Poonam Saxena is the national weekend editor of the Hindustan Times. She writes on cinema, television, culture and books
Articles by 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
ByPoonam Saxena, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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.
The Bhojpuri barber turned playwright died 50 years ago. His lyrical, once-hugely-popular plays still resonate.
From his brother, the legendary actor acquired a love of the classics — Dickens, Shakespeare, Charlotte and Emily Bronte. Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights made a particular impression.
The Hindi author lived an unconventional life, and gave a voice to women of the 1950s and ’60s who were trying to do the same.
Stark echoes of today ring out in the writings of poet Suryakant Tripathi Nirala, who lost so many loved ones to the influenza pandemic.
Shankar and Ishaan are both names for Shiva. So why was one so preferred in the past and the other so popular now?
In Women’s History Month, Poonam Saxena looks back on the extraordinary life of a revolutionary feminist and writer.
An ode to the lungi-kurta, always in silk, always as resplendent loungewear, which vanished without a trace
From falling in love in a coupé to finding closure on a platform, the railways have steered cinema in memorable directions.
On screen and off, the sewing machine transformed lives for decades, and it’s still appearing in the role of agent of change.
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.
It now lives on largely in books and film, but the courtyard was where we cooked, celebrated, slept under the stars on summer nights.
Hindi novelist Usha Priyamvada turns 90 this year, and the quiet lives of unusual women remain at the core of her work.
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.
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.
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.
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.