Breaking news ! A murder in Jhery !

Taaza Khabar (breaking news) is the 93rd novel of the very popular Sunil Series created by eminent Hindi mystery writer Surendra Mohan Pathak. It’s relatively a small novel but the story has been spread on a large canvas and provides a satisfactory reading to whosoever grabs its copy and reads it.

The title of the novel is as such because a copy of a newspaper being circulated in the afternoon (not morning) named as ‘Taaza Khabar’ plays a significant role in the story which is a murder mystery. The murder takes place not at the usual place of the novels of this series, i.e., Rajnagar which is a fictitious metropolitan city of India but at a nearby tourist place known as Jhery.

The murder victim is actually a wealthy businessman of Rajnagar named as Janardan Modi but at the time of the killing, he is staying under a fake name – Nemchand Jain and under the disguise of a poor peasant who is willing to open a poultry farm in that area.

The purpose of the murder victim behind living under this fake identity was a complicated one. In that particular region, several peasants had grown crops through their toil without owning the relevant pieces of land as the real owners of the land were not known and they were considered as freely available for peasantry. Janardan Modi wanted to build a grand hotel cum health club and golf course on the same and therefore, he had been instigating the concerned peasants to sell their land to him, offering them attractive price for the same. However some of such peasants were not ready to part with the pieces of land under their possession and for the purpose of canvassing clandestinely among them, Modi had donned the disguise of Nemchand Jain so that those peasants could trust him (considering him as someone like them only).

The name of one such peasant who is more vocal against purchase of this land by Modi is Hukum Chand Thaaliya who is a good friend of Jawahar Singh, the editor of the local tabloid ‘Jhery Times’. Both of them visit the cottage of Janardan Modi aka Nemchand Jain who does not open the door for them. Next day, he is found as shot dead in the cottage. The investigating officer is a sub-inspector from the local police chowki. His name is Kirparam and he is not a smart cop. So quite naturally, the onus of catching the murderer falls on the shoulders of our hero Sunil Kumar Chakravarty only who is the ace reporter of a national daily ‘Blast’. Even before the murder taking place, he had sent his junior reporter Arjun to Jhery to talk to the locals regarding this whole mishmash pertaining to the land, the prospective buyer and the reluctant sellers.

Suspects are many and a stylish compact found (in broken condition) on the murder spot indicates that some urban female must be involved in the case. The initials of that mysterious lady are engraved on that compact as N.M. The name of the victim’s wife is Nisha and she has been having an illicit affair with a person named as Anil Mehra which is going to be exposed due to the private detectives engaged by her suspicious husband to keep a watch on her. Can this N.M. be Nisha Modi ?

Among other suspects, there is one employee of Modi who has embezzled his employer’s money for gambling, his girlfriend who is concerned for his job as well as his future (once that embezzlement is exposed), a business rival of Modi and the like wise.

Besides the broken compact, a document appearing like a suicide note is also found near the dead body of the victim. The unusual thing about that so-called suicide note is that it’s not been written or typed but prepared by pasting the words of the text cut from a newspaper. It’s found out that this newspaper is the mid-day published newspaper of Rajnagar, Taaza Khabar (of a particular date).

One more clue found on the murder spot is a lit candle whose significance is difficult to understand. Our hero (with the help of his junior) carries out an experiment to check as to how much part of such a candle gets burnt up (after getting lit) in a particular time period which gives him an idea regarding the probable time of the murder. He examines all the suspects including those having an airtight alibi for them and finally unmasks the murderer in a dramatic manner.

Written in simple Hindi, this novel can be read in a single sitting like a regular movie because it is not bulky. The author has abstained from inserting superfluous things in the narrative and kept it crisp. It’s a damn interesting novel and no mystery fan can afford to leave it in-between after starting to read it. And it’s definitely a treat for the admirers of the famous Hindi author.

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Speechless SRK in an action-packed revenge saga

Young Shah Rukh Khan emerged as a romantic hero in Bollywood in the early nineties starring in movies like Deewana (1992), Dil Aashna Hai (1992) and Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992). However he took risk and did action-packed and gore-soaked movies like Darr (1993), Baazigar (1993) and Anjaam (1994) with his roles having negative shades in them. The historic success of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) catapulted him to the top of stardom and he became the first choice of the Bollywood filmmakers for romantic movies. Nevertheless he did not allow himself to get typecast and kept on doing action movies also. Koyla (1997) is one such movie only which is an action-packed and technically superior drama with good musical score but which did not click on the box office. The probable reason for its failure will come later in this review.

I had watched Koyla (coal) on the very first day of its release in the Batra cinema situated at Dr. Mukherjee Nagar in Delhi and was a little disappointed because I was expecting to see a movie with a good story. But despite getting a big-screen and value for money entertainment for around two hours and forty-five minutes, I felt that a technically good movie without a quality story is nothing more than the food which is delicious to eat but leaves something to be desired on the nourishment front.

The story is titled as Koyla, i.e., coal because its villain is a businessman known as Raja Saheb (Amrish Puri) who owns a coal mine. He is lusty despite his old age and sets his eyes on a local village girl Gauri (Madhuri Dixit). He sends wedding proposal for her but with the photo of not himself but his mute  servant Shankar (Shah Rukh Khan) as the prospective groom. Gauri happily agrees only to be shocked on the conjugal night when she finds that the person claiming to be her husband is an old man and not the youth whose photo had been shown to her. However now she is helpless. Raja Saheb imprisons her when she refuses to accept him as her husband. When Shankar tries to help her, Raja Saheb goes after the lives of both of them. Now several twists keep on coming in the story which reaches its action-packed finale when the villain gets burnt in the flames emanating from the enormous stock of coal around him when the hero seeks his revenge from him for the atrocities levied on not only the heroine but also his own tragic life and making him an orphan in the past. Quite naturally, the path of the union of the lead pair of the story is paved thereby.

It’s a Rakesh Roshan movie. Actor Rakesh Roshan had started directing movies in the late eighties and movie after movie, he kept on refining his directorial skills. He kept himself in the line of producing and directing formula-based masala flicks for mass entertainment. Before Koyla, he had made many such movies none of which had failed on the box office. Koyla became the first flop directed by him. Why ?

The first and foremost reason for the same is that the hero has been shown as a mute person in the story and he remains so for the major part of the narrative. With the grand success of DDLJ, Shah Rukh Khan’s voice as well as his style and mannerism of speaking had become immensely popular especially among the young viewers. Hence finding their favorite hero as speechless or mute in the movie was a very big disappointment for them. Though his speaking ability has shown to have come back in the later reels of the movie, it was too little too late from the viewpoint of the audience which was enthusiastic to hear him.

Besides, a good movie always finds its feet on a foundation of a strong, convicting and appealing story. Hence to make a good movie, there should be a good story in the first place. The story of Koyla is dated, illogical and irritating at times. Undue footage has been given to the character of the villan, i.e., Amrish Puri (and his sidekicks as well) whereas the hero and the heroine have got comparatively less footage and less importance. Hence the talented due of SRK and Madhuri could not leave their mark in the movie in the way they were capable of.

Notwithstanding the flaws, Koyla is not a boring movie. The scenic beauty, the well-choreographed song and dance numbers, the eye-widening action scenes and the melodious music composed by Rajesh Roshan have definitely made this movie at least a one time watch. Two songs stand out – Tanhaai Tanhaai Tanhaai and Ghoonghate Mein Chanda Hai. Background score is good, Dialogues are okay.

Despite weak story and weak characterization, both SRK and Madhuri have given their best to the movie. Their pair is lovely and likeable by all means. On the acting front also, the are damn impressive. Comedian Johnny Lever has got a meaty role in this movie as the hero’s friend and he has done full justice to it. Other supporting characters viz. Deepshikha, Ashok Saraf, Himani Shivpuri etc. are also well in place. The minor villains are just okay whereas Amrish Puri has infused life into the character of the main villain though he appears to be akin to a joker at places.

Koyla is now remembered as the only flop movie presented by the producer-director Rakesh Roshan. However, it’s not trash. If watched with a modest expectation, it does not disappoint a regular  entertainment-seeker. The fans of SRK and Madhuri also can give it a dekko.

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Betrayal ! Nerve leprosy ! And a ghastly murder !

Khoon Se Ranga Chaaku (a bloodstained knife) is a very intricate murder mystery penned by eminent Hindi mystery writer Surendra Mohan Pathak. It’s a novel under his popular Sunil Series whose hero – Sunil Kumar Chakravarty is a Bengali youth working in the profession of investigative journalism. Living in a fictitious metropolitan city named as Rajnagar, Sunil is an employee of a national daily named as Blast. His employer Mr. B.K. Malik is affectionate to him just like a father but his immediate superior – Roy who is the news editor in Blast is almost always keen to boss over him albeit Sunil never bows before his bossism and more often than not leaves him as embarrassed after interaction with him.

This serial hero, first introduced by the author as early as in 1963, is a stylish character and believes in living the life king size instead of saving for future which is uncertain. He is all alone in life and almost all the assignments which he gets from either his immediate superior (Roy) or the owner of Blast (Mr. B.K. Malik) put him in a situation where he has to resolve a murder mystery. Khoon Se Ranga Chaaku pertains to one such assignment only which Sunil accepts from Roy after his usual teasing and word play with him.

Our journalist hero has to reach Jal Mahal and obtain an interview from Deewan Ayodhya Prasad who is a big businessman and owner of Oriental Steamship Company. Jal Mahal is his residence which is a very old building, actually a palace earlier belonging to a former prince, situated exactly on the sea-shore in an area known as North Shore which is around 25-30 miles far from Rajnagar. The background of the whole issue is a fraud which Deewan Ayodhya Prasad had allegedly committed with his three friends who were small businessmen, had become his partners by trusting him and had got ruined because of that fraud. Deewan Ayodhya Prasad had left India thereafter and has returned now after a few years because his the only daughter Divya has married a youth named as Anoop. The father has accepted his daughter’s decision and arranged a grand reception party at Jal Mahal to celebrate that. Since Divya is Sunil’s friend, he has got an invitation for that party and it may prove to be an occasion for him to get an interview from Deewan Saheb and get his clarification regarding the said fraud which had destroyed the lives of his friends because whether Deewan Saheb had actually betrayed his trusting friends or not, is still a mystery.

There is a cause of rift between Deewan Saheb and his brand new son-in-law Anoop. Anoop is in the line of bio-chemical research and working under the supervision and guidance of a renowned research scholar – Professor Bhatnagar who is trying to find remedies for many serious diseases including leprosy. However Deewan Saheb considers this as a useless exercise and wants his son-in-law (of an ordinary social status) to join his company as its manager. Anoop is, naturally, not at all interested in that and not ready to bow before the pressure of his father-in-law. Deepa is standing by him.

A few more colorful characters are there in the picture. The present assistant manager of Deewan Saheb’s company – Dushyant is ambitious of becoming company’s manager himself and is wary of the hypothetical situation that Anoop will become manager and thereby, his boss. He is also having a clandestine affair with Shobha who is widower Deewan Saheb’s girlfriend and is likely to get married to him soon. Shobha’s brother Abhishek is Deewan Saheb’s private secretary and through him only, Shobha has come to know that Deewan Saheb has hired the services of a private detective agency to check her fidelity to him. The accountant of Deewan Saheb’s company – Prakash is a habitual gambler and has embezzled company’s cash for this purpose. Now the sword of getting exposed before Deewan Saheb is hanging over his neck. All the servants of the household come to Jal Mahal from a colony of fishermen a little away from there.

When Sunil reaches Jal Mahal, he comes to know one more very interesting fact. Deewan Saheb (out of his generosity or penitence or the like wise) has rehabilitated one of his erstwhile partners and the family of another such one in Jal Mahal itself. One partner is now the caretaker (actually, the watchman) of Jal Mahal whereas the widow of another such partner has become the housekeeper there and living there itself alongwith her younger son, the elder son having left the place and gone to somewhere else a couple of years back. The whereabouts of the third partner are not known.

Since this is a murder mystery, the reader can guess as to who can be the murder victim. Deewan Ayodhya Prasad, of course ! Now the quest for the murderer begins by our journalist hero on one hand and by the investigating officer of police – Inspector Prabhu Dayal on the other. Inspector Prabhu Dayal is from the homicide department of Rajnagar police and he is the perennial love-hate buddy of our hero. The murder has taken place in a ghastly manner. The killer had cut the throat of the victim when he was in his study and sitting on his chair. However just at that time, Divya had heard a scream and when rushed to the study of his father, she had stumbled upon somebody lying unconscious on the floor (because there was darkness in the study at that time). All of a sudden, she had felt something like a knife in the hand of that person which was (as she had felt) blood stained. This must be a very important clue but when coming back to senses, Divya has not found any blood (or anything else) on her hands. Sunil finds a special kind of coin in the study and comes to know from Professor Bhatnagar that such coins are used in the leper colony by its residents (that is, the lepers). He also comes to know a special kind of leprosy known as nerve leprosy in which the leper’s body does not show any white stains (like the usual lepers) but there are some other symptoms for such ailment. There is a possibility that the said unconscious person (whom Divya had stumbled upon) was suffering from nerve leprosy.

As it has to be, the mystery is resolved in the end by our hero and the culprit is caught but the part between the murder and the unmasking of the murderer is damn interesting. Twists after twists, clues after clues and steps after steps of the two-pronged investigation make a fast-paced and engrossing read for the reader. One more murder takes place during the course of the investigation and the suspense deepens after every succeeding scene of the narrative. The novel has the capability to keep the reader as hooked till the very end.

Barring the humorous interaction between our hero and his immediate superior in the opening scene, there is nothing in this novel which is not linked to the main story. The mystery is intricate and the author has not wasted any pages in telling superfluous things. The build-up takes its time but once the murder happens, the narrative moves in fast speed and does not give the liberty to the reader to leave the novel in-between.

I can’t say anything regarding the source of the basic grains of the story but the skilled Hindi author has lived upto his reputation. Usually, Sunil’s friend Ramakant, his junior reporter Arjun and the receptionist of Blast – Renu also remain present in the novels of this series and entertain the reader in their own specific manners but all three of them have been spared in this novel. That’s why I have asserted supra that the author has abstained from including superfluous things in the narrative. And he has shown better sense thereby. Considering the vast canvas of the story and the long list of suspects, this long novel does not appear to be long when read. The language used is simple Hindi. So anybody who can read and understand even a little bit of Hindi, can enjoy it to the full.

Through the characters of Anoop and Divya, the author has underscored the significance of trust between a husband and a wife. This relationship is a peculiar one and contains the level of proximity which is absent in other male-female relationships. The author has, in many of his novels, highlighted the importance of mutual trust and understanding between married people and this novel also falls in that league. A couple can remain a couple only when both the partners understand each other properly and try to see the things from the other’s perspective also and not just in his/her one-sided manner.

The layout and geography of Jal Mahal is another intriguing aspect of the narrative. We have heard of the palaces of the bygone era having peculiar layouts including trap-doors also. Jal Mahal is one such building only. Moreover it’s been shown as situated right on the sea-shore which further enhances the suspense-soaked environment present in the novel.

Overall, Khoon Se Ranga Chaaku is a very good murder mystery which enthralls every mystery fan who reads it. First published in 1983, this novel does not appear to be stale from any angle. Today’s generation can extract the same level of entertainment from it as the yesterday’s generation could.

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IPL : Boon or Curse for the Indian Cricket ?

In 1977, an Australian businessman, Kerry Packer when not given the telecast rights of the Cricket matches by the Australian Cricket Board to his TV channel, waged a war against the Cricket establishment by starting his own World Cricket Series and signed dozens of high profile Cricketers for it by offering whooping amounts to them. The purists mocked that series as Packer Circus but that Circus changed the face of the game forever. The series ended with Packer having the last laugh but it revolutionized the game to an extent that earlier could not have been imagined.

Three decades later, Subhash Chandra, the chairman of the Zee Television Group, decided to follow suit in the Indian context and started Indian Cricket League (ICL). This league lasted two seasons and ended without getting even half of the success of the Packer Circus three decades back. However just like the Packer Circus, the ICL also brought about a revolutionary change in the Indian Cricket. The Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) being financially very strong, did not bow before Mr. Subhash Chandra but it decided to counter the ICL with its own Indian Premier League (IPL), a 20-20 Cricket tournament which has successfully completed fourteen seasons since its outset in 2008 and is now ready to enter into the fifteenth one.

Cricket is perhaps the only game of its kind in which despite the basic rules and structure of the game remaining the same, the form and the style of the matches being played alongwith the public interest in them changes a lot in the three different formats in vogue today. There was a time when only the test matches (and first class matches) having two innings for each team and lasting for many days (sometimes for even more than five days) were played. The seventies saw the advent of the limited overs Cricket in which one thing was ensured that the match, if fully played, could not end in a draw like the format of the test (and the first class) matches. Since the people involved were habitual of playing (and watching) long innings then, such one innings matches were started with the no. of overs being 60 per innings which after more than one and a half decades only, could be reduced to 50 overs per innings. Since the no. of balls available for playing was less, new styles of stroke-making were invented to score runs quickly and the governing body also introduced some new rules to facilitate it because it had become clear that this new smaller format had gained more popularity than the erstwhile traditional format.

In the new millennium, the duration of the match was further shortened by reducing the no. of overs per innings to just twenty. This was developed in a new format called the 20-20 format, keeping the 50-50 format separate from it. Quite naturally, the less no. of balls to play, the more the stroke-making of the batsmen to score runs and hence the more the excitement for the public. Therefore, this mini format became even more popular than the 50 overs matches giving rise first to the ICL and then as its reaction, to the IPL. Now the ICL has had its life and does not exist but the IPL does exist with the official backing, support and ownership of the BCCI and since it’s pouring so much money in the coffers of the BCCI, it’s bound to continue for years and years. Now what’s the problem ?

The problem is that being the BCCI’s own tournament, most of the Indian Cricketers are always ready and available to partake in the IPL plus a no. of foreign players also making themselves available for it because of the heavy sums being paid to them by the teams who sign them (or buy them in the auction taking place every season), the focus on the traditional Cricket is less. Since the objective of the IPL is to make more and more and more money only, it’s been blended with the cine-world and cheerleaders (young girls) have also been introduced to entertain the public further. So where’s  Cricket ? The original game in which the skills of batting and bowling were truly tested ?

I agree with the purists who consider the IPL (in fact, the 20-20 format itself) as just an entertainment show to make money and not the true sport. Yes, lured by money, there are a lot many Cricketers, discarding the real game and opting for this shorter format only. I was startled to know when Chris Gayle of the West Indies had openly asserted that he was more interested in playing 20-20 matches (including the IPL) and not the test matches (for his national team) because Gayle is one of those four rare Cricketers who have two triple hundreds to their credit in test Cricket. But the fact was evident. He did not bother to play test and 50-50 overs matches for his national team for many years but was always available to play in the IPL. Ditto for Andrew Symonds whose international career virtually finished due to his neglecting the international matches. And how lethal it can be to neglect the traditional game which you can play for your nation is to be understood from this fact that Symonds’ career in IPL also ended very shortly thereafter.

Now the batsmen do not show any patience to stay on the wicket and the bowlers do not show any zeal to take crucial wickets. The focus of the batsmen is on scoring runs this way or that way and through the clumsiest of shots without caring for the correct technique. I compare it (the readers may disagree) to the making of the money by hook or by crook, not giving a damn for the ethics. The bowlers are also interested in giving less no. of runs and therefore, now their target is delivering a dot ball instead of getting the batsman out. Plus the boundaries have been narrowed and lifeless wickets are prepared to make it completely a batsman’s game with the bowler being reduced to a means to a supporting role only. And that’s the reason behind several great Cricketers’ failing to leave their mark in the IPL. Is it a healthy sign for the game ? No. ! The budding Cricketers are learning to play the shorter format so that they can partake in the IPL and neglecting the development of the basics of the game in them. The way one cannot try his hand on the light music properly without knowing the basics of the classical music, the same way a batsman or a bowler cannot achieve long lasting success in the shorter format without strengthening his knowledge of the basics which is possible only by playing in the longer format over a period of time. Finally, it’s a dream of every player to represent his country at the international level and for that he has to learn to stay on the wicket for some hours while batting and deliver long spells while bowling. That’s not possible just by playing in the IPL.

However, IPL is a boon too when looked from a different perspective. The sportspersons are also human-beings and they also need money to spend a quality life or at least meet the basic needs of themselves and their dependents. Indian Cricketers especially who have risen to the level of international Cricket, have been fortunate from this viewpoint when compared with the Indian players associated with the other sports (with the sole exception of Tennis). All the same, a few decades back, they also used to earn fame only and not money. Even the members of the Indian Cricket team which had stunned the sports world by winning the Prudential World Cup Cricket tournament in 1983, did not get much money thereafter. The span of active sport life is a bound to be a limited one. By his late thirties, a sportsman has to hang his boots. But life is still there. And the need for money will be there till the life is. Hence he has to make sufficient money during the his playing years only so that even after his retirement from the active game, he has money to live his life and is not forced to face any hardships due to dearth of money. We hear and read the painful stories of the sportspersons selling their medals won for the nation because of poverty. Who wants to undergo that state ? Nobody. Hence if the IPL provides money, it’s good for a person’s present and future and his mental health as well. With peace at his mind (not bothered by the monetary issues), he can do better on the field.

Now for the game. The IPL has given India some international players who have shown their class to the world. The past few test and ODI series played by India has highlighted this fact that now the much needed balance in the Indian playing eleven has arrived through Ravindra Jadeja. Very few people may be remembering that Ravindra Jadeja is a product of the very first IPL season when he had played for the Rajasthan Royals and caught everybody’s attention by his all-round skills. The 2010 season provided another durable Cricketer to the Indian Cricket team who has been playing for India for almost a decade and is likely to play for many more years for the nation – Ravichandra Ashwin whose talent came to fore through his playing for the Chennai Super Kings. These players are now proven match-winners for India. We can have more such players in the times to come. Hence the assumption that the IPL is killing the genuine Cricket, may finally prove to be a myth.

However, it is not to be forgotten that the players who are graduating themselves from playing for a IPL franchise to playing for the nation, are working hard on their game and not neglecting the basics. Jadeja and Ashwin bowl only four overs in an IPL match but they have mastered the art of effectively bowling more than 30 overs per innings in a test match. Virat Kohli plays attacking game in his IPL matches to score quick runs but he has learnt to stay on the wicket and set his eyes to play much longer innings in the international matches. Hence the player himself has to decide his goal. If he cherishes the dream to play for his country, then just playing in the IPL won’t help. Longer format whether it’s a 50 overs match or a test match, is an altogether different ball game which demands hard work, practice, patience and a will to adapt his style according to the demand of the format concerned. As the format changes, the player’s style is also to be molded accordingly. This is an skill to be developed by the player himself.

Besides, the IPL or say the 20-20 format of the game has set higher standards for fielding and catching. The players cannot afford to be lax on the field because every run saved is equal to a run scored. And giving a life to the batsman by dropping his catch may cost the fielding team the entire match. Hence the players have to be more fit, active and vigilant. This advantage of the IPL passes on to the international matches being played by the same players. 

The IPL is there in India to stay for the decades to come (despite the fact that it has suffered the ignominy of betting and match-fixing too) and there shouldn’t be a surprise if the International Cricket Council (ICC) creates a window for it in the international Cricket calendar in the near future. Hence I don’t think there’s any use cursing something which cannot be done away with. It’s just like the Indian democracy which may be flawed but we have to learn to live with it because we cannot abolish the system. And if we want to change or improve the system, we have to be in it and not out of it. The same principle applies to the IPL as well. 

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Fragrance of love in the fragrance of tuberose

Firstly, I express my gratitude towards esteemed reviewer and author Sajit Nair who inspired and reminded me to write a review of this beautiful movie which is as fragrant as the flowers of tuberose use to be. In fact, I had to write a review of Rajnigandha (1974) directed by Basu Chatterjee because of my love for literature as this movie is based upon a highly acclaimed Hindi story written by a renowned Hindi litterateur (Mrs.) Mannu Bhandari.925602763sRajnigandha (tuberose) is a celluloid adaptation of the Hindi story – Yahi Sach Hai (this only is true) written by the lady author Mannu Bhandari who is a big name in the world of Hindi literature. This story had received accolades from all the literary circles. Basu Chatterjee who always made low budget movies on the life and emotions of middle class people, adapted it for the movie without any distortion in the basic plot and presented the original story as it is on the screen with utmost honesty. This (right) approach of the director got supported by the intelligent and perfect casting for the principal characters. The good story, coupled with the brilliant performances from all the three main artists and the highly admirable musical score, makes a good watch for the lovers of emotional dramas. The director has nowhere digressed from the original story and presented it ditto on the screen.

The narrative of Yahi Sach Hai revolves around Deepa who loves Nisheeth while living in Calcutta but he breaks up with her without explaining anything to her. Heart-broken Deepa moves to Kanpur and comes in contact with Sanjay. In no time, love blossoms between the two. However when she visits Calcutta for a job interview, she meets Nisheeth again and the fire of her first love is rekindled in her heart. She starts feeling that her love for Sanjay was just an attempt to give solace to her broken heart and her first love only is the true love. But her dilemma continues whether she should opt for Sanjay or Nisheeth whose feelings can only be derived by her through his gestures, not expressed properly. However the ending scene of the story (and the movie) brings a twist in the tale with the realisation coming upon Deepa that the heart of a woman (like her) is too weak to take tough decisions.downloadIn the movie, the locations have been changed from Calcutta to Delhi and Kanpur to Bombay and the name of the character Nisheeth has been changed to Naveen (perhaps because Nisheeth is an uncommon name). Rest there is hardly any change. While the good story was the director’s advantage on one hand, its thinness was the disadvantage on the other because, after all, an interesting movie of a duration of two hours or more was to be presented to the Hindi movie audience. Hence here lay the challenge for him and the litmus test of his ability to keep the viewers tied to the screen throughout. And I admit that Basu Chatterjee passed this test with distinction. He has directed many bad movies too but Rajnigandha is definitely one of his best works.925602763-1228147-1The name of the movie is fittingly Rajnigandha because the hero Sanjay is habitual of bringing the gift of tuberose flowers (Rajnigandha) for Deepa who loves these flowers. And the fragrance of love spreading in a woman’s heart is no less than the enchanting fragrance of tuberose.The story (and the movie) tries to peep into a woman’s heart and explores an answer to a question – Can a woman love two men at the same time ? The answer from the viewpoint of the storyteller (who is a woman) is – Yes. It may happen when one of the two men is her first love. The first love always remains in a woman’s heart because of the fragrant memories it carries. However love is not just an emotion. It’s a need for every human-being (from my viewpoint – every creature) which should be met. Hence, it’s just not practical to spend the remaining part of one’s life with a broken heart and memories of a bygone love affair. The lovelorn Deepa finds solace in the arms of the outspoken Sanjay whereas the bygone love of introvert and silent Nisheeth (or Naveen) is very difficult for her to discard from her heart . Yet, in the end, when she is almost tired of the wait for Nisheeth’s letter, all of a sudden Sanjay breaks into her room with her favourite tuberoses and her craving need for love overpowers her abstract emotion. Then she feels that this love-drenched moment only is true, rest everything is (and was) false.MV5BNjdmMmM2MWItMTFkNy00ZTIzLTg0MTMtOTUxODdhODY2ZGY2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDUzOTQ5MjY@._V1_UY268_CR6,0,182,268_AL_Personally (though I am a man), I feel Deepa comes across the truth in the end because we live (and relive) in memorable moments of life. A moment of victory, a moment of love, a moment of satisfaction or a moment of bliss overpowers an uneventful and repetitive routine of a lifetime. Hence the golden moments are not to be let gone or wasted. They are to be lived to the full. And the bliss gained in a few moments is better than a treasure of stale memories and false, unfulfilled expectations.Rajnigandha-1974-150x150The emotional story has been told nicely on the screen and there is no boredom. All the three lead actors – Vidya Sinha as Deepa, Amol Palekar as the extrovert Sanjay and Dinesh Thakur as the introvert Naveen have delivered admirable performances. I specially mention Dinesh Thakur who has been one of the most talented actors of his time but given a raw deal by Bollywood because he has acted in just a handful of movies. The supporting cast has also done well.Technically the movie is simple and simplicity itself was the pre-requisite of this emotional story of middle-class people. Hence acceptable. Music is a very big plus point of the movie. It contains only two songs, written by Yogesh and composed by Salil Chowdhury but they can very easily be counted among 100 best songs from Bollywood music – 1. Rajnigandha Phool Tumhaare Mehken Yun Hi Jeevan Mein, Yun Hi Mehke Preet Piya Ki Mere Anuraagi Mann Mein (sung by Lata), 2. Kai Baar Yun Bhi Dekha Hai, Ye Jo Mann Ki Seema Rekha Hai, Mann Todne Lagta Hai (sung by Mukesh). The lyrics have a high poetic quality and the music composition of both of them is just excellent.All in all, Rajnigandha is a very good emotional watch. However, with my recommendation for the movie, I also advise those who can read Hindi and are fond of good literature, to read the story – Yahi Sach Hai which is a gem from the treasure of Hindi literature.

This old review has been posted again as a tribute to eminent Hindi litterateur Mannu Bhandari who left for her heavenly abode yesterday (15.11.2021).

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Wife’s address

Around a decade back, I was struggling to get passports for myself and my family members because of several procedural hurdles in the path. Proof of address was one of them. Though Aadhar Cards had been issued but they were not considered a valid document for proof of address those days.

Since we belong to Rajasthan and due to my changing the job a number of times over in my career, we didn’t have voter cards for our then place of residence (Hyderabad). Anyway, I was able to provide my proof of residence because of the landline telephone bill (of BSNL) and my salary account in the State Bank of Hyderabad. However arranging the address proofs of my wife and mother became a big problem for me. The shocking thing was that my address proof was not accepted as the address proof of even my wife. I was astonished to find that in a country like India where the marital bond is considered so sacred, husband’s address proof is not accepted as the address proof of his wife living with him. When I asked the bank (State Bank) to make my salary account in the bank as a joint account with my wife being the joint accountholder, the bank official also asked for the proof of residence of my wife, independent of my address proof. Else, he asked me to furnish a copy of our marriage certificate which I couldn’t because our marriage had taken place through the religious customs and it was not a civil marriage. I had been told that even affidavits were also not accepted as the address proof. Finally, with the help of the travel agent working for my employer organization (B.H.E.L.), I approached the passport office with the form and whatever documents I could arrange. There also, the examining and enquiring officials asked for the proof of our marriage. We couldn’t do anything in this regard except showing them our children

With the mediation of that agent (and his liaison with the concerned passport office official), we got our passports in the end (a sigh of relief for me). The policeman who had come to our house for ‘verification’ also was not ready to do his duty without taking a bribe.

Now our family has got scattered because of my transfer to Visakhapatnam and my family’s shifting to Pune. Once again this address proof problem has propped up before us as my daughter who has grown-up and my son who has to apply for his PAN card and driving license shortly, need address proofs. My mother is no more now but the passports of myself, my wife and both of my children will need renewal next year. Now Aadhar Card is accepted as a valid address proof. But to update address in that one needs another address proof. For opening a bank account or getting address updated in the bank records, one needs an address proof. Driving license is a valid address proof but to get the address updated in the same, one needs another address proof. I can arrange my address proof and I have applied for updation of my address in my Aadhar Card but what about the other members of my family. One BSNL landline telephone can be obtained for one member’s address proof (that too is no easy job when another govt. recognized address proof is not available) but again the other members will be without separate address proof. The authorized Aadhar Card agent in Pune told me that the address proof of the head of the family is not acceptable for the other members of that family. Everybody has to arrange separate proof for himself / herself. Then how can my wife provide a proof of her residence ? Should husband’s proof of residence not be considered as the proof of residence of an Indian wife ? And how can my children provide separate proofs of their residence independent of my proof of residence ?

I am really confused and not able to find a way-out of this problem. In India, several rules and regulations are made without giving a thought to the problems of the straight citizens. That’s how the menace of corruption goes unchecked because even to get the right things done, you have to route your work through the channel of bribe.

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Aye Mere Dil Kahin Aur Chal . . .

This old review is posted again as a tribute to the Tragedy King of the Indian screen – Dilip Kumar who left for his heavenly abode today.

In my review of Maut Ki Aahat (a Hindi novel), I have opined that consuming liquor to forget one’s grief is futile as liquor consumption may make a happy person happier but it can by no means mitigate the grief of an aggrieved person. On the contrary, the feeling of grief intensifies in the intoxicated condition. By drinking, a person does not get any relief from his grief but he makes those also aggrieved who are, in one way or the other, associated with him. By quitting drinking only, can the drinker think logically about and take some prudent step to solve the practical problems of his life. That’s the message of Daag (1952).indexDaag (scar) tells the story of Shankar (Dilip Kumar) who makes earthen toys and idols and sells them to earn a living for himself and his aged widow mother (Lalita Pawar). Shankar loves Paaro (Nimmi) who is the (step) sister of Laala Jagat Naarayan (Kanhaiyalaal). And Paaro loves Shankar even more than he loves her. Laala Jagat Naarayan has a grown up daughter too named as Pushpa (Usha Kiran). The aunt (Bua in Hindi) and the niece belonging to the same age-group, behave like close friends. Pushpa falls in love with a teacher Shyam Sunder (Jawahar Kaul) who has been appointed to tutor her and Paaro. Now Usha’s marriage with Shyam Sunder is fixed quite smoothly by her father but as far as the marriage of Paaro with Shankar is concerned, it’s almost next to impossible because of an acute problem with Shankar.daag-1952jpgAnd this problem is his addiction to drinking liquor. Paaro belongs to a well-off family whereas Shankar earn barely enough to make both ends meet for himself and his mother. But even a major part of that earning goes in Shankar’s expenditure on liquor. He does not listen to anybody, may it be his mother or his sweetheart Paaro or his close friend and genuine well-wisher Ragunaath (Laxman Rao) who wants him to quit drinking despite himself only running the liquor shop. He loses a lot including his mother and the love of Paaro whose marriage is fixed by her brother to someone else. The movie ends on a happy note when Shankar finally gets rid of his liquor addiction and gets the love of his life in the form of Paaro.daag-2Once my ex-boss Mr. S. Alaguvel had told me in my own interest –  ‘Mathur, image is very important. It’s even more important than who you actually are and what you actually do’. Sometimes a person may be very good, capable, virtuous and possessing a heart of gold but develops a bad image of him in the eyes of the world. That bad image sticks to him like a monkey on his back and does not leave him despite all his pluses and his sincere efforts to get rid of it. Hence to survive and prosper in this world and to lead a normal and peaceful life, one has to be image-conscious because we can’t afford to live alone, ultimately we have to be a member of the society and a part of the milieu. The protagonist of this story, i.e., Shankar could learn it after losing a lot as well as suffering a lot. The bad habit of drinking became a scar (Daag) on his name uglifying his personality. That’s why the movie has been titled as Daag.daag-1952-925704795-435994-1Despite selecting a good theme, writer-director Amiya Chakravarty could not prepare a good screenplay for the movie and finally it turned out to be just an average flick which the audience can endure mainly because of the great musical score consisting of some immortal songs. The complete script is lacklustre and the narrative moves in a wayward fashion without any direction and coherence of events. The movie defies logic time and again throughout its duration and the filmmaker could not create any sympathy in the audience for the suffering  hero.daagThe major part of the narrative is gloomy but for the purpose of giving relief to the audience, the completely superfluous love story of Shyam Sunder and Pushpa has been inserted alongwith a couple of songs. It has given some relief and amusement to the audience but it has nothing to do with the main story of Shankar, his mother and his sweetheart Paaro. The character of Pushpa itself is not at all required in the main story. The episode of Laala Jagat Naarayan’s unexpectedly getting inherited wealth is also quite amusing though it also serves no purpose for the story except creating a status difference between the hero and the heroine which has no relevance to their love.daag-1Still if the movie is able to pull the audience alongwith it, then it is because of the songs composed by Shankar Jaikishan with the help of the lyrics of Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri. This movie was made in the heyday of Talat Mahmood who was the uncrowned king of sad songs then. The album consists of three great sad songs of Talat Mahmood – 1. Hum Dard Ke Maaron Ka Itna Hi Fasaana Hai, 2. Koi Nahin Mera Is Duniya Mein, Aashiyaan Barbaad Hai, 3. Aye Mere Dil Kahin Aur Chal (which comes many times in the movie, once in the voice of Lata Mangeshkar too). Among other songs, Lata’s classic sad song – Kaahe Ko Der Lagaai Re, Aaye Na Ab Tak Baalma is also in the movie. The other songs (all in Lata’s voice) – Preet Ye Kaisi Bol Ri Duniya, Jab Se Nain Laage, Dekho Aaya Ye Kaisa Zamaana etc. are also good.

Technically, this black and white movie is so-so. The milieu is rural and simple. Sometimes the narrative confuses a bit. That speaks of poor writing and editing.

Tragedy King Dilip Kumar has done well in the lead role but surely it is not one of his best performances. Nimmi and Usha Kiran too have done well as the leading ladies. Lalita Pawar is perfect as the hero’s mother. The supporting cast including Kanhaiyalaal is also well in place.

Daag may not be liked by today’s generation who may find it difficult to sit through this movie. However I recommend it with my rating of 2.5 stars to those who are fond of watching old black and white Hindi movies containing good music and ample dose of sentiments. The huge fan following of the legendary singer Talat Mahmood and the legendary actor Dilip Kumar will also like it.

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Mujhko Apne Gale Laga Lo Aye Mere Hamrahi

In my reviews of old Bollywood movies like Dooj Ka Chand (1964), Duniya (1968), Aya Sawan Jhoom Ke (1969) etc.; I have underscored this fact related to the Hindi movies made during the sixties that the script-writers used to insert a suspense element (with or without a courtroom drama) in the final part of the screenplay for the story which was based on romance or social drama. This act of them added spice to the narrative flowing on the screen before the audience and enhanced the entertainment value of the movie. Sometimes, that suspense was an intriguing one and it was pretty difficult to guess the culprit (the murderer as in almost all such cases, the twist in the tale came due to happening of some murder only) and sometimes, it was quite an easy one and the audience could guess the identity of the real culprit very easily (which had to be somebody other than the hero or the heroine). The movies mentioned by me in the beginning line of this review fall into the first category whereas Hamrahi (1963) falls into the second one, i.e., it’s anybody’s guess as to who might be the murderer. Nonetheless, it’s a pretty good movie whose premise is not that murder but the emotional bond between the lead pair which took a long time (a sizable part of the movie) in developing.

Hamrahi (fellow-traveller) is the story of Shekhar (Rajendra Kumar) who is the son of the much respected public prosecutor Dharamdaas (Nazir Hussain) but being a playboy by nature, instead of doing any meaningful work, he keeps on philandering with many girls. Now our casanova hero stumbles upon two entirely different girls. One is a gold-digger – Hemlata (Shashikala) who considers herself as very clever and quite proficient in befooling men. The other one is a school teacher – Shaarada (Jamuna) who comes from a modest family but maintains and is proud of her high moral character. Shekhar, as usual, ditches Hemlata (after spending some good time with her) and despite her well thought-out and well executed machination, Hemlata is not able to stick to him. The way, a sensible traveller settles for a passenger train after missing a mail train, she catches Hanuman (Rajendra Nath) after losing Shekhar.

Shekhar, on the other hand, is smitten by the charms of Shaarada and genuinely falls in love with that simple girl. It does not prove to be difficult for him to get married to Shaarada who is motherless and lives with her father (Agha) and step-mother (Indira) and after losing her school teacher’s job due to her name having been associated with that of Shekhar, has few options left with her. However just like Shekhar’s father, she has also developed a very bad image of Shekhar in her heart and she does not mince words in conveying it to him on their first conjugal night itself. Shekhar, who has by now a change of heart and wants to win Shaarada’s love, shows better sense and does not force himself upon her as her husband. They continue to live under one roof without behaving with each other like a couple but don’t allow this fact to be known to the other members of that joint family consisting of Shekhar’s mother (Lalita Pawar), his elder brother Mahesh (Mehmood), Mahesh’s wife Shanti (Shubha Khote) and the children.

Days and months pass. Shekhar is not able to win Shaarada’s heart due to one reason or another and Shaarada keeps on loathing him. The emotional tension between them keeps on intensifying. However, finally the day arrives when Shaarada realizes that Shekhar has really mended his ways and truly loves her. Now with the evaporation of the tension and misunderstanding between the two, our hero and heroine have become a couple in the true sense and are about to start a happy life hereafter but the twist in the tale comes with the murder of Hemlata for which Shekhar is booked and tried in the court. Who will fight for Shekhar since his father himself is the public prosecutor and firmly believes that he only is the guilty ?

The murder, its investigation and the ensuing courtroom drama has been given very less footage in the movie which is the correct thing as the audience can very well guess (correctly) as to who is the murderer of Hemlata. The obvious suspect only turns out to be the murderer. The script-writer and the director could have handled this part of the movie in a better way and made it a little longer and more interesting. Perhaps they thought (like myself) that the other, major, part of the story only is really important and this twist serves merely as a tool to generate a (small) unhappy phase in the narrative before it is carried to its desired happy ending.

There is a very well-known and popular Hindi maxim – Subah Ka Bhoola Shaam Ko Ghar Aa Jaaye To Use Bhoola Nahin Kehte (if someone loses his way in the morning but is able to reach his home in the evening, he is not to be termed as a strayed one). I could not find any proper equivalent for it in English but in simple words, it means that if an errant person has mended or shows inclination to mend his ways, he should not be treated too harshly and should be given a chance in this regard because it is never too late to make amends. This is the message which the movie tries to convey to the audience. The undertrial hero asserts the same thing in the court too, asking the society, the court and his father – Can an aberrant not mend his ways and become a better person ? I appreciate this thought but in a patriarchal society, this liberty could be given to the males only. Women were supposed to forgive their husbands for their earlier sins once they were back on the right path. They were not supposed to expect the same kind of consideration for themselves if they happened to be in a similar position.

All things said and done, Hamrahi is a fairly good movie which entertains throughout its duration without any yawning moment for the audience. It starts off well, moves on nicely and reaches its denouement properly. Despite using stereotypes for many characters, the story does not seem to be out of place at any point though the track of gold-digger Hemlata and her husband Hanuman which attaches their landlord Gopi Nath (O.P. Ralhan) also later on is not a convincing one and mostly over the top.

The comedy side track of Agha, his wife Indira and his father-in-law Dhumal is entertaining but I praise the director for linking it to the murder and its investigation also. In fact, the comedy side track is pleasant only when it is not totally independent from the main plot but interwoven with it. The same cannot be said for the comedy presented by Mehmood and his wife Shubha Khote but their chemistry was always admirable and they entertain the audience very well.

Rajendra Kumar was not fit for the role of a playboy but he was natural like always in the role of a sincere lover in later reels. Jamuna could not completely hide her South Indian accent while speaking in Hindi but her looks and acting, both are pretty admirable. Shashikala is over the top as it was the demand of her role but her performance is flawless. It’s always a pleasure for me to see Lalita Pawar in a positive role. Others are routine. However Mehmood has startled by his impressive performance in the ending reels while playing the defense lawyer for his younger brother Shekhar (in real life, he was younger to Rajendra Kumar) and proved that he was not just a comedian, his talent was versatile. While seeing him and Rajendra Kumar in those courtroom scenes, I could not help recalling Kanoon (1960) in which Rajendra Kumar played the efficient and impressive defense lawyer and Mehmood played the playboy who generated laughs for the audience in the tense courtroom drama.

Certain scenes of the movie appear to be predecessors for similar scenes in later movies. The scene in which Shekhar has to face more than one girl at the same time and then has to hide both of them (from his uncle who approaches him all of a sudden) reminisces similar scene(s) in Boeing Boeing (1965) and Hanuman’s pretending to go out of the town but staying in the city only by renting a hotel room in order to spy on his wife reminisces of Sunil Dutt’s doing the same in Hamraaz (1967).

Technically this black and white movie is okay. Dialogues, art direction, cinematography, background score etc. are satisfactory. In addition to the dialogue of Shekhar in the courtroom (mentioned supra), the dialogue of Shaarada to the principal of her school while submitting her resignation from service is also praiseworthy when she underscores the significance of her character.

Shankar Jaikishan have done an excellent job in composing the music of Hamrahi using the beautiful lyrics of Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri. My personal favourite from the album of Hamrahi is Mohammed Rafi’s Ye Aansoo Mere Dil Ki Zubaan Hain. However Lata Mangeshkar’s  classic solo – Mann Re Tu Hi Bata Kya Gaaoon, Lata-Rafi duet – Karke Jiska Intezaar and above all, the title track by Mubarak Begum and Rafi – Mujhko Apne Gale Laga Lo Aye Mere Hamrahi have also been heart-conquerors for the music lovers for the past six decades. Other songs Wo Din Yaad Karo, Wo Chale Jhatak Ke Daaman, Main Albela and Dil Tu Bhi Gaa are also melodious and ear-soothing.

Summing up, director T. Prakasa Rao has done a fair job in directing Hamrahi which is a decent movie for sure. The lovers of golden oldies will definitely like it.

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Not Baazigar SRK, it’s Shikari Govinda

In 1993, the self-proclaimed Alfred Hitchcock(s) of Bollywood, i.e., director-duo Abbas Mustan presented young romantic hero – Shah Rukh Khan who was till then considered a newcomer only, in a very bold role which was not just some anti-hero kinda but something thitherto unseen and unheard in Bollywood. Why ? Because the hero was no different from any conventional villain, killing innocents to save his own skin and to achieve his goal (important personally for himself only). Bollywood had earlier seen anti-heroes but they were moral and conscientious. Despite being outlaws (or doing illegal things), they were definitely not so amoral as was the ‘Baazigar’ presented by Abbas-Mustan.

Baazigar (1993) which was an adaption of Ira Levin’s novel A Kiss Before Dying was a huge box office hit and Shah Rukh Khan’s courage to do such a role in the beginning years of his career as a hero was well appreciated. He also won the Filmfare Best Actor award for this role.

Years passed. One day, renowned film director N. Chandra who had directed quality movies like Ankush (1986), Pratighaat (1987) and Tezaab (1988) in the past; decided to make a movie on the lines of Baazigar and teamed up with popular hero Govinda for this purpose. Govinda who had started his career as a romantic hero, had become immensely popular for his comic timing during the nineties and delivered many hit comedies by then. Well, he decided to take a dive into the proposed risky project and accepted the risky role of the same kind of amoral hero (who is no better than a villain) as played by SRK in Baazigar. The result was Shikari (2000).

Shikari (hunter) begins with our (anti)hero’s daredevil escape from jail after which he disguises himself as a middle-aged ugly man and travels from India to South Africa by ship (on a fake passport, of course). In South Africa, he presents himself as a business tycoon Mahendra Prataap Singh (whereas actually he is Om Shrivastav) and becomes the rival of Virendra Singh Rawal (Nirmal Pandey) in the business of spices. On one stormy rainy night, he kills Virendra after revealing his true identity to him. He visits Virendra’s home later on when his post-death rites are being performed in his real self and introduces himself to Virendra’s mother (Sushma Seth), his widow Suman (Tabu) and his unmarried sister Rajeshwari (Karishma Kapoor) as his friend from India. Like Baazigar SRK, our Shikari Govinda also commits two more murders (of innocents) to hide his original crime. Since he is an absconding prisoner, the concerned cop (Kiran Kumar) is on his trail. Besides, Rajeshwari starts her quest for her brother’s murderer on one hand and falls in love with that very person on the other. She doesn’t know that her widow sister-in-law Suman knows everything about the background of this murder (and also the murderer). Everything gets clarified and the narrative (which now appears to be moving without any direction) is closed in a Baazigar like tragic climax.

First let’s talk about the pluses of the movie. It’s technically very good and the beginning 15-20 minutes including the introductory scene of Karishma Kapoor are simply awesome. I had seen this movie with my wife in the Chitralaya cinema of Boisar (Maharashtra) when it was released as I was serving at Tarapur Atomic Power Station those days which is situated at that place. It was a pleasure to see the thrills on the big screen (involving human-beings as well as a wild beast). Govinda’s changing his face with the help of the pieces of a mask may not be reliable but the fact is, his face got entirely changed by the same and even the audience might be finding it difficult to identify Govinda in that disguise. The scene involving the first (and the main) murder is also sensational.

Since, this movie is resting mainly on Govinda’s shoulders only, he had to perform very very well in the immensely challenging role which was in stark contradiction to his popular image those days. And he has not disappointed. Though he did not win any award for his terrific performance in this role, it’s really worth an award. His cruel looks when committing murders are simply hateful. But on the other hand, in the scene of his visiting the murder victim’s household for condolence purpose, he has displayed his versatile acting skills which are simply adorable. That particular scene (with Govinda’s dialogues in that) is very well written and that’s why very impressive. Other actors are so-so. However (Late) Nirmal Pandey has delivered a praiseworthy performance. 

The cinematographer has captured the beauty of Cape Town (South Africa) very well. Other technical aspects including the action and chase sequences are also okay. Editing is flawed but for that the script is to be held as culprit.

Musical score prepared by Aadesh Shrivastava is no match for the chartbusters prepared by Anu Malik for Baazigar. Only one song Bahut Khoobsurat Ghazal Likh Raha Hoon stands out in terms of both lyrics and composition (and also Kumar Sanu’s rendition).

The main trouble of Shikari lies with its script which is confused and is not able to explain many things properly in the end. Being a copycat is also no easy job as copying also requires some skill (Naqal mein bhi aqal ki zaroorat hoti hai). N. Chandra tried to copy Baazigar but despite the best efforts of his principal artiste in the pivotal character, this Shikari of his fell flat on its face.

Shikari is interesting only in its first half. The post-interval session is a complete letdown. However, for diehard Govinda fans, it may prove to be a big treat as their favourite hero took  risk to play a negative role in his heyday and excelled in that.

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Revisiting the era of Hrishi Da and Basu Da

During the seventies and early eighties, amidst several action-dominated flicks, the Hindi cinema intermittently presented low budget, neat and clean and simple movies too which provided light and rib-tickling entertainment and could be watched by a whole family together. Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee were flag-bearers of this kind of cinema which had developed its own audience and that’s why such movies were though not blockbusters, able to recover that cost and minimum profit. It was that stream of the mainstream Indian cinema which had an identity of its own. Anand, Piya Ka Ghar, Baawarchi, Chhoti Si Baat, Chupke Chupke, Khatta Meetha, Golmaal, Baaton Baaton Mein, Khoobsurat, Naram Garam, Hamaari Bahu Alka, Kisi Se Na Kehna, Rang Birangi, Jhoothi etc. were amidst the simple yet high quality movies served by these two directors, containing a bit of lovely romance and healthy laughs for the Indian families.

Times change. Just like in the life of any individual or the society at large, phases come and go in cinema too. These stalwarts grew old and stopped directing movies and with that the phase of healthy, clean, low-budget comedies also waned. In 2010, the success of an excellent comedy – Atithi Tum Kab Jaaoge provided a feeling that the bygone era of Hrishi Da and Basu Da could be back. There is an audience to welcome such movies if well-made. And then in 2012, a newcomer director, Mandeep Singh came up with a movie – Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya which though does not live up to the standard of Atithi Tum Kab Jaaoge, yet it’s a decent movie which can be termed as a romance enveloped in comedy.

Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya (fallen in love with you) is a Punjabi title chosen for a Hindi movie being the words of a song of this movie. It is a movie which starts as a pure comedy and later focuses on romance. Autorickshaw driver, Viren (Ritesh) is in very low spirits when the owner of the autorickshaw, Bhatti (Tinu Anand) sells it and alongwith that the savings of Viren that he had hidden in that autorickshaw are also gone. He suspects that Bhatti had usurped his money before giving away the autorickshaw. Being meek by nature, he reaches Bhatti’s house in an intoxicated state to fight with him and get his money back. The engagement ceremony of Bhatti’s daughter, Mini (Genelia) is taking place at that hour who sees a golden opportunity in this event to run away from an unwanted marriage. She runs away from there with Viren, showing to the eye-witnesses as if Viren has kidnapped her. To the world, Viren is the kidnapper and Mini is the kidnapped but the reality is vice versa. Now starts the adventurous journey of this duo which is destined to become a couple in due course of time and during this journey, they arrange ample laughing and tickling moments for the audience watching them on the screen.

Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya renders much more entertainment in the first half than in its second half when the story lands up in Viren’s own family. Since Viren and Mini get more screen time together in the first half, they are able to entertain the audience better with the skilfully penned script. The second half is less entertaining with family life, relationships and ethical issues intervening. Still the sequence of kidnapping of a foreigner in this half is quite hilarious. The climax is typically Bollywoodish with the expected reunion of the kidnapper and the kidnapped (it’s difficult to decide now who’s who) who have become lovers in their hearts.

Despite satisfactorily written comic script and good direction, I will not term Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya as some great comedy movie. The item song of Veena Malik has been unnecessarily forced in the second half which mars the simplicity and decency of the movie. Besides, the writer could not think of many amusing incidents for the later half and sentimental twists have been inserted to move the narrative and fill the time duration before the climax arrives. However, the movie does not bore. The dialogues are also in sync with the script. Though the movie is sans any vulgarity, the director could still have done better and kept it thoroughly ‘vegetarian’.

The movie has some ethics-linked discussion too. Though I feel from the talks of the hero’s father (Om Puri) and sister (Chitrashee Rawat) that we, the Indians, have mastered the art of justifying all our wrongdoings through decorative but hollow logics, still when it’s said that the sister steals because she wanted to become a magician but could not become and now vents out her frustration by demonstrating this art of the hand (Haath Ki Safaai), the argument has some merit. Many talented youths resort to the wrong path because they do not get a right path to channelize their talent and energy. And the father’s speech to his son in the pre-climax scene, defining a coward and inspiring the son to shed his cowardice and shoulder responsibility is just superb.

This movie does not boast of foreign locations, costly sets and costumes and a high production value but the simplicity in the life of an autorickshaw-driver in Delhi is heart-winning and the greenery in the fields of Haryana is eye-soothing. The art-director and the cinematographer have done their parts well. Other technical aspects are also in order.

Music is another plus point of this movie. The melodious songs composed by Sachin-Jigar containing the beautiful lyrics penned by Mayur Puri and Priya Panchal are like oasis in the desert of today’s Indian cinema where it is fast becoming difficult to differentiate between music and noise. Songs like Main Waari Jaawaan, Tu Mohabbat Hai, Jeene De and Main Pee Pa Pee Pa Ho Gaya are ear soothing, eye soothing and heart soothing at the same time. Only the item song picturized on Veena Malik is not in line with the mood of the movie and should have been dispensed with.

Ritesh and Genelia have tied the sacred knot in their real life and hence their reel life chemistry has got positively affected by their real life love. Both have done exceedingly well. Where normalcy is required, they are normal and where over-the-top performances are required, they again fit the bill. All others have supported them perfectly.

Summing up, Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya may not be some great or unforgettable movie but it’s like a gust of fresh air in the suffocated environment of formula-based and big-budget Bollywood movies containing more style and less substance. If you are fond of watching the golden oldies (of rom-com genre) of Hrishi Da and Basu Da, this movie is the right choice for you.

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