Posts tagged ‘Fearless Nadia’

November 11, 2012

Muqabla (1942)

Muqabla is basically Seeta Aur Geeta with Fearless Nadia as twin sisters Madhuri Aur Rani. Need I say more? Probably not, but I’ve never let lack of need stop me from doing anything. I will tell you, though, that this review has taken me longer than any other review before it to write, by which I mean it’s just taken longer; don’t expect it to be any better.

Special effects wizard Babubhai Mistry is said to have used split screen technology for the first time in India along with back screen projection to show the twins interacting and passing one in front of the other. And although it isn’t her usual “stunt” type of film, there is plenty of action for Nadia and her fists in both avatars. Probably this is better described as Geeta Aur Geeta, exponentially more awesome for not having a browbeaten helpless little mouse in it; both Rani and Madhuri are fairly kick-ass girls. There are a lot of songs which drag the film down for me (interminable love songs between two sets of lovers, sometimes two or three songs in a row with no respite between); but two songs feature Nadia dancing and that is pretty fun to watch. As a bonus, she has a clever and faithful Alsation dog named Gunboat (who I think appeared with her in other films). Plus a very very young and slender Agha plays sidekick to hero Yakub. He excels at physical comedy, and I always love seeing a young anybody I know better from his or her later career.

June 22, 2012

Miss Frontier Mail (1936)

It seems fitting that this is the post to celebrate my five years of blogging! I never dreamed on June 22, 2007 when I created Memsaabstory that it would become such a big part of my life and be the catalyst for so much learning and so many wonderful and rewarding friendships. I never dreamed that people would embrace the insanity that leads me to do things like this and this and this (and this, okay I’m stopping now), and I certainly had no idea how generously people would share their treasures with me. This is one such gift.

Miss Frontier Mail is utterly charming, made with the usual Wadia enthusiasm and attention to loony detail. The “Indian Pearl White” is certainly the focus, but she is more than ably supported by gangsters who balk at being dastardly, a fearsome spy-movie “Boss” precursor and his go-getter female assistant, futuristic gadgets, thrilling fights and chases, a banana-loving buffoon and so much more. It often feels very much like a silent movie, starting off with only music and no dialogue until seven or eight minutes in; title pages are interspersed throughout, the acting is exaggerated, and you can often hear the camera whirring. Like the Frontier Mail train itself, it picks up speed quickly and we’re off on a rollicking good ride as Fearless Nadia battles comic-book villains between dainty sips of tea in her fabulous Art Deco house. It is a literal and figurative rush of trains, motorcars, motorcycles and even an airplane!

February 26, 2012

The Jungle Princess (1942)

As one of the first—and still one of the few—women to specialize in onscreen kick-assery, it’s no secret that Fearless Nadia is one of my idols (and I’m not alone in that by any means). So when she is set down in the heart of the Dark Continent with ooga-booga natives, pith-helmeted villains, handsome big game hunter John Cawas, and a loyal and clever lion named Shankar, the little African heart of this Memsaab goes pitter-patter. It’s also The Big Muscle Tussle month over at this site, where I am a rather unproductive member but whose other more participatory writers I cannot recommend highly enough.

There is quite a lot of muscle on display in this, and not all of it belongs to Nadia!

November 25, 2009

Cinema Cinema (1979)

This quasi-documentary made by Krishna Shah (Shalimar) explores the history of Hindi language cinema against the political and socioeconomic developments of the 20th century, and by examining the quintessential Indian audience. Shah’s innovative approach is to film a “screening” of the documentary—narrated by Hema Malini, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra and Zeenat Aman—in a real movie theater, in front of an audience which I assume was partly real and partly staged. I really enjoy the audience participation, which on more than one occasion eclipses what’s happening up on the screen in front. The documentary itself is a bit of a mixed bag: there are some lovely bits and pieces of really old, rare films and interesting snippets of information, but the narrative is uneven and falls into the predictable by the end.

June 20, 2009

Jungle Ka Jawahar (1953)

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There are only a few things that I will watch without subtitles when they aren’t available in subtitled format: early Shammi films, really really old films (from the 30s, for example), old B-movies (if Helen and Dara Singh are in them), and—Fearless Nadia.

Imagine if you can the great joy I felt at finding this Nadia film on VCD. Thanks much Moserbaer! In 1953 Nadia would have been 45 years old and she’s paired with an equally older John Cawas. But of course young romance is not the point of a Nadia film! Nadia herself is, and she’s in great form here still: swinging through trees, riding on elephants, diving off cliffs and punching bad guys. This is all accomplished against a backdrop of outdoor jungle scenery and indoor cracktastic madness courtesy of Babubhai Mistry.

November 5, 2008

Toofani Tarzan (1937)

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It’s historic! No, I’m not talking about the election (although: YEAH BABY!!!!); I’m talking about this fabulously campy Wadia Movietones flick featuring an Indian Tarzan, his (literally) lunatic mother, cannibals, the nectar of immortality, Dada the ape man, and more animals than you can shake a stick at (including lions, tigers, bears—oh my—hyenas, elephants, crocodiles, etc). It may also give us a first in Hindi cinema history: a dog named Moti.

And before I do anything else, I must thank my new BFF and faithful reader Michael for sending it—and more treasures that you will be reading about—to me. Thanks Mike!!

August 22, 2008

Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (1952)

Oh such excitement to get my hands on a Wadia Brothers production! Made by Fearless Nadia‘s director (and later husband) Homi Wadia, this film did not disappoint. Special effects courtesy of the master Babubhai Mistry, and a young, really gorgeous Meena Kumari paired with actor Mahipal are hugely entertaining. SN Tripathi and Chitragupta provided the very melodic songs, and it’s an old-tyme treat from start to finish. Although made in 1952, it plays like a film from the thirties which really just adds to the charm.

January 28, 2008

Fearless Nadia

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In India—to my great excitement!—I got to meet Vinci Wadia, the son of JBH Wadia and nephew of Homi Wadia. JBH and Homi Wadia are the brothers who founded the Wadia Movietone studio in the 1930’s, and launched the career of Fearless Nadia the stunt queen. Homi Wadia also eventually married Nadia in 1961. Vinci Wadia spent a couple of hours with me talking about films, life, and Nadia, and generally charming my socks off (as a boy he met Frank Capra on Capra’s visit to Bombay!).

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