Friday, April 27, 2007

Revenge and rebirth drama: Karz

I must admit, this is a great movie. I watch this with great abandon every time it comes on TV, and the songs are very hummable. This is another movie by Subhash Ghai, and was a super-hit at its time. Release in 1980, it stars Rishi Kapoor, Tina Munim, Simi Garewal (negative role), Pran and others.
The story of the movie encompasses both revenge and rebirth, so you should leave aside your logic when watching this movie. Rishi Kapoor is a singer and an orphan, and fairly successful. He starts getting strange headaches and glimpses of a murder. Doctors are unable to diagnose a specific reason, but the doctor is open to the idea that this is a vision of previous birth.
In a party, Rishi catches a glimpse of Tina Munim (in a young lady role), and falls for him; and she for him. He follows her to Ooty, but there catches sight of some sights that are very familiar and which cause him strange headaches. The story starts to fall in place for him.
In a previous birth, he was present in the form of RajKiran, very rich and living with his widowed mother and younger sister in luxury. He loves Simi Garewal, even though his mother disapproves; and marries her. She, however has a different objective, being a lackey of Sir Juda. On the way back, she kills him with a jeep and soon turns his mother and sister out of their home and property.
With this background, Rishi starts plotting to expose her. He pretends to fall in love with her. Accidentally he finds his sister and mother, and then with the help of Pran (Tina Munim's guardian), he manages to expose her, and everything turns out well.
Songs of this movie are excellent. Listen to them here.
- Om Shanti Om
- Ek Haseena Thi
- Dard-e-dil
- Main Solaah Baras

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A pure masala movie: Meri Jung

This is another pure masala movie that I end up watching every time it appears on TV. It is a true entertainer, and yet somehow the way the movie was put together makes it seem like a pretty good movie.
The movie was made in 1985 by Subhash Ghai, starring Anil Kapoor, Meenakshi Seshadri, Nutan, Amrish Puri and Javed Jaffrey. It is a revenge drama within a revenge drama. There are some eminently hummable songs such as the title 'Zingadi har kadam' (sung throughout the movie) and the fast and peppy 'Bol baby bol' (had an incredible effect on the reputation of Javed Jaffrey as a dancer). Listen to the songs here.
The movie storyline is fairly simple. Anil Kapoor's father is prosecuted for a murder that he did not commit by Amrish Puri, and is hanged. Amrish Puri knew he was innocent, but let the hanging happen. When Anil's mother Nutan tried to plead with Amrish Puri, she is humiliated and loses her mind. Anil brings himself and his sister up through hardships and becomes a fire-brand lawyer.
He is one day approached by Meenakshi, whose sister, a doctor, has been accused of giving poison to a witness who subsequently dies. She has been framed, and seems like little chance of acquital. Anil is unwilling to take the case, but a chance statement by Meenakshi makes him take the case and at great personal risk, he wins her freedom. This impresses Meenakshi and her family tremendously.
At the same time, he is aware of the injustice done to his family by Amrish Puri and is thirsting for revenge. At one point, he comes into conflict with Amrish's son, Javed Jaffrey who wants to take revenge by seducing Anil's sister to his side. She falls for Javed, but at one point, Javed kills an older lover in front of her, and things move into high gear. By this time, Nutan has been found, but her memory is gone.
Anil takes the case of Javed Jaffrey's prosecution, and in many twists and turns, Javed is convicted and Amrish goes mad. A good ending for people needing a happy ending.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Hindi Movie: The Burning Train

This movie was a stunner when it first arrived on the scene (1980). The effects were nice, and the story was not too familiar, so seemed fairly novel, or rather let me clarify, the storyline of the characters (mini-plots) were familiar, but not the main story.
The Burning Train was a mega multi-starrer with an large cast of characters, starring such people as Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna, Vinod Mehra, Jeetendra, Danny, Hema Malini, Parveen Babi, Neetu Singh, and others. Produced by B. R. Chopra, it was one of those films that are eminently watchable now, but for some reasons, was a flop at the time of release. I typically will watch most of the movie anytime it comes on one of the TV channels.
Story is simple. The design made by Vinod Khanna, an employee of the Indian Railways, wins the competition for a super-fast train between Delhi and Bombay. Danny had also tried for the competition, and when his design fails, he is extremely disgruntled, to the extent that he is ready to sabotage the train. There is a bit of preamble showing the life story of Vinod Khanna and his workaholic life causing the breakdown of his marriage to Parveen Babi. Similarly, the splitting of relations between Dharmendra and Hema Malini is also shown. Anyhow, the train starts, and soon, the bomb placed by Danny kills people in the engine room, and then a fire starts on board. Soon, the train is burning, and hence the title of the movie.
There are spirited efforts by people on board to stop the fire, and the camadrie between people irrespective of religion at the time of despair is also show in certain incidents. Various attempts to stop the train are failures, and finally in the end, the engine is delinked with the other bogies, and led up an uphill track to stop them.
The scenes about building an uphill track in one day, and their efforts to stop a runaway train seem unbelievable. How can a train keep on running without people being able to stop it, even if sabotage has been done?
The music of this film is pretty great, especially the sentimental song 'teri hain zameen'. Hear more of the music at this location.

The Burning Train

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Hindi Movie: Purab aur Paschim

Now, a lot of people may not have heard of this movie. It was coming as a re-run on TV a couple of hours back, and it is a brand of movies by Manoj Kumar that mix in a large amount of patriotism with a masala plot, and make it a total entertainer.
This was the third movie in a line by Manoj Kumar on patriotism (made in 1970), the first 2 being Shaheed (on Bhagat Singh) and Upkaar (on the farmer-soldier building block of the nation). The movie is based on Manoj Kumar going to Britain, and seeing how the Indian community over there is totally detached from the cultural traditions of India, and look down upon India. This shocks him, given that he is the son of a freedom fighter. He meets a former freedom fighter who turned traitor (Pran) and his family (who are totally westernised). He falls in love with a blonde Saira Banu, who is also totally western, down to her short skirts.
He slowly starts to change their attitudes, and gets them to come to India on a visit. There, they live in a small town, and Pran meets with his family, whom he has deserted. Pran is the bad guy in the movie, totally corrupted by the 'western influence', and remains bad to the end (when he kills his own grandfather).
The movie is essentially about promoting Indian culture, and does not too bad a job at it. It is helped by some extremely successful songs, available here.
Songs like Purva Suhani Aayee Re, Om Jai Jagdish Hare, Bharat ka Rahnewala Hoon, and Koi Jab Tumhara Hriday Tod de, were extremely successful, and remain hummable.

Video of songs:

Om Jai Jagdish Hare

Hai Preet Jahan Ki Reet Sada

Twinkle Twinkle

Dulhan Chali o Pehan Chali

Koi jab tumhara hridaya tod de

Monday, April 9, 2007

Water : An Insightful Movie

I watched WATER, a movie by DEEPA MEHTA. She is a movie-maker who has consistently provided her audiences with cinema of the utmost quality. Movies such as Fire, 1947-Earth, Bollywood/Hollywood--and now Water-- have helped establish her prowess as a gifted movie maker and displayed her versatility.
Water brings us into the world of those girls and women unfortunate enough to have become
widows. The movie is set in historical times, before India´s independence. We see the movies from the eyes and ears of Chuihya (Sarala), a seven-year-old widow sent to live in an ashram for widows. She encounters the vile head of the widows, Madhumati (Manorma), who exploits the residents.
The only opposition to this tyranny is provided by Shakuntala (Seema Biswas). Kalyani (Lisa Ray) is the beautiful young widow who befriends Chuhiya--she is pimped by Madhumati and the eunuch Gulabi (Raghuveer Yadav). Ironically, she is sent to work across the Ganges. Narayan (John Abraham) is a follower of Gandhi who falls in love with Kalyani, not caring about her status as a widow.
Through WATER, Deepa Mehta exposes the cruelties of Hinduism against widows. Deepa Mehta does not reject Hinduism as a respectable religion. She is merely raising the right questions--she is striving to empower those with the means to help those widows who, till this day, suffer in the same conditions described in the film. No religion is perfect. Each one has a dark past. Hinduism is no different. It has its own dark corners.
A.R. Rahman has composed the Hindi songs in the film. They blend nicely with the story.
Lisa Ray is a complete revelation. Her Hindi has improved leaps and bounds. Not only does she look stunning, but she is convincing as the prostituted widow trained to be submissive. John Abraham is too chic for his role. He´s just one of those people that cannot look average even with the right makeup. But his mannerisms and dialogue delivery are perfect. This is the performance that he should be most proud of. Seema Biswas, is no less spectacular. Her fear, concern, and confidence are ideal and she proves that she is ideal for the role. Manorma plays an evil role to perfection. After being out of films for a long time, she returns with a bang, playing a character you love to hate. Raghuveer Yadav lends adequate support as the heartless eunuch. Waheeda Rehman is in a small role that could have been played by anyone, not suitable for an actress of her calibre. Sarala (Chuhiya) is the best part of WATER. She´s cute, energetic and the perfect choice for the role. This makes her performance even more profound. What an amazing actress!
This is the perfect end to what could be called the perfect trilogy. Water´s international recognition is not without reason and this can only be verified by experiencing it yourself. The movie is bold and unapologetic for being so. It shows the truth as it is. Water is so real and passionate that you will easily be moved and shocked.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Hindi Movie: Woh Saat Din

The Hindi movie industry is numerically one of the largest producers of movies in a given year. As a result, there are few movies that remain in public memory. One such movie that has remained in my memory is a movie called 'Woh Saat Din' (made in 1983).
It was the first movie in which Anil Kapoor got a lead role (I do not remember whether he did a role in any other movie or not). The movie was a cute movie (yet deadly serious in the under-tone). It was about a wannabe fill guy from Patiala coming to make it big in the film world. He claims music awareness, and falls in love with Padmini Kolhapure, the daughter of his landlord. The landlord of course is not going to give his daughter to an unemployed bumkin, and marries her off to a widower with a daughter (Naseeruddin Shah).
The movie starts just after the wedding, with Padmini telling her about her romance with Anil in flashback. This occupies almost the whole movie, and it is fairly entertaining, with excellent songs. In the end, Naseerudding gives Padmini the option to take whatever decision she wants, and the movie ends with her making her decision.
Overall, I like this movie. It launched Anil Kapoor's career, and showed him in a soft role.

Namastey London: An eminently watchable movie

Quite Refreshing: Namastey London

After the debacle of Indian cricket team in the world cup, people needed a change, a change that could refresh their minds.Movies like Nishabd, Hatrick(a movie about cricket) came but none was able to make a mark.So people were desperately in a need of a good refreshment.
Namastey London proved to be a good entertrainer, masala movie having a good blend of all emotions nicely put together. It's a 2 hrs 30 min movie. The story revolves around the new
generation of South Asians (both Hindus and Muslims) in Britain who are essentially non South Asians. They are well integrated into British society and are cut off from their parents who still live the culture of the sub-continent. However, from time to time they are reminded that they are still 'browns'. Katrina's father is uncomfortable with her lifestyle but is unable to do anything much. He tries to change her by planning a trip to India and getting her married off, something he feels he has been successful in. When they get back to London with the new groom (Akshay), she denies anything to do with the marriage. In fact, from the beginning she has always wanted to marry her three time divorced white friend. The rest of the movie is about Akshay trying to impress her with his love and persistence. Songs are hummable and I really liked the song Chakhna-Chakhna, good picturization.
Katrina was dubbing for the first time in her own voice and because in the movie she was British, born and brought up in London, her accent matched her personality and of course she looked beautiful. Salman Khan must be really proud of her. For her, this was an important role given that she has had few chances to be the single female lead, particularly one around whom the movie revolved. I must say she seems to have grabbed this chance with both hands and legs (of which she has shown a lot in the movie). The controversial Ajmer scene hardly got noticed.
Akshay Kumar is supposed to give hits with multi-starrer casts, he needed to prove his ability as a solo hero in an emotional role and I should say he has done a very good role as a Jat from Punjab but he looked old at some places. This was a role that required him to show lots of emotion and I think he did a fairly good job at this. As regards nostalgia for his earlier action roles, the only place you could see this was in a 5 min rugby match role. And of course, he looked smart and impressive in the first scene of the movie when he was dressed in a smart dapper suit.
This was a good comeback for Rishi Kapoor and the role of a worried father of Katrina Kaif
suited him.
Overall, movie conveys the theme of "Once an Indian always an Indian". Personally, the concept of dragging a child to India to get married against their will is not very pleasant.