Reader Chris brought the sad lack of reviews on the internet of this film to my attention recently, and I am surprised. This is a really fun film, and though Shammi is admittedly towards the end of his career as a hero, he is still the Shammi who made hearts go pitter-patter. The songs are classic Shanker-Jaikishan-Rafi-Shammi, with the dance-off between Helen and Vijayanthimala probably its most well-known feature. But there’s so much more to it than that! Shammi is less exuberant than the Yahoo Shammi of early in the decade, which gives his performance a more subdued realism. He plays Prince Shamsher Singh, the jaded, bored, arrogant son of the Maharajah of Ramnagar (Ulhas); the film is about how wealth and privilege do not guarantee happiness, not by a long shot. This theme—and the setting, at the twilight of the Princely States—may be be trite, but they are no less valid; and the screenplay and story are penned by none other than Abrar Alvi. And the supporting cast…let’s just say it is a gift that keeps on giving.
I have no idea why it took me so long to see this; you all know how much I love a daku-drama! Dacoits are so romantic when you’re not the one they are raping and pillaging, especially when they are Dharmendra. And I loved this one too: it combines a Message with a family saga so spectacularly effed up that it’s worthy of Jerry Springer. At one point I was reduced to scribbling helplessly on my notepad: “Things could not possibly Go More Wrong than this.”
And then they did!
Sadly this isn’t a film anymore, but the last gasping remnants of one: a collection of random scenes (or partial scenes) strung together incoherently with big gaping wounds of missing content (and sometimes, sound). There are barely two seconds of footage together anywhere not punctuated by a skip or a jerk. That it still manages to be kind of fun to watch is a testament to…something, although I am not sure I can pinpoint what that Something is. It might just simply be Dara. Or Ajit, Randhawa, Nishi, Helen, Madan Puri, Bela Bose, Madhumati and some perfectly scintillating songs and dancing.
Well, there you go: I have pinpointed It.
After the hideous Dulhan, you might think that I would run screaming towards the present for solace rather than further back into the past. But this film was too tempting, with its catchy and familiar songs (“Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon” being justifiably the best known), its array of character and comic actors, and the extremely handsome and personable Shyam beckoning. Also, I just really never learn. And I was mostly nicely entertained by what began as a sort of Marx Brothers-type film with lots of sight gags and silly situations, and evolved into an intriguing story with an interesting romantic tangle—all punctuated by the joie de vivre of truly fantastic musical numbers (C Ramchandra). The only flaw is that the dvd didn’t stop working before the end. I could have really lived without the last twenty minutes or so.
When a filmmaker has limited means and can thus only make a movie that’s
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)!