When I first began searching the Net to find landmark regional films to review for this special ‘100 years of Indian cinema’ celebration, Chemmeen was one name that cropped up again and again. It sounded impressive. This was one of the first Malayalam films to be made in colour; more importantly, in won the President’s Gold Medal for Best Feature Film at the National Film Awards in 1965. It was screened at both the Cannes and the Chicago Film Festivals, and was greeted with much critical acclaim (not to mention commercial success)—it was even released, dubbed, in Hindi as Chemmeen Lehren, and in English as The Anger of the Sea.
All it needed was for me to discover that the music director of this film was an old favourite (Salil Choudhary) and that Manna Dey sang in it, and my mind was made up: I had to watch Chemmeen.
Last week I watched Shichi-nin No Samurai. Earlier this week, The Magnificent Seven (which was based on Shichi-nin No Samurai). So, logical progression? Next in line ought to be a film based on The Magnificent Seven. Saat Hindustani. Going by the law of averages (or should that be the law of diminishing merit?), I guess I shouldn’t have held out much hope for this one. Shichi-nin No Samurai is far superior to The Magnificent Seven, and The Magnificent Seven is light years ahead of Saat Hindustani.