articles by Jai Arjun Singh

Entertainment

Last Night in Soho serves as a worthy nostalgia piece, but also warns against perils of living in the past

Edgar Wright's Last Night in Soho uses the tropes and elements of a horror film to present a cautionary tale to those like me who treat nostalgia as a place of great allure and comfort.

Entertainment

The wholesome, unadulterated joy of watching cinema in fragments — where parts are often greater than their sum

I am now unembarrassed about my propensity to watch and re-watch specific scenes, especially the ones with great background score. Being able to take pleasure in the small moment is, I find, as important and valid as anything else.

Entertainment

Bhavai movie review: Pratik Gandhi's Bollywood debut is a mostly innocuous, bland comment on religious hegemony

Contrary to expectations after the controversy around the change of its title from 'Raavan Leela,' Bhavai is a determinedly inoffensive work, almost to the point of being a soporific.

Entertainment

Only Murders In the Building review: A charming comedy-mystery spruced up exchanges between two generations

There is much to relish in Only Murders in the Building, in which the three leads are terrific as true-crime-podcast addicts who team up when a murder is committed in their big New York apartment building. But what I enjoyed the most was the generational divide between the two men and the woman.

Entertainment

Joi Baba Felunath: How a child's misgivings about gods open Satyajit Ray's detective thriller on fake godmen

Satyajit Ray’s second Feluda film Joi Baba Felunath is a detective story that makes fine use of Varanasi as a setting – while also critiquing showy displays of religiosity.

Entertainment

Ari Aster's Midsommar, the Scandinavian sun that rarely naps, and horrors set in blinding light

Midsommar is packed with reminders that if a film succeeds in depicting the darkness within vividly, then a sunshine-y environment can make the experience even more unnerving. Because viewers have nowhere to hide.

Entertainment

How The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp's ingenious opening sequence rewinds 40 years in its protagonist's life

In one of the many enchanting films made by the duo of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, a pompous old man plunges into a pool and emerges 40 years younger. It’s a good lesson.

Arts & Culture

Promising Young Woman: How a lilting, pop music-scored sequence opens Emerald Fennell’s remarkable film

Promising Young Woman is both a fast-paced thriller and a powerful account of grief and retribution.

Entertainment

In Titli and Mukti Bhawan, Lalit Behl's binary portrayals of two fathers who cast a tall shadow on their sons

Lalit Behl's demise is a reminder of his performance in Mukti Bhawan, which made one believe death can be dignified even when the road leading to it is full of missteps and potholes. It is a useful thought in the current time.

Entertainment

Inside two Frank Langella takes on villainy: As Julius Hoffman in The Trial of the Chicago 7, and the evil Skeletor in He-Man

Of the many pleasures of watching The Trial of the Chicago 7, I wasn't anticipating a nostalgic one — of watching Frank Langella, as a villain eerily reminiscent of the one he played in the 1987 He-Man film Masters of the Universe.

Entertainment

How a sense of place and the passage of time is created in two gentle films, Bombay Rose and Ottaal

What these two films have in common is how they create a sense of a setting as something inseparable from the inner lives of the protagonists.

Entertainment

Why Basu Bhattacharya’s Anubhav is one of the most formally distinctive Hindi films of its time

Anubhav, Bhattacharya's frank and intimate treatment of marriage, employs a language very different from most other narrative Hindi films of the 1970s.

Entertainment

In Roger Corman’s A Bucket of Blood, a chilling, and funny, view of creative people as entitled predators

Roger Corman’s 1959 film A Bucket of Blood turned out to be a wry comment on the idea that artists — “thinkers” — are superior to other, “ordinary” people.

Entertainment

Revisiting Mayabazar: How the opening scene sets the tone for this classic about two princes and a mischievous God

If you grew up watching Tamil or Telugu films anytime from the 1950s onward — or even had some knowledge of these cinemas — you would know Mayabazar, and its towering reputation, in the same way that Hindi-film viewers know of Sholay or Mughal-e-Azam.

Lifestyle

In caring for stray animals during a pandemic, thoughts on the transformative relationships between humans and dogs

My growing concern about humans was also a result of my relationship with street dogs over the years. Since these are very social animals — who not only depend on people for food but also genuinely like being around us — I had access to this vantage point: how sad and empty a human-free world might look through the eyes of a creature that has evolved socially alongside us over tens of thousands of years, become one of our most steadfast companions, emotionally enriching many of us along the way. | Jai Arjun Singh writes

Lifestyle

Despatches from a room: In these stories set in confined spaces, imagination helps decipher an inaccessible world

In this month's #MyBookshelves column, Jai Arjun Singh writes about stories centered on immobilised people in an unnatural situation, using what resources they have to stay productive and to find a form of escape: whether it involves travelling into the past, moving towards physical freedom, or re-evaluating the mechanics of an outside world that is temporarily out of reach.

Life

Errors of curation: On collections edited by Otto Penzler, and how even respected anthologists can get things wrong

When we trust someone as an expert in a field, we want them to be informed as well as scrupulous. Otto Penzler's errors are a caution not just to editors but also to critics and teachers who are tempted to sound more knowledgeable than they are about a book or film.

Life

New memoir of Balraj Sahni by his son is heartfelt ⁠— and revealing of contradictions in actor's well-intentioned life

The Non-Conformist: Memories of My Father Balraj Sahni is a heartfelt memoir by Parikshat Sahni, who was an actor himself but stayed in the shadow of his famous dad. Though affection and respect are the dominant tones of this book, there is also a real sense of the missteps, delusions and contradictions that can mark even the most sincere and well-intentioned life | Jai Arjun Singh writes in 'My Bookshelves'

Life

The hitman as philosopher: The strange and compelling narrative of Agni Sreedhar’s The Gangster’s Gita

Sacred Games’s depiction of the stoicism and banality of underworld lives (Ganesh Gaitonde casually mentions hacking an informer to pieces, returning home, eating “a little sabudane ki khichdi” and going to bed), came back to me while reading Agni Sreedhar’s The Gangster’s Gita | Jai Arjun Singh writes

Life

Far from ideas of imposed 'purity', many Indian books make a case for the country's variedness

Trying to understand what Indianness might be necessarily means learning new things all the time; you’re a student for life, constantly re-evaluating your assumptions. And there are a number of books that make you thrill to the possibilities of being impure or unfixed | Jai Arjun Singh writes in 'My Bookshelves'