The unforgettable Battle of Loungewala

Another Independence Day of India has arrived. 71 years completed. Still we crave for patriotic movies able to arouse our love for our country in the most emotional manner. J.P. Dutta made one such movie in the year 1997 titled as Border which is a landmark in the series of war-based movies in India. In my subjective opinion, it is the second best war movie ever made in India (the best being Haqeeqat made in 1964 by Chetan Anand). I like this movie so much that I have watched it five times in theatre and even more on the small screen. More than the action, it is the patriotic emotion exasperated by this movie that always appeals to me and forces me to watch this movie once more.

It is based on the famous Battle of Loungewala happened on the Loungewala post near Jaisalmer (Rajasthan) during the Indo-Pak war of 1971. Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri (still alive) led the small force containing a handful of soldiers (total 120) and took on the might of some 2000 and odd Pakistani opponents during that fateful night of 4th December, 1971. J.P. Dutta has presented that memorable battle alongwith all its leading events and facts in the most authentic and impressive manner.Border-1997-Sunny Deol plays the role of Major Kuldip Singh who gets an assembled force to protect the post of Loungewala which includes Captain Bhairon Singh (Sunil Shetty), 2nd Lieutenant Dharmveer (Akshaye Khanna), Subedar Ratan Singh (Puneet Issar), Subedar Mathura Daas (Sudesh Berry) and like wise. This small armed force has a cook Bhaagi Ram (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) who is an old buddy of Subedar Ratan Singh. Very near to them is the Wing Commander Andy (Jackie Shroff) busy in making an altogether new airbase right from scratch. He is supposed to help the army troops with his fighter planes but when the deadly hour comes, he is not able to do so because the planes under his control can not fly in the night. He is able to reach them and start bombarding the Pakistani tanks in the morning only. By that time, those 120 soldiers have to spend the deadly night, staring straight in the eyes of the death. And they do so with courage and conviction and during this exercise several of them lay their lives for the cause of the motherland.

J.P. Dutta’s own brother Deepak had got martyrdom in this war. Hence he has made this movie with personal emotions. That’s why Border seems to be coming straight out of his heart. Right from the very first frame, the movie grips the viewer and does not leave him till the very end. These emotions only seem to have led Dutta to go for some rhetoric too which could have been done away with. The shooting on real location with the utmost realistic revisiting of the warlike environment, the arms and the ammunition and finally the scenes of the war is simply mesmerizing and showcases Dutta’s highly admirable talent in making this type of a movie. The toil and sincerity of Dutta and his whole team speaks for itself from each and every frame of the movie. It does not appear even for a moment that we are watching something imaginary. The viewer gets a genuine feeling of witnessing that unforgettable battle. The display of relevant locations and dates on the screen alongwith the scenes makes the narrative highly authentic. The personal problems of the soldiers alongwith the leave issues, the sentiments associated with the letters coming from their homes, the learning of a young militaryman as to how to kill the enemy without getting emotional about him etc. are the sensitive points dealt with by the master director with utmost care and sensitivity.Border-1997For the technical aspects and the action scenes of the movie; the more we praise it, the better. Watching the war scenes on the big screen is a treat for the action lovers. There is momentum in the movie throughout, barring some romantic tracks and some songs. Cinematography and editing, both are at their very best. Screenplay has been written by Dutta himself whereas his father O.P. Dutta has written the dialogues. Dialogues could have been better. However J.P. Dutta has been able to cover this weakness by his forceful screenplay and action on the screen.63566302J.P. Dutta has also exhibited the exemplary secular character of our country and the liberal and all-embracing feature of Hinduism. Sunil Shetty’s act of saving the copy of Quran Sharif from the burning house demonstrates the secularism prevalent in our country vis-a-vis the discardable fundamentalism propagated by our sworn enemy.

Anu Malik has composed highly admirable music for this movie and strung the beautiful words penned by Javed Akhtar in memorable songs. Sandese Aate Hain by Sonu Nigam, Roop Kumar Rathod and others is definitely a memorable song to listen to as well as watch on the screen. Hindustan Hindustan Meri Jaan Hindustan at the end of the movie, Mere Dushman Mere Bhai Mere Humsaaye by Hariharan and the romantic song – Hamen Jabse Mohabbat Ho Gayi Hai by Alka Yagnik and Sonu Nigam are all very good to listen. The romantic song by Roop Kumar Rathod picturized upon Sunil Shetty and Sharbani Mukherjee playing his wife on their first conjugal night – Aye Jaate Huye Lamhon, Zara Thehero Zara Thehero is one of my most favourite romantic-emotional songs.sandese-aate-hain-lyrics-border-1997Performance wise talking, since Border is a male-oriented movie, the female cast (barring some footage coming in the share of Raakhee and Pooja Bhatt) did not get much to do. The track of Sapna Bedi as the romantic angle for Jackie Shroff is totally superfluous whereas Tabu as Kuldip Singh’s wife has got a blink and you miss kind of role. However the actresses in their odd scenes and songs have not disappointed.Border-InlayThe movie mainly belongs to the male cast. Sunny Deol has given a towering performance and I suppose even the real life Major (later Brigadier) Kuldip Singh Chandpuri also must have praised him after seeing the movie. Barely 22 years old Akshaye Khanna has delivered a highly mature performance as Dharmveer. Jackie Shroff, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Puneel Issar, Sudesh Berry and many more characters playing the soldiers have done quite well. The admirable thing is that every character is able to maintain its separate identity in the movie and make the viewer feel its presence. Finally, the actor who conquered the heart of Jitendra Mathur is Sunil Shetty. Sunil as Captain Bhairon Singh who is highly emotional for his motherland, quietly stepped deep into my heart with his touching performance.imagesFor a person who has liked this movie (just like me) it has enormous repeat value and can be watched any number of times. It’s a memorable movie upon an unforgettable historical event.

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Shammi Kapoor’s last movie as a romantic hero

Seven long years have passed since Shammi Kapoor left for his heavenly abode. The famous YAHOO hero is no more. Out of the three sons of the legendary artist – Prithvi Raj Kapoor, everyone carved a niche for himself and developed an identity of his own, quite distinctive from his father and the two brothers. The middle son Shammi Kapoor (born on 21.10.1931) started his career as a romantic hero (from Jeevan Jyoti – 1953) with the traditional mustache on his face. However in the late fifties, he clean-shaved himself and adopted a new style suiting a fun-loving hero. Tumsa Nahi Dekha (1957) was the first noticeable movie in this context and Junglee (1961) set him on top of the world.  imagesWhile paying my tribute to the legendary hero, I am reviewing his last movie as a romantic hero which is Andaz (1971) in which he starred opposite the Swapna Sundari (the dream girl) – Hema Malini with the then superstar of Hindi cinema – Rajesh Khanna starring in a guest appearance.

Andaaz (way of doing a thing) is a family drama. It tells the story of a widow and mother of a son, Sheetal (Hema Malini) and a widower and father of a daughter, Ravi (Shammi Kapoor) who come across each other through their children and start liking each other. Ravi is the step-son of the (female) head of a business family and his unscrupulous and licentious younger brother, Baadal (Roopesh Kumar) is always conspiring against him. Sheetal is, in fact, the daugher-in-law of a rich man (Ajit) who had discarded his son, Raj (Rajesh Khanna) and herself for marrying against his wish. She, while preserving the memories of Raj who had passed away in an accident, is fostering her little son by making a living through working as a teacher in the school where Ravi’s son is also her student. Ravi, on the other hand, has been licking his wounds and tackling his loneliness since the demise of his wife – Mona (Simmi Grewal). Feeling that himself and Sheetal can fill the vacuum in each other’s life (because their griefs and loneliness are similar), Ravi proposes to Sheetal and she too, accepts his proposal. However their marriage is not acceptable to his step-mother (Achla Sachdev). When his step-brother Baadal (Roopesh Kumar) rapes a working woman – Mahua (Aruna Irani) and after her committing suicide, throws the blame on his head, life seems to be becoming hell for him. However everything falls in place in the end and the union of Ravi and Sheetal eventually takes place.

Ramesh Sippy (the director of the legendary movie – Sholay) has directed this emotional family drama pretty well. The movie is not only interesting but also through the characters of the little children, touches the heart of the audience at many places. The song – Hai Na Bolo Bolo, Papa Ko Mummy Se, Mummy Ko Papa Se Pyar Hai, can be viewed in this light. The story is a formula-based one but the skilfully written screenplay is able to entertain the viewers throughout.

Shankar Jaikishan have composed praiseworthy music for this movie. It contains the immortal song of Kishore Kumar – Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhaana, Yahaan Kal Kya Ho Kisne Jaana (penned by Hasrat Jaipuri). Its shorter version is in Rafi’s voice too in the movie. In addition to the song mentioned in the previous para, other songs are also quite good. Dil Usse Do Jo Jaan De De and Re Mama Re Mama Re are specifically notable.

The technical and production value aspects of the movie are quite in line with the trend of the late sixties and the seventies as well as the repute of the Sippy banner.It’s the last movie of Shammi Kapoor as a romantic hero and his role demanded maturity not only on face but also in performance. And Shammi Kapoor has done it perfectly. Nowhere is he over the top and portrayed the widower and an affectionate father on the screen with finesse, bringing all his experience as a hero over the previous 18 years into his performance. Hema Malini is miscast in the role of a widow having a school-going son because of her tender age (barely 23 years), yet the dream-girl has made it up through maturity in gestures and performance. Then superstar Rajesh Khanna has delivered a heart-winning performance in the guest role. Others are routine. However the child-artists are the heart and soul of this movie and they were instrumental in making this movie a box-office hit.I unconditionally recommend this entertaining family drama to the movie buffs and bow my head in the memory of the legendary actor – Shammi Kapoor who will always remain in the hearts of his admirers. May his soul rest in peace.

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Golmaal Hai Bhai Sab Golmaal Hai . . .

First of all, I sincerely thank my dear friend and esteemed blogger Deepak M.R.  for inspiring me to write a review of this classic comedy by the legendary director – Hrishikesh Mukherjee. I am sorry for being late in posting this review. The delay took place because I wanted to watch it again before writing the review.Golmaal.JPGGolmaal (1979) is one of the best and (commercially successful) movies of the perennial simpleton of Bollywood movies of the seventies – Amol Palekar. However, despite his straightforwardness, sincerity to work and middle-class manners, he is not that simpleton in this movie. He is smart enough to tackle his practical problems with the contingency approach of management and befool his employer by creating the fake identity of his look-alike twin brother. And this is the Golmaal (confusion / hodgepodge) in this movie which consists of not only the fake mother of the hero and his sister but also her (fake) look-alike twin sister as well. The end result of this Golmaal is plain and simple – laugh-filled healthy entertainment for the audience.

Ram (Amol Palekar) is an orphan who lives with his sister Ratna (Manju Singh) and needs a decent job after passing the C.A. exam (just like the writer of this review). His maternal uncle – Kedar (David) directs him to an industrialist Bhavaani Shankar (Utpal Dutt) who is not only orthodox and old-fashioned but also a bit finicky. He does not like youths taking interests in extra-curricular things and has a special disliking for the clean-shaven males (not sporting a mustache). Ram presents himself before him the way he wants his employee to be and soon wins his confidence too through his sincere work. However the trouble starts for him through his being caught by Bhavaani Shankar while watching a Hockey match. Now to save his job, he creates the fake story of his vagabond look-alike twin brother – Lakshman. A new twist arrives with Bhavaani Shankar’s hiring Lakshman’s services to take music tuition of her daughter – Urmila (Bindiya Goswami). The young pair falls in love. Further, since Ram had taken leave to watch the Hockey match under the excuse of his mother’s illness, now he has to create a fake mother also who is a theatre artist – Kamla Srivastav (Deena Pathak). Even worse, when she is caught by Bhavaani Shankar in a party, her fake twin sister is also to be created. And the climax comes when Bhavaani Shankar decides to marry his daughter to Ram but she is willing to marry Lakshman (without knowing like her father that both are the same). The laughter-filled climax leads to the union of the lovers and clarity of everything before Bhavaani Shankar (i.e., resolution of the Golmaal).

This story based on the plot of fake identities and the lies spoken is not only full of laughs and entertaining sequences but also touches at several places through the human relations and sentiments among the middle class people. The brother-sister relation, the mother-daughter as well as the mother-son relation and the concern of the benevolent maternal uncle for his nephew and niece, everything is heart-warming and creating sublime feelings in the viewers. The characters of the helping friends of the hero are also to be seen in this context. Right from the start to the very finish, the movie is highly entertaining and impressive by all means.

Amol Palekar was a master in performing such roles and it is undoubtedly one of his best performances. The artist matching him in performance is Utpal Dutt. Their amazing on-screen chemistry was later seen in Naram Garam (1981) too (which I found even better than Golmaal). Both these great actors have generated unlimited fun for the audience with their hilarious interactions. Deena Pathak, Manju Singh, Deven Varma, David and the other supporting actors in cameos, everybody has done well. Bindiya Goswami has filled the quota of heroine.

Director Hrishikesh Mukherjee demonstrated his mastery in not only profound movies but also comedies. Golmaal was a box office hit because it effortlessly won the heart of the Indian audience. The movie does not contain a single boring scene. It starts hilariously and it ends hilariously as well. A perfect entertainment.

Technically the movie is up to the mark. Hrishi Da’s movies are always wrapped in simplicity. The same is the case with Golmaal. A middle class family environment has been maintained throughout the movie and there is no artificiality visible anywhere, may it be the office or the households. The length of the movie is also optimum.Pancham Da (R.D. Burman) has composed admirable music for the movie with the lyrics being penned by Gulzaar. The title track, Ek Din Sapne Mein Dekha Sapna and Ek Baat Kahoon Jo Maano Tum are all good. However the best number is Kishore Kumar’s classic song – Aanewaala Pal Jaanewaala Hai.

Golmaal has enormous repeat value. Anybody who watches it once, likes to watch it again. Hence I recommend this classic comedy from Bollywood cinema unconditionally to all and sundry. Watch this laugh-filled story embedding Indian family and social values once on my recommendation and you will undoubtedly watch it for the second time without anybody’s recommendation.

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It’s better than the movies on Kashmir

We have had several movies made on the decades old Kashmir problem but yet to see a good movie in recent years doing full justice to the still burning issue. Kashmir has been burning for the past twenty years. However if you read a Hindi novel written almost two decades ago, quite surprisingly you will find it doing complete justice to this issue giving constant pains and tension to we, the Indians. This novel is – Dehshatgardi (terrorism) penned by the renowned Hindi mystery writer Surendra Mohan Pathak in the year 2000. Presently 2018 is running and still the novel looks quite relevant because the status of the things depicted in the novel is as it is, even aggravated, to be precise. It’s not a mystery though the author has earned name and fame as a mystery-writer. It’s a thriller without any mystery. Anybody who can read Hindi and fond of reading fiction, will find this one decade old novel far better than the contemporary movies claiming to be dealing with the sensitive Kashmir issue.

Image1719The story starts with a hardcore terrorist Bakhtiyar Ali Khan who is involved in the terroristic activities with the help of ISI and some like-minded high profile people among whom one is a jute-manufacturing industrialist of Kolkata, a corrupt army officer posted at Binapur (W.B.), an international arms dealer and the like wise. But there is a peace-loving seasoned Kashmiri leader, Shauqeen Ahmed Lon who opposes his terroristic activities and wants his wrong steps to be checked. In their bid to get arms and ammunition on mass scale from Germany with the disguised help of the corrupt Iranian ambassador in France (who endorses on the documents that the purchase of arms and ammunition is for Iran), the international arms dealer, Ibrahim A. Rehmani has to arrange a few murders out of which, one is of the Indian foreign secretary in Geneva. The assassins arranged by him are Shah Jamaal, an international contract killer and Madaam Zoya, his lady associate who jointly run a night-club cum brothel in Paris. John Haster, the Swiss police officer, investing the murder of the Indian foreign secretary in Geneva, is able to reach the truth behind that high profile murder with his sincere efforts but prohibited by his senior officer because of the apprehension of a political confrontation due to the involvement of the Iranian ambassador in France in the murder conspiracy. But he continues with his attempts to catch the criminals at his personal level.

Here, in India, the terrorists plan to hit an inter-continental train, named as ‘The Continental Express’ which is a luxury train connecting six different countries and run mainly to provide a luxurious international trip to the extremely rich people. The people who get involved in the mission to protect this train from the terrorist attack are a senior RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) official, the chief security adviser of the company managing this trip of the train, the general manager of the insurance company giving insurance cover to the train and an international lawyer representing the railway boards of the different countries touched by the train. They plan to seek the help of C.I.A. in their mission through the Govt. of India and succeed in arranging a trained C.I.A. agent sent by the Govt. of USA to travel in the train in the disguise of a senator. Bakhtiyar Ali Khan, through Ibrahim A. Rehmani, again hires the services of Shah Jamaal to arrange a lethal attack on the train. Sheela Garner is the keep of the jute industrialist, Kamaldev Chaudhary (who is in fact, a Bangladeshi with his real name being Kamaluddin Chaudhary) and works in the Public Relations Department of the American Consulate at Kolkata, arranging useful information for Chaudhary. She comes to know that Peter Kody, the American senator coming to India is actually an impostor and passes this information to Chaudhary. The Swiss police officer, John Haster also decides to move to India to catch his coveted criminals red-handed during the terrorist attack on the train.

All these relevant people involving both, those masterminding the attack and those engaged in preventing that attack, get assembled on the train in which Madaam Zoya, by her wit, ensures the presence of some members of the British royal family too. In the fast-paced, action-packed and prolonged climax, the terrorists alongwith the corrupt army officer, Sharad Adhikari are killed, Ibrahim A. Rehmani is arrested and Chaudhary is killed by the ISI people at his residence in Kolkata. Resultantly, terrorist activities are calmed down in Kashmir at least for some time.

This novel grips the reader from the very first scene and if you read it in one go, it will give you the experience of a roller-coaster ride for sure. The narrative moves through different countries and locations and involves several characters in action. It is nothing less than an edge-of-the-seat thriller if you compare it with a movie. I have read it many times and every time, I get the same kind of thrilling pleasure. The action scenes are just marvellous. I wonder if this novel is adapted for making a movie, how thrilling that movie can be. The storytelling job has been done in not only the most interesting manner but the most authentic manner also. The only thing is that neither any inter-continental train as shown in the novel, exists in present, nor likely to exist in future. If we ignore this fact, no incident or the fact mentioned in the novel, looks artificial or out of the real world.

The novel very truly pinpoints that the problem of Kashmir is multi-faceted and the terrorists are getting help from different sources including some well-off Indians who are not identified as anti-nationals as well as the corrupt military officials. Their helping branches are spread in several countries which have to be traced out and cut if these activities are to be curbed in the genuine sense. The novel underscores that the common Kashmiris are not pro-terrorism and they want peace in their state. It also propagates the idea of dividing J&K into three parts – Kashmir, Jammu and Laddakh so that the terrorist activities getting strength from the valley, get centralized there and dealing with them becomes less-confusing. It also highlights females’ active role in the international terrorism.

The novel is not character-based. It is event-based. Hence there is no hero or heroine in the novel. You just start reading and within the reading of barely a few pages, you will be so engrossed in the fast-moving narrative that it will be a Herculian task for you to leave the book without reading it to the last page.

I recommend this novel to all the readers of Hindi fiction as well as all the people interested in getting an authentic account of the Kashmir terrorism. Whether you read it for making yourself knowledgeable upon this topic or you read it for sheer entertainment, it will serve you in both the ways.

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Saawan Ke Jhoole Pade, Tum Chale Aao …

Whenever there is any talk of rain, the name coming to lips is Saawan only. There have been several memorable rain songs in Hindi movies. One such song is Saawan Ke Jhoole Pade, Tum Chale Aao (the swings in the month of Saawan have been installed, you come please). This beautiful song sung by Lata Mangeshkar in the classical Raag Pahaadi is in Hindi movie Jurmana (1979) which I am reviewing today. This love triangle stars Amitabh Bachchan, Raakhee Gulzar and Vinod Mehra in lead roles.  poster227x227The nucleus of the story of Jurmana (fine / penalty) is a simple small town girl – Ramaa (Raakhee) who lives with her widower father – Dayashankar Sharma (Dr. Shreeram Lagoo) who is a retired teacher and now facing health problems with his eyesight getting dim day-by-day. They are financially weak but believe in simple living and high thinking, following the Indian ideals of life. Prakash (Vinod Mehra) is a simple youth like them only who silently loves Ramaa. He keeps on visiting them regularly and taking care of Dayashankar. Their peaceful lives get disturbed just like the stirring in the silent water of a lake by the dropping of a stone in the same. This is because of the entry of Inder (Amitabh Bachchan) who has been a student of Dayashankar years back (or at least he claims so) and is an old buddy of Prakash. Inder is now a rich businessman and due to some bitter experience with a girl in the past, looks upon every girl as a sex-object only. Whenever he comes into contact with some girl, he immediately starts wooing her only to take her to his bed. He has come to their town because of a construction project of him and as soon as he sees Ramaa, he falls for her and starts making his evil designs to bring her to his bedroom. Prakash who not only loves Ramaa in his heart but also knows her piety and idealistic way of living very well, enters into a bet with Inder that his bad intentions will not succeed with Ramaa. He also cautions Ramaa and her father in this regard. However Ramaa who is too impressed by Inder, gets trapped by him. However before any undesirable thing could happen, Dayashankar and Prakash reach Inder’s house where Ramaa has visited by lying to her father. Completely shocked Dayashankar is not able to tolerate his daughter’s act and her lying to him and he asserts that he will never be able to forgive her because she has broken his trust as well as his heart.4_Jurmana_1979_DVDRip_X264_1_CD_BY_tamercome_SCNow, heartbroken Ramaa who is not able to convince her father that she has not done anything against his teachings and the morals of life they have always believed in, leaves for some unknown destination. She is robbed in the train and by losing her money, becomes completely helpless. A kind-hearted station master (Asrani) gives shelter to her, treating her as his sister. The train in which she was travelling, meets an accident and it is known to all that she has died in that accident. Now she starts singing on radio under the fake name of Sudha. On the other side, Dayashankar and Prakash keep stones on their hearts, accepting the fact of Ramaa’s death but Inder who had unknowingly fallen in love with her and is now genuinely repenting for ruining the happy home of hers and her father, is not ready to accept it. He starts searching for her under a firm belief that she is alive. Due to this emotional shock, Dayashankar has completely lost his eyesight and has become blind. Inder asks Prakash to take him to a house owned by him at another place and ensure his peaceful living and proper medical treatment. This fact is kept hidden from Dayashankar that Inder only is behind this arrangement. Prakash lives with Dayashankar and takes care of him whereas Inder keeps on searching for Ramaa. Finally he finds her. Now all the four principal characters of this story alongwith a close friend of Ramaa – Laila (Farida Jalal) re-assemble at that place. Prakash convinces Dayashankar to forgive Ramaa and arrange her marriage with Inder whom she loves. However Laila who has always been aware of Prakash’s feelings towards Ramaa, conveys this fact to Inder that Prakash has always loved Ramaa without expressing it to her. After some emotional tension and drama involving the threesome, the story reaches its expected conclusion.out_php_i_408911_jurmaana1979Let me assert it frankly that this movie is much below the standard of director Hrishikesh Mukherjee who has presented gems like Anari (1959), Anuradha (1960), Anupama (1966), Satyakaam (1969), Anand (1970), Abhimaan (1973), Chupke Chupke (1975) and Golmaal (1978). This is because of the weak script. Though Hrishi Da has directed the movie pretty well, it could not become a memorable one. The climax and the pre-climax events appear to have been executed in somewhat haste. Some more footage to the emotional quotient of the relationship among Ramaa, Inder and Prakash would have made the movie a more appealing one. The characters of Prakash and Dayashankar are well-developed but the character of Ramaa has not been given proper scope to develop fully and that of Inder is a bit sketchy. The movie is not bad all the same.indexI am able to relate to the character of Prakash who is such a silent lover that he perceives his happiness in the happiness of his sweetheart only and does not want or expect anything in return for his love for her. However the decision taken by Ramaa in the end as to who should be her life-partner (although she is not shown vividly as taking this decision) is not very logical. It’s more prudent to marry who loves you instead of marrying whom you love. Preity Zinta, Saif Ali Khan and Chandrachoor Singh starrer Kya Kehna (2000) had a more logical ending from this viewpoint. Anyway heart does not act according to common logic. Besides, myself being a male, may not be able to understand how the females think and feel.2_Jurmana_1979_DVDRip_X264_1_CD_BY_tamercome_SCMade with a low budget, the movie presents the story in a simple milieu. Both the art director and the cinematographer have taken care of maintaining simplicity throughout. It’s not unduly long but as I have asserted supra that some additional length giving space for the sentiments of the three protagonists of the story would have been better. Background score is in order. Dialogues are also apt.R.D. Burman’s music is admirable. In addition to Saawan Ke Jhoole Pade, Chhoti Si Ek Kali Khili Thi and Aye Sakhi Raadhike Baawari Ho Gayi are also very good and spread the fragrance of Indian soil and Indian classical music. Anand Bakshi has written the beautiful lyrics of these songs.

Performance wise talking, the way Gulzar has always been able to extract the best out of the actor Jeetendra, the same way Hrishikesh Mukherjee has always been able to extract the best out of the actor Amitabh Bachchan. Despite the half-baked role, AB has done well. Ditto for Raakhee whose character (around which the story revolves in the true sense) has not been given ample footage and scope. Dr. Shreeraam Lagoo, Asrani, Farida Jalal, A.K. Hangal, Keshto Mukherjee, Manju Asrani etc. have done complete justice to the assigned roles. The best performer, in my view, is Vinod Mehra.s-l300Summing up, Jurmana is not an excellent movie but it is definitely a decent watch. Considering the music appeal as well as the star appeal (AB and Raakhee) being its additional plus points, the movie buffs liking emotional dramas will definitely find this simple movie as their cup of tea.

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Miss Marple resolves a mystery for the last time

I do read very less English books. However when it comes to an Agatha Christie novel, I cannot leave it. And once I start reading it, I have to reach its finish in one go only. I am a great mystery fan and among my favourite mystery writers, Agatha Christie holds the numero uno position. The mystery queen (1890-1976) was a writer par excellence in writing spellbinding mysteries and creating a mysterious world of characters and events in such a way that, in my view, none can match her penning skills.

Agatha Christie has two most popular series for her detective novels – 1. Hercule Poirot Series, 2. Miss Marple Series novels. Hercule Poirot is a gentleman whereas Miss Marple is an elderly lady. Sleeping Murder is the last published novel of Miss Marple, in fact. the last published novel of Agatha Christie though it is said to have been written during the second world war days. Agatha Christie passed away on 12th January, 1976 and Sleeping Murder came before the world after that only in the same year. After reading Sleeping Murder, anybody can feel that the mystery queen had saved her best for her last novel. It’s an outstanding murder mystery by all means.indexA newly married woman, Gwenda Reed nee Halliday comes to England from New Zealand to settle down. She believes that she had gone to New Zealand from India in her early childhood and never been to England before. However after selecting a house in Dillmouth and moving thereto, she starts feeling that this house and everything in it is quite familiar to her as if she had been there earlier too. Getting too uncomfortable because of this fact, she moves to London and happens to come across Miss Marple. While watching a play, she feels that a dialogue of the play had been heard by her earlier too and it’s related to some horrible incident witnessed by her in her early childhood. Then comes the story of her stepmom, Helen who is said to have run away with some other man, leaving her father behind to die in an asylum. However clue after clue suggests that it might not be true and there’s some terrible truth hidden, related to a murder. Miss Marple advises Gwenda and her husband Giles Reed to let ‘sleeping murder lie’ as it is and not to dig buried skeletons. But destiny takes these people forward and forward only in the direction of discovering the hidden truth. Finally the decades old truth and the criminal get exposed.Sleeping-Murder-Agatha-Christie-925034354-435994-1The complete narrative is engrossing without a single superficial line or a single boring paragraph. The reader cannot afford to relax in between and postpone the reading of the unread portion. The penning style of Agatha is so great that the reader gets restless to know the truth and goes on reading relentlessly. She possessed the unique knack of first folding and then unfolding a mystery on a layer-by-layer basis and revealing the truth when all the layers are put off, like those of an onion.51758190Further Agatha always focuses on the psychological aspect of the incidents (mainly the crimes) which form the narratives of her novels. She always dives deep into the mental world of her characters and delves the psychological reasons for whatever they did. Since most of the crimes (especially the homicides)  take place due to psychological reasons, her stories are close to reality and sound quite logical after the suspense is revealed in the climax. Sleeping Murder is no exception. Not only the psychology of the leading lady, Gwenda but also of the other characters (including the murder victim and the ultimately exposed murderer) have been explained with finesse.

Miss Marple, the aged female detective has not been kept in high profile in this novel. However she is able to connect the broken links and the clues to reach the truth quite skillfully. Any fan of Miss Marple Series novels will admit that Sleeping Murder is one of the best (if not the best) novels of Miss Marple Series as well as the murder mysteries penned by Agatha Christie. 6a00d8341e589c53ef01a73d9a7457970dThe language is enchanting. The flow is smooth. The twists and turns are able to keep the viewer tightly gripped. No proof-reading errors. No boredom. No superfluous incidents to fill the pages. Crisp and fast-paced narrative with every word being useful and relevant in the context of the story. Summing up, everything falls in line in Sleeping MurderSleeping-Murder-9781572702851I recommend this last published novel of the mystery queen to all the mystery lovers as well as the people fond of reading stories based upon the complexities of human-psyche.

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Subtle bias

Every forum of expression and every medium of expression as is found today (and was found yesterday as well) brim with content mixed with bias. A bias may be completely individual or may be institutionalized. Since views, opinions, assessments etc. are bound to contain a subjective element in almost all the cases, bias in general, is not something uncalled for. What’s uncalled for is something else.

Expressions in forms of speeches, articles, blogs, reviews etc. are meant to impress upon the readers (and not just to enlighten them), hence the bias inherent in them acts as a catalyst to sway their viewpoint in the direction of that of the speaker or the writer (as the case may be). It’s not at all wrong to take sides according to one’s own line of thinking, nor is it wrong to influence others’ minds in a bid to bring them to own side. The ethical issue (as I feel) comes into picture when the bias is not loud, it’s subtle.

When a bias is loud, the listener or the reader can judge it as per his / her wisdom and decide whether to accept the viewpoint of the speaker / writer and if yes, then to which extent. He / she can follow a Hindi maxim – Suno Sab Ki Karo Mann Ki (listen to all but do only what your heart tells you to do) for framing his / her own opinion about the subject-matter concerned. But the cunning (so-called) thinkers, activists, lobbyists and paid-reviewers know very well that loud bias works with those only who are already in favour of (or against) the issue or the person or the product they are propagating or maligning. To be more effective, therefore, they use subtle bias.

I had read about this kind of bias in my chapter of communication when I was studying Psychology as my optional paper for my Civil Services attempt. Cunning propagandists present the things in such a way that their presentation appears to be completely neutral whereas actually it is biased but the tilt is so subtle that a person of normal IQ cannot identify it and he / she considers the material as completely objective and unbiased. But the bias which is meant to brainwash the genuinely neutral persons, acts smartly and in most of the cases, the naive and trusting readers / listeners are carried away by it. If, at the end of the day, even one neutral fellow finds his thoughts moving towards the side of the author / speaker, this subtle bias has served its purpose.

I read a lot of articles on a variety of subjects  viz. politics in India, world dynamics, social traditions vis-a-vis social reforms, the issues pertaining to womenfolk, caste system and caste-based reservations in India, approach of one religious community towards the other, explicit content in books and movies, brain-drain, crime and punishment, law, literature, cinema etc. And I find that a number of popular and acclaimed authors (most of them being the so-called intellectuals) use subtle bias to sway the popular opinion towards their own (based on their ideology or their vested interest). The articles appear to be completely neutral at a glance and apparently every argument or every assertion therein is objective and fact-based. But as it is asserted for statistics that they can prove everything as well as nothing, it demands a careful examination on the part of the reader to be sure that lies and unconfirmed pieces of information are not mixed with known facts. Mostly such segregation of fact and fiction from the composite work presented is not easy. And that ensures the triumph of the author who is actually biased but appears neutral.

Subtle bias mixes with the known facts just like water is mixed with milk, losing its colour in that but diluting the quality of the milk. When the quantum of water mixed in the milk is relatively low, even the consumer of the milk (containing that water) cannot guess that he is not consuming pure milk. The colour of the drink being consumed by him is white only and without use of a lactometer, the manoeuvre of the shrewd milk-supplier cannot be caught. And the trick of the trade is not to get caught only. The users of subtle bias use this tool to aggravate trivial things and also to dilute serious matters according to their own convenience and interest. The way toned milk is the same as fatty milk in appearance, the same way such aggravated or diluted presentations of facts appear to be the same as they would have appeared had they been presented with complete objectivity.

The strength of subtle bias lies in its remaining hidden from the normal sight and hence it is a lethal weapon in the hands of the smart (or oversmart) ones which they strike at the genuinely unbiased and neutral people who trust their word. I personally consider it a crime, an intellectual crime which always goes unpunished. You take a stand, you take a side, you promote some ideology or thought but be clear and transparent in your expression. Usage of subtle bias is just like a wolf’s roaming around with the sheep while wearing the skin of a sheep, thereby hiding its true identity. It’s a glamorized hypocrisy. And a sin in my considered opinion.

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