[Continuing my Mehboob Khan 50th D.A. tribute via a few words about each of the seven movies that I saw and links to many posts by me and some other people…]
Behen aka Sister – I actually viewed this film under the title “Sister,” but more listings use the Hindi title, and by using the Hindi title, I can fit it into the almost-accidental alphabetical order that I settled on but still finish this post with the film that I really want to finish with.
Sister was an interesting movie with a creepy incest theme. But in addition to the main theme, it contains a few good plot diversions into social commentary and socialism (as films by the hammer-and-sickle man often do). But probably the greatest reason to watch this is for the performances of a very young Nalini Jaywant and younger Baby Meena (as in Kumari). Anyway, I wrote a very full review of this film, with plot summary, just six months ago, so there is no need to say much more here.
Mother India – I almost left this film off the list, because I knew I could not offer an adequate commentary of my own regarding Mehboob’s best-known work. It was the first Mehboob Khan film that I ever saw (which is probably true for most people – at least in the past several decades), and I wrote a very short post about it close to six years ago, when this blog had just completed one year of existence and was really still just morphing into one that would be devoted to Indian films. I entitled the post Matriarchal Marxist Masterpiece – which I suppose is somewhat appropriate… Mother India scored some high points for leftists (myself included) for the way that it promoted socialism, though I understand that some people found it a bit regressive because of ideas that it also promoted about the “ideal woman” (i.e., how a woman should always make sacrifices and that sort of thing).
I guess what I remember most about Mother India (after all these years and so many movies in between) was the performance by Nargis, which was incredible. There also were a lot of vividly beautiful, colorful scenes. And the most colorful scene – i.e., the Holi festival – included an amazing dance by Sitara Devi dressed in drag.
Looking around to the bloggers I know about, I found the best write-up at Cala’s blog Filmi Geek. (Actually, she wrote that review six years ago, one day before I wrote my short post on it – which is rather interesting…)
There are a few places on YouTube where you can find free copies of this film to watch, but I haven’t found any with English subtitles. (The one that I supplied in 2008 was taken down, naturally.) But I think it would probably be pretty easy to find in “Bollywood” stores as well as in libraries.
Najma – I loved this Muslim Social! But I also wrote a full review of it relatively recently, so as with Sister, I don’t think there’s any great need to write much about it again here. Anyone who wishes to see what I had to say in praise of this movie (and especially in praise of Veena) can go to that post from October 29, 2013. By the way, I also had the chance to view it on YouTube, thanks to Tom’s post.
Roti – I never wrote a full review of Roti, but I wrote a good short summary of my feelings about it in my post on August 24, 2010, when I said:
This is a straightforward message movie with a moral (no ambivalence about it whatsoever), but at the same time, the plot is compelling, and the chracters range from diabolically fascinating to positively adorable. This really is the greatest of Mehboob’s communist adventure films! Plus, there is some beautiful dancing here, and we get to hear one of the best soundtracks by Anil Biswas.
In that post, I urged everyone to go to Memsaab‘s to read the detailed review of it (with all its excellent screen caps) and also to take her up on her advice to ask for a VCD copy that she had. I got to see a copy of that, myself, but it was the copy converted to DVD by Tom. Since then, Tom has posted the film to YouTube (making this the third Mehboob Khan film to be found on his channel).
By the way, even though I didn’t do a full write-up of this film, I have written countless posts related to different parts of it and different aspects. These posts include:
Did Eleanor Powell’s dance in Honolulu (1939) influence Sitara Devi’s dance in Roti (1942)?
Fascinating Discovery: In real life, one of my favorite film villains became a Sufi saint!
“Rahem Na Khana, Rahem Na Khana…”
And I even included a screen cap from Roti in my post The Sinister Social Content of the Nose Ring.
You can tell, from the way that I lovingly dwell on these details, that Roti has become my favorite out of all of the great films I have seen that were directed by Mehboob Khan.