Indian top 10

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Re: Indian top 10

Postby Johndav » Fri Jan 13, 2006 1:12 pm

Thanks a lot for that. I've only seen the first 3 of those. I'm worried how i'll find the time to catch up with so much in Indian, Czech, Latin American + other neglected cinemas, what with all the great books i've not read, the countries i want to visit, and i'm nearly 45! Here's hoping life expectancy keeps increasing. One Kapoor hit i didn't like at all was Bobby. Nor over impressed with 90's hits like Kuch Kuch Hot Hai (though Rani Mukherjee- India has had some of the most beautiful actresses!- and its enthusiasm almost won me over) and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, nor Lagaan.

Re: Indian top 10

Postby madhuban » Fri Jan 13, 2006 1:45 pm

john, i been thinking how i will ever catch up with the amount of cinema you guys have seen! every time i read a review here, i make a mental note. but where on earth am i going to see them, forget surviving long enough! the one i envy the most is wpqx. all of 21 and so much film viewing!

perhaps, you should try some of the "flops". the ones you mention made crores at the box office. one director/producer (the ones he produces also has his stamp) to watch out for is Ramgopal Varma. Like Tarantino, he used to be a video parlour guy, never went to film school, and taught himself to make films by obsessively watching them. Primarily works in three genres - gangster films, fantasy and thriller/horror - with a few road movies to his credit as well. "Shiva", "Satya", "Company", "Kaun", "Rangeela" are strongly recommended if you live to be a hundred He is basically from Andhra Pradesh in south india and began his career in the regional Telugu film industry. "Kshana Kshanam" remains a personal favourite, though I watched it without subtitles and i have only a smattering of Telugu (Indians are compelled to be quadrilingual). So, this one is also recommended provided you find a subtitled copy and live to be 110

Re: Indian top 10

Postby wpqx » Fri Jan 13, 2006 5:25 pm

Well I must say I'm honored to be envied. Ignorance alert though, Indian film is far from my strong point. In fact of the 11 Indian films I've seen, all of them were directed by Satyajit Ray. They're not too easy to come across at least here in the states. Sure there are specialty Indian stores (not exactly on every street corner) but then you have to deal with not even being able to read the boxes, etc. Hopefully this thread here will get me some good ideas for the future. In the meantime here's a Ray top ten.

Distant Thunder
Pather Panchali
The Middleman
The World of Apu
Two Daughters
Days and Nights in the Forest

Re: Indian top 10

Postby Johndav » Fri Jan 13, 2006 7:07 pm

Umrao jaan; i see it gets a very high average at imdb, and the first reviewer there compares the cinematography to Nykvist for Bergman, also says it was too quickly passed over by critics, lumped in with predictable commercial cinema. I'll certainly try to see it. From the Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema (so well laid out, films arranged by year), i see it's an opulent spectacular film about a young girl who's abducted + trained as a musical-dancing courtesan, becomes very popular, then has varying relationships with an aristocrat, childhood friend and a bandit! Film apparently proposes she's the only free woman in society.

Re: Indian top 10

Postby madhuban » Fri Jan 13, 2006 7:53 pm

@ wpqx

Eleven from Ray's oeuvre is damn impressive! Just curious about what the 11th film was, since you list the ten best. Is it by chance, "The Chessplayers" or "The Philosopher's Stone"? If so, they would have been up there in my Ray top five. I am surprised to see "Distant Thunder" meet with such appreciation too. John mentioned it, and now you have it at the top. It is a hopelessly underrated film in India, especially in Bengal. Wonder why? Would be quite high on my list too. "Devi" and "Three Daughters", on the other hand would not be in my top ten. Let me give it a try too. This time i'm treating each rank seriously. I am cheating a bit, as usual.

1. The Music Room (by far the best)
2. The Philosopher's Stone
3. The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha (in an age when special effects was unheard of, he pulls off a technical wonder!)/Distant Thunder
4. Aparajito
5. The Chessplayers/Pather Panchali
6. The Adversary
7. The Lonely Wife
8. The Middleman
9. The World of Apu
10. The Coward, The Saint

@ john

"Umrao Jaan" gives the "kothha" (literally, the house of the courtesan) genre of bollywood films (to which "Pakeezah" belongs) a different spin. It isn't untrue that courtesans in north india owned a lot of property and had prestige in society during a certain period. I do find the empowerment message a drag, but there is enough in the film to distract you from it.


Re: Indian top 10

Postby wpqx » Fri Jan 13, 2006 9:16 pm

Now don't get too upset but the 11th was The Music Room. I found the film downright irritating, but perhaps I'll blame my distaste towards Indian music on it. Plus it was simply a rich man's disintegration and it got a little old, like a torturous prolongued execution with a horrible soundtrack. Now if you're a fan of Indian music I can see how that would have an impact. I put Distant Thunder at the top because that was the Ray film I felt strongest about after my initial viewing. If I get a chance to watch the Apu Trilogy in a better environment (with legible subtitles perhaps) then the ranking might change.

Re: Indian top 10

Postby A » Sat Jan 14, 2006 12:44 am

Saw "Sant Tukaram" in my local cinema (they mostly show "repertoire" films), and it was a great experience. But if I'll ever get to see it again...
The two Ghatak were on VHS (a swiss company, I think Trigon). I borrowed them from my library, and the prints are restored and subtitled (german + french). My library also has cloud-capped star (haven't watched it, yet, because there seems to be a problem with the audio), but the company has released also other Ghatak films on VHS, so maybe I'll catch more. Here's the link: (site also in english!)

Yes, the ranking is in order of preference, so I think Aparajito is better than Pather Panchali.
Great to hear about the Ghatak films restoration! What funding organisation do you exactly work for?

Where did you get to see all those Ray films on DVD/VHS? Didn't know so many were released.

Re: Indian top 10

Postby A » Sat Jan 14, 2006 12:47 am

And sooo many indian films yet to see. I'm feeling lucky!
But I also have to catch up on so many films, I wonder in how many decades I'll be satisfied...

Re: Indian top 10

Postby wpqx » Sat Jan 14, 2006 3:52 am

They were all on VHS. The Merchant Ivory foundation restored several and released them on Columbia/Tri Star VHS. In the case of a few I'm not sure what the source was, but I rented the majority of them from Facets.

Re: Indian top 10

Postby Johndav » Sat Jan 14, 2006 12:27 pm

Ha ha, wpqx, i'd suspected The Music Room might be your missing Ray! Sorry, can't resist a chuckle. Thanks, A for the video info. I've got Cloud-Capped Star on dvd (BFI i think), now regret giving away River Called Titash.


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