They died so that we could live with dignity

The continuous violation of ceasefire on the LOC from the side of Pakistan on one hand and the mischievous activities of China on our land on the other remind us everyday that we should be on our guard to protect our frontiers from our permanent enemies in our neighbourhood. Whether it’s Britain prior to 15.08.1947 or it’s Pakistan and China from 15.08.1947 onwards till date, the patriot Indians cannot relax considering the threat from across the border to the country and the countrymen. On the occasion of the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Raajguru (23rd March), I am presenting the review of a book telling the patriotism-filled tales of the very very young unsung heroes of the war of independence of India from the British. This is a Hindi novel whose title is – Watan Par Marne Waale (those who died for the motherland) and its author is (Late) Jagdeesh Jagesh.

Watan Par Marne Waale, true to its title, tells the true life-stories of those martyrs of tender age who laid down their lives for the cause of liberating Mother India from the shackles of slavery. These heart-stirring and tear-jerking tales of martyrdom have been told in flash-back through the mouths of three contemporary characters of free India. They are those youths who are still honest, truthful, sincere and above all, patriot at their heart and want to know more about their nation as well as do something worthwhile for their motherland.

The novel starts with the journey of a clean-hearted patriot youth, Mridul from his home to Delhi because he wants to listen to the Indian prime minister live from the battlement of the Red Fort on 15th August and feel the pride of being an Indian. But due to his bitter experiences during the journey as well as during his stay at his destination when the Indian premier was delivering the Independence Day speech, he feels that most of the Indians don’t understand the value of being free from the colonial rule and they don’t respect this status of theirs (I also feel like him). He was instigated to reach Delhi on this occasion after reading the heart-piercing episode of the martyrdom of Emperor Bahadurshah Zafar and his entire family. Zafar’s SHER (Urdu couplet) – ‘Kitna Hai Badnaseeb Zafar Ki Dafan Ke Liye Do Gaj Zameen Bhi Na Milee Koo-e-Yaar Mein‘ (how unfortunate Zafar is that he did not get even two yards of land in his motherland for his burial !) had made his eyes wet (I also feel my eyes as wet whenever I read this Ghazal of his whose the said SHER is a part of – Lagta Naheen Hai Jee Mera Ujade Dayaar Mein). However now he is feeling that the Indians living in free India have lost their national character and the sentiment of patriotism (I also feel that). But before this feelings and newly-formed opinion of this patriot youth gets solidified, he happens to come across two like-minded youths who have come from Bengal for the same purpose. They are Maneesh and his cousin, Mrinmay.

Like-mindedness brings people closer and quite naturally, these three young patriots decide to move for the return journey together and spend as much time together as possible for them. And during this return journey only, they tell the unheard stories of the unsung heroes of the Indian freedom struggle to each other (and also to their fellow-travellers). In between of that, they happen to come across one more youth – Manohar who also contributes to the lively, meaningful and patriotic talks taking place in the train compartment. Their conversation brings to fore the stories of young patriots like Pandit Shaligram Shukla, Shreeshchandra Kaushal, Surendranath Pandey, Prabodh Ranjan Chaudhury, Anant Hari Mitra, Nikhil Kumar Banerjee, Pradyot Kumar Bhattacharya, Prabhanshu Shekhar Pal, Santosh Kumar Mitra etcetera which are otherwise not known to the current generation. The references of certain well-known martyrs viz. Jatindra Nath Das, Shacheendra Sanyal, Chandra Shekhar Aazaad, Bhagat Singh, Pandit Ram Prasad Bismil etc. also come due to their link with the lesser known ones. The gist of the narration of all these talking youths is a one-liner – ‘They died so that we could live with dignity in free India.’

Watan Par Marne Waale was penned by the devoted author – Late Jagdeesh Jagesh after a lot of research work and he dug out these stories which have not been made a part of the Indian history and neglected by the high-profile historians (not to say even the least for the politicians). These teenager martyrs did not know anything except that they had to do everything to drive out the colonial rulers from their motherland. Laying down own lives was considered a very small price for the freedom of Mother India by them. But more than the death which had to come only once, they underwent severe sufferings of the kind we may not be ready to face even in our dreams. But they suffered with smiles on their lips. The tortures and hardships were flowers for them, throwing fragrance of freedom for their country. Hundreds of such martyrs did not win news headlines and could not enter the history books. But their sacrifices are invaluable. We have forgotten them, hence we are ungrateful. In the considered opinion of Jitendra Mathur, if we continue to forget them, we will continue to be ungrateful. These tender boys suffered beyond our imagination and then willingly embraced death. Can we ?

The learned author Late Jagdeesh Jagesh (who himself must have been a great patriot) has detailed the situations and the mindset of the family members of these martyrs too whose contribution in this regard is not to be underrated. They with all their maturity and worldly knowledge, never stopped their young energetic kids to go for sufferings and even sacrifice of own lives for the sake of serving the motherland. They stood by their children through thick and thin and never let their morale to come down. That’s no less a contribution to any great cause. The way Vidyavati, the mother of the immortal martyr – Bhagat Singh always remained a perennial source of inspiration and mental strength for her great son, the same way the family members of these martyrs continued to stand behind their great sons and helped them by all means, never to allow them to feel lonely in the great fight carried out by them.

Written in simple language but with a high degree of passion, this novel is an account of lesser-known history and a showcase of patriotism that used to exist a century back. It contains lively and useful discussions too between the narrating characters alongside the patriotic talks. The discussion regarding the superiority between NISHTHA (devotion) and NISHCHAY (determination) is a small yet great piece of literature.

At this moment, when India appears to be at the juncture of another Kargil like war, this novel becomes all the more relevant. While recommending this highly underrated literary novel to everybody who is a patriot and who can read Hindi, I appeal to all the citizens to spare some time out of their busy lives to think of their nation too, rising above the petty interests of self, family, caste, community, religion and province. I sign off with a SHER of the great martyr – Ashfaqullah Khan – ‘Kuchh Aarzoo Nahin Hai, Hai Aarzoo To Ye Hai, Rakh De Zara See Koi Khaaq-e-Watan Kafan Mein‘ (I don’t have any desire now, the final desire is just that some dust of my motherland is kept in my cerement while burying me). What a sentiment it was friends, what a sentiment it was !

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My favourite comedies from Bollywood

downloadThough I am fond of serious movies, mysteries and musicals; I like quality comedies too which are neat and clean humorous tales, free from vulgarity. Today I am presenting the list of the top ten Bollywood comedies according to my subjective choice which is as follows :

1. Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006) : Since the day I watched this movie, it has been my numero uno comedy. An outstanding endeavour of R.K. Hirani, teaching the Gandhian philosophy through humour. Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi became immortal through the roles of Munna and Circuit.

2. Munna Bhai MBBS (2003) : R.K. Hirani’s maiden venture, exposing the heartlessness prevailing in the medical system through natural laughs. Sanjay Dutt aka Munna’s Jaadu Ki Jhappi won audience’ hearts.

3. Chupke Chupke (1975) : A great comedy of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, examining English vis-a-vis Hindi. Dharmendra delivered a great humorous performance alongwith Sharmila, Amitabha, Jaya, Om Prakash and Asrani. It can be watched any number of times and is able to make the viewer laugh afresh on every watch.

4. Naram Garam (1981) : Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s underrated comedy which not only generates laughs throughout but makes the eyes wet too through the undercurrent of emotion. This Amol Palekar, Swaroop Sampat and Utpal Dutt starrer hits hard on the superstitions prevailing in the Indian society. Shatrughan Sinha too, delivered the comic performance of his lifetime in this movie.

5. Atithi Tum Kab Jaaoge (2010) : An outstanding comedy released this year containing great performance of Paresh Rawal alongwith Ajay Devgan-Konkona Sen Sharma and others. It reminds us of the great Indian hosting tradition in which the guest is considered as equivalent to God.

6. Golmaal (1978) : Another memorable comedy by Hrishi Da with unforgettable comic performances by Amol Palekar and Utpal Dutt.

7. Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958) : A great comedy by the three real life brothers – Ashok Kumar, Kishore Kumar and Anoop Kumar alongwith Madhubala in female lead.

8. Padosan (1968) : A classic comedy starring Kishore Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Saira Banu and Mehmood. Ek Chatur Naar and Mere Saamne Wali Khidki Mein were the highlights of the laugh riot created in the movie.

9. Joru Ka Ghulam (1972) : This Rajesh Khanna-Nanda starrer is an underrated comedy which, alongwith laughs, renders the exemplary message to the middle class Indians to stay away from pomposity.

10. Ek Thi Larki (1949) : A memorable, black and white, laughter-studded rom-com whose song – Lara Lappa had made the heroine, Meena Shourie a star overnight. She was paired opposite Moti Lal. This movie is also the career highlight of Bollywood’s famous comedian-cum-filmmaker, I.S. Johar in a villainous role (this being his debut movie).

Other than these top ten, the following comedies are also mentionable :

1. Pati Patni Aur Woh (1978) : An excellent movie presenting the plot of a male’s licentiousness in the utmost comic way. Memorable performances of Sanjeev Kumar, Vidya Sinha and Ranjeeta alongwith the brilliant direction has kept the freshness of this movie intact even after so many years.

2. Aankhen (1993) : This Govinda, Chunkey Pandey, Raageshwari and Shilpa Shirodkar starrer David Dhawan comedy movie is considered as one of the biggest box office grossers of Bollywood. In fact, it was a remake of Vinod Mehra, Mehmood, Anjana and Aruna Irani starrer comedy – Do Phool (1973).

3. Coolie No. 1 (1995) : The trio of Govinda, Karisma Kapoor and David Dhawan (director) has given many commercially successful comedies. Among them, I like this one very much.

4. Gopi Kishan ( 1994) : Sunil Shetty presented hilarious comedy in double role in this movie, directed by Mukesh Duggal.

5. Chashm–E-Baddoor (1981) : Talented lady director Sai Paranjpye presented this Farooq Sheikh, Deepti Naval, Ravi Baswani and Rakesh Bedi starrer comedy which got both admiration and box office success.

6. Angoor (1982) : Even profound moviemaker Gulzar made a comedy starring Sanjeev Kumar, Deven Varma, Moushumi Chatterjee and Deepti Naval, borrowing the plot from William Shakespeare’s classic work – Comedy of Errors. One more movie Do Dooni Chaar (1968) had also been made earlier on the same plot with Kishore Kumar and Asit Sen playing the roles that got played by Sanjeev Kumar and Deven Varma in Angoor.

7. Do Aur Do Paanch (1980) : An amusing comedy starring Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Hema Malini and Parveen Babi.

8. Andaz Apna Apna (1994) : Raj Kumar Santoshi presented this laugh-riot starring Aamir Khan and Salmaan Khan together for the first and the last time with Karisma Kapoor and Raveena Tandon in female leads.

9. Hera Pheri (2000) : Priyadarshan’s much-acclaimed comedy which made Paresh Rawal’s character – Baburao quite famous and established Akshay Kumar as Bollywood’s comedy-king, dethroning Govinda.

10. 3 Idiots (2009) : The much acclaimed and highly successful comedy of Rajkumar Hirani, the director and Aamir Khan, the actor.

Satires :

In addition to comedies, I hereby mention certain satires which do render laughter to the audience alongwith the sarcasm inherent in their plots :

1. Katha (1983) : Sai Paranjpye’s classic satire starring Farooq Sheikh, Nasiruddin Shah and Deepti Naval which is a modernized version of the ancient Hare & Tortoise fable, is a treasure of laughs.

2. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (1983) : This Nasiruddin Shah, Ravi Baswani and Bhakti Barve starrer satire, directed by Kundan Shah which is now considered a classic, provides genuine laughs too.

Comedies by default :

The following movies are not comedies but they are full of laughs for the audience which is more or less a free gift for the audience :

1. Ram Aur Shyam (1967) : Tragedy king Dilip Kumar demonstrated his comedy talent in this movie directed by Tapi Chanakya. Waheeda Rehman and Mumtaz star opposite him.

2. Gopi (1970) : Gopi is a relationship-based emotional movie but Dilip Kumar (alongwith his real life wife, Saira Banu) made the audience laugh time and again.

3. Kal Ho Na Ho (2003) : Karan Johar’s Nikhil Advani directed this movie is a very emotional movie but its first half in full and second half in part, is studded with heartfelt laughs.

4. Victoria No. 203 (1972) : This crime thriller is still remembered for the laugh riot created on the screen by two Bollywood veterans – Ashok Kumar and Pran.

5. Namak Halaal (1982) : This formula-based movie is not a pure comedy but Amitabh Bachchan’s admirable comic acting turned it into a hit comedy. Smita Patil stars opposite Amitabh in the movie which contains Shashi Kapoor and Parveen Babi too.

6. Gupt (1997) : This murder mystery starring Bobby Deol, Manisha Koirala and Kajol can be watched again only for the comedy provided in the movie by character actors like Raza Murad, Prem Chopra, Harish Patel, Sadashiv Amarapurkar, Ashok Saraf and Om Puri.

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The movie is good but the novel is better

Whenever any movie is made on the basis of some novel or story, the comparisons between the written version and the celluloid version are inevitable. Sometimes, the viewers find the movie to be better than the written piece of work and sometimes the readers find that the moviemaker has not done justice to the book or the story. From my point of view, Mehbooba (1976) falls into the second category. It is based on Gulshan Nanda’s novel – Sisakte Saaz (sobbing musical instruments).mehbooba-1976-desibantuSisakte Saaz is, in my opinion, the best novel written by Gulshan Nanda who was inarguably the best selling author of Hindi pulp fiction in India during 1960-1990. He penned down around 50 Hindi novels and several of them got themselves picturized on the celluloid. Sharmeelee, Kati Patang, Jheel Ke Us Paar, Naya Zamaana, Daag, Ajnabee, Bhanwar, Paale Khan, Neel Kamal, Patthar Ke Honth (Movie – Khilona), Maadhvi (Movie – Kaajal), Aawara Baadal (Movie – Main Aawara Hoon) were among them. For Mehbooba, he not only gave his novel – Sisakte Saaz to Shakti Samanta but also wrote the screenplay of Mehbooba, thereby adapting his novel for the film himself. However, in my opinion, he did a mistake by changing the story of the movie in the later half. The result is, while the novel is definitely a memorable one, the movie is, more or less, an above average entertaining movie.

The story of Sisakte Saaz is the triangular story of the royal court singer, Prakash; his sweetheart and the royal court dancer, Ratna and his wife, Jamuna. The novel is an ocean of love and tender emotions and there are several twists and turns in the lives of the three protagonists leading to the ultimate tragic end of the story. The ending scene in which Prakash is dead and a bird is hopping on his musical instrument, thereby creating a sound as if the musical instrument is sobbing, is heart-piercing. The complete novel has been written on a very large canvas with an engrossing and freely flowing narrative. The dialogues of Prakash and Ratna in the novel are quite sentimental and impressive. Overall it is a very good novel written in Hindi. It is a pulp fiction work written in pocket book style but can be categorized as a good literary work.


While adapting the novel for the movie, Gulshan Nanda perhaps thought that the large canvas of the novel may not suit the movie and the narrative may not be digestible for the Indian audience who is fond of watching formula-based regular movies on celluloid. Hence he adhered to the novel only upto the interval point. In the novel, Prakash and Ratna part ways after leaving the royal court of Jaipur and meet only after many years with Prakash becoming a music director in movies and coming across Ratna in Lucknow while looking for a singer-actor female for a new movie. In the film, Prakash and Ratna are shown dead while fleeing together and then they reincarnate to meet again in their second life with Prakash reincarnating as Sooraj, the singer and Ratna reincarnating as Jhumri, a gypsy girl. In the film, the post interval story is completely that of a typical Bollywood movie with the baddy, Prem Chopra creating obstacles in the path of Sooraj and Jhumri and the happy ending with the union of our hero-heroine.

The movie is good for entertainment and boasts of good songs composed by Pancham Da (R.D. Burman). Mere Naina Saawan Bhadon, Phir Bhi Mera Mann Pyaasa is a timeless classic song based on the classical Raag – Shivranjani. Other songs are also good. The movie is technically good and maintains a high production value. The incidents in the movie are quite predictable as it is a formula-based movie with all the formulae being the time-tested ones in Hindi movies. This is not the case with the novel in which the reader cannot predict the forthcoming events.Shakti Saamanta has given the movie a routine direction with nothing novel. The star of Rajesh Khanna was waning at the time of the movie’s release, however he did well in the roles of Prakash and Sooraj and the movie also became a hit. All the same, I feel that he was a miscast at least in the first half of the movie when he was playing the royal court singer, Prakash. Hema Malini is quite beautiful and impressive in both the roles – the role of the royal court dancer, Ratna and the gypsy girl, Jhumri. All the other characters – Yogeeta Bali as Jamuna, Nazir Hussain as Prakash’s Guru, Manmohan Krishna as Ratna’s Ustaad, Asrani as Sooraj’s friend, Prem Chopra as the villain – Appa, Madan Puri as the leader of the gypsy group and Asha Sachdev as Sooraj’s fiancee – Rita are quite ok. I specially praise Sujeet Kumar who is the uncle of Sooraj and a kind-hearted doctor, practicing in the hilly region among the gypsies.

The movie was a hit at the time of its release and is still liked by the fans of Rajesh Khanna. Nice timepass, definitely. However, I urge the viewers who have liked the movie and who can read Hindi, to read the base novel – Sisakte Saaz reading which will prove to be quite a different and more satisfying experience for them than watching the movie.

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A low profile lawyer probes a rape-cum-murder case

The brutal rape of a medical student in the capital of India on 16th December, 2012 generated a huge uproar in the social and political circles. The victim girl termed as Nirbhaya (fearless) got badly injured and passed away after fighting with death for a few days. A heinous crime it was indeed and an example how insecure the commonfolk (especially the females) are in almost all the regions of India.

An excellent Hindi novel was penned by renowned Hindi author, Surendra Mohan Pathak on the theme of a similar crime. The title of the novel is Vahashi (brutally licentious) which is quite apt because just like this true incident in Delhi, the plot of this novel is based on a brutal rape and murder crime only. The novel which was first published in 2007, is not only quite interesting but also very very inspiring and enlightening.Vahashi-Surender-Mohan-Pathak-Thriller-52The murder takes place in Delhi (what a concidence !) in the month of January at the residence of the victim at Aasaf Ali Road. The victim was a forty years old theatre-artist, Mangla Madaan who lived alone because of her young daughter, Nikita’s living in the hostel of her college at Raai. Mangla had become rich after inheriting the wealth of her dead husband, Mahendra Madaan. She had not allowed her age to take over her figure and looks and she believed in enjoying her life to the full in the company of different males. Not paying two hoots for any morals at any stage of her life, she was intimate with other males even during the life of her husband.

The stunning thing about this crime is the beastly treatment given to the victim, i.e., Mangla by her rapist-cum-murderer. The rapist had bitten her crotch by his teeth and behaved like a carnivorous animal with her body. In her funeral itself (which took place after the postmortem of her dead body), the police arrests a young law student, Nikhil Anand under the charge of Mangla’s rape and murder. Nikhil Anand happens to be the orphan nephew of two renowned lawyers – Shyam Bihari Anand who runs a big law firm in Delhi and Nakul Bihari Anand who runs an even bigger law firm in Mumbai. Since the Delhi based firm does not specialize in criminal suits, Nakul Bihari Anand sends a young lawyer, Mukesh Mathur from Mumbai to defend Nikhil in his trial taking place at the Tees Hazaari Court of Delhi.

The thing is, Mukesh has always been belittled by his boss, i.e., Nakul Bihari Anand who leaves no stone unturned in humiliating him and underscoring before him that he is good for nothing. It is despite the fact that Mukesh has solved two murder cases earlier (by default and not through any formally assigned investigation). Nakul Bihari Anand uses the solving of these cases also against Mukesh because the murder-victims were the clients of the firm. Taking a clue from the demeaning behaviour of the superboss towards Mukesh, even the lady secretary of the firm treats Mukesh disrespectfully. However Mukesh tolerates everything and never says no to his boss, i.e., Nakul Bihari Anand. He moves to Delhi quite reluctantly because his wife is undergoing the advanced stage of her first pregnancy.

In Delhi, Mukesh takes stock of the facts and sets to his work of defending Nikhil who is actually the boyfriend of the victim’s daughter, i.e., Nikita. Due to his relationship with Nikita, he was well-known to Mangla. However there are other suspects too because the victim had no dearth of her male admirers. One is a partner of the Delhi based firm of the Anands – Rajeev Acharya who is unmarried despite being in his advanced years. Another one is Vijay Singh who is a stock-broker and financial consultant. He is a family man. The attitude of Nirmal Mehra, Shyam Bihari Anand’s ex son-in-law who has homosexual relationship with a tenant of Mangla, Basant Mirani is also not appreciable in this context. Mukesh seeks the help of an experienced private detective, Chandresh Rohatgi to investigate different aspects of this case, probes deep into this unusual crime and fights the trial in favour of the accused as his defense counsel. As the trial as well as his own endeavour in this regard progresses, gradually this seemingly complicated case becomes clearer and clearer to him because the hidden facts come out one-by-one just like an onion is peeled off. In the climax, he arranges a sting operation with the help of Chandresh Rohatgi to draw curtain on the case and his assignment as well. With this he proves his worth also before his boss, Nakul Bihari Anand.

Vahashi is mainly a court-room drama because a major chunk of the stuff is devoted to the court-room scenes and the arguments taking place during the trial. And let me admit that all the court-room scenes are damn impressive. In my review of an old Hindi movie, Kanoon (1960), I have mentioned that the difference between reel-life courts and real-life courts is even greater than the happenings in the reel-life and the real-life. Perhaps the court-room dramas shown in the Indian movies and the Indian novels are due to the inspiration drawn by the writers from the American fiction work. Such dramatic and theatrical trials do not actually  take place in the Indian courts but they have always been a source of great entertainment in fictional products. The same is the case with Vahashi in which the trial of the accused containing the arguments and counter-arguments of rival lawyers as well as the activities of the witnesses and the magistrate render an engrossing reading to the reader.

The climax which contains a sting-operation, also leaves a long-lasting impact on the reader in which Mr. Pathak has, like always, underscored the power of truth. Mukesh’s belittling by his boss, Nakul Bihari Anand is a reality of the Indian work culture in which most of the bosses are unhappy with and internally scared of their talented subordinates (because they themselves are not that capable and hence show off before them through their higher status). But through Mukesh, the author has established in the end that there’s nothing that a determined and dedicated person can’t do. He only needs to work hard and discover himself without caring for the negative opinion of others about him. The character of Mukesh alongwith the whole story is an inspiration for young and talented Indian employees whose worth is not allowed to come to fore by their bosses.

On the flip side, there is a glaring error in the novel which I had pointed out to the author also just after reading the novel (six years back). It is told in the court that during the postmortem, traces of semen (supposedly of the rapist) were found in the body of the victim. In such a condition, it could be established very easily through the DNA test of the accused whether he was actually guilty or not. The author overlooked this point, else he has elaborated the investigation procedure quite logically and realistically.

Written in simple Hindi but with witty dialogues, this novel ends on a highly positive note in which the low profile inexperienced lawyer rests his case with a Savaiya (a special form of couplet in Hindi poetry) authored by the ancient Hindi poet – Gang whose last line is – Koti Prayaas Kiye Kin Koye Ki Satya Ka Deep Bujhe Na Bujhaye (the lamp of truth cannot be put off even by crores of attempts made by the enemies of truth). Let’s believe in it (despite the disappointing reality prevailing in our country). Alongwith all the Hindi readers, I recommend this brilliant novel to the cops and the lawyers also who are sincere towards checking such heinous crimes, catching the real guilty and ensure adequate legal punishment to the them.

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Boy steps into manhood by becoming a winner

Today is Shashi Kapoor’s birthday. The veteran actor and filmmaker had left for his heavenly abode on 4th December last year and now only his memories are left for his admirers in the form of his movies. Shashi Kapoor had not just been a mainstream hero for around two decades but had served the art-world in more than one ways with utter selflessness. The youngest of the three sons of Prithvi Raj Kapoor, he had started acting in movies since his early childhood. He won the Filmfare award for the best supporting actor for his unforgettable role in Deewaar (1975) and won the national award for the best actor for his role in New Delhi Times (1986). He made money by acting mostly in trash commercial Hindi movies but then he devoted that money to the service of genuine art in India. He established Prithvi Theatre in 1978 naming it after his legendary father – Prithvi Raj Kapoor. He invested money in making quality cinema without bothering for the return of his investment. As a producer, first of all, he produced a gem like Junoon (1978) which won the national award for the best feature film. Later on also, he made quality movies like Kalyug (1981)36 Chowringhee Lane (1981) and Utsav (1984). Despite making an extremely popular on-screen pair with Nanda, he never had any affair with any heroine and always remained devoted to his wife Jennifer Kendal who herself was an excellent actress and had delivered an unforgettable performance in 36 Chowringhee Lane. Her death by cancer in 1984 virtually broke Shashi but he kept on serving Indian theatre and Indian cinema.

While remembering him today, I am presenting the review of a long forgotten but high quality movie produced by him. It’s Vijeta (1982) which has been directed by Govind Nihalani and which features his son Kunal in the lead role. It’s a very touching as well as very inspiring movie which portrays the journey of a youth from boyhood to manhood. Real life father Shashi Kapoor himself has played the role of the hero’s reel life father with evergreen Rekha playing the hero’s mother.


Vijeta (winner) is the story of Angad (Kunal Kapoor) who is the son of Nihal Singh (Shashi Kapoor) and Neelima (Rekha). Angad has a tense and troubled childhood because of his father’s self-pitying and guilt-complex soaked attitude to life and in turn a highly defective and counter-productive fatherly treatment to him. Home is no better than hell for him because of the ever-present tension between his parents the background of which is his father’s being infidel to his mother sometime in the past. As a result of this situation, the kid Angad is not able to grow-up like a normal child.


In the verbal duels taking place between his parents, Angad who has been made a Sikh by his mother, takes the side of his mother because of his deep-seated dislike for his father. But his father is genuinely concerned for his future seeing the lack of self-confidence in him. This fear of the father is all the more intense because he looks upon himself as a sufferer and a loser in his life. Going through his teens, Angad is not finding any ray of hope and enthusiasm in his life until one day a visit of his maternal uncle Arvind (Om Puri) who is a militaryman, takes place and then after spending some time in the military environment, Angad decides to join the Indian air-force and goes ahead with his intention despite opposition from his nagging father who is over-concerned for him.


But joining the armed force is one thing and doing something worthwhile is another. The old demons of childhood haunt Angad and he remains apprehensive of taking risks though he aspires high – dreaming to become a fighter-pilot. However under the strict training of the air-force instructor – Mr. Verghese (Amrish Puri) with the womanly love of his daughter Anna (Supriya Pathak) coming to him, Angad slowly but steadily starts growing up at the mental level and taking real steps into manhood. And then the moment for him to prove that he has actually come of age, arrives when India is caught in a war with Pakistan in 1971. And quite expectedly, our hero who is no longer a boy, emerges a winner (Vijeta) to the boundless delight of his parents especially his father as well as to the inner satisfaction of himself.


Vijeta may not be a perfect movie or a masterpiece but it’s worthy of a five star rating from any sensitive reviewer. The movie has been made on an admirable theme and the writers (Dilip Chitre and Satyadev Dubey) may have faltered on a few points, the director who has earned a name for himself in the history of the parallel cinema movement in India, has done his job quite well with complete support from his cast each one of whom has delivered an outstanding performance.

A man, really or perceptually, may be a winner in life or a loser in life but if he looks upon himself as a loser or a sufferer in life, he should not allow the same to affect the upbringing of his generation next. The little ones who are like clean slates or lumps of clay, need to be nurtured with utmost care and the demons of the past of their parents / guardians should not be allowed to ruin first their childhood and then their adulthood which largely depends upon the fact how their childhood has been spent. After all, self-confidence is the essential pre-requisite for anybody to do something worthwhile in his or her life. And snatching or curtailing a kid’s self-confidence or morale is the biggest damage that the parents can do to him. Vijeta underscores it quite emphatically.Husband and wife may be having grudges against each other due to one or more reasons and some of them may not be resolvable also because you cannot unring a rung bell and life does not have any UNDO command like a computer has. But they have to understand one thing loud and clear that one has to move on in life especially when the future of a kid who is innocent and has nothing to do with the past of his parents, lies ahead for taking care of. The parents of the hero of Vijeta come to understand it quite gradually after spoiling the childhood of their son by their defective approach. Thus this tale is not only of the hero’s coming of age, it is also of his parents’ coming of age.


The movie does not bore at any place though the pace of the narrative has been deliberately reduced by the director in the post-interval session but that slow pace suits the movie well and truly speaking, enhances its impact upon the audience. Since a realistic filmmaker has directed the movie, except for the expected climax, there’s nothing filmy here. Everything appears to be real though the conversations of the characters living in the military milieu appear to be a little more intellectual than they might have been in real life.The movie contains an aura of secularism of India without yelling the word ‘secularism’ anywhere. The parents of the hero are Hindu whereas the hero has been groomed in Sikhism by his mother. He falls in love with a Christian girl. His buddies in the air-force consist of a Muslim (Raja Bundela) and a Christian (K.K. Raina). Thus different religious flavours have been spread in the movie quite naturally without overdoing any of them. And this mixed flavour renders a very pleasant feeling to the audience. An Indian who is secular in his thinking can sniff this aroma always emanating from the Indian soil in this movie.

The storyteller has been quite successful in carrying the audience alongwith the characters of the story and the things happening to them or happening because of them. That mental connection of the audience who is able to relate to the characters and starts longing and praying for the hero to ultimately emerge as a winner (Vijeta), is a great achievement for any filmmaker. Vijeta is a movie which sensitizes, moves, touches, energizes, delights and finally conquers the spectator.

Full marks to the art director, the cinematographer (director Govind Nihalani himself), the editor, the costume designer (Shashi Kapoor’s wife and the hero’s real life mother – Jennifer Kendal Kapoor) and the action director for creating a completely realistic environment on the screen for the story of the movie. Ajit Varman’s musical score is admirable. Mainly it’s the song in Raag Bhairavi – Mann Anand Anand Chhayo sung by Asha Bhosle and Satyasheel Deshpande which remains with the audience. Other songs – Mann Base Mor Brindavan Ma (sung by Manna Dey) and Bichhudat Mose Kaanha (sung by Parveen Sultana) are also ear-soothing. Vasant Dev has written beautiful lyrics for the songs.

Performances are outstanding. Kunal Kapoor could not play a successful innings as an actor in Bollywood but for this role, he appears to have brought his heart out. Supriya Pathak was very pretty in her youth and she has excelled on the acting front also. Shashi Kapoor and Rekha have entered the skins of their characters. The same can be asserted about the other cast members viz. Amrish Puri, K.K. Raina, Raja Bundela etc. too.

I wholeheartedly recommend this extra-ordinary movie to all those who are fond of viewing quality cinema.

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Jubilee Kumar as the hero & He-man as the villain ?

During the fifties, a youth with an ordinary personality started his career in Hindi movies and during the sixties, he went on become one of the most popular heroes of Bollywood with several jubilee hits to his credit. The commercial success of his movies reached such a point that he was fondly being called as Jubilee Kumar in the Indian cine-circles. His name was Rajendra Kumar (or Rajinder Kumar).

When Rajendra Kumar was climbing the stairs of stardom, one more youth who had to drive trucks to make a living, got a break in Bollywood. He was so handsome that any girl could fall for his charms. The late sixties and the seventies saw his popularity graph going high and high only. His masculine persona brought him the tag of He-Man. His name was Dharmendra (or Dharminder).

Director Mohan Kumar had a habit of keeping the names of his movies starting with the English letter  ‘A’. He made several movies with their names starting as such and cast Rajendra Kumar as hero in some of them (viz. Aas Ka Panchhi, Aman, Anjaana, Aap Aaye Bahaar Aai etc.) and Dharmendra in some other ones (viz. Anpadh, Aapki Parchhaiyaan etc.). However he made one such movie in which both these immensely popular Punjabi heroes were cast together and the most interesting thing about this movie is that Rajendra Kumar is the hero of this movie whereas Dharmendra is in a negative role. This unique movie is Aai Milan Ki Bela or Ayee Milan Ki Bela (1964).220px-Ayee_Milan_Ki_BelaAai Milan Ki Bela (the hour of union with the beloved has come) is the story of a poor but honest and committed youth Shyam (Rajendra Kumar) who gets a job in the estate of Mr. Chaudhary (Nazir Husain). He falls in love with the daughter of Mr. Chaudhary – Barkha (Saira Banu). Shyam’s joy knows no bounds once his childhood buddy Ranjeet (Dharmendra) returns from abroad and starts living there itself. These two close friends share everything because they do not see any difference between them. But !


But the love of opposite sex is not something that can be shared. And so the love of Barkha becomes the bone of contention between these two intimate friends who consider themselves as two bodies having a common soul. Since Barkha already loves Shyam, it’s Ranjeet who has to be the loser. And then the friendship no longer remains the friendship. The humiliation of losing Barkha’s love and a passion to get her, turns Ranjeet into a villain. He seeks the help of a baddy Madanlaal (Madan Puri) and traps Shyam under the false charge of making a woman named as Rupa (Shashikala) pregnant. Barkha starts misunderstanding Shyam and gets estranged from him. When Shyam comes to know that Ranjeet is the person behind his troubles, the spirit of friendship for Ranjeet in his heart also evaporates and thus the friends turn into sworn enemies. However all’s well that ends well. Finally Shyam’s mother’s telling him a secret sets the things right.ayee-milan-ki-belaA girl can become a bone of contention between male friends and friendship can turn into enmity in no time, is something that we have seen in many movies. Gunday (2014) is the latest example. However by seeing Aai Milan Ki Bela, we come to know that the stuff is old, indeed very old. If you seek my opinion, though I believe in the spirit of true love, I advise my male friends never to run after a bus or a girl. You miss one, you are sure to get the next one which must be on the way to you. Anyway.Ayee-Milan-Ki-Bela-VHS-Video-TapeAai Milan Ki Bela is very interesting with little boredom in the narrative. The movie has been made long by the comedy track of Munshi Sridhar (Sunder) which is completely superfluous for the movie. However it generates quite a few laughs and it’s in sync with the style of filmmaking as prevailing in Bollywood those days. The main track of tussle between Shyam and Ranjeet on account of Barkha is very interesting. The scene of the night when Ranjeet suddenly comes to know of the love blossoming between Shyam and Barkha and then its (adverse) impact on him has become very impressive with Dharmendra displaying a brilliant underplay of inner feelings of Ranjeet.downloadAll the three main protagonists have done exceedingly well. Romantic hero Rajendra Kumar and beauty queen Saira Banu always made a perfect on-screen pair. Very lovely, very lovely indeed. Dashing Dharmendra seems to be miscast in the negative role (the first one for him and the only one done by him in his stint as a young hero), nevertheless he has done very well. Putting it straight, he is not a villain in the pure and traditional sense in this movie. His role can be termed as one with gray shades. The supporting cast too has fitted the bill.ayee-milan-ki-bela-1964-200x275This colour movie is a visual treat with beautiful locations used for the story set in a milieu studded with natural beauty (i.e., the estate where the principal characters of this story live). All the technical aspects of the movie are well in Jaikishan have composed very good music for the movie with the help of the mesmerizing voices of Lata and Rafi and the touching lyrics penned by Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra. The title track, Tumhen Aur Kya Doon Main Dil Ke Sivaay, Main Pyar Ka Deewana, O Sanam Tere Ho Gaye Hum etc. all the songs are a treat for the years of any music (1)Summing up, Aai Milan Ki Bela is a highly entertaining movie which I recommend wholeheartedly to not only the fans of Rajendra Kumar, Saira Banu and Dharmendra but to all the movie buffs in general. This movie does not disappoint anybody who watches it and that’s why it was a box office hit also.

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Aajkal Shauq-e-Deedar Hai, Kya Kahun Aapse Pyar Hai

In my review of Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon (1963), I have said that a trend had started in Bollywood cinema during the late fifties which continued through the sixties that an entertaining flick was made by weaving the script around some melodious songs and beautiful locales and adding some comic and romantic punches to it. Thus a formula-based product was prepared to satisfy the entertainment appetite of the typical Bollywood viewer without paying two hoots for the story of the movie. During the nineties, the team of David Dhawan and Govinda also followed the same path. And we have seen the similar thing in some movies directed by Anees Bazmee as well. And why not ? The typical Hindi cinema spectator has always wanted a formulaic entertainment lasting for around two and a half hours in which a dish is served to him with spices like comedy, romance, action, music and dances being mixed in different proportions. And when the served dish is like that only, why should it not become a box office grosser ? Today I am reviewing a movie which falls in the same league. Made by Sasadhar Mukherjee (Joy Mukherjee’s father) and directed by his nephew Ram Mukherjee (Rani Mukherjee’s father), this movie is Leader (1964) starring Dilip Kumar and Vyjayantimala in principal roles.


The leader of our movie is a youth with multiple talents and multiple facets of his personality – Vijay Khanna (Dilip Kumar) who on one hand, is the ringleader of some loafer boys and a fearless journalist on the other. He is a law graduate and that’s why is able to defend himself in any lawsuit filed against him in any court. He dislikes the selfish and unethical politics being played in his country and can sing patriotic songs as well as deliver inspiring speeches at his will. He can even fly a plane. And he is quite jolly as well as highly romantic also who falls in love with Sunita (Vyjayantimala) who is the princess of the erstwhile princely state of Shah Garh. Her brother is said to have been induced by Vijay Khanna as a member of his loafer-gang. However she is smitten by the charm of our allrounder hero who masquerades as an astrologer before her. With comic and romantic moments and classic songs, the story moves ahead and the twist comes when Vijay is charged for the murder of a highly respected politician (Motilaal). Sunita helps him in escaping and now both of them are on the run. The maxim of All’s well that ends well comes true in the expected climax when everything is set right for them. I had watched this movie first on Doordarshan decades back and watched it again recently on internet. First time, I had watched it in complete form but now the version that I saw (uploaded through Shemaroo VCD) turned out to be a moth-eaten one with several scenes missing from that (including that of the murder and the hero’s reaching the spot). However the thing is that the movie contains a highly entertaining first half but loses its way in the later half. In the first half too, the entertainment is illogical. You just keep your brains under lock and key to enjoy the nonsense comedy, romance and patriotism. Logic, coherence and connectivity is seriously missing here. Who cares ? Still the movie is quite entertaining. How ? Because of the comic timing and the romantic gimmicks of the legendary Tragedy King of Bollywood, i.e., Dilip Kumar and his amazing on-screen chemistry with ever-gorgeous Vyjayantimala. On many occasions on this forum itself, I have discussed the highly admirable comic talent of Dilip Kumar which he showcased in movies like Azaad (1955), Kohinoor (1960), Ram Aur Shyam (1967) and Gopi (1970). Leader is also an example of the same. This mindless movie is worth a watch due to certain reasons and Dilip Kumar’s mindblowing performance is one of them. He does comedy quite effortlessly and Govinda seems to have taken a leaf or two out of his acting book in this regard. You cannot stop your laugh at his performance in many scenes in the opening hour of the movie. And then, he romances also with equal proficiency. You know that whatever is being presented on the screen defies logic but you don’t complain because the hero is entertaining you like anything. He won the Filmfare Best Actor award also for his performance in this movie.

And then there is Vyjayantimala, the great Bharatnatyam dancer as well as the highly beautiful Bollywood heroine whose on-screen chemistry with Dilip Kumar was always extra-ordinary may it be in Naya Daur (1957) or in Ganga Jumna (1961) . Leader was the last movie done together by this beautiful pair and they win the heart of the audience in this movie also. Forget the logic and feel the romance which is tender, emotional and striking a chord in any romantic heart.

Naushad’s outstanding music is a very big plus point of this movie which has ably supported the lead pair in taking this weak movie home. With the brilliant lyrics of Shakeel Badayuni and the great voices of Rafi, Lata and Asha; this legendary music director has composed unforgettable gems like Apni Aazaadi Ko Hum Hargiz Mita Sakte Nahin, Daiya Re Daiya Laaj Mohe Laage, Hameen Se Mohabbat Hameen Se Ladaai, Mujhe Duniya Waalon Sharaabi Na Samjho, Ek Shehenshaah Ne Banwa Ke Haseen Taj Mahal and Aaj Hai Pyar Ka Faisla. My favourite two songs from this mesmerizing music album are – 1. Tere Husn Ki Kya Tareef Karoon, Kuchh Kehte Huye Bhi Darta Hoon and 2. Aajkal Shauq-e-Deedaar Hai, Kya Kahun Aapse Pyar Hai which are in the enchanting voice of Mohammed Rafi which was perfect for Dilip Kumar. Aajkal Shauq-e-Deedaar Hai is picturized as a song being sung over telephone and Dilip Kumar’s performance on that is both comic and romantic at the same time.

This is a colour movie and the cinematographer has left no stone unturned in capturing the beauty of different locales. In the song Ek Shehenshaah Ne Banwa Ke Haseen Taj Mahal, he has captured the beauty of Taj at Agra with a great amount of aestheticism. This movie is not only a musical and romantic treat but also a visual treat. Editing is bad but when the script itself was lackluster, what could the poor editor do ?download (3)Summing up, Leader is an entertaining movie and was a box office grosser in its time. Please don’t look for any logic here and enjoy the fun ride just like the hero of this movie.

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