It’s been a while since I posted one of these, and I can’t resist this cute little girl! Who is she? Bonus points for film name and other trivia associated with it!
And thanks to Surjit Singh for the source!
Here we have another formulaic daku-drama, by which I mean I loved it. So many throbbing neck veins (Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna, Ajit)! So many ferocious eyeball-to-eyeball staredowns! So many lines spat out through clenched jaws—and Prem Chopra nowhere in sight! So many manly men named Singh!
It is chock-full of Man Candy; pretty, pretty horses; the usual assortment of terrible wigs that do nobody any favors; men in hoop earrings; and that love which passeth all understanding—the unconditional bhai-bhai rishtaa. Hema Malini provides the Woman Candy and is the feisty catalyst for the eventual showdown between brothers and rivals. Plus, wonderful music from Kalyanji Anandji, including some funked-up title music!
A lot of westerners (although not me) are introduced to Hindi movies through the fantastic music of the 1960s and 1970s. There are a number of CD compilations out there: Bollywood Funk, Bollywood Funk Experience, Bombay Connection: Funk from Bollywood. You get the picture! If I knew anything about music I would ramble on here about how funk is what happens when you mix rock with Motown and James Brown and then drop too much acid before getting on stage. All I really know for sure is that during the 1970s while I listened to George Clinton and Parliament sing “We Want the Funk” I had no idea that a bunch of music composers in India were listening to them too and incorporating their sound into Indian film songs that I would one day also truly love.
I had no idea either that Indian costume designers were at least as sartorially adventurous as George Clinton, but there you have it!
Like the other two of this silent-era triad which I’ve written about here, this Indian-German collaboration produced by Himansu Rai and directed by Franz Osten is a visual feast. Filmed outdoors on location and beautifully photographed, it’s the story of Empress Mumtaz and the Taj Mahal (based on a play by Niranjan Pal) with some creative twists and turns. As with A Throw Of Dice, Himansu Rai loses the girl to Charu Roy; but sweet-faced Seeta Devi plays villainess here instead of heroine with a relish that steals the show.
If you are enticed by a story built on more than a few ludicrous suppositions and where skin color informs character, you might enjoy Gora Aur Kala. Or you might think—as I did more than once—that the racism inherent in all of it is so despicable that even Madan Puri atop a Disco Throne (before disco!) and the delicious irony of medically separated Siamese twin princes being separated again by fate hardly make up for it. But then again, it is all so very very over-the-top that I giggled at least as much as I cringed.