Remind us never to be sober while watching a Bollywood film.
One needs to be sufficiently fortified with Bacchus to be able to endure the ordeal of a Hindi film.
Old or new movie, it matters little.
The other day we watched Dharmatma (1975), the first of several instances of Bollywood purloining the Godfather for the benefit of the Indian schmucks.
And the Verdict
What can we say?
Hideously awful would be an understatement to describe this Bollywood perversion.
Surely, it must be an act of divine providence that we survived this intensely painful ordeal.
The principal sadist behind Dharmatma was the late Feroz Khan (of Qurbani fame), who besides aborting this malformed, ill-begotten fetus, as producer and director, also starred in it.
Filmed mainly in Afghanistan when the benighted land still had some semblance of a government, Dharmatma has yesteryear star Prem Nath donning the role of the crime lord, Feroz Khan as his honorable, and natürlich, estranged son and Hema Malini as the colorfully-costumed Afghan gypsy girl.
Imtiaz Khan, Jeevan, Ranjeet, Sudhir, Rekha, Madan Puri and Farida Jalal round out the rest of the cast.
Both Hema Malini and Rekha play Feroz’s love interests in this asinine copy of the Godfather.
Almost everything about the movie screams amateur – the Indianized story, the acting, costumes, the dances, stunts et al.
Horrible Feroz, Awful Rekha
With a puffed-up face, Feroz Khan (who was just 36-years old then) looked, to put it charitably, weird.
In close-up shots, the man looked like a human-in-the-making.
No kidding. Hell, the bloke was not old when the film was made, just 36.
To be fair, Feroz’ acting was not all that bad.
As for Rekha, the woman looks hideous, worse than she normally does.
Gosh, the plump woman gave us the heebie jeebies, particularly in that yellow costume in the Tumne Kisi Se Kabhi Pyar Kiya Hai song.
Prem Nath was almost decent as the Dharmatma but then he had a small role to make too much of an impact.
Coming to the villains played by Imtiaz Khan, Jeevan, Ranjeet, Sudhir and Satyendra Kapoor, it’s hard to figure who inflicted the most damage on our souls.
Each of them looked and acted more like a clown than a villain.
To watch the original Godfather (Marlon Brando, Al Pacino) and then to see Dharmatma is nothing short of committing harakiri.
In a movie full of lows, the nadir was the cabaret dance featuring Helen and the snake. Sick.
Two Saving Graces – Hema and Music
But for the sight of the well-endowed Hema Malini in gypsy attire, we’d have given up the ghost by now and all ye schmucks would have been beating your chests and bewailing your orphan-hood. 😉
Also, thank heavens for fine songs like Kya Khoob Lagti Ho, Tere Chehre Mein Woh Jaadu and to a lesser extent Tumne Kisi Se Kabhi Pyar Kiya Hai without which we’d have had no straws to hold on to.
The locales of Afghanistan filmed here (said to be the Band-e Amir region) look pleasing to the eye.
Remember, those were the pre-landmines, pre-Taliban, pre-9/11 days, an almost halcyon era in comparison to the violence ravaging the country these days.
It’s mighty depressing to learn that Dharmatma with all its flaws was a big hit at the box office in its day.
We guess that’s a reflection of, first, the film’s progenitors, and second an audience that laps up such shit.