Posts tagged ‘Manmohan Krishna’

October 25, 2011

Shatranj (1969)

Just when I fear that I may have seen all the crazy Indian spy films that there are to see, another one appears. This one is not quite as loony as my beloved Spy In Rome or Puraskar, but that is probably because it also had a larger budget and A-list stars (Waheeda Rehman and Rajendra Kumar). Still and all it is satisfyingly filled with many of the same tropes: an enemy country never called by its actual name, but whose denizens all have names like Comrades Ping and Chang and Shin Cho. They are led by an angry man we only ever see in silhouette until the end, who kills his loyal henchmen at the slightest provocation with weapons like machine guns mounted on turrets (and marvelous dying theatrics on the part of those men, although there is a sad lack of blood and gore). AND IT HAS SUBTITLES, hooray!

Plus, all the usual suspects—Madan Puri, Rajan Haksar, Ratan Gaurang—are present, sporting Fu Manchu moustaches and squinty eyes. Seriously satisfying.

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March 21, 2011

Milap (1972)

The supernatural and horror genres don’t attract me much, although the Indian versions are more interesting than mainstream Hollywood’s—usually because they are pretty low-budget and not at all scary, and chock-full of WTF-ery. I do love a good (or bad) snake movie, however, so when I saw this one directed by someone I am curious about—BR Ishara—I decided to give it a whirl. The few early 1970s film magazines that I have refer to Ishara’s work as “bold” with undertones of “sleazy” implicated in every other line. I know that he made a film considered quite radical for its time called Chetna, which is sadly not available anywhere that I can find, and that he eventually married the beautiful heroine of that film, Rehana Sultan, whose promising career was seemingly hampered by her willingness to push the envelope in films of a certain reputation, undeserved or not.

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July 28, 2010

Kohraa (1964)

While reading Shilpi’s first post about her father Tarun Bose I realized that I had never yet seen Kohraa, a remake of Daphne Du Maurier’s “Rebecca.” One of the benefits of my poor memory is that although I’ve read the book and seen the Hollywood film version, I couldn’t really remember how it all ended. This helped keep me attentive, although honestly this version too is so well done that I would have been anyway. From the opening scene until the screen went black at the end, I was positively riveted. It’s a faithful (if uncredited) adaptation of a story well-suited for an Indian setting. The wealthy Maxim de Winter is easily transformed into Raja Amit Singh (Biswajeet even sports Laurence Olivier’s pencil-thin mouche) and his mansion Manderley into a sprawling seaside haveli full of wind-swept rooms. Waheeda Rehman is absolutely perfect as the timid orphaned bride who finds herself up against a formidable enemy in housekeeper Dai Maa (Lalita Pawar at her awesome best!).

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August 29, 2009

Deewaar (1975)

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I watched a lot of films early on because they were on lists of Hindi film “classics” that one should watch. Some I remember well, some I do not. This is one that I didn’t think I remembered, until I began to watch it again and realized: “Oh this is where I saw that!” Turns out that a lot of my memories from “some movie” are all from this one. I’m hoping that the memories got fragmented because Hindi cinema was all so new to me back then—I was absorbing so many things, many of which I can take for granted now so they don’t distract me. Otherwise, I need to worry about my brain, because this is a great movie. The script and the performances are pure gold. If I had to put it simply I’d say it’s a story about choices, and the things that influence those choices and shape a human being, and it is done with such finesse that I am left speechless (okay, not really; this is a long post, even for me). It is a brilliantly crafted psychological portrait of the damaged Vijay in particular, supported by simply stunning performances from Amitabh Bachchan and Alankar Joshi, who plays Vijay as a boy. There is nothing wasted—not a word, not a look, not a nuance, not a scene.

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January 21, 2009

Sharafat Chhod Di Maine (1976)

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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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December 11, 2008

Raampur Ka Lakshman (1972)

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My latest Manmohan Desai kick (triggered by the insanity of Mard) continues with this film, and it’s oodles of fun too although not nearly as unpredictable. I didn’t even mind the innocent rustic Raj Kapoor-type character, mostly because it was enacted by his son Randhir, who is much more believable in the role (not sure if that’s really a compliment or not, but I mean it as one). Rekha and her sarees and hairdos were spectacular, and Shatrughan Sinha had plenty of style—and youth—on his side as well. Ranjeet and Padma Khanna (and Faryal) also made brief but gorgeous appearances, and the plot contained plenty of separated family members and coincidences.

So: lots of eye candy and a fast-paced action-packed story equals solid Desai-style entertainment, which is only enhanced by RD Burman’s lovely songs! Plus, removable snake tattooes!

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November 17, 2008

Sadhna (1958)

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I learned about two important things when I first saw this BR Chopra classic a while ago: Sahir Ludhianvi’s sublime lyrics, and Sunil Dutt’s penchant for making progressive women-centric films. He stars alongside Vyjayanthimala, who has many opportunities to show off her considerable dancing skills. She plays a nautch-girl whom Sunil’s character hires to pose as his fiancee to make his dying mother happy. She won the Filmfare (Best Actress) award for it as well, as did the story writer Mukhram Sharma.

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August 20, 2008

Daag: A Poem of Love (1973)

This may be the most aptly named film in the history of cinema. It’s an all-out early Yash Chopra romance: boy and girl fall in love, marry despite opposition, are separated tragically, then reunited—but with big obstacles to their happiness. Particularly satisfying are Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore as said boy and girl. Their performances are enhanced by setting (snowy Himachal Pradesh) and beautiful songs courtesy of Laxmikant Pyarelal with stunning lyrics from the great Sahir Ludhianvi. I—shameless romantic that I am—loved every heartwrenchingly glorious minute of it.

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August 6, 2008

Apna Desh (1972)

I am feeling the love for Rajesh Khanna (especially paired with Mumtaz) here these days. Better late than never! Apna Desh is total paisa vasool, as well. It’s two distinctly different but equally good films for the price (and viewing time) of one! The first is a solid social drama about corruption with a bit of romance thrown in; the second a totally crack-tastic masala film complete with disguises, blackface, fabulous outfits and sets, and two of RD Burman’s (and Asha Bhosle’s) most glorious songs.

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April 25, 2008

Dharmputra (1961)

Yash Chopra’s second directorial effort, this film is lauded as a classic, and deservedly so. Set in the years prior to Independence and Partition, it addresses issues like religion, nationalism, prejudice—all topics that are still relevant today, of course! It has a wonderful cast, including Shashi Kapoor in his first adult role (as an insufferable, pompous bigot). The music by N Dutta is very good too, with words (thankfully subtitled) by the great lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi.

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