November 15, 2013
I am working on a post about my recent wonderful trip to India, but before I that am thrilled to report that Tom and his cohorts in Edu Productions have been very busy! We have added four new films to the list for downloading or watching on YouTube (if you can, I encourage you to download them, the quality is so much better!): Rattan (1944) starring Karan Dewan, the lighthearted Azaad (1955) starring Meena Kumari and Dilip Kumar; and two more Pakistani films, 1957’s Nooran starring Noor Jehan and Lakhon Mein Ek (1967) starring Shamim Ara.
All these films have good English subtitles and the video quality is the best that you will find out there. This also brings the number of Edu Productions releases to a grand total of 25 films so far—a jubilee well worth celebrating! Enjoy and as always please let those involved know how much their efforts are appreciated. It takes a lot of work to put these dvds together and is a labor of love only for all involved.
Thank you Tom, Pacifist, and Muz!
July 30, 2012
This is one of the strangest films I’ve seen in a very long time. It clocked in at a little over 2 hours, so I am not sure if there were pivotal scenes missing or what, but I spent the entire time feeling like I was playing catch-up and losing rather badly. Certainly Kamal Amrohi had a lot he wanted to convey, but he seemed to also want to keep us guessing at whatever it was. It did strike me that it is a movie about assumptions: assumptions that the characters and the audience make are turned over and inside out one by one. That could have been interesting; but the story is excruciatingly slow and largely unrewarding, like watching paint dry in the burning sun on a hot sticky day (but slower and more agonizing) and then realizing the color has turned red instead of the blue you wanted.
One of my major issues with it is that none of the characters are terribly well-developed, so that instead of being involved with their stories I feel much more like a neutral spectator, held at arm’s length from any real emotion. That could have been intentional, but it doesn’t work for me. My favorite thing about the film is probably the music, composed by the hitherto unknown to me Jamal Sen. It is pretty mournful (the whole thing is really), but very very beautiful indeed from the opening title music to the end.
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May 21, 2012
This post is dedicated to dearest Edwina, whose husband of 52 years passed away this morning. She and Keith were married the year this film was released, and she has a small speaking part in addition to her song appearances. It is also the newest in the Edu Productions catalog, named in her honor. I have the Sky dvd, and this has about 15 minutes more footage than that, much better subtitles, and video that doesn’t jump around in such a manner as to make me nauseous. Details for watching it online or downloading it are on the Edu Productions page.
I adore this full-on 1940s Hollywood-style soap opera romance, with it’s thwarted love, stylish villainess, crashing ocean waves mirroring internal turmoil, and bonus bakwas filmi medicine. Even though Meena Kumari spends the whole movie dressed like the Flying Nun, you can practically taste the chemistry between her and Raaj Kumar (still blessed with his own hair and very handsome indeed), and Nadira makes a perfect Joan Crawford in a sari. Plus the songs are pure gems, including the one that would be my ring-tone if I had a cell phone (“Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh”). From an era when plots like this often devolved into ridiculous melodrama and pointless self-sacrifice this one stays relatively on point and the people in it remain relatively sane. Also woven into the main story is a simply delightful sub-plot about three patients, led by Om Prakash.
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March 2, 2011
The best thing about this movie is that stars Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari don’t stab their own eyes out or cry through the whole thing (in fact they don’t cry at all!). It is a real treat to see them laughing and carefree even in a very silly story. Unfortunately much more screen time and emphasis is given to what amounts to the Comic Main Plot, in which a new-to-the-area police inspector (Raj Mehra) tries vainly to get the incredibly dumb head constable Motilal (Om Prakash) to help him solve the many serious (robbery and murder) crimes which have taken place in his locality. These crimes are blamed on two supposed dacoits, Chander and Azaad, whose identities remain mysterious to the police; they are not even sure that Chander and Azaad aren’t the same man.
Motilal’s main schtick is that he has two wives and nine children and is lazy, incompetent and stupid. His relationship with his new Inspector seems to take up about two-thirds of the movie, leaving no room for development of the romance between hero and heroine or a plot that makes any sense. I like Om Prakash and Raj Mehra and all, but it seems like a huge waste of two of the biggest stars of the time!
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January 20, 2011
Call me shallow, but I have trouble taking a hero who wears more makeup than the heroine and vamp together seriously (except Shammi in Junglee, because he is just so handsome despite the blue eyeshadow and coral lipstick). As much as I adore the Wadias’ output, they seem particularly fond of making heroes look girly: Mahipal in everything, and now Manhar Desai in this, although most of the time Manhar doesn’t look like a girl so much as a really creepy doll. Ironic that they also gave us the fabulously kick-ass Fearless Nadia; I guess perhaps I should rejoice in the gender reversal tactics, but a pancaked hero just doesn’t really work for me.
It doesn’t help at all that the character is a gutless wonder with the logic of a two year old. With a story aspiring to be a Romeo and Juliet style tragedy, an obnoxious immature mime-hero doesn’t provide the necessary viewer investment in the romance to make it work.
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September 19, 2010
Sometimes after sitting through a spate of truly abysmal films (not worth writing about even) I feel a tinge of despair, thinking that *maybe* there are no more good ones to be seen out there. Then Shalini sends one like this and Raja subtitles it for me, and I am made to realize how much I love Hindi cinema (and my friends!) all over again.
In a nutshell, it’s a fabulously sweet film full of romance and humor. There are no thought-provoking messages, but they aren’t always necessary or even welcome, especially when the movie stars Rehman (oh! the floppy hair falling on that face!), Nigar Sultana (so feisty and funny!), Jairaj (so charming and handsome!) and Meena Kumari (angelically beautiful!). They are supported by two grande old dames of cinema history, Durga Khote and Jilloo, the able and funny Mirza Musharraf, and a poor little put-upon cat (it sadly seems a little tortured at times, but it’s also fun to see a feline anipal, especially one that isn’t stuffed and doesn’t have stripes and big sharp teeth at that).
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June 23, 2010
I love it when a film exceeds my expectations, not that I really had any for this one. But from the very first scene I was involved in the characters and engrossed in the story. Yes, there is a lot of self-sacrifice—but it’s mostly done by the hero, not the heroine, and it actually benefits people! And it had a message which might have made people think about social norms in a new light! I am totally on board with that.
I also liked the Rajendra Kumar-Meena Kumari pairing, one I haven’t seen before. Plus there’s the criminally underrated Minoo Mumtaz and a bevy of absolutely lovely songs by Ravi, including two of the best children’s songs ever, and a cat birthday song (how could that possibly be bad?). It reminded me a bit of the later Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai, a film I also somewhat unexpectedly liked.
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May 1, 2010
I’ve been busy this week and not had time to watch any fillums. So here are more bits and pieces from my favorite film magazine editor to entertain you all.
I take great comfort from the fact that even Baburao Patel occasionally gets things completely wrong.
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October 11, 2009
A new “old” Shammi film release with subtitles always gives rise to many huzzahs in this household. And when it’s a good film—well, my glee is almost uncontainable. There is nothing unique in the theme of this one (it’s a standard 1950s plea for a socialist Indian society: sharing and equality good, capitalism and greed bad), but the story is given an interesting treatment in its three separate stories which overlap, fittingly enough, at a crossroad. Each story is like the leg of a relay race, with the protagonist of one passing the baton to the next in a brief meeting at that crossing, until finally at the end all three converge. And what a cast: Raj Kapoor, Meena Kumari, Ajit, Nimmi, Kumkum and *ahem* Shammi!
My main problem with the movie is the choppy, facile ending. I am not sure if the original screenplay was written badly or if it is the result of poor editing, or deteriorating film stock, or what (possibly a combination of all of those things); but it’s jarring and more than a bit disappointing in the payoff. Of course, the payoff wouldn’t matter had the stories and characters leading up to it not been so engaging, and there’s the rub. It’s a good ride, until we get thrown off at the end!
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July 18, 2009
I’m slowly working my way through these magazines. This is the April 1958 issue.
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