I live in a house that was built in 1910 and was flanked by Citadel Studios and Newtone Studios, two well-known yesteryear film production houses of Madras.
Home for the holidays from boarding school, I remember a few film scenes being shot in our garden. I recall watching Telugu and Tamil black-and-white classics in my childhood, though I forget the names now.
Hollywood came much later. I was partial to film noir, Westerns and the occasional comedy.
The Maltese Falcon defined noir with its handsome sleuths and femme fatales struggling with ill-fated love and mind-boggling clues.
Westerns such as Shane and The Wild Bunch are among America’s most inspiring films, that threw open the challenges of the Wild West to the audience.
Some Like It Hot, starring the irrepressible Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, was unusual in that it featured homosexuality and cross-dressing in the 1950s.
Among the films I enjoy most is the iconic Citizen Kane. It is remarkable both for the fact that Orson Welles produced, wrote, directed and acted in it, and for its take on where America should stand during the War.
More recently I watched Captain Marvel with my adopted son. It was great fun. But you have to follow the franchise, otherwise you miss the plot.
Another was Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri that addresses racism, injustice, human relations and sexual assault in America, in a way that could mirror life anywhere in the world.
Roma, a film I love, could have easily been set in India. The domestic help, the relationships, the family dynamics… this is a universal film. Indian films are getting better but are not as universal and hence don’t cross borders.
(As told to Deepa Alexander)