You are no Shelock Holmes Rajeev but I like you

Samrat Tilakdhari aka STD (Rajeev Khandelwal) is our Desi Sherlock Holmes who likes to try his hands upon  challenging cases only in company of his Desi Dr. Watson – Chakradhar aka CD (Gopal Dutt). He gets a challenging assignment through Shimla based Dimpy (Madalsa Sharma) who informs him that the garden of his family house has dried up without an apparent reason and her father (Girish Karnad) is quite depressed and frightened after the death of their gardener who had rendered a combination of destruction to the garden when expelled from service by her father. However the real challenge appears in this assignment only upon our hero’s arrival at the venue in Shimla which is a palatial house made in the style of the British times when killings start in the extended family residing there. As expected, our hero finally solves this whodunnit which is the story of Hindi movie – Samrat & Co. (2014).ImageThe prestigious Rajshri banner of the Barjatya family has made this movie, taking a diversion from the family dramas they are famous for. However this whodunit also contains a family drama which is behind the mysterious happenings and killings. Director Kaushik Ghatak had earlier directed Ek Vivah Aisa Bhi (2008) for the Barjatyas which was nothing but another version of Rajshri’s old hit Tapasya (1976). This time, he seems to have read many Sherlock Holmes stories penned by Arthur Conan Doyle and also some Agatha Christie novels before writing the script of this movie which is a mix-masala of a Sherlock Holmes venture and a Hercule Poirot venture with some James Bondish stunts appearing at places. It does not bore but a writer-director skilled in making such movies would have presented a much better movie made on this story.

The traditional murder mystery has been spread pretty well on the screen with ample attention to the fine details of the characters, their relationships and their activities. However in his bid to present his detective hero as the legendary Sherlock Holmes, too much detailing has been poured into his dialogues which becomes irksome after a point. But the director was not satisfied with the Sherlock Holmes persona of his hero, so he has committed the blunder of rendering a touch of James Bond also by showing him doing stunts which is superfluous.

The narrative would have been taut and free-flowing without the two songs unnecessarily inserted into the movie. Though I liked the second (romantic) song, it didn’t stay with me after the movie was over. And the first song which is a party song is highly irritating because of the disgusting appearance of ‘elephantine’ Ganesh Acharya dancing with a young girl.

Kaushik Ghatak as a script-writer has done well by linking everything to everything else without leaving any loose ends wanting to be tied up when the story ends but he has introduced unnecessary characters also. The character of Shanti (Pooja Gupta) who presents a parody of Basanti of Sholay is one such character only. Though I laughed at a few places but it was because of the hero and not the humorous characters and situations that the director has tried to force into the narrative.

Unlike many recent Bollywood movies, one half of the movie is not superior or inferior to the other one. The suspense-filled story flows equally well in both the halves and the intermission has been brought at the correct spot.

Dialog-writer could not write quality one-liners for the hero. The one-liners are aplenty for him in the script but they fail to rise above the ordinary. He terms the heroine (Madalsa Sharma) at a place – ‘Mistress in Distress’. God only knows what it means because I have heard and read about ‘Damsel in Distress’ only.

Rajshri banner has switched to lavishness from simplicity under the reign of Sooraj Barjatya. However I am highly surprised to see that the shooting has not been done in the real locations of Shimla (or at least some other hill station). The animation and artificiality is so vivid that it appears to be a stain in the name of the great Rajshri banner.

There are two USPs of this movie. The first one is – it’s a neat and clean movie. Nowadays it has become a rarity to come across neat and clean entertainers from Bollywood. Rajshri banner had earned a repute of presenting simple but very sweet movies sans any vulgarity during the sixties, the seventies and the early eighties. This movie is devoid of any vulgarity and definitely a movie which can be watched with one’s family.Samrat-Co-Movie-Poster-2The second one is Rajeev Khandelwal, the hero of this movie wearing a persona of Sherlock Holmes but acting at places in Hercule Poirot style also. Rajeev is a talented actor and a perfect hero material for Bollywood movies. In this movie, he has got very limited range of expressions because of the role being that of a detective, still he impresses. Given a right break, he can emerge as the latest heartthrob of young Indian females. He is one reason, you keep on watching this movie despite its apparent flaws.CaptureOther than Rajeev, Gopal Dutt as his sidekick has also done a good job. All others including the heroine – Madalsa Sharma, are strictly okay. However it’s a great pleasure to see highly talented and charming actor Priyanshu Chatterjee in a movie after a long hiatus.

All in all, the trouble with this old-fashioned whodunnit is its mediocrity. It could have been a much superior mystery movie in the hands of an able director. All the same, it’s not a bad movie either. It’s a decent one time watch but strictly for the mystery fans.220px-Samrat_&_Co_—_posterLegendary artiste, litterateur and theatre-personality Girish Karnad has played a key role in this movie. He has passed away today (10.06.2019). This review is my tribute to him.

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Shammi Kapoor’s shoes don’t fit you Krishan Kumar

Many reviews have been written for the classic murder mystery Teesri Manzil (1966), the movie which is considered a milestone in the journey of musical suspense thrillers made in Bollywood. That brilliant movie boasts of very good script (Nasir Husain), direction (Vijay Anand), music (R.D. Burman) and above all, Shammi Kapoor, the legendary hero who changed the rules made for a Bollywood movie hero during the sixties and accordingly the perception of the audience in this regard. Sixties was undoubtedly the decade of Late Shammi Kapoor who is still loved and missed by the Hindi movie audience and Teesri Manzil is a milestone movie of his career.When Late Gulshan Kumar, the so-called audio cassette king had earned a lot of money through his business of music which mainly contained the cover versions of the golden oldies from Hindi movies (prepared in the voices of newcomer singers), he decided to launch his younger brother Krishan Kumar as a hero in Hindi cinema. He did so perhaps out of the affection of an elder brother because Krishan Kumar did not possess the personality of a typical Bollywood hero. Anyway, when the hero has been selected, naturally, a story is also required to make a feature film. So Gulshan Kumar probably arranged a video cassette of Teesri Manzil (compact discs had not been invented by that time) and gave it to writer Pawan Sethi to prepare a script on the lines of that classic musical suspense thriller. The result of that exercise came out in the form of the script of Aaja Meri Jaan (1993).Thus Aaja Meri Jaan (come, my sweetheart) is a suspense movie which is nothing but a remake of Teesri Manzil. It’s been directed by Ketan Anand, the son of the legendary director Chetan Anand and it features Shammi Kapoor also in a supporting role. A newcomer girl Tanya Singh was given a break as the heroine of this movie. Several songs got prepared by Gulshan Kumar for the music album, hiring the services of many music directors including the legendary Pancham Da (R.D. Burman) himself who had prepared the unforgettable gems for Teesri Manzil decades back. And finally the movie was released for the Indian audience with a lot of hype and publicity. However the wise Indian audience immediately caught that this movie was nothing but the old wine known as Teesri Manzilin a new bottle and this launch-pad of Krishan Kumar got only a lukewarm response from the public.0808778.CINE.lby

This suspense movie opens with the scene of a murder only. The victim is the priest of a temple who is stabbed to death by someone. Cut to the scene of the local police station where another gentleman (Pran) clad in a priest-like clothes only visits the concerned officer to inquire about the progress of the police in the quest of the murderer and he gets the standard reply of Indian police that they are on the job. Now our smart young hero Chaand Kapoor (Krishan Kumar) who appears to be having the aptitude of a skirt-chaser, comes into picture. His father (Shammi Kapoor) is already facing financial problems and his extravagant nature only aggravates them. Chaand comes into contact with the heroine (Tanya Singh) and falls for her charms. However she is aggrieved by her elder sister’s untimely death and is more interested in finding out her murderer than getting into any love affair. The twist in this confused love story comes when the heroine comes to know that it’s the hero only claiming to be her lover, who might be having a hand in her sister’s death. Things are further complicated by the activities of a smuggling gang. Finally our hero is able to lift curtain from every mystery of this story and unmask the culprits behind the smuggling exercise as well as the murders that have taken place. Quite expectedly, now the heroine falls into his arms for good.The script has been written by picking the basic grains and the story framework from Teesri Manzil by making some peripheral changes here and there. However the writer as well as the director of this movie could not use the brilliant story idea properly to make a good suspense thriller. The story starts with a murder but soon the focus shifts on the philandering and carefree activities of the hero who appears a loafer from his face and gestures. To confuse the audience regarding the identity of the culprit, too many angles and tracks have been forced into the narrative which exhaust more and entertain less. The revelation of the identity of the principal criminal (the boss of the smugglers’ gang) does not create any sensation for the audience. Still courtesy the quality of the original story idea, the movie has not been reduced to something like crap. Overall, it’s endurable for any regular movie buff (provided he has not seen Teesri Manzil already).Music which was a very big plus point of Teesri Manzil, is a minus point of this movie. Too many songs have been forced into the narrative blocking its flow and thus irritating the viewer because none of them is a quality song which the audience may like to remember after the movie. Too many music directors have been assigned the job of composing music for this movie and the maxim of ‘Too many cooks spoil the dish’ appears to have come true for it.0808780.CINE.lbyTechnically the movie is okay. Gulshan Kumar had spent generously for this launching pad of his younger brother. Length is on the higher side. Gulshan Kumar and the editor of this movie would have obliged the audience a lot, had they removed some songs and curtailed the length of the movie.1104179.CINE.ssb.jpgPerformances wise talking, the supporting cast including the baddies, has done well. Tanya Singh could not be Asha Parekh (the heroine of Teesri Manzil) and thankfully, she did not do any other movie in her career. For Krishan Kumar, let me say that Gulshan Kumar forgot that Shammi Kapoor was not helped in any way by his elder brother Raj Kapoor when he was trying to make his career as a romantic hero. Shammi Kapoor was a self-made person. Here despite all the support from Gulshan Kumar, Krishan Kumar could not create a Shammi Kapoor of Teesri Manzil here. The shoes of the legendary romantic hero proved to be too big for him. He appears to overact a lot while trying to copy the style of Shammi Kapoor (and falling flat on his face in this bid). Designer clothes and borrowed style cannot convert a crow into a swan. This movie could not establish Krishan Kumar as a durable hero in the industry but benefitted him in a different way. Romance bloomed between himself and Tanya Singh during the making of this movie and Tanya went ahead to become Krishan Kumar’s wife in due course of time.0808776.CINE.lby

Despite several weaknesses, this Bollywood potboiler is not bad as a one time watch in my opinion. Hence I recommend it to the regular Hindi movie buffs especially those who are fond of watching mysteries.

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Winner takes all

The law of the world is – WINNER TAKES ALL. And that’s why and how everybody starts blowing the trumpet of the winner after any contest, not giving a damn for the loser and the rightfulness or otherwise of the manner and tactics used by the winner in the process. Hence it’s but natural that almost everybody is busy in singing praises of Mr. Narendra Modi, preaching others to learn some lessons from him and mocking his opponents while telling them (whether required or not) as to how and why they lost  the electoral battle. However, is it enough for those writing such articles which include thinkers and senior journalists ? Does that sum up their role in the society ?

During the past five years, true journalism has, if not vanished in toto, got diminished to the greatest possible extent and the quality of the prevailing and visible journalism (if at all, it can be called journalism) has touched its nadir. In fact, the media and the journalists themselves have played a major role in this ‘handsome victory’ of Mr. Modi by not allowing this election to remain a level playing field. Before the elections also, a sizable part of the media was busy in glorifying (in fact, deifying) Mr. Modi as well as mocking and  demonizing his political opponents. So what’s new that’s happening after the elections ? Nothing !

Perhaps it’s the aftermath of liberalization in the nineties which has drowned all the noble values and ideals prevailing in the Indian collective psyche since times immemorial (despite getting bookish and impractical with the passage of time, they were existing then). Gone are the days when we used to read and hear about such committed journalists who were not only fearless but also ready to make even the greatest of sacrifices including their lives to throw light on hidden dark truths and uncover them before the masses whom they felt committed to. Journalism was also considered a noble profession like those of medicine and teaching in that bygone era. Now every field appears to have become a career and nothing else. So who cares as to how this huge victory has been arrived at ? For as per today’s value system (which seems to have been accepted by one and all) – victory is a goal in itself, a coveted goal which has to be achieved by any kind of means – fair or foul.

I have been reading many articles (which are routinely written whenever any new govt. has to take charge) telling the ‘Task Cut Out For Mr. Modi’. In my humble opinion, now there’s no task cut out for him. He has already accomplished his task with great success. He had devoted his full time and abundant energy to this task only (fighting and winning the election), doing nothing else and thinking about nothing else. Now he can unabashedly enjoy the fruit (that is, power) of this well-accomplished task for the next five years. Power is not a means for him, this has always been his goal. At the most, he can try to rewrite or distort the history of the Gujarat riots of 2002 and wash that stain from his name by using that power. The recently released biopic on him is a step in that direction only. By (mis)using his power, he can ensure to go down in the (distorted) history of India as a great man and put himself in the league of people like M.K. Gandhi. He knows very well how to use the power in hand to further own interests. In this particular election, the survival of Rahul Gandhi or any other opponent of Mr. Modi was not at stake. The fact that nobody noticed was that the survival at stake was that of Mr. Modi himself. For power is as vital for him as water is for fish. Had he lost his power by losing this election, his politics would have come to an abrupt halt culminating in the end of his career which is power-soaked politics only. He doesn’t have any career outside the corridors of power.

Now should we keep on preaching and mocking his defeated opponents because they are less smarter than him, because they are not competent to checkmate him in the game of chess (as they are seldom able to guess his next move) and because, unlike him, they haven’t mastered the art of winning elections ? The fact is, Mr. Modi and his right hand – Mr. Amit Shah have understood the ‘FIRST PAST THE POST’system of deciding the result of any seat undergoing election in India more than anybody else and they have used this knowledge of theirs (plus their abundant resources) to the optimal use. They know how many votes they needed in any particular constituency to win the seat and for that they did not need to carry all the sections of the society alongwith them. This is the most appropriate way to unpack Mr. Modi’s overwhelming victory.

Mr. Modi did not fight an election, he virtually fought a war. He did not treat his political opponents as mere rivals for power but as real enemies. He and his right hand Mr. Shah followed the dictum that ‘Everything is fair in love and war’ (they perceive all elections as wars only).This gesture and the strategy to use all the four classic means (as cited in Chaanakya Neeti) to get anything done or get the better of an adversary – Saam, Daam, Dand and Bhed (cordiality and counselling, money or favour, punishment or fear for that and creating a rift in the rival camp through discrimination) put Mr. Modi in a league of his own, apart from his rivals, who established that he is invincible in such kind of a war. But who is the ultimate loser in this war ? Not the opponents of Mr. Modi and his party but the Indian masses who got carried away (in fact, conned) once again.

This election was, from Mr. Modi’s viewpoint, more or less a mini MAHABHAARAT in which nothing was more important than or even equally important to victory. Winning at any cost and by any means was the motto. Mr. Modi, over the past few years, has become a self-proclaimed follower of M.K. Gandhi. However Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, always stressed that when the means are vicious, the ends are bound to get polluted howsoever pious they might be. Well, that philosophy of his seems to have died with him only. Mahatma Gandhi was ruthless as far as crushing the vices was concerned but he was not ruthless in dealing with the people who were on the other side. However in a war, one has to be ruthless, else the likelihood of defeat exists even in the most favourable circumstances. To eradicate even the remotest possibility of loss, one has to be cruel, insensitive and devoid of any principles. And that’s Mr. Modi for you, the so-called follower of Gandhi doing exactly the opposite of what Gandhi had taught to his followers and the whole world. Now in the noise of victory trumpets being blown for Mr. Modi, his strategy to win is needless to discuss because what’s important is the result and not the way used to get it as it was for the Father of the Nation. Mr. Modi is a great marketing man who sold his well-designed image to the voters all over the country with his smart talk, aggressive gestures, hard-hitting assertions and blatant lies in addition to changing the electoral narrative to suit his interests throwing the genuine issues of the common public to the dustbin. The biggest secret of his success is that he succeeded in brainwashing the voters.

Till January this year, I was expecting Mr. Modi to provoke Pakistan for a war (or something akin to that) to arouse nationalist sentiments in India for cashing on them in the election in May. However perhaps Mr. Modi knows the theorem of grabbing the maximum gain by taking the minimum risk. Hence the war did not happen but war-frenzy came into existence among the masses for Mr. Modi to cash on because of the Pulwama attack which provided a ground for the much-publicized air-strike. How could that attack (taking 40 and odd innocent lives) happen at the most opportune moment for the ruling party (to be exact, its supremo) ? Isn’t there a single fearless and committed journalist left in India who can smell a rat in that ? Or servility to the high and the mighty only has become the motto of us all, discarding everything else ?

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A Rajasthani experience outside Rajasthan

I am a Rajasthani villager. Born and brought up there (Sambhar Lake) and after taking my professional degree from Kolkata, again spent several years in my home state due to my own job and again enjoyed village life courtesy my posting in a small town – Rawatbhata and my wife’s Govt. job at a sandy village – Baitu which I visited many times and spent many days there. And I got amazed to feel like revisiting the rural life in my home state when I visited Dhola Ri Dhani on 25.12.2011.

Dhola Ri Dhani is a tourist attraction on the outskirts of Hyderabad in a locality called Kompally. We, living in Lingampally, drove our car by taking our route to that place from Miyapur on the road going towards Dindigul airport. The place is named after Dhola who is the hero of one of the most famous Rajasthani folk-stories – Dhola Maaroo (it’s a legendary love story). Dhaani (in Rajasthani language) means a rural colony or a very small village (just a cluster of some houses). Hence Dhola Ri Dhani means Dhola’s colony.

Dhola Ri Dhani opens for the visitors twice in a day. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 4.30 p.m. to 10 p.m. The ticket price includes the price of the food also which is either lunch or dinner (depending upon which timing you choose to visit this place). Food is served at the meal time in a place inside called Maan-Manuhaar in purely Rajasthani style of hospitality. The guests are made to squat on the floor and served food in Thaalis put on Chowkis in front of them. The servers offer the guest all the delicious food items with extremely politeness and persuade him / her to consume the served stuff sumptuously. Since the food is indeed of very high quality with several Rajasthani dishes involved, the entry ticket rate seems to be quite reasonable. Children up to the age of 8 years are not charged for entry but food coupon is to be taken for them by paying separately.The layout of Dhola Ri Dhani is exactly on the lines of a Rajasthani village and the architect has done a brilliant work in presenting the rural Rajasthan before the eyes of the visitor. As it’s titled as Dhaani or a very small village, true to its title, the area covered is very less and the visitor can cover it by foot within 15-20 minutes. In fact, it’s the feeling that one gets which is important.
The number of attractions are less. There is an auditorium made in the old-fashioned style where the singers sing (on the day of our visit, a singer was paying tribute to Late Mohammed Rafi by singing his songs) and a stage for folk-dances. There is a magic show of purely folk-style and the puppet-show which is a specialty of Rajasthani folk-culture. There is a marriage hall also where real marriages might be taking place (people might be hiring that place for matrimonial ceremonies) which is well-decorated and pleasant. There is an old-fashioned swimming pool also because in villages, villagers swim also in the water-bodies available in the vicinity. I also enjoyed swimming with my son.

There is a fancy garden (with a small cave and statues of animals) whose path moves through a bridge over a small water-body. There is a normal children’s park with natural fireplace like facility provided for the visitors to warm themselves in the cool nights (we also did so because after the sunshine had gone and darkness prevailed, 25th December, 2011 brought a pretty cool weather in Hyderabad). To provide a rural feeling, very simple Rajasthani cots are laid at many places for the visitors to relax. Camel-ride and Tonga-ride are available. A tea stall is also there where tea and snacks are served. The quality of tea, Samosas, Kachoris and Mirchi-Badaas (a fried snack made of gram-flour with a green chilli inside) is very superior. The tea seems to be prepared in exactly the same way as it is made in Rajasthani villages and tea-stalls in rural areas. The payment is to be made at the stall according to what and how much the visitor consumes. Jal-jeera (a spicy, refreshing drink) is served to the visitors without charging.

To cater to the needs of the urban people, there is a regular restaurant and a coffee-dispenser with regular packed fast-food items also.

Before the time to live in the village is over, there is a 30 minutes long spoof of the movie – Sholay staged live at a place called – Meena Ki Dhani (Meena’s colony) titled as ‘Meena Ki Dhani Mein Dhani Ke Sholay’. I found it entertaining only in parts.I enjoyed the trip very well as I felt like revisiting rural Rajasthan once again. Ultimately, wherever I may live, I cannot be cut from my roots. However I found some minus-points which the owners of this place should strive to remove :

    1. The entry-arrangement of guests at the food place is quite clumsy. Since the guests have to put off their footwear also, better arrangement is desirable for the guests waiting for entry. The behaviour of the crowd waiting for its turn for food (since the food is served in batches at half-hourly intervals) is very distasteful because the space at the gate is quite limited and after the food, you have to locate your footwear too (there is no arrangement for keeping the guests’ footwear).
    2. The puppet-show which is an essenntial part of Rajasthani folk-art, is of a very short duration (barely 10 minutes). It should be of at least half an hour.
    3. The number of attractions are very less, given the fact that the guests have to spend at least five hours inside. More attractions should be added without disturbing the basic format of the place (rural Rajasthan).
    4. At the main entry gate as well as at other places, at least one employee should be ensured who can speak and understand Rajasthani because then only, the true Rajasthani culture is reflected. Finding the people at the gate (who sell tickets) speaking in Telugu (or English) dilutes the real flavour of the place which it is meant for.

I advise anybody touring Hyderabad to make a visit to this place. Just go there with a modest expectation and see how Rajasthani rural-folks look and behave and what Rajasthani culture ‘n’ hospitality is all about. I have not visited Chokhi Dhani at Jaipur but heard that it’s much better than Dhola Ri Dhani.

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A professional chases his dreams against the odds

Whenever a youth obtains a professional degree (B.E. or B. Tech / M. Tech or C.A. / MBA or the like wise), he has already become a dreamer – a dreamer thinking big, just too big. ‘Think big, think better’ is his watchword now. I was also like that when I obtained my C.A. degree way back in January 1992.

However the dreams of a young (Indian) professional are, in all likelihood, going to clash the feudalistic Indian work culture and the politics-hit Indian organizations. The youngster is skilled in his work and knowledgeable in his field. However to rise in his career (if he opts for serving in some organization), something else is also required. What’s that ?

I remember my ex-boss Mr. S. Alaguvel telling me in 2005, ‘Mathur, you work good but you do not possess the knack of keeping people happy and that’s the obstacle in your career.’ What did he mean ? If someone performs according to the expectations levied on him, then why should it not count for his rise in the career ? What’s this ‘knack of keeping people happy’ ? Definitely, it’s not something taught in some school or college or institute. It is to be learned on one’s own.

Plus the old and shrewd peers (or superiors or even juniors) are seldom happy with the young entrant in the organization especially when he is well-qualified and intelligent. He is perceived by them as a threat to their dominance and conspiracies to pull him down start in no time. Status counts more than the ability and flatterers almost always have the day. Then what should the really capable one do ? He should do what I could not do. Just be shrewd and use others as a ladder to climb the height of success. Khwab (1980) tells one such story of a young B. Tech engineer only.Khwab (dream) starts with the journey of our B. Tech qualified hero – Prataap (Mithun Chakraborty) from a small town to Mumbai (then Bombay) with dreams in his eyes and enthusiasm and self-confidence filling his heart. He stumbles upon Indrani (Ranjeeta) during this journey and impresses her in this very first encounter of theirs. In Mumbai, he straightaway visits his old friend – Gopal (Nasiruddin Shah) who has nobody in the world except his younger sister – Maya (Yogeeta Bali). Gopal works in the same factory whose employment is sought by Prataap. Unfortunately Gopal is an alcoholic and remains frustrated with his life for most of the time. Maya gets smitten by Prataap from the very outset but Prataap does not look upon her in the same manner.

Prataap had to get the job anyway because his father has been the college-friend of the managing director of this company – Mr. Prasaad (Madan Puri) and due to the M.D.’s recommendation, the general manager of the factory – Khanna (Sujit Kumar) had no option but to recruit him as a supervisor. Now the real test starts for our hero when he is pulled down and humiliated by the old and cunning foreman – Tripathi (Yunus Parvez) who is the trusted lieutenant of the general manager. These guys are always interested in grinding their own axes instead of improving the things in the factory. Prataap comes to know about the danger to the workers’ lives through the union leader – Comrade Lobo (Dinesh Thakur) and he prepares a plan of renovation and change in the factory layout. But he is shocked to see that Khanna tears his plan (which he has prepared by devoting a lot of time and energy) before his eyes and warns him to ‘stay in his place’.

Now our young hero realizes that getting a professional degree and being knowledgeable is not sufficient to grow in career. He vows to settle his score with Khanna and Tripathi and make it big in the company. He visits the house of the M.D. , i.e.,  Mr. Prasaad on the ground of his being his father’s friend and here the luck smiles at him when Indrani turns out to be Mr. Prasaad’s daughter. She is fond of swimming and fortunately, our hero is a skilled swimmer. He wins the swimming contest held for the employees of the company and thereby wins the heart of first Indrani in order to find his way to the heart of his father then. He gets his renovation plan passed directly through Mr. Prasaad (bypassing Khanna, the general manager) and by implementing that, impresses the board of directors of the company to this much extent that he is elevated to the post of the deputy general manager of the factory, getting a new spacious flat to move from his present residence (in the neighbourhood of Gopal) and also a car. Now Gopal feels that his old friend is distanced from him because their statuses are no longer at par. He also feels that Prataap is too selfish.

In between these developments in his career, one night Prataap happens to have sex with Maya in a highly intoxicated state of his. He feels guilty upon coming to his senses the next morning but Maya does not feel guilty about it because she has been in love with Prataap in her heart. What she is unaware of is the fact that Prataap is romancing with Indrani. She is shocked first to know that she is pregnant and thereafter that Prataap is going to get engaged to Indrani after becoming the general manager of the factory. Now she calls Prataap to meet her at the boat-club where they had once enjoyed boating in the lake (despite Prataap’s not being a member of the boat-club). And when their boat is in the middle of the lake, Maya falls from the same in the lake and gets drowned.

Prataap now faces the murder-charge. Gopal believes that Prataap only has murdered Maya and thus backstabbed him. In the courtroom drama that follows, Prataap’s defense lawyer – Mr. Joshi (Ashok Kumar) is pitted against the seasoned public prosecutor – Mr. Dalaal (Utpal Dutt). Indrani stands by Prataap through thick and thin and finally he gets exonerated. However his own heart gets repose only when Gopal forgives him.Director Shakti Samanta who used to make movies with high profile heroes like Shammi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan, made this movie as a change with less popular actors (at least then). This movie is an example that prior to the nineties, a lot of effort was devoted to script-writing and not just pump and show with an ugly display of money.  Loosely inspired by the Hollywood movie – A Place in the Sun (1951), the script of this movie has been penned by Ranjan Bose with good application of mind and a proper study of the work culture in the Indian factories as well as the offices. The complete set-up is realistic but the journey of the hero to the heights of success is too fast as well as too smooth and that’s why less reliable. That’s unlikely in the real life.Since the basic theme was dry, the angles of friendship and love have been inserted to make it a proper Bollywood potboiler with regular entertainment. However that has gone against the movie because it left it as neither a typical masala entertainer nor a truly different movie.

How the lawyers are never hesitant to vilify the character of a girl or a woman just to save their client from the charge levied, has been shown quite realistically and effectively in the courtroom drama when Prataap’s defense counsel (Ashok Kumar) tries to portray (Late) Maya as a seductress. The friendship and camaraderie of Prataap and Gopal is damn impressive. Romance could not be properly exasperated by the director despite two heroines being shown in love with the hero. The movie does not provide any relief moments despite some effort made by the veteran comedian of Bollywood – Birbal.All the four main artistes of the movie alongwith the complete supporting cast have performed satisfactorily. Nasiruddin Shah and Mithun Chakraborty have complimented each other very well, playing close friends with one of them being very ambitious (Prataap) and the other one being highly frustrated with his life (Gopal). Yogeeta Bali is Mithun’s real life wife but his amazing own-screen chemistry has always been with Ranjeeta only. That’s true for this movie too.Ravindra Jain’s music is not excellent but two songs stand out – 1. Banjara Main Nahin Magar Mujhe Har Nai Dagar Bulaaye Apni Or which is a heart-winning journey song sung by Yesudas, 2. Ek Aas Liye Vishwas Liye Mera Mann Manzil Ke Nishaan Dhoondhe sung by Suresh Wadkar, Yesudas and Hemlata. In fact, Ravindra Jain as a lyricist is more impressive than as a composer in the context of the music of this movie.

I recommend Khwab as a decent timepass to all the movie buffs.

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Sentiments are an integral part of human life. What’s a life sans sentiments ? It’s the sentiments only which convert a dry and colourless life into one full of colours and flavours. A life devoid of sentiments may be useful but its utility will always remain limited only. If an individual is devoid of sentiments, neither his talent can be exploited to the full, nor can his endeavours be successful in their entirety. It is, therefore, very significant to be sentimental in life.

Often it is said that life should run through logic and brains and not through sentiments and heart. It’s right to some extent in the practical life, especially in the times of crisis because sentiments sometimes block the thought-process in difficult times. However, this is equally true that the bigger the crisis, the stronger should be the resolution and any resolution is directly linked to heart which is further connected to sentiments. The resolution not having any sentiment to back it, may find itself broken like a fragile tree in any windstorm of life-events.

Now the question arises as to what’s meant by being sentimental. Should an individual shedding tears and having a throat blocked by their emergence every now and then be called sentimental ? Should a person be considered sentimental if he gets frequently carried away by emotions and acts accordingly ? In my opinion, the answer is NO because there lies a subtle difference between sentimentality and emotionality which pertains to the maturity level of the individual in question. Over-emotional person cannot handle himself properly in times of crisis. He may find it difficult to help even himself, leave aside the others. Whereas a sentimental person is the one who knows how to strike a balance between sentiment and duty, who keeps his sentiments intact in his heart but without allowing them to interfere with the performance of his duties.

Renowned Hindi author Sudarshan had written a classic story decades back, titled as ‘Shreya Aur Preya’ underscoring the fact that it’s the most important ability of an individual to differentiate between Shreya (the correct thing to do) and Preya (the thing which is dear to heart) and to choose Shreya when the moment of choice arrives. And a truly sentimental person is the one who can correctly differentiate between these two, giving priority to Shreya in his life.

Human sentiments are of various types but when we refer to a person being sentimental, we  mean positive and desirable sentiments only which contribute to making life more meaningful and more valuable for the world.

An individual can rise above petty self-interests and think about others, appreciating their beauty and empathizing with their grief if and only if he is sentimental. Such a person only can turn his life into a publicly useful one because his sentimentality prevents him from being self-centred and selfish. A sentimental person only can be kind towards humans and other living creatures and benevolent towards the aggrieved and the needy.

I have one more personal thought in this perspective that a person should be sentimental towards others but should never desire anything in return for his sentiments. When the desire to get return / reciprocation starts dominating the other sentiments, then the kindness and internal beauty of the individual concerned start depreciating without his knowledge. Hence a sentimental person should give the sentiment of giving the apex position in his heart but without a desire to get something in return. It’s pretty difficult, no doubt but this selflessness only converts an ordinary being into an extra-ordinary one and propels him on the path to greatness. Nevertheless, if at all he wants something, then he should only want that at least a part of his kindness gets transferred to those who come in his contact and get influenced by his sentimentality.

Since sentiments are a tender aspect of personality, hence it is desirable not to hurt anybody’s sentiments in any manner. By hurting a person’s sentiments, we strike at the positive aspect of his personality which ultimately brings about negative results at individual and social levels. On the contrary, by respecting someone’s sentiments and reciprocating positively to his sentimentality, we can exasperate the bright aspect of his personality. Sympathy and love are such positive sentiments which may convert even the devil into God.

Summing up, sentimentality is that aspect of human personality which makes it succulent and which does not allow it to become selfish and heartless. Sentiments are God-given gift to mankind and it is the individual’s own function to keep them intact and develop further. His family and social environment also play a significant role in that. This is to be understood by the society also that a sentimental person only can be socially useful. Let’s understand the value of sentiments, be sentimental ourselves and make our positive contribution in turning others too into sentimental beings.

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Long live Zohra Aapa ! An icon of Zinda-Dili !

Today is the birthday of Zohra Sehgal who had left for her heavenly abode on 10.07.2014 after spending 102 years on this planet with each one of them brightening with her never-say-die spirit.  She truly deserved to live for more than a century. The great artist who was an icon of vivaciousness was born on 27th April, 1912. The really bold lady who was much ahead of her time and a true symbol of woman-lib was a multi-talented artist. She was a stout pillar of Indian theatre, a dancer-cum-choreographer-cum dance teacher par excellence, a great cine-actress and what not ! She lived her life on her own terms and always maintained the true spirit of living a meaningful and energetic life –  ‘Never say die’.  Interestingly, she had acted in a TV series titled as Never Say Die only which was a comedy and was telecast on a channel in U.K. during the late eighties.

Her first movie as an actress was Dharti Ke Lal (1946) by Khwaja Ahmed Abbas whereas her last movie as an actress was Saawariya (2007) by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. While paying my tribute to this brave woman born in a Muslim family a century ago who went ahead to live a life full of vigor and vivacity, drawing respect from all the quarters of the society, I am reviewing a movie which was one of her final movies. It’s Cheeni Kum (2007).Cheeni-Kum-925071974-435994-1Cheeni Kum (less sugar) is a comedy whose story is true to the spirit of Zohra Aapa. Here she plays the role of a very aged woman Mrs. Gupta whose son Buddhadev (Amitabh Bachchan) is a bachelor even during his sixties. He runs one of top restaurants of London and rolls in money but lives without a woman in his life much to the anguish of his mother (Zohra Sehgal). Destiny brings him into contact with an Indian tourist Neena (Tabu) and he falls for the charms of a girl thirty years junior to him in age. After initial teasing and ‘no-no’, Neena also falls in love with this man who is old by age but young by heart. Buddhadev’s mother readily agrees for their marriage because it’s something she’s been waiting for decades but making Neena’s Delhi-based father Mr. Varma (Paresh Rawal) consenting for this marriage is a Herculean task because the aspirant groom is older than the hoped-for father-in-law. The movie concludes on the desired note after some interesting twists and arranging not only rib-tickling but also heart-piercing and sentimental moments for the audience.DApe2fnXkAA7dpDThe title of the movie has been kept as Cheeni Kum (sugar in little quantity) because the first encounter of the lead pair starts with the preparation of Zaafraani Pulaao in the hero’s restaurant for the heroine who is dissatisfied with the dish prepared on her order and then the hero who considers himself as a great chef, tells her that Zaafraani Pulaao is to be prepared with a little amount of sugar only because it shouldn’t be very sweet. Perhaps the filmmaker has taken this recipe to his heart and he has also not presented an out and out comedy. There is an ample dose of sentiments also through the character of a little girl fondly called as Sexy (Swini Khera) and her sad demise leaving the lead characters especially the Mrs. Gupta and her son as soaked in grief.

The movie is undoubtedly very interesting without boredom at any place and that’s the victory of the writer-director R. Balki whose maiden effort in the form of this movie is highly laudable. And the novel story idea combined with the entertainment value being the USP of this movie, it got box office success also. At places, the movie appears to be an adult comedy and is in danger of crossing the boundary line of decency but the talented director has not allowed it to go like that and kept this issue under check.

All the technical aspects are up to the mark. Musical score prepared by Ilaiyaraaja is completely in sync with the mood of the movie.images.jpgBoth Amitabh Bachchan and Tabu are highly talented actors and they have sparkled in this movie right from its opening to its conclusion. Their on-screen chemistry is amazing and heart-conquering. They have proved that the director has chosen the perfect cast for his story. Paresh Rawal, child artist Swini Khera and all the supporting cast members have also delivered admirable performances.

And finally, Zohra Sehgal. Zohra Aapa’s vivacity, openness and a desire to live every moment of her life to the full sans knowing any bounds for her has found its expression in her role in Cheeni Kum also. During her lifetime, she used to assert quite boldly without any fear that it’s sex which always kept her going. In this movie also, she’s shown as fond of watching sexy movies, never mind her (highly) advanced years. She has done superbly and instead of acting, has lived her role. Alongwith others, she is also one reason to watch this movie.

While paying my tribute to the Grand Young Lady of the world of art, I recommend Cheeni Kum as a very entertaining movie made on a novel theme to all the movie buffs. I do not term this movie as something great or classic. All the same, it’s fair to say that it’s a different as well as a very well made movie.

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