Thwarted in my previous snake-movie viewing attempt by Sky Entertainment’s poor quality control, I moved on to this long-overdue-for-watching one and was much happier in any case. Not only is heroine Neelam not smacked in the face every other minute (although her father does want to kill her at one point, but he is Amrish Puri so it’s to be expected); but there are a lot more snakes and Aruna Irani (or her representative) lactates onscreen. She also (a la Smita Patil before her) sets out to pump her newborn son full of hatred, albeit somewhat less successfully, possibly because Jackie Shroff doesn’t have to also learn disco. Or maybe because Jackie has more snake backup than Mithun so doesn’t need to be as angry. I don’t know. I just know that I would much rather watch snakes massing in military formation and launching themselves like missiles than watch men pounding each other to a bloody pulp (although there is some of that too).
Just when I fear that I may have seen all the crazy Indian spy films that there are to see, another one appears. This one is not quite as loony as my beloved Spy In Rome or Puraskar, but that is probably because it also had a larger budget and A-list stars (Waheeda Rehman and Rajendra Kumar). Still and all it is satisfyingly filled with many of the same tropes: an enemy country never called by its actual name, but whose denizens all have names like Comrades Ping and Chang and Shin Cho. They are led by an angry man we only ever see in silhouette until the end, who kills his loyal henchmen at the slightest provocation with weapons like machine guns mounted on turrets (and marvelous dying theatrics on the part of those men, although there is a sad lack of blood and gore). AND IT HAS SUBTITLES, hooray!
Plus, all the usual suspects—Madan Puri, Rajan Haksar, Ratan Gaurang—are present, sporting Fu Manchu moustaches and squinty eyes. Seriously satisfying.
Rajesh Khanna makes a fabulous
Tarzan Dara Singh hero in this tale of palace treachery which extols the moral superiority of animals over man, a message I wholeheartedly endorse. Zeenat Aman plays a wild jungle girl (yes, it is as hilarious as it sounds), the rightful heiress to her murdered father’s throne, who has been raised from infancy by a very maternal gorilla—by which I mean a guy in an ape suit.
Plus, Pran as Dr. Doolittle! Oh, how I love B-movies. I was fortunate to get this one from my dear friend and Rajesh devotee Suhan, who also watched it with me and filled me in on all the unsubtitled goings-on—and there is a lot going on.
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 Haqeeqat, Aandhiyan 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.
I just heard from his granddaughter that blue-eyed Kamal Kapoor, one of my favorite character actors, passed away on Monday at the age of 90. He had a versatile career spanning fifty years and hundreds of films, from his debut in Dak Bangla (1947) through the late 1990s. Probably his best-remembered role is from 1978’s Don where he played Narang.
Another legend and filmi family member is gone: may he rest in peace.
This Sharmila Tagore home production took years to make and it shows, mostly in Rajesh Khanna’s hair. But it’s sort of fitting, actually, because the story itself takes place over years—as do all of the Sharmila-Rajesh movies, with lots and lots of suffering and noble sacrificing principles (tyaag!) along the way. This is full of all that, but still I enjoyed it: sometimes angst is not misplaced and human frailties can cause a lot of trouble. I will say that the subtitles leave a lot to be desired—they are patchy in places (long dialogues with short or no subs) and hard to read at best. My friend Suhan did her best to fill in the gaps but even so a lot of the dialogue went over my head, making the film much less meaningful for me I think than it might otherwise have been. The music by SD Burman (his last soundtrack) is also very pretty indeed (my favorite is the duet “Hum Tum Hain Tum Hum”).
I’ve been busy this week and not had time to watch any fillums. So here are more bits and pieces from my favorite film magazine editor to entertain you all.
I take great comfort from the fact that even Baburao Patel occasionally gets things completely wrong.
At last! I have seen a film where I liked Biswajeet! He suits his role here perfectly, and the movie is good fun despite nothing really new story-wise. The music is wonderful, by Hemant Kumar, and it co-stars the lovely Rajshree, the ever-elegant Durga Khote, baby-faced Mumtaz and PRAN. It also illustrates the value of a good director: Hrishikesh Mukherjee. He takes the somewhat hackneyed fairy-tale plot and lifts it up a notch by getting good performances out of his actors (keeping some of them *cough* Mehmood *cough* under better control than is often the case) and keeping everything moving along at a good pace (he edited the film too). Plus, the locations in Jaipur and the Amber Fort add authenticity and are beautifully photographed, which is a visual treat.
I sometimes have very vivid and detailed but thoroughly crazy dreams; I wake up and think: “What on earth?” and worry for a minute that there’s something wrong with me, then go about my day and forget about it. Now I know that Manmohan Desai had those kinds of dreams too, except that in the case of at least one of them, he woke up and thought: “That should be a movie!” And so he made Mard.
It’s a trip through a demented sort of Disneyland, populated with characters from about a hundred different movie genres and policed by animals who are smarter than all the people around them combined. If you surrender yourself to the journey (and the film demands that you do) there’s a kind of lyricism and rhythm about it that’s hypnotic: it’s impossible to look away, but there’s an emotional detachment about it as well. You are just a spectator—so no worries!—but kya baat hai.
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.