Posts tagged ‘Urmila Bhatt’

May 7, 2012

Zorro (1975)

“Zorro” doesn’t even begin to cover it. “Zorro meets Robin Hood meets the Wild Wild West meets Arabian Nights meets Ugly Bridesmaid Dresses and everybody’s last name is Singh!” is a fair start. Dharam-Veer wasn’t this much of a potluck! My friend Mike, who watched some of it with me, remarked that it looks like the wardrobe and set people went crazy in a bunch of studio warehouses and used every single item they found in them. While they were doing that, I think the writers were combing through as much world literature as they could find for their own influences. I’m also pretty sure a lot of the original film is edited out or lost, because transitions between scenes are very abrupt and the whole thing quite choppy, so Lord only knows what other cultural and historical references have gone missing along with that footage.

Almost everything is also very weirdly played for laughs, even atrocities being meted out to villagers. This sort of defeats the whole purpose of atrocities. But never mind: there is just so much to look at, much of it shiny.

August 6, 2011

Dhund (1973)

My mother, bless her, likes to watch Indian movies with me. Dhund has been on my short list to watch for some time now, and given our mutual love of mysteries it seemed a good pick—and so it was! We both really enjoyed it, and were mystified as to how it would end right up to the end. Based on an Agatha Christie play called “The Unexpected Guest”, it’s an atmospheric ensemble piece where everyone involved gets to shine (as much as the pervading fog will allow). Besides the main whodunit plot, there is also a charming and unusual effort to portray the police as competent and not-corrupt, one of whom is Madan Puri of all people.

Plus: a new/old mystery hotel!

October 21, 2010

Do Anjaane (1976)

Man insists on marrying Woman, although Woman says plainly and clearly that she doesn’t want to get married, to him or anyone else: she wants to dance and see the world. Then he is shocked—shocked!—when she is unhappy and feels trapped.

October 6, 2010

Toote Khilone (1978)

First of all, thank you to Robert for converting his vhs tape of this film to a dvd for me. It is one more enigma of Indian cinema that this isn’t readily available on a dvd with subtitles: it was produced by and starred Shekhar Kapur (of Mr. India, Bandit Queen and Elizabeth fame) along with his girlfriend at the time Shabana Azmi (obviously a renowned actress herself), and is directed by Ketan Anand, son of Chetan. Although it isn’t entirely successful, it is an interesting film. It’s a story about a little boy who grows up longing to be rid of the strictures which his father (Utpal Dutt in some truly hideous wigs) has imposed on him, and what happens when he does break free. Had it been as sensitively handled all the way through as it is for the first hour or so, it would have been much better; but it devolves into jarring crowd-pandering antics and leaves the psychological issues unexplored and glibly resolved.

March 2, 2010

Call Girl (1974)

I watched this film years ago as part of my early obsession with Helen, and didn’t fully appreciate then how very unusual it is for its time. It must be one of the earlier examples of the 1970s resurgence into “parallel” cinema and hard-hitting social commentary directed at the country’s youth. As you may have guessed from the title, the story revolves around a woman named Kamini (Zahira) who has been forced into a life of “high-class” prostitution by a society which offers few choices to a girl—on her own in the world, trying to support herself—who is raped by her wealthy employer. I would assume that in 1974 India it was considered (and probably criticized for being) “titillating” but to my western eyes thirty-six years later it is compellingly and realistically tawdry and sad, and an excellent attempt to illuminate the injustice inherent in a woman being made to pay an ongoing price for her own victimization. It is a film that has stuck in my memory—and revisiting it for this blog is long overdue (it’s not a movie I want to see over and over again, though: it is pretty grim).

September 7, 2009

Raaj Mahal (1982)

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Ooh, yeah. This is a rarity in 1980′s Hindi cinema, a masala film that’s complete paisa vasool! It starts off with a bang and continues to entertain thoroughly right up to the end: a rollicking, swashbuckling good time. The screenplay was written by Jyoti Swaroop, who is one of those people I’d really like to find out more about, but whose presence on the web is mostly confined to the hilarious film Padosan, which he directed. He’s known to me also for directing the delightful Chorni, and also for writing Satte Pe Satte and Inkaar—two other Memsaab favorites. In any case, the fun quotient is greatly enhanced by the droolworthy presence of Vinod Khanna and Danny Denzongpa as bitter rivals who *might* also be long-lost brothers, and by some zany subtitles.

June 8, 2009

Gauri (1968)

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From the DVD cover: “the saga of an Indian woman…who helps her parents before marriage, and gives her all to her husband after marriage.” I should have run screaming, right? Especially since said Indian woman is also blind (and played by Nutan)? But Mumtaz, Laxmi Chhaya and the young Sanjeev Kumar are also in the cast so I decided to take a chance. Alas! it is every bit as bad as the DVD cover promised. I had to turn the whole thing into a drinking game: Greedy manipulative father figure lies to his “sons”? Drink! Blind woman weeps helplessly at her fate? Drink! Son sacrifices his own happiness (and that of his beloved) for no good reason? Drink! Blind woman gets sight back and devotes self to fake husband who spurns her? Drink!

Drink! Drink!! Driiink!!!!

January 19, 2009

Dillagi (1978)

dillagi

Basu Chatterjee’s films are difficult for me to like. There: I’ve said it! They tread a fine line: even the ones that do work for me (Piya Ka Ghar, Chhoti Si Baat), despite being funny and sweet, ultimately find me getting restless. The ones that don’t work (Rajnigandha, Baaton Baaton Mein) just bore my socks off.

Dillagi had moments which made me laugh very hard (like the scene captured above where Dharmendra puts on one of Hema’s saris so that his own rain-soaked clothes can dry). It also helped that I watched it with Beth, whose witty commentary kept me entertained even when the film didn’t. It had potential, but in the end Hema’s character was so egregiously tiresome that it made me want to poke my eyes out. It also rendered Dharmendra’s pursuit of her—the essential plot point—completely unbelievable for me.

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