Monday, November 4, 2013

A Confession *Ahem* Review: Ittefaq (1969)

I am not sure why I like Rajesh Khanna. I just do. Sure, Daag (1973) is one of my favorite movies ever . . .

Maybe it's just my early imprinting on Daag, but make no mistake, if Rajesh Khanna wears a mustache at some point in any film, I WILL watch that film. 
. . . but I can still see why he causes blogosphere rifts and alienates those who are otherwise fairly forgiving of the foibles of 70's movies.  After '73 he does go to seed a bit. I wince at anything after '82. Maybe some of that is just the subjective audience member's perception of his noticeable facial changes over the years--unfortunately, most mega- stars have to maintain a more uniform look over a longer period to keep their fan-base. (Amitabh and Anil Kapoor are some of the best male examples of this long-term uniformity--while Shashi is perhaps the best counterexample.) And even before '73, I've watched him in some fabulously awful movies (Mere Jeevan Saathi anyone?).

Mere Jeevan Saathi is a must-see if for nothing more than the Helen + whip bits. 
But still, I like him.

I've also watched him in a bunch of movies that seem to feature roughly the same second half of the plot (most of what he did with Sharmila comes to mind), and yet I haven't gotten bored yet. I think I actually prefer his more cliche films to his unusual ones. Sure, I was impressed by his double role in Sacha Jhutha (1970), a role which seems to be pretty well thought of even by his detractors, esp. those who like Manmohan Desai. But I think I will always prefer him in good old-fashioned melodrama.

Namak Haraam (1973)
Indiequill calls one of his most popular films, Kati Patang (1970), her chicken soup. (Incidentally, KP was also my first Rajesh film, and my first non-Shashi 70's film, and probably deserves a re-watch. Mostly, I remember seeing the fight in the mud toward the beginning and wondering, "Who is this guy who also looks so good by firelight?"). In general, most of his movies feel like that to me . . . even when they kind of don't deliver much of anything else . . . I still feel sort of nurtured and cozy and safe.

Kind of like Zeenat in this film, I can't quit you. (Ajanabee, 1974). 
All that to say, watching Rajesh-ji in something as solid as Ittefaq (an early feature from Yash Chopra before he started his own production house) was quite delightful. Also, if you're looking for a film to "prove" that Bollywood can entertain without the use of songs (there are none in this film) and sans traditional romance, then this film would be a great choice. Not that you or I care what THOSE people think . . .

Given the fact that Ittefaq is a mystery (so the less you know about it the better) and since this is an *Ahem* Review (meaning I don't really have any intention of un-selling you), and you may already know I hate plot summaries . . . here's your hook, line and go out and buy your bottle of wine and rent this movie right now sinker:

Ittefaq is two parts Film Noir: 


From the lone man charged with crime he (probably) didn't commit, lost in a shadowy void . . .




















To the variety of potential femme fatale(s) . . .



Iftekhar knows that good girls get husbands, and vamps get life partners. Smart, smart. 





One part Rajesh seriously trying to imitate Humphrey Bogart's violent charm: 





One part Whodunit:




Iftekhar is at his gravely, pseudo-Scotland Yard detective best in this film.


















Three + parts AMAZING subtitles (at least in the Moserbaer release):
























And 100 + parts style: 


The "bottle-episode" set . . . so good you want to eat it . . .






















The angles . . .






















The lighting . . .
























This movie is casual chic, no mistake about it. I kinda want to display it on my mantle and invite my friends over for a dinner party just to show it off . . .

I know I always ask this, but are you really still here? Seriously, find this movie already.








I really don't think you'll be at all disappointed.

9 comments:

  1. Your observation " I still feel sort of nurtured and cozy and safe" is the reason that RK was phenomenally popular among women in India during his hey days ie early 70s. His later films ie 80s onwards were eminently forgettable. However his earlier films were good - Namak Haram, Kati Patang, Aradhna, Amar Prem (both with Sharmila Tagore), Kudrat, Itefaq, The Train and Joru ka ghulam with Nanda. I recently watched Itefaq - agree with your views - worth seeing. Songs were good in The Train - a breezy movie with lovely songs but some times horrid costumes esp Nanda's. Joru Ka Ghulam was also a delightful movie - Rajesh was really good in it. Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaaz made a great pair in several films like Do Raaste, Prem Kahani, Dushman, Sacha Jhoota etc

    Nanda has recounted in an interview that when they made Itefaq (released in the same year as Aradhna) Rajesh Khanna was an upcoming actor and not so well known so shooting was relatively peaceful. However by the time they began shooting for The Train esp the outdoor scenes, the street was flooded with people with girls screaming for Rajesh Khanna as he had become a super star with Aradhna.

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  2. I'm certainly not an expert on the type of 60's heroes that RK succeeded, but it certainly seems to me that he was a new kind of lead in 1969. At his best, he had the relational sensitivity of Dilip Kumar with the screen presence of a Kapoor, and the earnestness of Guru Dutt. A superstar (like an Amitabh or an SRK) needs to channel all these things--be all things to all people.

    Amar Prem and Prem Kahani were both good films, but the latter is much more likely to remain in my re-watch pile. Amar Prem is a rather stark drama, and I think would be hard to sit through again. Out of the other RK films you've mentioned, the Train and Dushman are high on my list to see next. I think I'll have to buy them, however, as I've been unable to rent them from my usual sources. The clips I've seen of the Train however make me think it will be worth the investment :)

    I think it's interesting to hear how his fame shot up with Aradhana rather than Ittefaq, given that I think Ittefaq is a better movie by far. I enjoyed aspects of Aradhana (primarily the first half), but my mildly-informed guess is that the masterful song, Roop Tera Mastana, and his excellent chemistry with Sharmila really created a phenomenon out of something that was otherwise rather mediocre. The film as a whole isn't nearly as strong as it's reputation would suggest. However, the fact that it set up some great working partnerships (Kishore and Sharmila) for future films, makes me really happy that it happened anyway :)

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  3. Not only that song but all songs of Aradhana were a bit hit. I think that was one of the reasons for its huge success. Rajesh was a versatile actor - his films ranging from itefaq, dushman to masala ones like Apna Desh ( a remake of a hit tamil movie)

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  4. I saw Apna Desh last week, actually, and found it fairly entertaining . . . especially the second half. (I think I mentioned something about my liking for Rajesh in a mustache . . . well, the viewing of this film *might* have been related . . . )

    I didn't know it was a Tamil remake though--I wonder if that was where the trio of mustachioed corporate villains (Om Prakash and Madan Puri playing two of them), came from---because I haven't seen that in Hindi films from the period. Strike that, I guess I have--the bank robbing trio in Jeevan Mrityu ('68). Still, I feel like the 70's films favor villains who are lone "don" or "boss" types, not evil collectives.

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  5. Delighted at the Rajesh love! Great blog by the way; have been lurking almost since you started.

    Regarding Rajesh and the mouche, apart from the ones mentioned above, there is also 'Bandhan' (with Mumtaz), the delightful 'Shehzada' (with Raakhee), the vastly under rated 'Palkon ki chhaon mein' (with Hema) and the rather wonderful (until just before the ending) 'Baharon ke sapne' with Asha Parekh to mention just a few. Here's proof :-)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Qx6rTFJ1Mk

    All the best on your journey into Hindi filmdom.

    Suhan

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  6. Apna Desh's original tamil version was called "Enga Nadu" means "Our land" made in 1969. I have been trying to get a copy of Palkon ki Chaon mein several times now thru friends in Hyd but can't get one. It is on my "must see' list as a no of bloggers have been talking about it - i believe it was a flop movie when it released. In Baharon ke sapne he is an idealist and i think has a beard like in Itefaq if i remember a song that i have seen

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    1. Filmbuff - If you are amenable to watching 'Palkon ki chhaon mein' on youtube, it's been uploaded with English subs. Here's the link to the first of 11 parts.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLejgfrBau8

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    2. Thank you so much for the link Suhan - something is better than nothing - i will give this a go although i am not a big fan of watching movies on youtube precisely for this reason ie need to click on several parts. Having said that, I did see an entire movie on you tube at a friend's place - Rajshri's Ek Baar Kaho - which i believe is based on Come September.

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  7. Suhan,
    So glad you're enjoying the blog. I'm certainly having fun with it. Lurk on, lurk on :)

    Thank you for the film AND pointing me in the direction of more Rajesh/facial hair recommendations . . . the adorable clip from Baharon ke sapne certainly bodes good things for the movie. I don't think I've seen Rajesh in anything before '69, so the date should be interesting in itself. Thank you for passing us the link to Palkon ki chhaon mein, it looks quite worth a watch :) Thank the filmi gods for Youtube . . . otherwise my filmi obsession would completely break the bank.

    As for Shehzada, I agree, it is a lovely film. The plot as a whole bothered me a bit, but I highly enjoyed the RK/Rakhee pairing--they brought a lot of humor and sensitivity to their roles. I think Shehzada will play a big part in one of my upcoming posts.

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