November 14, 2015

What I did for love

At this point I've seen about fifty of Shabana Azmi's films - some of them I've watched knowing they were good, and others I've watched for no other reason than that she was in them.

Like any prolific actor's filmography, some are great, some enjoyable enough, and some downright painful.

My latest column in Outlook is all about the worst films I have endured out of love for milady.

Please read the column and tell me about the worst you have endured for love of a star.

October 16, 2014

Well Hello There

I was thinking about Sounds Like Power the other day, and missing it. Unfortunately, my life these days just doesn't allow me to maintain it the way I'd want to, while doing the other things I want to do and have to do.  But wouldn't it be nice if I could pop in from time to time, maybe a post a month or so, just to keep the flame alive?

Since the last update here, I've watched a few more of Shabana Azmi's films.  Some of them have reviews over at Filmi Geek.  They include:

March 25, 2013

They can't all be masterpieces

I don't want to dwell too much on the hot mess that is MF Husain's Gaja Gamini.  I have not spared the movie in my new review on Filmi Geek, and you can go read it over there.

Here at Sounds Like Power, the focus is on Shabana Azmi.  I can only guess that it is respect for MF Husain that led her (and other actors of similar stature) to sign on to this project.  I wonder if she had seen the script or understood Husain's so-called vision.  The movie is regressive, objectifying claptrap masquerading unconvincingly as feminist empowerment.  It's utter nonsense. 

However, it is only two hours long, is full of Madhuri Dixit looking gorgeous, has some very nice music, and is probably worth sitting through for the Shabana Azmi completist (if there happens to be another such in the world, besides myself).  After all, Shabana ca. 2000 may be the most gorgeous Shabana there is.

Sigh.  Shabana ji gets to carry a lantern and look fierce with Farida Jalal.

And, she gets to display some delightfully WTFish costuming while delivering the film's torturous final speech.
So, all right.  It's not as painful as Son of the Pink Panther, which this devoted fan also sat through in the name of Shabana-pyaar.  But it comes with stern, graphic warnings:  This film may induce the flinging of items at the screen accompanied by plaintive wails of "Why, Shabana ji, why?"

January 13, 2013

Recent Filmi Geek reviews of Shabana Azmi movies

In recent months I've added a few more reviews of Shabana Azmi movies to the archives at Filmi Geek

  • Matru ki Bijlee ka Mandola (2013) - Vishal Bhardwaj's latest, playing in theaters at the time of this writing.  This is an absolute must-see for any Shabana Azmi fan.  If you liked her character in Loins of Punjab Presents, the corrupt minister she plays in this movie will delight you.  She chews the scenery with obvious relish and is just hilarious to watch.  I could watch Shabana Azmi all day in this kind of role.
  • Namkeen (1982) - My review of this touching Gulzar movie gave short shrift to Shabana ji; there was just so much to say about other facets of the movie.  Shabana ji plays a mute character with a penchant for poetry, and her performance is touching, with funny moments.  Late in the movie, however, it turns tragic and disturbing.  This is an excellent movie that's worth seeing with or without the draw of Shabana ji.
  • Chor sipahee (1977) - There is always a perverse sort of WTFery in Shabana Azmi's earliest masala roles, before her persona as a mature actor was fully formed.  As with most masala movies of its era, Shabana Azmi and the other female stars of this movie are underutilized.  She does have a few hilarious scenes early in the movie where she outsmarts Vinod Khanna's character.  She also gets an excellent qawwali (link embedded in the review).
As always, you can find links to my reviews of every Shabana Azmi movie I have ever seen in the column to the right.

September 18, 2012

Janam din mubarak ho! Plus, Hira aur patthar (1977)

It's that time of year again, when Sounds Like Power issues a very, very warm happy birthday greeting to Shabana Azmi.

Don't be bashful, Shabana ji!  We love your smile.  

Shabana Azmi is the sine qua non of my love for Hindi movies and all the amazing events and people that have entered my life since I started learning about them.  So apart from my respect and admiration, I also owe her my gratitude for all of that.  Here is a piece I wrote in 2008, explaining how that happened.

Here's wishing Shabana Azmi a peaceful day and a joyful, productive year.


The above screencapture is from the 1977 film Hira aur patthar, a fairly forgettable masala film starring Shabana ji opposite her girlhood idol, Shashi Kapoor.  I've posted a comprehensive review of the movie on Filmi Geek.  Here on SLP, though, we take a narrower view.

It's safe to say that Shabana ji is fairly wasted in this movie.  It's not quite as tragic a waste of talent as Amar Akbar Anthony, but she does get much to do here besides fretting and flitting.  And let's face it, for all her copious gifts, Shabana Azmi was never much of a flitter.

She does give good sari, though.  And so, on to the gratuitous screencaptures.

 Even then, best eyes in all of Hindi movies.

 This is a dream sequence, which is why she's dressed so oddly.

Prettiest sequence in the film, from a song, which I will post as a Shabana-gaana another day.

There is a bit of an opportunity for nautanki before the movie is over.

Shashi's tears revive her.  How romantic!


August 19, 2012


Yesterday, Shabana Azmi tweeted that she was visiting Delhi with her sister-in-law, Tanvi Azmi, and had taken a ride on the Metro.

This morning, the Telegraph had the photographic evidence:

As a long-time straphanger myself (growing up in New York City I took the subway to school every day, and I rode Boston's T to work up until I took a job in the suburbs a few years ago), this gave me a smile.

I notice an officer in the background - coincidence, or there to protect the family?  I'm not familiar enough with Delhi's Metro to know how common a sight uniformed presence in the cars might be.

May 20, 2012

Invitation issued!

If you don't follow me on Twitter, you missed this exchange yesterday:

I'll let you know if the invitation is ever accepted!  I'm sure you'd be able to hear me squealing from wherever you are in the world.

Incidentally, I don't know what the total number of DVDs is yet.  I have entered about 1/4 of my collection into the database - the movies I haven't yet watched - and Shabana ji is in roughly 18 of those.  I have seen about 30 of her movies, but I don't own all of those on DVD.  I estimate that my DVD collection includes somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 of Shabana Azmi's movies.

I hope she packs a toothbrush.

April 24, 2012

Shabana ji on the nature of classiness

Ican’t call myself classy, it’s for other people to say that. I can only say that this is what I have seen, this is what I have imbibed, and this is how I am. 
 -- Shabana Azmi

This from an article in Forbes India online, where Shabana ji talks about what makes her - and some of the characters she has played - so gosh darn classy.   She goes on to say:
[Class] has to do with dignity, subtlety, with a layered subtext where much more is expressed because it is hidden. It’s got very little to with wealth and money, and much more to do with an attitude that comes from being comfortable in your own skin.
I have to agree with that, and it's part of why women often seem to get classier with age - comfort in one's own skin often goes hand in hand with maturity.

I am not sure I can agree completely with Shabana ji about this part, though:
But it’s when you’re not doing it for public consumption that counts. Like eating. When I’m by myself and nobody’s watching, do I gobble up my food? Do I eat it elegantly? Do I behave in the same way when there are people for whom I want to put my best foot forward?
I just don't think the table manners I use when I am alone are a particularly relevant measure of my quality as a person.  I'd rather expend energy worrying about how I treat others than about whether I'm a bit of a slob in my pajamas alone at the kitchen table.  Put another way, I only have so much energy to expend on self-improvement, and I don't see anything wrong with conserving that energy for behaviors that actually have a measurable effect on others. 

That quibble aside, there is no doubt that Shabana Azmi does know something about class. 

Have a look at the article - both the mesmerizing pictures I have included here (Shabana ji with Javed sahib, above, and Kaifi sahib, below) are from it. 

April 15, 2012

Internet stalkers beware

Shabana Azmi arms herself against internet stalkers who maintain fan websites in her honor.

It's the sheer delight on her face that really makes me a little nervous here!

This picture is apparently from an art exhibit opening in Mumbai - the TOI piece it came from doesn't provide a whole lot of context.

ETA:  It is an exhibition of "furniture art" promoting the Uttara & Adwait furniture collection.  I found some more excellent pictures here.

April 13, 2012

Shabana-gaana! "Rang Birange Nazaare"

This week's Shabana-gaana is from Atithee (1978), a movie I have not seen.


"Rang birange nazaare" is a nice enough duet, though I have to admit that Shabana ji's performance in the song is fairly generic and uninspired.  Songs like this really don't play to her strengths, even this early in her career when she frequently played the masala heroine.  She did better hamming it up in the funny songs in Parvarish.  

The real question this video raises is:  Why did the costume designer helmet Shashi with such a terrible wig, when he has such gorgeous natural curls?