Posts tagged ‘Saadat Hasan Manto’

April 23, 2012

Kismet (1943)

Oh my.

I love you, Kismet. I can see why, for 32 years until Sholay, you held the record for longest run at the box office. I love your story, I love ten-year-old Mehmood, I love VH Desai (whom Saadat Hasan Manto called “God’s Clown”), I simply adore Ashok Kumar in all his youthful kind-hearted con-man glory. I love your unwed pregnant girl, your runaway son; I even love your songs, which is sometimes hard for me with movies as aged as you are. I can’t wait to see you with subtitles (thanks Raja!) but even without them you are enthralling, you dear old progressive masala template of a film, you.

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September 4, 2010

Patanga (1948)

After the hideous Dulhan, you might think that I would run screaming towards the present for solace rather than further back into the past. But this film was too tempting, with its catchy and familiar songs (“Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon” being justifiably the best known), its array of character and comic actors, and the extremely handsome and personable Shyam beckoning. Also, I just really never learn. And I was mostly nicely entertained by what began as a sort of Marx Brothers-type film with lots of sight gags and silly situations, and evolved into an intriguing story with an interesting romantic tangle—all punctuated by the joie de vivre of truly fantastic musical numbers (C Ramchandra). The only flaw is that the dvd didn’t stop working before the end. I could have really lived without the last twenty minutes or so.

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June 16, 2009

Made of awesome: Filmindia and Baburao Patel

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Just in time to rescue me from my self-inflicted melodrama trauma come some old Filmindia magazines! If you are unfamiliar with Filmindia, it was one of the first film magazines published in India (if not the first—inaugurated in the 1930s), written and edited by a hilariously acerbic gentleman by the name of Baburao Patel. His caustic wit and sharp tongue are legendary and he spared nobody—politicans and film people alike were all fair game for his particular brand of satirical sarcasm.

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July 14, 2008

Nau Bahar (1952)

This is the story of a rich blind man who falls for a poor girl, regains his sight and is forced to marry a wealthy girl whom his father has chosen. It’s very similar in many ways to Deedar in that blindness is associated with joy and sight with sadness, but a much happier film overall, to my great joy and abiding relief. I was on a mission to see more of Nalini Jaywant (who was Shobhana Samarth’s sister, according to imdb, making her Nutan and Tanuja’s aunt). She was lovely in this, and I really liked her pairing with Ashok Kumar, who is also absolutely beautiful.

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May 12, 2008

Kangan (1959)

This is a terrific filmi noir murder mystery. The subtitles are excellent! The acting is first-class, the story is interesting and moves along at a good pace, and the characters and relationships draw you in and make you care what happens.

And if you’ve been wanting to see Nirupa Roy as a heroine instead of a mother, here’s your chance!

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August 3, 2007

Saadat Hasan Manto

Found a site with four letters written by the great Urdu short story/screenplay writer Saadat Hasan Manto (and translated by Khalid Hasan). They are the first four of a series of nine letters written by Manto to “Uncle Sam” in the 1950’s before he died of alcoholism at the age of 42 in 1955, and they are hysterically funny. He talks about America’s plan to provide military assistance to the fledgling nation of Pakistan*, being tried on pornography charges, his alcoholic tendencies, plastic surgery, American casual wear shirts, Packards, Buicks and Max Factor cosmetics. The letters are sharp, sarcastic, and very very witty.

I have a book which he wrote called “Stars From Another Sky” about the Bombay film world in the 1940’s. It’s a great read too, if you can find it (I had to go all the way to India for my copy). So are his short stories about Partition (you can find them on Amazon or online used bookshops).

Among the funny lines in these letters:

“Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is a Kashmiri, so you should send him a gun which should go off when it is placed in the sun. I am a Kashmiri too, but a Muslim which is why I have asked for a tiny atom bomb for myself.”

About Gregory Peck’s visit with the Indian movie star Suraiya he wrote:

“Have all Pakistani actresses croaked that they should be ignored! We have Gulshan Ara. She may be black as a pot but she has appeared as the lead in many movies. She also is said to have a big heart. As for Sahiba, while it is true that she is slightly cross-eyed, a little attention from you can take care of that.”

Now I need to track down the last five letters. I’ll let you know if I find them.

*India at that time was leaning towards communism and the Soviet Union for support—as anyone who has watched Hindi films from the late 40’s/early 50’s knows!

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