Tag Archives: timeless classic

Andha Naal

Award winning Tamil detective movie “Andha Naal” (1954) directed by S. Balachander and starring Shivaji Ganesan, Pandaribai, Javar Seetharaman among others.

Its a nice riveting movie in the style of a fast thrilled whodunit. Rajan (Shivaji Ganesan) is shot in the beginning of the movie itself and what follows is the unraveling of the plot. Who killed him, there are plenty of them with enough motives from his brother Pattabi (T.K. Balachandran), his angry wife Hema (S. Menaka), his neighbour Chinaiya Pillai (P.D. Sambandam) to his lover Ambujam (K. Sooryakala) and lastly his wife Usha (Pandaribai).

Everybody narrates their own tale of what must have transpired alongwith their conspiracy theories. The plot moves from one scene to another with dexterity. There is enough long dialogues to bore people which is typical of Tamil and Malayalam movies. The dialogue delivery of stars in Tamil films is of another worldly order. Balachander has used little bit of Hitchcockian influence but apparently he is more inspired by Akira Kurosawa to make this film. The camera work is spectacular.

Shivaji Ganesan is brilliant as usual and shows us that he was a consummate actor, though at parts he is over acting, All others have acted quite well, keeping to the script. Though the dialogues are heavy at times, one is able to understand the substantial part of the movie for somebody like me. This one is a timeless classic. imdb 7/10

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Satyajit Ray’s haunting portrayal of the Calcutta of the 70s, of the period of unemployment, naxalite movement, frustration of the youth, family expectations beautifully set out in Pratidwandi, the first of his Calcutta trilogy.

Siddhartha Choudhary (Dhritiman Chatterjee) is an unemployed youth having to abruptly terminate his medical studies due to the untimely death of his father. Being the eldest son, there are family expectations on him to step into his father’s shoes and provide for the family.

He has a sister who is employed and quite ambitious as well. She knows what it takes to get ahead in her career and is quite determined. His younger brother is into the political movement of that time and is quite sure of where his path lays. He even asks Siddhartha to join him so that he might get some job in the party office. Siddhartha declines.

Siddhartha is the idealistic son who smokes, has his first drink with a friend well past the legal drinking age and repulses when his friend takes him to a sex place. He gives interviews after interviews but at every interview there are hundreds of candidates waiting for that one job.

He accidently meets up with a girl Keya whom he has known fleetingly when she calls him home to fix up the light fuse which had broken. They develop a platonic relationship from there on. She is a single child of her father, her mother had died when she was young, but she does not like her aunt, whom her dad is proposing to marry soon. She has an adversary there.

He is offered a job as a medical representative but for that he has to leave Calcutta and go to a small town far away. He is averse to leaving his beloved city, though it has nothing to offer him. Siddhartha goes to a job interview that drags on and on in sultry conditions in a room packed with people with no fan whatsoever. He rebels against the indifference shown by employers in not providing even basic human facilities to people.

The film title’s English meaning is adversary. Siddhartha’s adversary is everything that Calcutta throws up to him – the unemployment, the frustration, angst at having to terminate his medical studies, the burden of shouldering the family responsibility, the idiotic employers who keep asking him stupid questions and not giving him a job. All characters in the movie have an adversary in some form or another. The sister at the boss’s wife who keeps doubting her integrity and for the younger brother of course, the entire egalitarian society is his adversary.

Ray opens the scene with a funeral shot in photo negative flashback and ends the movie with another funeral scene but in a normal shot. Siddhartha settles down in his rented room at the new town and starts reading the letter written by Keya when he hears the sound of the bird which he had heard in his youth with his siblings and was looking for it all along, but could not find in the busy noisy city of Calcutta. Is Calcutta his adversary, that’s the question that Ray ponders.

Dhritiman Chatterjee has done a brilliant job as the single most important protagonist in the movie. Camera work, lighting and photography are excellent and of course the masterful screenplay and direction of Ray. Timeless classic this from the master director. Proud to have watched it on his 100th birth anniversary today, 2nd May, 2021.

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Chashme Buddoor

Had a chance to revisit this delightful rip roaring comedy from Sai Paranjpe made in 1981 starring Farooque Shaikh, Ravi Baswani, Rakesh Bedi, Deepti Naval, Saeed Jaffrey among others.

They don’t make movies like these any more. This, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, Chupke Chupke, Padosan are all genres mostly forgotten by today’s film makers. This is super light hearted comedy. Three friends share a room, one is studious, the other two are mostly interested in chasing girls and seeing dramas. Two of them Omi (Rakesh Bedi) and Jomo (Ravi Baswani) spy a girl in the neighbourhood, both chase her with shameful results.

Later Neha (Deepti Naval in a beautiful role) knocks on Sidharth (Farooque Shaikh) door to sell washing powder. They fall in love unknown to both Omi and Jomo. Meanwhile spate of kidnappings is taking place in the city for which the police have no clue whatsoever. Sidharth gets a job in a firm.

Misunderstanding strikes between the friends and the man loses his love only to regain it at the end in a enthralling climax. Lovely movie to watch with family any time and many times. Superb acting by all the stars – late Farooque, Rakesh Bedi, late Ravi Baswani and Saeed Jaffrey and most beautiful acting by Deepti Naval. She is such a fine actor, Sai Paranjape has pulled a miracle out of her hat. This is a timeless classic.

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Pather Panchali

Finally managed to watch the cult classic of Satyajit Ray “Pather Panchali” his first film and the first of the Apu trilogy made in 1955. This has been digitally restored in colour and has English sub titles.

Haunting story of Sarabajaya Roy (Karuna Banerjee), story of Durga Roy (Runki Banerjee/ Uma Dasgupta) – story of their plight and suffering in a rural Bengal mileau in the 1920s. Sarabajaya’s husband Haraihar Roy (Kanu Banerjee) is a priest but has to take up odd jobs in order to survive with his family. They stay with an old aunt Indir Thakrun (Chunibala Devi) and Apu (Subir Banerjee) is yet to be born. Chunibala Devi has done a delightful role as the old tootless bent but caring aunt.

Apu gets born and there is joy in the family due to birth of a son, and subtle degradation of Durga starts from that point. Anything Apu asks for or does is doted upon anything Durga asks or does is frowned upon. They don’t go to school, girls are married of at 14 itself.

The family has to suffer the taunts of their better off neighbours but some of them do help and commiserate with their plight. Harihar gets a job in town so leaves the family with hopes, but nary a letter from him for months reduces Sarabajaya to an abject despair. Meanwhile, the money starts running out so do the grains.

Heavy rain storms bring more misery to the family as their humble abode is completely wrecked while Durga and Apu enjoy the rains, being kids, Durga later on falls sick and there is an old wizened man to give his doctor’s verdict. Apply more wet cloth as the fever raises. Devastating scene when Harihar returns home and realises his darling Durga is no more. That scene when the father gives a sari which he bought as a gift for Durga to her mother and the mother crumbling down helplessly gutted me.

The silent suffering Sarabajaya magnificently played by Karuna Banerjee is the highlight of the movie. I am surprised she did not win any acting accolades for her role in the movie. It is absolutely one of the most beautiful roles played by any lady in any film in India. She is breathtaking. She makes the movie come alive with her raw emotions of suffering, despair, happiness, pain, anguish, worry, and love.

Uma Dasgupta playing the role of teenage Durga is the next best thing to happen in the movie. With her twinkling eyes, she enraptures the audience and behind that naughtiness is an emotion of understanding, of responsibility of caring for her little brother.

Apu played by Subir Banerjee with his naughty eyes, disheveled hair, sprightly running holds a mirror to what young kids be like irrespective of the cultures they are brought up in. There is a haunting scene, when immediately after Durga’s death the young Apu, comes out of the ramshackle house, neatly dressed, takes a comb and burnishes his hair properly, looks up at the sky to see if the rain beckons, goes inside the house to pick up an umbrella, tucks it under his armpits and goes out seriously. That is the scene when boy become man in the movie.

The movies is neo realist in the sense that locations are actual villages with farms, ponds, trees, etc. Music by Ravi Shankar is haunting, while cinematography and photography are breathtaking to say the least. Satyajit Ray has run a nice tight script and being his debut film which won the National film award and also the Cannes, it is highly commendable.

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