Worth seeing just for the airplane sequence!
planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
12 January 2013
During the last few years, I have watched quite a few Indian films and
have enjoyed them very much. However, most these films were recent
Tamil or Hindi films and so I recently decided to try some older films.
Apart from the movies of Satyajit Ray (of which I've seen quite a few),
I really have had no idea what to expect. Also, because this is only my
second Indian musical of the era, I cannot make any generalizations and
have no idea if "Dharti" is good or bad relative to other Indian films
of the day. I will just have to judge it on its own merits--for good or
"Dharti" begins in the fictional country of Basanpur. The Chief
Minister is a cruel maniac who delights in killing his subjects and
scheming. He also is more than willing to sell out his people to
foreigners--not too surprising a theme considering the history of
India. As for the King, he's weak and ineffectual--and afraid to
confront the Chief Minister for his wicked ways.
At the same time Basanpur is being mismanaged, the young princess,
Princess Chitralekha, is in Europe--oblivious to the problems in her
nation. She meets a bright young Oxford graduate from her country,
Bharat, but she doesn't want him to know she's a princess. The two fall
in love and all looks great for them...until her father orders her home
to marry the evil Chief Minister! Now here is where the film becomes
insanely bad. On board the jet airplane, Bharat and Chitralekha have a
run-in with one of the Chief Minister's lackeys. A fist fight ensues
and the special effects for the plane are quiet stupid. In fact, they
are the worst airplane effects ever in the history of cinema! The plane
is obviously fake and a toy plane on a string would have been more
realistic! As for inside the plane, during the fight a soft cushion
hits a window and smashes it...on a Boeing 707!! Talk about a quality
product. In fact, it's such a high quality product that there is no
depressurization--none! No wind. Nothing! Then, inexplicably, the plane
spins wildly and smashes into the ocean. Bharat and Chirtralekha are
just fine--with no scars or loss of blood!!! It's a freakin' airliner
dropping out of the sky in mid-flight--and yet they are only slightly
shaken up by the ordeal!! The badness of this scene makes the film
worth seeing and ranks among the worst special effects in all the films
I have reviewed--putting it on par with the UFOs in Ed Wood's "Plan 9
From Outer Space".
Once they are back in Basanpus, Bharat becomes embroiled in the
patriotic movement to oust the Chief Minister. Soon, many of his
comrades are dead--killed by the evil Chief Minister's troops. But,
throughout all this bloodshed, Bharat appears to be indestructible.
Heck, he even manages to shoot down a helicopter with his rifle. He is
some guy!! And, at his side is the princess--who has now joined with
the rebels. From this point on, there are some assassination attempts
(including one which MIGHT kill Bharat's own father, the Inspector
General, in order to kill the Chief Minister!). And, ultimately, it
comes down to a fight to the death between Bharat and the Chief
Minister--a rousing finale, indeed.
As far as giving this film a numerical score, this is VERY tough. While
the acting and plot were pretty good, some of the scenes (especially
the airplane sequence) were simply horrible. In addition, since I
haven't seen many other musical films from this era, it's hard to know
how good or bad it is compared to them. For entertainment value, I'd
give this one a 6. If the airplane scene was not in the film, a 7 or 8.
By the way, for the more tender-hearted, there is a graphic bullfight
scene early in the film--complete with blood and a dying bull. You
might want to speed past this portion--especially since it isn't
necessary to the plot. I sure wish this had not been in the film and am
actually VERY surprised they included this. Not only is it unnecessary
for the film but must have offended many Hindu audience members where
the animal is considered sacred.
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