Monday, March 26, 2007


I must warn that there are some spoilers in this.

00.39 I hereby bestow upon thee the In Praise of All Things Dharmendra-Related award for the most unappealing opening frame ever.

04.11 Awww… you don’t want the pretty garland? Maa, you seem very sad. What gives? Oh, I see... it reminds you of your bridal garland, huh? Flashback time…

07.07 Mr. Groom, you look both terrified and eager… I’d be spooked if I was your dulhan…

09.02 Giving your groom a leg-massage on the wedding night? Oh dear… so who gives you a massage?

10.26 And so the slaving away begins… poor dear, you have to help the in-laws pay off their mortgage…. Not exactly an auspicious welcome.

12.23 Well at least your husband seems nice enough for a coy game or two…

16.23 Hubby seems nice enough, and he’s got a sweet smile… but I get the strong feeling something terrible will happen to him soon.

17.31 Oh goody, a song! It’s about time we had one.

21.14 A little bitty bachcha… awww….

23.00 Oh no… turns out mother-in-law was swindled by the evil money-lender. Injustice!

38.04 I love the gutsiness of this kid. So great.

42.06 Awww… why can’t this sort of sadness and despair be confined to the movies? This movie is a real downer. Nice fake clouds though.

42.27 Radha is a good woman, if I were in this situation, not only would I let my hubby beat the horrible moneylender up, I’d probably join in. But violence solves nothing, and Radha, wise woman that she is, knows this.

43.09 Gotta love this kid. Who played him? I think he’s remarkable.

44.07 Awww… and you were such a good man up till now! Why hit your good wife who has done all she can to support and care for you and the kids? Why? This film is very upsetting.

45.07 Kids are amazingly resilient. The older ones who are more aware of their dire straits are sad, the youngest smiling away. God bless children.

46.09 How beautiful. These people are determined to make me cry.

47.05 It was obvious that something terrible would happen to Shamu – but it’s terribly depressing nonetheless.

48.23 So not PC… but sweet and charming anyway.

50.46 The only phrase I can use to describe this is a kicked around cliché – ‘man’s inhumanity to man’.

56.44 This is just so sad. It’s a good song though.

1.00.07 What? Dadi’s dead too??!! No doubt Shamu’s death was a contributing factor.

1.01.10 Wow, a death, a new life… the circle of life. Eeyah, four kids and only you, Radha?

1.02.03 I love this kid. Bas.

1.03.47 Talk about an iconic image. Wow – great picture. Nargis was bahut khoobsurat.

1.07.42 This looks very DeMillean… nice shot.

1.08.36 Na wa o... in fact e be like say na pidgin wey I go take nack dis one. Oyibo no go do am, dis one don pass me. Wich kain wahala bi dis now? Sufferhead don join bodi.

1.09.06 Wow… powerful imagery – woman and mother, carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders – like some Greek god. The divinity of womanhood.

1.10.16 Oh great, now she has to go and lose her strongest reminder of her dear Shamu as well. There is really no end to Radha’s suffering, is there?

1.14.59 How many women have been forced to make these terrible choices?

1.15.49 Powerful. This is a great performance by Nargis. I will have to look for more of her films now.

1.18.04 Those 3 dots on the chin. I remember Ash had them in ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ too. Is it a religious symbol, or cultural or both? I’ve also noticed that a lot of words I’m used to hearing with the ‘z’ sound (ziruddh, zameen) are being pronounced with the ‘j’ sound (jiruddh, jameen) in ‘Mother India’. Is this a different regional dialect of Hindi?

1.19.06 I really hate it when they don’t subtitle the songs, especially when the songs are so significant. And didn’t they subtitle the last song where she was yearning for Shamu? I really need to know what she’s saying here.

1.21.06 Testimony to the woman’s ability to inspire and lead…

1.21.21 They’re big boys now… as an old friend would say, hmmm, how time flies!

1.23.28 Eeyah… wouldn’t it have been great if this could have happened? But life had other plans – plans of hardship and heartbreak…

1.24.28 Again, I so do love this kid! If it weren’t for the ‘be careful what you wish for’ thing, I’d wish for a kid as lively and full of oats as this one!

1.25.04 I’m so loving the music in this film

1.32.04 Wait a minute, wait a minute… so all the ‘ah ah, ooh ooh’ Birju was doing was a ploy to ‘toast’ this girl – to tell her she’s nicer than all the village belles? And here I was thinking he was coming to learn so that he could read Sukhi Lala’s account books… oh, okay he was getting to that part…

1.33.06 Sacrificing so much and yet still getting robbed…

1.38.01 I miss Nargis… she totally dominates this movie… it’s mean, but I really don’t want to see her son’s girlfriend dancing around. But the song is pretty hot.

1.41.31 Awww, this is very pretty. Sunset and shadows…

1.42.43 This is my first Sunil Dutt film – bahut scary aadmi hai. I see where Sanjay gets ‘it’.

1.44.47 Oh dear… super-tragic as it was, I think I’m liking pre-interval ‘Mother India’ better than post-interval ‘Mother India’. It’s getting a tad draggy now. Quit clowning and get to the point, Birju.

1.45.34 Oh that’s so sweet, she really loved her Shamu… can’t blame her, he was kinda sweet, except for that time he hit her…

1.47.31 Apparently Birju is still a kid – he never grew up. Oh my.

1.48.06 I just might be scarred for life after watching this… there’s so much here to make you lose hope in humanity.

1.51.06 Not only did Birju never grow up; he also seems to be off his rocker.

1.57.06 Birju and Radha are so cute together. I’d be sorta jealous if I were Ramu.

2.00.04 I love Nargis. This is such a good performance. This scene is so cute.

2.02.02 Okay okay, what kind of nonsense is this? I’m not watching ‘Mother India’ for bowls of swinging pudding and such messy frivolities; I came here to get ‘edjumacated’… LOL

2.05.04 Birju, why the heck would you go and tell your chief tormentor that your suit has been rejected?

2.11.50 Ramu is living his father’s life. Which means, tragedy is about to strike this family again.

2.13.59 Hell no, Birju. You did NOT just slap your bhabhi. Hell to the no. You should be hung out to dry for that.

2.14.20 I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that Birju slapped her or the fact that Ramu is shrugging it off. Nasty.

2.16.20 Awww, she’s still missing Shamu…

2.18.10 A Holi song – wasn’t expecting one in this film. Nice.

2.20.20 Aww... this kid, I’ve missed you! These flashback/what-might’ve-been scenes are tough to watch – so moving.

2.23.25 Birju is crazy for real. What has possessed him to ruin Holi? I know – it’s love for his mother.

2.24.58 The warning to not argue with men makes me smile – a grim smile. How often have I heard that ‘women shouldn’t argue with men’ spiel – especially in the village?

2.26.20 Okay now this is getting insane – this is really more than enough tragedy!

2.35.06 Okay now this all just too crazy for words…. WTH?!

2.40.28 Talk about a demanding role – this one just takes the cake! Is there anything Nargis hasn’t done in this role?

2.46.09 Oh Birju, what hast thou done to thyself?

2.49.17 Powerful metaphor here on the uses of knowledge, I think.

2.53.03 Ok now that’s just insane – Radha, how COULD you? (I mean, I know why you did it, but still, it's BIRJU??!!) And that horse is just plain nasty.

2.54.04 And here comes the fresh but tainted wave of modernity… washing out the old and bringing in the new? Was the old bad? Will the new be better? Questions with no answers…

This was hard to watch but somehow I know I’ll do it again, to see if I can learn more and dig deeper into the layers of the film, as I’m sure a lot of it has gone straight over my head… I liked the first half of the film better than the second, but the whole film is really good.


Ok... this, my first liveblog, might also be my last. Who knew liveblogging was such hard work? And with my suckiness at summarising stuff, it's probably not the best option for me. It was fun to try it, though.


Anonymous said...

Regarding Nargis's Movies that you should watch.

Awaara (1951) - The best movie ever. I can't believe you have not seen this movie. I have met so many non-americans who have sang the title song.

Shree 420 (1955)
Chori Chori (1956)
Aag (1948)
Barsaat (1949)
Andaaz (1949)

Regarding the Music. It was by Naushad
and lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni. A great combination. Shakeel was poet. Most of lyricist of golden era were really leftist socialist lyricists. It is one of the reasons why there were so many social movies in the 50s.


Anonymous said...

Oh your reaction to mother shooting her son.
I guess it is an Indian thing. I asked my mother and she agreed with the movie. I thought the horse actually ruined the shot but they left it in.
The song afterward is really powerful. Incidentally there is an earlier movie where mother shoots her son but in that movie he is anti-hero.


Daddy's Girl said...

Hey, Rajnish, thanks for visiting my blog and for the very educative and interesting comments - I am so grateful for the recommendations because I had no idea where to begin in my search for more Nargis films. I think I've heard of 'Awaara' - can't wait to check it out.

The socialist thing you touched upon explains so much about this movie - and I will be looking out for more of this theme as I watch more Indian films from the 50s.

Thanks for the insight about the mother shooting her child. Much food for thought. For me, that horse was just so wrong - I agree that it didn't belong in the shot.

Thanks again for the comments!

Anonymous said...

you are welcome.

To finish my thought on mother killing the son.
Basically it is society vs. individualism. Mother has
to live in the village. The girl is part of her extended family. In the modern world, with individualism being the top priority makes group thinking kind of quaint. That is why you find it so unsettling.

I would recommend this site if you wish to learn more about Indian culture. As most of Indian history is written by Christian missionaries.

India is only of few countries were muslim intellectuals actually survived the islamist/communist purge of the cold war.

You kind of in a deficit since you don't understand the language and subtitles don't make correct translation most of the time. I watch mostly for songs as the stories kind become bland after so many of the same themes being pounded upon the viewer. Songs are also important because it allowed the artists to bypass censors. Really amazing this about late 40s songs is that there was only one microphone with no retakes. It also help since they were written by best poets in the world.

Daddy's Girl said...

Thanks Rajnish for another illuminating comment. I wouldn't say I find Radha's action unsettling as much as just so sad - I actally understand it, as I'm from a part of the world where communal identity is still a very powerful thing and selfish individualism is still frowned upon (although this is changing). I do understand why she did what she did - I just find it incredibly painful, especially after all she had gone through with Birju. So my 'Radha, how could you?' is less 'you shouldn't have' and more 'that must have been so tough for you to do'. I hurt as much for her as for Birju. I can't say that I would do exactly the same under the circumstances (but then, I'm not a mother yet), but I really respect her choice.

That's really interesting about the poetry behind the songs and the hard work that went into producing them in times past - you're so right about my deficit - when watching Hindi films I'm always acutely aware that I'm missing out on a huge chunk of what's going on and that a lot of layers are inaccessible to me because of the language barrier. I should probably try to consciously learn some Hindi. But I guess the fact that I still love the films and the music so much in spite of the language barrier just shows that they are really good.

Thanks so much for the link to that site - it's incredibly interesting and I'm really grateful that you've taken time to share this with me. Thanks!

yves said...

Hello DG,
A visit to your website, and lo, a review of Mother India. As a unexpected liveblog, too, because liveblogging is OK for masalas, but for Mother India!?! Well, why not after all.
What you say about the "powerful imagery – woman and mother, carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders – like some Greek god. The divinity of womanhood": all this I could have signed, very good comment.
Thanks for the good work.
cheers, yves