The Hollywood Musical, that grand celebration replete with song and dance, is coming to town. Cine Darbaar, a Delhi-based group of cineastes, is collaborating with the American Center to screen eight musicals over three days, starting Friday.
A highlight of the festival is its glorious sweep of time, with the opening film dating as far back as 1929, and the closing film being Tim Burton’s 2007 cinematic version of the much-lauded Broadway musical, Sweeney Todd : The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
The Broadway Melody (1929) will open the festival and, although the film offers little in terms of aesthetic pleasure, its status as one of the earliest efforts in this genre helps the viewer identify the tropes, techniques and the mise-en-scene that characterize the musical, all of which are discernable in myriad forms in the more acclaimed films that followed.
The legendary pair of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers can be seen in the 1935 film Top Hat. Watch what happens when dance brings two people together. Vincente Minnelli’s painstaking efforts to gather the disparate elements that comprise his frames as flawlessly as possible are evident, with varying degrees of success, in two films being screened here: An American in Paris (1951) and Gigi (1958). Gigi, which won nine Oscars, is a tale draped in Parisian finery and veneer, and follows the fortunes of two people attempting to restrict their relationship to a platonic one. Gene Kelly’s overwhelming star power and Minnelli’s direction make An American in Paris the better film of the two, its ostentation notwithstanding.
It is Gene Kelly again who features in, directs and sings one of the most famous songs in the history of American cinema—which also lends the film its name—Singin’ in the Rain (1952). Cleverly and mischievously scripted, it remains one of the finest achievements in the genre, having set off a veritable firework of spoofs, parodies and poor attempts at reliving the original’s magic.
West Side Story (1961), Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) complete the list of films being screened. A curating competition is being organized to supplement the screenings, where participants will be asked to write programming notes for the American films they would like to curate. The usual Cine Darbaar run of post-screening quizzes will also be a part of the festival.
The film festival’s schedule is as follows:
3pm: ‘The Broadway Melody’
6pm: ‘Top Hat’
Noon: ‘An American in Paris’
6pm: ‘Singin’ in the Rain’
Noon: ‘West Side Story’
3pm: ‘Saturday Night Fever’
6pm: ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’