Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Random Movies I Like - The Gentleman (1994)

(On Dipta's request)

(I received my movie review training from "
The Guy's Guide to Guys' Videos" - that even had a section on "how to convince your girlfriend to watch this movie", immediately after "babe factor" section- so do not expect to find comparative style analysis between Bunuel and Trauffaut; or the Freudian dissection of a scene between Nirupa Roy and Amitabh and stuff like that. So, please read at your own risk.)

Mahesh Bhatt did not at all copy everything from Shankar's first movie "Gentleman". The self-ascribed 'showman' added a very significant "The" before the original Tamil title, replaced Madhu with Juhi Chawla, called up Anu Malik to Hindi-fy the original music and - most importantly - replaced water with Honey to be poured upon the heroine's navel in one of the most erotic scenes portrayed in 1990s. Bollywood had more budget in the pre-"Sivaji" days than the south.

Shankar's movies (Mudulvan, Indian etc) typically show common man taking his fight to the corrupt system and winning. While the means is not at all important, and mostly consists of twisting all possible laws, the hero always wins full approval from the mass after a fiery end- speech that justifies the cause. In "The Gentleman", Chiranjeevi plays a Robinhood who robs rich people to build a school that will train Doctors, Engineers and every possible profession one could imagine. Apparently, his brother had killed himself unable to pay the "donation" (known those days as "capitation fees") to one medical college.

I was comfortably ensconced in the cool of a pretty good Government run Engineering college that time, and was paying about Rs 300 (less than $10 a year) for the tuition for the whole year -- most of which went to pay the examination registration fees that I usually had to take multiple times to pass! But we all were aware of the dreaded "Bangalore Colleges" that used to charge 'ridiculous' monies merely for registration. So, I guess Chiranjeevi indeed should have been the hero, rather than our own Tapas Pal (whose character once actually sold his kidney to get some money for his family - "Saheb").

Anyways, we were on the last of our teenage years and watched very carefully Juhi Chawla writhing as Chiranjeevi's erect, glistening sword almost pierced through her tucked-in navel. As they say, pain is indeed mightier than the sword!

Our moral leaders were just overloaded to protest against all Govinda-Karishma Kapoor "double meaning" numbers and overlooked this.

In retrospect, one hopes the shot to pour honey on the navel was chronologically *after* the shot above. As some claim, one hopes honey indeed reduces swelling and scarring, and heals the wound faster.

Just in case anyone suspects creativity and originality of Mahesh Bhatt, let's see how the shots above looked like in the original Tamil version. As said before, in the Tamil version, the actress was Madhu.

Oh! It looks like they also changed the actual sword across two versions. The Bombay one is surely more reflective, one hopes, of deep inner creativity that Mr. Bhatt had gracefully lent to this movie as "director".

Remember that you heard it first at Gasbelly. Director Shankar has a navel fetish. Like in "Gentleman", in his later film "Mudulvan" (where an ordinary folk becomes Chief Minister for a day and change a lot in the system; later remade as "Nayak" in Hindi, I guess they could not have named it "The Mudulvan" in Hindi anymore) Manisha Koirala and Arjun (wearing the yellow shirt) pay good attention to each other's belly button. Now, isn't that navel? Oops, I mean novel!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Random Movies I Like

Ajooba (1991)

This one above, looking like a possible rival of Johnny Sokko's flying robot, is actually "fauladi shaitan" - awakened by devil Vazir Amrish Puri- that wants to take over the world. This movie is extremely cool as it shows magic carpet; Shehzada (Amitabh) initially raised by a dolphin; a Zorro like character called "Ajooba"; a full fledged fight scene between two big nations - Baharisthan and Hind - with barely 22 soldiers in each side; Amrish Puri humming "Shaitan Zindabad" in pretty much every scene he walks in; and Hasan (Rishi Kapoor) turning into a 2 inch creature after consuming a magic potion -- and -- eventually taking shelter inside Sonam's blouse.

"Ya Ali, ya Ali. Mera naam hai Ali" or "Aare tajoob hai, tune dil nahin diya?" (Followed by Bachchan's "NAHIN!") both are pretty good songs. There is also a very zany, middle-eastern theme group music - probably pictured on Sonam - that I have forgotten the lines of. I think it went something like "Shikdum shikdum" - very much like the one from Dhoom, that incidentally has copied from Turkish music too.

Even if there were many fantasy films made in Bollywood, "Ajooba" would totally have been a cult classic.

Guess who else is in this movie, and despite all great bloodshed, finished pretty much in shape? Yeah, Dilip Tahil! Man, even his lines are so simple. Like, as he enters Ajooba's den - "Hum yahan Ajooba ko dhoondne aaye hai". Duh! Thanks for telling dude. His next two lines to Amitabh are "Tujhse?" and "Kya!?". I totally envy this guy. His character, btw, is called "Shahrukh" in this movie.

I first watched this movie in 1991. I -- then about 16 years old --went to my cousin sister's wedding and was asked to greet the guests from the groom's side and have them seated well. However, around 5PM-ish -- as soon as I could manage Rs 8/- - I fled to the nearest theater and watched this movie wide-eyed. Back home, just when everyone was badly searching for yours truly, I surfaced from the side of the hall where they kept the food and gave some lame excuse like "Oh! You already got enough paan? But I was asked to go to Naran's shop and get some extra paan!!" It was a crowded wedding place and no one asked who gave such a stupid executive order especially when the caterers got more than 400 paan - of various types - along! Thankfully. Otherwise, I would have blabbered something like "Vazir-e-ala"!

Rather my uncle decided to give me a crisp Rs 20/ bill -- just in case they really needed more paan. I again went out and bought "Ajooba" audio cassette from T-series. Long live my superheroes! I was already a big, big fan of Sonam after watching her conspiratorial "Aakhri Adalat", epic "Vijay", social justice related "Na Insaafi", and a pretty good curry western type movie "Gola Barood" etc. After "Ajooba" I was totally in love with her. Especially thinking of the scene where she emerges from a bathtub and Shashi Kapoor pans the camera across, I think, 108 mirrors across the room. When 16, even a shadow of Sonam was good enough to like a movie (ahem!)and here she was in her fullest glory, in multiple disheveled avatars. That was almost near the quota for the entire year! However, the rumor started by a dear friend that she was in the buff was totally not true.