guilt.

pondy movie Life_of_Pi_2012

Life of Pi (2012, Ang Lee) put Puducherry on the international map. The hero was shown to be a Hindu who also goes on to embrace Christianity and Islam. The film spoke of the need to remain connected with oneエs inner self so as to be a winner in the vast ocean of life. Truth, perception and belief were brought into focus, thereby putting the theme on to a spiritual plane.

There are several Tamil movies which have also been shot at Puducherry. To movie makers, the town offers a smart choice as a location. The place is small. It is not very pricey. With a friendly government, it is easier to get all the permissions to shoot. Parks, heritage churches, water bodies and French cuisine simply add value to the quaint place.

A unique feature of the town is its rich architectural heritage. Organizations like INTACH do try to salvage a part of the same. Sadly, much more needs to be done.

Puducherry is also known as “The French Riviera of the East”. For someone who lives in the real place, it is delightful to connect with the reel place as well.

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The latest family movie soon to hit a restricted number of screens is “Shankar-the bold”. It captures the life and times of the youngest one in our family, right from his birth till the time he celebrates his second birthday. Shankar The Bold  cd cover

Preparing for the Movie

As always, the process remains the same. Going through family pictures and videos. Selecting the ones which are worth preserving. Conceptualizing the overall script. Deciding on various sections. Putting them in a tentative sequence. Screening the photos once again. Rearranging some of these into newer sections. Putting these through an Adobe Photoshop wringer.

Selecting the music to be used in the background. Consulting friends and family members for the choice of music. Seeking the help of others to download relevant songs. For some favourite songs, creating a special sequence of the visuals, in sync with the lyrics. Rearranging the script, if necessary.

Getting Connected

For the period to be covered, ensuring that all important events and people are getting covered. Retrieving poems, notes and letters specifically composed for some of these events. Planning to use these at appropriate places in the narrative. Using instrumental music as a backdrop so it does not distract from the verbal content on the screen.

The younger generation needs to understand the background of the family. It also needs to know who all comprise the extended family. Members are spread over all the continents. To collect their photos, getting their names and relationships right and inserting them in the narrative is no mean task.

Elders in the family are immensely useful in providing the finer details of the lives and times of our ancestors. A whiff of nostalgia, laced with family history, ensures that the movie does not remain an exercise in narcissism. Instead, it ends up being a valuable addition to the family archives.

Composing the Movie

There are several movie-making softwares available. The one that we have liked is Womble Multimedia. Arranging the photos section-wise and inserting relevant audio tracks is a skill which one learns over a period of time.

Once the movie has been composed, the question of its disc reproduction comes up. Each set has to be individually checked for its correctness. Defects in sound track or composition have to be ironed out. Eventually, a Master Disc takes shape. This is again played out on a dvd player, just to check that the aspect ratio and other details are well taken care of.

Scope for Innovation

Making each family movie unique is one of the serious challenges. For the latest offering, we came up with the idea of linking family events to important events. So, if the boy was born at a time when an important merger and acquisition had taken place in the business world, the event found a mention in the narrative.

Since ours is a family of movie buffs, we decided to link important family events to movies released around that time. Let us say a marriage in the family took place in a year in which a blockbuster had hit the silver screen. So, a short clip from the movie found a place in the narrative.

A Labor of Love

An exhausting but uplifting process. The unalloyed joy of creativity. The satisfaction of having made something which entertains, educates and celebrates a milestone for the family. Something which the younger ones would cherish when they grow up. A fragment of the subtle connection between the past and the future.

(If you like this post, there is a good chance you may like an earlier one as well: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/some-baby-steps-in-movie-making)

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Come Valentine’s Day and the air is fragrant with thoughts of love, caring and compassion. The movie buffs amongst us are literally spoiled for choice. For example, we can catch up on one of the breezy romcoms, like 50 First Dates (2004, Peter Segal), Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008, A Match Made by God, Aditya Chopra), No Strings Attached (2011, Ivan Reitman) or Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013, Crazy Youth, Ayan Mukerji). Movie 50 First Dates

Or, we can delve into our personal collections and rediscover classics such as Gone With the Wind (1939, Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood), Mughal-e-Aazam (1960, K Asif, The Emporer of the Mughals), The Sound of Music (1965, Robert Wise) or Guide (1965, Vijay Anand).Guide_poster

We also have the choice of curling up on a love couch and savoring romantic escapades of the mature and ripe kind. Here are some movies which are some of my personal favorites in this category.

Doctor Zhivago

Movie Dr Zhivago

The romance between Dr Yuri Zhivago and Lara Antipov has an ageless quality about it. The underlying message appears to be that true love does not amount to a bondage; on the contrary, it means letting go. (1965, David Lean)

Anubhav and Avishkaar

Basu Bhattacharya gave us a unique insight into life of couples who are married for about seven years. The relationship has turned stale, devoid of any spark and zing.

movie anubhavAnubhav saw the arrival of a college time friend of the heroine leading to the romantic flame getting reignited. The care the heroine took of the hero when he falls sick and is confined to bed for some time also helps. (1971, Experience)

movie avishkaarAvishkaar had the couple reminiscing about their college romance, when they would meet – all decked up to impress each other – for limited hours. They realize that a 24 by 7 exposure in married life has resulted into their taking each other for granted. Romance gets rekindled. (1974, Invention)

Aandhi

Movie Aandhi

When political ambitions of a wife need to be reconciled with the need for togetherness and love, a way forward is eventually found, reuniting the couple in a rather unconventional way. (1975, Storm, Gulzar)

Ghar

movie Ghar

The rehabilitation of a victim of rape with loads of love and affection provided by a caring husband make this one unique in more ways than one. (1978, Home, Manik Chatterjee)

Khatta Meetha

Movie Khatta_Meetha_(1978)

The versatile Ashok Kumar and the effervescent Pearl Padamsee come together in old age, complimenting each other’s needs. How their grown up children get reconciled to each other and eventually get united in face of adversity forms the rest of the plot. (1978, Basu Chatterjee)

Baghban

Movie Baghban

The couple’s yearning for each other’s company, when separated due to family obligations, could not have been essayed more poignantly. When children turn out to be unreasonable and insensitive, the couple chooses to live together independently. (2003, The Gardener, Ravi Chopra)

Pyaar Mein Twist

Movie Pyaar_Mein_Twist

Invoking the on-screen chemistry of the lead pair in their younger days in the hugely successful Bobby (1973, Raj Kapoor), this movie saw them battling opposition from within their respective families to live together. (2005, Karan Kapoor)

Mamma Mia!

Movie Mamma Mia

Her upcoming marriage prompts a daughter to identify her father out of the three former lovers of her mother. Misunderstandings get clarified and a new beginning is made by the mother. Great music and lots of fun and frolic. (2008, Phyllida Lloyd)

Dedh Ishqia

Movie Dedh_Ishqiya

The movie is all about deception, crime, suspense and passion. The senior pair epitomizes love on a platonic plane, backed by soulful poetry and intense gazes overflowing with mute passion. The junior pair is more intimate on the physical plane. However, it turns out that the women have other plans in mind. (2014, Lover Boys, Abhishek Chaubey)

A normal romantic flick usually ends up on a happy note. In Hollywood, either a natural disaster has just been faced or a misunderstanding between the couple has just got resolved. As the sun sets, the simpering beloved runs into the arms of the hero.

In Bollywood, the dashing hero has just clobbered a dozen or so goons who had evil ideas of their own. The police arrive, but only after the hero has had the chance to demonstrate his martial skills. The kingpin of the villains is promptly handcuffed and driven off to some unknown destination. As credits start rolling, we give up our willing suspension of disbelief and saunter off to some mundane task of life, happy in the firm belief that the couple would live happily thereafter.

The movies I have listed above are scripted differently. Some capture the post-matrimonial phase of a couple’s life. Some speak of the raw chemistry between men and women who discover each other in the mature phase of their lives. The trial and tribulations they go through, the compromises and adjustments they make and the manner in which they rediscover each other when at close quarters – these aspects have been etched out in some detail. Such movies do not fall in the candy floss variety of romance. Instead, these depict a genre of romance which is mature, ripe and deep.

This Valentine’s Day, take your pick.

 

 

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Movies from Hollywood as well as Bollywood are often based upon romantic affairs which unfold against the backdrop of a work related scenario. Some of these also touch upon the issue of sexual harassment at the work place.

Since there are major differences between the Western and the Eastern cultural milieu and values, movies churned out by Hollywood are invariably bold. On the other hand, those coming out of Bollywood are relatively tame affairs, often confining themselves to flirtatious bosses.

But whenever either has chosen to dive into the murky waters of sexual harassment at work place, the director concerned has been rather liberal in depicting the relationship between a CEO and a team member. Yes, true to style, both Hollywood and Bollywood have ensured that the proceedings willy-nilly end up on a positive note!

THE HOLLYWOOD TAKE

9_to_5_movie_poster

  • 9 to 5 (Colin Higgins, 1980) 

A comedy starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Dabney Coleman, the movie is about three women living out their fantasies of getting even with their autocratic and sexist boss. Eventually, they manage to successfully overthrow him, extracting sweet revenge in the process. 

  • Disclosure (Barry Levinson, 1994)

Instead of getting an expected promotion, Tom ends up reporting to a woman with whom he had an affair in his bachelor days. His new boss, not only dangerously sexy but also overtly ambitious, has climbed the corporate ladder by exerting undue influence on the CEO. She apparently tries to pick up where they left off but he just about manages to resist. Eventually, realization dawns that she intends to use Tom merely as a scapegoat to cover her technical misdeeds. He decides to file charges of sexual harassment, a development of which the company takes a jaundiced view. The movie starred Michael Douglas and Demi Moore.

  • North Country (Niki Caro, 2005)NorthCountryPoster

The movie depicts a fictionalized account of Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co., the first sexual harassment class action lawsuit in the U.S. Josey’s refusal to give in to her male co-workers’ demands causes them to spread lies about her being promiscuous and trying to seduce them. When the company board does not take her charges of sexual harassment seriously, she decides to file a case. In court, an attempt is made to paint Josie as being promiscuous. Eventually, co-workers stand up to support Josey’s complaint. They are followed by more women, family members, and miners. With this, the mining company loses the case and is forced to pay the women for what they suffered, in addition to establishing a sexual harassment policy at the workplace.

  • The Proposal (Anne Fletcher, 2009)The_Proposal_poster

Starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, the movie depicts a hard-nosed boss Margaret Tate terrorizing Andrew Paxton at a New York publishing house. To avoid deportation to Canada upon expiry of her visa, Margaret hatches a scheme to marry Andrew – he agrees if she’ll promise a promotion. She flies to Andrew’s home to Sitka in Alaska and realizes the essential values of decency and goodness his family stands for. After she runs off from the marriage ceremony, Andrew’s grandma feigns sickness and facilitates a matrimonial union between the two.

THE BOLLYWOOD TAKE  

  • Pati, Patni aur Woh (B R Chopra, 1978, ‘Husband, Wife and the Other One’)

Ranjit is a CEO, happily married to his lady-love Sharda. He exploits his poor secretary Nirmala by arousing her sympathy over a fake illness of his wife. Eventually exposed, he tries to mend his ways but ends up falling for the charms of his next secretary! The movie starred Sanjeev Kumar and Vidya Sinha.

  • Rang Birangi (Hrishikesh Mukherjee, 1983, ‘The Colourful One’)Rang_Birangi Poster

Yet another comedy in which Ajay, a workaholic boss who neglects his wife Neema, is persuaded by his best friend to start a romance with his secretary, basically to bring some pep back into his seven-year old married life. The wife also decides to reciprocate the sentiment by taking up a job and then claiming to be getting close to her own boss. Eventually, Ajay realizes his mistake and they both live happily thereafter. The cast comprised Amol Palekar, Parveen Babi and Deepti Naval.

  • Chandni  (Yash Chopra, 1989, ‘Moonlight’)

Chandni (Sridevi) and Rohit (Rishi Kapoor) meet at a family wedding and fall for each other. Due to a misunderstanding, they get separated. Chandni shifts to another city and lands a job with a travel agency headed by Lalit (Vinod Khanna) who falls for her. He is already grieving over the loss of the love of his life and eventually ends up losing Chandni as well to her lover.Aitraaz Poster

  • Aitraaz (Abbas-Mustan, 2004, ‘Objection’)

The female boss Sonia (Priyanka Chopra) has the hot pants for Raj, a happily married subordinate. Raj resists her advances, with Sonia dragging him to court on a trumped-up attempt-to-rape charge. However, the subordinate has a lawyer wife who comes to his rescue, with the female boss committing suicide in the end. The movie was inspired by Disclosure.

  • Inkaar (Sudhir Mishra, 2013, ‘Refusal’)

This one is Bollywood’s latest take on sexual harassment at work place. Based on gender politics and power play in a large advertisingInkaar-Movie-Poster agency, the movie covers an investigation into a sexual harassment complaint filed by Maya (Chitrangada Singh) against Rahul (Arjun Rampal). Whereas the agency can obviously do without a scandal of this nature, both Maya and Rahul realize towards the end that they are in love with each other!

Story and screenplay writers for movies based on management related themes no longer need to scratch their heads to get new ideas for their scripts. Nor do they need to look around for a muse or even bother about the writers’ block. All they have to do is to build up on the juicy details of the sexploits of CEOs of various hues provided by the real corporate world and convert these into mega successes in the reel world.

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