Posts Tagged ‘Film Recco’

We have been tracking Abhay Kumar’s films for quite some time now. We had written about his short on the blog, and in earlier edition of MFF, when his another short was in Dimensions section, we had predicted his win too. Interestingly, this year he is back with a feature-lengh documentary, Placebo. And what a joy it is see a filmmaker making an impressive debut as he graduates from shorts to feature. One can easily spot some of the similar patterns in all his shorts and documentary.

And here’s Achyuth Sankar‘s review post on the film. This is his first post here.


We’ve all thought about the question, “What are the few things you absolutely cannot live without?”. For me, and all of them in equal importance (I’m not going to write the obvious things like food, water, air, etc), they are cinema, and a few really wonderful and beautiful people, some friends, some family. Cinema figures that high in my list, as it does in the lives of more than a few people I know.

At 6:30pm today, in a house full screening at MAMI, I gave 90 minutes of my life to that cherished thing which I can’t live without, cinema. It was a documentary called Placebo. It’s about the one of the most prestigious colleges in India (not any IIT, I’d rather not get into any more specifics), where the filmmaker’s brother is studying. The brother gets into a serious accident, and during his recovery, the filmmaker decides to stay in his brother’s hostel and document the lives being led there, in an attempt to understand what led to that accident (I won’t be referring to it as an accident any more, it was a self inflicted hurt, severe hurt). He follows the lives of four people in the said hostel, seemingly without any greater aim. Sometimes, a story chooses its storyteller, especially when it’s a story that needs to be told, and that is what happens to the documentarian here. The lives he begins to document shape up to be a small, but essential picture about the lives of students who have chosen the path of the elite by joining there. People are pressurized, or they’re not. Sometimes, they stumble into the doorstep of a revered institution with lofty dreams, but to many of them, simply making it there summarizes their dream. What does one do after that? What does one do when they have no idea where to go? What guidance does one get?

I was contemplating, while driving back home, why do most of the absolute greats of cinema talk about serious things like depression, disconnect, alienation, fear. Why not happiness? The question has come up many times before, but no answer till today. It is because.. when things are good, when we are happy, we are already ready to share. But when things are going down the shit hole, not even a handful of us can talk about it and admit “Hey, I’m fucked up and I need help”. That’s why it is so much more potent, when a film talks about things that nobody likes to, wants to or knows how to talk about. Suddenly, we feel a resonance within that isolated corner of our mind.

That’s what Placebo is.

That slight resonance, which reminds us of the importance of our own feelings. But more than that, it talks about something a lot more. It’s a documentary, with the filmmaker going to a college to understand why his brother hurt himself as badly. But a story that needs to be told chooses its own storyteller, and this college, and the stories of all the students who’ve lived there, chose this filmmaker. One shocking suicide after another, and it’s no longer just about a personal exploration, it’s about all of us. All of us who’ve studied, who’ve felt pressurized. All of us who, I dare say, can’t even begin to imagine the true extent of desperation, where the phrase “give up” doesn’t mean settle for lower grades or go to a less reputed institute. All of us who have been lost, at one point or the other, looking at the sea of people around us filled with genius, as we catch ourselves wondering “How the fuck am I going to make a mark in all of this?”.

There is one particular part in the film, where a character says something along the lines of “We are all isolated. You’re here talking to me, but I’m isolated inside and you’re isolated inside. My words aren’t my exact thoughts. But only I understand my isolation. You know the fucked up part? You think you understand, but you don’t.”

Placebo is truly a story that begs to be told. You can see it evolve in itself. The original intent of the filmmaker wasn’t to talk about student suicides or the casual indifference of college management or depression. It was merely an investigation, a very personal one at that. But as the story begins to tell itself through the storyteller, you won’t care about the change of course. Because the story needs to be told, and we all need to let it.

Romanticism aside, it took (in the filmmaker’s own words) a 1000 hours of handycam footage and constant questioning of intent to bring out this 90 minute long story. 1000 hours, vs 90 minutes. To look for that story which has revealed itself to you, and to do it justice, that’s no easy task. Because it’s not something you’ve concocted in your head, it’s all there. It’s all already there. The loss of aim, loss of hope and dreams, the crisis of faith and loss of ideals, the pressure, loneliness and depression that we students face. It’s all there. We don’t know how to talk about it. This film just showed us how to.

There was approximately a 3 minute standing ovation at the end of the film, followed by a Q&A session. In it, someone asked the filmmaker about how personal the subject was, and how he could keep filming while everything was so close, especially since his own brother was severely hurt. The filmmaker said that whether we like it or not, when we hold a camera, it will create a barrier. That’s the price one has to pay for the story. You’re in it, you’re affected by it, but you’re still separated by that invisible inch.

Abhay Kumar is that filmmaker, and he stayed in the hostel of that college for two whole years, filming as much as he could. He and his partner in crime (his own words, not mine), Archana Phadke then spent another year finding the needle in the haystack, and all the other needles too, in order to tell this hard hitting story. If there is one thing, and absolutely one thing I can learn from this, it’s “Get a camera and go make a fucking movie. It takes a lot of effort, but what’s stopping you?”

Abhay, you’re honestly one of the best filmmakers out there at the moment. I haven’t made a single piece of cinema, I don’t know how it’s done, I’m no authority. But films mean a lot to me, you’ve just made it mean more.

Thank you so much.

Achyuth Sankar

(PS – You can watch Abhay’s shorts here (Just That Sort Of A Day) and here (Life Is A Beach)

(Born in Trivandrum and having spent his last 8 years in Bombay, Achyuth discovered his love for cinema here, thanks to affordable unlimited internet plans. His pass times are blowing up all his savings on purchasing Blu Rays, going for a morning show at some PVR, or eating good food and having a cold Bud. He moonlights (or rather, daylights) as a final year Engineering student, with a severe love for Harley Davidson motorcycles. He fell in love with movies after watching Good Will Hunting. The only thing he loves as much as cinema is his Labrador, Cindy)


As Mumbai Film Festival is all set to start, we are back with our film recco post. But this year, we have not made our list. We have taken the easy way out – compiled the list of all the film reccos done by others. So here you go…

– Rediff film reviewer and festival programmer Aseem Chhabra’s pick – 10 movies you must see at MAMI (The Apu Trilogy, The Club, From Afar, Junun, Mia Madre, Placebo, Virgin Mountain, The Second Mother, Sworn Virgin, Youth)

– Mint Lounge’s reviewer Uday Bhatia list of 10 Films – by First time directors (Ixcanul Volcano, Land And Shade, Thithi, Cities Of Sleep, Interruption, Island City, The Head Hunter, Turbo Kid, Kaili Blues, Mina Walking)

– First Post reviewer Mihir Fadnavis on fest’s new segment,After Dark – a list of bizarre horror movies (Ludo, Stung, American Burger, Deathgsm, Tag)

– Fadnavis also has a list of 10 Films You Must Watch + Some More (The Forbidden Room, Mountains May Depart, The Lobster, Dheepan, Room, Taxi, Heavenly Nomadic, Tangerine, Ixcanul Volcano, He Named Me Malala)

– MAMI Chairperson and filmmaker Kiran Rao’s pick of 5 Must Watch Films (Dheepan, The Boy And The World, Blue, Mountains May Depart, Restored copies of Pyaasa and all Chetan Anand films)

– Writer and blogger Satyanshu Singh’s long list of film recco is here. Has info on many fest winners.

If you have googled the films and made your list, or found a good list than we haven’t mentioned, do let us know in the comments section. We will update the post.

And this list comes from Aniruddh Chatterjee, the self-declared biggest Korean movie fanatic on this side of the planet. Do read the post, and do watch the films. If you have come across some interesting Korean movies recently, do let us know in the comments.

Over to Aniruddh.



Jeon Do-yeon relocates alongwith her young son to the village where her recently deceased husband grew up. And tragedy strikes again. The film is not so much about the tragedy itself, as about its aftermath. Jeon Do-yeon’s performance is as raw and naked as it can get.

Note: Jeon Do-yeon won the Best Actress award at Cannes Film Festival for Secret Sunshine.

Lee Chang-dong is fairly underrated when it comes to the big league of Korean directors. His last film Poetry is an absolute gem. Do watch his entire filmography which includes Oasis, Peppermint Candy and Green Fish.

Secret Sunshine is now available on Criterion DVD/Blu-ray.



A failed suicide attempt results in Jeong Jae-yeong play Robinson Crusoe in a conservation island in the middle of Han River. The only person who can see him is Kim Jung-yeon, an agoraphobic, who has shut herself in one of the city’s high rises.

Offbeat, quirky, bizarre yet immensely endearing take on romantic comedy.



The opening scene in the film sees Seo Woo traveling in a taxi through dense fog. From the first shot director Park Chan-ok is preparing the audience for the ride. Paju is about the complicated relationship between a young girl and her brother-in-law and complications that follow. Gorgeously shot by Kim Woo-hyung and a brilliant and emotionally nuanced performance by Seo Woo in her breakout role.

This is what we call a mood-piece!


tireless mountain

A tender, almost meditative tale of resilience, while facing constant abandonment from family. Heartbreaking real performance from both leads, Kim Hee-yeon and Kim Song-hee.



Hong’s films are very Woody Allen-esque. His characters aren’t as neurotic as Allen but definitely immature and self centered fools. Beautifully shot in monochrome, highlighting the winter, the film is about Yoo Jun-sang, a retired film director, currently teaching film studies, and his encounter with friends, acquaintances and strangers over the next few days when he visits Seoul.

Note : Hong Sang-soo is criminally underrated when it comes to the big league of Korean directors.

He is a Cannes Film Festival regular with five of his films nominated for either Palme d’Or or Un Certain Regard. His film Hahaha won the Un Certain Regard award in 2010.

Do check out his filmography which includes Woman on the Beach, Tale of Cinema, Night and Day, Hahaha and the recent In another Country.



A beautiful film about a couple of lost souls trying to fit into society, knowing it is difficult for them to change at all.

Terrific performances by Seo Young-joo and Lee Jung-hyun.


DANCE town

The struggle of a North Korean refugee trying to cope with her new life in South Korea as she’s constantly under the radar of South Korean intelligence alleging her to be a spy.

Note : The final chapter in director Jeon Kyu-hwan’s town trilogy, other two being Mozart Town and Animal Town.



Bleak Night is post-mortem of a suicide. Three high school friends, their loyalty, betrayal, guilt and despair leading to and post the suicide. Touches the important topic of bullying and violence in high school.

Yoon Sung-Hyun makes one of the most assured directorial debuts in recent times.


We don’t have a culture of documenting our history.

We don’t have a history of making great documentaries.

We don’t have documentaries on our “real heroes”.

And this is why Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s Celluloid Man is such an important film, which stands tall on those three parameters. It’s about a real hero who has documented our cinematic history, and it’s a documentary on his life and passion.

I had missed the screening few times in the past and finally managed to catch it recently. The name is P.K.Nair. His designation sounds even boring – Archivist. Sounds almost clerical – someone who archives stuff. What separates Mister Nair from his designation and the rest is just one thing – passion. And this film does complete justice to that man and his undying passion for cinema.

Chances are you might not have heard his name if you have not been to FTII or not friends with FTII graduates. He is the man responsible for National Film Archive Of India, popularly known as NFAI. Starting literally from scratch, P K Nair built it up slowly – reel by reel, can by can, film by film. No wonder that you ask him about a scene and he can tell you which reel and which can has it. Celluloid Man is his story – how he built NFAI, the way he travelled to various places in search of those rare films which most didn’t care about.

The film runs on two tracks. One traces Nair’s personal story – starting from Nair’s childhood in Kerala to how he wanted to become filmmaker and how he landed up at FTII and started NFAI. Some of the well known faces from FTII recount their younger days at the Institute and talk about Nair saab. And then you realise that his contribution is much more than just being an archivist. It’s about shaping up those young bright minds.

The other one is about building NFAI – this has intersecting anecdotes about collecting those precious films by travelling to remote places, and sometimes even opting for illegal routes for a greater cause. Dungarpur balances it well by scratching the uncomfortable surface too – was it one-upmanship, why NFAI is hostile to Nair now and such.

It feels bit long at the running duration of more than 2 hours (2:24 exactly i think, not sure which version is releasing), and the director’s sudden voice-over feels odd which doesn’t gel well with the film as the rest of it is through Nair saab’s words. But those are just minor issues in this mammoth task of documenting this important part of our cultural history so beautifully. If you are film lover, WATCH IT. If you are not, watch it just to know how to define Passion and Commitment.

The initial portions of the film is shot gorgeously, almost like a dream, feels some kind of daze. And then there’s a heartbreaking surreal sequence of silver being extracted from film reels by those who understand only commerce. The horror! Horror! i shouted in my head.

And this film could not have come at a better time. If there’s one person who needs to be celebrated at the occasion of 100 years of cinema, it’s Nair saab. If nothing else, at least this documentary serves that purpose. Thanks, Shivendra.

– The film is being released by PVR Directors Rare on May 3rd. Don’t Miss this one.

– To know more about the film, click here.

– DearCinema has a detailed review of the film from IFFLA. Click here to read.

(PS – My fav quote is about gym in FTII. I guess that says a lot about our current cinema too)


In her twitter bio, Svetlana Naudiyal describes herself as Murphy’s favourite child. So over to the child who is just back from a country where there is almost no cinema culture and she was trying to make them understand what is the point of a film festival. Back to India and here’s her recco of the film Kshay, which has been doing the rounds of film festivals since quite sometime.

There is no local popular cinema in the theaters. The only theaters are the ones in the malls. From malls to pirated dvd stores – all you’d prominently see is Hollywood. I’ve just returned from Cebu City, so to say, the second largest city in Philippines. The townesque city is burgeoning with Malls, Multiplexes, BPOs and all possible American Chains. The city glistens, roads are well done, cab drivers never say no and their peso is better placed against dollar than the rupee. In this seemingly ‘developing’ state of affairs, local cinema has no ground beneath its feet. I get to meet a few Cebuano Filmmakers and see their films. Great work and talented, no doubt! But what do they do?

Cut to – my country, my crazy cinephile country.

Here back home, I see Kshay on the big screen, and I am moved by the mere thought that here someone can not only make the film they want to but also hope that it would see the light of theatrical release someday.

But is that why you should support it? Just because someone really struggled to make an Indie film and then eventually managed to get it to the box office?


Kshay, as the very poetic title suggests, corrodes.

Corrodes the being.

Chhaya, a simple housewife, becomes strangely obsessed with an unfinished idol of Goddess Lakshmi. Her husband, Arvind, works for a reckless building contractor and struggles to make ends meet while reeling under the guilt of not being able to give Chhaya the life he promised to. Their lives are thrown in a downwards spiral as Chhaya slowly becomes oblivious of their circumstance and succumbs to faith turned into obsession.

It is not often that the frames and sequences of a film hover in your mind for long after you see it. They corrode the mind, resonate with life and create a surreal-real world of obsession, hopelessness and love. It’s beautiful how the textures, lights and score accentuate the psychological corrosion of Chhaya. Together with Arvind’s frustrations and the hopelessness a viewer sees in their situation, the film builds a strange tempo as it progresses; it might not be evident in the pace but most certainly so in the feeling it leaves one with.

Shot in black and white, the cinematography by Abhinay Khoparzi, is highlight of the film. The eerie absurdity of dreams, delusions, reality and the textures, all stand out in black & white frames. The background score is by director Karan Gour himself is the perfect companion to it. Rasika is unbelievably real as Chhaya and beautifully brings out her pain, coldness, obsession; Alekh complements her as much in portraying Arvind’s frustrations, hope and hopelessness. Even the small roles of building contractor and neighbour lady, are marked by really fine performances.

To me, story apart, Kshay also questions – questions faith, questions reason and questions the merciless set up we live in. It’s a world where WTC crash becomes table-top merchandise.. Exploiters continue to have their cake and eat it too.. Exploited barely find a way.. It’s a world of faith becoming obsession and obsession ending only in….

Coming back to the question – Don’t watch it because it’s another oh-so-poor-striving-for-support indie film, watch it because it’s good cinema, that totally deserves your time and money.


– Here’s a preview of Kshay’s hauntingly gorgeous music –

Kshay OST – Home

Kshay OST – Everywhere

– And the trailer

– To know more about the film click here. And click here for the FB page of the film.

– PVR JUHU (Mumbai) will have one show running in the next week at 6:35PM. Don’t miss this one!

– And if our recco isn’t enough to convince you, here are some more reviews – Namrata Joshi of Outlook rates it 3.5/4, Karan Anshuman (Mumbai Mirror) has rated it 3.5/5 and Aseem Chhabra (Rediff) has also given it 3.5/5.

For small and regional films, social networking platforms can be quite a boon. If anything is good, one doesn’t need to worry about its audience. When people become your ambassador, you don’t need advertising or pr. I discovered the wonderful trailer of Bhooter Bhobishyot on FB and was instantly hooked. Have been following it since then and it’s finally getting a limited release in Mumbai today. So here’s a recco post on the film by Aniruddha Chatterjee. But first watch the trailer. Wish they had released it with subtitles.

Imagine this. Two ghosts, one a zamindar who got killed by the dacaits, and the other, a British officer who served in pre-independent India, are auditioning other ghosts to fill the zamindar’s abandoned mansion. This is because most old mansions and houses are demolished and turned to shopping malls and multiplexes by money hungry promoters and are ruining the culture and heritage of the city. So the ghosts all over the world, especially in Kolkata, are finding it very difficult to find a place to live in. Interestingly, even the ghosts are worried about their food, entertainment and security. The selections in the audition are made accordingly. This is the crux of debutant director Anik Dutta’s delicious bengali film Bhooter Bhobishyot.

Siraj-ud-Daulah’s trusted cook who gave his life in the Battle of Plassey, an Indian army officer who got killed during the Kargil war, an actress cum singing Kanan Devi-isque sensation of the 1940s who committed suicide after her producer boyfriend ditched her and married someone else, a Bangla rock band member who overdosed himself to death, a Bihari rickshaw puller who was killed due to reckless driving by a rich brat, a Hindu refugee from Bangladesh who was killed during partition, and a modern day city girl who jumped from her apartment terrace when her industrialist father refused to let her marry a Muslim boy – all of them get selected after the audition. The thread connecting all the ghosts is that they all died unusual deaths.

The ghosts sing, dance, romance, go to picnic, argue over hilsa and prawn, and when endangered, unite to fight against a promoter who wants to destroy Choudhury mansion and build a mall.

The script is unique and original, and is one of the most satisfying satirical comedies of late. The filmmaker takes a dig at everything that is Bengali – the intellectual filmmakers who only prefer Godard, Fellini and Ray, the pseudo communist rebel who thinks wearing Che Guevara t-shirt proves everything, the Dada and Didi of Bengali politics including the Rizwanur Rahman incident, and the everlasting fight between ghoti and bangal. It is refreshing to see usage of Spookbook, Facebook for ghosts, to find a suitable match for an item number.

Interestingly, the narrative is a tribute to Ray’s Hirak Rajar Deshe, as almost every character in the film speaks by rhyming their lines. The humour is subtle and situational. Literal and political references are plenty, and so it needs to be seen whether non-Bengalis find the humour appealing or not.

Another aspect that must be mentioned is the music. Raja Narayan Deb has created one of a kind soundtrack with influences from every genre possible – rock, pop, rabindra sangeet, jazz, folk or qawwali, and also from the different eras the characters belong to. (Click here to watch a terrific song medley from the film)

Also, it has excellent performances by the entire ensemble cast, but Sumit Samaddar as the Bangladeshi refugee and Swastika Mukherjee as Kadalibala, the actress cum singer of the black and white era, are the scene stealers.

Anik Dutta, the writer-director of the film is a renowned ad-filmmaker. This is his first feature film and for that he deserves every bit of accolade he is receiving for creating such an entertaining film.

Currently, the film is playing in theaters all over West Bengal. It’s getting a limited release in Mumbai on 27th April. Don’t miss it!

For more details, film’s Facebook page is here. For Bombay’s theatre listing, click here.

We first heard about Baboo Band Baaja when it bagged three national awards – for Best First Film of a Director, Best Actress and Best Child Artist. The film has been ready for quite sometime and it finally released last friday. Some of the theatres are screening the film with  subtitles. Here’s Mohit Patil‘s recco post for the film.

This is Mohit‘s first post here. When he isn’t busy attending engineering college, he worships Kaufman, Bhardwaj and Scorsese.In the very first scene in director Rajesh Pinjani’s Baboo Band Baaja, we are given a glimpse of the life led by Baboo (played brilliantly by Vivek Chabukswar) – that his family must bank on the deaths/births happening in their village in order to make a living. His father Jaggya (Milind Shinde) is a band player. Once a band party owner, he now earns a (rather lumpish) living by playing at modest wedding processions and cortegès. His mother Shirmi (Mitali Jagtap) works as a Bohareen – selling utensils in exchange for old, used garments. The story begins as Baboo finds his rucksack missing, and so does an endless struggle of this family to change things.

Jaggya wants Baboo to become a band member like him. The reason for this call isn’t a father wanting to see his son to be like him, but his presumption that there is no other way out. “We villagers are in no way helped by the technological advancements,” he argues, “All that has changed is the number of airplanes flying above our heads”. Throughout the film, we see his mother as a heterodox in a comparatively orthodoxical society. She wants to educate her son and goes to great lengths to earn money to buy books for Baboo, whose school master won’t allow him in without books and uniform. She’s elated when she gets a pair of khaki shorts in exchange for a larger vessel, which can be used as her son’s school uniform. And she is enraged when she discovers that the reason for her husband’s anger is the fact that Baboo has lost his rattle and not that he has lost his school bag.

One of the film’s biggest triumphs is that it sticks to its business and tells the story of the family’s endeavor with great simplicity and without diverting its focus towards “shocking the viewer with the appalling reality…” etc. I did find the emotions exaggerated at places with the lurid low angle shots of the school master punishing Baboo or the histrionics of the wily politician, and wished it weren’t as overstated, but it all works nevertheless.

Another very impressive thing about Baboo Band Baaja is that it has a very keen eye for detail. Not a single thing here seems unauthentic or out-of-place. Especially, the language used here, is pure gold. If you couldn’t buy the Hindi speaking characters in some of our recent urban rom-coms, or the characters not referring to Mumbai as Bombay or Bambai in Dhobi Ghat, you are bound to be more than satisfied with the language and the actors’ inch perfect dialect here. The instruments that the bandwallahs play in the film, the songs that they play, selecting the dress code for the grand wedding they are appointed for, the astute observations about the local life in Vidarbha… Discovering these rural life vignettes first hand is pure joy, so I’d rather not spoil it for you.

The characters are very well written, and the actors who play them are terrific for the most part, save for the school teacher who is baselessly portrayed as an evil baddie, as opposed to someone who is just doing his job. Watch Mitali Jagtap and Vivek Chabukswar speak through their eyes in one of the best moments in the film; the scene which has hardly any dialogue, in which Shirmi readies Baboo for school.

<Mild spoilers>

The film uses all its subplots, which rather smartly towards the culmination. There is metrical dichotomy in the way things fall back into place towards the end. The beautiful symmetry between the first and the last scene of the film more than made up for my feeling of redundancy after the final blow.

<Spoilers end>

Baboo Band Baaja is a simple, heartfelt story of what appears to be parents’ struggle to make things better, and turns into something so painful, it takes a piece of your heart.

Speaking Of Films – Part 1

Posted: January 10, 2012 by moifightclub in bollywood, cinema, film, Hollywood, Movie Recco
Tags: ,

Unlike journalism, which thrives on 5 Ws and 1H, we think blogging is all about the distinct blogger’s voice. And so three questions should define you – 1. Who you are 2. What crimes you commit? 3. Define your kink. This is Manish Gaekward‘s first post here. And before you read this interesting post, here’s his reply to those three important questions – 1.  someone who tries to speak less and less within the ambit of alcohol, otherwise, even lesser. Love films for what they are – they say more and more of what i feel i cannot express. 2.  Content writing for a website, will remain unnamed till i make it as a screenplay writer (will mention it in my struggling period). 3.  Chorus girls, love them – for instance – when Lata tai sings dilbar dil se pyaare (caravan) – i wait for the chorus girls to join in – so here is how it goes – Lata – dilbar dil se pyaare. Chorus girls – dilbar. Lata – dil ki sunta ja re. Chorus girls – haan haan dilbar – i tend to accentuate on ‘haan-haan‘ – the part that i get pat. In other kinks – pause and help myself whenever the girls yelp ‘oui maa‘ on the oh la la track from The Dirty Picture.

Like his blogging bio, the post is bit long but quite exhaustive and interesting recco post. Read on.

What have film critics Andre Bazin, Pauline Kael, Satyajit Ray and Francois Truffaut taught me about films?

Bhai, let the films do the talking.

Here’s a list of some that spoke to me.

1. When women walk

Malena – The whole town comes to a standstill when Monica Belluci walks. Hell, why not? Everyone wanted to know when those legs open for business

Volver – Almodovar pours into petite Penelope Cruz the voluptuousness of Sophia Loren

Pakeezah – Meena Kumari does the gajgamini

Gajagamini – Madhuri Dixit becomes the gamine gamini

Daud – Urmila Matondkar runs, walks, struts, halts, gyrates, even lifts her legs up in the kicks butt – it is from Daud that Ramu learnt to fix the camera in Jiah Khan’s crotch and shoot the whole of Nishabd through the vaginal eye

2. Where men strut like they have more meat in their balls

Pulp Fiction – John Travolta did not resurrect his career with disco moves, he had to show he could do more than swish his butt

Reservoir Dogs – Tarantino guides this pack of 14 talking testicles

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly – Tarantino’s favourite film

Kagemusha – Japanese people have balls too!

The Battle of Algeirs – behind every agitated man is a woman cupping his cojones, ‘I’m with you’

Taxidriver – Puny man De Niro, but what gigantic gonads

The Godfather Trilogy – less said, better viewed

The Hurt Locker – defusing bombs, dude you need more than balls!

3. Five Meryl Streep movies that you should be embarrassed to recommend

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events – Meryl and Jim Carrey in the same film? No!

The River Wild – Meryl and Kevin Bacon in the same film? Worse!

Death Becomes Her – Meryl and Bruce Willis in the same film? When her boobs ‘magically’ swelled in her shirt, my mother gasped it was unreal…uhh yeah!

Mama Mia – she’s having fun, but Meryl singing and dancing – some other day please

Dark Matter – Meryl and who? Fuh-get it!

4. Five Meryl Streep movies even the blind would recommend:

Angels In America – 4 Meryl for the price of one ticket!

She-Devil – she’s funny funny funny when she is furious, pure trash fun

Kramer Vs Kramer – spot on

Silkwood – never seen her this resilient

Sophie’s Choice – queen of accents

5. Five Meryl Streep high octane performances:



The Hours

The Devil Wears Prada – though you must watch the real Anna Wintour in The September Issue

Out Of Africa – the Oscars seem to think she hit a note

6. Films that Shabana Azmi was smug in (inadequate script could be the reason):

Loins of Punjab – she seemed to be powdering her nose throughout for the next shot

Honeymoon Travels – there was promise of Goa, she did need a vacation, didn’t she?

Umrao Jaan – Allah tauba, did she really think she could be her mother Shaukat?

The Immaculate Conception – Shabana Azmi as Samira…is that even a name worthy of her persona?

Rakhwala – isn’t this the film where she is Anil Kapoor’s schizo sista? She drove the filmmaker up the wall asking what method to madness he wanted!

7. Shabana Azmi’s rage as we know:


Arth – the confrontation scene with Smita Patil where her pallu slips and she wants to cover her modesty while she’s fuming but ab kya faiyda? She gives all

In Custody‘Main shayara hoon‘ she rebels, and damn you know whose daughter she is

Mandi – she can be loved when she is pissed

Paar or Godmother – the former is a helpless rage, the latter high-strung – which is the better?

8. Jungle mein Mangal films

Aguirre, The Wrath of God – Herzog’s mercurial venture into the Middle ages

Apocalypto – again, Tarantino hefts for Gibson’s vision

Apocalypse Now – Marlon Brando is the human stain on your soul no detergent powder can erase

9. Karaoke out loud musicals

Cabaret – can Liza Minelli ever keep a straight face? She cracks me up when she wants to be earnest

Chicago – Catherine Zeta Jones

West Side Story

Carmen – hell hot in here, both the Rosi and Saura version – robust, feisty, and passionate – I hope Shyam Benegal makes Chamki Chameli as pulsating

Grease – ridiculous and fun

10. Comic as it should be (Buster Keaton, Monty Python, Groucho Marx – too broad for me, mea culpa)

Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb – I’ve no stomach for any other Peter Sellers comedy

Some Like It Hot – Monroe in the middle, perfect tuna sandwich, and ukulele

Andaz Apna Apna

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron

The Birdcage – prefer it over the french original

As Good As It Gets – Jack Nicholson makes me want to be a better man

City Lights – Chaplin makes us laugh, but in the end he makes you cry in the final scene

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore – it might not look funny in the beginning, but once the actors get in the car, it’s a fun ride – who could have thought Scorsese could give this?

11. Gay characters humanised by straight filmmakers

Happy Together – Wong Kar Wai – lyrical work

The Talented Mr Ripley – Anthony Minghella is deeply missed for more than this

Infamous – this version of Truman Capote over In Cold Blood any day, it’s warmer

Gods and Monsters – Ian McKellen is a monster, albeit, a human one

Before Night Falls – Javier Bardem in this – then tell me he’s married to Penelope Cruz

My Beautiful Laundrette – Daniel Day-Lewis is gay, enough said

Basic Instinct – Sharon Stone could be gay, she could be straight, who cares as long as she uncrosses her legs, she’s humanised!

Dog Day Afternoon – Gun toting gay, Al Pacino can hold-up a bank yo bitches!

12. Straight actors immortalised by gay filmmakers:

Bad Education – Gael Garcia Bernal was the man in his Natalie Portman affair? Gosh! Pedro does it again, pours Penelope Cruz’s pout into Bernal’s blowfish lips

Milk – Sean Penn – of the Madonna ex-husband fame, could not have been any gayer

Priscilla Queen of the Desert – Guy Pearce in drag! Holy mother of Memento, rewind will ya…

Gia – Angelina Jolie can switch from straight to gay like a chameleon, who cares as long as she puckers her lips, she’s everyone in one!

The History Boys – brilliant ensemble cast, from the filmmaker who gave us Jennifer Aniston’s arguably only watchable film, The Object of My Affection

13. Movies not meant to be understood, yet marveled:

Last Year At Marienbad – critics agree

Rules Of The Game – the sort of comedy of manners film made less french in flavour by Gosford Park’s tribute years later

Memento – Ghajini was difficult made easy pudding

Mullholland Drive – as New York Times pointed out, the less sense it makes, the more you want to see it

14. 5 films Kareena Kapoor should watch to reclaim her skill

Erin Brockovich – this is the Julia Roberts she should be emulating

The Piano Teacher – Isabelle Huppert to the masterly training

Under The Sand – Charlotte Rampling towers like a lighthouse over it

A Woman Under The Influence – Gena Rowlands mad as can be

Monster – Charlize Theron – Bebo should balk at having to look ugly, gain weight, act no!

15. Horror as it should be

The Others – Nicole Kidman is terrified, and so are we

Let The Right One In – twelve year old vampire kid in love, uhh, pretty scary love story

The Shining – Jack Nicholson in anything is damn shit creepy

Rosemary’s Baby – just for the last scene, that look on Mia Farrow’s face, ever-lasting horror

Psycho – What would the genre be without you?

Carnival of Souls – low on budget, high on atmosphere

16. Romance is in this odd coupling:

The Kids Are All Right – Julianne Moore and Annette Bening make the perfect dysfunctional lesbian couple

Venus – A seventy plus Peter O Toole attracted to a girl his granddaughter’s age. Toole’s most endearing act

Brokeback Mountain – Jake wishes he knew how to quit Heath. How inconsolable we were when Heath passed away

The Graduate – Mrs Robinson has eyes only for a plucky Dustin Hoffman

Elegy – Penelope in bed with Kingsley – er Gandhi with an appetite for sex, watch

Moonstruck – Cher doing Nicohlas Cage – you got to be kidding

Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Cruz, Bardem, Johansson tripling, oh yeah, even when there is no sex in the room its one hell of a hot place to be

17. Must watch Iranian New Wave films

The Cow – Possibly one of the best films in the world, ever

Where Is The Friend’s Home? – Abbas Kairostami’s deceptively simple tale

Children of Heaven – The Majidi film Priyadarshan should not have copied, shame shame

A Time For Drunken Horses – where horses are more prized than human beings

The Circle – Jafar Panahi should be released from the circle that has presently engulfed him

The Day I Became A Woman – Makhmalbaf’s wife outshines his debut for sure in this stunning film. He has Kandahar, and daughter Samira has The Apple to bring the house down

Tip –  Afghani film, Osama from this region, is magnificent

18. What’s the best in world cinema?

Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita – Raj Kapoor’s predecessor

Rene Clair’s A Nous La Liberte –– Pankaj Advani would have agreed

Sergei Paranajov’s The Colour Of Pomegranates – Kiran Rao, Madonna and yours truly are the only people who might have seen this

Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up – Kundan Shah knows

Ingmar Bergman’s Autumn Sonata – the film Rituparno Ghosh, Pedro Almodovar, Khalid Mohammed would perhaps fork and knife over lunch.

Francois Truffaut’s 400 Blows – the film Vikramaditya Motwane will accept and Aamir Khan deny – freeze frame anyone? – Satyajit Ray admitted his last shot in Charulata

Vittorio Di Sica’s Umberto D –  if you can get over The Bicycle Thief

Luis Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou – Dali’s surrealist vision; razor slicing an eye, who can forget this indelible, hair-raising horror sequence

Jean Luc Godard’s Breathless – the ever so loveable rake Belmondo

Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima Mon Amour – I should not be surprised if Ondaatje likes this

19. Films that have been successful with ‘potato eaters’

Fried Green Tomatoes – Chop, chop, chop girls, this is it, meat-pie in the oven

Babette’s Feast – where gluttony is sin, there devout small portions is all you will need to thank the lord for

Woman On Top – f*ck the food, Penelope Cruz with a chopper headed for you meatballs, dare you move

Ratatouille – it’s animated, and yet so wonderfully glazed, you want to nosh, and the food critic in the film, is certainly Proustian in hauteur

Julie & Julia – has food ever been filmed this lovingly, Nigella Lawson, you have competition

Chocolat – Juliette Binoche grinding cocoa with her creamy hands, won’t you lick her fingers off when she is all messed up whipping a chocolate meringue?

20. Sex scenes you may have missed

Last Tango In Paris – Marlon Brando using butter – I thought butter was meant only for spreading, how naïve I was

Anatomy of Hell – A stone dildo? Only in a French film will you see a woman getting lucky with it

Sex And Lucia – Beautiful locales, gorgeous women, great music, and loads of sex – plus some festival awards. Perfect

The Ages of Lulu – Javier Bardem’s very early film, graphic sex scenes, very risqué

The Postman Always Rings Twice – not a great film but if you want to see Jack Nicholson kneading Jessica Lange covered in flour on a kitchen table, go for it

In The Realm Of The Senses – The Japanese use egg in foreplay, find out, yep

Shortbus – After Caligula, if anyone has dared to film another orgy, pop your eyes here

21. Sweet n Sour Bengali films

Meghe Dhaka TaraDada, ami baachte chai (Brother, I want to live) – isn’t that what Bhansali keeps trying to convey to us through his films

Charulata – My favourite Ray film, what I would do to get hold of that pair of binoculars

Antarmahal – Where Rituparno dares, and Rupa Ganguly seductively bares

36 Chowringhee Lane – The one time Aparna Sen was spot on with her casting of Jennifer Kendal

22. The Khans should stop wiggling their butts and watch these actors do full frontal (performance included)

Vladimir Mashkov – The Thief – passionate, volatile, hard-knuckled, a seasoned man

Klaus Maria Brandauer – Mephisto – such incredible drama off-stage, especially with his mullato

Vincent Casell – Irreversible – crazy as a nut, this man

Edgar Ramirez – Carlos – that scene where he’s feeling himself in a mirror, he’s loving it!

Alain Delon – Le Samourai – dude, this guy cools you with his point-blank shot

Birol Unel – Head-On – Drunk, uncouth, bedraggled, he gave to the role more than its demands

John Hurt – The Naked Civil Servant – hahahahaha, truly one of a kind

23. Banned films I should not be recommending

Salo – please do not watch this film, its puerile

The Last Temptation of Christ – what was the fuss about, it’s hardly spectacular

Brief Encounter – considered adulterous entertainment then, classic now, ask Anurag Basu where he borrowed Life In A Metro from

Caligula – terrible, terrible film, who wants to see Helen Mirren naked? God no!

A Dirty Shame – so gross, you don’t know whether to laugh or to wince

Zack & Miri Make A Porno – Thailand banned it because teens might learn how to make a porno, hello world!

24. Cult films you will never watch

The Holy Mountain – Director saab was on LSD while filming, and actors were fed ‘magic mushroom’ to experience their characters, roles, skin, whatever

Plan 9 From Outer Space – considered the worst film ever, but please watch Ed Wood before you watch this, you will die laughing at its incongruity

Blue Velvet, Wild At Heart, Lost Highway – strange David Lynch films that hypnotize

Man Bites Dog – biting cruel humour, this is not for the faint hearted

Showgirls – so camp, you’ll reach out for cheesecake and pour honey over it

The Rocky Horror Picture Show – the mai-baap of camp and cult, thoroughly entertaining

25. Where are the Hindi films in this list?

Apart from a gazillion films I have not spoken of (will come back with Part 2), there’s about only a handful of hindi films I love. It’s so bourgeoise to repeatedly discuss them.

Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge


Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi

Boot Polish

Jaagte Raho


Kagaz Ke Phool



Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam

Sardari Begum




And a film that will always top my best list, my heart belongs to Mughal-E-Azam (coloured version please).

This film recco post is by Jahan Bakshi who loved ILUPM for its sheer irreverence & light-footed, breezy direction. For more, read on…

Nearly 22 months after it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2009, I Love You Philip Morris finally managed to get a somewhat shoddy release towards the end of last year. Sad, because this is probably one of the most fun, under-recognized and daring Hollywood films of the year gone by.

The story of how and why this huge delay happened (despite the starry presence of Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor) is pretty interesting in itself, but not quite as fascinating as the story of Steven Jay Russel, a con-man who’s currently serving a 144-year jail sentence for assorted charges, including felony escape and embezzlement.

I’m lazy and bad with summaries, so I’ll just supply the one from IMDb here:

Steven Russell is happily married to Debbie, and a member of the local police force when a car accident provokes a dramatic reassessment of his life. Steven becomes open about his homosexuality and decides to live life to the fullest – even if it means breaking the law. Steven’s new, extravagant lifestyle involves cons and fraud and, eventually, a stay in the State Penitentiary where he meets sensitive, soft-spoken Phillip Morris. His devotion to freeing Phillip from jail and building the perfect life together prompts Steven to attempt- and often succeed at- one impossible con after another.

Now, replace Philip Morris with- say, Phyllis Morris, and this would be perfectly wholesome Hollywood fare- a regular romantic con-caper. Well, at first glance, at least. When filmmakers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa pitched the film, they were asked ‘Could Philip Morris be a girl?’

Of course he couldn’t. Because this is a true story. As incredible and ridiculous as the events in the film seem, it’s actually fairly accurate, save for the usual cinematic liberties (and in a year that has seen The Social Network, who cares about accuracy anyway?). No wonder then, that the film starts with a header to remind us: ‘This really happened. It really did.

But instead of peddling this as the ubiquitously sensitive ‘gay film’, the film is terrifically nonchalant and absolutely blasé about the sexuality of its characters. It’s that rare film that never falls prey to the sentimentality and melancholic self-pity that accompanies mainstream portrayals of homosexuality. By being blissfully coarse, non-conformist and lacking any political correctness, I Love You Philip Morris subtly pushes cinematic and social boundaries, but without any self-conscious fuss; it remains quietly subversive and calmly assured throughout its schizophrenic, hyper-kinetic narrative. It derives quirky comedy from a few homosexual stereotypes (‘Being gay is expensive’, remarks Steven hilariously), but never stoops to making cheap shots; we laugh along with its lead characters: refreshingly and unapologetically amoral, yet full of heart, humor and vibrancy. The dignity with which the characters are portrayed, including Steven’s hilariously orthodox Christian wife, makes sure that none of them feel like cardboard caricatures.

The wide tonal range of this film- from slapstick, borderline farcical to tenderly romantic to achingly tragic- might unsettle many viewers, but the unconventional treatment worked very well for me. And just like Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful (okay, really strange comparison but) this is another film that couldn’t have worked if not for its leading man, who holds it together and keeps it from falling apart. Jim Carrey is outstandingly good here, his rubber-faced glib persona serving as the perfect bouncing board for Steven’s wild, unpredictable character. He’s absolutely no-holds-barred and such a pleasure to watch, lending his character both charisma and believability. And Ewan McGregor is a delight as his timid, blonde lover; the perfect innocent foil to Carrey’s incorrigible rogue. Together, they make for a charming pair.

‘I Love You Philip Morris’ is not a flawless film. It’s imperfect by design, a tad exhausting and certainly one that will polarize viewers. But it makes for really interesting cinema and deserves to be seen, because quite simply- it defies categorization. Like Steven Russel himself, the film fits into so many guises that by the end, you don’t know what it really is. Which for me, far from being bad, was quite remarkable. After all, what better thing could a film do, than embody the very unputdownable free spirit of the man it is about?

Catch it, for sure.

To read the story of the real Steven Russell & Phillip Morris, click here. And read a super interview of the filmmakers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa right here at ION Cinema.

Rabbit Hole – Film Recco by Kartik Krishnan

I have interacted with kids in my limited life experience. Cute ones, silly ones, irritating ones, relentlessly curious ones. Haven’t been so fond of most of them but of some of them. The ‘nice’ ones.

Needless to say that is a very biased perception. Because I’m sure the day I become a father, regardless of how cute, ugly, nagging, constantly pottying-pissing, relentlessly crying my kid will be, to put in a cliche he’ll always be “the apple of my eye”.

There are some losses that are irreplacable – that of a loved one. A mother, father, spouse, brother, dear friend. Somehow to me the death of a child has always seemd to be the most painful one.

And somehow, I have always prayed (which is very infrequent and rare) that such a tragedy may never befall on anyone.

How does an urban well to do couple cope up with that loss?

How does the couple cope up with it even after months have passed, since the event?

How much of alcoholism, weed, food, gyming, squash, binging or any of the ‘cathartic’ activities one can do to evade the pain, is enough ?

How does it affect you in the every single most unimaginable way – the conversations with random strangers, your family, your spouse, your daily routine, the most mundane aspects of your life ?

Do you cling on to the memories or do you move on ?

Is it easy to move on ?

Do you still play the blame game even when you know it is pointless to play it since no matter who wins, both have lost?

Do you blame God and say “If my son was such an angel, then why did God take him away from us ? Why didn’t he make one up ? He is God after all”.

Do you drift apart from you spouse and hide the ways you cope up with your depression from him/her – eventually feel guilty as though you were not an aggrieved parent but an infidel ?

There are some films which cease to be films. Which suck you in and you are not thinking about what the director would have said to get such a brilliant performance from the leads, where he would have placed the camera, what the writer wrote and how, who produced the film, how come the film doesn’t have a ‘story’ and yet it is so powerful.

No sir/madam, those questions come after you finish watching this film.

As for me, after I finished watching this film, only one thing came to my mind.

I wanted to go and hug my parents.

Highly highly reccomended this film. Just relax and let the film win you over.

( P.S – I love you Nicole Kidman, for acting in and producing this film. )

( P.P.S – I love the rest of the team associated with this film too 🙂