Posts tagged ‘Maruti’

March 13, 2012

Main Hoon Alladin (1965)

When friends ask me why I haven’t upgraded to digital high-definition from my 20-year-old CRT television set, I put a movie like this into the dvd player as explanation. It looks bad enough on my old workhorse, I can’t even imagine how bad it would look on HD. And really, I don’t want to ever stop watching movies like this, no matter how abysmal the video and audio might be. It is a riotously colorful Arabian Nights vehicle for tall, handsome Ajit in a last gasp as hero, replete with the loony touches and sumptuous sets and costumes for which director Mohammed Hussain is beloved (at least by me). Usha Khanna’s music is plentiful and fortunately pleasant (sometimes very much so), and Sayeeda makes a lovely heroine. The lack of subtitles, choppy editing, and poor made-from-vhs-tape quality cannot diminish my pleasure in it; I am even thrilled by the (some would say poorly) hand-drawn title credits.

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February 8, 2012

Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye (1974)

I have no idea what the plot of this movie is—seriously no idea—but I know that I love it. Even if with subtitles it became a maudlin, sexist melodrama (which I doubt) I would still love it. Why? Well for one thing it is extremely shiny. Premnath has a lair made completely out of mirrors, and not in a pretty Mughal-e-Azam kind of way but in a spectacularly gaudy disco kind of way. The songs by OP Nayyar are delightful and the cinematography (VN Reddy) is gorgeous. The cast is a veritable Who’s Who of character actors. And a still-dashing Sunil Dutt makes a dacoit I can really root for, although he does seem a little old for plump young Rekha. The story is liberally sprinkled with dacoit-drama masala ingredients: greedy moneylenders, long-lost daughters, flashbacks, dozens of people named Singh, pretty pretty Marwari horses, and real ruffians lurking beneath a veneer of respectability and draped with scantily-clad gori extras. I felt totally sated by the end.

Did I mention the mirrors? Lots and lots of mirrors.

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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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October 12, 2011

Kahin Aar Kahin Paar (1971)

This film is exactly what I would picture a big long LSD trip to be like (because of course I have no actual knowledge of one). Although if it were an acid trip, I’d probably be dead now. It is that crazy: I have a pretty high tolerance—some less charitable might even say need—for eye-popping candy-colored visuals, but by the abrupt (and non-existent) end of this my head was exploding. Truly it is a dizzying kaleidoscopic bombardment of Cracktastic that never lets up. Low on budget it might be, but the heights of jugad are certainly scaled.

I also really love the cinematography (Shyam Shiposkar): the camera angles are fantastic. Much of the candy color is probably a result of film deterioration, but here that sad state only adds to the charm.

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February 26, 2011

Mini-review: The Killers (1969)

This is turning into Dara Singh month, which is essentially a constant struggle for me of no subtitles and significant amounts of missing footage. Nothing in this extra-low-budget Maruti-directed film made sense to me, and I doubt it would have even with subtitles and the 45 minutes or so that seem to have disappeared. It is essentially a bad formulaic spy film with Dara Singh as Agent Q and Sheikh Mukhtar as the secondary villain (the primary villain of course remaining unseen until the end) with the usual numbered henchmen and a lair lit primarily by red bulbs.

Most of it drags, but it contained just enough fun to keep me going and make me want to share here (this post is a *little bit* spoiler-y, although nothing significant).

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January 28, 2011

Cobra Girl (1963)

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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December 14, 2009

Hum Sab Ustad Hain (1965)

Sometimes all I really need is Dara Singh and one gorgeous song after another. This film has that in spades, plus the lovely Ameeta and Bela Bose, and Kishore Kumar, and Sheikh Mukhtar, and King Kong (the wrestler, not the giant simian). What it doesn’t have is a coherent story or any sense of identity: is it a comedy? a spy caper? a wrestling film? a lost-and-found family drama? The answer, of course, is YES! to all of the above. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially given Dara Singh’s target audience (an audience in which I firmly belong).

My main complaint is the comedy element, which quickly becomes tiresome. It is inserted awkwardly into what should have been dramatic or suspenseful moments, and goes on way too long in other places. No doubt this is the fault of director (and comedian) Maruti, but Kishore’s presence doesn’t help either. I love Kishore, but I prefer him a bit less manic than he is here. Maruti is credited with the “scenario” too, but no screenplay is mentioned and I am pretty sure there wasn’t one. The whole thing has a very seat-of-the-pants feel to it (some less charitable than I might even call it uncontrolled chaos).

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May 14, 2009

Opera House (1961)

opera_house

I hoped for a well-plotted filmi noir story; I got a badly-plotted filmi noir story instead, but all the plot holes and suspension of disbelief requirements didn’t really matter in the face of…well, Ajit’s face! And Saroja Devi’s as well. A beautiful hero and heroine, gorgeous songs, a minimal Comic Side Plot, atmospheric cinematography and KN Singh as the villain—this was entertainment enough for me. Lovely Bela Bose has a short (albeit sadly dance-free) role too!

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February 7, 2009

Parasmani (1963) Part 1

parasmani_title

What’s not to love in a film with a title screen like this? Not much! The hero—Mahipal—is a bit of a girl, but luckily the actual girls in it are badass enough to make up for him.

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November 8, 2008

Rustom-E-Hind (1965)

rustomehind

I have to admit that I didn’t expect much from this movie, although I wanted to see it for Helen, Laxmi Chhaya and Madhumati dancing, and Mumtaz as the heroine opposite Dara Singh. Also: KN Singh! and lots of men in tights (as per usual for a Dara Singh starrer). However, it turned out to be an excellent fairy tale of a film, with a coherent plot, a truly detestable villain, and even a semi-bearable comic side plot thanks to Mohan Choti and Tun Tun. The dances did not disappoint either; the music by Hansraj Behl is lovely and Laxmi Chhaya’s number in particular is now one of my all-time favorites.

Oodles of fun!

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