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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Straddlers: Actors of Parallel and Mainstream Cinema, part 1

Carla of Filmi Geek joins us to talk about actors past and present who have worked in parallel cinema as well as more mainstream films. And what a star cast it is! Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi, Shashi Kapoor, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Farooq Shaikh, Sanjeev Kumar, Anupam Kher.... Points of discussion include:
  • What would it take to tempt you to sign a movie that turned out to be Dance Dance or Toofan after you've done things that are decidedly not Dance Dance or Toofan?

  • How to portray that certain kind of madness that results from Jeevan having stolen you away from your mother Indrani Mukherjee when you were just a wee baby.
  • The sensation of recognizing the family features under very different exteriors, aka "That looks like a KapooOHMYGOD!!!"
  • Does Shabana Azmi convince you she's a masala heroine in her early years?

  • The relationship between Masoom and Main Hoon Na.
  • Naseeruddin Shah shakes it in "Oye Oye" from Tridev

    before we get to his of blue footie pajamas and the BOOM! of Asambhav (pleasingly by the same director as Tridev).

This episode is the first of a two-part conversation. You can listen to Masala Zindabad: Straddlers part 1 by clicking the player above, subscribing to our feed, on iTunes, or downloading here. Part 2 is now downloadable here.


  1. This sounds like another podcast I'll have to listen to - delighted to see Naseeruddin in the list. Deepti Naval & Nandita Das, in the latter's case they don't come much more mainstream than the execrable Aks, with Amitabh?

  2. Great podcast!
    Just some thoughts I had during and after listening to it:
    -I hope you talk about Om Puri in the second part of this podcast. In my opinion he was the poster child of art cinema in the 80's. I also feel like his characters in movies were the parallel cinema version of Amitabh's "angry young man".
    -If you haven't watched it yet, I strongly recommend :Saaransh". It is Anupam Kher's first credited role and he is amazing. He plays a retired teacher who finds out that his son has died. When the movie was released most people could not believe that the actor was not yet 30. It is available for free on Hulu. The movie can be heartbreaking at points so do not watch it if you are feeling down.
    -A bit of trivia - Dance Dance was released almost 6 months after Smita Patil's death. Given the timing of things, a lot of people believed that she was pregnant with Prateik (our very own Munna from Dhobi Ghat/ Mumbai Diaries) while shooting for this movie. I also remember that her personal life at this point was fodder for a lot of gossip given that Raj Babbar was already married and all that.
    -Most importantly, here is Naseer in his footie pajama glory.

  3. AMAZING JOB GIRLS! I enjoyed this discussion sooo very much.

  4. I agree with Beth on Sanjeev Kumar - I love the guy, but yeah he could absolutely provide the ham in a ham sandwich. Must have been a reaction against the adhesive or something, in those awful disguises he all too frequently sported...

  5. Hi there, listened in on your "podcast that should have been a book" after a very long time. And just LOVED it! Have listened to both parts of Straddlers - what can I say, you guys have done such a fantastic job! I thoroughly enjoyed both parts.

    A few comments:
    - I agree that in movies like Jaani Dushman, Pati Patni aur Woh and Chehre Pe Chehra, Sanjeev Kumar makes you hit your head against the wall, but I'd like to think these are just exceptions in an otherwise fantastic acting career. I'm thinking of movies like Koshish (deaf/dumb) and Angoor (double role), amongst a whole lot of brilliant performances. I think you guys were way too harsh on him, but hey, it's your show. :-)

    - You were spot on in your assessment of Aish. When she's not treated like she's on a pedestal, she's so much more watchable. Like in Kandukondain Kandukondain and Guru.

    - Anupam Kher's role in Saaransh was brilliant and merited a mention, I thought.

    - Om Puri was very good in Ardh Satya. I think with Anupam Kher and Om Puri, as they've grown older, they've gone into these character side roles (not even a character main role). The character has not demanded anything from them, they've not done anything special for it either. I think they should be remembered more for the meaningful roles they did in 80s films.

    - I thought Rekha was amazing as that school/college girl in Khoobsoorat and Jhooti. And of course in Khoon Bhari Maang. Whenever she was given a meaningful role, she rarely disappointed.

    - Shabana is one of my favourites too. As is Konkana. And Deepti Naval.

    - Naseeruddin Shah did try his hand with mainstream cinema early on with Sunayana (1979). But he wasn't accepted then in this genre, he'd been typecast as an "art" actor. So he had to continue in this genre for a while before moving back to mainstream in the late 80s/early 90s.

    Just some thoughts. Thank you all so much. This was SO MUCH FUN.