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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).

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…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

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…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 :

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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.


 

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  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).

 

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

 

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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.

 

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 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……

 

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  …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.

 

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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!

 

 

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  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!

 

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  They set out to find her.

 

They search…

 

……..and they look…

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  …and they search….

 

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…..and they pet kitties…

 

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

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…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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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

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 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.

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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!

 

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Aaarrrrghhhh!

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

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Aaaiiiyeee!

… before dying with a dramatic plunge off a cliff.

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

 

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

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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).

 

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  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.

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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.

 

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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.

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

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

 

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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…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.

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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 flaming tail as a torch, setting fire to Lanka (another highlight of any Hanuman flick, and this film does the scene incredibly well!)

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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.

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With no time to spare, Hanuman’s monkey compatriots, 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?

 

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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 Christian devotional films such as THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, NOAH’S ARK, WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND, and anything with nuns in it, so it is really not that odd.

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.

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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.

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Trilock Kapoor, the lesser known 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.

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Sona also supplied leading lady duties in Basant Pictures DHOOMKETU.

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: Shree Rambhakta Hanuman DVD on Amazon

 

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_zpst2nxzfiq

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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15 years later…..

 

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….and the little ones have grown up.

…Guddi (Prabhleen)…

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…Channi (Mighty Gill)…

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…and above all, Karma (Aryan Vaid)…

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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…

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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.

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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.

 

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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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, will 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 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.

 

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Vaid has a wonderful, deep, masculine voice and I often wonder if he should have been a singer. With a voice like his he would 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 Punjabi 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 sometimes wonder if there are any other comedians in Punjab? Gurpreet seems to have a monopoly in films of that region. I have yet to see a Punjabi film, or even a Hindi film with Punjabi characters, that Gurpreet is not in.

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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 film makers 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!

 

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GANWAAR (1970)

cast: Rajendra Kumar, Vijayanthimala, Pran, Nishi, Jeevan.

Wealthy Ram Pratap Rai (Tarun Bose) doles out free plots of land to the peasants and in return is given half of the bounty from each. This is referred to as the ‘zamindari’ system. 

Rai, who is a widower, has recently remarried. His beautiful second wife (Nishi) has a brother, Vijay Bahadur (Pran), who has been put in charge of managing the Rai business front. Vijay makes it a daily habit to ride his horse through the fields, to keep an eye on the workers while at the same time terrorizing them (it is Pran, after all) just a little bit. As demanded by Vijay, the workers stop what they are doing and bow to him as he makes his rounds, but on the day our story begins one elderly man does not notice the boss’ arrival and continues with his chores.

Vijay dismounts and beats the poor man mercilessly.

Fortunately, Vijay’s viciousness is (temporarily) suspended when a spunky young gal named Parvo (Vijayanthimala) steps up and  grabs the whip from the cruel man’s hand.

Vijay is taken aback, both by her beauty and her nerve but warns that she had better take heed as to who is boss.

Meanwhile, back in the city, Mr. Rai’s adult son, Gopal (Rajendra Kumar), returns home from 10 years abroad to help his father with the family business. Gopal is eager to meet his new stepmother, but quickly learns that she is a spoiled, vain, unpleasant woman who is not particularly pleased to see the young man returning home.

When a group of the farmers, led by Parvo, trek to the Rai mansion to meet about the treatment they have been receiving from Vijay…

…they are intercepted by Mrs. Rai who insults them and tells them to leave.

Gopal witnesses this and tells replacement maa to stop abusing these people.

(Notice Gopal’s wonderful fashion sense and how he manages to color coordinate with his surroundings. I want to do that)

Parvo tries to explain the issues that they are having.

Gopal insists that Mrs. Rai leave the room so that he can meet with the farmers alone, since she seems to do nothing but antagonize them.

Parvo chastises Gopal, telling him that being a rich man’s son he could never understand the plight of the poor unless he has experienced this condition first hand.

He takes her comments, but mainly just wants to know what their specific complaints about Vijay are. Parvo Shows him.

Gopal is shocked.

Enraged at his stepmom’s attitude towards the workers and Vijay’s brutal treatment of them, Gopal has a showdown with her, but is confronted by his father who gives him a tight slap.

Shocked that his dad would not take his side in this fight over right and wrong, Gopal leaves the family estate. On a train headed out of town Gopal remembers the words of Parvo. He dons the disguise of a simple villager and heads to the country to immerse himself in the lives of his dad’s peasant workers, calling himself Garibdas.

Not realizing who he really is, Vijay gives Garibdas a barren plot of land to sow.

Our hero is given the low down on the zamindari system and is  informed that in addition to delivering half of his harvest to the Rai family as contracted, he must give Vijay half of what is left over. Ah, another of Vijay’s abuses!

Carrying on, Garibdas tills the barren land and makes it fruitful despite the taunts from Parvo and her friends who didn’t believe this hayseed would be able to make anything grow.

Vijay, riding through the fields as usual, tramples a little boy (Master Rattan).

Garibdas confronts Vijay for his callousness towards the severe injuries he has inflicted on the kid….

…and Vijay is not pleased to have Garibdas talk to him in such a manner as to take him down a couple of pegs.

Up to now the relationship between Gopal and Parvo has been one of bickering and battling (but in a cute and amusing way). It eventually turns to love, as we all knew it would, and a musical number results.

Warning: This song  is preceded by an explicit (and just plain weird) scene of foot fondling.

At the conclusion of this kinky interlude, Garibdas is attacked by a group of goons led by Hariya (Ram Mohan).

They beat our hero and dump him in a large well, leaving him to drown.

Hariya, it turns out, was hired by Vijay to make mince-meat out of Garibdas. With that accomplished, and as an extra special treat, the goonda had locked up Parvo in a godown for Vijay’s pleasure.

Vijay, drunk on Vat 69, heads out to pursue illegitimate relations with the trapped girl.

Parvo is not one to take matters lying down, so to speak.

Parvo escapes Vijay’s clutches and leads the lech on a merry chase, right into the hands of a just-climbed-out-of-a-well-and-not-too-happy-about-it Garibdas, who proceeds to kick Vijay’s ass.

Again humiliated, Vijay this time sets out with his rifle to hunt down Garibdas. His sis stops him, not because she minds the killing of a peasant, but because she doesn’t want her brother to go to jail. Instead, she suggests taking away all of the villager’s tools so that they are unable to work their land. This, she reasons, will cause much more suffering and will surely teach them all a lesson.

With this action put into play the workers choose to take up arms against Vijay and the Rais, but cooler heads prevail and Garibdas goes to the mansion to talk to Mrs. Rai. She does not recognize him as her step-son, he has disguised himself so well, and she ends up giving him a tight slap, also.

Upon leaving the mansion Garibdas snatches a plough and ox and resumes work on his plot of land. Hariya and his men set out to kill Garibdas, but Garibdas manages to kill them with kindness.

With  Garibdas’ help, the crops are a success, but during the celebration that night the harvest mysteriously catches fire.

Garibdas, now back to being Gopal, has discovered that Hariya set the flames, destroying everyone’s hard work. Gopal, in front of Vijay and the Rais, forces Hariya to tell who made him destroy the crops. Hariya lies and tells them that it was Garibdas who made him do it!

What will Gopal do now that his alter ego’s honor has been maligned? Well, there is a  lot more story ahead and it involves Pran dressing like a Cuban revolutionary…

…quaint miniature work….

….more miniature work, but with a murder thrown in…..

…..matchbox cars…

……and an ending that would do any masala flick proud!

Rajendra Kumar and Vijayanthimala have some great chemistry going on here and you really root for them to become a couple (even though you already know it is going to happen). The playful fighting between Parvo and Garibdas is adorable and both performers are top notch with Rajendra Kumar very believable as the humble Garibdas and showing a nice flair for comedy that I don’t recall seeing from him before (maybe I just haven’t seen enough of his films). Vijayanthimala is, of course, always a treat to watch, and I love her feisty attitude in this film. No shrinking violet is she.

Pedro favorite Nishi, as the evil stepmother, gets to wear a different fantabulous sari in every scene, and she wears them so well. She really looks beautiful. And her hairstyle changes almost as often as her outfits! Her character is vile, but she makes such lovely window dressing , as you will see from the following screencaps.

I am really very fond of Nishi, and it is a shame she did not have a bigger career as an actress. She made a number of A pictures during her time, but she was usually cast in secondary roles. She did, however, manage some nice lead roles in B thrillers as well as in a handful of Punjabi pictures. Since I love B thrillers and Punjabi pictures, her being  cast in these makes me quite happy.  Nishi may have felt differently, however.

As Nishi Kohli she later produced, along with husband Raj Kumar Kohli, several popular horror thrillers including two versions of JAANI DUSHMAN (1979/2002), the snake woman classic NAGIN (1976), and the 1988 chiller BEES SAAL BAAD, as well as a string of films in the 1990s and 2000s meant to get their son Arman Kohli’s film career off the ground. Sadly, Arman’s career has yet to take off, although I for one really like him in the few films of his that I have seen. He is also quite handsome as you can see from this publicity photo for JAANI DUSHMAN.

All in all GANWAAR is one satisfying film with great music, fine performances, and lots and lots of colorful outfits and sets. Eye candy like this is all it takes to perk up lazy Sunday afternoon, don’t you think?

SAGAI (1951)

Cast: Premnath, Rehana, Gope, Yakub, Purnima, Vijaylaxmi, Sunder, Hiralal, Iftikhar, Rirkoo, Ramavtar.

Chandni (Rehana), a foreign returned student, is distressed to discover that her father (Iftikhar) plans to marry her off to his friend’s son, a boy she has never even met.

The girl steals away from her dad while on a train trip and meets up with two bozos, Fooman (Yakub) and Dhaboo (Gope), who are on the lam from the police due to their traveling by rail without benefit of paid fares. The newly created threesome, low on funds, but high on ideas, decide to put on a musical program to raise some extra dough.

Their number is a smash, but then Fooman and Dhaboo figure they can make even more money by selling a “miracle cure” hair tonic to the audience which, of course, fails miserably, causing the user’s hair to completely fall out.

Soon the trio are on the run, being chased by a mob of angry customers. Dhaboo, Fooman, and Chandni hide themselves in a large crate which ends up aboard a steamship headed out to sea.

Finding themselves to be stowaways on a boat hired to take a spoiled princess (Purnima) back to her home country, our three friends don crewman uniforms in order to avoid detection by the ship’s captain, Prem (Premnath).

Dreamy, isn’t he!

It isn’t long before Capt. hottie Prem discovers the trio, but after they explain their situation he allows them passage, as long as the are willing to work for it.

Although the fear of walking the plank has subsided, Daboo and Fooman are now worried that the handsome Prem might take a liking to the delectable Chandni. You see, our two loveable goofballs each have hopes of becoming her suitor, and they don’t want competition from the swarthy seaman. They convince  Chandni that it is in her best interest to continue to disguise herself as “Mr. Chand,” sailor.

Prem learns that his new crew members have a talent for music and dance and the result is a delightful number, with Chandni taking the lead performing in the guise of a man disguised as a girl.

There is plenty of Busby Berkeley-like goodness! Something that is high on my list of things that make me smile.

It is only a matter of time before Chandni (still dressed as a man) falls for Prem (and really, who wouldn’t), much to the consternation of her two smitten cohorts.

Our girl finally comes clean about the ruse.

….which results in this bit adorableness…

Swoon, right!

All would be well except that even the princess has her eye on the studly captain, and she has every intention of making him her prince charming. Prem has been playing along with the princess’ flirtation so as not to ruffle her feathers whilst she is aboard his ship and paying the bills, but he is not at all interested in her romantically, and he has yet to learn that filmi duplicity of this sort always spells  trouble.

Upon arrival at the Princess’ tropical kingdom Prem, Chandni, Dhaboo, Fooman, and Billu (the captain’s assistant, as played by Sunder) are greeted in the royal palace by the Princess’ brother (Hiralal), who is the king.

And how!

Chandni has remained disguised as a man…

…but the king isn’t fooled for a minute and reveals the deception

The princess is not happy by the addition of this pert and pretty female now in her midst, and her displeasure is compounded when she discovers that Prem does not love her as she loves him.

When she learns that it is Chandni that the captain reveres, she becomes absolutely livid!

As revenge, the princess tears her clothing, making it look as though Prem had made illicit advances towards her…

….and the king has the captain imprisoned for doing naughty things.

Chandni begs the king to release Prem, but the king wants her to forget the captain and become his wife.

Sure, the idea of being queen of a lovely tropical island has its strong points, but Chandni, even though a modern, educated girl is still old-fashioned when it comes to pyaar, and she sticks with her first choice in love, Prem.

…besides, Prem is a keeper!

However, when Chandni witnesses her unconscious lover in the torture chamber…

…about to have his eyes plucked out with hot steel rods, it is too much for the girl to bear and she concedes to be the king’s bride in order to save Prem’s life, or at least his eyes.

This news the scorned princess later delivers with glee to a now wide awake Prem. Of course she leaves out any of the pertinent facts that might make Chandni look heroic.

It is difficult to believe that this is the same Premnath who just a few years later, due to heavy drinking and probably a good meal or ten, would go from this…

to this….

….of course, if I could afford to eat tasty Indian meals every day I’m sure I would be on my way to looking like pudgy Premnath, as well (and alas, when I look at recent snaps of myself, I begin to worry that I may be soon getting there).

In the midst of these happenings, there are musical numbers, including one very lovely song and dance by Cuckoo.

Chandni manages to convince the king to release Prem and friends from captivity. Prem, wrongly believing that Chandni has forsaken his love for the comforts of the palace, sneaks back into  the castle to take bloody vengeance on her, only to be stopped at the last-minute when he overhears her song of lost love…..

…..and he realizes he is mistaken about her intentions. The big dope.

Reunited with his paramour…

….the two  are caught by the king, who sentences Prem to be burnt at the stake.

Will our dreamy guy be reduced to burnt ash?

Will the princess learn to move on after losing her love match?

Will Chandni succumb to the kings proposal? And what of the young man she was promised to?

All this and more will be revealed when you see SAGAI!


SAGAI opens with a wonderful latin rhumba theme, making you think you might  have just stumbled upon a Dorothy Lamour picture. The lively music makes me realize right away that I am going to enjoy this picture! Bollywood of the early 1950s seemed to go all out in trying different types of musical styles, and this makes for a unique mixture of  classic and modern, Indian and foriegn, and is one of the great treats of viewing Hindi films made in the post Independence era.

The lead actress Rehana is cute as a button and reminds me very much of Konkona Sen Sharma, both in looks and charm. Rehana has a superb sense of comedy timing and manages to hold her own during the comedic first 2/3rds of the film, despite the obvious attempts by Yakub and Gope to upstage her. This is my first time seeing Rehana, but I plan to immediately get to her 1950 film DILRUBA, where she plays opposite Dev Anand. I can imagine that the chemistry between those two will be fantastic, although whether Dev and Rehana will equal this much cuteness, it is difficult to say.

Just makes your dil go all squishy, na?!

I do hope that more of actress Rehana’s films will be release on DVD in the near future (are you listening FRIENDS DIAMOND COLLECTION?) as very few seem to be available at the moment, although there are some other Rehana films out there on VCD for those who do not need subtitles.

Just see how cute she is!!


As an aside, Rehana, who is, as of this posting, still among us, had a successful career for a few years, but by the mid 1950s was reduced to secondary roles. At that time she moved to Pakistan where she hoped to revive her career, but with little success. Very sad. She is said to live a reclusive life now, but Ms. Rehana if you should ever get wind of this writer’s blog, it would please me greatly to do a story on your life and career!!

The young Premnath was another wonderful discovery for me with the viewing of SAGAI. Up to this point in my Bollwooding I had only known him in his pudgy, character actor avatar, which of course is wonderful, but to see him so very handsome and fit in this film was a revelation.  I mean, just look at the man. He is stunning!

His character was cocky, but likeable… and humorous. There was one plot point with him that did, however, make me somewhat uneasy and that was the point where he plans to get revenge on Chandni because he thinks she has fallen in love with the king. He takes a large knife and is going to stab her! This was entirely out of character for Prem. I mean this fun-loving, handsome professional climbs into Chandni’s boudoir to stab her to death! I was flabbergasted. This action simply did not fit his character (unless he was secretly psychotic) and the scene seems so out-of-place and creates the danger of the viewer feeling unsympathetic towards Prem. Not that this sort of odd character transition doesn’t happen a-plenty in Bollywood films, it does and I am fairly used to it, but still, it would have been so much more effective had the screenwriter simply had Prem plan to angrily tell her off, rather then intending  to slice and dice her. When things like this do happen in Hindi films I just have to wince and accept it, otherwise it would spoil the whole movie for me.  Another later scene has Prem again acting out of character and being somewhat cruel to Chandni…although this situation is later explained to the audience’s satisfaction.

Gope and Yakub are familiar names to me, having seen them credited on many vintage filmi posters and song booklets, but this was my first time actually seeing them in a movie, at least together, and evidently they did frequently work as a team. In SAGAI they are doing their best Abbott and Costello schtick, and at times they are amusing. Unfortunately, a little Gope and Yakub goes a long way, and there was just far too much of them in SAGAI. It would not have hurt to have their scenes trimmed a bit, particularly the Keystone Cops inspired chase scene near the beginning of the film which wore out it’s welcome quickly.

They do resemble Abbott and Costello, though, don’t they?

Sunder, on the other hand, has a minimal role in the film, and frankly I find him to be a much more enjoyable funny-man (I do admit that I sometimes get him confused with the comedian Agha), and the film would not have suffered from a bit more of his antics.

All in all, SAGAI is a sweet, funny, enjoyable film, with plenty of Saturday matinee serial frolics thrown in towards the end. The movie could use a  little tightening up in places, with less time given to the comedians and more time given to the pretty leads, but despite that it still entertains. The print used by FRIENDS is missing at least one scene. There is a shot of the princess, on board the ship’s deck, just about to talk to Prem. You see a split second of that scene  and then all of a sudden the entire cast is in the castle, on the island, being introduced to the king. Otherwise the film source used is in fairly good shape.

The songs by C. Ramchandra are delightful, in particular “Udhar Se Tum Chale” which I found myself  humming long after I had finished watching the movie. You too can enjoy it below, with subtitles).

One very nice discovery was that I found that I have in my pile(s) of unwatched Bollywood films, at least one or two other early handsome Premnath films, which I plan to watch very, very soon!

Yes Premnathji, I certainly am!

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