Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sandokan

Sandokan is an interesting side-story for a Bollywood actor, Kabir Bedi whose ‘greatest success was Sandokan, the saga of a romantic Asian pirate during British colonial times; an Italian-German-French TV series which broke viewership records across Europe’ (quoted from wikipedia).

One of my early childhood memories is watching this serial on Indian TV. I vaguely remembered a shot of Kabir Bedi killing a tiger in mid-leap and was glad to discover it also on youtube.



Here’s to some childhood memories and to Kabir Bedi who made it big………outside of the Indian cultural zone.







Reference

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabir_Bedi
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandokan

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jaane Ke Jaane Naa

While I am on the subject of songs, might as well add one more favourite song to my blog. Its Jaane Ke Jaane Na from the film Jaan-E-Mann.

This song is a riot. Among others it has Qawwal singers, a lead dwarf (Anupam Kher) with other dwarf assistants, high pitched singing, zany lyrics, a riot of colours, lots of dress changes, a marriage ceremony, harem dancing girls, great picturisation and spoof of Hindi cinema songs; not to forget around 50 people dancing in the song. And yes it also stars a charming Salman Khan and a geeky adorable Akshay

Wow!! Pure Bollywood

Bewafa Bar

Bewafa Bar is a song with atmosphere. I heard it once long ago and at some inadvertent moment it pops out from the recesses of my mind and sends a whiff of air through the cobwebs.

‘Bewafa’ means the ‘Betrayer’, here referring to the lover who betrays.

At first glance it might seem an odd song to remember and recollect. But to me it has got lots going for it: Adnan Sami (need I say more) + a nice tune + the unshaven Sanjay Dutt who so fits the character of a betrayed lover + what I think are authentic bar dancers who create a great atmosphere and dance with passion (thank god the Shiamak Davar clones are not around. These girls are so much more authentic and earthy)

Check it out at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSzZNi5JENI

On Adnan Sami

The former gentle giant (he’s slimmed a lot since then) at first glance may be easy to ignore either because of his nonchalance (suaveness) or girth (fat people are not taken seriously!) but behind that body hides a prodigious talent.



* ‘Lift Kara De’ was probably one of his early Indipop songs which got him noticed. The funny lyrics, accompanied by some good singing and the presence of Govinda make this song quite watcheable. The picturisation could do with a revamp though. But watch Govinda who makes an appearance in the last verse of the song. He excels, his expressions, dance steps…….. Govinda, you are unmatcheable.





* ‘Kabhi To Nazar Milao’ was sung with verve by both Adnan and Asha Bhosale, to a very nice tune. The picturisation leaves a lot to be desired





* ‘Bheegi bheegi Raton Mein’ is another very good tune and song.




* ‘Tera Chehra’ - another great tune and this time Rani Mukherjee makes an appearance. Adnan sure does manage to get some top-notch actors/actresses for his songs.





* His song with Amitabh Bachchan ‘Kabhi Nahi’ (Never) raises lots of chuckles both for the wordings, the choreography, the picturisation, the chemistry between Adnan and Amitabh. And after a long long time the Big B is in full form. He sings, quite well too, his dancing is spot-on, his expressions just right. Big B…..u rock





* ‘Dil Keh Raha Hai Dil Se’…..golden hued piano play






* ‘Teri Yaad’…..does he ever run out of tunes?





* ‘Pal do pal’ with Dia Mirza……the line of stars continues at his door





I Wish Him a Long Life and Great Success

Yahaan (Here) (2005)

A chance reference to the Hindi movie Yahaan (Here) and my eyes welled-up, a softness stole over me. I watched this film some years ago and hence a review will have to await a rewatch.

What I do remember is a sensitive tale told of a troubled paradise, Kashmir where perhaps even the tears have dried up and an endless ennui pervades.

Minissha Lamba captivated in her first film while Jimmy Shergill was a solid backbone to the venture, as usual.

Hence to start with, am pasting the songs…..lyrics by the gem Gulzar, a sensitive individual and at some level our conscience.

A soft gentle film for a softer gentler world…………………………..

Chan se bole




Mele Chaliyan



Kabhi Kabhi AasPaas chand rehta hai

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Blast From The Past

The title song of a very popular TV serial ‘Malgudi Days’ based on the charming books of R.K.Narayan dealing with life in the fictional South Indian village of Malgudi. Illustrations by his equally famous brother R.K.Laxman





The Hindi title song to the serial ‘Jungle Book’. Lyrics by the inimitable Gulzar




the lyrics are


Jangal Jangal Baat Chali Hai, Pata Chala Hai
Arre Chaddi Pahan Ke Phool Khila Hai

Ek Parinda, tha sharminda, tha woh nanga
Bhai isse to ande ke andar, tha woh changa
Soch raha hai bahar aakhir kyon nikla hai
Chaddi Pahan ke Phool Khila Hai


A rough translation goes like this


The word’s got round the jungle, they have heard
That a flower has bloomed, wearing chaddis (shorts)

A dove, embarrassed because he’s naked
Is thinking he was better-off inside the egg
Is now pondering on why the hell he’s stepped-out
…a flower has bloomed, wearing chaddis (shorts)


The translation..... my translation may not sound great, but the original is….



An educational Films Division documentary ‘Ek Chidiya’

Friday, September 12, 2008

Movies ‘R’ Us: 6#-2008

1. Parvarish (Upbringing) (1977) (Hindi movie)

A nature vs nurture drama. A dacoit’s son is raised by a police officer side-by-side with his own son. The inevitable takes place. The bad guys son turns to be good and the good guys son bad.
Stars a portly Shammi Kapoor as the father, Vinod Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan (in their heydey) as the 2 sons with Shabana Azmi and Neetu Singh as their romantic interests. There’s hardly anything in this movie to recommend it to anyone.

Shammi Kapoor is downright silly, very sorry to say this but on the positive side, he is not at all uncomfortable with the cinematic medium. It’s a pleasure to watch VK and AB though, both excel within the limitations of this movie and they were at the height of their powers when they did this movie. Neetu Singh is a natural charmer but Shabana Azmi is hopelessly miscast. She just doesn’t fit-in into masala films and she can't dance. But sweet as she is, she tries. J Good for us though that she’s stopped doing masala films, more or less.

It has silly editing, silly dialogues, silly sequence of events, hairbrained schemes of smuggling, villains toying around with toy submarines, the development of the romantic tracks is flawed and charm-less.

None of the songs rise above the ordinary: neither in lyrics, tune nor picturisation

It’s not even so bad that it can be enjoyed, it just falls flat on its face

Starring
Shammi Kapoor
Amitabh Bachchan
Vinod Khanna
Neetu Singh
Shabana Azmi
Kader Khan
Amjad Khan
Tom Alter
Screenplay: Prayag Raj
Dialogue: Kader Khan
Playback: Lata, Rafi, Asha, Ki.Ku., Usha Mangeshkar, Shailendra Singh, Amit Kumar
Dances: Kamal
DoP: Sudhin Mazumdar
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Music: Laxmi-Pyare
Producer: A.A.Nadiadwala
Director: Manmohan Desai

PS: Amit, Shabbo, Neetu retain their real names on screen too. So why not VK who is Kishen in the film?


2. Chote Sarkar (Little Master) (1974) (Hindi movie)

You watch an overweight, overage Shammi Kapoor with deficient acting skills, within the first few frames and lose hope in the movie.

Wikipedia tells me that Shammi Kapoor’s ‘….significant weight gain ended his career as a romantic hero in the early 1970s,’. This film in 1974 must be one of his later ones. Thank god the hulk retired from the lead roles thereafter.

Sadhana stars as his romance partner. The normally charming Sadhana is burdened with ordinary dresses, hideous blue mascara and crap dialogues. Plus she displays a dialogue delivery style that was the staple of some cinema heroines of that age i.e. childish, petulant, dumb! Tchaah

The story is not of much consequence.

Errata:
* SK first meets Sadhana in an artificial garden. Some of the older films had some fantastic artificial sets indoors: gardens, lakes, fantasy sets etc. You don’t get to see such creativity nowadays. Is it more to do with the fact that outdoor photography is much less complicated today?

* The cabaret dancer Helen, the one who has a child out of wedlock is Christian. But she has a photo of Krishna and Jesus at home. Funnily enough, SK has a statue of Mother Mary next to his mother’s photo.

* SK turns Sadhana from a village girl to a modern city girl. That includes a crap song within which he also teaches Sadhana how to tie a sari…….. in a public park !@#$$%

* Songs:
- Main Kesar Kasturi – a dull cabaret by Helen’s standards
- Jhuke Jhuke Naino wali: In which Sadhana wears a Maharashtrian Nav-vari sari to the backdrop of the backwaters of Kerala and exhibits some very curious dance steps which belong…….frankly, neither here nor there and possibly never before seen in Hindi films
Yes, you guessed, not much that is noteworthy in the songs too.

Ultimately the movie is just Maudlin Sentimental Tripe.

Starring
Shammi Kapoor
Sadhana
Shashikala
Sulochna
Helen
Story and Screenplay: Gulshan Nanda
DoP: Sudhin Mazumdar
Lyrics and Dialogues: Rajender Krishan
Music: Shankar Jaikishan
Produced by Bany Talwar
Directed by K.Shankar


3. Apradh (Crime) (1979) (Hindi movie)

A silly juvenile thriller which is the directorial debut of Feroz Khan. His unique style which continues through all the movies that he made afterwords, is immediately visible in his first movie. Full of exotic locales, stylish and sexy women, naughty camera work and naughtiness generally.

Nothing much creative in the storyline, dialogues etc.etc. The only things which stand out are
- Well done action sequences
- Extensive racing action and maybe the first time that formula car racing was depicted in Hindi movies.
- The utterly charming Mumtaz who charms in a charmless role
- ‘Hamare Siva tumhare aur kitne diwane hai’ is the only song and tune that you might possibly remember in an otherwise forgettable movie.

As for the simpering Helen: I was fed-up of her in the movie…her dialogue delivery and simpering. So too Iftekhar, the dandy police officer who fights in suits.

Starring
Feroz Khan
Mumtaz
Prem Chopra
Iftekhar
Tun Tun
Helen
Story and Screenplay: Omkar Saheb, Akhtar-Ul-Iman and FK Internationals Story Department
Dialogue: Akhtar-Ul-Iman
Lyrics: Indeevar
Playback: Lata, Asha, Kishor
DoP: Kamal Bose
Music: Kalyanji Anandji
Produced and Directed by Feroz Khan

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Syncretic Indo-Pak

Jhule Lal, a revered spiritual figure for Sindhi Hindus frequently figures in Muslim songs, just as Shahbaz Qalandar, an equally revered Sufi saint, is honoured in Hindu bhajans. The song Dama Dam Mast Kalandar, popularized by Bangladeshi singer Runa Laila, has made Jhule Lal and Shahbaz Qalandar household names in the entire Indian subcontinent.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jhule_lal

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lal_Shahbaz_Qalander


* Duma Dum Mast Qalandar sung so wonderfully by Runa Laila



* And Dum Mast Qalander from the one and only, the Quwwal great, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Movies ‘R’ Us: #5-2008

1. Ittefaq (Coincidence) (1969) (Hindi movie)

An innocent man (given to dramatics) who is an artist, Rajesh Khanna is charged with the murder of his wife. Charged and then sent to the custody of the mental hospital, he escapes. A criminal on the run from the law and the mental hospital, he lands up in the house of Nanda, a housewife and holds her hostage. The movie essentially is shot within this house. By the 2nd half, another murder has happened and RK stands accused.

Is he innocent? Can he clear himself of the charges?

The movie starts promisingly but somewhere down the line loosens up. The dialogue and script writers just go awry and that’s not helped by some dispassionate acting.

Some loose acting to be observed especially when the police inspectors react sluggishly to screams on telephone. Very very silly and inept situations, inane sequences of dialogue, character placements and movements

When the answers do spill out, they seem overeager to spill out rather than being elicited out masterfully. The script at times seems to insult even the intelligence of schoolboys (well, modern schoolboys in any case).

Yash Chopra, the director disappoints with this dud. But full marks to him for experimenting because there’s not a single song in here.

Admirers of Iftekhar the ‘Police Inspector’ in hundreds of Hindi films might find some takeaways from the film. For a change he does get to occupy lots of screen space. He is competent, but just about.

Iftekhar stars as Inspector Karve.- which is a Marathi name. Which brings me to the issue recently raised by a prominent Maharashtrian politician. That in this movie capital of India, the capital of the state of Maharashtra (inhabited by Marathis), the only movie characters who are Marathi are invariably servants. I do think there is a lot of angst felt by a significant percentage of Marathis and this has been raised by this politician. No doubt the long-term aims behind raising this issue might be more political than social, but nevertheless the point I think is valid. Its as if, an entire industry has forgotten the social milieu by which it is surrounded. Invariably all characters, situations and overt locations are non-Marathi. And perhaps this should be extended to other regions too. Its as if, significant parts and peoples of India just don’t exist in Hindi cinema. If they do, they are portrayed as caricatures, clich├ęs and in a patronizing manner. Other than Marathis, even Christians, Parsis and others may raise valid arguments while on this topic. I think Hindi cinema has some way to go before it becomes much more representative of broader sections of society.

Starring:
Nanda
Rajesh Khanna
Iftekhar
Gajanan Jahagirdar

Dialogues: Akhtar-Ul-Iman
Chief Editor: Pran Mehra
Music: Salil Choudhary
Producer: B.R.Chopra
Director: Yash Chopra



2. Anamika (Unnamed) (1973) (Hindi movie)

Stars the delightful pair of Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri. Scripted by the gentle giant Gulzar, it sells itself just with these 3 names.

The movie itself is an average watch no doubt with some spikes in watchability. Sanjeev Kumar, who has lost in love is now a woman-hatere. JB, the amnesia stricken girl comes into his life and home thinking she is his wife. The movie starts thus and ends with the truth being revealed

Watch it if you must for Jaya Bhaduri, delightful and free-spirited like a bird in the wind. Emotions pass over her face like ripples across water; naked, transparent and natural. And it does help that SK and JB have a delightful, impish chemistry

And now for the songs:

* The marvelous Bahon Mein Chale Aaon (Come into my arms). Lata soars.



* The Helen cabaret ‘Aaj Ki Raat Koi Aane Ko Hai’. Helen, sexy as ever, albeit a big fat round the waist




* Meri Bheegi Bheegi Si Palkon – very hummable




And Asrani stars as the oversexed secretary of SK: a needless interlude I think. I wonder whether that character was to cater to the dominant market forces.



3. Ram Balram (1980) (Hindi movie)

Once you rush past the fast-moving credits (literally fast-moving)…. Storywriter / editor / director Vijay Anand seems to have been quite enthusiastic in doing some crisp editing). He just wants to get done with the credits and get on with the film

A masala flick, this. I guess the only major takeaways from this film would be the chemistry between AB and Dharmendra and the fact that AB was at the peak of his prowess only lends a strong backbone to the film. Otherwise, no much ‘dum’ in this.

Some noteworthy songs:

* Ek Rasta Aha Aha – the male bonding song, nicely picturised



* Humse Bhool Ho Gayi Humka Maafi Dai Do




As with, and particularly with films of that era, you cannot escape puerile situations (Amitabh wearing a Spanish dress in luring Indian dacoits out of their den) and superficial characters

And the Ajit in this movie is the one who subsequently spawned a slew of Ajit-jokes
(http://www.rajiv.com/india/humor/ajit.htm)


Navjeevan Films

Starring

Dharmendra (as Ram) and Zeenat Aman
Ajit
Amitabh Bachchan (Balram) and Rekha
Prem Chopra
Sujit Kumar
Amjad Khan (Sp.App)
Helen
Utpal Dutt


Story: Vijay Anand
Screenplay: Kamleshwar, Vijay Anand
Dialogue: Kamleshwar
Playback: Lata, Rafi, Asha, Kiku, Dilraj Kaur
Edited: Vijay Anand
DoP: Fali Mistry
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
Music: Laxmikant Pyarelal
Produced: Tito
Directed: Vijay Anand



4. Calcutta Mail (2003) (Hindi movie)


I struggle to find positives in this film: a script that aims for noveau realism, music and songs that seem to have been created on a whim,

You can watch AK dance awkwardly and wince. How the hell do guys who dance badly get the courage to dance at all? RM is one pest through the movie.

In such a bottom of the barrel movie, even small (seemingly irrelevant) things jar the senses. The way Satish Kaushik removes his spectacles, ‘Ishu’ the name of the kid seems ‘too well thought-out’ and so many other little things.

A movie that in its perversion tries to be a human epic, ends miserably short of the mark.

Starring
Anil Kapoor
Rani Mukherji
Manisha Koirala
Satish Kaushik
Sayaji Shinde
Saurabh Shukla
Deven Verma
Shivaji Satam

Choreography: Saroj Khan
Cinematography: Ravi K.Chandran and S.K.Kumar
Story: Gunshekhar
Screenplay: Saurabh Shukla, Sudhir Mishra, Ruchi Narayan
Dialogues: Saurabh Shukla
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar, Mehboob Kotwal
Music: Viju Shah, Anand Raaj Anand
Produced: Allu Aravind and Mukesh Udeshi
Directed: Sudhir Mishra


5. Girl Interrupted (1999) (English movie)

Winona takes an overdose of aspirins, is diagnosed as trying to commit suicide and a borderline personality disorder case. In the 1960s in the US that probably meant detention in a psychiatric care hospital. And so WR arrives to an audience which includes Angelina Jolie, another patient, Whoopi Goldberg, the nurse and Vanessa Redgrave, the shrink.

Finally, WR learns to encounter her demons, and get over her problems; whatever they might. The film tries to be high-brow through some inane but wise comments that flop. All patients display their angst by uttering ‘fuck’ at least thrice in every sentence. And you get lost in what the movie is trying to convey. And for all her efforts AJ won the Oscar for the Best Supporting Actress. Fuck!!

Starring

Winona Ryder
Angelina Jolie
Whoopi Goldberg
Vanessa Redgrave

Screenplay by James Mangold and Lisa Loomer and Anna Hamilton Phelan
Directed: James Mangold
Produced: Douglas Wick and Cathy Konrad
Based on the book ‘Girl Interrupted’ by Susanna Kaysen
DoP: Jack Green A.S.C

P.S. The song ‘Downtown’ performed by P.Clark is quite nice though



6. Come September (1961) (English movie)

A Hollywood masala movie that doesn’t work for me. A wealthy American industrialist arrives unannounced to his Italian villa to find that its been converted to a hotel by the caretaker. His part-time Italian girlfriend is about to leave him and some other attendant problems.

Gina Lollobrigida as the heroine and the other girls are cute. Some of the dialogues are quite well written. The film is timepass but with a lot of rough edges.

Surprisingly the cinematography doesn’t work well with me. Sad, very sad because this movie is filmed around the ravishing Italian Riviera.

Missable



7. Paris when it Sizzles (1964) (English movie)

In which you watch Audrey Hepburn act the lady. Which is about as obnoxious as watching Angeline Jolie mouth obscenities in ‘Girl Interrupted’

An amateur insipid utterly missable movie.


Starring

William Holden
Audrey Hepburn
Noel Coward
Produced: Richard Quine and George Axelrod
DoP: Charles Lang Jr A.S.C
Music: Nelson Riddle
Screenplay: George Axelrod
Directed: Richard Quine

Movies ‘R’ Us: #4-2008

1. Amadeus – An English film on the life of Mozart

Elegant Austrian court settings. Though the character of Mozart does not do a great job of piano-playing and I have my sneaking suspicions that as opera conductor too, he is more swayed by pseudo-histrionics than solid research.

Why of all the ‘Western’ movies I have seen on real characters, these folks always seem to have an ‘other’ side to them: womanizing, adultery, power-politics etc.etc. Don’t they have more ascetic characters or characters with integrity in their history, in the West? I know, I know……….and I don’t like the sound of that statement of mine either. But let it stay.

Antonio Salieri – F. Murray Abraham
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Tom Hulce



2. Disha (Direction) (Hindi movie)

Starring:

Shabana Azmi
Nana Patekar
Raghuvir Yadav
Rajashree Sawant
Nilu Phule
Om Puri

Story, Screenplay, Dialogues and songs: Sai Paranjpe
Music: Anand Modak
Playback: Ravindra Sathe, Uttara Kelkar, Vinay Mandke, Thyagaraj Khadilkar, Arun Joglekar
Director: Sai Paranjpe

A simple tale of migrants and migration (from rural to urban areas) simply told in the unique style of Sai Paranjpe. A very strong set of actors here.

The poignancy of the tale is brought alive by clear delineated characterization

These are stories about real-life characters from the lower class. The ones that Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra are totally alienated from. And that’s precisely why their stories need to be told.

Some pretty competent editing throughout the movie and one delightfully picturised song: Bumbai Bumbai Bumbai Bumbai Bum

A nice watch



3. A Beautiful Mind (2001) (English Movie)

The one thing that never fails to amaze (and scare) me about Hollywood films is the absence of an extended family in these biopics. In this movie we don’t even see any reference to John Nash’s parents, leave alone a scene involving them. Did the earth swallow them up?

The movie is about the Nobel laureate, John Forbes Nash Jr., the mathematical genius who had a long struggle with schizophrenia.

A great movie



4. Muqaddar ka Sikandar (1978) (Hindi movie)

Producer & Director: Prakash Mehra
Music: Kalyanji-Anandji
Lyrics: Anjaan, Prakash Mehra
Story: Laxmikant Sharma
Screenplay: Vijay Kaul
Dialogues: Kader Khan

Starring
Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha
Vinod Khanna and Rakhee

Outwardly a very silly tale. But 2 pairs of couples give it such a strong backbone that it is one of the minor classics of Hindi cinema.

But the saccharine sweetness of AB’s friendship with VK did drive me giddy at times.
Rekha stars in a courtesan’s (tawaif’s) role that she has so naturally made her own.

The noteworthy songs are

* O Saathi Re



* Rote Huye Aate hai sab



* Dil to hai dil, dil ka aitbaar kya kije



* Pyar Zindagi Hai, Ya Allah: accompanied by some pretty bad dancing by Rakhee and VK

Movie Review: Mumbai Meri Jaan (Mumbai My Love) (2008) (Hindi Film)

Watch it!!!!

Why?

* For 1, after a long time a Hindi movie shows some real-life characters from across the spectrum of the city including the underbelly. Real-life characters spout real-life dialogues (and in one memorable case; that of Thomas played by Irrfan Khan: hardly spouting any dialogues at all). Real-life characters in real-life surroundings and for a change not wearing designer clothes or living in gated communities

Its about sets of lives (families, relationships….) intermeshed with the Mumbai train blasts carried out by Muslim terrorists (presumably!). Some lives overlap, others are independent tracks.
- Kay Kay Menon, struggling to make ends meet selling computer hardware, displaying an antipathy towards the ‘other’ – the Muslim: displaying attitudes (and responses to situations) that most of us may be familiar with.
- Madhavan plays an idealistic Mumbai-ite who cares for the environment and for the fellow inhabitants of the city,
- Irrfan Khan the ‘Madrasi’ immigrant who hardly understands the city’s lingo and is trying to fit-in somehow,
- Soha Ali Khan, the typical sound-byte seeking journalist who loses someone close in the blasts and life suddenly changes,
- Paresh Rawal as the soft policemen who compromises, has compromised at every step but still retains a soft core,
- Vijay Maurya, the new recruit to the police force and P.Rawal’s colleague, the one with the idealist veneer but struck with despair at the life that awaits him

Watching this movie is like going through the experience of actually being a part of the frame being shot. Their lives become our lives for a moment. Their problems, ours. Their sorrow, ours. In all the despair, the message of live and let live comes through subtly and gross-ly, through metaphors and similies and through analyses of the impact of our actions.

* For 2, some great acting from some master craftsmen viz: Kay Kay Menon, Paresh Rawal, Irrfan Khan ably supported by Soha Ali Khan, Madhavan and others

* For 3, a script that floats lightly, leaves you with an elevated state of mind inspite of the sombre tone / topic for the movie

* For 4, photography that’s not intrusive, but with lots of unusual angles providing a totally different viewpoint that delights

But most of all, it points us towards something that’s been missing from most Hindi movies nowadays…..some good acting without resorting to cheap tricks to trick us i.e. designer clothing and sets, heavy makeup, smart-alecky dialogues in Hinglish, exotic locales et al….It also addresses the other lacunae of current Hindi movies: a lack of a strong storyline, and insufficient probing of the depth of emotions.

Nice!!

Movie Review: Gehri Chaal (Deep Conspiracy) (1973) (Hindi Movie)

Its not so very often that you struggle to find some takeaways from a film. Gehri Chaal is one such struggle. It’s the nightmare of an interior/fashion designer brought on screen via South Indian film aesthetics of that period.

The intial scenes start with an impending bank audit and a worried chairman (or director or whatever…..). Zoom-out and zoom-in to an all-girls badminton court where all but 1 (Hema Malini) are dressed in lascivious shorts or some such body hugging outfit. Our Lady of Chennai is in a more demure set of skirts, well just one; to be precise. The court-setting is just an excuse for the thunder-thighs to break off into a song. And its at this point that the credits roll-in. No surprise here to discover that this is a South Indian production in Hindi. What follows is what passed-off as dance in those days. Inspired in part by the gestures of Indian hermaphrodites, Elvis-the-pelvis and a demented set of females giving full expression to their orgiastic side. Hema is the only saving grace in all of this.

Hema returns home to discover her father (the bank chairman or director or whatever) dead in a pool of tablets; an extra precaution to let the more idiotic viewers know the exact cause of the death. She disturbs brother AB in the middle of a pop performance watched with the seriousness of an attendee at a western classical concert. A shocked AB almost suffers a pseudo heart attack somewhere in the region of his upper abdomen, where his jacket pocket is; where he has just stuffed his father’s suicide letter. A couple of pills later and voila, it’s a matter of seconds before he is back to normal. Thanks, Merck .

To cut a long story short……real short: The father has purportedly robbed the bank of 20 lakhs and mentioned this in the suicide letter which AB wisely hides from the police. AB also a Director of Administration at the bank in collusion with the villain arranges for a bank robbery which involves burning of some important documents to prevent discovery of the fraud. AB’s friend Jeetendra, the CID inspector arrives to investigate the bank robbery and romance Hema in his free time. As for the rest of the story….fuck it.

Watch the songs featuring Jeetendra and you will know why he was also known as the Jumping Jack.

To come to the one alarming characteristic of this film is the drug-induced colour haze in which this film seems to have been made. Check out the outfits. I would have hated to have lived in this era of ill-coordinated color combinations. Oh, I forgot… I did. Anyway, amnesia seems to have gripped me. So to make it more bearable and academic, I started making a list. Here’s what I saw

* Pink walls and a book rack with green hardbound books next to an impassive Buddha statue and a blue dancing horse above
* Pink sofas next to red carpets and whats with these green hardbound books. They make an appearance here too
* A red worktable for a bank’s administrative director (that’s AB) with matching red chairs and vertical patches of pale yellow tiling on the wall. In this kaleidoscope of colours walks a biped wearing an orangish suit with a red tie
* The pink sofas from ABs office make an appearance at his home too. Curioser and curioser. The reuse percentage seems to have been set by Infosys
* Pink walls and pink flooring at the local cabaret. And pink banisters with odd bits of triangles stuck to the ceiling (also pink)
* The villains secret room with pale green walls, purple elevator doors with green borders and those odd bits of triangles make an appearance here too, on the walls though
* A villain who caresses an obviously stuffed toy dog of curious red hair shade sitting in front of panels more at home in an atomic research station, flanked by molls dressed in white and green miniskirt outfits
* Green curtains to the backdrop of green walls with Hema dressed in a full-sleeve green top
* Bad guys in dark black raincoaty-looking plasticky material (indoors!!!!) or alternatively in dark blazers over red turtleneck shirts with black fedora hats
* Green sofas, floral shirts

I just stopped………after some time

Other gems of this movie include a purely asinine chase where imposter police kidnap Jeetendra in a jeep and drive down an empty runway and attempt to drive their jeep over ramps into a moving truck. WTF. Whats the purpose? Who cares. The director had a checklist of action sequences he had to incorporate in the movie. His job is done. Then there is the Jeetendra attempt to foist himself in romance on Hema. Silly in thought and execution. And the public exchanges of confidential suitcases by a suit-clad Jeetendra with a Pathan in traditional wear. And a gangmember who wears a locket with the photo of his gang leader inside. Duh!!

As if that’s not enough, all the songs are singularly uninspiring.

Hema Malini is perhaps the sole item of grace in an otherwise bankrupt movie. She is grace personified. She emerges unscathed in every scene (well…almost), in every shot however inane the director’s imagination have taken him towards. Not a misstep from her, not a furried brow, she just doesn’t break into a sweat. Given her any kind of absurdity and she romps through. And AB does provide some sincere acting but there is a limit to what he can carry on his shoulders

The compromises one has to do for furthering ones career

Starring
Jeetendra
Hema Malini
Amitabh Bachchan (the 3rd name in the credits….hmm. food for thought)
Bindu
Prem Chopra

Dialogue and Lyrics: Rajinder Krishen
Plackback: Lata, Asha and Kishor
Music: Laxmi-Pyare
Story, Scenario and Direction: Sridhar


Oh! and by the way......the name of the bank is Olympic Bank