Posts tagged ‘Anwar Hussain’

August 23, 2012

Zindagi Aur Maut (1965)

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.

April 16, 2012

Mujhe Jeene Do (1963)

Now with English subtitles!

I’ve said it before and I’m likely to say it again: I love Sunil Dutt as a dacoit. He is just so perfectly suited to the black tilak, the mouche, the gold hoop earrings, the manly bullets slung around his tall form.

October 12, 2011

Kahin Aar Kahin Paar (1971)

This film is exactly what I would picture a big long LSD trip to be like (because of course I have no actual knowledge of one). Although if it were an acid trip, I’d probably be dead now. It is that crazy: I have a pretty high tolerance—some less charitable might even say need—for eye-popping candy-colored visuals, but by the abrupt (and non-existent) end of this my head was exploding. Truly it is a dizzying kaleidoscopic bombardment of Cracktastic that never lets up. Low on budget it might be, but the heights of jugad are certainly scaled.

I also really love the cinematography (Shyam Shiposkar): the camera angles are fantastic. Much of the candy color is probably a result of film deterioration, but here that sad state only adds to the charm.

February 6, 2011

Feel the love! Edwina

My little obsession with—and posts about—the fantastic filmi band Ted Lyons & His Cubs has reaped some nice rewards I never expected, the best of which is that in the past year I have become friends with Ted personally. Through him, I have discovered the amazing extent to which he and his circle of friends and family contributed to films of the 50s and 60s. His wife Lorna’s father was a bandleader in the early days (his band was called Fats Benny), and Ted, his siblings, in-laws and close friends populate the bands and dance floors in so many songs beloved from that era.

Today I want to introduce you to his sister Edwina, who specialized in the fantastic western swing-ballroom-twist types of dance numbers that I so love, and who epitomizes that most expressive Hindi word bindaas. Edwina has become very dear to me over the past year as well, and she is an utter hoot, the kind of girl who even back in those days would (and did) bum a beedi from a group of hijiras on a late night commuter train and smoke it with them.

January 30, 2011

Yakeen (1969)

Why yes, Dharamji, I will. I don’t even care what you want me to do.

I don’t know what it is about him, but for me watching a Dharmendra starrer is like getting a big warm hug. He is just so…comforting and solid, somehow (it’s no wonder he’s my fake-pretend bodyguard). So on a recent snowy night, missing my Dad and needing a sustaining presence, I rewatched Yakeen, one of my early favorite forays into 1960s Hindi cinema. It must be universally acknowledged that two Dharmendras are always better than one, even if one of them has blue eyes and orange hair.

October 19, 2010

Jail Yatra (1981)

Even though I have already watched an Eighties film this year, I decided to risk another since this looked basically harmless and kind of fluffy. And indeed it mostly does resemble a stuffed animal: cute on the outside (Vinod Khanna in mechanics’ overalls, Reena Roy in bright sarees, Ashok Kumar as a kindly benefactor) and comfortably squishy on the inside (story elements we’ve seen a gazillion times before). Even villain Amjad Khan is too well-fed and portly to seem threatening. It’s Bhappi Sonie at the helm, after all: he’s generally benign.

Until the end, when a woman’s honor is deemed more important than her happiness or her safety. Sigh. And Nirupa Roy turns on all the waterworks because she has ruined her own life, although naturally she blames fate and not herself. Sigh again. But I don’t expect much else from the era, and up to that point there is fun—and plenty of eye candy—to be had.

October 8, 2010

Gaddar (1973)

True confession: I really can’t sit still through an entire Hindi movie without getting up to fidget. I wake up Gemma and irritate pet her, check my email, pour another glass of wine. The films are just so long and my attention span so short. But during this one I didn’t want to MOVE—I was positively riveted to my chair. There is no romance, no hero-heroine (and only three songs, each one a gem): it is an ensemble film, and what an ensemble it is! The finest character-actor-villains of the time play cohorts in crime who are joined by thief Vinod Khanna when one of them betrays the others. It is stylish and suspenseful entertainment at its best.

May 27, 2010

Tu Nahin Aur Sahi (1960)

One of things I find so fascinating about Hindi cinema is how many people there are who had the ability to carry a film no matter how dreary the story and their co-stars. That some of these people have been almost criminally ignored, by and large, is a subject for another day. I would not have made it through this one without the sparkly and mesmerizing presence of Minoo Mumtaz. She has some support in the presence of Anwar Hussain, a spectacular Helen dance and lovely songs from Ravi; but even Kum Kum can’t overcome her sanctimonious dialogues and Nishi has the dubious honor of playing one of the most hateful female characters ever. Pradeep Kumar is the nominal hero and I will leave that to speak for itself.

April 9, 2010

Mera Saaya (1966)

I have long been meaning to watch this Raj Khosla film again. I saw it a few years ago but remembered little about it except one Sadhana dance which is spectacular: “Jhumka Gira Re Bareilly Ki Bazaar Mein” and a vague feeling that it was pretty good. And it is pretty good—really good in fact! I was riveted and (thanks to my dismal memory) not completely sure I had the mystery figured out until the very end. The performances from Sunil Dutt and Sadhana are wonderful, and the competently plotted story moves along briskly with tension building ever so gradually: the direction and editing are masterful. It’s also beautifully photographed and just chock-full of pretty, especially the locations in Udaipur (and Sunil and Sadhana!). Any quibbles I have are minor: the end is a bit flat after the marvellous buildup, and I got tired of the title song after the umpteenth time hearing it—pretty as it is—but that’s about it.

January 10, 2010

Anokhi Raat (1968)

Oh, how I loved this film. It is an absolutely riveting and heartwrenching story, with fine performances and stunningly beautiful songs (Roshan’s last—the film is dedicated to him). The background music is superb too, by Salil Chowdhury; and the black and white cinematography is lush and gorgeous, with richly patterned detail and stunning closeups of the characters. I am running short of superlatives! The message is nothing new (see screenshot above) but the treatment—nuanced, balanced—is unusual.

It is interesting to see actors I am less familiar with, too. Zaheeda, the heroine, is a niece of Nargis and Anwar Hussain (also in this), and she looks so much like Nargis sometimes that it’s startling. And Parikshat Sahni (son of Balraj, whom I just saw as Farhan’s father in 3 Idiots) made his debut with a central role here: such a natural actor, and so handsome too! Tarun Bose, Aruna Irani, Anwar Hussain, Badri Prasad and Mukri add able support as well. But the film really belongs to Sanjeev Kumar as a simple and sweet villager who is transformed by events into a dacoit with a big price on his head.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 799 other followers