It made me revisit Vardi Waala Gunda on celluloid

My regular readers may be able to recall that some time back (on the occasion of the death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi), I had posted the review of a Hindi bestseller novel – Vardi Waala Gunda which was published first in the year 1992 and based on the assassination of our ex-premier, Rajiv Gandhi which had taken place just one year back (in 1991). Popular Hindi novelist (now Late) Ved Prakash Sharma had written it and partly due to the hot theme and its brilliant treatment and partly due to the pre-publication hype generated for it, the novel proved to be a bestseller Hindi novel in the pulp-fiction category. Though its author (Ved Prakash Sharma) lost his sheen in the field of writing over the last one decade of his life (he passed away on 17.02.2017), Vardi Waala Gunda (a goon in uniform) is still considered as one of his best works till date whose central character was a corrupt cop who masterminded the killing of the high profile politician of India who had attempted to bring about peace in the nation’s neighbourhood but lost his own life in that. On the occasion of 73rd birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, as my tribute to him, I am presenting the review of a Hindi movie –Madras Cafe whose theme is, quite similarly to Vardi Waala Gunda, is based on his assassination only.

I went to watch Madras Cafe (2013) with a lot of expectation when it was released because I had read a lot of positive reviews about the movie. Within no time, I was able to contrast it with the Hindi novel which had come more than two decades ago. Well, in my humble opinion, neither the highly educated filmmakers nor the sophisticated modern movie reviewers read Hindi novels, especially the pulp fiction stuff which is looked upon derogatorily. Hence I suppose that Shoojit Sircar, John Abraham and the various high profile reviewers writing reviews of this movie have not read this novel. But the quantum of similarity between the two is astonishing though the movie has been made by keeping a positive character at the nucleus of the story unlike the novel whose hero himself is actually the villain.Since I have already reviewed the novel, here I am reviewing the movie only which is a very very well made one and deserves a lot of accolades for paying attention to the fine details, the realistic settings as well as the overall realistic approach in presentation, the excellent casting of actors for different characters (following the principle of horses for courses), creating that aura on the screen to mesmerize the audience for more than two hours and above all, establishing the futility of violence in a touching manner.

Set in the late eighties and the early nineties, the story belongs to the ethnic trouble in Sri Lanka, the peace accord between the top political authorities of India and Sri Lanka, sending of IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force) to Sri Lanka and finally, the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi who was no longer the prime minister of India then. The story has been written by showing an Indian intelligence officer (John Abraham) at the centre of the various happenings, his pious intentions and sincere efforts for converting the dream of Rajiv Gandhi (of bringing peace to the island) into reality and most importantly, their failures. And when such things move on, double cross seems to be an unwritten rule of the game creating suspense for those who are in as well as for those who just watch.The script-writer and the director have utilized the first half for the build-up of the main theme which takes the centre-stage in the second half only. However I opine that both the halves are equally important and well-presented. It’s a brilliant blend of fact and fiction and it’s utterly difficult for a layman like me to decide as to how much is the percentage of fiction in whatever is shown on the screen. The percentage may actually be high but the filmmaker has been successful in rendering a feeling to the audience that the greater amount is that of fact only. The flawed functioning style of the Indian bureaucracy has also been exposed very well.

The director (Shoojit Sircar) has been ably supported by the action director, the art director and the cinematographer. Though the movie has not been shot in real locations, nowhere the audience feels that the scenes have been filmed in artificially made sets. The action and thrill part of the narrative is a very well executed one. Editing is crisp and maintains momentum of the narrative throughout.However, the movie has its share of flaws too. The title itself does not say anything significant. Perhaps the moviemaker could not think of a perfect title. The movie glamorizes Late Rajiv Gandhi. He was a young and different politician and he genuinely wanted to bring peace to the island nation in the neighbourhood, there can’t be two opinions about it. However it’s his hurry and strategic failure that created trouble for India in this regard, finally leading to his own end. The director has not paid any attention to this fact. Further, in the beginning the ethnic violence against the minority Tamils has been underscored but this fact has been ignored in the later reels and the Tamil militants only have been shown as the real villains. The biased approach of the Sri Lankan politicians and also the dubious role played by the Indian Tamil politicians in the happenings have been completely ignored. The hero narrates the whole story to the priest of a church and sends the relevant documents to his journalist friend at London 3 years after the killing incident, why ? The English lady journalist friend of the hero seems to be knowing just too much about the whole thing having her own widespread network which is not very convincing. When subtitles of the dialogs are given, there is no need to show the conversation between the hero and the lady journalist in such a ridiculous way that the he speaks in Hindi and she speaks completely in English. The hero also speaks in ridiculous Hinglish, inserting an unnecessarily heavy quantum of English words in his Hindi narration and talks. And it’s also quite uncalled for to give him a ramshackle get-up akin to that of a beggar when everything is over for him and he narrates the story to the priest and thereafter sends the relevant documents to the London-based lady journalist.

As said earlier, the complete supporting cast has been selected with perfection and all have performed brilliantly. Simply superb. Utterly real in looks and behaviour. I have been a great admirer of quiz-master Siddharth Basu and it’s a sheer delight to see him as an actor (the RAW chief). Nargis Fakhri (the British journalist) has improved a lot since her debut in Rockstar (2011). Almost everybody is well in place with the sole exception of Raashi Khanna in her insignificant and unidimensional role of the hero’s wife.

Now for the hero-cum-producer John Abraham. In my humble opinion, he is not a versatile actor and his range is limited to certain kinds of expressions and roles. However he has a great screen presence and a highly impressive masculine personality. Since he is quite proficient in action-oriented intense roles, this role is tailor-made for him and he has excelled like anything. We can consider this performance of his as his best till date.

There is only one song that has been kept in the movie which is a wise decision of the director. However all the soundtracks prepared by Shantanu Moitra are damn good whose lyrics are also meaningful and heart-touching. Background score is perfect to the mood of the movie.

Madras Cafe is not for the regular entertainment-seekers because this profound movie is low on entertainment quotient. It is for those who take interest in watching meaningful and realistic movies containing a great substance in the story. Despite flaws, this effort of Shoojit Sircar and his team is highly laudable. Definitely a great effort it is. Unfortunately, the problem of ethnic discrimination and consequential violence in our neighbouring country is still unresolved despite our losing billions of rupees plus the invaluable life of our young politician in our endeavour to bring about peace there. The hero finds himself as utterly disheartened in the end. And so do I.© Copyrights reserved

The link of my review of Vardi Waal Gunda is :

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Musafir Hoon Yaaro …

This review is dedicated to Gulzar whose 83rd birthday falls on 18th August. While conveying my wishes to the great litterateur and filmmaker, I am presenting the review of this classic movie made by him four and a half decades ago.

Even when making meaningful movies, the sincere Indian filmmakers used to falter because they could depict the problem realistically and effectively but could not furnish any viable or practical solution to the same. Perhaps their brains could not go beyond the problem and reach the solution whereas (barring certain ticklish problems which we can consider as exceptions) in most of the cases, the solutions are inherent in the problems themselves because a lock cannot come into existence without its key. In Parichay (1972), we find an excellent movie in which the filmmaker has not only dealt with an acute problem but also come up with its solution. And the maker of this movie, i.e., Gulzar has not dealt with the issue dryly. He has chosen an utterly sensitive story containing intricacies of relationships whose finale leaves an indelible imprint on the heart of the spectator.Parichay (introduction) deals with the problem of naughty children. During our life, we come across several families complaining for the naughtiness of the children in them. However how many of them try to dissect the problem and understand its etiology with honesty on their part ? A child is another form of God. He is born innocent. If he has gone naughty or trouble-maker or obstinate or arrogant, then the guardians cannot escape their responsibility for this burning problem in their home. Parichay tells that to work out a viable solution to this problem when and where it exists, the solver has to go to its root and understand its background and its evolution from the beginning point to its present state. Once the mechanism of the lock is under his grasp, he can very well design the appropriate key to unlock it and allow the closed joys to come out for good.Parichay starts when an unemployed urban youth – Ravi (Jeetendra) gets the temporary job of a tutor in a village where his maternal uncle (A.K. Hangal) and maternal aunt (Leela Mishra) live. He has to tutor a group of children who are the grandchildren of a rich landlord – Rai Saheb (Pran) who lives with his sister – Sati (Veena). The children needing tuition are four but actually these are five siblings with Ramaa (Jaya Bhaduri), the grown-up one, being the eldest. They are orphan because their parents are dead. Their father – Neelesh (Sanjeev Kumar) had married against the wish of his father who being a stern patriarch, did not accept it and expelled his son and daughter-in-law from his home. Neelesh lived his life outside his father’s home in extreme poverty and once his wife was dead, the grief-stricken himself remained sick also for the remaining part of his life. His children took their grandfather only as the reason behind the plight and the untimely demise of their father and though being devoid of any alternative before them, they came to live with their grandfather after their father had passed away, they could never give forgive him. And this hatred only is visible in their obstinance, arrogance and naughtiness.

The naughtiness of the children targets the tutors kept by their grandpa for them and prior to Ravi’s taking over the job, many teachers have been made to run away. Ravi understands on the first day of his job itself that whatever is visible is only the tip of the iceberg and there is a lot to know for him if at all he has to perform his job successfully. He befriends the children and gradually comes to know everything that is buried in the past but raises its head in the undesirable conduct of the children. He is able to feel the hatred filled in the young hearts for their grandpa though he is not that a bad person. Nor was he the enemy of his the only son (that is, Neelesh, the children’s father). Whatever happened because he’s always been a man of principles and has never been ready to compromise with them. Ravi turns the hatred in the young hearts into love, respect and virtues and their naughtiness, arrogance and obstinance evaporate in a few days. The ice between the grandpa and the grandchildren gets broken and finally, the stage arrives where they are no longer strangers for each other. Their introduction (Parichay) has taken place. Ravi gets a job in the city and moves out in the absence of Rai Saheb. However meantime, love has also blossomed in the hearts of Ravi and Ramaa which becomes known to Rai Saheb and he ensures their union.Though the plot is inspired by The Sound of Music (1965), Gulzar has presented a story which is very much Indian in every aspect. Every frame of this movie smells of the Indian soil. There is a lot of (healthy) humour in the movie but amidst the humour too, there is an undercurrent of sentiments. It is a relationships-based story and the web of relationships has been designed very well by the script-writer. The audience does not remain aloof from the characters and the things happening with them and its the attachment of the audience with the characters and the incidents that makes this movie a winner. The movie is studded with touching episodes many of whom are able to make the viewer’s eyes humid. The filmmaker has made the audience grasp the essence of the movie that children need love, care and above all, understanding of their feelings. Punishment may be a deterrent for them to abstain from undesirable conduct but it cannot cleanse their hearts which have been soiled by their bitter experiences. Corporal punishment may be even counter-productive. To cure a disease, you have to administer the antidote of the causing substance.The movie deals with the love of the young pair with utmost subtlety and as per my understanding, subtle and untold love only is the real, the sincere and the deepest love. It does not remain on the surface. It reaches the bottom of the heart. When love is sincere and pure, it gets conveyed to the beloved even when not told in express terms (believe it or not, it’s true). The eyes speak, the cheeks speak, the breaths speak, the body language speaks. It cannot remain as concealed.

The ending scene is very touching when the pair gets united on the railway station and Rai Saheb feels that the dignity of the elders is in leaving the young lovers alone, i.e., not embarrassing them by their presence.The movie boasts of great performances. Jumping Jack Jeetendra has delivered one of the best performances of his acting career. Jaya Bhaduri has also done well. Pran is all pervasive in the movie on the strength of his powerful performance. All the child artists have rendered heart-conquering performances, especially the very little Master Raju. The complete supporting cast (including Sanjeev Kumar) is perfectly in place. Vinod Khanna is hilarious in his cameo as Ravi’s friend.The story has a rural milieu. The beauty of the village life is scattered in every nook and corner of this movie. There’s simplicity to the maximum without even an ounce of lavishness. The movie is interesting throughout and its duration is perfect. R.D. Burman’s music contains unforgettable songs like Beeti Na Bitaai Raina (in the voice of Lata and Bhupinder) and Saaare Ke Saare Gaama Ko Lekar Gaate Chale (Asha). However the song which is immortal for me is Musafir Hoon Yaaro, Na Ghar Hai Na Thikaana, Mujhe Chalte Jaana Hai, Bas Chalte Hi Jaana which has been sung by Kishore Kumar. Gulzar himself has written beautiful lyrics for all the songs.Gulzar is now considered a legend of Indian cinema (and Indian literature as well). Parichay is a masterpiece by him. No lover of quality cinema should miss it.

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Emraan Haashmi’s first step on the silver screen

Emraan Haashmi is one of the popular heroes (though not in the league of the Khans or the Deols) of Bollywood today. Footpath (2003) is his debut movie which was made by his uncles Mahesh Bhatt and Mukesh Bhatt as his launchpad only and it was released on the Independence Day of India that had come fourteen years back, i.e., on 15.08.2003. I had watched it in the Om Cine Plex at Kota on 17.08.2003 which was Sunday. I had gone to watch it mainly because of its songs because I had listened to its music album containing some beautiful compositions of Nadeem-Shravan and I had liked them very much. That liking only led me to watch the movie also.Footpath is nothing but one of the many Bollywood versions of Hollywood movie – Angels with Dirty Faces (1938). Mahesh Bhatt himself had directed one of such versions which was Angaaray (1998) taking Akshay Kumar in lead role and Naagarjuna in second lead. He wrote the script of Footpath with the same basic grains alongwith some borrowing from another Hollywood movie State of Grace (1990) but handed over the duty to direct the movie to Vikram Bhatt. Aftab Shivdaasaani has been cast in the lead role (done by Akshay Kumar in Angaaray) and debutante Emraan Haashmi has been taken in the second lead. Another associated but meaty role has gone to Rahul Dev. Well, when there are males, females are also needed as their love interest. So Bipasha Basu, Aparna Tilak and Anupama Verma are there as the leading ladies.

Foothpath is the story of three friends who get separated in childhood due to an incident that concluded with the murder of a person. Out of these three friends, two are real brothers having a sister also who likes the friend of her brothers very much. This bloody incident has taken place in Mumbai in which the friend of the brothers and the sister has already lost his father. Being an orphan now, he runs away from the city itself and grows up as Arjun (Aftab Shivdaasaani). Twenty years have passed since then and Arjun is living the straight life of a law-abiding citizen in Delhi when a cop (Anup Soni) meets him and pressurizes him to do the job of an undercover agent of the police against his childhood buddies who are outlaws and still operate in Mumbai as drug-dealers.

Arjun is not willing to do it but under compulsion, he moves to Mumbai and meet his childhood buddies Shekhar (Rahul Dev) and Raghu (Emraan Haashmi) who work for a big narcotics smuggler Sheikh (Irrfan). He happens to meet their sister Sanjana (Bipasha Basu) also who lives separately from her brothers because not liking their illegal activities. The childhood love of Arjun and Sanjana blossoms on one hand and Arjun tries to draw his friends out of the quagmire of crime. In case of Raghu who is more sensitive and emotion-led, he succeeds because of Raghu’s love for an English teacher (Aparna Tilak) who loses her brother because of his being a drug-addict. However Shekhar is not that sensitive and Arjun fails in bringing him out of the world of crime. The story ends with the union of Arjun and Sanjana after the elimination of the drug smuggling racket running in Mumbai as well as the deaths of Shekhar and Raghu.

This story of an undercover agent working against his own friends has been hackneyed like anything in Bollywood. Only a good and engaging script written for this another version of Angels With Dirty Faces would have succeeded in appealing to the audience. Unfortunately, neither the script, nor the direction is up to the mark in case of Footpath. The movie has its moments but overall, it fails to impress the viewer. All the characters of the movie appear to be artificial. All the incidents shown in the movie appear to be completely filmy. None of the three romantic angles has been developed properly. Hence this movie can be sit through and enjoyed only when the viewer watches it with a low expectation.

The biggest flaw that I found in the script and the direction of this movie that Arjun takes an easier path. He keeps on pursuing Raghu, the sensitive one to leave the wrong path and doesn’t make even the smallest effort for pursuing money-minded and insensitive Shekhar to mend his ways.

Music is one of the plus points of the movie. As said earlier, I was instigated to see this movie only by certain songs of the movie. One good song – Chain Aapko Mila Mujhe Deewangi Miliis only in the album and not in the movie (interestingly, it was used in another movie Hungama released in 2003 itself). Saari Raat Teri Yaad Mujhe Aati Rahi, Kitna Pyara Pyara Hai Sama, Zara Mera Deewaanapan, Ab Samajh Aaya Ki Duniya Kya Hai etc. are quite good to the ears. Their picturization is also okay.

Technically, the movie is so-so. Its length is definitely on the higher side. Girish Dhamija has written routine dialogs for it.

Emraan Haashmi has drawn his heart out for this debut movie of himself. He has delivered a very touching and impressive performance, giving signals that he’s the horse of a long race. All others including my favourite heroine Bipasha Basu and highly talented Irrfan are, unfortunately, just routine. TV actress Aparna Tilak has played Emraan’s love interest. This is the only appearance of hers on the big screen (never acted in any other movie). Though she has got a meaty role, she hasn’t been able to impress. Anupama Verma has played Shekhar’s love interest in this movie and her role appears to be that of a glorified extra. Aftab Shivdaasaani is miscast in the lead role.

Though this movie was made as the launchpad of Emraan Haashmi, no importance was given to him in its publicity and complete focus of the promotion was kept on Aftab and Bipasha only. This also went against the movie. It badly flopped on the box office.

I had watched it on 17.08.2003, i.e., exactly fourteen years back from today and I remember that day because when coming back from Kota to Rawatbhata on my beloved scooter, I was caught in the heavy rainfall in the evening hours and I had to cover the final 3-4 kilometers (out of the total distance of 50 kilometres) on foot also (dragging my scooter by my hands) amidst darkness, heavy rain and muddy roads.

I recommend Footpath as a one time watch to those who like the music of Nadeem-Shravan as well as to diehard Emraan Haashmi fans.

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Sushmita Banerjee killed ! No escape from Taliban !

Today is the birthday of Manisha Koirala. This review is dedicated to this talented Nepali beauty alongwith Sushmita Bandyopadhyay whose 4th death anniversary will fall on 4th September this year. I was shocked like anything when I had got the news of the brutal murder of this courageous Indian authoress who wrote her true life story in the shape of a Bengali novel – Kabuliwalar Bengali Bou (Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife). She was shot dead by the Taalibaani militants outside her residence in the Paktika province of Afghanistan on 4th September, 2013. Sushmita had fallen in love with an Afghan businessman – Jaanbaaz Khan and shifted from Kolkata to Kabul in 1989 after marrying him. After the emergence of an Islamic fundamentalist militant organization titled as Taalibaan (students) in 1993 and its capturing administrative powers there reducing the formal political regime to almost naught, life became hell for Sushmita there with certain very painful truths about her husband also coming out to fore which were hitherto unknown to her. She managed her escape from there through a lot of toil, hardship and struggle and penned down that phase of her life in the abovementioned book. This book got used as the basis of a Bollywood movie which is Escape from Taliban (2003).
Directed by Ujjwal Chatterjee, Escape from Taliban features Manisha Koirala in the lead role and Ali Khan in the role of her husband. The lady protagonist, i.e., Sushmita marries her Afghani lover despite opposition from her Bengali Hindu family but when moved to Afghanistan with him, she is horrified to see humanity being butchered in every particle of the land where it’s a crime to be a non-Muslim and it’s even greater crime to be a woman. She is rechristened as Sayeeda Kamaal after conversion and gives birth to a baby child while living with her in-laws. Her humanitarian heart weeps for the oppression of the innocents in that barbaric land. Some hidden truths about her husband also get revealed to her. Now she wants to be back to her motherland, i.e., India with her daughter but it’s a Herculean task. How she is able to make this great escape happen forms the remaining part of the story.

Over the past two and a half decades of their reign, Taalibaan seems to be willing to take the world to the medieval era and convert it into Daar-ul-Islaam (the land of Islaam) where everybody is Muslim and leads his / her life according to the Sharia rule (as interpreted by them). They do not believe in giving the basic human rights and the bare minimum respect to the non-Muslims as well as the females (of all categories and communities) as well as those who do not support their ideology. They are cruel. They are insensitive. We have the latest example of a little girl Malala Yousufzai who was shot by them because she was promoting education among the Muslim girls. And quite unfortunately, their biased and condemnable ideology is directly / indirectly supported by several Muslim leaders and organizations all over the world including the so-called secular India. Sushmita vividly portrayed the pitiable condition of non-Muslims and females (of Muslims and non-Muslims alike) in her book and Ujjwal Chatterjee who has written the screenplay of this movie also has followed the same, making the celluloid version of the book with sincerity and honesty.

All the same, the movie is not an excellent one. It depicts reality and does not digress from its motive, nevertheless it’s to be acknowledged that it could have been a much better one as the heart-tearing reality has not been portrayed with the amount of passion required for the purpose. The movie thrills more, moves less. With a better star cast and a better director, it could have been a masterpiece. At several places, the film appears to be just something above average which is sad considering the strength of the plot which is the much acclaimed book. The movie is technically okay though.

Vanraj Bhatia’s music and Mehboob Kotwaal’s lyrics have not created any chartbusters but all the songs are meaningful, admirable and perfectly in sync with the mood of the movie.

Today’s birthday babe – Manisha Koirala has done well in the lead role. Ali Khan as her husband and the other members of the cast in various supporting roles have done justice to their respective roles.

While recommending this movie to all those who take interest in watching realistic, meaningful and purposeful movies, I wonder why Sushmita went back to that country after making such a daredevil escape from there. Perhaps because she was a sensitive lady and a true humanist and she went back only to help others like her. Ever since her return to the cursed land, Sushmita was busy ceaselessly in social work, especially pertaining to women’s healthcare and upliftment and that’s what’s not acceptable to the beasts who want to keep the half of the mankind as enslaved to the other half for the ions to come.Sushmita could manage an escape from Taliban during the nineties but then she succumbed to their cruelty with little hope left that this great sacrifice of hers will ever bring about any positive change in Afghanistan or the fundamentalist Muslim brotherhood at any place. While conveying hearty birthday wishes to Manisha Koirala and paying my tribute to the brave Indian authoress – Sushmita, I take this opportunity to make an appeal to all the humanists of the world to rise up against this barbarianism and imposition of the outdated thinking and inhuman practices on the world. The so-called secular Indians may still not break their silence (they are ready to adjust to anything undesirable done in the name of Islam for the sake of their secularism which is nothing but maintaining of double standards for Muslims and non-Muslims). However all the humanists should join hands to save humanity and innocence from Taliban and similar outfits.

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The painful saga of retreat

Haqeeqat (1964) is undoubtedly the best war based movie ever made in India. I term Haqeeqat, Border (1997) and LOC – Kargil (2003) as three genuine war based movies made under Hindi cinema. The later two were made by J.P. Dutta whereas Haqeeqat is a brain-child of Chetan Anand, one of the most respected film-directers of Bollywood. The other thing that distinguishes Haqeeqat from the other two movies is that Border and LOC – Kargil narrate the stories of victories of the Indian army in the wars (against Pakistan) whereas Haqeeqat narrates the painful saga of retreat after a humiliating defeat suffered by India in the war against China in 1962. A wicked neighbour of ours backstabbed us by disguising as our friend and we were caught awestruck by that. How painful it has been for every patriot Indian that time ! And still how painful it is to recall and feel that defeat even after passing of half a century since then ! Haqeeqat was made just a couple of years after that forgettable war which, unfortunately, cannot be forgotten. It is highly realistic. And so highly painful as well.Made with the assistance of the Govt. of India, Haqeeqat (truth / reality) is the story of a platoon of Indian soldiers in hilly terrain of Laddakh who are first considered as dead by the Indian army when the war with China is still on (in October 1962) but when it is known that they are alive, they get instruction to retreat to their base. The retreat is not that easy. The Chinese military is there aiming for their blood on one hand and the poor weather alongwith the difficult path with little resources on the other. A local girl Angmo (Priya Rajvansh) and her beau, Captain Bahadur Singh (Dharmendra) assist the Indian soldiers led by Major Ranjeet Singh (Balraaj Saahni) in retreating by keeping the Chinese attackers at bay. The path is difficult, the weather is not so kind either and above all, there are little resources with the soldiers to keep themselves alive and energetic. Little wonder, maintaining a high morale during this unusually painful journey is nothing short of a Herculean task for them. This painful saga concludes with the platoon reaching its base after losing many of its members during the retreat and after the sacrifices of Bahadur Singh and Angmo while fighting with the Chinese.

Though it has not been claimed anywhere, this movie is actually a take on the Battle of Rezang La in the hilly terrains with the armymen being ill-equipped to fight the mighty enemy. Rezang La has been one of the several pockets of the Indian army which delivered a brave resistance despite scarcity of resources and finally ensured a ceasefire with the enemy in that lost war. Well, the selfish and insensible (as well as insensitive) politicians and bureaucrats could (and can) never understand the difficulties, the endangering of own lives and the patriotism of the brave soldiers. This is perhaps the most harsh truth (Haqeeqat) of our country.

Haqeeqat did not win any awards but it was considered as the second best feature film in 1965. Irrespective of getting or not getting awards, it is an all time great war movie made in our country. The war scenes are less in the movie but the shadows of war are throughout there in each and every sequence. This movie deals at length with the psyche of the soldiers who are trapped in danger with little resources as well as little energy left with them but the dream to go back and meet their beloveds is still in their eyes. The songs like Main Yeh Sochkar Uske Dar Se Utha Tha and Hoke Majboor Mujhe Usne Bhulaaya Hoga have been used with brilliance to underscore this mindset of them.

The art director of this movie is M.S. Sathyu who later on made a classic movie – Garm Hava (1973) himself. The art director has brought the environment prevailing at that time and at that place alive on the screen and the cinematographer also has done an outstanding job for this black and white movie. It’s a movie whose each and every frame deserves admiration and recognition of the efforts behind.

The seasoned director has left no stone unturned in making a memorable movie which brings tears to the eyes of the spectators in several scenes. The script is well-knitted and its presentation on the screen is nothing short of outstanding. There are several scenes in the movie which can be considered as real gems. One is Major Ranjeet Singh’s proposing Angmo when it is known that Bahadur Singh is dead and her refusing his proposal. Another is the outburst of Angmo’s younger brother towards Major Ranjeet Singh when he tells him that Bahadur Singh is dead with Angmo telling strictly to her younger brother to speak to Major Ranjeet Singh with respect. And finally, it’s the rape-scene in the ending reels of the movie when the Chinese get hold of Angmo and as a part of her torture, rape her. This scene has been shown on the screen in such an indirect and subtle way that I realized long after watching the movie that it was actually a rape-scene. This speaks volumes for the talent of the director.

Performances are great. Dharmendra, Balraaj Saahni, Jayant (as the army brigadier) and the child artist playing the role of Angmo’s younger brother have done marvellously. Alongwith them, there are Vijay Anand, Sudhir, Sanjay, Mac Mohan and many more actors playing the roles of the tired and wounded soldiers and all of them have done exceedingly well infusing life into the respective characters. Priya Rajvansh debuted through this movie and though she looks pretty, her acting limitations are evident. Perhaps it’s been a reason behind her not doing movies of any director other than Chetan Anand in her career. There are several female characters in cameos who have created a strong impact in the movie despite being present in odd scenes only.

The talk of Haqeeqat can never be complete without the mention of its great music. Azeem Shaayar Janaab Kaifi Aazmi has penned the immortal lyrics and Madan Mohan has made unforgettable compositions for them. In my list of top twenty Hindi movie songs, I have kept Hoke Majboor Mujhe Usne Bhulaaya Hoga at the numero uno position. This is the song of a lifetime sung by four stalwarts of Hindi film music – 1. Bhupinder, 2. Mohammed Rafi, 3. Talat Mahmood and 4. Manna Dey. Each of these four singers has sung a stanza and each stanza is a tear-jerker in itself. Watching this song on the screen is just like watching a complete movie within a few minutes. Kar Chale Hum Fida Jaan-o-Tan Saathiyo (Rafi) is another immortal song from this movie, undoubtedly one of the best patriotic songs ever made. Aaee Abke Saal Diwali (Lata) narrates the painful Diwali of that year in which there were no lights in the homes of the soldiers on the front. Zara Si Aahat Hoti Hai To Dil Sochta Hai (Lata) and Masti Mein Chhed Ke Tarana Koi Dil Ka (Rafi) are another beautiful songs. A song – Khelo Na Mere Dil Se O Saajna (Lata) is an emotional song which is available in the album only because it was removed from the movie. Finally, Main Yeh Sochkar Uske Dar Se Utha Tha is a unique song of Rafi with minimal instrumental effect but the lyrics of this small song are such that they can bring tears to the eyes of any sincere lover.

With another Independence Day around and the threats for the country and the countrymen increasing day-by-day from different sides, I recall this classic movie which is not only a memorable experience to watch but also something to feel and preserve in one’s heart forever.

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Attack is the best defense Mr. Prime Minister !

Whenever I read in the newspaper that the Indian diplomat in Pakistan has been called by the Pakistani authorities and thereby an official objection has been registered by Pakistan against India regarding the violation of ceasefire by the Indian soldiers. Well, there’s a well-known maxim in Hindi which applies to this situation – Ulta Chor Kotwaal Ko Daante (The thief scolds the cop whereas it should be the other way round). It’s a glaring example that our perennial enemy is not only wicked but also shameless. During the recent years, the the agreement to maintain ceasefire as well as the sanctity of the Line of Control between the two countries has been violated by the Pakistani soldiers dozens of times. However instead of India, it’s Pakistan who keeps on raising an accusing finger in front. Too much ! Just too much ! Our tolerance and gentlemanly approach has consistently been being looked upon as our weakness not only by our both the sworn enemies, i.e., Pakistan and China but also the world at large for decades. It’s high time, we shift gears in our foreign and defense policies.

We are going to celebrate the 71st Independence Day of our nation on one hand whereas grave threats are there on the borders. Pakistan is attacking and killing our soldiers whereas China is preventing our patrol parties to roam around on our own land. In my humble submission, attack is the best defense. And now India had better adopt this philosophy. The times are no longer to be considered as normal as far as the defense of the borders is concerned. Abnormal times call for offbeat approach. India, as a nation, cannot afford to follow Jesus Christ by presenting the second cheek to the slapper after he has slapped on the first one.On the eve of the 70th anniversary of our country’s political independence, I am posting the review of a flop movie – Aakraman (1975) whose story is linked to India’s war with Pakistan in 1971. The theme of the movie is actually a love-triangle containing two males aspiring for a common female but the war comes in the movie as a twist to take the story to its conclusion.

Aakraman (attack) starts with the romantic encounter of Sheetal (Rekha) with an army officer Lieutenant Sunil Mehra (Rakesh Roshan) and they fall in love. However the trouble is that Sheetal is already engaged to another army officer Major Ajay Varma (Sanjeev Kumar). Sheetal’s parents are no more and she lives with her widower uncle (Ashok Kumar) who has become an alcoholic because of the death of his the only son in the Indo-Pak war of 1965. Since Sheetal is not able to break her matrimonial alliance with Ajay fixed by her uncle and the widow mother of Ajay (Sulochana), she requests Sunil to move out of her life. Sunil, being passionately in love with her, is not able to do so. Himself and Ajay are related to the same company (Rajputana Regiment) in the armed force. Ajay comes to know that some girl has broken Sunil’s heart but remains unaware of the fact that that girl is his fiancee only.

Pakistan attacks India and the war breaks out. During the happenings of this war itself, Ajay becomes aware of the truth. He decides to stay aside from the path of the lovers and sends a letter of this purport to Sheetal through Sunil only when he is sent back because of injuries. Ajay successfully defends his post alongwith his troop but unfortunately gets killed just after that.

Aakraman is definitely a flawed movie because during the entire movie including the war sequence, the focus remains on the love triangle only. The character of Ashok Kumar as the alcoholic uncle of Sheetal raises less sympathy more disgust. Seasoned director J. Om Prakash seems to have tried his level best to make a good movie but it appears that a story involving war was not his cup of tea.

However the movie has its moments. The war scenes coming in the final phase of the movie have been executed very well and can be contrasted with J.P. Dutta’s much superior war movie – Border (1997). The character of an ex-soldier who had to leave the force due to a handicap suffered in the previous war – Karnail Singh (Rajesh Khanna in a guest appearance) has been forced into the narrative which though superfluous, adds some value to it. Overall, this love triangle is not that bad and through the character of Ajay, it is established that when it comes to the defense of our borders, all other mutual differences and issues are to be sunk for the greater cause.

Performance wise talking, all the principal actors have done well. Sulochana and Farida Jalaal (as Ajay’s sister) have also performed satisfactorily in their supporting roles. Sujit Kumar, Keshto Mukherjee, Ravindra Kapoor etc. have delivered perfect performances as various soldiers of the unit. Rajesh Khanna in his guest appearance has delivered his mannerismic performance.

Music by Laxmikant Pyarelaal with the lyrics of Anand Bakshi is good. Patriotic song – Dekho Veer Jawaano Apne Khoon Pe Ye Ilzaam Na Aaye is the best song. The other songs of the album viz. Punjabi Gayenge Marathi Gayenge, Fauzi Gaya Jab Gaaon Mein, Ye Mausam Aaya Hai, Chhoti Umar Mein Lambe Safar Mein, Woh Ek Haseen Ladki etc. are also good and their picturization is also admirable.

The movie is an eye-candy. The cinematographer has captured all the beautiful locations used very well for the screen. Technically it’s up to the mark and not too long also.

Aakraman may not be a great movie but I recommend it as a decent one time watch. At the same time while wishing all my countrymen alongwith the prime minister on the occasion of the Independence Day, I reiterate that the title of this movie (Aakraman) is the best strategy right now. We are facing hidden war from the side of two cunning enemies who have joined hands to get the better of India. Why not go offensive instead of being defensive ? Goswami Tulsidaas had asserted centuries ago – Bhaya Binu Preeti Na Hoi Gosaain (we cannot make our enemy love us without creating a fear of our might in his heart). Our enemies will themselves come to friendly terms with us once they start fearing us. Are you listening Mr. Prime Minister ?

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Pickpocketing ? No, this is the craft of the hand

Making the things disappear from the sight of the onlookers (or someone’s possession) is called an art of magic which the professional magicians demonstrate in their shows. In Indian lingo, this is called – Haath Ki Safaai (the craft of the hand). But some petty criminals use the same term for their act of pickpocketing too, boasting this skill of theirs with pride and considering it no less than any other art. In Riteish-Jenelia starrer – Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya (2012), the sister of the hero keeps this ‘art’ of hers in high esteem and later it is known that she demonstrates it every now and then because she wanted to be a professional magician but couldn’t. The moral of the story is that youths pick up the wrong path when they do not get any right path to channelize their skills and energy. Hence it is important that the society provides opportunities to them to utilize their talent and vigor in the right direction.

Haath Ki Safai (1974) is a run-of-the-mill Bollywood movie based on the ‘lost and found’ formula in which two brothers are separated in their childhood and cross paths in their youth. The title of the movie has been kept after this craft of the hand (Haath Ki Safaai) professionally adopted by the younger one of them. The movie is a very entertaining one.The person demonstrating his Haath Ki Safaai in this movie and is proud of this art of himself is Raju (Randhir Kapoor) who was separated from his brother Shankar (Vinod Khanna) in childhood. Both these brothers have grown up in criminalized environment and criminals’ company and therefore, become criminals themselves. Raju has become a pickpocket whereas Shankar becomes a gangster. Destiny makes them cross paths time and again and they start disliking each other (without knowing that they are actually brothers). Shankar is happily married to Roma (Simi Grewal) who wants her husband to leave the path of crime and finally, he agrees for that. However the crime world is not a place so easy to quit.

Raju comes across a runaway rich girl – Kaamini (Hema Malini) who is escaping from his uncle who is forcing her to marry Ranjeet (Ranjeet) against her will. Gradually Raju and Kaamini fall in love. But it’s Kaamini only which again becomes a bone of contention between Raju and Shankar. After a lot of drama and action, the brothers finally identify each other and the reunion of all the four lead characters takes place with the arrest of the baddies.The USP of this potboiler is the character of Randhir Kapoor alongwith his heart-winning performance. He makes the audience laugh time and again with his perfect comic timing. The memorable comedy song – Peene Waalon Ko Peene Ka Bahaana Chaahiye is a showcase of his comic talent. His demonstration of his pickpocketing art not only justifies the movie’s title but also entertains the viewers very much.

Writers Salim-Javed and director Prakash Mehra have done their best in making a thoroughly engrossing movie. The screenplay studded with the frequent encounters of the two male leads is taut and does not allow any boredom to creep in. Action, thrill, romance and sentiments are there in the movie in optimal quantum but it’s the comedy which overpowers everything and adds immense value to this apparently ordinary movie.In addition to Randhir Kapoor, the other main characters also have done pretty well. Vinod Khanna won the Filmfare best actor award for his role in this movie. However I admire Simi Grewal very much who was always a natural performer irrespective of the role assigned to her. Hema Malini had started her career a few years back as the heroine of Raj Kapoor but in this movie she is quite at ease while playing the heroine of Raj Kapoor’s son, i.e., Randhir Kapoor.

Kalyanji Anandji have composed good music for the lyrics of Gulshan Bawra. Peene Waalon Ko Peene Ka Bahaana Chaahiye (Kishore-Lata) is the most popular song of the album which proves to be no less than a mini laughter show for the audience. But the other songs – Vaada Karle Saajna Tere Bin Main Na Rahoon Mere Bin Tu Na Rahe Hoke Juda, Tumko Mohabbat Ho Gai Hai Humse, Tu Kya Jaane Wafa O Bewafa, Oopar Waale Teri Duniya Mein Kabhi Zeb Kisi Ki Na Khaali Rahe etc. are also quite good.

Technical aspects are all in order. Production value is decent. The movie is not unduly long.

Randhir Kapoor had not allowed himself to be shadowed by his legendary father (Raj Kapoor) and carved a niche for himself in cine-world through his natural talent and sincere efforts. Haath Ki Safai is one of his memorable movies which the typical Bollywood movie buffs will like for sure.

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