I thought I’d write this after one of the same olds (who banned me from commenting on her blog from political differences between her agenda and mine) came out with a “stylish blogger” list for bollywood, and I said Hey! I have blogged YEARS and have never written one about the bloggers I like (and why I like them).
Many of these blogs are available on my blogroll and this is a short expo on why they are my faves. You will notice that I have a 1. Strong bias to video 2. Strong oldie (preferably Oldie tamil) bias. 3. My approach to bollywood is really what can be termed the gnana marga, which means the whole “I pick indians that might fit into a New york punjabi cocktail party well” is very much not a criterion. You’ll also notice that there’s very little “uncleji who emigrated with his LP collection ” in my post.
Top 5 (in no particular order..if you made it here youre like the Gods of Olympus. Im Zeus, )
1. Rangadorai(Randor Guy): Who is by all accounts a living historical treatise on indian cinema. the one man that has firsthand eyewitness proof that Alam ara was NOT the first Indian talkie(he saw indian talkies that predated it) and knows almost encyclopedically every film released pre 1940.
His post on Aryamala 1941, for instance starts like this :
P.U. Chinnappa�� M. S. Sarojini��� M. R. Santhanalakshmi T. S. Balaiah N.S. Krishnan�� T. A. Mathuram�� S.R. Janaki�� Kulathu Mani A. Sakunthala��� P. S, Gnanam�� A. R.� Sakunthala� B. Rajagopala Iyer�
K. S.� Narayanan Iyengar who hailed from Salem and married into a wealthy family of Madras was interested in motion pictures and promoted Narayanan & Company. It distributed movies and later produced pictures with success.� The later day Coimbatore movie mogul S. M.� Sriramulu Naidu was Iyengar’s agent, later a partner in the Pakshiraja Films. Soon both decided to actively enter production and the first venture was ‘Aryamala’.
‘Aryamala’ was made�� Central Studios, Coimbatore, one of the most active studios during that day in South Indian Cinema. Sreeramulu Naidu had a hand in the running of the studio; consequently, ‘Aryamala’ was shot there.��
Chinnappa,� an import from Tamil Theatre was��� knocking on the doors of stardom� in Tamil Cinema after� T. R. Sundaram-Modern Theatres’ box office hit of 1939 ‘Utthama Puthran’(in which he played� a� double role).
He was cast as the hero this film and Aryamala was played by the young woman Saroja (later M. S Sarojini) and soon became a noted star but acted only Sreeramulu Naidu’s productions…
How can one not love this guy and spend HOURS reading! Long life rangadorai sir!
2. Minai’s Cinema nritya gharana : Minai is famous everywhere that matters. a white chick that hasn’t really set foot out of her home state (she protects her privacy furiously) in the US, Minai has developed into one of the world’s greatest untrained rasika of dances (mainly classical , but also Koothu, the cinema art form) in Indian cinema. Armed with a keen analytical mind and with access to all the knowledge the world can send her way, Minai has developed something that most Indian Rasikas find difficult to gain (probably from a lack of distance from the arts they support): Discernment.
Samples of the dances she has posted from films will Illustrate :
Kamala Lakshman(whom she is a Huge fan of) in her early days :
Vyjaintimala in chittor Rani Padmini
Roshan Kumari’s Kathak in Satyajit ray’s Jalasaghar
Dr Minati Misra’s Odissi in the 1967 film “Arundati”
Lest you think this blog is about serious dancers, theres a Koothu section , some white chick in indian films critique , A Serious deconstruction of Chiranjeevi’s classical dance performance in Subhalekha and, this: (featuring Makkal thilagam Dr M G R):
3. Hotspot online : Bollywood and Lollywood horror This dude actually worked out a movie deal out of his deep knowledge of all horror (and horrible) south asian film.
Apart from doing reviews of pakistani Horror films ..
Haseena Atom Bomb starts with a blistering dance number belted out by the evergreen Madame Noor Jehan AKA Malka-e-Tarannum AKAMelody Queen, if not beauty queen as well. The poetic and lyrical number has a crescendo line that goes…..”main hoon, main hoon Haseena Atom Bomb” at which point the director has inserted some astounding and thrilling shots of a volcanic eruption, no doubt culled from some National Geographic video! No doubt he deliberately used a volcanic eruption rather than an actual Atomic Bomb so that he could actually equate the potency of the Bomb with the destructive power of nature. It would have been far too simple and even crude to merely show Atom Bomb’s exploding when the singer goes “Atom Bump”
He was also dronacharya to my ekalavya (and I preferred to learn from a safe distance!) of all things pakistani B movie : His review of international gorillay , which opened my eyes forever to the universal brotherhood of regional movie men begins like this :
The film is a fabulous concoction and shows the Islamic world tottering on the brink of an abyss. Rushdie is leading the assault on Islam with his Satanic Verses and is targeting Pakistan (the “fortress” of modern day Islam) because once mighty Pakistan is dealt with, the rest of the Islamic world will hardly stand a chance. Rushdie plans to drive the final nails into the coffin of Islam by opening a new chain of Casino’s and Disco’s spreading contemptable vice and debauchery. Mustafa Qureshi, hen pecked to death by his demented wife, decides to call it a day with his day job at the Police station and induct his unemployed brothers to create a Mujahid (God’s soldiers) trio whose sole aim is to seek out and destroy the despised Salman Rushdie before he manages to destory all virtue and decency on the planet. The trio have a personal axe to grind as their beloved family cherub was recently slaughtered by Rushdie’s men while protesting Satanic Verses.
Clearly a model to be studied and emulated.
He also used to have a BUNCH of video clips on his site which he had to take down, alas, because of bandwidth concerns. an artists suffers for his art 😦
4. Ok Ill put it here. dont want to give ‘im a swollen head by picking him, but he hneeds to be counted…
Blogical Conclusion of Baradhwaj Rangan, the recently appointed deputy editor at the Hindu newspaper of Chennai is the only mainstream critic that finds a place in my film blog top list. Lest Mr Rangan take himself too seriously and start fashioning more ” Locquaciousness of the Lycanthropes” (and theres a few in each review , which I mostly skim for completist ambitions) The blog is entertaining for its comments section where not only do severely opinionated (usually tamil , usually brahmin) readers from the world over subject Mr rangan to their unrelenting judgementality, they also play out the same dynamic among themselves . You also see an occasional gautam menon(film director) fighting a streetfight with an unknown poster…or a Bhavani Iyer defending her ilk(In an aside, it is amusing that most people seem to think the film industry is merely peopled by morons with dough for brains.) to which , of course one wag replied ” bhavani,
Oh come on! even you will admit most of them ARE morons and much of their brains is full of …uh ..dough”
My advice to Rangan is from the film Gentleman, where Senthil, the guru of all management consultants gave out advice on how continuous process improvement works ” Less tension : more work, More work: less tension!”
5. Richard’s Dances on the footpath Richard’s blog is one of the best researched oldies blog I have read. he has a partiality to the Travancore sisters(lalitha padmini and ragini) and Kamala, but let that not keep you from thinking his very western film academic tastes bring out the unusual in the oldie. This , for instance is his post about the verifyably rockabilly tune in 19 th century kingdoms in tamil film (I can tell you richard, there are more 😉 )
You are enriched not only by the topics richard chooses on his blog but also by the amount of research you can do AFTER you come acrosss his blog post and go away enriched, which is classic blogger grammar.
DISCLAIMER: While these are personal preferences and they reflect a distinct bias toward cinema and history that I am interested in Bollywood, This top 5 is by no means definitive of my or anyone else’s tastes. it is a lot of fun to spend time on these blogs mentioned above, and there are others that I feel equally happy wasting time on. No animals were harmed during the writing of this blog post neither.