When Old Is Gold reviewed this movie, I knew I had to see it. HAD TO. Fortunately, Antarra, UK representative to Shashi Pradesh, hooked me up. So much of Shashi goodness! Twice the usual amount, in fact! The bad twin is even more evil than in Haseena Maan Jayegi, and the movie is just plain ol' better than Shankar Dada - and well on the safe side of Decline and Fall Masala. And since it's 1974 and subject expert Jennifer Kendal did his costumes, Shashi goodness is at optimum, packed with Shashilicious wonders of curly hair, colorful shirts and neckerchiefs, big grins, scrumptious flirting, and The Voice at full strength. You might want to put on your protective sunglasses or risk being blinded by the powers!
If you want to know the plot, go over to OIG. She's done a very fine job, and honestly I'd rather focus on the wackadoo. Fortunately, the movie tells you its message at the end, in case you had missed it among all the fruit and backwards jumps and canoodling camels:
"The biggest sin in the world is the love of wealth. And the biggest merit is to fill your poverty with love." Actually, I'm not entirely sure the movie backs this up. If loving wealth is so bad, then why does the good twin, who is a prince, get to win a girl by buying her camels? Or maybe it's okay to enjoy your wealth if you already have it but wrong to seek wealth (and power) that you don't have? And the bad twin, who had Maa but no money, turned bad out of love for his family (he turned to a life of crime because he needed money so his child and mother didn't die of starvation); if he didn't care about anybody, he could've stayed contented with having nothing. Hmmm, that's not really adding up. Seems to me the dialogue at the end should be "Don't turn to a life of crime, even to save your family, because Maa won't love you as much if you're a thief/killer/gangster, plus you'll put your daughter's life in danger and get exhausted from all the fights. Also, even if you're rich, you should still consider using your brain from time to time and not be such a golly-gee dunderhead, especially when your previously-unknown identical twin shows up in your bedroom."
Or maybe the lesson should have been "When god closes a door, she opens a window"?
Don't worry Sharmila - there's a Shashi for everyone!
Anyway: don't covet what you don't have, and, even if you don't have much, be generous with what you do have: your big, squishy heart! Okay, I'll buy that - filmi love is in infinite supply, after all.
On to the R(ecommended) M(asala) A(llowance)s and other fun!
Present and accounted for: convoluted plotting, long-lost siblings, Maa, dishoom dishoom, a dungeon, initially unrequited love, usurping power, disguises, a pitiable child, antics, and quaint villagers. Curiously absent: buddies, a literal "Bhai?" "BHAI?" "BHAI?!?" "BHAI?!?!?!?!?!?" exchange, super-powered tears, and great songs. With the exception of the first one, "Tere Mere Pyaar Ki," in which Sharmila and Shashi are super adorable and gorgeous and endearingly romantic - and the extras get to sing too - the songs are pleasant but not memorable and do not include disco, qawwalis, or cabaret. But you'll hardly miss them, given a spunky Sharmila, two Shashis, and faaaaaarr more overacting than you'd think even two Shashis could cram into one movie. It's pretty shameful - but totally enjoyable. As Antarra said, at least he's committed to the parts. Hot on the heels of Shashi Week, BLB declares this movie sufficently stylish, super fun, and a fine addition to anyone's masala menu. Written and directed by Prayag Raj,* it's no surprise.
Who is she? She's Sharmila Tagore, and she's fantastic! Jugni is no nonsense!
Good twin Ganga falls in looooove!
More hero leg than heroine! Wowza!
Hai hai mirchi!
Poor Aruna Irani. She never gets Shashi. Even when he's dancing with her in the rain, it's only because his dad made him for a business deal, and his heart still belongs to Sharmila. You can tell because she's from Jodhpur and he conitnues to wear...jodhpurs! Awwww!
Still prettier as a man doing flirty heroine moves than he is in drag. So mysterious.
Baaaaaaaad twin Jwala (you can tell by the gun-kissing and half-open shiny black shirt)!
Stunts and feats of strength!
Lairs full of stairs!
Sharmila in completely unexplained and unnecessary brown face gets a delightfully ironic subtitle!
Even while drunk!
Speaking of drunk, how 'bout some falling over?
A chase through the Jantar Mantar!
Assorted silliness! (And yes, you'll see a king and a baby in a gas chamber.)
Another good subtitle!
Here's to you, RMA and double Shashi! Here's to you!
* Prayag Raj, a mighty masala hero, has writing credits for Aa Gale Lag Jaa, Parvarish, Dharam Veer, Amar Akbar Anthony, Suhaag, and Mard and directed Chor Sipahee and Coolie. This one is more like Aa Gale Lag Jaa than any of these others, I reckon, but I'd still count it as solid masala.