Filmi~Contrast has several "House Favorites."On the hero end of things: Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, and Shashi Kapoor rank at the tippety-top. I also usually enjoy Rajesh Khanna and Naseerudin Shah. Some heroes took a little time to grow on me. I think the first thing I saw Rajesh Khanna in was Kati Patang (1970), and I was both annoyed and intrigued by him. But others, like Shashi or Vinod, never had to sell me on their hero-chops--I turned loyal immediately.
Amitabh as his young hero self didn't appeal to me until I saw Suhaag (1979), and then I didn't question him so much anymore. I knew he would eventually step out of gruff-mode and into hilarity-mode, if I just waited long enough. I like Shah Rukh most of the time, even when I don't like the film he's in. I also think Ranveer Singh shows a lot of promise to be more than just a pretty face.
When it comes to heroines, I always enjoy the spunk and energy that Vidya Balan and Preity Zinta and Neetu Singh bring to their roles. Rekha and Zeenat Aman also never fail to intrigue me with their otherworldly beauty, mystique, and naach-styles.
For the most part, the appeal of these actresses is not hard to pin down (or even to "pin-up" if you will). They light up the screen with their charisma and personality and match the willpower of the men with their own kind of agency.
However, I have one favorite that still mystifies me: Rakhee Gulzar.
In an attempt to figure out why I find such a seemingly quiet and distant actress so magnetic, AND why I love to hate her and hate to love her . . . I am going to subject her films to the scientific process. Maybe it will finally make sense if I just watch everything she has ever done... (Feel free to disagree with my logic, here.)
Experiment #1: Barsaat Ki Ek Raat (1981)
|We are NOT tea-pickers who dance. We are dancers who pick tea.|
|Riding into town on a donkey. And you say I have a Messiah complex. I just don't see it.|
|I don't know where I stabled this donkey, or why I rode into town in the first place, since I seem to like my Jeep for the rest of the film.|
|This song was kind of cute, even though Amitabh's character is spying on a girl who is singing about him, but can't see him. . .|
|This song is ostensibly to shame me for "bursting my drum" during our drum-off. But now that you're making fun of me for it, I think our drum-off was really a substitute for something else.|
|For those of you who might have wanted to see Kabhi Kabhie turn out a little differently.|
Five years down the road, a new life is coming.
|This scene was scary and scarring. Consequently, for once, the cause of miscarriage in a movie made sense.|
The reaction: Epic Beatdown by Bachchan
- I do not like it when Rakhee plays blind. I realize it's a favorite masala trope, but within the first three frames of a random song I saw from this movie on a stroll through Youtube, I figured out that she was blind, so obvious were her movements. And it never got more subtle. I mean, maybe it would have helped if the fine scriptwriters or production team had actually given her a cane so she didn't have to do THIS all the time.
- Rakheetabh DID indeed turn out to be the best part of this movie. Primary hypothesis supported. They managed to bring a fun sensibility to all their conversations, even if their songs together were pretty forgettable. In this conversation, Abhijeet assures Rajni that although he's excited for their coming baby, he doesn't see her just as a mother, but as his lover still.
We are still having flirty, facetious conversations after five years of marriage.
- Also, I do not much care for movies where attempted rape takes up SO much of the storyline.
- Rakhee should definitely be given as many humorous dialogues as possible. Her deadpan delivery was one of the best parts of this film.
- Rakhee does not dance in this film. She also does not really dance in the other films I have seen her in. Strange. Further research is necessary. Maybe in Sharmilee?
Experiment #1: Conclusion
To me, Rakhee excels in "reacting" rather than acting. I love to look for the subtle but important changes in her demeanor during conversations or emotional scenes. I also always get the sense that she is painfully observant and sensitive towards everything going on around her . . . that every little emotional beat hits her heart and shakes it up. But of course her characters tend to hide this sensitivity, which makes you actually care about her suffering or her internal processes a lot more.
I have more Rakhee coming from Netflix, and we'll just have to see if those particular films warrant another day spent at the Rakhee Lab. I'm sure, however, that I'll need a lot more research and experimentation to figure The Quiet One out.