Posts tagged ‘Chandrashekhar’

January 21, 2010

Jangal Mein Mangal (1972)

What’s not to love about a film which opens with animated credits like these? Very little! Especially when the credits probably cost more to produce than the entire rest of the film. This is a full-on Mod Seventies Cheesefest. I love cheese, and I love this film. It is loony entertainment at its best: a comedy-horror-mystery-romance dressed up in bellbottoms and vivid polyester, set to lively pop music by Shankar Jaikishan, and populated by a large cast of character actors, comedians and dancers.

Pran has a double role as a misogynistic ex-Army Colonel and as one of the Colonel’s charges Raghu, a campy effeminate type who nonetheless finds romance with one of the girls (when he isn’t busy combing his long hair). The girls are students of botany professor Laxmi (Sonia Sahni), a man-hating martinet, and her assistant Sister Sophia (Meena Roy). As with most Hindi horror genre films, there is a decidedly Christian bent (handy for grave-robbing situations). It was also filmed on location in a place I have visited, the Periyar Reserve in Thekkady, Kerala—very pretty and fun for me to see again.

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November 25, 2009

Cinema Cinema (1979)

This quasi-documentary made by Krishna Shah (Shalimar) explores the history of Hindi language cinema against the political and socioeconomic developments of the 20th century, and by examining the quintessential Indian audience. Shah’s innovative approach is to film a “screening” of the documentary—narrated by Hema Malini, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra and Zeenat Aman—in a real movie theater, in front of an audience which I assume was partly real and partly staged. I really enjoy the audience participation, which on more than one occasion eclipses what’s happening up on the screen in front. The documentary itself is a bit of a mixed bag: there are some lovely bits and pieces of really old, rare films and interesting snippets of information, but the narrative is uneven and falls into the predictable by the end.

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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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November 5, 2008

Toofani Tarzan (1937)

tt_jungleman6

It’s historic! No, I’m not talking about the election (although: YEAH BABY!!!!); I’m talking about this fabulously campy Wadia Movietones flick featuring an Indian Tarzan, his (literally) lunatic mother, cannibals, the nectar of immortality, Dada the ape man, and more animals than you can shake a stick at (including lions, tigers, bears—oh my—hyenas, elephants, crocodiles, etc). It may also give us a first in Hindi cinema history: a dog named Moti.

And before I do anything else, I must thank my new BFF and faithful reader Michael for sending it—and more treasures that you will be reading about—to me. Thanks Mike!!

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July 9, 2007

Bara-Dari (1955)

Since I couldn’t find a single synopsis of this film’s story online, I figure I might as well tell it. So reader beware, because I am giving away practically the entire plot.

The movie starts with a woman visiting her husband in jail. He is a Rajput lord from the town of Ajaygarh named Ranvir, imprisoned by the King because he refuses to pay tax. She pleads with him to compromise with the King for the sake of their unborn child. He says that he will not. Cut to palace, with Ranvir in chains before the King and court. Ranvir gives an impassioned speech about being a Rajput and not bowing to some King even though they were formerly friends, blah blah, and although the King pardons him, he is beheaded by the King’s army commander Karan Singh.

A few months later, Ranvir’s widow gives birth to a son (Ajit) at the same time as the Queen gives birth to Prince Vijay. The Chief Minister of the court consults an astrologer, who reads the Prince’s chart and declares that he must be kept away from the King until he is eight years old. The King agrees but says that the prince must be raised by someone of “equal status” (more Rajput pride) and the CM says that the only woman suitable is Ranvir’s widow. They take the prince to Ranvir’s widow and after some argument she takes him in and raises him with her own son, because:

Ma hai

Surprise!

The boys grow up together as brothers until the prince reaches the age of eight, when the Chief Minister comes and retrieves him and promises that the town of Ajaygarh will no longer be raided or taxed by the King’s army. Tearful goodbyes, Ajit’s friend Gauri comforts him; and segue into Ajit and Gauri ten or fifteen years later singing a song and obviously in love. Of course, their peaceful existence is about to come to an end.

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