Those movies that shaped my beginnings and which I never reviewed

Publié le 8 Mai 2010

 This is going to be ABSOLUTE  INDULGENCE.


Veer-Zaara. Ah, lieutenant Veer, Zaara… and miss Saamiya! I think this is the movie I watched most, perhaps 4 times… Not a lot compared to some, but for me, yes! This is for me the “foundation movie”. Why did I (do I) like Veer-Zaara that much? Preity’s lovely eyes? SRK’s dashing uniform, and then (much later) his not so dashing stoop? Now that I can safely say so without being over sentimental, it is probably thanks to “Tere liye”, and the final scene, where Yash Chopra, that cunning old fox, plays with my heart-strings so shamelessly! That mixture of youth and greying age, of love, loss and justice! Shivers and wonder. So, just in case somebody, somewhere in the galaxy, has not heard or seen that song, here it is:

I know why I love this song so much: in a disguised way, it represents my belated affair with Bollywood, which for me was discovered in middle age, when young love belongs to the past. But if a thing of beauty revives those long-lost emotions, youth seems to come back and for a while re-enchant my life. That's what I see in the two lovers who meet in the courtroom, and whose eyes can see beyond appearances, and all the way down the corridors of Time. And because with this song I can never quite keep back the pearls from the corners of my eyes: here is Do pal: bless you Lata!

I also loved the combination of doggedness in Saamiya’s character and the strain of faithfulness present in Zaara’s. That moment when the two meet after twenty-something YEARS… And also Amitabh and Kiron Kher as they elders in the village, whose work they decide to carry on… All this for me was as good as gold. There were of course rather longish passages, especially in the first part, when the Lieutenant Veer Pratap Singh has to prove his worth! But the scenes in the prison were a good balancing.                           

 Raincoat is the sad one. For me, Raincoat was that song “Mathura Nagarpathi” (above), with Ajay Devgan the loner, walking through the rain, past  indifferent crowds and distant rickshaws back towards his destiny (nice destiny, this Neerja-Aishwarya). I was taken aback (at the time) by the wide eyed beauty, and saw her appearance through the broken panes of her persona as an epiphany of a slow Bollywood which I didn’t know existed!  Rituparno Ghosh did that to me. And so I thought he was perhaps a promising director, but I was soon disappointed when I saw Chokher Bali…Still, Raincoat remained in my mind as the quintessential sorrowful movie which nicely counterbalanced the fiery tunes of Kal ho na ho or Dil se!

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’s songs I used to know by heart, even at a time when I wasn’t learning any hindi, and even if I can still rarely understand what these wretched lyrics mean (more than often, I’m told not much!!), well I cannot remember them half as well now. Hmm… let’s try: Tuum paas aie, yuun muskuraie, tumne ne jaane kya, sapne dikhaie… Not so bad !! So here goes :

So… KKHH : I was SO immersed in the magic then that I could think of nothing than go to Gare du Nord in Paris, get the films I didn’t have, and come back home, glowing with anticipation, the precious parcel under my arm!! I don’t remember when or where I got KKHH: it’s all wrapped up in the one whirl of excitement of those first months. But I remember I had bought the songs first, and I knew them before I’d seen the film, and so I had unknowingly put myself in the position of filmi crowds: when I saw the flick, I swooned literally at the moment when those crazy Scottish or Swiss scenes come up!! There was so many great moments, so much sweetness and freedom in the silliness of it all! And of course the unwrapping of the love-story, what a change from those serious, pessimistic films I was used to see over in Europe! And even stronger than in Veer-Zaara, Rani’s smile had left me dumbstruck! That such wonderful sweetness, youthfulness and generosity actually existed on Earth…! And Kajol’s change from dungarees to saris: I remember that today as I remember first love…


And I think I also, silly fool that I was in those days (Shucks, it’s me I’m talking about!! I can’t have changed all that much!) I think I was in love with Sharukh Khan! Difficult not to succumb to his charm, what do you say? I officially declare I was in love with him.  What else can I say about this movie? It’s my first Bollywood love (together with DDLJ), and I just love the fact it exists. Thanks Karan, you’re the best. 

I loved Swades because of that long trip to the village which SRK should never had reached, because of lovely Kaveriamma, of the nights under the Indian stars, far away from the NASA base and all its technology. I loved Mohan’s trip to that old and penniless peasant far away beyond the lake, and what he learnt on route there. And of course I fell for slender and clever Gayatri Joshi! Then there’s that beautiful adventure of the water plant, so meaningful and satisfying. The combination of the magnificent photography and great story, that’s the secret of Swades.


Black was among the first BW movies I saw, and of course I immediately realised it wasn’t a standard masala. Contrary to Swades, I haven’t seen it since all that time, and remember only flashes, Rani’s strangely luminous face, unlike any of her previous characters, with a slight squint, her bonnet, amazing. Amitabh’s glorious acting, I really loved him then, I don’t know at all how what I’d think now. His shuffle in that room waiting for her to come, his helplessness, his strength and his frailty. I knew immediately the film was a remake of Helen Keller’s story, seen on TV long ago, but Black struck me as a worthwhile remake. I especially enjoyed the first part, with young Michelle, and all the teaching symbolism, that teacher taught story. Oh, and this is the moment to say how much I used to love Rani’s voice, and oh, here’s the famous extract where Michelle is kissed by the one person who has reached her soul:

Chalte chalte. I’m finishing with Chalte chalte because of the dog. In that film there’s a scene where Rani (as sexy as ever – check Tauba tumhaare yeh ishaare!) and SRK (as eyebrow-clever as always) have fun at a fair, and she sees a cute plush dog which she wants him to buy her, just out of a crazy longing for something childish and soft. And that dog isn’t at all cute. It’s ugly. But gallant SRK cannot tell her that, can he? He’s got to find a way to tell her that he can’t possibly buy her that dog. But she rushes towards him, and begs him, in front of the dukanvala who’s watching the scene, tongue in cheek. And the talk is just hilarious. This cutely ugly doggly had me ripping myself apart. Now there’s also the second half of the movie, with its heartbreaking sadness, and you know by now I have this obscure part in me that loves distress and misery… Er, I forgot, also I love gloom and depression! Ah, and I also wanted to say, there’s that scene where Rani has to explain all the situation to her parents (I think) and poor SRK is waiting outside near his car. Well, we don’t see or hear what they say, because it’s obvious. Instead, we have this shot of Rani’s scarf and the glorious safedi of Greek houses… Cool way of shooting, I had told myself.

There are other movies that shaped my beginnings, but these are the *BEST*! I’ve noticed that SRK is in 4 of the 6, Rani Mukherjee in 4 too, whereas all the others occur only twice or three times. So that has got to be my special jodi! What was yours?

                    Chalte chalte-copie-1

Rédigé par yves

Publié dans #Bollywood Talk

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Just discovered your blog, very heartful reviews, you sir are an amazing writer!
Thanks Roberto, please enjoy yourself and don't hesitate to comment again. And, if you have suggestions, I'm ready to listen to them. What makes you visit this Bollywood blog?
<br /> <br /> Inspired after reading your blog and other blogs on the Hindi Film industry, I have started a new blog to share my love of Indian music, both 'filmi' and classical. I shall try to post a piece of<br /> music as often as possible, from the genres of Hindi film music, classical Indian music (Carnatic music more than Hindustani), Qawwalis and Ghazals - this is the music which touches my heart.<br /> Please do look up my site at and subscribe if you want to listen with me.<br /> <br /> <br /> Suja<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
<br /> <br /> Many thanks Suja: I'm off for the tour!<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
<br /> <br /> Hi Yves, I write a travel blog from time to time, its at You will see quite a few entries on France; I am as fascinated by France as you are by India and my husband and<br /> I travel in your country quite often:) Please do visit my site :)<br /> <br /> <br /> We indians who live outside our country watch Indian films for more than one reason - for entertainment of course, for the music that appeals to us, for the beauty (Indian films seem to be<br /> populated by more that your normal average of beautiful people and locations, isn't it? :), but also for the emotional connection with a past we have left far behind us but which pulls at our<br /> heart strings all the time. So when I see a motherly figure serving up a meal in a typical middle class home, memories of my own home flood in, as of my own mother, serving me lunch in<br /> much the same way, saying much the same things. Though exxagerated, the emotionality of the Indian people portrayed in its films is authentic, and that, more than anything else is what draws me<br /> to see these films.<br /> <br /> <br /> I will write one day soon a little piece describing the mark-making films I have seen and their connection to periods of my life and send you a link when I do so :) Unlike yourself, my<br /> viewing is not that of a critic, or even a psychologist or a philosopher (you seem to be one in some write ups :) . Indian films and their music is woven into the fabric of my life, as mundane as<br /> eating a meal, as important as a hug from a friend.<br /> <br /> <br /> @+ Suja<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
<br /> <br /> Hello Suja,<br /> <br /> <br /> Well thanks a lot for this long and friendly message. I'll definitely go and have a look at your blog soon! You're right, I have this interest in movies that goes further simple appreciation; I<br /> try to read in them the meaning which their author must have put, not always consciouly perhaps, but artistically. A movie's structure is full of meaning, and it's fascinating to try and piece it<br /> together in order to recreate lines of meaningful interpretation. Unlike you, naturally, I don't have a nostalgic reminiscence of a home in India (wish I had, in a way) and so I cannot relate to<br /> the movies in that way. But still this world has become a part of me, and step by step I enter this world with wonder as well. You mention the music, well that's certainly where a non-Indian can<br /> share some of what an Indian-born must feel, because the language of music has this universality which we must all feel.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
<br /> <br /> I've read random articles from your blog with interest. In this page you have mentioned the movies which I too have watched with greet affection. And that's the word I would use for watching<br /> Indian movies. As an Indian, I was brought up on a fare of Indian films (stricly censored by my parents, who allowed me to watch only what was approved word-of-mouth by the majority of their<br /> friends !!) Affection is the word because they are not often admirable, thought-provoking, meaningful or intellectually stimulating. But they can be emotionally and visually stimulating<br /> and the music, for me, is the best ! Often I fall in love with the music (like recently with Dabangg) and wince through a movie I simply hate, all for the love of the music !<br /> <br /> <br /> I also read with interest your travel experiences in India. Doesn't sound as if it all went that well, but ah, life is not like its in the movies, no? :) But no, I correct can<br /> share the same love-hate relationship with India as with its movies.<br /> <br /> <br /> Best wishes for the continued pleasure of movie watching, I'll keep an eye on your blog from time to time.<br /> <br /> <br /> Suja<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
<br /> <br /> Hi Suja,<br /> <br /> <br /> What a nice comment about both the films and last August's travels! You're right about the music of course, the movies are sometimes that bad, that you are going from song to song basically. But<br /> I've been fortunate enough not to have had that experience too often. I try to pick the films that I know/hope will contain enough interest, and then even when there are no songs, I still have<br /> something to chew on!<br /> <br /> <br /> Well thanks for your visit, and do not hsitate to write about what you like! Do you have a blog/facebook page where you give your likes and dislikes?<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />