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November 28, 2015 Saturday     
Before stating the exceptional merits of this epic project, it first needs to be explained why the reputed critic Roger Ebert called this magnificent creation ‘a murdered movie’ in his four star review written at the time of its release.
Directed by Sergio Leone as his last film, the maestro actually filmed the footage going into 6-7 hours and had an idea of releasing it as a two part film that was rejected by the producers right away (as per IMDB). Further though Leone wanted it to be a 250-265 minutes long film including all the key scenes edited together, the final version remained a 229 minute movie leaving out more than 40 minutes of footage he really wished to be included making the desired impact.
However, the editing process didn’t stop here with the 229 minutes version being premiered at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, since post the festival a severely (rather brutally) trimmed 144 minutes version was officially released for the public in America edited by the producers against the wishes of its director. So where the European and international audience saw a 229 minutes film, Americans were made to see the 144 minutes shorter version that strangely even had a changed script progression, editing all the flashbacks and ‘back & forth’ sequences into a chronological order (with a different ending too) that simply took away the real magic of the film and its actual charm. As a result the ‘cruel shortening act’ got hugely criticized by all and the film flopped at the box office impressing none. It was later also not considered for the OSCARS and received no nominations, not even in the musical score section (for reportedly lack of proper paperwork) that is now regarded as one of the best background music in movies of this particular genre till date.
After (rightly) realizing the mistake, the film was soon released in home video/DVD market with the original close to four hour version that deservingly found both appreciation and commercial success together as expected. But in 2011-12, it was again re-created/restored by adding all the deleted scenes as sequenced by Leone and a 251 minutes long version was premiered at 2012 Cannes film festival (though they wished to present even longer 269 minute film that couldn’t be done due to certain rights issues). So finally now we have a ‘Director’s Cut’ version of 251 minutes released on DVD that essentially needs to be seen in order to understand what was originally visualized by the director and how it went through various unapproved transformations following a faulty vision.
Sharing my personal experience, I had earlier watched the shorter version and a few sequences from the 229 minutes edit many years back and found it great. Whereas witnessing the 251 minutes version recently, I had to admit that the ‘new’ film offered a completely different experience much better than the earlier ones and certainly deserves to be rated as a not to be missed passionate classic by all means.
Now coming to the creation itself, as per many artists and critics this is Sergio Leone’s finest work that should have got a much better release and reception without any unrequired interference in the final edits by the production house. But having said that, it’s not going to be an easy watch for many with a pretty long duration of 4 hours and 11 minutes with a few slow sequences too where we just have the brilliantly scored background music enhancing the visual narration with minimum spoken dialogues as such. So where for the keen students of cinema this would turn out to be a sheer gem, for the regular viewers it might not be a hugely entertaining venture following a set pattern of a gangster classic asking for your four long hours at a stretch.
Largely based on real life gangster Harry Grey's novel ‘The Hoods’ with semi-autobiographical tones, it’s a story moving through five decades with a substantial focus on childhood days of four gangsters of New York city. Having many Oscar nominated and winner actors in its cast ensemble, OUATIA features one of the best performances of Robert De Niro leading the show as Noodles along with Elizabeth McGovern as Deborah and James Wood as Max.
The film has its own share of nudity with few obscene scenes forming an essential part of its descriptive screenplay. And at times one really has to concentrate hard to know what exactly is happening on the screen taking the story forward. Yet after going through the entire glorious effort having a remarkable art direction with terrific detailing of those times and events ending on a hard hitting note you surely feel like having seen a sheer masterpiece in terms of filmmaking, direction and performances reminding you of the cult THE GODFATHER series due to the similar theme. Interestingly, (as quoted in IMDB) Sergio Leone had earlier refused to direct the first part of THE GODFATHER and probably this was his way of overcoming the deep regret as it seems.
Anyway, concluding it with an honest statement, I am recommending this film for the die-hard cinema lovers alone, exclusively for these five outstanding merits of the classic given below.
1. It has an exceptional opening 15-20 minutes wherein you have very few dialogues and only background score slowly guiding you through the unclear progression beautifully.
2. Within these opening moments there is a continuous ringing of phone moving into various sequences as if its ringing in the subconscious of a person. And believe it or not, the phone actually keeps ringing for more than 20 times cutting through the silence like a sword.
3. Watch out for ‘A Frisbee’ coming in on the screen just to represent a change in times, conceived superbly.
4. Look out for the hilarious baby-switching scene in the middle that has been shot really well. And it truly scares you like hell thinking about the outcome in the times when there was no DNA test available to know the actual father.
5. The most intriguing scene in the film remains the meeting of Noodles with Deborah after decades (of a brutal rape), when Deborah is taking off her make-up in the green room, calmly talking with Noodles looking into the mirror. And I would like to rate it as one of the best intense sequences ever conceived, depicting the distance between two wounded souls when they accidentally meet again after a few decades.
6. Lastly Sergio Leone plays his final ace in the climax sequence that keeps you guessing with more than one possible conclusion taking the film to another level altogether.
But remember, this can all be found only in the longer version of the film, preferably the ‘Director’s Cut’ version of 251 minutes. So don’t dare compromise with anything shorter ruining your own experience of watching many maestros at work together led by Sergio Leone.
Tags : Once Upon A Time In America (1984), Movies To See Before You Die, Classic Thriller, Not to be missed movies list by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Must Watch Movies, Exceptional Gangster Movies, Worth Watching Films list at BTC
23 July 2015 / bobbysing /
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PapanasamBeginning on a serious note, I really feel sorry looking at the way our Indian regional cinema is ignored by the Hindi film viewing audience, considering it always something loud, over the top and action based fast moving drama to be eluded. In fact it really makes you feel the pain finding a film like DRISHYAM (Malayalam) not reaching a wider audience all over the country despite being capable of redefining ‘Indian Cinema’ breaking all the preset notions and assumptions about regional movies.
So as a review of the film’s original concept, its similarities with a foreign flick and other triumphs achieved, I would like you to read my earlier write-up on DRISHYAM (included in BTC’s Movies To See Before You Die List) at the following link:
And as a review of PAPANASAM, here are my honest views about the worthy, must watch remake given below.
Directed by Jeethu Joseph himself (the man behind DRISHYAM), PAPANASAM is a very loyal remake of its original since it even follows the lengthy first half as it is, that was pointed out to be ‘a drawback’ by many viewers and critics together. But looking at these initial 40 minutes of the film from a different viewpoint, it does help in building a solid base of individual friendships, rivalry and family-bonding having their own interconnected importance in the later crucial part of the film as required.
The biggest attraction of PAPANASAM (literally meaning ‘Destruction of Sins’) remains Kamal Hassan returning to his much adored portrayal of a simple, common man that was missing in most of his recent films featuring all ‘heroic’ or ‘larger-than-life’ characters away from reality. So here we have a loved maestro (Kamal) carrying the bright torch lit by another hugely respected maestro (Mohanlal) with the same dedication, sincerity and perfection that deserves to be experienced as a must.
Plus PAPANASAM also has Gauthami reappearing on screen after many years, once again proving her immense talent in the tough role superbly. In fact it was great watching them together as a couple making me recall those lighter days of APPU RAJA and many more. Just like the original the entire supporting cast here is again well chosen (a few retained from the original), contributing hugely in the overall impact of the film with many key sequences bringing you onto the edge of your seats repeatedly. Having a longer duration (3 hours) than the Malayalam film, PAPANASAM has a couple of catchy tracks and a powerful background score that successfully takes the film to the next level undoubtedly. And one of the major highlights of the film is its climax conversation scene between Ananth Mahadevan (better than the original) and Kamal Hassan that forces you to join your hands together praising their commendable job wholeheartedly.
No doubt, comparison between the two veterans is bound to become a matter of debate within film institutions & keen students of cinema in the coming months or years. But ideally instead of comparison, one should focus on the different approaches followed by the two in their individual portrayals on screen deserving a huge applause.
To give you the exact gist, where Mohanlal’s solid act in DRISHYAM stressed more on intelligence, confidence, patience and ruthless expressions in his interpretation of a concerned father, there Kamal Hassan in PAPANASAM keeps emotions in front and stays an intelligent emotional father right till the finale sequence crying in front of Ananth Mahadevan. And this major difference in their respective visions can be studied in the police torture scene & the climax in particular, dealt distinctively.
However in my personal opinion since a super composed, intelligent and less emotional personality remains more close to the ‘thinking’ character of the father hiding the unintentional crime, therefore Mohanlal and his DRISHYAM stays ‘one step ahead’ venture for me putting it honestly. But at the same time that doesn’t allow me to rate PAPANASAM any lower deserving an equal praise, successfully giving you the same pulsating, unpredictable, emotional and mind boggling experience in the theatre that needs to be cherished at the earliest without any slightest of doubt. Moreover it also becomes a must watch for the younger generation in particular since it raises a valid question on the use of all new age gadgets that can become both a boon as well as a curse if used with wrong intentions following an evil mind.
Coming back to the subject of regional films, if after reading and listening such strong positive views about the exceptional content of Malayalam DRISHYAM and now the Tamil PAPANASAM all over the media, if you still haven’t seen any of these films due to some of your own (silly) language reservations………. then that’s like a crime committed willfully by a supposedly true lover of great cinema if I must say that.
Summing up, where most of us (in the north) unfortunately missed watching DRISHYAM on the bigger screen making us feel the unparalleled excitement and the jaw dropping thrill like never before, PAPANASAM is right there in the theatres this week (with English subtitles) and we should certainly make an effort to watch it as a must grabbing the opportunity given.
Ratings : As DRISHAM, PAPANASAM also goes into BTC’s Movies To See Before You Die List right away. And it’s the first instance when both the original and the remake are there together.
(On a personal note : If you really wish to feel the magic on screen like never before, then please don’t wait for its Hindi remake version to release soon with the same title DRISHYAM featuring Ajay Devgan, Tabu & more. Since it’s going to be ‘almost impossible’ to excel what Mohanlal and Kamal Hassan have already displayed in their gigantic portrayals. However that’s my personal opinion and I would love to be proved wrong supporting great cinema)
Tags : Papanasam Tamil Film Review by Bobby Sing, Papanasam Drishyam Review by Bobby Singh at BTC, New Regional Film Reviews by Bobby Sing, Kamal Hassan in Papanasam Review at bobbytalkscinema.com, Tamil Film Reviews by Bobby Sing, Movies To See Before You Die, Must Watch Indian Classics, Not To Be Missed Indian Regional Cinema
05 July 2015 / bobbysing /
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Accident - Kannada

A widely appreciated path-breaking film of Indian Cinema, ACCIDENT revolves around a cruel ‘Hit and Run’ case resulting in more than 12 deaths, caused by an irresponsible son of a leading politician, driving the car in the influence of drugs and booze.
Now reading the above short synopsis of the film, one might feel like nothing new and an all seen before theme used repeatedly in many Hindi films like JOLLY LLB and few others too. But before having this particular thought in mind, just take a look at the year of its release i.e. 1985, which is 15 years before the famous Nanda-BMW case of 1999, two decades before the still in court Salman Khan’s case and almost three decades before the recent similar instances reported in Mumbai or Ahmedabad in the year 2013. And this wide gap between the film and exactly similar real life cases happening decades later clearly reveal the actual importance of this shocking realistic venture made well before its time with a futuristic vision.
Having a reputation of an all time classic in Kannada Cinema, the man behind this visionary project was the well-known actor-writer-director SHANKAR NAG, who the Hindi belt viewers would recall seeing in the hugely popular T.V. series MALGUDI DAYS. It was one of the finest television series of India which also featured Shankar’s elder brother ANANT NAG, who was often seen in Hindi films like KALYUG, ANKUR, GEHRAYEE & many more. The two hour classic ACCIDENT was even produced by Shankar himself and he played the important role of a responsible journalist in it too quite impressively. Anant Nag was assigned the central character of the culprit’s influential father heading towards his next election and it’s indeed a treat to watch the veteran in all his conflicting scenes with the dilemma post the initial hour.
A landmark project of the region, ACCIDENT was probably the first film presenting the corrupt nexus between Police, Politicians and Media in Kannada cinema. It came just after ARDH SATYA which is also considered as one of the first Hindi films to showcase this brutal truth of corruption in Police department. In fact that was the period in which Indian Cinema was going through an evolving phase and had just started revealing many hidden social evils like never before in a very bold and shocking manner.
Another major merit of this well-made gem is that it doesn’t narrate the story with a dragging art-house kind of approach and keeps the viewers involved offering a fine blend of commercial and meaningful cinema quite thoughtfully. The film’s gripping screenplay, fine performances, great camerawork and very minimal background score by the maestro Illayaraja remain its greatest strengths right till the final unexpected sequence brilliantly. Plus while watching its first few scenes, I also strongly felt that probably Ram Gopal Varma got his early inspiration for all the innovative camera angles from this one particular film alone.
Director Shankar Nag conceives his every scene with a highly believable realistic vision and the main accident sequence in it is capable of causing shivers down your spine even today after almost three decades. Well received by critics as well as by the audience ACCIDENT reportedly had a different ending at first which was later changed by Shankar due to the sudden, tragic killing of then Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, because the shocking event coincidently had few similarities with the film’s original climax.
The movie won the Karnataka State Film Award for Best Film and was also awarded the first National Film Award for Best Film on Other Social Issues which got started only in 1985. It is still remembered for its exceptional treatment of the bold subject under the insightful direction of Shankar Nag and its really ironical that later the talented artist died in a road ACCIDENT only, unfortunately.
Honestly, watching it today in 2014 many might find it outdated with nothing novel to say as per its basic theme since we all have now become habitual of seeing the same corruption repeatedly in our routine films. However the truth remains that ACCIDENT was probably the first film to talk about this kind of incident much before it actually got reported in the real life and also one of those fearless, bold films going against the system post the Emergency period in the country during the late 70s.
So if you do wish to witness the few important films which were actually responsible of giving Indian Cinema its much needed timely turn in the early 80s then essentially watch ACCIDENT as a must considering it as another basic chapter of studying film-making trends in India.
Directed by Shankar Nag
Written & Screenplay By Vasant Mukashi
Starring : Anant Nag, Shankar Nag, Arundhati Nag, Ramesh Bhatt and more.
Music by Illayaraja
(Thanks to Aditya Savnal for sharing the valuable info about this regional trendsetting gem at FB.)
Tags : ACCIDENT (1985 - Kannada), Movies To See Before You Die Thriller, Must Watch Indian Regional Movies List by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema, Shankar Nag directed movies,
26 June 2014 / bobbysing /
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