Monday, December 10, 2012

Favorites of 2012: Bollywood and Bengal

Meena Kumari as Lalita in Bimal Roy's Parineeta (The Married Woman, 1953)

This wasn't a great year for our Bollywood viewing. Films first seen this year included:
  • Anamika (The Nameless Girl, 1973): a young Jaya Bhaduri and great songs by R.D. Burman don't quite compensate for the credulity-stretching script;
  • Bhool Bhulaiyaa (The Maze, 2007) and Kismat Konnection (2008): Vidya Balan with a couple of misses after the successes of Parineeta (The Married Woman, 2005) and Lage Raho Munna Bhai (Go on, Brother Munna, 2006);
  • Dil Maange More (The Heart Wants More, 2004): Shahid Kapoor before Vivah (Marriage, 2006) or Kareena;
  • Don 2 (2011): SRK in a dispiriting and pointless sequel;
  • Ek Baar Phir (One More Time, 1980): Pradeep Verma and the lovely Deepti Naval in a too-schematic story;
  • Ek Main aur Ekk Tu (One Me and One You, 2012): Kareena in her umpteenth MPDG role;
  • Mausam (Seasons, 2011): Shahid Kapoor and (fatally) Sonam Kapoor separated once too often by history;
  • Namastey London (Greetings, London, 2007): Katrina Kaif before she got better;
  • Ra.One (2011): SRK aiming for the teen boys market;
  • Raajneeti (Politics, 2010): A Godfather remake, only without any of the touches that made Coppola's film so compelling;
  • Satyam Shivam Sundaram (True, Eternal, Beautiful, 1978): Zeenat Aman wearing a fake scar and little else. 
As my capsule descriptions imply, all were disappointing in one way or another.

Old Is Gold


My favorite Indian film of 2012 was Bimal Roy's Parineeta (The Married Woman, 1953), made 60 years ago. You can read my full-length post, with screen caps and videos, by clicking the title link. The short version of that post is that this film fully deserves its classic status; Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari give heartrending performances as the lovers separated by a family feud.


Dev Anand and Shakila in C.I.D.

 C.I.D. (1956): Coming in a close second is this effective Bollywood noir. It features Dev Anand as a detective investigating the murder of a crusading newspaper editor and Waheeda Rehman (in her (Hindi) debut!) as a femme fatale with a heart of gold (à la Gloria Grahame in Fritz Lang's The Big Heat (1953)). O.P. Nayyar's soundtrack is filled with memorable songs performed by Shamshad Begum, Geeta Dutt, and Mohd. Rafi, such as the bitterly ironic "Bombay Meri Jaan." As he did for so many Guru Dutt-produced films, V. K. Murthy provided the atmospheric black-and-white cinematography. On the Ultra DVD of the film, though, his haunting images are marred by a hideous red, white and blue logo on every frame.

Honorable mention:

Tanuja as Sunita in Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi

Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi (Spring Will Always Come Again, 1966): Until it goes off the rails with madness and melodrama in the final half hour, Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi is a compelling love triangle between investigative reporter Jitendra (Dharmendra at the peak of his attractiveness), his courageous editor Amita (Mala Sinha), and her vivacious younger sister Sunita (a charming Tanuja). When the two women discover each other's true feelings towards Jitendra, each decides to sacrifice her own love for her sister's happiness. Very much worth watching for the cast, the gorgeous black and white cinematography of K.G. Prabhakar, and the lovely music by O.P. Nayyar. As I wrote in my full-length post, "...who can resist the combination of Tanuja and Asha in "Koi Kehde"? Certainly not Dharmendra:"



More Favorites of 2012: Movies, Television, Music, and Books

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