July 22, 2015
Finally, someone has done what really needed to be done: written a book about my talented and gorgeous Indian mother Edwina and her background dancer friends, who appeared in pretty much every film from the 50s throughout the 1960s. She worked with all the greats from that era. Here’s a message from the author, Professor Surjit Singh, an avid film historian whose website I discovered early on as a treasure trove of information.
Dear Edu fans:
As you know today (July 22) is her birthday. You will be pleased to know that on this occasion a biography of Edu has been published. The book is ‘Edwina: An Unsung Bollywood Dancer of the Golden Era’ by Professor Surjit Singh.
For more information, please visit my website.
For buying in US dollars, please visit:
If buying in Rupees, go to Pothi.com.
I have read the book, and he begins with some really interesting information about the history of music and dance in Hindi cinema, and about the Anglo-Indians who worked in the industry from early on. He has included a lot of stories in Edu’s own words, and she as many of you know is very funny indeed. It’s a treat.
Have a very very happy birthday, dearest Edu!
August 23, 2012
This gleefully patriotic and decidedly low-budget spy movie is the brainchild of the legendary (to some of us anyway) fedora-loving actor-director-producer Nisar Ahmad Ansari, and it is also Faryal’s debut film. It stars other Ansari favorites Bela Bose, Nilofar, Pradeep Kumar, Johnny Walker and a host of lurking henchpeople. I watched it without the benefit of subtitles and therefore missed any subtleties there may have been, but all anyone really needs to know is that India’s “top two Security Agents” are chasing bad guys who want to get their hands on a microphillum giving away military installations, bridge locations, and “all hamara important documents.” Plus, Ted Lyons & His Cubs back up gorgeous Bela, and it contains one of my very favorite Edwina songs: and all the music is fabulous really, from Chitalkar Ramchandra.
Like all Ansari movies and others of its ilk, this is like watching enthusiastic hormonally-charged teenaged boys playing cops and robbers, and I mean that only in a good way. Rife with silly and largely pointless disguises, beeping gadgets, guns, coded musical messages, and pretty dancing girls, it is oodles of loony fun.
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June 4, 2012
Mehmood (center back) with his siblings, including Minoo Mumtaz.
(Image from Anwar Ali’s now-defunct website)
While Edwina was staying with me last October and November, she told me many fun stories about her days as a dancer. None was better than this one about Mehmood, although she was hesitant to share it until she saw all the comments she received on the articles about her over at Madhu’s blog. Now she’s ready to spill all, beginning with the reasons she held back, in her own inimitable voice! (My mother asked her why she capitalized words so randomly, and Edwina replied that she capitalized anything she thought important. I love that. We still don’t know why she eschews punctuation but we’re glad she does.)
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May 21, 2012
This post is dedicated to dearest Edwina, whose husband of 52 years passed away this morning. She and Keith were married the year this film was released, and she has a small speaking part in addition to her song appearances. It is also the newest in the Edu Productions catalog, named in her honor. I have the Sky dvd, and this has about 15 minutes more footage than that, much better subtitles, and video that doesn’t jump around in such a manner as to make me nauseous. Details for watching it online or downloading it are on the Edu Productions page.
I adore this full-on 1940s Hollywood-style soap opera romance, with it’s thwarted love, stylish villainess, crashing ocean waves mirroring internal turmoil, and bonus bakwas filmi medicine. Even though Meena Kumari spends the whole movie dressed like the Flying Nun, you can practically taste the chemistry between her and Raaj Kumar (still blessed with his own hair and very handsome indeed), and Nadira makes a perfect Joan Crawford in a sari. Plus the songs are pure gems, including the one that would be my ring-tone if I had a cell phone (“Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh”). From an era when plots like this often devolved into ridiculous melodrama and pointless self-sacrifice this one stays relatively on point and the people in it remain relatively sane. Also woven into the main story is a simply delightful sub-plot about three patients, led by Om Prakash.
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May 10, 2012
This post is dedicated to my dear friend and song blogger extraordinaire Atul, who tells hilarious and sweet stories about his own menagerie.
Most of you are familiar with the Memdogs (little scamps) and beloved Gemma before them; and many of you have animals in your own lives who are as precious to you as anyone. One of my very favorite things about Hindi movies is how so many of them contain anipals, as Todd puts it. Filmi animals are usually more intelligent and capable than the people around them (eg Khoon Bhari Maang‘s Raja the horse and Jumbo the dog, Dharam-Veer‘s Sheroo the Wonder Bird, etc.), but they generally speaking don’t have nearly their fair share of song time. I mean, have you ever seen a dacoit serenading his smart and loyal horse? (If you have, TELL ME.)
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November 13, 2011
I really wanted to like this movie—Faryal as a heroine! The Shash as her hero! Lalita Pawar! Pran!—but I was forced to ponder these things instead:
- Why is Faryal the heroine so much less likable than Faryal the vamp?
- Is it possible for Prithviraj Kapoor’s sons to pull off being “poor”? (no)
- How many wimpy roles did Shashi play in the Sixties anyway?
- Is it better to ignore psychological issues than to completely eff them up?
- Is there anything funnier than absolutely literal subtitles?
- Is Lalita Pawar Awesome No Matter What? (yes)
- Is Pran the Most Suave Villain Ever? (yes again)
- Have I really seen two movies in a row where Lots of Mehmood wasn’t Too Much?
*Sigh* So much goodness squandered on a story full of trite saccharine platitudes (if you are rich, be kind to the poor; they are people too!) which descends finally into that melodrama I so dread, where the females in the story are either blamed or worshipped and lose any bit of individuality and humanity they might have had.
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November 6, 2011
Kishore Kumar is one of those actors (Mehmood being another) who either makes me laugh out loud or completely irritates me. The script, direction and supporting characters make the difference usually, and I think that’s the case (and by “case” I mean problem) here too. Even though Shakti Samanta directed, after about the first hour I was fast-forwarding through more than I watched—not only is the frantic slapstick not funny, but the Curse of the Second Half derails what little entertainment there is. The story manages an interesting turn in the middle but then resolves itself in the stupidest manner possible. Plus the supporting cast are grating—even Madan Puri as a buffoonish bad guy just isn’t funny. In fact Edwina, who watched some of it with me and appears in two songs, asked me how on earth I can sit through such stuff.
She seems quite amazed at my tolerance for total crap, but I’m sure it comes as no surprise to any of you who come here regularly.
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June 23, 2011
It is a fact that when I started this blog I had grandiose plans to cover every single film Shammi ever starred in (well, that I could find, anyway). Little did I know how distracted I would become by so much other stuff, but here I go in a valiant attempt to move a teeny bit forward towards that lofty goal.
The Shakti Samanta-Shammi team made several memorable films and I think this is their first together. It has its entertaining moments, but after the first hour or so begins to drag for me. The songs are lovely (Shankar-Jaikishan); Shammi is lovely LOVELY (even in disguise); Padmini and Shashikala and Malaysian actress Maria Menado are lovely; but at the end of the day this isn’t one I want to watch over and over. Shammi’s exuberance seems to have nowhere to go and it fizzles; his chemistry with Padmini is tepid and although I am a fan of Agha, he is not the Shammi sidekick that Rajendranath was.
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February 6, 2011
My little obsession with—and posts about—the fantastic filmi band Ted Lyons & His Cubs has reaped some nice rewards I never expected, the best of which is that in the past year I have become friends with Ted personally. Through him, I have discovered the amazing extent to which he and his circle of friends and family contributed to films of the 50s and 60s. His wife Lorna’s father was a bandleader in the early days (his band was called Fats Benny), and Ted, his siblings, in-laws and close friends populate the bands and dance floors in so many songs beloved from that era.
Today I want to introduce you to his sister Edwina, who specialized in the fantastic western swing-ballroom-twist types of dance numbers that I so love, and who epitomizes that most expressive Hindi word bindaas. Edwina has become very dear to me over the past year as well, and she is an utter hoot, the kind of girl who even back in those days would (and did) bum a beedi from a group of hijiras on a late night commuter train and smoke it with them.
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January 28, 2011
Also known as Naag Rani, this movie is a perfect example of how the so-called “B movie” genre contains gems (no Naag Mani pun intended, or not much) of movie history which really need to be treated with more respect. I would rather watch this and others of its ilk a hundred times over than watch Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam or Mother India more than once or twice. Sure, those are great films; but they aren’t exactly uplifting entertainment! Why is such pure uplifting entertainment as this so frowned upon and discarded? Very often the zany trappings overlay genuine emotional content and messages which are far more palatable to me than the stifling conservatism of mainstream Hindi cinema.
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