Archive for September, 2009

September 10, 2009

Jeet (1949)

jeet_womanpower

One of the best things about Hindi movies for me is that they are a window into the growing pains—and hopes and joys—of a brand new nation. (I’m talking mostly about north India only since I don’t watch south Indian movies yet, but still. It’s there, in front of you.) Most cinema is reflective of its origins and time to some extent of course; but the timing of India’s independence, and the fledgling country’s tenacious adherence to specifically Indian traditions and issues, makes Hindi cinema particularly so (this is also true of the pre-independence period, although in a more veiled way).¬†For this reason, I try to slog my way through the 1940s, although I find films from the era sometimes a little too melodramatic and preachy, and a little too song-saturated, to make it easy.

But I really enjoyed¬†this one! It’s feminist! Chock-full of woman power, seriously! Sure, it’s heavy-handed (and laughably idealistic if one is a wee bit cynical), but it has such charm and youthful optimism (that same unknown cynic might call it naivete) that I got sucked right in. Plus, the incredibly young Dev Anand and Madan Puri are so…incredibly young!

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September 9, 2009

Ziddi (1964)

ziddi_shoes

In the wake of my post espousing the awesomeness that is Asha P, several people recommended that I watch this. And indeed, I’m glad they did: Asha is at her feisty, gun-totin’ best. And the songs—my God, the songs! They are made of beautiful, all of them, and the film is worth watching just for them alone.

My quibble with the movie is that things slow to a crawl in the middle as the combative courtship between Asha and Joy Mukherjee drags on—and it turns them into cruel and thoughtless people, too. The last half hour picks up again, luckily, but the middle hour or so really could have used some editing (and an animal activist or two). The Comic Side Plot is also far too intrusive: Mehmood again, given lots of screen time to compensate for his hefty compensation, I guess. A little of him goes a long way (and a lot of him can bring the main plot to a halt) especially when it’s the same exact CSP every time.

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September 7, 2009

Raaj Mahal (1982)

rm_muscles

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.

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September 5, 2009

Eye candy

delux_films

Isn’t this a cool studio/production house emblem? So very art deco and Indian, all at the same time. Incidentally, Delux Films was the defendant in a landmark copyright lawsuit brought by playwright RG Anand against them for their 1956 film “New Delhi.” He claimed that it was an unauthorized copy of his play “Hum Hindustani” but Delux won the case when it finally came before the high court in 1978 (in a nutshell: it was similar, but not similar enough). Who says the wheels of justice turn slowly?

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September 2, 2009

Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki (1984)

kpkwk_mithun

As “THE END” faded to black onscreen, my sister pointed out that we have really been bottom-feeding for our entertainment recently. Crawling through the gutter looking for pleasure, as it were, although I would say that it hasn’t all been that pleasurable (Kambakkht Ishq, Ram Balram). This movie, though, left me with a guilty and somewhat sick sense of satisfaction—somewhat like the feeling I get after consuming an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, for example: “Ugh, why did I do that? Now I hate myself! But it tasted so good while I was eating it!”

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