Archive for October, 2010

October 28, 2010

Puraskar (1970)

Of the seven deadly sins, Gluttony is probably the one to which I am most susceptible (although Sloth is a pretty darn close second). And so, after the delights of Spy In Rome, I found myself signing up for more B-movie punishment—or pleasure!—in the form of Puraskar. I did not expect anything very different from others of its genre, but I was in for a big surprise.

Puraskar may well be the Holy Grail of Indian spy films, a dizzying kaleidoscope of insane costumes, melodrama, blinking Christmas tree lights, and enough characters and plot for three ordinary films. This crazy epic contains every story cliche known to man and then some (this I know even without subtitles), and the scenery of Kashmir—those beautiful mountains and lakes—is chewed up and spit out with a vengeance I have rarely witnessed. Plus we are treated to two fabtastic RD Burman cabaret numbers courtesy of Helen and Faryal (who also have substantial roles).

October 25, 2010

Spy In Rome (1968)

I watched two films this weekend with plots completely lacking in any sense or logic. One of them was a mainstream film (Akeli Mat Jaiyo) starring Meena Kumari and Rajendra Kumar and I am not going to write about it because, frankly, it was dull and stupid and Dusted Off has already said all that needs to be said about it. The other was Spy In Rome; and despite its very thin shoestring budget, nothing of which was spent on a writer, it managed to keep me pretty entertained. It firmly occupies a seat at that rotating bar where people with seemingly no aptitude for filmmaking—and no money for it either—down a lot of imagination-fueling substances and then stagger off to make their dream projects.

October 21, 2010

Do Anjaane (1976)

Man insists on marrying Woman, although Woman says plainly and clearly that she doesn’t want to get married, to him or anyone else: she wants to dance and see the world. Then he is shocked—shocked!—when she is unhappy and feels trapped.

October 19, 2010

Jail Yatra (1981)

Even though I have already watched an Eighties film this year, I decided to risk another since this looked basically harmless and kind of fluffy. And indeed it mostly does resemble a stuffed animal: cute on the outside (Vinod Khanna in mechanics’ overalls, Reena Roy in bright sarees, Ashok Kumar as a kindly benefactor) and comfortably squishy on the inside (story elements we’ve seen a gazillion times before). Even villain Amjad Khan is too well-fed and portly to seem threatening. It’s Bhappi Sonie at the helm, after all: he’s generally benign.

Until the end, when a woman’s honor is deemed more important than her happiness or her safety. Sigh. And Nirupa Roy turns on all the waterworks because she has ruined her own life, although naturally she blames fate and not herself. Sigh again. But I don’t expect much else from the era, and up to that point there is fun—and plenty of eye candy—to be had.

October 15, 2010

John Goldfarb, Please Come Home (1965)

This is mostly a Hindi film blog, but I grew up on a strict diet of Hollywood (those are my people!). There were early signs that one day the magic lunacy of “B” grade Indian cinema would suck me in, and my adoration of this admittedly not-classic is one of them. Interestingly when I began looking for it in earnest earlier this year I discovered another parallel: it’s not out on dvd and so I ended up with a pirated version made from a vhs tape. I hadn’t seen it since the mid-70s, when I saw it on television one fine afternoon after school. All I could really remember was that it made me laugh until I cried and had sheikhs, harem girl Shirley MacLaine, a seriously catchy title tune and a military pilot nicknamed “Wrong-Way Goldfarb” who couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag.

October 14, 2010

Filmindia covers 1946

Work is interfering with my blogging time once again. So I’ll let Baburao Patel’s Filmindia magazines entertain us for a while.

Equating cigarette smoking with Paradise since 1946!

October 10, 2010

Stereotyping and ignorance

Filmi Girl drew my attention to this amazingly uninformed review of the much-talked-about Rajnikant release Endhiran. Now I have not seen Endhiran and so cannot say if I would agree with Roger Moore’s assessment of the film’s merits or not; but that isn’t the point here. I do know that were I writing a professional review as a journalist I would try to avoid such easy-to-research mistakes as calling it a Bollywood picture and criticizing lead actress Aishwarya Rai’s singing voice. And if I did make a mistake (as everyone does on occasion) I would be a whole lot more gracious in acknowledging it than he was in responding to a polite comment pointing out that Bollywood is the term for Hindi language cinema and Endhiran is a Tamil film, where the industry is usually referred to as Kollywood.

October 8, 2010

Gaddar (1973)

True confession: I really can’t sit still through an entire Hindi movie without getting up to fidget. I wake up Gemma and irritate pet her, check my email, pour another glass of wine. The films are just so long and my attention span so short. But during this one I didn’t want to MOVE—I was positively riveted to my chair. There is no romance, no hero-heroine (and only three songs, each one a gem): it is an ensemble film, and what an ensemble it is! The finest character-actor-villains of the time play cohorts in crime who are joined by thief Vinod Khanna when one of them betrays the others. It is stylish and suspenseful entertainment at its best.

October 6, 2010

Toote Khilone (1978)

First of all, thank you to Robert for converting his vhs tape of this film to a dvd for me. It is one more enigma of Indian cinema that this isn’t readily available on a dvd with subtitles: it was produced by and starred Shekhar Kapur (of Mr. India, Bandit Queen and Elizabeth fame) along with his girlfriend at the time Shabana Azmi (obviously a renowned actress herself), and is directed by Ketan Anand, son of Chetan. Although it isn’t entirely successful, it is an interesting film. It’s a story about a little boy who grows up longing to be rid of the strictures which his father (Utpal Dutt in some truly hideous wigs) has imposed on him, and what happens when he does break free. Had it been as sensitively handled all the way through as it is for the first hour or so, it would have been much better; but it devolves into jarring crowd-pandering antics and leaves the psychological issues unexplored and glibly resolved.

October 2, 2010

Sawan Bhadon (1970)

It’s my understanding that this film was a big hit, and responsible for bringing both Rekha and Navin Nischol to the public’s attention. I am not really sure why, since it is fairly run-of-the-mill stuff; but Sonik-Omi’s songs are lots of fun and the second half did take an unexpected twist just as I was about to nod off. What got me through it were the large assortment of wigs (almost everyone wore them—including the hero—although Shyama’s were particularly fascinating), Jayshree T’s mad dancing skills, a lot of Woman Power, and young whippersnapper Ranjeet as Rekha’s slimy brother (Ranjeeeeeeeet!).

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