Posts tagged ‘Sadhana’

June 25, 2010

Arzoo (1965)

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that when two male friends love each other in that peculiarly intense way of Hindi film heroes, the women in their lives will suffer. It would just be better all around if the two guys set up house together and called it a day, na? Rajendra Kumar and Feroz Khan would have such lovely children.

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April 9, 2010

Mera Saaya (1966)

I have long been meaning to watch this Raj Khosla film again. I saw it a few years ago but remembered little about it except one Sadhana dance which is spectacular: “Jhumka Gira Re Bareilly Ki Bazaar Mein” and a vague feeling that it was pretty good. And it is pretty good—really good in fact! I was riveted and (thanks to my dismal memory) not completely sure I had the mystery figured out until the very end. The performances from Sunil Dutt and Sadhana are wonderful, and the competently plotted story moves along briskly with tension building ever so gradually: the direction and editing are masterful. It’s also beautifully photographed and just chock-full of pretty, especially the locations in Udaipur (and Sunil and Sadhana!). Any quibbles I have are minor: the end is a bit flat after the marvellous buildup, and I got tired of the title song after the umpteenth time hearing it—pretty as it is—but that’s about it.

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March 26, 2010

My ten favorite Bela Bose songs

I have covered her contemporaries (and frequent colleagues) Helen and Laxmi Chhaya; now it is beautiful Bela’s turn! Many of my favorite Bela musical moments are not part of an actual film song. CID 909, a film that makes Excellent Use of Bela, has a perfect example of that in a scene where she is teaching a dance class. Cha Cha Cha is another—she and Helen dance together in several scenes (one, two—can you spot a very young Mac Mohan grooving along?) but not to an actual song included in the movie’s official soundtrack. Those are often some of the best moments in her films, although she is no slouch at item numbers either. She clearly just loves to be moving and has a wonderfully natural sense of rhythm. Her beauty is exotic: high cheekbones to die for, slanting eyes and full lips, plus a figure to kill for make her unforgettable (she sometimes reminds me of Sophia Loren).

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January 25, 2010

Feel the love! Ted Lyons & His Cubs

Most of you know that I’m always on the lookout for Ted Lyons & His Cubs in the background of any fabulous number in a mid-sixties film. Whenever I see that name on the drum kit, I know the music and dancing will be outstanding! Plus, the band members themselves perform so energetically that they always add an extra fillip to the organized chaos on the dance floor.

So you can imagine my glee when Ted’s son Steve contacted me here over the weekend. (*I was thrilled!*) He also very graciously sent me the above photograph of the band (Ted is on drums; you can enlarge the picture by clicking on it).  Then yesterday I heard from The Man (Terence “Ted” Lyons) himself. He told me that he also had a small role in the Mehmood film Bhoot Bungla:

…you will see me [as] a leader of a bad gang…there [is] a blind old man playing a violin on the street begging for money…I get hold of it and Mehmood is with good gang going past and he orders me to return the violin to the old man…I [say] what [will you] do?…he [says] with action that he [will] break my hands, so as a bad lad I raise the violin and break it then throw it to the beggar, then Mehmood approaches me and raises his hand [which] starts a dance sequence.

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November 4, 2009

Intaquam (1969)

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Ah, what a film this is. If you have a hankering for something that careens wildly along, going from completely loony, to sweetly touching, to dumb and illogical, and back to loony again, look no further. I wouldn’t call it technically a good film, but it is highly entertaining. And I loved it! With features like Excellent Use of Helen, a zealous and melodramatic murderer named Snaky, a disfiguring cake, useful little white mice, lost and found family members, fantabulous songs (Azad in blackface!), plus Memsaab favorites Ashok Kumar and Rehman as friends-turned-bitter-foes, how could I not?

I have been longing to see this with subtitles, but didn’t think it was available except on an unsubtitled (and unplayable after ten minutes) VCD. Many thanks to Tom D (the most banned-from-YouTube-person-on-earth) (my opinion only, not backed up by anything resembling actual facts) (but still: I think it’s because he does what Indian DVD manufacturers can’t be bothered to do, which is to clean up the picture and sound quality, remove their intrusive and gaudy logos, and add subtitles, thereby making them look bad—as they deserve to—so they complain and he gets suspended, over and over again). Anyway, thank you my friend! for supplying me with this particular ginormous rock of crack.

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March 20, 2009

Waqt (1965)

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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 4, 2009

Mere Mehboob (1963)

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This is one of the most romantic films I’ve ever seen, with absolutely sublime music by Naushad. It’s a Muslim social drama set in Lucknow, with all the attendant grace and beauty you would expect. Elaborate sets and costumes are de rigueur! Love blooms for Sadhana and Rajendra Kumar, and there is also a lovely romance between the so handsome Ashok Kumar and pretty Nimmi. Obstacles and misunderstandings abound, seasoned with (mostly) funny-man Johnny Walker’s antics, and made compelling by the people and relationships you can’t help but root for—this is my favorite kind of movie. Even the fairly poor condition of the color print only adds to the old-fashioned and elegant ambiance of it all.

Almost-graduate Anwar Hussain (Rajendra Kumar) has seen a girl’s eyes through her burkha, and fallen hard for them. When he despairs of finding her before school ends, his best friend Ghayal (Johnny Walker) encourages him to write a poem for her for the shair competition that Anwar has won every year. He does so, and performs the lovely, haunting “Mere Mehboob Tujhe”—instantly winning the adoration of the girl he seeks, Husna (Sadhana).

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She attempts to meet him afterwards, but is scared off by other students crowding around to congratulate him. Poor Anwar has no other opportunity to meet her before he boards a train home to Lucknow with Ghayal. Unbeknownst to him she is in the ladies compartment of the same train and her brother the Nawab (Ashok Kumar) ends up in the same carriage as Anwar and Ghayal—who knows him, and introduces him to Anwar.

Ghayal is the son of the richest man in Lucknow, a moneylender. He wants Binda (Ghayal’s real name) to join the family business but Ghayal prefers to dabble in poetry. On one of his first days home, he is riding his bike in the time-honored “Look Ma! No hands!” tradition when he loses his balance and crashes into the girl who becomes the object of his affections.

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This and the ongoing arguments with his father at home make up the Comic Side Plot, and that’s all I’m going to say on the subject. Johnny Walker is one of my favorite comedians, and he makes me laugh during this film; thus, I find it easy to forgive the CSP interruptions and the fact that Praveen Paul and Sunder (who play his parents) don’t look any older than he does, and nor does Johnny himself look even close to the same age as Rajendra Kumar and Sadhana.

So on with the main plot: Anwar’s education and support has been provided by his older sister Najma (Nimmi). When the two of them were orphaned at an early age, greedy relatives mistreated them and stole their inheritance. To survive, Najma took Anwar away and started working as a dancer in the theater. They are extremely close, and I love their bhai-bahen relationship.

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Najma’s dancing is not respectable work, and in fact she doesn’t want anyone to know that she is Anwar’s sister for fear of tainting his reputation and prospects. For his part, Anwar longs to acknowledge her, dancer or not, and now that his education is complete he wants her to give up the profession that she so dislikes and which so shames her. He can’t bear to see her on stage, although I think she’s lovely!

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Someone else who finds her lovely is the Nawab: he is in love with her and as her official “protector” has saved her from the advances of other men, but he won’t marry her because he feels an obligation to maintain his old and respected family’s name.

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Anwar knows nothing about their relationship, although the Nawab has confided in Husna about his love for Najma. Theirs is also a close brother-sister relationship (I love those, since I’m lucky to have one myself). He refuses to get married at all, since the woman he loves:

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The Nawab sits around smoking his hookah all day, and their house is absolutely over-the-top grand. It’s Mughal-palace-meets-1950s-Hollywood-set-decoration:

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Anyway, Anwar needs a job and Ghayal suggests he ask the Nawab for assistance (it’s not what you know, but who!). The Nawab is thrilled to see the young men again, and happily recommends Anwar for an editor’s job at a local newspaper. He asks Anwar for a favor in return: his sister writes poetry, and could use some tutoring.

Husna can’t stop thinking about the handsome poet from college, and has confided in her best friend Naseem (Ameeta, in a lovely role). Naseem happens to live next door to the house that Anwar has rented—his balcony overlooks her back window and garden.

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At their first poetry tutoring session, Anwar asks Husna (who sits on the other side of a screen from him—purdah is observed rather erratically in the film, but quite possibly is in real life too) to recite a favorite poem so he can gauge her taste. She astonishes him by reciting his own song back at him.

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Ecstatic but shy, each pretends that his or her “friend” has feelings for the other, and then they rush off to share the joy of finding their beloveds with their best friends. At Naseem’s house, Husna sings the “Mere Mehboob” song, and Anwar overhears. Going out on his balcony, he spots Naseem at the window and mistakes her for his newfound love. For her part, Naseem sees the handsome young man staring at her and is smitten. This misunderstanding leads to a happy evening spent gazing across the narrow street at each other. 

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It doesn’t take long for Husna and Anwar to discover that their “friends” are in fact each other, though. The Nawab calls Anwar by name in Husna’s hearing, and then tells Anwar that Husna herself—not her “friend”—went to college in Aligarh where she heard him sing.

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Anwar realizes that he’s made a mistake with his neighbor, but forgets about her quickly (after all, he has no idea who she is). He advances boldly beyond the screen at the next tutoring session—not much tutoring is getting done, I can tell you!—and finally gets to see Husna’s face. He murmurs “Subhan Allah!” reverently. I melt into a puddle.

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Meanwhile, the Nawab has been thinking about getting Husna married and discusses it with Najma. He has had offers from people with lots of money, but he has a boy in mind who is educated and of good character, although he doesn’t know much about his family. Najma unwittingly supports Anwar’s case by pointing out gently that an education is as good as money.

Their relationship is fun to watch too. Clearly they genuinely love each other, and though both agree that marriage is not possible they share a happy companionship together. Of course I think they should get married despite societal disapproval, and I pray that the Nawab will wake up one day and smell the coffee!

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At least it looks like a happy ending in store for our Anwar and our Husna, but there is a lot of stuff in the way! First of all, Naseem still loves Anwar and thinks he loves her.

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Secondly, one of Naseem’s uncles—a wealthy but characterless man played by Pran!—has gotten a look at Husna himself, and he wants to marry her.

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When Naseem’s aunt (Mumtaz Begum) brings his proposal to the Nawab and is rejected, we discover that the Nawab himself has some big problems.

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And of course, Anwar doesn’t know anything about the Nawab’s relationship with his sister. Worst of all, the Nawab is about to find out that the man he has chosen for his sister is the brother of the woman whom society—and he—have deemed unfit for marriage into his family!

Can our lovers survive the onslaught of scheming by Pran and Mumtaz Begum? They are no slouches at evildoing! What will Naseem do when she discovers that the man she dreams of loves her best friend? And finally, can the Nawab choose happiness for his sister over the family’s honor? What about happiness for himself and Najma?

It’s a heart-rending and suspenseful trip along the thorny path of love, but a trip I highly recommend. Naushad’s songs for this film are deservedly famous; my favorite besides “Mere Mehboob Tujhe” is the lively dance number “Jaaneman Ek Nazar Dekhle” performed by Ameeta. I need to see more of her! The ambiance is of a time and culture now gone—if romance and history are your thing, you will love this.

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January 4, 2009

Woh Kaun Thi (1964)

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Raj Khosla is one of my favorite directors. But man, this movie is a waste of time. It’s chock full of red herrings that never lead anywhere (and are never explained), along with clues which are so manifestly obvious that you feel clubbed over the head with them. Plus, it’s boring, with an ending so convenient and contrived that there’s no payoff for sitting through it at all. I don’t know if my dislike of Manoj Kumar contributed to my dislike of this film, but I do know that his presence didn’t help it any. The only bright spot really was Helen, and she was bumped off pretty early on. Sadhana looked gorgeous, but she appeared to be as bored as I was.

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August 28, 2008

Dil Daulat Duniya (1972)

This heartwarming film has some good laughs and sweet romance. I’ve noticed before, and noticed again with this, that Rajesh Khanna didn’t seem to really mind sharing screen space, and even being upstaged by, other good actors, in this case even during the peak of his career. Here it makes for a nice balance between the romantic story and the great chemistry between Ashok Kumar and Om Prakash, who play two older men—one rich, one poor—who have more in common than they think, and a lot to learn from each other too.

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August 10, 2008

Love In Simla (1960)

I was so looking forward to seeing this film. It has a Cinderella-story plot and I am a sucker for romantic fairy tales. It was the director RK Nayyer’s idea that Sadhana get her famous “fringe” cut in this movie, and they also fell in love with each other during filming. Sadhana’s family threated Nayyer with legal action because she was underage, and they went their separate ways until Raj Kapoor reintroduced them and they finally got married. So awww: real life romantic story too!

It’s also my first Shobhana Samarth movie. And the music by Iqbal Qureshi is simply gorgeous. Every song is a gem! Joy Mukherjee debuted in it, and I think it was only Sadhana’s second movie.

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