Star


Director: Vinod Pande
Music: Biddu; Lyrics: Indeevar/Amit Khanna
Year: 1982
Running Time: 132 minutes

If you are a fan of Disco Dancer (and who isn't!) you might want to check out this film starring Kumar Gaurav and Rati Agnihotri. Disco Dancer started a disco craze in India (some five years after the release of Saturday Night Fever in the U.S.) and a few other disco related films naturally followed on its white leather patent dancing heels. Star was made in the same year as Disco Dancer - 1982 - and though it is reasonably fun, it is lacking the unintentional lunacy and over saturated cheese of Disco Dancer. Disco Dancer reached such sublime heights of bad fashion, bad dance steps and bad dialogue that it has reached cult status – and also because it is so much darn fun! Star doesn’t have quite the same ambitions and so has less distance to fall and it also hasn’t aged quite as deliriously badly as Disco Dancer. It still has its campy pleasures nonetheless and is filled with some foot tapping tunes!

You know you are in for a bumpy ride with the very opening frame – a long distance shot of a traffic circle that just stays there and stays and stays and you finally realize that this faraway moving dot is what you are suppose to focus on. The camera eventually pans down on a young man called Dev (Kumar Gaurav) who is going off to work at a clothing store. A few hours later he is fired, but he doesn’t care because he wants to sing – and he proceeds to do so on a beach with a gaggle of urchins dancing behind him like Pied Piper recruits.
Mom isn’t too pleased with his career choice – she wants him in a stable office job like his older brother Shiv (Raj Kiran). Dev threatens to leave home but ends up pouting in his bedroom instead – one of my favorite ploys when I was about six years old. It never worked for me either! He still sneaks off with his songwriter Salim to find a singing gig. His first stop off is Club 54 – but a sniggering Saeed Jaffrey tells him that he doesn’t need a new untested singer because his disco is always filled – and turns to the in-house monitor that shows his place filled with gyrating dancers – huh? – they seem to have forgotten that this scene was taking place in the afternoon – is that disco time in India?
The twosome then go on to the next hip disco – Charlie’s – where a dish in a white sequinned pantsuit is singing “Bhoom Bhoom” and Dev becomes immediately enchanted. He introduces himself to Maya and after telling the owner that he might be the next Elvis Presley he is auditioning for a job. As soon as he croons “Oo-ee Oo-ee” the owner knows he has a Super Star on his hands – and soon so do all the disco dancers in town. In fact Charlie’s becomes so popular that Jaffrey (remember him?) sends over some goons (two of them being the bald headed Australian, Bob Christo, and the other Yasuf Khan - both baddies in loads of films) to rough up Dev. Unfortunately for Dev he does not have the kung fu skills of the singer in Disco Dancer and he gets the hell beat out of him and has his throat damaged! And just before the All-Indian Singing Contest is about to begin! Gosh, will he get back his voice in time?
Lots of other drama still to come – his brother in Clark Kent mode keeps excusing himself to secretly go off and beat up the bad guys and then comes back with assorted bruises on his face – “Oh, I bumped into a door” or “Oh, I tripped” – because I guess he wants to keep up his image of a boring businessman. And there are unexpected sparks between Shiv and Maya that even I didn’t see coming – in fact lucky Shiv gets to do the wet sari musical number with her! It seems so unfair – poor Dev courts her the entire film and Shiv does the wet sari dance - is there no justice. But Dev has his music, his gold lame jump suit and an awestruck groupie to get him through the tough times!
The music is quite enjoyable - 8 songs – a mix of light pop and light disco – not much in the way of choreography as Kumar doesn’t seem to be able to dance a lick and they don't even really try – but lots of flashing lights and one incredibly awful musical number in which Dev and Maya are suppose to be floating in space but in which the wires they are hanging from are extremely evident. The soundtrack is available by the way and it definitely grows on you with its catchy tunes.
The nice thing about being a newcomer to Bollywood is that there is so much information on the web (in English) and I was curious about the actors. Kumar it turns out is famous for being a one hit wonder – the son of a famous actor Rajendra Kumar - in 1981 he was a phenom with a film called Love Story, but everything thereafter bombed. In recent articles Hrithik has been compared to him for this reason. He has recently attempted a comeback and was in the gangster flick Kaante - the quiet guy - and co-incidentally his love in Star, Rati, played Amitabh's wife in Kaante. Rati made over 120 films in the 1980s before marrying and retiring - but she has come back to play a number of mother roles - though still in her early 40's.
The groupie piqued my interest even more though for some reason. She is in a number of scenes but does little more than sit in the audience with a rose and look worshipfully at Kumar while he performs on stage. Who was she I wondered - someone's relative, the winner of a prize giveaway? It turns out that she is Padmini Kolhapure who had been a child star in a Raj Kapoor film in the 70’s and then went on in the 80's to be a major star of sorts - she gained a reputation as one of the most daring and risqué Bollywood actresses. Here is a site dedicated to her:

My rating for this film: 6.0

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