Ab Kya Hoga (1977)
Watching a mystery without subtitles is like...um...it's...it's a dumb idea, is what it is. Fortunately, Ness has seen it with subtitles and could help me out, and I enjoyed it for the Neetu Singa/Shatrughan Sinha jodi. It's not my favorite for her (Amitabh Bachchan is, believe it or not—I know, sacrilege) but it is my favorite for him, and for whatever reason I often like his brand of swaggering, shouty ridiculousness. Features of this film include Neetu being as good as always but in a different, more brooding and ghosty sort of way; a fantastic rip-off-mask-to-reveal-true-identity moment; helpful Ranjeet lounging on a circular bed as his shirt strains open at the buttons*;
Khooni Murdaa (1989)
The internet tells me this is a re-hash of Nightmare on Elm Street, which I have never seen because it sounds way, way, way too scary. I'm kind of grateful for Indian low-budget horror movies because I don't find them way, way, way too scary, so I can watch them without covering my eyes and thus begin to learn a little bit about the vast world of international horror films.
Mr. Romeo, a role that could hardly be more different. My favorite death in the film is the monster inhabiting someone's girlfriend and then luring the boyfriend on to a bed and making out with him before the monster/girl bites his tongue and stretches it out of his mouth, using it to tie the guy to the bed and throwing him out a window. You can learn more about Khooni Murdaa at the site of my Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit colleague Ninja Dixon.
Pyasi Chudail (1998?)
This is my favorite of the 3-in-1 horror DVD that I purchased for reasons I no longer remember (the others being Khooni Murdaa and Pyaasi Bhootni). It's the Hindi dub of a Tamil film, apparently, and has the chestnut storyline of a witch possessing an innocent bystander and using the victim to take revenge for some long-ago wrong. But no matter—it's totally entertaining for the same sort of "collection of small delights and treasures" reason that Ab Kya Hoga? is. That's a good thing, too, since the basic plot is so predictable. Look at this credit sequence. How can you not enjoy this?
|I can't remember if What's Your Rashee? includes the Chicago skyline, but if not, this film gets the honor of being the first Indian film I've seen with the Hancock Tower in it. Also, Oprah's building is the tall wavy black one on the right, so you all know where to throw eggs.|
|She should probably have gloves on, but at least she's cleaning the magical amulet with a tiny paint brush instead of bleach or something.|
|I'm going to make a horror film called Khooni Scrunchie.|
Bombaiyer Bombete (2003) (Bengali)
Now, finally, we will have some truly mini reviews. I was just typing "This is a terrible film" when I realized that it didn't even make enough of an impression on me for that to be fair...unless you count lack of impact as terrible, which is a legitimate approach, I'd say. I have a vague recollection of thinking most of the actors didn't really seem very engaged and that the overall effect was sloppy. The plot, which loosely deals with navigating mysteries and crimes in the film world of Bombay, has no teeth.
Ekdom dekhben na. Jaachetai. Which I'm told by a top advisor is the Bengali equivalent of "Avoid, yaar," my lowest rating for a film.
A special note to those still suffering from Inspector-Rana-from-Kahaani hangovers and happy to see Parambrata Chatterjee in a Bengali film on DVD with subtitles: this is still not worth watching. He hardly speaks. Bhooter Bhobishyot is oodles better than this. Heck, even Baishe Srabon, which cured me of said hangover, is better than this, even disregarding all factors other than Parambrata.
When I realized that the writer/director of this, Vinay Shukla, was also the writer/director of Godmother, a little lightbulb went off in my head and I was able to see in Mirch some interesting commentary on women as possessing—and even enjoying—self-directed, autonomous sexuality. Before that, though, I kept thinking of Mixed Doubles and other films that try so hard to be sexy or erotic or bold or "modern" but just end up being soooo clunky. It's like the sex in the films is a bowling ball that they insist on lugging around but repeatedly drop, barely missing your toes. There are a few moments in Mirch that are alluring, but mostly it's silly. Maybe it's supposed to be? Also, it is a catastrophic mistake to cast Arunoday Singh, whom I hear is howlarious in Jism 2, in not one but four roles, all of them supposedly as attractive and three of them as a maha studmuffin. Laughable.
On the other hand, it was great fun to ask twitter what "major studmuffin" would be in Hindi. "Chutiyatic," suggested one friend/author (get his book!). "Maha stud-bhai," said another very erudite young man.
Paan Singh Tomar (2012)
I hate to end on a downer, but all I have to say about this is that 1) Irrfan Khan has again proven himself through and through and 2) the futility of PST's story (at least as presented in the film) is so overwhelming that by the end of the film all I could do was bang my head (gently) on the wall. The character himself is at least not so depressed that he was unable to try to progress—that's quite significant, I think, his maintenance of a sort of not-entirely-thought-out and very simple effort while recognizing that life is wildly unfair, yet also somehow never being defeated by that injustice—but that's sure how I felt. If you saw this film and were left with anything other than a sense of bleakness, please tell me about your experience in the comments.
* I'm sorry the pictures are so bad. Believe me, this particular Ranjeet would make anyone's day. On that subject, when I tweeted this picture while watching the film, I was accused of being under the influence of too much Ranjeet. As if there could be such a thing.
** I can now die happy.