Tuesday, June 28, 2005

So, agreeing with Ramanand and George, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi is it. A movie that after a long time , reaffirmed my faith in Hindi films. (Note that I say Hindi and not Indian - I don't watch movies in other languages).

I liked Ramanand's review - and I don't think I'd write any better. A few personal observations:

1. Most Hindi films are too loosely edited. Add songs to the equation, and you are left with a film you can watch with your mind at half-speed. Fixing dinner, doing the dishes and all manners of domestic chores are accomplished while the film is going through its nth item number, or n+1 th overblown dramatic sequence. HKA leaves no room for that. A fairly eventful script and tight editing means I'll probably watch the movie again in a few months to enjoy the subtler nuances that I'm positive I missed on even while watching at full attention.

2. The English in the film, as well as Shiny Shiney Ahuja's clothes seemed too contemporary for my comfort. Phrases like "messed up" and the use of the f- word didn't quite gel with my idea of what people must have spoken like then. The British influence on Indian English remains strong even now, and back then there was no American influence which means we only spoke the Queen's tongue.

3. The censor board in its infinite wisdom considers the use of the BC word (in hindi - you know what I'm talking about) unacceptable while the f-word is fine. This, after giving the film an 'A' rating. (rolls eyes).

4. The soundtrack seemed interesting enough to warrant a listen. Being in the US means you have to make an effort to be clued in to what the hindi music scene at present is. This one looks (or rather sounds) promising. The title song has the finest lyrics I've heard in a Hindi film in a while.*

5. Page 3 was IMO the best Hindi film of the year so far, among the small number of films I've seen. The two things dragging it down are the unnecessary songs, and tacky production values (maybe it was just the DVD I rented). The script and some fine performances managed to redeem that film. This one's above and beyond that in all respects.

The 60s-70s in India, unlike the US,is a time that has not been covered very well in the visual media. Most of my knowledge of the time comes from an anniversary edition of India Today which carried key stories from the tumultous period 1975-90, and the limited economic history I know is due to Nani Palkhivala's collected essays in We, the Nation and Beyond the Last Blue Mountain, JRD Tata's authorized biography which describes, among other things, the disgraceful nationalisation of Air India. This is probably the first film that tries to convey a sense of the time in hindsight.

All the cliches apply to it- "A coming of age film", "The loss of innocence"." "The passing of an era", but the film is anything but.

Watch it.

*Update: I learn that the title song has lyrics by... Mirza Ghalib ("the greatest Urdu Poet of all time" - so say the ending credits) . I've never had any faith in my taste in Hindi lyrics, but even I am impressed *pats own back*.

Edit: It is 'Shiney' Ahuja, not Shiny.

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