Oct 242013
 

The Last of the Great Playback singers of Indian Cinema has passed on today, marking the end of a glorious era of Film Music. Manna De is no more. His music however, lives on.  Compared to Mohd. Rafi or Kishore Kumar – he didn’t sing as much for Hindi films, but the songs that he sang left a mark.

It’s been a long time since i put together a compilation of songs, for quite sometime my music consumption has been predominantly Hindustani Classical Music.But, Manna De along with Mohd. Rafi gave me my first ever taste of the classical, something that has been with me for life.

Manna De, more than any other Hindi singer – was completely at ease with classical music. A voice like honey, he was comfortable with all sorts of songs – the philosophical (Tu Pyaar ka Saagar Hai) l, the romantic (Yeh raat bhigi bhigi) , the teasing (dil ki umange hai Jawan) , the classical (Ketaki Gulab Juhi), the tragic (sur Na saje)  .

Here in no order of preference, are some of my favourite songs sung by Manna De. if you have your favourites, please post them.

Yeh Raat Bhigi Bhigi - Mukesh is said to be the voice of Raj Kapoor, but i personally preferred the duets that Manna De sang for him with Lata. Be it this, or Pyaar huva or Aaja Sanam …. Shankar Jaikishen composed the music, and the film is Chori Chori . The guitar as the prelude is possibly one of the most distinctive pieces of Hindi film music. i need to hear two chords to identify the song. Enjoy Raj Kapoor & Nargis in this brilliant composition.

Na to Karvan Ki Talaash Hai - My favourte Qawalli from Hindi Films. Manna Dey, Asha Bhonsle, Mohd. Rafi and others. The song runs for almost 10 minutes. Manna De opens the classic piece and Rafi ends it… both are at their best in this song. Roshan Sahab (the father of Rakesh & grand father of Hrithik) composes a masterpiece, lyrics are by Shailendra –

Tu Pyaar ka Saagar Hai – I used to have this huge crush on Balraj Sahani when i was a kid. in those glorious days of watching Chitrahaar and Hindi films on Doordarshan. I could never understand his films in those days – but i simply thought he looked yummmm :) i still do. and of all his songs, this one was played the most frequently. Soul stirring stuff. Balraj Sahani & Nutan in the film Seema. Music by Shankar Jaikishen.

 Kaun Aaya mere Dil ke Dwaare – I cannot remember watching this film, though i must i have. i devoured everything on Doordarshan whether it was Krishi Darshan or Santakukdi or Kilbil … Anoop Kumar (Kishore Kumar’s brother) and Anita Guha in Dekh Kabira Roya. Music by Madan Mohan

Dil Ki Girah Khol Do – the film “Raat aur Din”. The subject multiple personality disorder. The year 1967. And a commercial success. Nargis in her last leading role. Fabulous film. Fabulous music. Watch it also for a very young Feroze Khan. Music Shankar Jaikishen

Ja Tose Nahin Bolu Kanhaya – Raga Hamsadhwani. Lata Mangeshkar & Manna De. The movie is Parivaar and the music director is Salil Choudhary .

Hoke Majboor Mujhe - The film Haqeeqat. Possibly the finest war film ever made in India. From the point of view of the men who serve. Directed by Chetan Anand it starred Balraj Sahni (him again), Dharmendra and a host of others it is set around the 1962 war – which no one talks about. The song ‘kar chale ham fida jaan aur tan saathiyo’ by Rafi is guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes. But, this song, more philosophical is equally good. Check out Manna De in this

Mausam Beeta Jaye – The film “Do Bhiga Zamin”, the director Bimal Roy. Music Salil Choudhary. Actor Balraj Sahni and the voice Manna De. I cry everytime is see this film – nothing has changed for the farmer. When we decided to make our film “Jhing Chik Jhing” i went and rewatched this film — the famers’ lot is the same. there is a line in Jhing Chik Jhing where Bharat Jadhav says ‘we are farmers, we grow food but our children go hungry; we grow cotton and our kids wear torn clothes’. This is not the post to call for agricultral reform or greater support to farmers, but consider it said :(.

By the way, despite the subject this was not an art film. it was a commercially viable film .

Ketaki Gulab Juhi - a duet with Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. The song is a competition between the two singers, and in typical Hindi Film ishtyle … Pandit Bhimsen Joshi loses. If your mind can overcome this fact… listen to the song…

Zindagi kaisi yeh Paheli - Manna De sings for Rajesh Khanna – a man with a medical death sentance. the music by Salil Da. The film Anand. Lyrics by Yogesh.

Laga Chunri Mein Daag – Music by Roshan (grandfather to Hrithik ). The film is Dil Hi to Hai starring Raj Kapoor and Nutan

O Meri Zohra Zabeen – the Film is Waqt – the first of the last and found sagas …. The song is picturised on Balraj Sahni (be still my fluttering heart),the music is by Ravi and lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi.

Mud Mud ke Na Dekh Mud Mud Ke – Asha and Manna De in this fabulous number from Shree 420. Picturised on Nadira & Raj Kapoor. The music is by Shankar Jaikishen and lyrics by Shailendra. The film is about a young idealist Raj Kapoor, who is seduced by wealth, fame and fortune – represented by Maya (nadira) … and brought back to the straight and narrow (not to mention poverty) by Vidya. The song marks the turning point in the film when Raj Kapoor goes over to the evil side….

Pucho na Kaise Man - The film was hackneyed but the music was great. Staring Ashok Kumar in a triple role , the film is Meri Surat Teri Aankhen. Music by S.D.Burman

Sur Na Saje Kya Gaaon Mein - the film Basant Bahar. music by Shankar Jaikishen – who hitherto had been considered to be ‘pop’ music composers without a handle on classical – and how they proved the world wrong. Starring Bharat Bhushan who possibly had some of the best classical songs featured on him. The other great song in this film is Ketki Gulab Juhi sung by Manna De and Bhimsen Joshi !

Phir Kahi Koi Phul Khila - the film is Anubhav – a complicated tangle of marital relationships. It has a wonderful sound track. Other classics in this film include the brilliant number by Geeta Dutt – Mujhe jaan na Kahon, meri Jaan. The film stars Sanjeev Kumar and Tanuja as the newly married couple with more than than their share of problems.

And, today when it seems that the heavens are spring cleaning (atleast in Mumbai) one of the most famous duets sung by Manna De and Lata Mangeshkar … his ease with both high and low notes, and the sheer beauty of his voice.

Sep 222013
 

My DNA Column on the 5th of September

What is Money ? We know what it is when we see it. We know its lack when we don’t have it. We know its drop in value when we go to the market and come back with the half the goods we got last year. But money in itself, unless you are a miserly hoarder of it, has no intrinsic value.Its value comes from what the government assigns to it or what people believe it to have. The reason gold has value is not because it is valuable in itself; rather it is valuable because people and institutions believe it to be valuable.

Today, we know that money has lost value because of the things we cannot buy with the money we have. When we look at a home our parents purchased for under Rs5 lakhs a fortune in those days and that house costs upwards of a few crores.We know it when we go to the market, and onions that used to cost Rs12-a-kilo a few months ago, cost five time that. It is when the education we had, for a few hundred rupees a couple of decades ago, costs a few lakhs. The biggest impact of inflation is the loss in value of money.Inflation impacts not just our today, but also our tomorrows.

If you want to know how much the value of money has changed in the years since Independence, there is no better indicator of it than Bollywood. The era immediately after Independence reflected the hope and decency that people possibly saw. Money was not as important as family, values, friendship, and loyalty were. If at all money was referred,it was a need, not an overwhelming drive. The 1950s was an era where people prayed to God for a Sava Lakh ki lottery (Chori Chori). By the 1980s this had become 11 lakhs of bounty (various state lotteries). Today lottery prizes are upwards of a crore. A leading gameshow that offered a crore as prize money a decade ago, is offering seven times that much in today’s market. Back to the 1950s, Kishore Kumar playing a car mechanic could fix a broken-down car for Rs5.75, in the incredibly hilarious Chalti ka Naam Gaadi.Today, even servicing the car costs much more than that.But money was not always about irreverence or fun. Sometimes the lack of it was the difference between life and death or at least dispossession. Two films of that era that drove home this point were Do Bigha Zamin and Mother India. In the former, the main protagonist was the farmer Shambu, played by Balraj Sahani, who is about to lose his plot of land for a debt of Rs65, that has ballooned to an unmanageable Rs235 with compound interest, to the moneylender.The moneylender wants to use the do bigha zamin to put up a factory. Shambu goes to the big city to earn money to pay off his debt, but is unsuccessful. In a way, the issues remain the same what has changed is the price tag. In Mother India, the debt borne by Radha (Nargis) and Shamu (Raj Kumar) is a crippling Rs500. Radha works hard to pay off this debt and bring up her children well. Both these films resonated with the audience and got the cash registers ringing.

In the 1960s, the value of money, and the values associated with money both changed. The world became darker. Heroes became greyer. The turn of the decade saw the famous Dev Anand-starrer Kala Bazaar, where the hero is a black marketeer. Dev Anand steals Rs3,000 to start a business in black marketing movie tickets.The movie for which he is selling tickets in black is Mother India a two-rupee ticket that goes for a princely Rs50. In today’s India, there are few films that need tickets in black. Supply of films is everywhere and the scarcity caused by restricting screenings to a few theatres is gone. A few years later, Shammi Kapoor as Pritam Khanna, in the film Professor, is battling with his mother’s tuberculosis.It was an era where a sanatorium was considered to be the ideal treatment for TB (today someone with TB is treated as an outpatient). He pawns a counterpane for Rs5, and then fakes his age to get a job. Then, as now,  jobs were at a premium.

A decade later, in the 1970s,  Bollywood depicted mothers who sent their children to bed, using the threat of a dreaded dacoit (Gabbar Singh) who had a bounty of Rs50,000 on his head.A few years ago, students watching this film, in Mumbai, laughed out loud at the famous “poore pachaas hazaar” line, a clear indicator of how the value of money had changed. In another famous film from the 1970s Vijay Kumar (played by Amitabh Bachchan) in Trishul buys a plot of land in Model Town Delhi for Rs5 lakh and starts his own construction empire. That land, in today’s terms, would be worth crores. There is, of course, the famous Deewar, where neither a bungalow nor cars, nor fame, would be equal to the respect that the hero has in his mother’s eyes. But, that was a different time.

In the last two decades, the loss in value of money is reflected in Bollywood too. Tens have no value. Hundreds have been replaced with tens of thousands; a lakhpati is a common man, a crorepati is middle-class. It is those with hundreds of crores (if not thousands) who are classified as rich. And, if that doesn’t tell you about inflation, nothing will.

Money makes the world go around, go the lyrics to a famous song. But money that made the world go around yesterday is no longer enough today. And, that really is the crux of inflation.

 

Apr 042013
 

My Tehelka Blog on the calls to pardon Sanjay Dutt

Ajmal Kasab had just turned 21 when he and his fellow band of terrorists attacked India on 26 November 2008. He was 18, when he began his descent into crime and terror.

The youngest unnamed accused in the horrific Delhi gangrape case was just a shade under 18, when he participated, willingly, in the rape and murder of a young physiotherapist. He was supposedly the most brutal of all the rapists on the bus, that fateful night. While the system calls him a ‘juvenile’ and in all likelihood will set him free, there is general revulsion at the thought of someone like him being free to walk around to commit the same crime again.

Both Kasab and the unnamed juvenile were born in poor families, grew up in a world where others took to petty and not-so-petty crimes, and were exposed to influences that could lead them astray – yet most people do not use their age, their background or reduced circumstances as an excuse for their horrific behavior.

Sanjay Dutt was 33 years old when the Mumbai Police discovered that “the actor had acquired AK-56s from Dawood Ibrahim’s brother Anees Ibrahim, and had even had one destroyed after the serial blasts in Bombay that left 257 people dead.”

Yet it seems like a large part of the film and political fraternity are calling for him to be pardoned. Here is a man who willingly took possession of arms that would be used against his fellow citizens. He tried to cover this up, and yet people are calling for his pardon. There is a very sophisticated publicity exercise in place that wants to make Dutt seem like a poor little lost boy, entrapped by circumstances and an unwilling participant in an escapade that went wrong. The truth is different. He was a grown up, who knew what he was doing, and kept quiet when a single phone call (even an anonymous one) could have saved over 250 lives.

So, what makes Sanjay Dutt special?

Born to Bollywood nobility – his mother was Nargis, father Sunil Dutt – brought up in the lap of privilege and wealth, Sanjay Dutt could have been anyone. He was given a dream film debut by his father in the film Rocky, he worked with the biggest directors in Bollywood, his friends were the A-list in tinsel town, fans loved him, the box office welcomed him and he had the world at his feet. You would think that a man born into such a background and who achieved success would do something useful and meaningful with his life. He didn’t. His early career in Bollywood was marked by absences, late coming and general bad behavior. So much so that he began losing out roles to relatively unknown actors (Sanjay Dutt was the first choice for the film Hero, that later propelled Jackie Shroff to stardom. The story goes that Subhash Ghai was so put off with the unprofessional behavior of Sanjay Dutt that he had him replaced). All this changed with the 1993 Mumbai blasts and the subsequent arrest of Sanjay Dutt under TADA.

Unlike the West where people, even stars, are penalised for their bad behavior, India seems to love its bad boys. Robert Downie Jr, Mel Gibson, and a host of others have lost roles, lost endorsements when they got embroiled in controversy. Mel Gibson for being a drunk racist, Downie Jr for a drug habit that led him to serve jail time – there was punishment beyond what the legal system mandated. There was ostracisation and a loss in earnings. But over here, the moment a star gets into trouble, he becomes more salable. Sanjay Dutt got better roles after his arrest,  and he is not the only one. It is almost as though advertisers and film financiers believe that sleaze will sell.

Today, when people who should know better are appealing the Governor to pardon Sanjay Dutt, they need to understand that they are giving their blessing to delinquency, to irresponsibility, to acting in an anti-social manner and a support of terror.

“He is a nice man” goes the refrain. How many nice people do you know who store automatic weapons and grenades capable of causing carnage? Then there is the refrain that says he was too young. At 33? When leaders like Digvijaya Singh put out statements that say, “Sanjay Dutt is not a criminal, he is not a terrorist. Sanjay Dutt, at a young age, in the atmosphere of that time, thought that perhaps the way Sunil Dutt had been raising his voice against communalism and favoured the minorities, then perhaps he could be attacked,” they are making excuses for terror.

What do you say to all those people who are minorities, or favour minority rights and would never think of going down the path of violence or terror? Indeed, what do you tell people whose family members have been arrested and convicted for terror – that it is excusable because they thought they were in danger? Is this the same approach to dealing with Maoists who believe that the only way they can get heard by the State is by committing acts of terror?

The last excuse is that Nargis and Sunil Dutt were patriots and deserve better. The head of the Press Council of India and former Supreme Court judge Markanday Katju says, on why Sanjay Dutt deserves a pardon: “His parents Sunil Dutt and Nargis worked for the good of society and the nation. Sunil Dutt and Nargis often went to border areas to give moral support to our brave jawans and did other social work for the society.”

This is an easy statement to agree with. Sunil Dutt and Nargis Dutt did deserve better, and their son let them down. Not the system. It is because he is their son that he is only facing just 5 years in prison, not a lifetime. Imagine if an ordinary boy named Sanjay Dutt, whose parents were not popular film stars, had been found with the weapons cache. Would the outcry be the same?

Jan 292013
 

Bites the hand that feeds him – screamed the headline on Firstpost.in on Shah Rukh Khan, reminding me of Sholay. Had discussed the film with my class this morning, and the film was kind of fresh. The introductury scene of Gabbar, he is ranting at his 3 men for losing to those two. In the most chilling part of the scene – Gabbar pulls out a gun and plays Russian Roulette with his defeated men. He asks of one of them (Kalia)
“ab tera kya hoga kalia?”

Kalia squeeks – “Huzoor meine aapka namak khaya hai”

“ab goli kha” say Gabbar, shooting him.

This entire concept of namak khana, biting the hand that feeds them – is so incredibly – how does one put this nicely ? – feudal.

——–

The fact that the author loathes SRK is fairly evident, what is more is that this loathing seems to have overcome any half decent form of accuracy. Hey, i know opinion pieces are meant to be opinion, but even opinion is based on a modicum of fact. Some samples :

More importantly, he was embraced by a generation of Indians who were evidently so swayed by his looks (or whatever else they saw in him) that they readily overlooked his vacuous performances, blessed him with fame and fortune – and even went on to crown him ‘King Khan’.

(embraced across generations – not preteens anymore – but pretty much the rest, and especially women)

At the peak of his career, Shah Rukh was spoken of in the same breath as the Shahenshah of Bollywood, Amitabh Bachchan. That comparison may have been valid in terms of the box-office appeal that both held, but a certain indefinable element of classy refinement that Bachchan exuded even when the cameras were not whirring remained forever out of reach of SRK.

subjective – and therefore one will not comment on it. biases are allowed. I have mine, am sure the author has his. Except that in the last year – SRK was the highest earner in Bollywood, not someone past the peak of his career.

In his eternal quest to be the ageless Peter Pan of Bollywood, Shah Rukh appears not to have come to terms with the fact that while once he may have commanded a forgiving fan following, he is well past his prime. Like the Norma Desmond character that Gloria Swanson essayed in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, he is only clinging on to the memories of a happier day when the arclights were turned on him and the adulation of fans enveloped him in a warm, glowing embrace.

good lord, this person obviously neither watches Hindi films nor follows box office reports. Norma Desmond, incidentally, is the lead character in Sunset Boulevard,  a silent era star, and who, in the film, hasn’t been seen since the coming of sound. SRK’s last film – the unintentionally funny – Jab Tak Hai Jaan – was one of the 8 films that crossed the 100 crore mark in theatrical revenue in India & twice that in overseas territories - (that means that many tickets were sold).

So, by every verifiable metric, it’s fair to say that Shah Rukh Khan has enjoyed more success – and earned more fame and fortune and fan-love – than he arguably deserves. Which is why it’s difficult to account for the victimhood chip – rooted in his identity as a Muslim – that he bears on his shoulders.

Who decides who deserves what ? He doesn’t deserve this on what parameter ? Has the author seen other super stars – desi and hollywood and their performances ? Does a Tom Cruise deserve success ? Superstars bring people to the theaters, they create value all down the value chain.

And, the author’s grouse :

In an interview that he gave to an overseas publication, Shah Rukh Khan is quoted as saying that he “sometimes become(s) the indvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India.”

Now, which part of inadvertent does the author want explained ?

this is a translated version of what was written in Samna after SRK suggested that Pakistani cricketers play in the IPL (for the record, i don’t support that or indeed them being cast in films or tv shows)

Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray on Saturday said Kolkata Knight Riders co-owner Shah Rukh Khan should be given Pakistan’s highest civilian award, the Nishaan-e-Pakistan, for supporting the inclusion of Pakistani cricketers in the IPL.

Thackeray said in his party mouthpiece Samna that the ‘Khan’ inside Shah Rukh Khan must be crushed by the ‘Har Har Mahadev’ war cry.

The author goes on

It’s true, of course, that your films have had their problems with Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray, who kicked up a shindig by protesting against your film My Name Is Khan on specious grounds.

The Shiv Sena did not have a problem with the film “My Name is Khan”, they had a problem with SRK statement regarding IPL and wanted to take it out on My Name is Khan in retaliation (btw i have seen the film and it is mawkishly sentimental)  And this is what SRK said , that got him into trouble

“They are the champions, they are wonderful but somewhere down the line there is an issue and we can’t deny it. We are known to invite everyone. We should have. If there were any issues, they should have been put on board earlier. Everything can happen respectfully,”

And, incidentally this is what Shilpa Shetty (another team owner, whose name is not Khan) had to say about the same issue:

“If you ask an Indian whether he would like to see Shahid Afridi play in our country, he would say yes. But you must look at it pragmatically and see that we have had these people who are constantly threatening.It’s not something we hold against the Pakistani players. We completely understand the situation but as franchise owners are we willing to take that risk? If something happens to the Pakistani players, the onus lies on us and who is going to take responsibility for a situation like that,”

And this is what Preity Zinta (another team owner, whose name is also not Khan) had to say about the Pakistani Players in IPL

”We would have loved to have the T20 world champions in our teams to bring real joy to the extravaganza but what can we do if we have certain threats about not only our own safety, but the safety of the Pakistani players too, with no official quarter assuring us of foolproof security of players during the tournament,’
Therefore, given the same event IPL, to be held post 26/11, with three star owned teams – if you eliminate all other factors – the only one left is that they picked on SRK because he is a Muslim. (it could also be because he is a man, but i dont think that he SS would eliminate 50%+  of their voters)
And it continues,
So, grow up, Shah Rukh, and learn to take it on the chin like a man. Don’t bite the hand that fed you – and made  you who you are – by running off to an overseas publication and crying your heart out, thereby providing the space for low-life terrorists like Hafiz Saeed to take potshots at India.
On SRK Being resposnible for Hafeez Saeed’s comments, it would be good to read the whole piece and figure where that comment came from. I daresay it was from mangled  headlines from the MSM. In which case, i wonder who is responsible for Hafeez Saeed’s comments. Also, what is this with treating Hafeez Saeed’s statement as being important, instead of dealing with it with the contempt it deserves – what do people expect from Hafeez Saeed –  Kudos for India?

On his being inebriated and badly behaved – sure – he is human. And,a flawed one at that. Where he attacks people who cannot fight back – like the security guard in Wankhade, please take him to task. When it is with other, equally successful,  members of the film  industry, let them sort it out.

I can criticize India, the armed forces, decisions on hanging terrorists or not, Pakistani Players or actors in India, peace with Pakistan and the rest of it – and not once (mabye once) there will be calls for me to move next door. People may question my logic, my intellect, my wisdom, my credentials – but not my right to be in India and make those comments. SRK has those rights too. He is a citizen and like all citizens has the right to critcize the system without having to prove his love for the country every time he does so.


Finally this is neither about the Indian state, nor the people of India, nor the great Indian paying audience – couldn’t care who was what religion so long as they sell tickets.  It is not even about political parties, apart from those  like the Shiv Sena – whose stock in trade this is. People from across the political spectrum came out to support SRK, when the Shiv Sena went on that blistering attack on him.

“We do not consider it correct to use such terms for Khan. His contribution to Bollywood and as a cultural ambassador is immense,” Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP, contradicting their ally in Maharashtra to defend SRK. .

This is rather a comment on the Indian media, who takes things out of context to raise passions, then when those passions are raised – whether it was in terms of misquoting SRK on IPL or in this current case, or indeed anyone else – use those raise passions to attract more eyeballs. Am not sure that this is meant to be the role of the media – to stir the pot and wait for people to get at each others’ throat.

I am not the world’s greatest SRK fan. there are films that i have enjoyed, films i have loathed and films i have not even bothered to watch.  But, this is a hatchet job. And, a badly researched hatchet job at that. I am not sure what bothers me more.


(declaration : I have neither met SRK, nor worked with him, or have pitched to him, or likely to – we are completely in different universes) ..

This, incidentally, is the piece that firstpost had issues with. and, it is a wry, funny piece on what it means to be a Khan …

Jan 272013
 

My blog for Tehelka, last week. Yes, Maachis should have been on the list

 

Zero Dark Thirty has hit the screens to much controversy, debate, acclaim and box office success. The film deals with the decade long hunt for master terrorist Osama Bin Laden The film is a fascinating study in looking at shades of good and evil. There is a thin line between the two, and those who fight terror have to work very hard not to slip over to the other side. This battle is not just between ideologies or good and bad, but is also the battle within. How far do you go to keep innocents safe? This is a theme that has been looked at multiple times in movies.

Bollywood films too have looked at the issue of terror and the fight against terror. Some are out and out jingoistic, others unbelievably fantastic, yet others pure entertainment. Few have looked at the contours of terror realistically. Here in no particular order are five of the most realistic Hindi films, that use the fight against terror as a backdrop

  • Drohkaal - possibly one of the best films in contemporary Indian Cinema, that looks at the issue of terrorism. Directed by Govind Nihlani, the film looks at the shades of grey that come into play in dealing with terror. Set against a backdrop of an unnamed terror organization (most likely Naxal) unleashing violence against civilians. Two policemen DCP Abhay Singh (Om Puri) and DCP Abbas Lodhi (Naseeruddin Shah) plant agents in a group led by Comarade Bhadra-Ashish Vidyarthi in a National Award Winning performance. The cat and mouse story between the hunter and the hunted is a fascinating one and the end is a twist in the tail.
  • A Wednesday – written an directed by Neeraj Pandey, the film went on to become a box office superstar, purely based on word of mouth. The film tells the story of a retired cop , played by Anupam Kher, and his last big case that takes place on a Wednesday. A man, played by Naseeruddin Shah, plants bombs across the city of Mumbai and threatens to detonate them unless jailed terrorists are freed. Who is this man, what is his agenda and will he get away with it? The film is a taut thriller, and one reason why it was such a hit – apart from the brilliant writing and performances – is that Naseeruddin Shah’s character resonates with most of us.
  • Black Friday – In 1993, bombs ripped through Bombay (as it then was) destroying buses, buildings,people disintegrated, yet others were maimed and injured. . Hundreds died, many more injured and it left the city numb with rage, grief and disbelief. Anurag Kashyap’s film based on the book by Hussain Zaidi tells the story of the blasts (and its investigations) from different perspectives. Raw and gritty, the film makes for compelling viewing.
  • Sarfarosh – looked at the issue of cross border terrorism (read Pakistan sponsored terrorism) and the attempt of honest young ACP Rathod, Aamir Khan, to put together a crack team that fights terror. On the other side is Naseeruddin Shah, who has possibly acted in 80% of all films on terrorism, who plays a ghazal singer and terror conduit Gulfam Hassan. The film directed by John Matthew Mathan has just one flaw – a mawkish love story that does nothing for the film. The film has a fine cameo by Mukesh Rishi- who plays Inspector Salim
  • Roja – The film made in Tamil was dubbed into Hindi and became an all India hit. It forms the first part of Mani Ratnam’s trilogy on terror, with Bombay and Dil Se being the other two. Mani Ratnam’s greatest strengthwas the telling of the stories of ordinary people. Roja (Madhoo) is a young woman from rural Tamil Nadu whose husband is a government employee who is kidnapped in Jammu & Kashmir. The story follows a parallel track, the husband’s (Arvind Swamy) interactions with the terrorists on a daily basis, and the interactions of Roja with the government machinery in getting her husband freed. Pankaj Kapur plays the head of the terrorist cell, Liaqat, with a tremendous amount of empathy. The film also boasted a great soundtrack by A.R.Rehman.

Which films, with terror as the backdrop, are in your top 5 ?