Maha Badmaash

What a silly movie this is. And I mean that in a good way. Maha Badmaash was tons of fun while it lasted - and with twin Neetu Singhs and an evil Vinod Khanna, how could it not be?

- but a few weeks after watching it, I hardly remember it at all. This post is going to read like a a savvy masala wishlist, so full of wonderful R(ecommended) M(asala) A(llowance) ingredients is this film, but one-time director R. G. Thaker didn't really know what to do with them. (Side note: R. G. Thaker is the only Hindi film cast or crew working in the 70s I've ever looked up on imdb who has only one film to their credit. I'd love to know what happened!) I can't find much information on writer Faiz Salim either, and if he's the same person listed in imdb, then he appears to be on his first venture as well. Probably not the best idea for making a quality film, even with reliable, familiar elements.

I don't know why this movie isn't better. The performances range from adequate (Om Shivpuri as a mysterious figure in a horrible wig) to fun (Vinod swaggering around as one of the big boss's hand-selected elite bad guy squad) to the kind of feisty that brings me back to 70s films time and time again (NEETU! NEETUNEETU!). It lacks much emotional draw, which is perhaps the major culprit in making it so unmemorable. Even the backstory scenes of the Neetus being separated at childhood by their parents' divorce and them finding out that they're sisters have no pull or punch. "Yes yes, of course," I thought. "Let's see more cigarette holders, villain hazing techniques, and the infamous swim trunks, if you please!"

So yeah. It's not a great film but I really enjoyed it while it was on the screen. If you have a copy handy, watch and enjoy. If you don't, or cannot be arsed to hunt it down after such a lukewarm assessment, enjoy this illustrated ingredient list!

In the first three or so minutes of the film, a non-stop barrage of masala-style treachery lets us know this badmaash is very maha indeed and is not to be trifled with. In his first speech along, a mysterious mastermind named Mogambo, who only exists in scenarios in which you cannot see his face,

The name to have. I wonder if this is the first Mogambo villain? The trend had to start somewhere!
complete with Bond-required evil kitty-cat

and "African" henchmen in

brings up perilous cartogrpahy, rape, parental love, and patriotism!

Even the accessories in this first scene are spectacular - hot pants, go-go boots, a walking stick, dragons on the wall of the lair, and the floating head voiceover effect! The film quickly catapults on to a nightclub, where the cartographer's daughter and rocker of the go-go-boots, Pinky (Neetu), has the task of seducing local big bad man Ratan (Vinod).

Masala law: the bigger the bow tie, the badder the man?
The nightclub is faux Egyptian

and Neetu vamps it up gloriously.

I do love how unabashed this character is, and it's difficult to say whether Neetu or Bindu is the more effective vamp in this film. Bindu might win

just because the man she sets her sights on (Mike, Pinky's ick-tastic boyfriend, played by Imtiaz Khan)

is so repellent...and she has to do her vamping dressed as an imperial Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. (For my non-American readers, they were considered the prettiest of the pretty when I was about six years old.)

It is a special kind of joy when swaggering macho men drink out of fine porcelain.

And booze!

Pretty leads.

Why yes, yes you are.

I know this bar with the sparkly blue eyes...but from where?

Patriotism! Self-sacrifice!



Good typos in this one too.

Excellent signifier of the non-Pinky twin.

As in Rafoo Chakkar, I am struck by how much a lighter-eyed Neetu Singh reminds me of Rani Mukherjee.
And yes, the blue-eyed one is the good one. Sigh.

Ridiculous villain hazing/training systems: stick trainee in a room, drop the temperature until ice forms on the walls, and make him sit in there for ages while you monitor a bunch of meaningless dials! I was pleased that Ratan does actually have to endure some cold temperatures later in the film...but not for as long or in as cold a place as this test.

Like Shetty on the block of ice in Chori Mera Kaam, I kind of wonder if this sequence is in the film just because the filmmakers wanted to see if they could pull it off. If so, well done.

And the clothes!

Bad guy is wearing a huge pink tie, a black sheer shirt with dots, and a polka-dot trimmed fedora. If "deranged pimp" reads as "badass" to you, then his work here is done.

The bellbottoms that ate Bombay!

Some great subtitles. I didn't notice any mistake-laden howlers but there were lots of sentences that amused me even in context. Looking after the drama is a filmi star's first task, no?

Again, thank you Professor Obvious. Though it is satisfying when Hindi film characters act like they do in fact watch Hindi films.*

Whereas Shetty is clearly very behind on his masala assignments:


Lyric 1) I didn't even know what this one meant in the context of the song; lyric 2) I'm not sure I want to know why this quality needs to be enumerated in a seduction song.

Completely unnecessary text:

No, he meant that he flew from London to Hindustan for one of those famous miraculous masala torso transplants. It was impossible not to talk back to the screen during this movie. The following might be my favorite piece of Indian English (as represented in film subtitles):

In mainstream American English, at least, this means the opposite of what the characters are clearly expressing. I've never quite gotten to the bottom of why this seemingly contradictory structure is so common and I would love to be enlightened.

Comedy that wasn't.


We are not amused.

That pool!

Baby Neetus!

If there were ever any doubt who Ranbir's mom is, the photo on the left should clear it right up.

For all my fellow librarian Bolly fans!

And how 'bout those swim trunks?

I'm not sure what, if anything, could possibly top Vinod's tighty-stripies, so I won't even try.

* And so irritating when they don't. Why do characters trust Prem Chopra, for example? And why does Jeevan ever think he will succeed at anything? I'd like a name for this phenomenon (other than "It's fiction and they are acting," spoilsport.)


Sharmi Adhikary said…
looks like an absolute commercial potboiler. I guess if nit for Neetu Singh this one wouldn't have been half as exciting, isn't it?
memsaab said…
I remember it as exhausting. So full of stuff to look at, but so lacking in any kind of sense. Not that any of that is a bad thing.
Filmi Girl said…
We do need a name for Clueless Character Syndrome and it's opposite... Self-Aware Character Syndomre - like when Sonu Sood thinks that he is the hero of the story in Dabangg!!

I forget what film I was watching - a Southie masala film - but Prakash Raaj is playing a judge/the hero's dad and he recognizes something is up with the case he is hearing because they call as witness these rowdies who play rowdies in like every film ever. That's his only clue but it's enough!! It was hilarious!
harvey said…
This was an half an hour ROTFL read!
just loved it?

"Why do characters trust Prem Chopra, for example?"

Why does my uncle trust his son with money?

so on and so forth!
Sharmi - That sums it up! The leads save this one.

Memsaab - Yep. Say, did you recognize the bar with the blue eyes on the wall? I KNOW I have seen it before and figured you would know where :)

Filmi Girl - YES! Those are exactly the syndromes!!! CCS will do for now though I'd love to have a proper pronounceable acronym like SACS :) Though for people who do not like irony in their films, these are avoidable concepts. I, however, LOVE my irony.

harvey - Yay! :) Would love your take on the Prem situation - even the most un-self-aware characters should know better with Prem or Ranjeet....
Ava said…
Often, when people translate, they stick to the grammatical structure of their mother tongue. In the line 'Until Mike Sahib..' the translation is a like a word to word replacement of an english word for a hindi one :- Jab tak Mike Sahib nahi aate, mein kuch nahi kar sakta.
Banno said…
I can't believe the blue-eyed Neetu was the good one. Until Ash came along, light-eyed girls were meant to be vamps. I'd see it just for 2 Neetus. :)
avdi - That's what I assumed was going on :) Interesting that the "logic" of the sentence is the opposite in English.

Banno - Oooh that's interesting! I will have to watch for that among all the interesting colored contacts out there! Blue-eyed Neetu is not as interesting as normal Neetu, if I recall - normal one tries to seduce Vinod mwahahahahaha.
Anonymous said…
The flexibility of arms thing - the hindi words for "salt" and "flexibility" ( "namak" and "lachak") rhyme which would be enough reason really to have the song done that way.
Then also "salt of your face" loosely translates to - that which makes your face special or character of your face and flexibility was a desirable characteristic since all the women did was dance...
anon - EXCELLENT! I would never have gotten all that from the subtitles - thank you!
Love the vampy Neetu, her style in taht screencap is utterly Ghetto Fabulous with the hoops and all
Filmbuff said…
Cracked up with laughter on reading "if there was any doubt about who Ranbir Kapoor's mom is then the photograph on the left will confirm!

I have added all these Neetu films to my list coz i was not aware of any of these! Thanks for the very interesting and fun writeups on these neetu films
Filmbuff said…
Cracked up with laughter on reading "if there was any doubt about who Ranbir Kapoor's mom is then the photograph on the left will confirm!

I have added all these Neetu films to my list coz i was not aware of any of these! Thanks for the very interesting and fun writeups on these neetu films
bollywooddeewana - Isn't she amazing? This makes me want to search around for more Neetu cabaret-ish clips!

Filmbuff - Hee! Someone pointed out to me that while Kapoor genes seem to be really strong, given how similar all the members of the family look in some way or other, Neetu Singh's genes must be even moreso to override them so much in Ranbir :)

I hope you've been enjoying your Neetu binge! Let me know what you watch and what you think!

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