Monday, October 25, 2010


My last post about Kaliyug in general and Shashi Kapoor in particular got so many people talking that I realized there is little more to us than Bollywood and cricket. So who am I to question our national character? And why shouldn’t I delve a tad deeper into what keeps us entertained both on and off screen.

So here’s my take on movies, magic and mush….yup I am talking love stories here. The kinds that make you smile to yourself and reach for the popcorn. Or wipe a hurried tear and reach for more popcorn. The funny thing is no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t come up with too many recent blockbusters that relied solely on the power of mush. Heck, new age Bollywood was even making films called I Hate Luv Stories. The mush masala that kept the dream machine humming through the 70s, 80s and 90s are now moving to a different beat. Is it me or is it me? Is my generation that last one to believe in syrupy sweet scripts? Is Gen Y just too kewl to be in love anymore? After all love stories, at least the real ones, can get messy and tear-stained. And very often they do. Is the 20-something generation shying away from love in their search for laughter….hmmmm point to ponder.

Meanwhile I have put together a list of my favourite love stories on screen. This is an entirely subjective list so please feel free to agree or disagree…..

Bollywood Top 10 Love Stories
1.Silsila: Rekha, Amitabh and Jaya make up the ultimate triangle. Cracking chemistry
2.Umrao Jaan: Rekha as the heartbroken courtesan is unforgettable. Great music, great lyrics, great ambience.
3. Kabhie Kabhie: Love and longing across two generations. Amitabh, Shashi and Rakhee sizzle in this classic though the Rishi-Neetu-Naseem triangle is a bit tiresome
4.Wake Up Sid: Now this is new age romance…cool and non-conformist like Ranbir Kapoor’s mismatched socks
5.Doosra Admi: Great love triangle with Rakhee playing the older seductress with élan. A mature take on puppy love
6.Lamhe: Another film that was ahead of its time…it’s perfect Mills & Boon material. And great music too.
7.Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge:This one is so well-beloved that I just had to include it. Who can forget SRK and Kajol in the mustard fields
8.Kuch Kuch Hota Hai: DDLJ meets Sleepless in Seattle, it’s a tear-jerker right through
9.Jab We Met: Great chemistry between Kareena and Shahid…funny and heart warming
10.Mughal-e-Azam: What can I say…has Bollywood ever produced anything to surpass Dilip Kumar caressing Madhubala with a feather…

Hollywood Top 10 Love Stories
1.Casablanca: Humphrey Bogart says ‘Here’s looking at you kid’ and we all reach for our hankies
2.The English Patient: Great book, great film…perfect casting and of course Ralph Fiennes
3.Sleepless in Seattle: Soppy, predictable but never a let down..this Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan classic always tugs at the heart-strings
5.You’ve Got Mail/The Shop Around the Corner: I love both versions…the hate at first sight and love later angle never gets stale
6.Breakfast At Tiffany’s: Holly Golightly and her impossibly naïve take on love and life….purrrfect.
7.Atonement: I don’t much like Keira Knightley but she shines in this one. Though I must say, at the risk of sounding predictable, that the book is better
8.Roman Holiday: Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn and a Vespa…this is classic romance.
9.Pretty Woman: Cinderella meets Prince Charming on Sunset Boulevard and it just gets as soppy and sweet as you can imagine
10.Notting Hill: Hugh Grant tells Julia Roberts, ‘We’ll get you cleaned up and back on the streets in a non-prostitute way’…funny, quirky and very watchable

And finally something from Tollygunj….don’t snigger…it’s home to Satyajit Ray…
1.Charulata: Madhabi and opera glasses….brilliant stuff
2.Chokher Bali: Aishwariya, angst and a great story
3.Japanese Wife: A beautiful haiku, certainly Aparna Sen’s best
4.Paroma: A feminist theme with a romantic sub-theme
5.Dadar Kirti: Period piece with good acting, good music and a literary storyline

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kalyug Ka Generation Gap

One particularly humid Sunday after not long ago, I got a call from my excited mother. “They are showing Kalyug…catch it on channel XXX,” she told me. Now I am a huge fan of Shyam Benegal and an even bigger fan of the film. A taut script, the utterly gorgeous Rekha and the oh-so-handsome Shashi Kapoor greying at the temples made for perfect viewing. After the film, I called my mother back.

“Wasn’t Shashi Kapoor looking absolutely delectable in that scene when he faces off with Anant Nag in front of the entire family?” Mum asked, echoing my feelings entirely. Just then, her phone rang…it was my grandmother. Mum put her on the speaker and I could hear Dida repeat what we were saying to each other minutes ago: “Do you remember the scene where Shashi Kapoor bends himself into a foetal pose after discovering his lineage? Wasn’t he brilliant?”

There’s a reason I am invoking this story. Three generations of women drooling over the same actor is no longer unusual today. Pretty much everyone drools over John Abraham and roots for SRK’s Rahul avatars. But my Dida was in her 80s back then and my Mum in her 60s. So here were three women with two decades separating each of them bonding over the same film and actor. Generation gap? What generation gap?

You could, of course, dismiss the whole thing with the usual Bollywood-breaks-all-barriers explanation. But actually there’s a bit more to it than just that. My niece and I, with roughly two decades between us, both like the same sort of films. After Sonam Kapoor’s Emma act in Aisha, we both gave the desi Sex And The City effort a thumbs up. But for entirely different reasons. For my niece it’s a perfect chick flick; for me it’s a brilliant comedy of manners on Delhi’s class snobbery – the Lajpat nagar versus GK II and GK II versus Jorbagh oneup(wo)manship.

Like everything else, gen gaps are also changing with time. This generation – we shall call it Gen Y for lack of any other catchy phrase – don’t have the same angst that we laboured under. But that doesn’t stop them from bonding with the 80s crowd on music, movies and more. In my earlier blog I listed my 20 favourite 80s numbers. Surprise surprise!  Several of my 20-something friends (aforementioned niece included) said the numbers were among their all time favourites! Including the likes of Beat It and Final Countdown. Okay so MJ has been, ironically enough, resurrected by his death but Europe? Are we missing something here?

My best buddy says Gen Y is so clued into what’s happening around them that it often offers the 80s crowd some common grounds to share feedback. For instance, a particularly incisive article on how over-burdened French students are finding it difficult to articulate their erudition drew comments on Facebook from her son’s 20-something friend. She’s studying in France and agreed with the premise of the story, adding that despite CBSE’s brain-dead straightjacket, her school still taught her to speak her mind. And that has earned her accolades from her current teachers.

As for films, today’s superstars – unlike Shashi Kapoor’s generation – have turned ‘wide angle appeal’ into a strategy of sorts. When I interviewed Shah Rukh Khan for ET Now last year, I asked him this question. ‘My 60-year-old Mum, 40-year-old hubby and 25-year-old niece are fans’, I told him, ‘and I am sure my three-year-old baby will grow up to be a fan. How do make sure your appeal pans so many generations?’

‘I am working you Sen,’ joked SRK, “I noticed you left yourself out.’

If you’re a superstar in 2010, you can’t let any demographic get away. Kapoor’s generation had it easy, it seems. All they needed to do was grey gracefully at the temples J.