November 26, 2010
There is really only one compelling reason to watch Ponga Pandit: the costume designer (credited as Manorama Ralhan, who—judging from her other film assignments—I would guess was married to OP Ralhan).
This is a movie where an Elvis poster competing for wall space with a picture of a skinny fuchsia guy and a pair of teepee chairs are not the most startling visuals in the room. Plus, Go-Go Barbie goes practically unnoticed!
For a much better and way more progressive version of the basic story (if, you know, that’s what’s important to you), watch Mem Sahib from 1956 instead.
November 23, 2010
This has been a month full of distractions both good and bad, with a week’s vacation in northern California (good), a sick dog and an increasingly incomprehensible paterfamilias (bad). I haven’t felt much like writing, although I have still been watching lots of fillums. But now you can listen in as I talk with friends and fellow bloggers Amrita (Indiequill) and Beth (Loves Bollywood) about the origins and treatment of my obsession with Hindi cinema’s character actors. Download or play it over at their new podcast-blog Masala Zindabad—we had a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy the conversation; and stay tuned for Part 2 (now up)!
November 22, 2010
Can a film about a spineless man bullied by his suspicious wife be fun? I admit, I had my doubts. Men complaining about their nagging wives get on my last good nerve. Maybe she’s nagging you because you deserve it! Maybe she was always a nagger and you married her anyway! I don’t have any patience for people (male or female) who claim other people are responsible for their own bad behavior. Khair. I saw this movie long ago in the initial throes of my Helen pyaar and didn’t remember much about it outside of her spectacular song. But my developing fondness for Kiran Kumar, who hit my radar with Jangal Mein Mangal—made by the same team with many of the same actors and a movie I thoroughly enjoyed—decided me on a rewatch.
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November 15, 2010
My feisty best friend Asha P. calls to ask me to come cheer on the sports team she captains. Shashi offers to walk over with me and Gemma; since we are always proud to be seen with my stylish and handsome brother-in-law, and it is a beautiful afternoon, we happily set forth. Alas, we arrive at the playing field to discover that the opposing “Heroes” team is unfortunately anything but: led by their crazy-eyed coach Amrish Puri, they are cheating like mad.
Shetty says nothing, but his shiny bald head and bulging muscles are intimidating. Ajit on the other hand is quite vocal, shouting lunatic threats of world domination and lobbing firecrackers in all directions. The Heroes have in fact scored one goal already, probably by accident.
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November 11, 2010
One of the best things about the internet is how much easier it is to find information about people you are interested in. Of course, the downside is that much of it is misinformation, which makes it all the nicer when you stumble across a source that you can have faith in—such as a family member! Of course for we fans of old Hindi cinema, there is still not much out there; this makes me even more grateful when someone like Rakesh Anand Bakshi contacts me. Rakesh is genuinely interested in preserving and sharing his great lyricist father Anand Bakshi’s legacy, and so he should be. Anand Bakshi wrote lyrics for more than 600 Hindi films, including many huge hits and many of my more obscure favorites too!
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November 9, 2010
Regular readers here know that by and large I adore Manmohan Desai and his films and can mostly forgive him for anything except Ganga Jamuna Saraswati. It has long been my great sorrow that two of his movies, Shararat and this one, are not available with subtitles. Manmohan Desai’s complicated plotting has always seemed daunting without them and though I have had both films for a long time I never quite had the courage to watch them. So imagine my great joy when I finally sat down with this one and (despite no doubt missing many nuances) could actually follow what was going on. There is a lot going on!
As is usual for him, he sets up the many characters and plot threads masterfully. Creating a web of relationships torn apart by misunderstandings and loss, he carries us along breathlessly rooting for our protagonists to *just stop already* missing each other by mere inches and find their way back to the lives they should be leading. As is also usual for him, the last 45 minutes or so go completely and a tad disappointingly off the rails into Crazy-land, taking the focus away from the pure emotional joy of the reunion(s), but never mind.
I still love this film.
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November 7, 2010
How many dvd versions of Sholay does one need to have? Depending upon your level of OCD, it could be three or even four. Sadly, there is no definitive version—they all have their issues, plus there are two different endings: the theatrical release with a censor-imposed ending, and the “director’s cut” with Ramesh Sippy’s original—and much much more powerful—one intact. Plus, none of the dvd versions have subtitled songs, one of my biggest pet peeves. I have no idea why the Sippys or anybody else have not bothered to try and do something wonderful with this film, but nothing surprises me when it comes to the Indian film and dvd industry anymore.
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