All I can think of when I look at Filmindia magazines, especially the covers and color plates inside, is candy.
This week has been quite harrowing: my sweet little Callie had four seizures on Sunday and was admitted to the hospital for three days while doctors tried to figure out what was going on. The good news is that she appears to be in really good health, especially given her age and puppy mill past, except of course for the seizures (“Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”). The veterinary neurologist (#firstworldproblems) has diagnosed her with idiopathic
epilepsy encephalitis, which I think means they have no idea what’s wrong but have to say something because I’ve essentially just donated a new wing to the hospital. She’s now on two anti-convulsant medications a boatload of medications and home, staggering around like a drunken sailor and twitchy. It takes a little time for the meds to kick in (or to get the right dosage), but I am very hopeful that these partial seizures will stop soon.
UPDATE: She has been re-diagnosed with encephalitis (GME—autoimmune encephalitis). This makes me very sad, but it is treatable with a LOT of meds (including injections which I get to learn how to give) and very careful management. Luckily the neurologist I have is one of the best in the world at treating this, so I remain hopeful.
I do know for sure that both Gilda and I are very very happy to have her back with us, bobbling head and all. But I have not had the time nor the inclination to watch any films so you’ll just have to make do with more gorgeous Filmindia scans. I know, I know: they are no kind of substitute for my deeply analytic and scholarly reviews, but there you have it! Try to manage.
Just when I fear that I may have seen all the crazy Indian spy films that there are to see, another one appears. This one is not quite as loony as my beloved Spy In Rome or Puraskar, but that is probably because it also had a larger budget and A-list stars (Waheeda Rehman and Rajendra Kumar). Still and all it is satisfyingly filled with many of the same tropes: an enemy country never called by its actual name, but whose denizens all have names like Comrades Ping and Chang and Shin Cho. They are led by an angry man we only ever see in silhouette until the end, who kills his loyal henchmen at the slightest provocation with weapons like machine guns mounted on turrets (and marvelous dying theatrics on the part of those men, although there is a sad lack of blood and gore). AND IT HAS SUBTITLES, hooray!
Plus, all the usual suspects—Madan Puri, Rajan Haksar, Ratan Gaurang—are present, sporting Fu Manchu moustaches and squinty eyes. Seriously satisfying.
It is a fact that when I started this blog I had grandiose plans to cover every single film Shammi ever starred in (well, that I could find, anyway). Little did I know how distracted I would become by so much other stuff, but here I go in a valiant attempt to move a teeny bit forward towards that lofty goal.
The Shakti Samanta-Shammi team made several memorable films and I think this is their first together. It has its entertaining moments, but after the first hour or so begins to drag for me. The songs are lovely (Shankar-Jaikishan); Shammi is lovely LOVELY (even in disguise); Padmini and Shashikala and Malaysian actress Maria Menado are lovely; but at the end of the day this isn’t one I want to watch over and over. Shammi’s exuberance seems to have nowhere to go and it fizzles; his chemistry with Padmini is tepid and although I am a fan of Agha, he is not the Shammi sidekick that Rajendranath was.
We all have our guilty pleasures (if you don’t, I recommend you get some)…and Baadshah is one of mine. Shah Rukh Khan is the first Indian actor that I truly fell head over heels for, and although I have hardly written about any of his movies here it’s not because I haven’t seen them all. I saw this film very early on in my pyaar and what stuck in my head was that although it struck me as incredibly stupid, it was also immensely fun; there was a ridiculous eye-transplant side plot that I found ludicrous at the time which—given what I know now—barely registered on this watch. There is a fair amount of painful hamming and silly slapstick (yes, someone even slips on a banana peel at one point) which puzzled me more than anything (“Does anyone actually find this funny?”), although now of course I realize that it has its roots in a very rich (if mostly unloved by me) CSP tradition.
It is amazing what a mere eight years of devotion to Hindi cinema can teach a person.
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.
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.
Since I have started avoiding films with words like “Bahu” in the title like the plague, I was a bit nonplussed when this film arrived in my mailbox. Then I realized that probably what I had planned to order was Teri Meherbaniyan. Not the same thing, not at all. I really need to pay closer attention to what I’m doing sometimes.
But since the stars are the likes of Rajendranath, Prithviraj Kapoor and Shashikala, I thought: how bad can it be? (Which admittedly has gotten me into trouble a few times, but I never learn.) And in what turned out to be a bit of serendipity, it isn’t bad at all. In fact, it’s quite sweet! It isn’t a feminist’s dream exactly, but given the time in which it was made it isn’t a nightmare either. Mostly it’s a funny story about a joint family and the plethora of complications that arise when a famous actress moves in next door. It reminded me of one of those 1950s Doris Day-Rock Hudson comedies. Plus, the songs are lots of fun (by Kalyanji Anandji) and hilariously picturized.
As a gori mem who enjoys her gigantic icy-cold Kingfishers every day while in India (and “several” glasses of wine every other evening), I do love a good song about the devil’s potion! Inspired by Dusted Off’s post on the same subject, I have changed one of her rules: I’m including fake-pretend drinking because it’s a fascinating (to me anyway) artifact of Hindi movies. If you need to chase someone off, or get them to hate you—pretend to have a drink! (I would be lonely and unwanted indeed!) Of course some would point out that *most* movie drinking is “pretend” unless you are Dharmendra. I am only including songs from movies I’ve seen, where I loved the song and the performance and picturization of it. Liking the film is a plus too, but not strictly necessary.
I am sure no regular reader of these pages will have any trouble imagining my great joy at receiving this treasure from my new friend Shalini.
Shammi + Wadia Brothers + Babubhai Mistry—it’s like a miracle!
*dies and goes straight to heaven*
Add in Shashikala as Shammi’s heroine, and the redoubtable Kuldip Kaur (dictionaries should all have her picture next to the word “haughty”), plus a hunchback, a band of gypsies, and royal intrigue!…words fail me. Really. And it doesn’t matter, because I couldn’t tell you honestly what the plot is, only that I love this film. LOVE. Of all the early Shammi films I’ve seen, this is the first one in which he actually pretty much resembles the Shammi of his heyday. He looks like he’s having a ball—and why not? It’s oodles of swashbuckling fun.