I’d better do two reviews here:
If you are Indian, and a fan of “Bollywood” movies … GO SEE THIS MOVIE!
If you are not … AVOID IT LIKE LEPROSY!
We managed precisely 37 minutes before we had to shut it down. … and yet, at the IMDb it scores an astonishing 8.8 out of 10 from the viewers, who I assume are almost all Indian.
Is it a culture thing? It’s hard for me to credit that, and yet it must be. Lee and I have seen movies from many small countries in Africa, from Iran and Iraq, from Egypt, from many South American countries, from Mexico and Salvador, even a couple of Kurdish movies, and loved them. Sure, they’re made on the cheap, but if you have a good story and know how to direct actors to make them seem reasonably human, even non-professionals can make a movie with universal appeal. And okay, it can take a few movies before you are in tune with, say, a Japanese sensibility. Many people complain that Kurosawa‘s films are too slow, but if you try a few, you’ll adjust.
But this thing is just way, way, way beyond godawful. From the very first scene we cringed at acting that wouldn’t have made the cut in a junior high play. The writing was terrible. The cutting was rudimentary. People talked and laughed, and nothing was funny. Every point was driven home gracelessly. Anand is a guy who is dying … but he’s cheerful! How about that! He’s played by Rajesh Khanna, who was the first Indian superstar, sort of on a par with Elvis … and by golly, the film even reminded me of those putrid potboilers that Elvis starred in. The production quality was on a par with those unbelievably lame films from the ‘60s by Russ Meyer and Doris Wishman that now have a cult following because they are so bad. The shut-off point came for us when Rajesh sat down at a little chord organ and began to sing … to full twangy Indian orchestral accompaniment. It was just so dumb, so bland, so jaw-droppingly stupid …
I realize that the film industries of every country turn out a lot of crap, and one reason many Americans think foreign films are better than ours is that we never see the crap. It isn’t exported. The Japanese are entertained by some stuff that would gag a maggot with its sentimentality, that a three-year-old would not watch. And Bollywood is the biggest producer of movies in the world, by far, and most of it sucks nine ways from Sunday, it’s shown in traveling tents at a nickel a seat … but this was touted as an Indian masterpiece, as the forerunner of many actual good films from India, many of which I’ve seen … there’s something cultural going on here and I guess I’ll never understand it’s appeal. So go by my dual reviews above.