Thus wrote Filmindia (and Mother India) – II

More gems from Filmindia and the one and only Baburao Patel…

Jugnu (1947)
In short, Jugnu is a dirty, disgusting and vulgar picture that no decent exhibitor with any pride for his profession or any self respect should exhibit in his theatre.

Jeevan Yatra (1947)
Jeevan Yatra is a crude and loud picture and the characters do not get any sympathy throughout. The very physical behaviour of the characters is absurd and disgusting.

Mirza Sahiban (1947)
Noor Jehan as Sahiban is hardly convincing. One cannot imagine a love-bitten maiden to be so fat. It is high time Noor Jehan was transferred to the playback department as her voice is a definite asset.

Anokhi Ada (1948)
Anokhi Ada is the usual Mehboob nonsense with the disgustingly familiar formula mainly intended for scoring box-office success without any regard to common sense, art or reason.

Mahal (1949)
The theme of Mahal is fantastic nonsense – pure and unadultrated. When a Muslim writer starts toying with Hindu spiritual and philosophical themes dealing with rebirth and transmigration of souls, he makes a damn unholy mess of the whole affair and ends by exposing his rank ignorance of such subjects.

Parineeta (1953)
Selecting a good story is winning half the battle and director Bimal Roy was half victorious even before he had taken his first shot. But more than what he gained in the story was lost when the bulky, rotund middle-aged Ashok Kumar foisted himself as the 25 year old hero of the story. This corporeal change in the story took away half of its interest, charm and plausibility. Because strain as one may one’s imagination, it is difficult to identify in this man of 60 inches girth and 180 lbs weight, the 25 year youthful hero of Sarat Babu.

Sassi (1954) – Pakistan
Sassi is an ugly, rotten seventh rate picture which makes the spectator restless in his seat ten minutes after its start. There is not a trace of technical skill, art or imagination in the entire length of this darkened celluloid. Extremely poorly photographed, more poorly directed and containing silly performances, shoddy sets and dreadfully dull music, the picture is a rarely ugly and crude sight and makes one limp with sheer boredum by the time it traverses its tiresome course to reach its long awaited end.

Awara Shehzadi (1956)
In short, Awara Shehzadi is one of the most rotten pictures of all time. Exhibitors booking this picture stand the risk of antagonising their patrons permanently.

Anpadh (1962)
This wonderful story could have been told in a reel of 1000 feet. The producers, however, needed 14000 feet to do so. Which means that 13000 feet of film have been needlessly wasted.

Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962)
The story travels through some stupid war sequences, some spineless romantic ones and an idiotic court scene till the numbskull falls down from a staircase and again gets one more shifting of grey matter which takes him back to the arms of his sweetheart.

Baat Ek Raat ki (1962)
Baat Ek Raat ki fails to entertain and remains a crude confusion.The picture is a peanut wraped in silver paper.

And yes, some rare praise as well!

Kalpana (1948)
Now Kalpana is on the screen and (Uday) Shankar has not only vindicated his reputation as a great showman and a great dancer, but through this picture, also thrown a challenge to the film industry. Leave aside dancing which is his own domain, let them come forward and produce something better in technique, in production value, in slick direction, in imaginative photography, in artistic compositions, in daring montage!


To go to my earlier piece on Filmindia, click here.

Photographs courtesy Greta Kaemmer aka Memsaab

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  1. What an acerbic pen! Just loved the manner in which he trashes the physical aspects of the stars 🙂
    ‘Kalpana’ is one film I did not like at my first viewing – I’ve been able to appreciate its subtle nuances and great cinematic qualities later . Truly it was a great film and much ahead of its time. The fact that Baburao praised it so highly shows his refined sensibilities.

  2. Rina,
    He made films like Draupadi and Gwalan starring his wife Sushila Rani Patel in the 1940s but don’t know how they did and who reviewed them. But do remember that the issues of filmindia those times publicised the films a lot.

  3. Yeah Anil he was considered quite a terror by the industry. According to Dev Anand, he could make or break careers with his reviews. There’s no doubt they make for extremely good and entertaining reading. 🙂
    And love the covers.

    I just watched Uday Shankar’s Kalpana a few months ago at the NFAI. Yes, the acting is terribly creaky but the story, treatment and choreography is quite an achievement. Absolutely wonderful play of light and shade and some extremely well choreographed dances done in shadow play. Somewhere highly autobiographical, Kalpana looks at an artist’s struggle for survival and make his own dance school and it’s well known that Guru Dutt studied under Uday Shankar at Almora. It is said he was involved with the scripting process of Kalpana with Uday Shankar and it is an interesting point to note that in Mr and Mrs 55, Pyaasa and Kaagaz ke Phool, you have the struggle of artistes trying to survive in a commercial and materialistic society. And it’s also worth noting that more than any of his peers, Guru Dutt made films that were highly autobiographical with a lot of his life bared on the screen.

  4. I believe that he was held in awe by the industry and was considered influential in certain circles. He has done that to some foreign films too. I remember one of his articles reproduced in The Illustrated Weekly of India years ago. it ws on the British film caled I think The Drum directed by Alexander Korda. I remember the title of the article…’Your editor kicks a hole through the drum'[ Something very close to that if not exactly that]… But this is vintage stuff

  5. Memsaab,
    Welcome! Got these while researching at the Pune Archives and also at Suhsila Rani Patel’s office in Mumbai.

  6. Hi KC,
    To be honest, I saw Jugnu almost 27 years ago on a video cassette when I was just in my mid-teens. Yes, I too have been looking for plot synopsis since I don’t really recollect the story but have found no information either. I do remember Noor Jehan dies in the end and I do listen to the songs occasionally especially Humein To Sham-e- Gham Mein Katni Hai Zindagi Apni and Yahan Bala Wafa ka Bewafai ke Siva Kya Hai. What songs!

  7. Hello,

    Can you tell me the plot of Jugnu? I can’t seem to find much info about it anywhere – I just know Noor Jehan’s character dies of TB, right?

  8. Film reviews by Babu Rao Patel should be devoured without looking back at the movies for the real fun lies in the language and writing skills of the man. The reach of his imagination is so vast and wild that you will double up laughing. He spares none be the persona of the stars or what not.

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