Friday, 22 June 2012

Satte Pe Satta

Directed by: Raj N. Sippy
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Shakti Kapoor, Sarika, Ranjeeta Kaur
Released: 1982
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I first learned about the existence of Satte Pe Satta last year when a new remake of it was announced and at the time I was anything but happy about it, but quite a lot has changed since then and now I´m awaiting the film with optimism. The 1982 film starring a popular couple Amitabh-Hema was originally also a remake – of American film „Seven Brides for Seven Brothers“, and though a pleasant film, there was a lot left to be desired, which the new version may eventually draw its strength from. But before the first take of the new movie (that is going to have Sanjay Dutt and Karishma Kapoor in the lead roles) is even taken, let´s have a closer look at the classic.

Somewhere in India there is a solitary farm run by seven brothers, who definitely do not lack love for each other, but do lack basic human manners. They are dirty, unshaven, lazy, uneducated, simple..... and do not care. If not for the eldest brother Ravi (Amitabh Bachchan), who at least lacks the laziness if not other of the trades mentioned, and acts a bit like a slave driver to his siblings, else they would probably just rot on their unkempt cots. One day Ravi by a rather embarrassing mistake meets Indu (Hema Malini), a neat and clean hospital nurse, intelligent, strong willed, basically everything other people in his life (read his family) are not. He falls for her, but doesn´t leave a favourable impression on her and it takes quite a lot of courting and convincing before Indu too finds some love for him in her heart. That however without any knowledge about his family situation. 

What do you mean "use a Gillete"?
Indu is quite shocked by her six brothers-in-law, and no wonder considering one of them is Shakti Kapoor and they move about in next to nothing but some brightly colourful underwear. In the end however it´s them who get the bigger shock, when she decides to „civilize“ them.... Hema Malini is someone I am usually a bit wary about on screen, thought it´s true I´ve not seen that many of her films as yet, and I liked her as feisty Indu, except her dialogue delivery is not the best and her voice modulation neither. She is a good match for Amitabh (who is of course great) and Indu is really that one phenomenon which keeps the basic plot tight and entertaining. Her quest to make her brothers-in-law normal people who dress and wash and don´t eat with their hands was hilarious. However as the movie goes on the focus shifts to the six brothers and their little romances as well as some rather unnecessary masala plot involving an Amitabh´s duplicate and money plotting, Indu makes a quiet exit and so does most of the humour.

Indu being made to believe the guy she loves actually has a normal family.
I understand that Satte Pe Satta is one of most favourite Amitabh Bachchan movies, and no wonder, it definitely provides entertainment (by which I do not mean to say the film is brainless - „entertaining“ has become rather synonymous with „stupid“ in the past few years I feel) and delivers on most levels, yet it is definitely not a perfect film. The second half is weaker and at times on the verge of boring, resembling way too much the 80s action films that were pretty much all the same as if they have been printed by a copy machine. And somehow I don´t think I would believe that a guy, who threatened me with a knife, was only trying to help me. In the end all the brothers turn from animals to humans and all are rewarded with a nice girl to marry. The idylic family life on the farm can continue.

Some things are bound to happen if seven guys live together alone....

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


Directed by: Ravi Chopra
Starring: Meenakshi Sheshadri, Jackie Shroff, Raj Babbar, Smita Patil, Dalip Tahil
Released: 1986
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

A fine film about first loves not meant to be and how it´s difficult to realize a marriage can be full of love unspoken. Triangular love stories were, are and always will be in demand and Dahleez follows the suit, with the difference that the loser in this is not forced to die a valiant death and there is nobody fourth found to pacify him.

Meenakshi Sheshadri, who remains unjustly and painfully forgotten by 90% of Bollywood viewers today, is Naini, a beautiful girl catching an eye of Shekar and another of her friends (Jackie Shroff and Dalip Tahil being rather ridiculous trying to pass off as students) and ultimately choosing Shekar. Few songs later the two depart and plan to meet, but due to unexpected issue Shekar cannot make it. He unwisely sends his friend to explain this to Naini, but instead she is told by this rejected and jealous suitor Shekar is not interested in her anymore. Without examining the matter Naini feels insulted and retreats from Shekar´s life completely, leaving him confused and heartbroken.

...I so totally believe you guys are students who came camping.
Friendly advice: full focus on Meenakshi during the early part of the film helps.
The two meet few years later by an accident while skying in Kashmir, but before anything can be said Naini runs away and Shekar is left with his questions and unrequired love again. We are shown he became an army officer, who occasionally pours his heart out in songs he sings on TV (indeed), unknowingly wretching the heart of poor Naini who is made to listen to him – by her music loving and nothing suspecting husband Rahul (Raj Babbar). Indeed, the girl got hurt once, never sought any explanation from the guy she loved and got married, pretty much to show him she can do without him. But Shekar is not one of those who give up easily. Once he and Naini are forced to sing a weepy love song on TV together (ah the awkwardness of the „accidents“!) and her army husband leaves to train troops against terrorists (which requires his celibate apparently), Naini and Shekar start seeing each other again, him still in love and her not completely over him either....
The awkward moment...
..when Jackie is on TV...
...singing about you being a heartless bench...
...and your husband is enjoying it.
Beautiful Meenakshi and young, fit and sexy Raj Babbar were both excellent, Jackie (also young , fit and sexy) however had a rather ungrateful role of a showpiece for most of the movie. Some side characters deserved better treatment – namely Smita Patil, who appears for just a few minutes only to kill and to die in a fit of patriotic fervor. The action and emotional drama was not really well combined, especially by the end the action bits completely took over for the sake of some „dishum dishum“ without which any 80s film just couldn´t exist, plus it was needed for us to understand that Naini has to choose between two really patriotic and righteous and brave and macho men – with them saving each others life without having a clue they both love the same woman (long live the awkward!).

The 80s hold the greatest number of films that are just bad when it comes to Bollywood and it is not completely unjustified to label them the „dark times“ of Hindi film industry, yet Dahleez is one of those movies that could work very well had it not been for over-grown students (Jackie and Dalip at the beggining), some crappy dialogues, not quite engaging action sequences and not good enough development of Shekar´s character. It still has things to offer – like some melodious songs (though none gives us the chance to see Meenakshi´s unquestionable dancing genius), solid performance by Meenakshi Sheshadri and Raj Babbar at his watchable best.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012


Directed by: Mohit Suri
Starring: Emraan Hashmi, Mrinalini Sharma, Shriya Saran, Ashutosh Rana
Released: 2007
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Awarapan suffered what I call „the fate of Lagaan“. I have not come across a single person who wouldn´t be praising it, and naturally the expectations shot skyhigh, never to be met. In the end I just had to admit that I would have liked Awarapan much more had I had not any preconcieved notion about it as well. It is a good film from all angles, but it lacks the "smashing" quality that would make it truly memorable.

Emraan Hashmi, whom I have an unexplainable dislike for (rooting probably in his resemblance to Anil Kapoor in both appearance and manner), plays Shivam, for whom, according to the posters, „Love was his only destination“. To get to the destination he chose a rather strange path though. We meet him as a right hand to a Hong Kong based gangster Malik, doing mostly the ugly and dirty work for him. Thus when he receives an order to spy on Malik´s mistress Reema, who apparently hasn´t shown a proper excitement while having sex with her lover and thus raising doubt about her own fidelity, he doesn´t question it, nor is he apprehensive to carry out her murder in case she would indeed prove to be unfaithful to his boss.
"Kill my girlfriend, OK?"
"Sure. Enjoy your holiday, Boss."
And she does! Apparently she is in love with a poor but handsome young man and wants nothing but to run away and return to India, from where she had been kidnapped and subsequently made to please Malik. Shivam points a gun to her head – and yet the ruthless gangster cannot press the trigger. You see, in Reema Shivam has recognized something he had been trying to forget and we see he is in fact a pitiful heart-broken atheist who once upon a time was in love with gorgeous and deeply religious Muslim girl Aliyah (Shriya Saran, who is apparently stuck with cameos and lame roles opposite unsalelable actors when it comes to Bollywood and is HURTS, oh it hurts). However the deeply in love Shivam lost his deeply religious Aliyah when her deeply offended father shot his daughter by mistake (of course he had been aiming at Shivam), and this loss marked Shivam forever.
Prayer can indeed save a life - even if not yours.
He pretty much gives his blessing to Reema and her lover and helps them to escape, which of course is not all that easy since Malik comes to know about it. The last 40 or so minutes are action packed and together with lots of shooting and cursing we get to see Shivam finally accepting God, whom he had never believed in before. Religious movies are rather tricky. They can easily offend everybody and tend to be preachy, Awarapan manages not to. Aliyah is a Muslim, and yet Shivam finds God in a Buddhist temple, indicating that God is one for everybody, no matter of what you call yourself – and that is one theme I shall always love and be grateful for it.

Emraan was good as long as his burnt out mode fitted the story, but once he sets out on his last quest, I would have expected him to actually show some emotion. All were scared of him in the film but there was nothing scary about him. He looked mostly confused and his stone face was not really appropriate to lot of situations. A hero with more of visible emotional range would have done wonders for the film. As I have indicated above, I was also left wanting more of Shriya, who only had an extended cameo in the film, although her character was essential to the story. I would love to see her in „big“ film with „big“ heroes, with her amount of talent and beauty she could easily overrule many wanna-be starlets that Bollywood is currently full of.