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Showing posts from March, 2014

three films from the Mahanayak: Sabar Uparey, Bipasha, and Lal Pathar

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Three Uttam Kumar films I've seen in the last month or so, which, coincidentally, showcase the superstar's special skills at romantic nonchalance and matinee idol-ing and what can happen when he charges full-tilt into nearly histrionic ACT!ING! The first two entries are my thoughts in brief, and the last one is a slightly edited transcript of a conversation between Filmi Geek and me after we watched the third film. (The same piece is on her blog, so if you've read her entry on the Bengali Lal Pathar, you've read this one.)
Sabar Uparey (1955) I can't even remember why I watched this. Probably because it was on Youtube legally with subtitles. It's one of those films that runs exactly counter to the general concept that floats around that Bengali films are less melodramatic and more sensible than Hindi films. I tell you what: plenty of mainstream Bengali films, at least from the era I watch (1950s–1980, plus songs in the last handful of years) are bonkers in plot…

special audio post: Disco Dancer

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As part of the Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit's Swap-a-Thon this month, in which each member is doing a guest project on another's site, Carol of The Cultural Gutter volunteered to watch the dramatic, music-filled, and super-duper sparkly Bollywood classic Disco Dancer and discuss it with me. We wander across religion, philosophy, family dynamics, choreography, and Elvis, and we even propose the film's potential significance to the medical community for its hard-hitting depiction of the little-known but dangerous mental condition known as "guitar phobia."

Click on the player below to hear our conversation or right-click here to download.


Disco Dancer is on the Shemaroo youtube channel for free and with subtitles here.

Still need enticing? Maybe you can be tempted by a child hand-feeding his imprisoned mother, then growing up to vow comeuppance and insult those who mock him.
Or perhaps the debauched competitor, the intimidating henchman, or the avuncular sp…

The Lunchbox

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[Note: Sony Pictures Classics provided me with a screener DVD of this film.]

The Lunchbox has so many strengths and joys that director/writer Ritesh Batra fits together perfectly. The acting, the shifting portions of loss and discovery, the beautiful development of details in characters' physical contexts that sometimes contrast and sometimes parallel—all of these
stack on top of the other to form an impressively effective construction. They can also separate out again, each one offering something delicious to the viewer, maybe something a little unexpected, as layers are revealed and ingested.

With some effort and oversimplification, this analogy might even stretch to compare audiences who mostly consume mainstream Bollywood to Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan), 35 years in the same monotone office, who one day find themselves with something slightly different, cooked by an unknown chef who is deft and invested in quality, that immediately piques their interest and offers a differen…