Friday, May 17, 2002

Movies from yesterday

Since our blessed television set was accomodating I got to finish off watching a couple of movies lying around at home.

The first was the director's cut (although unfortunately still massacred by pan-and-scan) of The Wild Bunch. The tape also had the nominated documentary The Wild Bunch: An Album in Montage. Truly a great movie, matched in its hard-edged portrayal of social outcasts bound together by friendship and a code of honour by few other films. The violence shocks and stuns but never seems copious or unnecessary. Able performances from Hollywood regulars William Holden and Ernest Borgnine, a serviceable background score from Jerry Fielding, numerous edit montage sequences (the film set a record for more edits than any other film up to its time) mark this effort from maverick director Sam Peckinpah who later went on to make the shocking Straw Dogs and the cult favourite Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia. Some great lines too: We all dream of being a child again, even the worst of us, perhaps the worst most of all. and the memorable (and pivotal) exchange between Pike and Dutch that ends as
Pike: It's his word!
Dutch: That ain't what counts. It's who you give it to!

Do Chor: Produced by Raj Khosla and directed by his assistant Padmanabh and set in Bombay and Goa.

Synopsis (source: elsewhere): Dharmendra and Tanuja are two petty thieves. Tanuja, impersonating a boy, is in the 'business' to take revenge on the three men who duped her father and killed him. When Dharmendra learns of Tanuja's true identity, he falls in love with her and decides to help her. An impish Tanuja and pleasing songs, like Yaari Ho Gayi Yaar Se and Kaali Palak Teri Gori, make the film eminently watchable.
The good parts about the film are Tanuja's different disguises, which work rather well (unlike the pretentious audience-knows-who-I-am-and-so-should-these-goons-but-then-let-us-assume-these-guys-are-blind disguises like the refulgent coiled fake white beards and moustaches that adorned the face of Akshay Kumar in his memorable [read: forgettable] action flicks), the on-screen presence of Dharmendra (why oh why did he become an action star??) and Tanuja (the enthusiasm and bubbly charm has worn off on Kajol. Wish all film heroines had such a lack of pretense). The songs are nice enough (to add to the list: meri jaan meri jaan kahna mano), and the Goa-hippie-club dance fest (yaari ho gayi yaar se) is hilarious. Tanuja is also surprisingly bold slipping from delectable Indian saris, to men's suits, to revealing costumes. Gulp! The climactic chase/fight sequence set in a construction lot is typical low-budget Hindi stock, quite laughable and brings any credibility that any character has achieved in the course of the film to rubble. The villains of the piece are the standard 70s villains respectable members (especially K. N. Singh) of society, without machismo or over-the-top menacing grimaces and over-evil catchphrases. Passable entertainment. My biggest grouse is with the plot device that gets Tony (Dharmendra) and Bob/Sandhya (Tanuja) together for the rest of the narrative: after all she could have pretended that Bob never existed, but then we wouldn't have 2+ hourse of film and song. Grating comedy by Dhumal as Trikamdas, who blackmails the villains and names his ever-changing girlfriends after culinary items (machchi fry, jalebi kichdi pulao, biryani). And none of the respectable villains need to provide the police with their address when they report the burglaries!

Trivia: Veteran Shobana Samarth, Tanuja's mother in real life, plays her mother (hamming away at a standard now-I'm-nuts-now-I'm-not role. nice filter though), who has been the victim of the cunning Gopinath, Charandas, Bhagwandas, and Tribhuvan Singh.

In-joke: When Tony (Dharmendra) is called to the police station and asked for his alibi at 11 pm on the night of the burglary at the residence of Seth Gopinath (which forms the backdrop for the credits, presented with a blinds-in effect against a serviceable motif from R. D. Burman), he replies that he was watching Mera Gaon Mera Desh at Supreme Cinemas. That was a 1971 film directed by Raj Khosla (producer of this film) and starring Dharmendra.

Unanswered question: What does 'lak-tunu-tunu' mean anyway? Not only does it feature in the 'yaari ho gayi yaari se' song, but also in the final conversation between Tony and Sandhya.

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