Posts tagged ‘Sonia Sahni’

November 28, 2011

My ten favorite picnic songs

When I was a kid I dreaded the words “Let’s have a picnic!”. Picnics were nothing but an ordeal to get through: weather (the Beiges never let a little cold rain stop us), poison ivy, bugs, indifferent food. My father did not know or care to know how to barbecue so it was always sandwiches, which I could have just as easily eaten indoors where ants weren’t crawling on them.

Little did I dream in those days that halfway across the world beautiful people were picnicking in STYLE—even at night!

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November 9, 2010

Chacha Bhatija (1977)

Regular readers here know that by and large I adore Manmohan Desai and his films and can mostly forgive him for anything except Ganga Jamuna Saraswati. It has long been my great sorrow that two of his movies, Shararat and this one, are not available with subtitles. Manmohan Desai’s complicated plotting has always seemed daunting without them and though I have had both films for a long time I never quite had the courage to watch them. So imagine my great joy when I finally sat down with this one and (despite no doubt missing many nuances) could actually follow what was going on. There is a lot going on!

As is usual for him, he sets up the many characters and plot threads masterfully. Creating a web of relationships torn apart by misunderstandings and loss, he carries us along breathlessly rooting for our protagonists to *just stop already* missing each other by mere inches and find their way back to the lives they should be leading. As is also usual for him, the last 45 minutes or so go completely and a tad disappointingly off the rails into Crazy-land, taking the focus away from the pure emotional joy of the reunion(s), but never mind.

I still love this film.

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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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September 14, 2010

Andaz (1971)

It’s time to return to beloved Shammi: my eyes have been roving of late (Chandramohan, Shyam, the Shash)—but they will always come back to my favorite! One of my goals for this blog is to write about all his movies that I can find and comprehend (i.e. with subtitles). This is one I haven’t watched in a very long time despite remembering it as a wonderfully romantic story which I enjoyed very much. And I love Shammi in this film; he shows a subdued maturity that is really appealing without losing the Melt Factor that I so adore in him. And although Hema is obviously much younger (she is so gorgeous in this), her character has a gravity that makes it work. The kids are not as annoying as they might be either, especially Master Alankar as Hema’s really cute son Deepu. Baby Gauri—Shammi’s daughter Munni—is a hilarious little monkey, if a little *too* spoiled rotten at times.

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January 21, 2010

Jangal Mein Mangal (1972)

What’s not to love about a film which opens with animated credits like these? Very little! Especially when the credits probably cost more to produce than the entire rest of the film. This is a full-on Mod Seventies Cheesefest. I love cheese, and I love this film. It is loony entertainment at its best: a comedy-horror-mystery-romance dressed up in bellbottoms and vivid polyester, set to lively pop music by Shankar Jaikishan, and populated by a large cast of character actors, comedians and dancers.

Pran has a double role as a misogynistic ex-Army Colonel and as one of the Colonel’s charges Raghu, a campy effeminate type who nonetheless finds romance with one of the girls (when he isn’t busy combing his long hair). The girls are students of botany professor Laxmi (Sonia Sahni), a man-hating martinet, and her assistant Sister Sophia (Meena Roy). As with most Hindi horror genre films, there is a decidedly Christian bent (handy for grave-robbing situations). It was also filmed on location in a place I have visited, the Periyar Reserve in Thekkady, Kerala—very pretty and fun for me to see again.

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May 21, 2009

Sharafat (1970)

sharafat_dharamji

When a movie opens with yet another poor woman forced to give up her husband for the sake of his family’s honor and material wealth, leaving her and their baby nothing to fall back on but prostitution, I usually think: Oh No No No No.

But I love this film. It’s one I can watch over and over just for the beauty of Dharmendra alone. He is at his best around this time in my opinion, and it is one of his first films with a very young and pretty Hema Malini. But beyond that, it has a good, nicely-paced script (punctuated though it is with a completely superfluous and tiresome CSP) which culminates in a satisfyingly emotional way (in other words, I cried); although I must confess to some ambivalence about the overall message (more on that towards the end). Plus: absolutely lovely songs by Laxmikant Pyarelal and lots of dancing from Hema!

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June 17, 2008

Chorni (1982)

This film belongs to Neetu Singh: she is the central character in it, and she gives an excellent performance. Yes: it’s a film centered around a female protagonist! A rare treat indeed! Beyond that, it’s an excellent film which highlights social issues (plight of the poor, criminal reforms), has a fab retro vibe, and is just plain entertaining, by turns funny and moving.

I love this movie!

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