Archive for September, 2010

September 27, 2010

Pathar Ke Insaan(ity) (1990)

Against an epic backdrop of one-sided sibling rivalry, rock-em sock-em lumberjack action, bizarro world medical pronouncements, ham-fisted Mahabharata references, unrequited puppy-love, puffy sleeves and big-budget musical excess lies a plot which I will mostly let speak for itself through screenshots, because all it left me with were questions.

Questions like: Why is Vinod Khanna in this film? Why is Saeed Jaffrey in this film? Why is anybody in this film? Why does this film exist at all? How did the actors keep their faces straight through their dialogues? How old were the people who wrote this, anyway? Were they even out of grade school yet? And above all, will I ever make it all the way through?!

September 25, 2010

Amar (1954)

This is my least favorite of the Mehboob Khan films I’ve seen, and it is such a pity. It boasts a fine cast with excellent acting, absolutely gorgeous music, stunning cinematography, detailed sets and costumes. The visuals, the ambiance and the characterizations all convey a wild Romanticism, but the plot collapses into an unholy mess halfway through. The pivotal event around which it revolves is completely incongruous with the characters we have come to know (not to mention that I have a serious quarrel with some of the resulting fallout). It feels like Mehboob didn’t show up at all to work on the second half; it’s as if he realized that he was confused about what he was trying to say, knew he had screwed it up, didn’t have the energy to care, and finally just gave up.

September 23, 2010

The Dementia Diaries

If there’s one thing I can say for sure about my family, it’s that we’ve had a lot of laughs together. My parents quibbled constantly over small things but they always got over it quickly, and I don’t remember them ever having a major disagreement or going to bed angry with each other. Of course, it’s possible that I wasn’t paying attention or they made an effort to hide such things from us, but in any case my perspective is that we have always been able to find “the funny” in any situation (camping and the teen years don’t count).

September 22, 2010

36 Ghante (1974)

By the end of this film I felt really sorry for anyone who might have been dependent on the Indian police—as portrayed here—for any kind of aid in 1974. I’m surprised that the censor board didn’t demand an upfront apology from the producers. I am almost positive that the intent was exactly opposite, too, but as the film hurtles forward, the plot increasingly unravels with sad results. It’s too bad, because otherwise it is an unusual story (apparently a remake of The Desperate Hours starring Humphrey Bogart) with a lot going for it: a psychological drama about a family of four held hostage for 36 hours (ghante) by three increasingly desperate bank robbers on the run.

36 Ghante comes *this close* to being a really good film, but is sabotaged by inattention to some important details. (Here’s my disclaimer: as with all Hindi cinema, it could be that poor editing after the fact—by the dvd manufacturer for instance—is partially responsible for the story problems, but I will probably never know for sure.)

September 19, 2010

Magroor (1950)

Sometimes after sitting through a spate of truly abysmal films (not worth writing about even) I feel a tinge of despair, thinking that *maybe* there are no more good ones to be seen out there. Then Shalini sends one like this and Raja subtitles it for me, and I am made to realize how much I love Hindi cinema (and my friends!) all over again.

In a nutshell, it’s a fabulously sweet film full of romance and humor. There are no thought-provoking messages, but they aren’t always necessary or even welcome, especially when the movie stars Rehman (oh! the floppy hair falling on that face!), Nigar Sultana (so feisty and funny!), Jairaj (so charming and handsome!) and Meena Kumari (angelically beautiful!). They are supported by two grande old dames of cinema history, Durga Khote and Jilloo, the able and funny Mirza Musharraf, and a poor little put-upon cat (it sadly seems a little tortured at times, but it’s also fun to see a feline anipal, especially one that isn’t stuffed and doesn’t have stripes and big sharp teeth at that).

September 17, 2010

My fifteen favorite Mumtaz songs

Mumtaz simply cannot be contained in a list of ten songs only: she had the good fortune to work in an era—and in films—with such great music, that I just find it impossible. Not only that, but because she was often the heroine (first mostly in so-called B-movies of the sixties, then as an A-list star in the seventies) she usually had three or four songs per film, unlike women who were confined mostly to dances or small supporting roles.

September 14, 2010

Andaz (1971)

It’s time to return to beloved Shammi: my eyes have been roving of late (Chandramohan, Shyam, the Shash)—but they will always come back to my favorite! One of my goals for this blog is to write about all his movies that I can find and comprehend (i.e. with subtitles). This is one I haven’t watched in a very long time despite remembering it as a wonderfully romantic story which I enjoyed very much. And I love Shammi in this film; he shows a subdued maturity that is really appealing without losing the Melt Factor that I so adore in him. And although Hema is obviously much younger (she is so gorgeous in this), her character has a gravity that makes it work. The kids are not as annoying as they might be either, especially Master Alankar as Hema’s really cute son Deepu. Baby Gauri—Shammi’s daughter Munni—is a hilarious little monkey, if a little *too* spoiled rotten at times.

September 12, 2010

Aahutee (1978)

Manmohan Desai has been often imitated but rarely matched in his ability to pull heartstrings while conveying indelible (if occasionally incoherent) messages. What a lovely surprise to find a hitherto unknown (to me anyway) film that at least engages the heart in much the same way, if not the soul. There are plot holes and loose threads and I cannot in all conscience call it a good film; but I was quickly engaged by a story whose loony details and characters are easy to grow fond of. Laxmikant Pyarelal provided some nice tunes for it too, and if the message is simplistic—“Love your mother, do an honest day’s work, and don’t sell out your country”—at least it makes good sense!

September 9, 2010

Oh! The pretty!

I’ve managed to get my hands on some Filmindia magazines from 1946. Naturally I will share the juiciest items from Baburao Patels’s witty pen, but right now I am just loving the beautiful color plates of these lovely actresses.

September 4, 2010

Patanga (1948)

After the hideous Dulhan, you might think that I would run screaming towards the present for solace rather than further back into the past. But this film was too tempting, with its catchy and familiar songs (“Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon” being justifiably the best known), its array of character and comic actors, and the extremely handsome and personable Shyam beckoning. Also, I just really never learn. And I was mostly nicely entertained by what began as a sort of Marx Brothers-type film with lots of sight gags and silly situations, and evolved into an intriguing story with an interesting romantic tangle—all punctuated by the joie de vivre of truly fantastic musical numbers (C Ramchandra). The only flaw is that the dvd didn’t stop working before the end. I could have really lived without the last twenty minutes or so.

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