Sunday, July 31, 2011

Saazish... is it 1975 in here or is it just me?

I was in the mood for something light and silly when I requested Saazish from Netflix and the film did not disappoint on that front; it’s a frothy comedic-thriller packed with glamour, gals, and gadgets. Dharmendra and Saira Banu share fabulous chemistry, Helen glams up a storm, and comedic spy-jinx abound! I only had two questions when the film ended - 1) What on Earth just happened? and 2) Why hadn’t I seen this before?

The action kicks off in Hong Kong, where the newly crowned Miss Cosmos (Saira Banu) has been sent to award the trophies for an auto race. One of the drivers catches her eye – a handsome Indian fellow named Jai (Dharmendra.) Miss Cosmos brow beats Jai into falling in love with her and then books them tickets for a world vacation. There’s just one problem… Jai is an TOP SECRET AGENT from some agency, possibly Interpol, it was never made totally clear.

Miss Cosmos and Jai get on the wrong side of some gold smuggling gangsters – led by “Boss” (Dev Kumar), a blue-faced guy I suspected might be a robot at first, and assisted by Mr. Wong (Madun Puri) - and try to escape Hong Kong on a cruise ship. Of course, trouble (aka Mr. Wong) follows them on board and the suspicious entrance of one Mr. Han (also, Dev Kumar) is almost enough to distract Jai from the serious business of fake-romancing the gorgeous dancer Miss Lola (Helen!) and avoiding the annoying P.K. Murray (Rajendra Nath). Almost. I won’t give away the plot but, needless to say, the plot really isn’t the main focus of a film like
Saazish, anyways.

Despite being released in 1975,
Saazish has a very 60s feel to it. This is clearly a film that lives in a reality that hasn’t experienced The Angry Young Man yet. Everything is unapologetically glossy and glib. Part of that is probably the distinctive directorial hand of Kalidas, whom you might remember as the director of such films as Kishore Kumar’s charming Half Ticket (1962). Kalidas may not particularly care about emotion or coherent narrative but the man knows how to put together a comedic scene. For example, during a tense bout of dishoom-dishoom a pack of goondas have Dharmendra backed into a corner. He reaches into his pocket… “Drop it!” they say, assuming that he’s going for a gun. Dharam slowly draws out his hand to reveal… a yo-yo. And then he dishooms them all in the face with it.

Although it might have seemed outdated at the time, the
Saazish brand of glossy and glib has aged fairly well and there is much to enjoy about it. Saira Banu as Miss Cosmos is just delicious. She is delightfully ditzy and looking wonderful. She simpers and overreacts and cracks horrible puns. (The face that Saira makes after Miss Cosmos delivers a bon mot is priceless. It takes smarts to look that dumb!) And I especially love that Miss Cosmos doesn’t let Jai do all the dirty work; who knew beauty queens knew how to shoot rifles! Now, Dharam is at the height of his “Garam” Dharam days and Kalidas takes full advantage. Not only does Dharam swan about like the boss he is, it’s equal opportunity ogling time in Saazish and for every shot of Saira Banu’s shapely gams, there are two of Dharam’s! The final thirty minutes is devoted to Dharam kicking some goonda butt while dressed in nothing but a skimpy shirt and his chuddis! [Look, FG, there was just no time to put on trousers! OKAY?! – Garam Dharam]

I can’t forget to mention Helen, who is saddled with a particularly odious subplot in the form of the always annoying Rajendra Nath. The overgrown kid is looking to be Miss Lola’s sixth husband – she is rumored to have killed the previous five – but Miss Lola is more interested in Jai. For obvious reasons. (See above paragraph on Dharam’s
chuddi-clad fighting skills.) Miss Lola doesn’t get a solo dance but she does share a fun number with Miss Cosmos.

Other things of note include gratuitous point-of-view shots, like when we see Dharam’s fist punching
the camera. They aren’t technically well done but I think the enthusiasm and creativity of some of the shots makes up for it. Kalidas also knows how to draw out the tension of a scene, even if the events preceding and following it make no sense. I also enjoyed the number of junior artistes populating the film. Interesting faces always perk up a scene and there were no shortage in Saazish, from “foreign” journalists at a press conference to mean looking goondas to random East Asian folks just watching the show.

Lastly, the music from Shankar-Jaikishan is really enjoyable. Not only is there a groovy background score but the songs are all wonderful. This was during their jazz-funk period and it certainly shows. “Woh Bade Khush” is a
filmi duet with a touch of jazzy synthesizers. “Hum To Lenge” has Mahendra Kapoor crooning a cool Henry Mancini-style lounge song. And “How Sweet Dadaji” is a pulsing Afro-funk duet between Asha Bhosle and Ranu Mukherjee.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like anybody has uploaded either vinyl rips or cleaned up mp3s, so you may have to make do with youtube for the moment.

Saazish may not have any messages of social importance or cathartic emotional release but it does have a Saira Banu-Helen duet and thirty minutes of Dharmendra fighting bad guys in his chuddis and there will always be a place in my heart for a film like that, for a film like Saazish.


Produced and directed by KALIDAS!

Meet, Miss Cosmos! She has just been crowned the supreme beauty queen of our entire realm of existence.

Handing out trophies…

…what did she spot in her binoculars?!


These two had great chemistry! What a couple of lookers!

As they try to sneak off on the boat, who is this?

Miss Lola, how do you do?

Captain David!

Madan Puri as Mr. Wong…

It took me forever to realize that Boss was not, in fact, a robot.

A fantastic point-of-view shot through a bouquet of roses…

…and Dharam punching the camera.

Helen’s glam gams make an appearance.

If Garam Dharam doesn’t wear his
chuddis in the shower, who knows what might happen!?

Oh, hello, Miss Cosmos! I’m glad you like it here! Will you take a question from the audience?

“What about the color bar? Like that, too?”

“Um… Well... all bars are hateful.”

“…Except, of course... a coffee bar!”

And Miss Cosmos hits a six! I love the embarrassed shrug the journalist does… like you can trip up the supreme leader of our galaxy.

She knows she’s good!

I loved this little scene… Miss Cosmos rushes into an empty Interpol headquarters and the phone starts ringing…

What should she do?!

The camera pulls back and we see Iftekar appear out of nowhere!

And check out these sweet wiretapping capability enabled eyeglasses.

Is that a yo-yo in your pocket or are you just happy to see me, Dharam?

Oh… Helen… *swoon*

We both wanted to smack Rajendra Nath!

Everybody wanted to smack Rajendra Nath!

“How Sweet Dadaji” was as delicious as that cake Saira Banu busts out of!

[And confidential to Sita-ji: I believe there is some in that bar back there.]

[And confidential to Shweta:
Chandelier ahoy!]

For the grand finale…!

"Chal, Miss Cosmos, this is no time to worry about trousers!"

"Okay, fellows, let’s prepare to take out those goodas! Oh, not for me, thanks. Can’t you see I’ve got a gun already?! Trousers? There's NO TIME!"



maxqnz said...

"There’s just one problem… Jai is an TOP SECRET AGENT from some agency, possibly Interpol, it was never made totally clear."

I stopped reading right there - no further need to read anymore, now that this is film is on my "must find" list :)

Ness said...


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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