Posts tagged ‘Premnath’

April 2, 2012

Rani Aur Lalpari (1975)

I have a love-hate relationship with this movie’s star Baby Rani and its director Ravi Nagaich. Baby Rani was so very cute in Hum Kisise Kum Nahin but so very monotonous and terrifying in the film which spawned the shortest review I will probably ever write. And Ravi Nagaich insists on making films in which the whole never quite equals the sum of its parts—parts that are so mind-blowing that the whole shouldn’t even matter, but somehow always does. This leaves me dissatisfied but also intent on seeing more of his output, which leaves me dissatisfied, and on and on. I guess it takes talent to be both cute and annoying beyond belief, and so imaginative and yet so boring. And that pretty much sums up how I feel about Rani Aur Lalpari, except in addition, probably because this is supposed to be a children’s story, it is ruthlessly miserable.

Fairy tale writers seem compelled to warn kids that life sucks, and sucks hard, especially if you are Baby Rani.

February 8, 2012

Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye (1974)

I have no idea what the plot of this movie is—seriously no idea—but I know that I love it. Even if with subtitles it became a maudlin, sexist melodrama (which I doubt) I would still love it. Why? Well for one thing it is extremely shiny. Premnath has a lair made completely out of mirrors, and not in a pretty Mughal-e-Azam kind of way but in a spectacularly gaudy disco kind of way. The songs by OP Nayyar are delightful and the cinematography (VN Reddy) is gorgeous. The cast is a veritable Who’s Who of character actors. And a still-dashing Sunil Dutt makes a dacoit I can really root for, although he does seem a little old for plump young Rekha. The story is liberally sprinkled with dacoit-drama masala ingredients: greedy moneylenders, long-lost daughters, flashbacks, dozens of people named Singh, pretty pretty Marwari horses, and real ruffians lurking beneath a veneer of respectability and draped with scantily-clad gori extras. I felt totally sated by the end.

Did I mention the mirrors? Lots and lots of mirrors.

January 15, 2012

Nagin (1976)

Fate has conspired to push snake movies at me from all angles this month; so be it. Until Doodh Ka Karz came along this was my topmost favorite of the genre and it is at least still tied for first. I love it for the ridiculous special effects, the Seventies style, the star-crammed cast and the shape-shifting, vengeful ichchadhari nagin Reena Roy. These things more than make up for the heavy-handed (at times) preaching on a wide number of subjects: marriage, wifely duty, religion, sacrifice, revenge, redemption. I was only planning to mine this for screenshots for my “Nahiin! Face Gallery” (coming soon), but I couldn’t stop watching once I began. There are lots of Nahiin! Face moments, but there are some surprisingly sensitive ones too. All in all it’s an odd mixture of things, almost none of them boring.

September 23, 2011

Loafer (1973)

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.

July 2, 2011

Gora Aur Kala (1972)

If you are enticed by a story built on more than a few ludicrous suppositions and where skin color informs character, you might enjoy Gora Aur Kala. Or you might think—as I did more than once—that the racism inherent in all of it is so despicable that even Madan Puri atop a Disco Throne (before disco!) and the delicious irony of medically separated Siamese twin princes being separated again by fate hardly make up for it. But then again, it is all so very very over-the-top that I giggled at least as much as I cringed.

July 15, 2010

Pyar Mohabbat (1968)

Hackneyed fairy-tale featuring a lost prince returning home? Check. Shrill Saira Banu opposite preternaturally youthful Dev Anand? Check. Portly Premnath as an evil Senapati? Check again. Did I like the film? Oh hell yes! What’s not to love about a movie that advertises a cast of “about 500 Indian & International junior Artistes” and delivers on that promise? Who cares if the plot is silly? Not I, given a frothy sixties travelogue with ports of call in a Middle East populated by blonde belly dancers and stoned hippie extras. I love to see my people in Hindi movies. Plus, Shankar Jaikishan provide some seriously catchy tunes to accompany all the onscreen antics.

June 11, 2010

Teesri Manzil: the missing pieces

Most fans of Shammi Kapoor and this fabulous film are by now painfully aware that no full version of it has made it onto dvd or vcd. Well, fear not! Shalini has shared her videotaped version which is intact (though unsubtitled), and I am here to tell you what we’ve been missing.

On the dvd, Sunita (Asha Parekh) and Rocky (Shammi) return from their little excursion having fallen head over heels in love and Rocky discovers that his room has been ransacked while he was away. He realizes that someone is investigating Rupa’s death a year earlier, and is confronted by a jealous Ruby (Helen)—she says cryptically that she hopes that Rupa’s little sister doesn’t find it necessary herself to leap from the third floor to the arms of mother earth. Then suddenly the scene switches to a rural fair, with Sunita and Rocky singing a song on a ferris wheel; and from that point on wealthy Kanwar (Premnath) is suddenly part of the plot and Sunita’s father (Raj Mehra) is also inexplicably present along with Ramesh (Prem Chopra) and his father.

December 18, 2009

Ah, plagiarism!

I acquired this little gem some time back, and have been meaning to share. The very best thing about Filmcritic magazine is its editor VN Nayyar’s virulent hatred of Baburao Patel, the man whose magazine he has completely—and apparently shamelessly—plagiarized (but without the wit).

February 5, 2009

Desh Premee (1982)

desh-premee

I would be hard-pressed to choose my favorite Manmohan Desai film were I ever forced to. But Desh Premee would be near the top of the list. I loved this film; once again the great director has given us a sprawling and complex story encompassing themes of compassion, unity, justice, patriotism, faith and love. He uses leprosy both as a metaphor for the corruption eating away at his country, and as a message of non-exclusion, and the unwavering courage and integrity of Masterji both destroys his happiness and saves his loved ones at the end. There are many moments of humor and silliness, of course, but the movie’s overall tone is quite serious as compared to some of his other work.

I think I’ve finally put my finger on why I love Desai’s films so much. Like me he has a cynic’s view of the world; and also like me, a romantic soul underlying that cynicism. That juxtaposition between often harsh reality and what we wish were real instead is present in all his work, and he always lets the “wishing” side win. Even when the ending is somewhat sad (like Roti) we are still left with a sense of hope. Plus, his imagery and plots are just so FAB.

December 31, 2008

Dharmatma (1975)

dharmatma2

Ah, Feroz Khan. As a producer and director, you spare nothing! I watched Dharmatma a long time ago and it was time for a rewatch in the wake of the fantabulous Apradh. I remember that I had liked it, but I was bowled over completely the second time around. 

Premnath dominates as the title character: a wealthy and powerful man who believes entirely that the end justifies the means, who has convinced himself that his bad deeds are compensated for by his good ones. Indeed, he is called “Dharmatma” (God Man) by everyone because of those good deeds. Feroz Khan plays his son, a man standing firmly on principles that are completely at odds with his father’s.

Their conflict plays out against a backdrop that includes the gorgeous Afghani landscape, crazy nightclubs (and a dwarf bartender!), opulent mansions, and all the stylish goodness you’d expect from the era (and from Feroz too). The production values are high, the camera work spectacular. Plus: Hema Malini as a gypsy dancer! Danny Denzongpa! Ranjeet and Sudhir in matching outfits! Rekha! Helen! Nadira as a gypsy fortuneteller! Faryal as a sexy nurse! Iftekhar as not a police inspector! And Kalyanji-Anandji’s music doesn’t suck either, especially the background score.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 832 other followers