Archive for November, 2008

November 29, 2008

Jeevan Jyoti (1952)

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Shammi, Shammi, Shammi…*shaking head in dismay*…why? why? There is a genre in Hindi cinema which I have privately dubbed the Red Mist Movie, because watching one causes a red mist of fury to rise in front of my eyes (which fortunately obscures the film itself). These films are pretty much the only Hindi movies that I simply can’t sit through. Once I reach the Red Mist point, I’m done. I am sad to report—indeed, it pains me a lot to say it—Shammi has been in one such film, and in case you haven’t figured it out yet, this is it.

November 29, 2008

I’m in love…

with this blog. Go there now. Be prepared to spend an entire day there (at least). It is chock full of beautiful Hindi film songs, from all eras, with links to YouTube and—best of all—the lyrics transliterated for us non-Hindi script readers, sometimes (early posts) accompanied by English translated lyrics also. It’s truly a labor of love by Atul and a must-see for anyone who enjoys filmi songs (and who reading this doesn’t?).

Wah! wah! Atul! And he’s promised that he will start doing the English translations again too. So let’s make it worth his while!

Edited to add: In my enthusiasm I forgot to mention that he also has wide-ranging knowledge on singers, music directors, lyricists, film history and all kinds of other interesting tid-bits that he includes in his posts. Okay, I’m done. Go there now.

November 27, 2008

Maximum City

I hope all of you living in Bombay (or with loved ones there) are safe and sound. Please know that you are in my thoughts as are all the victims and those still in danger. Bombay is one of my favorite cities on earth; and I know that your resilience and courage will hold you in good stead again today and in the days to come.

November 25, 2008

Reporter Raju (1962)

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Produced by Homi Wadia, and written by JBH Wadia, this film surprised me. It lacks their usual emphasis on stunts and crazy special effects, which I always enjoy; but is a solidly entertaining filmi noir more along the lines of Howrah Bridge and C.I.D. (although not nearly as competently done) than of Aladdin. Dwarka Khosla (any relation to Raj?) directed, and the plot is interesting (in spite of the many holes), with good performances and—best of all—spectacular music.

Feroz Khan stars in one of his first roles; as Todd pointed out in a comment elsewhere, he seems to have started off his film career as a poor man’s Shammi Kapoor. If that was his brief from the filmmakers, he certainly lived up to it during the songs at least. I will say that if Shammi and, say, Madhubala or Asha P. had starred, it would have probably taken the film to a whole other level; but as it is Feroz and Chitra deliver consistently if not spectactularly. 

November 24, 2008

A theme song for the memsaab!

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I have tripped and fallen over a theme song of my very own! There are two reasons, no three many reasons why I cannot resist it:

  1. The lyrics “Lo Memsaab Salaam, Salaam Memsaab Salaam”
  2. Rafi sings it, and I love him; plus, he yodels!*
  3. It’s from Reporter Raju which was made in 1962 (so it’s *almost* as old as I am)
  4. The film is a Wadia Brothers production, and I love the Wadias
  5. Even though Shammi isn’t in it, Feroz Khan does his level best to channel Shammi; and I can close my eyes and pretend it’s Shammi, since it is a very Shammi-like song (Shammi Shammi Shammi!)
  6. It’s lively and fabulous (is there an Indian instrument that sounds like an accordion, or is it an actual accordion? either way, too much fun)
  7. It’s short, like my attention span!

Here it is: “O Chale Ho Kahan Kaho” from Reporter Raju, sung by Rafi, music by S.S. Mohinder:

*Edited to add: My very reliable and informed friend Sunny has informed me that Kishore actually does the yodeling here for Rafi, which makes no material difference to it remaining my theme song, but good to know!

*Edited again to add more: Now more people are on board the it’s-Rafi-yodeling boat, see comments if you are interested! It’s still my theme song, no matter who yodels, even if it’s a Swiss farmer who was imported just for the task.

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November 23, 2008

Shikari (1963) Part 2

We left our heroine Rita dangling over sudsy hot pink lava as a giant ape menaced the rest of her traveling companions.

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November 22, 2008

Shikari (1963) Part 1

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Blinding Eastman Color! To my everlasting regret, this film has not made it to DVD with subtitles yet (*now it has!*). But my friend Suhan found it on VCD with no subs and sent it to me; having seen it, I now believe that subtitles are unnecessary, although I would still like to see it nicely digitized and put on DVD (but not by Shemaroo, please). I saw (and understood) enough to tell you that it was cracktastic! And also, chock-full of plot holes and abandoned plot threads, which didn’t matter one bit.

Mostly, the visuals were so entertaining (despite the poor video quality) that I thought I’d put together another comic strip synopsis. The completely loony amalgamation of cultural references more than makes up for any lack of narrative. Plus, the songs by GS Kohli are lovely and include two dances for Helen!

All you really need to know is this: there’s an ice-skating chimp, two crazy scientists, exotic tropical jungles, spear-throwing natives, a volcano, Godzilla, King Kong, a snake pit and more; and a cast which includes Helen, Madan Puri, KN Singh, Tun Tun, Ajit and Ragini.

November 21, 2008

Trivia time #32

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Can anyone tell me who this actress is? Her last appearance in a film was in this 1952 Prabhat production, which was made in both Marathi and Hindi—Prithviraj Kapoor starred in the Hindi version.

Hint: Even though her last stint as an actress was in 1952, she is still a household name.

Bonus points if you know the name of the film!

November 20, 2008

Munna Bhai MBBS (2003)

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Here’s another favorite! I remember waiting for this to come out on DVD. I’d read how well it was doing in Indian theaters, I loved the story concept, and it paired Sanjay Dutt with his father Sunil Dutt, who hadn’t acted in sixteen years. I got it as soon as it was available, and I was not disappointed. In fact, I was bowled over.

This is the first Hindi film I ever saw where I actually laughed out loud and was laughing with it (I’d seen Disco Dancer and laughed too, but at it). Keep in mind that it was 2003 and I’d been watching Hindi films for less than a year; the ubiquitous Comic Side Plot still mystified me and I often felt that culturally I must be missing something that prevented me from understanding the humor. I was beginning to despair.

But this—this was a laugh-out-loud cross cultural fiesta with a squishy dil™!

November 17, 2008

Sadhna (1958)

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I learned about two important things when I first saw this BR Chopra classic a while ago: Sahir Ludhianvi’s sublime lyrics, and Sunil Dutt’s penchant for making progressive women-centric films. He stars alongside Vyjayanthimala, who has many opportunities to show off her considerable dancing skills. She plays a nautch-girl whom Sunil’s character hires to pose as his fiancee to make his dying mother happy. She won the Filmfare (Best Actress) award for it as well, as did the story writer Mukhram Sharma.

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