Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kapoor Khazana: Woo like Rishi Kapoor!

I love Rishi Kapoor as a romantic hero! He has this incredible sweetness to him, even at the height of his "sweater uncle" phase. And over the years, he's had some truly CLASSIC romantic numbers in his films, particularly in the early 80s.

Rather than just list my favorite romantic numbers of his, I found myself categorizing them and thought I'd share this mental list with you all. I found some different yet all effective ways that Rishi Kapoor wooed his heroines ...

So here is Rishi Kapoor's Guide to Wooing the Heroine of Your Dreams:


Tere Chehre Se - Kabhi Kabhie
When you're romping about in the snow, you definitely need Rishi's charm (and sweaterliciousness) to warm you up!

Mitwa - Chandni
Honeymooning in Switzerland with Rishi? Yes, please. Can I have a suitcase full of Sridevi's gorgeous saris too? And luckily Rishi can always lend you a sweater for cool, mountain evenings.

Kaise Jiyunga Mein - Sahibaan
Frolicking in the woods and misty hills! Of course seedhi-saadhi gaonwali Madhuri Dixit fell for him!


Humko To Yaara Teri Yaari - Hum Kisise Kum Nahin
You think a full leather suit would slow our Rishi down? No way! Kaajal Kiran is no match for Rishi's charms!

Rabbi Re Ralli - Yaarana
Ok, so maybe his taste was a little weird in this one since he fell head-over-heels in love with Madhuri's strawberry blonde wig, but he sure wasn't going to let her get away! I want to generally have a discussion with the costume designer for this film, but hey, the song is fun anyway.


Pakdo Pakdo - Naseeb
Yes!  Kabbadi time! How adorable is Rishi in this!


Saagar Jaisi Aankhonwali - Saagar
I can't even comment, I'm too busy swooning.

Yeh Vaada Raha - title song
One of the best Hindi love songs of ALL TIME. This one truly stands the test of time. A true classic. And Rishi uses a bit of slow dancing in his romancing with Poonam Dhillon and the great outdoors with Tina Munim ... it never hurts to serenade someone with Kishore Kumar's voice either.

Sochenge Tumhe Pyar - Deewana
I know this is supposed to be about Rishi, whose gaana has clearly charmed Divya Bharati in this song, but I am way too distracted by the background girls and their multitude of props (flags, peacock feather fans, and glittery tassels ... and that's not even counting their mullet wigs).


Kahin Na Jaa Aaj Kahin Mat Jaa - Bade Dil Wala
I love this soundtrack so much - all the songs are so fabulous. And this one is quite an earworm for me. Now Tina Munim is trying to keep Rishi from getting arrested in this song, but still she's obviously in love enough to declare it in front of an entire party (all of whom think he's married to her sister Sarika) ... and she really has to keep drawing him back with her song!

Tu Tu Tu Tara - Bol Radha Bol
Ooh I can't stand this song. It is such a poor remake of the fabulous tamil song "Raakamma Kai Thattu" from Thalapathi (Rajnikanth and Shobhana!). But man, does he make gorgeous Juhi Chawla chase!


Jaane Do Naa - Saagar
What can I say? UNF. These kids have grown up since their Bobby days! This song is HOT HOT HOT, as is Dimple in that sari.

Dhak Dhak - Gharana
A little dancing in the rain, that gets the ladies every time. Meenakshi Seshadhri is all a-flutter from Rishi's game.


Mein Der Karta Nahin - Henna
If only my husband knew that whenever he was late, all he had to do was sing this song to me as charmingly as Rishi does here, and I'd melt in his arms.

Tere Kasam Mein Hoon Tera Deewana - Prem Granth
This song has always stuck in my mind ... he is so adorably persistent! And not in a creepy stalker way, in a charming Rishi way! How can Madhuri resist?

Hoga Tumse Pyara Kaun - Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai
I love love love love this song!!! Shailendra Singh's voice is perfect for Rishi, and he has that 1,000-watt smile on full blast. He is just so winning ... I am completely smitten and have been since I first saw this movie back in the 80s. Also, sorry SRK, but Rishi sang and danced on top of a train first. Ok, so maybe his is a back-projection, but still ... he's soooo cuuuuute. Excuse me as I SWOOOON.

Hope you enjoyed this fun list, which had some of my absolute favorite songs (Hoga Tumse Pyara Kaun from ZKDH, The title song of YVR and Kahin Na Jaa from Bade Dil Wala, for example). And if you have determined some categories of Rishi Wooing that I missed, please do share them with me!

The good news is that Kapoor Khazana is extending into July, so there's still hope that I can get to my Karishma, Kareena and Ranbir posts! And I still have lots of Rishi Squeeing to do, so I'm ever so pleased that the lovely Katherine of Totally Filmi decided to continue this blogging event!

Definitely check out all the Kapoor Khazana links so far at this link.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kapoor Khazana: Kapoors do Qawwalis!

Okay, so it's a given that I'm the Rishi Kapoor Fangirl #1 and I absolutely love him. One of the things I think he does better than ANY other hero in Filmdom is Qawwalis. Rishi has been featured as the lead in many qawaali numbers, and I think he lends it unparalleled passion and panache.

But as I was playing around with making my Dance Like A Kapoor playlists, I did realize that he's not the only Kapoor with a flair for qawwali performance. So I threw together a quick list of my favorite Kapoor Qawwalis. I don't know of any qawaalis featuring Randhir or Rajeev Kapoor, or the younger set (Karishma, Kareena and Ranbir), so if you DO know of some please let me know! Here's my list of Kapoor-fabulous Qawwalis:

Daag Na Lag Jaye - Mera Naam Joker (1970) - featuring RAJ KAPOOR
I find this song very addictive, musically. It's fun to see the interplay between Padmini and Raj Kapoor in this too.

Chali Chali Kaisi Hawa - Bluffmaster (1963) - featuring SHAMMI KAPOOR
These Kapoor boys love dressing up in drag! Perhaps because they are all so Fair & Lovely. Shammi is impressively graceful and delicate in this.

Tumhe Husn Dekhe - Jab Se Tumhe Dekha Hai (1963) - featuring SHAMMI and SHASHI KAPOOR
Seeing these two Kapoor brothers together on-screen is such a delight! 10+ minutes of pure entertainment, complete with Kapoor Brothers doing the twist together at the end.

Is Ishq Mein Har Aashiq - Mr. Romeo (1972) - featuring SHASHI KAPOOR
Lovely, lavish late 70s sets with chandeliers. Ranjeet tries his darndest to steal the show, but the show is definitely all Shashi's!

Mohabbat Gar Na Hoti - Mehndi Lagi Mere Haath (1962) - featuring SHASHI KAPOOR
A beautiful, sweet and simple qawwali with a super young Shash!

Hum To Jhuk Kar - Fakira (1976) - featuring SHASHI KAPOOR
This time Shashi is joined by the young and dashing Danny Denzongpa and Asrani. They're all dressed up in their finest brocades and fake moustaches.

Tere Chehre Se - Muqaddar (1978) - featuring SHASHI KAPOOR
There's so much to love here ... a large red velvet ballroom, chandeliers, Kishore Kumar's voice, Amjad Khan and a very enthusiastic Shashi! Does anyone else think a bearded, moustached Shashi looks a bit like Mac Mohan?

Hai Agar Dushman - Hum Kisise Kum Nahin (1977) - featuring RISHI KAPOOR
What can I say about this song? Besides being an excellent song in itself, Rishi is SO SO amazing in it. His smiles, his energy, his intensity and fervor are just unbeatable. How do you NOT fall in love with him watching this? And a word about Zeenat Aman ... gorgeous. Just gorgeous, and sparkly and wonderful.

Parda Hai Parda - Amar Akbar Anthony (1979) - featuring RISHI KAPOOR
Again, such great energy! Right from the moment he LEAPS onto the stage. And Neetu Singh's adorable, coy looks make it even more fun to watch.

Eid Ka Din - Deedar E Yaar (1982) - featuring RISHI KAPOOR
It's nice to see Reena Roy here, but when it comes to Qawwali, Rishi steals the show! He's so dedicated and sincere. And wow, Tina Munim looks gorgeous too.

Pari Ho Aasmaani Tum - Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai (1981) - featuring RISHI KAPOOR
This may be the definitive song that made me fall madly in love with Rishi. I just die for that part at 0:06 where they do the 3-frame close-up on his adorable smirk. SWOON. And the light-up floors and background and the sparkly vest are just icing. Seriously, if you aren't the tiniest bit charmed by Rishi's performance here, you have a bitter, dark soul. I love Shailendra Singh's voice for Rishi too, it just completely suits him. Boy, do I wish a guy would sing a qawwali for me in which light-up hearts make a beeline straight towards me in the middle. That's pyar.

If you find or know of any Kapoor Qawwali gems I've missed, please do share them in the comments! Particularly any Rishi ones!

I'm continuing to work on my Dance Like A Kapoor series (Karishma's up next!) and also have a few other thoughts to share for Kapoor Khazana, but things are certainly hectic in my world so here's hoping that I'll get to them.

In the meanwhile, be sure to check out all the Kapoor Khazana links at this link. Also, pay close attention to Katherine's Totally Filmi blog as there may be some highlights about the Raj Kapoor Retrospective event being held during IIFA weekend in Toronto up on her blog soon!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Don't forget to check out BLOGUE E-Magazine!!!

The amazing and talented Louella of Masala with Bigosie has kindly added me to the roster of BollyBloggers featured in her new online magazine 'BLOGUE'. Nine is one of my lucky numbers, and so I was honored when Louella asked me to be her 9th cover girl.

Each issue of BLOGUE is dedicated to a specific blogger and has a fun Q & A session with them as well as links to their favorite posts from their own blogs. There's also links to other popular posts in the blogosphere, and a special editorial written by Githa of Words from a Lotus.

It's obviously a labor of love from Louella, whose own blog gets an average of 3,000 views per week and has tons of reviews of South Indian movies (and Hindi too). Louella does this purely to appreciate bloggers and give us an opportunity to get to know each other a little better. Githa too, takes the time to write thoughtful essays for each issue, and Prathna Tiwari of Sakhi Speaks lends her editorial skills to the project.

To check out previous issues, featuring bloggers like ApunBindaas, Beth Loves Bollywood and Filmi Girl, click here!

For my special 9th issue - click here!

Thanks Louella, for taking the time and effort to produce such a fun creation, and for allowing me to be a part of it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kapoor Khazana: Dance Like a Kapoor Playlist! *RISHI KAPOOR* ♥♥♥

Finally I get around to not only my favorite Kapoor, but my all-time favorite Hindi Movie star - Rishi Kapoor, aka Chintu! I have loved Rishi since I was a tiny little girl ... I just didn't realize it until much later in life. He was probably my first ever crush.

And really, when you see his films from the early 80s, who can blame me? He was ADORABLE - from the curly top to the 1,000-watt smile and the oodles of energy. Rishi is unique in his career arc - he was a leading man for at least two solid decades before seamlessly transitioning into mature supporting/character roles (a fancy way of saying "Uncle" roles).

But this is supposed to be about his dancing - which I am a huge fan of! I absolutely LOVE Rishi's dancing - a lot of which is jumping, bouncing and jogging! He has such style and always looks 100% thrilled when doing it. He's often featured as a stage performer, doing elaborate items with a multitude of instruments. There are so many great, fun, bouncy Rishi songs to dance to -- so here's my 'Dance like a Kapoor' playlist for Rishi Kapoor:

Jhoot Bole Kauwa Kaate - Bobby (1973)
He's SUCH a teeny tiny baby in this, as is Dimple. Just adorable, playful and innocent.

Dil Dena Bhuri Bala Hai - Rafoo Chakkar (1975)
How can one argue w/ Chintu in drag? Especially when accompanied by his beautiful wife, Neetu!

Hamne Tumko Dekha - Khel Khel Mein (1975)
One of my favorite avatars, Rishi the stage performer. Wielding his fab guitar and charming the bellbottomed pants off of all the ladies - and the heart of one special Miss Singh!

Bachna Ae Haseeno - Hum Kisise Kam Nahin (1977)
One of my favorite movies! And really, how can one NOT love Rishi in an all-white, sparkly sequins pants suit with a matching cap and a large plastic heart necklace? This time he swaps out his guitar for a trumpet.

Tayyab Ali Pyar Ka Dushman - Amar Akbar Anthony (1979)
This movie is a favorite on almost everyone's list, and of course we all love Rishi & Neetu together! His energy here is infectious!

Daffliwale Daffli Bajaa - Sargam (1979)
One of the MOST famous Hindi songs ever, and the one that launched Jaya Prada to stardom in Hindi films (apparently sans her eyebrows). But would she have anything to dance to without Rishi skillfully playing that daffli? The boy's got rhythm. Speaking of, I miss dafflis. We need more in Hindi song picturizations.

Om Shanti Om - Karz (1980)
Oh Rishi - so adorably sparkly. So discofabulous. Hopping, skipping and jogging along on the spinning record ... no one else could have made this song the iconic song that it is!

Rang Jamake - Naseeb (1981)
Rishi does Charlie Chaplin ... perhaps in a tribute to Raj Kapoor? I also love Shatrughan Sinha's dancing in this ... hee hee.

Pucho Na Yaar Kya Hua - Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai (1981)
This is one of my favorite movies of all time, and a lot of that love is specifically because I thought Rishi was so adorable in this. And this song captures so much of what I love about 80s Bollywood ... sparkly decorations, light-up dance floors, and disco! This entire movie's soundtrack is fabulous! Those disco-dancing kids are pretty fab too.

Dil Lena Khel Hai - Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai (1981)
Had to add another one from this movie because I love StagePerformer!Rishi so much and this movie had an abundance of light up dance floors - which I can't resist. Also because he really dances his heart out in this one.

Ishq Mera Bandagi Hai - Yeh Vaada Raha (1982)
Another movie in which I was in love with Rishi. And I actually got to do a dance to this song with a local dance prodigy and my sister when I was 7 years old ... I played the Tina Munim role. And again, it features StagePerformer!Rishi and he's so into it ... I just love it. Another amazing soundtrack (R.D. Burman FTW!). And another sparkly jacket. Kapoor Bonus: Shammi Kapoor played the kind doctor who escorts Tina Munim to Rishi's performance!

Kaho Kaise Rasta Bhool Pade - Bade Dil Wala (1983)
I LOVE this song, this soundtrack and this Rishi! He's so joyous - just totally enjoying being out there dancing with Aruna Irani. I particularly like the bit at about 2:03 when he's holding her foot and running around in a circle. He just looks so happy! I also like when they do the Filipino Tinikling dance and then sit up on the poles and make everyone else carry them around.

Aaya Sanam Aaya Deewana Tera - Bade Dil Wala (1983)
Pshaw. Like gun shots could stop a sparkly-shirted Rishi from performing for a crowd! More amazing disco sets too!

Lambuji Lambuji - Coolie (1983)
It's costumes galore in this fun Rishitabh song! I love Rishi dressed as the brahmin priest up on stilts. And for some reason, Rishi has never reminded me of his dear old Dad MORE than in this song.

Parbhat Se Kaali Ghata Takraayi - Chandni (1989)
Rishi was quickly descending into "Sweater Uncle" phase, but I still found him loveable and charming as Rohit in Chandni. And though we all know that this song belongs to the ravishing Sridevi, Rishi still gave his best moves to make it amazing.

Main Matti Ka Gudda - Ajooba (1991)
Well into his "Sweater Uncle" phase now, it was definitely bothersome to see Rishi play opposite the teenaged Sonam in Ajooba. Still, he has this sweetness and innocence to him that made this song fun.

Desh Badalte Hai - Banjaran (1991)
A movie that had a similar feel to Nagina, but with a Banjaran theme. Sridevi rules here, again, but Rishi comes in towards the end and shows that he's still got it, despite being at the end of his days as a hero.

Payaliya - Deewana (1992)
Again, well past hero phase but still giving even the most ridiculous choreography his all. I love Rishi, and I love this song! I had to choose it over the StagePerformer!Rishi song from this movie, "Sochenge Tumhe Pyar" (which I highly recommend watching for the multitude of props wielded by the background dancers).

Jaipur Se Nikli Gadi - Gurudev (1993)
Oh poor Rishi. Did they HAVE to put him in those shorts? And despite the ridiculous get-up, he's still rocking it out and seems to be genuinely having fun with Sridevi. Great, peppy song though.

Dil Dene Ki Ruth Aayi - Prem Granth (1996)
A Rishi-Madhuri pairing was definitely a bad idea, but this song is beautiful and I STILL find him charming, even this deep into his "sweater uncle" phase. There's a certain style to his little head tosses that I really love!

Dil Se Judi - Kaun Sacha Kaun Jhoota (1997)
The last film that had Rishi-Sridevi paired together! And this song is a terrible rip-off of an amazing Gipsy Kings song, but still ... he IS dancing and giving joy and fun to the stupid choreography. And Sridevi is stunning as always.

Baaja Bajeya - Do Dooni Chaar (2010)
Full out into his booming career as a character actor/father/uncle, and he won the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor for this film. I can't think of a more deserving person. He knocked it out of the park with this one ... just so beautifully acted, such nuances, such sweetness. I absolutely LOVE the moment where he heads out onto the dance floor with real-life wife Neetu Singh and starts doing the stereotypical "Uncle Dance" ... just love love love. 

This only scratches the surface of Rishi fabulousness and Kapoor Khazana is quickly coming to an end. But I definitely wanted to share these as some of my favorite Rishi Dance songs.

Many more great film reviews and analysis posts for Kapoor Khazana are available here. Check it out!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Kapoor Khazana: Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985)

Oh wow. This movie. Raj Kapoor's last directorial venture. The studio's last real hit. The movie famous for completely, openly showcasing Mandakini's ... ahem ... assets.

And yet Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985) is brilliant, in its own unique way. It is the essence of RK Cinema - a rich, layered saga with mythological, political and social commentary elements all blended together to create a true epic. Yes, I can overlook the gratuitous skin show that earned Raj Kapoor the sarcastic re-imagining of his title as the greatest 'SHOW' man of Indian cinema. Because Ram Teri Ganga Maili is a film that tries its darndest to remind us all to be better human beings.

The story opens with a political rally to promote environmental efforts to cleanse the holy river Ganges. Calcutta-based party leader Chaudhary (Raza Murad) urges the crowd to honor the Ganges and fight against pollution -- perfectly in line with the real-life initiative by Rajiv Gandhi, the notorious 'Ganga Action Plan' that began in 1985. However it is revealed that Chaudhary is simply using the hot issue to gain power, and he's really in cahoots with shameless polluter and business tycoon Sahai (Kulbhushan Karbandha).

Sahai's son Naren (Rajeev 'Chimpoo' Kapoor) is an idealistic young admirer of Vivekananda. He resists his father's "screw the little people" ways and longs for a more righteous and fulfilling life. His family, including his RIDICULOUSLY BEAUTIFUL AND YOUNG LOOKING grandmother (Sushma Seth), want him to marry Chaudhary's daughter Radha (Divya Rana). Though Naren has a comfortable, albeit slightly imbalanced friendship with Radha, his heart isn't in the union. And when he finds out how corrupt his father and Chaudhary are (by eavesdropping, naughty naughty!), he feels a need to cleanse himself of his father's sins.

He asks to go on a school trip to Gangotri to visit the source of the Ganges, and though his father refuses, eventually his grandmother and off-beat, notorious and slightly shady uncle (Saeed Jaffrey) help him convince his parents to let him go. Before he leaves, the grandmother requests that he bring back the sacred water in a small silver jug for her so that she can purify herself. The uncle also gives him some parting gifts ... a Raj Kapoor costume!

In Gangotri, he encounters an innocent, beautiful maiden named (da da daaaaa!) Ganga (Mandakini) who immediately captures his heart with her giggles, wit and strange habit of cupping her cheek with her hand. I mean really, who does that? Ganga too is smitten by this young, handsome and equally innocent youth. It is a simple formula for them to fall in love ... guy saves girl from bad guy + girl sings a siren song while INFAMOUSLY bathing in a waterfall wearing nothing a sheer white sari + girl's elder brother (Tom Alter! In brownface!) wants her to marry some local loser = LOVE. Also they are helped along by the absolutely gorgeous scenery (lush greenery, flowing streams and waterfalls, mountain backdrops!).

Lucky for them that local customs dictate during the convenient full moon festival the girls can choose their husbands. Ganga publicly chooses Naren in my absolute favorite song from this film, Sun Saiba Sun. The local loser she rejected is furious and tries to demand that she is rightfully his, but Ganga's brother Karan Singh immediately defends his sister's choice and fights off local loser and his band of goons. As Naren and Ganga consumate their 'union' (Another shocker! Love scene! And I got a bit squirmy watching it even now ... can't imagine how I reacted at age 8), Karan Singh gets to dishoom-dishoom with the goons, and loses his life in the scuffle.

Now of course this was still 1985 and so obviously that one steamy 'union' will result in a child, but first, Naren must head back to Calcutta. He promises to get his grandmother's blessings and return to Gangotri to bring Ganga back to his home as his bride. Both are unaware that Ganga is now completely alone, as her brother died defending her and Naren's pow-chick-pow-pow time.

When Naren arrives back in Calcutta, the preparations are all underway for his engagement to Radha. Stricken, Naren takes his grandmother aside to tell her that he's already in love with Ganga and has married her. Of course, in classic overdramatic Maa style, the grandmother immediately collapses with a heart attack. Naren is besides himself with guilt, grief and fear. She wakes up briefly to tell him to bring her 'bahu' Ganga to her, and then expires. Papa Sahai totally freaks out, and beats the crap out of Naren saying that he did something to kill her. Heartbroken but determined to fulfill his grandmother's wishes and his promise to Ganga, Naren tries to run away to Gangotri. Papa Sahai employs his industrialist power and Chaudhary give his political power to have the police apprehend Naren and lock him up until his marriage to Radha.

Time passes swiftly as Naren is kept a prisoner (you'd think they'd rush the wedding, but they decide to wait a convenient nine months or so), and Ganga gives birth to a baby boy (because we HAVE to justify their 'union' with both consequences and redemption - a boy child! An heir!). Ganga's only support system is a mountain neighbor woman and the sweet old postman. The postman had brought her an old letter addressed to Naren many months earlier. The letter was written by Radha and details their engagement plans. When he fails to return after the birth of her child, Ganga reads the letter and assumes that Naren has abandoned her for Radha. Despite her heartbreak, she decides that she must go to him in Calcutta to deliver "his" son to him (the film continually refers to the child as "his" child, which is annoying). And go Ganga embarks on a perilous journey, from the pure source in Gangotri, and follows the path of the Ganges River all the way to the polluted banks of Calcutta.

Ganga's journey, like that of the actual Ganges River, is filled with the pollution of society - corrupt people that prey on the innocent and selfish people that turn their backs on those in need. A poor woman holding a baby tries to trap Ganga into a life of prostitution, a sleazy priest tries to attack her, and a man pretending to be blind tries to trick her into life as a courtesan. Everywhere she goes, her pleas for help are futile. Like the River Ganges, the sweet, pure Ganga is tainted more and more by the selfishness and greed of her fellow man.

Naren also sends his uncle to search for Ganga, and he unfortunately is unable to locate her. Naren's mother pleads with the uncle to convince Naren to marry Radha, and he finally tells Naren that she perished and he must move on.  Meanwhile Ganga is trapped at a high-end home for courtesans and forced to sing and dance for wealthy men. Ganga fights back the best way she can, with an acid tongue, sarcasm, wit and fiery glares. She captures the notice of none other than Choudhary, who immediately purchases her with plans to "share" her with Papa Sahai as soon as his daughter Radha is married off.

Naren's uncle happens to be a regular customer of courtesans (this is the source of his notoriety), and comes across Ganga at the Calcutta home Choudhary has installed her in. When he realizes that she is the very same Ganga Naren continues to pine for, and that she has "his" child with her, he sets off to fix everything. Ganga is brought to perform at Naren and Radha's wedding, where the truth is revealed and Ganga attempts to leave her child in Naren and Radha's hands and escape. Ultimately Naren must step forward, throw off his weak, ineffectual tendencies and stand up for the woman he loves and against the corruption of his family.

This film is terribly complicated and tragic. The story itself is laden with mythological references and themes. This beautifully written analysis of the film by Professor Philip Lutendorf of the University of Iowa film department suggested that the story is inspired by the ancient tale of Shakuntala -- the story of the daughter of the Apsara Menaka, raised in a hermitage by the Sage Kanwa. Shakuntala falls deeply in love with the brave King Dushyanta and marries him in the moonlight according to ancient customs, only to have him completely forget her existence because of a curse. Eventually they are reunited and their child, the Prince Bharata, is named heir to the throne.

Though I'm extremely familiar with the story of Shakuntala (having played the role of a forest animal in a Bharatanatyam dance drama created for Canadian Television back in 1986, and then doing the title role of 'Shakuntala' as part of a Srimad Bhagvatam dance drama in 1992 ... not to mention obsessively reading the Amar Chitra Katha version over and over), I would have never connected it to Ram Teri Ganga Maili. But strangely, it DOES make sense. Even the imagery of the beautiful young maiden dressed simply in white garments seems to fit with both stories!

That particular image - the maiden dressed in sheer white garments -- has become an iconic image that represents RK Films from Satyam Shivam Sundaram onwards. The innocent, white-clad female, pure and vulnerable and yet completely free and bold. Yes it disturbs me and I do feel that it was exploitative and overly graphic, but also beautiful and artistic in a way. The controversy surrounding Mandakini's famous waterfall scene surrounded Raj Kapoor's ability to get away with things that should clearly have been censored. When it comes to this scene, I always think in my head that it was blown out of proportion and perhaps people just sensationalized it. But then I watched the movie again and was truly flabbergasted. I mean, really. There wasn't a need to push the envelope THAT far ... it is disturbing to see THAT much. No matter how "artistically" it was done, there's no need to showcase nipples so blatantly in a Hindi movie. But does it ruin the movie? No. Boobs definitely seem to be the obsession with this movie though - there are a number of notorious breastfeeding scenes as well. Those don't bother me as much because it's just such a normal part of life with a baby. I suppose what's disturbing is that people have the capacity to be titillated by it.

But to focus on those things is to miss the socio-political messages and elements of fantasy/mythology. Here we have the physical journey of a young woman and the corruption and abuse she faces mirroring the actual descent of the Ganges River from its pure and pristine source in the mountains down to it's most polluted locations in Varanasi and Calcutta.

There's also a wonderfully complicated cast of characters. Again we see a set of wealthy, selfish parents ... seems to be a theme with Raj Kapoor. Daddy issues? Here the father is corrupt and vicious, but he also seems to have some Mommy issues himself. He clearly resents his son's close relationship with the grandmother, and goes beserk on him when she passes away. The mother is mostly ineffectual, though she does emotionally blackmail her brother (Naren's Uncle) into convincing Naren to marry Radha.

Saeed Jaffrey's character of the uncle is an interesting one ... he's not quite a typical 'good guy' - he's prone to spending time in the company of courtesans, or tawaifs. He has a notorious reputation and is quite cavalier about it. He makes no claims to be a good guy, and almost seems to enjoy his rebellious status, but also has a stronger moral compass than Papa Sahai. And ultimately he is the one that champions Ganga's cause and urges Naren to stand up for her and do what is right.

Divya Rana is effective enough as Radha - her face certainly has a vulnerability to it and she has that girl-next-door quality. Sushma Seth plays the grand matriarch perfectly, and it was fun to see Tom Alter in a role that actually has some motivations. Raza Murad is great as the lecherous baddie.

Mandakini is considered the real 'hero' of this movie. Personally, I wasn't all that charmed by her performance. She is very, very raw and her early scenes are actually quite irritating (with the cheesy laying the hand on the cheek and all). I will give her that as the movie continues she does seem to improve a bit, and her later scenes - particularly when she bitterly challenges Chaudhary - do have a little bit of fire to them.

And as for Rajeev 'Chimpoo' Kapoor - I couldn't help but feel as I watched the movie this time around that he had been written off a bit unfairly. Sure, he's not the most handsome of the Kapoors, and he is definitely not effortless in his acting. But his portrayal of Naren does come off as sweet and earnest. Naren is a weak character, and Chimpoo makes him a bit more sympathetic. There are moments - flashes or glimpses, really - where he slightly resembles Shammi Kapoor. I think he did have some potential, but perhaps never really got the chance to work and improve. He's not brilliant, mind you. But he's not as awful as I remember everyone said he was.

There's tons more to say here but I have to cut this short as I'm flying to London tomorrow early morning, it's almost midnight here in Boston and I still haven't packed! But I hope that others will also check out this film and share their thoughts. There's a lot of political messaging going on here that I probably barely scratched the surface of, knowing very little of Indian politics myself. But there's also environmental sentiment, social commentary and a bit of a finger wag at the irony of a people who worship Goddesses as the Mother of the Universe, and then try to bespoil innocent women.

I'm sad to be heading out during Kapoor Khazana because I have SO VERY MANY ideas for posts that I want to do. I hope that when I get back at the end of June I will be able to churn some of these out, because still in the works are my Dance like a Kapoor series for Rishi, Karishma, Kareena and Ranbir Kapoor, and much more! And definitely check out the links list for Kapoor Khazana - there's lots of fabulous posts to enjoy!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Kapoor Khazana: Dance Like a Kapoor Playlist! *Shashi Kapoor*

The sweet-smiling youngest son of Prithviraj Kapoor is known for being one of the greatest romantic heroes of Hindi cinema from the 60s all the way through to the 80s! Balbir Raj Kapoor, aka Shashi Kapoor, started out as a child actor, best known for playing the young version of Raj Kapoor in films like Aag and Awara. But starting in 1961, he became a hero in his own right, stealing the hearts of millions with his signature grin. He also has the distinction of being the one Kapoor to truly straddle both commercial and art house cinema successfully.

I hate to admit it, but Shashi-centric films were never really ones that I sought out. I liked him well-enough, particularly as one half of my favorite filmi bromance duo - Shashitabh (Shashi Kapoor + Amitabh Bachchan) - in films like Shaan, Do Aur Do Paanch and Namak Halal. But I never quite considered myself a part of his die-hard fanbase. Which means that I am woefully ignorant of many of his best films and songs.

But I did try to come up with as many fun, spirited, dance-y numbers featuring Shashi as I could off the top of my head - so here's Dance Like a Kapoor Part III - SHASHI KAPOOR ... now I originally thought that I'd mostly be thinking of numbers where Shashi jogs around trees and acts charming -- but there are some really good ones that allow him to showcase what he's got! And what he's got ... we just adore, don't we?

Le Jayenge Le Jayenge - Chor Machaye Shor (1974)
I feel like this is such a quintessential Shashi song, and it's such a great song to dance to. I mean you can't hear it and NOT dance! And though we are mostly treated to large arm flourishes, Shashi gets to do a teeny bit of bhangra and shows that he has excellent rhythm and energy. Honestly speaking, he reminds me of Shah Rukh Khan in this, or should I say vice-versa? I mean to say, I don't think SRK is the dancer that let's say Hrithik Roshan or Shahid Kapoor are, but he is so full of energy and dedication that you just don't care. I think Shashi has that quality here.

Kehne Ki Nahin Baat - Pyar Kiye Jaa (1966)
I always loved this video, because I felt like it was one time when Shashi channeled his inner Shammi. But after another re-watch, I feel like Shashi really took this one and ran! I mean, the energy, the jumping, the choreography, the TWIST! This is such a fun video, and Shashi rocks it. I'll even go so far as to say that sometimes I feel like the heroes of the 60s had it much harder than the ones of today. I mean, their choreography, though not perhaps as complicated as the hip-hop based stuff of today, really required a ton of energy! The stuff of today is pretty good, but the editing style has advanced to the stage that there's rarely a few seconds of dance before we're cutting to something else. These guys had to do set choreography and jump like crazy without breaks. I know it's difficult to really compare, but when you think of how many takes Shashi probably had to jump like that ... well, I get exhausted just thinking about it. And this video gets the Beth Loves Bollywood stamp of approval.

Yamma Yamma - Shaan (1980)
Shashitabh! A Bad Guy's Lair! Tambourines and Hand Scarves! Helen! What's not to love about this song? This is one of my favorite dance songs of all-time. My eldest sister choreographed this for a large group of my mom's students back in 1981 and they made their costumes out of black garbage bags to imitate the leather vests that Shashitabh are wearing in this. I was always SO jealous. I wanted to be in this dance SO VERY BADLY (of course, I was four so it really would have been hazardous to have me underfoot). I totally wanted to re-create it in the early 90s when we finally had boyfriends that 1) could dance and 2) were uber-Amitabh fans and would have totally done it. Unfortunately we never got around to it. Oh well, I can always put my husband in a black garbage bag vest and dance around the living room.

Raat Baaki - Namak Halal (1982)
This may be a weird choice because he mostly stands around and watches Parveen Babi shimmy around in it, but I really do think this is a GREAT disco song. Our band used to play it at parties and it always got people on the dance floor! And towards the end when Shashi does his verse, he does do some disco-ey grooving. He's super cute doing it.

Hey Mujhe Dil De Nahin Toh - Mr. Romeo (1974)
Yes!!! Shashi can BOOGIE! The strobe lighting is a little annoying, but he is totally working it in this - it's not just jogging and arm flourishing! And while juggling multiple women no less!

O Meri Sharmilee - Sharmilee (1971)
Ok so this is more of the jogging and arm flourishing variety, but it's such a fantastic song and he's so wonderfully vibrant in it, so I had to include it. I also remember a few remixes of it floating around about 6-7 years ago, so it's totally danceable.

Tum Jo Ho So Ho Lekin Khuda To Nahin - Biradari (1966)
This song was on one of those old song compilations VHS tapes my mom had back in the day, and I always remembered it because 1) Shashi was SO YOUNG, 2) Shashi + Mehmood! WOW! and 3) Shashi does some rocking thumkas. But he really gets a chance to DANCE in this one, and he's quite good. Mehmood is awesome too, of course.

Humko Tumpe Pyar Aaya - Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965)
More of the jogging variety, but he does do some pretty cool moves dancing through the wheat fields as well. And again, such amazing energy! Affoo Khuda!

Na Na Karte Pyar - Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965)

I dare you to listen to this song and not shake your shoulders or hips. Seriously. It's impossible. And Shashi shows some excellent versatility in this one -- from bhangra to the twist. Love it!

Kahiye Kahan Se - Heeralal Pannalal (1978)
Admittedly in this song most of the dancing is left up to the fabulous girls (Zeenat Aman and Neetu Singh), but it's still fun to see Shashi and his nephew Randhir dancing together (and dare I say, Shashi looks way younger than his nephew despite being nine years older)!

Wada Karo - Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973)
Here we have 'Skate like a Kapoor' vs. 'Dance like a Kapoor' - but I had to add it because it's one of my favorite Shashi Kapoor songs and because of the fun costumes and HELLO? Roller skates!

At this point I couldn't think of any more off the top of my head, so I had to call in for reinforcements because I couldn't shake the sense that I was forgetting some ESSENTIAL Shashi songs. So of course, I hit up the Shashi-love-encyclopedia-extraordinaire, Beth Loves Bollywood. And she came through with some spectacular suggestions!

Nain Mile Kar Chain Churana - Aamne Samne (1967)

Pada Tumhare Kabhi Bijliyon Ki - Ganga Aur Suraj (1980)

Suno Suno - Haseena Maan Jayegi (1968)

Dilbar Dilbar - Haseena Maan Jayegi (1968)

LOVE IT!!! Thanks Beth!

The next installment of 'Dance like a Kapoor' is going to be extremely difficult for me because it's my favorite Kapoor and I think he has an extensive list of amazing dance songs! But I'll do my best to give the wonderful, adorable Rishi Kapoor his due justice.

Keep yourself updated on all the fun Kapoor Khazana posts by visiting Katherine of Totally Filmi's links!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Kapoor Khazana: The origins of those crazy nicknames!

This is sort of a mini-post, because I don't want to comment too heavily on these videos except to say how FREAKING ADORABLE they are and HOW MUCH I LOVE THESE GUYS and HOW CUTE IS NEETU??? But this episode of our favorite show to love/hate on, Koffee with Karan, features the three sons of Raj Kapoor - Randhir, Rishi (♥) and Rajeev. We get a lovely bonus of having the beautiful Neetu Singh also join them, along with the rarely seen sister of these guys, Reema.

There's a pretty good discussion of where all the silly Kapoor nicknames (Daboo, Chintu, Chimpoo, Lolo, Bebo, etc.) come from, which is worth checking out. I think Ranbir needs one of these crazy nicknames, despite Rishi's protests. Anyone got a good one for him? Perhaps 'Nangoo' - in tribute to his little naked dance in Saawariya? But mostly I like this episode because it's like hanging out with three drunk Punjabi uncles ... which I've been known to do occasionally. Hee Hee!

FYI, Daboo is hilarious!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kapoor Khazana: "I'm Bobby. Mujhse Dosti Karoge?" - Bobby (1973)

Quite a tricked out poster RK!
I don't know quite how to sum up Raj Kapoor's Bobby (1973). There's been plenty of discussion about the celebration of youth, the boldness of fighting class and religious differences and the spirit of innocence that marks Bobby as an important film in the evolution of commercial Hindi cinema. And when it released, it certainly caused a ruckus between the ideas it presented and the skimpy outfits Dimple Kapadia wore in the film. But I can't help but feel like there's more to Bobby than that.

The basic summary: Bobby is the story of Raju Nath (played by the incredibly young and baby-faced Rishi Kapoor). Born to wealthy, status-obsessed parents who essentially ignore him, young Raju finds himself thrust into a world of pushy, self-important adults. When he (literally) bites back, his parents (Pran and Sonia Sahni) immediately blame his loving ayya (governess, if you will) Mrs. Braganza (Durga Khote) and fire her. Soon after, Raju is sent away to boarding school. When he returns, his parents continue to be too busy for him. Then at his birthday party, he lays eyes on Bobby (played by an adolescent, adorable Dimple Kapadia), who had stopped by the house with her grandmother Mrs. Braganza to drop off Raju's favorite cake from his younger days. Raju falls in love at first sight. When he finds the cake and goes to find Mrs. Braganza, he is shocked and delighted to find the girl of his dreams there. The two teenagers develop a sweet and innocent friendship which quickly turns to a mutual fascination and love. Neither pay any attention to the cavernous class difference between them - he being a wealthy industrialist's son, she being the daughter of a simple fisherman.

When Raju decides to introduce Bobby and her father to his family, things fall apart. Mr. Nath is convinced that Mr. Jack Braganza (Prem Nath) has plotted to capture their money by making Bobby pursue Raju. He insults Jack and drives him from the house. Jack is furious and refuses to let a dubious Raju and Bobby continue seeing each other. Meanwhile Mr. Nath and his apathetic wife decide to arrange a marriage between Raju and a business associate, whose daughter (Farida Jalal) happens to be mentally disturbed. A socialite, dancer and friend of the family (Aruna Irani) sees all the underhanded arrangements happening within the family and takes pity on young Raju. She encourages him to run away from the claustrophobic and false life he has at home and take Bobby with him.

Creepy doll alert!
Seeing his parents' absolute indifference to his feelings, Raju runs away and tries to find Bobby. Jack has sent Bobby and her grandmother to their home in Goa. Raju heads to Goa but finds a new obstacle -- Mrs. Braganza. Feeling guilty that Raju has left his family and afraid of the consequences, Mrs. Braganza prevents the two young lovers from fleeing together, locking them up separately. Meanwhile Mr. Nath has confronted Jack Braganza with the police, accusing him of kidnapping his son. Both parties head to Goa to find their children, only to find that Raju and Bobby have managed to escape from the house. Jack now turns on Mr. Nath, insisting that Bobby is only sixteen years old and therefore it is Raju who has kidnapped a minor.

As their fathers chase after them with the police, Raju and Bobby fall into the hands of a rogue gang led by Prem (Prem Chopra). Jack finds them in the hands of the gang and fights them to the best of his abilities, but then Raju is taken hostage. Jack pleads with them to spare Raju's life, and when Mr. Nath hears this, he realizes the folly of his ways (GOD, I LOVE when I get a chance to use that phrase!) and steps in with the police to apprehend the goons and save both his son and Bobby. However in the scuffle, Raju and Bobby run away and jump from a cliff into the churning waters below. The final scenes have the fathers saving each others' children and leave us with an ambiguous sense of a happy ending.

Now obviously, Bobby became a sensation for being so completely fresh, youthful and optimistic. As Shah Rukh Khan is quoted as saying, "Before Bobby, Indian cinema was about men and women, but after Bobby, it became about boys and girls." Bobby titillated crowds with both it's daring approval of relationship between such a young pair despite a deep class and cultural divide, and it's display of Dimple's skin. But really now, love between the rich boy and the poor girl, or vice-versa, was that really new in Indian cinema? Not at all!

So what is it about Bobby that sticks with us? I just re-watched the film, and stepped away with a brand new view of the film entirely. This isn't a film about young love. It's not a film about the young girl Bobby Braganza, as the title suggests. This film is really essentially about a disillusioned boy, neglected and hurt, who throws himself wholeheartedly into something (and someone) he can believe in. The title Bobby itself suggests that her character would be the more prominent one, but I don't find this to be the case. So for me, the title Bobby indicates that Raju has taken his life of loneliness and abandonment and found his release from it all in his love. Bobby is his rebellion, his flight, and his salvation.

In this re-watch I felt Raju's plight more than ever before. I found myself particularly touched by Rishi Kapoor's innocence and bewilderment throughout the film. His inability to understand how his parents could treat him the way they did was beautifully rendered. I could practically hear him saying "Aren't parents supposed to love you? Aren't they supposed to only want your happiness? Why don't they love me?" and I just bled for him. The small bit of warmth he finds in Mrs. Braganza is ripped away from him at a very young age, and the tender moments where they find each other again really resonated. This is a boy that wants desperately to be loved, and when he finds it, he cannot bear to let it go.

This new focus made me enjoy the film in a completely different way. The young lovers separated by rich, mean parents is a story we've seen time and time again. Echoes of it exist in so many popular films - Love Story, Maine Pyar Kiya, etc. But a film about a young boy being abused -- because really, neglecting a child IS abuse to me -- and left yearning for love is something far more gripping for me.

We're all raised to believe that our parents love us, that they'll do anything for us, that if they do hurt us it's inadvertent and they only want what's best for us. But sometimes it doesn't work that way. Sometimes parents are selfish, or just plain checked out. It's interesting to see how Bobby is fresh not only in its portrayal of romance, but also in depicting shades of grey with parents. It doesn't follow the tropes of the perfect Sati-Savitri Maa or the Devoted, Heroic, Martyr Father. These parents pretty much suck. Mr. Nath is so consumed with his wealth and status that he's not really paying attention to his wife or child.

Poor Raju! His 'friend' just made him realize that his parents don't love him!
Mrs. Nath is an interesting character to me -- she's the "checked out" parent. She seems to have some latent maternal instincts buried deep underneath her resentment of her husband, her bitterness towards her role in 'entertaining' his business clientele, and her unwillingness to break free of the life of wealth and social status. She seems to have become complacent about her role, and whatever emotions she might have towards her son, she clearly stifles them and blames her husband, claiming he hasn't "given her the opportunity to be a mother" because of her obligations as a socialite first. I don't have much sympathy for her though, even when she does lash out at her husband after Raju runs away from his impending engagement. She leaves Raju to suffer through his young life alone, and then offers no support when he seeks out happiness for himself. Her small bursts of support seem like too little too late.

Honestly, it's easy to see why Raju would rush headfirst into his friendship and romance with Bobby. She is everything his world isn't -- sweet, innocent, honest, open, etc. Right from the moment he lays eyes on her, he can see that she doesn't belong in his world. I think it is this that draws him to her more than anything else -- that she's different! That she isn't one of the society that pulls his parents from him. She isn't part of the wealth, status and socializing that he associates with his parents, who have disappointed him so deeply.

You! You're my ticket outta this hell hole!
Mrs. Braganza is also an interesting figure for Raju. She is the closest thing he has to a mother in his life, and she supports their relationship through most of the film. But then suddenly when Raju turns up in Goa, having finally broken away from his unhappy life with his parents, she fears for their future and tries to harden her heart against him. I can understand being worried for Raju and Bobby, being that they are so freaking young! But to pull away support from a boy like Raju, just when he needs it most ... really, I don't know how she had the heart to do it!

Jack Braganza is a great character! He's jolly and good-hearted but can be tough and curmudgeonly when the situation requires it. It is incredibly ironic that Mr. Nath accuses him of 'selling' his daughter to trap his son, when Nath himself pretty much tries to 'sell' his son to his business associate by marrying him to the disturbed (and creepy) Farida Jalal. But Jack Braganza does end up being one of the most sympathetic characters in the film. You can clearly see how much he loves his daughter and how much it hurts him to see her so devastated. His motivations in trying to protect her are evident. And really, what parent would WANT to send their innocent child to be a daughter-in-law in a household like that, with people like that? His pride is endearing, and his ultimate kindness in wanting to save Raju makes him a real hero in this film.

In case you didn't notice, the Braganzas are Christian.

And then there's Bobby herself -- who to me is actually the weakest character of the film. Dimple Kapadia is certainly young, fresh and cute, but beyond that I felt very little to Bobby's character. She calls herself a 21st century woman and has a streak of pride (that I suspect she inherited from Jack), but really is just a child! She doesn't show any real conviction, and it's difficult to believe that what she's experiencing is really love. I mean there's a scene where the parents send the kids up to Raju's room so they can talk, and the kids actually start playing 'Blind Man's Bluff' or whatever you call that game. They are truly KIDS. So I actually kind of appreciate the ambiguous ending RK gives us here, because we can imagine that she went on to college and maybe remained good friends with Raju, but possibly didn't marry him. Bobby just seems to get carried along with the flow of everything, and while she of course cares for Raju, her life experience seems so limited that I don't know that she can develop the same kind of attachments that the scarred and vulnerable Raju can. Or perhaps it's just because Dimple, being only 16 years old during the filming of this movie, wasn't able to really ACT yet.

I should definitely also mention Aruna Irani's role as the socialite/dancer friend who supports Raju and convinces him to run away. I've always liked Aruna Irani and found her to be a really lovely actress, and she is wonderful in her role! Also - I love the scene where she first meets Raju ... she bursts into his room and catches him literally butt nekkid. There are shades of this scene in the first meeting between Prem and Suman in Maine Pyar Kiya. It also reminds me of Rishi's son Ranbir Kapoor's famous towel dance from Saawariya.

A few side notes about the movie - because everyone loves anecdotes. I think almost everyone knows this story, but it's worth mentioning because of how personal it feels! The scene where Raju first visits the Braganza house and Bobby unknowingly wipes besan batter in hair, whining "Jaldi bolo, mera tel jal raha hai!" is based on the real life moment when Raj Kapoor first went to meet Nargis at her house. Very sweet.

Also Rishi Kapoor apparently chose his own wardrobe for this film -- which is delightful! I love his style in this film! Particularly the dark rose velour pant suit he wears in 'Hum Tum Ik Kamre Mein Bandh Ho'!

One final piece of gossip about this movie is that Dimple up and got married to Rajesh Khanna during the filming of this movie -- there's a particular scene in 'Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai' in which she is wearing mehndi on her hands. She was also supposedly pregnant with Twinkle during the shooting of this song. I love this song, it is just so evocative of teenagers in love!! It reminds me of first love and those phone calls where you each keep saying "you hang up first" "no YOU hang up first!"

And since the soundtrack of this film is so popular and has remained in the hearts of filmi fans for decades -- I have to post the two other major hit songs from this film:

It's also interesting to note that it seems like most people who have seen Bobby more recently dislike the film, or just fail to connect with it. I'm not sure if Bobby only worked within the context of the timeframe it was released. Perhaps fans who grew up with the film and the songs simply feel a strong sense of nostalgia when it comes to it. But I actually really enjoyed it as a film on it's own in this most recent re-watch. There were whole new layers to analyzing Raju's character, perhaps influenced by my own love for Harry Potter and sympathizing with the neglected young boy. But I definitely still liked it! I'm also curious if these same folks who disliked Bobby would feel the same way watching Maine Pyar Kiya, which has a strong late 80s early 90s vibe to it. Or if they would feel differently if Raj Kapoor had stuck with his original plan of having Raju and Bobby die tragically at the end?

Ultimately I'm glad RK decided to give the film an optimistic ending. Perhaps he had learned from the failure of Mera Naam Joker and sought to provide the commercial 'happy ending'. But I believe he did far more than create just a 'teenage love story' ... he told a sad, bittersweet but hopeful story of a young boy that was searching for love.

Aaaaand Dimple pic-spam! For fun and fashion!

For more blog posts about the illustrious Kapoor Clan, be sure to visit Katherine of Totally Filmi's KAPOOR KHAZANA links!