Some of you I imagine will scratch your heads and say: “This is the dubious production she’s choosing to review after so long?”
Many more of you will say: “Well of course it is.“
To all of you I have only two words: Arjun Hingorani. I have seen a few films in the month since I last posted a review, but as nice as some of them were they simply didn’t inspire me enough to overcome the cloud of Callie-worry and work overload. I was positive that the letter ‘K’ loving Mr. Hingorani would have something up his sleeve to make my eyes pop out. And so he did. He always does.
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.
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.
Rajesh Khanna makes a fabulous TarzanDara Singh hero in this tale of palace treachery which extols the moral superiority of animals over man, a message I wholeheartedly endorse. Zeenat Aman plays a wild jungle girl (yes, it is as hilarious as it sounds), the rightful heiress to her murdered father’s throne, who has been raised from infancy by a very maternal gorilla—by which I mean a guy in an ape suit.
Plus, Pran as Dr. Doolittle! Oh, how I love B-movies. I was fortunate to get this one from my dear friend and Rajesh devotee Suhan, who also watched it with me and filled me in on all the unsubtitled goings-on—and there is a lot going on.
So. For days now I’ve been prancing around singing “Prooooooo-feeeeeeeee-ssor PYARE-lal!” I can’t stop, and it’s seriously beginning to make me want to kill myself. Perhaps I can purge myself of it if I write the film up and share a shortened version of the title song here to move the voodoo along. Sorry—but it’s a last-ditch effort for some peace! Hoo Haa!
On this film’s plus side are that it is an homage to (some might say stolen from) Masalameister Manmohan Desai, and it contains my Beloved Shammi with the Always Utterly Fabulous Nadira by his side, villains Amjad Khan and Jeevan, flanked by an assortment of sideys like Sudhir, Yusuf Khan and Narendranath, Dharmendra (he may be older, but he is in FINE shape), Simi, whom I inexplicably love, and the catchy (sometimes too catchy, see above) tunes by Kalyanji Anandji.
This quasi-documentary made by Krishna Shah (Shalimar) explores the history of Hindi language cinema against the political and socioeconomic developments of the 20th century, and by examining the quintessential Indian audience. Shah’s innovative approach is to film a “screening” of the documentary—narrated by Hema Malini, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra and Zeenat Aman—in a real movie theater, in front of an audience which I assume was partly real and partly staged. I really enjoy the audience participation, which on more than one occasion eclipses what’s happening up on the screen in front. The documentary itself is a bit of a mixed bag: there are some lovely bits and pieces of really old, rare films and interesting snippets of information, but the narrative is uneven and falls into the predictable by the end.
Ram Balram (1980) is directed by Vijay Anand and stars Dharmendra and Amitabh (Dharbh? Amitendra?).
The songs are great fun, beginning with “Ek Raasta” which imbibes freely from both KC and the Sunshine Gang (“That’s The Way Uh-Huh Uh-Huh I Like It”) and “Yeh Dosti” all at the same time. Dharam even wears his Sholay cap, and their cute little three-wheeled automobile drives itself as necessary when they want to ride on top of it:
When I found this DVD I was puzzled as to how it had not registered before on my radar: Raj Khosla directed, Salim-Javed wrote the dialogues, and it stars Amitabh Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha, Zeenat Aman, Prem Chopra, Amrish Puri, Helen AND PRAN along with a serious array of character actors (KN Singh, Iftekhar, Sudhir, MacMohan, Birbal, Paintal, Trilok Kapoor, Jagdish Raj and more!). How could that possibly go wrong?
And it didn’t, really, at least not terribly…but it is dull and predictable; and there is no chemistry whatsoever between Zeenat and AB or SS, or—more importantly, actually—between AB and SS. It is also a little sloppy at times: Pran has a young son who doesn’t age at all, for instance, although Pran himself does (going from dark hair in a flashback to completely gray hair in the present), and Prem Chopra fires a number of bullets from a gun inside his pocket—but somehow said pocket remains intact, without holes. These are just minor issues though, and if the story had been better, with actors not just going through the motions, they would hardly warrant a mention (at least from me).
Tomorrow (today already in India) is Rajesh Khanna’s birthday. The PR fiasco that his latest film has become notwithstanding, I think that Rajesh in his prime (i.e. during the 1970s) was more fun to watch enacting songs than most actors. He had a knack for music; he collaborated closely with music directors and with Kishore, who is of course “the voice” of Rajesh, and in almost all his films from that period that I have seen the music is really special.
I haven’t included songs from films I haven’t seen, or songs that have appeared in other lists already (like “Rimjhim Rimjhim Dekho” from Shehzada, which would definitely be here otherwise!). Interestingly (to me anyway!) all the songs that made it here are written by either Laxmikant-Pyarelal, or by RD Burman.
Here are my ten favorite Rajesh Khanna songs—to listen to, to watch, to swoon over (although not all of them are romantic)! And janamdin ki badhai, Rajesh! Thanks for all the hours of viewing pleasure you’ve given me and all your fans!