Shaan - More fun than a barrel of monkeys

If you look at my roster of movies watched, there's not a lot on there that pre-dates the early 90's, but I've been desperately wanting to watch something, ANYTHING, with Shashi Kapoor, so when Filmigirl recommended Shaan, I ordered it immediately. There is very little about this film that isn't totally absurd. With a bond-like opening complete with a gyrating woman flashing scenes from the movie on her spandex clothed body, I knew I was in for a treat! We get beautiful and smart women, fantastic heroes, the evil villain and his henchmen, man eating crocs, plenty of dishoom dishoom, a diamond heist, carnival sharp shooters, man eating beagle pups, a Helen dance number and a monkey! My goodness, could it get any better?

The force is strong with these two

Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor are Vijay and Ravi, two conmen whose ambitious but good-natured antics are a constant frustration to their policeman brother Shiv (Sunil Dutt). When criminal mastermind Shakal launches a vendetta against their brother, Vijay and Ravi gather a colorful band of thieves to attack Shakal’s underground fortress. I started laughing the moment we see Vijay walk into the motel for the couple's first con and nearly died from laughter during Aaje Jaate Huye. This is the glory that is Bollywood filmmaking!

While I originally wanted to watch this for Shashi, the movie is really owned by a very dashing Amitabh Bachchan. Though the film, no doubt, tried to cash in on the partnership of the two, it is the Big B that owns this film. He gets the funniest bits, the meatiest romance (though romance in general isn't fully explored in this film), and the best parts in the climax. This is my very first pre-facial hair Amitabh movie and I can completely understand how he became such an icon. Cool drink of water that he is, Amitabh certainly had what it took to get the ladies' attention. Bahut handsome!

Amitabh does his very best Manoj Kumar impersonation

Dear Shashi, you are the only actor who's been able to make an impression on me before I even saw you act. It's too bad that this movie only gives you glimpses of what makes Shashi Kapoor so special. Though he still gets to flash that sigh worthy smile, it's almost like he just there to pretty up the quota. There were a few times, when the story focused on Ami (and it does that a lot), that you almost forgot Shashi is in the movie. I wish that the roles had been more equal.

"Come darling, we have LOTS of time to focus on us, since I'm only in 3/4 of the movie"

I have to admit that, though I haven't seen very much pre-Brosnan bond, even I know that Sippy's Shakaal is based on the infamous Bond villian, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Because of this, however, all I could see was Dr. Evil in every frame. The lair, which was way more understated that I would have liked (with the exception of the giant gold eagle), even came equipped with rotating table and chairs that fling treasonous subordinates to their doom (much like I remember happening to Will Farrel). Kulbhushan Kharbanda plays Shakaal just right though with the right amount of criminal insanity that allows you to find loopholes in every plan he hatches. My favorite: the deadly gas that is released in the same room that he's in (sans gas mask), it lingers low to the ground at all times and is really only deadly if you suck on the canister it's escaping from. Genius!

"Yes, those are sharks behind me. Later you'll see rays and piranha too. Even I don't understand where my lair is"

A quick note about the supporting players. I've read that, at the height of his popularity, Amitabh didn't like to share the limelight so much in his films, and that's probably why the rest of the cast's roles were so limited. Sunil Dutt, gets a nice piece of the action for the first half of the movie and we get to see Shatrughan Sinha (Rakesh) flex his trigger finger throughout the majority of the film. No movie would be complete without a female counterpart, so we see the boy's love interests and kindred spirits in Parveen Babi (Sunita) and Bindiya Goswami (Renu) though Parveen totally overshadows Bindiya in almost every frame they're in together. Nevertheless, it's too bad that we don't get more of these sticky fingered ladies in all of their conning glory. Raakhee Gulzar gets the largest female role as Shiv's wife. It's too bad her character is so completely helpless and stupid (watch the scene where Rakesh is suppose to be protecting her and her daughter and see if you don't agree with me).

"We are so lucky to have such handsome smart men pursuing us, though they've just lost their brother"

"We don't have time to mourn, we are too busy showing off for you!"

Under no circumstances should this movie be taken seriously, but I sincerely doubt it was meant to be. I'm sure I read that the film was a flop in India. Whether Shippy was trying to manipulate the duo that made Sholay into such a hit or was just having fun doesn't really matter to me. Most of the time this movie exploded onto the TV screen in a series of unbelievable scenes, energetic songs, and classic dialogues.

I love this song. It's totally out of place in the film, totally hilarious in picturization yet completely darling. Mohd. Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle and Usha Mangeshkar do a wonderful job.

An absolutely fantastic gypsy style number sung by R.D.Burman and Mohammed Rafi and featuring the Helen, the one I've heard of and seen in so many blogposts. This is my first Helen song and I agree with all - she is one beautiful woman and a pleasure to watch dance!

For sure one thing is true: it has wet my appetite for more campy masala goodness. Can't wait for more!

5 Response to "Shaan - More fun than a barrel of monkeys"

  1. bollyviewer says:
    March 3, 2010 at 10:27 PM

    So you finally made it to Masala-land! YAY!!!!!

    Would you believe that this is one film I just never got round to watching all the way through?! The couple of times I tried, I kind of got tired out by how long Sunil Dutt took to die... :-) So I never did make it to the sharks or even Yamma yamma. This is the kind of film that calls for company and a good drinking game - the day I have both, I will soooo watch it.

  2. Beth says:
    March 4, 2010 at 6:37 AM

    I for one cannot believe bollyviewer hasn't seen it! Drinking games are in order! Shell, I'm so glad you saw it and liked it - it was one of my gateway drugs too :)

  3. Erin Georgia says:
    March 4, 2010 at 1:35 PM

    Ohhhh, this is just marvelous! Welcome to the Realm of the Masala! It's a wonderfully bizarre place, to be sure, but not for lack of heart! :D

    I haven't seen this one yet, being a new convert to Masala myself, but if not for anything but the sharks and the song on the wheely-cart (I remember those in elementary school gym. My life has come full circle now), I think I'll bump it up a bit in my Netflix queue. ;)

  4. Jules says:
    March 4, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    I thought this was great and I got quite a kick out of some stuff, for sure. I defintey saw the similaritis between this film and something James Bondish or Autsin Power-ish, but considering this was an 80's film, more Bond-ish I guess. I loved meeting Mr. Kapoor and I adored seeing my AmiBachy younger!

  5. shell says:
    March 5, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    bollyviewer - I know. I can't believe it took me this long! Now I have no idea what to watch next.

    It took FOREVER for Sunit to bite it, but I thought it was so ridiculous I couldn't not watch it all the way. It gave me a whole new appreciation for Ami too.

    Beth - and you can send me some more Shashi recommendations right away! Gateway drug indeed.

    Erin - wonderful and bizarre through and through.

    I'd like to take a ride on a wheely trolly, wouldn't that be fun!

    Jules - So, are you up to watching more with me then? There's SO MUCH TO DISCOVER!