And believe me, I’ve seen a bunch of them at this point!
I left it a “mystery” for a little while (for those who didn’t go to the YouTube post), but I’m sure the puppets gave it away. The movie is Kath Putli; the song is “Bol Re Kathputli.” This movie exceled in the qualities that I love most in old Indian movies: supberb dancing – by Vyjayanthimala, mostly, but also by Kamala Lakshman in a couple of scenes; great, sob-producing melodrama; fine social consciousness, especially about the struggle to get out of poverty (and what it takes or means to do that by becoming a star). I also enjoyed the very charming performance by Balraj Sahni as the theater mentor who turns out to be remarkably sensitive and kind-hearted (absolutely not a Svengali!). Add to that beautifull music by Shankar Jaikishan (one of their best soundtracks, I think) and some good scenes, near the end, of Vyjayanthimala speaking out as a woman in opposition to some bad male behavior. (Her character is arguing with a husband who has turned into a bit of a jerk. But her arguments seem to have a universal quality, bemoaning the plight of woman in general - maybe even foreshadowing Vyjayanthi’s role in Sadhna the following year).
And, of course, there are the puppets! This movie certainly should appeal to anyone who saw the prior year’s Chori Chori and enjoyed that scene for “Jahan Mein Jati Hoon.” But this time around, the puppets are imbued with a much heavier dose of metaphor.
I was hoping to write this up with screen caps and all that good stuff. But that may or may not happen… I’m a bit tired right now, having had to do some gruelling job-hunt-related chores the past couple of days. Struggling against an unfortunate pull of (global) fate, trying to make ends meet just like almost everyone.
I guess it’s a good time for me to see a movie like this too. And for many people… The tears should flow more easily if you’re struggling as well.
P.S. There’s some great copy on the Eros package, discussing that overriding metaphor:
“Are we all puppets in the hands of fate? Have we no free will? Are we all victims of circumstances? These are big questions & let’s leave them to the mataphysicians…”
They must have put some thought into that. If only they’d put some more thought or effort into quality-checking the subtitles, which get way out of sync before the end. But, a relatively minor quibble there…
P.P.S. [2/1] And speaking of quality checking or lack thereof, I have also noticed that a little further down in that wonderful copy on the DVD package, it says that Pushpa’s husband, Shivraj, is played by “Kamala Laxman.” Huh?! (By the way, credit to Memsaab for initially providing this perfect phrase “quality checking” (over on her blog) to describe something that so many of these Indian DVD makers seem to lack (though, fortunately, that problem never realy detracts from my love of the films themselves).) Then, to make matters worse, when I did a search to see what other information people had on the film, I saw about a half a dozen links exactly repeating this sentence that said Kamala played the role of Shivraj!
P.P.P.S. [2/1] More thoughts on the contents of the film in my dialogue with Bollyviewer. Well, I think I have now already thoroughly written up the film, “unofficially.” Actual blog posts have wandered into a different direction now – though not entirely unrelated…