Friday, January 13, 2006

A tag and a reluctant list

Opinionated had tagged me, asking me for a list of favourite movies, and though I didn't really want to do lists - mostly because it is so hard to identify favourites, and also because I tend to ramble and digress so many times that the post becomes a really long one.

But to begin, I must first clarify that, when I say a movie is great, I could be saying so for three reasons, and will therefore break this (ever-growing) list into three categories.

A] The movie was so much fun that I could watch it 'n' number of times. I still laugh at the funny scenes, I still get cry during the sad ones, I still grin stupidly during the romantic interludes. Films of this sort are like college friends whom you're always happy to visit, though you may not want to see them every single day. Like:

Sholay (needs no explanation)
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (the reason Kundan Shah will never lose my respect, no matter how much forgettable trash he turns out in the future)
Satte Pe Satta (Amitabh Bachchan, seven wild brothers... )
Namak Halal (Amitabh Bachchan... "I can talk English, I can walk English", and "daddu, tum?!")
Mughal-e-Azam (Madhubala, Dilip Kumar, feather stroking cheek, dialogues... the supreme contempt embedded in "kaneez ko zille-ilahi se yahi ummeed thi")
Chupke Chupke (Dharmendra, Sharmila Tagore, conning the family)
Hungama (the only movie where I fell off my chair, laughing)
Padosan (Kishore Kumar chewing-spitting paan, Sunil 'Bhole' Dutt, Mehmood, Saira Bano at her prettiest, sauciest, flightiest, best!)
Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (Kisore Kumar, Madhubala, ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si, Ashok Kumar, Anup Kumar)
Masoom (Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Jugal Hansraj... lakdi ki kaathi)
Dil Chahta Hai (don't we all love it?)
Children of Heaven (Iranian film by Majid Majidi.)
Chicago (the English musical... the one with Richard Gere tap-dancing)
My Fair Lady (musical again, Audrey Hepburn in the lead)
Moulin Rouge (musical, yes. Nicole Kidman, the colours, the music, the accursed show which simply must go on...)
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (so much like a big, fat Indian wedding, it feels like home! please note that this is one of the few Englis movies I like which is not a musical!)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (breaks my heart, it does...)

B] This category of movie is one where I am captivated as long as I'm in the dark theatre. Nothing jars, nothing is out of place. No obvious flaws in script, or performances. So I acknowledge the brilliance involved, even though - in retrospect - I may not want to watch it a second time. Like:

The Sixth Sense (I don't like horror or supernatural thrillers as a rule, but this one was something else.)
Black (the new Hindi one)
Pather Panchali (the first of Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy)
Lagaan (the only cricket match I've been able to sit through... teeth clenched, fingers crossed et al!)
Mammo (Shyam Benegal, Farida Jalal playing granny, grannies as protagonists)
A Beautiful Mind (the one where Russel Crowe plays a prof)
No Man's Land (the one that Lagaan lost to, at the Oscars)
Zakhm (Mahesh Bhatt's directorial swan-song)

3] The kind of movie that may not seem to be all that powerful/brilliant while I'm watching it, but two weeks - or two years - later, a scene from the film will flash across my mind with such vivid intensity that I will be taken aback... these are films I can't forget, not if I tried. Films that reached into my subconcious and hooked their claws into a corner of the fabric. Films that stay with you - sometimes, despite you - like personal ghosts. Like:

Sazaa-e-Kalapani (Priyadarshan's film about the Andaman prisons in pre-independence India)
Arth (one of the reasons why I forgive Mahesh Bhatt for scripting Murder and its ilk.)
Mahal (Ashok Kumar falling in love with a ghost)
Phir Teri Kahaani Yaad Aayi (not sure why I like it, but I do; it haunts me)
Boys Don't Cry (Hilary Swank... I still shudder and switch off a section of my mind when I think of the climax)
Turtles Can Fly (An Iraqi - or Kurdish? - film about a bunch of kids, orphans in times of war)
Peacock (Chinese film about... how can you say what it was about... that kind of film.)

[Not linking to all the films in question; I don't have the time.]


I entirely forgot to mention Let's Talk, an English film made in India, that is the cinematic interpretation of a thumri. This is an interesting film, a strange film (with Boman Irani, in his pre-popular avatar, delivering a spectacular performance) about options, decisions, alternatives and the open-endedness of most situations.

Also, speaking of alternate endings, perceptions about truth and reality, questions about goodness and so on, it's hard to beat Kurosawa's Rashomon (one of those movies... haunting your conscience, making you think, testing your own values).


1conoclast said...

Thanx for the much evinced reluctance. Phew! This is quite an exhaustive favourites list. You more of a movie buff than I thought you were. What amazes is me is the range of movies that you're interested in. This list spans practicaly every genre, except for Action & Sci-Fi. Got any favourites in that section?

david raphael israel said...

I've seen just some few of these; but...

I heartily agree Peacock is in the remarkable category. Its qualities seem "literary" in a peculiar (not merely literal) sense.

My reading of that film's final scene (where the peacock in end does spread its wings, although none in the family were present to see this) -- involves an idea of the "group consciousness" [arguably the subject of much of the film]: & that in end, it was this collective consciousness or group soul [in the instance represented by the VIEWER: you] who does witness the moment when the bird spreads its wings.

Thus (incidentally) picking up & answering (in its own way) the old philosophical saw about the tree that falls in the forest.

cheers, d.i.

Dr. Gonzo said...

Share your opinion about Black.

In a related vein, just wrote a particularly delicious (aw well, it was for me) review of Zinda.

(yup i am html illiterate)

Annie Zaidi said...

opinionated, i AM a true film buff. you forget i used to watch EVERYTHING, including movies in different languages WITHOUT sub-titles. i don't watch enough sci-fi or action (unless it's comic) to have favourites there. i enjoy the 'crouching tiger...' kind of movie, but have yet to see an action film that makes for repeat value, or leaves a lasting impact.
david, you're right with your analysis, as usual.
prakriti, will go see.

noob said...

Quite loved your chioce of English films. Little basis for judgement on the Hindi ones.

But I think Amitabh Bachhan has got enough attention already. True, Sholay, Satte Pe Satta are timeless, but most of his recent movies are bullshit. I'm talking about his acting......

Just posted a review on my blog on the drawbacks of Indian Cinema. Please, I'm not an expert, but one has one's opinions. Even if it means saying that Big B, King Khan and AIshwarya are bloated gasbags who get more attention than they deserve, or even that they are pieces of shit.

1conoclast said...

Prakriti, Zinda is an "adaptation" from a Korean film this time. Today's Bombay Mirror has an article on Sanjay Gupta's latest copyact.
Annie, I hope you aren't insinuating that mindless action films like the Bruce Lee movies or Quentin Tarantino's movies or even Oscar winners like the Gladiator do not have repeat value. You risk offending hordes of fans who buy collectors editions of these films. I haven't even begun to mention the other Oscar winners like Rocky-I that spawned 5 sequels. What about the Star Wars trilogy & it's prequel trilogy?
Pipsqueak, there must be some truth in one's name rubbing off on one's personality! Amitabh Bachchan is the GOD of Indian Cinema. And a handful of atheists cannot do HIS reputation any harm. Ditto Ash. As for the Khan you mention here, I agree. Kong Khan would be a more appropriate epithet.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a SciFi fan either, but I loved Gattaca (Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Jude Law). Try it :)


Anonymous said...

How, how, HOW can Angoor be left out of the first list???

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