Archive for November, 2009

November 29, 2009

A long overdue rant

First of all, in general I don’t really like to complain (okay, that background noise is my friends laughing). But seriously. I hardly ever send anything back to the kitchen in a restaurant, for instance. I figure: they are doing their best back there, and who knows what all they have to deal with. And also, they might spit in my food (or worse). So if it’s edible and there aren’t any bugs or severed fingers in it, I won’t bitch. I might grumble a little, but that’s usually it. However, dear readers and fellow unfortunate fans of old Hindi cinema, I am really fed up.

Who is mistreating the Memsaab so? Indian DVD manufacturers, that’s who!

I recently watched an unsubtitled (as usual) VCD of Shammi’s lovely film Rail Ka Dibba, released by Friends Video. Friends presents us with this at the beginning:

November 25, 2009

Cinema Cinema (1979)

This quasi-documentary made by Krishna Shah (Shalimar) explores the history of Hindi language cinema against the political and socioeconomic developments of the 20th century, and by examining the quintessential Indian audience. Shah’s innovative approach is to film a “screening” of the documentary—narrated by Hema Malini, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra and Zeenat Aman—in a real movie theater, in front of an audience which I assume was partly real and partly staged. I really enjoy the audience participation, which on more than one occasion eclipses what’s happening up on the screen in front. The documentary itself is a bit of a mixed bag: there are some lovely bits and pieces of really old, rare films and interesting snippets of information, but the narrative is uneven and falls into the predictable by the end.

November 23, 2009

Khoon Bhari Maang (1988)

And of tortuous eye-searing aesthetics! It also defies convention in its lack of a “hero”: all this film needs is Rekha. What a presence she has indeed!

By any standards (even mine) it cannot be called a good film. But I was never tempted to stop watching. I only ever even paused, in fact, long enough to refill my wine glass. How Bollywood manages to consistently churn out things which are dreadful but riveting is a mystery to me. Gemma liked this one too, because the cast included two highly intelligent animals: Raja the horse, and Jumbo the dog. She barked at both of them gleefully, no doubt in encouragement for their perspicacity and valiant attempts to combat evil.

November 22, 2009

Main Wohi Hoon (1966)

A filmi noir murder mystery starring the lovely Kumkum and the even lovelier (to my eyes) Feroz Khan, with fantastic music by Usha Khanna: how could it possibly go wrong? Well, here’s one way: our hero and heroine are squeezed into the plot around IS Johar, who uses the story as an excuse to don various silly (and occasionally racist) costumes and play the fool. Don’t get me wrong, I love the man—but it is kind of a waste of Feroz and Kum Kum. Also, the script is a total mess.

November 20, 2009

In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones (1989)

Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things) wrote and stars in this poignant and funny made-for-TV movie about a group of architecture students at the end of their fifth and final year in 1974 New Delhi. I didn’t really know what to expect; the only thing I knew about it was that a very young Shahrukh Khan has a small role. What a gem it is, though! It’s Chashme Buddoor meets Fast Times At Ridgemont High in its deft portrait of student life and profane humor (and how interesting is it that all three films were made by women?!). There are no songs, and the background music consists mostly of Beatles tunes, which suits the ambience perfectly. The students are a mixed bunch— rebellious hippies, uptight “good” girls, goofy nerds, and the titular Anand “Annie” Grover (Arjun Raina), a hapless loser repeating his fifth year for the fourth time.

November 16, 2009

Sparse ‡ scarce

farz_sparse

From Farz (1967), a movie that I probably won’t bother to write up. It is a tragic waste of Secret Agent plotting with David as the spymaster! But this subtitle is too good not to share.

website statistics

Tags: ,
November 15, 2009

How I spent my vacation

Warning: This post is long and rambling (yes, even more than usual) and occasionally sentimental. And no doubt really dull for most of you. But I’ll get back to movie reviewing soon, I promise!

As planned, I spent a good deal of my time with the Beiges looking at (and scanning for posterity) old family photos. This is the oldest one I found, a daguerreotype of my great-great grandparents with my infant great-grandmother (my father’s father’s mother). It was taken in 1862 and is still in its original case, which is gorgeous.

daguerreotype_eberhardts

November 6, 2009

Time off with the Beiges

mom_howard_froghunting1937

I’m off to hang out with my Mom (above right, frog hunting with my uncle) and Dad (not pictured, because she didn’t know him back in 1937).

I call my parents Mr. and Mrs. Beige, mostly in jest. They would blend invisibly right into any typical mid-western American crowd, but it’s only a facade. Internally, they are sparkly and rainbow-colored.

November 4, 2009

Intaquam (1969)

intaquam_helen

Ah, what a film this is. If you have a hankering for something that careens wildly along, going from completely loony, to sweetly touching, to dumb and illogical, and back to loony again, look no further. I wouldn’t call it technically a good film, but it is highly entertaining. And I loved it! With features like Excellent Use of Helen, a zealous and melodramatic murderer named Snaky, a disfiguring cake, useful little white mice, lost and found family members, fantabulous songs (Azad in blackface!), plus Memsaab favorites Ashok Kumar and Rehman as friends-turned-bitter-foes, how could I not?

I have been longing to see this with subtitles, but didn’t think it was available except on an unsubtitled (and unplayable after ten minutes) VCD. Many thanks to Tom D (the most banned-from-YouTube-person-on-earth) (my opinion only, not backed up by anything resembling actual facts) (but still: I think it’s because he does what Indian DVD manufacturers can’t be bothered to do, which is to clean up the picture and sound quality, remove their intrusive and gaudy logos, and add subtitles, thereby making them look bad—as they deserve to—so they complain and he gets suspended, over and over again). Anyway, thank you my friend! for supplying me with this particular ginormous rock of crack.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 831 other followers