Mira Nair – Salaam Bombay! (1988)

 Mira Nair   Salaam Bombay! (1988)

thgc Mira Nair   Salaam Bombay! (1988)

Plot synopsis from AMG:

Shot on-location on the streets of Bombay, Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay is the gritty tale of Krishna (Shafiq Syed, a runaway discovered by Nair), a boy kicked out of his home, and abandoned by the traveling circus he had joined. In desperation, he uses the little money he has to buy a one-way ticket to the nearest city, which turns out to be Bombay. “Come back a movie star,” the ticket agent tells him mockingly. In Bombay, Krishna joins a small community of street kids, and gets a job delivering tea. Soon, everyone in the downtrodden neighborhood knows him as “Chaipau” (tea boy). Krishna wants to save five hundred rupees, enough money to get back into his mother’s good graces and return home. Chillum (Raghubir Yadav), a streetwise young man who deals drugs for the local kingpin, Baba (Nana Patekar), takes Krishna under his wing. The sly but cruel Baba has a mistress, Rekha (Aneeta Kanwar), who works as a prostitute. She has a young daughter, Manju (Hansa Vithal), who has a crush on Krishna, but Krishna only has eyes for the girl they call “Sweet Sixteen,” a virginal teenager who is being forced into prostitution. Eventually, Baba fires the surly Chillum, and Krishna finds himself struggling to keep Chillum alive by supporting his drug habit. Many of the roles in the film are played by non-actors, including the street kids, and an actual madame who allowed Nair to film scenes in her brothel. The Harvard-educated Nair began her filmmaking career working on documentaries. Salaam Bombay, her narrative feature debut, won worldwide critical acclaim, and was awarded the Camera D’Or at Cannes.
– Josh Ralske Continue reading

I.S. Johar – Johar Mehmood in Goa (1965)

l8n732 I.S. Johar   Johar Mehmood in Goa (1965)

thgc I.S. Johar   Johar Mehmood in Goa (1965)

Synopsis

Mary and Peter fall in love with each other and are about to get married, when Peter is asked to re-join his regiment to go to war. Shortly thereafter, he is missing, believed to be dead, leaving behind a devastated Mary who subsequently gives birth to twins, and leaves them on the doorsteps of two Goan households, and becomes a nun. Twenty four years later, India is a free country, while Goa is under the rule of the Portugese, Mary is the Mother Superior; Peter, who is still alive, is the Deputy Superintendent of Police in Goa, who has been entrusted the task of apprehending two revolutionaries by the name of Ram and Rahim – none other than his very own sons. Watch what happens when duo unleash a series of attacks against the oppressive Portugese regime, including robbing the Bank of Portugal, disrobing an arrogant Superindent of Police, Alburqueue, then setting his house on fire, joining hands with dreaded bandit Daler Singh, and abducting the daughter of the Goa’s Hakim, Rita. Continue reading

Girish Karnad – Utsav aka The Festival (1984)

utsav Girish Karnad – Utsav aka The Festival (1984)

thgc Girish Karnad – Utsav aka The Festival (1984)

Playwright, actor, director, and theatre scholar Girish Karnad conceived this film as a popularly-accessible tribute to the glories of Sanskrit drama, turning one of the most beloved of classical plays, the ca. 5th century “Little Clay Cart” (ascribed to Shudraka) into a contemporary spectacle with A-list stars and music by major filmi composers. Lavish sets and costumes, jewelry and hairstyles, all inspired by classical paintings and sculptures, evoke the glories of the Gupta age, while saucy dialog in contemporary (if properly Sanskritized) Hindi recreates the playwright’s satirical vision of the demimondaine world of the city of Ujjayini. By reminding viewers that, for ancient Indians, “pleasure” and “profit” (kama and artha) were right up there with “virtue” (dharma) among the principal Aims of Life, the film can serve as a refreshing antidote to the over-emphasized philosophical and mystical preoccupations of the much-studied texts of the classical period (e.g., Bhagavad-gita). Its Rabelaisian cast of characters — the voluptuous and talented courtesan, witty cat burglar, pompous monk, wild-eyed revolutionary — mirror those found in the worldly-wise story anthologies of the classical period (such as those translated in J. A. B. van Buitenen’s Tales of Ancient India), and thus bring to life their urbane world of fleshly delights. Continue reading

Madhushree Dutta – Scribbles on Akka (2000)

ur9b Madhushree Dutta – Scribbles on Akka (2000)

In this short film on the life and work of the 12th century saint-poet, Mahadevi Akka, her radical poems, written with the female body as a metaphor, have been composed and picturised in contemporary musical language. Mahadevi, framed as Akka – elder sister, while leaving the domestic arena in search of God also abondoned modesty and clothing. The film explores the meaning of this denial through the work of contemporary artists and writers and testimonies of ordinary folk who nurtured her image through centuries in their folklore and oral literature. A celebration of rebellion, feminity and legacy down nine hundred years. Continue reading

Ashutosh Gowariker – Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India AKA Land Tax (2001)

 Ashutosh Gowariker   Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India AKA Land Tax (2001)

thgc Ashutosh Gowariker   Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India AKA Land Tax (2001)

Synopsis:
Considered to be a modern classic of Indian cinema, LAGAAN is a musical drama which tells the story of a central Indian farming village in 1893. The village waits for the monsoons to come and rain on its crops, but the ground remains dry and infertile. Meanwhile, British ruler Captain Russell (Paul Blackthorne) demands lagaan–or double normal taxes–from the villagers. When it becomes clear that they can’t pay, Russell challenges the villagers to a game of cricket, a game they know nothing about. Teaching the villagers about the game falls on the shoulders of farmer Bhuvan (Aamir Khan). As they begin to learn, the villagers are inspired to go up against Russell, with tax negotiation as the stakes for the game. Full of choreographed musical numbers and climaxing in a pulse-pounding cricket match, LAGAAN is a fun, heartwarming British/Indian production that should have no difficulties translating across other national borders. Continue reading

Aparna Sen – 15 Park Avenue (2005)

3daltyazicomb1567f375bc Aparna Sen   15 Park Avenue (2005)

thgc Aparna Sen   15 Park Avenue (2005)

The narrative pivots around the relationship of two sisters, older sister Anjali (Shabana
Azmi) is a successful professor with a powerful personality. She is the anchoring rock for
her family and carer for her sister Meethi whose progression into schizophrenia has been
speeded up by traumatic experiences. Anjali has always dominated the life of her attractive
younger sister, and jealously warded off Meethi’s handsome fiancé Jojo (Rahul Bose) with
fear of Meethi’s impending illness. Years later when Meethi and Anjali are on holiday in the
Hills there is a chance meeting with Jojo, now with his new wife and children. He is
shocked to discover that Meethi does not now recognize him, but lives in a world visited by
an imaginary husband and children of her own. Continue reading

Mrinal Sen – Chorus (1975)

chorusle Mrinal Sen   Chorus (1975)

thgc Mrinal Sen   Chorus (1975)

A small company advertises for 100 vacancies and 30,000 apply. The applicants are all from the ranks of the poor and there is a virtual riot. Everyone around is seeking for opportunities. Among them are the applicants who desperately need the job, the photographer who is busy seeking a scoop, the village moneylender who is busy exploiting the poor, the ineffective police, the employers who are advertising posts even while a six month old strike has nearly caused the workmen to become destitute. It is a story of society captured in a tiny framework of a small business. Ultimately, the workmen, the unemployed and the farmers all get to gether to protest against this exploitation… Continue reading

pixel Mrinal Sen   Chorus (1975)