Stories about cinema

I am from Pakistan and I will be celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema

India and Pakistan are two angry nations. Every now and then, there is an unfortunate incident, or two, that makes them mad at each other — really, really mad. Currently a great deal of tension is mounting on either side of the border. Although I find myself ineligible to be commenting on the current state of political affairs the two countries are embroiled in, there is this one message I want to send across the border. On May 3, 1913, Dadasaheb Phalke, an Indian director, producer and screenwriter, released India’s first full-length feature film titled Raja Harishchandra. I did some quick math, failed, ...

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Chambaili: The perfect tonic for a dejected Pakistan

Yesterday, I watched the much-awaited film, Chambaili – the first in a long list of Pakistani feature films under production and probably the most hyped movie since Bol that was released two years ago. It is a shame that Pakistanis have to wait for such a long period of time between the production and release of films; that said, the movie is worth the wait. It is far superior to the films produced by our bigger and greater neighbour. Disclaimer- spoiler alert! Chambaili is like no other film. The movie revolves around the political structure of a country – it draws an underlying comparison ...

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Chashme Baddoor: Another sad attempt at a remake

It seems Bollywood is on a remake spree. A weekend after the release of the Himmatwala remake we are offered Chashme Baddoor, a remake of a 1981 comedy of the same name. While with remakes, one inevitably ends up comparing it to the original, I am going to try and be fair to the 2013 movie, and not pitch the two versions against each other. Chashme Baddoor  is an out-and-out David Dhawan comedy – full of cheesy shayari (poetry), slapstick (and sometimes over the top comedy) and exaggerated situations. This is not a movie for those expecting any form of sense in ...

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Himmatwala: An unoriginal piece of disappointment

Before reviewing the new Himmatwala, allow me to introduce you to the original 1983 depiction of Himmatwala. K Raghavendra Rao’s Himmatwala (1983) was an experimental film, in which he signed Jitendra, a sinking mega star of the early 1980s whose movies were slumping at the box office back in those days. Similarly, Sridevi was signed because of the limited budget, as she was planning to leave the industry as her career, along with her movies, seemed to have plummeted. Kader Khan, who used to play negative roles, was not getting any movies either, but was signed on for this one. The concept of remaking South Indian movies ...

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The bond condename theory

Since the first James Bond film, Dr No., there have been 23 official films and for 50 years, Bond has foiled terror plots, crashed cars, seduced women and defeated the process of aging; but then there is this theory… Known as the Codename Theory, it suggests that there is no one single James Bond, but that “James Bond” is a codename passed on from one agent to the next as each retires (just as the titles of M and Q are awarded to their replacements.) The theory explains the agelessness of Bond – note that Daniel Craig’s Bond became 11 ...

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, an absolute pleasure!

When Gandalf first appears at Bilbo Baggin’s front door, at least half a dozen screams erupt in the packed cinema hall. These screams continue to be heard (followed by equally loud ‘shhh-es’) sporadically throughout the 169 minute long showing of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – a film that seems to be director Peter Jackson’s attempt to fulfil all (and I really mean all) his dreams of doing further justice to JRR Tolkien’s detailed vision of Middle-earth. Suffice to say, anyone who has seen and loved the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy (haven’t we all?), read the books, occasionally glanced through the appendices, learnt ...

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Cry over a charred cinema but not a dead human being?

The six cinemas that were torched during the rather ill-fated Ishq-e-Rasool Day, marked the decline of cultural tolerance in Pakistan. However, going by news coverage of that day, it seemed that this incident was more important than anything else that happened. However, there was another side to the story, too. The sun that went down on Ishq-e-Rasool day, held as a mark of protest against an anti-Islam video, took away many other things along with it; including 26 lives — lives which did not spark a debate in the news media. One can posit that these 26 lives belonged to ...

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A day from the life of Lehri

In the past 10 days, my thoughts were floating just like my wafting expressions in the year 1956. It was the year when the world saw the first hint of amusement in my words. No! I was not a madman running on the streets of Karachi but the famous “Lehri”. Those were the golden days of my life and also of the Pakistani industry, but today I lay quiet at my final resting place. There were days when I was the king of comedy ─ a king who was not entertained but was a source of entertainment. I did not have ...

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Why are kids watching this stuff?

Recently I went to the theatre to watch the movie Prometheus which has an R rating universally. If you are not familiar with the rating system, let me explain that the rating ‘R’ means that children under 17 must be accompanied by parents as the film contains adult content. You can, thus, understand my astonishment when I saw children – who were approximately between the ages of 10 and 12 – occupying two front rows of the theatre without any adult supervision! For a minute, I was in a state of shock, because I knew what this movie was all about since I am in ...

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Shabnam: A bright star of a bygone era

In the 60s, Shabab and Evernew studios were considered the two best film studios in Lollywood. Any director in Lahore would want to shoot his films there. Like many legends of that era, the beautiful Shabnam also spent most of her time shooting at these locations. After 14 years, Shabnam returned to Pakistan last month. Although Shahab no longer exists and Evernew is not what it used to be, Shabnam’s fans were keen to have one more glimpse of her as she visited her colleagues in Lahore. Film technicians who had worked with Shabnam back in the day described her as a ...

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