Thursday, July 19, 2012
Raj Kapoor (India, 1949)
New 35mm Print!
(a.k.a. Monsoon). Newcomers to Indian cinema may be surprised by the sheer beauty of Barsaat’s cinematography, which echoes in equal parts the deep-focus splendor of Citizen Kane and the iconic portraitures of silent-era Murnau. Two city friends (Raj Kapoor, Premnath) find country lovers, with the moody Kapoor chastely romancing one woman (Nargis) and the sleazier Premnath enjoying a “baser” relationship with another (Nimmi)—and with anyone else. “You talk like an ancient poet,” complains Premnath to Kapoor, “it’s the twentieth century, people don’t have the time to be sentimental.” Proudly striking back against such modern conceits, Barsaat embraces all things sentimental, old-fashioned; and—as its almost physically sensual cinematography confirms—beautiful. As the two lovers, Nargis and Kapoor are framed with a reverence usually reserved for religious icons or political ideologues, while other scenes “paint” the frame with light, darkness, and shadow in a way that recalls noir cinematographer John Alton. “Love is measured not in terms of time, but in terms of longing,” notes one of the film’s many melancholy songs, and this sensual, poetic entry point to Indian cinema will leave you longing for more
• Written by Ramanand Sagar. Photographed by Jal Mistry. With Nargis, Raj Kapoor, Premnath, K. N. Singh. (171 mins, In Hindi with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm)