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 !!