Archive for June, 2008

June 17, 2008

Chorni (1982)

This film belongs to Neetu Singh: she is the central character in it, and she gives an excellent performance. Yes: it’s a film centered around a female protagonist! A rare treat indeed! Beyond that, it’s an excellent film which highlights social issues (plight of the poor, criminal reforms), has a fab retro vibe, and is just plain entertaining, by turns funny and moving.

I love this movie!

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June 14, 2008

Tashan (2008)

I just finished watching Tashan, a movie I didn’t really expect much from. A lot has been written about how it’s an homage to the masala films of the 1970s, and it’s often been unfavorably compared to Om Shanti Om—a film that fared much better with critics and audiences alike.

But this is the thing: Tashan has the heart and the soul of a 70s masala film. Ironically, what it lacks is the style of a 70s masala film. The key ingredients for Masala Goodness are in the characters: their emotions, motivations and relationships to one another. In other words, the story! The action is kept relatively simple until the end, when we get a satisfying showdown between the hero and the villain.

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June 14, 2008

Basant (1960)

Take the plot of It Happened One Night, sprinkle in some ingredients from An Affair To Remember, then stir in a third plot which is completely nuts, and voila! it’s Basant. Two of my favorite Hollywood films and some masala craziness for the price of one Hindi film! Sure, there are huge plot holes and it’s nonsensical at times, but what do I care—especially when the hero and heroine are my beloved Shammi Kapoor and beautiful Nutan. They are great together: his nonchalant silliness complements her feisty character perfectly.

Plus, there’s Pran! and lovely music from OP Nayyar.

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June 12, 2008

Dharam-Veer (1977)

Against all reason, against all logic, against all standards of film appreciation (not that mine are very high), I loved this movie. The story is a Manmohan Desai fairy tale, replete with separated children, near misses, and absurd coincidences. And best of all, the costumes and sets are a veritable Halloween party!

It’s a costume epic that doesn’t know what costume to wear; a period piece without a period! Dharmendra is dressed as a Roman gladiator, Jeetendra wears a matador outfit, Zeenat lounges in 50’s Hollywood lingerie…the list goes on and on (as do my screen shots). Let’s just get to it, shall we?

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June 10, 2008

Pratiggya (1975)

A little Dharmendra withdrawal prompted me to watch this film yesterday. It has a massive Sholay hangover, except it’s mostly a comedy: sort of a Keystone Cops meets Sholay and vomits up Pratiggya. Nevertheless, it’s good fun and had me laughing on more than one occasion. Johnny Walker, Jagdeep and Keshto Mukherjee display their comedic skills as cowardly villagers, Dharmendra plays a hard-drinking, illiterate truck-driver-turned-cop, and Hema a sharpshooting, tart-tongued village belle.

Ajit Singh (Dharmendra) is transporting a merchant and his goods to their destination one night, when he learns that his mother is dying. Abandoning his customer at a truck stop, he rushes home, where his mother confesses to him that she is not his real mother.

His real family—father Devendra Singh, mother and two older siblings—were murdered by the dacoit Bharat (Ajit) in revenge for Bharat’s brother’s hanging at the hands of Devendra Singh, who was a Superintendent of Police. Bharat is a fan of Tonto and the Lone Ranger (okay, I made that up).

The maidservant escaped with the baby—Ajit—and brought him up as her own. Ajit promises her that he will return to his home village to seek revenge and she dies.

Unfortunately the man whose goods he has inadvertently run off with has filed a police complaint, and Ajit’s friends arrive to tell him that the police are looking for him. He jumps into his truck and speeds off.

The next morning he is woken up by a two villagers out hunting: a mute accompanied by a pretty girl (Hema Malini).

He asks for directions to Dinapur, the village where Bharat Daku hangs out. The girl immediately assumes that he wants to join the bandits, and gives him a piece of her mind. She refuses to tell him where Dinapur is and they have a little argument before she and the mute drive off in their caravan. As they go through town they see a man distributing wanted posters and recognize a description of Ajit, but keep going.

Luckily after catching a glimpse of himself in the river, Ajit has sought out a barber and gotten a haircut and a shave. He gets directions to Dinapur and sets off. On the way, he comes across a fierce battle as a bunch of dacoits attack a police convoy. When the smoke clears and the bandits have escaped, only the Inspector is left alive, and he is badly wounded.

He has managed to save a truck from being looted; it is filled with machine guns and hand grenades. He tells Ajit that he and his men were on their way to set up a police station in Dinapur so that they could nab Bharat Daku. He gives Ajit responsibility for the weapons and the truck and dies.

In Dinapur we meet the local hooch-seller, a scoundrel named Thekedhar (Johnny Walker), and his assistant Kaana (Jagdeep). Their (unlicensed) liquor den is filled with local men talking about the shoot-out until Thekedhar spots a police truck rolling into town. They scatter.

Ajit has transformed himself!—sort of. To Thekedhar’s relief, he asks for a bottle of booze and proceeds to down it. Ajit asks about Bharat and Thekedhar tells Ajit that he lives in the forest, although his niece Radha lives in the village. She’s beautiful, a bit of a do-gooder and hates her uncle—and hangs around with a mute guy.

Then Ajit tells him that he will put the police station right here next to the liquor store. Horrified at the thought of what that will do to his business, Thekedhar makes a huge mistake.

I just love the rainbow assortment of liquor bottles. Anyway, Ajit overhears him and ties him and Kaana up as an example to the other villagers; then he passes out.

He is awakened the next morning by the same girl—whom he now knows is Radha, Bharat’s niece, and her friend Bhiku the mute. Radha is thrilled to see what he’s done with the unscrupulous Thekedhar.

She tells Ajit that Bhiku’s tongue was cut out by Bharat after he filed a complaint with the police (Bharat and his men had abducted his wife). She acknowledges that Bharat is her uncle, but says that her father had not followed that path; in fact, he was the informant who turned in his brother to Devendra Singh. Ajit asks Bhiku if he will join him and Bhiku happily accepts.

Radha has a visitor when she reaches home: her brother.

He is a member of Bharat’s gang. Radha confirms the Inspector’s presence in the town. Meanwhile, some of the villagers have rescued Thekedhar and Kaana, and Ajit puts them to work setting up the police chowki. Kaana asks Ajit if he can be a policeman too, but the other villagers want nothing to do with it. Especially vocal in his opposition is the town drunk, Chandi (Keshto Mukherjee).

Then the dacoits attack Dinapur to get at Ajit. He (accidentally) successfully fights them off using some of his hand grenades:

I am worried that they are using real people and horses for the action:

It’s a little TOO realistic!

As the bandits flee, the villagers go wild with glee and sign up for the force in droves. An old blind man stumbles forward asking about one of the dead dacoits. He is Shivkaka (Nazir Hussain), who was Devendra Singh’s right-hand man and the only other survivor of that terrible night when Ajit’s family was massacred. When Ajit realizes who Shivkaka is, he reminds us all why he’s there.

One villager remains loyal to Bharat Daku, however. Chandi tells him how all the villagers are joining the Inspector.

Bharat (who hasn’t changed his Tonto look in 25 years) tells him to sign up for the police to act as his spy, and vows to drive the police from Dinapur.

Meanwhile, the real police in a nearby city are wondering why they haven’t heard from their man, and they send a havaldar to enquire. Ajit manages to send him off satisfied, but how long can an illiterate truck driver pretend to be an educated Police Inspector? How can he train his new recruits when he himself has no idea what he’s doing?

Will Chandi’s spying sabotage all their efforts? Will Ajit be arrested for theft? Or will they manage to drive the dacoits away from their village?

Watch Pratiggya to find out. Despite a few lapses into maudlin sentiment and scenery-chewing, it is a good solid comedy and an opportunity to see some legendary comedians of Hindi cinema at work.

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June 8, 2008

Ek Shriman Ek Shrimati (1969)

This one is a little late for Bhappi Sonie Month, but better late than never is my middle name. It’s a very silly film, which is then cobbled together with a very melodramatic film, giving us total paisa vasool. If it lacks a certain continuity and flow, and there are gaping plot holes, who cares? Not me!

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June 6, 2008

Fun with stats

Here are the top three search engine terms that directed people to my blog over the past 7 days.

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June 6, 2008

Kati Patang (1970)

I do so love to drag out Hindi films that I watched early on in my obsession with them. Just this week over at The Post-Punk Cinema Club, I learned from Bollyviewer that:

“[Sharmilee] was actually based on a novel by Gulshan Nanda who was a sort of Hindi equivalent of Danielle Steele and Harlequin romances in 60’s and 70’s.”

When I looked up Gulshan Nanda on imdb, I discovered that he was responsible for the stories and screenplays of some of my favorite films, including Jugnu, Jheel Ke Us Paar, Ajanabee, Joshila and Kati Patang. I always was a sucker for Harlequins (how embarrassing). Anyway, it seemed like a good reason to revisit this, so here we go!

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June 5, 2008

One less thing left to do before I die

Smoke a hookah…

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June 4, 2008

Trivia time #23

Here is a well-known actor in an (uncredited) appearance in a song in a well-known film. What is the film, the song, and who is the actor?

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