Saturday, August 11, 2012
Raj Kapoor (India, 1973)
New 35mm Print!
Raj Kapoor hit the seventies swinging with this candy-colored tribute to the bell-bottomed, rebellious new generation of Indian youth, which became one of India’s biggest hits and launched not only the careers of his baby-faced son, Rishi, and the lovely Dimple Kapadia, but also an entirely new genre of teen-focused films. Life’s a drag for tender-hearted Rishi until he meets the sassy Dimple; unfortunately, his father is an all-business Hindu tycoon (Pran, one of Indian film’s eternal villains), while hers is a simple, drink-guzzling Christian fisherman. Only free in one another’s arms, our two young lovers sing, dance, and cutely pout their way across a Technicolor India of swingers’ bars, flower-filled parks, mountain resorts, and insanely decorated palatial estates, until they are finally caught in their parents’—and society’s—inescapable trap. A left-field commercial hit that openly pandered to the teenage generation (“Your society thinks our lives belong to you!”), the glossy, cheerfully escapist Bobby redefined commercial Indian cinema, and ushered a new Kapoor into stardom. “It’s a fairy tale . . . a dream,” complained a Times of India writer quoted in the film’s New York Times 1973 review; now, however, it stands as a prime entry point into contemporary “Bollywood” filmmaking.
• Written by K. A. Abbas and V. P. Sathe. Photographed by Radhu Karmakar. With Rishi Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia, Pran, Premnath. (168 mins, In Hindi with English titles, Color, 35mm)