A daku-drama in the iconic mold of Manmohan Desai—what could possibly go wrong? Not much, I am pleased to report, at least as far as the film itself goes. The people in it suffer plenty, though, especially Feroz Khan’s angsty dacoit tortured by amnesia and an inexplicable phobia of water-pumps. Writer/director Chand hits every masala note he can think of even if not much is done with some of them (religious imagery, for instance, seems thrown in there for no good reason). A young family broken up, lockets and tattoos, socially respectable but morally bankrupt villains, blood transfusions replete with filmi irony (get it? irony? sorry), plus all the standard dacoit movie delights (beautiful horses, black pagris, tilaks, golden earrings), and a great cast make this one a complete paisa vasool winner.
This is a pretty silly adaptation (by Basu Chatterjee, no less!) of Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps which nonetheless manages to be quite satisfying entertainment. Basu Sahab is a little out of his element, but that works for me since I find most of his films similar in nature to watching paint dry. Sticklers for things like continuity, context, and attention to detail might not enjoy it as much as I did; but with my dear friend Suhan translating as we went, it made for a very pleasant afternoon watch-along. There are some of the director’s finer touches here too: authentic settings, intimate and humorous interactions between people, plenty of local color.
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.
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.
I’ve recently had myself a little Gulzar festival. I started with Koshish two weeks ago, and continued with Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein (directed by Gulzar’s assistant Mr. Meraj) and Parichay this weekend. All three movies are sweet, simple, wholesome entertainment. I have a few more of his movies in my stack to watch (and he’s still working!) but it’s time for another post for the two or three people who read this blog.
Parichay is The Sound of Music meets Hindi cinema, with Pran as Captain Von Trapp and Jeetendra as Maria Ravi the tutor hired to tame five wayward children. Pran is actually the children’s grandfather in this Indianized version, who was alienated from his son (Sanjeev Kumar) but took in the children when his son died. He gives a very good performance as a man whose rigid pride and code of ethics has caused a lot of suffering, to himself most of all.
He doesn’t exactly bond with the children: