Posts tagged ‘V Shantaram’

January 23, 2013

Guest post: Parshuram, a forgotten gem

parshuramMy friend and film encyclopedia Arunkumar Deshmukh contacted me a few days ago with the news that he had met family members of “yesteryears” actor and singer Parshuram. He was offering to write a guest post about this largely forgotten but long-time contributor to Indian cinema, who began his career in 1937, in V. Shantaram’s Duniya Na Maane (and Kunku, the Marathi version) and worked steadily for three more decades plus.

Naturally I jumped at this generosity! A big thank you to the family of Parshuram, and of course to Arunji.

August 16, 2010

Feel the love! Chandramohan

I will never forget my first glimpse of Chandramohan as a bloodthirsty Rajput in Mehboob Khan’s historical Humayun. Those pale and compelling eyes! That determined hunger for vengeance! I was instantly enchanted by his persistent enmity in the face of his foe’s tolerant goodwill. Indeed, Chandramohan dominates my review of that film. His flamboyant appearance and theatrics were unforgettable.

July 17, 2010

Amarjyoti (1936)

One of my dad’s favorite boyhood films was 1935′s Captain Blood with Errol Flynn and Olivia DeHavilland. I never knew that until a couple of years ago, but in the meantime it had become one of my favorites too. I love a good pirate movie! Guru Dutt’s film Baaz was an early favorite when I began watching Hindi films, especially since the pirate in question was a girl, and Geeta Bali at that. So imagine my joy when I discovered that around the time Errol Flynn was making Captain Blood, Prabhat’s own V. Shantaram was making a film starring the statuesque and beautiful Durga Khote as Pirate Queen Saudamini. Imagine! And furthermore, my beloved Chandramohan—he of the startling green eyes and overpowering charisma—is in it too!

August 11, 2009

Kunku (1937)

kunku

This film by V. Shantaram for his Prabhat Films company is quite simply amazing (Kunku is the Marathi version, which I saw; the Hindi version is called Duniya Na Mane with the same cast and crew). It is made with such stark realism and simplicity that it takes your breath away, and the social commentary at the heart of the film seems (to me anyway) to be way before its time. There is also delightful humor (I laughed out loud in places) punctuating the somber and nuanced story, along with powerful performances. Shanta Apte shines as the fierce Neera, a young girl forcibly married off to a wealthy widower old enough to be her father; and Keshavrao Date is equally good as her groom. He begins as a selfish and not so sympathetic figure who evolves into an object of pity, hoping that this marriage will make him feel young again, and loved—alas, it doesn’t quite work out that way.

September 12, 2008

Ayodhyecha Raja (1932)

A quick look at more antique cinema! This is the earliest Marathi film I’ve seen (okay, it’s the only Marathi film I’ve seen). It was made in both Hindi and Marathi by V. Shantaram for Prabhat Films and is the first Marathi “talkie.” No subtitles, and I have to say it kind of dragged for me. Mostly the acting was very theatrical (i.e. loud) and the setting very stagey, and there were a lot of tedious songs, badly sung. Here is a synopsis of the plot from imdb:

A big-budget mythological film telling a famous Ramayana tale. The truth-loving Harishchandra (Tembe), king of Ayodhya, is tested when the sage Vishwamitra challenges him to sacrifice his kingdom and offer alms of a thousand coins earned through his own labour. After many hardships, Harishchandra, Taramati (Khote) and their son Rohileshwara (Digambar) earn the money when the king and queen are sold as slaves in the city of Kashi. When the queen’s new owner, Ganganath (Pendharkar), tries to assault her, her son intervenes and is killed. Taramati is accused of the killing and is sentenced to be executed by her husband. The Kashi-Venkateshwara diety intervenes, brings the boy back to life, declares the king to have proved himself and returns him to his throne.

Happy ending, yay!

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