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Kenneth Turan's film pick of the week: 'Full Moon' (Chaudhvin Ka Chand)

January 19, 2011 |  4:02 pm

Chaudhvin Ka Chand

"Slumdog Millionaire" introduced a wider audience to the modern Bollywood style of filmmaking, in which song and melodrama freely mix, but opportunities to see the classics of the 1950s and '60s, the era known as the Golden Age of Indian cinema, are rare indeed. In conjunction with its "India's Fabled City: The Art of Courtly Lucknow" exhibition, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is presenting 1960's "Full Moon" (Chaudhvin Ka Chand), a film starring and produced by the gifted Guru Dutt, who died tragically young in 1964 at the age of 39. Get a glimpse of where it all began. Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at LACMA's Bing Auditorium.

Though he wasn't behind the camera on this film, Dutt was also a gifted director, and fans of the genre would be well-advised to track down a DVD of his best known film, 1957's "Pyaasa," a two-hour and 33-minute musical fantasy from India, stylishly shot in black-and-white, that mixes delicate singing with social consciousness and bogglingly melodramatic plot twists.

"Pyaasa" follows an unappreciated poet named Vijay who finds life more to his liking in the slums of a big city and in the arms of a woman of questionable virtue. Vijay’s work takes off when he is mistakenly reported dead and, among other things, he eventually gets to crash his own memorial service. Yes, it's like that.

-- Kenneth Turan, Times film critic

Photo: "Full Moon" (Chaudhvin Ka Chand) features Waheeda Rehman, left, and co-star/producer Guru Dutt. Credit: Gala Entertainment