Kisi Ki Muskarahaton Pe Ho Nisaar . . .

I watched Barfi (2012) relatively late, after its nomination as the Indian entry for the Oscars had been declared. Now accusations are being levied on this movie for having a good dose of plagiarism, lifting the original idea from Benny & Joon (1993) and several scenes and pieces from various Hollywood movies, finally assembling everything into the final product titled as Barfi, a Hindi movie made in India. Well, the accusations may be true. Let’s not forget that the so-called original movie – Lagaan (2001) was a straightaway lift from Naya Daur (1957) but it escaped the accusation of plagiarism.

After watching this brilliant movie which generates both laughs and tears, I can say that the accusers are forgetting the real inspiration for Anurag Basu, the director and Ranbir Kapoor, the actor. And that real inspiration is Raj Kapoor. Interestingly, the first part of Raj Kapoor’s full name is Ranbir only (complete name is Ranbir Raj Kapoor) and his son, Rishi Kapoor christened his son after the name of his legendary father only. This way Ranbir Kapoor got his name. While watching it in the theatre, the complete movie seemed to me like a tribute to the on-screen personality and several movies of Raj Kapoor, especially Mera Naam Joker (1970). Raj Kapoor himself was inspired by Charlie Chaplin, hence no wonder, this movie as well as Ranbir’s character is Chaplinisque. He is a natural actor and the shoes of his legendary grandfather, the greatest showman of Bollywood, seem to be fitting him perfectly in this movie. He has not copied Raj Kapoor but just contrast his smile with that of young Raj Kapoor in 50-60 years old movies and you will also feel the same as I felt.

Kisi Ki Muskarahaton Pe Ho Nisaar, Kisi Ka Dard Mil Sake To Le Udhaar, Kisi Ke Vaaste Ho Tere Dil Mein Pyaar, Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai. Remember Raj Kapoor in Anari (1959) ? Find the same message being conveyed by deaf and mute Barfi in this movie who believes in celebrating every moment of his life, not giving a damn for his physical deficiencies.Barfi is the love-triangle of a deaf-mute boy, an autistic girl and a normal Bengali girl who pass through different tests of life to discover that love is something to feel. It can’t be defined or tested on the norms of the society which strive to clip its wings. The thing I feel that the abnormal characters of this movie knew it beforehand and the discovery was only for the normal girl who sacrificed the most and gained proportionately very less. But the thing is that getting the love of the person you love is not that easy because it depends upon that person as well as the other external factors but loving someone from your side is always easy because it is in your hands and nobody can stop you from that or imprison your sentiments. However, it emerges naturally in your heart and you cannot deliberately love some particular person to suit the practical situation of life (like marriage). That Shruti (Ileana D’ Cruz) learns by loving Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor) who does not love her but an autistic girl, Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra). Frankly speaking, the base of this story is Barfi, the male but the character which puts all the threads of this story together is Shruti, the losing girl who is satisfied by loving only, letting go the desire to get the love of the man she loves.barfi_2012_folder_icon_by_sonerbyzt-d7xfklb

The personality of Ranbir (and also many incidents taking place with him) reminded me of Mera Naam Joker, the zenith as well as the Waterloo of Raj Kapoor. However the love-triangle has conspicuous resemblance with a very old classic movie – Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959). In Goonj Uthi Shehnai also, there is the character of Raamkali (akin to that of Shruti in Barfi) who selflessly loves the hero, Kishan (Rajendra Kumar), making a lot of sacrifices for him but without expecting any reciprocation or return. She knows that Kishan actually loves Gopi (Ameeta) but she becomes their accomplice and tries to help them in getting united. The way, Jhilmil is autistic in this movie, the same way, Gopi becomes insentient in that black and white classic movie. And the death comes for both the lovers simultaneously in both the movies with the third angle remaining alive to narrate the story to the world. Well, these similarities (intentional or unintentional) appear to be intriguing. But the thing that I liked in Goonj Uthi Shehnai is that though Kishan does not love Raamkali (because he loves Gopi), he acknowledges the love of Raamkali for him and feels grateful to her for the sacrifices made by her for his sake. In Barfi, the protagonist is selfish from this angle that he is never shown to feel the abundant love and the great sacrifices of Shruti, leave aside acknowledging them. Shruti’s love is great from this viewpoint and scores over the love of Barfi for Jhilmil.The suspense factor in this movie is quite weak and anybody can predict the things that are kept under dark for a long time, to be clarified in the final reels. Besides, too many cinematic liberties have been taken. The Chaplinisque comedy is hilarious and the emotional quotient is quite high. It’s a well-made movie for sure despite its certain flaws. As a matter of fact, the pluses outweigh the minuses by a huge margin.

Ranbir Kapoor seems to have been born with acting in his genes. I have never seen him acting bad. In this movie, despite showing glimpses of his Late grandfather, he has demonstrated a peculiar originality at the same time. Priyanka Chopra has done marvellously in the difficult role and nobody seems to have noticed the less footage given to her role in the movie. However, the surprise package of this movie is debutante Ileana D’ Cruz. Fresh ! Charming ! Impressive ! Her role renders expansion to the roles of the other protagonists and she is simply superb in her performance. Being a Christian in real life, she appears so Bengali that anybody may mistake her to be a Bengali Hindu girl in real life too. Saurabh Shukla has perhaps got the meatiest role of his acting career and he is unforgettable. All others also fit their bill without any deficiency on anybody’s part.

Preetam’s music and Swanand Kirkire’s lyrics both are highly admirable. I like Phir Le Aaya Dil Majboor Kya Keeje the most which brought tears to my eyes in the theatre. Preetam has kept the melody intact which is a great feat for a Hindi film composer of today.

The art director has brought both Darjeeling and Kolkata alive on the screen. The cinematographer has also done so excellently that several scenes of this movie appear to be like beautiful paintings. It’s a visual treat and hence can be enjoyed better on the big screen.

Dialogs of the movie are very impressive and touching. The editor has used his scissors with such finesse that the film moves quite fast in the first half and at a relatively slow pace in the second half which is completely in sync with the mood of the screenplay in both the halves.

After the movie was over, I felt as if I were dead after living a full life during the two hours and odd minutes spent by me in the theatre. Barfi is imperfect, yet excellent. Will be considered a classic in the times to come.

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Love echoing in the sound of the clarinet

Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959) is a black and white movie which is definitely among the best love stories ever presented by Bollywood. The highlight of the movie is the clarinet played in this movie by the legendary clarinet-player – Ustad Bismillah Khan Saheb. Though Bollywood is a never-exhausting treasure of love stories, very few love stories have portrayed the depth of this sublime emotion in such a realistically penetrating way. Love is the biggest gift of the Almighty to the human-beings and it transcends all types of boundaries. This outstanding movie pronounces loud and clear that the true love is for the soul and not for the body. Lovers die but not the love which remains forever.This is the story of the immortal love of Gopi (Ameeta) and Kishan (Rajendra Kumar). Kishan is a clarinet player and learns the same from his Guru, Raghunath Maharaj (Ulhas) whose daughter Ramkali (Anita Guha) has a strange love for him. She knows that Kishan loves Gopi and has complete sympathy for them. Kishan’s poverty does not allow him to marry Gopi whose matrimonial alliance is fixed with Shekhar (Pratap Kumar) who does a decent job in the radio station of Lucknow. The exposure of the love of Kishan and Gopi in the village compels Kishan to leave the village but Ramkali being concerned for his well-being, accompanies him. Kishan meets Shekhar in Lucknow and starts playing the clarinet on radio. Now he gets name and fame (and money too) but when he returns to get his lost love back, he is shocked to see that Gopi’s wedding is taking place with Shekhar (despite herself being in a partially fainted state). Broken-heart Kishan is back now, only to find solace from Ramkali. On the other hand, Gopi has got insentient after separation from Kishan and in such a condition, her maternal uncle (Manmohan Krishna) who has always been sympathetic to her, does not allow her to be sent to her in-laws’ home. Ultimately she comes to her senses by listening to Kishan’s clarinet only. But knowing that she is a wedded woman now; she, as per the Indian Samsakaras and traditional norms embedded in her, starts her journey to reach her husband, leaving Kishan behind. However this separation is not acceptable to the souls of these lovers and that forms the climax.This story is full of touching moments with every particle of it being inhabited by the feeling of eternal love. The love portrayed on the screen appears to be out and out real and the director Vijay Bhatt is successful in making the audience empathise with the sentiments as well as the internal and the external conditions of the lead pair. You feel their love. You feel their pain. You sing with them. You weep with them.The movie contains several melodious songs but they are aptly placed and do not block the flow of the story which is engrossing. The curiosity of the audience is perpetually maintained throughout and there is no boredom.

I highlight certain significant plus points of the movie separately :

1. The complex character of Ramkali (Anita Guha) : Ramkali loves Kishan, that’s clear but what’s the type of her love ? The director has not replied to this question directly and left it for the audience to search an appropriate answer for it. She knows about the love of Kishan and Gopi, yet there is no womanly jealousy on her part. When Kishan is compelled to leave the village, she is so concerned about his welfare that she also runs away with him. People in the village, as expected, tarnish her name and character, linking her relationship with Kishan to the usual male-female sexual relationship. But while living with him (imagine this live-in type relationship in India in that period of the fifties), she cares for him like an affectionate mother and supports him like a loving sister. In my review of Bada Din (1998), I had written that every male-female relationship need not be a sexual one and does not need a name. I firmly believe that such platonic relationships can exist and survive, the only pre-condition is the purity of the hearts.

2. The climax of the movie : In the climax, when Gopi starts her train journey to reach her husband, leaving Kishan behind, he falls from a hilly point and dies. In the morning when Gopi’s husband receives her on her destination station, Lucknow, he is able to receive her dead body only. When he asks her maternal uncle (who was accompanying her) – ‘YE KYA HO GAYA ?’ (How’s it happened ?), he replies – ‘AATMA JISKI THI, USSE JA MILI, SHAREER TUMHAARA THA, ISLIYE TUMHAARE PAAS PAHUNCH GAYA’ (the soul reached whom it belonged to, you had a right over the body only, so the body has reached you). So touching !

3. The music : Bharat Vyas has penned down great lyrics and Vasant Desai has composed great melodies for them based on the Indian classical raagas. Tere Sur Aur Mere Geet, Jeevan Mein Piya Tera Saath Rahe, Ankhiyan Bhool Gayeen Hain Sona, Dil Ka Khilona Haay Toot Gaya, Keh Do Koi Na Kare Yahaan Pyar etc., are all timeless classic songs and a priceless gift for not only the cine-music lovers but also for the lovers of the Indian classical music.This music is a part of the rich Indian cultural heritage.Performances are simply great. The romantic hero of the fifties and the sixties, Rajendra Kumar has done a great job in the role of the Shehnaai-Nawaaz (clarinet player). Ameeta has acted in very few films but this is perhaps the best movie of her career. In the role of first the true lover, then the girl who has got insentient due to emotional shock and ultimately the married girl mentally bound by her Samsakaras who knows within her whom she loves but still understands her social duty to move to her husband; Ameeta has delivered a praiseworthy performance. Anita Guha in the difficult and complex role of Ramkali is just superb. Other actors – Ulhas as Raghunath Maharaj, the Guru of Kishan and the father of Ramkali; Manmohan Krishna as the maternal uncle of Gopi, Leela Mishra as Gopi’s mother, Pratap Kumar as Shekhar and I.S. Johar, the villain-cum-comedian are perfect. However Chanda as the mother of I.S. Johar is definitely over the top but it was her style and something digestible in those times.

The dialogues are also admirable. Ramkali’s repetitive monologue –  ‘YE MAIN JAANATI HOON, YE MAIN NAHIN JAANATI’ (this I know, this I know not) – is quite situational and allows the listener (and the viewer) to have a peep into her heart.

The cinematography, art direction and other technical aspects of this B&W movie which has a rural backdrop for its major part, are all up-to-the-mark. The narrative flows smoothly and able to keep the viewers tied with the moving storyline.

And finally the enchanting Shehnaai (clarinet) played in the movie by the legend, Ustad Bismillah Khan Saheb which makes this movie all the more special. It is a treat for all the traditional music lovers. Shehnaai has always been a part of the Indian culture and its sound echoing at several places in the movie, is simply mesmerizing.

Goonj Uthi Shehnai (the clarinet resounded) is for all those who believe in true love which is for the soul and by the soul. It is an all time great classic and everybody who likes love stories embedding the depth of emotion, should not miss this classic piece of art.

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A novel based on the killing of Rajiv Gandhi

On 21st May, 1991, India’s youngest ever prime minister and the then youth icon, Rajiv Gandhi got killed in a bomb blast at Sriperumbudur (Tamil Nadu), planned and executed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) because he had sent forces in Sri Lanka to help the Sri Lankan army in suppressing the violent activities carried out by that organization. The killing was executed through a human-bomb and it sent a message across the world to all the militant groups that anybody can be killed if the killer is not hesitant of losing his / her own life for that purpose.

Hindi novelist – Ved Prakash Sharma had made announcement to write a grand novel on the corruption prevalent in the Indian police system years prior to Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination and its advertisement (with the title – Vardi Waala Gunda) had been carried out regularly. Perhaps the arrival of the novel was getting delayed due to the novelist’s not being able to get a suitable plot for the overhyped novel. The sudden assassination of the young political leader provided him the plot and he came up with Vardi Waala Gunda in 1992.Vardi Waala Gunda (a goon in uniform) starts with the corrupt activities of a crooked cop – Inspector Deshraaj posted at Prataapgarh (a fictitious police station in a Southern state of India) where a foreign militant organization – Star Force (akin to LTTE) has set terror for years. The militants get financial aid and arms (and of course, instructions) from their organization active in a neighbouring country – Sri Ganga (akin to Sri Lanka). The militants live in their own colony titled as Kaali Basti (black colony) which is on the other side of the river. However the majority of the militants are in their den situated somewhere in the nearby forest and the leader of the militant organization is known as Black Star whose real identity is not known to anyone. Deshraaj, being a corrupt and licentious cop, also works for Star Force like many other police officers. However, a sudden tragic incident transforms his heart and he surrenders to the law, confessing his unlawful activities and crimes committed with the uniform of the police on his body.

Now a new police inspector – Tejasvi is selected for the Prataapgarh police station who has earned name in crushing the criminals ruthlessly and fearlessly and he is considered honest and a man of ideals by all and sundry in the police department. However his blind admirers are unaware of the fact that he is manifold times more corrupt than the known corrupt cops. Actually he creates such an aura of being honest, dutiful and idealist around him which the common people are not able to pierce and see his true character. He indulges in wrong activities fearlessly on the basis of the clean image developed by him in front of the world.

Star Force is planning to assassinate a popular leader – Chiranjeev Kumar (akin to Rajiv Gandhi) upon whose instigation, the Indian armed forces had been sent to Sri Ganga to crush Star Force. A mysterious character – Triple Z who is an agent of some foreign country, is also aiming the same. Tejasvi gets involved with both of them but without becoming a pawn in the hands of any of them. He works for such people and organizations for money but his character is like that he never likes anybody to dominate over him. He calls himself the biggest goon of his jurisdiction, a goon in uniform (Vardi Waala Gunda) and he declares – ‘My hobby is to practice goonism over the goons’. He demands money as per his will for anything unlawful to be done by him but with browbeating only and not by being submissive to such clients. He believes that he is born to rule only. Presently there is President’s rule in the state and since the central government has got hints that Star Force is planning to assassinate Chiranjeev Kumar, a special commando squad is deputed in the state to take care of his security during his forthcoming visit to the state. The chief of that squad – Thakkar suspects Tejasvi and keeps a vigil on his activities. Now a game of chess starts between Tejasvi and Thakkar which Black Star and Triple Z watch (separately) from the periphery with interest. Besides, the police commissioner of the state also makes a move to trap Black Star through the patriotic services of ex-cop and now a jailbird – Deshraaj. How Chiranjeev Kumar  is assassinated despite all his security arrangements, how Tejasvi himself becomes the next chief minister of the state, how he eradicates Star Force himself as well as reveals the true identity of Black Star and finally how himself gets killed afterwards, forms the remaining part of the novel.

Vardi Waala Gunda was a unique pulp-fiction novel around which a lot of hype had been created by the author through clever and prolonged marketing. And due to that only, it was a bestseller (in India). However the quality of the story and the treatment is also high. The novel is indeed a brilliant thriller, keeping the reader hypnotized right from the first page to the ending page. The people who can read Hindi should not give it a miss. The long and complicated plans of the criminal organization as well as the police and the commando squad, the checks and checkmates, the blows and counter-blows, the double-crosses, the working of the police as well as the political system in our country and finally the sacrifice of a corrupt but patriot Hawaldaar for his country, everything is just mindblowing.

The author has taken authoring liberties to meet his objective and take the story to the desired destination but most of the things penned by him are, in fact, true for our country. Tejasvi’s winning the assembly election while remaining in jail (under the charge of Chiranjeev Kumar’s murder) and thereafter becoming the chief minister also is something that can happen in India only.

Pulp fiction novels have been looked upon derogatorily in India, mainly because of the poor quality of their paper, printing, binding etc. The same case has been with this novel also. To cash the commercial success of this novel to the hilt, the author (who was also the publisher of this novel) released its later editions in two parts – pricing each part generously (according to the standards of the pulp fiction novels). Therefore, though this novel is easily available, now it may not be available in a single volume and the reader has to buy both the parts to read the complete story.

Ved Prakash Sharma should be thankful to the soul of Late Rajiv Gandhi whose death gave him the great plot upon which he could pen such a highly interesting and impressive novel. Rajiv Gandhi might have committed mistakes in his political career including the blunder of sending forces to Sri Lanka whose price he had to pay in the form of his life. However, I personally admire him a lot. He was the sincere politician India has always needed the most and his death was not just a private loss to his family but a loss to the entire nation. Indian politics has continuously been touching new lows only since his untimely demise two and a half decades back. I pay my tribute to him through this review.

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A marvel of emotions, music and cinematography

A major chunk of the Indian movies are love stories and the idea of  love triangle has also been hackneyed to the extent that now-a-days hardly any filmmaker must be pondering over it for his next venture. However if I have to make a list of love-triangles made in Bollywood, Saajan will be my numero uno in that list. It was released on 30.08.1991 and I had seen it with my friend Sanjay Laddha in the Priya theatre of Kolkata (then Calcutta). Since then I have seen it a number of times on T.V. also. Though more than two and half decades have passed since its release, this movie still looks fresh and haunts after watching.I don’t know whether the story idea was original or borrowed from somewhere else, however it worked excellently and built the premise of a sentimental love story in which the element of sacrifice becomes prominent between the two male protagonists who, by default, become the reluctant rivals of a girl’s love. Kader Khan and his wife, Reema Lagoo adopt the handicapped orphan friend Aman (Sanjay Dutt) of their son  Akash (Salmaan Khan) and foster him like their own son, showering love upon him even more than their own son. Besides, Akash also keep Aman’s friendship above everything else in his life. However Aman finds himself burdened by their obligations within his heart. He is a Shaayar (Urdu poet) and gets published under the pen name of Saagar. A middle class girl Pooja (Madhuri Dixit) who runs a book shop to make a living for herself and her mother Anjana Mumtaz in Ooty, becomes his fan and maintains contact with him through letters. Akash, on the other hand, becomes a womaniser, not giving a damn for the real love. To take care of their new project of constructing a hotel in Ooty, Aman reaches there and comes across Pooja. Pooja befriends him when he tells her that he knows Saagar personally and he promises her to manage her meeting with him. He sees that Pooja loves Saagar. Gradually he also falls in love with her but without expressing his feelings to her.The story takes a twist when Akash reaches Ooty and falls for Pooja upon the very first encounter. When Aman comes to know of his love for Pooja, he decides to sacrifice his love to pay the obligations of his fostering family and he introduces Akash to Pooja as Saagar. Pooja starts loving Akash but under the false impression of himself being her Saagar. With the passage of time, Akash comes to know that Aman himself is Saagar and he loves Pooja too within his heart. He immediately understands that Aman is trying to repay the obligations of himself and his parents through this sacrifice. Now it’s his turn to sacrifice for his friend and he gets the lovers united.Saajan is the maiden directorial venture of the cinematographer-turned-director Lawrence D’ Souza and his has used his cinematographic excellence to the hilt while directing this emotional drama. The different camera angles catching all the three main protagonists in a single frame; depicting their mutual relationships, their inner feelings and the peculiar equations between them are simply marvellous. Besides, the picturization of songs like Bahut Pyar Karte Hain Tumko Sanam and Jiyen To Jiyen Kaise is nothing short of outstanding. This movie is definitely a marvel of cinematographic technique and those movie buffs who have seen it on the big screen are definitely fortunate.Another very big highlight of Saajan is the exceedingly melodious music composition of Nadeem Shravan who were in top form those days and the lyricists Faiz Anwar and Sameer have given them excellent support. Only for one song – Bahut Pyar Karte Hain Tumko Sanam, I know that it’s a copy of a non-filmi Nazm – Bahut Khoobsoorat Hai Mera Sanam (sung by the legendary Ghazal singer – Mehndi Hasan Saheb). For the rest, I give full marks to this music team which includes Anuradha Paudwal, Alka Yagnik, S.P. Balasubrahmanium, Kumar Sanu and of course, the popular Ghazal singer – Pankaj Ud-haas (Jiyen To Jiyen Kaise Bin Aapke) also. The music album of Saajan is an all time hit and even today, listening to these songs renders a soothing feeling to the listener’s heart.However, the debutant director faltered in controlling the length of the movie. The comedy track of Laxmikant Berde and Guddi Maruti (including the parody of old songs picturized on them) is totally superfluous and should have been done away with in editing. In fact, Kader Khan himself provided so much relief in this emotional story that specialist comedians were not required. The movie should have been trimmed by at least 20-25 minutes. Otherwise the direction is marvellous, production value is high, the beauty of Ooty has been captured in superb way (especially in the song – Mera Dil Bhi Kitna Paagal Hai Jo Pyar To Tumse Karta Hai) and the narrative flows smoothly, carrying the audience effortlessly with it.

Performances are highly admirable. For Madhuri’s dance number – Tu Shaayar Hai Main Teri Shaayari, both the choreographer and Madhuri deserve huge clappings. One of the great dancing queens of the Indian silver screen, Madhuri has acted well too. However the movie mainly belongs to the male leads. Sanjay Dutt has delivered the performance of his life-time in this movie and I am sorry to see that he did not win any award for his intense role, marvellously performed. Salmaan Khan has performed brilliantly in his Casanova act as well as in the role of first a true (but irresponsible) lover and thereafter a sincere, sacrificing friend. The climax belongs to Salmaan only and he provides a memorably touching end to the story. The ending scene is able to move the sensitive audience. Among the supporting cast, Ekta as the arrogant society girl who genuinely loves Salmaan, Kader Khan as the boys’ father, Reema Lagoo as their mother and Anjana Mumtaz as Madhuri’s mother are perfect. Laxmikant Berde and Dinesh Hingoo have done good comedy. I also appreciate Raja Duggal for his cameo as Babulal, the owner of the tea shop in Ooty.

Saajan is a treat for the romantic people who like emotion-filled mature romance. It was a blockbuster and I bet, it may again prove to be a blockbuster if re-released. It has immense repeat value and can be watched any number of times for the visual as well as the audio satisfaction provided by it to the viewers to their hearts’ content.

Reema Lagoo passed away on 18.05.2017. I pay my tribute to this extra-ordinary and much respected actress. May her soul rest in peace.

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My favourite Amitabh-Jaya starrer

Real life pair – Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri have been cast together in many movies including classics like Abhimaan and Zanjeer as well as multi-starrers like Sholay and Chupke Chupke. But my personal favourite movie in which tall Amitabh and short Jaya were cast opposite each other is Ek Nazar which got released in 1972. I have watched this socio-romantic movie which contains a murder and a bit of mystery also, many times on satellite channels, yet I am never tired of watching it again and again, not for the sake of any message or inspiration or likewise, but for sheer entertainment and Amitabh-Jaya on-screen chemistry which is magical (perhaps because of the off-screen chemistry between them).Ek Nazar (one glance) was directed by Babu Ram Ishara who was once an assistant of the legendary Bimal Roy. He is better known for his path-breaking bold movies like Chetna and Zaroorat. In this movie he has directed a good story in such a good manner that the engrossing narrative coupled with the good performances and highly melodious songs has become a very good watch for the audience. Thoroughly entertaining and leaving a good feeling after it is over.The plot belongs to a courtesan Shabnam (Jaya Bhaduri) who is a big fan of a Shaayar Akash (Amitabh Bachchan) who is actually the son of a big lawyer. One more family is in the scenario which is the family of Akash’s friend Ashok (Raza Murad) who is also a young lawyer and the son of a judge. A meeting of Akash and Shabnam leads to a highly fragrant romance between them. However this romance is not acceptable to Ameena Bai (Nadira) who is the guardian of Shabnam and owner of that Kotha. One distant relative of Ashok’s mother – Deepak (Sudhir) is also visiting the Kotha in the disguise of a Nawab. In Akash’s house also, this relationship is opposed, leading to his leaving his home and residing with a friend who runs a restaurant. Subsequent events flow in such a way that Ameena Bai is murdered and Shabnam is charged and tried for her murder. The court-room drama that follows the murder, ultimately leads to the happy ending of the story.The screenplay is very good and the thoughtful direction and good editing has made the movie thoroughly gripping for a viewer to watch. The melodious music serves as the icing on the cake. Though almost all the songs are simply excellent, special mention is deserved by Patta Patta Boota Boota Haal Hamara Jaane Hai whose first two lines have been borrowed from the classic ghazal sung by the legendary singers like Mehndi Hassan and Ghulam Ali. Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar have sung the ear-soothing songs of the movie which do not hinder the flow of the story, instead they support it and add to its strength.Amitabh and Jaya have delivered very good performances, courtesy their real life romance in that time. The supporting cast has also done well. I will specially mention firstly for the actor who has played Amitabh’s restauranteer friend (his is a lovely and admirable performance indeed) and secondly for Raza Murad whose debut movie it is. Raza Murad looks very young and he has delivered a knock-out performance in his meaty role. Bollywood did not do justice to this highly talented actor in the later years of his career. He is an awesome actor all the same.The director has managed to maintain curiosity throughout the movie despite the fact that the murderer can be guessed by the audience. The motive and the background of the murder remains the mystery which is resolved only in the climax. It is a good entertainer by all means. The use of drawings and water colour paintings in the court-room climax for narrating the flash back events, is a commendable example of directorial creativity and imagination.

I will continue to watch Ek Nazar whenever I get opportunity and I recommend it to all the Amitabh-Jaya fans as well as the people interested in watching a gripping socio-thriller with a good dose of romance.

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The relation of pain

Sunil Dutt and Nargis were perhaps the most ideal couple of Bollywood who had to face many odds like coming from totally different family backgrounds, difference in career status (Nargis had been a star for years whereas Sunil Dutt was more or less a newcomer), Nargis being elder to Sunil Dutt in age, different religious faiths (which was and still is a big issue in this country marred by communal hatred) etc. against their tying the sacred knot but their love prevailed over every adverse thing and two bodies got merged into one soul. Sunil Dutt who had played Nargis’s son in the legendary Mother India (1957), went ahead to become a star in his own capacity whereas Nargis bid adieu to her career and got totally devoted to her loving family containing one son Sanjay and two daughters, Namrata and Priya. Later on, Nargis started working for social causes too and got nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the President of India as well. Sunil Dutt’s name was never associated with any Bollywood heroine and the unstained love of the couple always remained the foundation of their household.

Just five days prior to the release of their son’s debut movie, Rocky, heavens fell for Sunil Dutt when a demon called cancer snatched his beloved wife from him on 3rd May, 1981. Being an emotional man myself, I can feel the grief of Sunil Dutt and empathise with him as to how he might have felt the pain of losing his Jeevan-Sangini. Out of that intolerable pain or DARD, emerged a movie called Dard Ka Rishta (1982) which is inarguably the best movie of the producer-director Sunil Dutt. Reason ? The narrative came straight out of his heart. His pain of losing Nargis got converted into the story of the movie and he crafted every shot of it with the finesse of an artist who is hurt deep within.The story of Dard Ka Rishta (relation of pain) revolves around the single-parent child Khushboo whose mother, Reena Roy is dead and she is fostered by her father, Sunil Dutt with the help of the loving and caring servants of the household. Prior to marrying her mother Reena Roy, Sunil Dutt who is a doctor, was married to another doctor, Smita Patil who had left him to continue with her research work in New York when he had decided to be back to his country. All hell breaks loose when Sunil Dutt comes to know that his loving daughter is suffering from leukaemia. How the loving father is able to save the life of his daughter with the help of his ex-wife and her son (who is Sunil Dutt’s son only without his knowledge) is the climax of Dard Ka Rishta.

Dard Ka Rishta is said to resemble a Hollywood movie – Silence Like Glass. But the fact is that Silence Like Glass was made years later than Dard Ka Rishta. Besides, Dard Ka Rishta has an originality of its own because the pain or DARD of the moviemaker was his own which could not be copied or borrowed from anywhere in the world. The film is not outstanding because it contains certain regular Bollywood formulae, yet it works because it moves the viewer. The pain of the father who cannot see his beloved daughter dying, is out and out real. The way he, being a doctor, prays to the almighty for his daughter’s life and the way he speaks the dialogue – Uski Maut Meri Maut Hogi, Mere Profession Ki Maut Hogi (her death will be the death of myself, my profession) is able to shake the viewer who starts praying with the aggrieved father to save child’s life. The development of a new relationship between Sunil Dutt and his ex-wife Smita Patil in the wake of this adversity is also heart-warming. The way Sunil Dutt comes to know that the Smita’s son is actually his, through his enquiry from her about her son’s father, does bring a pleasant surprise not only for him but also for the audience.

The songs are all very good; ably written by Anand Bakshi, melodiously composed by R.D. Burman and sensitively sung by Kishore Kumar, Hariharan, Lata Mangeshkar, Usha Utthup etc. The restlessness of Sunil Dutt to return to his WATAN (motherland) portrayed through the song – Yun Neend Se Woh Jaan-e-Chaman Jaag Uthi Hai makes a very strong emotional impact. The last song – Mere Mann Mandir Mein Tum Bhagwaan Rahe – also appeals emotionally. The birthday song of little Khushboo – Kaun Hoon Main Kya Naam Hai Mera Main Kahaan Se Aayi Hoon – is also very impressive.

The technical and production value aspects are all right. Performance wise talking, Sunil Dutt and Khushboo take the cake. Whereas Sunil Dutt has brought his actual pain of losing Nargis in his expressions, Khushboo as the little daughter has done excellently in all the joyful as well as the serious scenes. Late Smita Patil could never act bad. The other actors including Reena Roy in her cameo and the child artist playing Smita Patil’s son are all okay.

Dard Ka Rishta is a very good movie which works excellently because its narrative has been written not by pen but by the pain in the heart of the moviemaker, therefore, having a DARD KA RISHTA with him. In my personal opinion, the strongest bond between people is the one which is based on the individuals’ pain. Watching, feeling and understanding this movie is a different experience, certainly. If you are a sensitive viewer, Dard Ka Rishta is just for you.

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The unfathomable depth of childhood love

We have heard and read a lot about childhood love. And all of us were children only years back. Children do have crush on someone just like the adolescents and the youths. However what’s the depth of that love that had sprouted in childhood ? Does it survive and sustain itself when the kids are no longer the kids ? Difficult to answer, isn’t it ? I also had a crush on a girl when I was a kid and at least two girls were having a crush on me in that period (I know it as they had expressed it to me because children are more expressive than the grown-up ones). However can the childhood crushes and attachments be compared to love in adulthood ? I may be remembering my crush on that girl in the grown-up phase of my life but must those girls be remembering their crush on me later in their lives ? The likely answer is in the negative only and not in the affirmative.

However the fiction-writers and the filmmakers think differently. In romantic novels and Bollywood movies, we find that the childhood love which is pure and innocent remains intact even after years and decades when the kids in love have grown-up into a man and a woman. That love may succeed when it’s a two way traffic with complete awareness on both the sides. And it may end up as a tragedy when the things are either one-sided or the odds are not favourable to the lovers. One such tragic story of childhood love is Deedar (1951) starring Dilip Kumar, Nargis, Ashok Kumar and Nimmi in lead roles.Deedaar (sight) starts with the childhood love of Shyamu (Dilip Kumar) and Mala (Nargis). Mala is the daughter of a rich man whereas Shyamu is a poor boy whose widow mother works as a gardener for Mala’s father. Mala’s father does not take notice of the companionship and camaraderie of Shyamu and Mala and allows both the children to enjoy their time together until one day Mala gets injured during horse-riding. He then forces Shyamu’s mother to relocate and the loving kids are separated. Mala grows up into a beautiful lady who still has memories of her childhood buddy Shyamu who used to sing very well.

On the other hand, Shyamu’s misfortune appears to have no bounds when not only he loses his mother but also his vision. Thereafter a blind and orphan Shyamu is looked after by another destitute person and his little niece Champa. Gradually Champa (Nimmi) develops a love in her heart for Shyamu. Shyamu who grows up with Champa only knows her feelings but his heart still beats for his lost love Mala only. Since Champa and her uncle are also quite poor, Shyamu supports them by earning some amount through his singing ability and thus enables them (and himself too) to make both ends meet.

The twist in this love story of erstwhile kids and now adults, comes when a reputed doctor hears Shyamu’s singing and feels sorry for his blindness. He is Dr. Kishore (Ashok Kumar) who being benevolent by nature and admiring Shyamu’s singing ability very much decides to help this poor person in getting his sight back. He takes Shyamu to his place and starts preparations for the operation of his eyes. Now befriended to him, Shyamu tells him about his lost childhood love also. Dr. Kishore also tells him about his love for a girl whom he wants to marry. Needless to say that that girl is Mala only, the lost love of Shyamu.

Dr. Kishore is able to bring the sight of Shyamu back and asks him to stay with him till his marriage with Mala. However Shyamu has already recognized Mala who is in constant touch with Dr. Kishore and due to him, now with Shyamu also. Though Mala has not recognized him as her lost childhood buddy but Shyamu is extremely excited that after getting his eyes, he will get his lost love also. He does not know that Mala only is the fiancee of Dr. Kishore. On the other hand, Dr. Kishore also does not know that his fiancee only is the lost love of Shyamu. After Shyamu’s eyesight is back, the reality dawns on both these men like a lightning. A storm arrives in their lives paving the path for the final twist in the story which is not only tragic but something of a ‘believe it or not’ kind.I am not revealing the final twist (the climax) in the story here because it’s for the readers to find it themselves by watching this movie which is soaked in love and emotion. It’s unbelievably shocking and forces a sensitive person to ponder as to what can be the depth of love. Perhaps the depth of true love is unfathomable. And it’s very difficult to understand the thought-train and consequential actions of a true lover.

In its later half, the movie presents the dilemma of a true lover who is burdened by the obligation of a person who is his rival for the lady’s love. Well, when the feelings of gratitude and love clash with each other, which one should overpower ? Personally I feel that a true lover can never be selfish and gratitude is a great virtue, a sublime trait getting rare and rare with the changing times. However the readers are free to frame their own opinion in this regard.In my review of Barfi (2012), I have highlighted this fact that you may not be able to reciprocate someone’s love for you because you may be already loving someone else. However if you can and in fact, you should acknowledge that true love. If you don’t, you are selfish and insensitive and in my opinion, unworthy to be called a sincere lover. And here lies the same issue for the hero Shyamu who still cherishes the childhood love of Mala but he is not able to acknowledge the true love of Champa for him until his heart gets broken forever and he has to take a very harsh decision for his life. Till then the sincere love of that poor girl for him, a blind person, had no meaning for him. That’s unbecoming of a person who considers himself a true lover.

The movie is quite entertaining despite its profound tone and scarcity of relief moments. The milieu is simple but the story flows very well and the curiosity factor remains active till the ending sequence.

The movie contains three love triangles. One is the main track of Shyamu, Dr. Kishore and Mala. The second love triangle can be considered as that of Shyamu, Mala and Champa. But the narrator has presented a third love triangle also which is of Shyamu, Champa and Chaudhary (Yaqoob). Chaudhary remains associated with Shyamu in his earning activity and loves Champa who is an inseparable part of blind Shyamu’s life but his love for her has not been given much weightage in the story.

Director Nitin Bose has handled the story very well. Plus the admirable performances have eased the director’s job. Dilip Kumar, Ashok Kumar, Nargis, Nimmi and Yaqoob have done complete justice to their respective characters. Child artists Master Parikshit (playing young Shyamu) and Baby Tabassum (playing young Mala) have also done very well.

The movie has a great music appeal. The team of Naushad, the composer and Shakeel Badayuni, the lyricist, has prepared gems like Bachpan Ke Din Bhula Dena, Meri Kahaani Bhoolne Waale, Chaman Mein Reh Ke Veerana Mera Dil Hota Jaata Hai, Naseeb Dar Pe Tere Aazmane Aaya Hoon etc. and Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshaad Begum have sung them beautifully.

I recommend this black and white movie to those who like old-fashioned sentimental dramas and love triangles. If you are fond of watching golden oldies containing melodious songs, then this black and white movie is just for you.

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