Sept. 2, 2011: More Shammi K, Most of SRK & A Little BigB

Jenny K:  While waiting for Irene to blow on through, I finished the first of the Shammi Kapoor triple feature that I found on sale on Amazon. Teesri Manzil (1966). All the gang on Memsaab’s page said this was probably their favorite movie from their favorite pair. Shammi Kapoor and Asha Parekh. I’ve got to say, they are a cute couple. Though Asha was about nine years younger than Shammi,  she is on record as saying that he treated her more as a little sis…and that on set, Shammi’s wife joked “Let’s adopt Asha!”  But younger or no, Asha was a lively, spunky heroine opposite Shammi, giving him no easy course to win her.

Her character, Sunita is determined to solve the mysterious death of her older sister who had fallen to her death from a third floor (the “teesri manzil”of the title) window of the hotel where her boyfriend was the drummer and star of the house band. She goes secretly off to Mussourie to see if she can lure this “Rocky,” who she’s never met, into a confession of his guilt. Of course, she meets him, on the rail trip there, under his own name Anil (Shammi). They wrangle, she’s difficult-nigh-impossible to impress, and yet he perseveres.

Then, all he has to do is tell her he’s lied to her about who he is, and that he’s not involved with her sister’s murder. That’s all.  But he succeeds; he is Shammi, after all.

The music is fun, the costumes are loud (in the stage shows) and Helen’s dance numbers are sometimes indescribably, awfully eccentric…And she’s a very famous item girl; I’ve seen her much better. However, her acting at the end of the film is really acting…and I hadn’t seen that from her before. Just thought she got her roles because she was cute, fair skinned and married well (to Salman Khan’s father).

Definitely a fun thriller with comedy touches. Shammi and Asha do not disappoint. Here is one of my favorite oddball nightclub numbers.

Julie M:  I’ll put Teesri Manzil on the list…

Had a bit of free time last evening and spun up The Inner and Outer World of Shah Rukh Khan. How fangirly was I? Well, as it turns out, not much.

I started with Outer and barely lasted through half of it. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but I found it odd and somewhat sad that these Bollywood stars felt they had to deliver a half-*ssed stage show (bad lip sync, bad costumes, and man, did they look tired and bored) to keep up their fan base in the UK and USA (on this particular tour). As if their film work was not sufficient. Although I have to admit that SRK did go out of his way to talk to fans onstage and really try to connect with that one person. Best part: Aamir showing up backstage with long hair and curly mustache, obviously on a brief hiatus from filming Mangal Pandey: The Rising. But overall, horribly boring to see screaming fans, bad stage show and him smoking constantly.

Here’s the part with Aamir:

Jenny K: I see what you do in the concert footage, and it does look that way to someone watching on television, but having actually been at that concert when it played the Verizon Center, I have to say…you just have to be there to “get it”.  The costumes can be cheesy, but you never see them close up.  And there is some real singing, too, along with the lip synching.  And sometimes that can be a problem, like when SRK tries to give us our complete money’s worth and sings along in his…ehm…peripatetic sense of key.  And the dancing can be wonderful.  Plus,  the audience adores it.  You can have no idea of the level of excitement if you don’t see it yourself.  I might not do it again (except to watch Hrithik dance, maybe), but I’m glad I’ve experienced it.


Julie M: Inner was better, as well as shorter (50 minutes) and I watched the entire thing. Having seen the movie I liked the on-set shots during Main Hoon Na, and it was fun to see SRK go back to Delhi and visit his old school. I’m not sure how really “intimate” the portrait of his life was, but he did let the cameras into his house, in the car while he was driving himself and around his kids, which is something I cannot imagine a major star in the US doing.

I like the part in this clip about the Diwali celebration in his office for his staff.

One thing is clear: SRK is extremely hardworking and always thinks about the fans and his family in equal measure. Some of the things he says reminded me of William Shatner’s autobiography, wherein he gives a reason why he did anything anyone asked of him during his career: “I had a wife, three daughters, and a mortgage on a house in the Valley. I couldn’t afford to be picky.”


Jenny K: The Inner was definitely the best part of the series. It was a documentary for the BBC. My mom liked it so much that she forced my dad to watch it, too. His quote was roughly “There’s something about that guy…I like him.” Go figure, my dad was a Rukhie…

[the next day…]

Julie M:  Hey, I found Pardes on YouTube, full (with some ads) and subtitled. I think you said that I might not like it, because it’s full of SRK doing what I don’t like about him, but although it has some flaws I really enjoyed it (some of the flaws being her hideous saris and SRK’s neon boxers!). I liked the scenes in India more than the ones in the US, but I guess we were supposed to. SRK plays the same ol’ character, but he seemed to have more depth in this one. Definitely knew who the heroes and villains were. And I liked that there was a “prequel” (visual and verbal) to Rab ne Bana di Jodi.

I liked this song, but overall I was not impressed with the music in this film.

Jenny K:  Prequel??  Explain…Maybe it’s been too long since I saw it.

Well, I didn’t think you’d enjoy Pardes, but I’m glad you did.  You’ve got me so scared of suggesting any kind of SRK film to you, that I just don’t have the nerve…I like him like I like other sweet things I shouldn’t eat to excess, caramel apples, peanut M&Ms, fresh crullers, chocolate croissants.  He makes me feel good in those lightweight films. Most of the time.

Of course he is predictable in them, but then so were Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in their comedies, Marilyn Monroe, too and perhaps more comparable, Jerry Lewis, Carol Burnett and Adam Sandler. They can be pretty darned funny, even if their range isn’t that great most of the time. And every so often they’ll try something different and hit one completely out of the park. Like Jerry’s work in The King of Comedy and on the Wiseguy tv series, Carol’s work on Broadway, Adam’s wonderful Reign Over Me, and SRK in Dil Se or MNIK…but I’d never want them to stop the silly, endearing stuff they do best.


Julie M:  I think the reason I liked Pardes was because of the female character. She got weepy at the end but overall I thought she was spunky and brave, trying to make the best of a situation that was forced upon her until it became clear that she couldn’t go on as it was. The character (both the actress and the personality) reminded me of Hema Malini’s character in Sholay.

This song was OK too. Typical SRK starrer.

Jenny K:  To tell you the truth, I don’t remember too much about Pardes, except that I saw it after I saw Taal and thought that Taal was much better. I kept hoping that Pardes would get less predictable, that the fashions would get less garish, that SRK’s fake musical instrument playing would be more believeable and that Amrish Puri’s wig would somehow get better. It’s amazing how many fake-looking wigs he wore over the years. I think the film suffered a lot in the comparison. Subhash Ghai isn’t particularly consistant, except in finding good talent.  Mahima Chaudhry who played Kusum, is a case in point.  And I think she probably was influenced by Hema in Sholay…most actresses of her generation were.


Julie M:  Taal was one of my favorite movies so far.  Love everything about it.  I don’t pay too much attention to directors or producers, except to avoid (now!)  certain ones who specialize in genres I don’t like (cough…Emotional Family Drama…cough).  But in the “making of “ feature on Iqbal, Shreyas Talpade said that every actor wants to work on a Subhash Ghai film.  Guess it’s because they are popular.


Jenny K:  And because Ghai is one powerful guy in the film community.  He even has his own film school in Mumbai, Whistling Woods.

Speaking of Amrish Puri, I much prefer him in DDLJ as Kajol’s stern dad. I, however, from time to time wish I hadn’t sent it…so if you hate it, you won’t blame me …but there are so many references to it, everywhere, that you may just have to ram through all the non-Kajol bits at fast speed in the first half, and just grit your teeth in the really long fight scene at the end of the second.

SRK’s personality in the first half is really grating until he begins to fall in love with Kajol in their European trip. But in the second half, when he’s trying to win her parents’ approval to marry her, he’s just darned adorable. Love, she observes with a wink, has changed and matured him into the perfect prospective Indian bridegroom. Hence the title, which translates to: The Brave Heart Will Win the Bride. Watch it when and if you’re ready…no rush.

And since I seem to be misjudging what you will and won’t like in his case, maybe you should watch Asoka. It is historically inspired, even if the palate is a bit more colorfully and broadly rendered. He looks gorgeous in his longer wig, the cinematography is lovely, and Shah Rukh shows a much larger arc of emotions…from petulant arrogance, to dangerous and somewhat paranoid, to humility and penitence, to falling in love, loss and despair, implacability and madness then through to real breadth of character. Definitely not one of his trademark likeable Rahuls.

It’s here online with subtitles that you can turn on, if you want to try it out.  You can always blame not liking it on Kareena, and turn it off. But I think she does a pretty good job in it for the most part, especially when she becomes an actual warrior princess at the end, fighting to save her country.


Julie M:  I saw that our library had Asoka (when I was searching for SRK films early on) but when I went to reserve it a couple of months later the copy had been removed from the ability to request it (although it was still listed in the catalogue). ?? I was disappointed because I had recently been watching music videos from Jodhaa Akbar and was in the mood for more historical-themed Indian movies.

And as for another SRK movie I “should” probably see, there’s Don (especially since Don 2 will be out shortly), but it’s not at my library. I suppose if I want to see it I will have to break down and buy it, but I’m reluctant to purchase something I’m not likely to see more than once.


Jenny K:   As to Asoka, I ended up watching that link to it last night, and liked it much more than I remember having done before. I don’t think I was wrong in recommending it now. And I can send you my copy of Don if you want it.


Julie M:  Definitely send Don in the next box, but no rush.  I have until Christmas (Diwali) to watch it before Don 2 comes out, right?


Jenny K:  Here’s that Amitabh “Full Joy” smile you were mentioning earlier that you liked.  Add the web prefix to this.

bollywoodsargam [dot] com/talkingphoto.php?poster=9659859

Wish I could post it directly, but the website won’t let me. 


Julie M:  Thanks for the picture!! I love to see him grinning as a young man, since so many of his movies were so serious.  Deewaar, particularly:  I don’t think he cracked a smile once in that.

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