Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saat Sawal Yane Hatim Tai (India, 1971)

Saat Sawal Yane Hatim Tai has a pedigree that pretty much guarantees phantasmagorical content. It was produced by Homi Wadia, who, as both a director and producer, had a hand in creating a wide array of colorful Indian action and fantasy films, going all the way back to those starring his future bride Fearless Nadia in the early thirties. On top of that, it was directed by Babubhai Mistry, who helmed the classic Mythologicals Mahabharat and Sampoorna Ramayana, as well as effects-laden fantasies like Magic Carpet and the dinosaur-rich Dara Singh peplum King Kong.

The story concerns a hero who must complete a series of tasks in order to lift a curse that has resulted in a young bride being turned to stone on her wedding day. Beyond that, the lack of English subs prevents me from providing any further synopsis. That's okay, though, because I mainly watch movies like this for the visuals, and in that respect I was not disappointed. Following are some pictorial highlights.

The synopsis on the VCD case describes these winged ladies as "Faries", but here in America we call them "Angels" and count on them to provide us with winning lottery numbers:

And this place looks like Hell. Literally!

Okay, now that we've gotten Saat Sawal's weird references to Christian iconography out of the way, let's move on to some of its other visual wonders:

Okay, so women really do grow on trees... or at least their heads, apparently.

Yarrghhh! Tree monster!

Princess Monkey Mouth.
The captive maiden is unimpressed by the Mohawk-sporting wizard's assertion that he owns all of The Exploited's albums on vinyl.

Lava! Horrible Lava!

Naval Kumar teaches a cowering throng of movie savages that you don't mess with someone who counts a giant, eyepatch wearing genie among his friends.

Oh, by the way, for those of you that didn't know, this disc was released by SHEMAROO.

While I recommend Saat Sawal, I must warn consumers that the currently available Shemaroo VCD features ads that interrupt the movie midway through on each of the two discs, as well as a crawl announcing other Shemaroo releases that periodically appears at the bottom of the screen. For reals, Shemaroo? I mean, I understand the nature of capitalism and everything, and I'm more than happy to sit through some ads at the front end of the VCD in exchange for having access to a film like Saat Sawal in a convenient and affordable format, but what is there to gain in stomping all over my viewing experience like that? It's enough to make me want to sic my eyepatch-wearing, giant, people-eating genie on you.

We're sorry!


Anonymous said...

Ooh! Early mohawk! Who knew B'wood B movies were such trend-setters!

I hate Shemaroo with a passion. In addition to all their other faults, they interrupt ALL their VCDs halfway through with ads. Luckily about half of their VCDs don't work at all so we're not subjected to those ads.

Anonymous said...

Looks awesome! Where was this when I was a nine-year-old feasting thrilling to the Sindbad movies? Luckily, my taste hasn't evolved all that much since then, so I'm sure I would still greatly enjoy this!

Todd said...

Memsaab: Funny, because I didn't have much of a beef with Shemaroo until I started buying their VCDs. T-Series is still my villain of choice in the DVD department, though.

Dave: Yeah, this one very much reminded me of those old Sinbad movies -- or something like Jason and the Argonauts, what with the whole series of tasks plot. Course, there were no stop-motion skeleton warriors, but you get Princess Monkey Mouth, the eyepatch genie and the Mohawk guy by way of compensation.

Michael Barnum said...

I am delighted to find that I own this VCD! I knew that title sounded familiar. Sometimes I forget what I have bought during my many shopping sprees! LOL!

This will have to go on top of my to watch pile.

Beth Loves Bollywood said...

That's not a fairy! That's Glenda, good witch of the whatever!

Wow. WOW. It really does remind me of The Wizard of Oz, though, with the strange makeup and all. In a good way!

Todd said...

You're right. The tree monsters are also very Wizard of Oz. I wish there had been flying monkeys too.

Keith said...

Bah, you pansies. Back before everyone had Internets and DVDs and VCDs, I used to get Indian horror films on VHS. Not only did these break for commercials every half hour, not only did they have scrolling ads at the top, bottom, and sometimes middle of the screen during the movie, they also occasionally cut the audio from the film out and had an announcer come on with yet another ad. As obnoxious as it was, I did amuse myself slightly by thinking of it going something like, "This goo-faced ghoul attack has been brought to you by Hanuman brand basmati rice. Hanuman -- the only rice good enough for Hanuman."

Todd said...

I just have to wonder how many people actually bought a particular brand of basmati rice because they saw an ad for it on a videotape of a Ramsay Brothers movie.

Unknown_Hck said...

Who has this movie for download?? Can't get any link!!

Todd said...

I'm afraid I watched it the old school way, on a cheap Hindi VCD: