June 24, 2006

Shree 420

Shree 420
(Raj Kapoor, 1955) ***1/4

This is a bit more like typical Bollywood in its bagginess. The first hour is almost unnecessary. (It includes that dispiriting sign of comic desparation, fast motion.) Eventually Raj, after flailing around in poverty at a Bombay laundry, discovers his true talent, cheating at cards. I was reminded of three other films.

1. The Middleman (Satyajit Ray, 1976) Sad to say, 20 years later, India still hadn't solved the problem of what to do with its college graduates, the main career choice in both films being either destitution or selling your soul.

2 and 3. Sunrise (F. W. Murnau, 1927) and One Wonderful Sunday (Akira Kurosawa, 1947) Lovers in the city with dilapidated Bombay, reminiscent of postwar Tokyo in the latter film.

And now for the pictures.


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