June 28, 2008

Getting her smooch on

In fact my husband complains that I've done a kissing scene with a man in another movie and I don't look as convincing as I do with Nandita [Das], and he wants to know what that's all about.
-- Shabana Azmi

Source: a fab interview posted here on the BollyWHAT? forum; I don't have the original source, but the interview is probably about 4 years old.

This comment made me spit out my coffee the first time I read it and still tickles me. But I've always wondered, what movie does it refer to? I didn't think it was this, from Fakira...

... because as cute and tasty as that is, the screencap is actually a little misleading; this kiss happens as the two actors are turning away from the camera and, in motion, is really more of a Bollywood-ishtyle simulacrum of a kiss than it looks in the still.

Well I have, by the wonderful magic of YouTube, accidentally stumbled upon the following, which is probably the scene Shabana ji was talking about in the above-quoted remark. Hold onto your socks, folks; wait for the second half of the clip.

Oh my! That is from the 1992 British film with the unpromising title Immaculate Conception, a film about which I know absolutely nothing. Have any of you seen it? At any rate, as startling as the clip is, I am inclined to agree with Javed sahib: Fire was more convincing.

June 27, 2008

"Tum se roshan hai," Lorie (1984)

Today's Shabana-gaana is "Tum se roshan hai" from the 1984 film Lorie. The song features Shabana Azmi looking particularly lovely and Farooq Shaikh looking particularly fuzzy.

Lorie is also the answer to SLP's first trivia question, which I posted last week. The question was: Name a film to which three Azmis contributed their talents. Lorie featured Shabana ji in a starring role, Shabana ji's mother Shaukat Kaifi in a supporting role, and Shabana ji's brother Baba Azmi, behind the camera as cinematographer. I haven't yet seen this film so I can't say much more about it.

Thanks to a great SLP reader - you know who you are - for the trivia question and the song clip.

June 26, 2008


Still no nibbles at the trivia question I posted the other day. I will have the answer for you on Friday, along with this week's Shabana-gaana, which will be a song from a film that answers the question.

To whet your appetites and stimulate your memories in the meantime, I offer you a delicious screencap from the song, capturing the precise moment (11 seconds in) at which I, watching the song on YouTube, melted into a helpless puddle of goo:

Here's another hint: I have yet to see this film, so it is not listed among the links at right to my reviews of Shabana Azmi's films.

June 24, 2008

This time I am sure who it is

Okay, this is the earliest picture of Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar that I have yet to see. In contrast to a similar previous post in which I made a total ass of myself with one of my more boneheaded factual errors, this time I will restrain my squee to a more dignified pitch.

They are completely gorgeous, though, are they not?

June 22, 2008

A milestone, and a new feature

Hard to believe, but Sounds Like Power is one year old today. What a fun ride it's been! I thank you all for coming along with me as I follow, admire, worship, laud, critique, and occasionally criticize Shabana Azmi. Here's to another great year! There will be a lot to talk about with all of Shabana ji's new projects, and I look forward to hearing from you all.

A reader suggested a Shabana Azmi trivia feature, along the lines of "Trivia Time" over at Memsaab Story (which blog also turns 1 year old today). I think this is a nice idea, and so I'll kick it off with the question she suggested, and start thinking of some more I can toss out in the future.

So here is the first installment of SLP Trivia:

Name a film to which three Azmis contributed their talents.

I know of one answer, but there are possibly more.

June 17, 2008

A royal invitation

This is a funny story. Times of India reports that Prince Charles has invited Shabana Azmi (along with Javed Akhtar and a number of other Indian luminaries) for a four-day stay at Buckingham Palace to discuss cooperation between the UK and India regarding charitable causes.

Shabana ji's fellow guests include industrialists Mukesh Ambani, Laxmi Mittal and Ratan Tata.

The tone of the TOI piece suggests that Shabana ji is rather bemused at the invitation. "I really don’t know how these opportunities come my way," she said. "They just seem to fall into my lap."

June 16, 2008

A mother role in a Karan Johar film?

A couple of years ago on Koffee with Karan, Shabana Azmi told Karan Johar that she would not have wanted any of the roles Jaya Bachchan played in his movies, because the women were doormats with no discernible character arc. Today, though, comes a rumor that Karan Johar has finally come up with a role that piqued Shabana ji's interest.

The word from "Bollywoodz.net" is that Shabana ji has signed on to play Shah Rukh Khan's mother in Johar's next, Khan, a film about the persecution and isolation experienced by Muslims after the 9/11 attacks. According to the article:

When contacted to confirm her presence in the film, Shabana just laughed and said, "Main chup rahungi."
That is, "no comment." But Bollywoodz.net is one of those innumerable worthless aggregators that auto-copy content from other places without attribution, so I can offer no odds on the truth of this item. As always I'll keep an eye out and let you know when I hear about this from a reputable source, or indeed any identified source at all. UPDATE: Here's the same story in the Mumbai Mirror, this time with a byline - Subhash K. Jha. Jha is an obsequious hack, but stars do seem to answer his calls, so if he says he talked to Shabana Azmi he probably did.

If you haven't voted in the June poll over on the right, though, consider Khan one of the choices - use the "other" button and let us know in the comments on the poll's introductory post.

June 15, 2008

Shabana Azmi narrates a history of filmi music

Thanks to HemaMalini at the BollyWHAT forum (not that Hema Malini :) for bringing this spectacular video series to my attention. It is a history of filmi music, narrated by Shabana Azmi. The first segment is embedded below.

There are 14 segments altogether! Here is a link to a search that should help you find all of them.

Judging by Shabana ji's appearance in this video (screencap below) I'd say this was shot in the early 1980s; I have not yet watched the whole series and the date may become more obvious later on. The Hindi narration is very good practice for me, as Shabana ji's diction is slow and clear, but it would take me hours upon hours to thoroughly translate and transcribe all of the text in all 14 segments so I am afraid you are on your own.

June 14, 2008

Pictures from June 1986 Filmfare

I mentioned that I'd picked up a 22-year-old back issue of Filmfare with a cover story on Shabana Azmi. Here are scans of some of the images from the magazine. Click on the pictures for larger (in some cases, much larger) versions.

The cover:

A closer look at that image:

The two-page pinup inside:

... and a closer look at that as well:

And finally a couple of black-and-white looks at the adorable blunt cut:

June 13, 2008

"Lawangi mirchi," Ashanti (1982)

Today's Shabana-gaana is from the movie Ashanti, a Charlie's Angels-esque story in which Shabana Azmi joins Zeenat Aman, Parveen Babi, Rajesh Khanna, and Mithun Chakraborty in a quest to take down a nasty gang of drug dealers and thieves who have wreaked havoc in each of their lives.

I had been saving this song until I saw the movie, and last night I finally got my chance - I sat down to watch it with David and Greta - but the DVD crapped out halfway through. We barely got to see Shabana Azmi fire a pistol, and we missed both of her songs. I'll finish the movie and review it fully as soon as I get my hands on a working copy. In the meantime, here is "Lawangi mirchi," the final song from the film, which I was really looking forward to seeing in somewhat better quality than this dinky YouTube stream:

June 12, 2008

Good stuff to come

I just received a package from India containing 1986 issue of Filmfare magazine with Shabana Azmi on the cover. The article is a long, rambly monologue in which she reminisces about ten or so different films. As soon as I get a chance to read it through I'll give you the highlights here. I'll scan the pictures too - just wait till you see Shabana ji in a blunt cut with bangs. Adorable!

Also, I started to watch Ashanti with Greta last night, but the DVD pooped out halfway through just when the movie started to get good. We didn't even get to see Shabana ji's two songs! Fortunately they are available on YouTube so look for that to be tomorrow's Shabana-gaana.

June 10, 2008

June poll: most anticipated upcoming project?

Here we are, ten days into the month, and I remain completely without inspiration for a poll topic. So instead of something clever and interesting I have resorted to the very dull question: which of Shabana Azmi's upcoming projects are you looking forward to the most?

Here is a rundown of the choices with links to where they were discussed on SLP.

Kalpvriksh: Manika Sharma's fairy tale, ready for release later this year. No word yet on Shabana ji's role, but the film looks promising and cute.

Sorry Bhai: Onir's romantic comedy, also expected later this year. The return of the popular pair of Shabana Azmi and Boman Irani makes this one too promising to miss.

Hamlet adaptation: Another Onir project, recently announced; I have my doubts about this one but will keep an open mind.

Benazir Bhutto biopic: Mahesh Bhatt's production hit some setbacks, and I never heard whether Shabana ji was in consideration for Robert Redford's Hollywood version. But the latest news on this was that something was going on that Shabana ji was not talking about.

Anubhav Singh satire: This only came up once, but so tickled am I by the prospect of Shabana Azmi in a political satire that I had to include it in the poll.

Other: if you browse the upcoming films section of SLP you will see lots of rumors and speculation of projects that don't pan out. Maybe some of these are simply shelved and will emerge, renewed, at a later time. If your most anticipated Shabana ji film is one of these, or even something else that I've missed, choose "other" and let us know in the comments.

In other news, I'd like to send out once more my desperate appeal: send me guests posts, folks, please. I want you to contribute to SLP. I can't be the only person on Earth whose keyboard is busting out to talk about Shabana Azmi. Send me your essays, reviews, comments, poetry, whatever. I will post them anonymously if you like. Just write to me at filmigeek at comcast dot net and get yourself heard on SLP.

June 6, 2008

Kalpvriksh (The Wish Tree)

Thanks to Aung for bringing this big news to my attention. Shabana Azmi is in a kids' film called Kalpvriksh, directed by Manika Sharma. The film looks like it will be ready for release later this year.

The film's official website offers just a little information but it sounds like a very interesting project, potentially very enchanting and delightful. Here's the basic outline of the story, from the website:

KalpVriksh – THE WISH TREE is a magical, inspirational and an extremely entertaining story of five children in a hill-station who come together to save their ‘wishing tree’ (KALPVRIKSH) from being cut by vested interests. The film is extremely lively, entertaining, endearing and engrossing so that the underlying message to protect trees and environment is seamlessly driven home.
Also piquing my interest is the description of the films songs, which sound they have very thoughtfully crafted and lush visuals:
The Earth song is a colorful collage of images to tell the story of the Earth’s evolution. As we travel over snow capped mountain peaks to gushing waterfalls and rivers, pupae turn into butterfly and a giant dragonfly flaps its wings across the sky over a dense tropical forest.

Dhanua’s dhaba song is his fantasy on the other side of life, where his abusive and exploitative owner, Shankar dada transforms into a sorrier version of Dhanua in rags and Dhanua becomes the Don (the underworld King) of the dhaba, flashing a white three piece suit and a red shining car. This song is in theatrical genre.

Nikita’s concert song on stage as a rock-star is complete showbiz. It’s the opening song of the film and resembles a Michael Jackson concert in which the fans are fainting with awe and adrenalin is running high.

The celebration of the tree song is vibrant and has the raw energy of nature. It throbs with life. The tree sways from side to side and dances, shivers and gurgles like a baby with the children. The Wishing tree is happy to come back to life after thousands of years with the love and faith of the children.

KALPVRIKSH is a very visual film. All the scenes in the film are color-coded, they fall within a certain scheme of colors according to the mood and inner journey of the characters. For instance Sean’s room is blue, reflecting his state of mind. He misses his father constantly.
The cast is also listed on the website, and in addition to Shabana ji includes Saurabh Shukla, Makrand Deshpande (who was so wonderful in another kids' movie that Shabana ji was in, Makdee), and others, as well as a guest appearance by Shah Rukh Khan. I am very excited to hear more about this project and I will of course keep you posted. Between this one and Sorry Bhai, the second half of 2008 should be a good one for Shabana films.

June 5, 2008

April poll redux - best younger man for Shabana Azmi

It's well past time for the results of the April poll, which asked who would be the preferred younger man for a, shall we say May-September romance story with Shabana Azmi?

The clear winner, with 11 votes (a third of the total), was Irfan Khan, and may I just take this opportunity to say rrrowr! Irfan Khan is a very handsome guy and a fine, fine actor to boot. He has been matched with Shabana ji's niece Tabu more than once, and I think a romance between him and Shabana would possibly cause movie screens to burst into flames. Need I mention that Irfan received my own vote?

Not too far behind Irfan, though, two more Khans tied for second place: Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan each received 7 votes, cementing their rivalry even here at SLP. So I propose a plot in which the two of them compete for Shabana ji's attention. Need I specify who wins that struggle in my imagined film? Well, okay, I will - Dimple Kapadia, in a twist that surprises everyone.

The brooding Rahul Bose put up a respectable showing with four votes, and this, too, is a pairing I would not be opposed to, as I think he has the gravitas and the skill to match up well with Shabana ji on screen.

Next is the young Kunal Kapoor, with two votes. Kunal is not to my taste physically (though he is generally considered quite dreamy) but seems to be a talented actor. Still, in my view he's too young for this job; it's hard to imagine effective, believable sexual tension between him and Shabana ji on screen.

Bringing up the rear are Akshaye Khanna and Saif Ali Khan with just one vote each. I'm not sure why they received such a poor showing. Saif Ali Khan managed some interesting tension with Dimple Kapadia in Being Cyrus and I think, given the right script, a romance between him and Shabana could be very sexy, in a creepy sort of way. As to Akshaye Khanna, perhaps memories of the lush chemistry between Shabana ji and his father hurt his performance in this poll.

Stay tuned for the June poll - I've no idea what it will be yet, but I am hopeful that inspiration will strike in the next several days.

June 4, 2008

Family portrait

... make that "Exceptionally beautiful family portrait."

Isn't that just lovely? Click the image to see it in all its full-sized glory.

June 3, 2008

The populist poet

I have always aimed at making poetry understandable even to a person who does not have the remotest idea of the art. If I can't communicate my lines to people what's the use of making it public?
Source: This interview on Glamsham. In the above comment Javed Akhtar sahib sums up what I admire most about his work: it is poetic, evocative, and original, while still being accessible. As a learner of Hindi I particularly appreciate this, as I can both understand his writing and appreciate its cleverness.

In the interview Javed sahib also makes his favorite joke about his marriage to Shabana Azmi:
Our friendship is so strong that even marriage could not ruin it.
Thanks to Steena at the BollyWHAT forums for calling the interview to my attention.