लहू के दो रंग
Dir. Mahesh Bhatt
I chose this movie out of Shabana Azmi completism, but what I got turned out to be pretty satisfying masala in its own right. Its backstory is set forth with rare specificity in time; the film opens at the end of World War II, when Indian freedom fighters were operating in exiled cells in east Asia. In this “exotic” setting, a very appealing relationship forms between a delightfully angsty Vinod Khanna and Helen in an unusually non-dancing, non-vamp role.
Fast forward to the present (as masala films do) and you're in pleasingly familiar masala territory: the martyred freedom fighter Vinod Khanna has left an illegitimate son (Danny Denzongpa) in Hong Kong with a distraught Helen, and a legitimate son (also Vinod Khanna) in Bombay with his grave and serious mother (Indrani Mukhejee, who is super-fabulous and intense in this role, and makes me wonder why she's never jumped into my consciousness before, despite the half-dozen or so films I've seen her in). The two young men are, of course, unknown to each other and, of course, on opposite sides of the law - Vinod a proud police inspector, Danny falling in with the smuggling ring that holds Shabana hostage.
Highlights include Danny doing kung fu, a very sweet ballad picturized on Helen, and even a taste of filmi-paagal in the form of Shabana Azmi's character's mother, tortured and abused to madness by the villain, Kader Khan (accompanied in this standard-issue villainy ensemble by Ranjeet). There's a pretty cute set of sequences where Danny falls in with a plucky orphan girl called Shabbo; together they engineer some minor cons and become fast friends. Shabana Azmi is as wasted as she ever is in such masala fare, but she does get to wear some super pantsuits and tromp around Darjeeling looking pouty and fabulous. There's really nothing not to like here – an enjoyable bellyful of masala comfort food.