Thursday, February 25, 2010

70s Week Recap: Paapi

Still coming with the crime and punishment 70s films - Paapi is one of my TOP 5 FILMS ever!

Paapi is a wonderful 1970s masala film. Who would have thought that I would ever find the Sanjeev Kumar/Zeenat Aman jodi so burning hot or desire to see more of Padma Khanna....

Backed with a
killer soundtrack by Bappi Lahiri - and I mean a killer soundtrack - Pappi tells the story of Ranu, an orphan, who is separated from her brother at a young age when their older sister/caretaker is raped and killed by an Evil Thug in an amazing sequence where we cut back and forth between Ranu's didi struggling for her life and a religious devotional song in the building next door. Ranu's brother falls in a deep puddle trying to get help and Ranu assumes that he's dead, too. She runs off afraid that Evil Thug is going to kill her, too! Her bhai survives and is taken in by a kindly policeman and grows up to be a Tough On Crime Cop (Sunil Dutt, looking scarily like Sanju) and Ranu becomes Rani, a Master Thief (Zeenat Aman).

Through the course of the credits, we see young Ranu go from stealing bananas offered to the god to shoving bananas in the faces to dopes who get in the way of her thievery!

Trying to steal some diamonds from an old man, she poses as his niece and meets Dr. Sanjeev Kumar, a kindly soul who is very attracted to Zeenat. She is very flattered by his affection, but she has a job to do. As she is casually walking off with the loot, he asks where he can get in touch with her in Bombay - she gives him a number...

... the number to the police station! LOL! Being a kindly soul, he gives her the benefit of the doubt.

As Zeenat Aman is living the good life, Sunil Dutt is slowly turning to the dark side with his extreme approach to crime. The trauma in his childhood of watching his sister get raped has left him very scarred and emotionally cut off. Even Reena Roy can't shake him out of his revenge-driven career.

(Of course, he's good friends with Dr. Sanjeev!)

Here is one of the interesting narrative threads in
Pappi - Dr. Sanjeev's belief that criminals are separate from their crimes and Sunil Dutt's insistance that all criminals be locked up forever. We'll see who changes their mind...

(Set borrowed from
Teesri Manzil?)

Also thrown in the mix are Padma Khanna as caberet singer Miss Kitty, who becomes best friends with Zeenat and Prem Chopra's slimy gangster.

And no O.P. Ralhan film is complete without O.P. Ralhan! Here he plays a photographer who has a on-going flirtation with Dr. Sanjeev's secretary, Dolly. Can anyone tell me who the lovely lady playing Dolly is? I couldn't figure it out.

So, there is the basic set-up. Some of the things I loved:

* The film is packed full of wonderful tension between Dr. Sanjeev's admiration of Zeenat - his ability to see beyond her crimes to the sweet person within - and Zeenat's longing for some kind of release from her life of crime. She doesn't feel worthy of him and wants to protect him from himself. *pardon me while I swoon*

(Running into the good doctor again!! He can't believe she's the same girl!)

(He still likes her, though..... the rose amongst the thorns... *dies*)

(EEEEE! She's getting beat up rather than let the doctor's name be tarnished with her criminality!! I LOVE IT!)

* Sanjeev Kumar's character was really well done. What could have been a whiny, impractical doofus of a guy is instead extremely sympathetic.

I love that Dr. Sanjeev's compassion for the man who was sent to kill him is what saves them all in the end! Ah... treat people like people. What a concept!

* I was also really pleased with the depiction of female friendship between Padma Khanna as Miss Kitty and Zeent Aman. Instead of having the secondary female lead be a stereotypical vamp who is after the hero, Padma Khanna's character has her own story where she grows from being frozen in a life that she hates to taking action against the men who have trapped her there, with a little courage borrowed from Zeenat.

(Padma disguised as a taxi driver, helping Zeenat (in the veil) deliver a cruical piece of information.)

(Pretending to cat fight with Zeenat so that they can distract the gang members. Of course, it totally works!)

(Padma taking down Prem Chopra AND Nadira! You go, girl!

(Padma getting an extended death scene after she kills about 20 gang guys.... *sighs with happiness*

* Reena Roy's saree in this scene was divine. I want one, too!

In the end, what strikes me most about
Paapi is how it takes the masala conventions and just does them better. Instead of the tired two-hero film, we get a two-hero film where one of the heroes is Zeenat Aman. Instead of the vamp who dies for the hero's love, we have a vamp who is totally kick-ass and best friends with the female hero. And O.P. Ralhan fits in some great commentary on crime and the criminal element. In short, I don't see how it gets any better than this. Why is Paapi not mentioned up there with Don and Johny Mera Naam as a great 70s masala film?

Oh, Zeenat! You have won me over with your repentant ways! This movie was totally win!


Beth said...

WOW! Must see. Plus: Sunil's patterned hat and Zeenat's yellow pantsuit!

veracious said...

Seconding Beth's wow. How come this is a film with Zeenat kicking butt and I had no idea it existed? Omg.

Filmi Girl said...

Ladies, O.P. Ralhan's name = win! I highly recommend checking out his entire catalog!

Dusk said...

Thank you!! I had completely forgotten about this film... and YOU are such a fabulous reviewer/storyteller!

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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