Posts tagged ‘Leela Mishra’

January 2, 2012

Bada Kabutar (1973)

Anybody who comes here regularly will not be surprised that I could not resist a film called Big Pigeon. And I’m so glad I didn’t—it is oodles of fun, with a talented ensemble cast, nice RD Burman songs, and lots of laughs. And *wow* I love Rehana Sultan. What a shame she got pigeon-holed (yes pun intended, my bad) and her career fizzled. Deven Verma wrote, produced, directed and starred in this comic crime caper; the internet appears to believe that Amitabh Bachchan and Helen star in it, but Helen has just one cabaret dance and Amitabh is nowhere to be seen (nor is he credited, as imdb claims). It’s possible that he had an uncredited guest appearance but if so, it’s gone.

I didn’t miss him: Ashok Kumar, Leela Mishra, Rehana Sultan, Deven Verma, Pinchoo Kapoor and a little butterball toddler billed as “Golu (A Wonder Child)” kept me enthralled and in stitches.

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November 20, 2011

Lootera (1965)

Let’s face it: Dara Singh is reason enough for me to watch any film, and when the rare subtitled one comes along it’s practically Diwali in my household. So you will understand how much it pains me to say this, but Lootera is a really bad movie. How can a Dara pirate (subtitled “sea dacoit”) film be bad? I am not sure. But Dara and heroine Nishi have zero chemistry, unlike the better if rather less complete Nasihat, and the pacing is just abysmal. The writers keep writing themselves into corners from which they can only escape with overly glib plot developments, and the director fails to understand which parts of the story he should be lavishing time and attention on. It even manages to be sexist, and these sorts of movies are usually a refuge from that.

There were enough things to get me through it: Dara’s ruffled sea dacoit shirts, Prithviraj Kapoor, dancer Kammo as a female sea dacoit, lots of sparkle and terrible wigs, and lovely songs including a Bela Bose dance aboard a sea dacoit ship. Plus the subtitles, inept as they are, are often hilarious. And when I tell you that Memsaab favorites Hiralal, Jeevan and Rajan Haksar vigorously ply their histrionic powers you will understand that subtlety is no hallmark of the acting either (yes, I know I am putting that in the “plus” column, it needs the support).

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March 28, 2011

Nasihat (1967)

Nasihat double-Daras you not to like it and wins!

Sorry. My brain is addled with grief and self-pity these days and half the time I don’t know what I’m saying. Unsubtitled Dara Singh films are proving most appropriate for my powers (or lack thereof) of concentration, and a loony band of smugglers calling themselves the Golden Gang—based out of the Hotel Mogambo—being infiltrated by CID officers cannot possibly be bad, right? Right. It is, in fact, deliciously campy and entertaining even though several of the plot points escaped me (most notably the CSP which I didn’t care about anyway). What did not escape me is that there are two Daras, one Randhawa, a Helen, a Madan Puri, a faux Chinese henchman, a midget, a plethora of corpulent bald wrestlers, and a Boss with a somewhat pitiful little Desk Lair from which he issues his commands.

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November 7, 2010

Sholay (1975)

How many dvd versions of Sholay does one need to have? Depending upon your level of OCD, it could be three or even four. Sadly, there is no definitive version—they all have their issues, plus there are two different endings: the theatrical release with a censor-imposed ending, and the “director’s cut” with Ramesh Sippy’s original—and much much more powerful—one intact. Plus, none of the dvd versions have subtitled songs, one of my biggest pet peeves. I have no idea why the Sippys or anybody else have not bothered to try and do something wonderful with this film, but nothing surprises me when it comes to the Indian film and dvd industry anymore.

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July 12, 2009

Tumse Achha Kaun Hai (1969)

tumseachha

At a run time of almost three hours, this film is about two hours too long. This can be blamed on two things: Mehmood, and the fact that it’s crammed with every melodramatic cliche in Hindi film history. In point of fact, Mehmood should be credited as the main star of the film, with Shammi as his co-star and sidekick. Not only is entirely too much time spent on the irritating—and predictable—CSP (Shubha Khote as Mehmood’s love interest, with of course Dhumal as her father and the rather startling spectacle of Leela Mishra in a brown wig as her mother), but he figures in the main plot far more than Shammi does too. His character reminds me of the animals in Manmohan Desai films; he is smarter than all the humans combined, and loyal and true to a fault—and he is everywhere. Additionally, we are treated to all these various plot points: communal harmony, the bhai-bahen rishtaa, the rape-suicide trope, blindness, bad western-influenced girls turned into good sari-clad ones, bromantic pyare-dost, the saving of an atheist’s soul, and much, much more!

Why would anyone sit through this even once, you ask—let alone several times? Shammi, my friends, Shammi. Plus the initial sparkle of a rifle-wielding and stylish Babita, the joy of Lalita Pawar as identical twins, and Shankar-Jaikishan’s songs, which are lots of fun.

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June 8, 2009

Gauri (1968)

gauri_gasp

From the DVD cover: “the saga of an Indian woman…who helps her parents before marriage, and gives her all to her husband after marriage.” I should have run screaming, right? Especially since said Indian woman is also blind (and played by Nutan)? But Mumtaz, Laxmi Chhaya and the young Sanjeev Kumar are also in the cast so I decided to take a chance. Alas! it is every bit as bad as the DVD cover promised. I had to turn the whole thing into a drinking game: Greedy manipulative father figure lies to his “sons”? Drink! Blind woman weeps helplessly at her fate? Drink! Son sacrifices his own happiness (and that of his beloved) for no good reason? Drink! Blind woman gets sight back and devotes self to fake husband who spurns her? Drink!

Drink! Drink!! Driiink!!!!

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June 6, 2009

Raat Aur Din (1967)

raataurdin

After reading a fine review of this movie over at Dusted Off, I had to see it. Nargis’ last film! Young Feroz Khan! Laxmi Chhaya! Ted Lyons & His Cubs! And truly it is an interesting and fun filmi noir, dominated by a fine performance from Nargis as a woman with a split personality. The music by Shankar Jaikishan is absolutely fabulous. My favorite song from the film is the lively “Awara Ae Mere Dil”—it’s going to be in my head for a few days, I can already tell. It’s picturized on the lovely Laxmi (it’s one of my picks for her top 10 songs) with my favorite band providing the music. The main quibble I have with the film is that it’s a Criminal Waste of Young Handsome Feroz—but hey, at least he’s there!

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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 29, 2008

Jeevan Jyoti (1952)

jj_shammi_god

Shammi, Shammi, Shammi…*shaking head in dismay*…why? why? There is a genre in Hindi cinema which I have privately dubbed the Red Mist Movie, because watching one causes a red mist of fury to rise in front of my eyes (which fortunately obscures the film itself). These films are pretty much the only Hindi movies that I simply can’t sit through. Once I reach the Red Mist point, I’m done. I am sad to report—indeed, it pains me a lot to say it—Shammi has been in one such film, and in case you haven’t figured it out yet, this is it.

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October 4, 2008

Dushmun (1971)

First of all, many many thanks to Suhan for sending this to me! I love films with a village setting, and Mumtaz, and Rajesh Khanna, and this has all three. Plus, it has quite an interesting premise, Meena Kumari in one of her last roles and Kumari Naaz, and I really wanted to see it.

In the end though, I had mixed feelings about Dushmun. I genuinely enjoyed a lot (even most) of it, but some of it I found troubling (that was intentional on the part of the makers), and some aspects were just irritating (not intentional) (and not Meena! she was actually very good and not at all weepy despite playing a put-upon widow).

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