Saturday, 29 October 2011

Cinema Cinema

Of late, I have been surfing through several blogs, my “enforced” inactivity of the last three months having left me with a copious amount of time to spare. The speciality of these blogs is that almost without exception, the bloggers of the said blogs are “huge fans” of the 1970s’ and 1980s’ mainstream Hindi cinema, and one of their favourite topics, a universal choice, is reviewing films released during that particular period [I call it ‘retro-reviewing’]. They are well-versed in Manmohan Desai and Harmesh Malhotra, know their Neetu Singhs from their Sulakshana Pandits, are extremely knowledgeable about Kanti Shah, Sapna, Shakti Kapoor, Goga Kapoor, Ranjeet, and Kader Khan, and I am almost sure throw coins at their LCD/LED TV screens when, during a DVD/Set Max/Star Gold viewing of ‘Jaani Dushman’ or ‘Dharam-Veer’ or ‘SHOLAY’ or ‘MUQADDAR KA SIKANDAR’ or ‘Disco Dancer’ or ‘Dance Dance’, the hero breaks into a jig/summersaults his way into a fighting arena cordoned by a ring of fire/hugs his long-lost brother or father/generally makes an entry, probably wearing a tight, flashy, and occasionally sequined outfit, complete with white shoes, long sideburns, and a swagger that states: “From now on, I own your entire universe, my devotees.”
As a matter of fact, the very idea of this particular article was seeded in my mind by what I read in those blogs. Anyone who knows me even a little is aware of my unabashed love for Hindi cinema, especially cinema belonging to the aforementioned decades [as well as the 1960s and 1990s]. I have a question, though: is it just me, or is the tone actually employed by all these bloggers and their followers [who are, of course, bloggers and “huge fans of…” themselves] who claim to “deify” popular Hindi cinema of the ’70s and ’80s actually one of true admiration, or is it one of amusement at something that’s [according to them] “so-good-it’s-bad”? Given the fact that the ’70s are generally considered to be the decisive decade in the history of Hindi cinema, I find this slightly disconcerting at times. Then again, maybe I am misreading it all and these people, like me, are genuine lovers of entertaining, masala films. Their enthusiasm is certainly infectious.

On the plus side, however, I must say that: [a] each of these bloggers have an awesomely impressive knowledge of commercial Hindi cinema—one that, my closest friends would say, rival mine [a bit of understandable self-aggrandising here], [b] are very good writers [considering the fact that a number of them, like our very revered GreatBong, are IIT/IIM alumni or thereabouts, this is hardly surprising], and [c] their analyses of the pluses and minuses of the films they retro-review are truly laudable.

Sample these:

·         Gunda [1998]

·         Jimmy [2008]

·         Luck [2009]

·         Ghungroo Ki Awaaz [1981]

·         Raaj Mahal [1982] and a 2nd Raaj Mahal [1982]

·         Tridev [1989]

·         Love Story [1981]

·         Hero [1984]

·         Chaalbaaz [1989]

·         TOOFAN [1989]

·         AGNEEPATH [1990]

·         100 Days [1991]

·         Amar Shakti [1978], one more Amar Shakti [1978], and a 3rd Amar Shakti [1978]

·         Khoon Khoon [1973]

·         Kahin Aar Kahin Paar [1971]

·         Saazish [1975]

12 out of the 17 films listed above are from the ’70s and ’80s…and AGNEEPATH and ‘100 Days’ were filmed, especially the former, in the end-1980s, and are thus full of the sensibilities that drove commercial Hindi films of that period.
I have found most, if not all, such blog articles genuinely well-written and humorous. I am also amazed at the humongous research that almost all the bloggers have done and the sharp-sightedness with which they have seen these films, often multiple times [in a loop?], so that they can recite-narrate entire sequences in their sleep! I find in all this a deep, familiar resonance of my own Hindi film-watching habits until, say, 2001-2002, because after that, there are barely a dozen Hindi films that I would care to look back on, a decade or two from now, with a fond smile and sit myself down to write a blog post about. I strongly believe that post-2002, with the onset and strengthening of the multiplex culture and the ever-increasing urbanization of films, Hindi cinema has lost its most potent flavor: entertainment. I’m probably generalising a bit here, but today’s films seem to be all about technology [there are heart-touching exceptions, of course, but exceptions cannot be taken as examples]. What films of that bygone era lacked in technology or realism, they more than made up for it by way of sheer grand entertainment backed by a strong emotional core and adopting a simplistic approach towards treating and delivering populist entertainment.

Monday, 24 October 2011


I'm not supposed to think of you,
I'm not supposed to care...
I'm not supposed to live my life, thinking you were there.

I'm not supposed to wonder where
You are or what you do...

I'm sorry I can't help, Dear Friend,
But I must think of you.