Sunday, December 13, 2009

The really tough Bollywood quiz - Answers

Here are the answers to the quiz which appeared a couple of posts ago -

1. 'Raja Harishchandra', India's first full length feature film.

2. She also suggested the names Jahangir and Vasudev.

3. V. Shantaram's 'Do Ankhen Barah Haath'.

4. 1950's 'Sangraam'.

5. Salil Chowdhury got Dilip Kumar to sing with Lata Mangeshkar in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's first film as director, 'Musafir'.


Sunday, December 06, 2009


Somewhere in Mahesh Bhatt's 1987 release, ‘Kaash’, Dimple Kapadia lets out a heart-rending scream when her teenage son passes away. She is joined in a similar show of grief by her husband played by Jackie Shroff. It was a high melodrama moment, and Bhatt pulled it off well enough, but in the end it was loud, a tad over the top and almost demanding of the audience’s sympathy. Refreshingly, for a similarly themed film, we are spared such moments in R.Balki’s ‘Paa’.

Nothing new about the story at all, but it’s the treatment that’s wonderfully disarming. Balki’s fascination with terminally ill children continues in this ‘dying-kid-reunites-the-parents’ plot and to mix things up, he uses a rare genetic condition (this is no ‘Taare Zameen Par’, so the disease is only incidental and we're spared lengthy sermonizing), Bachchan Sr. to play a small boy, sharply edited flashbacks and brilliant dialogue. And the final product is a warm, charming and heartwarming little film, almost a celluloid equivalent of the perfect cup of Darjeeling with an old friend, on a rainy day.

Amitabh Bachchan’s Auro is indeed the star of the film. With a new face, a new voice and a twinkling sense of humor, Bachchan’s Auro is as sensitive as he is precocious and the film’s writers leave all the best lines for him. And they work almost every time. Its Auro’s world that’s so enchanting, so much so that the film could have been entirely about his life, his school friends and his aspirations and worked just as well. But then they all say we need a plot.

So we have the parents Abhishek Bachchan and Vidya Balan, then both students, who find themselves at crossroads in their relationship, when they realize that they have a kid on the way. However, papa wants to be a cool politician and suggests abortion. Mama predictably tells papa not to preach and exits stage left from his life, saying, ‘I’m keeping my baby.’ Baby grows up to be Auro, and accidentally meets his father at a school function, thereby unwittingly paving the way for his long estranged parents to reunite. Weirdly enough, for a film advertised as a father son story, it’s actually the boy’s relationship with the ladies in his house, his mother and his grandmother that are more endearing to watch. Bachchan shares crackling chemistry with both Balan and Naag, as well as with the child actor who plays his best friend Vishnu.

But this isn't a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination. Abhishek Bachchan’s political machinations are distracting after a point and screen time devoted to his battle with the media is wholly unnecessary. An uneven Paresh Rawal, as Auro’s grandfather doesn’t add anything to the proceedings apart from a couple of funny one-liners. Maestro Ilaiyaraaja’s music, while soothing, could have been used to make more of an impact, the violin laden background score notwithstanding.

Cheerful, poignant, sensitive and intelligent, ‘Paa’ is great fun.




The really tough Bollywood quiz

Here is something for movie buffs to chew on -

1. The premiere of which famous Indian film was preceded by a novelty programme which included Miss Irene Del Mar performing a duet and dance movement, a comical sketch by the McClements, a juggler called Alexander the Wonderful Foot Juggler and some comic shorts advertised as Tip Top Comics?

2. When Devika Rani was mulling over giving Dilip Kumar his first break in 'Jwar Bhata', she made it clear that his original name of Yousef Khan would not work. So she suggested three names, one of them being Dilip Kumar. What were the other two?

3. Much before India (rightly or wrongly) took pride over 'Slumdog Millionaire' going on an award winning spree at the Golden Globes and the Oscars, which Indian film won the first Golden Globe for India?

4. Morarji Desai, then the CM of Bombay, told Ashok Kumar, "You have to do two things Mr, Ashok Kumar. First you have to withdraw your film from the cinemas and this you must do tomorrow. The second is my request to you - please play the role of an honest police officer." Desai then banned Ashok Kumar's film after its successful sixteen week run, the film's only apparent fault being the portrayal of a bad cop by the film's hero, Ashok Kumar. Which film was this?

5. Much before the fad of getting heroes like Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan to sing songs in their films, Dilip Kumar, sang his own song for which of his early films?

Answers soon.