Due to time constraints, I have to be a bit more choosy these days about which films I review and which I don't. So, as much as I enjoyed the Bollywood thriller The Train, I'm just going to take the lazy route and link to Memsaab's fine review of the film, as well as provide you with a clip that includes "Meri Jaan Maine Kaha" -- not only one of my favorite Bollywood songs of the seventies, but also one of my favorite dance numbers featuring Helen. (Be patient: The song starts at about 1:15.)
If you want proof that R.D. Burman was a fucking genius, I don't think you need look any further than "Meri Jaan Maine Kaha". It's a head-spinning masterpiece of cartoon futurism, sounding like a cross between the Munsters theme and "Eep Opp Ork Ah-ah" from The Jetsons sung in part by a scat-singing Hindi version of Louis Armstrong. (I believe that's R.D. himself singing, although in the movie it's lip-synched by a little guy who looks like the love child of Prince and Bollywood funnyman Jagdeep.)
Watching The Train provided a perfect antidote to my recent viewing of James Ivory's vile documentary Helen: Queen of the Nautch Girls. Ivory's viewpoint seemed to be that no Westerner -- or, for that matter, no Indian with a proper (i.e. Westernized) education -- could possibly fathom Helen's appeal. But watching her in The Train it's hard for me to imagine anyone not finding her appealing.
By the way, Ivory also seemed to think that Helen was a disgusting fat cow whose full figure positioned her as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for India's undernourished rabble. This only conjured in my mind the image of a bunch of hungry Indian people watching Helen on screen and all simultaneously imagining her turning into a giant roast turkey with Helen's face on it, just like desert island castaways in an old Daffy Duck cartoon.
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