Poonam Saxena

Poonam Saxena

Poonam Saxena is the national weekend editor of the Hindustan Times. She writes on cinema, television, culture and books

Articles by Poonam Saxena
In Hindi cinema, the railways have been both the setting and the metaphor. In the 1987 film Ijaazat, a divorced couple spends a night at a railway station, laying their ghosts to rest.
In Hindi cinema, the railways have been both the setting and the metaphor. In the 1987 film Ijaazat, a divorced couple spends a night at a railway station, laying their ghosts to rest.

How trains have kept movies on track: The Way We Were by Poonam Saxena

UPDATED ON FEB 14, 2021 06:41 AM IST
From falling in love in a coupé to finding closure on a platform, the railways have steered cinema in memorable directions.
Close
In Rohena Gera’s delicately crafted Sir, Tillotama Shome plays a maid who dreams of starting her own tailoring business. Here, her employer has just given her a sewing machine as a gift.
In Rohena Gera’s delicately crafted Sir, Tillotama Shome plays a maid who dreams of starting her own tailoring business. Here, her employer has just given her a sewing machine as a gift.

If Bollywood films could, then sew could we: The Way We Were by Poonam Saxena

UPDATED ON JAN 31, 2021 06:28 AM IST
On screen and off, the sewing machine transformed lives for decades, and it’s still appearing in the role of agent of change.
Close
Rajesh Khanna and Asha Parekh in a still from the runaway 1971 hit Kati Patang. The story, of a young woman pretending to be someone she isn’t, was written by Gulshan Nanda.
Rajesh Khanna and Asha Parekh in a still from the runaway 1971 hit Kati Patang. The story, of a young woman pretending to be someone she isn’t, was written by Gulshan Nanda.

Remembering Gulshan Nanda, forgotten author of affairs to remember

UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 10:13 AM IST
The best-selling novelist was Bollywood’s go-to storyteller in the 1960s. He wrote family dramas shot through with suspense. The films live on, but what a pity so few even know his name.
Close
An aangan in an old home in Mehrauli, New Delhi. A fixture since the time of the Indus Valley Civilisation, the courtyard faded away with the coming of Western-style architecture during colonial rule.(Mayank Austen Soofi)
An aangan in an old home in Mehrauli, New Delhi. A fixture since the time of the Indus Valley Civilisation, the courtyard faded away with the coming of Western-style architecture during colonial rule.(Mayank Austen Soofi)

Poonam Saxena writes on the true heart of the Indian home, the aangan

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JAN 01, 2021 07:04 PM IST
It now lives on largely in books and film, but the courtyard was where we cooked, celebrated, slept under the stars on summer nights.
Close
The cover of Priyamvada’s Pachpan Khambe Laal Deewarein, in which a young lecturer must choose between a life with the man she loves and her obligations to the parents and siblings she supports. The title, incidentally, is a nod to Delhi’s Lady Shriram College.
The cover of Priyamvada’s Pachpan Khambe Laal Deewarein, in which a young lecturer must choose between a life with the man she loves and her obligations to the parents and siblings she supports. The title, incidentally, is a nod to Delhi’s Lady Shriram College.

Lifting the veil on life as an Indian woman, unattached

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
PUBLISHED ON DEC 18, 2020 03:51 PM IST
Hindi novelist Usha Priyamvada turns 90 this year, and the quiet lives of unusual women remain at the core of her work.
Close
In Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963), the Qutub Minar was the venue of a picnic. The outing concluded with a dashing Dev Anand singing Dil Ka Bhanwar to a svelte Nutan as they walked down the spiral staircase.
In Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963), the Qutub Minar was the venue of a picnic. The outing concluded with a dashing Dev Anand singing Dil Ka Bhanwar to a svelte Nutan as they walked down the spiral staircase.

An ode to the beloved picnic: The Way We Were by Poonam Saxena

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON DEC 04, 2020 06:41 PM IST
If we go on one now, it’s likely for want of other options in the pandemic. But these were once times of fun, family, courtship.
Close
Kangana Ranaut (centre) plays a bride-to-be, surrounded by the chaos of a shaadi ka ghar, in Queen (2013). A wedding used to be seen as too significant an event to outsource. The families made all the arrangements themselves with help from relatives and friends.
Kangana Ranaut (centre) plays a bride-to-be, surrounded by the chaos of a shaadi ka ghar, in Queen (2013). A wedding used to be seen as too significant an event to outsource. The families made all the arrangements themselves with help from relatives and friends.

The Way We Were: In wedding season, does anyone remember the shaadi ka ghar?

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON NOV 20, 2020 07:32 PM IST
Music all day, sleeping on the floor, a tailor, dhobi and halwai on hand at all times — before the planners took over, everything was done in-house. It was chaotic, messy and so much fun.
Close
Aditya Chopra with his father Yash Chopra, founder of YRF. It was Yash Chopra who, in 1970, turned the chiffon sari and Swiss Alps into cinematic staples, injecting flair and aspiration into Hindi cinema’s visual language.(Photo courtesy Yash Raj Films)
Aditya Chopra with his father Yash Chopra, founder of YRF. It was Yash Chopra who, in 1970, turned the chiffon sari and Swiss Alps into cinematic staples, injecting flair and aspiration into Hindi cinema’s visual language.(Photo courtesy Yash Raj Films)

Newsmaker: As YRF turns 50, Aditya Chopra looks to further a unique legacy

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON NOV 14, 2020 08:34 PM IST
Yash Raj Films has acted as an informal school for filmmakers, set templates for the Hindi blockbuster, been among the first to take Bollywood corporate, and of course created DDLJ.
Close
In Basu Chatterjee’s 1976 film Chhoti Si Baat, Arun (Amol Palekar) and Prabha (Vidya Sinha) go on demure coffee and tea dates. He dreams of being able to take her to the movies and a fancy café.(Courtesy BR Films)
In Basu Chatterjee’s 1976 film Chhoti Si Baat, Arun (Amol Palekar) and Prabha (Vidya Sinha) go on demure coffee and tea dates. He dreams of being able to take her to the movies and a fancy café.(Courtesy BR Films)

The Way We Were: Cafes, art shows, a hug and movie dates from the ’70s

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON NOV 06, 2020 08:32 PM IST
Asking her out in the age of bouffants and drainpipe trousers was no simple affair. But films from the period paint an innocent age in the backdrop of the big city.
Close
Prithviraj Kapoor, his plush-looking dressing gown, and Nargis, in a scene from Awara (1951).
Prithviraj Kapoor, his plush-looking dressing gown, and Nargis, in a scene from Awara (1951).

The Way We Were: The brief, bright, bygone era of the dressing gown

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON OCT 11, 2020 04:44 PM IST
It was the at-home attire of most well-off Bollywood dads in the ’50s and ’60s. Dressing downs haven’t been the same since.
Close
After the deeply disturbing events in her life, Banga Mahila retreated into the austere life of a sanyasini and went to bathe in the Ganga at five in the morning every day, regardless of the weather. (Representative picture)(Soltan Frederic/Sygma via Getty Images)
After the deeply disturbing events in her life, Banga Mahila retreated into the austere life of a sanyasini and went to bathe in the Ganga at five in the morning every day, regardless of the weather. (Representative picture)(Soltan Frederic/Sygma via Getty Images)

Essay: The triumph and tragedy of Bang Mahila

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON OCT 02, 2020 05:47 PM IST
The story of Rajbala Ghosh, the first woman to write short stories in Hindi
Close
Sangam’s classic love triangle, with Rajendra Kumar, Vyjayanthimala and Raj Kapoor (his accordion ever-present), plays out at a posh party, to Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega. Note that the guests are merely spectators — props for the show within the show.
Sangam’s classic love triangle, with Rajendra Kumar, Vyjayanthimala and Raj Kapoor (his accordion ever-present), plays out at a posh party, to Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega. Note that the guests are merely spectators — props for the show within the show.

When movie scenes struck a different kind of chord: The Way We Were by Poonam Saxena

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON SEP 27, 2020 11:07 AM IST
A performance, a piano, a crowd standing still. Why was the party song such a fixture of Hindi cinema in decades past?
Close
Travelling light takes on new meaning in these times. Don’t aim for an overload of any kind, Rakesh’s travel writings advise. Savour the moment(Shutterstock)
Travelling light takes on new meaning in these times. Don’t aim for an overload of any kind, Rakesh’s travel writings advise. Savour the moment(Shutterstock)

The Way We Were: A long-gone author’s timely tips for life on the road

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON SEP 12, 2020 10:21 AM IST
Mohan Rakesh didn’t book tickets in advance and make hotel reservations. He went where the road led, and kept going.
Close
Think of strong Gothic influences and you think also of Kamal Amrohi’s Mahal (1949), Biren Nag’s Bees Saal Baad (1962, loosely based on The Hound of the Baskervilles), and to an extent Bimal Roy’s Madhumati (1958).(Shemaroo/YouTube)
Think of strong Gothic influences and you think also of Kamal Amrohi’s Mahal (1949), Biren Nag’s Bees Saal Baad (1962, loosely based on The Hound of the Baskervilles), and to an extent Bimal Roy’s Madhumati (1958).(Shemaroo/YouTube)

The Way We Were: A tribute to desi film’s Gothic phase

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON AUG 30, 2020 10:39 AM IST
Despite how heavily they borrowed from the West, the early spooky movies remain some of our best in the genre.
Close
Crediting playback singers started with Lata Mangeshkar in 1949. Fans clamoured to know who sang Aayega Aanewala from Mahal.(HTArchive)
Crediting playback singers started with Lata Mangeshkar in 1949. Fans clamoured to know who sang Aayega Aanewala from Mahal.(HTArchive)

The Way We Were: Lata and the dawn of the playback era

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON AUG 16, 2020 05:54 PM IST
The first Hindi film playback song was recorded 85 years ago. Take a look at how it acquired the shape it has today.
Close
This very simple man who lived for his sahitya and came from the highly literary milieu of Banaras, found no happiness in either the commercial world of Hindi films, or the big impersonal metropolis.
This very simple man who lived for his sahitya and came from the highly literary milieu of Banaras, found no happiness in either the commercial world of Hindi films, or the big impersonal metropolis.

The Way We Were: Premchand’s lost months in Bombay

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON AUG 02, 2020 03:18 PM IST
To mark his 140th birth anniversary, a look at the writer’s move to the city, and why he left it in less than a year.
Close
Twenty years on, in its 12th season, KBC is set to be telecast to a new generation.
Twenty years on, in its 12th season, KBC is set to be telecast to a new generation.

The Way We Were: A screen test for a new India

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JUL 19, 2020 08:33 AM IST
Kaun Banega Crorepati marked our first trysts with reality TV, heedless consumerism, and a revived Amitabh Bachchan.
Close
The Sylvia Plath-loving Swadesh Deepak wrote of his struggle with bipolar disorder in Maine Mandu Nahin Dekha.(Soumitra Mohan)
The Sylvia Plath-loving Swadesh Deepak wrote of his struggle with bipolar disorder in Maine Mandu Nahin Dekha.(Soumitra Mohan)

The Way We Were: Fragmented tales from a beautiful mind

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JUL 05, 2020 07:50 AM IST
With mental health a growing concern in the pandemic, it’s worth revisiting a writer’s searing first-person account.
Close
A group of cyclists, masked and distancing,in Chandigarh. More people are turning to cycles around the world, as an alternative to the more risky public transport, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.(Keshav Singh/Hindustan Times)
A group of cyclists, masked and distancing,in Chandigarh. More people are turning to cycles around the world, as an alternative to the more risky public transport, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.(Keshav Singh/Hindustan Times)

Cycling in the times of Covid-19: From freedom to fitness to distancing

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JUN 22, 2020 10:13 AM IST
As Atlas shuts its last manufacturing plant, a look at all that bicycles have meant to India, from the Raj era to the pandemic.
Close
It is often the case that stories of lesbian love written by men cause fewer ripples. Rajendra Yadav’s Prateeksha seems to have caused none of the furore of, say, Ismat Chughtai’s Lihaaf.(Zara KHAN/HT PHOTO)
It is often the case that stories of lesbian love written by men cause fewer ripples. Rajendra Yadav’s Prateeksha seems to have caused none of the furore of, say, Ismat Chughtai’s Lihaaf.(Zara KHAN/HT PHOTO)

Pride 2020: Love, loneliness and violence

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JUN 07, 2020 07:52 AM IST
In Pride Month, we’re re-reading Prateeksha, a lesser known, no-holds-barred lesbian love story from 1962.
Close
It is often the case that stories of lesbian love written by men cause fewer ripples. Rajendra Yadav’s Prateeksha seems to have caused none of the furore of, say, Ismat Chughtai’s Lihaaf.
It is often the case that stories of lesbian love written by men cause fewer ripples. Rajendra Yadav’s Prateeksha seems to have caused none of the furore of, say, Ismat Chughtai’s Lihaaf.

Love, loneliness and violence

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUN 07, 2020 04:38 AM IST
Most readers are probably familiar with Ismat Chughtai’s 1942 story, Lihaaf (The Quilt), with its erotic lesbian undercurrents.
Close
Arun Govil and Deepika Chikhalia as Ram and Sita in Ramayan.
Arun Govil and Deepika Chikhalia as Ram and Sita in Ramayan.

Epics that inspired de facto ‘janta curfews’ three decades ago return in time of Covid-19 lockdown

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2020 04:38 AM IST
Once again, you can watch Ramayan and Mahabharat on DD. The streets outside will still be empty – though, it’s a different kind of lockdown, necessitated by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Close
Mahatma Gandhi on an evening walk at Juhu beach in May 1944.(Alamy Photo)
Mahatma Gandhi on an evening walk at Juhu beach in May 1944.(Alamy Photo)

Staff in hand, the Mahatma walked every day of his life...

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON SEP 28, 2019 09:12 PM IST
...A habit that kept his deceptively frail-looking body strong & hardy
Close
For Gandhi, the control of the palate was essential, since brahmacharya meant “control of the senses in thought, word and deed.”(Getty Images)
For Gandhi, the control of the palate was essential, since brahmacharya meant “control of the senses in thought, word and deed.”(Getty Images)

What the Mahatma ate and why

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON OCT 01, 2020 05:39 PM IST
An austere eater, Gandhi constantly experimented with his diet. These experiments were based on his beliefs and part of a deep, spiritual quest
Close
Kunal Nayyar plays the Indian astrophysicist, Rajesh Koothrapalli, one of the nerdy scientists on the long-running American sitcom The Big Bang Theory.(WBTV/CBS)
Kunal Nayyar plays the Indian astrophysicist, Rajesh Koothrapalli, one of the nerdy scientists on the long-running American sitcom The Big Bang Theory.(WBTV/CBS)

‘I still don’t know how Raj’s story ends’: Kunal Nayyar

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON APR 27, 2019 07:25 PM IST
As The Big Bang Theory winds up after 12 seasons, we talk to the fresh-faced, tousle-haired Nayyar, the actor with the winning smile and sharp sense of comedy
Close
The death of Krishna Sobti, who passed away in Delhi on Friday after a long illness, has robbed Hindi literature of one of its most glorious and remarkable writers.(VipinKumar/HT Photo)
The death of Krishna Sobti, who passed away in Delhi on Friday after a long illness, has robbed Hindi literature of one of its most glorious and remarkable writers.(VipinKumar/HT Photo)

Hindi literature loses one of its leading lights, Krishna Sobti

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JAN 25, 2019 10:58 PM IST
The author of eight novels, two novellas, a collection of short stories and three volumes of profiles of other writers (the last under the pen name Hashmat), Krishna Sobti was born in Gujarat, Pakistan, studied in Delhi and Lahore, and finally moved to India after Partition.
Close
Sridevi, Bollywood’s leading lady of the 1980s and ‘90s who redefined stardom for actresses in India, has died at age 54.(AP)
Sridevi, Bollywood’s leading lady of the 1980s and ‘90s who redefined stardom for actresses in India, has died at age 54.(AP)

Sridevi: The rough diamond who transformed into first modern female superstar

By Poonam Saxena | New Delhi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 25, 2018 11:39 PM IST
What set Sridevi apart from other, earlier leading ladies in Hindi cinema was that she made a roaring success of films that revolved around her – rare in an industry dominated by heroes.
Close
The issues that Dharamvir Bharati tackled in Gunahon Ka Devta – caste, class, love, sex, duty – remain as urgent and relevant even today.
The issues that Dharamvir Bharati tackled in Gunahon Ka Devta – caste, class, love, sex, duty – remain as urgent and relevant even today.

Translating India: Retaining cultural moorings from Hindi to English is a challenge

By Poonam Saxena, Indo Asian News Service | Indo Asian News Service
UPDATED ON FEB 13, 2018 05:28 PM IST
In a new Translating India series, ten noted translators will share their experiences of translating from their respective languages. In the fifth part, author and journalist Poonam Saxena writes about the difficulties she faced while translating Dharamvir Bharati’s iconic Hindi novel Gunahon Ka Devta into English.
Close
Writer Mohan Rakesh(Photo: Antim Satrein / Radhakrishan Prakashan)
Writer Mohan Rakesh(Photo: Antim Satrein / Radhakrishan Prakashan)

Mohan and Anita Rakesh’s difficult love story

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JAN 20, 2018 10:00 AM IST
Rakesh was part of the celebrated trio of writers who change the course of the Hindi short story
Close
Shashi Kapoor was the last of a generation of flamboyant and influential Kapoors.(HT Photo)
Shashi Kapoor was the last of a generation of flamboyant and influential Kapoors.(HT Photo)

Handsome hero, passionate filmmaker: The many legends of Shashi Kapoor

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON DEC 04, 2017 11:42 PM IST
Bollywood icon Shashi Kapoor -- a star of 1970s Indian cinema and a member of the Hindi film industry’s famous Kapoor family -- died on Monday aged 79 after a long illness.
Close
SHARE
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • ...
Story Saved