Friday, October 18, 2013

Talat's Cinema Notes - Agnes Varda and Susan Sontag Interview 1969

Agnes Varda, an avant-garde French Art Film Director, who made the shocking and controversial art film "Vagabond" depicting the predicament of a young homeless woman, her attempts to fit in to modern day society and her ultimate failure to do so  is shown being interviewed here on American Television in 1969 along with Susan Sontag, another brilliant writer and film maker  . . .  a rare interview.

Talat's Cinema Notes - Sagar Sarhadi Interview: Art Film "Baazaar" and Spreading Urdu in India

Sagar Sarhadi, a Screenplay Writer and Playwright who wrote the screenplay for the Indian Parallel Cinema Art film "Baazaar" starring Naseeruddin Shah and Smita Patil as well as "Bhagat Singh Kee Vaapsee" and many other plays, speaks in favor of appreciating and spreading the Urdu language in modern day India. Terrific Interview in two parts.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Talat's Cinema Notes - Chinese Art Film Chungking Express starring Hong Kong Diva Faye Wong!


Watch Chungking Express by clicking on the embedded link here.

Chungking Express is a Chinese Art Film that I enjoyed particularly because of the short monologues that the main character in this movie (a Hong Kong Policeman) engages in while puttering about lonesomely in his empty apartment once his girlfriend (an air hostess) has dumped him and he is not sure whether he is still in love with her or should he make an effort to move on with his life. The monologues with his bathroom soap and bath towel were really funny yet poignant!! 

Chungking  Express stars two leading actors of the Hong Kong movie industry... the girl's part is played by Faye Wong, a particularly talented Diva-like actress who made this role her own by deftly combining meaning silences and facial expressions with improvised dialogue to create an unforgettable modern day heroine . . . a young  mischievous but endearing woman who works in a Fast Food restaurant.

Talat's Cinema Notes - Jim Jarmusch's American Art Film "Stranger than Paradise"

As a PhD student in the U.S. in the mid-80s to the early 90s, I was exposed to many Art films . . . among these were movies by Jim Jarmusch.

Jim Jarmusch uses a light touch (unlike Tarantino !!) in telling his stories.
 Watch "Stranger than Paradise"  by clicking on the link embedded here.

I particularly like Jarmusch's film "Stranger than Paradise" . . . it has a lightly sketched plot, sparse dialogue and the emphasis is on the actors' body language and facial expressions, so that one becomes visually immersed in the story-telling experience. Simply wonderful.

Talat's Cinema Notes - Urdu Art Film "Paar" (The Crossing") starring Naseeruddin Shah Shabana Azmi Om Puri

               Paar (translation: "The Crossing ") is a 1984 Hindi movie based on a short story by Samaresh Bose and directed by Goutam Ghose. The film stars Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri. Naseeruddin Shah won a Volpi Cup for his role as Naurangia. 

   When the landlord of a small Indian village sends his goons to attack and kill the school teacher, trouble erupts and destroys Naurangia's little universe and he ends up becoming a fugitive from the law. The movie Paar follows Naurangia as the story unfolds.

       Watch the movie "Paar" by clicking the link embedded here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Talat's Cinema Notes - "Khaarij" (Case Closed) An Art Film by Mrinal Sen, a Bengali Film Director

Khaarij  (Case Closed)  An Art Film by Mrinal Sen
  خارج   مری نل  سین  کی  ایک  بنگالی  آرٹ  فلم

          I love this Bangla Art Film "Khaarij" which I just finished watching on a Sunday morning . . . it taught me something . . . that you don't need a lot of dialogue in movie scenes to tell your story . . . Mrinal Sen's screenplay for this movie has some dialogue but it is artfully interspersed with shots where the actors don't say anything but their gestures, body language and especially their eyes and facial expressions say everything ... and say it powerfully !!

           A tour de force in cinematic technique !!

           The dialogue is clipped as it is in daily life and everyday usage... the shots where there is no dialogue are not too long (otherwise the silence may have become burdensome or boring) ... Mrinal Sen and his film editor know exactly how far to go with the silent shots.

             The setting for this movie is a middle class neighborhood in the heart of Calcutta. The focus is on the young boys who are employed by middle class families as house servants for pennies . . .  the boys come from rural families . . . the drought and the frequent crop failures combine with the lack of family planning to create a nightmare where the boys' fathers come to the nearest cities to hand over their loved ones to the uncertain custody of families they have never seen before in their life. 

          The entire movie is shot "on location" in a "Chawl" or multi-story building . . . this one is three storied and the family who owns the building has rented out portions of each floor to various families. There is no "set" in a film studio for this movie. This fact, that everything is shot on location, and the way the shots are constructed (camera placement etc.) gives a gritty, realistic feeling to the whole movie. Some of the shots outside the building, showing common people gathering as onlookers, are very moving !!  

            The actors, all of them, even the three child actors, have done a tremendous job in Khaarij . . . this tells you what a sham "Bollywood casting" really is where Bollywood insiders and a handful of actors' families supported by Bollywood producers don't let any talented outsiders come in . . . and the result is that Bollywood Cinema in the 21st century is a rotting corpse whose stench does not reach the movie makers themselves . . . Ha Ha Ha !! Irony of ironies!! 

             Mrinal Sen must have inspired all the actors in "Khaarij" for them to give this amazing performance... I felt that the acting was flawless and complimented the clipped dialogue effortlessly. There were no long speeches . . . There was not an ounce of "filmee" feeling in this movie and there was no Amitabh or Shahrukh who delivered long worded speeches aimed at some authority figure 
. . . what a slap in the face for Bollywood movies in general !! 

          The Mrinal Sen Art movie "Khaarij"  is a true gem of the Indian parallel cinema movement !

           Bravo! Mrinal Sen and the entire movie team of "Khaarij" !!

           Joy Bangla !!

          I recommend this Bangla Art movie "Khaarij"  to all those young adults of Pakistan who have the talent for Urdu poetry and the urge (what Majeed Amjad called the "tarang" ترنگ ) to create modern Urdu verse... this movie will help educate you and inspire you to create beautiful modern Urdu poetry. . . at least that is my wish, my prayer, my desire and the reason I created my web site Dareechah ( and why it has a movies section in it !!  

     You can watch the entire movie for free by clicking on the YouTube URL link below.  Enjoy !!


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Manzoor Husain Jhalla's Punjabi Songs Sung by Various Singers

Manzoor Jhalla Song Videos

Manzoor Husain Jhalla was a modern Punjabi poet who wrote Punjabi songs for the legendary Pakistani singer Reshman as well as for Pakistani Punjabi movies in the 1950's and 1960's made in the various movie studios of Lahore, Pakistan collectively called "Lollywood" from the 1990's onwards.

I have uploaded some of the best Manzoor Jhalla Punjabi songs here as videos to introduce and popularize the creations of this talented Pakistani Punjabi poet to young Pakistanis as well as Punjabi speaking people from Eastern Punjab, now part of the Republic of India.

I am thankful to the various Pakistani YouTube channels like Ahmad Ayaz Baig, MrMastanda, ParvezParvez etc. for uploading these videos on YouTube

I will add more videos of Manzoor Jhalla songs here periodically

Bhull Jaanay-aa Kisay day naal Piyaar Naa Kareen بُھل جاں ڑےآں  کسے  دے  نال  پیار نہ کریں 

Dil Cheer Kalay-jayoN Paar GayyaaN  دل  چیر  کلیجے اوں پار  گیاں 

Hanjoo Nazraanay Tayray  ہنجو نزرانے تیرے

Ay Mitthee-aaN soolaaN pyaar diyaaN  اے مِٹھی آں  سوُلاں  پیار دی آں   

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Meena Kumari's Literary Contribution: Urdu Ghazals written by Meena Kumari

 Meena Kumari Urdu Ghazals  Video Recordings of Meena Kumari singing her own Urdu ghazals

مینا کماری کی اردو شاعری کو عام کرنے کے لیے میں یہاں اُن کی غزلوں کے چند وڈیو رکھ رہا ہوُں

چاند تنہا ہے آسماں تنہا
دل مِلا ہے کہاں کہاں تنہا
مینا کماری

آغاز تو ہوتا ہے انجام نہیں ہوتا
جب میری کہانی میں وُہ نام نہیں ہوتا
مینا کماری

ٹکڑے ٹکڑے دن  بیتا  دھجی  دھجی رات کٹی
جس کا جتنا آنچل تھا اُتنی ہی خیرات بٹٰی
مینا کماری

آبلہ  پا کوئی اِس  دشت  میں  آیا  ہو گا
ورنہ آندھی میں دیا کس نے جلایا ہو گا
مینا کماری

پوچھتے ہو تو سنو کیسے بسر ہوتی ہے
رات خیرات کی صدقے کی سحر ہوتی ہے
مینا کماری

یوں تیری رَہ گزر سے دیوانہ وار گزرے
کاندھے پہ اپنے رکھ کے اپنا مزار گزرے
مینا کماری

Friday, January 11, 2013

Review of Sarmad Sehbai's TV Art Play "Jal Pari"

Review of  Sarmad Sehbai's TV Art Play  "Jal Pari"

(telecast worldwide on cable channels and via satellite TV in January, 2012)

Playwright: Sarmad Sehbai; Director: Sarmad Khoosat
Lead Female Character (Shaista) played by Neelum Munir;

Title Song : Chandra Maa! 
Lyrics : Sarmad Sehbai; Singer: Rahat Fateh Ali Khan; 
Music Composers: Farrukh Abid and Shoaib Farrukh   
Pakistani Urdu Playwright and Urdu Poet: Sarmad Sehbai

Pakistani Director: Sarmad Khoosat

Talented Pakistani Actress Neelum Munir

Mahjabeen Habib's terrific performance in Geo TV's Art Play "Jal Pari"

Beautiful depiction of the character Chaand by this actor in Geo TV Channel's Art Play "Jal Pari"
The above URL link contains the lyrics of the "Jal Pari" theme song "Chandra Maa!" at my Urdu poetry web site Dareechah.

The Theme Song "Chandra Maa!" from the Art Play "Jal Pari" 
uploaded at my YouTube channel "Goonj"
(the actual music video graphics have not been used because of copyright considerations)

My EMAIL of January 2012 to Jal Pari’s Production Team at Geo Cable TV Pakistan:

I have been a big fan of Sarmad Sehbai's poetry since my University days (Quaid e Azam University, Islamabad, 1979-1981) and have also watched Sarmad Khoosat as he initiated his career by acting in adaptations of Saadat Hasan Manto's short stories. Sarmad Sehbai's "Bachon Kaa Park" and "Fankaar Galee" deserve to be considered classics in the history of Pakistani Art Plays and so it was with great anticipation that my wife and I started viewing Jal Pari ... one memorable scene from this play which has got imprinted in my mind is the one in episode 7 where the character Shaista opens up her heart to her mentor and teacher.

Jal Pari is like a breath of fresh air in the stagnating and stifling atmosphere of Pakistan's popular TV channels. Where most other Pakistani channels have opted to mimic Indian TV channels and go for "masala", violence just for the sake of ratings, loud camera movements and special effects for the sake of special effects, some of the Pakistani TV channels are breaking new ground. In this regard, I can cite plays like "Burns Road Kee Neelofar" by ARY and now a Geo TV channel play called Jal Pari with pride and a great deal of satisfaction.

 Jal Pari is shot entirely on location and fulfills one of the criteria of realism in Art Films and Art TV plays. The subject is gripping: the emotional evolution of a middle class young girl from the inner city of Lahore.  I suspect that this play was originally set in Lahore, based on my reading of some of Sarmad Sehbai’s recently published poems, but had to be filmed in Karachi for ease of production reasons.  Anyway, the lead character Shaista refuses to give up her dreams and aspirations and decides, very bravely, to face the current male dominated conservative Pakistan mainstream society.

The camera movements, the editing, the whole arrangement of shots that make up each scene is done with loving care and here, Sarmad Khoosat and his team of editor and digital post production people deserves a lot of praise and Shaabaashee. The casting is, for once, excellent and all the major characters are being depicted or performed by beautifully natural acting. All the actors, especially especially this new find, Neelum Munir and also Mahjabeen Habib. I was very touched by a couple of scenes in episode 7 where Mahjabeen's character bonds with Shaista's character in some very emotional scenes: Mahjabeen and Neelum's acting in those scenes should win them the Pakistani equivalent of an Oscar award for sure!!

I feel that Adnan Siddiqui has been given a very challenging role and he is trying his best to not look stilted and "frozen" in his expressions. Possibly the plot and the character's profile demand a low key, non-emotive performance and this is helping Neelum's character a lot as Adnan's character is contrasting well with the warm, bubbly quality of Shaista and the whole thing then comes alive and looks very real to the viewer... at least to me.  The scenes with the character Chaand are directed and acted out convincingly and I am also enjoying this character a lot. 

Also, the musical composition for the title song is brilliant and is sung with passion by Rahat Fateh Ali and the lyrics, what can I say, are characteristically Sarmad Sehbai at his best. Chandramaa deserves to stand alone as a powerful song, a gem in the gallery of Urdu Geet and I love hearing it again and again. Congratulations to  Farukh Abid and Shoaib Farukh who composed the music for the song "Chandra Maa!."

I pray that all of Sarmad Sehbai's future endeavors flourish and become popular. I would like to mention here that the famous Latin American novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez (a noble prize winner ) devoted a great deal of his time to writing TV serials for Latin American popular TV channels as he felt that this was the only way to influence the viewing taste of the general public and to bring them closer to the literary world and to one day develop in them a taste for viewing literary classics on the mini screen and in cinema. 

I feel that Sarmad Sehbai is on the right track and it is writers like him who will eventually turn the tide, and bring the general Pakistani viewing public back towards enjoying and demanding to see literary works on TV and on the big screen. I wish to propose that for its next project, the Special Projects team of Geo consider Zahida Hina's "Naa Janoon Raha Naa Pari Rahi" and also an Urdu language version of Fauzia Rafiq's English language novel "Skeena" (released in Punjabi in Pakistan in 2007 by Parveen Malik via Saanjh Publications, Lahore)  currently available as an English language novel on and as an electronic book on the Kindle section of the web site. These two novels are also about a unique womanly perspective on contemporary Pakistani society and are set in modern Pakistan.

It is works like these which are truly modern Pakistani literary classics and will present challenging screenplays. I suggest that veteran TV directors like Yawar Hayat should be considered for these two works. I also suggest that Geo's Special Projects team consider hiring famous Urdu poets Fehmida Riaz and Shabnam Shakil to write lyrics for these two plays. Fauzia Rafiq is an extremely talented and successful Screenplay writer (Aapay Ranjha Hoee in mid 1970's from Lahore PTV studios was her screenplay adaptation of the novel "Poor Folk" by the Russian master Feodor Dostoevsky and her novel "Skeena" is about 80% dialogue anyway so it would be great if Geo hired her (she resides in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada) and Zahida Hina has written screenplays for TV before and would be the obvious choice for a screenplay based on her novel.

Thank you Geo, thank you Iqbal Ansari, thank you Khurram Raza and most of all Sarmad Sehbai, Sarmad Khoosat, Neelam Munir, Adnan Siddiqui and Mahjabeen Habib and the actor playing Chaand for giving your best, the sweat and blood of your creativity to this wonderful creation Jal Pari ! 

Long live Pakistani Art Plays!

A choice selection of Sarmad Sehbai's Urdu poems, Urdu ghazals and Urdu songs can be read at my web site Dareechah :