Gemma and I wish you all the very best and lots of love and happiness in the New Year! 2010 woo-hoo! (This is as excited as we get without squirrels and food and cocktails and Shammi involved.)
I hold a definite opinion about judging Hindi cinema against western cinema, which is that it is basically unfair. And by unfair I do not at all mean that Hindi cinema cannot hold its own, but that it is an apples to oranges comparison and therefore pointless. Even so, there are two genres where I find it difficult not to judge: film noir and horror. Many of you know that I hate horror films, because they scare me (!) so Hindi movie “failure” on that front doesn’t bother me at all (in fact, I prefer it). However, I am a big fan of old 40s and 50s detective films and I generally feel a bit let down by Bombay’s counterparts. There is compensation in other areas (songs and general gorgeousness, e.g.) but I am hardly ever mystified; and even when I am, the plot holes and ham-fisted red herrings annoy me. I won’t even talk about dramatic expositions which come out of nowhere.
As inured as I am to the crimes against humanity (and cinema) perpetrated by Indian vcd/dvd manufacturers, this left me gasping when it abruptly showed up smack in the middle of a climactic scene about an hour and a half in:
A burning problem indeed! Since I didn’t actually buy this (thanks Shalini! *mwah*!) I don’t have any idea whether Priya’s packaging warned the consumer to expect an abrupt cessation of events. I’m guessing not, though, and they fill in the last half hour with ads in case you are inclined to demand your paisa vasool, which I at least did not have to worry about.
The situation does beg this question: am I glad I saw what I did of the film, even if I had no idea what was going on (no subtitles) and never did find out how it ended (burning problem)? The answer is a qualified yes: I am grateful for what is there, garish as it is, especially the songs by GS Kohli. They are fabulous. But I am also painfully aware that there will likely be no opportunity for me to ever see it as originally intended, all the way through. It is a sad loss indeed.
This is one of my favorite films: I love it unconditionally and without reservation and, needless to say, without a shred of objectivity. I will never forget the joy with which I first watched it, a joy that has never diminished, and the love it gave me for Shammi (also undiminished). Shammi Shammi Shammi! I had seen him in a few other films and liked him okay; but this—this sent me tumbling head over heels, never to recover. His charm and chemistry with Asha Parekh stunned me (and so did she). This is also the first Vijay Anand film I saw, and of course I’ve gone on to love a lot more of his work, too. And can I say any more at this point about my Helen worship? I think not.
I have added an “Artist Gallery” page now, with pdf files containing artists from the 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. I am still working on the galleries for later decades (way more people!) but will be adding them as I get them done. All of them are works in progress which I plan to keep adding to and making better along the way. Your feedback, suggestions, etc. are—as always—welcome!
Please note the addition of a new page at right under “About This Blog”. I am starting an “Artist Identification Project” in the hopes of identifying some familiar faces for whom I still have no names, or some familiar names for whom I have no faces!
I am also in the process of building photo galleries of cinema artists; when I began watching Hindi films I started saving screen shots of people when I figured out who they were, and I have also been inspired by the greatly helpful Actor Photo Gallery over at Surjit Singh’s website (link is below under Filmi Resources).
I would love for this to be collaborative—there are so many of you out there who know SO much more than I ever will, and I appreciate how much you share in these pages, and I’d like to pass some of that knowledge along too.
Thanks, and enjoy! Artist Galleries coming soon!
Image and song courtesy of Third Floor Music.
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.
Sometimes all I really need is Dara Singh and one gorgeous song after another. This film has that in spades, plus the lovely Ameeta and Bela Bose, and Kishore Kumar, and Sheikh Mukhtar, and King Kong (the wrestler, not the giant simian). What it doesn’t have is a coherent story or any sense of identity: is it a comedy? a spy caper? a wrestling film? a lost-and-found family drama? The answer, of course, is YES! to all of the above. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially given Dara Singh’s target audience (an audience in which I firmly belong).
My main complaint is the comedy element, which quickly becomes tiresome. It is inserted awkwardly into what should have been dramatic or suspenseful moments, and goes on way too long in other places. No doubt this is the fault of director (and comedian) Maruti, but Kishore’s presence doesn’t help either. I love Kishore, but I prefer him a bit less manic than he is here. Maruti is credited with the “scenario” too, but no screenplay is mentioned and I am pretty sure there wasn’t one. The whole thing has a very seat-of-the-pants feel to it (some less charitable than I might even call it uncontrolled chaos).
What IS it about Raaj Kumar? What? His acting is theatrical, he is not very handsome really (and was apparently quite weird in real life) and yet I love to watch him onscreen. Not in a “look at that godawful wig!” kind of way either, but in a “he is strangely interesting, I cannot look away” kind of way. Throw in Pran (speaking of godawful wigs), a very handsome in-his-prime Rajesh Khanna and a Helen song, and I’m in! This movie is very “masala” with its separated twins, scheming villains (Pran!), a truncated wedding, glorification of the poor and downtrodden, and plenty of Nahiiin Face. I would not call it a good movie exactly, but it is pretty solidly entertaining.