Sriram Raghavan and Shridhar Raghavan, other than being masters of their craft, are also huge film connoisseurs. In an exclusive session on FC Front Row, the brothers reveal a list of 10 films and shows that they are currently hooked to, and would recommend to every movie buff to watch.
Streaming On: YouTube
Sriram Raghavan: This is a Bimal Roy film. I watched it recently. I had not seen it before, but it’s a beautiful film with Kishore Kumar. This was before the ‘comic’ Kishore Kumar had become popular. It’s a very sensitive performance, it’s a beautiful story about unemployment and the way Bimal Roy is taking up the problem is very real. It’s highly engaging to watch even today.
Darkness in Tallinn (1993)
Shridhar Raghavan: It is an Estonian film which is like, if Manmohan Desai would make a heist film and go completely insane, then Darkness in Tallinn would come up. I don’t know where one would get it [on streaming], it’s very hard to locate. But it’s an insanely superb, funny, violent, crazy film; it’s a damn good film. It has the ultimate twisting and turning kind of storyline and it’s damn emotional.
Sriram: It’s like an East European Manmohan Desai film.
Being There (1979)
Sriram: It’s a 70s movie starring Peter Sellers, directed by Hal Ashby. I won’t tell you much. Basically, Peter Sellers is playing a mentally-challenged gardener in a very big estate. The owner of the estate dies and he’s now alone. All that he has grown up in is the huge estate and sprawling mansion with a garden and so on. He gathers all his knowledge from the TV. Now what happens when this man is jobless and out of the mansion? The film is a satire. It’s very relevant today as well. If you watch it, you’ll know what I mean.
Malegaon Ke Sholay (2011)
Shridhar: Malegaon has an entire industry where they used to make films like Malegaon Ka Don and Malegaon ka this and that. But Malegaon Ke Sholay is spectacular. I’m talking about the one made by Shaikh Nasir. What’s interesting is, they’ve got the whole of Sholay done in Rs.10,000. And very innovatively so. Like, instead of the train sequence in Sholay, they have got people on cycles chasing a bus. The outtakes has got a fabulous scene where the Thakur sees those bodies covered in sheets. The sheets fly off but it’s Gabbar and all of his men, and it’s like they’re pulling the sheets back on. So, I find it insanely inventive. Because somebody says, “I have a budget of 5,000 bucks, I don’t have any crew, I’ve got a haath gaadi and I’ve got a video camera. How on earth am I going to tell every scene of Sholay, including ‘Mehbooba Mehbooba‘?” I was very curious about how they’ll pull it off. But there, he just takes a VHS and he plays ‘Mehbooba Mehbooba‘, the actual song. It’s inventive beyond belief. Actually, all the Malegaon films you can watch, including the documentary, Superman of Malegaon. Fabulous, worth watching totally. It’s film school in it’s own way, for those who are into it. Many people think it’s a spoof, it’s not a spoof at all, it’s very sincere.
Classic Legends (2011)
Streaming On: Zee5
Sriram: It’s presented by Javed Akhtar. There are about 60 terrific 45-minute episodes where he’s talking about the great chaps, the legends and so you learn and know about everybody’s journey. It’s like a history of Hindi cinema. And it’s family viewing also because your parents would also be knowing all those songs and all those characters. And because Javed is doing it, it’ll definitely improve your Hindi. It’s so good to listen to him.
Philosophy: A Guide To Happiness (2000)
Streaming On: YouTube
Shridhar: It’s a docu-series of 6 episodes presented by Alain de Botton. It’s very cool actually, I recommend it to all the writers I work with as well as students. In the documentary, he’s taken philosophers of the past like Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Seneca, and he’s dealt with modern-day problems like envy, confusion, self-loathing, love, frustration, saying, “How would those people from 2,000 years ago or 500 years ago solve these problems today?” It’s a fabulous documentary, which is like a gateway to looking at the idea that philosophy is actually meant to help you in real life. This documentary and the book which accompanies it [The Consolations of Philosophy] is fabulous. It’s useful because I think it’s something all writers go through. All the seven deadly issues that we all face. You bother about something and it gives you classical solutions to current problems in a very cool way. It’s shot in Rome, so it’s beautiful also.
Five Graves To Cairo (1943)
Sriram: This movie is a rare one. Directed by Billy Wilder, it is set during the World War and it’s about a sole survivor of a war who has to assume a different identity to survive, how he could have been caught and how some things went wrong during the war. It takes factual things but is done in a Billy Wilder style. It’s a satire, it’s funny, it’s thrilling, it’s got everything. Along with Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder is one of my most favourite filmmakers. And I was also very happy to know that he was also Manmohan Desai’s favourite film maker. Watch all his films. This is a pretty early and rare one. You may have a tough time tracing it, but it’s worth tracing.
Ondanondu Kaladalli (1982)
Streaming On: Amazon Prime Video
Shridhar: This one’s a Kannada film by Girish Karnad. It’s like a samurai film with Kalaripayattu, etc. It’s a brilliant story. I saw a VHS copy of the film which Mr. Rajkumar Santoshi showed me 20-25 years ago, and I was blown by it. I managed to locate it, I think it’s online right now. If you like Shankar Nag, if you like Akira Kurosawa, it’s a tribute to all those kinds of movies – relentless plotting, great characters, never stops and is just damn entertaining, and yet, it’s got a lot of depth. Girish Karnad is a stunning director. He’s made a couple of great films, which I guess most people today haven’t seen.
Inside No. 9 (2014-)
Sriram: It’s a BBC series which basically has half an hour episodes, all set in one location. 9 is the recurring thing. Room number 9 in a hotel, in a bungalow, or anywhere, but the number 9 is recurring. If you liked the twists in Andhadhun, this is a whole battery of them, plus some stories are emotional and they’ve tried different styles. It’s very inventive. I won’t talk about it much because it is easily available, so please watch it if you haven’t already.
Streaming On: YouTube
Shridhar: Kamal Haasan sir once said that he originally wanted to make it as a Hindi film and Vijay Anand told him not to. He said it was too dark for Hindi cinema. But it is a stunning film. I think it did okay in its first run. Fabulous writing, superb film. So most people haven’t seen Mahanadhi – it’s available quite freely. Worth seeing for sure. It has Kamal Hassan as writer also.