The character of the high-kicking female badass was fairly commonplace in Asian cinema by 1974. But in Bollywood, not so much. The 1974 film Geetaa Mera Naam puts just such a character front and center, talking tough, sticking it to the man, and dealing out whoopass to all comers without a thought of depending on male chivalry for her fortunes.
Dharam-Veer is a movie designed to thrill. In addition to the thrill of watching its spectacular musical numbers and beautiful stars, there is the singular thrill that comes from seeing combinations of color and fabric that will likely never be repeated in human history.
The world of Qurbani is one in which mechanic Bob Christo has a free standing brick wall in his auto body shop just so he can demonstrate the power of his fists to any doubter who happens by, and a hay stack sits at the end of a jetty for the sole purpose of having a speeding car suddenly burst out from underneath it.
Despite this pedigree, not to mention its commercial success, Mr. India still comes down on the slightly wilder and trashier side of Bollywood cinema. Still, just as one needs to seek balance in their overall cinematic diet, one’s experience of Bollywood can’t be all Guru Dutt and Mother India.
With her oversized, anime girl eyes, flitting, hummingbird like movements, and immovable mass of helmet-like hair, Vijaya Lalitha is a perfect human centerpiece for Doss’s cartoon world of over the top action and histrionics.
Watching King Kong was like witnessing the moment of impact between all of those things that provide me with some of my most profound movie-watching pleasures. Had I known I could be watching films that combined wrestling, men in togas throwing boulders, giant monsters, and Kumkum dancing frenetically to catchy Bollywood music, I probably never would have seen Mother India.
Gumnaam isn’t shy about the sort of films that have influenced it. Adopting the sort of jet set internationality of the 1960s, it becomes an amalgamation of old dark house mysteries and pop-art modernism filtered through the lens of Arabesque, Mario Bava, and Charade.