October 1, 2007

October poll: you can only pick one; life isn't fair

Polls seem to be the in thing these days, so I've put one over in the sidebar. And since today is the first of the month, if it's a success I'll contemplate making it a regular, monthly feature. The not-terribly-creative question of the day is: what is your favorite of Shabana Azmi's films?

I know, dreadful question. I'll try to come up with better ones in the future - so if you want to see better questions, cast a vote in this pedestrian poll and I'll consider myself motivated to veer away from the obvious, next time.

I couldn't list all 140 of them so I've selected a number that I think, based on several factors, are most likely to gather votes - films that are my favorites, films that I've heard other people describe as their favorites. Still, if I've left your favorite off, please use the comments to tell me where I went wrong.

Here's the list for the poll:

15 Park Avenue
Amar Akbar Anthony
Morning Raga

And now I could claim executive privilege and wimp out of answering the question myself, but I won't. Although it's not the best film on the list, my sentimental choice is Fire. In addition to being a lovely movie (though I think I've seen it too many times at this point), it was my first introduction to Shabana ji, and it is the sine qua non of SLP, of Filmi Geek, and of my interest in Hindi movies generally.

Honorable mention to Ankur, Arth, and Godmother - one each for the 70s, 80s, and 90s. I'm not sure how I'd choose among those if you made me pick my favorite of Shabana ji's Hindi films.

Now, please, register your vote in the sidebar (right below the recent comments feed) and let me know your thought process, in the comments.

I know, I know - an uncreative answer to an uncreative question.


Anonymous said...

Hi Carla, I like your idea! I hope everybody gets involved so you keep doing it! Honored to be the first reader to post, here are my picks:


Following in this order: Godmother, Ankur, Swami, Arth, Nishant, Morning Raga, City of Joy, 15 Park Avenue.

In a couple of the later, I loved her performance more than the movie itself, but it counts the same, right? :-)

Have a nice day!


Anonymous said...

Ok, I forgot Umrao Jaan! And sorry for the grammar mistakes!

Aung Phyoe said...

Hi Carla , I like this.
For me first is : MANDI
Shabana performance as ageing prostitute and a woman protesting all her girls is totally different from all her performance. Moreover I think Mandi is the most natural performance by Shabnaji. her physical looks.
Following are Ankur,Fire,Arth.
With regards,
Aung Phyoe

Maajhi said...

Shabana Azmi is really lacking in the funny comedy area - my favorite. Where was she when movies like Hrishikesh Mukherjee's were being made?!

Filmi Geek said...

It's a good question, Maajhi. Even though Shabana ji had some pretty goofy comedy roles in the 70s, I don't think anyone realized she could actually do comedy until very recently - although maybe *Mandi* counts? *Ashanti* also. I haven't yet seen either, so I'll have to report back. Are there others?

I guess even someone as talented as Shabana ji can be typecast or least tracked in a certain direction.

Aung Phyoe said...

I don't think "Mandi" is a comedy.Please watch and review on filmigreek. I think this movie is just drama like her others.

Anu said...

But if I had to chose a favorite: Arth and Sparsh (tie). Afterwards I would say Ankur, Masoom and Nishant to round out the top 5.

Mandi is a dark comedy in my opinion. It is definitely not laugh out loud funny. I think it would be fair to say one of Hrishikesh's favorites was Jaya, and she did a fine job of enacting those rules. Also many times as earlier mentioned, actors get slotted, which probably happened to Shabana as she was one of the few along with Deepti and Smita to go out and do alternative cinema.

Maajhi said...

Anu, but Deepti Naval was in quite a few comedies of that era too. Think of Rangbirangi. Or think of Rekha in that funny movie about red sarees (I've forgotten the name but it's very famous and really funny). Shabana has been way too serious all her life with the characters she played which is why she doesn't appeal much - blasphemy on this blog, I know. But she's admirable for her social causes and 70s "meaningful" cinema. I agree with Anu about Arth, Sparsh and Masoom as her best I remember.

Filmi Geek said...

Maajhi - no worries about the blasphemy; critiques are permitted! :-)

I don't have any way to know whether in the peak of her mainstream career (say, 1977-1985) Shabana ji did mostly serious roles because that's what she wanted, that's all that came her way, or some other reason. I don't know if she wasn't good at lighter fare or was perceived to be not good at it. It's a good question.

maru said...


I loved Shabana in Ankur for her raw, earthy character, but here I voted for Arth because not only was it a break-through performance it was also a turning point in her life and a film that resonated with many women in unfortunate predicaments. For the ending alone the film was worth the vote! Other films I might have added are Paar and Khandhar, but clearly yours is a more populist list.

Filmi Geek said...

Maru - thanks for the excellent comments. I agree with you about *Arth* - it was a watershed for Shabana ji as well as for women and for feminism in the movies; it's such a special film and it's only for sentimental reasons that I didn't vote for it myself.

I appreciate your honorable mention to as well. My list wasn't intended to be populist (though I don't mind if it is); I restricted it to films that I thought people would vote for, films that I'd heard people describe as their favorites. *Paar* and *Khandhar* failed to make the cut only because I know so few people who have seen them. I myself have not, and they do not appear to be available in DVD, and so I despair of ever seeing them. I think it is so tragic that two national award winning films could be locked up in cans never to see the light of day again, but there it is.