Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My personal obsession: cinema, nationhood, and citizenship

Here's a new website from India, OyeCinema.com, which features original articles and reviews, but is also building a database of the best popular writing on cinema from all over the world. Here's a piece I recently contributed, on Lagaan (2001), Naya Daur (1957), and the situation of the audience as citizens.
I actually began by thinking about early postcolonial Hindi cinema, a great interest of mine. Thinking about Naya Daur, however, led to re-thinking Lagaan, and thus the article.
Lagaan, Naya Daur, and the mesmerisation of a nation.

Yasmin: 9/11 and the lives of Others

Several things have been happening in this country lately, that have made me think of a film I watched this summer, when I was in the UK, for research. I wasn't planning on watching it originally, but the BFI has installed free mediatheques all over the country. So on a chilly, wet morning in Wales, I thought to myself, "why not? I like Archie Panjabi, I think she's a very good actress. Let's see what this film's like."
Yasmin (2004), directed by Kenny Glenaan, and written by Simon Beaufoy (who then went on and wrote Slumdog Millionaire), is a film predictable in parts, but important all the same, for the direction in which it seeks to divert our perspective. Here's my review of the film on postcolonialnetworks.com, a website launched recently by Joseph Duggan, a PhD candidate at the University of Manchester, UK. For anyone interested in Postcolonial Theory, this promises to be a good resource.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ah, Bollywood of the '90s!

Slow, lazy Sunday morning. Mother busy in the studio, cats fast asleep. So of course, I watch TV. Catch five minutes of the 1992 film Dil Aashna Hai, directed by Hema Malini. (And if these five minutes are anything to go by, it is rather merciful of her to have directed only one film after that.)

Picture the following scene:

Three college girls played by Dimple Kapadia (with geeky spectacles, and a haircut that was clearly inspired by her husband), Amrita Singh (who is, in the next scene, quite aptly compared to a horse by her suitor) and Sonu Walia (I can be Miss India too), stand in the office of the college principal, played by the reasonably talented, if slightly uni-dimensional Sushma Seth.

Sushma Seth: Maine suna hai ki tum teeno college ke baahar ladkon se milti ho?
Amrita Singh: Nahi, nahi...
Dimple Kapadia: Haan, principal saheba, magar isme buraai kya hai?
Sushma Seth: Nahi... buraai nahi hai...hmm. Achha, kya tum logon ko gaadi chalana aata hai?
All three girls: Haan.
Sushma Seth: To yeh bataao: agar tumhe bina brake ki gaadi chalane ko bola jaae, to kya tum chalaogi?
All three girls: Nahi.
Sushma Seth: To theek isi tarha, jawaani bhi ek bina brake ki gadi hai. Chalane mein maza to bahut aata hai, par agae ek ghalti ho gayi, to uski keemat zindagi bhar chukani padti hai.

At this point, I am beside myself with laughter. Also, I desperately want to point out to principal sahiba, that if jawaani is like driving a car, and the possibility of a sexual encounter is like not having a brake on that car, one must always consider using the hand brake. No pun (or symbolism) intended.