Bollywood orphan collage

What’s an Indian filum without an orphan?  A while back I whipped up this little orphan collage from screen captures of orphans  and thought I’d share it with you here.  I’d say about 45% of all Bollywood films have at least one if not two orphans, right? It makes a marvelous screensaver. Enjoy my fellow orphans!

  For maximum viewing pleasure, click on the image to see it in its full glory.                Jai Bollywood!

Pardes: America is very bad for the Indian soul!

This is my contribution to Roti Kapada aur Rum’s  international call to all Indian film bloggers to submit something for Shameful Classics celebration in July, 2011.  After I saw Pardes (1997) last year I was very enthused about it, yet nearly every NRI I spoke to, emailed, or tweeted about it said how much they disliked the film.  I adored  Pardesmaybe because as a gori I’m free of the cultural shame some NRIs have over Bollywood films, so when Shameful Classics month came up, I figured it’s time to do a post on this insane film, after all I loved the film so much I practically screen capped it all!  In fact, if you scroll quickly over this post it will look like a flip book of the movie, THAT’S how many screen caps there are.  So I suppose at minimum I should be ashamed of adding to internet pollution. One of best parts of doing this blog is being able to rave about a movie that most of you saw years back that I’m just discovering now.  As I said, I LOVED this movie, but then again I tend to love all Subash Ghai films for their kitsch value and dramatic plot twists. Glancing over Ghai’s filmography, I’ve seen and enjoyed all of these, Vishwanath (1978);  Karz (1980);  Krodhi (1981);  Meri Jung (1985);  Ram Lakhan (1989);  Khalnayak (1993);  Trimurti (1995) (producer);  Taal (1999);  Aitraaz (2004) (producer);  Kisna: The Warrior Poet (2005);  Iqbal (2005) (producer);  Black & White (2008); and with time I’ve even remembered Yuvvraaj (2008) as resonating as a fun film, especially when Katrina’s character says something like , “You’re 100% complete anti-family hai!” to Salman’s character.  Remember that?! I LOVED that!  So is it possible that Ghai’s my favorite Bollywood director?  Should I be ashamed? Let’s continue on with Pardes!

Pardes, meaning “foreign land”, is a story that revolves around Ganga (Mahima Chaudhary). She is an Indian girl living in a rural village, brought up by her conservative family. Kishorilal (Amrish Puri) is a wealthy and successful businessman who lives in Los Angeles, America but is still deeply attached to his motherland India and adores the values and culture of India. On a visit to India, he meets his old friend Suraj Dev (Alok Nath) and stays at his house. During his stay he gets to know Suraj Dev’s family and becomes very attached to Ganga, Dev’s eldest daughter, who is the epitome of Indian culture. He hopes to find an Indian girl for his westernized, American son, Rajiv (Apoorva Agnihotri) and feels that Ganga is just right. He offers a marriage proposal between Ganga and Rajiv; Dev’s family accepts. Kishorilal knows he will have a tough time trying to convince Rajiv, who has never even visited India. But Kishorilal has a plan. He sends his foster son, Arjun (Shahrukh Khan) (‘Little Master’), to play cupid and convince Rajiv to visit India and meet and approve of Ganga. Arjun arrives at Dev’s house and makes changes and arrangements to make the place suitable for Rajiv. Rajiv joins him in a few days and initially does not like the idea. Arjun spends many days trying to get Ganga and Rajiv to like each other and, in the process, becomes a close friend of Ganga. Eventually Rajiv and Ganga agree to the wedding….(source)

Pardes (1997) is one of those America is bad for the India soul films, but unlike the more recently released MNIK, Pardes simple “America’s evil culture is bad, and India and its people are good,” theme didn’t bother me at all.  Perhaps this is because America was played a lot of the time by Canada, (Vancouver) in Pardes, and the places where innocent beautiful bride Ganga ( Mahima Chaudhry) does show up in the USA are really not so chaste, such as Las Vegas, aka sin city.

 

So let’s begin the tale of Pardes in India, where everything is good, see:

Those are the words of Amrish Puri’s character, Kishorilal, the typical NRI rich industrialist living in Ameerika who travels back to Hindustan to keep in touch with his roots and meet with childhood friends, like Alok Nath’s Suraj Dev.  After some typically spectacular Indian hospitality, Kishorilal thinks, “I Love My India” and figures why not marry his fancy American-raised son to a pure woman of India, Suraj’s beti, Ganga!.  Wouldn’t you do the same given the opportunity?

He  returns to India to pitch this idea to his fancy son, Ragiv (Apurva Agnihoti), who is of course amoral having been raised in the USA. But how to soften this blow to Ragiv?  How can a lad raised in the pure and constant luxury of America understand and accept India, a developing country?

How to solve this dilemma?  Well as it turns out, Kishorlal has a quasi son, a pure hearted orphan named Arjun, played by  Shahrukh Khan

who’s grown to be both an accomplished auto mechanic, who runs a fancy garage, where he dances with his boyz in their off time

 and also manages to be an Asian Music Chart topper!

 

See how humble Arjun is when being interviewed on a big radio show, even though he’s a chart topper? He’s from India, he’s a good man.

So Arjun escorts Rajiv over to India as his cultural attaché, which comes in handy when some village guy thinks he’s got a claim on bride-to-be Ganga and they decide to play a game of kabaddi to settle the score.

 

NRI Rajiv, is like Kabaddi? So this is where Arjun’s cultural attaché-ness comes in handy, he not only shows him how a mean game of kabaddi is played,

but he shows how to play kabaddi to win the girl!

I think I forgot the part where Ganga sees Arjun when he first arrives in India and thinks he’s cute before she ever sees Rajiv, so there’s that.  Just keep that in the back of your mind for now for dramatic foreshadowing purposes only…  Back to America, and Ganga is a bit shy upon arrival to this foreign land, for it’s so different from her beautiful India, but she’s not too shy to perform      I Love My India in front of the masses at a function. Kishorilal begins to plan for the wedding and it’s clear that he’s been contaminated by his time in America, revealing his superficial materialism, which does not exist in India, right?Ganga is comforted by orphan to foster savior son, Arjun, who is there in Canada America to soften the blow of culture shock. Rajiv is always busy with work and then while looking around the home, abandoned Ganga sees trashy gori and kali girl photos plastered on the walls, as well as dirty magazines and is rightfully concerned.   What does it all mean? Rajiv’s evil cousin helps to explain the morally bankrupt ways of America to innocent Ganga.

Rajiv, Arjun, and Ganga go out to a party on a fancy yacht in the port of Los Angeles Vancouver one afternoon and there’s a scuffle, and while Rajiv is focusing on his own richi-rich status…he doesn’t even notice when some guys leer and grope on Ganga, but watchful Arjun does, and defends her honor.One night the same three all go to a disco, something new to Ganga. She’s shocked to see Rajiv is smoking, but Arjun to the rescue, explains away any concerns about this to Ganga:

No worries, right?  It’s only a bit of smoking, right?  They go one to play some game at the disco called Prince & Princess Made in Heaven Contest which in all my time spent in American discos, I’ve never seen.Their compatibility is revealed in this game and they win!  See how happy they are together?

See the cute statue they win in the leucite box? Alas, their happiness is fleeting because in the background Rajiv is getting drunk.

But remember, Ganga is engaged to Ragiv, not Arjun, the man who’s maintained his pure Indian soul despite his long-term exposure to American culture.  Rajiv having spent all his life in the USA is not so fortunate to have learned good Indian morals, and he gets drunk and Arjun helps remove him from a brawl.

So these warning signs are adding up: the smoking, the drinking, the bar fight, the fight on the yacht, the dirty magazines, and an ex-girlfriend with a gori name. Rajiv even abruptly tells Ganga one evening he’s going out with his girlfriend, which is sort of a red flag, hai na?  Ganga is feeling reluctant about her upcoming marriage to Rajiv and seeks comfort in her friendship with Arjun.  On Arjun’s birthday she brings him a cake and some balloons and hangs out with him at the garage with the boys while Rajiv is probably out somewhere with this Kelly.Ganga even brings their “Match Made in Heaven” statue to the party and Arjun’s wise friend is bit suspicious, remember, Ganga is Rajiv’s match, not Arjun’s match.

It’s Arjun’s wise friend (Pavan Malhotra), peering around some Bollywood balloons, who sees the love he has in his eyes for Ganga. Can you see it too?

Rajiv becomes a bit jealous of the friendship between Arjun and Ganga, tells his dad Kishorilal, who in an effort to keep Arjun away from Ganga,  transfers him to another office very far from where they live now, which I tought was Vancouver posing as Los Angeles, but maybe it was really being Vancouver all along since he was sending Arjun away to Los Angeles, confusing.

In the meantime, Rajiv takes Ganga on a little trip to Las Vegas, corruption capital of America! There were plenty of gori extras,

and for the first time in a Hindi film I saw kali extras too:

Up in the hotel, Rajiv wants to share a penthouse room with his Indian fiance, and “take things to the next level.” Ganga is pure, Ganga is not having that!

What’s so spectacular about this near rape hotel scene is that Rajiv insults Ganga, but it’s not until he makes disparaging remarks against India that she snaps!  After the insults to India, the fight is on and she beats him up. I believe he does get one tight slap to the face in, but once Ganga is fired up, her rage for defending her mother India is unstoppable!  She escapes after knocking him out, and as luck would have it, some of Arjun’s home boys catch wind of Ganga’s location at a truck stop near Las Vegas. Please note the brick phone, I didn’t take this screen cap for nothing!

Kishorilal and Rajiv put the rush on the wedding plans and  plan to catch up with Ganga, who has now returned to her mother India with the help of Arjun, who rescued her from her peril in Las Vegas.  Obviously Kishorilal goes nuts and demands to know how she disappeared from the Vegas hotel, and Rajiv, doesn’t say, “well, I tried to rape her and she knocked me out,” but instead lies:

 

If you’ve read this blog before, you may know that I have a small hobby with spotting Johnnie Walker bottles in Indian films, and this shot is the limit!  Look at the slutty poster on the wall and FIVE bottles of Johnnie Walker, black label,  (not to mention the implied bottles that lurk between him and that poster) to match Rajiv’s black American heart!

Now safely back in India, Ganga’s reputation is ruined, because the NRI Americans have said she ran off with Arjun because they were in love, neglecting to tell the truth about Rajiv’s immoral and criminal behavior.  To be fair, Kishorilal has been lied to by his son Rajiv, so how is he to know that his orphan to foster son is really an innocent savior as pure as the Ganga, and Ganga herself? I love my India! Ganga’s mother is mortified at the disgrace that’s happened since her daughter returned unmarried, which really messes up the family izzat. Ganga’s dad, Suraj Dev believes the stories from America that Ganga has run off with Arjun.

Poor Ganga wants to protect her father from the truth about what happened in the US, considering that Kishorilal is his BFF and in leaving out a few key details (attempted rape) she and Arjun become the focus of Suraj Dev’s rage, for after all, a returned bride-to-be is a dirty thing in India.Wow Dad, so harsh! But you know who WON’T let his chaste Ganga be defiled with cruel lies or be hit by her own father!? Arjun! And here things get HOT! SRK goes full-blown crazy, cutting himself with a gigantic saber by pulling it by the blade from Suraj Dev’s furious hands!

I love it when SRK does crazy, it’s one of his strengths as an actor, that over the top  deliscious D R A M A, and Pardes delivers with his self mutilating with a large sword, to clearly make his point to Ganga’s dad. No one will hit or talk trash about Ganga!To escape further harm to Ganga’s already mistakenly tarnished reputation, Arjun runs off to what is supposed to be the bus station, but what is Fatehpur Sikri.  Remember, he was originally an orphan, so he believes that a return to orphanhood is perhaps his fate.  I loved how these scenes shot in historic Fatehpur Sikri were made to look like a bustling bus stand where SRK keeps toting around his backpack in various attempts to storm off in dignity. I had the good fortune to travel to Fatepur Sikri near Agra, India almost 2 years ago, and it looked more like THIS.  I’ve added a few of my own travel photos of this historic site here so you can see I was right near where Arjun was! Dekh! My Fatehpur Sikri:

Arjun’s Fatehpur Sikri:

Arjun’s Fatehpur Sikri may have some sufi action:

 But MY Fatehpur Sikri in the same location has some kingfisher action:

While Arjun runs off, Ganga has been locked away in the house, only to be released by her grandmother who urges her to go after Arjun!

Ganga catches up with Arjun before he gets on the bus at Fatehpur Sikri, but to preserve what he thinks is family honor, he feigns disinterest.  Ganga declares her love for Arjun, he holds back.

Grandma catches up to the scene and encourages Ganga and disburses wisdom.

That’s right girl!

Arjun and Ganga seem to work things out,

 

but guess who has arrived on the scene? Rajiv and some of his goonda friends wielding field hockey sticks, and Kishorilal!

Sorry Ganga, they have returned for you.  Let’s take a break for another view of My  Fatehpur Sikri, right about where all the action is taking place in Pardes:

And Action!

Rajiv finally gets his comeuppance!

Then Ganga finally reveals the wounds she suffered at Rajiv’s hands to Kishorilal and her own family.  Reputation cleared, izaat intact, for Ganga, for her family, for all of India!At last the wise orphan addresses his foster father and tell him what America has done to Kishorilal’s soul:What Kishorilal forgot in America is what he learned in his Bharat MataDoes Arjun get the girl? Is Kishorlal about to slap him or give him a pat of approval? If you don’t know see the film to find out.

It’s unfortunate that Kishorilal and Rajiv weren’t able to read and follow this sign that I found posted in the local mandir, The Hindu Temple of Minnesota. This would have helped them avoid all of the problems they had in America all together,

but then it’s a good thing they didn’t, so great film like Pardes could be made! Please share your thoughts of the film with me.

“Zindagi Ek Juaa” Madhuri as drug fiend!

In honor of Maduri Dixit’s birthday, first I’d like to wish her one:Ardent Madhuri Dixit fan, Gaja Gamini, from Bollywood-ish Blog, declared it Magic of Madhuri Week.  My little contributions are some shocking images of Maduri from Zindagi Ek Juaa  (1992) (Life is a Gamble)

The first image of the film is of  ye olde Central Jail, so right off you know there’s trouble. Maybe one day I’ll make it Film City or whatever movie studio houses Central Jail.

Now a bit about the film:

After saving the life of his employer, Jagjit Singh alias JJ (Anupam Kher), Harikishan (Anil Kapoor) is promoted with a wage increase that he had only dreamt of.  Anxious to please his employer Harikishan agrees to have his name changed to Harry, and does anything that he is instructed to do.  Soon Harry realises that he has been aiding his employer in illegal activities.  When he tries to break away, he is told that his mom (Asha Sharma) is and will be held captive to guarantee his cooperation.  Harry must now come up with a scheme that will guarantee his safety as well as the freedom of his mom, and at the same time save himself from being arrested by the police. (source)

But there’s so much more, and that’s the part about Madhuri’s character Juhi, called Baby by family and friends. Anil Kapoor’s  Harikishan ends up falling for the boss’s daughter when she comes back from Europe and dazzles him with her carefree performance at her birthday party.

 

Very soon after her first meeting with Harikishan, Baby/Juhi becomes the aggressor and makes her lustful feelings very clear:Harikishan is puzzled by her romantic overtures, so the Bollywood cure of the tight slap to the face is used to bring him to understanding:Enjoy Maduhuri’s dance of seduction in  Dil To Dil Hai  featuring the music by Bappi Lahiri and playback singer Ahsa Bhosle:

One thing leads to another, Juhi ends up pregnant, they get married against her father’s wishes, but Harikishan has to handle some of the illegal drug business in Hong Kong, see  you can tell he’s in Hong Kong by the room itself, all oriental in its styling, with the bonus of the awesome cordless phone:Hari’s best friend (Shakti Kapoor) tries his best to watch over Juhi while Hari’s away, but please take special note of the Whitney Houston poster on the wall, as it serves as an ominous warning to what could happen to Juhi. In case you haven’t heard, Houston has fallen on the path of drug abuse, which is the same fate that awaits Madhuri’s Juhi. Eventually she finds out about Hari’s business dealings in illegal drugs, and sends him packing right after she gives birth to their son.  Of course after telling him off she has a huge headache and at that moment, she’ s offered some medicine by an evil friend, Mr. Lal:And just like THAT she’s hooked!

So Juhi has sent her husband packing and quickly becomes addicted to her nose candy.  A police inspector  played by Suresh Oberoi goes to Juhi to find out more about what she knows about Harikishan and  notices Juhi’s addiction, meanwhile, I ignored most of that scene and just noticed this great subtitle ripe for a screen capture:

Harikishan realizes his estranged biwi has pushed him out of her life, and decides to soothe his anguish with music, but he’s shocked even more when a drugged up Juhi makes an appearance.  Staggering and stoned Juhi plays the trumpet stopping only to smoke. What an entrance!  Watch Kabhi Kuchh Khoya with playback singer Kumar Sanu,who incidently I saw in concert with Akla Yagnick  a few yers back when I was too new of a Hindi cinema fan to fully appreciate.

Watch here and at about 1:40 the drug fiend Madhuri enters.  Pay special attention for her crazy drugged trumpet playing while smoking at 2:09. When Anil’s Harikishan sees that it’s a COMPLETE buzz kill and he realizes, “I married a drug whore! My dealing of drugs brought this all about! The mother of my son uses coke!”

I’d like to bring up Whitney Houston again, who just this week was banned from Prince concerts due to her drug using antics and trying to get on stage with Prince in her altered state. Houston  has since gone into rehab.  This makes me wonder if that’s how Harikishan felt when Juhi trid to play trumptet while he was jamming with his friend in  Kabhi Kuchh Khoya. Poor Juhi did not make it into rehab. She realized her problem, made arrangements to have her son cared for: Then she goes down the self-destructive path of drug abuse.But then there’s a knock at the door!Harikishan pleads with Juhi to stop her drug use.

He leaves, only to return another time…

to find an overdosing Juhi.

What happened to Juhi?  Watch the movie if you dare to see, or ask me in the comments and I’ll tell you.  Let this be a warning to you, don’t do drugs!  Thank you for reading this post, but now, with all due respect, all I have to say is…

 Report to  Bollywood-ish blog  for Magic of Madhuri Week‘s  FULL LIST BLOG POSTS.

Dayavan (1988) The Khanna-o-Rama that is Vinod

In honor of Beth Loves Bollywood’s international Khanna Family initiative to celebrate all film industry Khannas, Khanna-o-Rama, I would like to contribute a little write-up on Dayavan (1988).

 

It starts out with poor little orphan, Shakti Vellu, aka Dayavan (kid version of Vinod Khanna) ending up witnessing his dad being unjustly murdered by some corrupt police.  He has to flee his southern home and hide in Bombay for safety only to run into some punks on the seaside who try to beat and rob him.  During this fight, Dayavan runs into a little ruffian, Shanker (kid version of Feroz Khan), who is impressed by Dayavan’s fighting skills,  flair, generosity, piety, all that good stuff , which to me are the personality traits I want to believe the Khanna’s  (Rahul, Akshaye, and Vinod) posses in real life, don’t you?  OK, real life, whatever, back to the movie.  Dayavan sets Shankar straight about his true inner badass nature, for within the composed orphan, lies a heart capable of murderous rage with he witnesses injustice!

I am too lazy to get into retelling you the plot of the film, so here’s a synopsis to suffice and then I’ll skip to the parts I liked best.

After having witnessed his dad being killed by the local South Indian police, and being orphaned and homeless, Shakti Velhu develops a hate, and distrust of the police in India. He is befriended by another homeless boy named Shanker, who asks him to accompany him a slum in Bombay, where they live with a kind-hearted Muslim named Karim Baba, and his daughter, Shama. This is where Shakti and Shankar spend their childhood. When they mature, they take to petty crime. Here too, Shakti witnesses police brutality and atrocities, especially at the hands of sadistic, alcoholic, and womanizing Police Inspector Ratan Singh. When Karim Baba is arrested, jailed, and found hanging by his neck in police custody, Shakti hunts down Ratan Singh, and kills him in broad daylight in front of the several hundred people. An investigation is launched, but no one comes forward as a witness. Thus Shakti gets his reputation as a Don with a good heart viz. Dayavan. Shakti marries local prostitute, Neelu, and has two children, Suraj and Sarita. He becomes even more powerful and influential all over Bombay, and his working partners are powerful criminal dons who have ruled over Bombay for eons. Shakti eventually replaces these dons, and becomes Bombay’s only Don. This creates enemies for him and his family, but he believes since he has not really done any harm to anyone, he and his family will be safe. It is this belief that will take a heavy toll on his life and that of his family, when the truth dawns that he, himself, is responsible for being kind to a man, who will ultimately bring forward ruin to the Velhu family. (source)

Fast forward from their childhood to adulthood still in the slums, think Slumdog Millionaire, except in this case the two guys stick together and have a life long bromance.  Check out one of their bromantic escapades here:

There’s the supreme policeman villain there to push Dayavan’s buttons, talk about a corrupt dude!  Inspector Ratan Singh (Amrish Puri!)  harasses the slum dwellers, especially a spicy widow played by Aruna Irani.

As a spinster, I’ve managed quite well for very long without a husband, Amrish-ji, I mean Inspector Ratan Singh.  When the evil cop is not harassing widow Aruna, he  lies about with the courtesans of the slums drinking hooch.

Enter Khanna hero, Vinod, who witnesses the harassment of the widow and breaks into a justice fueled fury, and executes a beat down on the inspector.

Haughtiness intact!  Yet another trait I image the Khanna’s have in real life: intact haughtiness under adverse circumstances.  Then after the severe police brutality takes its toll on Dayavan’s body, enter Shankar, to comfort him. Take in the splendor of the bromance:

How do you cheer up your buddy after an assault from a crooked cop?  A night out at the local brothel of course!

The tune I liked most from the film was Kahe Saiyan Teri Meri Baat with playback singers Ahsa Bhosle and Kavita Krishnamurthy (music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, lyrics Aziz Qaisi). I couldn’t find the video separate from the film, so to see it go to 2:30 in the clip below to see the greatness.

Shankar teases Dayavan about his lack of experience with women and arranges for him to have an overnight stay in a room at the brothel, if you know what I mean.  Dayavan uses the room to sleep off his night of drinking and is awakened, as is so commonly the case, by the innocent prostitute, who is quietly, yet intensely studying for her exams.  He gives her money to continue her studies, and leaves her untouched.  Now doesn’t this remind you of the class and flair of what you’d imagine the Khanna’s to be like in real life?   Anyway, I suppose I mentioned just then that Madhuri Dixit was in the film  and I found it a waste of her talent  since she really didn’t dance too much and her role was too brief.  Kya waste hai! Here’s a taste of her dancing in a Holi number.

I don’t like seeing other people kissing, since it’s so private, so Hindi movies are perfect for me.  Dayavan has a famous kissing scene between Madhuri and Vinood,  in fact if you google videos for the film, the kissing scene is most prominent and you can see it here if you’re inclined.  If you watch it please make note of how unconvincing Madhuri’s hands are in the scene, which reveals to me she was not comfortable filming it. I mean wouldn’t most women have more gusto in their grasp if sharing a moment with Vinod Khanna?

Let’s end with a few more memorable screen captures & subtitles from Dayavan:

Double point for me here, since the screen cap includes a subtitle with dacoity (which is even better than dacoitery in my book) and a lone bottle of Johnnie Walker black label, which is obviously better than red label, isn’t it?  Look at Vinod Khanna’s intensity here when someone comes to him to get justice: Did I mention that Feroz Khan is in the movie?  Seems like I’ve ignored him, but here he is, handling business!

And handing out a little vigilante justice, which I know chandelier connoisseur Shweta will enjoy:

During the course of the film, Dayavan’s daughter  (Amala)avoids him due to his illegal work, and ironically she marries a police officer  played by Aditya Pancholi,  who is cheated, since she declared herself an orphan.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with declaring ourselves orphans now and again. Dayavan is a remake of the Tamil film called Nayagan (1987).  Have you seen the movie in its original Tamilian form? I want to see it now in its pure form!  Since I’ve  focused on Vinood Khanna here,  I must throw a bit of attention on his sons, Rahul and Akshaye, to balance out my Khanna-o-Rama contribution.  I will ask you the ask the  timeless question that Briyanshu posed: Rahul or Akshaye? HERE’S THE ANSWER.  Now I command you to click on this feast of Khanna-o-Rama blog posts to fulfill all of your Khanna Family desires.

Ram Jaane (1995) featuring a mini SRK tribute.

I love a good orphan film, and there’s not much more I can say about Ram Jaane than hasn’t already been said so well by Fortune City and Post Punk Cinema Club, but I can show you some of the parts that I really enjoyed.  Just look at the cool movie poster from the film with bloody fisted, red headband wearing SRK and I think there’s ample evidence that this is a good film.

Ram Jaane (1995) translation: “Ram Knows” or “God Knows”) is a 1995 Indian Bollywood movie directed by Rajiv Mehra about an unnamed kid (portrayed by Shahrukh Khan) who grows up to become a gangster. He uses the name Ram Jaane after meeting with a priest who in response to the kid asking about his name said “Ram Jaane” (God knows). The movie ranks the 8th highest grossing Hindi movie of 1995 and is also the fourth time Shahrukh Khan is playing a negative role after BaazigarDarr and Anjaam. (source)

So here we start with a feisty young street lad, Ram, who meets his childhood companions who he continues to befriend into adulthood.  Prior to being named Ram, short for Ram Jaane, he was known as Footpath.

Eventually he becomes officially known as Ram Jaane.

He’s a small time hustler with lots of style, the bad boy you can’t help but love.

Sometimes his goonda living and dacoitery catches up with him and he lands in the clinker, and he suffers and bleeds from the mouth, which is something that I firmly belive King Khan does better than any actor!  Dekh:

One day I’ll do a post on a collection of SRK screen captures from various films where he bleeds from the mouth. Devdas would have some good mouth bleeding  material, na?  The story has the love triangle plot between the 3 life long friends.  After a bit of jail time, Ram reunites with his childhood pals Murli (Vivek Mushram) who helps the street kids, and Bela (Juhi Chawla).

Ram falls for Bela, but realizes that his pal Murli also loves Bela, or is it Bela who loves Murli, details.  Either way, Ram Jaane becomes a tad jealous and insecure as a result of this situation.  He begins to question his self worth.

Ram eventually is overtaken by what the viewer may think is blind rage and he roughs up Bela, and eventually gives her a tight slap to the face, which he immediately regrets.

BUT, but, but did he hit her out of a jealous rage? Did he hit her because of his inability to soothe his own psyche independently of his love object?  Nahin!  As it turns out he hit her out of love, because he knew his friend loved her and by hitting Bela she would turn to Murli for love.  Problem solved!  Hey, I’m not saying it’s a good idea, but it worked.  Now clear your mind from the disturbing image of SRK’s character being violent with his love interest, and enjoy the title track from the film Ram Jaane with playback singers,  Alka Yagnik,  Sonu NigamUdit Narayan, and music by Anu Malik.

A while back I did a post on B.Rohrer’s SRK Fantasies in which the artist pays tribute to SRK in a series of creative pieces.  Recently I was lucky to run across another such creative fan on youtube and Breaking Free of the Box has taken things to a whole new level with this video tribute to Ram Jaane.  How can my humble collection of screen captures from the films measure up to the devotional nature of Breaking Free of the Box‘s work? It can’t, so now, I’ve saved the best for last so sit down and get ready to be entertained.  In the words of Breaking Free of the Box:

Here’s a miniature tribute to Shahrukh and Juhi . . . Let’s hope that someday they make another romantic film as intense as their earlier ones. . . Enjoy!! (source)

Did you notice the Central Jail on the mini set?

To wrap things up neatly as Bollywood so often does,  let’s take a moment to empathize with our film’s orphan:

Let’s now go on to be uplifted by the orphan, who has been enlightened through his suffering, only to go on to inspire us all!  Jai Bollywood wisdom:

P. S.  Due to heavy international pressure from the blogging community, and to avoid further mutiny from blog commenters, I must make mention of SRK’s style of wearing a suit jacket without any shirt underneath (think of the ring around the collar!) in the film and link in the song Pump Up the Bhangra.  Thanks readers for keeping me on my toes! Now pump up some bhangra!

Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971) or Sholay Lite

As part of Beth Loves Bollywood‘s international mandate,  7 days of 70’s, a week-long festival of any and all things 70’s from Bollywood, I offer to you my readers, Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1970) somehing I like to call Sholay Lite!  
 


This film is a delightful mix of  some of the 70’s most delicious masala staples: orphans, dacoits, bandits, dancers, damsels in distress, amputated limbs, music by Laxmikant-PyarelalAnand Bakshi as lyricist,  playback singing by Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammad Rafi, and starring Dharmendra, Asha ParekhVinod Khanna, Laxmi Chhaya, and Jayant.

Now let me take you on a visual walk through Mera Gaon Mera Desh.  We start with Ajit (Dharmendra) as a pick pocket, caught and put on the stand, explaining his fate to the judge and jury…

Ajit gets a chance after serving a light sentance to start over in a small village to where he’s been summoned by  a one armed Hawaldaar-Major Jaswant Singh (Jayant).  Ajit carries a coin that he flips to help him make major life decisions, and it flipped to the side that made him agree to go to the little town. But why?  Why would the one armed man want orphan?

Maybe to help him with some farm work.  That seems to be the reason. Then Ajit hangs out partying with the villagers, and Jayant’s character doesn’t like this and dekh what happens:

Such ugliness! Such mean words!  That’s the limit!  So he tells Ajit to leave, but then has to change his mind:

Enter bad guy, dacoit, and bandit extrodinaire, Thakur gone bad, Jabbar Singh! I’m telling you Vinod Khanna was delicious in this part.  Look at the sideburns and the scoul on his face. Hot!

So as it turns out, the one armed guy sought Ajit for the village (gaon) not for farming alone, but instead to take the lead in fighting off the band of dacoits who have long been terrorizing the villagers. Luckily Ajit finds a double agent in Munnibai (Laxmi Chhaya) who was sent by Jabbar to find out about Ajit, but ends up falling for him instead.

Munni does her spy duty, finds out what’s going on in Jabbar Singh’s dacoit camp and reports back to Ajit.

Ajit informs the authorities, Munni’s mom get’s upset at her indiscretion because like all villagers she rears the wrath Jabbar Singh and his bandits.

In the song, Hai SharmaonLaxmi Chhaya‘s character alerts Ajit to what disguises the bandits are wearing to the fair so that he can catch them.


After some of his men are captured by police at the full moon fair, Jabbar Singh suspects a traitor among his flock and conducts a threatenging interrogation fitting a bandit.

Thing get a wee bit misogynistic.


Meanwhile, back in town, Asha Parekh’s character, Anju, freaks out when Hawaldaar-Major Jaswant Singh (one armed guy) is killed by the bandits. I love it when Asha breaks down. She of course needs a tight slap to the face in order to get a hold of herself.  To make matters worse, now poor munni is thought by Ajit to be responsible for the bandits’ attack on the gaon village.  So she’s once again subject to some man handling, and once again, things get just a tad mysoginistic.

Oh no he didn’t!  Ajit can verbally abuse her, choke her, shake her, and shove her down into the river two times, but what sets her over the edge is that he doesn’t understand that she did not betray him, and that she loves him!  He pushed her over the edge in so many ways, and now look at the face of a woman scorned! DEKH! LOOK AT IT!

Jabbar Singh cointinues with his dacoitery and kidnaps Anju to lure Ajit into his evil den, where he proceeds to tie them up for torture.  Any chance I get to screen cap a scene with the word enmity in it I do, so here:

NOW here is the scene and song that compelled me to see this film in the first place: Maar Diya Jaaye Ya Chhod Diya Jaaye, Bol Tere Saath Kya Sulook Kiya JaayeRaj and Pablo, the charming and lovely radio hosts of BBC Asian Network’s Love Bollywood,  posted this video from the film on their Facebook page. It starts off with Dharmendra tied to a pole getting slapped in the face, and that was only the beginning of this outlandish number, featuring him, Laxmi Chayya and Asha Parekh.

Spoiler moral message ending alert! In the end the lesson is learned: The village must take responsibility to self govern and not rely so heavily on the government, meaning it’s a joint effort, but this effort must first begins at the grassroots level.  As it’s said it takes a village to raise a child, and in this movie, it takes a village to eliminate a dacoit. So now that title makes more sense: Mera Gaon Mera Desh = My Village My Country.

EXTRA CREDIT:  Here’s why Mera Gaon Mera Desh can be called Sholay Lite

Since Asha freaks out so beautifully, I shall end on this note:

Check out all the other groovy 70’s week posts HERE and HERE.

Boot Polish (1954) Orphan Power!

Orphans Unite!

Slumdog Millionaire (2008), step aside because Boot Polish (1954) has trumped you by delivering more tragic orphans frame per frame than your film and possibly any movie ever…well in any movie I’ve seen.

Boot Polish is a 1954 Hindi film directed by Prakash Arora and produced by Raj Kapoor. It won Best Film at the Filmfare Awards and was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Belu (Baby Naaz) and Bhola (Ratan Kumar) are left to the care of their wicked aunt Kamla (Chand Burque) when their mother dies. She forces them to beg in the streets and grabs all the money they get. A bootlegger John Chacha (David) teaches them to lead a life of self-respect and work for a living instead of begging.
They scrimp and save to buy a shoe-polish kit and start shining shoes. Kamla finds out about what they have been doing behind her back, beats them and throws them out of the house. John Chacha gives them shelter, but then he is arrested and the kids are left to fend for themselves. When it rains and people don’t get their shoes polished any more, the children are in danger of starving. But Bhola believes that he will never beg anymore but on one rainy night, a man tosses him a coin and he rejects it, but Belu takes it as she is very hungry…(source)

Brother and sister, Bhola (Ratan Kumar) and Belu (Baby Naaz) are abandoned in the slums in Bombay.  The siblings get slapped around by their cranky and evil auntie  Kamla (Chand Burque) and though I love kids, I kept thinking what a fun part that must have been for Burque to play with its over the top wickedness.

She screams at them and hits them and send them out to beg and demands their earnings when they return to her hutment each night.  Yes, I used the word hutment, and I’ll use it again, since I’ll have the chance.  Chacha John played by David, is a  hutment bootlegger dweller with a  heart of gold who instills in the orphans the desire work rather than beg for a living.  Easy for him to say.  He spends a lot of time doing the sign of the cross and praying to a picture of Jesus sporting the flaming  sacred heart with the thorns around it. To beg or not to beg, that is the question.

Just when you think things can’t get worse for these orphans they get a break with a little song and dance. Let song writers Shankar Jaikishan, with playback singers Mohammad Rafi and Asha Bhonsle lift your spirits here with Nanhe Munne Bachche Teri. I couldn’t find a video with the lyrics translated into English, but the message of the song is that we hold destiny in our fists.  I’ve screen capped much of the song below and you can find it translated into English over at Dances on the Footpath HERE.

Uncle John has a strong hold over this group of orphans, convincing them to not beg, and to also cheer up through their starvation, since a better day is coming. I can’t even imagine that starving children would dance happily, but they do here, so don’t feel too sad for them, see:

I get crabby if I miss a meal or a snack so I don’t know how these orphans do it. Things can’t stay too happy for too long and the siblings get separated one night at the train station during a raid.  Belu, delirious with a fever, ends up on the train where she’s discovered by a rich couple.

The rich folks adopt her and despite the comforts of her new posh lifestyle and new loving family, Belu is distraught, missing her brother.

Bhola is picked up in the raid and sent to an orphanage.

Now both kids are at least in better conditions materially, but they are not content since they are separated and don’t know the whereabouts of each other.  Then one day, Bhola hears Uncle John’s voice through the window, runs to find him, and invites him in to her new home.  She’s happy talking about all the material comforts, but then remembers how much she misses Bhola.

Uncle John sets out to search for Bhola while newly rich Belu and her family are  preparing to take an extended leave from the city.  It seems as if John will not meet the deadline to reunite the orphan siblings, but, BUT, BUT, as Belu is about to board her train with her new family, a young orphan boy begs for some money and she hands him a coin…

Only to look up to see her long lost brother, Bhola!
Bhola has a rush of shame seeing his sister and knowing he is a hypocrite, having demanded they never beg for money, no matter what. In his eyes he’s been caught and exposed, which caused him to spiral into a flashback of slapping his sister for begging.  I enjoyed seeing the tight slap to the face in a flashback form, with images superimposed on each other:

Bhola runs away in shame.  Belu chases him and looses him in the crowd. Uncle John  appears and hobbles along  on his crutches after Bhola, but in his attempt to catch up to  Bhola, he’s hit by a car!  Spoiler Alert! So  that sequence plays out like this: Happy! Happy! Shame! Run! Run! Sad! Hope! Run! Sad! Hit! SAD! Wait, not sad, HAPPY!

The rich people adopt Bhola too, and all cleaned up, fed, safe and happy, they go off to school.

Thus in the end, Raj Kapoor managed to make a light-hearted movie about tragic poverty, starvation, and orphans, and that’s Bollywood yaar.

Now head over to Bollywood Deewana to see his write up of Boot Polish.


Dharmatma (1975) Feroz Khan does The Godfather, Bollywood style

When Feroz Khan died earlier this year, I thought I’d better see a few more of his films in order to pay tribute to his career.  One of the most mentioned films of Khan’s career seemed to be Dharmatma (1975), so I watched it.

Feroz Khan, who has died aged 69, was an Indian actor and producer who became one of Bollywood’s biggest stars; with his swagger and tough-guy styling he was compared to American leading men like Clint Eastwood or Steve McQueen. He based one typically all-action picture, Dharmatma (1975), on Francis Ford Coppola’s Oscar-winning film, The Godfather, and starred in another as a suave racing driver who wins the world championship. Later he appeared in a series of cowboy films that aped the Spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone – they became known as Curry Westerns. (source)

First off, let me get this spectacular image out of the way:

Hema Malini’s character declaring her orphan-hood.

darmatma.orphan

Don’t you think that reel for reel Bollywood may have the highest occurrence of orphans than any other film industry in the world?  Now back to the movie Dharmatma (1975), which is essentially supposed to be a Hindustani-ized version of The  Godfather.  One thing The Godfather doesn’t have is Helen.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the film I copied from IMDB:

DHARMATMAWealthy, powerful and influential Seth Dharamdas leads a financially secure life in a palatial mansion. He is known to come to the aid of all people who are beyond any hope of assistance, and this leads to him being known as “Dharmatma”. But Seth Dharamdas does have a number of skeletons in his closet, and a parallel life as a gangster. The only person Dharamdas hates and fears is none other than his very own son, Ranbir, who has sworn that he will never compromise with his father’s dark career, and threatens to expose him. Dharamdas has never conceded surrender or defeat at the hands of any mortal, and will never even consider to do so – even if this means the death of Ranbir. (by rAjOo)

Rekha plays a smaller part in this film and is in love with  the rugged, morally upstanding Ranbir (Feroz Khan).darmatma.enemies

Alas,  Ranbir has sets his sights on Reshma (Hema Malini) a girl living over the border in Afghanistan, since it’s never quite Bollywood until there’s a love triangle.  I enjoyed the lavish tent like home where Hema’s character lived. It looked like a high class yurt, but I thought yurts were in Mongolia, not Afghanistan, right?   Even in this opulently decorated  tent, she’s stifled

darmatma.suffocate

Her adoptive father isn’t going for her relationship with a man of another culture, but she does what she can to change his heart and mind.

darmatma.culture darmatma.orphan.beg

For a taste of that nomadic life, enjoy Meri Galiyon Se, featuring playback singer Lata Mangeshkar with the music of Kalyanji Anandji, and picturized on Hema Malini in some nomadic camp in Afghanistan, or maybe it’s in movie studio, you be the judge. Both Danny Denzongpa and Khan’s character are smitten with Hema’s Reshma. Who will win her love?

Besides digging the hip 70’s vibe of this flick, I was delighted to find it had one of my favorites, Farida Jalal, who played Mona, the sister to Feroz Khan’s Ranbir.  Unfortunately, she’s married to a dacoit, Kundan (Imtiaz Khan) but it takes her sometime to figure this out.  Kundan’s  gangster side kicks are played by Ranjeet and Sudhir, who wear matching outfits throughout the film.  Their shirts are always open, and often made of sheer fabrics. They are very, very bad men, but more on them later.

dharmatma.badguys

Wait a minute, even the good guy wears an open, chest hair bearing shirt a lot of the time:

dharmatma.spell

Eventually Mona lets her creepy gangster husband know that she doesn’t like the lowly company he’s keeping which causes some marital strife.

dharmatma.Farida.dirtyhands dharmatma.Farida.wifewhore

Doesn’t she know this is Bollywood and a woman cannot talk to a man in such a way without suffering a tight slap to the face?  Even I saw that one coming.

dharmatma.Farida.slap

Mona’s husband may be a hopeless pig, but her brother is reliable and caring.   Everything is fine on Raksha Bandhan and she ties a rakhi on brother Ranbir.  Look how sweet!

dharmatma.Farida.Feroz.rehki

Yet moments later she changes her warm feelings when she realizes that …

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Can’t you almost feel that tight slap to the face, or at least hear it?  When I saw this in the opening credits I was very pleased:

darmatma.ranjeet

I’m a big Ranjeet fan.  It’s most likely psychologically problematic that I find his bad boy characters irresistibly attractive, but I’ll work that out on my own time.  dharmatma.sudhirNormally I love Ranjeet, but his character was so extra creepy in Dharmatma, that I found him only mildly hot, not ultra hot.  Hats off to his acting distracting me from his beauty. Was is due to being paired with a creepy sidekick played by Sudhir that was too much?  Who knows, but together in their sheer, unbuttoned, and always matching shirts, they were repulsive. I looked forward to seeing each new outfit.

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Their characters were abusive and drunk most of the time. Take a nice look at them here. I believe there can never be enough photos of Ranjeet out there for the world to see, no matter what.

dharmatma.badguys.4

Ranjeet wears a pinky ring here, which is a tell tale sign of villain-hood:

dharmatma.badguys.2

dharmatma.badguys.5 dharmatma.ranjeet.2

Now allow Feroz Khan’s memory to live on and please read his words of wisdom.

dharmatma.revenge

My foray into Iranian cinema: Part II – Abbas Kiarostami’s Ten(2002)

Ten_DVDDosto, yesterday I explained my foray into Iranian cinema.  Today I’ll  tell you about another Iranian film I saw, Ten (2002)  directed by the illustirous  Abbas Kiarostami.

Ten (Persian: ده) is a 2002 Iranian film directed by Abbas Kiarostami and starring Mania Akbari. It was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and ranks at number 447 on Empire magazine’s 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time. The film is divided into ten scenes, each of which depict a conversation between an unchanging female driver (played by Mania Akbari) and a variety of passengers as she drives around Tehran. Her passengers include her young son (played by Akbari’s real life son, Amin Maher), her sister, a bride, a prostitute, and a woman on her way to prayer. One of the major plots during the film is the driver’s divorce from her (barely seen) husband, and the conflict that this causes between mother and son. Much of the cast were untrained as actors, and the film has an improvisatory element. Elements of the characters were based on the actual life of the main actress and her son. The film was recorded on two digital cameras, one attached to each side of a moving car, showing the driver and passenger respectively. The film explores personal social problems arising in Iranian society, particularly the problems of women. (source)

You may be thinking Sita-ji, what does this have to do with Bollywood or the Indian film industry? Well just DEKH who he’s compared with here, some bahut famous Indian film makers!

Though Kiarostami has been compared to Satyajit Ray, Vittorio de Sica, Éric Rohmer, and Jacques Tati, his films exhibit a singular style, often employing techniques of his own invention. (source)

and

Kiarostami, along with Jean Cocteau, Derek Jarman, and Gulzar, is part of a tradition of filmmakers whose artistic expressions are not restricted to one medium, but who show the ability to use other forms such as poetry, set designs, painting, or photography to relate their interpretation of the world we live in and to illustrate their understanding of our preoccupations and identities. (source)

kiarostami_28_08_04

Now if Kiarostami is mentioned in the same company as Satyajit Ray and Gulzar, I say that I’ll see more of his films!

I found a few more Bollywood similarities, firstly, the mention of orphans, so very Bollywood, na?

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There is also a lot of sound metaphysical advice given out, also typically Bollywood.  One of my favorite parts came when Mania Akbari’s character tried to comfort her friend who was just dumped with  practical and spiritual advice. I also liked how her friend cut her hair all off in order to move on from her loss.  Here are some of those images:

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I’m almost done posting on Iranian filums and will show you one more tomorrow.  As usual, I’d love to hear you’ve seen this film or any more of  Kiarostami’s works.  I know I’d like to see more of his films, though my dil is firmly in the land of Indian films now and forever.

Parichay (1972) and Baby Pinky

parichay

Parichay (1972) is inspired by The Sound of Music (1963), except for it’s splendidly Bharaticized.

Jeetendra is sent to teach Pran’s five grandchildren, the eldest of whom is played by Jaya Bhaduri. Their father Sanjeev Kumar, a talented musician, died after his wife’s death, so the children were sent to live with their paternal grandfather. The children have driven away their previous tutors and in turn, get corporal punishment by their aunt. After Jeetendra comes, the children play tricks on him too, but his gentle manner and patient methods win them over. He and Jaya Bhaduri fall in love, and the end credits indicate that there will be a wedding between them. (source)

I found this Parichay poster pictured below in Karen’s gallery. I wanted to include it to ask you if you’ve noticed in a lot of Jaya’s earlier work how she sticks the tip of her thumb and finger to her teeth and lips in an attempt to look coy and bashful. I don’t think that’s too cute, and once I noticed it, I kept noticing it. Look! If I ever meet Jaya, I’m going to do that myself while looking at her and see how she likes it.

Parichay.karenjpg

You get your Pran, Jeetendra, Jaya and cute kid fix with this film, but my favorite performer of all was Baby Pinky!

parichay.babypinky.credit parichay.munni.tongue

parichay.jeetendra.pran.1

Jeetendra’s character is called in to straighten up and teach Rai Saheb’s (Pran) unruly and orphaned grandchildren.

parichay.jeetendra.pran

I’ll go out on a limb and say the grandchildren may be acting up because their parents are DEAD and now that they live with grandpa, they’re treated like this:

parichay.pranand like this:

parichay.mean

Enter Ravi, who meets the cute kids:

parichay.kids.names

Look at the especially cute Sanjay (Master Raju) and Meeta (Baby Pinky):

parichay.kids

Now let me indulge you with more of Baby Pinky. Good thing this is an old movie and I’m in the USA, because I’m telling you, if I were anywhere near Baby Pinky during the time this film was made, I would have kidnapped her! Who would you kidnap from the film?

Please note in the photo below that Jaya is holding Pinky:

parichay.kids.2

She has to clamp Pinky down, because if she does not this is what happens:

parichay.babypinky.dances

I can’t get enough of Baby Pinky:

parichay.babypinky.dance.2 parichay.babypinky.dance

parichay.babypinky

I know you’ll enjoy Sa Re Ke Sa Re with music by R. D. Burman, lyrics by Gulzar and playback singers Kishore Kumar & Asha Bhosle. Be sure to watch Baby Pinky’s super dance scene 2 minutes into this video.

Thanks to yuanyuanyuanyin for posting this video. Stop by her youtube channel for many Hindi treasures.

maria_hills_guitar_children_singing_lessons_music

Extra credit:

Watch the Do Re Mi clip from Sound of Music to compare it with Sa Re Ke Sa Re.

You can watch all of Parichay online HERE.

Now go  see  Memsaab’s Parichay review.