Friday, July 6, 2012

Mere Sanam – Good; but could have been GREAT with Shammi Kapoor

The movie opens indicating that the hero (Biswajeet) is very rich. He drives a big pink car (not sure if it is a Cadillac :-)) to his office.

Pink Car - Is that a cadillac...?
In the office he has multiple phones on the table (and very little of anything else) which in the 60s movies showed that this was the office of a rich guy. He gets a call from his “uncle” (Nassir Hussein) and drives home where his uncle informs him that his marriage has been “fixed”. Pretty cheesy opening, if you ask me. The uncle is actually hero’s father’s friend who has taken care of the hero after his father died.
But then the hero goes to Kashmir on work – don’t know what work, since once he goes there you don’t see him do any of it – but the movie definitely takes a big turn for the good.

The road in Kashmir...
 He runs into the heroine (Asha Parekh) and her friends –all of whom are on bicycles – the hero is in the jeep – and he sings “Pukarata chala hoon main” – one of Rafi’s wonderful romantic songs… This scene is filmed on a road which has been seen in many movies from the 60s – there is this wonderful road somewhere in Kashmir, with poplar trees on both sides, very quiet and idyllic – I want to go and see that road someday…

Anyway, but from this point onwards, the movie is a lot of fun – hero has a bungalow in Kashmir which the estate manager(Pran – so obviously the villain :-)) has turned into a hotel – (The origin of this concept is “Come September”, but then it got picked up for Kashmir Ki Kali too – though neither Mere Sanam nor Kashmir Ki Kali are copies of Come September in any way except this concept of the manager converting hero’s house/chateau/bungalow into a hotel. ) – Heroine’s mother (Achala Sachdev) is a matron for girls’ hostel and she is staying at this hotel with the heroine and 10 other girls for summer. The hotel’s manager (Dhumal) and his son (Rajendranath) are there to add to the craziness. What a wonderful setting for hero and heroine to get to know each other!
Hum dum mere maan bhi jao
Our hero, of course falls in love with the heroine and runs after her singling wonderful songs like “Hue hai tum pe ashiq hum bura maano bhala maano” and “Humdum mere maan bhi jao kehna mere pyaar ka” The heroine first resists and then falls in love with the hero and they sing “Roka kai baar maine dil ki umang ko”.

Hue hai tum pe ashiq hum - Doesnt Biswajeet seem to be trying too hard?

Things are all good; but then enters the vamp – a very young and chubby Mumtaaz, playing the sultry seductress – and boy! She has such oomph!!! She is drop dead gorgeous. And she sings “Yeh hai reshami zulfon ka andhera” – one of Asha’s best!

But of course hero being this “good guy” she can’t really do much. But the villain manages to click some photos of the two together and show them to the heroine…

On the other hand, hero’s uncle, who has arrived in Kashmir is living on finding out that the hero is now refusing to go ahead with the fixed marriage and is in love with the heroine, who does not know who her father is. He goes to the place where the heroine is staying and says nasty things to her.
In the meantime, an old servant recognizes the heroine’s mother to be wife of the hero’s uncle – which makes the heroine, the hero’s uncle’s daughter. Good that they tell us in the beginning itself that the hero and the uncle are not actually related to each other. :-)

Anyway – after a lot of running around, after the villain has committed a couple of murders and tried to put the blame on the hero; after he has also tried to kill the here; and the clincher – after he has kidnapped the heroine with the intention of marrying her (of course against her will!) for her estate – finally the hero and the heroine get together; the uncle and his estranged wife get together and give their blessings to the young couple!
Only Rajendranath could do this...

The movie has some wonderful scenes and dialogs – heroine and her friends get to crack some good jokes at the expense of the hero as well as the villain. The humor in the movie is good with Rajendranath playing a big role in it but supported well by likes of Asit Sen and Dhumal  – the scene in the hotel where Rajendranath is trying to hide or get away from the people chasing him is absolutely crazy – its over the top but quite clean comedy – the kind that only Rajendranath could do.
Even Biswajeet and Asha Parekh get good comedy scenes – like the one where the heroine and the gang tamper with the hero’s jeep right in the beginning; like the way Biswajeet is mistaken to be a thief right after “Hue hain tume ashiq hum”

The movie is not made by Nassir Hussein (the producer director and not the actor mentioned above) but it has the same feel.

Haji haji haji aray haji baba - with that thin vail, she is disguised and not recognized - only in Hindi movie land
Music is by O. P. Nayyar and Rafi and Asha have sung some of their best songs for this movie. Asha gets to sing three solos – “Jaaiye aap kaha jaaenge”  and “Haji haji haji aray haji baba” right at the end for Asha Parekh and “Yeh hai reshami zulfon ka andhera” for Mumtaaz. And while all three are good – Yeh hai reshami is definitely the winner – both for the singing and the visuals. Rafi sings “Pukarata chala hoon main” –  that is the first song in the movie and it sets the mood absolutely beautifully. The other two light hearted solos he sings – “Hue hain tum pe ashiq hum” and “Hum dum mere” are also wonderful but pukarata is definitely the best. Towards the end there is “tukade hai mere dil kai” – a very soulful song – sung very softly by Rafi. And of course there is mandatory duet – “roka kai baar” – which too is good. Like many movies from this period – the music is really good and definitely adds to the overall appeal of the movie.
Biswajeet - Shammi style out and out!
I guess after Shammi Kapoor became successful, a lot of movies were “written” for him. I think this is definitely one of those. The hero’s role has Shammi Kapoor written all over it. In fact, I think Biswajeet was asked “to be like” Shammi for this movie – the way he moves, his expressions, even the songs he does – he seems to be doing all these the way Shammi would do them. When he sings “Hue hai tum pe ashiq hum” on a motor boat, the way he stands, the way he claps – it is ALL Shammi style. I think this was a movie made for Shammi but for some reason he could not do it and so was made with Biswajeet.
Tukade hai mere dil ke - this should have been a Shammi Kapoor song
This is a good, fun movie with a lot of things working for it and I really enjoy it for most part. BUT! But, every time I watch it, I can’t help but think how GREAT the movie would have been if Shammi had played the hero’s role. How I wish “pukarata chala hoon main”  and “tukade hai mere dil ke” were Shammi’s songs…
This is one of those Shammi Kapoor movies for me, without Shammi Kapoor. That means, you have to “imagine” him in the hero’s place. :-)

So watch this movie – for the music; for Asha Parekh – for her pertness; for Rajendranath  and the kind of humor that only he could bring; definitely for Mumtaaz and her oomph – and last but not the least to imagine Shammi Kapoor doing the lead role :-)…

Monday, December 19, 2011

Magic of the 60s....

60s was a period in Hindi movies when the movie making had made a lot of progress from when it started, but there was still innocence in the movies. Movies had gone colour, even though many movies were still being made in black & white. This was a decade when many good, serious movies were made but this was also the decade when movies truly became fun. The movies of 60s distinctly had more energy and zest than the earlier period; and they had lot of innocence and simplicity compared to later movies. The heroines were spunkier; the villains had not yet become big dons or smugglers and heroes had started dancing!!

There are some distinct features of the 60s fun movies which make them special and oh, so lovable. Here is an effort to list out those wonderful things….


Picturesque locations.... - Kashmir ki Kali

A lot of these light hearted movies were made in Kashmir and the Himalayan foothills. And boy, do these locations look wonderful on the screen!! All those snow clad mountains, pine trees, those narrow roads, on which the heroes drove, and heroines cycled and oh they sang melodious songs…
Even movies that were based in the other locations give you glimpses of those places from a different time – those cities and towns seem to move at a different pace all together. Somehow, life in that time and that place seems perfect.

 Fancy cars & Jeeps:
Heroes were either poor and rode bicycles or they were rich and drove fancy cars or many times jeeps. They went all the way from Delhi to Kashmir, sometimes even from Mumbai to Kashmir in the fancy car or the jeep. When the hero was poor, there was a very good chance that the heroine was rich and she had a fancy car. And these cars came in some remarkable colours! Heroes didn’t mind driving around in Pink Cadillac… :-)

Hero in the Jeep singing to the Heroine on bicycle - Mere Sanam

Bicycles:Many times Heroines and sometimes even heroes moved around on cycles. Heroines went on picnics with their girlfriends on bicycles. And they sang songs riding the bicycles or the hero in a car or a jeep sang to the heroine who was on a cycle….

Hero & Heroine in The first class compartment - Teesri Manzil
Heroes and Heroines travelled in trains – most of times in the first class. Those first class compartments also were really classy, an attached bathroom and all… And then there was a lot of “ched-chaad” between the hero and the heroine in the train…

Hero crashes the heroine & friends' picninc - Pyar Ka Mausam

Oh those picnics!! Picnics were so much a part of those fun movies. They seemed so appropriate for the times and the mood of these movies. Many times it was Heroine’s friends who went on a picnic and Hero ended up there by himself or he pretended to be friend or “mangetar” of one of her friend. Then of course, there were songs while going on a picnic or returning from it or at the picnic… It was so idyllic!

Clubs and Bands & Parties and pianos:Movies in urban setting were complete with a club which was frequented by hero or the heroine or the villain…. And the club had to have a band. Many times the hero was part of the band.

There were these huge houses which were really convenient to have big parties – Heroine’s birthday party where the hero, who was really poor, would effortlessly play the piano and sing an appropriate song was quite the usual. Or the hero could as easily play the piano in a hotel…

Fashion:While some of the stuff about the fashion of the 60s seems really odd, other things still seem really cool… Things that I find quite fascinating are the colours heroines wore – a lot of pastels, a lot of interesting colour combinations; the sarees they wore – the texture of those sarees, the embroidery work on them and the jewellery that they used. As for the men, the hats & scarfs, pull overs and blazers of this period were really cool – well mostly. You did also see some of them wear a yellow blazer and a red scarf… :-)


The disguise was an important part of the “fun”. So many times the hero pretended to be an old man with a big beard; sometimes he dressed up as a woman (most times a really big and ugly woman :-)).Sometimes the hero, sometimes the heroine while the comedian on a regular basis wore kafani and pretended to be a “Saddhu” or “Sanyasi”. The rich hero pretended to be poor to win over the heroine. The poor hero pretended to be rich, again to win the heroine over. 
Heroine in the disguise - Hero is fooled - Junglee

Heroine's dance performance while pretending to be a gypsy - Prince

In 60s only the people who could dance were really made to dance ( And a lot of the actresses could really dance…); the dances were directed (in those days, there were dance directors not choreographers) keeping the wording in mind – which meant that expressions and actions seemed relevant to what the singer was singing.  There was a lot of energy but also a lot of fun in the dances.  There were dances based on Indian classical dances, there were dances based on folk dances, there were also dances based on rock & roll and of course there were “cabarets”.

Songs:There were songs on bicycles and fancy cars and on trains… There were songs in the fancy locations – in the mountains and on those quiet side roads… There were funny songs in disguise.  And of course there were songs in the parties with the pianos.  Moreover, everything about the songs of this period is just awesome.
Lyrics – The lyrics from this period are so soulful – the lyricist from this period wrote meaningful songs; they had very good command over the language and they knew wonderful ways to get their points across. 
The music directors were definitely making “music” – what wonderful tunes… They were making music based on classical as well as folk tunes but they were also using a lot of pop and rock sounds.
And whatever music these directors thought about, the capable singers could sing to make it even better!
Songs from this period are very fresh even now – its such a pleasure to hear them even now and they are great to watch even today.

The world of these movies seems like such a wonderful and troublefree place. No major crisis, no worries, no hassles... Many fun movies and wonderful people…Just look at the people who were making their presence felt –
Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Guru Dutt, Balraj Sahani, Shammi Kapoor, Dharmendra, Sunil Dutt, Sanjeev Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna…
Nutan, Meena Kumari, Wahida Rehman, Vaijayanti Mala, Asha Parekh, Sadhana, Saira Banoo, Sharmila Tagore, Tanuja…
Mehmood, Dhumal, Om Prakash, Rajendra Nath, Premnath, Pran, Prem Chopra,
Nirupaa Roy, Sulochana, Lalita Pawar, Shashikala, Helen, Parveen Chaudhari, Bela Bose, Laxmi Chaya….

While, all these people made this decade the fun decade, I think, the one hero that defines the mood of the movies of the 60s is Shammi Kapoor; the one heroine is Asha Parekh; the one villain is Pran; the one comedian Rajendra Nath, the one “Maa” (good or bad) is Lalita Pawar and the one awesome cabaret dancer Helen
60s - Faces that define 60s

Monday, September 12, 2011

The best of Shammi Kapoor

I have watched a lot of Shammi Kapoor movies; and I have liked most of those movies, at least a good part of each of those movies. Even in his bad movies, I end up liking him, at least in parts.

Considering all the movies in which he played the lead, it would be difficult for me to come up with a list of top ten movies; however I can name 3 movies that are my absolutely favourite SK movies. Again, difficult to say which is my most favourite of these – I like all of them a lot and can watch them again and again and can’t bring myself to call one of them better than the other two.

If you are a Shammi Kapoor fan, you would have watched all these movies – a few times over, in fact. If you are not a SK fan, and don’t know why people like him so much, chances are you have not watched these movies. I would recommend these movies to people who want to know what Shammi Kapoor magic is all about!

I am writing about these three movies in the chronological order of the years in which they were released because there is no way for me to list them by order of preference. All three are completely different from each other and yet each one has the three most important ingredients that one expects in a Shammi Kapoor movie, in abundance! They have romance (absolutely the best – he was the King of Romance), humour (he could really make you laugh) and wonderful music (here too, SK excelled, he brought romance and humour in the songs like no one else).

Junglee (1961)  – the one that made “Yahoo” big!

This is a very good romantic comedy with delightful music. Shammi Kapoor was looking his best in this period.  At the start of the movie – in fact till the point he falls in love – he is an unsmiling, unfeeling brute – he plays that part well too and playing a brute he makes you laugh!! This was Saira Banu’s first movie and she looks very beautiful; she never looked like this ever again. The three other women who contribute in a big way in making this a lot of fun are – Lalita Pawar as Shekhar (Shammi Kapoor)’s very strict and unsmiling mother, Shashikala as his sister who is in love with a poor man (Anoop Kumar) and is scared of her brother & mother and Helen, who actually is there only for the “Suku suku” song, but she is just wonderful (as usual) in that song.

The romance is pretty amazing – Shekhar the brute gets stuck in a cabin during a snow storm with Rajkumari (Saira) and falls madly in love with her there.  The romantic scenes in the cabin and later on when they are returning home are, simply put, SK at his romantic best.

As for the humour – its funny from start to end – including that fight at the end. Apart from the main funny parts, there are small funny scenes that are very well done.

Music – Hasrat & Shailendra's lyrics, Shankar Jaikisan’s music and Lata-Rafi’s voices – they weave the magic you expect from them.  I love following 4 songs very much –
  • Yahoo! Chahe koi mujhe Junglee kahe – this song has historical importance in annals of Hindi movies. SK has done this song with such abundance – going completely “junglee”! – The song has incredible energy and it seems so honest, he does not seem to be doing it for the camera at all.
  • Mere yaar shabba khair – a lovely Lata-Rafi duet, with beautiful words – SK at his romantic best – especially in the last antara – “her din ke baad raat hai, ek din to theher jaati”
  • Suku Suku – While Shammi Kapoor has done many funny songs, this is one of his funniest. Rafi sings in the way that suits Shammi the best! Helen is as graceful and beautiful as ever, and SK is his wackiest best! 
  • Ehsaan Tera hoga – beautiful lyrics, Rafi’s soulful voice and Shammi’s expressive eyes – sheer magic! This is one the best romantic songs ever!

Professor (1962) – the one SK should have won a film fare for

In many of his movies, he would dress up and pretend to be an old man – either to tease the girl, or to fool her father or something else, he would then get caught and would have to many times run away. In professor though, he dresses up as an old professor to get a job and successfully manages to get people to believe that he is the old professor as well as the professor’s young nephew.  He finally exposes himself to save a life.

Shammi is terrific as the old professor – he changes the way he carries himself, how he stands, how he walks, how he talks – everything.  In fact, as the old professor he seems like a completely different person from his young nephew.  I think he really deserved an award for his performance in this movie.

This movie is more funny than romantic, though there are some good romantic scenes too. And while this movie definitely belongs to Shammi Kapoor, I simply adore Lalita Pawar in this! In fact, for me at least, this is more a Lalita Pawar movie than a Kalpana movie. Some other actress could have easily played the role played by Kalpana but I don’t think anyone else could have done Lalita Pawar’s role. She is just fabulous as the strict aunt who can’t help herself fall in love with the professor. The scenes between Lalita Pawar and Shammi Kapoor are absolutely wonderful – both of them have such wonderful expressions and timing!! Even remembering their scenes, I find myself smiling…

Music is created by the same team as that of Junglee (Shankar-Jaikisan, Hasrat & Shailendra, Lata-Rafi) and I think the music won the film fare award, however I like Junglee's music more...Amongst the songs, my favourite is “Mai chali, mai chali” – the situation, the picturization, Rafi-Lata’s voices and again SK completely lost in the song – again it seems like he is doing it for real and not for the camera at all… “Khuli palak me zoota gussa..” is another song that is all SK!

Teesri Manzil (1966)– A rocking murder mystery!

This is a good murder mystery that has comedy, rocking music and the best romantic pair of Hindi screen – Shammi Kapoor – Asha Parekh! This also has Helen doing one of her best songs “Oh Hasina”  with SK! The movie is superbly directed by one of the best directors of the era – Vijay Anand and has music by a music director who went on to create some wonderful music after this movie – R. D. Burman. This movie gave a platform to RD to create his kind of music and boy, did he make the music rock!! Of course Majrooh wrote the lyrics that were perfect for the music; perfect for the characters.

The funny parts are absolutely hilarious!! The fun starts on the Delhi railway station. The way SK enters the railway station; you can see he is all the fun about to happen!  From this point onwards, till the point where Anil (SK) has to write a letter to Sunita (AP), Anil and Sunita rock you and also make you laugh a lot. SK is at his best in this movie. Of course, he also has Asha Parekh opposite him here, who herself can add tremendously to the comedy to make it fun unlimited! These two together are absolutely wonderful! Both of them are great at the comedy and both of them are absolutely the best when it comes to songs!!

The mystery, the intrigue and the investigation too are quite well done. SK & AP are very well supported by Premnath, Prem Chopra, Laxmi Chaya, Iftekar and of course Helen!!

As for the music – its good, in fact its great and each song is just fantastic! I can’t think of another movie in which each song rocks like in this one! And each song is picturized in a way that no other movie song is ever picturized before. The songs are great to hear, but they are even better to watch.

The only sombre song, “Tumne Mujhe dekha” is probably the most romantic. SK is very soulful in this. Of course when one finds out that, this was the first thing he shot after he started shooting again after Gita Bali’s death, one admires it even more.

Other songs are all a lot of fun to watch. “Oh hasina” with SK and Helen, is, I think one of her best! She of course is very graceful, light on her feet and simply beautiful! The song’s picturization, the angels, how the camera moves and the continuity, I think make this one the best dance songs ever put together on Hindi movie screen.

Next comes, “Aaja Aaja” – and what can one say about this one? Its true RD magic – with Rafi and Asha Bhosale going “Aa aah aja, aaaha aja” and SK-AP burning up the dance floor  – no one but RD could have made this song for sure!! In fact, no one but RD could have made the music of “Teesri Manzil”!

“Deewana mujhasa nahin” is a simple, SK-AP fun song.  The lead up to the song is also fun.

“O mere sona re” – while I love all the songs from this movie, this is definitely my favourite! The way AP teases SK in the lead up to the song, the way she starts the song, the way she troubles him for good part of the song is something one can watch again and again and again… – oh and the bag! His handbag is there throughout the song! Another extremely well made song! And no pair other than SK-AP could have done this song.

“Dekhiye sahibo” – The location is a fair – and the song is sung on merry-go-round and giant wheel. SK going completely wacky and AP providing the appropriate anchoring!

One can watch these movies again and again. One can also listen to the music of these movies again and again – and when one does, can’t help remember SK in all these songs…

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Shammi Kapoor – Aasaan hai Jaana Mehfil se….

14th Aug 2011. I am in Manali, getting all ready for our jeep safari to Leh. The weather is bad; incessant rains for over 24 hours and there have been landslides on the passes.  We hear that Manali is completely cut off and so we are not starting our journey as we had planned on 14th morning.  So I am in the hotel room, nothing to do, and so I switch on the TV.  Its about 8:20 AM or so… I browse to a news channel and the news line scrolling at the bottom says “Veteran actor Shammi Kapoor passes away”…. 

On finding out that this news was first twitted by Mr. Bachchan, I go to twitter, but find out only that he passed away at about 5:15 AM that morning…

I HAVE to talk to someone who was an out and out Shammi fan. So I smsed my sis and called my mom – two people with whom I have enjoying watching many a SK movies, many a times…. 

As it happens, there is hope of Rohtang pass opening up and so we start on our safari that afternoon. And I am traveling to Leh, in Ladakh – which is part of J&K – the state for which Mr. Shammi Kapoor has been the best brand ambassador.

While driving through the picturesque mountains that evening, through the snow clad mountains, I could think of him going “Yahoo” on those snowy slopes….

While, I was sad to hear the news of his demise, I think he is now in a happier place. In fact, I think he must have felt really free after leaving this world and gone “Yahoo!!”

For someone like him, so full of energy, someone who was dancing with every step he took, being wheelchair bound must have seemed like a punishment… And I agree with Hrithik Roshan who said that for Shammi Kapoor RIP does not seem quite right – we should say DIH (Dancing in Heaven)!! I am sure; he is – dancing in heaven….

Friday, July 29, 2011

Dekh Kabira Roya – Simple story, lot of laughs and wonderful music – a classic!

Dekh Kabira Roya (1957), produced and directed by Amiya Chakrabarty is an out and out comedy, with no melodrama or subplots. It starts with the following two lines being displayed on the screen, that gives you an idea of what to expect –


It’s a story of three young men, Mohan (a singer), Ranjeet(a painter) and Pradeep (writer and editor of a weekly called “Triveni”). And it’s a story of 3 beautiful, young, spirited women, Kalpana, Geeta and Rekha who are interested in learning or getting guidance on writing, singing and painting respectively. Kalpana, Rekha and Geeta are good friends…

One day Mohan (Anoop Kumar), Ranjeet (Daljeet), and Pradeep (Jawahar Kaul), meet in Janata coffee house. All three of them are struggling artists. They introduce themselves to each other.

Pradeep tells Ranjeet that he can print his paintings in Triveni and though Ranjeet is reluctant, Pradeep insists that they go over to Ranjeet’s place to see his paintings. When they go over to Ranjeet’s place, Pradeep finds out why Ranjeet was so reluctant to bring him over – he has not paid the rent for quite a few months and so he is scared to go in the house from the front door.  Pradeep sees Rekha (Anita Guha), who is the land lord’s daughter and both like each other. Rekha thinks Pradeep is the tenant and the painter. She herself is a painter of sorts and wishes to learn from Pradeep (who she thinks is Ranjeet – the painter). She asks her father (Shivraj) that he waive off Ranjeet’s rent. By end of this first encounter, Pradeep and Rekha are in love. And this is expressed wonderfully in the song that Rekha sings – Lagan, tose laagi balama…

Next day, Mohan, who is extremely troubled because his neighbours would not let him do riyaaaz at home, tells his problem to Ranjeet. Ranjeet suggests that they go and meet Pradeep, who had managed to solve Ranjeet’s problem so easily the previous day. When the two of them go to Triveni’s office, Pradeep is not there. Ranjeet ask’s Mohan to wait in Pradeep’s office and he goes to the press to see if Pradeep is there. Kalpana (Shubha Khote), who writes (poetry as well as stories), comes to Triveni’s office to meet the editor. Finding Mohan in Pradeep’s office, she assumes that Mohan is Pradeep, the editor.  The two are sitting and having a conversation, very obviously taken in by each other, when Ranjeet returns and drags Mohan out since Pradeeep is not in the press either.

They go to Mohan’s place, where Ranjeet tells Mohan to sing, saying that he will handle the neighbours if they create a problem.Geeta and her mother are new tenants in the same building, one floor up and they like his singing, but they don’t know him. When the neighbours start protesting, Geeta stands up for the singing and after making sure that the complaining neighbours have gone away, she knocks on Mohan’s door. Ranjeet opens the door and thinking that she is one of the complaining neighbours, gives her a piece of his mind. Then she clarifies that she actually likes “his” singing and asks him to sing more. They have liked each other… Ranjeet, having solved Mohan’s problem, asks him to sing. Mohan sings (in Talat’s voice) a beautiful song – “Kaun aaya mere manake dware…”

So now, we have Kalpana, who writes, in love with Mohan the singer, thinking he is the editor of “Triveni”; Rekha, who paints and wishes to learn from a “good painter” in love with Pradeep, who is a writer & editor, thinking he is the painter, the tenant; and Geeta, who loves music and hopes to learn from the good singer who lives in the same building, in love with Ranjeet, thinking he is the singer…

Next day, Pradeep says there is a lot of disturbance in the office so he can’t write there. Ranjeet offers use of his place, and Pradeep jumps at the offer. Mohan offers his place to Ranjeet to go and paint and Ranjeet of course takes up the offer. And Pradeep offers his office to Mohan for his music practice and Mohan likes the idea – he says on one side there will be press machines running and on the other side he would be singing – no one need hear him at all.

Mohan asks Kalpana how she would feel if he was not a writer but a singer; Ranjeet tells Geeta that he is going to start painting; and Pradeep tells Rekha that writing is more valuable. But the girls, each in love with the art that they think the person they love is pursuing, react very negatively. So, to keep Kalpana happy, Mohan decides to learn to write (from Pradeep); to keep Rekha happy, Pradeep decides to learn to paint (from Ranjeet); and to keep Geeta happy, Ranjeet decides to learn to sing (from Mohan). 

Their efforts to learn each other’s skills do not bring any positive results but do generate a lot of laughs for the audiences!!

Kalpana, Geeta and Rekha accept that they are in love and go to Rekha’s father to ask for his help to arrange their weddings.  All three of them are to get married at the same time and its only when Kalpana is asked to sit next to Pradeep, Rekha is asked to site next to Ranjeet and Geeta is asked to sit next to Mohan for the Pandit to begin the ceremony that they find out the truth!!

The movie is funny from the start to the end.  Anoop Kumar is really the only known name amongst the heroes. Jawahar Kaul as Pradeep gives a good performance and also looks good. I wonder why he didn’t make more movies… Sunder as the waiter at Janata coffee house also has a big role and he is very good too.

Anita Guha, Ameeta and Shuha Khote are all wonderful in their roles. Shubha Khote looks very smart and carries herself very well. Ameeta as Geeta who keeps fainting all the time is very, very cute. And Anita Guha too is very likable.

There are many scenes in the movie which are funny even by themselves, and are done really well – like when Rekha takes Ranjeet to be the thief when she sees him in his place instead of Pradeep; like how Geeta faints at the smallest things’ Ranjeet singing with Geeta’s mother;  Like Pradeep explaining to Rekha the portrait he draws of her; like Mohan saying “Bhayankar Paristhiti”; like Geeta running into Rekha and then Rekha running into Kalpana at Janata coffee house; like Kalpana telling Rekha how the waiter fainted on seeing her face. And Rekha’s father going to Geeta’s mother and saying “I am Geeta’s father”…  Each incident by itself is very funny and fits really well into the overall story perfectly.

Lyrics by Rajendra Krishna are really wonderful and Madan Mohan’s music is divine! Lata’s voice during the 50s was absolutely something else!! No one ever sang like that later; not even Lata herself.  There are many songs in the movie and each song is a treat.

Hum Panchhi masataane – Kalpana and Rekha on the marine drive is a simple yet lively and youthful song. Mumbai in this period must have been so wonderful!! The marine drive looks deserted and beautiful!
Mohan singing “Kaun Aaya mere man ked ware”, a very soft and cheerful song in Talat’s voice with superb lyrics is one of my alltime favourite songs. So is “Humse aaya na gaya, tumse bulaaya na gaya” – again Talat’s soft voice.
And the three song medley towards the end – Geeta singing “Meri Veena tum bin roye”, Rekha singing “Ashkonse teri humne tasveer banayi hai” and Kalpana singing “Too pyaar kare ya thukaraaye” – is melodious and one can really feel the yearning – Only Asha and Lata could ever make you feel like that!!

So watch this movie – for the simple and yet very funny story that is presented really well; for the songs – lyrics as well as the music. Oh also, watch it for Shubha Khote – she is so smart ; she is definitely the one who can take things in her hand and take them to conclusion for herself as well as for Rekha and Geeta. And also watch it for Ameeta – I never liked her in any other movie as much as I liked her in this one…

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Barsaat ki Raat – All about the music and THE ULTIMATE Qawali

Barsaat ki Raat is a black & white movie from 1960, starring Madhubala and Bharat Bhushan, directed by P.L. Santoshi. The screenplay was by Santoshi & Bharat Bhushan and is a love story of a poet/singer and a very beautiful girl, who inspires him… Madhubala is perfect as the Muse and of course looks absolutely gorgeous. But then I have not yet seen a single movie of hers in which she didn’t look absolutely gorgeous!! Bharat Bhushan is believable as a poet (and quite sad poet in the second half). And some of the situations are extremely romantic. But Madhubala does not have a lot of role or scope to sparkle and Bharat Bhushan’s role is anyway that of a sad poet/singer…

The real hero of the movie is the music – this is Roshan at his best!! And the lyrics by Saahir are perfect for every situation.  In fact, towards the end it seems like the movie is about Qawalis and Qawali competitions and the love story of the singer and his muse is the side plot…

The movie starts with “Garajat barasat Sawan Aayo re” – a very melodious composition in Gaud Malhar. Two sisters Shamaa (Shaamaa) and Shabaab (Ratna), daughters of Mubaarak Ali, a Qawali singer, singing this for their Riyaaz.  This song kind of sets the tone of the movie. Amaan (Bharat Bhushan) is their neighbor and Shamaa is in love with him. He treats her with a lot of respect and Shabnam, her younger sister as a spoilt child. Their father wants Amaan to write poetry for him to participate in Qawali competition which Amaan is agreeable to, but after he gets back from Hyderabad.

Amaan goes to Hyderabad and gets a spot on All India Radio Hyderabad to sing his composition, if it is new and good.  And while walking around looking for inspiration, he and Shabnam (Madhubala) have a chance meeting on a stormy, rainy evening. Amaan is completely taken in by her beauty and her “adaas”. The next day, Amaan sings his new poem/composition which is inspired by that chance meeting where he feels he met a “pari”, on All India Radio Hyderabad. The movie gets its name from that rainy evening and the song Amaan sings. This is the famous “Zindagi bhar nahi bhoolegi woh Barsaat ki Raat” song. This is probably the best known song of the movie.

Shabnam knows Amaan Hyderabadi, the poet and is fan of his poetry but has never seen him till now. So when she hears the song on the radio she realizes that the person she ran into in the rain was him.

The next song is “Meine shayad tumhe pehle bhi kabhi dekha hai…”, which Amaan sings, in a function where Shabnam’s friend, Shanti welcomes him and tells him that someone would like to hear his “Zindagi bhar nahi bhoolegi” once again, he wants to know who that is and Shanti points to Shabnam….

Amaan is staying with his friend Shekhar, who is a police inspector and Shabnam’s father, Khan Bahadur, is the police commissioner.  So through Shekhar, Amaan takes up the job as a teacher who would go and home school Commissioner’s younger daughter, Razia. And so Amaan and Shabnam start meeting on daily basis. He is distracted while teaching Razia because Shabnam is around and she is watching him from the Window and looking absolutely gorgeous…

But the commissioner is against the idea of Shabnam marrying Amaan and he wants to get her married to his friend’s son.  Amaan and Shabnam elope and go to Indore. He changes his name to Kamaal Lukhnawi. We hear the second version of “Zindagi bhar nahi bhoolegi eyh raat”  at this point – Lata & Rafi. Simple situation, lovely song and gorgeous Madhubala – its lovely and romantic! Then on Indore radio he recites a najm – “Kya Gam jo andheri hai ratey” – its not a song really – its just recitation of the najm. No accompanying musical instruments – only Rafi’s wonderful voice, and a lot of emotions….. I love hearing Rafi recite najms, poems, gazhals with no accompanying music…Anyway…

Though he has changed his name, the commissioner and Shekhar recognize his voice and make a call at Indore Radio station. So Amaan And Shabnam run from Indore too. They go to Jabalpur(I think) to Amaan’s friend, Sudhakar’s place.  But Shekhar catches up with them here just before Shabnam and Amaan get married and forces Shabnam  to go back home.  She leaves a message for Amaan to meet her at their meeting place in Hyderabad but she can’t go there since she is locked in the house. Amaan sings a very sad but beautiful song here – “Mayoos to hoon wadese tere”…

There are a lot of coincidences after this point – like Khan Bahadur takes Shabnam to Luckhnow and Amaan also has gone to Luckhnow. Not only that, he has gone to the same house, since the person Khan Bahadur wants Shabnam to marry is Amaan’s friend. On the train to Luckhnow, Amaan meets a person who is pretending to be Amaan Hyderabadi. And (I don’t understand why but) agrees to go with that person as his understudy, with Chand Khan qawwal and his troupe who are going for a qawali competition. In Luckhnow, Amaan meets Shabnam just for a few seconds at his friend Aftaab, house when he is leaving and she is out in the verandah. She gets scared and tells him to go away and forget her….

After this point, the movie is all about qawali competitions. The first one is between Chand Khan and Shamaa & Shabaab. This one, Chand Khan wins on the strengths of Amaan’s pen.  The qawali here is “Nigaahe naaz ke maron ka haal kya hoga…” Mubaarak Ali’s sponsor asks for a repeat contest and so there is another competition between the same 2 groups – and this time Shamaa & Shabaab win because Amaan comes to their rescue.  And the qawali is “Pehchanta hoon khoob tumhari nazar ko mai…”  Though these two qawalis are not very well known, they are lovely, andnd built the tempo for the final and the ultimate one really well.

Mubaarak Ali, Shabnam & of course Shamaa is very happy to have Amaan with them again. Shamaa also sings the very happy and melodious “Mujhe mil gaya bahaana tere deed ka, kaisi khushi leke aaya chaand eid ka” – Lata’s voice is absolutely amazing in this one!

There are some missing pieces I think, because the final qawali takes place in Jaipur (I think), where again by coincidence, Shabnam and her family are visiting Khan Bahadur’s friend. Shamaa and Shabaab then meet Shabnam who is not keeping well (thanks to her broken heart, but Shamaa and Shabaab don’t know this). And Shamaa, also brings “taveej” for her – and then finds out that Shabnam and Amaan love each other…. So when she comes for the final qawali, the ultimate one, she is very sad (and you see her crying – I always used to wonder about that…)

“Naa to karavaan ki talaash hai….” Followed by “Yeh Ishq Ishq hai” is a long qawali, sung by many singers. The lyrics are wonderful, and the music is just awesome! The tempo goes on building. And though every singer has sung their pieces really, really well, I just love Rafi’s (Amaan’s) entry with a taan – his voice has magic! Shabnam is listening to this on the radio and hearing Amaan’s voice she is so mesmerized that she runs from the house and goes to the venue of the competition. She reaches the venue to hear “Jab jab Krishnaki bansi baji” With this qawali, one can imagine someone getting mesmerized and just wanting to go to the person singing it. I get goose bumps listening to this lovely composition. This is definitely the best ever qawali in a Hindi movie. And no the qawali has even come close to it in last 50 years….

The movie ends about 5 minutes after this qawali is over. Aftaab asks Khan Bahadur to let Shabnam marry Amaan and Khan Bahadur agrees… Normally, I would feel that why couldn’t they wrap this up earlier, make us go through so many hoops before coming to this simple solution. But in case of this movie, I am glad that they didn’t!! In my opinion the main point of this movie is the music and “Ishq Ishq hai” in particular.

So watch this movie!! – Not for the story, not for the acting, not even for Madhubala (thought she IS as always, absolutely gorgeous ), but for the lyrics and the music! This movie belongs to Saahir and Roshan more than anyone you see on the screen!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

“Classics” that I just don’t get…

There are movies I like and movies I don’t like. There are movies that like just because of the music; some that I like just because of the actors. And I like a lot of movies from 50s-60s and even 70s. There are many movies from this period, that even if I don’t like a whole lot, I find something nice about them. But there are some movies from this period, which are talked about a lot and are considered “Classics” that I just don’t get!

Here are three such movies – supposedly classics, but I just can’t get these. I have tried many times, but I find it a torture to sit through these movies. Every time any of these comes on TV, I try, really make an effort. But every time I just get majorly annoyed and bored, and finally give up!!

Mughal-e-Azam – 1960

Big names like Dilip Kumar, Prithviraj Kapoor, Madhubala and Durga Khote! Big sets and battle scenes! The famous Sheesh mahal song in colour and music by Naushad!!! This is talked about as a real Classic!! Everyone considers this as a master piece, but I can’t understand that at all. 

I loved Prithiviraj Kapoor in Sikandar as the Sikandar. I also liked him a lot in Awara.  He was the best part later on in Kal Aaj or Kal. But in Mughal-e-Azam, I don’t know whether it is a problem with the recording or dubbing or what! But I just don’t understand what he says!! All his dialogs in this movie sound like “aasdsd rer ereregdfg ggfdgg ttfhgtuu” to me!!

Salim (Dilip Kaumar) is supposed to be madly in love with Anarkali (Madhubala), but I don’t feel that while watching Mughal-e-Azam. Dilip Kumar seems to be least interested. It seems like he is mouthing the dialogs without meaning any of it!

Madhubala, of course looks beautiful!! I don’t know ANY movie, in which she didn’t look anything but simply gorgeous. But she can’t dance at all! The Sheesh mahal song, I am sure was a very big achievement when it was made. In colour; so many mirrors showing Madhubala; beautiful, and with all the finery; it must have been really a big thing. But I cringe every time I see that song!! I keep wishing that either it was someone who could really dance or they had not made Madhubala dance!!
Also, it is a very long movie. With a Madhubala who can’t dance, a Dilip Kumar who seems more disinterested that I am feeling and Prithviraj’s dialogs that are not comprehendible in many parts, I end up giving up on this movie half way through!! 

Music of course, is good. But between Mughal-e-Azam and Anarkali, I prefer Anarkali’s music. It is more intense and haunting…

Sangam – 1964

OK, this is again a movie that is talked about a lot and considered a classic. But I don’t get this one at all!! I don’t like anything about the movie, except the music. I like watching “Mai kya karoo raam muzhe Budhdha mil gaya”, but that’s about it.

I don’t like Raj Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar or Vaijayanti Mala in this movie. I don’t like the plot, I don’t like the melo-melo-melo drama in this movie!

I don’t get the Hindi movie variety of love triangles. If Radha and Gopal love each other, why must both of them “sacrifice” their love, hide it from Sunder AND why should Radha marry Sunder?? Isn’t she cheating him in effect? She is marrying him when she is in love with someone else. So isn’t she going to be thinking about her love? Is she going to be able to forget her love easily when she marries Sunder? If yes, then doesn’t that mean that she didn’t really love Gopal that much?

And in the end, why does Gopal have to die?? I mean, come on!!! If there is a love triangle, does the person who does not “win” the love, have to die??? And in this movie, he kills himself!! Oh, PLEASE!!!!

Pakeezah – 1972

Lovely music. That is the only good thing I have to say about this movie. Honestly!! I must confess though, that this is a movie I have not seen completely even once! I have tried a couple of times and given up. In this movie, Rajkumar sees Meena kumari in the train. And it seems he doesn’t really see her at all, he sees only her feet. And before deboarding, leaves a note for her saying “Aapke pao dekhe, bahut haseen hai. Inhe Zameen par mat rakhiye maile ho jayenge”. And that is supposed to be very romantic!! And I am going like WHA…. ??? huh?? Sorry, that is, WHA…. ???? WHAT???? What is more, she then goes and falls in love with him, only because of this letter.

Then, I don’t quite remember how, but he is in the jungle, living in the tent and she ends up there… I guess, this is where they “discover” they are the people who had met in the train. That is, if you call a crazy guy seeing someone’s feet, meeting…

Then it turns out that he wants to marry her and takes her to some hill, and they sit down and all and are about to get married – but then she gets up and shouting “Nahin….” Runs away…  That is where I say “Nahin….” And switch the channel!!

But anyway, in the end it is revealed that Ashok Kumar, who is Raj Kumar’s uncle (paternal, I think), is Meena Kumari’s real father. And because he didn’t take care of her mother, she ended up as a Tawaif… But my understanding of this movie could be completely wrong because, I have not really seen it fully ever! Its always bits and pieces – and I have kind of put them together in my mind.

Can anyone explain to me why any of these movies is considered to be a classic???