Thursday, August 21, 2014

Alternative Cinema of the 1980s

If you are like me, you might have at some point dismissed the 1980s as the "lost decade" for Hindi cinema. Sure there might have been as occasional Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron or Mirch Masala, but largely it was the decade of Himmatwala and Mard. I am glad to have been very off the mark. In fact the 80s saw some of the best Hindi films released from directors like Govind Nihalani, Kundan Shah, Saeed Mirza, Sai Paranjape, and many others. So here are 24 movies released in the period 1980-1990, all available on You Tube. Sure, the period is somewhat arbitrary. Some very good movies like Gaman didn't make the list because they were released before 1980. But the point was to redeem the 1980s! Also, the list is not meant to be exhaustive. I will keep adding more as I find them. If you know of some, please leave a comment.

Aakrosh - 1980
Dir - Govind Nihalani
Note: This one is in 4 parts. The first of what I think of as Nihalani's "A" trilogy.

Bhav ni Bhavai - 1980
Dir - Ketan Mehta
Note: This one is strictly speaking Gujarati but mixed with Hindi and stars the usual suspects.

Satah Se UThata Aadmi - 1980
Dir - Mani Kaul
Note: Mani Kaul's highly abstract take on the life and work of Hindi poet Muktibodh.

Sparsh - 1980
Dir - Sai Paranjape

Albert Pinto ko Gussa Kyon Aataa Hai - 1981
Dir - Saeed Mirza

Sadgati - 1981
Dir - Satyajit Ray

Arohan - 1983
Dir - Shyam Benegal

Ardh Satya - 1983
Dir - Govind Nihalani
Note: Second of Nihalani's "A" trilogy. Now you get the reason behind calling it "A".

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron - 1983
Dir - Kundan Shah

Katha - 1983
Dir - Sai Paranjape
Note: Sai's re-telling of the classic tortoise-hare parable, with a twist. Enjoy the lightness of her touch. Sadly taken off You Tube recently. Wll no doubt show up again.

Mandi - 1983
Dir - Shyam Benegal

Giddh - 1984
Dir - T.S.Ranga

Mohan Joshi Haazir Ho - 1984
Dir - Saeed Mirza

Party - 1984
Dir - Govind Nihalani

Subah (Umbartha) - 1984
Dir - Jabbar Patel
Note: This is the Hindi version of Patel's Marathi movie Umbartha. Both were made at the same time with the same cast.

Aaghaat - 1985
Dir - Govind Nihalani
Note: The last of the "A" trilogy. The first one was about tribals, the second about urban decay, and this last one is on unions.

Mirch Masala - 1985
Dir - Ketan Mehta

Genesis - 1986
Dir - Mrinal Sen

Susman - 1987
Dir - Shyam Benegal

Sutradhaar - 1987
Chandrakant Joshi

The Perfect Murder - 1988
Zafar Hai
Note: This may strike some as an odd choice. But watch it and see for yourself! Amjad Khan speaking English the way Englishmen think Indians speak English is just too precious. "Inspector Detector"might be my favorite Khan-ism from the movie. Also a very young Stellan Skaarsgaard.

Salim LangDe pe mat ro
Dir - Saeed Akhtar

Ek Doctor ki Maut - 1990
Tapan Sinha

Disha - 1990
Dir - Sai Paranjape

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The 2014 Budget in Perspective: Pushing Forward the Anti-People Agenda

An article on the 2014-2015 Indian Budget published at

Abstract: The 2014-2015 Budget largely carries forward the neoliberal agenda of the previous governments, but also carries Modi’s stamp. The two striking but less noticed features of the budget are a transfer of resources from the social sector to infrastructure and a larger transfer of resources to the States. Read more here.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

“The moon waxes big so that it might become your forehead”: Ghalib’s metaphor-inverting verses

[Note: I am returning to blogging on this site after  nearly four years. I hope to continue with a series of posts on Urdu poetry.]
The human mind works through metaphors and analogies. And no one understands this better than a poet. In the sub-continental Urdu-Persian poetic tradition, the metaphor was carried to great heights of sophistication during the classical period. The “Indian style” of Persian poetry (sabk-e-hindi) and its allied Urdu tradition became famous (some would say notorious) for their “metaphorical excesses.”[1] Mirza Asadullah Khan “Ghalib” (1797-1869) one of the foremost exponents of this style, is known for his intricate and abstract metaphorical constructions, so much so that he is sometimes called a “mushkil pasand shaayar” or “difficulty loving poet.” But Ghalib also wrote many accessible verses and has always been a very popular poet in India and Pakistan. Choosing some verses from his Urdu and Persian ghazals, in this essay I discuss a particular device that Ghalib used to impart freshness to established metaphors.