Posts tagged ‘Usha Khanna’

March 13, 2012

Main Hoon Alladin (1965)

When friends ask me why I haven’t upgraded to digital high-definition from my 20-year-old CRT television set, I put a movie like this into the dvd player as explanation. It looks bad enough on my old workhorse, I can’t even imagine how bad it would look on HD. And really, I don’t want to ever stop watching movies like this, no matter how abysmal the video and audio might be. It is a riotously colorful Arabian Nights vehicle for tall, handsome Ajit in a last gasp as hero, replete with the loony touches and sumptuous sets and costumes for which director Mohammed Hussain is beloved (at least by me). Usha Khanna’s music is plentiful and fortunately pleasant (sometimes very much so), and Sayeeda makes a lovely heroine. The lack of subtitles, choppy editing, and poor made-from-vhs-tape quality cannot diminish my pleasure in it; I am even thrilled by the (some would say poorly) hand-drawn title credits.

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September 27, 2011

Sher-E-Watan (1971)

If I didn’t know any better, I would now believe that Sher-E-Watan means “Men Without Pants”. Experienced Dara fan though I am, the sheer amount of male crotch-and-thigh on display amazed me; most of them wear nothing longer than a micro-mini tunic (Dara’s looks like leopard print velvet) or short skirt. Female costuming is confused and random, ranging in style from Arabian Nights to 1950s American Prom. Of course, I am not complaining; in fact along with the music by Usha Khanna, muscular men and pretty women in sparkly costumes are basically the reason to see this. Along with the monster named Octopus which is actually a man in an ape suit with bear claws.

Oh Indian cinema, you truly are the gift that keeps on giving!

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August 6, 2010

Haye Mera Dil (1968)

This was an unexpected treat, a breezy comedy starring Kishore Kumar, Kum Kum, IS Johar, Prem Chopra—in a not-villainous role!—and my would-be bahen Laxmi Chhaya. Greedy bad guys, plenty of disguises, goofball antics and a fine sense of the just plain silly are its hallmarks, along with one of my new favorite Laxmi songs. Actually, all the songs by Usha Khanna are fabulous and worth watching. Kum Kum is an excellent dancer too and plays one in this (as well as her long-lost mother) so she has plenty of scope for showing off her talents as well. The storyline is contrived and conveniently glib, but all in all it’s a very fun watch if you feel like shutting off your brain for some simple but satisfying entertainment.

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May 29, 2010

Hawas (1974)

I spent the entire running time of this film with a big angry WTF bubble above my head. It’s not that I shouldn’t have known: packaging which advertises Bindu as a nymphomaniac is pretty fair warning. Sadly, it is also irresistible enticement for someone belonging to the “How bad can it be?” school of risk management.

It’s bad. It’s REAL bad. It’s Haseena Atom Bomb bad.

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November 22, 2009

Main Wohi Hoon (1966)

A filmi noir murder mystery starring the lovely Kumkum and the even lovelier (to my eyes) Feroz Khan, with fantastic music by Usha Khanna: how could it possibly go wrong? Well, here’s one way: our hero and heroine are squeezed into the plot around IS Johar, who uses the story as an excuse to don various silly (and occasionally racist) costumes and play the fool. Don’t get me wrong, I love the man—but it is kind of a waste of Feroz and Kum Kum. Also, the script is a total mess.

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July 14, 2009

Aaja Sanam (1971?)


Everything I find on the internet says that this film was released in 1975, which may be true but it was definitely not made in 1975. For one thing our hero Feroz Khan is too young, as is heroine Tanuja (who was also occupied with giving birth to Kajol in 1975). So are all the other actors in it with whom I am familiar (Deven Verma, SN Banerjee, Sulochana Chatterjee, Shabnam); it’s filmed in black and white; and everything about it (home decor, fashions, hairstyles) screams 1960s. So I’m going to go out on a limb and say it was made in 1967 with the opinion of some readers who are guessing early 70s  although I suppose it could also be up to a few years later than that. But most definitely not 1975!

Why does it even matter? Well, this film works pretty well as a movie from the mid-60s, but would be too regressive (at least for me) if it dated from the mid-70s. One of the major plot elements annoyed me considerably even so. But it was an interesting film with an engrossing story and engaging characters. I’m a big fan of Tanuja—wish she had had more roles she could really get her teeth into. She’s one of the best things about the fantastic Jewel Thief, in my opinion. Feroz of course is as handsome as can be, and the other supporting actors are very good too, especially Shabnam. There are also some very pretty songs by Usha Khanna, who is always underrated.

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July 4, 2009

Mini-review: Hotel (1981)

This Ramsay Brothers effort—billed in lurid lettering as “A Suspense Thriller”—is neither suspenseful nor a thriller.

Here, in a nutshell and without screen caps because Ultra DVDs don’t play on my computer, is why:

The Comic Side Plot: While an aging Mehmood romancing an aging Rajendranath under the spell of a love potion could possibly stand on its own as a horror film, that isn’t the intent here, and so it merely interrupts (for long stretches of time) what should be the building suspense as hotel guests are killed off one by one.

The Lack of Killing: Tiptoeing around the delicate sensibilities of the censors might get the film released, but it’s not horrifying if nobody is actually shown being murdered. An actor covered in garish red “blood” after the fact isn’t disturbing, at least not appropriately.

The Wig: No mere script, no matter how full of gore and ghouls, could ever compete with the horror that is Rakesh Roshan’s auburn wig. Zombies simply pale in comparison.

The Songs: Two people singing happily about their love for each other also kind of diminishes the suspense. And although I’m a big fan of Usha Khanna, her music for this film is just plain dull, much like the film itself.

The Budget: A landslide of styrofoam boulders which could be easily pushed aside is not even a little alarming, never mind fear-inducing. Marauding undead obviously fashioned from papier-mache and old sheets aren’t scary either.

The Acting: Most of those under attack seem only mildly afraid, even bored at times. This makes it very difficult for me to be afraid for them. Monotonous high-decibel dialogue delivery also encourages me to want certain people to die, if only to save my own ears (yes, Ranjeet, I’m talking to you, although it pains me greatly to say so).

The Story: Maybe the fault of the censors again, but all the victims are awful people and basically deserve to die. Good people are spared (unless they are canine). Where’s the suspense in that? Horror is supposed to strike randomly, at anyone, anywhere, any time. Otherwise, we shareef aadmi can just sit smugly by with our glasses of wine.

I do want to give the Ramsay Brothers mad props for trying to make a horror film despite being saddled with circumstances and traditions that engender no real hope of success. However, if Hotel didn’t frighten me, it isn’t going to frighten anyone.

So far, my venture into Hindi cinema’s horror fare is not going that well (or else it is, since I don’t like being scared). But I have high hopes for Shaitani Dracula, although I doubt I can improve on this review.

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February 20, 2009

Shabnam (1964)


Every other frame of this film contained some element of which I said: “I want that!” like a small spoiled child.

It’s an Arabian Nights-meets-Zorro fantasy complete with lush sets, fabulous costumes and beautiful horses, but the highlights are the fantastic songs by Usha Khanna (who also has a beautiful singing voice). The only real drawback is the leading man: Mehmood’s antics grow quickly tiresome. He is actually good as the serious Zingaro, and occasionally very amusing as Zingaro’s effeminate alter ego—I just wish he’d been allowed (or required) to tone his act down a bit. Helen has a good role as the brains behind the villain (Jeevan), and the other cast members all acquit themselves well. The story is credible and absorbing; altogether, this movie is a lot of fun.

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September 1, 2008

Dil Deke Dekho (1959)

I can’t find words to describe this movie. Sublime? Magnificent? Classic, for sure. Fantastic romantic story; excellent debuts by “Filmalaya discoveries” Asha Parekh and music director Usha Khanna; and of course, my favorite actor of all time, Shammi Kapoor. I ask you, how can you not like a film whose credits begin with a little boy in his chaddis and a pair of wings and gladiator sandals taking aim at your heart? It’s also directed and written by Nasir Husain, who gave Shammi his first big hit with Tumsa Nahin Dekha. I’ve said it before: Nasir Husain=great entertainment.

It was such fun to watch it again! Not to mention that I ended up on the floor as a Shammi-induced puddle.

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