Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mard (1985)

Sometimes I really regret not being a better writer. Today's reason for such realism/self-doubt is called Mard, a movie that defies most of my power of description. Although it is possibly that Mard's awesomeness cannot be contained in puny little words.

I learned quite a lot from the movie. Never before have I been aware of the utter evilness of all things British (excluding a certain Lady Helena, played by Helena, whose function here is of course to sacrifice herself to save one our hero's fathers). Did you know that in the time of the Raj, British tanks regularly shot Indian slums to pieces, English soldiers (many of them dressed in black leather and wearing capes with a Union Jack motif) were throwing helpless women into flames, and that, as soon as an Indian slave couldn't work anymore, all of his blood was filled into cute bottles to save the life of British soldiers (who of course didn't need cooled blood). I didn't, either.

But Mard shows us these terrible truths and more.

I am not quite sure when the film is supposed to take place, so I'll say it's the year in which many people wore Victorian garb, other people interesting leather outfits and others looked like they stepped out of Miami Vice while those people who didn't use horses, rode in cars (good for killing Indians) or tanks (even better for killing Indians). After British evil-doers steal some works of art to send them to Britain and massacre the Indian people who protest against this theft, Raja Azaad Singh (Dara Singh) can't control his rage any longer. So he single-handedly kills many of the perpetrators with his trusty machine gun. Knowing that a man has to do what a man has to de, he prevents a plane carrying even more evil-doers from starting, using only a rope, his strength and a handy tree. Afterwards, on with the killing.

After this small lesson in justice, the evil Brits are of course hunting him, but only with the help of the treasonous half British, half Indian, doubly evil doctor Harry (Prem Chopra) are they able to actually catch him. Because they are incredibly evil (as I may have mentioned already), her Majesty's best also try to kill the Raja's wife (Nirupa Roy) and his newborn son, whom he called Mard (which means man) by carving the word into the baby's chest. In the ensuing chase, mother and child are seperated and only the timely intervention of the Raja's horse saves the baby from the British.

But the shock of terror and seperation is too much for the Rani - she loses her voice and will spend the next years of her life wandering depressedly through India. Even the knowledge that kind Lady Helena was able to change her man's sentence from death to imprisonment obviously can't cheer her up.

A few years later, the little one has grown up to be the most manliest man of Indian maleness, Raju (Amitabh Bachchan). Besides being manly, a loving son to his adoptive parents, a true patriot, a badass and kind-hearted as Jesus Christ himself, he works as a cart driver, utilizing his true father's old horse Badal (who obviously hasn't aged a day, and will be rewarded at the end of the movie by the marriage to a statue come to life). His other partner is his dog Moti (played by Wonder Dog Moti), the dog Lassie always tried to be. In the course of the film we will witness Moti use Molotov cocktails, drive a cart, whistle, rescue Raju by imitating Solid Snake himself and boldly doing many other heroic deeds no other dog has ever done. That Raju  most of the time (except in those moments when the script needs him not to understand them) understands what his friends have to tell him is obvious.

Soon the young man will meet the love of his life Ruby (Amrita Singh), who is also the daughter of the former doctor, now mayor Sir, Harry (still as evil as a full-blooded Brit). After a few early misunderstandings that lead to her putting on her snazziest leather outfit and whipping him and him kidnapping her and literally rubbing salt in her wounds, the two soon discover their true feelings for each other.

Of course the lovers can't truly unite before a lot of evil British and their henchpeople have been killed, Raju's two pairs of parents have either been tortured, kidnapped, killed, buried, rescued or some of these things at once, false beards and absolutely convincing masks have been used, and many songs have been sung (personal favorite: the piece about a "tentpole" a man sticks into "the sand").

And this is actually just a small sample of all the glories this trip into the realm of alternative history holds. Should I mention evil Brit Danny (Dan Dhanoa), him of the even more outrageous outfits and the greatest sense of sadism even someone from Britain can have? Or the glorious things you can do with a horse cart?

Mard is definitely one of the most mind-blowing pieces of weirdness/art I have ever encountered, and I urge every thinking and unthinking woman, man, hermaphrodite, neutrum etc. to run out, buy and watch it at once. It will surely produce a better world.



Anonymous said...

It is surely a compelling watch. MD was a genius at subtext as well (and possibly even better at not-so-subtext that bashes you on the head)...I do so love this film.

houseinrlyeh aka Denis said...

Yes, it's very very wonderful.