Archive for June, 2012

June 27, 2012

Supermen of Malegaon (2008)

Malegaon is a struggling town about 300 km northeast of Mumbai, where the local industry is mostly powerloom weaving, poverty is rampant, and communal tension between Hindus and Muslims is constant. Like most places in India, the townspeople are crazy for cinema; but in this one some of them on the Muslim side of the river have taken that obsession a step further. A former video-parlor owner named Nasir Sheikh decided to make a parody of Sholay ten years ago called Malegaon Ke Sholay, armed only with a hand-held video camera, two VCR players for editing, and his considerable imagination. Gabbar Singh became Rubber Singh, and Basanti, Basmati. The famous train scene from that movie was changed to dacoits on bicycles trying to rob a bus. His friends and neighbors pitched in, and the film ran to appreciative audiences for weeks. The team went on to make localized spoofs of other hit films (Malegaon Ki Lagaan, Malegaon Ke Karan Arjun, Malegaon Ka Rangeela, etc.), and in 2007 decided to spread their wings and take on Hollywood—and Superman.

Mumbai-based director Faiza Ahmad Khan took a crew to film these entrepreneurs making their Malegaon Ka Superman and this absolutely delightful (and film festival award-winning) documentary is the result.

June 22, 2012

Miss Frontier Mail (1936)

It seems fitting that this is the post to celebrate my five years of blogging! I never dreamed on June 22, 2007 when I created Memsaabstory that it would become such a big part of my life and be the catalyst for so much learning and so many wonderful and rewarding friendships. I never dreamed that people would embrace the insanity that leads me to do things like this and this and this (and this, okay I’m stopping now), and I certainly had no idea how generously people would share their treasures with me. This is one such gift.

Miss Frontier Mail is utterly charming, made with the usual Wadia enthusiasm and attention to loony detail. The “Indian Pearl White” is certainly the focus, but she is more than ably supported by gangsters who balk at being dastardly, a fearsome spy-movie “Boss” precursor and his go-getter female assistant, futuristic gadgets, thrilling fights and chases, a banana-loving buffoon and so much more. It often feels very much like a silent movie, starting off with only music and no dialogue until seven or eight minutes in; title pages are interspersed throughout, the acting is exaggerated, and you can often hear the camera whirring. Like the Frontier Mail train itself, it picks up speed quickly and we’re off on a rollicking good ride as Fearless Nadia battles comic-book villains between dainty sips of tea in her fabulous Art Deco house. It is a literal and figurative rush of trains, motorcars, motorcycles and even an airplane!

June 18, 2012

Raaj Kumar: 1972 interview

Apparently “Jaani” was not just mysteriously charismatic in his films, but an enigma off screen as well, and gleefully so! I had promised someone a while ago that I would publish this interview, which appeared in the June 1972 issue of Stardust magazine. I find Raaj Kumar very intriguing as well and enjoyed reading this somewhat fawning piece on him by Uma Rao, who was clearly awed as much by his magnetism in person as I am when I see him on screen. He comes across to me somewhat like a cat playing with a little star-struck mouse.

I’m working on more film posts but work is very busy these days—use my radio silence as an opportunity to get to know this actor slightly better (via the pdf file below). Enjoy!

Raaj Kumar 1972

June 7, 2012

Tarzan Aur Jadui Chirag (1966)

Unique Pictures present a very UNIQUE PICTURE indeed. How I love the Indian penchant for stirring a hodgepodge of fantasy stories into one big pot. In addition to Tarzan and his magic lamp (and its Genie resident, with no Aladdin in sight), there are:

  • A Cyclops King Kong
  • Ooga-booga tribals
  • Stolen footage from another Tarzan film featuring a lion fight
  • A “Chinese” magician named Bing Pong
  • Bing Pong’s own genie
  • A man in an ape suit gorilla
  • Tun Tun
  • A python-eagle fight
  • A hilarious moose costume
  • A chicken-headed idol

June 4, 2012

Edwina: my Mehmood story

Mehmood (center back) with his siblings, including Minoo Mumtaz.
(Image from Anwar Ali’s now-defunct website)

While Edwina was staying with me last October and November, she told me many fun stories about her days as a dancer. None was better than this one about Mehmood, although she was hesitant to share it until she saw all the comments she received on the articles about her over at Madhu’s blog. Now she’s ready to spill all, beginning with the reasons she held back, in her own inimitable voice! (My mother asked her why she capitalized words so randomly, and Edwina replied that she capitalized anything she thought important. I love that. We still don’t know why she eschews punctuation but we’re glad she does.)

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