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What a perfect double feature these two would make!

First, Rajrani supplies either the thrills, chills, or horror in the pulse pounding EXTRA GIRL from Jay Pictures….

…then, what one can only presume is a promotion, Asha Pictures features Mehrunissa in and as STAGE GIRL!

If anyone can come up any info on actress Mehrunissa, I would be most grateful! All I can find is that she starred in several B grade films of the 30s and 40s such as BAGDHAD KA CHOR, KASHMIR KI KALI, NAQLI BAAP and FAIRY OF SINHALDWEEP, with the occasional supporting role in an A product.

To my knowledge I have never seen Mehrunissa in a film, either a big or small, but the fact that she has starred in a Hindi movie with the title STAGE GIRL already puts her in line to be one of my favorites!

If only Indian theatres had shown double bills back in the day, what could have been better than two thrillers like these on the screen together!

KUON PARDESI (or KAUN PARDESI) was released in 1947, however I suspect that DEVIL OR SAITAN  either had a title change or went unreleased as I cannot find any record of the film anywhere.  No doubt it was (or would have been) fine motion picture entertainment!

If anyone out there has info about the production, please let me know!

Romance…that steals your heart away!

Tune-Hits…to make you dream all day!

Laughter… and dancing to make you gay!

Thats...IRADA!

Kudos to whoever came up with this ad campaign! I can almost hear Dean Martin singing it!

Jaal Saaz (1969)

M. H. Films

Dir: Mohd. Hussain

Cast: Dara Singh, Bambi, Madan Puri, Shetty, Randhir, Ulhas, Paro, Agha, Samson, Sunder, Damuanna, Kamini.

As the film opens, Secret Agent 004 is being tortured to death by India’s enemies. They are attempting to learn from him, and his lovely co-secret agent…

…where the microfilm is hidden.

Despite the electrocutions, 004 won’t turn against his country, leaving the bad guys no choice but to off him.

Now, it is the girl’s turn to talk.

When asked where the micro-film is she gives some silly answers….

…but this lady secret agent is not the dim bulb she pretends to be, as she tosses an inkwell into the goons face, grabs a machine gun and shoots and karate chops her way out of danger…

..or so it seems, until one enemy agent also grabs a gun and shoots her down.

The End?

Not on your life, this just the beginning…and it all turns out to have been a crazy dream from the fertile mind of the detective-novel-loving Meena (Bambi)!

Meena’s mom is completely at her wits end with her espionage obsessed daughter.

Of course, having a flighty daughter is really the least of the widow’s worries. There is also son Bunty to be concerned with. The youngster needs a medical procedure that will cost 25,000 rupees! With only Meena’s meager office clerk salary supporting the family, it is difficult enough just making ends meet. In fact, they are already seven months delinquent on the rent, as their landlord (Sunder) is ever ready to remind Meena of.

Gosh, even the snackwala wants money from her!

At the office, Meena’s coworkers, who refer to her as ‘Lady James Bond,’ are entertained by accounts of her most recent dream.

Unfortunately, the boss man, Seth, is not a fan and when he once again finds Meena keeping his staff away from their work, he fires her.

To top this off, Bunty is sent home from school because his fees are four months in arrears.

How could things get any worse for poor Meena and her family?

A rich man named Ranbir Singh had been witness to Meena’s firing, and he offers her a job. He wants Meena to help him find his brother who has become missing in Bombay after hooking up with some fiendish businessmen from Hong Kong.

All she has to do is impersonate his brother’s daughter, Sonia, who he says she resembles, and seek out information on his whereabouts. Meena is weary of taking such a job, but when Ranbir offers to pay for Bunty’s doctor bills, plus all of her family’s household expenses, she agrees.

Randbir sends Meena to meet up with reformed underworld don, Ashok, better known as Black Shirt (Dara Singh), who now is the proprietor of The Golden Heart Club.

This of course means a lively nightclub number is in store for the viewers, which Madhumati supplies!

Meena, disguised as Sonia, arrives at the club looking just delightful dressed in Hong Kong style.

She asks club manager Abdullah (Agha) if she can meet Mr. Black Shirt…

….but Black Shirt refuses to see anyone.

So what’s a girl to do? Meena sets in motion a commotion by tripping a waiter, who spills food all over a customer, causing a fight which becomes a riot, which in turn forces Black Shirt down from his office.

As Black Shirt works to calm things down, Meena sneeks up to his office. Now able to meet the man she came to see, she convinces him to hire her as a singer at the club.

Later, Meena also explains to Ashok/Black Shirt that she has come all the way from Hong Kong to search for her (or rather, Sonia’s) father who has evidently been kidnapped. What with Black Shirt being a former don she figures that he would know all the criminals in Bombay, and she hopes that he might help her.

But now that he is on the right side of the law, Black Shirt informs that he no longer knows any of the local hoods. He is charmed, however, and is willing to assist her as best he can.

The two get the ball rolling by calling on dacoit Jaggu (Habib), informing him of who they are searching for.

Jaggu in turn reports to Madanlal (Madan Puri), a top underworld figure.

Back at the club, and after a lovely musical number by Meena and a club dancer, she meets with Mr. John who claims to know the whereabouts of the man she is looking for.

Just as he is about to spill the information a shot rings out and Mr. John breathes his last.

Later, the beautiful Rosy, Madanlal’s secretary,  telephones Meena, pretending to be Mrs. John.

The ruse results in Meena being kidnapped!

Uh, oh!

Will Black Shirt be able to find the kidnapped Meena?

Or will Meena have to come to the rescue of Black Shirt?

And will Ranbir’s missing brother ever be found?

To know this, and much more, see JAAL SAAZ!

JAAL SAAZ is bound to please any stunt film/Dara Singh fan (it most certainly pleased me!), and our favorite Punjabi is in fine form as the handsome reformed criminal, Ashok, a.k.a Black Shirt….

…but truly, this is  Bambi’s movie all the way! In fact I would not be at all surprised if this feature had been planned as a showcase for the new actress, who showed great potential in a short lived career; a darn shame given her excellent comedy skills and versatility.

So, I ask, whatever became of Bambi?

This is a question I’d love to answer, but I cannot. In fact I haven’t a clue as to why she left films or where she is now…and if anyone can fill me in, please don’t hesitate to do so.

Finding any kind of  information on this actress has been virtually impossible. However, I did find that I am not the first to appreciate her thespian skills. Writer Girija Rajendran, in the May 25, 1971 issue of Star & Style magazine had this to say about Bambi’s starring role in the 1971 drama PHIR BHI:

Both the roles of the mother and the daughter were equally important and were treated as such. With the scripter giving legitimate footage to both the characters, the heroine Bambi and Urmila Bhatt as her mother, came up each with a compelling performance.

Still, like the role of Richard Burton in “Becket”, I thought the more complex one was Bambi’s. For it was she who had to portray the intricate and highly involved feelings of an abnormal girl who, for all appearances, is normal. This is an introvert personality in the film, so much so that not even a glimmer of a smile is allowed to play freely upon the face of the heroine.

Bambi–and those who saw her maiden film, MAIKHANA, will bear me out– is well equipped to put any extraordinary character across with telling effect.

From what little I can find out, Bambi was discovered by Kidar Sharma and she made her debut in his social film MAIKHANA (1967). And because of her delicate looks and elfish charm some referred to her as the Indian Audrey Hepburn. There was also some criticism in fan magazines that she was far too thin, and needed to put on a few kilos if she intended to become a leading actress.

MAIKHANA, though critically liked, was a loser at the box office, and that surely did not help the girl’s career any. Her role in the film is described as bubbly and full of comedy, quite the opposite of her role in the more serious PHIR BHI.

Also in 1971, Bambi appeared opposite Kishore Kumar in the dramatic DOOR KA RAAHI which also featured Ashok Kumar, Tanuja, Abhi Bhattacharya, and  Amit Kumar. In this film she portrays Karuna, the love interest of Prashant (Kishore Kumar), who chooses to travel life’s road rather then commit to marriage.

According to director Hrishikesh Mukherjee, who was duly impressed by Bambi’s performances, after a handful of Hindi pictures she left Bombay to settle in Ahmedabad, thus, apparently, ending her film career.

Of course, Bambi and hero Dara Singh are not the only great thing about JAAL SAAZ.

Comedienne Agah plays a good role as Ashok’s assistant. He manages to get in a few pretty good lines…

…and Master Shetty has a meaty role as an evil smuggler out to do away with anyone who gets in the way of his devilish dealings….

And as if that weren’t enough, there is Bela Bose…

…and Bhagwan…

…both making friendly appearances.

So, if you need a fun time filler and also want to see a new face, pick up a copy of JAAL SAAZ. You won’t be sorry! And if nothing else, you can watch this musical number over and over, like I do……Hai Ram, how I just love Bambi’s bullet hair-do in this picturization (and am wondering who the dancer is…anyone know?)

Juicy, Saucy Entertainment…now there is an ad-line certain to fill theatre seats!

Also known as LAL BATTI, this 1947 thriller was directed by Nari Ghadiali, a prolific, but overlooked film maker who was busy churning out low budget action films throughout the 1940s and 50s. With titles like  VANARAJA TARZAN (1938), JUNGLE KING (1939), PISTOLWALI (1941),  KHAZANCHI KI BETI (1943), ROYAL MAIL (1946), LAHERI CAMERMAN (1944), EVER READY (1946) SPEED QUEEN (1947), HAMARI KISMAT (1949), and JUNGLE KA JADOO (1955) to his credit, it seems he should have the same kind of following as Homi Wadia. In fact Ghadiali directed Wadia favorite Fearless Nadia in a number of stunt films including JUNGLE GODDESS (1948),  BILLI (1949), and FIGHTING QUEEN (1956). Most likely he was best known, during his heyday at least, for directing many of forgotten action star Benjamin’s films of the 30s and 40s.

Benjamin was a popular stunt film star of the 30s and 40s.

Hopefully, one of these days, a few of Nari Ghadiali’s films will will be dug up and released on DVD and we can see just how his films stack up against the Wadias. I have no doubt they would make for enjoyable viewing!

Nari Ghadialia stunt picture LIEUTENANT 1944

“It’s the Funniest Thing that Ever Happened”….I like advertising that gets straight to the point, as this one for the 1955 comedy SHRI NAQAD NARAYAN certainly does. And, as it features Motilal, Majnu, and Om Prakash in the cast, it is quite possible that they had every right to brag. I am also a sucker for Hindi movie posters where the actors faces are attached to little cartoon-like bodies. I don’t get the floaty ghost head, though.

Interestingly enough, all sources list I.S. Johar as the director of SHRI NAQAD NARAYAN, while this ad shows K. D. Mehra. Perhaps there was a switch of directors somewhere along the line.

With Hindi versions of King Kong, Creature from the Black LagoonDr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Nightmare on Elm Street, and even An American Werewolf in London you knew there just had to be, somewhere, at some time, a Bollywood version of Godzilla (or more accurately, Gojira).

…and if there was a Bollywood version of Godzilla, who would be likely to star in it…yep, Azad and Chitra…er, Tabassum! (I often refer to Tabassum as Chitra Jr seeing as how Tabs pretty much took over where Chitra left off, once the star’s career declined).

And the plot…party beach-goers, including Asha and Kumar, sight a huge sea monster rising from the depths of the ocean. At first the police are in disbelief, but when others start seeing the big beastie, they are convinced that the creature exists.

The authorities attempt to dispose of Gogola. Unfortunately, their efforts only manage to anger the monster and, as the pressbook states, “[an] enraged Gogola charges into the city wreaking vengeance by destroying many public lives, buildings and properties…”

Asha’s father is a scientist and he creates a poison which will destroy Gogola. Kumar, being the hero, volunteers to dive below the sea and inject Gogala with the deadly substance, but the evil Lacchoo (who has eyes for Asha) devises a plan to kill Kumar and, at the same time, take credit for ridding the world of Gogola.

So there you are… you have your thrills…you have your suspense

…and you have your what not!

Though I have not been fortunate enough to actually see GOGOLA (I will seriously give a reward to anyone who can locate a copy for me), it is directed by Balwant Dave, formerly of Wadia Films (Hunterwali, Fauladi Mukka, etc.), so it is bound to be entertaining…and who doesn’t love a Hindi film with suit-mation monsters in it!

Habib,Polson, Kumari Nazar, and Rani round out the cast of this most intriguing title, and while we await some intrepid DVD company to release this one, please enjoy a song from the film, the delightful:  Nacho, Nacho Gogola :

The film opens with the demon king Ravan (Niranjam Sharma) ordering his uncle Maricha to turn into a golden deer so as to distract Ram (Trilok Kapoor) from looking out for the safety of his wife Sita (Sona Chatterjee) while they are on their 14 year banishment in the jungle.


  We next find Sita picking flowers in the jungle and singing the lively song “Daal Daal Kunj Kunj.”

-

Sita spots the golden deer and points it out to Ram and his brother Lakshman (Prabhash Joshi).

Hmmm… is she referring to the golden deer or to Trilok?

Ram sets off to obtain the animal and instructs Lakshman to stay and protect Sita, due to the fact that the forest is plum full of demons.

 Ram chases after the animal and shoots it, only to find that it is Marich in disguise. Marich then impersonates Ram’s voice and calls out to Lakshman for help. Sita, fearing that Ram is in danger insists that Lakshman go and help her husband……

  …and, against his better judgement, he obeys her, leaving Sita alone. However, before leaving he draws a line around their hut which will keep Sita safe, as long as she remains behind it.

With Lakshman and Ram out of the way, Ravan makes his move on Sita, but when he attempts to cross the line protecting his prey, it bursts into flame. Not being able to get to his victim, Ravan devises a plan to get Sita to come to him by taking on the disguise of a sage. He figures that Sita, being the kind person that she is, would never refuse alms to a holy man. And he is right!

  Sita brings him a plate of food, crosses the line, and is quickly snatched by Ravan who flies her back to his land, Lanka, to make a bride of her.

Returning home, Ram and Lakshman are horrified to find Sita is missing!

  They set out to find her.

They search…

……..and they look…

  …and they search….

…..and they pet kitties…

  …they walk off into the sunset…still searching for Sita….

  …and, much to my enjoyment, they sing a song about searching, (unfortunately, I couldn’t locate the song on youtube, but it really is a nice one).

Sadly for Ram, it is just not the same singing around flowers and trees without your leading lady with you.

In the search for Ram’s beloved, the brothers come across an anklet and earing which Sita had dropped from the sky.

They then stumble upon Jatayu, king of the eagles, who lay dying. Jatayu tells the men that he tried to save Sita, but was no match for the demonic powers of Ravan.

Jatayu is played in awesome suitmation style, and one only wishes the battle between the big bird and Ravan would have been included in the screenplay. As it is, we only get to see this tiny glimpse of the creature, and that too when he is already near death. Of course, seeing as how Homi Wadia made a number of mythologicals over the years, it is very likely that this Jatayu suit appears in another of his films. One that hopefully features a Jatayu action sequence!

Meanwhile, on Rishyamukh mountain, the deposed monkey king, Sugriv (also played by Niranjam Sharma), is lamenting the torments of his brother Bali (Patel).

Along with this problem, Sugriv is also quite annoyed that his friend Hanuman has turned into a devotee of Ram, despite his having never even met the man-god, and that he is therefore never around to help stop Bali’s shenanigans because he spends all of his time sitting around doing pooja.


––why, Hanuman (S. N. Tripathi) is in another cave, singing the praises of Lord Ram.

 After completing his song, Hanuman spots two men (Ram and Lakshman) traipsing through the underbrush, unknowingly being followed by a hideous one-eyed beastie, known as a Rakshasha.

The Rakshasha creature shows up in just about every movie that monkey god Hanuman is in, always to my great delight. Add this to the talking giant bird and the singing monkeys, and what is not to like!

Aaarrrrghhhh!

The Rakshasha attacks the boys and Ram shoots it with an arrow, but the creature tosses Ram up into the air…

Aaaiiiyeee!

… before dying with a dramatic plunge off a cliff.

Hanuman, seeing what has happened, saves Ram and brings him back to earth.

  The monkey is thrilled to find that the one he has just served is his very own hero, Ram!

  The trio discover that the Rakshasha is named Kabandh, and with its death has released the celestial being Vishwa Vasu, who had been turned into the man-killing monster by a curse put upon him by Lord Brahama (to get the full story on this, refer to your copy of The Ramayana).

  Now that they are BFFs, Hanuman takes Ram and Lakshman to meet King Sugriv, seeing as how they share similar difficulties. Meanwhile, Ravan arrives in Lanka with Sita in tow.

Greta over at Memsaabstory blog would surely call this a perfect “Nahiiin!” face.

His announcement that she is to be the new queen does not sit well with Mandodari (Leela Kumari), the current queen wife of Ravan.

Another stumbling block comes when Ravan learns that if he makes a woman his consort without her consent, he shall be torn into seven pieces.

  Not being fond of that idea Ravan orders Sita held captive in Ashok Vatika garden.

  Back to our heroes, Ram helps Sugriv defeat his evil ape brother Bali.

Monkey brother Bali.

As Bali lay dying from Ram’s arrow he questions why Ram befriended and helped Sugriv instead of helping himself find Sita first. Ram explains that Bali’s misbehavior with kidnaped womenfolk was a great sin, and one that Ram felt the need to rectify immediately. Bali understands and requests that Ram take his son Angada (Pandit Amarnath) under his wing.

With his kingdom back, Sugriv orders his army of monkeys to scour all of India in search of Sita. Hanuman himself is sent south, as that is where bird Jatayu had last seen Ravan heading. Ram gives Hanuman his ring so that if he should locate Sita she will know that the monkey is on the side of good.

Reaching the sea, Hanuman develops the power both to grow to gigantic proportions and to fly by chanting Ram’s name!

Off he goes to look for Sita, landing himself just outside the island of Lanka. Upon his arrival he is attacked by a flesh eating she-demon who guards Lanka.

When she tries to take a bite out of him, he bashes her in the head, an action which turns her into the beautiful Lankini, who then encourages him on his journey.

Arriving in Lanka, Hanuman is surprised to run across a man chanting Ram’s name. This man is Vibhishana (Shribhagwan), brother of Ravan, but devotee of Ram. Vibhishana tells Hanuman where to locate Sita.

Hanuman makes contact with Ram’s wife and shows her the ring, convincing her of his sincerity…

… then, to show his strength, the monkey begins to tear up the scenery…

…catching the attention of several demon warriors whom Hanuman handily defeats. Unfortunately, Hanuman is no match for the demon Meghnada (Dalpat), who shoots him with an arrow and then binds him with a large snake.

Brought to Ravan’s palace, Hanuman causes an uproar with his tail and is accused of being arrogant towards Ravan, who then orders the monkey’s appendage to be set ablaze.

Bad idea, Ravan. Hanuman uses his burning tale as a torch, setting fire to Lanka (another highlight of any Hanuman flick, and this film does the scene incredibly well!)

Hanuman then takes a message to Ram from Sita who indicates that if she is not rescued within a months time she will not longer be alive.

With no time to spare the monkeys, and one bear, set to building a bridge of floating rocks (the rocks float only when the name Ram has been inscribed upon them) so that Ram can reach Lanka and rescue his beloved. This is where my favorite song, yes, sung by the monkeys, and one bear, appears!

Will Sita live to see her warrior husband again?

Will Hanuman and crew have anough boulders to reach Lanka?

Will Ravan give up his to-be queen without a fight?

And just who is this peculiar gal?

To know all read The Ramayana, or see SHRI RAM BHAKTA HANUMAN!

Where Indian films are concerned the mythological genre is at the top of my list of faves! For a decidedly non-religious person such as myself, enjoying films based on Hindu holy stories might seem strange, but I have actually had lifelong love of devotional films such as THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, NOAH’S ARK, WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND, and anything with nuns in it.

 

 

 

 

So what is it that attracts this atheist to spiritual stories? Well, much of it is the “feel good” factor of watching characters triumph over evil through sacrifice, love, kindness, honesty, and generosity (which, by the way, are values not limited only to those who attend mosque, temple, or church, and which, frankly, are values far too often not even on the agenda of those who claim to be devout…oh, ok, enough of politics).

But these principles are only a part of the appeal of mythologicals. These films also contain a boatload of fantastical elements ranging from fancy dressed deities, characters with super-powers, flying monkey-men, strong female roles, evil demons, crude, yet endearing special effects, dancers like Helen, Bela Bose, and Laxxmi Chhaya, and plenty of familiar faces from the world of Bollywood B films—oh, and did I mention the flying monkey men? Basant Pictures’ SHRI RAM BHAKTA HANUMAN, directed by Homi Wadia, is a superbly entertaining example of this film genre.

Bajrangbali (1976) is an example of the thousands of mythologicals films made in India

Not only is the film tons of fun but the cast of SHRI RAM BHAKT HANUMAN is perfectly suited. you certainly can’t beat Trilok Kapoor as Shri Ram. The handsome Kapoor (half-brother of the great Prithviraj Kapoor), had been known for starring in emotional dramas or social films. But sometime in the mid-1940s he decided to take a chance, and he appeared in a few mythologicals. Evidently, this switch was well received, and he found himself cast as divine characters in dozens of religious productions over the next decade. Ram, Vishnu, Shiva, he played them all, and he looked good doing it. No doubt, though, he regretted this change as his career immediately dived head first into B film-dom and never recovered.

The lesser known Kapoor, Trilok Kapoor

While playing gods, Kapoor was often cast opposite the heavenly Nirupa Roy, but this time around he is coupled with the sweet Sona Chaterjee, a name familiar to fans of Homi Wadia and Basant Pictures. A busy actress during the 1940s, Chaterjee seemed to be ‘Heroine # 1’ for the studio’s output of stunt films and thrillers. While the athletic Fearless Nadia and/or John Cawas would provide the fear factor for most of these action oriented enchantments, it was often up to the delicate Sona to provide a romantic angle.

Sona also supplied leading lady duties in Basant Pictures ATOM BOMB.

As for the rest of the cast, there is Prabhash Joshi, a seemingly little known actor (and one I would love to learn more about) who looks the part of Laxman, Ram’s brother, but otherwise has little to do in the film. Niranjam Sharma seems to be having the time of his life in the dual roles of Ravan and Sugriv, but it is S. N. Tripathi (who also composed the music for the film) who is the real star here. Tripathi steals the show portraying Ram’s greatest devotee, the half monkey-half man Hanuman. With any number of sly glances and humorous facial expressions he is great fun to watch. Interestingly, Tripathi played the demon Ravan in Ranjit Movies’ JAI HANUMAN made that same year.

So, If you are looking for something a little different in your Bollywood viewing, I highly recommend that you dig into India’s mythological films. They are great fun, colorful (even when filmed in black and white), and an excellent opportunity to bring forth additional cultural awareness. Oh, and you get to see flying monkeys, too!

Get your copy of  SHRI RAM BHAKTA HANUMAN at Amazon.com now: http://www.amazon.com/Hanuman-Devotional-Religion-Trilok-Kapoor/dp/B0016GOOKE/ref=sr_1_5?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1338436091&sr=1-5

Love Express

Love Express is a delightful rom-com from first time director Sunny Bhambhani, a graduate of Whistling Woods International Film Institute, along with debut performances by four more Whistling Woods alumn, all of whom, I predict, will soon become familiar faces on the big screen!

London raised Kanav (Sahil Mehta) agrees to an arranged marriage only because he does not want to be thrown out of his parents house and lose the luxury he is accustomed to. He is not pleased, however.

His bride-to-be, Asneet (Mannat Ravi), is an undergraduate from Amritsar who comes across to Kanav as both old-fashioned and simple.

Together they are trapped (like deer in headlights trapped) on a Punjab to Mumbai bound train full of family and friends celebrating the upcoming nuptials of this mis-matched couple.

Unbeknownst to Kanav is that Asneet is not happy about this arrangement. It seems she recently found out that the young man she had been pinning away for, the rather uncouth Kuljit (Siddartha Chaudhary), is in love with her, but he had always been too shy to express it. Finally admitting to her how he feels, just after her engagement with Kanav has taken place, Kuljit is philosophical about it being too late.

Asneet, however, is not as graceful.

Having had the engagement party in Amritsar, and now together on the train, Kanav and Asneet have barely spoken to each other. Well, mostly Asneet has barely spoken. Kanav runs at the mouth. Neither one thinks much of their to-be mate.

Kanav describes his family as an assorted box of chocolates, and that well describes the characters on board the Love Express!

Among them is the lovelorn Chirag (Vikas Katyal)…

…who spends the trip reading ‘The Seven Love Stories of Suleiman’ while all around him others are partying….

…Asneet’s outspoken ‘daada’  Bakshi (Om Puri) who flirts shamelessly with Asnit’s maternal grandmother Sarita (Alka Mehta), despite, or inspite of, Mrs. Bakshi’s (Daljeet Kaur) presence….

…Kanav’s parents, the wealthy and modern Mr. Chaddha (Gireesh Sahedhev) and his wife Prommie (Mamta Verma)…

….and Asneet’s more traditional parents Mr. Sujan Singh (Anil Mange) and wife Jasmeet (Roobie)…

… pretty, young Priyanka (Priyam Galav), friend of Asneet, is attending the festivities with her snobbish ‘aunty’ (Silky Khanna) who treats the girl like a personal assistant…

…and finally, Balli (Taran Bajaj), ‘the walking newspaper’ who wanders the train informing, usually, of what is already obvious….

Back in their train compartment Kanav finally gets Asneet to speak, and he learns that she is also not pleased with the circumstances.

Both boy and girl are relieved, but how are they to get out of this mess?

They decide that it would be best if they do not break the marriage, but if instead they somehow can get their parents to call it off.

In another part of the train Chirag’s friend Nona (Mayuri) tries to get him to join in the partying, but he declines.

But then Chirag notices that one of the revelers is his former girlfriend, Priyanka.

Chirage is thrilled to see her again after a 5 years separation. Priyanka, however, is not feeling the same.

It seems that the two had dated quite seriously in the past, but Chirag had made the decision to study in England. Priyanka had given him an ultimatum of marriage now or never. Chirag chose England over marriage thus Priyanka ended the relationship.

Back at the bride and groom’s compartment, The kids set plans in motion. Ashneet shows her mother Kanav’s phone with its pictures of all his various girlfriends.

The plan fails, though. Mom explains it away by telling her daughter that this is the custom in England, but that after marriage Kanav’s parents will be sure that their son settles down. And besides, she should be happy that these photographs are of girls, and not guys!

Meanwhile, Kanav tries his hand at convincing his mother that Asneet is not the good old fashioned Indian girl that everyone thinks she is, and that in fact Asneet has had many lovers.

Prommie, trying to make things better, insists that nowadays every girl has a past…why, even she, his own mom, has a past!

Chirage, still in love with Priyanka, tries his darnedest to make up with her

….even showing that he kept her photo on his cell all the years that they were apart.

But, Priyanka refuses to take an interest.

Chirag discovers that Priyanka’s widowed mother died a year ago and that the demanding ‘auntie’ of hers is not a relative, but is Priyanka’s future mother-in-law. Chirage interveens when he witnesses auntie abusing Priyanka.

Eventually Asnit and Kanav come up with a sure fire (and hilarious) scheme to get their parents to cancel the wedding. It works all too well. The marriage is called off, but this also causes a strain between the two sets of parents.

To avoid embarrassment it is decided that no one else on board should know of what is occurring until after the train reaches Mumbai. Of course the guests begin to suspect that something is awry after Jasmeet makes a spectacle of trying to leap to her death off of the moving train.

Naturally, rumors begin to fly.

What’s more is that now Kanav is started to see Asneet in a different light!!!

Will Asneet now be able to marry her Kuljit? Will Kanav be free of tradition and be able to go about his carefree modern way, or will he decide that Asneet is the girl for him? And what about Chirage and Priyanka? Will he cool off? Will she warm up?

Love Express is a delightful Hindi rom-com dancing to a Punjabi beat! It will make you smile, it will make you laugh, and if you are like me, it will make you teary eyed, too. In addition, there are some swell songs, a couple of which are all out musical numbers (yippee!).

Stories of arranged marriage are certainly no rarity, but to set the entire picture on a train chock full of wedding guests is a novel idea which helps make this film different than the average. Seeing new faces on screen is also a nice addition…’cause honestly, Bollywood could use some new blood! Seriously, yaar, I get a bit tired of seeing the same performers over and over again (well, ok, I never do tire of seeing John Abraham).  Make no mistake, this is a low budget outing, but you can rest assured that there is definitely no skimping on entertainment in Love Express!

Sunny Bhambhani keeps the story rolling along at a nice pace, with no dull spots (the film runs a brisk 100 minutes) and the newbie actors (Sahil Mehta, Mannat Ravi, Vikas Katyal, and Priyam Galav) each make their character 3 dimensional, human, and likable, and thankfully they all avoid the overdone mugging so common to many modern Hindi comedies. All four actors seem quite comfortable in front of the camera, and to tell you the truth, had I not known that this was the first film for each, I’d have never even guessed it. I thought they did a bang up job!

So now, let me introduce you to the cast:

Sahil Mehta (Kanav) has a surefire career ahead of him.

…He oozes personality, that is the best way that I can describe him. He is of the “Chocolate Boy” mold like Ranbir Khan, and in fact he reminds me very much of RK. Comedy strikes me as his forte, but I could see him having a great time in character roles, particular negative ones. I have no doubt we will be seeing more of young Mr. Mehta.

Mannat Ravi (Asneet) has the looks to play good girls, bad girls, and everything in- between…

…She can also act! The scene where she turns vamp is a hi-lite of Love Express and had me totally cracking up.  Her looks, which are beautiful, could be taken as “Bollywood” generic and get her pegged in secondary roles or in the type of heroine roles which under-utilize her talents. I suspect she will need to fight to really stand out in a crowd. But I wish her luck and hope she goes for it! If producers and directors take the time to see what she can really do, instead of typecasting her due to her beauty, I think she will do very nicely in her career.

Priyam Galav is also a beauty, but more in the line of a Sharmila Tagore or a Konkona Sen Sharma in that there is such wonderful character in her face, if that makes sense.

Looking at her she will automatically seem different than the rest of the crowd, and I can see a film maker noticing this right off the bat. And the fact that she has personality and talent to spare is evidence that if she goes for a career as an actress, nothing can stop her. I totally loved her in this film and look very forward to her next picture.

I want to save my final praise of the four leads for Vikas Katyal. From the minute he appeared on-screen I was mesmerized by this actor’s expressive eyes.

You have all seen someone who, when you look at their eyes, you almost see a story, they just radiate such emotion. It is uncanny how wonderful this actor’s eyes are…and the rest of him is wonderful, as well. Due to the story-line it takes some time for Vikas’ character to really come alive, but once this happens his ‘Chirag’ makes you want to grab Priyanka and tell her what she is missing out on. Just looking at him you feel how sorry he is for his past decision and that he truly still loves this girl, wanting nothing more in this world but to see her happy…preferably with him at her side. Although Chirag is a fairly serious character in Love Express he is not without his funny moments, and Vikas does a grand job here. For instance, a short scene where Priyanka is talking to another character while Vikas, standing next to her, mimics the girl, is spot on. I found this scene so amusing that I must have watched it a couple of dozen times! Of everyone in the cast, Vikas Katyal is the one I am most wanting to see in forthcoming films. The guy is perfect for an art comedy or a romantic drama, and, call me crazy, but he would be great in mythologicals…couldn’t you just see him in a Vishnu or Ram avtar?!

Others in the cast also do quite well. Om Puri is, of course, a hit as the grandfather. He plays so very well off of Daljeet Kaur, who in herself turns in a fabulous performance as his wife. I find few other credits listed for Ms. Kaur, but I am almost certain that I have seen her in something else recently and I certainly hope that I do see her again soon. (Ms. Kaur, call me…I really want to know more about you!). Even when she speaks no lines, you can read what she is thinking, she just has the greatest facial expressions. She is one fantastic character actress.

Taran Bajaj, as Balli, is hilarious and I found myself laughing every time he was on screen. I must catch more of his work!  I have seen Gireesh Sahdev (Chadda) in other films before and he is always a joy. Anil Mange, as the stoic Sujaan does not have a lot to do until a point in the story when he has an impressive emotional scene, and as Jasmeet, the actress Roobie (sometimes billed as Ruby) has some wonderfully funny scenes. Siddartha Choudhary as Kuljit rocks when he attempts to turn modern to impress Asneet’s family. Only Mamta Verna seems to get short shrift, as her character Prommy, while interacting with all of the others throughout, does not get quite as much of a chance to shine.

One thing  I have been unable to understand is the amount of bad reviews that Love Express received. The only thing that I can think of is that many film critics are just not fond of ‘feel good movies.’ Also, the comedy in this film is (thankfully, for me) not as ‘overdone’ as one would find in, say, one of the Golmaal pictures or an Akshay Kumar outing…which is neither good nor bad, just a matter of taste. Possibly it is that over the top comedy that many of India’s film critics prefer…certainly it is what they are used to seeing. It could also be a prejudice against a low budget, no-star feature when one is used to a steady diet of glossy, star studded event films. Some reviewers even had unkind things to say about the performances, which really leads me to wonder if they actually watched this movie!

Never-the-less, I absolutely, totally enjoyed Love Express and have already watched it three times (a rarity for me).The last 15 minutes never fails to bring a huge smile to my face…so don’t listen to those critics. Give Love Express a whirl! I think you will enjoy it!

Ek Jind Ek Jaan (2006)

Sukhi (Raj Babbar) and Gurjeet (Ritu Shivpuri) become engaged, but trouble brews when the to-be bride discovers that her intended has no desire to procreate. You see, Sukhi has already taken on the  responsiblity of  raising his young step-siblings which he feels will be more than enough child rearing for one lifetime. Gurjeet does not seem to be overjoyed by the prospect of raising someone else’s children.

Rather then shatter Gurjeet’s dreams of starting a brood of her own, Sukhi decides that it is best to call off the marriage, despite Gurjeet’s brother Kundan (Deep Dhillon)’s offer to pay to have the step-kiddies shipped to a far off hostel (how thoughtful) so that the couple would not have to deal with them.

Kundan is not pleased that Sukhi is refusing to retract his un-engagement to his sister and vow’s that the man is destined to be abandoned by his siblings once they have grown up.

15 years later…..

(thank you subtitlewala, for making this clear for us Angrezi speakers)

….and the little ones have grown up.

…Guddi (Prabhleen)…

…Channi (Mighty Gill)…

…and above all, Karma (Aryan Vaid)…

Guddi and Channi have become well educated, with Guddi now a college co-ed and Channi a medical student at Hero DMC Clinic.

On the other hand, having spent his childhood bunking school, the  handsome, but educationally unmotivated Karma finds himself working a dead-end, low wage delivery job…

Since childhood, slacker Karma has harbored a love for Nimmi (Nagma). Sadly, Nimmi and her family went away to the city many years ago and Karma has neither seen nor heard from her since. In flashback we see the young Karma (Ranvijay) and Nimmi (Rittu) as best friends.

While Sukhi is seeing Nimmi and her family off at the train station for their move to the big city in hopes of a better life, young Karma is off trying to scrape up enough money to buy Nimmi a going away present, a set of red bangles which she specifically had wished for.  Since Sukhi, a farmer, and Nimmi’s dad Dhanwant Singh (Arun Bakshi), a tongawala, are good friends they decide to fix the marriage of the two children right then and there, thus little Nimmi leaves on a happy note.

Karma, with the red bangles, arrives at the station long after the train has departed and thus is unable to gift his friend the jewelry that he worked all day long to buy.

Back to “15 Years Later” we find that Karma is still pining away for Nimmi.

Seeing this, Sukhi decides it is time to reconnect with Dhanwant Singh and family and he sets off for the big, bad metropolis. What Sukhi does not realize yet is that Dhanwant has become a rich, successful, and uncaring capitalist who now has no intention of allowing his daughter to marry Karma, who he considers a penniless grunt.

Humiliated, Sukhi returns to the village and tries to keep the disappointing news from Karma. But Karma finds out and decides to go to the city to find out what’s what with Nimmi.

Posing as an unemployed stranger he manages to worm his way into a washerman job at Singh’s palatial home, thanks to Dhanwant’s kind wife, who has no idea that the new employee is the now grown-up little boy who had been her daughter Nimmi’s best friend.

Into the scene walks Nimmi, all growed up and acting pricey.

Her attitude does not deter Karma, who still loves her. Nimmi, however, now has a fiancée, a beefy tennis player named Pal (Sameep Kang).

Karma refuses to accept defeat and, while still posing as a household servant, vows to learn why Nimmi has forgotten him and taken another. But when he is in danger of losing Nimmi for good, he reveals the truth about who he is during Nimmi and Pal’s engagement party.

Will Nimmi remember Karma? And if so, would her father ever allow her to marry him?

Will Pal break Karma’s instrument? And if so, how will Karma and Nimmi ever make sweet music together?

Will Sukhi ever get over his insult at the hands of his former friend, Dhanwant? And will his step siblings really abandon him as Kundan had predicted?

And what of Channi and Guddi? Will these two siblings develop plotlines of their own?

You must see EK JIND EK JAAN to find out!

Once you get past the multiple, lengthy ads and previews, none of which you are able to by-pass on this Eros DVD, you are in for one great Punjabi entertainer, full of vivid colors and costumes that are an absolute treat for the eye.

Another treat for the eye is Aryan Vaid as Karma. As I have mentioned in my look at his film CHAAHAT EK NASHA, I don’t understand why Vaid does not have a bigger career…Ah well, at least he has steady work with starring roles in B films and secondary roles in major productions such as VEER and RIGHT YA WRONG.

Vaid has a wonderful, deep, masculine voice and I often wonder if he is much of a singer. With a voice like his he could certainly make a fine crooner. To hear his voice for yourself check out this interview (he comes across as a very down to earth sort):

Vaid also shows fine comedic timing in this film, particularly in the delightful sparring between his phoney washerman character and Singh’s Marathi servant Nekiram (played by Kuldeep Sharma) who is not at all happy to have this Punjab hick interfering in his household. Here is a scene of the two as Nekiram shows Karma to his room, which they will both have to share, and which Nekiram tries to divide between the two of them.

As for the remainder of the cast two stand-outs are yesteryear star Raj Babbar who is, as always, wonderful as the elder brother taking care of his kin. Comedy relief is brought to us by the hilarious Gurpreet Guggi who I always find very enjoyable, although I do wonder if there are any other comedians in Punjab? Gurpreet seems ot have a monopoly in films of this region. I have yet to see a Punjabi film, or even a Hindi film with Punjabi characters, that Gurpreet is not in.

One thing that I love about Punjabi cinema, in general, is that they are not afraid to dole out feel good family melodramas, something Hindi films seem to rarely make these days. It may be an  old- fashioned  genre,  but it is a genre that I do really enjoy, particularly after I have overloaded on Hindi and Tamil action pics.  EK JIND EK JAAN is a  nice example of this kinder and gentler product.

I leave you with some additional screen caps for your eye candy enjoyment! There were so many glorious costumes in this film that I just couldn’t not show them to you!

…and I seriously dig the different colors of turbans!

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