Monday, January 23, 2023

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Ten Indian Musicals

Dutt's Entertainment: ten immortal Indian musicals

When most people think of Indian movies, they think of Bollywood, of men and women in colorful costumes, dancing and singing before elaborate sets; when more knowing people think of Indian movies they also think of Satyajit Ray and his brand of understated realism. The world's perception of Indian cinema remains fixed on a juxtaposition of these two extremes-- extravagant commercialism vs. austere arthouse. Film critic Pauline Kael didn't help matters when she said "Ray is the only Indian director; he is, as yet, in a class by himself...the Indian film industry is so thoroughly corrupt that Ray could start fresh, as if it did not exist..."

Which is an amazing statement, one she'd probably never have made if she knew better-- if, say, she had sampled the gritty neorealism of Bimal Roy's Bandini or Raj Kapoor's Awaara, the elemental power of Mehboob Khan's Mother India, the noirish gloom of Guru Dutt's Pyaasa. Indian cinema is a grand buffet of different styles and subcultures, from Bengali (not just Ray, but Ritwik Ghatak, and Mrinal Sen) to Bollywood; Ray didn't just come out of a vacuum but out of a teeming sea of productive filmmaking, most of which are wonderful musicals, some of which have a strong thread of realism and social commentary running through them that surely influenced him, and which he in turn influenced. Roy, Kapoor, Mehboob and Dutt among others made money and won large audiences; they worked in a strictly commercial format, but made films that were at the same time recognizably art.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Segurista (Dead Sure, Tikoy Aguiluz, 1996) twenty-six years later

Segurista twenty-six years later

My most vivid memory of Tikoy Aguiluz's erotic noir was of its censorship by the MTRCB-- the imposition of the feared Adults Only rating, effectively banning it from commercial movie theaters.