Mysterious murder in a trout-fishing region

Before starting my review, let me clarify that only the title of this book is in English, else it is not an English novel. It is a Hindi novel penned by the famous Hindi pulp fiction writer of mystery and thriller genre – Surendra Mohan Pathak under his highly popular Sunil Series.

In my review of Andheri Raat, I had spelled out the unique characteristic of the Sunil Series novels penned by S.M. Pathak that they contain a very lively portrayal of a fictitious city, Rajnagar and the connected places, mainly a tourist place, Jhery and its nearby spots too including Sunderban which is known (in his novels) as a trout-fishing region. In a particular season (November-February), trouts are found in plenty in the river flowing through that region and the govt. allows the people to fish there during that season.indexPrime Suspect tells the story of a murder in a private cottage in that region during the particular season itself which is of a multi-millionaire businessman of Rajnagar, Lalchand G. Hirwani. When the dead body is found, its deteriorated and stinking condition makes it apparent that the murder had taken place at least 5-6 days back without coming to anybody’s knowledge for that much time. The murder weapon is found lying beside the dead body only which is a very old-fashioned antique revolver. Alongwith the police, crime reporter of the national newspaper – Blast, Sunil Kumar Chakravarty (the hero of the novel) starts investigating the case on his own. During his investigation, he comes to know that the victim used to visit the place every now and then for taking a break from his hectic business life. There he used to live a very simple life under the fake name of Gulaab Rai with himself doing the essential jobs like cooking own food and cleaning own cottage. Being a fishing enthusiast, he had arrived at his cottage one day in advance of the date since which the ban on trout-fishing was going to be lifted by the government.

Sunil comes to know that the victim has a wanderer brother whose whereabouts are not known . Besides, he has a grown-up son through his first (deceased) wife and his second (current) wife is, in fact, a gold-digger who had married him only for his wealth. But the most interesting fact coming to his knowledge (while tracing the source of the antique murder weapon) is that just a couple of weeks prior to his murder, the victim had married a mature and educated lady, Shaanta who is an employee in the local museum-cum-library where he used to visit during his stay there but without revealing his true identity to her. When the police comes to know of Shaanta’s presence in the victim’s life, they consider her as the prime suspect of this murder. However after meeting Shaanta, Sunil feels that Shaanta has genuine love for her husband even without knowing his true identity and she is innocent. How he unearths the mystery, proving the innocence of Shaanta and exposing the real culprit, makes a very interesting reading.

I don’t know whether the plot is Surendra Mohan Pathak’s own idea or he has taken inspiration from some British / Americal pulp fiction work. However the treatment and the language used is definitely his own. He has narrated the story in a spellbinding manner with the intermittent doses of humour (through interaction between Sunil and his Punjabi friend – Ramakant as well as the interaction between Sunil and his junior – Arjun) and teasing (through interactions between Sunil and Renu, the receptionist in Blast office). It’s no less entertaining than any Bollywood movie containing mystery, drama, humour and romance.

Surendra Mohan Pathak had created Sunil in 1963 with his first novel -‘Puraane Gunaah Naye Gunaahgaar’ as an investigative journalist. The term of investigative journalism was coined by himself only for the first time in the world of Indian pulp fiction novels of mystery / crime-detection genre. Further, he has developed Sunil’s character as a kind-hearted and sensitive person who has utmost faith in the power of pen as well as the power of truth. He is an idealist who can never support untruth and who firmly believes that truth only is to prevail (Satyamev Jayate) if not sooner, then later. He believes in living in style but not in saving or accumulating for future because his philosophy of life is clear that death may catch him any day and he has nobody associated with him whom to worry about in case he is no more. And he is the perennial supporter of the underdog. Sunil, studded with these qualities, is a charming young hero of around 30 years who fearlessly goes after the criminals and solves mysteries before the police. He is the unique hero in the Indian pulp fiction world with more than 100 cases (novels) to his credit.

Prime Suspect was the 99th novel of Sunil Series which was first published in March 1991. The smoothly flowing narrative grips the reader from the very first scene and even after the exposure of the murderer, the master storyteller has kept one final jerk intact, to be rendered to the reader in the ending scene. Other than his stock characters, the writer has skillfully presented the characters of Shaanta and the victim’s wanderer brother, stressing the importance of simplicity, cleanliness of heart and similar virtues through them.

A guaranteed treat for the readers of Hindi fiction. Not just a mystery, but a heart-warming story containing drama, sentiments and humour also. Catch it if you can read Hindi and enjoy reading fiction.

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Have the times really changed in England ?

I had watched Patiala House when it was released in February 2011 but due to having taken a break from writing those days, I did not pen a review though I had liked it very much. Then the question arises as to why at all, I penned its review after lapse of a substantial time period. Well, the reason is – at that time, I had thought that the subject matter of the movie was not relevant contemporarily, however suddenly the riots in London during 6th August – 11th August, 2011 made me feel that perhaps the moviemaker must have experienced something like premonition or telepathy that he had chosen the theme of the movie which was not only true a few decades back but it had again come true after a few months of the movie’s release – the hate-filled attacks on the Asians in England, especially London. The movie tells the story of a Sikh family settled in Southall and after the riots, the English authorities were praising the spirit of the people (mainly Indians) settled in Southall only in checking that avoidable havoc. Further coincidence was that the movie tells the story of a Cricketer and during second week of August 2011, the Indian Cricket team was playing with England at Edgbaston while the hooliganism was going on in Birmingham outside the Cricket stadium.

Southall is considered a mini India in London and when the astray, unemployed and spoilt English youths were on a rampage in London and adjacent towns, the movie appeared to be all the more relevant at that time making me feel that coincidentally it had become a movie ahead of its time. The moviemaker has made the film in the fashion of a masala flick only, intermixing comedy and emotions to the optimum, however by default, it became practically relevant too because the Indians and the other Asians being attacked and looted in London in those days must be feeling the same way the main protagonist of this movie (Rishi Kapoor) feels towards the English. Perhaps, it’s the jealousy of the native British towards the prosperity of the immigrant Indians that sometimes leads to such incidents by the underachieving English youths.1336413406Gurtej Singh Kahlon (Rishi Kapoor) becomes an anti-English when his family is attacked by the English brats and his uncle (Prem Chopra) is killed in the anti-Indian riots. He unites all the Indians living in Southall and go for a lot of development for them through his sheer hard work and dedication. Due to his efforts, not only the Indians prosper there but also his own family becomes a reputed one, settled in a house known as Patiala House. However, his anti-British sentiments cost his talented Cricketer son – Pargat Singh Kahlon (Akshay Kumar) dearly when he is not able to play for England at the international level. Years pass and due to his anti-British fervour, his young family members start feeling suffocated. Since Pargat is completely dedicated to his father and he has willingly sacrificed his ambitions for his father’s sentiments, he is the only man in the family who does not have any grudge against the head of the family, i.e., Gurtej or Baauji. However, his heart weeps at his shattered dream of playing international Cricket. Only his mother (Dimple Kapadia) understands and feels his pain. Else everybody in Patiala House only mocks him.patiala-house-0vI don’t know how many people in the real world are lucky enough to get a second chance to fulfil their dreams. However, in at least two contemporary movies, I have seen life providing a second opportunity to the protagonists. Firstly, it’s Meghana Mathur (Priyanka Chopra) in Fashion (2008) and secondly, it’s Pargat Singh Kahlon of the movie under review who being a fast bowler, gets a chance to play for England at an age when usually the sportspersons seek retirement from playing. How Pargat avails this second opportunity provided to him by the destiny to turn his long-cherished yet unfulfilled dream into reality and how it leads to an emotional confrontation between the anti-British father and his beloved son, forms the bulk of the narrative which is highly appealing.

Patiala House could have become a great movie because it’s a movie which has its heart in the right place. The director – Nikhil Advani has reminded of the skillful direction of his maiden venture – Kal Ho Na Ho (2003) at certain places. The emotional drama which is the essence of the movie, has been presented very well on the screen and it not only moves the audience but also inspires the youths not to lose heart and pursue whatever they are passionate about. The hurt sentiments of aggrieved Indians (who have been victims of racial hatred in the West) have been portrayed forcefully through the character of Gurtej aka Baauji. The relationship between a proud father and his obedient son and their subsequent interactions after the twist in the tale are simply tear-jerking. The climax in which the father visualizes his son to bowl the final ball in the style of Lala Amarnath and his son actually clean bowls Andrew Symonds off that delivery, is highly impressive.268474-patiala-houseHowever due to commercial constraints, the director could not convert this good movie into a great movie. The post-interval session has been wrapped in comedy in which the family members are busy in preventing Baauji from watching TV (lest he should see his son – Pargat aka Gattu playing on the screen). The songs and dances block the flow of the narrative. The gravity of the stuff has been toned down by this comedy, romance and song-dance tracks. The final song at the fag-end (when practically the movie is over) is quite irritating.

Technically and production-value wise the movie is topnotch. Cinematography is also praiseworthy. Dialogues are also good. Editing should have been better.

Music composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is admirable because most of the songs are hummable and enjoyable. However there is only one song – Kyun Main Jaagoon which is in sync with the theme of the movie. This sentimental song has been penned by Anvita Dutt Guptan and sung by Shafqat Amanat Ali.

Rishi Kapoor and Akshay Kumar have delivered towering performances in the central roles of father-son duo. It’s, by all means, one of Akshay’s five best performances. I feel, he is so emotional about his late father in his real life that whenever he has to play the role of a son in any father-son emotional saga, he excels like anything. Rishi Kapoor is a legend now and Dimple perfectly compliments him (though she gets proper scope in the final phase of the movie only). Anushka Sharma as the young heroine is lively and energetic and her mere presence infuses life into this serious movie. The complete supporting cast has done well. The presence of many real life Cricketers has added value to the movie. I don’t know the names of the actors but I wholeheartedly admire those who have played the roles of young Rishi Kapoor and young Akshay Kumar. Theirs are heart-conquering performances.

In view of the racial violence taking place against the Indians in various parts of the world, I recommend this flop and underrated movie to all those Indians (whether settled in India or abroad) who are proud to be so. However when I contrast this movie with the violence taken place in London and nearby towns, I wonder whether the filmmaker is right in conveying his message that now there is no ethnic bias against the Indians (or the Asians in general) in England. Have the times really changed in England ?

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Let there be one more sin

Several crime-based movies have been made in Bollywood seeking inspiration from the noir cinema of Hollywood that had taken shape during the forties and fifties. Most of such movies have been just run-of-the-mill formula-based flicks. However some of them stand out due to deliberate efforts of the moviemakers or by default. Every such good movie has not received praise and recognition and we have underrated movies whose positive qualities went overlooked by the critics as well as the audience. Ek Gunah Aur Sahi (1980) is such an underrated movie only which had badly flopped on the box office when released.Ek Gunaah Aur Sahi (let there be one more sin) is the story of Shankar (Sunil Dutt) who has been a bank robber but after falling in love with Paaro (Parveen Babi) and marrying her, is willing to live the life of a straight citizen. However his marital bliss is marred by his arrest on the very first conjugal night of himself and Paaro. In jail, he gets recommended time and again for early release due to his good behaviour as a jailbird and a clearly demonstrated intent to live a straight life post his sentence but every time, a bank manager, Varma (Madan Puri) who is a member of the committee authorized to take such a decision, blocks his release. Varma is a corrupt person and a white-collared criminal who wants Shankar to rob his bank so that he gets an opportunity to hide his own embezzlement under the cover of that robbery. He strikes a deal with Shankar that he will get him out of the jail (earlier than completion of his sentence) and in return, Shankar will rob the bank for him. Shankar’s wife, Paaro is against this deal and she wants her husband to complete his due sentence and not to enter the crime-world again just for the small gain of getting an early release from the jail but Shankar is so restless to get reunited with his loving wife that he accepts Varma’s offer. Varma is not only a corrupt person but also licentious by character. When Paaro visits him to deliver Shankar’s message (that Varma’s offer is acceptable to him), he intoxicates her by deceit and rapes her in that state of hers. With a hurt body and soul, Paaro absorbs her pain within herself and does not tell this fact to Shankar when he gets release from the jail and comes back to her. However she insists that Shankar won’t go for robbery alone and she will be with him during that act.

Shankar successfully robs the bank with the help of Paaro and a confidant of Varma. And then only he comes to know of the real intent of Varma behind the execution of this robbery. Varma is such a sadist that now he is about to tell Shankar that he had raped Paaro but Paaro shoots him before he could speak it out to Shankar. Now Shankar and Paaro find the police chasing them (knowing that they only have robbed the bank). During this endless and aimless run from the police only, Paaro happens to reveal the fact of her rape by Varma to her husband. Badly hurt and aggrieved Shankar is not able to understand as to what to do now and where the destiny is going to land them. The final twist in the story takes it to an utterly Bollywoodish finale.Ek Gunaah Aur Sahi is an interesting crime-thriller which was perhaps ahead of its time when made, considering the taste of the Indian audience in that period. It is studded with regular Bollywood formulae and I am not terming it as a highly admirable flick because there is no dearth of potholes and deficiencies in the script and the treatment. However, by default perhaps, it has got its moments too, taking it beyond the ordinary. This long forgotten movie has some unforgettable scenes. The part which depicts Shankar and Paaro on the run (from the police) is the best part of the movie which contains not only thrill but a good deal of emotions too. The confused husband-wife duo for whom the robbery was only a means to live together peacefully thereafter, finds that everything is messed-up for it and expecting things like peace and comfort in life are just like asking for the moon now. When Shankar asks Paaro why she shot Varma and Paaro is not able to answer, the mental state of both of them is something that is better to watch on the screen instead of knowing through my description. When their chase for getting away and away from the police is going on, either they don’t have any time to think and when they do have, there is nothing nice to think or cherish. Only the shadows of the bygone bad-taste-giving events are there to haunt them (and hurt them). This psychological and emotional aspect of the story has been dealt with very well in the movie.

Sunil Dutt was a good actor and he has done justice to the lead role. Madan Puri and others are routine. However it’s Parveen Babi who startles the spectator with her terrific performance. Today (4th April) is her birthday. I feel, Bollywood did not do justice to this natural actress by labelling her as a glamour doll. She has shown her mettle in many movies and Ek Gunaah Aur Sahi is her such a forgotten movie that it’s painful to find that nobody recalls her performance in that. She has portrayed with finesse the pain and anguish of a wife whose loving husband gets arrested on the wedding night itself and she waits endlessly for him to return and resume the conjugal life with her. But she wants to wait for him instead of his getting an early release in return for doing one more crime. And when her virginity (despite being a married woman) is crushed by a baddie by deceit, there is no end to her sorrow. Such a thing has happened with her that she finds herself as unable to reveal to her husband who is just too happy to get reunited with her. Such an intense role would have suited an actress like Shabana Azmi or Smita Patil but it’s Parveen who has done it with no less proficiency. The scene in which Shankar adorns Paaro like a bride himself after getting released from the jail and makes love to her, her portrayal of the stuffiness and grief of Paaro is just superb. That scene can be considered as one of the most underrated scenes of Hindi cinema with Parveen’s acting in that as a classic example of underrated performance.Technically the movie is okay and the production value is modest. Colours of the scenes have faded with time. However the cinematographer has done his job well being in sync with the sentiment prevailing in the scenes. The movie is compact and there is no dragging of the story at any place. The story moves straight towards its culmination right from the very first scene without any digression in between.

Music of this movie is another classic example of forgotten good music. Two songs are real gems lyric wise as well as composition wise -1. Yahi Hai Tamanna Yahi Hai Iraada (Asha Bhonsle) and 2. Raat Aati Hai To Har Dard Chamak Uthata Hai (Bhupinder) which is the title track. The lyrics have been penned by none other than the legendary Shaayar – Janaab Jaanisaar Akhtar (the father of Javed Akhtar and the grandfather of Farhan Akhtar) and they have been composed by a great music director, Jaidev.Summing up, Ek Gunaah Aur Sahi is an intense crime-based drama with a dark narrative and sans any relief moments. When released in 1980, it not only bombed on the box office but also got torn apart like anything by the movie-critics. However after watching it, I can say that despite deficiencies, this movie certainly has its moments and it’s not justified on the part of the critics to brush it aside without giving credit for anything. I acknowledge that it’s not an excellent movie. Nor is it for all types of audience. It’s meant only for those who like to watch some intense drama on the screen. Now the times have changed and a sizable audience is there in our country for such type of movies also. Hence if some skilled filmmaker decides to remake it, he may succeed in presenting a refined and highly impressive sentimental crime-thriller to the viewers.

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Not a love story but a suspense movie

Pyar Ke Rahi (1982) is a movie starring B grade actors like Kanwaljit Singh and Padmini Kapila. Well, I do not believe in this so-called grading. In my opinion, a movie is either good or bad whether it’s a low budget one or a high budget one and whether it features popular stars or lesser known actors. Ultimately it’s the quality of the story and its presentation which matters for the entertainment-seekers. And Pyar Ke Raahi is an entertaining movie. Pyar Ke Raahi means travellers of love. It suggests that it’s a love story but contrary to the title, it’s not a love story. It’s a suspense movie, a mystery. Though the foundation / build up of the main story consists of a love story also, the main track is that of a mystery which is unravelled in the climax. Pyar Ke Raahi starts with a dam construction project in the Chamba valley (perhaps in Himachal Pradesh) where the work is being looked after by four partners of the construction company. One of them – Girdhari (Sudhir Dalvi) comes into contact with a pretty worker girl – Champa (Shobha) and both fall in each other’s love. Girdhari promises to marry Champa and they get physically intimate also. However he is not able to fulfill his promise and retreats from it, bearing the curse and hatred of now pregnant Champa. Now comes the first twist in this tale.

The greedy partners of the construction company have used poor quality materials in the dam and therefore, when complete, it suddenly collapses with several houses and hundreds of innocents getting drowned in the consequential submergence. However, despite being money-minded, this foursome still has its conscience intact. And because of the call of their conscience and a feeling of repentance only, they decide to do something as penitence although they escape legal punishment by bribing the government authorities. They form a charitable trust, pouring a part of their income into it, and start helping the poor through it. Thus these gentlemen responsible for the death of hundreds, become trustees of a charitable trust, earning blessings of the beneficiaries and goodwill in the society.

Years pass. Girdhari has married a girl in the city and begot a son Jai (Kanwaljit Singh) through that marriage. He still remembers Champa and feels guilty within his heart for betraying her. However, enough water has flown in the river of time now and the harsh fact of life is that you cannot unring a rung bell. His talented son Jai is in love with Poonam (Padmini Kapila) who is the daughter of Girdhari’s business partner who, quite naturally, is a trustee of the charitable trust like him. Jai has chosen journalism as his profession and he runs a magazine known as ‘Yeh Sach Hai’ (this is the truth). He smells some scam in the collapse of the dam in the Chamba valley years back and starts his quest for truth. Now comes another and the principal twist in this interesting story.

Someone starts blackmailing the partners of the construction business who are also the trustees of the charitable trust. Initially this information is kept hidden from Jai but when he comes to know it, he sets about to search the blackmailer and help his father who is a victim of this blackmailing like his partners. One day, his father gets murdered. Now unmasking the murderer and his motive behind this murder also becomes Jai’s duty. His dying father confesses to him in his ending moments that he had loved a hilly woman in his youth but betrayed her and not married her. The activities of the blackmailer continue even after that killing. Totally confused Jai keeps on hitting his head in the dark and following the clues whatsoever come his way, to find out the whole truth behind the dam scam, the blackmailing and the murder. The identity of the main person behind the contemporary criminal activities is known in the climax.

This movie has been directed by the younger brother of the legendary filmmaker Guru Dutt – Atma Ram and his presentation of this admirable script on the screen is satisfactory though it could have been better. The real hero of this suspense movie is its script only and the script-writer (Ram Govind) deserves a big pat for that. The narrative runs slow in the initial reels but it is because of the build-up of the main track which starts thereafter and keeps the audience hooked till the climax of the story. However the initial reels containing a love story and a splendid Holi song, are also interesting.

Despite the doses of romance and comedy which are not a part of the main track, the story flows very well. Actually the problem of yesteryears’ filmmakers was that they could not avoid the undue insertion of these formulae in the narrative irrespective of the otherwise high quality of the script. Many good movies could not become very good or excellent because of this (not understandable) compulsion of the moviemakers. Pyar Ke Raahi is one such movie only.

It’s a low budget movie. Still the scenes of the hilly area, the dam and its collapse are quite impressive. Technically the movie is up to the mark with the length also being the optimum.

All the actors have done their respective parts satisfactorily. Kanwaljit Singh was a hero material by all standards but he was not fortunate enough to get a good break and a hit movie in his prime. Ultimately TV only became his shelter. Padmini Kapila has filled heroine’s quota. Paintal has done good comedy. If I have to choose the best performer in this movie, I will choose debutante actress Shobha who is not only very pretty but also seems to have poured her heart into the role of Champa. Her performance only has made the Holi song – Daiya Re Daiya as an extra-ordinary one, a treat to watch.

Aziz Naza’s music contains at least two good songs – the first one is the already mentioned Holi song, i.e., Daiya Re Daiya Re Main To Bhayee Dang Holi Mein (sung by Anuradha Paudwal) and the other one is the title track (sung by Jaspal Singh, Dilraj Kaur and chorus).

If you are sick of watching poor quality movies starring big names, then give a watch to this low profile movie of low profile actors. This suspense movie with a taut script will not disappoint you. Despite not being a great movie, Pyar Ke Raahi is definitely a cut above the regular Bollywood potboilers.

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Desh Maangta Hai Qurbaniyaan…

Today is 23rd March. 88 years back also, the same date had arrived, i.e., 23rd March, 1931 – the date of martyrdom of three young bravehearts who fearlessly laid down their lives for the cause of freeing their motherland from the slavery of the British. I express my heartfelt gratitude to my dear friend Jayan Menon (Krishom) for inspiring me to pen a review of a movie made on the martyrdom of Shaheed Sardaar Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivram Rajguru whose title is 23rd March, 1931 – Shaheed which was released in the year story is nothing but the biography of Bhagat Singh, the son of Sardaar Kishan Singh and nephew of Sardaar Ajeet Singh who devoted their entire lives to make their motherland, i.e., India free from the shackles of slavery. Bhagat Singh (Bobby Deol) joined the organization of the like-minded (believing in violent means) patriot youths – Hindustan Socialist Republican Association led by Chandra Shekhar Aazaad (Sunny Deol). The movie has portrayed the looting of the Govt. treasury at Kakori by these revolutionaries (famous in history as the Kakori Conspiracy) and connected events in detail. After some time, the death of Lala Laajpat Rai due to getting beaten by sticks while opposing the Simon Commission, sparked the feelings in the hearts of Bhagat Singh and others to seek vengeance from the responsible British officer – Malcom Scott. Mistakenly they killed another officer – Saunders. Bhagat Singh’s views regarding independence and social justice got refined and moulded with time and he got himself arrested alongwith Batukeshwar Dutt after exploding a harmless bomb in the national assembly. The remaining part of the movie is devoted to the prolonged trial of the revolutionaries, their epic fast in jail and finally embracement of gallows by Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru with smiles on their faces.sbsShaheed Bhagat Singh was a great visionary (despite his tender age) and perhaps the first ever Indian socialist in the true sense. He had understood the futility of the path of violence within a short while only and had intentionally got himself arrested because he wanted to propagate his views throughout the nation by using the court-room as an appropriate platform. He had made up his mind to die also because he knew in his heart that his death will stir millions of Indian hearts like anything and they will stand up to act relentlessly and fearlessly for the freedom of their motherland. And his predictions came true. Being an atheist, he believed in man’s willpower and purity of heart only and not some unknown and invisible supreme power. He is still an icon of patriotism and sacrifice for the patriots all over the world.1e17ddaa1ca25913d181ac7b3ff7997c_pt_xlWhile deciding to make this movie, producer – Sunny Deol committed two blunders – firstly, he chose his brother-in-law – Guddu Dhanoa to direct this movie and secondly, he cast himself in the role of Chandra Shekhar Aazaad. Skilled in directing masala action-thrillers only, director Guddu Dhanoa could not grasp the sensitivity of the plot and the movie could not do justice to the personality of the great revolutionary and his invaluable sacrifice. Besides, both Sunny and Guddu conveniently forgot that at the time of his martyrdom, Shaheed Chandra Shekhar Aazaad was barely 25-26 years old and a forty-plus Sunny was completely miscast for that role. Besides, to encash Sunny’s popularity as an action-hero, the director has portrayed him as a larger-than-life typical Bollywood hero and unduly inserted long action-sequences which might have attracted the front-benchers but spoiled the naturalness and gravity of the movie. Due to the prolonged role of Sunny as Aazaad, Bhagat Singh’s presence is not properly felt in the first one hour of the movie which is a clear weakness of the script. To be frank, Sunny-Guddu duo has reduced the movie to a regular masala flick only.

However the movie impresses in the first half due to the sequences pertaining to Sardaar Ajeet Singh and Shaheed Kartaar Singh Sarabha. Despite the moving of the storyline in a typical action-thriller style, the movie scores at places. Good songs also help the cause. However in the post-interval session, the script-writer has lifted the screenplay of Manoj Kumar starrer classic movie – Shaheed (1965) for the court-room drama and other episodes. And when compared with the classic B & W movie, this movie comes a cropper and does not impress the audience. Had the script-writer applied own mind wisely for the second half also, perhaps it would have been better. The roles of Sukhdev and Rajguru (with the other revolutionaries too) have not been given any importance and the movie appears to be an all Deol show only.

On the plus side, firstly, it’s Bobby Deol who has played the role of his lifetime and infused life into the role of the immortal revolutionary. Amrita Singh as his mother, Divya Dutta as Durga Bhabhi, Raja Bundela as Lala Laaj Pat Rai and Suresh Oberai as the jailor have done well. Sunny has concentrated on action and (over the top) fist-fights only. Aishwarya Rai as the fiancee of Bhagat Singh is another disappointment. But the actor who won my heart is T.V. actor  Imran Khan who brought Shaheed Kartaar Singh Sarabha to life through his amazing cameo. The most impressive song of this movie – Desnu Challo, Desh Maangta Hai Qurbaniyaan has been filmed on him only. In addition to this song, the other songs are also quite impressive (including the immortal songs of the revolutionaries themselves, viz. Pagadi Sambhal Jatta, Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna and Mera Rang De Basanti Chola) whose credit goes to the music director – Anand Raj Anand and the lyricist – Dev Kohli.

Technologically and production-value wise, the movie is good but I would have been happier had the director paid proper attention to the sensitivity and depth of the plot which is a golden chapter of India’s struggle for independence.23rd March 1931 Shaheed (2002) movie songs downloadAjay Devgan starrer movie – The Legend of Bhagat Singh was released simultaneously and that movie is far superior to this one. Still I recommend this movie to all the Indians who love their country and put a premium upon the independence we are enjoying due to the invaluable sacrifices of those great martyrs only. Despite its flaws, this movie is watchable for its patriotic value. I end my review with the slogan which was very dear to Bhagat Singh -‘Inqlaab Zindabaad’ (long live the revolution).

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A gripping social drama which commences with Holi

Holi Aaee Re was released in 1970. It is a very good social drama with a tight, eventful script and some very good songs. It is gripping throughout and the viewer never gets any boring moment to take a break.  The separation and re-union formula of Bollywood movies forms the basic thread of the story. However it is not just run of the mill lost and found kinda movie. It is a thoroughly engrossing movie in which the script is the hero and not any character. The script-writer and the director have not allowed any character to rise above the script and overpower the movie. Therefore, the characters do not lead the story, they are led by it and the freely flowing saga of fate, emotions, social customs and love carries the viewer alongwith it towards its desired end.As the title suggests, the story starts with the backdrop of the festival of colours, Holi in which Samar, the unscrupulous and cheat son of the village landlord, traps a local naive girl, Suhaagi in his web of false love. Suhaagi, the daughter of a poor thakur of the village, gets carried away in emotions and her physical intimacy with Samar results in her pregnancy. Samar, being the perennial Casanova, refuses to marry her and his father also refuses Suhaagi’s father to accept his daughter as his daughter-in-law. This situation leads to the killing of Samar by Suhaagi’s father who gets long sentence for the murder. Her mother also passes away and she, finding herself helpless and alone in the cruel world, is willing to die but destiny has other plans for her. Running away from the village, she first escapes from a brothel and ultimately reaches kind-hearted people to give birth to a son and herself becoming a nurse thereafter. She has a very small younger brother too who, after losing all his guardians, falls into the hands of a rich family which adopts him. The boys grow up and get their respective sweethearts too. Suhaagi’s younger brother is now a doctor whereas her son has become a police officer. Suhaagi, now known as Hemlata, continuing in her new life, gets aged. Her father gets released from jail whereas Samar’s father is now a sick old man who is still not ready to forgive the girl who was responsible for his young son’s death. The moving finger brings all these protagonists together again but they do not identify each other because of the time difference of more than twenty years from that fateful Holi. There is an angle of contaminated medicines too in the movie which is chased by Suhaagi’s police officer son. How the happy ending takes place with the virtue of forgiveness washing away all the grievances accumulated in the hearts of all the characters who had become puppets in the hands of the destiny, is very delightful to watch.The story takes off from the very first scene of the movie when the colourful festival of Holi is being celebrated in the village. Thereafter the screenplay, full of characters and events, takes several twists and turns and reaches its peak in the city life. Other than the comedy track which was the norm in the Hindi movies till the seventies, there are no useless or superfluous scenes in the movie. The narrator has shown that he means business and he has concentrated upon presenting an interesting tale of relationships, emotions and fate. The storyline meanders through spiral paths but never loses its way and the curiosity of the viewer is never diluted despite the anticipated climax.The movie has several touching moments based upon the mutual relationships of the characters. It is a formula-based movie. But the thing is that all the formulae have been mixed in the right proportion, thereby making it an engrossing watch.Kalyanji Anandji have given good music in the movie. The songs those stand out are – 1. Mukesh’s evergreen song – Meri Tamannaaon Ki Taqdeer Tum Sanwaar Do, 2. The title song – Ang Ang Mein Agan Lagaati, Madan Jagaati, Jhoomti-Gaati Holi Aaee Re, 3. A very inspiring song – Girna Nahin Hai Gir Ke Sambhalna Hai Zindagi.Performances are all up to the mark. The movie boasts of actors like Mala Sinha (Suhaagi aka Hemlata),  Balraaj Saahni (her father), Prakash Thaapa (Samar), Rehman (Samar’s father), Premendra (Suhaagi’s younger brother), Kumud Chhugani (his sweetheart and Samar’s younger sister),  Shatrughan Sinha (Suhaagi’s son), Hina Kausar (his sweetheart), Kanhaiyalaal (villain who is involved in the business of contaminated medicines) etc. None disappoints. Premendra and Hina Kausar have given good performances despite this movie being their debut movie. The romantic track of Premendra and Kumud Chhugani is perfectly interwoven with the main plot. Rajendra Nath’s comedy track looks forced into the narrative but he is able to make the viewers laugh with a song – Meri Lottery Lag Jaane Waali Hai – being filmed upon him.

The technical aspects are okay. The length of the movie is according to the then prevailing norms but it is not felt because of the uninterrupted interest of the viewer very skillfully maintained by the storyteller. Moviemaking is nothing but the art of storytelling in the most interesting way. And the storyteller of Holi Aaee Re is successful in his mission.

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Cinematic adaptation of legendary writer’s story

Munshi Premchand has been the most respected one among the Hindi fiction writers for over a century. The legendary writer was an idealist in his initial writing days and gradually only he moved towards realism in his creations. One of his idealistic stories is Panch Parmeshwar (arbitrator as God). Though this story sounds unrealistic in contemporary scenario, still it is considered a classic idealistic story. I had seen a black and white movie – Panchayat (1958) starring Raaj Kumar, Pandhri Baai, Manoj Kumar, Jabeen Jaleel, Shyama, Nazir Hussain, Kanhaiyalal etc. which was an adaptation of this story. However I am reviewing a coloured movie made by the prestigious Rajshri banner of Bollywood whose story is also on the same lines.

Saanch Ko Aanch Nahin (truth has no fear) was released in 1979. It starred Arun Govil as a full-fledged hero for the first time and cast a newcomer girl Madhu Kapoor opposite him. However since the story is an adaptation of Panch Parmeshwar, the hero-heroine are actually there to romance and sing songs only whereas the plot of the movie belongs to their fathers in the movie.saanch ko aanch nahinManoharlal (Om Shivpuri) is a shrewd businessman who makes his friend Satyaprakash (Arvind Deshpande) the arbitrator from his side in a dispute with Hariram (Gajanan Jaagirdar) and to further strengthen his case, he enters into a matrimonial alliance with Satyaprakash, engaging his daughter Nirmala (Madhu Kapoor) with Satyaprakash’s son Ajay (Arun Govil). The newly engaged couple soon falls deeply in each other’s love and eagerly awaits the marriage ceremony. The twist in the tale comes when in the proceedings of the arbitration, Satyaprakash favours the truth and gives his judgment against Manoharlal. Infuriated Manoharlal breaks the engagement of their children without realising the fact that now the erstwhile engaged boy and girl are so deep in each other’s love that they cannot bear the separation. They keep on meeting each other now clandestinely. However when Manoharlal tries to marry Nirmala to some other boy, she runs away from home with Ajay but having come to know of her mother’s serious illness, comes back.

The climax comes when in another arbitration involving Satyaprakash, Manoharlal becomes the arbitrator. First he thinks of settling his score with Satyaprakash by giving a wrong judgment against him. However after sitting on the judgment chair, he finds himself unable to do injustice and gives the just and correct verdict in Satyaprakash’s favour. By his own deed he realizes now his error of misunderstanding Satyaprakash and paves the way for the reunion of the lovers.Saanch-Ko-Aanch-Nahin-19791-206x300Since the moviemakers have borrowed the plot from the classic story, they could not do much to prepare a screenplay from their side. The thin storyline had to be stretched to make a full-fledged feature film of over two hours. So the romantic teasing and meetings of the young couple and other family members take place alongwith the songs. In the first half, it appears okay and the viewer enjoys the proceedings. The trouble comes in the second half when after the split in the families, the writer finds it difficult to fill the time till the climax arrives. Hence the episodes of the couple’s clandestine meetings and running away from homes etc. have been inserted which are not very impressive and clearly appear to have been imposed upon the main story to fill the time duration.index2However the movie has been made according to the long standing Rajshri tradition with a simple backdrop, family values, ear-soothing music and lovable characters (except the negative ones). The first half of the movie is a pleasure to watch and but for the dragging already mentioned, the second half is also not that bad. It’s a lovely movie and like almost all the Rajshri movies in that era, the viewer starts wishing to have such people only in his / her family too. The romantic encounters of the young couple are rib- tickling as well as heart-tickling. Overall it’s an entertaining movie for sure and comes true to the expectations of the audience of the Rajshri movies.

The performances are good. Arun Govil with his boyish looks has performed pretty well in the first lead role of his life and the newcomer girl Madhu Kapoor has developed good on-screen chemistry with him. The complete supporting cast has done justice to the respective roles assigned.62296Ramlaxman has composed good music strictly in line with the Rajshri tradition, spreading the fragrance of Indian soil with the help of beautiful lyrics of Kulwant Jaani and Ravinder Rawal. The best song of the movie is the engagement song – Aaj Meri Didi Ki Sagaai Ho Gayi – sung by Usha Mangeshkar and filmed on Komal Mahuvakar (who has played the younger sister of the heroine). My personal favourite song from this movie is – Aankhon Aankhon Mein Dil Gaya Apna Kaanon Kaanon Hamen Khabar Na Huyi which is actually a Ghazal filmed upon the young couple of the movie and sung by Shailendra Singh. The title song is also impressive.indexSince the movie has a simple backdrop, simple sets only have been made without pump and show or display of luxuries. The costumes of the characters also display a milieu filled with simplicity and depict the honesty of the moviemakers. Editing could have been better. Else the technical aspects are more or less ok.

My final words, director Satyen Bose has made a good movie by adapting the classic story of Munshi Premchand which declares the immortality of the ideals of truth and justice. If you are interested in watching a simple movie with simple but lovable characters and adherence to Indian traditions and family values, Saanch Ko Aanch Nahin will not disappoint you.

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