Archive for December, 2011

December 29, 2011

From the archives: animals and children

I fret a lot about the welfare of animals and children I see onscreen (not just in Indian movies either), and it turns out that I should! But I will say that between the two articles from vintage Stardust magazines that I’ve attached here, the animals sound a lot better off than poor child star Kumari (Baby) Naaz. I’ve often wondered why such a good actress—who grew up into a truly beautiful woman—didn’t become a heroine, and she pretty much explains why in this interview (I love the writer’s purple prose: I doubt very much that Naaz even once “screamed”). You can also read more about her here.

The second article is a fascinating look “behind the scenes” into the world of the men and women who train our Motis and Badals and Rajas. Enjoy!

Baby Naaz
Anipals

December 23, 2011

Safari (1999)

This is a very silly adaptation of “Crocodile Dundee” which I love frankly because Sanjay Dutt is so freaking sexy in it. I’m even glad there are no subtitles, because it would be sad to have text cluttering up the screen and possibly partially obscuring him. There is other fun stuff too, like a wooden killer crocodile a la Khoon Bhari Maang and a “Pagal Gorilla” (actual dialogue not made up by me), but the main reason I watch this is Sanju. If he doesn’t do it for you, there’s Juhi Chawla, who would definitely be on any list of superb comediennes that I might make. In a role which could have been grating she is just adorable and hilarious, despite being flogged by the frilly excesses of Nineties ishtyle and a lot of mud.

December 18, 2011

Mini-review: Dharkan (1972)

With a hero like this, who even needs a villain?

December 16, 2011

Elaan (1971)

This film is exactly why I feel blessed to have discovered Hindi cinema. As Beth said in her review of it this summer, I live in fear of running out of movies like this. Elaan is more fun than anyone ought to be allowed to have, and if it had subtitles my head would probably explode (but please, somebody, subtitle it anyway). The lunatic story (featuring a ring of invisibility that only works when you put it in your mouth) is presented with great relish and plenty of style, and manages to stay on track and is nicely paced. Even the flaws only add to its charms. And all this is embellished with the finest fashions and set decoration the Seventies had to offer!

December 12, 2011

The Cat Wall-Hanging

I have now seen this particular place in four different films spanning nine years. Originally I thought it was a set, but it now seems difficult to believe that a set would remain so unchanged over that time frame. Almost nothing does change, except the dining table chairs and floor coverings! The light fixtures remain almost identical, as do the altar (?) beside the second door, the stone walls, the stairs, the ceilings—and of course the Cat Wall-Hanging.

Surely if it were a set, different art directors would have changed it from film to film and most certainly from year to year, don’t you think? Especially since the whole thing is really retro-hideous (which is why I love it so).

(left to right: Namak Haraam—1973, Chorni—1981)

December 8, 2011

Guest post: Bhudo Advani

I first met reader Arunkumar Deshmukh over at Atul’s Song A Day blog, where he continually bowls us all over with his crystal-clear memory of pretty much every Hindi film ever made, it seems. No matter how obscure the movie, Arunkumarji can give you the plot and many other details of its making. He has also been instrumental in helping me identify character actors, so you can imagine how glad I was when he emailed to say that he had written a piece on comedian and character actor Bhudo Advani after interviewing Mr. Advani’s son, a neighbor and friend. There is so much “misinformation” about people and events in cinema history out there that it is nice to get the inside scoop from a family member.

Mr. Advani worked in cinema from 1933 until 1977—a whopping 44 years—and I thank Arunkumarji for bringing him some much deserved attention!

Enjoy this look into his life and career.

December 6, 2011

Mine all mine

My subconscious self is much busier than my admittedly very lazy conscious one. But when Subconscious Memsaab stirs Conscious Memsaab into action, watch out! I’d seen these decanters with little music box dancers in them in countless cabaret and drinking songs and when SM finally pinged me to say “You need to have one of these!” I was inspired by this reader to do an eBay search.

Yesterday, my dream came true. All I need to do now is pour in some VAT 69 and I’m all set to pretend I’m Helen.

It even works: the dancers twirl around as “How Dry I Am” plays sweetly. I will try to get my video camera to work (if I can find the battery *eyeroll*) so you can all share in the TRUE GLORY OF IT ALL.

December 2, 2011

Mahal (1969)

The first hour and 45 minutes of this film are solid entertainment: an interesting suspense plot, pretty songs, beautiful Darjeeling, and plenty of sparks between Dev Anand (playing a 28-year-old and basically pulling it off at the age of 46) and Asha Parekh. Plus young Farida Jalal as a seductive nurse! But as so sadly often happens the last 45 minutes or so disappoint. This could be because there seem to be some scenes missing as the story reaches its dramatic peak which make subsequent events confusing and out of place. How edifying would it be to discover the place where all these thoughtlessly excised scenes and songs go to die a largely unmourned death?

Still and all, Mahal is a lot of fun and I’d watch it again.

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