Posts tagged ‘Asit Sen’

April 7, 2017

Parwana (1971)

parwanaThe tagline on the DVD cover caught my eye first: “A Murder Plan That Forced Indian Railways To Change Their Train Timing!” I am not sure that Indian Railways actually did worry that much about murders galore being unleashed on the Indian public, but it was enough to attract me. The film stars a very young Amitabh Bachchan, Yogita Bali, Navin Nischol and Shatrughan Sinha, and is directed by Jyoti Swaroop, who directed two of my favorite films (Padosan and Chorni). It was billed as a thriller of sorts, although there is no effort made to disguise “whodunit”—it’s marginally more of a “howdunit”.

It is a very stylish and nicely-paced production, however, and showcases the soon-to-be overwhelming charisma of its anti-hero Bachchan to great effect (especially compared to milquetoast-y “hero” Navin Nischol).

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September 10, 2011

Jaal (1967)

As with most unsubtitled, murky films with missing key scenes and transitions—and likely some reel mix-ups—I early on tossed any attempt to understand the plot by the wayside. But Jaal contains some highly entertaining elements like good songs, including a beach romp with Helen, Johnny Walker, and a host of emaciated goris in bikinis; Nirupa Roy in her element as the disturbed, bereaved Aunty; Tarun Bose as her creepy butler; and miniature boats and flashing lighthouse lights. Mala Sinha is given full scope for the things she does best: looking terribly chic in 1960s outfits, and going berserk in her own inimitable style.

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April 2, 2011

Pagla Kahin Ka (1970)

Now available with subtitles thanks to Tom and Raja!

Sometimes (well, quite often really, due to my suspect tastes) I see a film which wasn’t a hit and I say WHY, UNIVERSE, WHY? Despite the magical combination of Shammi Kapoor in his prime with Shakti Samanta directing, backup from Helen and Asha Parekh, lovely songs (Shankar Jaikishan) and an emotionally compelling and unusual plot, this movie apparently bombed at the box office and has not—until now!—even been put on a dvd with subtitles. (If you would rather just get to the download and not have to read my drivel, scroll all the way down to the end.)

It is not perfect but I found it deeply engaging and sensitive: it is largely about loss, and I think it is one of Shammi’s best performances.

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January 30, 2011

Yakeen (1969)

Why yes, Dharamji, I will. I don’t even care what you want me to do.

I don’t know what it is about him, but for me watching a Dharmendra starrer is like getting a big warm hug. He is just so…comforting and solid, somehow (it’s no wonder he’s my fake-pretend bodyguard). So on a recent snowy night, missing my Dad and needing a sustaining presence, I rewatched Yakeen, one of my early favorite forays into 1960s Hindi cinema. It must be universally acknowledged that two Dharmendras are always better than one, even if one of them has blue eyes and orange hair.

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August 24, 2010

Tarun Bose (Part 5): Favourite directors

My father was born on September 14, 1928; he joined the film industry in July 1957 and passed away in March 1972. He spent only 14 and half years in the industry—a very short time—however during this brief period he had the opportunity to do some excellent roles and had the good fortune to work with some of the best directors of the industry.

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July 15, 2010

Pyar Mohabbat (1968)

Hackneyed fairy-tale featuring a lost prince returning home? Check. Shrill Saira Banu opposite preternaturally youthful Dev Anand? Check. Portly Premnath as an evil Senapati? Check again. Did I like the film? Oh hell yes! What’s not to love about a movie that advertises a cast of “about 500 Indian & International junior Artistes” and delivers on that promise? Who cares if the plot is silly? Not I, given a frothy sixties travelogue with ports of call in a Middle East populated by blonde belly dancers and stoned hippie extras. I love to see my people in Hindi movies. Plus, Shankar Jaikishan provide some seriously catchy tunes to accompany all the onscreen antics.

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June 23, 2010

Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan (1959)

I love it when a film exceeds my expectations, not that I really had any for this one. But from the very first scene I was involved in the characters and engrossed in the story. Yes, there is a lot of self-sacrifice—but it’s mostly done by the hero, not the heroine, and it actually benefits people! And it had a message which might have made people think about social norms in a new light! I am totally on board with that.

I also liked the Rajendra Kumar-Meena Kumari pairing, one I haven’t seen before. Plus there’s the criminally underrated Minoo Mumtaz and a bevy of absolutely lovely songs by Ravi, including two of the best children’s songs ever, and a cat birthday song (how could that possibly be bad?). It reminded me a bit of the later Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai, a film I also somewhat unexpectedly liked.

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January 10, 2010

Anokhi Raat (1968)

Oh, how I loved this film. It is an absolutely riveting and heartwrenching story, with fine performances and stunningly beautiful songs (Roshan’s last—the film is dedicated to him). The background music is superb too, by Salil Chowdhury; and the black and white cinematography is lush and gorgeous, with richly patterned detail and stunning closeups of the characters. I am running short of superlatives! The message is nothing new (see screenshot above) but the treatment—nuanced, balanced—is unusual.

It is interesting to see actors I am less familiar with, too. Zaheeda, the heroine, is a niece of Nargis and Anwar Hussain (also in this), and she looks so much like Nargis sometimes that it’s startling. And Parikshat Sahni (son of Balraj, whom I just saw as Farhan’s father in 3 Idiots) made his debut with a central role here: such a natural actor, and so handsome too! Tarun Bose, Aruna Irani, Anwar Hussain, Badri Prasad and Mukri add able support as well. But the film really belongs to Sanjeev Kumar as a simple and sweet villager who is transformed by events into a dacoit with a big price on his head.

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September 19, 2009

Do Dil (1965)

do-dil

At last! I have seen a film where I liked Biswajeet! He suits his role here perfectly, and the movie is good fun despite nothing really new story-wise. The music is wonderful, by Hemant Kumar, and it co-stars the lovely Rajshree, the ever-elegant Durga Khote, baby-faced Mumtaz and PRAN. It also illustrates the value of a good director: Hrishikesh Mukherjee. He takes the somewhat hackneyed fairy-tale plot and lifts it up a notch by getting good performances out of his actors (keeping some of them *cough* Mehmood *cough* under better control than is often the case) and keeping everything moving along at a good pace (he edited the film too). Plus, the locations in Jaipur and the Amber Fort add authenticity and are beautifully photographed, which is a visual treat.

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June 3, 2009

Hira Aur Patthar (1977)

hiraaurpatthar

I struggle a bit with Hindi films that are a commentary on religion and atheism since of course by Hindi Film Law the protagonists all have to end up squarely on the side of religion. I grew up on a mission station, attended church every Sunday for the first 17 years of my life, sang in the church choir, belonged to the youth group, etc., until I left home and could finally choose what to do on Sunday mornings for myself (generally I chose to sleep in). So turning my back on organized religion and embracing atheism was an “informed” choice for me and I doubt that I will ever change my mind. Having said that, one of the things I appreciated about this movie was its open discussion of atheism and morality and how they are not necessarily in conflict. Plus: Shabana Azmi, Shashi Kapoor, Ashok Kumar and Bindu!

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