I’ve been exceptionally busy over the past few weeks, and even had to give up the idea of publishing a post last week—simply because I didn’t have the time. But today is the birthday of my favourite Hindi film star, Shammi Kapoor—how could I not post a tribute?
So, even though it’s meant doing some crazy juggling of schedules, here we go. A Shammi Kapoor film that, while it’s not classic Shammi, is at least fairly entertaining. And has the distinction of being the earliest Hindi film I’ve seen which was actually filmed abroad, not just set abroad.
The main reason I rented this film was that the credits were so absolutely mouthwatering. A cast that included Sunil Dutt, Madhubala, Minoo Mumtaz, Madan Puri and Nishi Kohli. Music by S D Burman. Shakti Samanta as director. A winner, I’d have thought.
Alas, no. While it’s not a dud, Insaan Jaag Utha isn’t more than the sum of its otherwise stellar parts. The story is a mishmash of tropes. It doesn’t seem to know where it’s going, the plot has a lot of holes, and it’s not really too interesting.
Having watched countless Hindi films, I’ve reached the conclusion that the bulk of 50’s and 60’s cinema wouldn’t have been possible without a few stock plot elements. One of these is Divine Intervention (DI); another’s the Mysterious Motive (MM); and yet another—a popular one, this—is Just For A Song (JFAS), when the whole point of a plot element is to bring in a song.
Shakti Samanta’s Jaali Note is replete with DI, MM and JFAS. I don’t really mind this in films, as long as there’s more. Unfortunately, this is where Jaali Note falls flat on its face; there is almost nothing else. Madhubala, looking lovely, and Dev Anand disguised in a thin moustache, but that’s it.
Like memsaab, I too am a diehard Shammi Kapoor fan. Which is why China Town—with Shammi Kapoor in a double role—is bonanza! Add to that good music and two gorgeous heroines (Shakila and Helen) against the backdrop of Calcutta’s Chinatown (well, a sanitised set version), and you have a movie that’s quintessential Shakti Samanta: very entertaining.