The Other January Stuff

Bits that aren't Junoon-related from January so far:

Inta Habibi (Egypt, 1957). 
I just watched a couple of Egyptian classic films that I really enjoyed. And  even if the music didn't appeal to my tastes as strongly as Hindi film music does. . . I enjoyed it well enough. During some periods in my life, I was quite into Arabic language music, so this didn't feel all that removed from my interests or experience. Oh, except for the fact that I felt I was watching a Hollywood musical in Arabic, peppered with camels and belly-dancing and genies! instead of the usual bottle blondes and matte paintings and tap numbers.

I first stumbled upon a supremely amusing screwball romance (Inta Habibi, 1957) and then an engaging modern fairy tale (Afrita Hanem: The Genie Lady, 1949).

Afrita Hanem (1949). 
Only the latter was viewed with English subs, but it was the first--a story about two people forced to marry and their comedic journey from hatred to love--that stole a bit of my heart. Plus, there's lots of fabulous dancing--a feature that tends to cross all language barriers :) I will probably talk more about Egyptian films here in the future, but mostly I just wanted to interrupt the Grand and Depressing Theme of this month with an oasis. Shout out to Dances on the Footpath's Richard, for steering me in the direction of classic Egyptian films. You can check out some of his favorites here.

I am also happy to report that I have already met a couple of my new year's resolutions:

I started my new job . . . but of course that was less a resolution and more something I didn't want to think about at all.

I watched Sridevi's Khuda Gawah (1993)--which had a horrendous mid-section (both literally and figuratively--the 90's were not kind to anyone's torso)--but managed to carve out some highly worthwhile cinematic territory for itself at the beginning and the end.

Also, one can't complain about the setting. There's lots of gorgeous scenery here; some genuine attempts at kick-ass female agency (that is far more prominent in the bookend hours of the film); and lots of Sridevi pulling a pre-Karan Arjun shtick of "woh aayega, woh aayega, WOH AAYEGA!" (She STILL manages to be more interesting as that pagal-maa with a singular line at her disposal than she is in the trendy look-alike daughter role.) Best of all, there's even a guilt song in this film--sung by not one, but two ladies. I do so love a good "guilting" song . . . I'll have to do a post on them sometime. Sridevi wasn't too bad here, and you can put me on record as saying that "I'm not as allergic as I thought and I wouldn't mind seeing more of her films."

I also finished the Huangmei opera film (The Mermaid, 1966). . . staring Ivy Ling Po (in a gender-bending role . . . something she was known for).

I enjoyed aspects of it, but my first thought when the film ended was, "A little Huangmei opera goes a long way." I'm interested in seeing some examples of classic Hong Kong cinema attempting a westerish-musical. Mambo Girl (see my resolution post) seems like it might fit the bill, but the protagonist is so off-putting, that I'm reluctant to give it more of my time. However, first I have another Shaw Brother's flick waiting on VCD . . . a 1969 thriller also starring Ivy Ling Po (who was worth the bewildering trek through an Asian opera to discover).

I also saw Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011), which was only slightly marred by a lack of non-annoying female characters . . . and Tum Haseen Main Jawaan (1970), which was very much marred by the presence of TOO many babies, and a dearth of infant-safety practices. I swear, I cringed most of the way through this very passable film . . . my older-sister instincts severely limiting my ability to appreciate the "humor" onscreen. However, Dharmendra and Hema (in their first film together) were very pleasant, and occasionally managed to distract me with their chemistry.

On that pleasant fantasy-er-screencap, I'll sign off :)


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