Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Brahmachari: Shammi Love!!

This is an old review that I'm transferring over here to my "new" blog because the pictures are hilarious! Enjoy!

I have no idea
why the trope of bachelor plus lots of kids is so prevalent in popular Hindi film but I do enjoy it. Brahmachari is a classic of the genre. Shammi Kapoor plays the titular Brahmacarhi, a bachelor raising lots of kids.

When the film begins, Shammi is working as a photographer. He sells pictures of his brood to a local newspaper, until the editor gets fed up and tells him to go shoot something interesting.

That something interesting ends up being a woman about to commit suicide - the adorable Rajshree, who is not a big name actress and I don’t understand why because she is so good in this.

Well, as it turns out, Rajshree is attempting to kill herself because the man that her father had promised her in marriage to when she was a little girl is refusing to marry her! (Obviously he will be played by Pran.) See, the thing is that Pran’s family used to be really poor – as Rajshree’s family still is – and he thinks he can do better than her.

The twist is that Rajshree’s family doesn’t even know she’s run away to Pran – her father had died and the family was trying to get her to marry somebody she didn’t like, so she took a chance and headed into the big city to find her first crush.

Shammi is understandably moved by the story – and by the chance at some cash to feed and clothe his billion children. Shammi concocts a scheme where he will a) find out what Pran is looking for in a woman and then b) get Rajshree to do that, followed by c) she will pay him cash money when she gets married to Pran.

The first step in this genius plan takes place at a party at Pran’s house! We see him throwing tickets into the crowd to see who will get to be his companion for the evening.

(Me!!! I DID!)

(Check out Red way in the back there – where did they find these junior artistes?!)

A lady?! Nope! The winner is Shammi in black face, undercover as a “waiter.”

Actually, the real winner is Mumtaz, who really is totally winning in this film. She is Pran’s current fling and totally smitten with him.

So, there we have the basic plot set-up – a Mumtaz/Pran/Rajshree/Shammi love square.

Thrown in the mix, of course, is a really stupid comedy side plot that I found really unfunny and some drama with the kids over whether Shammi could afford to keep all of them or not.

Like so many
masala films, there were narrative points I found kind of confusing – like how and why Shammi switched over his career from photographer to lounge singer about 40 minutes in – but those don’t really matter over all.

The little moments more than make up for any bizarre plot points.

Shammi is so good with the kids. In Hollywood, they have a saying about never working with kids or animals but the kids never, ever overshadow Shammi.

This scene of him singing Baby Farida to sleep was amazing. The
dil was just pouring out of the screen.

And Rajshree held her own against Shammi better than almost any other actress I’ve seen him paired with. Not only did he not dominate the screen, she was able to push back at him.

(Teaching her how to be graceful!)

(Embarrassing him while eating soup for the first time…)

Rajshree made this movie. If a weaker actress had been cast, I think I would have been quite bored. As it was, her scenes with Pran were hilarious.

Rather than being the humble Indian bride, Shammi tells her to be a total bitch! He basically hands her a copy of
The Rules and says, “Do this.”

Of course, it totally works and Pran is smitten instantly by the icy glares, sarcastic remarks, aloof attitude, and refusal to admit that she even thinks he’s a person – let alone is angling for marriage.

I found her character really interesting in a way heroine characters so often aren’t. Here is this woman who ran away from home to find the guy that she liked and is now using all of her resources to make sure it happens. But she’s not evil – she just wants a choice!

And Mumtaz’s character, who in a different film might have been a straight-up vamp, is also surprisingly sympathetic – a woman who fell in love with a rake and is left to bear the consequences.

And Shammi… well, I do like Shammi but he definitely brings less nuance to his characters than other actors do. Brahmachari is a typical Shammi hero – pushy, aggressive, full of energy, and full of heart.

I still don’t understand where his lounge-singing career came from in the film, though. Although I’m not complaining since it gave us this excellent number featuring Cinderella-themed dancers.

If I had one complaint about Shammi, it’s that every single song was picturized on him. This means that there was nothing picturized on Rajshree at all and Mumtaz only got a dance-duet and yet we had to sit through 2-3 songs of Shammi and all the kids. Not cool, yaar.

Not only is the film itself highly entertaining but so are the many, many junior artistes in the film.

Check out the little blond boy Shammi adopted! And the girl with glasses!

Pran’s party featured not only Mumtaz but also this guy on the left who jetted over right from Sandra Dee’s country club ball.

And he brought two hippies with him! How thoughtful!

I was laughing so hard at this part…

…where on earth did they find these guys?!


eliza bennet said...

I don't remember reading that one on your old site. Very entertaining.

As for how they find the junior artists, I think they do in on the street (that's where they have found me) and they take you to dress and make up and completely change you (lots of backpakers were turned into women with glittering gowns and very high heels) and everyone was heavily made up, one backpacker was turned into a businessman. More than a few were French/Interpol police officers. It was amazing.

Yunus Perveez said...

If only Shammi had an an uncle that left him an invisibility bracelet :-)


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.

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