Or, the Lamentations of a Bhartiya Naari
How much does being a model of Indian Womanhood suck? Dulhan counts the ways!
Memsaab: “But…but…Ranjeet and Bindu get married! And play good guys! How can that possibly be bad?!”
Shalini (patiently): “Why is it bad? Let’s see: for the first half of the movie Neetu plays a rich little suicidal (she thinks she has cancer and only has months to live) girl who hires unemployed, working class Randhir to kill her. It’s nobler/braver, you see, to “defeat” death by taking it in your hands rather than doing something sensible like consulting with doctors to see if there might be some treatments/cures. Anyway, she spends the second half of the film trying to not fall victim to an elaborate, sick revenge plot concocted by deranged, homicidal Ajit. Ajit becomes unhinged when his only child (a young Gufi Paintal) kills himself over his unrequited love for Neetu. He of course blames Neetu for not loving his son back and is determined to make her pay for her “crime.” Neetu and Randhir fall in love in the midst of all of it, because what could be more romantic than this plot?”
Memsaab: “But…Ranjeet…and Bindu…….”
Shalini: “You never learn, do you?”
A few hours later:
Memsaab: “OMG! Ajit STABS A PICTURE OF A KITTEN, he is so crazy!”
Shalini: “Keeping Paintal’s preserved body in the bedroom is worse.”
Memsaab: “That’s probably true.”
Shalini: “Do you realize that Ranjeet (and Bindu) are the most *normal* characters in this movie?! I suppose that’s reason enough for this movie to be immortalized.”
My father was born on September 14, 1928; he joined the film industry in July 1957 and passed away in March 1972. He spent only 14 and half years in the industry—a very short time—however during this brief period he had the opportunity to do some excellent roles and had the good fortune to work with some of the best directors of the industry.
Had Ravikant (Ravee Kant) Nagaich ever asked me for career advice, I probably would have told him to stick to cinematography—he really does excel in that department. But as a director, he has an uncanny ability to take ingredients like this:
and make them into films which lull you into an uncomfortably bored stupor: uncomfortable because you are really justifiably afraid that if you fall asleep you will miss something truly wondrous. When I see his name in the credits, I am happy and sad. I adore Mr. Nagaich, truly, but he SO disappoints me. It’s confusing, almost as bewildering as his ability to convince audiences that his actors are dancing.
This is a classic film from Mehboob Khan which really ought to be subtitled and put on a dvd (sans gaudy logo). Even the vcd print is not bad, so I’d think it could be relatively easily done! In any case, my friend Raja subtitled it for me and I am so grateful. Even without subtitles I sensed that this was a very moving and message-heavy film—it is Mehboob, after all!—and so it is. And the cast is magnificent, led by Chandramohan and a very young Sheikh Mukhtar, with the particularly fabulous support of Sitara Devi.
I will never forget my first glimpse of Chandramohan as a bloodthirsty Rajput in Mehboob Khan’s historical Humayun. Those pale and compelling eyes! That determined hunger for vengeance! I was instantly enchanted by his persistent enmity in the face of his foe’s tolerant goodwill. Indeed, Chandramohan dominates my review of that film. His flamboyant appearance and theatrics were unforgettable.
This is one of my favorite Rajesh Khanna films: his character Raja and his chemistry with Sharmila’s Rani is beyond sweet. My friend and Rajesh expert Suhan points out that it’s possibly the only film they made where they actually get to spend time together being young and in love instead of being painfully separated and only reunited in old age! RD Burman’s music is lovely, the performances are strong (with some fun guest appearances); the story is interesting and nicely paced with lots of humor, and the characters beautifully etched. If you are in the mood for some sweet romance and stylish seventies fun, this is a well-made and non-taxing movie to settle in with.
Since Mujhe Jeene Do’s seed was sown during the making of Usne Kaha Tha, it is only right that the latter forms a part of these memoirs. The making of Usne Kaha Tha was quite eventful for my father. Without going into too much detail I will just briefly touch upon the so called ‘events’. During the wedding scene (dad and Nanda’s wedding), he suffered an electric shock; then during the war scene his leg landed in a trench. There was a plank of wood placed on the trench which broke as he ran over it, and the last straw on the camel’s back was when he almost got trampled by an army tank. If Sunil Dutt hadn’t pushed him out of the way just in the nick of time he would have been—well I do not need add anything, it is pretty obvious what would have happened.
I’ve said it (many times) before and I’m saying it again now: I love Laxmi Chhaya. And I *totally heart* this new Tom dvd compilation which contains 23 songs featuring her in all her versatile and gorgeous glory. From a simple love song which showcases her girl-next-door brand of beauty, to the crazy “Jaan Pehchaan Ho” and Peacock-Cobra danceoff with Madhumati, plus everything in between (tribal, cabaret, mujra)—it’s all here. And you will never see these songs in better quality, never. I am blown away by this dvd, and I’m even getting used to Tom’s magic.
(Which shall henceforth be known to me as Hum PUNCH.)
I guess I should begin by talking about the really interesting cast of this film: Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Raj Babbar, Amrish Puri, Mithun Chakraborty, Deepti Naval, Sanjeev Kumar, AK Hangal and Kanhaiyalal. Crazy!! My eyes got wider and wider as the credits rolled by. Halfway into the film I scribbled on my notepad: I love this movie! And I did! It was thought-provoking, interesting, sensitively handled, well-acted and gorgeously photographed on location in Karnataka.
But then it went off the rails, combining revenge masala with religion-mythology in a recipe which I am certain my father would tell my mother to go ahead and throw away. Thoughtful became jingoistic, interesting turned to predictable and cliched, sensitive handling and good acting were tossed out the window in favor of bulging eyeballs and sequinned jumpsuits. What a shame!