Posts tagged ‘Prithviraj Kapoor’

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 completeĀ 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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September 27, 2011

Sher-E-Watan (1971)

If I didn’t know any better, I would now believe that Sher-E-Watan means “Men Without Pants”. Experienced Dara fan though I am, the sheer amount of male crotch-and-thigh on display amazed me; most of them wear nothing longer than a micro-mini tunic (Dara’s looks like leopard print velvet) or short skirt. Female costuming is confused and random, ranging in style from Arabian Nights to 1950s American Prom. Of course, I am not complaining; in fact along with the music by Usha Khanna, muscular men and pretty women in sparkly costumes are basically the reason to see this. Along with the monster named Octopus which is actually a man in an ape suit with bear claws.

Oh Indian cinema, you truly are the gift that keeps on giving!

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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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January 4, 2010

Teen Bahuraniyan (1968)

Since I have started avoiding films with words like “Bahu” in the title like the plague, I was a bit nonplussed when this film arrived in my mailbox. Then I realized that probably what I had planned to order was Teri Meherbaniyan. Not the same thing, not at all. I really need to pay closer attention to what I’m doing sometimes.

But since the stars are the likes of Rajendranath, Prithviraj Kapoor and Shashikala, I thought: how bad can it be? (Which admittedly has gotten me into trouble a few times, but I never learn.) And in what turned out to be a bit of serendipity, it isn’t bad at all. In fact, it’s quite sweet! It isn’t a feminist’s dream exactly, but given the time in which it was made it isn’t a nightmare either. Mostly it’s a funny story about a joint family and the plethora of complications that arise when a famous actress moves in next door. It reminded me of one of those 1950s Doris Day-Rock Hudson comedies. Plus, the songs are lots of fun (by Kalyanji Anandji) and hilariously picturized.

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October 5, 2009

Rustom Sohrab (1963)


Oh, how I loved this film—right up to the sad, sad end. It’s a tragedy drawn from a story in the Shahnameh epic of Persia, and it vividly portrays the disastrous consequences that lies and deception (not to mention violence, war, vengeance) can bring. Now, I am not a fan of tragedies generally (although I’m totally on board with the message), but the story is not what I loved this film for anyhow. True confession: Prithviraj Kapoor, in his mid-fifties here, is amazingly sexy. His romance with Suraiya is sweet and touching, and he towers literally and figuratively as the legendary larger-than-life strong-man of the Persian emperors. Plus, he looks like Shammi, never ever a bad thing!.

Besides the formidable charisma of Prithviraj, there is a cracktastic assortment of villains populating a region where even table servants wear helmets to protect themselves from their cruel masters. Premnath, also aging, somehow also manages to pull off a hero act opposite a very young and gorgeous Mumtaz; and the film features some absolutely sublime songs from music director Sajjad Hussain. These include one of my all-time favorites: “Phir Tumhaari Yaad Aayi.” All these things, combined with wonderful sets and costumes, make for total full-on paisa vasool.

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September 14, 2009

Sikandar (1941)

The biggest surprise that this film has to offer is thatĀ rap was invented in India! Oh, yes. Here is incontrovertible proof, given us by two guys who had the outfits a bit wrong but all the hand movements just right. Listen to this (it’s short)!


Who knew?!

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November 6, 2008

Guest post: KN Singh


When KN Singh’s nephew Ajay (left above) introduced himself in a comment, I was thrilled. KN Singh has long been one of my favorite character actors. So I asked Ajay (whose father is KN’s younger brother) if he’d be willing to write a guest post and share some of his memories of that elegant, dapper, charismatic man. He has graciously sent me the following, hope you enjoy reading it as I did!

(I think he looks a bit like KN, don’t you?)

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May 2, 2008

Janwar (1965)

It’s time for more Shammi, in brilliant Eastman Color! Janwar is one of my favorite Shammi films (okay, I know I always say that), because it’s chock full of crazy outfits and disguises, great repartee between Shammi and his sidekick Rajendranath, and the presence of Prithviraj Kapoor and Rehman as well. It also has a great fast-paced story full of fun, and the songs by Shankar and Jaikishan are brilliant.

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February 6, 2008

Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi (1966)


I was pretty happy to finally find this film on DVD since I’ve long loved OP Nayyar’s songs from it. Also it features three of my favorite people: Prithviraj Kapoor, Mumtaz and Helen. It’s beautifully shot in black and white and is very atmospheric (except for the omnipresent bright orange Time N Tune logo). The story takes some unexpected turns, the music is stunning, and overall the pace and the acting is good. But I ended up feeling that I should have liked this movie better than I actually did.


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