When Banno And Teja met O, the French journalist

It’s only when O, her eyes half-shut asked, “So is there anything at all that you like about Indian cinema?”, did I realize that Teja and I had been ranting about what one of our seniors, KS, from the Film Institute calls the “Bandra school of film-making”.

I immediately said, “Oh but, I grew up on Hindi films, and I still need my weekly fix of them.” To cover my embarrassment I asked her, “And you, what do you think about it all?” She said, “Well, I see everything I can, and I like it all, from ‘Devdas’ to ‘Mr. and Mrs. Iyer’ to ‘Kabhi Alvida na Kehna’. And I cannot be objective about it, even if I know what’s good and bad, because it’s all so different to me, so exotic. In fact, it’s French cinema that I am fed up of.”

I guess that’s true of us as well. I’m ready to accept almost any kind of narrative form, pace, technical finesse, in a foreign film, but am much more critical when it comes to Indian films. Even when she asked, “Which are the films that have influenced you the most?”, the names that come most easily to mind are the films of foreign directors, Fellini, Ozu, Truffaut, Zhang Yimou, etc, etc. But I suspect that is only a pat answer.

In truth, I am more influenced by the films that I’ve seen the most, and those that I do love, from Guru Dutt, V Shantaram, Bimal Roy,K Asif, Manmohan Desai, even at times David Dhawan. I like the films made by Sunil Dutt, Manoj Kumar, Chetan Anand, Vijay Anand, Nassir Husain, Mehmood, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Shakti Samanta, BR Chopra. I don’t instantly like Karan Johar’s work, but I’ve watched ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ and ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam’ several times on TV, and I do love watching his TV show. The same goes for Sanjay Bhansali’s ‘Devdas’ and ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’, even though I hate his retrogressive chauvinism. I liked Farhan Akhtar’s ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ and his ‘Don’ with all it’s glaring mistakes, more than the original one.

I love the old Muslim socials like ‘Mere Mehboob’, the mad hatter films like ‘Padosan’, ‘Tere Ghar ke Saamne’ and ‘Chupke Chupke’, and even some of the early Jeetendra films like ‘Farz’.

And I am not even talking about Ray and Ghatak and some of Mrinal Sen, and Mani Kaul, and even some of the old Marathi black and white films I used to watch on Saturday evening Doordarshan, including some old Dada Kondke films.

This list-making could go on for another year, by which time I’ll have seen many more films. Makes me wonder how much of my life I have actually spent watching films, as compared to doing other things.

10 thoughts on “When Banno And Teja met O, the French journalist

  1. I’ve recently gotten into watching classics like…Casablanca and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I never saw those so I feel like I have to catch up. And I saw Maria Full of Grace (spanish with english subtitles). Nicely done but it left me wanting some more. Oh, Angelina Jolie’s “A Might Heart” is disturbing…especially if you’re a Pakistani watching it in America. Sad.

  2. I’ve recently gotten into watching classics like…Casablanca and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I never saw those so I feel like I have to catch up. And I saw Maria Full of Grace (spanish with english subtitles). Nicely done but it left me wanting some more. Oh, Angelina Jolie’s “A Might Heart” is disturbing…especially if you’re a Pakistani watching it in America. Sad.

  3. what a lovely refreshing post.. am tired of all the french subtitle watching ppl who refuse to enjoy david dhawan!

    after all, i think most of that happened only after we got into college… before that it was mostly good old desi fare with some english thrown in for good measure…

  4. what a lovely refreshing post.. am tired of all the french subtitle watching ppl who refuse to enjoy david dhawan!

    after all, i think most of that happened only after we got into college… before that it was mostly good old desi fare with some english thrown in for good measure…

  5. Yes, mad momma, I know. It’s finally what you’ve seen in childhood that leaves that indelible imprint on your mind.

    Hey Mukul, enough’s not enough. We live a charmed life, don’t we, where watching films, reading, and doing all the good things of life, qualify as work

  6. Yes, mad momma, I know. It’s finally what you’ve seen in childhood that leaves that indelible imprint on your mind.

    Hey Mukul, enough’s not enough. We live a charmed life, don’t we, where watching films, reading, and doing all the good things of life, qualify as work

  7. Once a certain genre of films become familiar to oneself only then does one see the differences. It seems we need certain parameters to judge a film.
    Every frothy 60s film for me has to measure up with Teesri Manzil, though I have other parameters for Dev films. Raj Kapoor films have to measure up with Awara, Guru Dutt films are always compared with Pyaasa.
    When I started watching Hitchcock films, I was fascinated by them, now I only see the pattterns which get repeated. At times, I love them and at times it is like, ‘hey, there!’ and at other times, ‘not again!’. But still, that wouldn’t mean, I don’t like Hitchcock.
    In the beginning, I used to lap up all French films, nowadays I’m too critical of them and shut them off if they don’t catch my attention in the first 20 min.
    All Hollywood films are watched naturally with a very anti-capitalistic glasses.
    But just let a South-American film come along, and if they are from the 50s still better, they are watched thoroughly from start till the end. The boredom is excused as the director’s pace of the narrative. Stills which pan the screen for 5 mins or more get force-convinced as a bold political statement.
    The mind, the dear mind, does take the proverb “familiarity breeds contempt” very seriously.
    But never the less comes back again to the familiar!

    1. Yes, Harvey, that is so true. I still catch myself doing the same thing, making up all kinds of artistic/political/cultural reasons for things which would bore me in Indian films. 🙂

Leave a Reply to the mad momma Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s