I love pirate movies, especially when the pirate in question is a woman. And if that woman is also Geeta Bali, then…hooray! When I first saw this ten years ago or so I knew nothing about Guru Dutt except that I was “supposed” to watch all his movies if I wanted to be au fait. There is nothing I don’t love about it, except that it hasn’t survived in its entirety, mostly towards the end. Like most of Guru Dutt’s films today the video is murky much of the time, but there is no disguising how beautifully shot every frame is. Equally lovely is the music: OP Nayyar’s tunes have just the right changes in rhythm for what is happening onscreen, and the lyrics (Majrooh Sultanpuri) are wonderful (and subtitled). Sublime. And the cast is just superb. In addition to the gorgeous lead pair are the legendary Sulochana (Ruby Mayer), KN Singh at his suavely villainous best, Johnny Walker and Kuldip Kaur in prime comedic form, and Yashodhara Katju as Geeta’s sweet-faced, slyly clever best friend. They all are just so much fun to watch.
For me, An Evening In Paris = Pran’s bright orange Joker hair + lovely songs. It’s not one of my favorite Shammi films, although there is lots of pretty—especially Sharmila. In fact, everyone should have two hours of footage like this of themselves looking impossibly glamorous, heart-meltingly beautiful, and haughtily chic. If I were Sharmila I would probably watch this every day. Shammi is quintessential Shammi: he looks a little the worse for wear around the edges, but retains his considerable charm and his willingness to make a complete idiot of himself (one of my favorite things about him).
I think my main quibble is with the plot, which is all over the place (literally!), too long, and brain-dead in places. There’s also a complete lack of real character development. It’s as if Shakti Samanta just needed a backdrop for the music and stars and didn’t care about the rest; unfortunately it gets tedious, stylish though it is—the fashions and hair and sets, oh my! Plus it’s lovely to see the locations (Paris, Switzerland, Beirut, the Niagara Falls) as they were during that era, even if we are required to believe sometimes that Paris is filled with signs in German and that the French countryside looks just like India.
How much do I adore this film? Let me count the ways! 1) Dharmendra; 2) Mumtaz; 3) everybody else in it—wah! what a cast; 4) the gorgeous songs; 5) the fine ultra-masala plot; 6) Dharmendra’s chaddies; 7) the props and sets, including my new obsession the Egyptian Room; 8) the best use of Indian Movie Balloons and (possibly) Padma Khanna EVER; 9) Mumtaz’s outfits and Spare Hair; 10) no Comic Side Plot to speak of; 11) wooden gora extras; and 12) everything else I haven’t mentioned. Everything.
It is a fact that when I started this blog I had grandiose plans to cover every single film Shammi ever starred in (well, that I could find, anyway). Little did I know how distracted I would become by so much other stuff, but here I go in a valiant attempt to move a teeny bit forward towards that lofty goal.
The Shakti Samanta-Shammi team made several memorable films and I think this is their first together. It has its entertaining moments, but after the first hour or so begins to drag for me. The songs are lovely (Shankar-Jaikishan); Shammi is lovely LOVELY (even in disguise); Padmini and Shashikala and Malaysian actress Maria Menado are lovely; but at the end of the day this isn’t one I want to watch over and over. Shammi’s exuberance seems to have nowhere to go and it fizzles; his chemistry with Padmini is tepid and although I am a fan of Agha, he is not the Shammi sidekick that Rajendranath was.
Now available with subtitles thanks to Tom and Raja!
Sometimes (well, quite often really, due to my suspect tastes) I see a film which wasn’t a hit and I say WHY, UNIVERSE, WHY? Despite the magical combination of Shammi Kapoor in his prime with Shakti Samanta directing, backup from Helen and Asha Parekh, lovely songs (Shankar Jaikishan) and an emotionally compelling and unusual plot, this movie apparently bombed at the box office and has not—until now!—even been put on a dvd with subtitles. (If you would rather just get to the download and not have to read my drivel, scroll all the way down to the end.)
It is not perfect but I found it deeply engaging and sensitive: it is largely about loss, and I think it is one of Shammi’s best performances.
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 watched two films this weekend with plots completely lacking in any sense or logic. One of them was a mainstream film (Akeli Mat Jaiyo) starring Meena Kumari and Rajendra Kumar and I am not going to write about it because, frankly, it was dull and stupid and Dusted Off has already said all that needs to be said about it. The other was Spy In Rome; and despite its very thin shoestring budget, nothing of which was spent on a writer, it managed to keep me pretty entertained. It firmly occupies a seat at that rotating bar where people with seemingly no aptitude for filmmaking—and no money for it either—down a lot of imagination-fueling substances and then stagger off to make their dream projects.
I feel Tom and his gang of subtitlers should form their own production company and give it a proper name! Any suggestions? In any case, another formerly unsubtitled and painfully unrestored vcd has been subtitled (thanks again Raja!) and given the Tommydan Treatment. I must say that I am blown away with how beautiful this dvd looks compared to the source files. I don’t know how he does it, but I’m glad he does.
I have long been meaning to watch this Raj Khosla film again. I saw it a few years ago but remembered little about it except one Sadhana dance which is spectacular: “Jhumka Gira Re Bareilly Ki Bazaar Mein” and a vague feeling that it was pretty good. And it is pretty good—really good in fact! I was riveted and (thanks to my dismal memory) not completely sure I had the mystery figured out until the very end. The performances from Sunil Dutt and Sadhana are wonderful, and the competently plotted story moves along briskly with tension building ever so gradually: the direction and editing are masterful. It’s also beautifully photographed and just chock-full of pretty, especially the locations in Udaipur (and Sunil and Sadhana!). Any quibbles I have are minor: the end is a bit flat after the marvellous buildup, and I got tired of the title song after the umpteenth time hearing it—pretty as it is—but that’s about it.
At a run-time of just over 1 hour and 45 minutes, significant portions of this film have been edited out (this is also obvious as you watch). It may have once been a good story, but the missing scenes rendered it a bit choppy (not as bad as Jaal, but not good either). It also felt to me like the filmmakers (Chetan and Dev Anand, director and producer respectively) thought they had something of great portent to say, but the messages sprinkled about struck me as childish and trite rather than very meaningful. And I found the portrayal of mentally ill people more than a little irritating. The mental institution in which we meet Funtoosh is a cartoon insane asylum, with inmates cackling uncontrollably and saluting each other; and the protagonist Funtoosh himself is a caricature and a badly drawn one at that. I think he is supposed to represent the “divine fool”—but he is mostly just a fool.