Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Madhumati ( 1958): ghosts, lovers ......... and Pran

Johnny Walker is back to spangle this romantic story with a reincarnational twist. He is truly a man of all situations, whether to dangle upside down from a branch bat-wise or his hilarious authentic terror when he encounters the ghost. He is a dancer too. I think he is at his best in the playback numbers. This time it is in the delectable ebriated song-dance-act Jungle Mein Mor Nacha. He uses his last neuron and muscle fibre without a trace of effortfulness and he has me rivetted with grateful admiration every time. And he can act too. In a wink, you have him all serious, earnestly rising to the occasion on the good side. Black and white movies were black and white in the sense that there were no shades of grey in the characterisation--only good guys and bad.

And.....always he was and, but his name spelt success for the film....Pran. You see him walk in and you brace yourself for some alarming bits of villainy and you really fear for the life and welfare of your duo. Of course you can rest assured that soon enough you will see him having what was coming to him. Meanwhile what havoc is he going to wreak? With that thin moustache and rather cute smile, his brow wrinkles up---he like Johnny is a master of control of facial muscles. His was, again like JW a superstar in his own right, and the peak in his line of specialisation.

Dilip Kumar!! The Thespian! His charisma has never been matched, not by Amitabh, not by anyone. He is a man who contains oceans within his breast, he expresses something specifically fine in the subcontinental weltgeist. It is no wonder that many of us who grew up in the times when he was at his peak resonate to him.He has a Keats like romanticism, and a voice which like a great bell, resounds with tragedy, emotion and nobility. He is Indian to the depths. He is quite apiece with the misty, brooding and malevolent--Antichrist 2009?--landscape.

Bimal Roy is often referred as one of the great forebears of the industry. He certainly has those touches of refinement that lift him above the common pale. He also is tuned to the depths of the Indian psyche and is able to grasp it's sorrows and concerns.

Goes to prove that the golden period were not all that golden and even the gems were somewhat flawed. This one from the legendary Bimal Roy is a drag many a time. It is difficult to summon forth the necessary nostalgia from one's greener tears . It could possibly be the toast of the diaspora who might find it admirable for the time and place of it's origin rather than it's own merit. Gold, one must conclude, does not belong to any period. The real gold dust, I suspect is scattered in the regional films, rather than where the dough is.

*Hindi*Bimal Roy*Dilip, Vijyantimala, JW....and, Pran*136 minutes*almost a dozen Filmfare awards*


Ronak M Soni said...

Hey, Scorsese made The Color of Money! He's not a great director.
Seriously, SM, one movie that tends to drag does not invalidate calling a whole era golden, because an era is about an average quality/tone.
To help my point, here and here are two good reviews which love movies from the era.

S M Rana said...

As Whitman says, or to the effect: "I contradict myself. I embrace contradiction." Gandhiji made a similar statement.

We make a statement because it seems to be what we feel at that point of time, rather than to make it consistent with all that one might have said in the past.

Ronak M Soni said...

It wasn't really about contradicting yourself, it was about devaluing an age based on one movie.

Linking to your reviews must be the cheesiest thing I've ever done, on and off the net.