2 September 2011 | antlerbaby
The copycat adventures of a fast dancing young spy
Farz has developed somewhat of a cult following these days, and misinformed statements regarding "Jeetendra's first", and India's initial spy flick is what got Farz into my DVD player. Over time, these myths have been busted but my own experience with Farz reflects the curse of its genesis. I probably would not have followed through with it if I had not been watching with a companion, although since then I have seen it in full several times. It has become one of those classics I will put up with, but this review is generally negative.
Part of the appeal of this movie is the low budget and the campy "so bad it is good" aspects, as well as the "first" Hindi spy movie. Farz is certainly campy, but it is not an original Hindi film, and not the first Indian spy film, either. It stands to be known that Farz is a color remake of the black and white Telugu-language hit, Gudachari 116 which released earlier that same year. The movies share the same producers making Farz an intentional and methodical attempt to bring the South Indian moneymaker to Bombay. Aside from some minor shuffling of the events, and all the wrong omissions and additions, the way it is filmed is nearly identical and even includes some of the same sets and props! In its attempt to recreate the previous feature this has resulted in Farz having a low-budget look and demanded mediocre copycat performances from those involved.
Fortunately for the myth-makers, Jeetendra's tight "mod Elvis" outfits and his now iconic pompadour hairstyle as he goes about as the Hindi speaking agent Gopal is no way inspired by the Telugu film, since the original character was dressed somewhat frumpily in garish patterned sweaters and jackets with a kinky mop not even a visibly large amount of brylcreem was able to contain. But, there are still parallels in dress notability. While Telugu 116 displayed an attention getting sort of frumpiness with blinding patterns, Hindi 116 forces us to eat a plate-full of eye burning sex appeal whenever he turns his backside to the camera. The off-white suit pants Gopal wears in most of the scenes are unnecessarily tight to the point that it could make you blush. Especially during the fights, as Jeetu kicks and leaps around in the harsh dramatic light they look powdered on by the makeup department or perhaps something from the ballet. In fact, I'll dare to say that Gopal's thus attired derrière gets so much screen time it's almost a separate character in its own right. This can be a good thing or a bad thing according to your interests.
For the truly bad stuff, the comedy relief in the form of Gopal's two helpers is childish... and there is a pie fight. Musically, Laxmikant and Pyarelal write some catchy item numbers but there is also a disturbing inclusion of "The Twilight Zone" theme in the general score which seems to follow suit with how "The Addams Family" theme was featured in Guddchari 116. This cant possibly be a mistake or coincidence, for you'd have to assume in their quest to match up with the original L&P were advised to steal something spooky from American TV. The dances are not remarkable for a 60's piece, including the first wherein our youthful agent leaps around crowing like a rooster as he frolics with an unnamed vixen and opening his mouth very wide into the camera in ways that could make you uncomfortable. Even this famous dance is a copy of the one in Guddchari116, although Jeetendra infuses significantly more energy and weirdness into it. There is also some old school racism and sexism on the loose, the most blatant example of racism being the use of a scowling "chinese" villain in rubbery yellow face paint. For sexism, Babita's character Sonita is treated more poorly than the typical bollywood heroine. Used for her connections she is ultimately abandoned, even though this poor thing is only 17 years old! (and just what age is Gopal supposed to be? Is he a teenager too? So many questions, but I digress...). For racism AND sexism, there is an inclusion of an evil white goonette who brandishes a combination dagger-flashlight, resulting in a shocking moment when Gopal uses her body to shield himself from a bullet!
If you are looking for Jeetendra's first performance as leading man, although this is certainly the style he would be known for up to the early 70's, Farz was not the film. It will be worth the time and money to acquire 1964's Geet Gaaya Pattharone Ne, an original artistic endeavor by the legendary V. Shantaram which displays the decidedly young Jeetendra in a way that does not involve gratuitous rock & roll posturing and butt shots. To experience both of these films in the correct order is to reveal Jeetu's early working versatility and willingness to do it with gusto. Otherwise, if you are not particularly interested in Jeetendra and are not one of those who has made it a goal to see each and every bond movie rip-off in existence (and in this case, a rip off of a rip off), you can continue living your life without seeing Farz and might even be the better for it.