August 15, 2012
I watched this with Carla (Filmigeek), who liked it more than I did possibly thanks to the dazzling spectacle that is Sharmila in a swimsuit. For me it was ruined on the mystery front by obvious red herrings thrown at me like bricks and then left unexplained; and elsewhere by the insistence of the men who supposedly “loved” Sharmila (including the hero, argggghh Shashi) threatening repeatedly to kill her if she didn’t do what they wanted. There was fun to be had in some foot-tapping Kalyanji-Anandji musical numbers (and background score) and the general gorgeous sixties ishtyle of Shashi and Sharmila (what splendid alliteration!), but it didn’t quite make up for the annoyances above and a sad lack of gadgetry, lairs or any other kind of embellishment which might have made it less predictable.
Khair. You cannot always win everything.
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August 7, 2012
I enjoy celebrating the “behind the scenes” contributors to Hindi cinema history as much as I do the actors (and dancers). One such person is Vrajendra Gaur, who wrote dialogues and screenplays for such favorites of mine as Howrah Bridge, China Town, Teen Deviyan, Kati Patang, and Sharmilee. His career spanned the 1940s through the 1970s, ending with The Great Gambler in 1979. Recently his son Suneel Gaur reached out to me asking if I wanted to see a photograph of his father with Rajesh Khanna; of course I did, and of course I pestered him for more. There is always more, and indeed that is the case here. And I must just add that I think the photograph above left, of Mr. Gaur with Dilip Kumar, is one of the sweetest pictures I have ever seen. They look so young, so full of promise, and like fast friends indeed.
The prolific writer-lyricist-director-author-poet-journalist died 32 years ago on August 7th 1980, and his sons Suneel and Rajesh Gaur pay tribute to their father on his death anniversary (and all of the photographs are courtesy of them too).
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July 7, 2012
Most of you know by now that I am not terribly enamored of “earnest” movies that bludgeon the audience (i.e. me) repeatedly with trite patriotic messages. I feared this film would be like that but happily I was wrong. It is very enjoyable: part history lesson, part celebration of newly independent India, part debate whether violence is ever justified or not—still a relevant topic. Mostly, though, it’s a film about relationships, the most powerful one at hand being that between a young freedom fighter (Dilip Kumar) and his father (Chandramohan) with British loyalties. The title Shaheed (Martyr) can be applied to just about every character in the film, but the performances are, if sometimes a bit melodramatic, always heartfelt. I did get an excellent Chandramohan Nahiiin! Face but that can only be called a bonus. With eyes like that, how can he help it? The characters are well-drawn and complex, and there are touches of humor throughout to lighten what could otherwise be (okay, IS) a pretty depressing plot. And the chemistry between Dilip Kumar and Kamini Kaushal is very sweet, too.
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May 3, 2012
In which Shashi is a zombie and everybody is stupider than stupid.
Given the caliber of the main players (Sanjeev Kumar, Raakhee, Shashi Kapoor), I might have had hopes that this would be a decent film at least, but having read the Post-Punk Cinema Club’s review some time ago I knew better. Still, I expected some bright spots. But there weren’t any, unless you like pork. Everytime I thought the film could not possibly get any dumber or the acting worse, it got dumber and the acting got worse. I guess when a plot is this moronic with characters this poorly drawn, there is nothing much else to do except ham it up—and ham it up they all did. My God.
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November 13, 2011
I really wanted to like this movie—Faryal as a heroine! The Shash as her hero! Lalita Pawar! Pran!—but I was forced to ponder these things instead:
- Why is Faryal the heroine so much less likable than Faryal the vamp?
- Is it possible for Prithviraj Kapoor’s sons to pull off being “poor”? (no)
- How many wimpy roles did Shashi play in the Sixties anyway?
- Is it better to ignore psychological issues than to completely eff them up?
- Is there anything funnier than absolutely literal subtitles?
- Is Lalita Pawar Awesome No Matter What? (yes)
- Is Pran the Most Suave Villain Ever? (yes again)
- Have I really seen two movies in a row where Lots of Mehmood wasn’t Too Much?
*Sigh* So much goodness squandered on a story full of trite saccharine platitudes (if you are rich, be kind to the poor; they are people too!) which descends finally into that melodrama I so dread, where the females in the story are either blamed or worshipped and lose any bit of individuality and humanity they might have had.
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October 17, 2011
I am very busy these days with my new Indian Maa Edwina, who is visiting me for a month and bossing me around and cooking for me and making me laugh and laugh and laugh. (For lots more about her go here!) Also I have a new computer so am still in the process of getting everything transferred and software up-to-date and all that not-so-fun stuff. So in lieu of longer posts about films (although I’ll get to reviews when I can) I thought I’d entertain you with some of my favorite articles from my stacks of vintage magazines. They will be in pdf format and if you have trouble viewing them in your browser window, simply right- (or control-) click to save them to your hard drive and use Adobe Reader (free download) to open them.
This particular installment is an interview with the lovely Jennifer Kapoor, wife of The Shash and mother of aspiring actors Kunal, Karan and Sanjana, from the December 1983 edition of Stardust. Enjoy!
Jennifer Kapoor article
August 10, 2011
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.
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December 9, 2010
Sometimes I just have to ask myself if I live in a cave or something. Why have I not seen this movie before?! I could have seen it ten times by now! Why am I so late to this party?
But better late than never, especially to a party like this one. Beyond the endless (and largely nonchalent) WTF-ery there is a lot going on, much of it possibly unintended but tremendously engaging nonetheless. Hacking my way through the dense plot I spot references to the legend of King Arthur, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, the Bible, Beastmaster, Alice In Wonderland, William Faulkner and so much more. I revel in Amitabh’s recyled outfit from Shahenshah and Rajasthan’s gorgeous Amber Fort. Best of all, I am led to ponder issues like “What is the lifespan of a dolphin, anyway?” and “What’s the point of having a magic talisman that turns into an elephant if you never use it?”
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November 15, 2010
My feisty best friend Asha P. calls to ask me to come cheer on the sports team she captains. Shashi offers to walk over with me and Gemma; since we are always proud to be seen with my stylish and handsome brother-in-law, and it is a beautiful afternoon, we happily set forth. Alas, we arrive at the playing field to discover that the opposing “Heroes” team is unfortunately anything but: led by their crazy-eyed coach Amrish Puri, they are cheating like mad.
Shetty says nothing, but his shiny bald head and bulging muscles are intimidating. Ajit on the other hand is quite vocal, shouting lunatic threats of world domination and lobbing firecrackers in all directions. The Heroes have in fact scored one goal already, probably by accident.
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November 11, 2010
One of the best things about the internet is how much easier it is to find information about people you are interested in. Of course, the downside is that much of it is misinformation, which makes it all the nicer when you stumble across a source that you can have faith in—such as a family member! Of course for we fans of old Hindi cinema, there is still not much out there; this makes me even more grateful when someone like Rakesh Anand Bakshi contacts me. Rakesh is genuinely interested in preserving and sharing his great lyricist father Anand Bakshi’s legacy, and so he should be. Anand Bakshi wrote lyrics for more than 600 Hindi films, including many huge hits and many of my more obscure favorites too!
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