I was reading the Kaiju Shakedown blog right now, Grady Hendrix’s neat blog on Asian movies ( which I found thanks to adgy‘s recommendation), and I found news about the US release of Yoji Yamada’s Love and Honor.
The first Yoji Yamada movie I saw was Twilight Samurai, and it’s brilliant, kind of an antithesis to the swordplay-heavy, heroic-samurai flicks that one is normally familiar with. It’s more of a look at the Japanese society, which had its own caste system during the late Edo period, primarily divided into the high-born, arrogant Samurai class and the lower, poverty-ridden peasants . Tasogare Seibei, the “twilight samurai” in the film deals with his everyday life as a grain-store clerk in the employ of the clan-head, deflecting sarcasm from his fellow samurai because of his poverty and his lack of interest in socializing. The only link he has to his status is the katana he owns and the *knowledge* of the fact that he is a samurai. He has to bear the responsibility of rearing two children provide medicine for his senile mother, a herculean task considering his 50-koku salary. The re-appearance of his childhood friend Tomoe who’s been recently divorced from her abusive but rich husband foresees a change in his life, but Seibei’s sense of honour and responsibility is put to the test by the series of events that follow.
After finishing Twilight Samurai, I tried very hard to find out more of Yoji Yamada’s movies. Apparently Twlight Samurai is the first of a thematic trilogy dealing with Samurai life, the second being The Hidden Blade and the third Love and Honor. Saw the latter in my flight to San Francisco from Singapore. Haven’t found The Hidden Blade yet. According to the Kaiju Shakedown blog, Love and Honor is being released in only ONE THEATER in the US, the ImaginAsian in NY City. Sasi, I think you will miss it, but if you are still coming to India, you can borrow the DVD from me. Please, please watch it. It’s a fantastic piece of work and is more of a love story set in a samurai setting. And while you’re at it, add the Kaiju Shakedown blog to your feeds.
Another thing that came to mind today was a snippet of an interview I caught with Govinda, just before Partner was being released sometime in the middle of this year. We were playing the Maahi-Sona- game on TV – you switch channels and place bets on which channel you will come across a Yash Chopra-Karan Johan blockbuster song, eight times out of ten, it would turn out to be the Zoom channel that would be playing Where’s the Party tonight or Rock and Roll Soniye or That’s the way Maahi ve at any given point of time in the day. But this one time, there was an interview going on. Salman Khan was interviewing Govinda, both of them being co-stars in the then-to-be-released Partner, and there was much back-slapping and bonhomie being radiated from the screen. Apparently the two actors got along famously, and the interview was more of a conversation and an mutual ass-kissing experience at the same time.
And then it started getting interesting.
Salman Khan asked Govinda, “Ok, tell me, who’s your favourite Khan in the industry?” No prizes for guessing who he thought the answer would be.
Govinda: “My favourite Khan would have to be Yusuf Khan.”
“Yusuf Khan? You mean Dilip Kumar?”
“Yes, the greatest actor this industry has ever known. The best actor I’ve seen on screen.”
“Ok, who’s your second-most favourite Khan?”
“That would be Mehboob Khan, Mother India is a landmark film in Indian history, and his contribution to films cannot be ignored by any director.”
“Right. Your third favourite Khan?”
“Kader Khan, without whom ninety percent of the films of the eighties wouldn’t have such magnificent dialogues. And I cannot even start counting how many actors owe their career to Kader Khan’s dialogues, including myself.”
At this point, I was feeling very warm and fuzzy. I could hug Govinda, regardless of whether he had deliberately made up the answers on the spot just to show his knowledge of film history or something. Hmmm, why did I remember this today, of all days? And why am I writing about it? Hmmm.