Archive for November, 2011

November 28, 2011

My ten favorite picnic songs

When I was a kid I dreaded the words “Let’s have a picnic!”. Picnics were nothing but an ordeal to get through: weather (the Beiges never let a little cold rain stop us), poison ivy, bugs, indifferent food. My father did not know or care to know how to barbecue so it was always sandwiches, which I could have just as easily eaten indoors where ants weren’t crawling on them.

Little did I dream in those days that halfway across the world beautiful people were picnicking in STYLE—even at night!

November 20, 2011

Lootera (1965)

Let’s face it: Dara Singh is reason enough for me to watch any film, and when the rare subtitled one comes along it’s practically Diwali in my household. So you will understand how much it pains me to say this, but Lootera is a really bad movie. How can a Dara pirate (subtitled “sea dacoit”) film be bad? I am not sure. But Dara and heroine Nishi have zero chemistry, unlike the better if rather less completeĀ Nasihat, and the pacing is just abysmal. The writers keep writing themselves into corners from which they can only escape with overly glib plot developments, and the director fails to understand which parts of the story he should be lavishing time and attention on. It even manages to be sexist, and these sorts of movies are usually a refuge from that.

There were enough things to get me through it: Dara’s ruffled sea dacoit shirts, Prithviraj Kapoor, dancer Kammo as a female sea dacoit, lots of sparkle and terrible wigs, and lovely songs including a Bela Bose dance aboard a sea dacoit ship. Plus the subtitles, inept as they are, are often hilarious. And when I tell you that Memsaab favorites Hiralal, Jeevan and Rajan Haksar vigorously ply their histrionic powers you will understand that subtlety is no hallmark of the acting either (yes, I know I am putting that in the “plus” column, it needs the support).

November 16, 2011

Chakravyuha (1978)

This is a pretty silly adaptation (by Basu Chatterjee, no less!) of Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps which nonetheless manages to be quite satisfying entertainment. Basu Sahab is a little out of his element, but that works for me since I find most of his films similar in nature to watching paint dry. Sticklers for things like continuity, context, and attention to detail might not enjoy it as much as I did; but with my dear friend Suhan translating as we went, it made for a very pleasant afternoon watch-along. There are some of the director’s finer touches here too: authentic settings, intimate and humorous interactions between people, plenty of local color.

November 13, 2011

Biradari (1966)

I really wanted to like this movie—Faryal as a heroine! The Shash as her hero! Lalita Pawar! Pran!—but I was forced to ponder these things instead:

  • Why is Faryal the heroine so much less likable than Faryal the vamp?
  • Is it possible for Prithviraj Kapoor’s sons to pull off being “poor”? (no)
  • How many wimpy roles did Shashi play in the Sixties anyway?
  • Is it better to ignore psychological issues than to completely eff them up?
  • Is there anything funnierĀ than absolutely literal subtitles?
  • Is Lalita Pawar Awesome No Matter What? (yes)
  • Is Pran the Most Suave Villain Ever? (yes again)
  • Have I really seen two movies in a row where Lots of Mehmood wasn’t Too Much?

*Sigh* So much goodness squandered on a story full of trite saccharine platitudes (if you are rich, be kind to the poor; they are people too!) which descends finally into that melodrama I so dread, where the females in the story are either blamed or worshipped and lose any bit of individuality and humanity they might have had.

November 6, 2011

Naughty Boy (1962)

Kishore Kumar is one of those actors (Mehmood being another) who either makes me laugh out loud or completely irritates me. The script, direction and supporting characters make the difference usually, and I think that’s the case (and by “case” I mean problem) here too. Even though Shakti Samanta directed, after about the first hour I was fast-forwarding through more than I watched—not only is the frantic slapstick not funny, but the Curse of the Second Half derails what little entertainment there is. The story manages an interesting turn in the middle but then resolves itself in the stupidest manner possible. Plus the supporting cast are grating—even Madan Puri as a buffoonish bad guy just isn’t funny. In fact Edwina, who watched some of it with me and appears in two songs, asked me how on earth I can sit through such stuff.

She seems quite amazed at my tolerance for total crap, but I’m sure it comes as no surprise to any of you who come here regularly.

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