Posts tagged ‘Hema Malini’

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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September 15, 2009

My ten favorite sharaab songs

jugnu_hema

As a gori mem who enjoys her gigantic icy-cold Kingfishers every day while in India (and “several” glasses of wine every other evening), I do love a good song about the devil’s potion! Inspired by Dusted Off’s post on the same subject, I have changed one of her rules: I’m including fake-pretend drinking because it’s a fascinating (to me anyway) artifact of Hindi movies. If you need to chase someone off, or get them to hate you—pretend to have a drink! (I would be lonely and unwanted indeed!) Of course some would point out that *most* movie drinking is “pretend” unless you are Dharmendra. I am only including songs from movies I’ve seen, where I loved the song and the performance and picturization of it. Liking the film is a plus too, but not strictly necessary.

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May 21, 2009

Sharafat (1970)

sharafat_dharamji

When a movie opens with yet another poor woman forced to give up her husband for the sake of his family’s honor and material wealth, leaving her and their baby nothing to fall back on but prostitution, I usually think: Oh No No No No.

But I love this film. It’s one I can watch over and over just for the beauty of Dharmendra alone. He is at his best around this time in my opinion, and it is one of his first films with a very young and pretty Hema Malini. But beyond that, it has a good, nicely-paced script (punctuated though it is with a completely superfluous and tiresome CSP) which culminates in a satisfyingly emotional way (in other words, I cried); although I must confess to some ambivalence about the overall message (more on that towards the end). Plus: absolutely lovely songs by Laxmikant Pyarelal and lots of dancing from Hema!

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February 12, 2009

Azaad (1978)

azaad

If Dharmendra playing Zorro and rescuing pretty young things isn’t your thing, how about these options? Dharmendra chasing down a train! Dharmendra swinging through trees like Tarzan! Dharmendra taming wild horses! Dharmendra wrestling tigers! Dharmendra saving a man in chains from a burning building! Dharmendra saving the honor of women everywhere! Dharmendra impersonating a holy man! Dharmendra romancing the Dream Girl! Dharmendra escaping the Loony Bin of Death!

I was inspired to get a second copy of this film (a copy with subtitles) by Banno and I’m so very very glad I did. I am sure you will understand the attraction once you read her description of the action. Beth did, and Todd too—so watch out for what I am sure will be their superb analyses of this masala masterpiece as well. It’s a fun story that moves along at a brisk pace embellished with oodles of cracktastic detail.

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February 5, 2009

Desh Premee (1982)

desh-premee

I would be hard-pressed to choose my favorite Manmohan Desai film were I ever forced to. But Desh Premee would be near the top of the list. I loved this film; once again the great director has given us a sprawling and complex story encompassing themes of compassion, unity, justice, patriotism, faith and love. He uses leprosy both as a metaphor for the corruption eating away at his country, and as a message of non-exclusion, and the unwavering courage and integrity of Masterji both destroys his happiness and saves his loved ones at the end. There are many moments of humor and silliness, of course, but the movie’s overall tone is quite serious as compared to some of his other work.

I think I’ve finally put my finger on why I love Desai’s films so much. Like me he has a cynic’s view of the world; and also like me, a romantic soul underlying that cynicism. That juxtaposition between often harsh reality and what we wish were real instead is present in all his work, and he always lets the “wishing” side win. Even when the ending is somewhat sad (like Roti) we are still left with a sense of hope. Plus, his imagery and plots are just so FAB.

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January 25, 2009

Bhai Ho To Aisa (1972)

bhta

Manmohan Desai! How I adore you. And this sort-of-medieval swashbuckler with snake gods, sword-fights, dacoit Ranjeet, Bela Bose as a greedy courtesan, and Jeetendra and Shatrughan Sinha as brothers on opposite sides of that pesky line between good and evil has not changed my mind one little bit. The setting is gorgeous too, as the movie was shot on location at the spectactular Laxmi Vilas Palace belonging to the Maharajah of Baroda. It’s much less loony than the film it vaguely reminded me of (Dharam-Veer); I guess, my dear Manmohan, you hadn’t quite reached your full masala stride yet. Still, it’s an entertainer in your trademark style, with lots of action and well-drawn characters.

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January 23, 2009

Trivia time #35

trivia35_1

In what film does Hema Malini sing a song holding a little doll, which then comes alive (as a miniature Hema) and sings along with her?

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January 21, 2009

Sharafat Chhod Di Maine (1976)

scdm

Despite a silly plot filled to the brim with irresponsible adults and many creepy (as in “ewwwww” creepy) developments, I could not help but find this entertaining. As noted in my previous trivia post, the film featured all of the best dancers of the era in several very fun songs: Laxmi Chhaya, Padma Khanna, Bindu, Faryal and Jayshree T, along with the inimitable and legendary Helen (who appeared as herself, and was given a well-deserved tribute in the dialogues). Hema Malini and a very young Neetu Singh had dances too, and Madan Mohan’s music along with the plentiful eye candy—both human and inanimate—conspired to prevent me from running away screaming as I should have, in all honesty.

Warning: Post below contains many screen shots of dancing girls, so if they are not your thing you’ll need to use your scroll bar (although I must ask: how could they not be your thing?).

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January 19, 2009

Dillagi (1978)

dillagi

Basu Chatterjee’s films are difficult for me to like. There: I’ve said it! They tread a fine line: even the ones that do work for me (Piya Ka Ghar, Chhoti Si Baat), despite being funny and sweet, ultimately find me getting restless. The ones that don’t work (Rajnigandha, Baaton Baaton Mein) just bore my socks off.

Dillagi had moments which made me laugh very hard (like the scene captured above where Dharmendra puts on one of Hema’s saris so that his own rain-soaked clothes can dry). It also helped that I watched it with Beth, whose witty commentary kept me entertained even when the film didn’t. It had potential, but in the end Hema’s character was so egregiously tiresome that it made me want to poke my eyes out. It also rendered Dharmendra’s pursuit of her—the essential plot point—completely unbelievable for me.

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January 18, 2009

Kudrat (1981)

kudrat

After months during which this Chetan Anand film was “next” in my to-watch list, I finally got around to it. And I’m glad I did; it is compelling viewing. Having said that, I’m not sure what exactly what else to say about it. Unusual story? Check. Good cast and performances? Check. Nice music? Check. Good movie? Uhhhhhh…I think so? Maybe? In the end it felt a bit schizophrenic: it is a reincarnation story—and leads you firmly down that path—but then also drags in some token debate about reincarnation being a silly belief held by uneducated riff-raff. It also wanted to be a “serious” suspense film (and succeeded to a large degree), but was very lazy about some details (medical and legal practices, for one, and some pretty stringent suspension of disbelief requirements too).

So I spent a lot of time feeling pulled in one direction, and then nudged in another, and the whole never quite came together for me. The fact that the subtitles disappeared entirely during the climactic courtroom speech didn’t help at all either (and thank you to Suhan for sending me a synopsis!).

But: I couldn’t stop watching it, as the suspense was built very nicely, and the performances were really good, especially Vinod Khanna as a doctor who loses his love to the man she loved in a past life; and Rajesh Khanna as the man who is pulled unwillingly into a story involving him but of which he has no memory. The sets and the Simla scenery were beautiful, and the cinematography stunning, and RD Burman’s music very nice too.

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