A daku-drama in the iconic mold of Manmohan Desai—what could possibly go wrong? Not much, I am pleased to report, at least as far as the film itself goes. The people in it suffer plenty, though, especially Feroz Khan’s angsty dacoit tortured by amnesia and an inexplicable phobia of water-pumps. Writer/director Chand hits every masala note he can think of even if not much is done with some of them (religious imagery, for instance, seems thrown in there for no good reason). A young family broken up, lockets and tattoos, socially respectable but morally bankrupt villains, blood transfusions replete with filmi irony (get it? irony? sorry), plus all the standard dacoit movie delights (beautiful horses, black pagris, tilaks, golden earrings), and a great cast make this one a complete paisa vasool winner.
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.
Fate has conspired to push snake movies at me from all angles this month; so be it. Until Doodh Ka Karz came along this was my topmost favorite of the genre and it is at least still tied for first. I love it for the ridiculous special effects, the Seventies style, the star-crammed cast and the shape-shifting, vengeful ichchadhari nagin Reena Roy. These things more than make up for the heavy-handed (at times) preaching on a wide number of subjects: marriage, wifely duty, religion, sacrifice, revenge, redemption. I was only planning to mine this for screenshots for my “Nahiin! Face Gallery” (coming soon), but I couldn’t stop watching once I began. There are lots of Nahiin! Face moments, but there are some surprisingly sensitive ones too. All in all it’s an odd mixture of things, almost none of them boring.
With subtitles, this film might have annoyed me, but without them it is a sublimely entertaining experience from Wadia Movietone. Undistracted by the dumb plot and self-pitying dialogues, I reveled in:
- the hirsute insanity of Nasir Hussain (he is UNABOMBER insane in this film!)
- the drink-fuelled angsty despair of artist Sajjan
- Helen’s fashions and scheming eyebrows
- Feroz Khan pretending he is Shammi! (and he is so FINE, he almost succeeds)
- Chitalkar Ramchandra’s fantastic songs
- the plump chipmunk cheeks and flowing Kashmiri outfits (and eyeliner) of Kalpana
- and the lovely scenic gardens and mountains of Kashmir itself
I got this film for three main reasons: Feroz Khan, Ranjeet and the title. Kashmakash. What a word! It just rolls off the tongue, na? I am informed by my friend Raja—who also subtitled it for me, more on that later—that it means troubles or problems. The people in this have plenty of them, not the least of which is putting up with IS Johar’s endless pompous and pointless pontificating (a problem for us too). Mitigating that, though, are the aforementioned Feroz and Ranjeet; cracktastic Seventies costuming and set decorations; a young plump Rekha (the best kind), a less insufferable than usual Shatrughan Sinha, and Memsaab favorite Rehman; very cool music by Kalyanji Anandji including a fab dance by Padma Khanna; plus an engaging murder mystery.
Mumtaz simply cannot be contained in a list of ten songs only: she had the good fortune to work in an era—and in films—with such great music, that I just find it impossible. Not only that, but because she was often the heroine (first mostly in so-called B-movies of the sixties, then as an A-list star in the seventies) she usually had three or four songs per film, unlike women who were confined mostly to dances or small supporting roles.
If there’s one thing I know, it’s that when two male friends love each other in that peculiarly intense way of Hindi film heroes, the women in their lives will suffer. It would just be better all around if the two guys set up house together and called it a day, na? Rajendra Kumar and Feroz Khan would have such lovely children.
Needing to recover from the horror that was Hawas, I felt that a little bit of gentleman Dara Singh might go a long way towards soothing my ruffled feelings. Sadly, not much Dara is available with subtitles, but I figured the eye-candy inherent in a sword-and-sandals picture featuring also a young Feroz Khan, Ameeta and Mumtaz would doubtless be enough. And it is! Truly I have no idea what actually goes on in this film. The plot details escape me, but I can tell you that in true Dara Singh fashion, Samson is not only a strong-man Biblical type wearing a skirt and gladiator sandals, but also a Tarzan friend-of-elephants type, and he and Mumtaz share the best romantic chemistry I’ve seen yet in a Dara epic.
For my favorite expert Tom has done what no dvd manufacturer has even attempted (and if they had, his would still be better because he actually cares about things like video and audio quality)—he has made a Bela Bose compilation dvd! Tom has gone to great pains to do justice to Bela’s delightful career, in collaboration with fellow blogger and friend Ava. She has beautifully translated the unsubtitled (or badly subtitled) songs for those of us who don’t speak Hindi but know that the poetry in every song is something we sadly often miss out on. Bahut bahut shukriya Ava!