I have some 500 VCDs or DVDs of old Hindi films; I like to buy these disks the way a book lover likes to buy books. After buying these disks I lovingly enter the film details in an Excel spreadsheet and then arrange the disks on my shelf in alphabetical order.
I must however confess that I never actually see these films. This bothers me, but then I realize that most people who buy books don’t read them either! And books cost much more than disks.
Recently I resolved to make a serious effort to see one film every Sunday morning. But when I faced the dilemma of which film to pick I decided to follow the alphabetical order.
But ‘A’ had too many films that you see all the time on TV: Anand, Amar Akbar Anthony, Abhimaan, Anari etc. So I jumped to B; B seemed to have names that were more unfamiliar and mysterious.
Here therefore are brief reviews of some of my recent B films:
I first picked Bandini — the last masterpiece created by Bimal Roy, and released early in 1963.
I absolutely loved it although it was also emotionally very challenging.
Nutan is in jail with a past; she has actually murdered someone. So when the young and incredibly handsome jail doctor Dharmendra proposes marriage to her, she refuses.
She had lost her heart to a freedom fighter — Ashok Kumar — who then apparently ditches her to marry a mad and obnoxious woman. It is this woman that Nutan poisons.
In the last scene, Nutan is released from jail and heading towards Dharmendra’s house to finally start a happy life. But on the way she meets an ailing (and probably dying) Ashok Kumar who tells her that he had sacrificed his love for her because, by marrying the other girl, the freedom movement would receive tremendous impetus.
Nutan knows what she must do: take care of Ashok Kumar till he dies.
Bin Badal Barsaat
I settled down just after 11 am on Sunday morning to see Bin Badal Barsaat. With Biswajit and Asha Parekh the going was tough. But it had an unusual story. An old family curse threatens to kill off Biswajit’s wife within the first year of marriage. Biswajit is scared, but Asha is fearless. They get married. During their first year they have many close shaves (chandeliers falling, car brakes failing, hypnotic trances, poisonous snakes etc.) but Asha survives.
How? Kaise? Because they avoid physical intimacy for one year! The evil spirit is mighty frustrated. It can’t kill Asha because she isn’t REALLY married.
I had seen this old Rishi Kapoor film ages ago. I remember it was also S D Burman’s last film, released after he died or just about then.
This film, directed by Pramod Chakravarty, is racy. I’m amazed at its technical quality given that it was released in 1975-76.
Rishi Kapoor is young, silent and thirsty for revenge. His baap (Shreeram Lagoo) has been bumped off by four smugglers: Ajit, Prem Chopra, Manmohan and Sujit Kumar and Rishi tracks them down in Las Vegas, New York, Paris and Madrid and finishes them off after much intrigue, drama and song. Other old favourites like Ashok Kumar and Madan Puri embellish the cast.
It was good to see Las Vegas and NY as it appeared some 40 years ago, especially after my recent visits to the US. The only horror is Shoma Anand as the heroine. The greater horror is that a lovely Reena Roy is only a supporting actress who is quickly bumped off by Ajit’s men.
I hate it when pretty girls are bumped off.
Bees Saal Baad
I picked Bees Saal Baad chiefly for Hemanta’s superb compositions: kahin deep jale kahin dil, sapne suhaane ladakpan ke, bekaraar karke hame, zaraa nazron se kehdon ji etc.
And because I knew it to be an Indian adaptation of Hound of the Baskervilles.
There was also the promise of seeing a young Waheeda Rehman.
But the film was a little disappointing. Much of the action happens in the dark. Biswajit, making his debut, is insipid, and the comedy track with Asit Sen goes nowhere.
Waheeda’s role isn’t sufficiently well-defined, and there’s a clear attempt to model her on the lines of Vyjayantimala in Madhumati — which fails.
When the film ended I realised that I would have been much better off only seeing the song sequences (actually only *hearing* them).