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.
From a cinematic tradition overflowing with mama’s boys, by far the biggest to emerge is Disco Dancer‘s Jimmy. He only eats if Maa hand-feeds him, he dances like a girl, he sulks, he sucks his thumb, he lets women poke him in the belly, he is a failure at adult relationships with women (seriously, just ask Rita Oberoi, she’ll tell you), and he can’t go on when his mother dies while saving him from Death By Guitar. This film sends terrible messages to both women and men: you have no value, ladies, except as a downtrodden and self-sacrificing mother, and if you are lucky to have such a mama, men, you should never cut the apron strings. It is no coincidence that the bad people in it (the Oberois) have no mother figure in their household. Oh, and also: you should always carry a grudge. It will keep you going and help you succeed.
So why does this movie’s legend endure? Why does almost everyone who comes into contact with it come away a changed person?
I have now seen this particular place in four different films spanning nine years. Originally I thought it was a set, but it now seems difficult to believe that a set would remain so unchanged over that time frame. Almost nothing does change, except the dining table chairs and floor coverings! The light fixtures remain almost identical, as do the altar (?) beside the second door, the stone walls, the stairs, the ceilings—and of course the Cat Wall-Hanging.
Surely if it were a set, different art directors would have changed it from film to film and most certainly from year to year, don’t you think? Especially since the whole thing is really retro-hideous (which is why I love it so).
(left to right: Namak Haraam—1973, Chorni—1981)
This is a pretty silly adaptation (by Basu Chatterjee, no less!) of Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps which nonetheless manages to be quite satisfying entertainment. Basu Sahab is a little out of his element, but that works for me since I find most of his films similar in nature to watching paint dry. Sticklers for things like continuity, context, and attention to detail might not enjoy it as much as I did; but with my dear friend Suhan translating as we went, it made for a very pleasant afternoon watch-along. There are some of the director’s finer touches here too: authentic settings, intimate and humorous interactions between people, plenty of local color.
Against an epic backdrop of one-sided sibling rivalry, rock-em sock-em lumberjack action, bizarro world medical pronouncements, ham-fisted Mahabharata references, unrequited puppy-love, puffy sleeves and big-budget musical excess lies a plot which I will mostly let speak for itself through screenshots, because all it left me with were questions.
Questions like: Why is Vinod Khanna in this film? Why is Saeed Jaffrey in this film? Why is anybody in this film? Why does this film exist at all? How did the actors keep their faces straight through their dialogues? How old were the people who wrote this, anyway? Were they even out of grade school yet? And above all, will I ever make it all the way through?!
When I look back at pictures of my younger, prettier and thinner self and then look in the mirror at the me of today, I feel the way this film would probably feel if it could look back at Hum Kisise Kum Naheen: the same old thing, but wearier, more bloated and not any smarter or more mature. It is the middle-aged incarnation of HKKN after bad plastic surgery, making it occasionally fascinating in an “I want to look away but can’t” kind of way. Mostly it’s just dull, though, and I might not have bothered to write it up but for my friend and fellow Hindi film music fan PC over at Third Floor Music. He has waited patiently for me to gather the courage to go through this eyesore again for screencaps, and we are doing a tandem music-review post. He has uploaded the RD Burman soundtrack for your delectation, so grab it here and read on!
Though this is only available (to my knowledge) without subtitles, I figured since my current blog header features images of Shashi and Bindu from the film I ought to watch it. And it’s pretty entertaining, maybe even more so if you don’t know what’s going on. I don’t need subtitles to know that there is a lot of patriotic fervor and anti-smuggling-corruption-greed preaching in the story, but there are lots of subplots woven together too and without subtitles I have no idea if the subsequent story fabric is a sturdy khadi or fraying and full of large holes; I don’t care, either. Shashi is beginning to show his age (well, so am I) but he is still worthy eye-candy (see above), and Rekha is at her delightfully plump and imperious best. A huge cast of character actors—many of whom I need help identifying—are decked out in dizzying full-on seventies fashions, bad wigs, and huge sideburns, all in aesthetic competition with the beautiful Rajasthan desert.
Who would have ever thought that B. Subhash—maker of such spectacularly trashy fare as Disco Dancer, Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki, Dance Dance, and on and on—and Aamir Khan—now justifiably renowned for his perfectionism and serious approach to filmmaking—ever teamed up to make a film? Well, probably a lot of you guys did know that, but it was a bit of a shock to me.
Of course, I could not resist the lure of such a clash of sensibilities, especially since Aamir is paired with Juhi Chawla, with whom he always had great chemistry. So how did it go?