Posts tagged ‘Zahira’

May 17, 2012

Naukri (1978)

This movie is what would happen if Hrishikesh Mukherjee somewhat absent-mindedly directed the first half and then handed the reins over to Brij so that he could take the film off the rails in his usual bombastic style. It started off in rare style: I was willing to live with the fact that our pre-Partition setting of 1944 looked exactly like 1978 (Gaudy Clothing, Bad Hair); I even found Raj Kapoor’s presence delightful! In fact the performances in this were quite wonderful, all of them. It’s great fun to see Nadira, Tom Alter, Protima Devi and the only thing that kept it from completely self-destructing finally was the acting.

When the Curse of the Second Half hit, it hit hard. From a tentatively sweet Capra-esque story about regret and living life to its fullest, it ballooned with over-ambitious ideas until we were left watching a hapless director and his writers grabbing at straws to wind things up. Overdone tropes and ham-fisted preaching did not accomplish the job satisfactorily, I am sad to report.

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September 12, 2010

Aahutee (1978)

Manmohan Desai has been often imitated but rarely matched in his ability to pull heartstrings while conveying indelible (if occasionally incoherent) messages. What a lovely surprise to find a hitherto unknown (to me anyway) film that at least engages the heart in much the same way, if not the soul. There are plot holes and loose threads and I cannot in all conscience call it a good film; but I was quickly engaged by a story whose loony details and characters are easy to grow fond of. Laxmikant Pyarelal provided some nice tunes for it too, and if the message is simplistic—“Love your mother, do an honest day’s work, and don’t sell out your country”—at least it makes good sense!

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March 21, 2010

Zinda Dil (1975)

About the only thing this dreadful movie has going for it is the Bizarro World subtitles—subtitles so strange but enthusiastic that I pictured a crowd of manic little elves shouting and arguing about the best word or phrase to use, none of which probably made any sense, let alone the one they finally settled upon. But I thank Bhagwan above for the weird subs, because there was not much else to like.

I confess that I have never shared the fervent Rishi love that so many of my fellow Hindi film lovers do, although I do pretty much adore Noughties Rishi who has stolen the show in films like Hum Tum, Luck By Chance and Chintuji. He stars here with his real-life lady love Neetu Singh (whom I DO totally share the appreciation for usually) and my recent acquaintance Zahira, with Pran as his military father figure Major Sharma. The story is an exercise in dysfunctional parenting with lots of overacting (Roopesh Kumar I am looking at YOU) and that sacrificial-lamb theme that I so despise, although at least this time it’s mostly the men who wallow in stupid pointless suffering: equal opportunity martyrdom is the order of the day.

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March 2, 2010

Call Girl (1974)

I watched this film years ago as part of my early obsession with Helen, and didn’t fully appreciate then how very unusual it is for its time. It must be one of the earlier examples of the 1970s resurgence into “parallel” cinema and hard-hitting social commentary directed at the country’s youth. As you may have guessed from the title, the story revolves around a woman named Kamini (Zahira) who has been forced into a life of “high-class” prostitution by a society which offers few choices to a girl—on her own in the world, trying to support herself—who is raped by her wealthy employer. I would assume that in 1974 India it was considered (and probably criticized for being) “titillating” but to my western eyes thirty-six years later it is compellingly and realistically tawdry and sad, and an excellent attempt to illuminate the injustice inherent in a woman being made to pay an ongoing price for her own victimization. It is a film that has stuck in my memory—and revisiting it for this blog is long overdue (it’s not a movie I want to see over and over again, though: it is pretty grim).

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