Posts tagged ‘AK Hangal’

August 12, 2012

Dak Ghar (1966)

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!

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 7, 2010

Sholay (1975)

How many dvd versions of Sholay does one need to have? Depending upon your level of OCD, it could be three or even four. Sadly, there is no definitive version—they all have their issues, plus there are two different endings: the theatrical release with a censor-imposed ending, and the “director’s cut” with Ramesh Sippy’s original—and much much more powerful—one intact. Plus, none of the dvd versions have subtitled songs, one of my biggest pet peeves. I have no idea why the Sippys or anybody else have not bothered to try and do something wonderful with this film, but nothing surprises me when it comes to the Indian film and dvd industry anymore.

August 9, 2010

Hum Paanch (1980)

(Which shall henceforth be known to me as Hum PUNCH.)

I guess I should begin by talking about the really interesting cast of this film: Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Raj Babbar, Amrish Puri, Mithun Chakraborty, Deepti Naval, Sanjeev Kumar, AK Hangal and Kanhaiyalal. Crazy!! My eyes got wider and wider as the credits rolled by. Halfway into the film I scribbled on my notepad: I love this movie! And I did! It was thought-provoking, interesting, sensitively handled, well-acted and gorgeously photographed on location in Karnataka.

But then it went off the rails, combining revenge masala with religion-mythology in a recipe which I am certain my father would tell my mother to go ahead and throw away. Thoughtful became jingoistic, interesting turned to predictable and cliched, sensitive handling and good acting were tossed out the window in favor of bulging eyeballs and sequinned jumpsuits. What a shame!

November 23, 2009

Khoon Bhari Maang (1988)

And of tortuous eye-searing aesthetics! It also defies convention in its lack of a “hero”: all this film needs is Rekha. What a presence she has indeed!

By any standards (even mine) it cannot be called a good film. But I was never tempted to stop watching. I only ever even paused, in fact, long enough to refill my wine glass. How Bollywood manages to consistently churn out things which are dreadful but riveting is a mystery to me. Gemma liked this one too, because the cast included two highly intelligent animals: Raja the horse, and Jumbo the dog. She barked at both of them gleefully, no doubt in encouragement for their perspicacity and valiant attempts to combat evil.

August 27, 2009

Immaan Dharam (1977)

immaan_dharam

I normally would not bother writing about this film since Beth and the PPCC have already covered it in their usual stellar and thorough fashion. But they mostly liked this, and I hated it. Part of the reason is that it was *almost* good. It should have been, could have been! It had a great cast and good songs! But even the goodness of Shashi+Amitabh is not adequate compensation for being smashed over the head with a sermon that I disagree with, especially when it’s done largely to compensate for the lack of a real script (by Salim-Javed, no less). “Clutch your [Bible, Quran, Gita, other] and trust in your blind faith!” it trumpets. Just the kind of pablum that a world overrun with corruption, greed and poverty needs, right?

October 14, 2008

Star (1982)

I had long ago decided that two or three 1980s-era Hindi disco movies was probably enough for me. But in the interests of a well-rounded filmi education, I needed to see a Kumar Gaurav movie; after all, he is Rajendra Kumar’s son and Sanjay Dutt’s brother-in-law. So I braved this one, and was surprised to find it quite sweet and very watchable.

Largely this was thanks to the afore-mentioned star son himself: he is just as cute as a button, making his character one you can really root for. Especially when he suffers under a Ma who really should have thought twice before she brought children into the world and Saeed Jaffrey (love him!) as the villain of the piece. I even actually liked the songs (by Biddu), although Indian disco is not usually my cup of tea.

September 7, 2008

Namak Haraam (1973)

When people roll their eyes and scoff at “Bollywood” this is the kind of film it’s nice to have on hand to prove all their misconceptions wrong. It is a powerful social drama with great performances from everyone and a tightly written (Gulzar) and directed (Hrishikesh Mukherjee) story. There’s not a minute wasted. It’s sad—and you know I hate sad—but it’s a film I’m glad I’ve seen and would heartily recommend, though my swollen eyes may never recover. Wah!

Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan are paired again as best friends after Anand, and are superb. And Om Shivpuri (who is inextricably linked in my brain to evil Mr. Oberoi in Disco Dancer) delivers in a small but pivotal role as an unscrupulous businessman. The core issue—socialism as a cure for the plight of the middle and lower classes (and a responsibility of the wealthy) still seems as relevant today as it was thirty-five years ago.

August 11, 2007

Chhupa Rustam (1973)

A visual feast of a movie—another Vijay Anand fun-filled frolic, with beautiful scenery, fabulous fashions and an engaging plot that moves along at a good clip. It has Hema Malini at her gorgeous best, Dev Anand as smooth as ever, and—best of all—Vijay himself in a role he clearly relished. Bad guys Ajit, Prem Chopra and Premnath are as baaaad as only they can be. It’s obvious that a good time was had by all in the making of this film.

It was filmed in Himachal Pradesh, and the landscapes are breathtaking:

cr_scenery.jpg

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