Kahan Gaye wo Naag - Copied from PFC (Subrat was the writer)


Since Passionforcinema lost its existence long time back. I am trying to preserve the heritage of my favorite movie blog of all time. here's one of my personal favorite from the collection of those gems. Now if anyone is wondering how I got access to this, then I have been keeping it preserved for a long time but in case my computer gets a format, it will be lost forever. So here it is

I miss my evening snakes (Gujju pun unintended) and entertainment. I mean where are the ichchhadari nags and nagins these days? And those legends that surround them. Like so many other trivial details, I remember the day when I saw my first snake. To be factually correct, I barely saw its tail but I vividly recollect the conversations around me as the senior boys from Grade 5 milled around me. The whole brouhaha was about whether the Nagin had spotted any of them in which case she would have captured their mugs in her eyes and will later wreak vengeance on them. As a 7 year old, this left an indelible impression on me and led me to believe all nag-nagin sagas that Hindi film industry churned out for the next 5 years. I must admit that those 5 years of mid to late 80s were the most (re)productive nag-nagin times in Bollywood and I was privileged to watch them with complete credulity. So, my dear readers, this post is a tribute to all the snake sagas down the years. Bring on the samosas!

Before we start, two obligatory snake PJs (please add if you have more).
Q. Which movie had the story of a few poor snakes who worked their way up to wealth and prosperity?
A. From Nags to Riches
Q. Which rom-com had a nagin go undercover to write an article on today’s snake high schools while being swayed by the Sapera’s ‘Been’?
A. Never ‘Been’ Kissed

For the more academically oriented, snake sagas can be categorized into 2 mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive groups, namely, the Ichchhadhari and the Saral-Saanp family of movies. This piece is possibly the first comprehensive study of the nag-nagin cinema, so, please pay solemn attention.
The Ichchhadhari category deserves the highest score for originality in a script. Take the concept of uninhibited transformation of forms from human to snakes, add a dash of revenge, season with some corny special effects and garnish with songs playing on ‘been’ music and voila, you have Rajkumar Kohli’s Nagin (1976). I keep getting questions from aspiring script writers and film-makers on how to make a good Ichchhadhari Nagin movie. Based on my deep analysis of Nagin (1976), I can provide the following pointers to succeed in this genre:
1. Ichchhadhari and punar-janam are two sides of the same coin. When one is around, can the other be too far?
2. Svelte ichchhadhari nagins seek revenge on a lifetime of fad diets by transforming into a buxom actress in human form
3. Ichchhadhari nags and nagins have natural affinity to music and dance especially to one really long song which keeps playing through generations. The Nag displays a worrying propensity towards wearing skirts in these songs
4. Coitus interruptus is a surprisingly common phenomenon among them which is often perpetrated by a careless human and invariably leads to the Nag kicking the bucket
5. The photogenic Nagin always has a photographic memory
6. Don’t forget to incorporate the state-of-art special effects and the obligatory evil tantrik

Nagin had all of the above supported by a cast of actors who compete with one another to ham it up. So you had Sunil Dutt, Feroz Khan, Sanjay Khan, Vinod Mehra, Kabir Bedi and Jeetendra (in the skirt) out-hamming each other while Reena Roy took turns in transforming herself into Rekha, Yogita Bali and other assorted actresses while doing the seductress routine. Years later, Rajkumar Kohli, updated Nagin with Matrix-like special effects and a Manisha Koirala gone wild on martinis and mashed potatoes to create Jaani Dushman – Ek Anokhi Kahani. Following the template of Nagin closely, Jaani Dushman had Arman Kohli (remember Virodhi) and Manisha doing the nag-ngain routine while the whole unemployed aging Bollywood star brigade come together in an ensemble cast of college students. Jaani Dishman requires a full post to do complete justice to it so I will leave you with its piece de resistance, the Sonu Nigam ditty ‘Javed bhai so re le.’

The other seminal contributor to the Ichchhadhari genre is Harmesh Malhotra who made it a rage in the 80s. The first of the movies was called Nagina which blended the Ichchhadhari and the Naagmani streams. Amrish Puri puffed his cheeks and played the ‘been’ to such effect that future generations would scarce believe that such a sapera in flesh and blood walked on earth. Sridevi writhed and swayed through the movie with some wildly coloured contacts to ensure that she became imprinted in our mind as the Nagin to beat all Nagins to come. Harmesh bhai then came back with a sequel a few years later titled Nigahen: Nagina Part II with Sunny Deol and Sridevi while Anupam Kher plays Amrish Puri’s disciple who is still chasing the elusive Naagmani. Sunny Deol looked a little lost since the ‘been’ wasn’t an effective instrument to beat Anupam Kher with.

I will leave the Ichchhadhari genre with a mention of two of its best (I know I am doing a disservice to others of the ilk like Aayi Milan ki Raat, Naagmani and Naag Nagin but I don’t want to poison your fun). First, let’s turn our attention to ‘Naache Nagin Gali Gali’ where Meenakshi Sheshadri did the eponymous act and danced gali gali for Nitesh ‘Krishna’ Bharadwaj while Sadashiv Amrapurkar did the damaged goods routine on the couple (including the coitus interruptus bit as well). Finally, we come to Nagin Aur Lootere which is my definition of an under-rated classic. Any story which can bring together punar-janam, nag vs human conflict, police and daaku, two-timing and a murder mystery deserves its place in the sun. Some day, we will live in a fair world, the meek shall inherit the earth and Nagin and Lootere will be taught at film schools (including Whistling Woods).

Let’s switch genres and move to the Saral-saanp stream of movies. In this stream, the Nags and Nagins do not transform into men and women but remain firmly within the Genus Naja and Species Saggitefera. The first of these movies is the mother of all saanp movies Nagin (1954) where two warring tribes compete with each other to bring Nags and Nagins under their ‘vash’ and collect their venom. Somewhere in this the director gets a Shakespearean Romeo and Juliet angle with the Bengali Bhadralok Pradeep Kumar doing a Romeo to Vyjanthimala’s Juliet.

But my all time favorite saral-saanp movie is Doodh Ka Karz. The story requires some elaboration. In some remote village there’s a Snake temple with a devout Pujariji within it (the intelligent reader will discern the Nastik template without the son). One rainy night, a run-of-the-mill Sapera arrives there with his pregnant wife (Aruna Irani) and his pet saanp seeking refuge. Chhote Thakur, Amrish Puri, in the meanwhile, was planning to loot the temple jewels to tide over some short-term working capital problems. The Pujariji catches them in the act and gets a khooni khanzar in his back. The snake charmer reaches the scene and in true Hindi film style is accused of the murder. The Thakur and his henchmen beat him to death while Aruna Irani, the pet snake and the newly born kid make good their escape. Hungry, harassed and homeless, the trio reaches some jungle nearby and then in one of the most original scenes written in Hindi cinema, Aruna Irani makes the snake and the kid karzdaar of her doodh (don’t ask me how). All this while, the amazing title song played in the back which went (and I’m not making this up), ‘O, mere munna, sun mera kehna, mere doodh ka karz nibhana, mere doodh ka karz nibhana.’ Eventually, Aruna Irani asks the pet snake to cut loose since she can’t tend to him and he goes back to the same Snake temple as the Azim-o-Shaan Shahenshah of snakes. The kid grows up to be Jackie Shroff, an expert sapera, who falls in love with the anglicized Neelam, the daughter of the Thakur. Aruna Irani delivers the news to Jackie about Neelam being of the same khaandan which finished off his dad and exhorts him to repay the doodh ka karz.
In parallel, the Azim-o-Shaan Shahenshah of snakes learns that the temple jewels are being sold off to Bob Christo and other relics of the East India Company and the Thakur khaandan is the one that he also has scores to settle with. The climax is not for the faint-hearted amongst you and features flying snakes, flayed limbs and an awesome ‘been’ contest between Jaggu dada and Raza Murad. In my humble opinion, this unparalleled bit of genius at the climax of Doodh Ka Karz almost killed any budding film-makers desire for saanp movies. I mean what chance you have to surpass such mastery unless you answer to the name of RGV and try remaking Sholay. Doodh Ka Karz marked the end of the really great saanp movies. While a few others attempted the genre (notably Vishkanya which had Pooja Bedi deliver venom through kiss) they had to contend with the legacy of such tour de forces as Nagin (1976) and Doodh Ka Karz.

As usual, I am worried about this dying quintessential Indian story-telling format. I hope the next generations of script writers and film-makers are reading this. I am always available for any help that you might need, just send me a good ‘been’. A Nag-Nagin film can never be a ‘has-been’.

Top 7 Movies of Dharmendra - Some heard, some unheard!!


So after a long vacation, we are back. 2012 was an amazing year for Bollywood and 2013 seems to be doing even better with Chennai Express making 150 crores in 2 weeks and Jawani Deewani etc clocking almost 200 khokha. So we at Filmistani are going to take a deep breath, kill ourselves and become a ghost of 'Christmas Past'. 

From Dil Bhi Tera, Hum Bhi Tere to YPD, Dharmendra acted in nearly two hundred and fifty films and never won a Filmfare Best Actor award despite being discovered in a Filmfare talent spotting competition. Dharmendra is perhaps one of the most talked about superstars in the industry and rightly so. The contribution he has made to Bollywood is no short of legendary. Probably in his later years a bit of senility crept in but it was all washed down while receiving the lifetime achievement award from Amitabh Bachhan. Dharam ji was all emotional while talking about Amit ji. 

"ये आजकल मेरे घर नही आता की कहीं मैं दारू पीने के लिए ना बोल दूं"

One of the most emotional stars was all tears while receiving the lifetime achievement award at IIFA

So here we are going to go back in time and relive the top 7 movies that Filmistani thinks are the best work of Dharam Ji. 

7) Jeevan Mrityu (1970) 

Directed by Satyen Bose starring Dharam ji and Rakhi, this movie depicts the internal tension and deconstruction that the lead character Ashok Tandon (Dharam Ji) goes through. The character has so many layers and varied colors that it was almost impossible to imagine Dharmendra ji doing this. Someone like Sanjeev Kumar or Rajesh Khanna were considered more apt for that. This film is also important as it marks the debut of Rakhi. The story features Dharam ji as a bank manager who is falsely accused of theft in the bank and then arrested. And once he returns back from prison the world has changed around him, with his girlfriend married to someone else while mother dead. The movie features Dharmendra's internal battles and the trauma while being inside prison and once he is out.

The movie is also in people's hearts because of the simple yet beautiful music by Laxmikant Pyarelaal

6) Haqeeqat (1964)

Considered by many as the best war movie ever made in India, Haqeeqat by Chetan Anand was a realistic, cold and brutal peep into the immediate aftermath of the Indo-China war. The movie contains the ever-effective, ever-charming and ever-Balraj Sahni, who delivers an impeccable performance again but the role of Captain Bahadur Singh, played by Dharam paji, who falls in love with a Laddakhi girl (Priya Rajvansh) among the backdrop of Indo-China war. The movie features a raw Dharmendra, oozing with the realisation of himself; although some critics believe that he could not come close to Balraj sahni or Jayant (Amjad Khan's father); it was still a monumental performance by Dharmendra. The movie ends with Bahadur Singh and his lady love holding the post when Chinese Soldiers surround them, so that their comrades can escape to safety.

One of the most memorable scenes of the movie that has etched deep into the fans is what follows the brave deaths of Bahadur Singh. A song which has become synonymous with patriotism in India

5) Bandini (1963)

Celebrated as one of the classics from the black and white era despite not being spoken in the same breath as Pyaasa/Mother India/Do Beegha Zameen, Bandini comes across as a pure and unscathed Bimal Roy creation. Based upon a story by a jail superintendent,  the film also encompasses Nutan in her best ever role by a margin. And despite being a female-centric film, it comes across as one of Dharmendra's finest too. 

The movie is set in pre-independence era and Nutan falls in love with one of the revolutionaries - Bikash Ghosh, portrayed by ever charming Ashok Kumar. Dharmendra plays the role of Prison Doctor who meets Nutan in Jail and falls in love with her. The whole story is then a flashback of Nutan's past. Despite not having the central character, Dharmendra plays his part seemlessly, in an innate manner. The movie is also notable for brilliant music by S D Burman featuring songs such as 'mera gora and laile' and 'O Janewale Ho Sake To Laut Ke Aana'

4) Chupke Chupke (1975)

One of the first in a list of Hrishikesh Da, Dharam Paji and Sharmila Tagore trio classics, Chupke Chupke is a simplistic and fresh tale of a biology teacher who masquerades as a cab driver to fool the brother in law of his wife. Dharmendra was established a man who could play serious roles with utter ease and in most natural way as depicted throughout the 60s. What Chupke Chupke did was also make sure that he was the best comic man around. The movie is beautified by some superb castings by Hrishikesh da such as Om Prakash, Asrani, Keshto Mukherjee and a certain Amitabh Bachhan. 

Playing Parimal Tripathi - Botanist - from Allahabad, married to Sharmila Tagore, Dharmendra and Sharmila start a comedy of errors as they play one prank after another on the 'jijaji' - Om Prakash.

There are many memorable moments in the movie but the one where Dharam ji and Om Prakash meet for the first time stands out - जब TO टू, DO डू तो GO गू क्यूँ नही

3) Anupama (1966)

The second one in the list with the combo of Dharmendra, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Sharmila Ji, Anupama is one of those rare flicks which ventures beyond the portrayal of love between hero and heroine. It is also among Amitabh Bachhan's all time top 10, featuring along gone with the wind and Godfather. The movie entails a beautiful, yet sad to some extent, relationship between a husband and a wife; a father and a daughter, who he believes to be the cause of his wife's death'; undue lovers and a poet and his muse. 

The movie opens with amazing sounds of 'Dheere Dheere Machal', sang by Lata ji and composed by Hemant Kumar

Dharmendra plays the role of a poet with supernatural command and respect. He is quixotic but not useless as most of the artists are shown in Hindi cinemas. He is pleasant, calm and just himself in every sense of the Hrishikesh da's portrayal of him in the 60s. Sharmila Tagore is as stunning as ever playing the central character of Anupama who goes through the pain of being alienated in her own home. But as the story progresses, she becomes the show stopper with the dignified glory.

The movie also features impressive performances from Deven Verma, Tarun Bose and Shashikala

2) Sholay (1975)

Well there is nothing I can write about Sholay that has never been written before. Every character in the movie went on to become cult and inspired generations to come in Bollywood. Dharmendra plays the role of an urban gangster. He is not much his usual self in the movie but still blends the comic side of the character with the central theme of action so effortlessly. This was his second blockbuster as a comic actor in the same year alongwith previously mentioned Chupke Chupke. Dharmendra was an already established actor in the industry but he also made sure than Amitabh Bachhan follows suit when he recommended his name to play Jai in place of Shatrughan Sinha who was Sippy's favorite. 

There are multiple facts, stats and legends about the movie that can never me matched, never be touched or never be repeated. So rather than imploring I would leave you with some interesting facts about the movie - http://www.hpbolly.com/2013/04/interesting-facts-about-sholay.html

1) Satyakam (1969)

And here is the final Dharam-Sharmila-Hrishikesh trio. Dharmendra's career literally peaked at Satyakam in 1969. Satyakam was Hrishikesh Mukherjee's best film and a landmark in the history of Hindi cinema. It could also be said that the character of Satyapriya (Truth -lover) , played by Dharmendra is the most affecting and powerful performance by a male actor in that decade. Satyapriya is Howard Roark of post independence India who views the pillars of development of nation based upon truth, integrity and honour. He marries Ranjana (Sharmila Tagore), daughter of a prostitute and raped by the prince of the estate. The film outlines the struggles through which Satyapriya is put through because of his ideals of honesty and how the system fails to break him but death breaks him in the end. The movie also consists of powerful performances from none other than Sanjeev Kumar and Ashok Kumar, who play best friend and grandfather of Satya. The movie ends with Ashok Kumar, who plays a Hindu saint following old dogmatic views, adopting the illegitimate son of Satya and Ranjana and calling him Satyakam, when the kid has the audacity to tell him that he is not legitimate. 

This was also the time after which Hrishikesh Mukherjee left Dharmendra and went on to make a list of succesful moviess with Rajesh Khanna. According to some film analysts, Satyakam is the essential prelude to Zanzeer where a man takes on the whole system to prevent his ideals and beliefs. 

So Despite never being compared to Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna or Amitabh Bachhan, Dharmendra gave some of the best performances of his era, outlined the prime of a alpha male in the industry and at the same time gave us the laughs, the whistles and the tears.

He finally did receive a consolation prize, a Lifetime Achievement award in 1997, but Filmfair didn't give him one for an individual performance. He never got the credit for how good he was but some of his films will always remain carved on our memories. And anything to do with Dharmendra can not finish before watching him ride the bike with Amitabh in Denims