December 20, 2009

More movies I've been watching

In between moving back to my house (long story), dealing with contractors (longer story) and managing a mixed bag of non-anticipated catastrophes (so many stories), yes, I have been watching Bollywood.

Title:Ram Rajya (Ram's Rule)
Year: 1943
Cast:Shobhna Samarth, Prem Adib

This is the 1st mythological being covered on this blog! And while I usually laugh at the tackiness of mythological productions, this was truly worth watching and writing about.

The movie picks up after Ram (Prem Adib, NOT Chandrakant- IMDB credits BOTH actors with the character's portrayal) and Sita (Shobhna- glowing, and extremely beautiful) return to Ayodhya, and are pregnant. The scriptwriter, Kanu Desai, makes subtle adjustments to Valmiki (the ascetic and poet)'s Ramayana, and introduces empathy to Ram's darkest hour. Per the film, Ram asks Sita to leave only owing to public pressure, after a informal vote by the general populace, and in the end, when he again meets Sita after Luv and Kuch are grown up, doesn't hesitate in begging her to come back. Sita being swallowed by the earth is portrayed to be her own wish. Yeah right.

Along with all the debate that the script has potential to spark, watching it before the release of Ravan next year, offers much food for thought. In the very least, the woman's portrayal as the ever-sufferer gets grating, no matter how lightly one watches the film. While Prem's and the other actors' portrayals are theatrical and typical of the times; Shobhna is very natural, carries the movie, and makes the movie a must-watch. Some very decent music, and I did not fast forward through the movie once, which fact speaks volumes.Vijay Bhatt's direction is definitely progressive (despite the potential cowardice of the script), and I particularly enjoyed the opening credits.

Verdict- One of the few well-made mythologicals ever. Watch.

Title: Badrinath Yatra (The pilgrimage to Badrinath)
Year: 1967
Cast: Nirupa Roy, Abhi Bhattacharya

The 2nd mythological to be covered on this blog- and believe me, I watched both in the same fortnight (what's up with that???) However, Badrinath Yatra does not compare to Ram Rajya. It is describe as a crime movie/thriller at IMDB, which is hilarious; this is social cinema of the most ponderous sort.

The movie opens with Devdutt (Abhi) going to jail for some random crime. His mom bails him out with her pilgrimage money, and is therefore unable to make her own visit to Badrinath. Devdutt isnt perturbed- he visits a prostitute, Chandravati, and ignores his family and his pregnant wife, Sheila (Nirupa Roy). On Chandra's insistence, he blinds his mother (!), throws out his parents and brother, lives in with Chandravati and has Sheila work as a maid in his house. Will everything every work out??? Will Devdutt repent??? Could this story get any crazier???? The movie has to be seen to be believed.

Verdict- Horrifically hilarious. Watch- for a few jaw-dropping moments and much laughter.

Title: Bin Badal Barsaat (Rain without clouds/an unusual occurrence)
Year: 1963
Cast: Biswajeet, Asha Parekh, Nishi, Mehmood

This is a post of many firsts... Biswajeet too has never been covered here. This has primarily been because I really do not like the man, but I love thrillers, and he has appeared in more than his fair share, so our paths cross often.

Biswajeet is the local landlord in a small town, who (Biswajeet, not the small town) falls in love with the local doctor's daughter, feisty Asha Parekh. And they are due to be engaged, when Biswajeet discovers Nishi, literally a blast from the past. Nishi is the local gypsy girl. Apparently Biswajeet's grandpa loved and ditched Nishi's ancestor. Ergo, Nishi must marry Biswajeet in this lifetime. But Biswajeet refuses, and goes and marries Asha, and Nishi promises to avenge herself and kill Asha/Biswajeet/both.
[sigh] Of course things dont work out quite that way- its a Bolly movie. Asha's brightness cant save the movie, whose promised thrills come off extremely lame.

Verdict- terrible. Some decent songs though.

Title: Pyaar ki Pyaas (the thirst for love)
Year: 1961
Cast: Honey Irani, Nishi, Shreekant, Manmohan Krishna, David Abraham, Manorama

I was a bit scared before putting in the movie- it could very well turn out to be a B-movie of the worst kind- the thirst for love??? would it mean soft porn?! :O

My fears were quietened when I saw Manmohan Krishna and David Abraham in the credits- with those two around, sleaze couldn't even touch the frames.

It turned out to be a sweet a sweet, though highly melodramatic watch. Honey Irani (who'd grow up to become a very accomplished writer, marry Javed Akhtar and give birth to Farhan and Zoya) stars as the orphan child who is adopted by Nishi (again!) and Shreekant, a childless couple. They are very happy with her, as is Nishi's dad, David and the orphanage warden Manmohan. However, Nishi's mom Manorama isnt pleased, and does her best to put down the child as often as she can. Things go from great to terrible really fast once Nishi has her own baby; while Shreekant still loves and supports Honey, Nishi basely ignores her, and Honey finally runs away from home. Did Honey ever find her way home? Did Nishi realize she loved Honey after all?? Did Manorama see the light??? Well- yes and no.

Verdict- If you don't see this, you aint missing much. Besides, I already did the job for you :D


Beth Loves Bollywood said...

Hope all your various real-life stories are turning out okay!

Ooooh! A recommended mythological! Excellent. I see them on the Indian grocery store movie shelves, but they scare me - I mean, I avoid religious films from the tradition I was brought up in and can vaguely follow! :) I'll try to get this one - sounds like a wonderful way to sample something that fascinates but intimidates me.

Some site, I forget which (and will send a link if I can find it), talks about the mythological films as a sort of sci-fi and proposes that India has experimented much less with "sci-fi films" because mytholgoical filled some very similar roles. What do you think about that?

Biswajeet. Ugh. I've only seen him in half a film and found him to be utterly devoid of charisma or appeal of any kind.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...


Shobhna-jee is so lovely and natural that the movie is worth watching for her alone. I dont think I necessarily agree w/ the Scifi explanation. I beleive that scifi has low presence in Bollywood, because it usually requires more infrastructure to produce, and producers are so scared to invest heavily into it that the successful movies in the genre carry a heavy mix of romance and adventure- with sucessful examples being Mr India/ Koi Mil Gaya/ Krish. Additionally, the mythological genre is extremely successful in non-metros, and has its own market which includes religeous music, so scifi and mythologicals shouldnt be mixed, at least in my opinion.
I agree: no clue what wave of insanity made Biswajeet an actor- he is so smarmy. [sorry Biswajeet-lovers]

Filmbuff said...

I guess everyone knows that Shobana Samarth is Nutan and Tanjua's mom and Kajol's grandmother. Apparently she was a really talented actress from what the elders in my family have been sharing about movies yesteryears. Thanks for the write up on these movies shweta. You guys in North America are lucky to get access to such old and rare movies!

I too can never understand "Biswajeet"'s popularity - i avoid all his movies - must have missed some good ones coz of that.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Filmi Buff: Yup yp re: Shobhna's family. I understand she was really convinced about Nutan being a good actor- when Nutan was rejected by the majority of the film industry as a teenager, she paid no heed- sent her to finishing school abroad and bought her back later! I admire her loads :) Re: the Biswajeet- maybe one day it will dawn on us... but I wouldnt hold my breath :)

memsaab said...

Where did you find Ram Rajya? I would love to see a young Shobhana Samarth (even older, in the 50s, she was luminously beautiful...)

Happy New Year, and hope you are cozy and warm in your proper house and all's well!

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Hi Memsaab: Happy new yr to you and ur loved ones!
Shobhna was incredibly graceful and lovely here.
My mom DVRd the movie from a channel called TVAsia (Dish), knowing I'd be interested. She tells me that Channel usually plays old movies. I dont beleive the movie is avaialble on DVD yet, though webmallindia does advertise it. Which explains my not going crazy screencapping everyshot of Shobhna :)