It’s been more than five days since I watched the movie ‘Rangitaranga’ – a Kannada movie that has been the town’s talk among Indian cinema lovers.

I was one among the 80 adults who watched the screening in a small Kino in Zürich. True to its hype, I loved the movie as it had a link to my childhood – a distinct theme that forms the basis for the film, which is recurring (on my mind) from the 90’s teleserial in Kannada, Gudada Bhootha. The movie was refreshing in many ways, and my thoughts on the same.


‘Rangitaranga’ (Colourful wave) – a word that will soon find its way in the Kannada dictionary is a well-thought-out movie, and the title justifies in no small extent how different moods of a human being is identified with a specific set of colours.

Songs with matching music and lyrics penned entirely in Kannada/Tulu remain the movie’s best side-kick. The background music mixes well with the visuals, and we are in a maze right from the moment the film begins.

To get a psychological-mystery (thriller) right requires a master screenplay and attention to details as various thought processes connect the characters with the story to take it forward.

If ‘why’ isn’t part of your thought process while watching the movie, then you have missed something!

When taken in isolation, every character has an element of ‘mystery’ barring the antagonist until the movie’s dying minutes.

The movie’s ending was abrupt, and it left me with more questions than answers to those mystic puzzles found in the film. The antagonist’s revealing came in as a surprise element (kudos to that!), and credit to the writers to have treaded a unique path leading up to the climax!

Unlike most movies, I rate movies positively if it can make me think and have some vigorous discussions. One such unsettling feeling I have from the film is how they revealed the antagonist and his role in the movie. Despite very well-penned sequences –  the shades and the background for the antagonist’s antics lacked sophistication.

Instead, I believe it was hurried upon to close the gaps the story had created thus far.

Was it a case of wearing a ‘mask’ all along or a medical case of ‘bipolarity’?

I am partial to this school of thought influenced by Jim Morrison’s quote – “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you are. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.”

In the director’s defense – a movie isn’t a great platform to explain things, unlike a ‘book’ or a mini-series.

In a gripping movie, the ‘climax’ must never be overlooked. Instead of two back-to-back songs that come after intermission, there could have been elements added in the film that provided depth to the antagonist’s negative tendencies.

In hindsight, a great opportunity would have been when the Yakshagana scene was shot, which the hero Gautam attended. The antagonist could have been shown with traits that point subtly to his dark side – a slight hint to his characteristics of being the ‘Uttama Villain.’

Instead, it can be seen; many deliberate attempts were made to conceal the ‘truth’ and plot frequently misguided our thoughts. While Gautam was engrossed in the show, our mask man was busy plotting something else.

Whether it was a ‘mask’ or ‘bipolarity’ – the antagonist’s antics are pleasing during the daytime as he comes across as poetic, cheerful, and even supportive on various issues.

Was he wearing a mask to go by the day until the dusk beckons to unleash his ‘dark side’? This is despite not recollecting ‘the hero’ whom he knew pretty well.

Or did he give in to his dark side and let his mind loose on hunting down pregnant women – and re-live his first killing each year? As stated, there is a pattern in the movie, July 7th each year, and the eleventh day after that, when he unleashes his darkest weapon – his anger and satiates himself by killing the kidnapped pregnant woman. That’s all for the year!

What happens to this dark side of his for the rest of the year? Does he wander (as shown in the movie, he does) when he has a bout of depression, and the maniac in him takes over? or is it a case of hunting down his prey days leading up to July 7th? The more I think about it, I am convinced it was a ‘mask’ all along, and the antagonist knew very well what ticked him towards his beastly side!

There are many questions about the antagonist, which made the movie incomplete and made me believe, there is a scope for a documentary revealing the quirks of this accused ‘Gudada Bhootha’! Would the movie makers be interested in showing the actual character?


On Valentine’s day eve, Tripti and I decided to watch ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ – the movie release was hyped leading up to the release day. Tripti had read the three books, not once but twice, and she was looking forward to seeing the ‘adaptation’ of this E.L James book.

I have had discussions with Tripti on these books, the character, and how the story progresses at specific points in time. I have never managed to read the books (never bothered about it), and instead, as a passive audience of this trilogy, I was looking forward to seeing how the story from the first book would unfold on the big screen.


Let’s go back in time – Tripti and I had seen another movie called ‘Secretary.’ Released in 2002, Maggie Gyllenhaal plays the Secretary to an individual lawyer named ‘Edward Grey.’

(Spoiler Alert) It is a love story, unconventional with comic elements. In essence, it is a romantic-comedy, but not your usual type (you know what I mean). James Spader plays the role of Mr. Grey (well, well, well, is that a coincidence), who appears demanding, intimidating at times and instantly made us wonder if he indeed was an inspiration for ‘Christian Grey’? However, he is more open, subtle, and less severe than Christian. And with Fifty Shades of Grey, there are traces of Edward now and then.


Coming back to yesterday’s movie – we felt it could have been better. As a stand-alone movie, I would prefer ‘Secretary’ any day over this one. The title role lacked the ‘masculine’ touch, and as Tripti pointed it out, Jamie Dornan didn’t look convincing, be it the looks or the acting prowess. The reality hit her as the ‘Christian Grey’ of the book appeared nowhere close to the one on screen.

I am not sure if this was a book with all the ingredients to make a movie out of it. The way film panned out – it fizzed away and never had us hooked for a lengthy period. As a title character, the lack of emotional expressions became the weak point. On the other hand, Secretary evoked curiosity, which was not because of its lack of literary baggage. The characters played out their parts convincingly and showed why movie making is all about acting and convincing the part actors’ audience.

How will the sequels turn out in the case of Christian Grey?


I believe 12 Angry Men to be one of the best-scripted movies of all time. Looking at it deeply, it has a lot more to offer than just being a top ten IMDB movie.

Henry Fonda’s perspective and words and words alone turn the tide in his favour or remove prejudice from a non-personal assessment. This has no drama, mystery, theatrics, or special effects – a simple story that can be easily absorbed by any living soul on earth.

I have watched it in Hindi as well, and the content serves justice to its Hollywood original and the screenplay justifiably written for Indian audiences.

WATCH – 12 Angry Men in English; 12 Angry Men in German;  Ek Ruka Hua Faisla in Hindi


Twelve men from different backgrounds, cultural upbringing, personalities, and of varying temper levels are part of the jury – and they are in a room to come to a reasonable conclusion. The jury must be unanimous in its decision, and until then, it is all a consensus-building exercise. The case in hand is to decide the fate of a teenager who is guilty of murder his father – and after having heard the testimonies and other ‘supposed evidence,’ it is now in the hands of the jury to give the final verdict.

In the enclosed room are these twelve men seated, and eleven of them are convinced the boy is guilty – and are surprised to see Henry Fonda’s lone hand going in favour of not-guilty. It isn’t a case of James Dean’s ‘To Rebel With a Cause’; here, the standpoint of Henry Fonda has a lot of sense.

After all, it is a matter of life and death, and these 12 men cannot be haste in making such a decision. Henry Fonda has a ‘doubt,’ unless he is convinced otherwise he would present his arguments. There emerges a change in thinking of his fellow jurors – one by one convinced otherwise.

It is interesting to note how time and discussions change opinions even among many learned ones. And one by one, the jurors are convinced it isn’t a straight forward case. In the middle of intense heat, there were heated discussions with egos coming in the way of clear thinking, and side arguments come in the form of the main panel. And by the end of it all – these 12 men have a considerable amount of doubt to deliver a unanimous ‘not guilty’ verdict.


One of the patterns that emerged from 12 Angry Men is – that one is never far away from expressing his standpoint, be it on any matter. This is what I call ‘the interpretation syndrome’ – where two different people or a group of people look at the same thing differently.

Our world is no different – each one can express their opinions, and plenty of them are available on the internet, newsroom, and print media – and more so with the people I converse with.

Is it a life’s mystery that we eternally fight for the ultimate truth? Or is there no such thing as one truth? Or is life or society all about a series of consensus-building exercises that gave rise to systems, rules, practices, religions, and their million interpretations?

The world we live in is so huge – that there were means to run away from one group only to settle in another place and form another group. What if we bring in all the newsmakers (not just the leaders of the state) under a single roof and discuss till there is consensus building – to reach a common ground from where people from all the beliefs can move on with renewed perspectives and lead a life which humans deep down strive for.

I just laughed reading at the last sentence about the level of optimism I am expecting! What I am asking is too far away from the banal lives we lead, or am I?

However, this was a recurring thought that comes to my mind whenever I hear and watch disturbing stories each day. Are we just plain reporting or doing something to end it?  What is the end that justifies everybody? Or have we already concluded – that this is the way… this is how it should end…

The more I think positively, there is a hint of cynicism that creeps into that thought.

So I am stuck… can we have some consensus-building thoughts, please!!!!


The above scene is from the 1964 movie ‘Sangam’ – produced and directed by the legendary filmmaker Raj Kapoor. Sangam, the first-ever color film of the late Indian filmmaker Raj Kapoor, was a magnum opus in many ways. This movie had a screen time close to 200 minutes, filled with an emotional storyline and songs starring Raj Kapoor, Vyjayanthimala, and Rajendra Kumar.

Fifty years later, this movie is just one of the many hundreds of Indian movies shot in Switzerland. Here’s a 50 years tribute marking the association between the Indian movie industry and Switzerland.

More on this article on Newly Swissed – http://bit.ly/1DL3hJP


I imagine being in a place where I can see the present and the origins of the past. I can see civilizations, the mighty empires of the yore, and the developed metropolis of today. I can see the science of our ancestors and the technology of the present. While there are many points of change, there is one which I believe has stood the test of time -people and their interpretations of various beliefs.

In this premise, I look at the epic Cecile DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1956) and the recently released ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ (2014).

Both take on the same topic – the story of freedom of ‘Hebrews’ from the bondage of the Egyptian rulers, same backdrop, same characters, and a similar conclusion; yet the treatment is miles apart.

In the case of DeMille, going by his strong interest in religion and his inclination towards complex scripting gives us the most accurate narration based on what has been written on the matter.

In contrast, the 2014 movie does justice to what the current generation would be more inclined to believe.


What is history? It is a record of what had happened, written by people who have witnessed or have recorded from other sources. While it narrates, it fails to give us a 360° approach on any matter. Take Moses’s story; books have been written based on evidence that has been unearthed so far.

Who can validate the veracity of events that were recorded? The more we dwell on this matter, the more skewed the analysis. Instead, it is well acknowledged; evidence serves us a basis to comment on a topic, narrate, and in this case, make movies on screen.

It is fascinating to see that our ways of looking at history have evolved immensely in less than sixty years. I arrive at this from the way movies have been scripted.

If you go back in time to 1923, when Cecile DeMille released the Ten Commandments,  it was well accepted, though it was considered inaccurate.

The modern version was criticised while applauding the historical aspects of the movie it covered. It was 1923, where the magic of moving pictures and that too on such a ‘hot topic’ would be a hit.

In what turned out to be the last movie he ever directed and produced, DeMille keeping up with the technical advancements, remade his 1923 classic, adding sound and colours to make it more appealing to the audiences. He went more profound, a place where even the Bible has not been – to the early years of Moses, the first 30 years of his life he spent as a prince of Egypt.

The 1956 movie was 3 hours and 40 minutes long, and every minute retained its essence, adding flavours to the continuity.

The movie could have gone on and on if not for practical considerations. The film ends in the period it started, thereby reproducing the texts and artifacts into a movie.

This epic of 1956 was as accurate as it can get to the source from which the stories are told, re-told on the life of Moses. There is no transportation to the 20th century to see how events have panned out due to history.

The movie was history in itself, and that to me was the most appealing part.


What was once considered miracles by external forces is unsurprisingly replaced by natural forces today. While one looked at all lords’ father, the current crop turns to mother nature for answers.

Idol worship, praying to forces of nature, following a person, humanizing ‘gods,’ turning men to gods men, and dogmatic beliefs – all existed and exists even today. The situation has evolved – we attempt to look at it differently and believe the same set of stories when showcased differently.

This manner is close to what we accept as a way of living and how life exists.

In today’s generation, science has allowed us to access more answers than our previous generations were privilege to. The science of tides replaces a man’s chant to clear out the waters from the sea.

The origins of plague are not one’s creation but due to an imbalance in the eco-system. Mere words do not serve the purpose; one needs to be equipped to defend the strong might even if it ends in a war. Such is the world we live in where we blindly do not accept unless there is the rationale behind it.

In such an environment, it suffices to say, a bland remake of the 1956 classic would have been ‘misplaced’ or even rejected by the very people who would have believed if they were living in another generation.

Keeping this in mind, I was extremely pleased with the treatment given to Exodus’s story by the filmmakers.

It does not take away the factor of ‘hope’ by miracles alone; the freedom is sought through preparation, willingness, hard work, and fighting it out – all and many such qualities that the current generation can associate with.

With time being the essence, a movie over 200 minutes would not have made any business sense in today’s market, no matter how good the narration is.


We truly live in a great era where access to information has never been this simple. While there are many sources to confuse people, moviemakers who go to great heights to research a topic and present it, keeping in mind the relevance is much appreciated.

What we believe is what we see; what we see is what is shown, for there are no boundaries when it comes to expression! Perceptions are a mere indicator of a story, an idea, and how it has flown through time, tampered by scholars from different eras, narrated to the best of their understandings.. straying here and there while ensuring the essence to last, only to be carried on to future generations with more discoveries and additions.

That to me is the beauty surrounding the various stories, myths, and creative works that surrounds them! There is no truth but the recording of facts based on shreds of evidence! It would be interesting to re-visit the same topic in a decade or maybe in 50 years.

So let it be written, so let it be done! 


Actor Rod Taylor passed away earlier in the day at the age of 84. Let’s get it straight…

I have not watched many movies starring Rod Taylor, yet I write this because of the only film I have seen of his – Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds.’ The other movie, Sunday in New York with Jane Fonda and The Time Machine, is pending, and I hope to watch them sooner than I thought I would.

Coming back to the Birds, yes, the movie was all about Tippi Hedren and those ‘birds’ – zillion of them gone crazy. However, playing a lawyer, Rod Taylor as ‘Mitch Brenner’ enacted well, protecting the ladies despite the birds taking the limelight.

The fascinating part of the movie was that it had no real motive at the end of it all. This was a movie that showcased what birds, lots of them can achieve if they go bonkers. I will write another post on ‘Birds’ and what I felt about it; for now, it is time to bid goodbye to the life of this talented Australian actor who could have achieved much more and was last seen playing the role of Winston Churchill in Inglorious Bastards. 


Many people think alike – so much so that there was a need to patent one’s ideas and copyright them.

In the entertainment industry, scripts were safely guarded for this purpose; on occasions, it did go out of hand once in a while,

It did in the case of Fantastic Voyage and I Dream of Jeannie.

People who have watched the show ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ in the mid-’60s and at a later stage would recall a particular episode, ‘The Moving Finger’  (watch the episode) – in which a movie production approaches Major Nelson, an astronaut to consult on a science-fiction movie.

The plot goes this way: *“An American astronaut, shrunken to the size of a pinhead, is injected into the bloodstream of a Soviet astronaut, works his way to the brain and retrieves information vital to the defense of the country.”

While the concept is indeed mind-boggling and exciting, none of it happened in that episode. It remained just a scene and nothing more. A few months later, in 1966, a movie that had its plot based on the above idea was released. However, Fantastic Voyage as an idea was made on the screen based on a story by Otto Klement and Jerome Bixby much before the episode of ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ aired.


The story’s screenplay included few details that would add drama, and what better than ‘the Cold War’ angle. This time the battle between the United States and the Soviet Union was not on ‘outer space’ but ‘inner space.’

Movie on this idea was on, and Bantam books had bought the rights to novelise the screenplay at that time. Enter Issac Asimov, the science fiction expert, who was approached to write the novel based on the script. There was hesitation on his part before being offered complete freedom in writing the story.

As it turned out, he quickly drafted the idea and completed the novel by the end of July 1965.

The hardcover edition was published in March 1966 with Otto Klement entitled to royalties as it was his script in the first place irrespective of the fact it was Asimov who pushed for the ‘hardcover’ edition. It was a happy conclusion at the end of it all when Klement managed to serialise the story for ‘The Saturday Evening Post’ and the payment of which was agreed to split into two between Asimov and Klement.

Bantam Books, which had the rights only for the paperback edition, released the book coinciding with the film’s release.


There were delays in completing the movie on time due to various production issues, and all this only ensured Issac Asimov to be the biggest gainer at the end of it all. The public was aware of the novel authored by Asimov before the movie was released. This contributed to believing that Asimov is the ‘genius’ behind the idea of the film.

It doesn’t matter who was behind what; the movie was well appreciated and incorporated the special effects inside the human body – a place where no human has ever been to. Fantastic Voyage is indeed ‘fantastic,’ and apart from the outdated on-screen special effects, concept-wise, it is an evergreen classic!


The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947)

Signs of modern chivalry – the protagonist lives in a world, imagines himself to be the saviour and all the adjectives that can be used to describe the man known as a ‘hero.’

Walter Mitty comes across as a simple guy laced with innocence and a penchant to escape from reality, putting himself in extraordinary situations, lost in a world woolgathering with the focus entirely on his escapades involving a woman caught in a web of helplessness.

In the event of hopelessness and adversity, Walter is their go-to man, displaying guts of a bravado, prowess in entertainment, or just about any field – he is a master of it all.

The story was presented last December to the audience repackaged, keeping in mind today’s generation. In the past week, I have the opportunity to retro-analyze this theme of Walter Mitty.

Having got impressed with Ben Stiller’s direction, I watched the 1947 version of Walter Mitty’s Secret Life. Both these movies were based on the character created by ‘James Thurber’. It all started as a short story in 1939 for a New Yorker edition, became popular with the readers, which led to few radio adaptations and a major motion film in 1947.

Watching Ben Stiller and his secret life becoming public with each scene was an unbelievable experience. I was impressed by the screenplay and the breathtaking cinematography – which captured the essence and conveyed the story effectively. He is shown in America, Greenland, Iceland, and Afghanistan – all this a real visual treat. Though the story was adapted for the present audience, it does remarkable justice to this literary creation.

Comparing two movies of the same theme sixty years apart is not fair. I would have been disappointed if the story had no difference between the two versions. The former movie suited the audience sentiments and the preference of producers post-WW II – keeping in mind movies were business in the form of entertainment to the public.

Though the business element has not changed much, the same subject’s preferential treatments across different eras have evolved immensely.

From scene one in the original movie, the storyline and characters introduced are different from the short story.

The original story’s small plot was stretched to suit the major feature film standards barring few dream sequences.

The constant connection between the book and the movie is the adjective -Mittyesque, a condition given to unrealistic flights of fancy and escapist daydreams that the title character suffers from.

This condition could be from the fact that he works as an editor for a book publishing firm.

The narration is simple, interwoven with Walter’s frequent tendencies to dream about being a heroism symbol. Captain of the sinking ship, a multi-faceted surgeon, a WWII fighter pilot, a gambler, a French designer or a rodeo – he wins the heart of all, and in particular, a ‘dream girl’ who by coincidence turns out to be real and ends up being Mrs. Walter Mitty.

The movie is an entertainer. The tandem management with scriptwriters ensures a constant supply of comedy, idiosyncratic pantomimes, and songs most suited for an actor like Danny Kaye.

Walter is frequently bossed around by his mother, Mrs. Eunice Mitty. At work, it is his idea-stealing boss Bruce Pierce. Walter’s kid-wit fiancée Gertrude Griswald, Gertrude’s loud-mouthed mother, and Tubby Wadsworth, who woos Gertrude repeatedly and shamelessly form his world.

His daily life revolves around them. Not to forget his habit of straying away to a  dreamland, lost in the thoughts and actions, creating his heroic tales only to be climaxed by his transportation back to the real world.

His mundane life takes an exciting turn when he meets a mysterious woman, Rosalind van Hoorn who coincidentally fits and resembles the girl of his dreams perfectly. Rosalind works with her uncle to recover the lost Dutch treasure from WW II, and Mitty accidentally becomes an essential part of this rescue mission. His boring life becomes exciting and adventurous – the stuff of his dreams. With all the courage previously unknown to him, he helps Rosalind and ends up marrying his ‘dream girl.’

Author James Thurber based his character Walter Mitty on his friend, writer Robert Benchley. Thurber said that he got the idea for Mitty from Benchley’s character in a series of shorts that he made for Fox and MGM, respectively, in the 1920s and 1930s.

James Thurber, the author of the short story, acted as a consultant for a brief period to contribute significantly to the plot, which ended up in a bitter fight.

The script was modified as the producer Samuel Goldwyn demanded the movie to be written to showcase Danny Kaye’s talents.

Thurber, who was unhappy, went on record saying that he hated this film and that Danny Kaye’s interpretation of Mitty is nothing at all like he intended the character to be.

How would he have reacted to Ben Stiller’s portrayal of Walter Mitty? The 2013 movie was well made, and I was mighty impressed with the subject’s treatment.

However, the 1940s was a different era, and personally, some of the dream sequences involving Danny Kaye were a bit of a drag, and the editors could have kept it short, keeping in mind this wasn’t a musical in the first place.

Nevertheless, Danny Kaye performs remarkably throughout the movie displaying his repertoire as an entertainer, while Virginia Mayo’s presence as Rosalind and as ‘dream girl’ will not go unnoticed.

If you can spare 110 minutes of your time and have a hint of inclination towards yesteryears’ musical-comedies, then I suggest this movie be entertaining, if not a masterpiece!

The Petrified Forest (1936)

Leslie Howard, the soothing actor, and the enigmatic Bette Davies were the top-billed actors in this Robert E Sherman’s adapted play, and my question was – Where was Bogie?

Humphrey Bogart’s name appeared much later. There was talent, no doubt, and before this role, there were ten other productions he was part of, though none of those roles stood out. He was present – playing second fiddle or a character role, and I bet the top billing status was a long way ahead.

I belong to a generation who have seen many Humphrey Bogart movies in which he has been the main draw. The descending order of his filmography I have gone about watching made me realise how far I was getting away from his stardom. He was at the peak when I watched him first, and now after a lot of movies, I have seen merely a reflection of his future status or under the shadows of other stars, namely James Cagney.

And when I watched ‘The Petrified Forest,’ I somewhat knew this was where it all began for him. Since then, he has grown as an actor, slowly moving away from being the gangster to being a hero and a star of whom there is a rich legacy.

The movie itself is a journey – a conversation between individuals about their pasts, experiences, dreams, and shortcomings.

Set in the backdrop of a region where the scientific process of ‘permineralisation’ is evident. Trees are mostly found in fossils – petrified wood highlighting the years of reaction turning the wood into stone-like structures. This is ‘The Petrified Forest’ in Arizona, and the story begins and ends at the little service station called ‘Petrified Forest Bar-B-Q’ on the edge of nowhere.

A battered intellectual nomad, formerly a writer, is shown walking on the dusty roads of Arizona. From his looks, it seemed his best days were past him – Alan Squier, played by Leslie Howard, strolled through the roads on a mission to explore and find a purpose for his well-equipped brains.

He recognises the triumph of his thumb and its sideways motion with which he travelled lengths and breadths of America. He was hungry, impoverished and among his possessions were a rucksack with his passport, insurance papers, and a map.

By the time he had got himself to the embarrassing situation of having no money, the movie was half-way through. By this time, he had an admirer – no, a lover, Gabrielle Maple, played by Bette Davies, which left her blue-collared employee and former football (American) player Boze in distaste and jealous of Alan.

Gabrielle is the daughter of the diner owner Jason Maple and of Gramp Maple, who was not shy in telling the customers about being missed by ‘Billy the Kid’ once. Gabrielle was born to a French mother who currently lived in Bourges, France, after getting bored of her life in Arizona. Gabrielle assists her father and dreams of being an artist in France, someday!

Words have their magic and the power of attraction towards human beings. When these words always flow in any conversation, one can fall in love hopelessly.

Alan was eloquent in what he thought about life and the poetry collection of François Villon, a 15th-century French poet to which Gabrielle was hooked. He requests her to narrate some of the lines –

Such good I wish you! Yea, and heartily
I am fired with hope of true love’s meed to get;
Knowing love writes it in his book; for why,
This is the end for which we twain are met.

An awkward silence followed by more lines –

Seeing reason wills not that I cast love by
Nor here with reason shall I chide or fret
Nor cease to serve, but serve more constantly;
This is the end for which we twain are met.

While she showed him her artworks and the paintings, he talked about his experience, past life, strange marriage to a wealthy woman, writer’s block while living in Riviera, and the separation.

On the other hand, his words cast a spell on her to the extent that she was ready to run away with him taking all her cash; he declined and refused and decided to part ways.

He was on his way on a car with a wealthy couple only to be stopped mid-way by Duke Mantee and his men, who took the vehicle and spared their lives. A few moments later, Alan was back at the diner. Why?

The next half of the movie is about Humphrey Bogart – his guile, rugged looks, and the manner he was introduced made him the terrifying character the movie audience had seen at that time. He engages in a conversation with the rest of the crew at the service station.

After a series of thought-provoking conversations between Alan and Duke – the movie concludes with Alan Squier having found his purpose. He knew his life was of no worth, and his death could buy Gabrielle the tallest cathedrals, and golden vineyards, and dancing in the streets. He dies through a prior arrangement with Duke for killing him, thereby leaving her the insurance money. Alan was in search of a purpose – to live and to die for.

He knew he was in love with Gabrielle, someone worth living for and worth dying for.

Like I mentioned before, the movie took Humphrey Bogart to the next level, and this was possible because of Leslie Howard’s insistence of Bogart playing the part of Duke Mantee in place of Edward G Robinson.

It has a happy negotiation, which gave Bogie his first break in Hollywood. It was a mere coincidence that the real-life criminal ‘John Dillinger, on whose life is the character Duke Mantee is inspired from, resembled Bogart.

When Bogart’s daughter Lauren Bacall was born in 1952, he expressed his friendship and gratitude by naming her, Leslie Howard Bogart.

Howard refused to appear in ‘The Petrified Forest’ unless the studio (Warner Bros) signed Bogart to play Duke Mantee.

Sign they did and the rest is history!

The Major and the Minor (1942)

There is something serene and assuring for the entire duration of any movie as long as Ginger Rogers is in them. I have watched quite many of her films – excluding the famous musicals she appeared with Fred Astaire.

She comes across as a simpleton in many of her roles and usually plays the characters with vibrant expressions, making you fall in love with her. My wife was beside me, yet I could not stop admiring her beauty and telling my wife about it.

Susan Applegate, played by Ginger Rogers, is witty, homesick, short in cash – running out of excuses and patience at the train station until she sees a lady who is buying a half-ticket each for her two children.

One moment – Susan appears as a perfect young lady, someone with whom you always wished to dance at a ball. And in the next scene, she disguises herself as a 12-year old and manages to board the train with a half ticket. The newly found disguise and her antics would be short-lived as the conductors soon find out she isn’t a kid from the Swedish stock, which she claimed for her excessive height. Even Greta Garbo’s famous line ‘I want to be alone’ from Grand Hotel doesn’t impress them and is chased away when they catch her smoking while breathing in the fresh air.

Major Kirby, played by Ray Milland, comes across as a gentleman who offers refuge to the 12-year old Su-Su, her alias. He is on his way to his military institute and his fiancée, Pamela.

Despite these coincidences, twists, and turns to the plot -the movie retains the humour without a dull moment.

After being in the industry for close to 14 years and having written stories and screenplays for around 40 movies, Billy Wilder makes his debut as a director with this movie.

The other characters who play a significant part in the movie are Kirby’s devious fiancée Pamela played by Rita Johnson, Lucy – the science freak and the sister of Pamela played by Diana Lynn; the six cadets from the military school who take turns in impressing Su-Su and Lela Rogers as Mrs. Appleton.

It was remade in another version as You are Never Too Young in 1955 – which starred Jerry Lewis disguising as a 12-year old.

The 1955 movie’s plot also inspired the Hindi comedy movie Half Ticket, which had Kishore Kumar playing the kid supported by Madhubala and Pran.

When I remember The Major and the minor, I can think of Ginger Rogers and her different avatars in this movie.

A beautiful scalp treatment lady; a 12-year old kid; alone girl wanting care and affection in the train;  a confused love-struck belle who plays the centre of attraction to those hundreds of young cadets in the institute;

A doll resembling Judy Garland from The Wizard of Oz; a maiden of the prom night; a young woman hopelessly lost and in love; a matured and elderly Mrs. Appleton or the lovely lady Susan, waiting at the train station for Kirby towards the end.

Take your pick and rest assured, you will be left mesmerised with the ease in which she has portrayed all the roles mentioned above.