Friday, April 25, 2008

Bombay Talkie (1970)

I read about the movie at Merchant-Ivory Productions' website and couldnt wait to see it. The cast included my favorite Shashi Kapoor, playing the role that he was born to play - a successful, womanising, film star. Shashi in a negative role - that was something I had never seen before! Consequently my expectations were rather high when I began watching and it might be argued that I was doomed to disappointment!
The movie began very promisingly with Helen dancing on a giant typewriter. A song was being shot for a Hindi movie starring the successful actor Vikram (Shashi Kapoor). Come to watch the shooting was Lucia Lane (Jennifer Kendall) a famous American writer. Now, Lucia is the archetypal American writer - she is much married, middle aged, hungry for romance and utterly shallow, selfish and self-centred. (Did she have to be such a stereotype?) She also has a British accent that puzzled me until it was explained away later in the movie - she was actually English but settled down in USA.

Bombai Ka Babu (1960)

This is an old favorite of mine that I feel compelled to revisit every so often. The movie was directed by Raj Khosla of CID (1956), Woh Kaun Thi (1964) and Mera Saaya (1966) fame, and according to IMDB this was his 5th straight direction of a Dev Anand starrer. The movie stars, besides Dev Anand in his Gregory Peck style hair-puff days, a lovely Suchitra Sen, the usual assortment of character actors and wonderful music by S. D. Burman.
The movie tells the story of Babu (Dev Anand), a small time crook in Bombay who accidentally kills fellow crook Balli (Jagdish Raj). Horrified by what he's done, Babu flees and doesnt stop running till he reaches Jogendranagar, a small town in the Himalayan foot hills.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Door ki Awaaz (1964)

Another oldie I stumbled across in the DVD store. The cover had my favorites Joy Mukherjee and a young Saira Banu. So, I happily dished out the moolah and acquired the movie. The film had some unexpected surprises in store for me. Alert: spoilers ahead.
The plot: Prakash (Joy Mukherjee) is seeing off his sister Mala (Malika) at the station and is smitten by the unknown beauty (a gorgeous Saira Banu) who is to be Mala's cabin mate for the journey. The train subsequently meets an accident and Prakash discovers his heart throb severely injured and suffering from a total loss of memory. Mala and he convince their mother to shelter the girl and name her Jyoti (light). Prakash woos his beloved and in due course she reciprocates. The cute couple dance and ride into the sunset singing lovely duets. They even manage to overcome family opposition and marry - all without Jyoti remembering her past.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Benazir (1964) - Another of Bimal Roy's forgotten gems

title Having seen Bandini at a tender age, I was understandably wary of Bimal Roy. (Anyone who's seen the movie - ok not anyone, just me, perhaps - might be puzzled by the inexplicable choices made by the heroine.) Prem Patra, and Sujata however, changed all that and I was ready for more Bimal Roy. Browsing through imdb led me to Benazir, and I began my hunt for the DVD. I was overjoyed to come across it in the local Hindi DVD store and sat down to watch with eager anticipation. Here's my take on this forgotten classic.

The story starts with an earthquake in Bihar in 1934 and a young child being found in the ruins. She is found by a kind man who having lost his own daughter, decides to bring her up as his own. From such a beginning, and knowing the rules of hindi cinema, one could expect one of the following scenarios: a) a social drama with the benefactor's new wife becoming the evil stepmother, b) any variation on the standard lost-and-found formula, c) the "kind" benefactor is a criminal who gets reformed by the child but his past catches up with him on the eve of the girl's wedding, etc. As the movie proceeded and no such scenarios were forthcoming, I realised that Bimal Roy had broken new ground by departing from the sacred tenets of 1960's movie-making!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bandish (1955) - a delightful romp

The recent flood of old hindi movie DVDs in the market has made my trips to the local hindi video store more fun than usual. One finds unheard of movies on the shelves and "new" old movies (thought I had seen them all courtesy Doordarshan, in my childhood) come to light. One such find was 1955's Bandish starring Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari. Now, Ashok Kumar is always a delight to watch, especially when he is in the lead. With Meena Kumari though, one always expects a tragedy. The DVD cover wasnt any help as it showed the changing faces of Meena Kumari from a young and beautiful actress to the more familiar tragedy queen. So, which of these faces would she wear in the movie? Having earlier experienced the joys of watching the young Meena Kumari in Azad, Parineeta and Miss Mary, I decided to take a chance and hope this one would feature the younger version. After watching the movie I was glad I did!
Mahendra (Nazir Hussain) has been bringing up the orphaned Tomato (why such a wierd name for cute little Daisy Irani?) but is worried about Tomato's future as he has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. He decides to find Tomato a new father and takes him to the park. Tomato is promised a meeting with his long lost father and told to stick by the father no matter what. In the park Mahendra settles on a rich wastrel Kamal Rai (Ashok Kumar) as the most likely candidate based on his generosity and kindness to a beggar. (That just shows what random acts of kindness can bring. I wouldnt be kind to a beggar now in case someone sic'ed their orphan on to me!)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Prem Patra (1962) - a beautiful love story

A song on youtube put me on the track of this movie and when I finally saw the movie it was worth the price of the DVD and more! It is old, B&W, has a great cast (Shashi Kapoor and Sadhana, both of whom look lovely), beautiful songs composed by Salil Choudhary and a very romantic story.... Whats not to like? OK so there are very convenient co-incidences, Rajendra Nath does his usual comic turn and Shashi's character obsessively dislikes our heroine. But these are just minor details...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Other filmi posts

 

Filmi non-sense!

·  Dev Anand: A musical interview (Part 2) 

·  Dev Anand: A musical interview (Part 1)

·  Of monsoons and things filmi… - looking for cloud-chasing songs

·  It’s a tie – the biggest and best ties in filmdom

·  Sense and Sensuality: advice from THE Diva (part I) – Rekha helps with a wise word

·  Crimes against gender: confessions of a Bhartiya Naari – examining my transgressions against female stereotypes

·  My New Year resolutions – made in 2010, but never kept!

·  Santa gifts digest: the awesome videos edition

·  Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) – help me complete the story! – looking at Anjali’s lost years and her missing romance

·  Scariest subtitle ever?

·  I am still around! – Vinod Khanna stands up for pink-wearing males

·  Masala madness ain't half as crazy as my kiddie-imagination! – a look at some of my film-related childhood misconceptions

·  A century too late... – The National Archives of India realise that they have no prints of India’s first feature film and first talkie

Thursday, April 10, 2008

SPOILERS

Baharon Ki Manzil (1966)

An accident (a bomb blast in Bombay) 16 years ago destroyed Nanda’s family – her parents and sister. Only one sister survived, and that was Radha, Nanda’s younger sister who was to be married soon. Radha lost her memory in the blast, so Subodh was easily able to persuade her that she was his wife, Nanda. Everybody else was told that Radha died in the blast. Radha’s fiance had met her only once (which is why he wasn't able to identify her 16 years later) and accepted her death, unquestioningly. Nalini, Subodh and Nanda’s daughter, must have been young enough to accept her Aunt as her Mom. Subodh and the new Nanda then made their home in Darjeeling (where I assume nobody knew the real Nanda). There, Radha was Nanda for 16 years before she had another bang on the head and returned to her present (of 16 years ago)!


Once Subodh realised that Radha couldn't be coerced into being Nanda, he set out to prove her insane, so she wouldn't be believed. Hence the “dead body” in her closet which was really a live woman who disappeared once she had scared Radha, but before anybody else arrived on the scene. Rajesh began his investigation into Radha’s story. From 16 year old hospital records he found that Nanda was the sister who died, and then everything fell into place. Subodh made one last attempt to retain his "wife" by running away with an unconscious Radha but a fortunate road accident on the way put paid to his existence. Radha and Rajesh lived happily-ever-after after that!