13 comments on “Ten of My Favorite Hindi Film Dances Starring or Co-Starring Ragini

  1. Gorgeous list, Richard. It shows Ragini’s efficiency in different styles.
    I started warming up to it from number 5.
    Generally speaking there are dances where there is a lot of running around, and turning around, which for me is a mark of ignorance on the part of the choreographer or perhaps the dancer was not well qualified, so the dances till 4 qualify because they do have a superb dancer doing some beautiful moves and not just running and turning around.

    As the numbers progress to 1 we see that the dance movements become denser…a proof of your great taste.
    BTW I have seen Cobra Girl :)

    In 3 I’m not surprised to see Tamil dance moves because the woman(Ragini) is supposed to be from there and the man(Padmini) from Punjab.

    I heartily approve of your #1 and 2.

  2. PS:
    #5. The song on the car of the train.
    I’m quite sure it isn’t Ragini because I’ve seen this film, and like many films seen and forgotten, I can’t remember the name.
    The reason I think it isn’t Ragini is (apart from the different looks) that I do remember this scene where Agha and the hero (forget who) are ticketless and Agha tries to distract with this song. The women are just in this scene as fellow passengers enjoying the song, so Ragini couldn’t have come on just for that.
    Unless I’m mixing up two scenes of different films. :)

  3. Many thanks, Pacifist. I’m glad you agreed with the order of the dances and how/why Ragini got better and better as the list went on. It’s true, some of the dances might have looked like a bunch of jumping and running around (especially that one with Shashi Kapoor in it :) ), but Ragini helped bring the dances to a higher level every time.

    It occurred to me that the woman character in #3 is supposed to be Tamil, though the style of the music, setting, etc. is still Punjabi. If there was a specific reason for the resemblance to some Tamil dances, that makes sense. But I think it was more a case of these two Travancore Sisters just doing some of the nice stuff they always did. :)

    I saw the movie with the Ragini (?!) banjo-playing scene a couple of years ago, and I’ve posted a lot of Padmini’s dances from that… It’s Payal (1957). I recall that in this scene, Agha’s character is trying to distract from any annoyance that the women might feel about a man ending up in the women’s car. I can’t recall if this happened because he’d snuck onto the the train without paying… Unfortunately, I can’t view the film to confirm anything at the moment, because the DVD is in another location, and I have to get a bunch of old DVDs sent to me, which hopefully will happen at the end of the year. But the film, at least as it exists on DVD, is such a badly edited, jumpy mess, that I might not even have been able to tell you all the details of the plot even if I’d watched the whole thing again tonight. :) I do recall thinking that the women in the train car were the touring dance troupe that Padmini’s character joined at some point, but that could be wrong. Ragini isn’t a major character in the film, and she doesn’t even do any duet dances with Padmini. But she is credited, and she plays a minor character – or maybe more than one. I think she’s in the dance troupe. Anyway, you’re right that she looks very different for Ragini. She does have a biggish nose like Ragini, and she does look a little like this in some of the shots in the Mujrim dances. But I’m not recognizing her here the way that I usually recognize her. Oh, well, maybe someone else can say for sure.

    But, of course, that video’s just an aside, it’s not one of the dances. I think when she’s dancing, it’s easier to recognize her as Ragini, even when her face isn’t so clear.

  4. Thank you for this, Richard. I don’t usually end up appreciating dances too much (I have to confess I don’t pay enough attention to them), but these were fantastic – I enjoyed them a lot. Like pacifist, my favourites were the ones from #5 onwards, but I also liked the picturisation of that one with Shashi Kapoor. Some good chemistry there, as you mention – I wish the song had been better, and not quite so shrill.

    I must, must watch Kalpana soon. I have it sitting on my laptop for the past couple of months, and just watching As salaam aaleikum babu made my mouth water so, I think Kalpana merits a watch before the year ends!

  5. Thanks Richard!!!! This is one of the best list I’ve seen. I agree with the order as well. The 5th is song is definitely not Ragini. Though I could spot her cousin Sukumari amongst the girls. At 37 seconds the girl on the left is Sukumari. I couldn’t spot Ragini. Kalpana is one movie even I’m waiting to watch. Have not got a copy as yet.

  6. Dustedoff and Viju, I’m glad you both enjoyed the list so much too. And I am feeling very encouraged about my aesthetic judgments after seeing so many people agree with the order of the list!

    Dustedoff, it’s interesting to see that you usually don’t notice dances that much (and good to see that I got you to notice these :) )… Apropos to some recent conversation at your blog, I would put dances up there alongside music as one of the main attractions of classic Bollywood and Indian cinema, at least for me.

    It is interesting, too, that you agree regarding the chemistry between Ragini and Shashi Kapoor. (Rather ironic since Shashi complained off-set that he thought Ragini was ugly!)

    Viju, yeah, I never was fully convinced that the girl in the scene that I linked to in my “aside” below the fifth dance was Ragini. As I mentioned, somebody else told me that it was, a while back. (Don’t know if I should name him here, but one of you may have helped him with some subtitles on his compilation DVDs. :) ) And the more I got to see of Ragini in other things, the more I was able to recognize her as soon as she appeared, the less the girl in that scene looked like Ragini to me.

    Now that we’ve solved this (I think), maybe I’ll take down the “aside” under Number 5. But then the conversation in the comments is going to look a little odd – I’ll have to explain what it’s all about. :)

  7. Now that you mention the name of the film – ‘payal’ it has all come back.
    I remember the frustration watching it. Never have I seen any film cut so badly. There was no connection in many scenes. They just changed. I blame it on Indus video.

    But more to the point. Ragini is Sunil Dutt’s sister who is doing business in the city while the family is in the village suffering hardships because of the way Sunil Dutt is spending money on his business.
    Ragini suggests the father visit him and find out what’s going on. Father refuses. Ragini suggests Agha (whom she hopes to marry).
    Agha is late and jumps into a ladies compartment.
    You are right that he has a ticket but is trying to amuse the girls with this song. So there is definitely no Ragini among the girls as she is back home.

    These girls do belong to the dance troupe.
    Actually I did think that the girl, pointed out by Viju as Rgini’s cousin, resembled Ragini much more than the banjo playing girl.

  8. Thanks Cram for the link. There again the titles in the video says Padmini and Ragini, but actually its Ragini and her cousin Ambika in this sequence. Thanks again.

  9. Thanks Richard. The movie also stars Padmini, which explains my confusion while uploading the song. Anyhow, I have corrected the title.

    Have also uploaded a snake dance featuring Ambika and Sukumari from another old Malayalam movie.


  10. Cram, thanks for the clip. There was another copy of this that I posted a while back, but it was much worse looking because a very distorted aspect ratio made both these dancers look very wide. But the old one disappeared anyway because the poster was suspended.

    BTW, one of the reasons I decided to restrict this favorites list to Hindi films only is that many of the South Indian clips had disappeared on me. (May your YouTube channel stay around for a long time! Cross fingers? Knock on wood?)

    Viju, I think I’m going to look to you as well as Pacifist to check that all identifications here are correct. :) (Even when I happen to be right in the midst of some confusion, I don’t trust my instincts, apparently. Oh, well.)

    Pacifist, thanks for the summary regarding Ragini’s real role in Payal. I actually don’t remember that part at all. Maybe my attention drifted at some point. I’m sure you understand, considering what a mess this film turned out to be. (Or, who knows, maybe my copy was missing that part too. :) )

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