Things outside my comfort zone that I wish to make a little less so this year . . .
1. Shammi Kapoor
So, I've enjoyed the Raj, worshiped the Shashi, and recently ever-so-tentatively dipped my toe into the lake of the OTHER Kapoor brother, Shammi, with his signature film, Junglee (1961).
I think the scene that sold me on Shammi's potential was his turn reciting Urdu couplets in front of the fire . . . snowed into a cabin in the Kashmir mountains. Yeah, I know it's a cliché for a reason . . . but he wasn't half bad at it, and he wasn't half bad himself. Maybe I'll watch Kashmir Ki Kali (1964) next and see if his pairing with another actress who I actually like (sorry Saira Banu, I can't quite forgive you for marring my beloved Hera Pheri) helps bring out his best qualities.
2. Dilip Kumar
Here's the thing. I kind of have a thing for Dilip Kumar. (And Madhubala, but who doesn't?)
And not just as the son of the Great Mughal. This gifset proved those suspicions correct. (When Tumblr starts handing one revelations, it's time to reexamine the role of gifs in one's life.) But I'm still not convinced I'll have a thing for most of his films. I may or may not attempt to watch Devdas (1955) again, and/or Madhumati (1958). We'll see.
3. 1940's and 1950's Naushad Songs
"Ae Mohabbat Zindabad" from Mughal-e-Azam (1960), is practically a religious experience for me. And the song pictured at left ("Phir Aah Dil Se," Mela, 1948) made me cry instantly and completely out of context. I hadn't even seen any of the rest of the film. Maybe that's the magic of singer, Zohra Bai, or maybe it's just the effect of another special artist.
Because both of these songs are the work of renowned music director, Naushad Ali. (And some amazing vocal talent.) Seems like reason enough to seek out Naushad for spiritual and emotional enlightenment purposes. See Dances on the Footpath's recent and excellent post on Naushad for a more comprehensive view of Naushad's work from the 40's.
4. Russian movies without subtitles
|Many Roads/Different Fortunes, USSR, 1956|
So many pretty films . . . so few with subtitles.
Sure, you can access more old Soviet films than ever these days. YouTube and Mosfilm are much responsible for that. However, unlike Hindi cinema, you can't fall in love with a time period and just consume willy-nilly and expect to come across more than a a couple dozen subtitled flicks. I really enjoy the look of the films from the 50's . . . like the film pictured on the right. It was so gorgeous and beckoning, yet not available with eng subs. I watched it . . .enjoyed it . . . but I know I missed a lot.
Will it be worth it to give it another go? Do I have any choice if I want to enjoy a lot more Soviet cinema? (Am I being far too dramatic about this? In some ways I'm probably privileged. I bet there's a lot more world cinema subbed into English than in other languages. But I still would like to submit a complaint, nonetheless.)
5. Shaw Brother's films and other classic Hong Kong cinema
I'm in the middle of two Hong Kong films . . .one an example of Huangmei opera, called the Mermaid (1965) . . . about a poor student who must make something of himself before his future in father in law will allow marriage . . . and the carp spirit/mermaid who romances him in the meantime.
And another called Mambo Girl (1957) . . . which seems to be about a very narcissistic college-age celebrity and the secret her family is hiding about her.
They are both interesting enough to warrant more attention. And thanks to the Shaw Brother's Studio's recent Subtitled Film Release/Bonanza, there's potentially a lot more where those came from. But as for me, I'm going to be in the middle of a lot more soon if I don't get my shit together and just finish what I start.
Liking HK cinema will not be the end of my Hindi film love. After all, I've been to China and loved it (apart from being gluten intolerant and therefore feeling like I was starving the entire time) and I want to go back. It's totally fair to get into HK cinema in a different way. *Whispers dramatically* "Filmi gods, you won't be jealous, will you?"
Am I allergic? Or just overstimulated and woozied by the neon 80's glow that always seems to surround her?Should I give her a real chance? Where and how should I start giving her a real chance?
I kinda like the look of the pictured film (Khuda Gawah, 1993) and it's available for freeeeeee on Hulu. No strings attached. Also no Chandni. I refuse.
7. The Other Khan's (not Shah Rukh) vehicles of the 90's.
The die was cast with the advent of my watching Aamir's Raja Hindustani. So, can I do it again? Will I need to drink my way through? Or will it be easier to grasp/enjoy than I think?
And is Aamir the chosen one? To lead this journey at least?
8. Mastering the basics of a non-Devanagari Indian script
I don't know if I'll ever be a whiz at speaking multiple foreign languages, but I recently discovered that I've got a bit of a knack for learning multiple foreign scripts at least. After a semester of Hindi (and a year of Hindi films) Devanagari is starting to feel really homey and comforting . . . and while I love that feeling . . . the specific brain-muscles I must have used to learn Devanagari initially are screaming for more exercise.
So, first I returned to Russian Cyrillic, and learned that over the course of an afternoon. And I've also *almost* got the basics of Hangul (South-Korean) down in the last week (I have a lot of Korean family members, I went to S. Korea last year and spend a lot of time drinking out of souvenir mugs that I can't read very well, My best friend is living in S. Korea, My Hindi teacher is Korean, I want to learn to cook Korean food. . . so it all around seemed like a logical skill to have).
Working isn't really a fair term tho. . . I just find it really calming to learn/use a "new" writing system. It's not really so much self-discipline as self-help. It just happens to calm my itchy foot (I haven't done any significant traveling in 6 months, and probably won't until I save up for my first India trip next year) . . . plus it does wonders for my mood.
The only side effect is when I start wondering if I should change my future plans to fit my widening range of interests and then get emotionally overwhelmed by the strangeness and shifting-sands nature of it all. That's when I run back to Devanagari like a lost puppy and dive back into my kennel marked with familiar diacritics and take a nap. Actually, a similar phenomenon can be observed in my adventures in other national cinema (that isn't Hindi). After some cheerful hyperventilating and dog paddling about, I splash right back to the happy Hindi shore, ready for dry land again.
My Condensed New Year's Resolutions
- Watch something Hindi from the 1940's (start to finish). I double-dog-dare you, Filmi~Contrast. (Maybe you could watch Andaz (1949), that Dilip/Nargis/Naushad movie you thought you might like and kill a couple of birds with one stone?)
- Pick one. Just one of the Indic scripts to spend your time on. And then just remember it. It's that simple ;)
- Watch something else without subtitles. Maybe something in your language of formal study, too . . . hint, hint?
- Start your new job and maybe move somewhere new around the same time and and choose not to freak out over either. Hey, maybe that's why comfort zones are on the brain all of a sudden. Maybe ;) New Job = Money = Going to Shimla. Focus on that sequence of events.
But . . . don't think too far ahead. Take after some bad-ass filmi role models . . . stop worrying . . . and do what you do best instead.