Friday, June 20, 2003

acid-washed nautch poetry

Caught chunks of Kamal Amrohi's literary uneven paean (as it turned out) to his dying wife Meena Kumari, who essays a double role (mother, daughter) as women caught in the web of mujras and social stigma. The songs (whose reuse in East is East raised a minor dust puppy made this film a classic. The acting is really nothing to rant about. Ashok Kumar ends up looking as out of place as Dilip Kumar did in Mughal-e-Azam. Amrohi fails in making the film a literary watershed --- the heavy Urdu soon jars, which is unfortunate. Besides, Meena Kumari can't dance -- which is more than a little letdown, because she plays a courtesan. Amrohi scores primarily in the visuals, but the print that TCM had acquired yesterday for their Bollywood month was pathetic --- note: they got no prints from India, afaik, and this one, like some others, came from Channel Four, who cannot be blamed at all for being helpful where mera bhaarat mahaan came up with a rotten egg.

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