This is maybe not the post I should choose to write in memory of Rajesh Khanna, but it happened to already be under construction and he was so charming in the film…so why not? One shouldn’t defy kismat.
I loved this lunatic movie. It cannot by any stretch be called either well-written or even wildly original, but it is solidly entertaining if you like this sort of thing (illogical melodrama) which I do. Infants are switched at birth for nefarious purposes and spirited away for good ones; one of the villains is a bitter hunchback; we have con artists conning each other, a mute illiterate downtrodden mother trying to communicate a terrible secret (and failing) for years and years and years, divine intervention at moments of sheer despair, and the Rainbow Splendor of Disco—a mishmash that makes this one hard to forget. Laxmikant Pyarelal’s music is good fun, and I love the cast, too: even the completely age-inappropriate Rajesh Khanna-Tina Munim pairing works, maybe because Tina’s character is so worldly-wise that she doesn’t seem young. Plus Rajesh seems to be enjoying himself thoroughly, as he should, and is very handsome indeed.
Regular readers here know that by and large I adore Manmohan Desai and his films and can mostly forgive him for anything except Ganga Jamuna Saraswati. It has long been my great sorrow that two of his movies, Shararat and this one, are not available with subtitles. Manmohan Desai’s complicated plotting has always seemed daunting without them and though I have had both films for a long time I never quite had the courage to watch them. So imagine my great joy when I finally sat down with this one and (despite no doubt missing many nuances) could actually follow what was going on. There is a lot going on!
As is usual for him, he sets up the many characters and plot threads masterfully. Creating a web of relationships torn apart by misunderstandings and loss, he carries us along breathlessly rooting for our protagonists to *just stop already* missing each other by mere inches and find their way back to the lives they should be leading. As is also usual for him, the last 45 minutes or so go completely and a tad disappointingly off the rails into Crazy-land, taking the focus away from the pure emotional joy of the reunion(s), but never mind.
I still love this film.
There is a lot to appreciate in this Bimal Roy production (Moni Bhattacharjee directs), but for me anyway not a lot to LOVE. It is meticulously crafted; I enjoyed the settings and portrayal of life in small-town India, but everything is so picture-postcard perfect that it began to get on my nerves (I like a bit of “messy”). Even the war scenes in the second half feel far too carefully arranged. In the long run, it somehow lacks the heart to really be a classic although it certainly looks like one; but it’s more a coffee-table book of pretty photographs than an engrossing movie. It didn’t help that the painstaking care taken over the characterizations, photography, songs and script was all in service of a complete downer of a plot! But I didn’t mind the gloomy story as much as I missed that intangible sense of life—it just wasn’t there.
This amazing film by Chetan Anand is one of the most unusual movies I’ve ever seen, and maybe the most heart-wrenching. It’s a masterpiece of story-telling; shot largely with a hand-held camera on the streets of Bombay, it follows a 15-month old toddler (Master Bunty—who is so chubby and endearing that he melted even my sticky black heart of non-maternal tar) as he wends his unsteady way in search of his mother, who has died. How Mr. Anand managed to direct a toddler so perfectly I’ll never know (and Bunty gets top billing in the film’s credits, most appropriately)!
It is also Rajesh Khanna’s first or second film, and he is superb, endowing his not entirely likable character with a humanity that makes you root for him, despite his flaws. The film is an indictment on a societal level of the indifference bred by modern urban life, and on a personal level of the wrongs inflicted by selfishness and pride. These points are hammered home by the focus on a little boy who can only say “Mama” and “milk” as he perseveres in his hopeless search.
When a movie opens with yet another poor woman forced to give up her husband for the sake of his family’s honor and material wealth, leaving her and their baby nothing to fall back on but prostitution, I usually think: Oh No No No No.
But I love this film. It’s one I can watch over and over just for the beauty of Dharmendra alone. He is at his best around this time in my opinion, and it is one of his first films with a very young and pretty Hema Malini. But beyond that, it has a good, nicely-paced script (punctuated though it is with a completely superfluous and tiresome CSP) which culminates in a satisfyingly emotional way (in other words, I cried); although I must confess to some ambivalence about the overall message (more on that towards the end). Plus: absolutely lovely songs by Laxmikant Pyarelal and lots of dancing from Hema!
Manmohan Desai! How I adore you. And this sort-of-medieval swashbuckler with snake gods, sword-fights, dacoit Ranjeet, Bela Bose as a greedy courtesan, and Jeetendra and Shatrughan Sinha as brothers on opposite sides of that pesky line between good and evil has not changed my mind one little bit. The setting is gorgeous too, as the movie was shot on location at the spectactular Laxmi Vilas Palace belonging to the Maharajah of Baroda. It’s much less loony than the film it vaguely reminded me of (Dharam-Veer); I guess, my dear Manmohan, you hadn’t quite reached your full masala stride yet. Still, it’s an entertainer in your trademark style, with lots of action and well-drawn characters.
I was inspired by Antarra’s review to see this film—so many thanks, Antarra! It’s essentially an hommage to Dharam-Veer with some pointed differences, which may make it a better film or a worse one, depending on your point of view. I loved Dharam-Veer (of course!) but I also really enjoyed this movie, maybe because my philosophy is if one of something is good, then two of it is better.
What Dharam-Veer has that Amar Shakti doesn’t:
- Manmohan Desai’s lunatic sensibilities and larger-than-life scope
- Dharmendra in a leather mini-skirt
What Amar Shakti has that Dharam-Veer doesn’t:
- Shashi’s curls
- Shashi’s eyelashes
- A Trojan elephant
This film belongs to Neetu Singh: she is the central character in it, and she gives an excellent performance. Yes: it’s a film centered around a female protagonist! A rare treat indeed! Beyond that, it’s an excellent film which highlights social issues (plight of the poor, criminal reforms), has a fab retro vibe, and is just plain entertaining, by turns funny and moving.
I love this movie!
Against all reason, against all logic, against all standards of film appreciation (not that mine are very high), I loved this movie. The story is a Manmohan Desai fairy tale, replete with separated children, near misses, and absurd coincidences. And best of all, the costumes and sets are a veritable Halloween party!
It’s a costume epic that doesn’t know what costume to wear; a period piece without a period! Dharmendra is dressed as a Roman gladiator, Jeetendra wears a matador outfit, Zeenat lounges in 50’s Hollywood lingerie…the list goes on and on (as do my screen shots). Let’s just get to it, shall we?