Sunday, March 14, 2004

Chopra's fog aka how to butcher a perfectly good premise with shoddy filmmaking

While the announcement to confer the Dadasaheb Phalke Award on B R Chopra was met with the usual media splurge of news articles and special features, several patrons (including myself) of the NFAI Film Club in Pune were distraught. The reason: our schedule for movies (which covered several Saturdays across several months) was inundated with B R Chopra films -- someone's idea of a tribute. Now one of the cool things about the Film Club (ostensibly, it would appear given this Chopra-puke) was the chance to catch films that you might not have been able to watch otherwise, even with cable television (this was a great forward-compatible feature, since cable television came long after the Film Club was born). Although BRC had made some important contributions to mainstream cinema, his films would hardly qualify as being inaccessible. In fact, almost every selection in that list could have been found in the local Cosmos branch.

The BRC rant becomes relevant given that I finally inaugurated my first VCD, Dhund yesterday. BRC has been responsible for two songless films that even made it to the Limca book of records (although his "trendsetting" work has been superseded by RGV's Factory): Kanoon and Ittefaq. Dhund follows in the footsteps of these films in several ways: the script is a product of the BRC Story Department (credited in this film, and I am guessing, also in one of the two films mentioned previously); the film relies on a shock/twist ending you can smell a mile away and have to wade through songs (in this case) and bad editing, lighting, acting, dialogue ... blah blah blah to confirm your deduction. Ravi seems to love in hawaao.n me.n a lot, since a reworked version appears in this film. Zeenat Aman joins a stellar (read: starry) cast of wood. Navin Nischol's terrible turn shows us how his being chosen for Kukunoor's satire Bollywood Calling was such a wonderful decision. Sanjay Khan is the well-dressed Habaneros Cigar-smoking ham (NOTE: the cigar, a vital piece of evidence, is never even mentioned in one of the most contrived court scenes ever!). Ashok Kumar escapes with a "special appearance" credit, although he can't save face given all the pathetic dialogue he has to mouth. A "remastered" (why the quotes, see my Yashraj films rant!) DVD exists, but if you (a) want to get yourself a copy of this film (b) want to be $$$-smart, get the VCD. Lotsa laughs. Forget the suspense. If RGV had been chosen to make this story, we'd have had a better-made film. What we have here are the usual elements of poor mainstream cinema (inept cops, loud comedy, Jayshree T and Padma Khanna). For the record, record-holder Jagdish Raj plays Inspector Bakshi. Danny got a break with his turn as a ranting crippled husband. Trivia note: The background cops Isaac Hayes's theme for Shaft.

NOTE: Not to be confused with the Hindi_name__English_meaning entry from the Ramsay camp called Dhund: the Fog.

Another review of the film complete with vidcaps and salacia.

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