Trip to Moon (1967)


trip-to-moon_1967
Chand Par Chadayee
or Trip to Moon is a 1967 space opera featuring Dara Singh and Anwar Hussain along with a bevy of lovelies (Ratna, Padma Khanna, Helen, Kanchanamala to name a few). Director T.P Sundaram didn’t let lack of technology or the laws of science stop him. On those rare occasions when Dara Singh takes a break from wrestling, there are loads of fab songs by Usha Khanna.
It’s a long but engaging interplanetary caper complete with super special effects. Well done to Neo Filmo Crafts (credited with the set properties) and the design team! And yes, there will be lots of screencaps.

I saw this on an unsubtitled VCD so I have made up a lot of the story but I do not feel a void where the details were missed. I wish there had been a void where the ‘Friends’ logo obscured much of the picture.

Trip to Moon_eminent scientistTrip to Moon_Padma

Eminent scientist fellow (S Nazir I think) leaves the top secret research tent to follow a bright light – clearly a torch in someone’s hand as they run behind the papier mache rocks. He is taken aback when a vampy lady appears and sings a typical filmi nightclub song, and also surprised when she transforms into Padma Khanna as a moon girl with a ray gun. There is a nice touch of Marvin the Martian at Christmas about her outfit. He is abducted in a cardboard spaceship and never seen again.
In response, the government calls on their best agent – Captain Anand (Dara Singh). You know he is the best man for the job because he wanders around the office wearing this:

Trip to Moon_Anand at the office
After thoughtfully going home to tell his Ma he is off to space on a mission, he and unfortunate comic sidekick Bhagu (Master Bhagwan) arrive at their own cardboard spaceship only to find moon men trying to sabotage it – by pushing it over. The fight begins like this:

Trip to Moon_at the rocket site
And ends like this:

Trip to Moon_after the fight
And that establishes an enduring costuming theme.
Anand and Bhagu are taken to the Moon (where they were going anyway) as prisoners.

Trip to Moon_its a trapTrip to Moon_Barahatu and the balcony of destruction

They pass by another planetary base (maybe Mars) where Barahatu (Anwar Hussain) fires missiles from his balcony. Fancy flying – hard when you’re piloting something as aerodynamic as a cupcake- sees the ship safely to the moon where Anand meets Shimoga (Ratna).

Trip to Moon_Ratna and balloon treesTrip to Moon_matching outfits 1

The moon has balloon trees! After a bit of slow motion moonwalk (the Neil Armstrong kind), the locals put special anti-comedy soles on the Earthmen’s boots and they can walk normally.
Anand and Bhagu are jailed and forced to wear matching romper suits.

Trip to Moon_Shimoga visits the prisonersTrip to Moon_Space gorilla

Shimoga visits Anand in jail but he refuses to cooperate. After a tribunal hearing of some sort, Anand is sentenced to trial by Space Gorilla Wrestling, followed by being dragged by (space) horses. Of course Anand wins, and Princess Shimoga is delighted.
It turns out Barahatu wants to marry Shimoga and is at war with the Moon people. Space becomes just a backdrop for a standard two guys fighting over a girl story. There is also a fair amount of moon lady interest in Captain Anand and they are not shy about showing their mettle.

Trip to Moon_Dance offTrip to Moon_dance off 2

Dance offs including that thing where they make a portrait with their feet!

Trip to Moon_Duel

DUELS!

There is double crossing, slapstick, jetpacks, kidnapping, guys in animal suits, more kidnapping, robots and fights galore. People casually hop in and out of rockets and nip across space with no more effort than catching a taxi. It all plays out as you would expect although not always exactly as logic might dictate.

Trip to Moon_matching outfits 2Trip to Moon_Dara and Padma
Among many highlights, Dara wears some fetching outfits. He has many many many wrestling scenes.

Trip to Moon_space rhinoTrip to Moon_robot
Some are more surprising than others.

Trip to Moon_Barahatu and Shimoga
Barahatu is not totally evil. He seems to want Shimoga to like him, or at least accept marriage (I think). Unfortunately he takes advice from Master Bhagwan( in a duplicate role as Barahatu’s comedy sidekick) so success is not likely. He gets Helen in to do the twist, in a mistaken belief that what gets him in the mood will work on her.

Trip to Moon_photo1Trip to Moon_photo2
And I enjoyed this photoshop effort when Barahatu was having a tantrum over Anand and Shimoga getting cosy.

Trip to Moon_Shimoga and AnandTrip to Moon_space dance

The lovely Shimoga (Ratna) also has lots of fetching outfits and makes the most of the fab Usha Khanna soundtrack. Shimoga is a determined young lady so she doesn’t just sit around waiting to be rescued. She goes after Anand and I think points out that if he marries her he can ensure peace between worlds, but whatever.

Trip to Moon_SimiTrip to Moon_bad girl
Padma Khanna is lots of fun as Simi, the scheming sidekick to Barahatu. She seems keen on Anand and wants to help Barahatu get Shimoga so she can swoop on the lone earth man. I may have made that up but she did seem to take extra care when drugging him unconscious. She kidnapped Anand’s mother and sister so that may have hurt her prospects. But really – her ‘disguise’ screamed bad girl so Ma should have been suspicious.

Trip to Moon_Palki and her menagerie

She shares a lot of scenes with Palki (Kanchanamala). Poor Palki ends up married to Bhagu and is instrumental in saving the world. It’s tough being a female sidekick in space, even if you do get to keep a zoo in your bathroom (or at least a lion and a leopard). She and Simi have a knock down drag out scrag fight in a pivotal scene. They really tried to get wrestling in as much as possible.

Trip to Moon_Master BhagwanTrip to Moon_Bhagu
Bhagu gets silly hats and a comedy song with excellent outfits. Master Bhagwan is fairly amusing but the slapstick was repetitive and the film is already a bit too long. But I liked that he and Anand depended on each other and he helped more than he hindered.
The Moon King gets some great outfits too.

Trip to Moon_KingTrip to Moon_King in his club clothes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The set design is charming in that almost everything looks like it was designed to be in another film –a nightclub, a grand house, a castle dungeon, an office chair – but they tried very hard to ‘space’ it up. I really loved Anand’s secret space hideout.

Trip to Moon_Moon rocket baseTrip to Moon_control roomTrip to Moon_the ships controlsTrip to Moon_technology 2Trip to Moon_technologyTrip to Moon_secret hideout

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trip to Moon is highly entertaining even if the fights are repetitive. T.P Sundaram gave Dara Singh a range of wrestling scenarios and wasn’t stingy with the song and dance either. If you enjoy films with likeable characters, good music, a dedicated hat department and lots of miniature spaceships and buildings, this is for you! 3 stars!

Trip to Moon_happy ending

Jab We Met

I remember Jab We Met as much for the circumstances of seeing it as for the film itself. Heather & I rolled up at Hoyts only to find the session was showing in the Halfpipe, where there are no seats as such, just numbered beanbags for two to share. So it’s just as well we were friends as I imagine it would be a bit odd to have to snuggle into a giant beanbag with a stranger. Especially if Heather that stranger kept muttering ‘beanbags are for cats not for people’.

Imtiaz Ali has taken a run of the mill romantic road story and made it fresh and charming with some considered writing and character development.  He worked wonders with his stars, drawing out excellent performances.  This is the only film in which I wholeheartedly like Kareena Kapoor (and her character), and it’s the one that made me first register Shahid Kapoor as a good actor not just as a great dancer and delightful eye candy. I wish they had spent a bit more on the visual effects, but I suppose they had to decide on CGI or eyeliner for Kareena.

Aditya Kashyap (Shahid) is grieving for his dead father, jilted by his love and suffering from the stress of his high powered job and a legal challenge by his estranged mother. All this unfolds in the first few minutes in a near silent performance by Shahid. Aditya has a breakdown of sorts once he is done with his routine and obligations, and wanders heedlessly through Mumbai. He ends up on a train, oblivious to its destination as his may be more final.

Geet (Kareena Kapoor) is a bubbly Punjabi girl, full of herself and a bit of an over-sharer. Fate puts her on the same train and she soon sees all is not right with Aditya. Her attempts to draw him out are clumsy and silly, but mostly motivated by kindness, and eventually he responds.

The direction to Kareena may have been ‘do as you will’ – she is spontaneous and crackling with energy.

Mishaps and misunderstandings send the odd couple on a road trip as Aditya escorts Geet back to her family in Bhatinda. Happy to be home, she is concerned that Aditya may lapse back into his depression and insists he stays for a time. Geet is determined to live according to her heart and can’t understand how someone as attractive and wealthy as Aditya can let life beat him down. Aditya sees her joie de vivre as foolish and selfish but he comes to admire her essentially happy nature.  I really liked the quick glimpses of the deeper compassionate side of Geet which lay under the bubbly ‘look at me’ extrovert. The trip home also allowed for an explosion of colour and movement in Nagada Nagada:

Geet plans to elope to meet her true love, Anshuman (Tarun Arora).  She is aware this will hurt her family, and Aditya doesn’t pretend he agrees with her. His view of marriage and family is tinted by the damage he saw his parents inflict on each other, and he envies Geet her happy home as well as her faith in love. Through Geet he comes to accept that his mother didn’t leave from malice, but rather to pursue the happiness she needed. They explore each other’s beliefs about the nature of love and what makes a good life, growing closer through these conversations.

It was fun seeing Dara Singh as the patriarch, ruling the family with a strict but loving hand and scaring the bejesus out of Aditya, and I enjoyed the raucous family gatherings.

For a number of reasons, including more family misunderstandings and a squad of enraged uncles, Aditya takes Geet to Manali and drops her at Anshuman’s. Their goodbye is beautifully captured as Aditya, just by saying her name, declares his love and she silently realises and refuses. This is undercut by Kareena’s demented Snow White outfit but still, it’s a lovely moment.

Geet’s confidence and resilience stems from knowing she has a family and home to return to no matter what. When she cuts herself off from that support she doesn’t blame anyone, but she does lose the spark and certainty that might have helped her move on when things go awry. Kareena gives a painfully real portrayal of being ground down by disappointment.  It is the loss of faith in her own decision making that leads Geet into further complications before the final denouement. It isn’t until Geet goes home again and gets her mojo back that she is able to see what she wants and more importantly, take action.

Aditya on the other hand has gained confidence – losing Geet taught him that he could survive and keep going. He stops being the passive observer, mends fences with his mother, and deals with his unrequited love for Geet. His employees (especially the girl to the left of picture) might have preferred a bit less of the office singalong but there was no going back!

When they meet again it doesn’t take long before the unguarded communication they had shared resumes. Aditya doesn’t try to hide his feelings and Geet doesn’t pretend not to know, and their occasional awkward moments are endearing. It is refreshing to see this kindly honesty towards characters’ romantic choices.  Aditya is a more decisive man nowadays, but not one to force issues with Geet. Shahid shows Aditya’s turmoil and temptation as he does his best not to influence Geet despite knowing that he could succeed.

Anshuman is the fly in the ointment and the weak link in the film. I got the feeling Anshuman decided what was good enough for wealthy industrialist Aditya was good enough for him as there was no convincing motivation shown for him to change his mind and chase after Geet. Tarun Arora’s performance is the least successful in the ensemble, and certainly helped ensure I never felt any empathy for his character.

The soundtrack is excellent and the songs are sufficiently different in style and scope that they suit the mood as well as sometimes providing a change of pace. Yeh Ishq Hai is a pretty travelogue with folkloric touches and some highly amused backing dancers that marks the shift to Manali. Tum Se Hi and Aaoge Jab Tum fill in the emotional life of Aditya and Geet once they parted, and depict the passing of time.  Plus, the subtitle team were fully on board and made sure I didn’t miss a syllable.

It’s always a shame when Shahid is paired with a mostly non-dancing heroine as it tends to limit the dances, but the fun choreography suited them both. The bhangra infused set pieces allow for high energy and sparkle, and Mauja hi Mauja ends the film on a high (thanks again to the subtitle team – working hard right til the end).

The conclusion is inevitable, but there are many roads that could have taken us there. The care invested in writing for Geet and Aditya makes the ending satisfying, and Kareena and Shahid are natural and charming in their characterisations. 4 stars !

Heather says: I love this film! I’m a very big Shahid fan and this is one of my favourites. I can watch him in almost anything but it’s always better when there is an actual story and a chance for him to act rather than just flex at the camera. Like Temple, it’s also my favourite Kareena film since usually I’m not too much of a fan of her acting. She has been good in a few roles, Omkara for example is another where I think she does well, but generally she is too over the top for me. I suspect that her Geet is actually very similar to the real life Kareena, but the character here really suits her and the transformation to sad and unhappy Geet was also very well done. Her exuberance and vivacity bubble off the screen so that when we see her in Manali after her life hasn’t taken the direction she anticipated, the difference is very striking.

Shahid is excellent in his role as Aditya. His initial scenes where he is so lost and sad were very believable and he manages to convey his depression so well without words. Aditya’s gradual realisation that there could be more to life in the face of the juggernaut that is Geet and her family is also nicely portrayed. The family’s obvious unconditional love and support for Geet was one of the great things about the film and came across very well. I love the look on Aditya’s face when he realised that Geet was not going to stop talking – ever! I’m quite sure that I’ve seen that look on my husband’s face from time to time as well.

Anshuman was the one part of the story that didn’t really fit. While his initial reaction to Geet turning up in Manali was very believable I didn’t get any sense at all that he had a true change of heart later. It was all a bit sudden and seemed to be more a case of jealousy and wanting something just because someone else also wants it. Tarun Arora also indulged in a little too much scenery chewing for my liking but that may just be because I didn’t like his character much at all.

I’d totally forgotten about the dreadful toy train and car used in the chase scenes until I watched this film again. It’s so very funny when they seem to have spent so much money on costumes for Kareena and the set for Mauja Hi Mauja. Possibly the money also went on the songs since they are all excellent. I remember that this was the best soundtrack for me that year and I danced to most of them at Bollywood dance class at some stage. They still sound great. Such a shame that there isn’t more dancing by Shahid in this film, as that would have made it almost perfect. 4 ½ stars.

I should also add that the beanbags provided a major workout since stomach crunches were required any time we wanted to reach our drinks. A truly unforgettable experience!