Posts tagged ‘VH Desai’

July 7, 2012

Shaheed (1948)

Most of you know by now that I am not terribly enamored of “earnest” movies that bludgeon the audience (i.e. me) repeatedly with trite patriotic messages. I feared this film would be like that but happily I was wrong. It is very enjoyable: part history lesson, part celebration of newly independent India, part debate whether violence is ever justified or not—still a relevant topic. Mostly, though, it’s a film about relationships, the most powerful one at hand being that between a young freedom fighter (Dilip Kumar) and his father (Chandramohan) with British loyalties. The title Shaheed (Martyr) can be applied to just about every character in the film, but the performances are, if sometimes a bit melodramatic, always heartfelt. I did get an excellent Chandramohan Nahiiin! Face but that can only be called a bonus. With eyes like that, how can he help it? The characters are well-drawn and complex, and there are touches of humor throughout to lighten what could otherwise be (okay, IS) a pretty depressing plot. And the chemistry between Dilip Kumar and Kamini Kaushal is very sweet, too.

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April 23, 2012

Kismet (1943)

Oh my.

I love you, Kismet. I can see why, for 32 years until Sholay, you held the record for longest run at the box office. I love your story, I love ten-year-old Mehmood, I love VH Desai (whom Saadat Hasan Manto called “God’s Clown”), I simply adore Ashok Kumar in all his youthful kind-hearted con-man glory. I love your unwed pregnant girl, your runaway son; I even love your songs, which is sometimes hard for me with movies as aged as you are. I can’t wait to see you with subtitles (thanks Raja!) but even without them you are enthralling, you dear old progressive masala template of a film, you.

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