Does this mean I lack the Shammi Appreciation Gene? Surely not! How can this be? I really do like Teesri Manzil even though I can never figure out what to write about it; I've even used it as a gateway movie for two different friends who both want to learn about Bollywood, figuring it's so fantastic that no one could possibly not enjoy it. Rajkumar was fun too - bunnies! Katrin loves Shammi. Greta loves Shammi. What is wrong with me? Kashmir Ki Kali (do not abbreviate!) started out okay, and it was full of general good cheer and pretty things to look at, but its second-half decline took it to the land of tiresome and silly and I just wasn't willing to go with it. I don't know why. There's nothing wrong with it, really:
- Shammi is fun (though a few of those mad cackles were enough for me - that shtick repeated too many times), and who doesn't love a good Shammi-shimmy from time to time?
- Sharmila is cute (though distractingly young-looking - I kept thinking she looked about 12 [and like a boy at that - baby Saif in a wig!] and therefore far too young to be in a love story with a 33-year-old).
- Pran is deliciously oily, and his attempts at manipulating other characters elicited much boo-hissing.
- So basically, the three major players are all in good control of their talents, which is always nice, especially when the story is no great shakes.
- The songs are luscious, especially "Subhanallah Haseen Chehra," when I kept saying "This is GREAT" out loud, and "Yeh Chaand Sa Roshan Chehra," when I wanted to move into the song and hang out with Sharmila's friends, giggling on their boats in the background.
- Many people pretend to be something they aren't; off the top of my head, only Sharmila's ingenue is without a secret or ulterior motive.
- The family melodrama in the second part careens among coincidences yet leaves one major question unaddressed (at least, as far as I could tell based on subtitles).
- Shammi and Pran's fight scene at the end is excessive, and then the movie just stops with zero resolution.
Update to post (June 23, 2008): Oops! Apparently I should not write at 2:00 in the morning, because the feedback in the comments on this post so far indicates that I wasn't being clear. Somehow I expressed that I do not like Shammi, but that is not what I meant. I do like Shammi, or at least non-old Shammi, in the three things I've seen him in. He's totally fun; his energy is amazing, his dancing vivacious, his vocal stylings creative, and his commitment to his portrayals admirable. (I have yet to see him in "you say lover boy, I say stalker" mode, though I've heard about it from various people, and I can't imagine I'd like it.) This movie may even be a worthy showcase of his talents - it's got dancing and fighting and wooing and tenderness and all that. However, the whole package of this movie did nothing for me, and in fact I found it tiresome towards the end, even though it is not notably different from lots of other Hindi films that I find enjoyable or even adore, particularly 70s masala, as Filmi Geek points out in her comment. [Shrugs.] I think Filmi Girl's and Memsaab's comments may hold the answer - that Sharmila's character here is not a sturdy enough foil for him in this particular setting.
So maybe I'll end up agreeing with Naseeruddin Shah - Shammi is great, but he never made a great movie. Teesri Manzil still ranks very high with me, and at this point in my Indian movie education, I'll gladly call it great. And to me that would be the litmus test Shammi movie (as evidenced by me loaning it out to people who are unfamiliar with Indian movies) - Shammi and almost everything/one else work really well, not just Shammi himself. That is, if you don't like Shammi when he is surrounded by a great cast, super music, and a pretty tight story, then quite possibly you won't like him anywhere. And anyway, as Memsaab says in her comment, differences are what make life interesting.