Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Movies ‘R’ Us: #1-2009

1. Shriman Shrimati (Hindi Film) (1982)

This is the kind of cinema that makes me retain faith in Hindi movies and their potential. An ordinary story simply told with excellent actors to boot.

An elderly husband and wife after a trying experience with their daughter, make it their mission to help others in distress. Of the 2 distressed mismatched couples they help over here, one is the rich daughter married of to a lower middle-class jobber, the other a girl from the village married of to a pubber who has slightly more modern expectations from his wife. But alls well that ends well. Finally the ghar ke buddhoo come home.

Fantastic actors here. Sanjeev Kumar and Rakhee Gulzar make a great elderly couple. The 2 sets of younger couples are
Rakesh Roshan/Deepti Naval and
Amol Palekar/Sarika

[Rakesh Roshan is of course the father of the teen sensation Hritik Roshan, Deepti Navan the ever-so-sweet girl next door, Amol Palekar the star of many hit comedies who turned to direction and directed the Shahrukh Khan starrer ‘Paheli’] and Sarika the ex-wife of Kamal Hassan]

The supporting cast includes AK Hangal, Lalita Pawar and Paintal

The only jarring note over here are the two SLAPS delivered to Sarika and Deepti Naval. Its as if to reinforce that nothing but a tight slap can make the woman come to their senses. That display the remnants of a male chauvinist culture. But other than that there is little else to complain.


Sanjeev Kumar
Rakhee Gulzar
Rakesh Roshan and Deepti Naval
Amol Palekar and Sarika
Lalita Pawar
AK Hangal
Leela Misra
Dr.Shreeram Lagoo
Ramesh Deo

Playback: Lata, Kishore
Story: KS Rao
Dialogue: RajBaldev Raj
Lyrics: Majrooh
Music: Rajesh Roshan
Produced by B.Nagireddy
Directed by Vijaya Reddy

2. Deedar (Hindi movie) (1951)

A tale of unrequited childhood love, …that fails to inspire, fails to rise above the level of childishness, fails to grip and is aided in no small measure to its downfall by the simpering of its main characters…the legends Nargis, Ashok Kumar and Dilip Kumar

And …. Oh, the horrors of laying your eyes on Nimmi’s expressions. And she’s got a slight moustache to boot

The song ‘Bachpan Ke Din Bhula Na Dena’ though, is mellifluous and philosophical

Tun Tun

Written by Azm Bazidpuri
Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
Edited by Bimal Roy
Music: Naushad
Direction and Photographic Treatment: Nitin Bose

3. Baaz (1953) (Hindi movie)

The alternate title should have been “Oh! the silliness of it all”

The pic is mostly boring, the uniquess being more in the fact that it deals with the Portugese occupation of Goa and that part of India.

It stars Gita Bali and Gurudutt. The former reminds me of Urmila Matondkar. Those same weird faces, that odd bony skewed stance. Her (Gita Bali’s) mock sword fighting is much better than her acting

KN Singh
Johny WalkerStory and Screenplay: GuruDutt
Dialogues: LC Bismil and Sarshar Sailani
Lyrics: Majrooh
Costumes designed by Miss Ludvilla Primakoff
Photography: V.K.Murthy
Editor: YG Chawhan
Music: OP Nayyar
Produced by Miss Haridarshan
Directed by GuruDutt

Movie Review: Chori Chori (Stealthily) (Hindi film) (1956)

A mildly interesting story made into a watcheable movie primarily due to the terrific chemistry between the 2 leads: Raj Kapoor and Nargis (that also supposedly flowed on from reel life to real life) and some great songs.

The storyline: a rich heiress on the run from her father (who disapproves of her affair with a ruffian) meets up with a journalist on the way and initial friction gives way to love. I think this was remade into an Aamir Khan-Pooja Bhatt film too.

But now to turn to the songs which are a highlight of the film

You can ignore an initial song featuring the actor Bhagwan. His lady companion’s dance will raise a few chuckles in the modern day and age but she is cute.

Having been patient you will be rewarded with the evergreen ‘Panchi Banoo Udti Phiroo Mast Gagan Main’

The awesome ‘Yeh Raat Bheegi Bheegi Yeh Mast Fizaeen’ is perhaps too intense for the situation the characters find themselves in. But by itself it worth multiple hears. I can watch Raj and Nargis again and again in this song. Their emoting is faultless to my conception.

‘Yeh to batao ke tum mere kaun ho’ is a terrific fun-filled romp where Raj and Nargis get to act as puppets

The great chemistry between both Raj and Nargis is very evident by now. No wonder even the Russians were enamoured. Nargis and Raj Kapoor of course were very popular in the erstwhile USSR

The mellifluous ‘aaja sanam Madhur chandni mein hum’ is captivating

‘Rasik Balma’ is Lata’s voice across the boundless space and across the ages

And yes, there is also a beautiful classical Bharata Natyam piece in between that has no relation to the scenes that precede and those that follow. Its probably an attempt by the South Indians (this movie is produced by them and Bharata Natyam is from the south) to bring culture to the otherwise barbaric north


Raj Kapoor
Pran (who interestingly appears in the credits after Bhagwan)
David (the genial Jew in a blink-and-miss role)
Johny Walker

Screenplay and Dialogues: Aga Jani Kashmiri
Songs: Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra
Music: Shankar Jaikishen
DoP: V.N.Reddy
Produced: L.B.Lachman
Directed: Anant Thakur


Movie Review: Shakthi The Power (Hindi movie) (2002)

With a name as silly as that, I was prepared for all eventualities.

The movie: it seems is a copy of an English movie. Please……….can we have some originality once in a while.

The story: Karishma Kapoor, the orphaned daughter of a rich restauranteer, is guardianed by Tiku Talsania and ‘Flop Show’ Jaspal Bhatti in blink-and-miss roles; in Canada. In a few more blink-and-miss scenes, she manages to act silly and get engaged to Sanjay Kapoor, act silly then sing a song and get pregnant, act silly some more and have the boy grow up to a kindergarten age for it to be prepared for a bigger disaster on hand.

As an aside the pregnant KK acts not just silly but in a manner which is risky (or is it frisky…….well both) when pregnant. Which brings to mind the Preity Zinta song in Salaam Namaste when she is pregnant but dances and bounces as if she is determined to have if not an aborted foetus, at least a stirred and shaken baby. What do these girls think they are being? Cute? Tchaah!!!

Watch that here

Anyway, The saccharine-sweet Karishma agrees to a marriage, consummates it and delivers a baby in all of the first 15 minutes. That done and out of the way, the story starts. SK’s past which KK never seems to have inquired about, tumbles out of the closet. A news story about a remote Indian villages makes breaking news in their Canadian home……how? Don’t ask. And SK starts behaving alarmingly erratically. Not long after that all 3 depart to the motherland; a village in Rajasthan where SK believes his mother has been affected by the riots.

The village turns out to be a feudal setup with SKs father Nana Patekar a ruthless feudal landowner who indulges in thuggish behavior. In a lawless land, clan rivalries and enmities abound. Its not long after that SK gets killed and KK is at the mercy of Nana and his thuggish ragtag army of bomb-makers. Nana is willing to let go of KK but not his grandson, his only surviving direct descendant. The rest of the film deals with KK’s attempts to deal with a feudal setup and indeed escape from it with her son, and her wits intact. It is a promising storyline but unfortunately all else is downhill thereafter in most other departments of movie-making.

Oh, and by the way it also guest-stars Shahrukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai, the latter only for a song and the former hams his way for a substantial part of the second half to aid KK in her escape.

[v. hammed, ham·ming, hams
To overact.
To exaggerate or overdo (a dramatic role, for example).]

Some other vignettes (do you really expect hidden gems in here?) from the ……and I have to struggle to get the word out………movie.

Throughout the movie, you have to deal with Karishma, the pocket-sized dynamo of over-acting, the mistress of the above-the-top school of acting. Her role is a scream, literally. She screams her way through the movie in the hope of finally getting a scene right.

Her acting is….well, so shallow and urbanish, devoid of empathy (not through design but through inexperience). Her stock expressions seem to revolve around hysteria and hysterical reactions. Her defiance is too well manicured to seem sincere.

The placement of almost all the songs seems to have been done by a novice or an incredibly insensitive fellow. It is so discordant as to be ugly. 2 examples will suffice

1. A gruesome ‘clan vengeance killing’ is followed by a frisky song featuring Prabhu dancing an urban dance amidst pots and hundreds of extras. The setting is a traditional/conservative Rajasthani/Marwari clan based community (seemingly, incredibly displaying some Bihari/Uttar Pradeshi accents) with women the chattel of men, and we have an item girl displaying her ample midriff and dancing with Prabhudeva. WTF?? This is like a restaurant (this is the key word!) Punjabi meal, full of oil and lots of spice, giving 12 hours of rumbling stomach, burning ass and indigestion afterwords. Phew!! There I have got it out of my system

2. The song ‘Ishq Kamina’ is quite catchy. Shahrukh Khan gets to display his charisma and Aishwarya Rai (Mrs Funny Faces) her lack of it. But the placement of the song is distressing. It starts after a particularly gut-wrenching emotional scene where Karishma is separated from her son. Duh!![Ishq Kameena: Music Annu Malik. Lyrics: Sameer]

Watch it to observe Aishwarya’s lack of soul in dancing. The song, the tune, the choreography is appealing in its own way

The Editing and screenplay continuity i.e. their lack of it make us doubt the sensibilities of the movie maker.

The insensitivity in some of the scenes is intolerable, particularly those involving the child. The way the child is person-handled in the movie is shocking and deplorable……..and all in the name of art and with scarce a thought to the safety of the child. The director, Karishma and Nana should probably be under legal scrutiny for this.


Its Nana who shines through. As the feudal master with his many hues and shades he dominates every scene he stars in. His roughness, his eccentricities, his small gestures and movements, his camera presence, his identification with the persona………..all appeals. Nana Patekar is the only major character who lends a backbone to the film.

As Nana’s father, stars Chandrakant Gokhale, the veteran of Marathi cinema and father of the famous artiste, Vikram Gokhale. He impresses in a cameo role of grand-dad of Sanjay Kapoor and father of Nana Patekar. As an old man partially paralysed and unable to speak he shows a smooth ease with his craft. (Vikram Gokhale by the way, played the role of Aishwarya’s father in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and the police inspectors role in the Amitabh starrer Agneepath.)

And Deepti Naval, as Nana’s long suffering but surprisingly well-dressed wife shines in a way good actors shine in filth too.

What Nana and Deepti try to achieve through economy of movement and gesture and a strong empathy with the character, the younger generation: Shahrukh, Karishma and Sanjeev lose it all through lack of subtlety, hamming and over-the-top acting.

And watch out for some super crane camera shots….including those of the smallish feudal fort……wow!!

And some marks to karishma…at least she tries…..though its mostly in the wrong direction

At the end of it, about the best thing that you can say about the movie is that at least it gets over and done with.

Here are some comments I gathered from other online film reviews. Just love them

“Performance wise Karisma screams well. At times you feel like running as far as possible”
“Overall, Sridevi's first production venture is a total confusion”
“A potentially fine picture in search of a much better director”
“Karisma Kapoor, an actress of considerable range, seems constrained to tearful hysteria”
“Megastar Shah Rukh Khan, who appears in second half as a comic alcohol smuggler who helps Nandini escape, seems to have wandered in from another movie.”

This is a good review of the film (Definition of ‘good’: one that substantially agrees with mine)

An interview with Nana

Deepti Naval's website