Posts tagged ‘Ulhas’

July 3, 2012

Prince (1969)

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.

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January 28, 2011

Cobra Girl (1963)

Also known as Naag Rani, this movie is a perfect example of how the so-called “B movie” genre contains gems (no Naag Mani pun intended, or not much) of movie history which really need to be treated with more respect. I would rather watch this and others of its ilk a hundred times over than watch Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam or Mother India more than once or twice. Sure, those are great films; but they aren’t exactly uplifting entertainment! Why is such pure uplifting entertainment as this so frowned upon and discarded? Very often the zany trappings overlay genuine emotional content and messages which are far more palatable to me than the stifling conservatism of mainstream Hindi cinema.

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September 25, 2010

Amar (1954)

This is my least favorite of the Mehboob Khan films I’ve seen, and it is such a pity. It boasts a fine cast with excellent acting, absolutely gorgeous music, stunning cinematography, detailed sets and costumes. The visuals, the ambiance and the characterizations all convey a wild Romanticism, but the plot collapses into an unholy mess halfway through. The pivotal event around which it revolves is completely incongruous with the characters we have come to know (not to mention that I have a serious quarrel with some of the resulting fallout). It feels like Mehboob didn’t show up at all to work on the second half; it’s as if he realized that he was confused about what he was trying to say, knew he had screwed it up, didn’t have the energy to care, and finally just gave up.

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August 16, 2010

Feel the love! Chandramohan

I will never forget my first glimpse of Chandramohan as a bloodthirsty Rajput in Mehboob Khan’s historical¬†Humayun. Those pale and compelling eyes! That determined hunger for vengeance! I was instantly enchanted by his persistent enmity in the face of his foe’s tolerant goodwill. Indeed, Chandramohan dominates my review of that film. His flamboyant appearance and theatrics were unforgettable.

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October 22, 2009

Bari Behen (1949)

bari_behen

Had this been the first Hindi movie I ever watched, I would have slit my wrists before I ever let anyone convince me to watch another. It’s that bad. It’s bad in the worst possible sense, my worst nightmare: a Red Mist movie. It is characterized by that maudlin, useless self-sacrifice which makes even its recipients unhappy: “For the love of God, didi, please don’t sacrifice for me!” “I will I will I will, and you can’t stop me!” “But I don’t want you to, it’s making both of us miserable!” “I don’t care, it’s my duty and my karma!” “But it’s not necessary!” “I am sacrificing because I’m noble, it’s what I do! You can’t stop me!” “But you aren’t helping anything…” “It’s my sacrifice! I’ll cry if I want to!” and on and on and on and on.

The only bright spots in this—and they should have joined hands and said “RUN!” and gone off to make a different movie together—are Geeta Bali, Rehman and Ulhas. I couldn’t even like Pran (although of course that was his objective, as usual).

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September 9, 2009

Ziddi (1964)

ziddi_shoes

In the wake of my post espousing the awesomeness that is Asha P, several people recommended that I watch this. And indeed, I’m glad they did: Asha is at her feisty, gun-totin’ best. And the songs—my God, the songs! They are made of beautiful, all of them, and the film is worth watching just for them alone.

My quibble with the movie is that things slow to a crawl in the middle as the combative courtship between Asha and Joy Mukherjee drags on—and it turns them into cruel and thoughtless people, too. The last half hour picks up again, luckily, but the middle hour or so really could have used some editing (and an animal activist or two). The Comic Side Plot is also far too intrusive: Mehmood again, given lots of screen time to compensate for his hefty compensation, I guess. A little of him goes a long way (and a lot of him can bring the main plot to a halt) especially when it’s the same exact CSP every time.

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