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Monday, 28 February 2011

Drama that drowned (Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi)

This has often been the case with me. While browsing for a certain film in free movie watching sites, when I chance upon an obscure film that looks pretty interesting I cannot control the temptation. These maybe films that have not been spoken about much. They necessarily may not have the best lead actors or the most memorable songs. But something about the story is so tantalising that it makes me forget my initial search and I sit down to watch this new discovery at that very instant. And, like it always happens I'm quite amused at how predictable the story line is, how most of these films are family sagas and how almost every one of them stand due to the merit of a superb supporting cast.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

For want of a good wife (Naukar)

Now that's what I call a funny family film. The story is good, the performances able, the execution is easy and the characters are well-etched out. The comedy is entirely situational and most importantly, done by none other than the gargantuanly talented Mehmood. Even though he is past his prime in Hindi films, is awkwardly bloated and wears a hideous wig, his comic timing is just too perfect. In Ismail Memon's Naukar, this comedian gets to wear the most ludicrous shirts and trousers but there is no moment when he is not in his elements. And he is just one of the good things about this 1979 film.

Brains to be left behind (Half Ticket)

The moment you start reasoning with what's happening in Kalidas's braindead comedy, Half Ticket, you will miss out on the fun. I made this mistake initially. Stupefied at the incredible plot, the crazy situations and the absolutely OTT antics of Vijay, I started questioning whether I should actually sit through this 1962 film. But then when I thought to myself the stark absurdity of my wanting to question the credibility of the plot or situations, I gauged that I better turn the switch of my grey cells off and simply go with the flow of the story. Or the lack of it. Maybe that's why by the time this comic caper ended, even though the climax was severely botched up, I was actually laughing inwardly at some of the really funny bits.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Courageous courtesan (Sadhna)

The blatant divide between pure and impure is smudged immaculately as Geeta Dutt croons Tora manwa kyun ghabraye rey in the lips of Leela Chitnis. Through the song we are actually made to ponder on whether Champabai is seriously an impure woman who needs to be judged by society and its norms? Or is she just like any one of them who has a right to offer her prayers to the Almighty, touch the idol and seek her heart's prayers? Is the world made by mortals equipped enough to decide on whether she deserves a second chance?

Friday, 18 February 2011

Powerful Pawar (Memdidi)

Memdidi, directed by the master of simple yet sweet tales, is a unique enterprise. It has no conventional leads, it stars Keysi Mehra whose name provides absolutely nothing on search pages and it is pulled off by people who have made a name for themselves playing character roles. But here, they become the heroes, they make you laugh, cry and sing along with them, they warm your hearts with their goodness and they tell you that blood ties are not necessary to forge long time bonds. Sometimes people who are not even remotely related turn out to be so close to one another that they can go to great lengths to keep each other happy...

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Adventure gone wrong (Azaad)

Sometimes I wonder whether films that became blockbusters during their times would do as well if released today? Not if the treatment is as shoddy and half-hearted as I discovered in SMS Naidu's Azaad. His romantic adventure flick, I read, was the highest grossing entertainer in 1955. A watch after I am yet to decipher whether the records are indeed indicative of how good a film is. For, apart from a few mushy moments between the lead pair, some melodious songs by C Ramchanda, a gorgeous Meena Kumari and a dishy Dilip Kumar, this film lacks the punch of say maybe, Kohinoor or even Aan. Patchy in parts and disjointed throughout, the film suffers from bad editing and a tediously stretched comic subplot starring Om Prakash and Raj Mehra. Wish the director concentrated more on the love angle than attempting to make his caper a well-rounded adventure film...

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Adventure on the holy banks (Jai Baba Felunath)

Satyajit Ray did with his films what many filmmakers of his generation didn't. He infused in his scripts the sights, sounds and smells of the places where his story is set. So, along with the characters of the film and their varied idiosyncrasies, the place attains a personality. Like how Rajasthan does in Sonar Kella, how Shundi does in Gupi Gayen Bagha Bayen and Varanasi in 1979's Jai Baba Felunath.While you follow Prodosh Mitra and his party as he unravels the mystery behind the stolen Ganesha statuette, you start noticing how Ray brings Varanasi and the holy banks alive. The place adds to the fun and adventure of the sleuth's exploits. While the days are used to discover the frantic activities in the vibrant surroundings, the dark nights heighten the eerie nature of the serpentine lanes. That is the fun in Ray's Feluda films. They are detective stories as well as entertaining travelogues, something that Sandip Ray's film miss...

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Soulful sonatas (Maya)

This is one film that will stay on with you because of the wonderful music. The story has been heard before, the characters seen and the denouement expected. But these songs are so powerful even today that whenever they play they bring bliss to my senses. I'm talking of Salil Chowdhury's fantastic score in  Maya, the 1961 romance directed by D.D. Kashyap. The film has a likable plot and famous faces. But more than anything, the songs just stand out from the crowd of events and situations, pulling you into a soulful reverie that lingers on for eternity...

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Our childhood hero (Shriman Prithviraj)

If I remember correctly, it was in standard seven. One day, we all came to school with a big smile on our face. The first thing that we friends asked each other on entering the classroom after the assembly prayers were over was whether we saw Shriman Prithviraj the previous night on national television. The reply was unanimous. Yes, said all. And then it started. The dissection and bisection of every scene. The constant repetition of the funny one-liners. The feelings for the pre-pubescent Rashik were enumerated. The joys at the union of Rashik and Amalabala was pronounced. In short, an entire classroom of 58 odd students chirped and bonded over this 1973 Tarun Majumdar masterpiece. Such is the fan following of this cult classic that even today when we school friends meet over a cuppa, we relive that day in class seven when this film was the topic of discussion for an entire week.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Impeccable imposter (Mahapurush from Kapurush O Mahapurush)

This is a story where the imposter turns out to be the true survivor. As admitted by one of the most clever men in the film, this imposter is learned, has vast knowledge, is steeped in history of several lands, has a fantastic memory, is a thorough glibtalker, understands mass psychology, can convince people about almost everything, is a terrific actor and hence the perfect Mahapurush!