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July 28, 2015 Tuesday     
When you hear about a film being praised all over with some calm news coverage, then that becomes a decent notable thing asking for your kind attention. But if you get to know about a film getting long standing ovations in the festivals abroad as well as in the country winning a few reputed awards, then that becomes an entirely different concept raising your expectations levels to sky high hoping for an emotionally shattering, path breaking film talking about something fresh not to be missed at any cost.
And many a times that’s exactly what works against a simple, lovingly made film willing to win maximum hearts in the theater to be honest.
So revealing the basic review, where at one end MASAAN does turn out to be a fine, worth watching film as a powerful debut of director Neeraj Ghaywan, capturing the basic essence of Banaras representing life and death together, at the other it doesn’t offer anything outstandingly new in terms of the basic story content and isn’t able to shake you well as expected from a film majorly focusing on DEATH.
Putting it bluntly, the standing ovation from the foreign audience as well as from a particular section of Indian festival viewers, was probably just because of the extensive ‘burning ghats’ shots and sequences shown in the film for the first time ever in such details. Exactly similar to many of those early Ismail Merchant movies that used to exploit the Indian cities, its local people, traditional rituals, caste-system, suppression of women and poverty on screen winning over the influential western audience for the obvious reasons.
As a matter of fact, my above conclusion got confirmed, when I found many of the co-viewers walking out of the theater talking with each other in terms of,
“It’s good no doubt, but….. that’s it….. jitna suna tha utni nahin thi”.
Straight away pointing towards the humongous expectations raised by the several news reports, tweets, FB posts and videos posted at social network about those ‘standing ovations’. Perhaps in absence of them all, MASAAN could have impressed a lot more, making a surprising impact bridging the gap between the mainstream and festival cinema as desired.
Anyway moving on to the film, it presents two different storylines running parallel to each other that finally meet at a mutual point in the end, representing the ‘Sangam’ - a progression we have earlier witnessed several times before in various films. Thankfully, the interesting insertions in this familiar setup remain ‘many’ ranging from ‘young mind's excitement over sex’, ‘mms curse’, ‘police corruption’ and ‘underemployment of educated girls’ (in the story related with Sanjay Mishra and Richa Chaddha) to ‘soft inter-caste romance’, ‘role of Facebook in an affair’, ‘mention of many renowned Indian poets’ and ‘extensive coverage of burning ghats’ (in the second plot revolving around Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi).
Focusing on ‘hope’ guiding every single character in its script, the major strength of MASAAN (a local spoken word denoting ‘Shamshaan’) becomes its rare picturisation of Banaras like never before, with bodies being burnt by the ‘masaanis’ following their daily hard routine, breaking skulls as the traditional ritual setting the spirits free and the ‘pandas’ making an earning by supposedly reaching and feeding the already dead as per the ages old religious customs. So here we have an entirely different city of Banaras/Varanasi/Kashi that is not the usual tourist destination or ‘the holy town’ normally seen in our movies till date.
But since the film offers all these emotionally moving and worth experiencing sequences post intermission only, therefore it just remains a sweet, realistic take on relationships in the entire first half that actually restricts its overall impact on the viewers as mentioned before. In other words, beginning with an otherwise shocking ‘hotel scene’ involving a young sexually excited couple, MASAAN is not a film that grabs you from the neck and keeps you engrossed throughout with something novel happening on the screen on a regular basis. With all well-expressed emotional outbursts coming at long intervals, it takes some time to pull you in and then makes a decent impression in the end with a better second half like a sweet that tastes the best as it ends.
Apart from that, the most significant contribution of MASAAN for the younger generation happens to be the inclusion of respected names of Dushyant Kumar, Nida Fazli, Akbar Allahabadi, Bashir Badr, Brij Narayan Chakbast and more that many might not have even heard before like the hero of the film trying to impress his chosen girl with a song from film QAYAMAT SE QAYAMAT TAK. And with such inclusions MASAAN does fulfill the responsibility of good cinema introducing the current generation with all our masters of the past as required. (Do visit www.rekhta.org if you wish to know more about the works of all names mentioned above and more)
In its worth listening soundtrack, Varun Grover writes meaningful lyrics and Indian Ocean comes up with a beautiful composition of “Tu Kisi Rail Si Guzarti Hai, Main Kisi Pul Sa Thartharata Hoon” sung by Swanand Kirkire (adapted from a ghazal by Dushyant Kumar) shot with a visual metaphor of a train, a bridge and a river in the backdrop along with ‘Mann Kasturi’ (Amit Kilam/Varun Grover) and ‘Bhor’ (Amit Kilam, Rahul Ram, Himanshu Joshi/Sanjeev Sharma).
Giving the much deserving credit to another substantial merit of MASAAN, it’s the cinematography of the film capturing Varanasi and DEATH together with a completely different vision by Avinash Arun (the director of award winning Marathi film KILLA). And Avinash’s silent camera indeed makes a lot of difference to the end result of the product, unarguably.
In the acting department, we once again have Sanjay Mishra excelling in his effortless act of a helpless poor father scoring the maximum and its really a treat to watch his every scene in the film, especially the ones with the small kid. Richa Chaddha tries hard to put up a good show and delivers to a large extent but its Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi who remain completely natural and adorable in their respective parts with Shweta winning every heart in the theater in just a few scenes through her innocent looks and intelligent talks. As usual the talented Pankaj Tripathi makes his presence felt in a small cameo coming in the film’s second hour. And not to forget the little ‘diver’ kid, who frankly comes up with the most moving sequence of the film while trying to win the big race for his old man.
In all, MASAAN surely deserves to be seen as a must because of its unusual execution revolving around the burning ghats and all realistic characters emoting well on screen pointing towards our known social curses still continuing as it is from hundreds of years. Yet as a film specifically focusing on DEATH, I personally found it much less hard hitting, missing that instant emotional connect and ‘cinematic power of transforming the viewer’, to be honest.
Ratings : 3.5 / 5 (Including a big one for the key song and mention of maestro poets in its script)  
(As my humble suggestion for all friendly readers of BTC who are willing to begin/continue/enhance their individual spiritual quest………….)
MasaanAfter watching MASAAN, if you can……. then do essentially visit the holy city of VARANASI for just a couple of days…….only to go through a ‘life transforming experience’ of being at the burning ghats known as MANIKARNIKA GHAT. A blessed place as per traditional tales, where bodies are set to fire in every hour of the day and night without any break and you will find many of them waiting for their turn covered in pure white sheets lying all over the place offering a rare visual. Tons of logs being regularly brought in to fulfill the continuous need and the ‘masanis’ busy doing their assigned duty as a daily ritual without much of their personal concern. The place has got a divine, magnetic pull and as per the traditional belief, every cremation here denotes or ensures ultimate liberation as per the boon given by Lord Shiva himself.
In few words, just sitting beside the holy Ganga, looking at those burning pyres being arranged one after the another will reveal the worthlessness of all silly EGO games we continue playing in our small lives of just 60-70 years, most of which actually finishes off much before we start to realize the real thing.
Just being amongst that thick smoke rising from the numerous fires, the smell of those burning bodies being turned to ashes in few hours and the visuals of relatives standing still with their moist eyes not willing to move back will become the most potent meditation you have ever practiced in your entire life.
So if possible just be there at the earliest and feel the blessings showered upon the place that has a story about a ‘jewelled ear ring’ belonging to Lord Shiva and Parvati that incidentally fell into a kund (water-pit) dug by Lord Vishnu and hence the name “MANIKARNIKA GHAT”.
Interestingly MASAAN too has got a reference of a ring in its few key sequences that goes through many hands becoming the ultimate saviour as destined by The Almighty. And if you do believe in Cinema capable of teaching & transforming lives, then take a hint, book a ticket and be there at THE PLACE to spend a few calm, enlightening hours refreshing your inner soul.
Moreover, just think about the fact, that we all very often wish to plan a visit to a foreign country to be in that ‘advanced environment’, studying their people, historical monuments, tourists spots and religious places, when we have not even explored our own beloved INDIA and its rich traditional cities, still having the divine vibes of every single blessed saint who has been there in the past.
Tags : Masaan Review by Bobby Sing, Masaan winning standing ovations, Masaan winning awards at Cannes, New Bollywood Movies Released, New Hindi Films Reviews, New Hindi Movies Reviews, New Hindi Movies Released, New Bollywood Reviews, Bobby Talks Cinema Review, Reviews By Bobby Sing, New Hindi Films Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com
25 July 2015 / bobbysing /
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Before stating the exceptional merits of this epic project, it first needs to be explained why the reputed critic Roger Ebert called this magnificent creation ‘a murdered movie’ in his four star review written at the time of its release.
Directed by Sergio Leone as his last film, the maestro actually filmed the footage going into 6-7 hours and had an idea of releasing it as a two part film that was rejected by the producers right away (as per IMDB). Further though Leone wanted it to be a 250-265 minutes long film including all the key scenes edited together, the final version remained a 229 minute movie leaving out more than 40 minutes of footage he really wished to be included making the desired impact.
However, the editing process didn’t stop here with the 229 minutes version being premiered at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, since post the festival a severely (rather brutally) trimmed 144 minutes version was officially released for the public in America edited by the producers against the wishes of its director. So where the European and international audience saw a 229 minutes film, Americans were made to see the 144 minutes shorter version that strangely even had a changed script progression, editing all the flashbacks and ‘back & forth’ sequences into a chronological order (with a different ending too) that simply took away the real magic of the film and its actual charm. As a result the ‘cruel shortening act’ got hugely criticized by all and the film flopped at the box office impressing none. It was later also not considered for the OSCARS and received no nominations, not even in the musical score section (for reportedly lack of proper paperwork) that is now regarded as one of the best background music in movies of this particular genre till date.
After (rightly) realizing the mistake, the film was soon released in home video/DVD market with the original close to four hour version that deservingly found both appreciation and commercial success together as expected. But in 2011-12, it was again re-created/restored by adding all the deleted scenes as sequenced by Leone and a 251 minutes long version was premiered at 2012 Cannes film festival (though they wished to present even longer 269 minute film that couldn’t be done due to certain rights issues). So finally now we have a ‘Director’s Cut’ version of 251 minutes released on DVD that essentially needs to be seen in order to understand what was originally visualized by the director and how it went through various unapproved transformations following a faulty vision.
Sharing my personal experience, I had earlier watched the shorter version and a few sequences from the 229 minutes edit many years back and found it great. Whereas witnessing the 251 minutes version recently, I had to admit that the ‘new’ film offered a completely different experience much better than the earlier ones and certainly deserves to be rated as a not to be missed passionate classic by all means.
Now coming to the creation itself, as per many artists and critics this is Sergio Leone’s finest work that should have got a much better release and reception without any unrequired interference in the final edits by the production house. But having said that, it’s not going to be an easy watch for many with a pretty long duration of 4 hours and 11 minutes with a few slow sequences too where we just have the brilliantly scored background music enhancing the visual narration with minimum spoken dialogues as such. So where for the keen students of cinema this would turn out to be a sheer gem, for the regular viewers it might not be a hugely entertaining venture following a set pattern of a gangster classic asking for your four long hours at a stretch.
Largely based on real life gangster Harry Grey's novel ‘The Hoods’ with semi-autobiographical tones, it’s a story moving through five decades with a substantial focus on childhood days of four gangsters of New York city. Having many Oscar nominated and winner actors in its cast ensemble, OUATIA features one of the best performances of Robert De Niro leading the show as Noodles along with Elizabeth McGovern as Deborah and James Wood as Max.
The film has its own share of nudity with few obscene scenes forming an essential part of its descriptive screenplay. And at times one really has to concentrate hard to know what exactly is happening on the screen taking the story forward. Yet after going through the entire glorious effort having a remarkable art direction with terrific detailing of those times and events ending on a hard hitting note you surely feel like having seen a sheer masterpiece in terms of filmmaking, direction and performances reminding you of the cult THE GODFATHER series due to the similar theme. Interestingly, (as quoted in IMDB) Sergio Leone had earlier refused to direct the first part of THE GODFATHER and probably this was his way of overcoming the deep regret as it seems.
Anyway, concluding it with an honest statement, I am recommending this film for the die-hard cinema lovers alone, exclusively for these five outstanding merits of the classic given below.
1. It has an exceptional opening 15-20 minutes wherein you have very few dialogues and only background score slowly guiding you through the unclear progression beautifully.
2. Within these opening moments there is a continuous ringing of phone moving into various sequences as if its ringing in the subconscious of a person. And believe it or not, the phone actually keeps ringing for more than 20 times cutting through the silence like a sword.
3. Watch out for ‘A Frisbee’ coming in on the screen just to represent a change in times, conceived superbly.
4. Look out for the hilarious baby-switching scene in the middle that has been shot really well. And it truly scares you like hell thinking about the outcome in the times when there was no DNA test available to know the actual father.
5. The most intriguing scene in the film remains the meeting of Noodles with Deborah after decades (of a brutal rape), when Deborah is taking off her make-up in the green room, calmly talking with Noodles looking into the mirror. And I would like to rate it as one of the best intense sequences ever conceived, depicting the distance between two wounded souls when they accidentally meet again after a few decades.
6. Lastly Sergio Leone plays his final ace in the climax sequence that keeps you guessing with more than one possible conclusion taking the film to another level altogether.
But remember, this can all be found only in the longer version of the film, preferably the ‘Director’s Cut’ version of 251 minutes. So don’t dare compromise with anything shorter ruining your own experience of watching many maestros at work together led by Sergio Leone.
Tags : Once Upon A Time In America (1984), Movies To See Before You Die, Classic Thriller, Not to be missed movies list by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Must Watch Movies, Exceptional Gangster Movies, Worth Watching Films list at BTC
23 July 2015 / bobbysing /
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Friends having personal experience would readily agree that one of the most difficult times around the years of adolescence begins when a child’s parents decide to shift to another town due to some personal or professional reasons opening many new chapters of life for every individual member of the family in just few days. There are unknown surroundings to adjust with, new people to deal, unexpected arrangements to handle and a new life style to be adapted as per the changed scenario. The sudden twist does bring its own shares of joy and pain for all simultaneously, but it’s actually the child who has to suffer the most in those tender years of growth joining a new school, meeting all stranger classmates and then making fresh friends, causing a substantial amount of change in his or her personal character.

Inside Out

Interestingly we had two widely acclaimed films released in the last few weeks coming from completely contrasting regions and mindsets, dealing with the same theme mentioned above tackled differently. And these two releases were INSIDE OUT, an English animation film made with a splendid idea and KILLA, an Indian Marathi feature film winning the National Award.

Now in both these films we have a young child of the family, finding himself/herself in an unfamiliar city, a new home, joining a new school with all unknown kids around to deal with. The feeling of loneliness is the only friend they find walking along as a constant companion and the stories revolve around how the kids fight with their own undisclosed trauma and how parents decide to go back instead of continuing with the difficulties faced in the new city. Here though the movies remain completely different products on creative grounds made with entirely unrelated visions, it’s the interconnection of expressing the same scenario from two different perspectives that gave me the idea of writing this particular piece.

In the animation film INSIDE OUT we have an 11 years old spirited girl Riley and in KILLA we have an 11 years old thinking boy Chinmay (Archit Deodhar), both finding there adorable little world being crushed to pieces as their families decide to permanently move to a new town.
But from here on, where INSIDE OUT follows a highly novel and courageous idea of taking you into the brain of the little girl (with an outstanding animation), showing how the mind-mechanism works with the five major emotions as Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness (the five speaking characters), KILLA shows you the same feelings expressed from the outside in the real world through the talented boy’s impressive act and facial expressions. So where the English film innovatively interprets the subject from the ‘Inside’, the Marathi movie beautifully interprets the theme from the ‘outside’ in a realistic mode.
Killa - MarathiAs a magnificent take on the fictional conversations between the five emotions, INSIDE OUT displays an exceptional understanding of how ‘brain-mechanism’ probably works dealing with the past and the present memories stored suitably, whereas KILLA takes you onto an emotional journey of the child with an eye catching cinematography capturing many striking natural locations also dealing with the corruption faced by the mother in her new office.
Humour remains a key element in both the movies with a splendid effort by the kids in KILLA led by Parth Bhalerao (of BHOOTNATH RETURNS fame) and an imaginary character of Bing Bong in INSIDE OUT. Incidentally, where the fictional characters of the English animation marvel move into a big theme park called Imagination Land manufacturing dreams like a huge factory, the Marathi film takes you into a real Killa (a deserted fort) where Chinmay encounters fear as never before left all alone by his friends unintentionally. 
Specifically talking about the five emotions working inside Riley’s brain, the western writers-filmmakers actually come up with the names as Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness since the west doesn’t have or follow the traditional Indian concept of ‘Five Vikaars’ as ‘Kaam (Lust), Krodh (Anger), Lobh (Greed), Moh (Attachment) and Ahankaar (Ego)’. Still the presented western analysis comes quite close to the Indian thought and the number ‘Five’ also conveys the visualization following exactly the same path as guided by the ancient Indian scriptures.
Concluding the write-up, it unarguably requires a special kind of understanding, emotional depth and a fine study of human psychology to conceive a film like INSIDE OUT that’s not exactly for the kids despite being an animation film. And for this splendid effort director Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen and their team of insightful writers certainly deserve a big round of applause from every true lover of cinema in the world over.
However, KILLA too remains a sweet, entertaining film that has been shot well and thoughtfully directed by Avinash Arun with some great performances extracted from the talented kids that straight away remind you of ‘Swami and friends in Malgudi Days’ created by R. K. Narayan.
So if you wish to experience how the two films tackle the same subject from their own distinctive perspectives of ‘going inside the mind’ and ‘remaining outside in the real world’ quite impressively, then do watch both INSIDE OUT and KILLA as a must and just cherish the way the world is looked upon by two innocent kids struggling with their unexpected ‘change in life’.


Tags : Inside Out Animation film, Killa Marathi Film, Natonal Award Winning Marathi Film, Similarities in Film concepts, Ariticles on Cinema by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Swami and Malgudi Days, Avinash Arun
20 July 2015 / bobbysing /
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