Movies to Plan Your Next Vacation Destination

July 2, 2015 Leave a comment

Movies are known to transport us into a different world. At times into a dream world, in the company of ones we love. To places where we would rather spend our time than within the confines of our homes.

With summer already here, it is time to start planning vacations….or at least dreaming of being in cities or countries we’ve seen in movies over the years but never actually had a chance to visit. To help you with the selection process, I am sharing a list of my favorite places (in no particular order) I have been introduced to, thanks to the wonderful world of movies. See if there are any that you either recognize or are already on your “to-visit” list. (Most of these films are either available on paid streaming websites like Netflix or on YouTube, free of cost.)

A superlative, atmospheric thriller starring George Clooney that captures the ethereal beauty of Castel del Monte in its full bloom. The cobble streets, winding roads, local cafes and lush, surrounding mountains…all creating images worth experiencing through your own eyes.

 

There is hardly an avid moviegoer who is not familiar with Stieg Larson’s Millennium Trilogy and the three films based on them (“The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo”, “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Stirred the Hornet’s Nest”). The twists and turns in the story of Lisbeth Salander are clap-worthy. However, it is the beauty of both rural and urban Sweden that truly captures your attention. Definitely a place I would like to visit someday.

 

All Pedro Almodovar directed-films bear his unmistakable stamp of an emotionally-charged mysterious plots, madcap characters, vibrant colors splashed all over the screen and a glimpse into Spain like no other director has done before. While both “Volver” and “Broken Embraces” are vintage Almodovar in terms of their plot, it is the exquisite beauty of Spain that remains with you long after the films are over.

 

 

Aloha! George Clooney shows up yet again on this list…this time as a concerned father and a jealous/doting husband, looking to find out more about his dying wife’s lover. All in the backdrop of beautiful Hawaii, in an equally surreal film directed by magical filmmaker, Alexander Payne.

 

One of the most colorful movies I have seen that celebrates love and beauty through the eyes of the wonderful Audrey Tatou. It is an absolute joy watching Tatou’s character, Amelie, spreading happiness into the lives of people around her. The scene-stealer, however, is the city of Paris, captured throughout the film with just the right amount of romance and passion.

 

Over the years, countless films have captured the beauty of New York, but never before has the Big Apple looked more romantic and dreamy in Black & White than in Frances Ha, an enchanting little indie about a NY girl who aims to fulfill her dreams while apprenticing for a dance company. An absolute must-watch!

 

Ah….one can smell the local food, the traditional Indian culture and the playful banter representative of the twin Indian cities of Lucknow and Kanpur throughout this gem of a film. Repeated viewings over the years have not put even a dent on my resolve to watch it yet again…and again…and again.

 

Yet another moody thriller like The American, in which a party of law enforcement officials drive through rural inland villages of Turkey with a convicted murderer. Their conversations are lengthy and philosophical…but nothing can surpass the beauty of Turkey that is captured by the film, as the posse drives from one small town to another, searching for the buried dead bodies of the murder victims.

 

Arguably, my favorite film in Richard Linklater’s “BEFORE” series and the most beautiful-looking amongst all three films (“Before Sunrise”, “Before Sunset”, “Before Midnight”). At times, its hard to concentrate on the delightful conversations Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy keep indulging in, without paying attention to those jaw-dropping exotic locales of Greece in the background.

 

An emotional powerhouse of a film that lands the main characters in a moral dilemma after a rich couple realize that their only child is in fact not theirs but was swapped at birth with the son of a poor family. While the questions raised by the film are worthy of long ponderous discussions, the only relief provided from the heavy-handed proceedings is via the amazing shots of Tokyo that instantly capture the imagination.

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Categories: Hollywood

The Best Music of 2014

December 31, 2014 Leave a comment

While melody and lyrics once again lost out to the cacophonies of “Keeda” (Action Jackson), “Alcoholic” (The Shaukeens), “Tharki Chhokro” (PK) and “G-Phaad Ke” (Happy Ending. Seriously?!) churned out by Bollywood in 2014, my resolve to keep the faith in 2015 remains intact. Albeit a bit shaken…

Movie producers and directors remained committed to subjecting listeners to the endless torture of so-called “party anthems”, wrapped around rowdy, lewd and downright disgusting lyrics. Where this trend is headed for, and whether there is any end in sight, no one can say. There is, however, a glimmer of hope that we can still survive on…and this “short” list below is a celebration of the remnants of some good music that we heard in 2014.

My hope is that some of your own year-end favorites are also here, alongside any “Chaar Bottle Vodka” (Ragini MMS 2), “The Pappi Song” (Heropanti) and “Chichora Piya” (Action Jackson) that you may have on your list. 🙂

 

5.) VISHAL-SHEKHAR (Hasee Toh Phasee, Bang Bang, Happy New Year)

No one can make rocking party songs like Vishal-Shekhar and their three releases this year are a testament to their creative abilities. From “Shake It Like Shammi” from HTP to “Tu Tu Tu Meri” in BB to “India Vaale” in HNY….everything was Bang-on. But for me, the best VS-song trophies went to “Manvaa Laage” from HNY and the absolutely heart-warming “Zehnaseeb” from HTP…both of them penned by Amitabh Bhattacharya.

 

 

 

 

4.) A.R. RAHMAN (Highway, Lekar Hum Deewana Dil)

While the film sank without a trace, Lekar Hum Deewana Dil had Rahman giving us some of his best upbeat commercial music in a long time. “Khaleefa” was an amazing party track, while “Alaahda” had Amitabh Bhattacharya once again writing some wonderful lyrics.

 

Highway – the album was a soulful listen. Like all other great Rahman albums, this one also takes time to grow on you, and when it does, you can’t have enough of it. “Maahi Ve”, “Patakha Guddi” and “Tu Kuja” were beautifully penned by Irshad Kamil but the scene stealer for me was “Kahaan Ho Tum”, a haunting melody that reminded me of “Tum Ko” from Rockstar.

 

 

 

3.) AMIT TRIVEDI (Queen)

Kangana Ranaut may have been the Queen in the film but the title of the King belonged to music director Amit Trivedi. Kudos to Vikas Bahl, the director, who masterfully juxtaposed Trivedi’s songs, written beautifully by Anvita Dutt, onto the Queen’s life situations. The best song in the film for me was “Kinare” signifying the liberation of Kangna’s character from the shackles of societal pressures.

 

 

 

2.) VISHAL BHARDWAJ (Haider, Dedh Ishqiya)

While Gulzar Saab and Vishal Bhardwaj had fun with both poetry as well as playful lyrics in Dedh Ishqiya, it was their Haider that had me mesmerized for weeks. I was not impressed with the songs initially and found them too metaphorical, but upon seeing the film (which incidentally ranks as my favorite film of 2014), the entire album stuck with me for a long time. Every song captured the emotions of the characters just perfectly but the one that remains etched in my heart till date is Vishal’s own rendition of “Jhelum”. Superb!!

 

 

1.) SHANKAR-EHSAAN-LOY (2 States, Kill/Dil)

And finally, the masters of music, in my humble opinion! SEL gave us two of the best albums of the year and every song deserves multiple listening. Whether it was with the inimitable Amitabh Bhattacharya who wrote for 2 States or Gulzar Saab who amazed us with his ultra-witty Kill/Dil (coming right off the heels of the soulful Haider), SEL knew how to make popular, catchy and memorable music. “Mast Magan” is my favorite song from 2 States while “Bol Beliya” is the best pick from Kill/Dil.

 

 

 

Categories: Bollywood, Movies

The Best Opening Credits Songs of Bollywood

March 16, 2014 Leave a comment

Opening credit songs in Bollywood have been known to set the tone for a film. While some of them act as the film’s “curtain-raiser”, others are nothing short of a lasting memory that stays with the audience long after the film has ended. If the opening song hits its mark, the expectations from the rest of the movie skyrocket as well. And as has been the case most of the times in the past, films with good opening credit songs have not disappointed the audience either.

For a long time, I have harbored a desire to create a list of such memorable songs…songs that we will almost never see playing again on any TV Channel (because they run with the credits of the film being displayed on screen), and yet are amongst the ones that still have us humming when they are played on radio…or on our portable music players.

I make an attempt here today by listing my personal Top 15 Favorite Opening Credit Songs. Although I have rated them from 15 through 1, it is hard to actually pick one over the other. They are all equally dear to me and I’m sure to some of you as well. Of course there would also be a lot that I missed and I look forward to hearing from you about the ones that may not be on my list…but are definitely on yours.

PS: Don’t forget to click on the links to view and enjoy the songs in YouTube.

15.) HAHK – Hum Aapke Hain Koun

This one started it all…the lead characters looking straight at the audience and doing nothing but singing a melody about love as the credits roll. The trend was subsequently adopted by other filmmakers, in different variations, like “Yes Boss” and “Dil To Paagal Hai”.

Link: http://youtu.be/QyJoeduGpJI

 

14.) MAUSAM – Dil Dhoondta Hai

A soul-stirring opening song for a brilliant film by Gulzar Saab. Even though I like both versions of the song, I find this one particularly melancholic and far-reaching in its overall impact.

Link: http://youtu.be/SWHvxc9bTPA

 

13.) DHOOM 2 – Dhoom Machaale

The “Greek God” hero of Bollywood, Hrithik Roshan, has never looked more dashing and danced on a more electrifying song than this!! Wonderful start to an equally entertaining film.

Link: http://youtu.be/19yQgZXX0q8

 

12.) KHATTA MEETHA – Yeh Jeena Hai

One of the best made bitter-sweet comedies of Bollywood, the opening credit song introduces us to the various characters of the two primary families featured in the film. Two families who unite to brave the storms of life together. Composed by an unforgettable Rajesh Roshan.

Link: http://youtu.be/jZ6I2LCOnic

 

11.) KARZ – Paise Ye Paisa

Any list of memorable reincarnation films would not be complete without a mention of Karz. And the lyrics of the songs aptly capture a common man’s view on money. Relevant and catchy…even today.

Link: http://youtu.be/ezbL7ZipsxY

 

10.) KHUDDAR – Oonche Neeche Raaste

A beautifully penned song, composed by the inimitable Rajesh Roshan once again. This one shows an elder brother’s love for his siblings, in one of Amitabh Bachchan-Sanjeev Kumar’s most underrated films.

Link: http://youtu.be/eHMlVZ1UVxk

 


9.) VIDHAATA – Haathon Ki Chand Lakeeron Ka

Two legends sharing the screen space for a song with deep rooted meaning. This song lays the ground for the events that unfold in an excellently crafted film by Subhash Ghai.

Link: http://youtu.be/YDAetrJLabE

 

8.) SHAAN – Doston Se Pyaar Kiya

Ah…a classic homage to the James Bond Theme songs, composed by Pancham and sung with equal panache by none other than the terrific Usha Uthup.

Link: http://youtu.be/FQd_JSFOZN8

 

7.) GUIDE – Wahan Kaun Hai Tera

Aptly capturing the ethos of a tormented man, this was Dev Saab and SD Burman at their best for a movie of an RK Narayan novel that is never enough when seen just once.

Link: http://youtu.be/7KR67xAVj5U

 

6.) VEER-ZAARA  – Kyun Hawaa Aaj

This was a coup of sorts. Sonu Nigam singing a beautiful melody penned by Javed Akhtar in the 2000s, composed by the late Madan Mohan decades ago and featuring a vintage Shah Rukh Khan in Switzerland for a Yash Chopra’s romance. And just when you thought the goings were getting too romantic, Yashji ends the song with the sound of a bullet!!

Link: http://youtu.be/RACmSDJt_uk

 

5.)  BASERAA – Tumhein Chhod Ke

A wonderfully written (Gulzar) and an equally beautifully composed (RD Burman) opening song from one of the most emotional films of the eighties. Ultra-hummable to this very day.

Link: http://youtu.be/l2ed5Cs1H5c

 

4.) GOL MAAL – Gol Maal Hai Bhai Sab

This would hardly be a Bollywood fan who wouldn’t have heard this song from Hrishida’s classic comedy. Gulzar Saab and Pancham created magic with a song whose lyrics are a GolMaal in themselves.

Link: http://youtu.be/RZGyKoRwpLA

 

3.) ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA – Dil Dhadakne Do

Ah…the ultimate guys flick with a kick-a^%$ song that sets things into motion. A rock-infused ditty composed with gusto by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, this one was an instant hit with me…and remains so to this date. “Kyun Hai Koi Aab Dabi…Shola Jo Bhadke Bhadakne Do”.

Link: http://youtu.be/5An4-FqNQ0E

 

2.) DES PARDES – Yeh Des Pardes

Rajesh Roshan once again composes a song written with such clarity and heartfelt emotions by Amit Khanna that it brings a lump to my throat every time I hear it. The song describes feelings all of us immigrants in a “Pardes” go through and Dev Saab captures them through striking visuals of Indian Immigrants in London, as part of the opening song for one of the last great films that he made.

Link: http://youtu.be/HlLO5zP-PhU 

 

1.) TRISHUL – Aap Ki Mehki Hui

Hands down my personal favorite opening credit song from one of the most powerful films made in Bollywood. This one may come as a surprise to a lot but the ethereal lyrics from Sahir, the seamless composition from Khayyam and the effortless singing by Yesudas and Lata Mangeshkar makes me fall in love again and again. Love in its purest form indeed from the King of Romance, Yash Chopra.

Link: http://youtu.be/QHtU_jYkQks

Categories: Bollywood, Movies

My Unforgettable Movie Moments of 2013

January 5, 2014 Leave a comment

With everyone coming up with their own best and worst lists of Top 10 movies and soundtrack, I decided to forgo doing the same for myself and instead list the most unforgettable moments that I experienced at the movies back in the year that was 2013. Surprisingly it did not take me long to come up with a few, but as I said earlier, this is not another “Top Ten” list. So I narrowed them down to two – one each for Hollywood and Bollywood.

It was an planned decision on my side. Right after Richard Linklater’sBEFORE MIDNIGHT” opened earlier in the year to positive reviews, I had made up my mind to watch all the three films together – back to back – especially given the fact that I had never before been exposed to the world of Jesse and Celine. So I rented “BEFORE SUNRISE”, “BEFORE SUNSET” and “BEFORE MIDNIGHT” and sat down to watch how these two characters, as well as the actors portraying them, had grown over the past 18 years…both on screen as well as off-screen.

For those of you who may not know, all three films were released with a gap of nine years between each one. Sunrise was released in 1995, Sunset in 2004 and Midnight in 2013. All through these years, the two lead characters – Jesse and Celine – played passionately by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, have spent time together, first in Vienna, then in Paris and finally in Greece in the latest installment of the trilogy. And what a fantastic journey this must have been for them, along with their fearless leader….their wonderful director, Richard Linklater.

It is an amazing experience watching the characters talk about their lives, their opinions, their fears, their inhibitions, their desires and their failures throughout these three films. And what’s even more fascinating is the fact the last two films were written together by Linklater, Hawke and Delpy. So they not only represent the metamorphosis of the characters from young kids to a couple in love but, also in a way represent the change over the years in thoughts, views and likes/dislikes of the actors who originally developed these characters and have been brave enough to smartly carry them forward from the nineties through the millennium into the world of Skype and Internet chatting.

Watching the “Before” trilogy back-to-back was my single favorite moment (albeit a fairly “long” moment that lasts about a combined running time of 5 hours :-)) of 2013 spent watching any Hollywood film. I will refrain from giving away anything more related to the plot, for those of you who may wish to enjoy these films at some time in the future. However, all I can hope and pray is that, nine years from now, when both Jesse and Celine are in their fifties (as will be most of us…), and the year is 2022, I wish to check on both of them, once more time, through the same insightful eyes of Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.

I saw the film again this past evening…for the third time. And with every subsequent viewing, my belief in this Bollywood film has strengthened. Vikramaditya Motwane’sLOOTERA” is simply brilliant and I can’t get enough of it!! Even though it did not end up on top of any film critic’s 2013 list (due to an uncanny allegiance the reviewers’ seemed to have pledged towards “THE LUNCHBOX” and “SHIP OF THESEUS”…), it did have a place in almost all of them. To turn a beloved short story into something so cinematically beautiful and poignant requires effort. And Motwane’s efforts are visible in every single frame of the film. This was indeed a true labor of love.

The acting was superlative. Right from the supporting cast to the lead pair, you could see the hard work everyone seemed to have put in into making this click. And how!! The love, pain and anguish of the lead characters was so delicately captured by both Ranveer Singh and Sonakshi Sinha that I laughed, cried and sympathized with them at every single point.

The music was ethereal. Right from “Manmarziyaan” and “Shikaayatein” to the heavenly “Ankahi”, “Sanwaar Loon” and “Zinda”…every song and its lyrics were dripping with melody and soul. The lyricist-music director duo of Amitabh Bhattacharya-Amit Trivedi, has rarely made any mistakes in the past. But this one was a true masterpiece from the pair. Haunting and mesmerizing.

As I watched the film again this evening, I could see the flawless camerawork, the lilting background score and the impeccable costumes and set designs on display throughout. Here was a film that should be mandatory viewing for anyone who wishes to see how far Bollywood has come over the years. Every minute of “LOOTERA” was a delight and the film unquestionably represents the other “long” unforgettable moment that I will cherish from 2013 – masterful, delightful and worthy of uninterrupted applauses.

I end this post with a line from the song “Zinda” from LOOTERA…which aptly sums up my feelings as I leave behind 2013 and move into 2014:

            “Kuchh Maangna Baaki Nahin…Jitna Mila Kaafi Hai”

            (There is nothing more left to desire…I am content with whatever I got)

Categories: Bollywood, Hollywood, Movies

A Common Man’s Actor…Forever

December 28, 2013 Leave a comment

I sat next to him earlier this year during the New York Indian Film Festival premiere of “Shahid”. And I had goose bumps galore throughout the screening…both from the movie as well as from sitting so close to an actor I had literally grown-up laughing with, and admiring. Farooque Sheikh is no longer with us but he has left us with a body of work so rich, so diverse, so emotional and so entertaining that his would truly be a tough act to follow.

My early memories of laughing at the movies are not from “Gol Maal”, “Chupke Chupke” or “Padosan”. I was perhaps too young at that the time of their release to even fathom more than half the jokes (unless, of course, they happened to be slapstick). The first time I remember laughing heartily was at a movie with actors I had never seen before…from a director I never knew. It was called “Chashme Buddoor” and I ended up seeing it not just once but three times in the theatre!! I was completely blown away by this so-called hero named Farooque Sheikh (I still can’t spell his first name correctly…) who effortlessly made us laugh, without resorting to any cheap gimmicks.

And he was no more than any common man, in terms of his looks…your sweet guy next door that you run into every morning and to whom you wave a nonchalant hello. Within a span of two years, he delivered comedic gems that almost all genuine movie lovers have seen and still remember – starting with “Kisise Na Kehna” and “Ab Aayega Mazaa” through “Katha” and “Peecha Karo” to the brilliant “Rang Birangi”.

However, in between those memorable comedies, Farooque Sheikh made sure that his audience does not stereotype him into a particular category of roles. And he therefore also starred in serious gems like “Saath Saath”, “Bazaar”, “Ek Pal”, “Umrao Jaan”, “Lorie”, “Faasle” and “Maya Memsaab”, showcasing his more sensitive side as an actor.

Like any other actor of his era of “parallel cinema” (e.g. Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Smita Patil, Pankaj Kapur), he also slid into that “depressing” phase of his career  where he had to star in utterly forgettable roles of side characters in even more forgettable films. But Farooque Sheikh kept his passion alive through theatre and TV, where he starred in some fabulous TV shows like “Kahkashan”, “Jai Mantriji” and that fantastic talk show called “Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai”.

Of course, one has to mention his collaboration with the inimitable Deepti Naval, when you talk about Farooque Sheikh and his movies. Right from “Chashme Buddoor”, “Saath Saath” and “Katha” through “Kisise Na Kehna” and “Rang Birangi” to this year’s “Listen…Amaya”….here was a true movie couple that was just meant to be seen with one another. The unmatched repertoire of films these two gave us would still count as enough fodder for any student of Indian cinema who wishes to see how amazing some of our actors were…and still are.

During recent years, some of us may not even remember….but Farooque Sheikh made the audience misty-eyed earlier in this year as Ranbir Kapoor’s doting and utterly lovable father in “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani”, where he pretty much stole every single scene he was in, with Kapoor Jr. And who can forget that unusual villainous turn he took in last year’s Dibakar Banerjee-helmed “Shanghai” as a corrupt politician? Only an actor of his caliber could carry out such diverse roles with such panache.

I have always perceived Farooque Sheikh as a kind-hearted soul and a gentleman’s actor…someone who could have done so much more…but was probably content with what he got and with what he did. He was a true common man’s actor…second to perhaps only Amol Palekar…both of whom will always remain a sheer joy to watch onscreen….now and forever.

As I remember my favorite songs from his films – “Seene Mein Jalan” (GAMAN), “Aa Jaa Re” (NOORIE), “Pyaar Mujhse Jo” / “Yeh Tera Ghar Yeh Mera Ghar” / “Tumko Dekha To” (SAATH SAATH), “Phir Chhidi Raat” / “Karoge Yaad To” (BAZAAR), “Zindagi Jab Bhi Teri Bazm Mein” (UMRAO JAAN) and “Ek Haseen Nigah Ka” (MAYA MEMSAAB) – a bittersweet feeling fills my heart. I have memories attached to each and every one of them and the emotions just come rushing in.

Farooque Sheikh’s departure is not just a loss for the film industry but also for the likes of myself who have grown up watching these true actors of the “parallel cinema” generation…a generation that we were all fortunate to have been exposed to, during our adolescent years. This “KATHA” may be over but I salute Farooque Sheikh for his “CHASHME BUDDOOR” performances and for allowing us all to remain “SAATH SAATH” throughout his short journey. We will forever miss him and this void will take a long, long time to fill…if at all. RIP Farooque Saab.

Categories: Bollywood, Movies

My Early Memories of Indian Cinema…

May 11, 2013 2 comments

In 2013, we are all celebrating 100 years of Bollywood Cinema. With everyone making their own favorites’ lists and directors / actors citing their most-loved films from the past decades, I decided to give it a shot myself. This is obviously no easy feat, given the fact that we have seen literally hundreds of movies, over the years. And picking favorites amongst those that have made us laugh, cry, cringe, scream and even left us baffled, is a Herculean task.

So this list is limited to my early memories of Bollywood. To the times when “We Were Young”. Or as Silk would say, “To the years when we watched movies for nothing else but Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment”. 🙂 These may not be classics and a lot will probably have you scratching your heads. But these are my personal memories …ones that remain etched in my mind…despite the absence of Gabbar or Jai and Veeru.

Victoria No. 203: My earliest memories of watching this film on Doordarshan are those of Pran and Ashok Kumar singing “Do Bechaare Bina Sahaare” and their frantic search for diamonds. With the bad guys chasing them all over town. What great fun this was!!

Mausam: The first true “thinking man’s” movie I saw which dealt with relations in their most complex form. Since I was young, I didn’t fully understand the context of the film at that time, but the anguish reflected on Sanjeev Kumar’s face when dealing with a younger Sharmila Tagore still lives on in my heart.

Des Pardes: Here was a truly haunting film from Dev Saab who not only picked a relevant topic of illegal immigration but also brought it to the big screen in a fairly entertaining fashion. And “App Kahein Aur Hum Na Aaye” remains hummable as ever. 

The Great Gambler: I remember watching this 100% escapist flick with my cousins, and with every single one of us singing “Pehle Pehle Pyaar Ki Mulaqaatein” alongside Neetu Singh and Amitabh. What a hoot this much underrated film from Shakti Samanta was!! 

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron: The absolute comedy classic of Bollywood, with a murder, the Mahabharata and a climactic heartbreak thrown into the mix. What more can one ask for? This one is probably on everybody’s list. Bravo! 

Mirch Masala: How can someone NOT like the “art films” if you start off your journey with Ketan Mehta’s “Mirch Masala”. The memory of Deepti Naval, Smita Patil and their friends hurling those hundreds of “mirch” at Naseer Saab in this cracker-pot of a movie made me fall in love with non-mainstream cinema. And the bonding has just grown stronger over the years… 

Chashme Buddoor: The original buddy comedy that I saw in the theatres multiple times. I loved watching Vinod Nagpal sing “Kahan Se Aaye Badaraa”. Seeing both Rakesh Bedi and Vinod Nagpal again a few years later on TV in “Yeh jo Hai Zindagi” and “Hum Log” turned me into a TV junkie as well. 

Naseeb: The first film where I really have no count of how many times I have seen it over the years. A multi-starrer of the truest kind from Manmohan Desai, with just the right quantity of action, romance, emotion and music…the staple diet of any Bollywood film. And did I mention action? Who can forget that image of Bombay’s “Sea Rock Hotel” on fire? Delicious fun… 

Swayamvar: This one may surprise a lot but here was a genuinely sweet and emotional family movie with Sanjeev Kumar and Shashi Kapoor playing brothers. I still remember the great Sanjeev Kumar’s antics, playing a servant in disguise, and Shashi Kapoor singing that unbelievably romantic “Mujhe Chhoo Rahi Hain Teri Garam Saansein” with Moushumi Chatterjee. A must see! 

Pati Patni Aur Woh / Rang Birangi: I grasped the true comedy in Pati Patni aur Woh years after watching it, only when I saw its equally brilliant inspiration…Hrishida’s Rang Birangi. Since both of them touched upon the same guilty, sinful act that most men think of doing, I am listing these two hilarious films together. Watch them in the same order and you are bound to say “Fultoo Paisa Vasool”. 

Vijeta: Never before had I seen such a poignant yet brave display of love and emotions, both within the family, as well as for the country. Govind Nihalani’s film, made for Shashi Kapoor’s Film Valas company, remains one of the truly great films on the Indian Air Force…one that lives upto its name as a real “vijeta (winner)”. 

Kaamchor: What an entertaining and yet meaningful film Rakesh Roshan produced. Here is another one where I remember pretty much every scene of the film, having watched it multiple times and having laughed and cried with Rakesh’s lovable yet self-destructive character. Oh…and its true…Rajesh Roshan does always save his best music for his brother’s films. 

Vidhaata: Subhash Ghai’s depiction of the world of crime, as seen through the eyes of three movie legends – Dilip Saab, Shammi Kapoor and Sanjeev Kumar, remains one of my personal favorites. And that lilting score by Kalyanji-Anandji, from “Haathon Ki Chand Lakeeron Ka” to “Saat Saheliyaan” and from “Udi Baba” to “Pyaar Ka Imtihaan” remains amongst their best compositions. 

Saagar: Ramesh Sippy directing Rishi-Dimple-Kamal Haasan. And Javed Akhtar writing songs for RD Burman. Enough said. This was the first time when it felt I was falling in love. What a great film!! 

Satyamev Jayate: Another outlier for a lot of folks….but for some reason, I remember Satyamev Jayate as one of the grittiest performances given by Vinod Khanna. This was a raw crime thriller and amongst the last good movies made by Raj Sippy. See it for yourself… 

Naam: Name one person who didn’t cry with Sanjay Dutt as Pankaj Udhas sang “Chitthi Aayee Hai”. But it was Kumar Gaurav’s heartbreaking performance as Sanju’s brother that I remember this movie for…which is a shame, because it never did for Gaurav’s career what the film did for Sanju. This was one of Mahesh Bhatt’s most sensitive films that continues to tug at our hearts to this very day. 

Dacait: Grim, realistic, gritty and immensely powerful. Rahul Rawail’s underrated “Dacait” and its haunting images of the Chambal Ravines are still etched in my mind. Sure, there was nothing new in the story, but Rawail’s sensitive direction, along with awesome performances from Sunny Deol, Meenakshi Sheshadri and that chameleon called Paresh Rawal makes this as a one of the lesser known films that I still have not forgotten over the years. 

Tezaab: OMG!! Forget “Ek Do Teen”….Munna and Mohini’s complex love story was an overall path-breaking film, in my opinion. I saw it with my parents…I saw it with my friends. Hell…I even saw it alone. The movie’s tagline read “A Violent Love Story”. Oh yeah!! This one deserves a place in everybody’s movie collection… 

Tridev: Rajiv Rai’s Tridev should also be counted as a “must-have” on DVD for all Bollywood fans. This one, in my opinion, is amongst the most entertaining, clean, action-packed, multi-starrer, masala entertainer that Bollywood has ever produced. There was not a single moment in the entire film where the pace slackened and with a terrific soundtrack and Sangeeta Bijlani dancing to “Gali Gali Mein”, this was nothing but crazy fun. 

Main Azaad Hoon: The movie with which Amitabh Bachchan redeemed himself after those debacles of “Toofan”, “Jaadugar”, etc. I still have not seen “Meet John Doe” which inspired this film, but here was a fine film from Tinnu Anand where Amitabh did not fight or pine for his mother or dance with a girl. And yet, he wins millions of hearts. A sensitive performance and a film that was made “Jee Jaan Se”… 

Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak / Maine Pyar Kiya: QSQT and MPK changed the entire way I looked at love (at least at that time :-)) and I had to watch these films again and again, just to make sure that I don’t forget them. Such was their magnetic pull, with simple (and yes…clichéd) story lines and terrific music. Ah…the melodies of “Gazab Ka Hai Din” and “Tum Ladki Ho” seemed to have filled a huge void in my song collection that I used to own during those “Wonder Years”. 

Chandni: OK…so I couldn’t figure why I liked this simple uncomplicated film from Yash Chopra. But I sure as hell loved it. And it took me a few years to realize that it was the senior trio (Rishi-Sridevi-Vinod) and Yash Uncle’s mature treatment which has attracted me towards Chandni time and again, over the years. 

Lamhe: I was completely stunned when I walked out of the theatre after watching “Lamhe”. For two days, I did not discuss the film with anyone because of fear. Fear of getting ridiculed at, if I said that the movie was the best thing I had seen in years. Fear that people might think that I was too young to understand a theme as mature as this. Fear that, while I thought the movie was amongst the best I had seen in years, I may end up being an outlier myself. Such was the power of “Lamhe”. 

Saathi: Mahesh Bhatt made actors out of people like Mohsin Khan and Aditya Panscholi in this lesser-seen crime saga of two friends. I still remember it for the camaraderie between the two lead actors, Panscholi’s act as a drug addict, the gripping story and for that soulful song “Zindagi Ki Talaash Mein Hum”. Another must watch for Bhatt fans. 

Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander: And finally JJWS. Eveyrone who saw the film talked about “Pehla Nasha”, Pooja Bedi and the cycle race. But for me, JJWS was the film which introduced me to the wonderful world of Jatin-Lalit’s music and to “Rooth Ke Humse Kabhi”…that brilliant song which brings tears in my eyes to this very day. 

So there we have it….my list ends at the time when I started watching films more closely and became an even bigger fan of cinema, in general. I’m sure that we all have our own special memories of films we saw as kids / adolescents. That is indeed the power of movies. And if its Bollywood…then it has to be a razzle-dazzle of spectacular moments, lilting melodies and larger-than-life images that continue to enthrall us with something new every Friday.

Categories: Bollywood

My Top 10 Hindi Songs of 2012

January 6, 2013 1 comment

In a year where we didn’t see too many soundtracks that had ALL songs with repeat listening value, here is my list of at least the Top 10 Songs of 2012.

10.) Jhallah Wallah – ISHAQZAADE
Shreya Ghoshal captures the naughtiness of Chand Baby’s character and Kausar Munir’s lyrics with just the right notes and mischieviousness.

9.) Yaariyan – COCKTAIL
The best and most poignant song written by Irshad Kamil for an overall high-quality soundtrack from Pritam. The quality of the film itself, however, was a completely different story…

8.) O Saiyyan – AGNEEPATH
Amitabh Bhattacharya pens a wonderful song that was not part of the original “Agneepath“. Roop Kumar Rathod sings it with his soft, magical voice, celebrating both the anguish and the joy Priyanka Chopra’s character feels upon being with Hrithik Roshan.

7.) Radha – STUDENT OF THE YEAR
SOTY was a young, upbeat soundtrack from Vishal-Shekhar/KJo. And “Radha” led the pack, with Udit Narayan being the best part in an excellent party song of the year.

6.) Phir Le Aaya Dil (Redux) – BARFI
Pritam composing yet again and giving us an immensely listenable soundtrack. And Shafqat Amanat Ali’s rendition was the best amongst the three different versions of the same song on the album.

5.) Jiya Laage Na – TALAASH
The film was a huge disappointment. But the soundtrack by Ram Sampath was a killer. “Jiya Laage Na” was a beautiful amalgamation of classical and modern beats, giving it the haunting feeling it rightfully derserved.

4.) Tera Deedar Hua – JANNAT 2
Ah…an Emraan Hashmi song for a Mahesh Bhatt film. Sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan (and Javed Ali). Composed by Pritam. And the magic continued, after Gangster, Jannat, Awaarapan and Tum Mile.

3.) Keh Ke Lunga / KKL – GANGS OF WASSEYPUR
Words fall short when describing the two unconventional soundtracks for both parts of an epic film by Anuraag Kashyap. And this song was symbolic of true tone of the film, composed and sung menacingly by Sneha Khanwalkar and Amit Trivedi. I just couldn’t get enough of it…

2.) Raabta (Night in Motel) – AGENT VINOD
Khoya Tha Samundaron Mein…Tanha Safina Mera…Saahilon Pe Laaya Hai Tu…Jaane Kis Tarah Leke“. Magical lyrics from Amitabh Bhattacharya once again. Amongst the four different versions of the song, Pritam scored extremely high points with this one, on a pretty decent soundtrack for an otherwise lousy film by Saif Ali Khan.

1.) Tore Bina – KAHAANI
I continue to play this one on my iPod. And its been over a year since it first came out!! Such was the sheer emotional grasp that Vishal-Shekhar’s music, Anvita Dutt’s lyrics and Sukhvinder Singh’s singing had on me. I still get goosebumps whenever “Tore Bina” is playing. Hats off!!

Hope this list featured some of your personal favorites as well. As always, thoughts/ feedback are welcome. Here’s looking forward to a more musically strong 2013 from Bollywood. With “Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola“, “Inkaar” and “Akash Vaani“, the signs are already looking encouraging…

Categories: Bollywood