Posts tagged ‘Memsaab’s favorites’

September 19, 2010

Magroor (1950)

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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September 17, 2010

My fifteen favorite Mumtaz songs

Mumtaz simply cannot be contained in a list of ten songs only: she had the good fortune to work in an era—and in films—with such great music, that I just find it impossible. Not only that, but because she was often the heroine (first mostly in so-called B-movies of the sixties, then as an A-list star in the seventies) she usually had three or four songs per film, unlike women who were confined mostly to dances or small supporting roles.

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August 20, 2010

Roti (1942)

This is a classic film from Mehboob Khan which really ought to be subtitled and put on a dvd (sans gaudy logo). Even the vcd print is not bad, so I’d think it could be relatively easily done! In any case, my friend Raja subtitled it for me and I am so grateful. Even without subtitles I sensed that this was a very moving and message-heavy film—it is Mehboob, after all!—and so it is. And the cast is magnificent, led by Chandramohan and a very young Sheikh Mukhtar, with the particularly fabulous support of Sitara Devi.

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August 16, 2010

Feel the love! Chandramohan

I will never forget my first glimpse of Chandramohan as a bloodthirsty Rajput in Mehboob Khan’s historicalĀ Humayun. Those pale and compelling eyes! That determined hunger for vengeance! I was instantly enchanted by his persistent enmity in the face of his foe’s tolerant goodwill. Indeed, Chandramohan dominates my review of that film. His flamboyant appearance and theatrics were unforgettable.

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August 11, 2010

A new Laxmi Chhaya treat

I’ve said it (many times) before and I’m saying it again now: I love Laxmi Chhaya. And I *totally heart* this new Tom dvd compilation which contains 23 songs featuring her in all her versatile and gorgeous glory. From a simple love song which showcases her girl-next-door brand of beauty, to the crazy “Jaan Pehchaan Ho” and Peacock-Cobra danceoff with Madhumati, plus everything in between (tribal, cabaret, mujra)—it’s all here. And you will never see these songs in better quality, never. I am blown away by this dvd, and I’m even getting used to Tom’s magic.

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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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July 1, 2010

My ten favorite “title” tunes

As much as songs from films are part of everyday life in India, it seems to me that one often overlooked but beautiful element are the instrumental tunes: dances, background score, themes which recur throughout, and above all title music. I always notice the title music especially and discovered in writing this post that I have already uploaded at least ten title songs in the posts about the movies they belong to. It sets the tone for the film and if I like the opening music a lot I settle in more eagerly for the rest of it: I was hooked on Teesri Manzil immediately by the music and the visuals behind the opening credits:

(Yes, I also buy wine based on how pretty the labels are. I like pretty.)

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June 11, 2010

Teesri Manzil: the missing pieces

Most fans of Shammi Kapoor andĀ this fabulous film are by now painfully aware that no full version of it has made it onto dvd or vcd. Well, fear not! Shalini has shared her videotaped version which is intact (though unsubtitled), and I am here to tell you what we’ve been missing.

On the dvd, Sunita (Asha Parekh) and Rocky (Shammi) return from their little excursion having fallen head over heels in love and Rocky discovers that his room has been ransacked while he was away. He realizes that someone is investigating Rupa’s death a year earlier, and is confronted by a jealous Ruby (Helen)—she says cryptically that she hopes that Rupa’s little sister doesn’t find it necessary herself to leap from the third floor to the arms of mother earth. Then suddenly the scene switches to a rural fair, with Sunita and Rocky singing a song on a ferris wheel; and from that point on wealthy Kanwar (Premnath) is suddenly part of the plot and Sunita’s father (Raj Mehra) is also inexplicably present along with Ramesh (Prem Chopra) and his father.

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June 8, 2010

Raj Nartaki (The Court Dancer) (1941)

I must thank my friend Muz for sending me this rare treat from Wadia Movietones. While I am not sure what the motivation was for making what is billed proudly as the first all-English talkie made in India by an all-Indian cast and crew, I am surely grateful to not need subtitles. The ill-fated love story is nothing new or earth-shattering, although it contains a nice message about equality and hypocrisy. It is typically 1940s in its formal, stagey acting and stilted language, but Sadhona Bose is glorious as Court Dancer Indrani and of course my would-be father-in-law Prithviraj is beyond gorgeous himself (I have taken about a gazillion screencaps of both of them). The action takes place in early 19th century Manipur and the dancing costumes all remind me of my own little Manipuri dancing doll, although there is a wonderful Art Deco feel to much of it as well.

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April 18, 2010

Mem-Didi (1961)

Is this film famous and I the only person who was unaware of it until now? Amazing performances and great direction from Hrishikesh Mukherjee place it far above the usual, and the story is told with such exquisite economy of effort that it flies along, yet you feel at the end as if you have known and loved the characters for an entire lifetime. David and Jayant play Bahadur and Shera respectively—a pair of goondas strongly reminiscent of Munna and Circuit with their warm-hearted, funny and sometimes misguided largesse—who befriend an older woman (Lalita Pawar) whose life has been one of hardship and toil, but whose spirit has remained strong and pure. Add a very young and pretty Tanuja to the mix, along with Salil Chowdhury’s sparkling songs (including a hilarious duet between Tanuja and a stray dog!) and the result is a heartwarming and comic tour de force.

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