Posts tagged ‘Shyam Kumar’

August 4, 2012

Thakur Jernail Singh (1966)

I love a good daku-drama, and Dara Singh makes one very satisfyingly manly dacoit (I mean, he is the guy who later carved “MARD” into his infant son’s chest). This film is surprisingly serious much of the time though, with an unexpected (at least to me) ending; it’s not his usual lighthearted type of stunt film although there is plenty of delicious fun to be had nonetheless. Director Mohammed Hussain has long been one of my more prolific and dependable favorites, having delivered the crazy likes of FauladShikariMain Hoon AladdinCID 909Teesra Kaun, and on and on). For the cast he has roped in his usual stalwarts, including Helen as heroine and perpetually belligerent Shyam Kumar in a Prince Valiant wig. And of course, being a “B-movie” it has beautiful music too, with lively dances from the gorgeous Bela Bose, Madhumati and Rani, among others.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

July 3, 2012

Prince (1969)

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.

March 13, 2012

Main Hoon Alladin (1965)

When friends ask me why I haven’t upgraded to digital high-definition from my 20-year-old CRT television set, I put a movie like this into the dvd player as explanation. It looks bad enough on my old workhorse, I can’t even imagine how bad it would look on HD. And really, I don’t want to ever stop watching movies like this, no matter how abysmal the video and audio might be. It is a riotously colorful Arabian Nights vehicle for tall, handsome Ajit in a last gasp as hero, replete with the loony touches and sumptuous sets and costumes for which director Mohammed Hussain is beloved (at least by me). Usha Khanna’s music is plentiful and fortunately pleasant (sometimes very much so), and Sayeeda makes a lovely heroine. The lack of subtitles, choppy editing, and poor made-from-vhs-tape quality cannot diminish my pleasure in it; I am even thrilled by the (some would say poorly) hand-drawn title credits.

October 25, 2011

Shatranj (1969)

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.

October 12, 2011

Kahin Aar Kahin Paar (1971)

This film is exactly what I would picture a big long LSD trip to be like (because of course I have no actual knowledge of one). Although if it were an acid trip, I’d probably be dead now. It is that crazy: I have a pretty high tolerance—some less charitable might even say need—for eye-popping candy-colored visuals, but by the abrupt (and non-existent) end of this my head was exploding. Truly it is a dizzying kaleidoscopic bombardment of Cracktastic that never lets up. Low on budget it might be, but the heights of jugad are certainly scaled.

I also really love the cinematography (Shyam Shiposkar): the camera angles are fantastic. Much of the candy color is probably a result of film deterioration, but here that sad state only adds to the charm.

May 7, 2011

Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973)

This is one of those films I watched early on and I will admit that it confused me hopelessly at the time. I did not understand the wigs, or Dharmendra’s facial tics and popping veins, or why Tariq was so manic. I was so ignorant and naive.

Now of course, although I still have questions, I know they can never be adequately answered.

February 16, 2011

My filmi family winter holiday

It being that time of year, I am off on a skiing holiday in Switzerland with my best friend Asha P. and my something-or-other-by-marriage Babita. My friend Mike suggests I take along an inexplicably neglected friend of his whom he calls The Bomb, Praveen Choudhary. She has always seemed like good fun to me too, so: the more, the merrier!

All three of these ladies make me envious with their ability to tease up a big bouffant and their cat’s-eye makeup, perfect for setting off a fur collar or parka hood. My plan is to have them teach me these valuable life skills when they are too tired to ski any more. And while they wear themselves out on the slopes, Gemma and I will be making friends with the bartender in the nearest cozy firelit lodge. I don’t ski, myself, but I do love a good ski resort!

June 28, 2010

Cracktastic Shikari-now with subtitles!

I feel Tom and his gang of subtitlers should form their own production company and give it a proper name! Any suggestions? In any case, another formerly unsubtitled and painfully unrestored vcd has been subtitled (thanks again Raja!) and given the Tommydan Treatment. I must say that I am blown away with how beautiful this dvd looks compared to the source files. I don’t know how he does it, but I’m glad he does.

March 26, 2010

My ten favorite Bela Bose songs

I have covered her contemporaries (and frequent colleagues) Helen and Laxmi Chhaya; now it is beautiful Bela’s turn! Many of my favorite Bela musical moments are not part of an actual film song. CID 909, a film that makes Excellent Use of Bela, has a perfect example of that in a scene where she is teaching a dance class. Cha Cha Cha is another—she and Helen dance together in several scenes (one, two—can you spot a very young Mac Mohan grooving along?) but not to an actual song included in the movie’s official soundtrack. Those are often some of the best moments in her films, although she is no slouch at item numbers either. She clearly just loves to be moving and has a wonderfully natural sense of rhythm. Her beauty is exotic: high cheekbones to die for, slanting eyes and full lips, plus a figure to kill for make her unforgettable (she sometimes reminds me of Sophia Loren).

February 15, 2010

My filmi family portrait

I’ve said on these pages many times that actors in Hindi cinema become like family after you watch enough films over the years. The same faces, essentially playing the same roles…eventually you wake up one day and realize that they are as familiar to you as the people you grew up with (well, many of you DID grow up with them, you lucky souls!).

Anyway, I got to thinking the other day about what a Memsaab family photo might look like. Who would be in it, who would be cropped out. Of course, I would be at the center of it: me and my beloved Shammi, and little Gemma too—probably trying to lick Shammi’s hand. Sisters Laxmi Chhaya, Kumari Naaz, Bela Bose, and didi Helen would flank us, completely overdressed for the occasion. Moody and unstable brother Shyam Kumar would be off to the side, so that we could easily trim him out should he really go over the edge one day. Naughty-boy neighbors Ranjeet and Feroz Khan would lurk nearby, waiting for Shammi to turn his back so they could wink at me and maybe cop a feel. Faithful family retainer Nazir Kashmiri would water flowers with the “help” of dog Moti; but horses Raja and Badal would be absent, off grazing in the meadow and keeping an eye out for that rascal dacoit Vinod Khanna, who is constantly trying to kidnap me. Which is why Shammi hired Dharmendra as my bodyguard (he’s trusting, is my Shammi).

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