I love Minoo Mumtaz. Who DOESN’T like Minoo Mumtaz? I can’t think of anyone who knows about Minoo Mumtaz who is not fond of her and her dances. Yet as Tom (aka Tommydan1) says in the “Preamble Ramble” pdf in his new Minoo Mumtaz Compilation DVD, “just about nothing has ever been written about her” and “there’s nothing available from which to gather any information.” Hopefully, Tom’s excellent compilation will help to show at least a few more people how much this brilliant dancer-actress has been underrated. Contrary to the information that is available to those of us who’ve been searching (and I’ve gone down that dead-ended path myself, a couple of times), she is a lot more than just a footnote to the life of her brother Mehmood.
Like Mehmood, during her time on the big screen, Minoo Mumtaz was a great comedian. But she was that rare combination of great comedian and excellent dancer. There are only a few others I can think of whom I can say that about… Ragini focused on comedy and she was an excellent dancer - one of the few, in fact, whom I would consider to be even better than Minoo Mumtaz – but she just wasn’t as funny. Minoo Mumtaz was particularly funny sometimes because her fantastic facial expressions. In that sense, the only dancer-actress I can compare her to is Sandhya. But I’m not going to spend too much time trying to compare her to others because, for one thing, she was unique (which is why I am grasping for comparisons in the first place). And for another, whatever I write about Minoo Mumtaz probably won’t be as good as what Tom wrote in that Preamble.
There are some comments of Tom’s that I particularly agree with, too. I think he says something quite insightful when he declares:
I have a confession to make. I enjoy watching Minoo Mumtaz perform a mujra more than I do Vyjayanthimala. I freely admit that Vyjayanthimala is the better dancer; I’d be a fool not to. In my opinion Vyjayanthimala is the best dancer of the classic or any other era of Indian film. For me, it’s a question of attitude. Vyjayanthimala is the best and she knows it. She’s just too arrogant for my tastes. Minoo Mumtaz always seems to be enjoying herself and always seems eager to please. She makes me feel more comfortable, more at ease. There, I’ve said it.
I could quibble with some of what Tom said there… I don’t think Vyjayanthimala was the best dancer of all, above everyone else, though she was certainly impressive. I think Padmini was probably better, and Padmini probably did better mujras. (Tom does mention Padmini elsewhere, for possibly being one great influence on some aspects of Minoo’s dancing, and I was glad to see that, of course.) But that’s all beside the point. The point is, Tom so well described the reasons why Minoo Mumtaz’s mujras had their own unique appeal and were such a joy to watch. Yes, it was a question of attitude!
For somebody who has to declare “I’m not a writer” (and, no, this Preamble is not the first place where I’ve seen him say that), Tom writes extremely well! But he does take more pride in the activity that he considers his real hobby, coding and improving DVDs, and he does an excellent job here. And, by the way, you don’t have to take my word on that – just look at the praise that’s already appeared in response to Mister Naidu’s post . (I should add that Mister Naidu was Tom’s main inspiration for putting together this DVD, because Mister Naidu has done all those Helen DVDs. I’m not used to downloading DVDs in general, because I’m so spoiled by having all these super-cheap Indian DVD stores next to me in Jackson Heights, but now that Tom’s has finally given me a little nudge in this area – as well as recommending the right programs to download in order to make this process more possible – I think I’ll be doing a bit more of this…)
Now, in case you’re getting very curious at this point regarding what songs/dances are actually on the DVD, here’s the list:
Those are screen caps of the actual song menus in the DVD. When you’re in the DVD, you can click on any one of those many titles if you want to see a particular number before any others. For me, though, the five songs that I wanted to see the most were the ones that appeared first – and Tom says in the Preamble that they are his five favorites too; that’s why he put them at the beginning. I don’t know if that means they will be everybody’s favorite, but if you have two Minoo Mumtaz fans here already who came to the same conclusion about their five favorites (who may have discussed some of these with each other before – but I don’t think we influenced each other’s preferences)…then maybe that’s a good indication that they really were her best. But there still are a number of other quite-excellent clips further along in the DVD, so I don’ think it suffers from an uneven distribution of quality, either. This DVD is definitely worth watching up the end. The only complaint I can possibly see anyone making as the DVD progresses is that at some point, it might seem as though there are too many mujras. (Personally, for me, there is no such thing as too many mujras, but I was thinking, maybe for somebody once in a while…)
And finally – hoping that I’m not going to embarrass Tom with too much praise here – I’d like to mention one more good thing about this DVD, and that is the sound quality. I have been listening to it while I’ve been typing, and I probably wouldn’t have been able to do so as easily with the typical, badly produced Indian DVD. I wouldn’t say that all of the music in these songs ranks with my favorite stuff - this is especially true of the music from the ’60s films, since I tend to prefer the ’50s music. (And if only Minoo could have danced to some of that fabulous music from the ’40s! But , as Tom points out in that Preamble, she didn’t even enter films until she was “a fully mature actress” – something else that, given the industry and its trends, makes her something of a curiosity.) Nonetheless, even if you find sometimes that the music is simply good and not great, it hardly matters, because Minoo Mumtaz was just about always great - she could dance to anything in a way that was marvelously endearing and compelling.
P.S. When you go to the MediaFire link for this DVD, you’ll see that there are quite a few files to download as well as new programs, with instructions, to download with them. When I first saw all of that, I found it a bit intimidating, especially considering that I would have to use new programs. But later, I found out that it was pretty easy to download and use those programs.
In order to download this comp, you will need a broadband connection, or a good wireless connection to someone’s computer with a broadband. (Unfortunately, my wireless connection has not been so good this week; that’s one reason I ended up putting the DVD together and getting to this review a few days later than I had planned. ) But with the right, adequate connection, it should be quite painless and well worth the effort, considering the rewards.