Anybody who comes here regularly will not be surprised that I could not resist a film called Big Pigeon. And I’m so glad I didn’t—it is oodles of fun, with a talented ensemble cast, nice RD Burman songs, and lots of laughs. And *wow* I love Rehana Sultan. What a shame she got pigeon-holed (yes pun intended, my bad) and her career fizzled. Deven Verma wrote, produced, directed and starred in this comic crime caper; the internet appears to believe that Amitabh Bachchan and Helen star in it, but Helen has just one cabaret dance and Amitabh is nowhere to be seen (nor is he credited, as imdb claims). It’s possible that he had an uncredited guest appearance but if so, it’s gone.
I didn’t miss him: Ashok Kumar, Leela Mishra, Rehana Sultan, Deven Verma, Pinchoo Kapoor and a little butterball toddler billed as “Golu (A Wonder Child)” kept me enthralled and in stitches.
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.
Here we have another relatively obscure film which does not deserve to be abandoned to the unprofessional shenanigans of Ultra, although it isn’t any masterpiece for sure. But stars Shashi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore are young and gorgeous, as is the exotic setting (Kenya, complete with Masai warriors and lovely wildlife footage). They are backed up by the *extreme* cuteness of Laxmi Chhaya—who dances several times too—and the blessed presence of stalwarts Madan Puri, Rajendranath, Nirupa Roy, and Jayant. It is of course not subtitled and much of the angst went over my head (not necessarily a bad thing); but I loved the travelogue eye-candy of the first half and giggled through the melodramatic soap-opera quality of the second half, complete with crazed camera angles and abundant overuse of the zoom lens, Emoting Shashi, and strident musical effects.
I spent the entire running time of this film with a big angry WTF bubble above my head. It’s not that I shouldn’t have known: packaging which advertises Bindu as a nymphomaniac is pretty fair warning. Sadly, it is also irresistible enticement for someone belonging to the “How bad can it be?” school of risk management.
It’s bad. It’s REAL bad. It’s Haseena Atom Bomb bad.
About the only thing this dreadful movie has going for it is the Bizarro World subtitles—subtitles so strange but enthusiastic that I pictured a crowd of manic little elves shouting and arguing about the best word or phrase to use, none of which probably made any sense, let alone the one they finally settled upon. But I thank Bhagwan above for the weird subs, because there was not much else to like.
I confess that I have never shared the fervent Rishi love that so many of my fellow Hindi film lovers do, although I do pretty much adore Noughties Rishi who has stolen the show in films like Hum Tum, Luck By Chance and Chintuji. He stars here with his real-life lady love Neetu Singh (whom I DO totally share the appreciation for usually) and my recent acquaintance Zahira, with Pran as his military father figure Major Sharma. The story is an exercise in dysfunctional parenting with lots of overacting (Roopesh Kumar I am looking at YOU) and that sacrificial-lamb theme that I so despise, although at least this time it’s mostly the men who wallow in stupid pointless suffering: equal opportunity martyrdom is the order of the day.
Our hero’s training continues with an endurance test inside the Room of Ice…as the temperature gets colder and colder! Mogambo urges him on—even Mike is rooting for him. Will he survive?
Oh, the suspense! The tension! The gazillion beeping gadgets!
Has there ever been anything sillier, dear readers?
Oh my. How do I begin to describe this film? It’s very definitely Manmohan Desai’s work. It has all the usual hallmarks of his stories: poverty, heavy-handed symbolism, religious motifs, good versus evil, sin and redemption. There are parts where ideas are presented so powerfully it takes your breath away. But it’s also filled with the ridiculous: mind-boggling coincidences, over-the-top drama, loony comedy and one plot twist after another.
This film felt larger in scale and ambition to me than any of his others. Fate is a hard task-master here, and Rajesh Khanna gives an excellent performance as its victim, driven by his basic needs but haunted by his wrong-doing.