Masalameister Desai rides again! Dharam Veer
Dharam Veer is a masala TARDIS, holding waaaaaaay more R(ecommended) M(asala) A(llowance) of blinged-out boots, pirate shirts, Elizabethan doublets, Roman sandals, feisty gypsies, hand guillotines, romantic princes, creepy statues, sworn promises, lost relatives, baby-switching schemes, court politics, sword fights, naval battles, and eye-for-an-eye justice than you imagine could possibly fit inside its perfectly normal-looking DVD box - and did I mention it also travels in time?
There was no way this wasn't going to be superwow. I loved every minute. It's got all the fantastic time/place elements of Ajooba with a tighter, funnier script (though one of the same writers, the equally accomplished Masalameister Prayag Raj) and more masterly combination of RMA elements (sorry, Shashi). Dharam Veer has so much in it, plot- and look- and attribute-wise, that it can't fit into just one state of Masala Pradesh - don't fence it in, man! - and I think a time- and space-travel metaphor is the only thing that can properly suggest its vast ramblings. Or maybe Dharam Veer is its own state, too full of cultural, temporal, and RMA diversity to be integrated smoothly into an existing category. Rum, what say you? Whatever it's doing, and where/whenever it goes, it's at the top of its game, and I'm sure I can't do it justice - for starters, I'm bound to leave something out, but more to the point, it's one of those things that has to be seen to be believed. Actual information and deatiled affection have been ably addressed in Todd's most excellent writeup at Teleport City. Instead, in my capacity as Undersecretary for Education and Culture in the great Funkadelic State of Masala Pradesh, I humbly offer you a sampler platter of some of Desai's kid-in-a-candy-store-paletted wonders.
Yippee! BLB's favorite heroine and masala-requisite Kapoor, Neetu Singh!
Pretty, pouty, weapon-wielding princess Zeenat Aman in an outfit my inner four-year-old loves breathlessly.
Garam Dharam, sporting some highly questionable costumes of varying coverage but consistent sartorial hedonism
and tossing off smarmy lines with obvious glee.
And ruffly-attired Jeetendra
forming the other half of a jodi so fine that it's the eight wonder of the world.
As loopy good fun as they are, I occasionally wondered how this movie would have worked with Shashitabh in it, but I couldn't really imagine either of them in these roles and had to admit that other actors from the Shashitabh Epoch might also be competent in such projects. Technically I've seen Jeetendra before in Aasha, but the only thing I remember about that movie is that young Hrithik Roshan dances in it, so I'm going to count this as my first Jeetendra movie. Me like!
Alright, since I brought it up: Shashi has to play Jeetendra's role, obviously. Nobody would buy Shashi as a rock-crushing blacksmith, and nobody would buy Amitabh as the royal prince if Shashi is also on screen. Now try to get the image of Shashi in that shirtless black strappy thing out of your head. Haha, made you wince!
Wee Bobby Deol!
Oh yes, and there's also samurai!
Sheroo doesn't actually talk, sadly - this text is from a voiceover of Pran's letter to the royal family - but that's his only shortcoming. He ably participates in samurai (a term the movie uses to denote a body of knowledge about fighting and defense, a meaning totally new to me) and saves heroes in assorted ways.
Proto-Shaan inside-out disco ball lounge!
Yes. Let us be grateful for small favors. Actually, I really liked this guy (and I think he's the actor who played the thakur in Purana Mandir! Ramsay Brothers to Manmohan Desai in one step!). He's very empathetic to the plight of a woman who doesn't want to be in her marriage. Score some feminist points for the writing staff (some of whom already have a lot for their work on Parvarish). But then they're going to lose them again for the weird "Dharmendra ties up Zeenat and drags her around while singing to her" number.
The masala TARDIS comes with a very well-stocked wardrobe so that inhabitants can visually blend in in whatever temporal or spatial environment they may happen to land in. Elizabethan, for example.
I hoard craft books from the 1970s, and this looks like a mash-up from a segment on how to sew costumes for the school production of The Wizard of Oz: Dorothy plaid jumper + Scarecrow yellow fringe.
Out of all of the wonderful outfits and accessories, my favorite might be the boots. Dharam Veer is a nonstop parade of them, some of which I would, in all seriousness, gladly put on right this minute.
What is Martin Crane's armchair doing in the royal palace?
There might be a joke to make here. Generosity, gifts, packages, something along those lines.
The location of the subtitles doesn't help, does it?
Random leftovers too good to omit.
Ah! And the very useful life lessons of always believing in your friends and never, ever leaving a baby alone with Jeevan.
All this and much, much more awaits you in Dharam Veer - allons-y!
Beth - Do watch Coolie someday, would love to read your comments on that... :)
The stars, great costumes, over the top story and great songs definitely make this a Bollyweed movie for sure (you gotta be smoking something to really enjoy it OR the makers were smoking something while filming it:) My uncle is actually a friend of Jeetendra's and said that Jeetusaab understood that he would never receive the accolades in acting other actors from that era would get - but it would be nice to be at least invited to some of the award shows.
Random trivia - the song 'Jaan Jaani Janardan' from the movie Naseeb (another Manmohan Desai classic) had a calvacade of guest stars ala Om Shanti Om. The supposed occasion for all the stars? Why it was a celebration for the golden jubilee (meaning a run of 50 weeks in the theater) of this very movie!
You failed to mention how hot Ranjeet is (and how pitifully unloved) though.
And Indrani's kingly husband is Pradeep Kumar, although I have thus far escaped Purana Mandir so I don't know if he was in it :-)
This was my first movie in theater when I was around 9 yrs old and I had same joyful excitement after watching it as I found in your post.
I have a question...why did you like this movie so much?
Makes you wonder what the makers were smoking when they made it - and where can I get some?! :-)
Then again, how's this idea for movie review: The Doctor gets off TARDIS in the middle of a movie, and describes what he sees :D
And that summary is actually making it sound much less weird than it is.
Todd already knows my master plan to train Pedro the Chimp to ride atop Sheroo the Wonder Bird, delivering fire and death to all those below...or glitter and bangles, if you've been nice.
Also, I should probably watch this.
I believe the forums at bollywhat.com also have at least one thread on reviewing different retailers, so you might look there to see if anyone's gotten such bad reviews that you want to avoid them. I've had good experiences with all the above places. Happy shopping
Completely OT, but I just learned that there is such a thing as apocalyptic art.
Harsh - I'll watch Coolie and you watch this, then we'll trade impressions! :) Coolie is definitely on my list - all of Desai's are unless I've been specifically and repeatedly warned away from a particular title (which I haven't).
Sanket - WOW. That's quite an indoctrination! And how symbolic - surely Desai himself could not have come up with something as rich as being en route to the motherland!
I do think this film is truly great - just because it looks insane does not mean it should be dismissed. Personally I still find Parvarish (and probably AAA as well, which I now own a copy of and will be rewatching soon) richer symbolically and in terms of message, but DV is still a very fine, very fun movie.
That's interesting about Jeetendra. I look forward to seeing more of his stuff.
I've heard about that song! I think Todd wrote it up with a picture of the cardboard standee of Dharmendra in his shorty-shorts. :)
Todd - It's the bestest. I saw another Pran movie this weekend and was disappointed at its lack of Sheroo (never mind that the movie was about a decade older than this one).
bollyviewer - Yeah, I am not much struck by its dialogues, frankly. If you can figure out who everyone is without them (or if you've seen it already), I don't think they added significantly.
Did you survive your nightmares? The other day I fell asleep after reading Filmfare and dreamed I was dating Hrithik. Nice!
ajnabi - YES. :)
Rum - This movie requires loooooooots of vowels for expressing my appreciation of it! I soooo look forward to more Sheroo! Trust you to know where he is.
memsaab - Despite its never-ending stash of good things to screen cap, there are some that are just sine qua non :) All it needs is a Defarge!
It IS him! Wow!
I'm not with you on Ranjeet, but hey, more for you!
Bhargav - Definitely do! I am confident you'll have a great time at the very least, even if your eyes are a bit scorched :)
Bitterlemons - Ha! Now I'm wondering how the outfits were received at the time the movie came out. Was there a short-lived gladiator fashion trend among the hep cats Mumbai? One can only hope! :)
sparkle - Isn't it DIVINE? I really love it. I wish I could make a Barbie version right now!
Amey - Ha! I love that idea for a review. I'll try it for Mard, maybe!
Keith - Ooooh! Lincoln! That's all this movie was missing!
Let me know when the glitter chimp/bird is coming through the central US.
Temple - Have you! I like him just fine though have not seen a lot of his stuff. He was fun in this - v swaggery, but that's what was called for. I have a pretty low beefcake threshold and this definitely stomped all over my sensitivities, but hey, I could always avert my eyes to the safety of...um...a puffy shirt? gold pants? Boots. LOVED the boots. When in doubt, look at their feet.
house - Stop winding me up. And yes, you must.
Oh, and one more note on buying DVDs: desipolitan, I have bought pirated DVDs on ebay without realizing what they were. This was when I was very new to Bollywood - and to movie-buying generally, because I think I owned about 10 DVDs total before I got into Bollywood, and most of those were gifts. I've also rented DVDs at my local Indian grocery store and been presented with a burned copy in a little plastic envelope, not the actual legit DVD in its legit box. I wish I'd had the guts to ask uncle-ji why he was charging me $2 for something that I could have downloaded for free in the convenience of my own home.
Hilarious b/c here $2 gets you a)illegal, and b) a crappy envelope containing a dvd with the film title scribbled on it in marker.
Ajnabi - Ugh work! Ugh movie that is difficult to think through! :)
desipolitan - Ha! Mine has only tried it once, but I am ever vigilant! Usually rentals are the real deal in the real box, though never with the extra features disc. NEVER.
All the best!