Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Himalay Ki God mein (1965)

Himalay Ki God Mein (In the lap of the Himalaya's) is yet another one of Mala's more notable roles, she plays the stereotypical innocent village girl in a charmingly funny way, this film earned Mala her third filmfare actress nomination alongside Meena Kumari for Kaajal and Sadhana for Waqt, she was upstaged by Meena who won for Kaajal

On his way back home to India from London after completing his medicine degree Dr Sunil Mehra's (Manoj Kumar) plane is forced to make an emergency landing after a passenger on board suffers a heart attack

Thus their toy aeroplane makes a landing in the jungle, not even a make shift airport but a bloody jungle with a sandy runway (LoL)

Sunil gets off the plane to get help only to be confronted by daaku's (dacoits) who rob him and beat him to the point of exhaustion, he's left in a critical state only to be rescued by village belle Phulwa (Mala Sinha) and her friends

Surprisingly for someone away from home and whose family are worried sick about him, Sunil seems very cheerful and without a care in the world, he and Phulwa start developing a bond. Sunil's health is back on full form and he returns to the city, he thanks Phulwa and her guardian Dayal (David Abraham) and leaves them his contact details

When Dayal falls ill Phulwa takes him to the city to seek Sunil's help, he then decides to leave the fast city life behind to help the vilagers of the Himalayas as they have no doctor in the town

He's advised against this by his parents and his fiancee Neeta who argues 'what's in it for him' even after persuading Neeta (a qualified doctor herself) to go with him to help the people she's reluctant as she's not ready to give up her high flying career in the city

However Sunil is determined and heads for the Himalayas on his own, before he leaves for the Himalayas he's warned by his father (D.K. Sapru) to keep the fact that he's Inspector Mehra's son a secret, as his father had tried arresting the chief dacoits of the Himalayas Lakhan (Jayant)

At the village he's met with opposition at first by the villagers who believe in traditional healers (Mukri & Kanhaiyalal) who are in fact fraudulent, the villagers warm up to Sunil over time when they see the imapct of his work

Happy Doc

When Sunil makes it clear to his parents that he intends on staying on in the Himalayas for life they're unappy and they send Neeta his fiancee as a pawn to bring him back to the city

Meanwhile Sunil & Phulwa have fallen deeply for each other

Will Neela succeed in her mission to bring him back? Will the dacoits realise Sunil is the son of the Inspector Mehra who's out to get them

An enjoyable film overall, it was not as great as i was expecting, its the kind of movie you watch on a rainy sunday afternoon, i guess my expectations were really high because the film won the 1966 filmfare Movie of the year award, by now i think i should have learnt the lesson that just because a film was awarded 'movie of the year' doesn't mean its an exceptionally great movie.

Still though, the decent acting, fabulous songs & scenery makes it enjoyable, i can tell the film won for its Swadeish kind of philosophy of kindness and love for humanity over one's own personal ambition as could be seen in Sunil's decision to leave the fast life behind in order to become a doctor in a local village. Also added to the narrative is the now familiar trope of a dacoit being a lovable person at heart, and social stigma/prejudice being the reason for their waywardness

Decent performances all around, i loved Mala's Village belle character, it had the potential to be annoying but Mala keeps it refreshingly funny and charming

she also gets the chance to show off some of her dancing skills, i've rarely seen Mala dance apart from the 'Lootee jaa' number in Ankhen

Shashikala is fast becoming one of my favourites, no one could play a detestable/contemptuous character like she often did

Superb music from Kalyanji Anandji (the credits indicate they were assisted by Laxmikant Pyarelal) indeed the music of this film is what makes it memorable for many, highlights include the beautiful ballads 'Ek Tu na mila' vibrant 'tu raat khadhi thi' & 'kankariya marke jayaga' where we get to see Mala doing some fab dancing, and the evergreen 'Chand si Mehbooba'

Total paisa Vasool rating: 6/10

Monday, 25 January 2010

Gumrah (1963)

This is a somewhat flawed but highly enjoyable suspense drama, i watched it on a lovely friday evening and was so mesmerised by the music and Mala of course. This is one of the early bollywood films that dealt with the subject of adultery

The film starts with the hindu tale of Laxmanrekha where Sita asks her partner Ram to fetch her a deer, following his delayed return she enquires his brother Laxman to check if his brother Ram is ok, Laxman agrees but before he goes he creates a line outside of which Sita mustn't step out of

We're then introduced to a modern tale of a woman who stepped outside of such a boundary

Rajendra (Sunil Dutt) & Meena are lovers who hope to get married, things take a turn when Meena's sister Kamla (Nirupa Roy) and her two kids Pappu & Dolly (funny names right) comes to visit them from Mumbai

Tragedy strikes when Kamla dies after falling off a hill

Meena's father (Nana Palsikar) suggests Meena marry her sister's husband Barrister Ashok (Ashok Kumar) since a new woman might not take to the kids

Meena disagrees but when she notices the kids attachment to her she agrees to marry Ashok and then moves down with him to Mumbai, all this happens without her even informing Rajendra

Down in Mumbai Ashok turns out to be a workaholic and is even unable to attend their first wedding anniversary organised by Meena's father in Naintal he fails to turn up, surprisingly Rajendra her former lover turns up to entertain the guests

He and Meena are reunited and he tells about her how she had broken his heart and left him without even a word of warning, Meena explains things to him and they soon start meeting each other secretly to get busy between the sheets

When Ashok and Rajender meet each other randomly in Naintal, Ashok is taken aback by Rajendra's talent as a painter, and is surprised when one of his paintings look very much like his wife Meena, he buys the painting

Ashok gets friendly with Rajender and suggests a move to Mumbai which Rajendra is reluctant to do at first but when a film company offers him a singing job in Mumbai he accepts and moves down, thus Rajendra and Ashok get very friendly which puts Meena at great unease

However she and Rajendra keep meeting up secretly until one day a woman called 'Leela' (Shashikala) who claimsto be Rajendra's wife, she accuses Meena of cheating and threatens to blow her cover, thus begins a series of blackmail and terror which would drive Meena off the rails

Who is this woman? is she really married to Rajendra, If so why didn't he tell Meena about her? Will she tell Meena's husband even after all the bribe, What will happen to Meena's marriage should her husband find out?

A thoroughly engrossing drama, i loved each and every moment of this film, just when i thought it was a standard drama the film takes a suspenseful drive that kept me at the edge of my seat right till the very end. The ending was a bit of a letdown or should i say seemed a bit too easy, going by the moral lessons in lots of bollywood films i've watched, i was a little surprised by the ending in this, it seemed a bit too fair

Also some aspects of the film can be regarded as quite sexist, the film makes the point of the woman being the moral centre point of the family, if the 'woman strays the whole family strays' is the argument the film presents, the feminist in me then questions 'How about the man, if he strays surely the whole family strays too?' Asides from the above stated quips, this is a highly enjoyable film and its one i'll be watching over and over again, if not the whole film then for the songs at least. Gumrah was remade into the 2005 Anil Kapoor, Akshay Kumar starrer Bewafaa, i have no idea how it compare but from the reviews i've read its no way as fab as this

Fabulous performance from Mala, i just loved her so much in this film, from her chemistry with the kids to her agony as the cheating wife who's being sussed out you feel her frustration as she's being frustrated to the point of insanity. I loved her style and the way she swishes her Sari around when she's about to go and do her deeds with Rajendra

Shahsikala only has a few screen time but she makes an impact, you just want to hate her, roles where Shashikala seemed to be so annoying to the point of wanting you the viewer to pull her out seemed to be her forte, she was awarded the filmfare best supporting actress for her performance

fab interior decoration, i love that sofa on the left

This is one of my favourite soundtracks from 60's bollywood all the songs are hauntingly beautiful, 'chalo ek baar phir se', the beautiful arrangements and melodies in 'aap aaye' the haunting 'aa bhi ja' wonderful kiddies song 'Ek thi Ladki and my favourite one 'tujhko mera pyar pukare' where we're treated to lovely shots of Naintal

Total paisa Vasool rating: 7/10

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Anpadh (1962)

Anpadh (Illiterate) is one of Mala's more popular films, the songs by Madan Mohan are great and the evergreen Lata Mangeshkar number 'Aap Ki Nazaron ne' is from this film

Choudhury Shambunath is a very wealthy man who puts way too much importance on his wealth, he has a younger sister Lajoo (A young Aruna Irani) whom he dotes on endlessly, as a result Lajoo becomes incredibly spoilt

when her school teacher tells her off for her very arrogant ways, her brother scolds the teacher and then stops her from attending school. Gangaram their servant tries advocating on the importance of education arguing no one will want to marry an illiterate girl, Choudhury however is convinced his wealth will get Lajoo a boy

a very young Aruna Irani

Thus Lajoo (Mala Sinha) grows up uneducated, Choudhury then arranges for her marriage to a well educated Deepak (Dharmendra) through his parents

Deepak's parents Thakur Mahendranath (Nasir huassain) and Mrs Mahendranath (Mumtaz Begum) however seem to have approved the marriage only beacause of the dowry price Choudhary is offering

Deepak is annoyed that his parents disn't ask his consent or wait for him to finish his education, he however gives in to their wishes and agrees to marry Lajoo

After their marriage when Deepak asks Lajoo to recite a written poem Lajoo tells him she can't read or write, Deepak is furious at the revelation she's illiterate and vents off to his parents,his parents are surprised Lajoo is an illiterate too and she starts getting the cold treatment

Poor Lajoo not only is she unable to read or write, turns out she's useless at cooking and housework as well

she can't cook and burns up all the food

When Deepak reads a letter she intends posting home to her brother to tell him about her newly married life she describes them as loving and everything that is the opposite of what they actually are

Deepak is won over by her kind spirit and forgiving nature and pleads for forgiveness, he promises he'll help her learn how to read and write

One day when Lajoo unknowingly offers Deepak's ill brother a bottle of poison for his remedy, Deepak's dad thankfully walks in and stops her from feeding him the poison, Thakur threatens to throw her out, her brother Choudhary who's come by to visit gets involved by sticking up for Lajoo only to be told off by her telling him 'not to interfere in their family affairs'

Choudhary who had come a long way to see Lajoo leaves, when Deepak arrives to find that he's gone as a resut of his father's attitude, he goes after him in abid to apologise and bring him back home, on his way he meets with a fatal car crash and dies thereby making Lajoo a widow

Following his death Lajoo who's pregnant with Deepak's child is driven away by his family, she returns home only to hear news that her brother is nowhere to be found, a lonely Lajoo must now fight for her survival, will she be able to manage this

Anpadh though a bit preachy on its advocacy for the education of girls is a well balanced melodrama, the film makes the point that being wealthy isn't the be all in all, it em but rather extols the importance of discipline and education. It also exalts education as the ultimate goal, or something one should definitely strive for, the film also sheds light on how the uneducated are considered Inferior, it seems people who had no education back then were looked down upon, this is still the case with many people today but I personally as much as i believe in the importance of education don't consider it the 'be all in all' and i don't consider others with no education as 'lesser beings'

Without sounding cliched, I've known many people with no education who have gone on to do great things but alas this was post independence india and i can only imagine/understand that education was seen as the way forward and a way to build yourself up to stand on your own two feet, very similar to John Chacha's desire for Bhola & Bhelu in
Boot Polish (1954), in his desires for them not to beg, but rather work and earn a living.

Perfomance wise Dharmendra though in for a short time makes his presence felt, this film really made me realise how much of a beautiful actor Dharmendra really is particualrly in the 60's , his work in the 70's and 80's are way too pale in comparison to that in the 60's

Mala puts in a fine perfomane as the illiterate girl and the passionate mother who would do everything for her child, a bit melodramatic but beautiful performance none the less. here Mala lays the young girl girl and old woman with great aplomb

I had no idea Bindu had been acting since the early '60's she was on fine form as a well

Great and quite a popular Madan Mohan soundtrack all the songs from this film are fab from the fun 'Sikander ne porus' a rakhi song
'Rang birangi rakhi leke' a wedding song 'Dulhan marwad ki'and the evergreen 'Aap ki Nazron Ne' which is one of my favourte Mala songs

Total Paisa Vasool Rating: 6/10