Monday, December 15, 2003

patth, maha chor

Patth reminds me of Lal Salaam. Both had Sharad Kapoor (who really needs to work on cultivating some acting skills). And both seem good in concept, and tired in realization. Patth has just one song --- a title song sung by Sonu Nigam that comes up prominently at two points in the film. But even then it's a drag. It's been-there-done-that déjà vu. Payal Rohatgi is irritating with her South Bombay excursions into streetwalker lingo. Think Supari. Think countless other recent movies that try to cash in on the "violence begets violence" theme. Loud or bad acting is the order of the day. And the background score by a trio called bapi-tutul-johny sucks (a little fragment from ARR's haunting theme for Bombay kept reappearing). A good exercise is to spot the other movie references in the film including posters (Aankhen -- the new one, Pyar Diwana Hota Hai, Devdas -- the new one) and bar songs. And there's another attempt to cash in on the "gang killing against the backdrop of the ganpati festival". Sheesh. Pa(t)thetic.

The good thing about Maha Chor, a late 70s Kaka starrer with music by R D Burman (which explains why I watched it) is that the print is surprisingly good (perhaps not too many people watched it!). And then you have Anand Bakshi warbling for Kaka. But there are lots of gaffes, and the plot is a tired variation on the Robin Hood theme. But you have the convoluted association graph mapping and relating different characters (royalty, enmity, Kaka in a double role, hindu muslim riots followed by a pacifying song). And there's the dependable villainous Prem Chopra (jab sataraa\-sau saaTh be\-imaan mare the tab prem si.nh paidaa huaa thaa). And the weepy whiny Kamini Kaushal. Watch out for Kaka's different personae: Johnny Fernandes, Pandit Chirag, and Dr Muthuswamy. Jagdish Raj reappears as the police inspector, and perhaps as a tip-of-the-hat, Kaka's character at one point explicitly asks for Inspector Jagdish Raj. Awesome narrative moment: In order to impersonate the lost heir to a kingdom's riches, Kaka's character needs a scar on his left hand. Kaka refuses to damage his hand. That night Prem issues an order of arson on Kaka's slum. Kaka's little sidekick (a kid, for more weepy value) is shot and Kaka holds a lamp for the doctor as he attempts to extract the bullet. Kaka loses his balance and the clay lamp breaks, so Kaka supports the flame in his left palm until Doc finishes the bullet operation. The result: the required scar. As the coincidence meter soars, let me leave you with another titular Kaka-ism: kal tak mai.n ek chor thaa. aaj ek maa.N ke pyaar ko churaakar mahaa chor ban gayaa. But lots of interesting words to learn in the film.

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