Posts tagged ‘Navin Nischol’

April 7, 2017

Parwana (1971)

parwanaThe tagline on the DVD cover caught my eye first: “A Murder Plan That Forced Indian Railways To Change Their Train Timing!” I am not sure that Indian Railways actually did worry that much about murders galore being unleashed on the Indian public, but it was enough to attract me. The film stars a very young Amitabh Bachchan, Yogita Bali, Navin Nischol and Shatrughan Sinha, and is directed by Jyoti Swaroop, who directed two of my favorite films (Padosan and Chorni). It was billed as a thriller of sorts, although there is no effort made to disguise “whodunit”—it’s marginally more of a “howdunit”.

It is a very stylish and nicely-paced production, however, and showcases the soon-to-be overwhelming charisma of its anti-hero Bachchan to great effect (especially compared to milquetoast-y “hero” Navin Nischol).

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May 7, 2012

Zorro (1975)

“Zorro” doesn’t even begin to cover it. “Zorro meets Robin Hood meets the Wild Wild West meets Arabian Nights meets Ugly Bridesmaid Dresses and everybody’s last name is Singh!” is a fair start. Dharam-Veer wasn’t this much of a potluck! My friend Mike, who watched some of it with me, remarked that it looks like the wardrobe and set people went crazy in a bunch of studio warehouses and used every single item they found in them. While they were doing that, I think the writers were combing through as much world literature as they could find for their own influences. I’m also pretty sure a lot of the original film is edited out or lost, because transitions between scenes are very abrupt and the whole thing quite choppy, so Lord only knows what other cultural and historical references have gone missing along with that footage.

Almost everything is also very weirdly played for laughs, even atrocities being meted out to villagers. This sort of defeats the whole purpose of atrocities. But never mind: there is just so much to look at, much of it shiny.

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August 6, 2011

Dhund (1973)

My mother, bless her, likes to watch Indian movies with me. Dhund has been on my short list to watch for some time now, and given our mutual love of mysteries it seemed a good pick—and so it was! We both really enjoyed it, and were mystified as to how it would end right up to the end. Based on an Agatha Christie play called “The Unexpected Guest”, it’s an atmospheric ensemble piece where everyone involved gets to shine (as much as the pervading fog will allow). Besides the main whodunit plot, there is also a charming and unusual effort to portray the police as competent and not-corrupt, one of whom is Madan Puri of all people.

Plus: a new/old mystery hotel!

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January 24, 2011

Hanste Zakhm (1973)

I am very happy that this was not the first Chetan Anand film I saw, because it then may well have been my last, robbing me of films I really love (notably Aakhri Khat and Taxi Driver, but also HaqeeqatAandhiyan and Kudrat). I have only ever seen Priya Rajvansh in Kudrat and Haqeeqat, and although I liked her fine in both of those I gathered from comments that her reputation as an actress is…well. Let’s just say I understand those comments perfectly now. She pretty much single-handedly destroys this film with her nails-on-a-chalkboard performance. I have never been so irritated by someone’s voice and demeanor in my whole life.

Having said that, I will also add that even without her I would have found Hanste Zakhm disappointing. The story had potential to be path-breaking—I loved the beginning, and it could have developed into something truly thoughtful and interesting; but instead it took the safe (ie ultra-conservative) road and fell flat on its face.

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October 2, 2010

Sawan Bhadon (1970)

It’s my understanding that this film was a big hit, and responsible for bringing both Rekha and Navin Nischol to the public’s attention. I am not really sure why, since it is fairly run-of-the-mill stuff; but Sonik-Omi’s songs are lots of fun and the second half did take an unexpected twist just as I was about to nod off. What got me through it were the large assortment of wigs (almost everyone wore them—including the hero—although Shyama’s were particularly fascinating), Jayshree T’s mad dancing skills, a lot of Woman Power, and young whippersnapper Ranjeet as Rekha’s slimy brother (Ranjeeeeeeeet!).

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January 7, 2010

Ek Se Badhkar Ek (1976)

Over the years, without realizing it, I have seen a great many films made by director-producer Brij. Mostly this is due to the fact that he made Excellent Use of Helen in most of them, and as many of you know Helen was one of my first obsessions-within-the-obsession for Hindi cinema. I have even written about six Brij movies on this blog, although my favorite ones (Yakeen and Night In London) haven’t made it yet, and except for Chori Mera Kaam I find that my reviews here have ranged from tepid approval to rather scathing disapproval.

I think at this point I am qualified to say this about Brij: he made films which have super-sweet potential and cracktastic detail (and Helen!) but often become just plain bewildering by the end, when he drives the plot off a cliff to its explosive death, or—to use a phrase coined by Todd and Beth—Death By WTF. It can be really disappointing. So I am very happy to report that he actually held this one together pretty well, and it is highly entertaining—you just have to pay close attention!

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February 5, 2009

Desh Premee (1982)

desh-premee

I would be hard-pressed to choose my favorite Manmohan Desai film were I ever forced to. But Desh Premee would be near the top of the list. I loved this film; once again the great director has given us a sprawling and complex story encompassing themes of compassion, unity, justice, patriotism, faith and love. He uses leprosy both as a metaphor for the corruption eating away at his country, and as a message of non-exclusion, and the unwavering courage and integrity of Masterji both destroys his happiness and saves his loved ones at the end. There are many moments of humor and silliness, of course, but the movie’s overall tone is quite serious as compared to some of his other work.

I think I’ve finally put my finger on why I love Desai’s films so much. Like me he has a cynic’s view of the world; and also like me, a romantic soul underlying that cynicism. That juxtaposition between often harsh reality and what we wish were real instead is present in all his work, and he always lets the “wishing” side win. Even when the ending is somewhat sad (like Roti) we are still left with a sense of hope. Plus, his imagery and plots are just so FAB.

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September 14, 2008

Nadaan (1971)

Sixties charm in a 1971 film! Despite the lack of Shammi (and Pran), this movie embodies just about everything I love about that decade in Hindi cinema. Lovely melodic songs, gorgeous scenery, a plot that stays on course and moves along briskly, Helen in a small part, and a feisty heroine (Asha Parekh, in one of my favorite roles of hers): ah, bliss! The best rainy day watching you can find. Navin Nischol stars alongside Asha, and though he doesn’t set the screen on fire, he is perfect here: an attractive, comfortably solid, gentle-humored guy with a good heart. Comic actor Deven Verma debuted very competently as a director with this movie.

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