interesting take on social problems
For a Bollywood film "Kaala Patthar (1979)" is quite strongly interested in the affairs of people who normally are the film's audience. Such films I have encountered seldom in my quest for Indian films I might like.
Extrasensory90 at ICB said " Yash Chopra's best film, on all accounts. ".
It is certainly Chopra's most realistic film of those I've seen (which are Deewar (1975), Kabhi Kabhie (1976), Silsila (1981), Chandni (1989), Lamhe (1991), Parampara (1992), Darr (1993), Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), Veer-Zaara (2004)).
In the sense of realism I agree with extrasensory. But on other accounts I prefer other Yash Chopra films. Concerning film structure I prefer Veer-Zaara, for re-watch-value or entertainment I prefer Parampara. I like Parampara especially for the second part with the young actors Raveena Tandon, Aamir Khan and Saif Khan.
As I already said in Morrison's thread, also for me the best parts of "Kaala Patthar (1979)" were the description of the life of the miners.
For me the main actors felt more like actors acting than like the characters they played. Whereas the people working as living staffage felt far more like the real thing. So whenever huge crowds appeared or the miners were seeking release from the gruelling work in a tea house I felt sucked into the movie. But the scenes in the owner's house felt artificial to be.
Especially Channo, the jewellery seller, felt unreal to me. When I compare Neetu Singh playing Channo to Sandhya playing Champa, the toys seller, in "Do Ankhen Barah Haath (1958)" the Bollywood artificiality of Channo becomes glaring.
I also could not believe in Vijay Pal Singh (Amitabh Bachchan). He felt like a proper hero, yes, but he felt not like a guilt-ridden coal miner to me. Amitabh Bachchan convinces me when he plays aristocratic over-powering characters like in Eklavya, Silsila, KKKG, Sarkar. But not when he plays the downtrodden like here in "Kaala Patthar (1979)" or ordinary good-natured men like in "Anand". But this seems to be my very personal sensibility. All the other people at ICB have no problem with Amitabh Bachchan in any kind of role.
The worst part for me was the love song between Shashi Kapoor (who played the engineer Ravi Malhotra, I liked his acting, the engineer was the most convincing character for me) and Parveen Babi "Bahon mein Teri" (who played Anita, Press Photographer, this performance was completely unconvincing for me). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QNPnT-ZDVc
Of the songs I especially like the first song "Ek Rasta Hai Zindagi" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tX8KbMy17A8.
I think enhancing the background story by giving the support actors (the staffage) more importance by widening their background stories and further making the love-stories a bit less dragging the film would have won.
--- each brain develops its own preferences ---