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Showing posts from August, 2013

Mithun + long-lost brothers + martial arts + disco = Karate

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I've just turned in my most glamorous, sparkly, vaguely inappropriately choreographed friendly appearance yet! Go on, grab a front row seat over at fellow MOSS agent and old friend Die Danger Die Die Kill and revel in the under-loved Mithun Chakraborty gem Karate.
Many thanks to Temple over at Cinema Chaat, who first brought this film to my attention and even sent me her VCDs. And please read her catalog of the socks of Chiranjeevi.

Bengali film roundup

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I meant for this to be a trio of reviews on Bengali films made in the last half dozen years, but Ballygunge Court was so bad—or at least "not inspiring patience, perhaps due to factors other than the film's inherent qualities (though perhaps not)"—that I turned it off after ten minutes.

Jora Dighir Chowdhury Paribar (1966)
Despite its screenplay by Mrinal Sen based on a novel by Pramathanath Bishi and starring many major names, I have found extremely little information about this film, including confirmation of involvement by that Mrinal Sen. It's a pretty film but also a sad one, which I have come to expect from anyfilm that romantically pairs Soumitra Chatterjee and Madhabi Mukherjee. That feeling is also introduced right away with the titles scrolling over beautiful, desolate palaces, leading eventually an old man who stumbles through his abandoned-looking home.
Is he a ghost or an actual human? Hard to say, and the film implies it doesn't really matter, so ru…

the Ganguly, Mukherjee, and Samarth family tree

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This group might boggle the mind even more than the Kapoors—to whom, thanks to Kishore Kumar's countless marriages, they are also connected. In college, I had a giant chart of the English royal family since the early medieval period (history major WHAT WHAT), and this one is no less complex. I don't have the words to express how amazed I am by all of this, the layer upon layer of connections, even though there is nothing new in families staying in the same business across generations or in allying with others in the same field. 
Horrifying corollary: if Rani Mukherjee marries Aditya Chopra, then Uday Chopra and Satyajit Ray will be distantly related. Only by marriage, but still.  Previous family tree projects: the Irani sisters (including Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, and Farah Khan), the Feroz and Sanjay Khans and Roshans (with Mumtaz!),  Satyajit Ray to Mithun Chakraborty (which shows the link to the Kapoors), and the Kapoors (which I need to re-do in a more visually clear an…

Purab Aur Pachhim

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The thing about Manoj Kumar as the director in this film is that he's always up to something interesting, and as much as I may disagree with some of his values or how he portrays them, I certainly cannot accuse him of being boring or thoughtless. Even before the film has introduced its (anti?)heroine, he switches from black and white to color as time leaps forward from the 1940s to the 60s, gives a doozy of a patriotic-looking song introduced by an emcee mired in the debate over using Hindi or English, and uses typeface and background imagery to underscore the contrasts implied by the title. Just like the work of Feroz Khan at the other end of the moral spectrum of films with a writer/director/producer/star, there is always something going on in any frame.  Also, a very young Vinod Khanna is in it. You know the hero is also the writer when he has a secondary heroine who is in love with himself even though Vinod is in love with her. There is even a scene that made me laugh out loud…

Jana Aranya

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[Probably spoiler-y but no more so than any other article about this film.]
There's a ten-second sequence about half an hour into Jana Aranya that exemplifies what a fantastic movie it is. Somnath (Pradip Mukherjee), a recent college graduate, is plodding through the Calcutta streets looking for work and slips on a banana peel thoughtlessly tossed aside by Bishu (Utpal Dutt), an older gentleman. Onlookers laugh, and Bishu turns around and realizes with some distress what has happened. He and Somnath then recognize each other, and as they exchange pleasantries, the camera angle switches from Somnath surrounded by street wares and passers-by to face Bishu directly, framing him under a giant hoarding for toilets.
What you do not know as you watch this scene initially is that Bishu will soon become Somnath's mentor in business, offering him a door into a line of work as a supplier of basically anything anyone needs, sharing space in his office, and introducing him to various usef…