MAHAL (1949 / India)
Director : Kamaal Amrohi
At the age of 7, I was mesmerized by this classic tale of reincarnation being telecast late night on TV (the good-old Doordarshan days). The memory of that mysterious mansion and the haunting melody 'Ayega aane waala' still gives me goosebumps.
MAINE PYAR KIYA (1989 / India)
Director : Sooraj Barjatya
Turmoil in Kashmeer was brewing up, and we kids were not allowed to go out for films or shopping. Our only hope was the seedy video parlor inside the military camp. After the theatrical release, MPK took hell lot of time to come out in VHS tapes and another six months (or so) to reach the valley.
Already riding high on a powerful word of mouth, we kids barely got a place to watch the first-day-first-show. With all seats full, my friends and I kept our sleepers on the ground, made a cushion out of it, and sat there for three hours fifteen minutes until the last title credit rolled up.
From the very first opening song 'Aate-Jaate', the film swept me away. Simplicity was its strength, and in my opinion, no other movie had portrayed love so innocently. Not for nothing, I watched it over 70 times!
BOMBAY (1995 / India)
Director : Mani Ratnam
At a time when boys and girls my age queued for Action and candyfloss, I fell in love with this intense tale of love amidst religious hatred and violence.
GUIDE (1965 / India)
Director : Vijay Anand
This Video CD gifted by my mother remains one of my most prized possession. I was indecisive about getting into films, but this film reaffirmed my faith in good cinema. Exemplary Writing, Performance, Cinematography, Music, and the superlative Direction. Simply put, this is the best film ever. PERIOD.
PYAASA (1957 / India)
Director : Guru Dutt
Most film schools in India recommend Guru Dutt's 'KAAGAZ KE PHOOL,' though technically brilliant, I could never connect to its pathos. Ironically, 'PYAASA' by the same maker fueled my penchant for tragedy.
MERI JUNG (1985 / India)
Director : Subhash Ghai
If any hindi film deserves a remake, this is it! Many critics trash commercial films such as 'Meri Jung' and sing high praise for any and every crap coming out of Hollywood or Arthouse.
This is a brilliant case-study for aspiring filmmakers and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to understand drama. If 'Dialoguebazi' is your thing, this is a must-watch.
2046 (2004 / Hong Kong)
Director : Wong Kar Wai
Lying unsold (and untold) in a discounted store (US Dollar Shop), I couldn't imagine a randomly picked DVD changing my Life! Yes, this film did just that. So much so that even my email and bank passwords are XXXX@2046 (there i told you!)
2046 introduced me to the magical world of 'WONG KAR WAI' a cinematic genius. Nonlinear narration, fragmented timeline, axis jumps, distorted lenses, weird angles and Overuse of Voiceovers -- He broke every rule and some more. 2046 possessed me like a demon, and within a week, I watched (and owned) every single WKW film.
IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2000)
Director : Wong Kar Wai
Coming from the maverick-maker of 2046, I expected a similar rule-breaking attempt, but I was pleasantly surprised by its different treatment. The restless camera of 2046 gave way for silky smooth motions while the old yet incredible Soundtrack added to the film's mystic romance.
WKW's story changes with each of his films, yet the theme remains the same. Melancholy. If you too are 'In the mood for love', date this DVD tonight!
MALENA (2000 / Italy)
Director : Giuseppe Sulfaro
We all go through that age when sexuality embraces (and embarrasses) us. There is almost always a Malena in every teenager's fantasy.
This simple story is told so well that I empathized with the boy lusting for that woman (Seeing Monica Bellucci who wouldn't ?) Beneath the intoxicating body, Malena had an enchanting soul too.
If you haven't seen it yet, get ready for a nostalgic trip by unzipping your memories and going back to the time u newly learnt to use your hands for the RIGHT cause.
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999),
Director : Eduardo Sanchez & Daniel
I am a huge horror fan. Alright, that's an understatement. In the '90s horror relegated into a genre churning out one crap after the other but The Blair Witch Project changed it all.
TBWP was a groundbreaking attempt and an earth-shattering money-spinner. Made on a shoestring budget, this film still holds the record for the highest investment to profit ratio. It is a CULT in both artistic and business sense.
No gaudy makeups, unbelievable special effects, and unrealistic set-ups. In fact, it was so real that for a very long time it was rumored to be true. Presented in the form of a documentary, it felt as if I was witnessing the events first hand. Two decades after MAHAL, returning to horror - my favorite genre, The Blair Witch, felt like a homecoming!
L'ECLISSE (1962 / Italy)
Director : Michelangelo Antonioni
I spend the majority of my earning on books and movies. Most people learn to earn, but I earn to learn. There is so much to know about.. everything and everyone.
Somewhere I read that Michelangelo Antonioni and Jean-Luc Godard shaped Wong Kar Wai's vivid imagination and imagery.
Even though I found Godard fascinating (and original), it was Antonioni who floored me with his subtexts and metaphors. Theme wise WKW does seem influenced by Antonioni. L'ECLISSE, had a lot of unsaid emotions and I loved every single of those pin-drop moments.
Antonioni plays up the silence like a maestro. Many people find this kind of slow-burning treatment painfully dull, but it is my dream to make a film like this - Someday. Hopefully Soon. The movie ending is its highlight. Arguably the most daring end in the history of cinema. It is soul-crushing tragic yet poetic and beautiful.
THE PASSENGER (1975 / Italy)
Director : Michelangelo Antonioni
On the surface, the world of Antonioni and WKW looks eerily similar as they both explore the same haunting theme of 'Longing,' but they approach it very differently.
WKW's characters long for love or togetherness while Antonioni's for a personal Identity or for something that proves nothing in the end. This insight looks complicated, but it is just like Antonioni (and Wong Kar Wai's) films. You either get it, or you don't.
'The passenger' is the story of a man's journey in search of his identity. By the end of his relentless quest, he voices his realization. ' I used to be somebody else, but i traded myself in'.
Apart from the scintillating climax (World's longest single shot - duration wise) 'The passanger' also ends on an impressive note (second only to Antonioni's own L'ECLISSE).