June 30, 2007

Dharavi (1992)

I've just reviewed Sudhir Mishra's excellent 1992 film Dharavi, starring Om Puri and Shabana Azmi - you can read the review on Filmi Geek.

In the review, I did not discuss Shabana ji's performance - it says something about her skill, I think, that even an excellent performance can be an unremarkable thing when one sits down to comment on one of her films. In Dharavi, I particularly liked the physicality of her work; the way she carried herself, even the way she sat, was very different from her own natural bearing and yet still very natural. Her character spent most of the film angry or frustrated or despairing, but there were some smiles as well.

Here are some screencaps.

I am very partial to Shabana ji's looks at this time, in her early-mid 40s - not that she wasn't completely lovely before, or isn't still - but I think because the first films I saw of hers were from the 1990s, this is what she looks like in my mind's eye.

June 29, 2007

"Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho," Arth (1982)

This week's shabana-gaana is a song that turns me to jelly every time I hear it - let alone see it on screen: "Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho" from the beautiful, iconic film Arth.

The lyrics were written by Shabana ji's father Kaifi Azmi. Since the video is not subtitled I offer my own meager translation below.

Click here to watch the song.

tum itanaa jo muskuraa rahe ho
kyaa Gam hai jisako chhupaa rahe ho
tum itanaa jo muskuraa rahe ho
You who are smiling so
What is the sorrow that you are hiding?
You who are smiling so

aa.Nkho.n me.n namii ha.Nsii labo.n par
kyaa haal hai kyaa dikhaa rahe ho
kyaa Gam hai jisako chhupaa rahe ho
tum itanaa jo muskuraa rahe ho
Tears in your eyes, but laughter on your lips
what 's going on with you? What are you showing me?
what is the sorrow that you are hiding
you who are smiling so

ban jaaye.nge zahar piite piite
ye ashq jo piite jaa rahe ho
kyaa Gam hai jisako chhupaa rahe ho
tum itanaa jo muskuraa rahe ho
these tears that you are drinking up
are turning into poison
what sorrow is it that you are hiding
you who are smiling so

jin zaKamo.n ko vaqt bhar chalaa hai
tum kyo.n unhe.n chhe.Dhe jaa rahe ho
kyaa Gam hai jisako chhupaa rahe ho
tum itanaa jo muskuraa rahe ho
Why are you picking at wounds
that time has healed?
what sorrow is it that you are hiding
you who are smiling so

rekhaao.n kaa khel hai muqaddar
rekhaao.n se maat khaa rahe ho
tum itanaa jo muskuraa rahe ho
kyaa Gam hai jisako chhupaa rahe ho
Destiny is a game of the lines (on the palm)
you are accepting defeated from these lines
you who are smiling so
What sorrow is it that you are hiding?

June 28, 2007

A chat with MS Sathyu

The Hindu has a short conversation between Shabana ji and filmmaker M.S. Sathyu. M.S. Sathyu's Garam hawa, one of the first films about Partition, was written by Shabana ji's father and won many awards. I myself haven't seen it ... it's on the long long list of films I'd like to see.

June 27, 2007

More on Loins of Punjab Presents

When I posted on Loins of Punjab Presents the other day I forgot to mention the film's official website, which has some lovely stuff. There are some stills, character sketches, and bios of members of the cast. Of relevance here at SLP, a few screencaps of Shabana Azmi (click the pictures for bigger versions):

Just gorgeous!

There's also a nifty little bio that lists just a few of Shabana ji's accomplishments.

June 25, 2007

Smoking hot

My Umrao Jaan post earlier today, combined with a re-watch of Shatranj ke khilari this evening, reminded me of this fact: smoking a houkah is smoking hot.

This is as true today as it was thirty years ago.

Does anyone know of any other films in which Shabana ji takes up the houkah?

June 24, 2007

Gratuitous screencaps: Umrao Jaan (2006)

Here are some lovely screencaps from my stash. I thought I'd start with something recent: last year's Umrao Jaan, in which Shabana ji took over the role her mother had played in the 1981 classic version of the story.

I found the film as a whole fairly weak, but Shabana ji was flawless, and it was a different kind of performance than she ordinarily gives; very broad, playing to the back of the house - even scenery-chewing. And it was completely delicious.

Loins of Punjab Presents - trailer

This is not really news, but this blog didn't exist when news of this film was current earlier this year, so I'll put it up now for the benefit of those who might not have heard it the first time round.

Loins of Punjab Presents is Shabana ji's first feature after Honeymoon Travels. Written and directed by Manish Acharya as his graduation project from the film program at NYU, the film took the top prize at NYU's First Run Film Festival earlier this year.

Near as I can tell, Loins of Punjab Presents is an absurd and delightful comedy about a desi talent contest reality TV show in New Jersey. Shabana ji plays a socialite with an interest in the show's prize money; her character has been described as "pure evil". She speaks very highly of the film and of Manish Acharya.

Here is a blog posting by Manish on Ultrabrown, who attended a screening with the cast and crew. I am very hopeful that this film will be picked up for distribution in theaters, perhaps next year.

There was for a while an excellent long trailer on YouTube that introduced all of the characters. Unfortunately that trailer is no longer publicly available - I wish I knew why. Manish Acharya has made available a short trailer that does very little to provide the feel of the film, but here it is anyhow, until something more substantial is once again available.

June 22, 2007

"Hum dono ka", Vishwasghaat (1977)

The first regular feature here at Sounds Like Power is shabana-gaana, highlighting interesting song clips that can be found on YouTube.

Below, a clip of the song "Hum dono ka" from the 1977 Mahesh Bhatt film Vishwasghaat. I've not seen this film; in fact, I hadn't heard of it until I came across this clip, which features a very pregnant (well, fake-pretend-movie pregnant) Shabana being serenaded by Sanjeev Kumar in the nursery that presumably belongs to the honewala bachcha. Sanjeev Kumar is one of my favorite actors, and the song is very sweet.

Click here to watch the song.

Welcome to Sounds Like Power

Sounds Like Power, by the author of Filmi Geek, is a new fan site and blog devoted to Shabana Azmi - as far as I know, the only such site on the web.

Shabana ji is a beautiful woman, a fine actor, a gifted mind, a tireless activist; an impressive, formidable, and inspiring person. My discovery of Shabana Azmi was the genesis of my love of Hindi films, but to call her my favorite movie star understates both the breadth of her achievements and the depth of my admiration for her. While I try to keep the embarrassing fan-girl gushing to a minimum on Filmi Geek, I don't always succeed, and so I thought the the time had come for me to start a blog devoted just to her, where I could channel my shameless worship for the benefit of those few who might find it interesting.

Stay tuned to *Sounds Like Power* for news, thoughts, screencaps, gushing, and even the occasional critique nestled among all the goo-headed worship of the spectacular individual called Shabana Azmi. I hope we all enjoy the ride!