Here is a 1968 James Bond-meets-Chitty Chitty Bang Bang cheesefest from the Master of Masala himself, Manmohan Desai. While I haven’t seen all his films, I’ve seen most of them, and this is the first one that’s been devoid of any message (well, except: “betraying your country is wrong”). There’s no religious symbolism, or paeans to the poor and downtrodden, not even a single tearful Ma; just a villain named Scorpion, an unwitting hero, his beloved, his friend, his friend’s clever car, and some microdots hidden in a guitar. Sounds good, right? Wrong. Better editing (and possibly a higher kitsch budget) could have made it entertaining; but as it is, it’s an unfocused, meandering, silly film.
I have to admit to two things first off: one, is that it took me a little while to get into this film. I started watching it several times before I was finally able to sit through it—as I said to Shweta, I think perhaps as a teenager I saw too many ABC After School Specials which dealt exceedingly earnestly with serious issues that kids face. They had titles like “Daddy Drinks Like A Fish” and “Is My Sister Dead Because Of Me?” (okay, I made those up, but the real ones were pretty close).
Oh oh oh I love this movie! Beautiful Rakhee, yummy Rajesh, imperious Veena, nuanced characters, an interesting story, plot twists, humor, lovely RD Burman songs, and plenty of squishy dil™ (ppcc)! The melodrama was saved for the very end, when it was welcome, because by then I cared so much about everybody and everything turning out okay. The film is also beautifully shot—a visual feast, with sumptuous sets and lovely hilly scenery, and interesting camera angles. And beautiful Rakhee and yummy Rajesh!
If you are one of the two or three people who have not seen it yet, first watch the Crazy Indian Video…Buffalaxed!* video on YouTube.
And then watch the “Sarah Palin and John McCain” version at Funny or Die.
Enjoy! or be very very scared. You decide.
*Song is “Kalluri Vaanil” from the Tamil film Pennin Manathai Thottu starring Prabhu Deva and Jaya Sheel
I really need to see more Tanuja. I like her in everything I see her in (Jewel Thief, Do Chor, Haathi Mere Saathi, for example) even if I haven’t particularly liked the movie much (Mere Jeevan Saathi, for example). It holds true for this film too: Tanuja is lovely and fun to watch. Despite a lively soundtrack from RD Burman and Amitabh’s lambi presence, the film really only lit up when she was onscreen. The story is ho-hum, and there’s all the usual overacting and melodrama, but she makes it watchable somehow.
There are only two things which give me *good* nostalgia for the 70s: ABBA music and Hindi movies. I spent the latter half of that decade wearing hideously patterned Qiana shirts, sporting feathered hair and fighting the tendency of my stomach to overhang hip-hugger bellbottoms, all the while living in rural Indiana and wishing I were dead, so that is actually saying something.
I suppose if I had cable television and thus access to reruns of the original “Starsky & Hutch” television shows that might do it too, but I don’t. I love Laxmikant Pyarelal’s music in this film, though, especially the opening title and background music (although the songs are fab too). It’s funkadelic 1970s, all the way, and reminds me of the opening themes to those 1970s cop shows.
My beloved Shammi is 77 today! Many happy returns of the day, and wishing him good health and happiness for another year!
Edited to add: Suhan sent me this link to a nice interview with him. She also informs me that it’s Helen’s birthday too! So janam din mubarek ho to you too, Helen!
This film is truly a Shammi showcase. He spends half of it disguised as an elderly professor, and very convincingly too, I might add. It’s one of his best films from an acting standpoint, and he is quite restrained throughout—although still irrepressibly irresistible and charming. Good performances from everyone else in the cast, lovely hit songs by Shankar Jaikishan and locations in beautiful Darjeeling are the juicy cherries on top of this bit of romantic fluff.