Posts tagged ‘Anil Biswas’

April 23, 2012

Kismet (1943)

Oh my.

I love you, Kismet. I can see why, for 32 years until Sholay, you held the record for longest run at the box office. I love your story, I love ten-year-old Mehmood, I love VH Desai (whom Saadat Hasan Manto called “God’s Clown”), I simply adore Ashok Kumar in all his youthful kind-hearted con-man glory. I love your unwed pregnant girl, your runaway son; I even love your songs, which is sometimes hard for me with movies as aged as you are. I can’t wait to see you with subtitles (thanks Raja!) but even without them you are enthralling, you dear old progressive masala template of a film, you.

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August 20, 2010

Roti (1942)

This is a classic film from Mehboob Khan which really ought to be subtitled and put on a dvd (sans gaudy logo). Even the vcd print is not bad, so I’d think it could be relatively easily done! In any case, my friend Raja subtitled it for me and I am so grateful. Even without subtitles I sensed that this was a very moving and message-heavy film—it is Mehboob, after all!—and so it is. And the cast is magnificent, led by Chandramohan and a very young Sheikh Mukhtar, with the particularly fabulous support of Sitara Devi.

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October 11, 2009

Char Dil Char Rahen (1959)

cdcr_shammi

A new “old” Shammi film release with subtitles always gives rise to many huzzahs in this household. And when it’s a good film—well, my glee is almost uncontainable. There is nothing unique in the theme of this one (it’s a standard 1950s plea for a socialist Indian society: sharing and equality good, capitalism and greed bad), but the story is given an interesting treatment in its three separate stories which overlap, fittingly enough, at a crossroad. Each story is like the leg of a relay race, with the protagonist of one passing the baton to the next in a brief meeting at that crossing, until finally at the end all three converge. And what a cast: Raj Kapoor, Meena Kumari, Ajit, Nimmi, Kumkum and *ahem* Shammi!

My main problem with the movie is the choppy, facile ending. I am not sure if the original screenplay was written badly or if it is the result of poor editing, or deteriorating film stock, or what (possibly a combination of all of those things); but it’s jarring and more than a bit disappointing in the payoff. Of course, the payoff wouldn’t matter had the stories and characters leading up to it not been so engaging, and there’s the rub. It’s a good ride, until we get thrown off at the end!

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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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February 1, 2009

Tarana (1951)

tarana

Gut-wrenching, heart-searing passion, romance and tragedy = Dilip Kumar and Madhubala. I am not talking about Mughal-e-Azam, but about 1951’s Tarana. I was in tears by the end, and it was not pretty. Their much-vaunted real life romance was clearly visible in every scene between them; I think it’s safe to say that I have rarely witnessed such intensely palpable intimacy between two people, onscreen or off. They really let it all hang out! Madhubala looked as beautiful as I’ve ever seen her; she literally lit up the screen. And in their scenes together, Dilip actually looks happy: he smiles, teases gently—I don’t think I’ve seen the Tragedy King in that light before either!

The story itself had its ups and downs, although there was some interesting social commentary mixed in with the romantic drama. Still, what made it special was the incredible chemistry between the two leads.

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