Reader Chris brought the sad lack of reviews on the internet of this film to my attention recently, and I am surprised. This is a really fun film, and though Shammi is admittedly towards the end of his career as a hero, he is still the Shammi who made hearts go pitter-patter. The songs are classic Shanker-Jaikishan-Rafi-Shammi, with the dance-off between Helen and Vijayanthimala probably its most well-known feature. But there’s so much more to it than that! Shammi is less exuberant than the Yahoo Shammi of early in the decade, which gives his performance a more subdued realism. He plays Prince Shamsher Singh, the jaded, bored, arrogant son of the Maharajah of Ramnagar (Ulhas); the film is about how wealth and privilege do not guarantee happiness, not by a long shot. This theme—and the setting, at the twilight of the Princely States—may be be trite, but they are no less valid; and the screenplay and story are penned by none other than Abrar Alvi. And the supporting cast…let’s just say it is a gift that keeps on giving.
Anybody who comes here regularly will not be surprised that I could not resist a film called Big Pigeon. And I’m so glad I didn’t—it is oodles of fun, with a talented ensemble cast, nice RD Burman songs, and lots of laughs. And *wow* I love Rehana Sultan. What a shame she got pigeon-holed (yes pun intended, my bad) and her career fizzled. Deven Verma wrote, produced, directed and starred in this comic crime caper; the internet appears to believe that Amitabh Bachchan and Helen star in it, but Helen has just one cabaret dance and Amitabh is nowhere to be seen (nor is he credited, as imdb claims). It’s possible that he had an uncredited guest appearance but if so, it’s gone.
I didn’t miss him: Ashok Kumar, Leela Mishra, Rehana Sultan, Deven Verma, Pinchoo Kapoor and a little butterball toddler billed as “Golu (A Wonder Child)” kept me enthralled and in stitches.
Kishore Kumar is one of those actors (Mehmood being another) who either makes me laugh out loud or completely irritates me. The script, direction and supporting characters make the difference usually, and I think that’s the case (and by “case” I mean problem) here too. Even though Shakti Samanta directed, after about the first hour I was fast-forwarding through more than I watched—not only is the frantic slapstick not funny, but the Curse of the Second Half derails what little entertainment there is. The story manages an interesting turn in the middle but then resolves itself in the stupidest manner possible. Plus the supporting cast are grating—even Madan Puri as a buffoonish bad guy just isn’t funny. In fact Edwina, who watched some of it with me and appears in two songs, asked me how on earth I can sit through such stuff.
She seems quite amazed at my tolerance for total crap, but I’m sure it comes as no surprise to any of you who come here regularly.
Now available with subtitles thanks to Tom and Raja!
Sometimes (well, quite often really, due to my suspect tastes) I see a film which wasn’t a hit and I say WHY, UNIVERSE, WHY? Despite the magical combination of Shammi Kapoor in his prime with Shakti Samanta directing, backup from Helen and Asha Parekh, lovely songs (Shankar Jaikishan) and an emotionally compelling and unusual plot, this movie apparently bombed at the box office and has not—until now!—even been put on a dvd with subtitles. (If you would rather just get to the download and not have to read my drivel, scroll all the way down to the end.)
It is not perfect but I found it deeply engaging and sensitive: it is largely about loss, and I think it is one of Shammi’s best performances.
Nasihat double-Daras you not to like it and wins!
Sorry. My brain is addled with grief and self-pity these days and half the time I don’t know what I’m saying. Unsubtitled Dara Singh films are proving most appropriate for my powers (or lack thereof) of concentration, and a loony band of smugglers calling themselves the Golden Gang—based out of the Hotel Mogambo—being infiltrated by CID officers cannot possibly be bad, right? Right. It is, in fact, deliciously campy and entertaining even though several of the plot points escaped me (most notably the CSP which I didn’t care about anyway). What did not escape me is that there are two Daras, one Randhawa, a Helen, a Madan Puri, a faux Chinese henchman, a midget, a plethora of corpulent bald wrestlers, and a Boss with a somewhat pitiful little Desk Lair from which he issues his commands.
I have no idea why it took me so long to see this; you all know how much I love a daku-drama! Dacoits are so romantic when you’re not the one they are raping and pillaging, especially when they are Dharmendra. And I loved this one too: it combines a Message with a family saga so spectacularly effed up that it’s worthy of Jerry Springer. At one point I was reduced to scribbling helplessly on my notepad: “Things could not possibly Go More Wrong than this.”
And then they did!
Way back when I wrote my “ten favorite qawwalis” post, someone pointed me to the one from this film (only available on vcd at the time) which features Shammi and Shashi Kapoor plus Bhagwan, Om Prakash, Kumkum and Shyama in guest appearances. So when the movie finally appeared on a dvd with subtitles I jumped at it. Of course one should perhaps be wary when the dvd cover expends much of its available space advertising the “Star Studded Qawwali” but never mind. I cannot resist Shammi.
I love it when a film exceeds my expectations, not that I really had any for this one. But from the very first scene I was involved in the characters and engrossed in the story. Yes, there is a lot of self-sacrifice—but it’s mostly done by the hero, not the heroine, and it actually benefits people! And it had a message which might have made people think about social norms in a new light! I am totally on board with that.
I also liked the Rajendra Kumar-Meena Kumari pairing, one I haven’t seen before. Plus there’s the criminally underrated Minoo Mumtaz and a bevy of absolutely lovely songs by Ravi, including two of the best children’s songs ever, and a cat birthday song (how could that possibly be bad?). It reminded me a bit of the later Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai, a film I also somewhat unexpectedly liked.
Garam Dharam in shorts! Mehmood in a loin cloth (and a skimpy one at that)! A feisty heroine who doesn’t want to get married! What’s not to love? (Okay, besides for Mehmood in a skimpy loin cloth. Nobody needs to see that.)
This is “Taming of the Shrew” with retro charm, pretty people, and lovely songs by OP Nayyar. I liked it especially for the heroine who sticks up for herself, although of course societal norms win at the end: all girls really want to get married, even if they don’t know it. What else is there for them? But she puts up a good fight, and the chemistry between Rajshree and Dharmendra is sweet if not crackling. Able support from a host of reliable character actors, and a gang of college students twisting away just add to the fun.
Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night has inspired more than a few Hindi remakes, three of which I’ve seen: Raj Kapoor’s Chori Chori, Shammi’s Basant, Aamir Khan’s Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin. This one is now my favorite by far. The camera work and lighting is as lushly beautiful as Guru Dutt’s pictures always were; there’s no need for any color here! Add the sheer gorgeousness of (and chemistry between! and performances by!) Waheeda Rehman and Dev Anand, SD Burman’s sublime songs, and Raj Khosla’s brisk direction and it’s a classic (I like it even better than Capra’s original, and that is saying something).