Poonam Saxena is the national weekend editor of the Hindustan Times. She writes on cinema, television, culture and books
Articles by Poonam Saxena
The Original Series sparked such a frenzy when it was aired on Doordarshan in 1984, that crowds gathered before public TV sets on Sunday mornings.
The song Kudmayi, from Karan Johar’s Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, bears within it echoes of a very different world.
In song after song,the bee marks the birth of love, drawn irresistibly to the flower. It is a symbol of passion, yearning; but of a fast-fading and fickle kind.
2018, a Malayalam film set during a flood, calls to mind Bollywood’s first such effort, set on a burning train. Both tales spotlight fear, hope, humanity.
The hills promised romance, excitement, experiences outside one’s mundane life. Revisit two Hindi stories of fleeting encounters, love lost amid the mountains.
Today’s homes are designed with an eye on every detail. But there was a time when the TV set and glass-fronted showcase full of knick-knacks ruled front rooms.
He is known for his sweeping love stories, but even in these, the women had meaty roles. Many had jobs, built their own lives. The best example may be Chandni.
Her stories capture the mood of the early 1900s. But it’s in her lifelong friendship with poet Mahadevi Varma, amid giggles, that her spirit shines.
What I miss most about the grand old theatres, Saxena says, are the large crowds, low prices, and their promise of dreams and fantasy escapes for all.
Set in the tumultuous decade after Independence, Mohan Rakesh’s novel explores a marriage that crumbles as a city is reborn.
There’s drama, music, love, in this soaring tale of a legend who once challenged Tansen to a vocal duel. And who better than Sanjay Leela Bhansali to remake the 1952 classic?
On his 153rd birth anniversary, a look at Gandhi’s early displays of courage at a forced quarantine in Durban and a brutal mob attack in 1897
There are clues in tropes from the ’50s and ’60s to diseases once feared, achievements once prized. The world changed, but they remained. Poonam Saxena does a little decoding.
The great Hindi writer was always short of money. He sometimes couldn’t afford shoes. As his grandson puts it, it seems scarcely credible now, that he should have leaned into the wind as he did.
Actors playing two roles, three roles, even as many as nine: An ode to a trope that harks back to the days of old Bollywood.
The experimental Hindi short-story writer, poet and playwright was hailed by Premchand, but then slipped into obscurity, vanished and died, impoverished, at just 45. His work deserves to be remembered and revisited, says Poonam Saxena.
It’s hotter now, but the summers have always been scorching in north India. So how did people manage in the days before air-conditioning? With inventiveness, adaptation and great company.
Tales of women are rare, tales of older women even rarer. Meet some of Hindi literature’s most unlikely heroines, in this week’s The Way We Were.
To mark the actress’s 50th death anniversary, Poonam Saxena revisits a 1960 film in which she balances versatility, grit, gentleness and joie de vivre.
Her new book, Tomb of Sand, has become the first novel translated from Hindi to make it to the International Booker Prize longlist. Her storytelling involves unusual twists; the translation by Daisy Rockwell is a tour de force. See why Shree writes as she does.
Nagar dedicated himself to building a great oeuvre as a Hindi writer, but he did so at considerable cost to himself and his family. Sadly, it is still almost impossible to make a living as a writer in India.
The ‘Nightingale of India’ gave shape to the culture of playback singing in Hindi cinema, giving film songs an independent existence that led to their absolute dominance
Before Emily went to Paris, Sharmila Tagore had an evening there. A clutch of Hindi films in the 1960s gave viewers who had never gone abroad glamourous views of another world.
Long before litfests went viral, lovers of Hindi literature made their way to Allahabad, where words were celebrated all year.
Between pollution, the pandemic and the lure of too many screens, children are no longer playing the kinds of unstructured outdoor games where the aim was just to get together and have fun. What a pity.
Bowls of steaming soup, sizzling barbecued meats, crisp fish cakes — Korean shows are taking their cuisine to the world. Why haven’t we done the same with our dazzling array?
It started out simple, with set-ups designed for drama. Then came the vitriol and online fan clubs lashing out at each other. Today, sadly, even this isn’t the worst of what hits our screens.
In an industry with less and less room for opulent productions, he seems determined to stay the path. His upcoming movies and a Netflix show about courtesans hold out the same promise of glitter. Could that very steadfastness stream him onward?
What makes something the most coveted in its class is rarely clear, but for the stars of ’50s and ’60s Hindi cinema, there was no debate: the Chevy Impala, Vat 69 and 555 cigarettes were it.
From the ’40s to the ’60s, Hindi cinema championed hope, change and humanism, in original and entertaining films.