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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ganga Aur Suraj (1980)

poster Beth's poll on the path to awful movies reminded me of some of the bad movies I have seen because of who’s starred in it. There are several of those - most of them starring Shashi Kapoor! This one is by no means the worst of them (Atithee takes the prize for that), but it comes close!
Here's the plot dynamics. Inspector Shekhar (Iftekhar) is an honest and upright officer of the Indian police force. Shekhar will sacrifice anything to catch the dreaded dacoit Vikram Singh (Kader Khan). Vikram has but one weakness – his young daughter - while Shekhar has neither daughter nor weakness. He does have a wife and two sons, though.

As was customary in the 70s, there is a violent exchange of children between the two opponents. Shekhar’s younger son Suraj is carried off by the dacoits and presumed dead by the police while the dacoit’s daughter is carried off by Ganga, the inspector’s older son. Shekhar brings up Vikram's daughter as his own while Vikram makes Suraj his own.
Now that the families are evenly mixed up, the kids grow – Ganga into an ageing Inspector (Sunil Dutt), Vikram's daughter into the saucy Sarita (Sulakshana Pandit) and Suraj into dacoit Vijay Singh(Shashi Kapoor). Wait, this doesn’t sound right. Somebody in the casting department has blundered and handed Sunil Dutt Shashi’s role while Shashi is stuck with Sunil’s signature role and moustache! You console yourself that it can hardly get worse and decide to wait and watch.
Vijay swaggers around on horse-back with a big gun and terrorizes poor villagers. But thats only his day job. In the evenings he relaxes in weddings and sings romantic songs to Sarita. Inspite of his 'stache and expanding middle, Sarita falls for him - its Shashi after all, who could resist? Enter Inspector Ganga who is posted to Dacoit Vikram's domain and is determined to exterminate the dacoits. Along with Ganga come his aged parents and foster sister Sarita. The stage is now set for the *found* part of the lost-and-found formula with all the dramatis personae assembled in one place.
Inspector Ganga is getting nowhere fast in his attempts to capture Dacoit Vikram and his gang. So, he sticks on an extremely unstable beard, a curly-haired wig and transforms himself into Dacoit Sangram Singh. Long before The Departed there were undercover agents and our hero no.1, Ganga, is one of them. He successfully infiltrates the gang and strikes up a close friendship with Vijay. The suspense mounts. You wonder if Ganga's beard will fall first or Vikram's gang.
I forgot to mention Ganga's love interest. Ganga assumes the guise of a village idiot to reconnoiter the dacoit's land and wins the love of a charming boat[wo]man played by Reena Roy.
The film winds its predictable way to its happy ending through routine dramatics and tiresome theatrics. 
Some noteworthy features are:
1. The romance is melt-into-a-puddle sweet.
2. Sunil Dutt is Master of Disguises:

3. Little Red Riding Hood comes to visit.
4. Aruna Irani waits in vain for the fun to begin.
Warning: Do not watch when you have a headache. If you must watch it, do so in small doses and do not forget to bring plenty of patience and good humor along for viewing - they will be required.


  1. except that you hate it, it looks good! :-( What a waste of handsome Shashi (he looks v.v. hot as a dacoit)...and I LOVE the pubic hair beard and wig Sunil is wearing!

  2. The story is fine but the dialogues are very tired and trite - nothing at all to tickle the funny bone. Combine that with an ageing Sunil Dutt declaiming dialogues in high dramatic style, Shashi+moustache (my least favorite masala ingredient), annoying Sulakshana and a totally wasted Reena Roy and my cup of woes runneth over!

  3. Haha! I love the romance bit with your signature "melt-into-a-puddle" description. Awesome. And thanks for the warning.

  4. Hahaha! This had me cracking up! Thanks for that! Your captions are too good! Thank goodness I haven't seen this movie!

  5. if the subtitles are fun enough, the dialogues don't matter :-D

  6. omg, I'd totally forgotten about this movie. There's something about Shashi in fancy dress - I approve! Heh, like I'd ever disapprove of Shashi. But other than that you've hit the nail on the head - this movie is the suck to the extreme. I don't know why Sunil Dutt bothered after a while. Sigh.

  7. @ajnabi: you are welcome. I watched when I had a headache - so the warning is very heartfelt! :-D

    @nicki: thanks! The only fun I had while watching the movie was thinking how some of the scenes could give me an alternate love-story!

    @memsaab: now why didnt I think of switching on the subtitles? It might have made for some fun moments that the movie was entirely devoid of!!!

    @amrita: agree with you - can never disapprove of SK. Even here when he appears to belong to the clan Dracula rather than clan Kapoor (why the hell didnt he repair his teeth sooner?) and sports fungus on his upper -lip!


    Bollyviewer, I cast thee out of the Shashi Kapoor fanclub. OUT! OUT, I SAY!

    As Shashi's self-declared #1 biggest fan (I'll fight anyone who challenges me), I must hereby say, in print, on the Internet, that:
    (1) Shashi's Dracula canines are the reason I watch Shashi.
    (2) Moustaches are acceptable too.

    OK, recovering my Zen calm: I must concur with Memsaab and say this looks right up my alley; masala madness!

    Also, I am so relieved to hear that Atithee might be the Worst Shashi Movie Ever. That means it can only get better!

  9. No, no, ppcc you cant do that! You may be his #1 fan but I have to point out that I have suffered more in the cause (you still havent seen as many Shashi movies as I have!). And in case its not clear, I did say that I like him inspite of his canines and moustache while you like him because of it (wont say a word about being a bigger fan!). :-D

    I would defer your relief till you've seen more of his movies! The only reason why I thought Atithee was the worst was because there wasnt even the compensation of a beautiful Shashi (which was the only reason that I made it through the lechy Satyam Shivam Sundaram). According to Madhu Jain's The Kapoors he apparently did B-grade films and movies like Jai Bajrang Bali, too. So, there might be worse in store...

  10. According to Madhu Jain's The Kapoors he apparently did B-grade films and movies like Jai Bajrang Bali, too. So, there might be worse in store...

    Ack! It gets better and better! These I must see; I love digging up movies everyone else forgot about/would like to forget about. Did he make any mythological/religious films? If he did, I think I might implode from joy.

    (I must get that book!)

    (I have decided you will be the fanclub's information archivist, as indeed you have seen many more Shashi movies than the PPCC.)

  11. OMG. In my excitement, I didn't Google Jai Bajrang Bali before commenting... and now I have - Shashi as THE Lakshman?! Dara Singh as Hanuman?! (OK, I knew Dara Singh made these types of movies.) Prem Nath?! Mehmood?!

    *PPCC catches fire*

    I have found it! I have found the new Holy Grail of Shashi movies. This I must, must see.

  12. OMG he plays Lakshman there - the oldest and least interesting supporting character on earth! I did know this was a mythological movie but didnt believe imdb as they had listed 5 Rifles as one of his too, and learnt from Shweta's review that it was a look-alike. Anyhow, I wish you joy of it - not all my Shashi-love can induce me to watch it. I will read your review though - if and when you see it.

    You do need to read The Kapoors which is fun even though it skims over a lot of gossip I remember from my childhood.

    Fanclub anarchivist, eh! Hmm... my almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject (all my humility is in cold storage so you can only get shameless self-promotion at the moment) should certainly come in handy there. :-)

  13. Alas, no, Shashi's not in it. IMDb is apparently wrong. It must be the 5 Rifles guy, at least the Lakshman in Luv and Kush's song is definitely some other dude, and the trailer likewise has no mention.

    Nonetheless, Moushimi's Sita!?!

    OK, end PPCC spammage.

  14. OK, resuming PPCC spammage:

    You do need to read The Kapoors which is fun even though it skims over a lot of gossip I remember from my childhood.

    Well, you clearly need to keep the gossip tradition alive!

    The quest for the mythological/religious Shashi movie continues...

  15. The Kapoors mentions that he starred in Jai Bajrang Bali but not what part he played in it. You're right, Shashi doesnt appear to be playing Lakshman (thank goodness) - he has a guest part perhaps, which wont be mentioned in the trailer? The book also mentions a movie where he fought a tiger. Doesnt mention which, but it is perhaps Janwar Aur Insaan - that may satisfy your quest for the holy grail!

  16. I bought this! Can't wait! I am stunned at how much I like the dacoit look, as I am v much not a fan of facial hair generally (exceptions: Abhishek's stubble, the Chak De beard).

    I'm working my way through the Shashi chapter of the Kapoor bio and am v curious about this gossip that you mention.

    PPCC, I think you need to change your handle to OOC. But in a good way.

    I wholly support Bollyviewer being named archivist. (But I have a library degree and am trained to handle artifacts so will help if needed.) We all need jobs, I think, so as to channel our energies more productively.

  17. Oh and PS to Amrita - "the suck to the extreme" is SO FUNNY. And YES re: fancy dress. Love.

  18. Looks like Amrita and I are going to be the only ones to dilike this movie! Happy viewing, Beth...

    Gossip... hmmm... was only about the leading ladies he was linked to and how unsupportive he was of his daughter's acting career. Not particularly interesting or edifying. I was just surprised that Madhu Jain devoted a lot of print to gossip about RK and Shammi and then skimmed over details for Shashi.

    Not sure what OOC means but I am all for it. :-)

    ppcc and Beth - thanks for anointing me archivist of the Shashi fanclub! Looks like I will have to step-up my Shashi-film reviews. :-)

  19. Oh no, I've got no certain feelings I'll actually like it - but I still want to see it, if you know what I mean.

    Hear that sound? That's another $6 flushed down the toilet!

    OOC = Out Of Control, often said as "double-oh cee."

    You've finished the book, so maybe you can add thoughts to this: so far I've been impressed with the amount of quotes she's got from him, which makes me think that she interviewed him extensively. So maybe she felt the need to be extra polite? Interestingly, I read on jabberwock that Shashi advised her to be truthful in her writing....

  20. Beth, I know exactly what you mean! lol!

    O dear - another $6! I think we should start a Bolly-blogger's club and just share our DVDs. That way all of us need not invest in terrible movies that we feel compelled to watch at least once!

    So thats what OOC means! Well I think that applies to most of us Bollywood fans - I know my budget for DVD purchases is totally OOC!

    Hmm... You are right. Jain certainly seems to have maximum quotes from SK even in the RK and Shammi chapters (skipped their Dad's chapter, so dont know about it). As to honesty, well reporting gossip as gossip (not fact) is also honest. She does that with the other brothers but I get the feeling that its because they were more forthright in their admissions to the press. It did strike me as strange that she devoted more pages to the older generation than the newer one on whom she could probably get more data.

  21. Count me in for a movie-swapping club!

  22. Nahiinnn....................
    Bajrang Bali--NO Shashi???
    It just came thru my mail the other day;Bajrang Bali and Fakira-Does any one want them???
    Watching Phaansi (Shashi's) looking promising...

  23. So far, nobody's been able to spot Shashi in Bajrang Bali - so it's safe to assume that Madhu Jain got her facts WRONG!

    Phansi I did not much care for, but I believe that Memsaab did.

  24. hi Bollyviewer;

    Inspite of ur warning i bought the DVD of this movie.I guess this is on of the hoarde of films made after one successful film which set the trend.okf Daku movies.
    Not a big fan of Sunil Dutt (like some of his older movies)About the other cast they have nothing much to do esp the ladies.where does Aruna Irani go at least she could have got together with Javed Jaffery!Main problem is with the story line "been there , done that".
    Lastly about Shashi one thing i have noticed in some of his movies i have seen ;Some scenes he ha a paunch and some scenes he hasnt.
    But it gives one a vague idea about his schooting schedule at that time.
    Any way Curls are in!!!

  25. The success of Mera Gaon Mera Desh probably started the trend for daaku-films and Sholay cemented it. Like all trends, it grew very old, very fast. So not only is this a badly made film, it is also very stale.

    "where does Aruna Irani go at least she could have got together with Javed Jaffery" -Wrong generation! I think you meant his Dad, Jagdeep. :)

    The paunch-today-gone-tomorrow isn't the worst continuity issue - there are films where his hair mysteriously grow long/become short when he merely walks from one room to the next!