There’s this thing called ‘intermission’, a tradition of our storytelling, wherein a dichotomy slices the narration of a film into two halves at a peculiar point of the plot development. Well, to cut the long story short, the column, ‘Revisiting the classics’ has reached its interval point and we’re taking a break till we strike back with yet another series of classics peppered with trivia and an incurable movie buff’s musings. So, here’s a throwback to the few classics we revisited during this journey:
Hum Dono Rangeen at Rs. 30/-
“Let’s go to watch Hum Dono Rangeen!” I suggested my parents, when Hum Dono Rangeen, the coloured version of ‘Hum Dono’ was released in 2011. The theatre played old songs, which set the right ambience to watch Hum Dono Rangeen. I looked around and felt a bit guilty of completely abandoning single screen theatres after multiplexes mushroomed around the city. The blackened ceiling and walls wailed silently, while the fans whirred with a lamenting song of being neglected, until its bearings found the grease of solace and hushed it.
Sholay: The greatest story ever told
Watching Sholay on TV or DVD with parents is like revisiting childhood all over again. While watching Sholay on TV, DVD or online, today’s youngsters might wonder how a village can have an overhead tank when they have no electricity. ‘How did they transport water up there?” “Hey how did the villager ‘Dholia’s character suddenly become ‘Shankar’ in the second half of the film?” Well, such questions of logic die an illogical death the moment Gabbar Singh roars: Soowar ke bachho!
Pyaasa is an eternal masterpiece
There are films and there are text books of filmmaking. Having written a play script, ‘Kashmakash – the two worlds of Guru Dutt’, I have revisited Pyaasa and read its dialogue book umpteen times, yet this classic continues to leave me awestruck. Right from the ethereal Waheeda Rehman who brilliantly underplays the most dramatic scenes, the wit of Johny Walker, the quiet disdain of Rehman, the layered character of Meena aptly essayed by Mala Sinha, to the restrained intensity of Guru Dutt, Pyaasa will always remain a classic worth revisiting.
Guide is cinematic nirvana
“Kehte hain gyaani, duniya hai faani. Paani mein likhi likhaayi. Hai sab ki dekhi, hai sab ki jaani, haath kisi ke na aayi” is a nugget at the beginning of Guide, in the song, ‘Wahan kaun hai tera’ brilliantly penned by Shailendra. The song makes one to introspect on life passed by and the years that lie ahead.
Dev Anand had cold feet while doing his death scene, as he felt his fans might not accept it, much to the chagrin of Vijay Anand. Fali Mistry, the cinematographer, intervened and explained the importance of the scene to Dev Anand and convinced him to do it the scene which became a legend.
Abhimaan: Love triangle of the third kind
The songs of Abhimaan have a permanent place in my playlist. Interestingly, the songs, when placed in chronology, sum up the film’s story, be it ‘Meet na mila’, ‘Nadiya kinaare’, ‘Teri bindiya re’, ‘Loote koi mann ka nagar’, ‘Ab to hai tumse’, ‘Piya bina’, to the finale, ‘Tere mere milan ki yeh raina’. A film that continues to inspire filmmakers and ‘the Abhimaanesque angle’ has become part of common parlance among film critics, Abhimaan is in fact a love triangle between Subir, Uma and Music, which plays a key character.
Anand is immortal
Right from its beginning, when the character of Dr. Bhaskar Banerjee, essayed by Amitabh Bachchan, rues on the rising poverty and his helplessness as a doctor, to the deteriorating medical condition of Anand, hope is smashed mercilessly across the screenplay. Anand’s climax is easily the textbook for screenplay writing, where Hrishi Da employs something as ordinary as a tape recorder and juxtaposes laughter with tears, when Anand dies. Correction: Anand maraa nahi, Anand marte nahin. Well, the same holds true for the film.
Chupke Chupke perfected the grammar of filmmaking
When it comes to Hrishikesh Mukherjee films, Amitabh Bachchan no longer remains an angry young man, Dharmendra ceases to come across as the nostril-flaring garam-dharam, Sharmila Tagore comes across as a girl-next-door, minus the Kashmir Ki Kali hairstyle. We are yet to find a Hrishikesh Mukherjee in our times. One hopes we cure ourselves from this ‘zukaam’ of today’s slapstick and double entendre laced dialogues. Speaking of dialogues, without which you can never converse on Chupke Chupke, have been written by Gulzar.
Masoom simplifies the complexities of human relationships
They say the first twenty minutes of any film decide whether it is a good film or bad one. Masoom, with all its sheer brilliance, engages you right in its opening scene, where a family picture topples over by a pup – A visual metaphor that sets the tone for the scenes to transpire. On being asked about its remake, Naseeruddin Shah had stated in an interview: “In this modern world of emails and mobile phones, how is it possible that a child grew up to the age of 10, and his father has no clue of his existence? Masoom cannot be made better. I don’t think anybody should try remaking it.”
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro: Thoda haso, thoda socho!
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, at best, is a time-travelling machine, which transports one to the good ol’ days of Doordarshan. Whether you read between the lines or leave your brains behind, watching ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro’ will nevertheless make you laugh and think in the same breath. Perhaps D’Mello would have put it as: Thoda haso, thoda socho…
Andaz Apna Apna is a Prem that will always remain Amar
Any nineties kid worth his VCR salt will swear by this cult of a film which had to be booked in advance at the video cassette library for renting. Andaz Apna Apna is replete with inside industry references like “Sholay iske baap ne likhi thi” hinted at Salim Khan being one of the writers of Sholay along with Javed Akhtar, “Wah wah productions”, “Mogambo ka bhatijaa Gogo” referring to the iconic villain Mogambo from ‘Mr. India’, to the Ajit dialogues done to perfection by his son Shehzad Khan playing the role of the confident and relaxed Bhalla.
Satya: A true game-changer of gangster noirs
For me, Ram Gopal Varma’s ‘Satya’ is about the scene where JD Chakravarthy and Manoj Bajpayee are standing facing seaward and we can only see their silhouettes. It reminds of the opening of Ayn Rand’s book, ‘The Fountainhead’, where the character of Howard Roark is introduced. Anurag Kashyap, who was one of the writers of ‘Satya’, stated in one of his interviews: “Ramu was making Daud…there was a new actor he was working with. It was Manoj Bajpayee. Ramu fell in love with the shot, he fell in love with the actor and his intensity. He wanted to put Howard Roark in the underworld.”
See you folks soon and thanks to friends like Chandrakant Golani for his relentless debate on Gulzar’s films, Ruturaj Mistry’s messages of ‘Where is my weekly dose?’, my wife Shalini Somanath Gowda for religiously proofreading the articles and suggesting films every week, the Asst. Editor, Darshana Shukul for patiently bearing with my ‘revised versions’ after sending the articles, and most importantly, readers like you, who have been patient with my frequent WhatsApp messages, sharing the scanned images of this column with the excitement of a kid. Signing off for now. This is just an interval. Picture abhi baaki hai…