Posts tagged ‘Raaj Kumar’

June 18, 2012

Raaj Kumar: 1972 interview

Apparently “Jaani” was not just mysteriously charismatic in his films, but an enigma off screen as well, and gleefully so! I had promised someone a while ago that I would publish this interview, which appeared in the June 1972 issue of Stardust magazine. I find Raaj Kumar very intriguing as well and enjoyed reading this somewhat fawning piece on him by Uma Rao, who was clearly awed as much by his magnetism in person as I am when I see him on screen. He comes across to me somewhat like a cat playing with a little star-struck mouse.

I’m working on more film posts but work is very busy these days—use my radio silence as an opportunity to get to know this actor slightly better (via the pdf file below). Enjoy!

Raaj Kumar 1972

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May 21, 2012

Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai (1960)

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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September 22, 2010

36 Ghante (1974)

By the end of this film I felt really sorry for anyone who might have been dependent on the Indian police—as portrayed here—for any kind of aid in 1974. I’m surprised that the censor board didn’t demand an upfront apology from the producers. I am almost positive that the intent was exactly opposite, too, but as the film hurtles forward, the plot increasingly unravels with sad results. It’s too bad, because otherwise it is an unusual story (apparently a remake of The Desperate Hours starring Humphrey Bogart) with a lot going for it: a psychological drama about a family of four held hostage for 36 hours (ghante) by three increasingly desperate bank robbers on the run.

36 Ghante comes *this close* to being a really good film, but is sabotaged by inattention to some important details. (Here’s my disclaimer: as with all Hindi cinema, it could be that poor editing after the fact—by the dvd manufacturer for instance—is partially responsible for the story problems, but I will probably never know for sure.)

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August 27, 2010

Dulhan (1958)

Or, the Lamentations of a Bhartiya Naari

How much does being a model of Indian Womanhood suck? Dulhan counts the ways!

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January 15, 2010

Mere Huzoor (1968)

The Raaj Kumar love continues here with this lovely Muslim social drama about marriage and gender relations. A big thank-you to my friend Raja and his friend Bharat for getting the dvd all the way from India to my doorstep! Films about women’s status in society and the choices they are given (or not) often disturb me or just plain make me angry. This one disappointed me—it came this close to being a true winner, and then failed—but was better than most from this era all the same (I’ll talk more about it with spoilers at the end).

Mere Huzoor is justly famed for its songs by Shankar Jaikishan, and happily were also subtitled as the lyrics (Hasrat Jaipuri) are lovely too. A big reason I love Muslim socials are the sets and costumes, and they don’t let me down here either! Mala is pretty good until she lets it all hang out at the end (which is highly entertaining all the same), Jeetendra is handsome although bland; it is Raaj Kumar who makes this worth watching though. He is wonderful as the misunderstood and melancholic Nawab who lives life on his own terms. He is such a strangely attractive man, odd wig and all!

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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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December 10, 2009

Maryada (1971)

What IS it about Raaj Kumar? What? His acting is theatrical, he is not very handsome really (and was apparently quite weird in real life) and yet I love to watch him onscreen. Not in a “look at that godawful wig!” kind of way either, but in a “he is strangely interesting, I cannot look away” kind of way. Throw in Pran (speaking of godawful wigs), a very handsome in-his-prime Rajesh Khanna and a Helen song, and I’m in! This movie is very “masala” with its separated twins, scheming villains (Pran!), a truncated wedding, glorification of the poor and downtrodden, and plenty of Nahiiin Face. I would not call it a good movie exactly, but it is pretty solidly entertaining.

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May 4, 2009

Oonche Log (1965)

oonchelog

Now and then a film comes along that gives the viewer true insight into the time and place in which it is set. I’m not talking about flowered go-go boots or violently patterned wallpaper here, but about a look at the generation that is passing and the one taking its place; about moving forward and looking back, and setting a course for the future. Most of the tributes to Feroz Khan that I’ve read in the week since his death have mentioned Oonche Log as the movie that established him in his career, and I can certainly see why. He holds his own with ease opposite two established and charismatic actors, Ashok Kumar and Raaj Kumar, in a complex and layered story requiring skillful, nuanced performances (there are very few characters).

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March 20, 2009

Waqt (1965)

waqt_shashi

Beth and I rewatched this the other night in honor of her Shashi Week 2009 (everyone should have his or her own week, I think, at least once a year). To be honest, Beth rewatched it; I thought I had seen it before, but if so all memory of it had been crowded out by something else—Dara Singh trivia maybe, who knows? I can’t see how I wouldn’t remember it though. It’s a really really good movie.

To use Beth’s turn of phrase, it is completely proto-masala in that it has a family separated by circumstance and all the attendant near-misses, filmi irony, etc. along with fabulous sixties (and occasionally fifties) style. The screenplay choreographs the events as smoothly as the film’s title would imply; and what a cast! Balraj Sahni, Achala Sachdev, Raaj Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Shashi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Sadhana, Shashikala, Madan Puri. Wah! At least I retained memory of the songs, since they are composed by one of my favorite (underrated) music directors, Ravi, with lyrics by Sahir; they are just gorgeous.

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March 12, 2009

Vaasna (1968)

vaasna

This film’s stern message is pretty much summed up in my “Effects of Alcohol” poster, although the poster is more efficient in delivering it. But the poster does not have Raaj Kumar and his gravelly voice, Padmini emoting as a put-upon wife and mother, a Comic Side Plot (Laxmi Chhaya being romanced by Rajendranath), lovely songs by Chitragupta with lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi, Memsaab’s favorite victim Biswajeet, or—most importantly—a Helen dance.

In short: if you have a few hours to spend being bashed over the head with examples of the ruination alcohol will bring to you and your melodramatic loved ones, the film offers some worthy extras. If you are pressed for time, just read the poster.

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