Old songs, retro fashion, 1980s pop culture, childhood icons and sharing space with Kundan Shah on paper, the theme of my super-filmi week was consistently nostalgic.
Nothing like a smattering of the 1960s’ sparkle to perk up a monotonous Monday — even better if it leads to useless trivia.
And so after Shah Rukh and Aamir Khan, Sharmila Tagore is the latest actor to catch my eye wearing the same outfit in two different movies.
It’s a lovely fawn-coloured churidar with gota patti embellishments worn by the svelte style icon whilst romancing Shammi Kapoor in the ditty Mera Dil Hai Tera from An Evening in Paris as well as Aamne Saamne’s Kabhi Raat Din Hum Door, where she’s paired opposite younger brother, Shashi.
Another thing they share in common is a visual of the actress water skiing in a blue bathing suit except in two entirely different locations and scenario.
Incessant rain can get depressing. But it creates a thrilling atmosphere to enjoy Netflix’s original series Stranger Things.
Directed by the Duffer Brothers — Matt and Ross — the part Sci-Fi, part Horror series is so engrossing and satisfying, I dare you to leave midway before you’ve completed all its eight episodes. In a time where hyperbolic reactions are the norm, it’s comforting to come across something that’s actually worthy.
Hard to imagine it was rejected by multiple networks before the Netflix deal.
Harder to ignore the nostalgia trickling off its innumerable influences from the 1980s — the decade Stranger Things is set in — be it E.T., Firestarter, Jaws, IT, Stand By Me, The Hobbit, Poltergeist, Goonies, Star Wars, He-Man and The Masters of the Universe, Dungeons and Dragons, Risky Business, Tangerine Dream, all those John Hughes teen movies starring Molly Ringwald and, of course, everyone’s favourite poster child of that era — Winona Ryder making her comeback as the distressed mommy of a missing boy.
Interestingly, the first time I noticed the pixie-faced Ryder, it was a movie called Lucas (also the name of one of its key characters) she was probably around the same age as some of the kids in Stranger Things.
Not even a month since its debut, there are already a slew of listicles, quizzes and memes identifying its many, many inspirations. While it’s easy to focus on the sway of popular culture and its permanence in the psyche of the moviegoer, especially of the nerd variety, the Duffer Brothers succeed not because they recreate time so ingeniously but because of how intimately they detail the tenacity of childhood through gifted little men and women. (Millie Bobby Brown, the 12-year-old who plays the show’s popular protagonist, is sheer poetry.)
Being an 80s child, I found my connect in, not the pop culture references, board games or mixed tapes, but the believability of a universe to which no adult is privy, an imagination that heeds no bounds, the deep-rooted bonds of an old, indestructible friendship, the attractive awkwardness of a blossoming one and the threat of dark, dangerous encounters confronted by a reliable arsenal of slingshots.
It’s why Stranger Things feels fresh, something of a lost treasure that already existed but wasn’t discovered until now.
I am at the fourth Indian Screenwriter’s Conference and sitting right next to celebrated journalist P Sainath and writer Anjum Rajabali when the latter looks at me and murmurs “We are lucky to be breathing the same air as him (Sainath).”
The sensational keynote speech delivered by the Ramon Magsaysay award-winner minutes after reaffirms the gushing sentiment.
‘You cannot plead a lack of inspiration of ideas and stories. This is a country where they kick you in the face,’ he asserts and criticises cinema’s confined exploration of reality and perspectives. ‘Whose stories do we try and tell? How much of a voice do we give the person, whose story it is, in the telling of the story?’
Meanwhile, at the conference, they’re handing out a booklet to guests and delegates, featuring various cinema essays by the likes of Leela Samson, Kundan Shah, Sriram Raghavan and, ahem, yours truly, pertaining to this year’s theme, So Near. So Far. Do our stories reflect India’s reality?
If this is feel-good, what follows is plain amusing.
Following the keynote, I get up to grab some refreshments when an enthusiastic gentleman blocks my path and sheepishly requests if I would take a picture. Assuming he wants me to click a photograph of him and his wife, I nod in agreement. But the fellow hands the phone to the missus and perches himself next to me.
‘Wait, you want to take a picture with me?’ I inquire a tad confused.
‘But why?’ Panic setting in.
‘Aap artist log hain...hee hee…’
Now, I am not comfortable taking selfies with friends let alone random strangers. Even if they flatter me as ‘artist log’ possibly because of my front row seat. Too stunned to react in a more elegant fashion, I merely mumble ‘I am no artist’ and cannot agree to fulfill his wish before making a quick exit.
Happy Birthday, Kishore Kumar!
It’s so easy to love this legend — his music and madness. Although it’s almost three decades since he passed away, his presence is more powerful and palpable than most people alive.
Once I heard Gulzar saab discuss Mirza Ghalib’s appeal and how one could fancy knowing the Urdu poet closely, even if they came into existence years after he was gone, through the warmth of his work. I feel exactly like that about Kishore Kumar, like I know him personally.
His constantly ticking, ribbing and witty mind — a delicious mix of wordplay with horseplay — where the funster in him communicates to the child in me and together we celebrate the pleasures of being silly, the most misunderstood of all human emotions.
In Friday reviews, I write on Budhia Singh: Born to Run, a rather finely acted feature film, which deserves a broad audience that appreciates, understands and values spirit and sports.
To find out that sometimes it doesn’t matter whether you’re the hare or the tortoise in the story.
As mentioned in my assessment, ‘Budhia’s story is both sensational and sad. But, most of all, it’s incomplete with no finishing line in sight.’
I’ve always found the Teesri Manzil star’s fashion to be fun. But I don’t think the world or I are quite ready to wear a conch crown in our hair buns just yet.
Unlike Christopher Nolan’s war-themed Dunkirk, the most-awaited film of 2017, which makes a grand announcement of what to expect in few spectacularly shot glimpses a couple of days ago, the Shivaay and Freaky Ali clips give away more than required to attract attention.
Both these movies look fairly fun but this embarrassing urge to show off the promise of what awaits (and pretty much all there is to it) in three minutes is off putting. A trailer should make its point not exult in it.
This column was first published on rediff.com
Also read on Super Filmi Week:
Rediscovering Gulzar’s Ghalib & finding Free Love
Applauding NTR’s Superman on screen!
Tripping on A R Rahman
A millipede and Kimi Katkar’s monsoon romance
Udta Punjab, worst casting decisions, and naheeee…!
Of warring Khan bhakts and meeting Mogambo!
Ranbir’s forgotten romance in Bachna Ae Haseeno
Funnier than Aishwarya’s lips
Clashing superheroes and crying Khans
OCDing on Neetu Singh’s LPs!
Garam Dharam, Mantrik Origins, Rockstar Cruise