Raffoo Chakkar, 1975

Directed by: Narender Bedi
I just had to start with that little sequence, mainly because the little Don Quixote figurine took me so completely off guard that I had to pause the film and chortle for a good five minutes before I could compose myself. It’s always the absurdly stupid things that get me…
Rafoo Chakkar is the most fabulously preposterous movie I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s so tempting not to stop writing this post and just start re-watching it, but I’ve kept ya’ll waiting far to long already.
Have you ever wanted to hug a film? The entire film, not just the DVD? That’s how I feel about this one. Oh, it’s magical.
Ranjit (Anwar Hussian) and Prakash (Madan Puri)–who you will never keep straight because they are all but identical and dressed so similarly through the whole film that you just have to go with it–are criminals that are arrested after they burn a man alive in efforts to avoid a police raid.
Ah! Stop dressing alike! 
Ranjit leaves behind his wife Shanti (Sulochana) and his young son, Dev (Rishi Kapoor).  The mother and son move in with a friend who also has a young son, Salim (Paintal).  Years pass (as evidenced by a sequence of days being torn off a calendar in rapid speed) and Salim and Dev have become band members who play for weddings and other functions.

We stumble upon our two darlings as they play for Prakash’s arranged marriage to Ritu (Neetu Singh). Ritu runs away from the wedding because she was being sold for money (essentially) by her aunt who had raised her. She with her friend speeds away to join an all-girl band.  After the wedding guests are shooed away from the failed matrimonial celebrations, Dev and Salim ask Prakash to pay them for playing at the wedding. Prakash denies their request and the two return home to their mothers who can no longer afford to feed them.  The next day they are taking a shortcut through a graveyard when they come across a funeral akin to the ones you see in The Godfather II (i.e. tortured band playing, sobbing Italian relatives, the overall sense that the mob has something to do with this, the feeling that there is about to be a really bad trick pulled on someone…etc). Dev and Salim witness Prakash and Ranjit murdering a man. The two musicians, laden down with massive drums, flee and return home only to see that henchmen are waiting for them.
I’m amazed still that those very unique instrument cases never gave them away…
They try their luck at getting into the same all girl band, but are rejected because they are male. The two only get in when two girls are forced home by their fathers leaving behind their luggage full of wigs and women’s apparel made just to fit like a glove on the men. “Devi” and “Salma” join the band on the train. On the train they befriend Ritu and both become quite attached to her, though Dev wins the upper hand by thwarting Salim in his advances of Ritu.
Ritu confides in Devi that she wants only to marry a rich man, (wasn’t she about to 40 minutes ago?), but wait, he has to be young. (Oh honey, marriages of convenience don’t work that way) Oh, and you want to be in love with him? (Darling girl, just take the rich old bogey and swim in diamonds. Who needs pyaar with a pool of diamonds and a bed made with silk sheets milled daily by your own farm of silk worms?)
Spin those pearls Rishi!

Of course Dev is crushed because he is a poor boy, and dressed as a woman he cannot expresses the love in his heart that he has for Ritu.
After they arrive at the hotel Dev devises a plan to woo Ritu by dressing as a very… colorfully plaid*… millionaire and masquerading under the name Esso, claiming to own the oil company under the same nomenclature.  He makes himself at home on the houseboat of the real millionaire who, is determined to make Salma love him.
He got her attention by hitting a golf ball at her butt.
Our boy Rishi is all class.

During their romantic interludes Esso (a.k.a. Dev or Devi) tells Ritu that he wants a girl to show him how to love. Acting very forward Ritu canoodles up to him and asks him to hold her. Before he can say “Okay” she runs away singing and Esso is left looking very confused and thinking “Girls are the most bizarre things on the planet” because it’s true, we are.  They sing and dance with joyful abandon, peaking around trees and indulging in sweet merriment.
I probably rewound this seven times. 

Meanwhile, Salma is getting engaged to the flashily dressed, REAL millionaire who also looks so much like the two Bad Guy Twins (BGT) that you think it’s one of them… maybe?… until they are all three on screen and your foolishness is exposed.
Back at the beginning of the plot, the two henchmen standing outside of Dev and Salim’s house are informed of their whereabouts via their mothers. Naturally, the Maas are kidnapped and held hostage while every villain in the entire world  swoops in to the same hotel as the traveling all-girl band.
While running from the thugs, Dev and Salim get trapped under the table at a Dinner and a Show/Evil Meeting of Henchmen where they hear the dastardly plans of all the villains. Somewhere in this scene the head honcho (whom for ease’s sake I will be calling Vito) makes a cat appear out of thin air. Ohhh, it gave me the creeps! Vito is very, very upset that the BGT have yet to catch and kill the two boys who witnessed the murder at the graveyard. Of course, it’s ironic because Dev and Salim are sitting at their feet! Oy!
All the villains watch a show wherein there is a lot of glitter and mirrors and my brain stopped working because of the brilliance of it.
I’m remodeling my bathroom.
Right. This. Second.

I’m forgetting the details now, because this film might have been to fantabulous to pay attention to (or more likely, I’ve only watched it once not thrice) but be content in knowing that they all end up at the villain’s… er… Technicolored Ski Lodge in the Jungle (TSLITJ) to rescue the Maas, Dev tells Ritu he is a man, and a poor man, she (of course) still loves him. There are also some floating cat heads and a cat-shaped bomb. (WHAT IS IT WITH THE CATS!?!?!)
It’s more New Orleans than Ski Lodge, now that I look at it…
Ok, technically this is shot from the underside of a glass table,
but still… it has a syringe in its neck! 
And its eyes are glowing!
Cat bomb! Cat bomb! I’m a cat bomb!

In the TSLITJ Ranjit recognizes Shanti and is introduced to his son. He begs Dev for forgiveness (even though up until 20 seconds previous he wanted to kill him) and asks for a hug in return for giving up his crooked way of life. Everyone in the scene apart from the happy, reuniting family, has the decency to look as if it is the most awkward moment in their lives, because it is. Nothing is going to top that.
Like a good boy, Dev hugs his daddy. That one little display of filial love sets off the most involved fight scene ever. All the villains, Vito, the Maas, Ritu, and all the henchmen get involved. There has to be 50 people flying about on chandeliers, doing back flips and hitting each other with large, ornate Styrofoam “statues”. There is even fencing! Rishi looks Oh-So-Fine fencing.
He’s the pinch-his-cheeks type.

Approximately 13.72 minutes later the director decided there needed to be an end to the fighting and a lot of loose end wrapping up to do, so he cut to a frame with Ritu and Dev hugging beautifully, and Salim being chased by his colorful, millionaire, wannabe boyfriend. And it ends. Just like that.
I don’ think I can describe how incredible I think this movie is. It is already written down on the very top of my “Buy of Die” list…
Everyone in the film gives an amazing performance, especially Neetu, who was SEVENTEEN during this movie! You could have fooled me! (Also, there were a lot of moments where she was spitting image of Rani Mukherji! Love!!)
The music, the sets, costumes, everything is just magnificent. I’ve never called a movie a “romp” before but if I were to do so, this would be the film the deserves it.
Also, they break through the “4th Wall” a lot and stare right at the camera. I don’t know why I’m so fond of that particular technique, but I just love it. It really brings the audience in on the jokes.
I’ve never seen Some Like it Hot, the film this mimics, but L has, and I plan to share this with her ASAP!
And, because I took 354 screen caps (yes, I counted) I leave you with some fun extras!
Oh nothing, my pal here is just trying to perfect her sad 
“seductively bitting the finger” technique.
There is a new dimension and meaning to my life that I didn’t know existed 
before I saw Rishi in garters and feathers.
Everything I hate about engagement photos 
totally makes my heart melt in Bollywood.
Love the hat-wear. 
This is only made more amazing by the frame that came 2 seconds later…

* I’ve mentioned plaid a lot this week. I hated plaid, HAAATED plaid until I discovered 70s masala. Now I wear it every day!

A Reluctant Convert, but a Whole Hearted One Nonetheless

It’s 70s Week!

Since my Netflix hasn’t arrived yet, and there are NO 70s flicks on Watch Instantly (the horror!) I thought I would try to communicate my conversion to the greatness that is Masala!

However, I could only get so far in changing the lyrics to “I Will Survive” before I gave up, and rightfully so. Why mess with a Karaoke classic?

There have been few 70s films in my life up until recently. I lament all the time I spent avoiding them because I was scared of them. (No lie.) My fear was becoming like what every other Bolly watcher was: Obsessed with a youthful (not growling and fatherly!) Amitabh; amorous for some mop-haired, open buttoned, crooked smiling pretty boy (guess who); constantly praising Neetu whose awkward mutton chopped …things… hanging down by her face made her look insane; happy with WTF-ery; and adamant that the 70s were “The Golden Age” of Bollywood, not the 90s; and all together fine with the fact that Shah Rukh was nowhere to be found on any frame!

I thought to myself: “They are crazy!”

Turns out, either I was the crazy one, or they’re really persuasive, those Masala-loving types.

The first time I sured up my guts and asked Beth for a… what did I call it… “Vintage Amitabh”(?) she directed me towards Parvarish. It was sent to my house and for the next four hours (or so) I sat on my couch in that terrible half-awake-but-not-really mode. I succumbed to my desires and napped through most of it. I tried to re-watch it, I promise I tried, but it just didn’t work for me. I sent it back knowing that I was right and that 90s KJo flicks were where it was at.

Then came Don: The Chase Begins. Ah, great memories, one day when I went to post “Khaike Paan Banaras Wala” on a friends Facebook, I got an Amitabh clip instead.

WHAT!? It was a remake?

Finally my interest was piqued, I got Old Don and watched it with zeal! “This could be it!” I thought, excited that I might finally be in the 70s-Lovers-Club!

Alas, I was not. It would take something more profound. More heart stopping. More…well, I think you know what is coming…

More…lovely and amazing and beautiful and darling and dil melting and smoldering and wonderful and perfect and all around Shashi-tastic.

The film, was Kabhi Kabhie.

I was warned by more informed folks than I to watch out for the “Wedding Night” scene. Thinking it would surely come at the end of the movie I was unprepared when within the first TEN minutes I was subjected (gladly) to Shashi Kapoor and all of his magnificent wonders.

You know that feeling where you are watching something so incredible, and all your muscles are incredibly tensed up and all you can do is focus on what your eyes are looking at? I was so there. I couldn’t move. Hell, I couldn’t breathe, and he wasn’t even the one singing! He was just love-doving around looking ever so fine. I couldn’t help it. In the Tweet that made me famous, my love for 70s films was secured. I was on board, and ready to go.

Thank goodness too! There is a great treasure trove to be found under the banner of Masala! And I’m going to confess it, here and now:

I, Erin B.G.W., do believe that the “Golden Age” of Bollywood happened during the 1970s, and not, as I previously thought, the 1990s.

The End.