Posts tagged ‘Praveen Paul’

November 6, 2011

Naughty Boy (1962)

Kishore Kumar is one of those actors (Mehmood being another) who either makes me laugh out loud or completely irritates me. The script, direction and supporting characters make the difference usually, and I think that’s the case (and by “case” I mean problem) here too. Even though Shakti Samanta directed, after about the first hour I was fast-forwarding through more than I watched—not only is the frantic slapstick not funny, but the Curse of the Second Half derails what little entertainment there is. The story manages an interesting turn in the middle but then resolves itself in the stupidest manner possible. Plus the supporting cast are grating—even Madan Puri as a buffoonish bad guy just isn’t funny. In fact Edwina, who watched some of it with me and appears in two songs, asked me how on earth I can sit through such stuff.

She seems quite amazed at my tolerance for total crap, but I’m sure it comes as no surprise to any of you who come here regularly.

April 2, 2011

Pagla Kahin Ka (1970)

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.

August 14, 2010

Raja Rani (1973)

This is one of my favorite Rajesh Khanna films: his character Raja and his chemistry with Sharmila’s Rani is beyond sweet. My friend and Rajesh expert Suhan points out that it’s possibly the only film they made where they actually get to spend time together being young and in love instead of being painfully separated and only reunited in old age! RD Burman’s music is lovely, the performances are strong (with some fun guest appearances); the story is interesting and nicely paced with lots of humor, and the characters beautifully etched. If you are in the mood for some sweet romance and stylish seventies fun, this is a well-made and non-taxing movie to settle in with.

August 20, 2009

Wardat (1981)

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Gun Master G-9! will…claw your eyes out?

Mithun has been sadly underrepresented in my Hindi film experience—I have only seen him in Disco Dancer, Ashanti (meh) and Ganga Jamuna Saraswati (argh, plus he was totally wasted in it). I don’t really “get” the Mithun appeal based on those three films—I keep hearing what a great dancer he is, for instance, but have not seen any evidence to support it. I’ve actually never seen any evidence that there was any choreography at all in Hindi films from the 80s, so perhaps it isn’t really his fault. In any case, I thought perhaps I could watch this and expand my Mithun knowledge a wee bit. I was warned against it, I admit, but I’m tired of looking for Surakksha; Gun Master G-9 is Gun Master G-9 after all, right? How bad can it be?

June 25, 2009

Faulad (1963)

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When a filmmaker has limited means and can thus only make a movie that’s

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don’t you think he or she should choose the color portions wisely? Alas, this is never the case. In Faulad for example, most of the action takes place in fabulously ornate palaces and havelis and on a pirate ship, and it’s all black and white. At the end, when all the action is taking place in a boring, dingy dungeon—it’s in color! I don’t need to see a gray stone dungeon in color!

Nevertheless, Faulad is a lot of fun. It’s hard to go wrong when Mohammed Hussain is directing (and Dara Singh, Mumtaz and Minoo Mumtaz are starring in) a film with swashbuckling Arabian Nights championship wrestling action and gorgeous songs (by the criminally ignored GS Kohli)!

March 4, 2009

Mere Mehboob (1963)

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This is one of the most romantic films I’ve ever seen, with absolutely sublime music by Naushad. It’s a Muslim social drama set in Lucknow, with all the attendant grace and beauty you would expect. Elaborate sets and costumes are de rigueur! Love blooms for Sadhana and Rajendra Kumar, and there is also a lovely romance between the so handsome Ashok Kumar and pretty Nimmi. Obstacles and misunderstandings abound, seasoned with (mostly) funny-man Johnny Walker’s antics, and made compelling by the people and relationships you can’t help but root for—this is my favorite kind of movie. Even the fairly poor condition of the color print only adds to the old-fashioned and elegant ambiance of it all.

Almost-graduate Anwar Hussain (Rajendra Kumar) has seen a girl’s eyes through her burkha, and fallen hard for them. When he despairs of finding her before school ends, his best friend Ghayal (Johnny Walker) encourages him to write a poem for her for the shair competition that Anwar has won every year. He does so, and performs the lovely, haunting “Mere Mehboob Tujhe”—instantly winning the adoration of the girl he seeks, Husna (Sadhana).

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She attempts to meet him afterwards, but is scared off by other students crowding around to congratulate him. Poor Anwar has no other opportunity to meet her before he boards a train home to Lucknow with Ghayal. Unbeknownst to him she is in the ladies compartment of the same train and her brother the Nawab (Ashok Kumar) ends up in the same carriage as Anwar and Ghayal—who knows him, and introduces him to Anwar.

Ghayal is the son of the richest man in Lucknow, a moneylender. He wants Binda (Ghayal’s real name) to join the family business but Ghayal prefers to dabble in poetry. On one of his first days home, he is riding his bike in the time-honored “Look Ma! No hands!” tradition when he loses his balance and crashes into the girl who becomes the object of his affections.

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This and the ongoing arguments with his father at home make up the Comic Side Plot, and that’s all I’m going to say on the subject. Johnny Walker is one of my favorite comedians, and he makes me laugh during this film; thus, I find it easy to forgive the CSP interruptions and the fact that Praveen Paul and Sunder (who play his parents) don’t look any older than he does, and nor does Johnny himself look even close to the same age as Rajendra Kumar and Sadhana.

So on with the main plot: Anwar’s education and support has been provided by his older sister Najma (Nimmi). When the two of them were orphaned at an early age, greedy relatives mistreated them and stole their inheritance. To survive, Najma took Anwar away and started working as a dancer in the theater. They are extremely close, and I love their bhai-bahen relationship.

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Najma’s dancing is not respectable work, and in fact she doesn’t want anyone to know that she is Anwar’s sister for fear of tainting his reputation and prospects. For his part, Anwar longs to acknowledge her, dancer or not, and now that his education is complete he wants her to give up the profession that she so dislikes and which so shames her. He can’t bear to see her on stage, although I think she’s lovely!

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Someone else who finds her lovely is the Nawab: he is in love with her and as her official “protector” has saved her from the advances of other men, but he won’t marry her because he feels an obligation to maintain his old and respected family’s name.

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Anwar knows nothing about their relationship, although the Nawab has confided in Husna about his love for Najma. Theirs is also a close brother-sister relationship (I love those, since I’m lucky to have one myself). He refuses to get married at all, since the woman he loves:

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The Nawab sits around smoking his hookah all day, and their house is absolutely over-the-top grand. It’s Mughal-palace-meets-1950s-Hollywood-set-decoration:

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Anyway, Anwar needs a job and Ghayal suggests he ask the Nawab for assistance (it’s not what you know, but who!). The Nawab is thrilled to see the young men again, and happily recommends Anwar for an editor’s job at a local newspaper. He asks Anwar for a favor in return: his sister writes poetry, and could use some tutoring.

Husna can’t stop thinking about the handsome poet from college, and has confided in her best friend Naseem (Ameeta, in a lovely role). Naseem happens to live next door to the house that Anwar has rented—his balcony overlooks her back window and garden.

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At their first poetry tutoring session, Anwar asks Husna (who sits on the other side of a screen from him—purdah is observed rather erratically in the film, but quite possibly is in real life too) to recite a favorite poem so he can gauge her taste. She astonishes him by reciting his own song back at him.

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Ecstatic but shy, each pretends that his or her “friend” has feelings for the other, and then they rush off to share the joy of finding their beloveds with their best friends. At Naseem’s house, Husna sings the “Mere Mehboob” song, and Anwar overhears. Going out on his balcony, he spots Naseem at the window and mistakes her for his newfound love. For her part, Naseem sees the handsome young man staring at her and is smitten. This misunderstanding leads to a happy evening spent gazing across the narrow street at each other. 

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It doesn’t take long for Husna and Anwar to discover that their “friends” are in fact each other, though. The Nawab calls Anwar by name in Husna’s hearing, and then tells Anwar that Husna herself—not her “friend”—went to college in Aligarh where she heard him sing.

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Anwar realizes that he’s made a mistake with his neighbor, but forgets about her quickly (after all, he has no idea who she is). He advances boldly beyond the screen at the next tutoring session—not much tutoring is getting done, I can tell you!—and finally gets to see Husna’s face. He murmurs “Subhan Allah!” reverently. I melt into a puddle.

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Meanwhile, the Nawab has been thinking about getting Husna married and discusses it with Najma. He has had offers from people with lots of money, but he has a boy in mind who is educated and of good character, although he doesn’t know much about his family. Najma unwittingly supports Anwar’s case by pointing out gently that an education is as good as money.

Their relationship is fun to watch too. Clearly they genuinely love each other, and though both agree that marriage is not possible they share a happy companionship together. Of course I think they should get married despite societal disapproval, and I pray that the Nawab will wake up one day and smell the coffee!

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At least it looks like a happy ending in store for our Anwar and our Husna, but there is a lot of stuff in the way! First of all, Naseem still loves Anwar and thinks he loves her.

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Secondly, one of Naseem’s uncles—a wealthy but characterless man played by Pran!—has gotten a look at Husna himself, and he wants to marry her.

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When Naseem’s aunt (Mumtaz Begum) brings his proposal to the Nawab and is rejected, we discover that the Nawab himself has some big problems.

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And of course, Anwar doesn’t know anything about the Nawab’s relationship with his sister. Worst of all, the Nawab is about to find out that the man he has chosen for his sister is the brother of the woman whom society—and he—have deemed unfit for marriage into his family!

Can our lovers survive the onslaught of scheming by Pran and Mumtaz Begum? They are no slouches at evildoing! What will Naseem do when she discovers that the man she dreams of loves her best friend? And finally, can the Nawab choose happiness for his sister over the family’s honor? What about happiness for himself and Najma?

It’s a heart-rending and suspenseful trip along the thorny path of love, but a trip I highly recommend. Naushad’s songs for this film are deservedly famous; my favorite besides “Mere Mehboob Tujhe” is the lively dance number “Jaaneman Ek Nazar Dekhle” performed by Ameeta. I need to see more of her! The ambiance is of a time and culture now gone—if romance and history are your thing, you will love this.

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January 25, 2009

Bhai Ho To Aisa (1972)

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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.

November 8, 2008

Rustom-E-Hind (1965)

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I have to admit that I didn’t expect much from this movie, although I wanted to see it for Helen, Laxmi Chhaya and Madhumati dancing, and Mumtaz as the heroine opposite Dara Singh. Also: KN Singh! and lots of men in tights (as per usual for a Dara Singh starrer). However, it turned out to be an excellent fairy tale of a film, with a coherent plot, a truly detestable villain, and even a semi-bearable comic side plot thanks to Mohan Choti and Tun Tun. The dances did not disappoint either; the music by Hansraj Behl is lovely and Laxmi Chhaya’s number in particular is now one of my all-time favorites.

Oodles of fun!

September 16, 2008

Sachaa Jhutha (1970)

Manmohan Desai directing, Rajesh Khanna in a double role (for which he won the Filmfare Best Actor award) with beautiful Mumtaz opposite, plus Kumari Naaz (one of my favorite actresses), a co-starring dog, and Vinod Khanna! Believe me when I say I jumped through hoops to get my hands on a working DVD of this movie. Shame on you, Shemaroo! *shakes fist in their general direction* [Begin rant: Why do they not check master DVDs before duping them a million times, why? How hard can it be? End rant.] Thank goodness for BEI.

In any case, I DID jump through hoops because…well, read the first sentence again. Was it worth it? Read on!

July 7, 2008

Maha Badmaash (1977) Part 2

We catch up with our hero as he checks into the Hotel Hilton. He is shadowed by a girl in green hot pants and floral go-go boots.

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