S. Janaki on Sridevi with the music of Ilaiyaraaja… I’ve noticed this combination in a number of scenes from south Indian films of the late ’70s and early ’80s, and it’s always splendid. I’ve found that this dance is a good one for picking up my mood…
All posts for the month July, 2009
P.S. The director of the second piece, Sangita Shresthova, also has a blog that I’m adding to my blogroll. Check out her post of July 7 – excellent taste in filmi dance, if I may say so. :)
I may be stuck in the ’40s and ’50s where Bollywood is concerned, but I’m still happily delving into just the past few years’ worth of Pakistani stage mujras (which often use some perverse remix of a very old song anyway)… And talk about eye candy…I can never watch just one! They’re also often hilarious – though some of the dancers are very good, too, I think. (In general, by the way, I’ve concluded that these are much less like murjas in Bollywood movie terms than they are like cabaret dances – as you can probably see…)
P.S. 7/27: A few more thoughts about the dances above (I mention the sources in comments also):
The first mujra, by Deedar, is based on the song “Kanta Laga…” from movie Samadhi (1972). But listening to the remix, I’m picking up a few other things, such as the spoken English part from “I Love You” in Hare Rama Hare Krishna(1971) (I think it’s all from that song), and then there’s that riff from the ‘Mehbooba Mehbooba” in Sholay– that is, from the dance by Helen, who must be a sort of patron saint for this genre of mujras.
As Hema pointed out in comments, Deedar’s dance is like a workout. More often than not, there is this athletic quality about her dancing, as well as her appearance – which is not too common among these mujra dancers, many of whom must be close to twice her weight. I would not say she’s my favorite, but she’s fun to watch sometimes, and she can do a lot of stuff that other people can’t. I like the remix a lot too.
I don’t know who the second dancer is, unless it’s Deedar looking a little different and not moving quite as well. As I mentioned in comments, I mainly included it for the remix of “Ankhiyan Mila Ke,” that great song from Ratan (1944), which I’ve praised and posted a couple of times, and I do think it is much better than the “official” video that goes with the remix (though that’s not saying much). But I’m not crazy about the entire dance… For one thing, I just don’t get much from the “sexy” pinup kind of pose that she does in the beginning – she’s looking a bit too much like she’s trying to get into Playboy. But then when she gets more frenetic, it is entertaining, and her moves are very funny sometimes. I love the part where she holds one foot with her hands and hops on one leg. You see a lot of one-legged kind of stuff in classical Indian-influenced dancing, but I’ve never seen it done in such a funny (and obviously untutored) way.
Her movements aren’t always very fluid, but I think that’s because of the pants. I guess she just doesn’t have the amazing ability that Helen had to move around very freely in extremely tight pants – and tight clothes in general, especially without splitting anything. But maybe Helen was able to get much better tight clothes, which could more easily stand the “tension” (as Barburao would say). Nonetheless, this dancer’s clothing isn’t always a liability for her either (for instance, I must admit that I do kind of like the rotating bum exhibition at the end).
I like the third mujra, for the entire dance. I still haven’t figured out what Noor Jehan song is being sung (by someone else), though YouTube comments have indicated it was from the ’70s. But this one is my favorite from the batch. It’s funny and charming, and I think I like Nargis a bit more than Deedar (who happens to be her sister, by the way). I also have to commend the set designer, as I love all the colors and the flowers, which fully complement Nargis’ feminine charms. (Not a tomboy like Deedar!) I think Nargis is my second favorite of the contemporary Pakistani mujra dancers, surpassed only by Megha – whose dances I’ve posted a few times in the past couple of years, most recently on May 3.
As I may have mentioned, I moved again this past month. Fortunately, though, this move was quite voluntary, because a friend wanted me to go in on a share right in my neighborhood, and this seems like a better situation than I was in before. My room, in particular, though small, is much more airy than the one I was in before, as it looks out over a backyard (to which we have exclusive access) and thus even seems as though it’s surrounded by nature somewhat. This is far different from the last room, which was surrounded by brick walls, with a view out the window of another window and a brick wall.
But while there might be more nature right outside my window, the street itself is a bit more industrial, because it’s at the south end of the neighborhood, right off Queens Boulevard, and there are a few gas stations, mechanics’ shops, and car dealerships right in that vicinity.
Two doors away from me, there’s a lot with some cars in it near a big sign that says “Punjab Motors.”
And as soon as I glimpsed the phrase “Punjab Motors,” this scene flashed into my mind:
My computer fell down and then it crashed. It lost consciousness for about 18 hours and resisted numerous restart attempts. But now, it seems to have mysteriously recovered – for the time being.
P.S. 7/23 – Computer’s health was very bad again today. Computer froze/phased out repeatedly, required replacement of “bad sectors.” I will spare readers further updates – suffice to say, if things slow down, that is why. If computer must be removed for a time, I’ll at least try to address comments in Internet cafes.
P.S. 7/31 – The hard drive seemed to stop for good (expire?) on 7/29. The computer is now in the shop, getting a hard drive transplant. (Yes, I am borrowing some time on somebody else’s computer at the moment.) Fortunately, the price turned out to be much lower than prior estimates (assuming they are doing everything they need to do to revive it). So, at this point it seems that I will not have to do anything drastic to raise computer repair funds. I hope to have it back and working by August 1.
8/2 – Looks as though it’s going to be a while before the computer is working again… It’s not the hard drive after all – it’s the motherboard! For the next couple of weeks, my Internet access will be limited, but I’ll do the best I can with this situation…
Travels to the moon (and beyond) seem to be in the news again… 40th anniversary of the historic moon landing, space station walk coming up on Saturday, India’s moon-orbiting satellite back on track (if that’s the right term)… So last night and this morning, I’ve been thinking about a song about flying beyond the moon, from Pakeezah.
This movie took a long time to make, but since the filming was completed in ’71, I’m thinking that this song was written around the time when travels to the moon were a big subject in the whole world’s popular culture. But the basic subject of the song – going with a loved one far, far away from the cruel world that we know – had probably been around for a bit longer. (The first movie that I think of when I think about that theme is Guru Dutt’s 1957 film, Pyaasa.) And, it’s easy for me to see why such a theme has lasting power. Personally, I find it a very attractive idea. (Now I only need to find the woman who will run off with me, since past candidates kind of disappeared a while back.) I guess that’s a big reason why I love this song, though of course a lot of great talent went into it: music by Ghulam Mohammed, singing by Rafi and Lata, and those very attractive lyrics by Kaif Bhopali.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a separate clip for this song that had English subtitles, so I’m including two versions… One is the separate song clip without subs…
…and the other is an installment of that copy of Pakeezah at YouTube, which seems to have pretty good subtitles. (The song is near the beginning of the installment, and right before it, you can hear some nice background music by Naushad and witness the heroine’s great confession…)
P.S. It was mentioned somewhere at YouTube that you cannot see Meena’s face in most of the song because she couldn’t face the camera in that advanced stage of her illness. Facts like that just add a dimension of terrible sadness to this song and much of the movie. But Pakeezah at least has a farily happy ending (albeit with some very dark stuff mixed in) and, as I may have said before, I think it’s a great movie.
For the next post, I hope to go back to a film that Meena Kumari was in when she was younger and having a better time.
P.S. [7/23] OK, the writeup that I hoped to do as the “next post” will have to wait, mainly because of technical difficulties.
Ratan (1944) (When I tried to play a DVD of this movie, it nearly destroyed my computer, so I’ll just have to settle for YouTube clips of these wonderful songs.)
That’s right… I was so delighted to find a DVD of Ratan (1944) and was so much looking forward to viewing it and writing it up… And then when I put the disc in my computer, my computer went nuts. It froze, it wouldn’t turn off or eject the disc, it took forever to reboot. And I so desperately wanted this not to be the fault of the disc that I even tried it again, after going through a lot of trouble, thinking that maybe it was some temporary glitch. And it was worse the second time. So be forewarned, the disc is from the Friends Video Diamond Collection. If this disc destroys your computer don’t say I didn’t warn you! (Meanwhile, there is no DVD player that I can try it on at the moment. My computer is it. But even if a regular player might handle it, do I want a disc that would destroy my computer? This one will be going back to the store soon, alas.)
Oh, well. Maybe computers were just not meant to play this Hindi movie directed by M. Sadiq all the way back in 1944. But there are enough clips out there, on YouTube and Dailymotion (though some people unfortunately have disabled embedding in some of the best songs…but you know what to do when that happens – just click the screen)… And I can say for certain that this is a soundtrack that I can’t get out of my head. It is so catchy, so full of wonderful vocals and rhythm yet at the same time often very simple compared to soundtracks of the next couple of decades, including some soundtracks from this music director, who did great with simple as well as complex soundtracks, because he was the best of all (so I have realized). Of course, I’m talking about Naushad…
Now, a lot of people already know the famous song from this movie (which I’ve also metioned here before, not too long ago), the one that made Zohrabai a singing star and which encouraged (far inferior) remixes many, many years later. I wonder, also, if this wasn’t Bollywood’s first tonga song. Whether it was the first one or not, it could be my favorite tonga song…
But there’s one musical number from this movie that I like even more, and that’s “Oo Jane Wale Balamwa.” And I love this number for the dancing as well as the music. These two dancers seem to be in a very no-frills kind of setting, but they are doing a very captivating dance. In this particular case, also (as one YouTube commenter already noted), the male dancer is actually even better than the woman. But they’re both very good. It’s also interesting seeing the expressions on the faces of those two young people watching the dance. (These actors manage some very intense gazes. By the way, that’s Karan Deewan and Swarnalata. Do you think their characters might be falling in love?) Meanwhile, I could play this song over and over, it’s just so completely stuck in my head…
And speaking of marvelous dancing, there’s also “Aee Diwali.” This is the only clip I’ve seen from this film that features a chorus of dancers, and it made me wish I could see more:
(Sorry, by the way, about the not-so-great quality. I think the quality is a little off because this is from an old VHS tape and/or television broadcast. Oh, well, at least a VHS tape won’t destroy anyone’s computer.)
And, finally, there are a couple of very dramatic numbers which star Karan Dewan singing in front of what appears to be a giant Buddha head. Between these songs, I particularly like “Jab Tum Hi Chale Pardes,” where we also get to see Swarnalata looking very beautiful and sad:
This movie has such a goond soundtrack, even the music behind the credits is great. And I get the impression that this is not one of those movies that have great music but are bad or mediocre otherwise; I get the impression that this whole film is quite enjoyable. Maybe I’ll be able to prove that hypothesis one day, if not right now.
P.S. On YouTube, Julmibaba has posted no less than eleven songs from this film! (It’s too bad that they were all posted with emhedding disabled…)
For those who don’t know this yet, the great Padmini dance that I posted yesterday was from Payal (1957), a movie that I’ve talked about quite a bit already. I’ve also posted a few songs from this movie over the past year or two, but none of those clips were of the same quality as the clips that Tommydan1 put together, and I don’t think any of them had the English subtitles that he’s included either. So, in light of the way Tom improved on all of these, I am going to post every remaining song from this movie that he worked with, even if I’ve posted the song once or twice before… [Note, much later: Some of these were moved to my site when Tom got kicked off YouTube, but they are all his videos.]
By the way, I guess I should mention (as I have before) that Payal is one of those Indian movies in which there is a pretty big gap between the quality of the performances and the quality of the script or the way the plot progresses. The musical numbers are fantastic – there’s fine music by Hemant Kumar, with singing by Rafi and Lata, and there are those great dances… I think some of the acting is also very nice, especially the performance by Baby Naaz. But don’t be disappointed by the peculiar jumps in the plot or the not-so-interesting antics of some silly bad guys (not to mention the smaller jumps in the middle of scenes caused by the bad quality of the source print, I would guess)… As the saying goes, you can’t have everything, but from the musical numbers alone, you do get a lot.
I would guess that yesterday’s dance, “Jaago Aur Jagao,” was the most famous dance in this film (and with good reason). But I think “Jaa Re Saanwale Salone Natkhat Banwaari” is pretty famous too, and that seems to be the source of a lot of promotional stills of Padmini that were floating around. There is one shot of Padmini from this that most people (myself included) find very pretty, too… Although, apparently, there was one rather obnoxious critic who complained about the extra amount of stomach poking out from the middle of Padmini’s costume, but I actually find it kind of cute, and besides, it doesn’t really have a whole lot to do with the quality of this fine dance…
Tom also posted an excellent clip (much superior to what was up there before) of a song I love, “Yeh Duniya Rail Niraali.” Agha does a very uplifting performance here, “singing” with the wonderful voice of Rafi. The lyrics (by Rajendra Krishan) are a lot of fun also (and oh so true), plus I love the banjo playing part. (Is that really Ragini? She looks so different here!)
Next among my favorite scenes is the very first scene in the movie, the Padmini dance “Piya Milan Ko Chali Radhika”:
And, of course, I love the dance with Minoo Mumtaz (also featuring another spirited performance of Rafi on Agha):
Incidentally, Payal also is known as a Sunil Dutt starrer. For some reason, though, I barely noticed him in this movie. But when I think about it, I can remember some nice scenes with him in them…
I found this to be a cute comparison. Here is Padmini and her niece Shobana doing virtually the same scene in different films 51 years apart. Padmini’s peformance is from the 1952 film Mr. Sampat (with very nice vocals by Geeta Dutt). Shobana’s performance is in the 2003 movie Dance Like a Man.
Not that this isn’t a familiar scenario… The dancer dances to tempt the sage away from his yogic meditations. This is probably the story in a few classic mythical tales. And in both these scenes, the dancer succeeds. Strangely enough, though, as I showed several months back, Helen attempted the same task and failed.