Archive for February, 2010

February 25, 2010

The Best of Stardust 1978 (continued)

(Image above is the back cover.)

Here are four more goodies from the “Best of” Stardust issue. The first is an expose (in her own words) of Nutan’s war with her mother Shobhana Samarth over money, and her wrath with Sanjeev Kumar when she discovers that he is behind the persistent rumors of her affair with him (she gives him a tight slap! Go girl!). Then we have an interesting short article speculating on the “Mangeshkar Monopoly” and whether Lata and Asha are sabotaging the careers of other singers. In the third, Rajesh Khanna and Anju Mahendru air their relationship dirty laundry (bit-ter!); and finally, Shashi Kapoor’s secretary accuses him of all sorts of shenanigans and loyal wife Jennifer leaps to his defense.

February 24, 2010

The Best of Stardust 1978

In October 1971 the first issue of Stardust magazine was published and a new era of film journalism began: it was snarkier, more gossipy, more intrusive, and a smash hit with readers.

Seven years on, a special edition of the magazine called “The Best of Stardust” was published to commemorate its success.

February 23, 2010

My ten favorite 70s movies

Yes: I am going there! I am putting a stake in the ground and saying that these ten films are the ones from 1970s Hindi cinema that I would take with me to a deserted island* (*subject to change without notice).

Several I have only seen two or three times (they are hard to watch although excellent); others I watch every other month or so when I need the equivalent of my mommy’s lap. The main thing they have in common is that they make my dil go *squish* and make my aankhen sparkle (or spill over with tears), my ears perk up and my feet start moving. They engage me fully and I love them like I made them, despite—or perhaps even because of—their flaws. For me, eye candy and heartfelt emotion trump more “arty” considerations like a tight script and flawless direction almost every time. (You’ve been warned.)

February 22, 2010

Surakksha (1979)

Despite my near-certainty that I should know better, I once again succumbed to the lure of the Mithun-Ravi Nagaich combo. Feeling that I needed something *fun* to do, I watched Gun Master G-9 battle the unnecessarily complicated maneuverings of Evil with equally needlessly elaborate gadgets and code names—all the while still failing to convince me that his lacklustre activities in various nightclubs could really be classified as “dancing.” Ahem.

The beauty of Surakksha lies in the triumph of imagination over economics. I pretty much have to love and respect a filmmaker who spends most of his spy-movie budget on wallpaper and furnishings. This lacks the yellow plastic locusts of its sequel Wardat, sadly, but compensates by making said locusts appear positively high-tech in comparison to what GMG-9 encounters here. And the cinematography, courtesy of director-producer Nagaich in a triple threat, is really interesting. Crazy angles, migraine-inducing lighting…it’s all there. This writeup is even more screenshot-heavy than usual, due to the spectacular visuals which have to be seen to be believed. No real attempt to link plot points together is made: the story consists mostly of random (stolen from Bond) events which serve as an excuse for plenty of action and accessories which are a cracktastic tribute to the Indian spirit of jugaad.

February 21, 2010

Seventies week!

I am hoping to contribute as much as I can to Beth’s Seventies’ Week initiative. I will be starting with the loony Surakksha, which I think sums up the beauty of the decade perfectly (well, minus the generally great music): a period when there may not have always been a lot of money floating around, but where plenty of “inspiration” and creativity took advantage of what little budget there was to produce some of the most entertainingly crazy and fun films on the planet.

Stay tuned! and check out Beth’s blog for all the participants and fun!

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February 19, 2010

Big.giant.FAIL.

So I haven’t had much time to watch films lately, and when I have tried I have just been frustrated. Arggghhh. It’s hard to be a Hindi film fan. At the risk of sounding bitter and repetitive, let me just say (again) that I *hate* Indian dvd manufacturers.

Example 1: Jaal (1951) starring Dev Anand, Geeta Bali, Purnima, KN Singh. Directed by Guru Dutt. DVD from Nupur.

This may have once been a lovely film, but in the hands of Nupur it has been turned into barely-90-minutes’ worth of random unconnected vignettes. There is nothing coherent left of the story, to the point where it is virtually unwatchable. Scenes and songs end abruptly in the middle and we skip to a completely unrelated scene or song which is also cut short abruptly. Nupur kindly filled in the rest of the dvd space where the movie should have been with ads. At least they didn’t charge us any extra for that (or any less, either).

February 15, 2010

My filmi family portrait

I’ve said on these pages many times that actors in Hindi cinema become like family after you watch enough films over the years. The same faces, essentially playing the same roles…eventually you wake up one day and realize that they are as familiar to you as the people you grew up with (well, many of you DID grow up with them, you lucky souls!).

Anyway, I got to thinking the other day about what a Memsaab family photo might look like. Who would be in it, who would be cropped out. Of course, I would be at the center of it: me and my beloved Shammi, and little Gemma too—probably trying to lick Shammi’s hand. Sisters Laxmi Chhaya, Kumari Naaz, Bela Bose, and didi Helen would flank us, completely overdressed for the occasion. Moody and unstable brother Shyam Kumar would be off to the side, so that we could easily trim him out should he really go over the edge one day. Naughty-boy neighbors Ranjeet and Feroz Khan would lurk nearby, waiting for Shammi to turn his back so they could wink at me and maybe cop a feel. Faithful family retainer Nazir Kashmiri would water flowers with the “help” of dog Moti; but horses Raja and Badal would be absent, off grazing in the meadow and keeping an eye out for that rascal dacoit Vinod Khanna, who is constantly trying to kidnap me. Which is why Shammi hired Dharmendra as my bodyguard (he’s trusting, is my Shammi).

February 10, 2010

Khel Khilari Ka (1977)

Sometimes a film’s music is so fabulous that you don’t even care if the film itself is bad. But when you get a soundtrack like that and a film that is highly entertaining if a *teeny bit* flawed, then life is good! So it is with this one. Kalyanji Anandji have delivered what may be my favorite of all their many awesome soundtracks—every single song, and the background music, is sublime. Toss in Dharmendra, the Indian Luke Perry, a young Shabana Azmi and a very fine Masala Death Trap indeed (operated in part by Helen), and let the fun begin! Just listen to this:

Yeah baby!

February 4, 2010

Bhoot Bungla (1966)

This Mehmood movie is a total hoot. I can’t believe I hadn’t seen it before, although I have seen all the songs and the songs really are the film. They dominate a story which deftly blends horror and comedy, managing to be suspenseful and funny—not a combination I’d think would be easy to balance. It doesn’t always work smoothly, but is so much fun that it doesn’t matter.

I sometimes complain about the “entirely too much of Mehmood” phenomenon that blights a lot of mid-sixties Hindi cinema, but here he seems mostly content to be part of a great ensemble cast that includes the maestro behind the fabulous music, Panchamda himself. Possibly it helps that he directed as well, which may have kept him too busy to hog center stage: he clearly worked very hard on crafting this! The romance with heroine Tanuja is tepid, but again it doesn’t matter: romance is not the point. Plus she is lovely as usual, and such a good actress that it’s always a treat to see her.

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