Now with English subtitles!
I’ve said it before and I’m likely to say it again: I love Sunil Dutt as a dacoit. He is just so perfectly suited to the black tilak, the mouche, the gold hoop earrings, the manly bullets slung around his tall form.
Just when I fear that I may have seen all the crazy Indian spy films that there are to see, another one appears. This one is not quite as loony as my beloved Spy In Rome or Puraskar, but that is probably because it also had a larger budget and A-list stars (Waheeda Rehman and Rajendra Kumar). Still and all it is satisfyingly filled with many of the same tropes: an enemy country never called by its actual name, but whose denizens all have names like Comrades Ping and Chang and Shin Cho. They are led by an angry man we only ever see in silhouette until the end, who kills his loyal henchmen at the slightest provocation with weapons like machine guns mounted on turrets (and marvelous dying theatrics on the part of those men, although there is a sad lack of blood and gore). AND IT HAS SUBTITLES, hooray!
Plus, all the usual suspects—Madan Puri, Rajan Haksar, Ratan Gaurang—are present, sporting Fu Manchu moustaches and squinty eyes. Seriously satisfying.
In part 2 of her memories of Tarun Bose, his daughter Shilpi shares this about a film I really love!
‘Silence is Golden’ is an oft-repeated phrase which has relevance not only in real life but also in reel life—particularly in those ‘edge of the seat’ suspense thrillers-murder mysteries.
I always felt that silence followed by sudden background music—usually the crash of drums—makes a huge impact in a suspense film, particularly within the close confines and darkness of a cinema hall. Every time I watched such a scene, my heart beating expectantly I couldn’t help but notice the nervous coughs and giggles in the cinema hall. Alfred Hitchcock was a master at using silence—his film ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ is a case in point.
While reading Shilpi’s first post about her father Tarun Bose I realized that I had never yet seen Kohraa, a remake of Daphne Du Maurier’s “Rebecca.” One of the benefits of my poor memory is that although I’ve read the book and seen the Hollywood film version, I couldn’t really remember how it all ended. This helped keep me attentive, although honestly this version too is so well done that I would have been anyway. From the opening scene until the screen went black at the end, I was positively riveted. It’s a faithful (if uncredited) adaptation of a story well-suited for an Indian setting. The wealthy Maxim de Winter is easily transformed into Raja Amit Singh (Biswajeet even sports Laurence Olivier’s pencil-thin mouche) and his mansion Manderley into a sprawling seaside haveli full of wind-swept rooms. Waheeda Rehman is absolutely perfect as the timid orphaned bride who finds herself up against a formidable enemy in housekeeper Dai Maa (Lalita Pawar at her awesome best!).
Asha Parekh is my favorite heroine in Hindi cinema. There, I’ve said it, and I’m carving it here in blog-stone for posterity. I should also say that in topping that list, she reigns over some of the most beautiful and talented women in film history! I am sure some will disagree with me, but my reasons for picking her are as many and varied as the films she starred in over a very long and distinguished career.
She is, when all is said and done, a woman you could steal horses with.
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).
Pointless plot provides framework for awesome songs and cute star cameos: that pretty much sums this film up. It is a Mehmood vehicle, and although Mehmood does his best—and provides some funny moments—the fabulously picturized Shankar Jaikishan songs, peppered by short appearances by stars like Waheeda Rehman and Rajendranath in a “behind-the-scenes” look at movie-making, are what made it worth sitting through. I got this film on the strength of one of its songs which Richard over at Dances On The Footpath had posted. I defy anyone to watch it and then NOT spend the rest of the day bursting forth with “Naach meri jaan—fa-taa-fat!”
Somewhere on the world wide web it says: “Coolie was the biggest grocer of 1983!” Heh heh. That is probably due to the fact that its star Amitabh Bachchan was seriously injured on the sets and almost died—everyone knows that story by now. Many people write the film off now as the same old hackneyed Manmohan Desai story with an aging Big B who was no longer hero material, but I really liked it. Sure, it has now-familiar Desai themes, and it is predictable. Predictably good!!!
Plus, this film is a little less crazed than some of his others. It sticks mostly with the main story, weaving in the side plots more neatly than usual. It’s also a bit lighter on the religious symbolism (most of the characters are Muslim, and secularism is waved at only in passing) and on the usual heavy-handed preaching and long-winded speeches.
In what movie is the whole story of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” enacted as a play, starring Helen as the wicked Queen? Bonus points if you can tell us who plays Snow White!
Okay, nobody even has a guess! The movie is Baazi (1968) starring Dharmendra and Waheeda Rehman (who plays Snow White in this segment). The movie is okay, but this play within the movie is fabulous. It’s about 15 minutes long—and ends with a Helen dance, of course! It’s worth seeing on its own.