April 2, 2012
I have a love-hate relationship with this movie’s star Baby Rani and its director Ravi Nagaich. Baby Rani was so very cute in Hum Kisise Kum Nahin but so very monotonous and terrifying in the film which spawned the shortest review I will probably ever write. And Ravi Nagaich insists on making films in which the whole never quite equals the sum of its parts—parts that are so mind-blowing that the whole shouldn’t even matter, but somehow always does. This leaves me dissatisfied but also intent on seeing more of his output, which leaves me dissatisfied, and on and on. I guess it takes talent to be both cute and annoying beyond belief, and so imaginative and yet so boring. And that pretty much sums up how I feel about Rani Aur Lalpari, except in addition, probably because this is supposed to be a children’s story, it is ruthlessly miserable.
Fairy tale writers seem compelled to warn kids that life sucks, and sucks hard, especially if you are Baby Rani.
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March 21, 2011
The supernatural and horror genres don’t attract me much, although the Indian versions are more interesting than mainstream Hollywood’s—usually because they are pretty low-budget and not at all scary, and chock-full of WTF-ery. I do love a good (or bad) snake movie, however, so when I saw this one directed by someone I am curious about—BR Ishara—I decided to give it a whirl. The few early 1970s film magazines that I have refer to Ishara’s work as “bold” with undertones of “sleazy” implicated in every other line. I know that he made a film considered quite radical for its time called Chetna, which is sadly not available anywhere that I can find, and that he eventually married the beautiful heroine of that film, Rehana Sultan, whose promising career was seemingly hampered by her willingness to push the envelope in films of a certain reputation, undeserved or not.
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November 26, 2010
There is really only one compelling reason to watch Ponga Pandit: the costume designer (credited as Manorama Ralhan, who—judging from her other film assignments—I would guess was married to OP Ralhan).
This is a movie where an Elvis poster competing for wall space with a picture of a skinny fuchsia guy and a pair of teepee chairs are not the most startling visuals in the room. Plus, Go-Go Barbie goes practically unnoticed!
For a much better and way more progressive version of the basic story (if, you know, that’s what’s important to you), watch Mem Sahib from 1956 instead.
September 22, 2010
By the end of this film I felt really sorry for anyone who might have been dependent on the Indian police—as portrayed here—for any kind of aid in 1974. I’m surprised that the censor board didn’t demand an upfront apology from the producers. I am almost positive that the intent was exactly opposite, too, but as the film hurtles forward, the plot increasingly unravels with sad results. It’s too bad, because otherwise it is an unusual story (apparently a remake of The Desperate Hours starring Humphrey Bogart) with a lot going for it: a psychological drama about a family of four held hostage for 36 hours (ghante) by three increasingly desperate bank robbers on the run.
36 Ghante comes *this close* to being a really good film, but is sabotaged by inattention to some important details. (Here’s my disclaimer: as with all Hindi cinema, it could be that poor editing after the fact—by the dvd manufacturer for instance—is partially responsible for the story problems, but I will probably never know for sure.)
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September 7, 2009
Ooh, yeah. This is a rarity in 1980’s Hindi cinema, a masala film that’s complete paisa vasool! It starts off with a bang and continues to entertain thoroughly right up to the end: a rollicking, swashbuckling good time. The screenplay was written by Jyoti Swaroop, who is one of those people I’d really like to find out more about, but whose presence on the web is mostly confined to the hilarious film Padosan, which he directed. He’s known to me also for directing the delightful Chorni, and also for writing Satte Pe Satte and Inkaar—two other Memsaab favorites. In any case, the fun quotient is greatly enhanced by the droolworthy presence of Vinod Khanna and Danny Denzongpa as bitter rivals who *might* also be long-lost brothers, and by some zany subtitles.
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December 31, 2008
Ah, Feroz Khan. As a producer and director, you spare nothing! I watched Dharmatma a long time ago and it was time for a rewatch in the wake of the fantabulous Apradh. I remember that I had liked it, but I was bowled over completely the second time around.
Premnath dominates as the title character: a wealthy and powerful man who believes entirely that the end justifies the means, who has convinced himself that his bad deeds are compensated for by his good ones. Indeed, he is called “Dharmatma” (God Man) by everyone because of those good deeds. Feroz Khan plays his son, a man standing firmly on principles that are completely at odds with his father’s.
Their conflict plays out against a backdrop that includes the gorgeous Afghani landscape, crazy nightclubs (and a dwarf bartender!), opulent mansions, and all the stylish goodness you’d expect from the era (and from Feroz too). The production values are high, the camera work spectacular. Plus: Hema Malini as a gypsy dancer! Danny Denzongpa! Ranjeet and Sudhir in matching outfits! Rekha! Helen! Nadira as a gypsy fortuneteller! Faryal as a sexy nurse! Iftekhar as not a police inspector! And Kalyanji-Anandji’s music doesn’t suck either, especially the background score.
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August 12, 2008
Filmi Girl inspired me to check out more of OP Ralhan’s films. I already liked Phool Aur Patthar and loved Talash, which I had seen a long time ago. Based on her review I also got Hulchul—an amazingly fun masala-fest which sadly doesn’t play in my computer so…no post here. I admit I didn’t love Paapi as unreservedly as I did Talash and Hulchul. It either got overly long and complicated or I’ve overdosed on this brand of masala lately. Wait, is that even possible?
I did like it though. OP really knows how to tug at your heartstrings, and I love having mine tugged. He also has a great visual aesthetic, hampered though he was by working in the seventies. (I kid! I love the seventies!) Zeenat is gorgeous, with a short crop of hair (but plenty of wigs) and Sanjeev Kumar is his usual sterling self. I always love Sunil Dutt, although he does chew up the scenery, sports a Prince Valiant haircut, and his wardrobe is a blinding eyesore. Add in more OP Ralhan ingredients: strong feminist characters, the debate over punishment vs. compassion in dealing with crime, character actors Tun Tun and Moolchand, and there is plenty to enjoy.
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