Although I have largely abandoned western films in favor of Hindi ones, there are some that I still sometimes get a yen to watch. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I saw The Incredibles again (in spite of being surrounded by Patels, go figure). It got me thinking about my favorite movies from my life Before Bollywood. This is my list of those non-Hindi movies—the ones I suddenly have to see, which I’ve owned on VHS and DVD and will own on whatever medium comes after DVD as well. I watch them again and again (sometimes back-to-back), and they never fail to entertain me. And please know that I realize, as one of my nieces would say, that a couple of them are pretty “sketchy” if not downright BAD.
When I started this blog, I decided that my policy would be to write only about films that nobody else has really written about, because many Hindi movies already have great write-ups elsewhere and I’ve really got nothing inspirational to add.
My USP is that I watch a LOT of movies. Movies that most people will probably never see (many with good reason). But I seldom see a film when it’s newly released. I wait for the DVD because I hate going to movie theaters and having to deal with all those other people (I’m grouchy in addition to under-employed). Also theaters showing Hindi films are few and far between in my area. I am also naturally disposed to dislike things that everyone else universally raves about (the grouch factor again). Like Chak De! India. But this movie thoroughly deserves all the acclaim it’s gotten and I want to write about it, and hey! it’s my blog.
Finding a film critic whose opinion you can trust is much like finding a wine seller with the same taste in wine as you have.
Raja Sen at rediff.com has always been that for me. I think he writes the most erudite, thoughtful, credible, intelligent and well-rounded criticism of films in Bollywood (it doesn’t hurt that I almost always completely agree with him). His is the first opinion I look for when a movie I’m interested in seeing is released. Maybe I should ask him if he drinks wine!
He has just been joined by another critic calling herself Bollywoods, and I have really been enjoying her columns and reviews as well (she is knowledgeable and writes well, and is funny. Particularly I enjoyed her column about critics).
If you haven’t discovered them, you should!*
*along with some of the blogs I have listed under favorite links!
Despite the DVD cover showing Deb Mukherjee and Alka looking young and beautiful, their romance is only half of the plot. The other half revolves around Ashok Kumar’s character, the principal of a college named Vidyanand. This is not a bad thing! it’s a nice drama about keeping one’s integrity and lofty ideals intact even in the face of injustice. There’s also a rich-vs-poor subtext which starts out strong but doesn’t really go anywhere. The very very best things about the film are the marvelous songs by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, including two Helen numbers, and—Deb Mukherjee! I did not see that coming, I confess.
When asked in an interview if he believes in reincarnation:
“I think, after you die, the atom finishes in the air and attaches to a cat or a dog.”
–Shah Rukh Khan
In what movie is the whole story of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” enacted as a play, starring Helen as the wicked Queen? Bonus points if you can tell us who plays Snow White!
Okay, nobody even has a guess! The movie is Baazi (1968) starring Dharmendra and Waheeda Rehman (who plays Snow White in this segment). The movie is okay, but this play within the movie is fabulous. It’s about 15 minutes long—and ends with a Helen dance, of course! It’s worth seeing on its own.