August 23, 2012
This gleefully patriotic and decidedly low-budget spy movie is the brainchild of the legendary (to some of us anyway) fedora-loving actor-director-producer Nisar Ahmad Ansari, and it is also Faryal’s debut film. It stars other Ansari favorites Bela Bose, Nilofar, Pradeep Kumar, Johnny Walker and a host of lurking henchpeople. I watched it without the benefit of subtitles and therefore missed any subtleties there may have been, but all anyone really needs to know is that India’s “top two Security Agents” are chasing bad guys who want to get their hands on a microphillum giving away military installations, bridge locations, and “all hamara important documents.” Plus, Ted Lyons & His Cubs back up gorgeous Bela, and it contains one of my very favorite Edwina songs: and all the music is fabulous really, from Chitalkar Ramchandra.
Like all Ansari movies and others of its ilk, this is like watching enthusiastic hormonally-charged teenaged boys playing cops and robbers, and I mean that only in a good way. Rife with silly and largely pointless disguises, beeping gadgets, guns, coded musical messages, and pretty dancing girls, it is oodles of loony fun.
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August 15, 2012
I watched this with Carla (Filmigeek), who liked it more than I did possibly thanks to the dazzling spectacle that is Sharmila in a swimsuit. For me it was ruined on the mystery front by obvious red herrings thrown at me like bricks and then left unexplained; and elsewhere by the insistence of the men who supposedly “loved” Sharmila (including the hero, argggghh Shashi) threatening repeatedly to kill her if she didn’t do what they wanted. There was fun to be had in some foot-tapping Kalyanji-Anandji musical numbers (and background score) and the general gorgeous sixties ishtyle of Shashi and Sharmila (what splendid alliteration!), but it didn’t quite make up for the annoyances above and a sad lack of gadgetry, lairs or any other kind of embellishment which might have made it less predictable.
Khair. You cannot always win everything.
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August 12, 2012
This is a very unusual and bittersweet film based on a Rabindranath Tagore story about the last few days of a dying boy named Amal (an unforgettable Sachin). Produced by the Children’s Film Society, I suppose it can be categorized as a children’s film, although as with most good children’s movies it is entertaining for adults too and a little bit dark. Children may not entirely understand what’s going on, although in my personal experience they understand a lot more than adults give them credit for. The movie weaves together fantasy and reality as lonely Amal—trapped inside the house by the local pandit-doctor’s (AK Hangal) orders—chatters with an assortment of passersby and villagers, and daydreams about venturing forth and seeing the world beyond his horizons. As the story unwinds fantasy gradually takes over from reality as Amal fades, much to the distress of his adoptive father Madho (Satyendra Kapoor). The sets are deliberately “stagey” and candy-colored which enhances the fairy tale effect, and the photography is lush, with lovely music by Madan Mohan (lyrics and dialogue courtesy of Kaifi Azmi).
I must above all thank Raja for subtitling this for me—if anyone has this film and would like the subtitle files, please let me know and I’ll send them to you. Thanks Raja!
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August 7, 2012
I enjoy celebrating the “behind the scenes” contributors to Hindi cinema history as much as I do the actors (and dancers). One such person is Vrajendra Gaur, who wrote dialogues and screenplays for such favorites of mine as Howrah Bridge, China Town, Teen Deviyan, Kati Patang, and Sharmilee. His career spanned the 1940s through the 1970s, ending with The Great Gambler in 1979. Recently his son Suneel Gaur reached out to me asking if I wanted to see a photograph of his father with Rajesh Khanna; of course I did, and of course I pestered him for more. There is always more, and indeed that is the case here. And I must just add that I think the photograph above left, of Mr. Gaur with Dilip Kumar, is one of the sweetest pictures I have ever seen. They look so young, so full of promise, and like fast friends indeed.
The prolific writer-lyricist-director-author-poet-journalist died 32 years ago on August 7th 1980, and his sons Suneel and Rajesh Gaur pay tribute to their father on his death anniversary (and all of the photographs are courtesy of them too).
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August 4, 2012
I love a good daku-drama, and Dara Singh makes one very satisfyingly manly dacoit (I mean, he is the guy who later carved “MARD” into his infant son’s chest). This film is surprisingly serious much of the time though, with an unexpected (at least to me) ending; it’s not his usual lighthearted type of stunt film although there is plenty of delicious fun to be had nonetheless. Director Mohammed Hussain has long been one of my more prolific and dependable favorites, having delivered the crazy likes of Faulad, Shikari, Main Hoon Aladdin, CID 909, Teesra Kaun, and on and on). For the cast he has roped in his usual stalwarts, including Helen as heroine and perpetually belligerent Shyam Kumar in a Prince Valiant wig. And of course, being a “B-movie” it has beautiful music too, with lively dances from the gorgeous Bela Bose, Madhumati and Rani, among others.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
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July 30, 2012
This is one of the strangest films I’ve seen in a very long time. It clocked in at a little over 2 hours, so I am not sure if there were pivotal scenes missing or what, but I spent the entire time feeling like I was playing catch-up and losing rather badly. Certainly Kamal Amrohi had a lot he wanted to convey, but he seemed to also want to keep us guessing at whatever it was. It did strike me that it is a movie about assumptions: assumptions that the characters and the audience make are turned over and inside out one by one. That could have been interesting; but the story is excruciatingly slow and largely unrewarding, like watching paint dry in the burning sun on a hot sticky day (but slower and more agonizing) and then realizing the color has turned red instead of the blue you wanted.
One of my major issues with it is that none of the characters are terribly well-developed, so that instead of being involved with their stories I feel much more like a neutral spectator, held at arm’s length from any real emotion. That could have been intentional, but it doesn’t work for me. My favorite thing about the film is probably the music, composed by the hitherto unknown to me Jamal Sen. It is pretty mournful (the whole thing is really), but very very beautiful indeed from the opening title music to the end.
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July 27, 2012
We have added two wonderful movies to our film selection on the Edu Productions page starring two of Hindi cinema’s most beautiful luminaries: Prabhat’s Amar Jyoti (1936) starring Durga Khote as a pirate queen, and Kamal Amrohi’s hard to find Daaera (1953) starring Meena Kumari.
Check them out, along with the other movies there if you haven’t yet. Subtitled by Raja and Ava, video cleaned up by Tom; you can either watch them on YouTube or download the DVD files (as always, follow Tom’s excellent included instructions). Enjoy!
July 20, 2012
This is maybe not the post I should choose to write in memory of Rajesh Khanna, but it happened to already be under construction and he was so charming in the film…so why not? One shouldn’t defy kismat.
I loved this lunatic movie. It cannot by any stretch be called either well-written or even wildly original, but it is solidly entertaining if you like this sort of thing (illogical melodrama) which I do. Infants are switched at birth for nefarious purposes and spirited away for good ones; one of the villains is a bitter hunchback; we have con artists conning each other, a mute illiterate downtrodden mother trying to communicate a terrible secret (and failing) for years and years and years, divine intervention at moments of sheer despair, and the Rainbow Splendor of Disco—a mishmash that makes this one hard to forget. Laxmikant Pyarelal’s music is good fun, and I love the cast, too: even the completely age-inappropriate Rajesh Khanna-Tina Munim pairing works, maybe because Tina’s character is so worldly-wise that she doesn’t seem young. Plus Rajesh seems to be enjoying himself thoroughly, as he should, and is very handsome indeed.
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July 18, 2012
I woke up to more sad news this morning: another Memsaab favorite, Rajesh Khanna, has passed away. It is not a surprise, really; anyone seeing his frail frame over the last months knew that he was very ill. But in typical Rajesh fashion, he kept the facts to himself and his loved ones and let the speculation run rampant. As a latecomer to the phenomenon that was Rajesh Khanna, with possibly a slightly more objective view of things (only possibly and slightly), I have always been struck by the frenzy—both negative and positive—around him. Even his appearance recently in an ad for Havells fans brought controversy, with many feeling that he had been mocked without being aware of it. I said it then, and I’ll say it now: I think people, even many of his fans, constantly underrated Kaka’s intelligence, sensitivity and sense of humor. I think he knew very well that the ad was playing on his lost superstardom, and I think he thought it was funny.
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July 17, 2012
A daku-drama in the iconic mold of Manmohan Desai—what could possibly go wrong? Not much, I am pleased to report, at least as far as the film itself goes. The people in it suffer plenty, though, especially Feroz Khan’s angsty dacoit tortured by amnesia and an inexplicable phobia of water-pumps. Writer/director Chand hits every masala note he can think of even if not much is done with some of them (religious imagery, for instance, seems thrown in there for no good reason). A young family broken up, lockets and tattoos, socially respectable but morally bankrupt villains, blood transfusions replete with filmi irony (get it? irony? sorry), plus all the standard dacoit movie delights (beautiful horses, black pagris, tilaks, golden earrings), and a great cast make this one a complete paisa vasool winner.
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