Monkey Repellers Wanted!

If someone told you that repelling monkeys was a profession in some countries, you’d probably think it was a joke but in New Delhi, India it is not only a legitimate occupation but a much-needed service. In recent years, the macaque monkey population has increased and grown increasingly aggressive in their search for food, invading government offices, private businesses and public spaces. Their constant presence has become a major nuisance and sometimes a physical threat to local residents and tourists (they carry the herpes B virus). As a result, New Delhi officials have employed a number of professional monkey repellers to try to control the situation and Anjani (Shardul Bhardwaj), a new recruit from the provinces, finds the situation overwhelming in Prateek Vats’s feature film, Eeb Allay Ooo!  Continue reading

Himansu Rai’s 1929 Indian Epic

At the 23rd San Francisco Silent Film Festival (May 30-June 3, 2018), the Castro Theater played host to a diverse program of silent era masterpieces accompanied by live music, performed by either solo musicians, small ensembles or orchestras. Some of the new restorations screened included Ernst Lubitsch’s Rosita (1923) starring Mary Pickford, Buster Keaton’s Battling Butler (1926), the 1928 version of The Man Who Laughs with Conrad Veidt and a 1929 German version of The Hound of the Baskervilles, directed by Richard Oswald. As always, the festival also unveils several lesser known titles and rarities such as a magnificent new restoration of Prapancha Pash (aka A Throw of Dice), a 1929 Indian epic produced by Himansu Rai and directed by German filmmaker Franz Osten. A key pioneer effort from the early silent years of Indian cinema, A Throw of Dice holds up beautifully after almost ninety years with its exotic mix of adventure, romance, pageantry and sensuality. And it is an excellent entry point for any silent film beginner. Continue reading