Archive for ‘Excellent Use of Helen’

January 7, 2010

Ek Se Badhkar Ek (1976)

Over the years, without realizing it, I have seen a great many films made by director-producer Brij. Mostly this is due to the fact that he made Excellent Use of Helen in most of them, and as many of you know Helen was one of my first obsessions-within-the-obsession for Hindi cinema. I have even written about six Brij movies on this blog, although my favorite ones (Yakeen and Night In London) haven’t made it yet, and except for Chori Mera Kaam I find that my reviews here have ranged from tepid approval to rather scathing disapproval.

I think at this point I am qualified to say this about Brij: he made films which have super-sweet potential and cracktastic detail (and Helen!) but often become just plain bewildering by the end, when he drives the plot off a cliff to its explosive death, or—to use a phrase coined by Todd and Beth—Death By WTF. It can be really disappointing. So I am very happy to report that he actually held this one together pretty well, and it is highly entertaining—you just have to pay close attention!

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December 23, 2009

Teesri Manzil (1966)

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.

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November 4, 2009

Intaquam (1969)

intaquam_helen

Ah, what a film this is. If you have a hankering for something that careens wildly along, going from completely loony, to sweetly touching, to dumb and illogical, and back to loony again, look no further. I wouldn’t call it technically a good film, but it is highly entertaining. And I loved it! With features like Excellent Use of Helen, a zealous and melodramatic murderer named Snaky, a disfiguring cake, useful little white mice, lost and found family members, fantabulous songs (Azad in blackface!), plus Memsaab favorites Ashok Kumar and Rehman as friends-turned-bitter-foes, how could I not?

I have been longing to see this with subtitles, but didn’t think it was available except on an unsubtitled (and unplayable after ten minutes) VCD. Many thanks to Tom D (the most banned-from-YouTube-person-on-earth) (my opinion only, not backed up by anything resembling actual facts) (but still: I think it’s because he does what Indian DVD manufacturers can’t be bothered to do, which is to clean up the picture and sound quality, remove their intrusive and gaudy logos, and add subtitles, thereby making them look bad—as they deserve to—so they complain and he gets suspended, over and over again). Anyway, thank you my friend! for supplying me with this particular ginormous rock of crack.

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September 24, 2009

Mr. India (1961)

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Sorry! No cute Sridevi in this one! But there is plenty of even cuter Geeta Bali, two dogs, and absolutely wonderful songs by the criminally underrated GS Kohli. It’s written by (and co-stars) IS Johar (who has written such gems as Afsana and Nastik). If it’s considered a B-movie then all I can say is that A has a lot to live up to. It’s a funny, sweet tale of love and social inequality (human and canine) combined with a noirishly silly precursor to the plot of Don (and Shammi’s China Town too)! IS Johar is perfect as the hapless goofball Gullu, and Geeta Bali hilarious as the spoiled England-returned Miss Bambi. Plus, 21-year old Feroz Khan in what *might* be his first movie ever (?) and Excellent Use of Helen!

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August 27, 2009

Immaan Dharam (1977)

immaan_dharam

I normally would not bother writing about this film since Beth and the PPCC have already covered it in their usual stellar and thorough fashion. But they mostly liked this, and I hated it. Part of the reason is that it was *almost* good. It should have been, could have been! It had a great cast and good songs! But even the goodness of Shashi+Amitabh is not adequate compensation for being smashed over the head with a sermon that I disagree with, especially when it’s done largely to compensate for the lack of a real script (by Salim-Javed, no less). “Clutch your [Bible, Quran, Gita, other] and trust in your blind faith!” it trumpets. Just the kind of pablum that a world overrun with corruption, greed and poverty needs, right?

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August 8, 2009

Afsana (1966)

afsana_dadamoni

This is not a very good film. In fact, many might flat-out call it a bad one. But I was entertained thoroughly by the sheer power of Ashok Kumar’s awesome performance, an Abundance Of Helen, and the gaudy spectacle of Pradeep Kumar’s makeup (he wears more of it even than the ladies). Plus, a (way too) short appearance by my favorite band, Ted Lyons & His Cubs in the seventh film that I know about, so far. And with Helen, too—a first! I’m always happy to see them and hear their bahut achcha cha cha tunes. And so I found it easy to put up with the predictable plot, the dreary Pradeep-Padmini pairing, the day/night continuity issues, horrible editing (apparently a five year old was given responsibility) and so on. It is, when all is said and done, Dadamoni’s movie, and he is great in it.

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July 30, 2009

Sinbad Alibaba Aur Aladin (1965) Part 2

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The end of our first installment saw Aladin passing out drunk at a restaurant in the desert, and Alibaba going off in search of Sinbad and Princess Jameela; elsewhere in the same desert, Sinbad is romancing Zarina (Minoo Mumtaz) for some unknown reason as Shyam Kumar tries to molest poor Jameela.

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May 26, 2009

Cha Cha Cha (1964)

cha-cha-cha

Helen, Helen, Helen. How your talents were (mostly) squandered by the powers-that-were in Hindi cinema. But actor Chandrashekhar, when faced with the prospect of starring in his own vehicle (he produced and directed this too), decided to cast her as his heroine. Excellent decision—except he really should have found another hero too. In a cast that also includes Om Prakash, OP Ralhan, Aruna Irani, Bela Bose, Iftekhar, Madan Puri and these two:

ccc_elevisly

plus guest appearances by Dara Singh and Tun Tun, Chandrashekhar himself is the only blight. Well, he and the shrewish Ma to end all shrewish Mas, Leela Mishra. Dull and doughy as he is, seeing him opposite vivacious and beautiful Helen is just wrong. But otherwise, Cha Cha Cha is oodles of Beach Blanket Bingo type fun!

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May 17, 2009

The Train (1970)

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So stylish! So much of eye candy! One of those rare films to make Excellent Use of Helen (and inspiring me to add a category here), The Train is oodles of filmi noir crime-fighting fun. It also has one of the best RD Burman background scores EVER, with RD himself adding vocals. Just listen to this!

It stars a young, very handsome Rajesh Khanna *sigh* and one of my favorite heroines, Nanda, along with an absolutely hilarious Rajendranath; Madan Puri and Shetty provide the villainy. Despite an extremely silly plot with gaping holes and mind-boggling suspension of disbelief requirements (especially at the end) it is well worth the time spent watching—and I have lots of screen caps to prove it!

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March 2, 2009

Dus Lakh (1966)

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I usually approach comedies with some trepidation: humor doesn’t always translate well (literally or figuratively), and slapstick wears me down after a while. However, my Sanjay Khan experience has been sadly lacking and this film also offers up Pran and Helen—and Kashmir!—which I can never resist. And lucky me! Dus Lakh turned out to be a lot of fun. It’s an ensemble film which mostly revolves around Om Prakash, Pran and Manorama; the Sanjay-Babita (in her debut) jodi is almost a side plot. The trio at the center are hilarious, though, and it’s also chock-full of excellent songs by one of my favorites, Ravi. Solid support from Helen, Ramesh Deo (who has way more charisma than Sanjay Khan), Seema Deo and Brahmchari add to the delight.

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