Posts tagged ‘Balraj Sahni’

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!

January 24, 2011

Hanste Zakhm (1973)

I am very happy that this was not the first Chetan Anand film I saw, because it then may well have been my last, robbing me of films I really love (notably Aakhri Khat and Taxi Driver, but also HaqeeqatAandhiyan and Kudrat). I have only ever seen Priya Rajvansh in Kudrat and Haqeeqat, and although I liked her fine in both of those I gathered from comments that her reputation as an actress is…well. Let’s just say I understand those comments perfectly now. She pretty much single-handedly destroys this film with her nails-on-a-chalkboard performance. I have never been so irritated by someone’s voice and demeanor in my whole life.

Having said that, I will also add that even without her I would have found Hanste Zakhm disappointing. The story had potential to be path-breaking—I loved the beginning, and it could have developed into something truly thoughtful and interesting; but instead it took the safe (ie ultra-conservative) road and fell flat on its face.

September 1, 2010

Tarun Bose (Part 6): Sweet memories

My father began his career in films with Mala Sinha and Abhi Bhattacharya. Abhi Bhattacharya was a very nice man: in fact, a thorough gentleman. He had an interesting trait. He had the ability to fall asleep anytime, almost anywhere and under any circumstances. Once dad observed that Bhattacharya wanted to take a nap but could not find a pillow; finding a brick instead, he just went ahead and laid his head on the brick and instantly fell asleep. Dad shared a warm relationship with him and they acted together in a number of films.

June 6, 2010

Pehchan (1970)

This entire review is nothing but a giant spoiler, because the ending especially is So Many Kinds of Wrong that I cannot do anything but tell you all about it. My sister pointed out that if Rush Limbaugh and his ilk were to make a film this might very well be it, a sentiment I fully agree with. It spouts the same judgmental and self-righteous crap that those people do and is just as egregiously dumb, although clearly many people don’t find it as obviously stupid as I do. It’s a typical Manoj Kumar venture: everything modern (or progressive) is evil and can only be redeemed through the influence of traditional (and repressive) values and mores. It sums up exactly why I hate his “Mr. Bharat” persona.

January 21, 2010

Jangal Mein Mangal (1972)

What’s not to love about a film which opens with animated credits like these? Very little! Especially when the credits probably cost more to produce than the entire rest of the film. This is a full-on Mod Seventies Cheesefest. I love cheese, and I love this film. It is loony entertainment at its best: a comedy-horror-mystery-romance dressed up in bellbottoms and vivid polyester, set to lively pop music by Shankar Jaikishan, and populated by a large cast of character actors, comedians and dancers.

Pran has a double role as a misogynistic ex-Army Colonel and as one of the Colonel’s charges Raghu, a campy effeminate type who nonetheless finds romance with one of the girls (when he isn’t busy combing his long hair). The girls are students of botany professor Laxmi (Sonia Sahni), a man-hating martinet, and her assistant Sister Sophia (Meena Roy). As with most Hindi horror genre films, there is a decidedly Christian bent (handy for grave-robbing situations). It was also filmed on location in a place I have visited, the Periyar Reserve in Thekkady, Kerala—very pretty and fun for me to see again.

August 16, 2009

Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare (1966)

nhkt

This is an absolutely charming, quintessentially 1960s film with a cast of stalwarts and the ever-charming and delicious Shashi at his “aw-shucks” best. The story centers around two Muslim families, which makes for lovely fashions for Nirupa Roy and Manorama who play the matriarchs of each. Nanda is styling, too! The only (minor) disappointment for me was the music by Madan Mohan; it was nice enough—and picturized well—but didn’t make much of an impression. What makes the movie memorable though is the strong ensemble cast, who all contribute humor, believability and warmth to a plot which moves briskly along.

June 22, 2009

Khazanchi (1958)

khazanchi

This little gem of a film has been sitting on a shelf for several years now and I have no idea why I never watched it. I think I bought it because I was obsessed with Helen and she is supposedly in it: not only does the DVD cover credit her, but so do the actual credits inside the film, plus it was directed by her…um…significant other, PN Arora. But—she is nowhere to be seen. Strange. And, for me, sad.

Nevertheless, I should have paid it more attention. A key ingredient in liking a film for me is liking most of the people in it. This one does a superb job of drawing the viewer into the families and relationships of the main romantic pair. This is largely due to the well-written story and a great cast: a young and handsome Rajendra Kumar, the beauteous Shyama and Chitra, and the able support of Balraj Sahni, Manorama, Anwar Hussain and HelenSN Banerjee. Also the music by Madan Mohan (and the way the songs are shot) is just gorgeous! It’s a very engaging film with a reasonably exciting and suspenseful resolution.

March 20, 2009

Waqt (1965)

waqt_shashi

Beth and I rewatched this the other night in honor of her Shashi Week 2009 (everyone should have his or her own week, I think, at least once a year). To be honest, Beth rewatched it; I thought I had seen it before, but if so all memory of it had been crowded out by something else—Dara Singh trivia maybe, who knows? I can’t see how I wouldn’t remember it though. It’s a really really good movie.

To use Beth’s turn of phrase, it is completely proto-masala in that it has a family separated by circumstance and all the attendant near-misses, filmi irony, etc. along with fabulous sixties (and occasionally fifties) style. The screenplay choreographs the events as smoothly as the film’s title would imply; and what a cast! Balraj Sahni, Achala Sachdev, Raaj Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Shashi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Sadhana, Shashikala, Madan Puri. Wah! At least I retained memory of the songs, since they are composed by one of my favorite (underrated) music directors, Ravi, with lyrics by Sahir; they are just gorgeous.

March 7, 2009

Jawan Mohabbat (1971)

jm_dvdWhenever a “new” old Shammi film finally appears (with subtitles) on DVD there is much joy and celebration in the Memsaab household, tail-wagging (Gemma) and jumping up and down (me) and so on. If Asha Parekh is his co-star along with Pran, the celebration is even more prolonged. Sadly, there is no Helen; and despite her looming presence on the DVD cover (and in the cast list) no Mumtaz either, but these are minor issues in the face of heretofore unseen Shammi. Shammi, Shammi, Shammi!

And happily, the first half of this film is quintessential early sixties Shammi-style frothy fun, as he bombards a reluctant and feisty Asha with his mischievous charm and romantic songs. But then everything turns suddenly dark, with death and blackmail looming large, and levels of gloom, self-pity and self-sacrifice rarely seen even by the most devoted Hindi cinema fan (me again). If you don’t mind a little movie multiple personality disorder, then you can probably tolerate it. If you prefer a logical narrative without completely over-the-top dramatics…then you probably aren’t reading this anyway.

December 15, 2008

Izzat (1968)

izzat

I watched this film in the hopes of seeing some Dharmendra-Tanuja magic, but sadly Tanuja didn’t have much to do. However, Dharmendra had a double role, so: two of him! Never a bad thing, although it didn’t much help the movie, which was cliched and ham-fisted to begin with and descended into over-acting and melodrama by the end. The basic theme has to do with class division; Dharmendra plays both the legitimate and the illegitimate sons of a Thakur who has an extramarital affair with a tribal girl.

The only difference in appearance between the two sons is somewhat hilariously (but increasingly tiresomely) delineated by their skin color, the legitimate son naturally being fair and his lower caste half-brother dark. For some reason, Dharmendra gets darker and darker as the film goes on too, so that by the end he looks like he has been roasted on a spit.

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