Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Re: My ten favorite Helen songs

Thanks so much Memsaab for doing such a very good job with your wonderful post My ten favorite Helen songs. From Memsaab's list I especially like the Upasna and Apradh songs ( it' so bad most people don't even know that the second (Helen song from Apradh) is where the Black Eyed Peas took there inspiration (or copied) for the song "Don't Funk with My Heart", plus the intro to 'Don't Funk with my heart" is the beginning of "Yeh Mera Dil" from Don 1978). Anyway, thanks for those. But after seeing it I wanted more. There are so many more delightful songs from Helen of Bombay that I could not resist. I just had to post them.

My choices where made according to the music, the visuals and the Helenness (which I prefer with the kitsch turned a little bit down).

Here are my picks.

10. Jewel Thief (1967)
Good music by S. D. Burman. I want those tights!!!

9. Sachchai (1969)
Helen and a blue haired Shammi Kapoor.

8. Pagla Kahin Ka (1970)
Appearance by K. N. Singh (bad guy in Awaara).

7. Who Kaun Thi (1964)
Love the 60's look.

6. Don (1978)
A classic, I love this song. Asha Bhosle and Helen together equals magic.

5. Geeta Mera Naam (1974)
Again great music, also Helen dancing with a fat man in a skin-tight one piece suit. What more do you want?

4. Talash (1969)
Helen at her cabaret best.

3. Hulchul (1971)
This is simply a great musical story with Helen telling us to all get along, OR ELSE! BOOM! And I would not contradict miss Helen.

2. Caravan (1971)
Oh Monica? My Darling! Classic.

1. Anamika (1973)
This is my favorite because the music (R. D. Burman) and the little story mix so well, you just want more.

Also, I drew this picture of Helen a while ago, and I forgot it was from which movie. Does any one know? Thanks

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Books on Indian Film: Part 1 - History

Book 2: Bollywood: A History (2006)

Written by Mihir Bose in 2006, with lots and lots of help (a whole chapter is dedicated to the people inside bollywood). Bollywood: A History focuses on different subjects such as the beginning of the Indian film industry, the film studios, he lightly touches films like Mughal-e Azam and Mother India and he also writes about the change after independence and so on.

Mihir Bose is a writer who specialises in sport. He is not a film scholar, but he is a good writer. His style is light and flowing, so no one should have a problem reading this book. It is much less school oriented then Indian Film (published by oxford university press, read post) this one is more open to the general public. For more information on Mihir Bose, just visit his web site.

Oh, god, don't get me started on the UK cover. Hmm...is that almost naked and wet Rekha?! Come on, I want a book that sells for it's content, not it's cover. But one thing I did realise is that Bollywood, through history, has objectified women, and in that sense the cover fits just "nicely" with what it's talking about. But, I still prefer the to dry and breast covered Rekha.

Pictures - Uk Edition (Tempus) and India edition (Roli Books)

One other thing that bugs me is the title and the content don't match 100%. Especially if the title is Bollywood: A History (the history part, is not just history). History is present in the book, but in, what I felt, was a tainted form. You couldn't help but doubt the accuracy of some things that were written because it felt more like information in the "He said, She said" category. An example of this is the speculation of the Lata Mangeshkar and C. Ramchandra romance. Lata does not mention it in her biography and C. Ramchandra is dead, while there is no actual proof, you can call this information a rumor or a hidden secret, but not history. Most of the facts are taken from other peoples work or written in quotes from people in the industry.

Anyway, gossip and rumors themselves have there place in the book. Like in the prologue, which is read more as a long magazine article (though at the end it gets more serious), is about Bose's interview of the then rising start Madhuri Dixit and how he made her cry in in front of Sunil Dutt because he asked her "So, how do you feel about being the new sex symbol of Bollywood?" He also writes about Pamela Bordes, a once Miss India turned high class escort that created much scandal and excitement at the time.

The most interesting chapter, for me, was "The Road to Bombay via Munich and London" is about the pre-studio and studio days of the educated Devika Rani and her husband Himanshu Rai. I love that Rani worked with German directors Fritz Lang and G. W. Pabst, (wow, sooo jealous!)

Anyway, what I think would have made the book better is if the titles would represent the content. Basically the problem is Bose claims to write about many events and personalities in each chapter but actually he focuses on one.

some examples are:

"The Road to Bombay via Munich and London" - Devika Rani and Bombay Talkies

"Blondes and Brunettes: Bollywood's White Woman" - Fearless Nadia

"The Explosion of the Bombay Film Song" - Lata Mangheshkar

You end up expecting a lot more then what you get.

Also the title Bollywood A History should be changed to "People who Shaped Hindi Cinema" or something like that. At least it wouldn't be false (and the book would have probably gotten a better rating from me).


Really fun and easy to read.

More explanation was written for beginners in this area if world cinema.


The author is not an expert of cinema.

The UK cover can't make me take his book seriously.

Gossip and personal experiences instead of history.

I felt that the chapters or at least there titles where not representative of what you where about to read. For example, one chapter on Bombay Film Music was mainly on Lata Mangeshkar, so if you were looking for information, let's say on R. D. Burman, you get like five lines.

Other reviews

Here is an another review of Bollywood: A History, written by Chandrahas Choudhury, on his blog The middle Stage, who I think has a similar opinion to mine.

And, here (you will need to scroll down), a review by journalist Jai Arjun Singh on his blog Jabberwock.

Stella's score: 2.5/5 (for people who actually know about the history of Bollywood)

3.5/5 (for beginners)

Friday, September 19, 2008


Hello, since some of you have suggested a donation link, I have put one up on the side bar. This is strictly for people who can give money or who are financially at ease. Anything goes, 0.05$ or 5$, it doesn't matter. Once I have reached my goal, or almost, I will remove the link, buy a record player and I will go back to posting albums.

Thank You
Sorry, I can't take your money, I think it's just a matter of principle. I though I could, but it just doesn't feel right. It's weird because I don't have much money and I can't take any money. Anyway, I declined all donations and deleted the link.
Sorry for that.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Desktop Backgrounds

Hi there,
I made these backgrounds if anyone is interested. There are 2 sizes. The first is 800 x 600 pixels and the second is very large but fits for any widescreen desktop (you need to compress it).

To download the image, just click on the one you want and then right click, press Save As and Save it in a file on your computer.

The first is taken from the Awaara(1951) poster with Nargis and Raj Kapoor.

800 x 600


The second is from the Lajwanti (1958) poster starring a beautiful portrait of Nargis.

800 x 600


The third is from the poster of Madhumati (1958) with Dilip Kumar in the center, Vyjayantimala on the left, Pran in the left corner and Johnny Walker in the right corner.

800 x 600


Hope you like them! My favorite is the second one. Enjoy.


I don't have many bollywood artifacts from the past but here are a few.

The first image is the cover of a synopsis booklet to Raj Kapoor's film Barsaat (1949). It has the synopsis written in English , Hindi, Bengali, and Urdu.

On the back there is a vintage ad for the film Badal (1951), starring Madhubala and Prem Nath

After, is the cover of a song booklet again for the film Barsaat(1949).

On the back are pictures of Madhubala, with a photo of Dev Anand, the lovely Geeta Bali and the character actor Rashid Khan from Baazi (1951) directed by Guru Dutt.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Books on Indian film: Part 1 (or the lack of good books on indian cinema)

Introduction (and complaint)

A while back I had an assignment to write on Raj Kapoor and his films for a cinema class. And I very soon came to the conclusion that there isn't much out there for people that need serious info on Indian cinema or subjects strongly related to Indian film, such as studies on it's music, gender relations, religion, sociology, philosophy etc. These subject are important because a whole state of mind is unconsciously portrayed in mass and popular Indian cinema. For a film to be seen and accepted by the people of India of all castes, religions, ages and sexes means that the commercial cinema of India brings together universal indian and human values shared by all. It would not take long to figure out what these values are because they are expressed in cinema on the 1st degree. But what is more interesting is the cinema that speaks out, that is unclear and experimental. Cinema that is independent from the major studios and also challenges the mind. That is what usually attracts film scholars*, therefore writing books on cinema.

* I just want to mention that I think every film, even if they are big blockbusters, like Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Dilwale Le Jayenge or Devdas could easily have many layers and underlined meanings and opinions, but I personally believe that there is not enough dept (compared to independent cinema) to attract film scholars to study the films in further detail.

But alas, it seems that not much serious work has been printed up to date (in English or French anyway). Many books claim to talk about Indian Cinema, but too many are voiceless and empty books pretending to be about Indian film. This makes it hard for me to learn correctly and traditionally about Indian cinema.

So this series of posts is dedicated to various books, good one's (the one's worth reading) and bad one's (the one's to avoid). I think that many authors took the opportunity to write about Bollywood or popular Indian cinema just to capitalise on the growing international phenomenon. So let's try and focus on the real books.

Book 1: Indian Film (1963)

One of the first and oldest books (in English) on this subject, is called Indian Film written in 1963 by Erik Barnouw and S. Krishnaswamy (son of film director, K. Subrahmanyam). My verdict? Basically, I loved this book. There is so much info cram packed about the Indian film industry in every page that you just can't stop reading it. It is so great!

The topics in the book include, History, Studios, Societies, Feuds, Specific Industries (Hindi, Tamil, Bengali), Actors, Industry Insiders and Workers, Producers, Music, Financial Structures (including black-money) and Censorship.

One chapter that I find interesting is called "Ordinary, Decent, Superdecent" (p.168) . It's a brief overview about women and there place in Indian cinema thought history. It starts with naming a few of the first screen stars of the of the silent era. Some examples are, Sita Devi (Renee Smith), Sulochana (Ruby Meyers) and Lalita Devi (Bonnie Bird). Most of which were Anglo Indians (no caste and outcasts by both Indian and English society) because not even Indian prostitutes would go into film. Later, in the 1930's, Durga Dhote and Devika Rani, changed the perception of women working in Indian cinema by being both of the Brahmin caste (high caste) and were accepted as film stars. But after the war, women were categorised and payed differently depending on five categories. The classes and there daily wages where, "Ordinary Girl" 5R, "Decent, class C"10R, "Decent, class B"15R, "Decent, class A" 20R and "Superdecent" 25R to 40R. Also, if you could dance that was a plus. Now (late 40's- early 50's and beyond), the film industry had women from all background appearing and working in Indian cinema.

Oh yeah, the next two chapters, "Pagents for our Peasants" (p.172) and "O Divine Tamil"(p.177) are great too, they are about the rise of Tamil cinema, and it's invasion on the Hindi film Industry during the late 50's, but you will have to read those on your own.

Pictures - First Edition, 1963 and Second edition, 1980


The book talks about a variety of symbols in Indian cinema and there historical, political, religious or social meanings. So foreigners, like me, can understand the films better.

The books is so rich because of the number and quality of interviews it used, like Bimal Roy, Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal, Shivaji Ganeshan, C. Ramchandra, Salil Choudhry, James Ivory, Ismail Merchant, Shashi Kapoor, K. A. Abbas, Mehboob Khan, Durga Dhote, Devika Rani... and more.

Downside (0r perks)

Even if it is not necessary to have a background in film studies, you could encounter problems or confusions while reading the book. It is very useful, when reading Indian Film, to have some good knowledge of the history of cinema and it's main figures in Hollywood and the world film industries a like.

One thing that it does not do, is analyse specific films in detail. It's not a book about certain people or specific films. So if that is what you are looking for, this is not the book for you. (It didn't help me for my essay on Raj Kapoor and his films.)

Since it is an older book, some facts might be outdated. Although it was republished in 2001-2002, I do not know if it was reedited and updated for the present times.

Stella_1's score: 4.5/5

Next is Bollywood: A History by Mihir Bose

Monday, September 8, 2008

Little problem

Hi everyone,

I know it's been a long time since I posted an album but I have one little problem, I don't have a record player. And basically for financial issues (primarily paying university) I can't really spend on things that aren't necessities. I will try and save up enough money to be able to start posting records in October. I am very very sorry for the wait.

But in the meantime here are some records I will be posting next (not in definite order)

*I don't have the exact scans or pictures of my records, so I just took some pics off the Internet.

Also, I will be posting about books on Bollywood, Indian cinema and Hindi film music.