Posts tagged ‘good Hindi movie’

March 2, 2010

Call Girl (1974)

I watched this film years ago as part of my early obsession with Helen, and didn’t fully appreciate then how very unusual it is for its time. It must be one of the earlier examples of the 1970s resurgence into “parallel” cinema and hard-hitting social commentary directed at the country’s youth. As you may have guessed from the title, the story revolves around a woman named Kamini (Zahira) who has been forced into a life of “high-class” prostitution by a society which offers few choices to a girl—on her own in the world, trying to support herself—who is raped by her wealthy employer. I would assume that in 1974 India it was considered (and probably criticized for being) “titillating” but to my western eyes thirty-six years later it is compellingly and realistically tawdry and sad, and an excellent attempt to illuminate the injustice inherent in a woman being made to pay an ongoing price for her own victimization. It is a film that has stuck in my memory—and revisiting it for this blog is long overdue (it’s not a movie I want to see over and over again, though: it is pretty grim).

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September 10, 2009

Jeet (1949)

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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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September 9, 2009

Ziddi (1964)

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In the wake of my post espousing the awesomeness that is Asha P, several people recommended that I watch this. And indeed, I’m glad they did: Asha is at her feisty, gun-totin’ best. And the songs—my God, the songs! They are made of beautiful, all of them, and the film is worth watching just for them alone.

My quibble with the movie is that things slow to a crawl in the middle as the combative courtship between Asha and Joy Mukherjee drags on—and it turns them into cruel and thoughtless people, too. The last half hour picks up again, luckily, but the middle hour or so really could have used some editing (and an animal activist or two). The Comic Side Plot is also far too intrusive: Mehmood again, given lots of screen time to compensate for his hefty compensation, I guess. A little of him goes a long way (and a lot of him can bring the main plot to a halt) especially when it’s the same exact CSP every time.

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April 21, 2009

Luck By Chance (2009)

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So now I’ve watched two predictable films in a row, but I really enjoyed this one. A mostly affectionate behind-the-scenes look at Hindi cinema, it’s a fairly standard “follow your dreams/be true to yourself” kind of film but close attention is paid to details, and it is blessed with wonderful performances, snappy dialogue and lots of humorous little moments. It’s colorful, lively, and full of things to take notice of (like, doesn’t Farhan Akhtar look just like his dad in profile?).

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March 4, 2009

Mere Mehboob (1963)

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This is one of the most romantic films I’ve ever seen, with absolutely sublime music by Naushad. It’s a Muslim social drama set in Lucknow, with all the attendant grace and beauty you would expect. Elaborate sets and costumes are de rigueur! Love blooms for Sadhana and Rajendra Kumar, and there is also a lovely romance between the so handsome Ashok Kumar and pretty Nimmi. Obstacles and misunderstandings abound, seasoned with (mostly) funny-man Johnny Walker’s antics, and made compelling by the people and relationships you can’t help but root for—this is my favorite kind of movie. Even the fairly poor condition of the color print only adds to the old-fashioned and elegant ambiance of it all.

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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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January 22, 2009

Raaste Ka Patthar (1972)

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This was a pretty good movie until the last half hour, when a different bad film was tacked onto it. Such is life. At least the bad one was only half an hour long. Until then, I was enjoying an interesting story with eye-searing ’70s style and the yummy goodness of young Amitabh, Shatrughan Sinha and our homegirl, Laxmi Chhaya. She got third billing after those two, and although strictly speaking she wasn’t the heroine, she had a central role and she was fantastic. Why was she not a star, why? Sigh.

The makers of Life…In A Metro apparently saw this film at some point, because one of the story threads in that was lifted from this (either that, or lending your boss the key to your apartment so he can cheat on his wife is a common practice in India—please say it isn’t so!).

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January 5, 2009

Amar Shakti (1978)

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I was inspired by Antarra’s review to see this film—so many thanks, Antarra! It’s essentially an hommage to Dharam-Veer with some pointed differences, which may make it a better film or a worse one, depending on your point of view. I loved Dharam-Veer (of course!) but I also really enjoyed this movie, maybe because my philosophy is if one of something is good, then two of it is better.

What Dharam-Veer has that Amar Shakti doesn’t:

  • Manmohan Desai’s lunatic sensibilities and larger-than-life scope
  • Dharmendra in a leather mini-skirt
  • Pran

What Amar Shakti has that Dharam-Veer doesn’t:

  • Shashi
  • Shashi’s curls
  • Shashi’s eyelashes
  • A Trojan elephant

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December 3, 2008

Badal (1951)

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Robin Hood meets Hindi cinema! How can that possibly be a bad thing? I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It stars a young and handsome Premnath and the beautiful Madhubala (in fact they began a real-life romance during the filming of this, according to her biographer), and are very nicely supported by Purnima (in my opinion just as lovely as Madhubala) and Agha (so young! and cute! and funny too).

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September 18, 2008

Jhuk Gaya Aasman (1968)

As you might know, I love Hindi remakes of old Hollywood films. This is a copy of Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) which has also been remade a few times in Hollywood; the version that I’ve seen is Heaven Can Wait (1978) with Warren Beatty. The subject is perfect for a Hindi film, actually; reincarnation is a no-brainer, and since identical people who aren’t related is a common occurrence, our hero gets put into an identical body. So convenient! I would have liked this more had it starred Shammi and Asha (I know: duh) instead of Rajendra Kumar and Saira Banu (who honestly were just fine); but it’s thoroughly entertaining with lovely songs courtesy of Shankar Jaikishan, and a strong supporting cast of character actors and goofy Rajendranath.

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