Spy Sunil in Peking

Hindi novelist Surendra Mohan Pathak created a hero, Sunil Kumar Chakravarty in the world of pulp fiction during the early sixties. This youth is an investigative reporter by profession and works for a national daily, Blast in the fictitious city of Rajnagar. In most of his adventures, Sunil has come before the readers as a journalist only. However Mr. Pathak has also written certain novels during the sixties and the seventies in which this hero appears in a different persona. In these novels, Mr. Pathak has shown that Sunil, other than being a full time reporter, works stealthily for a Govt. of India department – Special Intelligence (mentioned as a branch of Central Investigation Bureau) and reports to its Director, Colonel Mukherjee. In this form, Sunil is not a reporter but a spy whose reality is known to only Colonel Mukherjee and some of his colleagues in the department who also pursue different professions as cover for their identity as spies working for the Govt. of India.

Operation Peking is one such novel of Sunil which had been written by Mr. Pathak in 1970. In those days, the capital of China was not called Beijing. Then it was called Peking. That’s why this novel containing Sunil’s activities in that city carries the title – ‘Operation Peking’ (and not ‘Operation Beijing’).  The tension presently going on on Indo-China border, reminisced me about this small but highly impressive novel. Operation Peking begins with the new year eve celebration in Youth Club (a night club run by Sunil’s friend, Ramakant) where Colonel Mukherjee spots Sunil and thereafter while talking in the running car, assigns him the mission called ‘Operation Peking’. The mission is to kill an informer, Marc Harrison in Peking. Marc Harrison is a Britisher living in Peking who supplies useful information to the Indian Intelligence for money but due to his own negligence, he has made himself suspicious in the eyes of the Chinese police. If he is caught, it is quite probable that he will speak out the names of certain other people associated with the Indian Intelligence among whom the main person is a young lady, Azra Gamaal who is apparently an Arabian ballet dancer but actually a trusted and efficient agent of the Indian Intelligence. Hence to protect the Indian spying network in China, it is mandatory to eliminate Marc Harrison. Sunil reaches China with this single point mission only but situations take such a turn that he has to flee from there alongwith Marc Harrison and Azra Gamaal. The Chinese are after them. They seek the help of Chen Piao who is known to Azra Gamaal due to the anti-communism based relationship of their late fathers. Things do not move according to their plan and as the chain of events proceeds further and further, their difficulties also increase. Chen Piao, his wife and Marc Harrison get killed while trying to flee from China but Sunil, alongwith Azra, is able to cross the Indo-China border through such a dangerous route that none could imagine to use.Operation PekingOperation Peking is a very small novel because then (during the sixties and the seventies), lengthy novels were not written in India in the field of pocket books. But the story has been written on a very large canvas and keeps the reader spellbound right from the beginning to the end. As the narrative progresses, the pace of the things taking place in the story also increases, providing a breathtaking reading to the reader. The final phase of the novel is just superb. Without going into the issue of the originality of the story idea, let me praise Mr. Pathak wholeheartedly for penning such a brilliant spying novel.

In addition to thrill, Mr. Pathak has, like always, inserted certain emotions too in the novel. In the penultimate scene, the Chinese agent, Chiang Lu gets an opportunity to kill Sunil sleeping on the Indian side of the Indo-China border but his conscience does not allow him to kill his brave Indian counterpart in that cowardly fashion after his daredevil escape from China. The thoughts passing through the mind of Chiang Lu at that moment are able to move the reader deep within.

Mr. Pathak has always been able to narrate the relevant places whether of India or abroad, in his novels in a very lively manner. Operation Peking is no exception. The different locations of China have been described quite realistically and emphatically in the novel. The language used (Hindi) is simple but impressive.

All in all, this half a century old novel which has not been republished for a pretty long period, provides a mesmerizing reading to the readers of spy fiction. This small novel is leagues ahead of several excessively long overhyped novels which have become bestsellers due to hype only.

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The blind war

The world consists of two kinds of people – those who use others to further self-interests and those who get used by them, knowingly or unknowingly. The people falling in the second category are often at loggerheads with each other without being known that they are just pawns in the hands of those who are playing the real game. And thus such being used ones are involved in blind wars against each other. They are fighting without realizing the futility of the war consuming their precious energies. Andhaa Yudh (1987) narrates the tale of two such used ones only out of whom one is an outlaw and the other one is a cop. Both realize quite late that the war being blindly carried out by them is actually not theirs and they are not aware of the real motives of the masterminds behind as well.Andha Yuddh (blind war) starts with the murder of the chief minister of the state. The killer – Raaja (Raj Babbar) is running away from the police when he gets shelter in a home holding the only person available there at that time as captive who is a handicapped girl – Saroj (Pallavi Joshi). Dutiful cop – Suhaas Daandekar (Nana Patekar) is chasing him and now seeing that he has held the handicapped girl as captive in his bid to escape from there, he works out different plans to catch him. He seeks the help of a doctor (K.K. Raina) and a nurse – Maadhuri Paande (Divya Rana) in this regard. The nurse enters the household under the pretext of administering the essential medicine to the handicapped girl and tries to give a sedative to Raaja but fails. All the family members of Saroj alongwith the cops, i.e, Suhaas and his subordinates plus the press reporters are witnessing the high tension drama involving two sides with different motives – a cat and mouse game, putting it straight.On the other hand, an emotional interaction goes on between Saroj and Raaja inside the house. Saroj who herself is highly depressed because of her crippled condition and a bleak future, asks many questions from Raaja taking him down his memory lane containing several painful incidents that took place in his childhood and youth. She puts up certain ethical questions before him and they share a lot, despite Saroj still fearing Raaja and Raaja still not relying upon her sympathies towards him. Raaja has been led to commit this murder through a brainwashing of him, making him believe that he would be serving a noble cause by doing it. Gradually Raaja realizes that he has been misguided and used to carry out that evil deed by someone who has been benefitted from that. Saroj asks him to surrender to the law but Raaja has some different intentions. He seeks clear path from the cops to escape from there with Saroj by threatening to kill her. Before that he gets her clad in a red sari. Suhaas follows them and kills Raaja upon getting the first opportunity to nail him. Before that Raaja has conveyed to Saroj the name of the person who got the CM murdered through him and Saroj conveys the same to Suhaas. Now Suhaas also realizes that himself was in a blind war with Raaja and his position is no better than that of Raaja. In fact, both have been pawns in the hands of the real chess player, making moves from both the sides. This realization of Suhaas paves the way for the finale of this movie.Andha Yuddh is a very impressive movie with no songs or regular Bollywood formulae like romance, comedy or fight. It is an out and out realistic intense drama which keeps the viewer hooked. The viewer seldom realizes that the regular entertainment factors are absent from this movie because already there is so much to keep him tied to his chair. It’s an edge-of-the-seat sentimental thriller. The plight of Raaja and his exploitation moves the viewer deep within. Through the character of Raaja, the filmmaker has emphatically underscored this fact that man is nothing but the product of his experiences. One can give back to the society only what he has got from it in the first place. When the society itself turns an innocent into a criminal, what can he repay to it ?

The police, the CBI and similar agencies are nothing but the puppets in the hands of the selfish politicians in our country. Leave aside the corrupt cops; on many occasions even the honest, sincere and dedicated cops are ignorant of the fact that whatever they’re doing in the name of duty has nothing to do with the security or the welfare of the society or the nation and it’s only a means to meet the selfish motives of those already in power or are aspirant of usurping the power. In Andha Yuddh, Raaja realizes it first and after gunning him down, Suhaas, the dutiful cop also comes to realize it and consequentially repents for killing Raaja.Producer Neeta Sharma herself has written the story of this movie which is damn good and brought on the screen by the director Dayal Nihalani with a high degree of proficiency. The movie is engrossing right from the word ‘go’ to the very finish and provides enough food for thought that can be utilized by the thinking viewers to make a better society. The movie is high both on emotional quotient as well as on intellectual quotient. The characters, the setting, the happenings; everything is quite realistic.

The climax is a letdown in my opinion and it’s here that a viewer like me is able to identify some plot holes in the script. The final act of Suhaas appears to have been created to please the front-benchers and is not in line with the mood of the movie. When I watched this movie, the final 10-15 minutes disappointed me like anything after I got mesmerized by the realistic drama that had continued for more than two hours by then. Thereafter only, I tried to check for the weaknesses in the script and found quite a few. I fail to understand when the filmmaker did not give a damn for the tried and tested formulae for creating the major part of the movie, then why the hell did he go for an utterly Bollywoodish finale ? If he wanted to make a formula-studded commercial movie, then he could have made the whole movie in that style only.

Besides, the director did not tell anything about the very effective female characters of  Saroj and Maadhuri. I feel that before dying, Raaja had fallen in love with Saroj (that’s why he arranged a red sari for her and carried herself as clad in the same only) and I don’t think that a completely lonely handicapped girl like Saroj can remain unmoved by such a gesture of a male whom she has spent hours and shared a lot with. The death of Raaja must have affected her for sure. The character of the nurse Maadhuri has also been shown as human and though she played her part as per the instructions of the police, she could not have remained unaffected by the experience she underwent. However the director ignored these two very powerful characters after showing the death of Raaja and instead of showing them, went for the hackneyed Bollywoodish treatment of the story to end the movie.

The highlight of this movie is the performances. Nana Patekar as the no-nonsense dutiful cop on one hand and Raj Babbar as the misguided outlaw on the other, have delivered towering performances. I especially admire Raj Babbar who showed his mettle in the difficult role of the hero who appears as the villain. Then we have Pallavi Joshi whose talent never got justice from Bollywood. She has performed superbly in the meaty role of the handicapped girl whom we can consider the heroine of this movie. Divya Rana as the nurse has also done exceedingly well. The complete supporting cast covering actors like Shivaji Satam, Asha Sharma, Rohini Hattangadi, K.K. Raina, Anant Jog, Sudhir Pandey, Master Kaushal (the child artist) etc. has done justice to the assigned roles.

The director has done the rightest thing by keeping the movie free from songs. The background score prepared by Ajit Varman is highly admirable. Technically the movie is excellent with the realistic settings and praiseworthy camera work. The movie is not unduly long but I wish the director had kept some extra footage to end the movie in a more logical and impressive manner.

Andha Yuddh is a movie which entertains though it is not meant to entertain. Instead it is meant to provoke thoughts in the audience. Let’s not allow ourselves to be used by the selfish ones who might be willing to exploit our precious time and energy for their vested interests. Let’s utilize our intellect and strength for positive and desirable objectives, preserving them from the blind wars that might be imposed on us.

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Attack is the best defense Mr. Prime Minister !

Time and again, I happen to read in the newspaper that the Indian diplomat in Pakistan has been called by the Pakistani authorities and thereby an official objection has been registered by Pakistan against India regarding the violation of ceasefire by the Indian soldiers. Well, there’s a well-known maxim in Hindi which applies to this situation – Ulta Chor Kotwaal Ko Daante (The thief scolds the cop whereas it should be the other way round). It’s a glaring example that our perennial enemy is not only wicked but also shameless. During the recent years, the the agreement to maintain ceasefire as well as the sanctity of the Line of Control between the two countries has been violated by the Pakistani soldiers dozens of times. However instead of India, it’s Pakistan who keeps on raising an accusing finger in front.

And now a much bigger threat to the security of our borders have approached from the side of our another perennial enemy (whom our naive leaders confuse as friend from time to time) – China. The Chinese had backstabbed us in 1962 whose throbbing pain has never gone from the Indian hearts over the past six decades. During the past couple of years, they have restarted their nuisance on the Indo-China border and the recent bleeding developments are no less than a catling piked straight into our chest. Too much ! Just too much ! Our tolerance and gentlemanly approach have consistently been being looked upon as our weakness not only by our both the sworn enemies, i.e., Pakistan and China but also the world at large for decades. It’s high time we shift gears in our foreign and defense policies.

Shortly, we will be celebrating the 74st Independence Day of our nation on one hand whereas grave threats are there on the borders. For long, Pakistan has attacking and killing our soldiers with pinching frequency whereas China has been preventing our patrol parties to roam around on our own land and the recent attack that cost us 20 precious Indian lives was nothing but adding fuel to the fire. In my humble submission, attack is the best defense. And now India had better adopt this philosophy. The times are no longer to be considered as normal as far as the defense of the borders is concerned. Abnormal times call for offbeat approach. India, as a nation, cannot afford to follow Jesus Christ by presenting the second cheek to the slapper after he has slapped on the first one.

At this unusual juncture when the nation is facing serious challenges on many fronts simultaneously, I am posting the review of a old movie – Aakraman (1975) whose story is linked to India’s war with Pakistan in 1971. The theme of the movie is actually a love-triangle containing two males aspiring for a common female but the war comes in the movie as a twist to take the story to its conclusion.

Aakraman (attack) starts with the romantic encounter of Sheetal (Rekha) with an army officer Lieutenant Sunil Mehra (Rakesh Roshan) and they fall in love. However the trouble is that Sheetal is already engaged to another army officer Major Ajay Varma (Sanjeev Kumar). Sheetal’s parents are no more and she lives with her widower uncle (Ashok Kumar) who has become an alcoholic because of the death of his the only son in the Indo-Pak war of 1965. Since Sheetal is not able to break her matrimonial alliance with Ajay fixed by her uncle and the widow mother of Ajay (Sulochana), she requests Sunil to move out of her life. Sunil, being passionately in love with her, is not able to do so. Himself and Ajay are related to the same company (Rajputana Regiment) in the armed force. Ajay comes to know that some girl has broken Sunil’s heart but remains unaware of the fact that that girl is his fiancee only.

Pakistan attacks India and the war breaks out. During the happenings of this war itself, Ajay becomes aware of the truth. He decides to stay aside from the path of the lovers and sends a letter of this purport to Sheetal through Sunil only when he is sent back because of injuries. Ajay successfully defends his post alongwith his troop but unfortunately gets killed just after that.Aakraman is definitely a flawed movie because during the entire movie including the war sequence, the focus remains on the love triangle only. The character of Ashok Kumar as the alcoholic uncle of Sheetal raises less sympathy more disgust. Seasoned director J. Om Prakash seems to have tried his level best to make a good movie but it appears that a story involving war was not his cup of tea.However the movie has its moments. The war scenes coming in the final phase of the movie have been executed very well and can be contrasted with J.P. Dutta’s much superior war movie – Border (1997). The character of an ex-soldier who had to leave the force due to a handicap suffered in the previous war – Karnail Singh (Rajesh Khanna in a guest appearance) has been forced into the narrative which though superfluous, adds some value to it. Overall, this love triangle is not that bad and through the character of Ajay, it is established that when it comes to the defense of our borders, all of the other mutual differences and issues are to be sunk for the greater cause.Performance wise talking, all the principal actors have done well. Sulochana and Farida Jalal (as Ajay’s sister) have also performed satisfactorily in their supporting roles. Sujit Kumar, Keshto Mukherjee, Ravindra Kapoor etc. have delivered perfect performances as various soldiers of the unit. Rajesh Khanna in his guest appearance has delivered his mannerismic performance.Music by Laxmikant Pyarelaal with the lyrics of Anand Bakshi is good. Patriotic song – Dekho Veer Jawaano Apne Khoon Pe Ye Ilzaam Na Aaye is the best song. The other songs of the album viz. Punjabi Gayenge Marathi Gayenge, Fauzi Gaya Jab Gaaon Mein, Ye Mausam Aaya Hai, Chhoti Umar Mein Lambe Safar Mein, Woh Ek Haseen Ladki etc. are also good and their picturization is also admirable.The movie is an eye-candy. The cinematographer has captured all the beautiful locations used very well for the screen. Technically it’s up to the mark and not too long also.

Aakraman may not be a great movie but I recommend it as a decent one time watch. At the same time, I reiterate that the title of this movie (Aakraman) is the best strategy right now. We are facing hidden war from the side of two cunning enemies who have joined hands to get the better of India. Why not go offensive instead of being defensive ? Like Pakistan, let’s teach a lesson to China also. Without doing any such thing, China is not likely to mend its ways. Goswami Tulsidaas had asserted centuries ago – Bhaya Binu Preeti Na Hoi Gosaain (we cannot make our enemy love us without creating a fear of our might in his heart). Our enemies will themselves come to friendly terms with us once they start fearing us. Are you listening Mr. Prime Minister ?

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Do you know how to handle success and failure ?

I am shocked to know the (alleged) suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput. This decade old review is presented again in that context only as it is extremely important to know in life as to how to handle success as well as how to handle failure (and tough times).

In 1957, the living legend of Bollywood, Manoj Kumar debuted through a movie titled as Fashion. More than five decades later, the self-proclaimed realistic filmmaker of Hindi cinema, Madhur Bhandarkar who is habituated of showing the dark side of every phenomena in his movies, presented a movie under the same title. The movie not only got accolades for realistic (!) portrayal of the fashion world, but also was a box office hit and the leading ladies’ winning prestigious awards for their performances in the movie, proved to be the icing on the cake. Now the question is, should we believe anything shown to us in the name of reality only because the storyteller has earned a reputation for himself as a realistic filmmaker ? Let’s examine.

f851fa60-f7a8-4d26-aad1-74d8ccbbcf76Fashion (2008) tells the story of a small town middle class girl who made it big in the modelling world of Mumbai only to fall from grace very shortly. After watching the whole movie what I felt is that the movie should have been appropriately titled as ‘Model’ instead of ‘Fashion’ because it is filled with the experiences of the (female) models throughout. It does not touch any other aspect of the fashion world or the fashion industry. Do a few ramp-walking models and ad-agencies are the whole fashion world, excluding the dress designers with their marketing, canvassing and cut-throat competition; the tailors doing the real job, the changing fashion trends and the condemnable sexual exploitation of the newcomer models ? Madhur Bhandarkar wants us to believe that fashion world is just an aggregate of catwalk, big fashion shows, renowned showstopper supermodels, ad agency owners mighty enough to make or break any model’s career and of course, drug abuse, all night parties, drunken driving, wayward one-night stands and gay fashion designers ? No Mr. Bhandarkar ! Fashion world is too big to be just the sum total of whatever you have shown. Howsoever intelligent a filmmaker might be, he cannot be allowed to take his audience for a ride.

71fhz8WcwuL._SL1126_By incorporating the real life story of a ruined model – Geetanjali Naagpaal through the character of Kangana Ranaut, Madhur Bhandarkar has tried to prove his plot as authentic. But everything portrayed by him – irresponsible and unprofessional behaviour, drug addiction, carefree sexual life etc. on the part of the successful models is too exaggerated to be true in general. The reality for a few cannot be generalized for all. If success goes to the head of a successful model and she starts behaving irresponsibly in her personal and professional life thereby inviting her doom, it is her problem and the fashion industry has nothing to do with it.

Madhur’s research work is also poor. He has depicted Adarsh Nagar in Mumbai as the big centre of struggler models. This is an outdated fact. Now the real centre for auditions of new models is Link Plaza at Oshivera, Mumbai.

Madhur Bhandarkar has shown Priyanka, a small town girl with middle class morality, first living-in with another model, Arjan Bajwa and then getting sexually involved with any known-unknown person anytime without any hitch. Is it reality ? Come on Madhur ! The big reality is not an ambitious model’s trading her sexual favours with an ad agency owner for stardom, the big reality is the forced sexual exploitation of thousands of aspiring newcomer girls by model coordinators and ad agency owners which has been very conveniently skipped by you. Why ? Because it is easy to expose anybody outside your fraternity but very difficult to expose your own fraternity people. A sign of hypocrisy. Isn’t it ?

By default perhaps, the good thing portrayed by Madhur Bhandarkar is how success goes to a person’s head showing its ugly colour in his (in this film, her) behaviour, snatching the virtue of modesty and politeness, neglecting own well-wishers and creeping in of non-professional element in professional life. He has also shown the depression which is manifested when the life of the protagonist undergoes a lean patch. This is the bright side of the movie. It is also exemplary to show that one should strive hard to come out of depression and if fortunately life gives him (or her) another chance, he (or she) should exploit it to the fullest, avoiding earlier mistakes and transforming own personality in own interest.

x240-9fnThe movie is fast-paced and engrossing. And had Madhur termed this movie as an entertaining one instead of a realistic one, he would have been perfect in asserting so. The sets, the costumes and the technical aspects are good. The music has one or two chartbusters to its credit. Priyanka Chopra and Kangana Ranaut have deservingly won the national as well as the Filmfare awards for the best actress and the best supporting actress respectively for their performances. Kangana though seems to have found herself typed as a ditched, lonely, melancholic girl which may not be good for her in the long run. Full supporting cast playing the characters that keep coming in and going out of the life of the main protagonist, i.e., Priyanka Chopra, has done a good job. The actress not winning any award but the hearts of the viewers with her debut performance itself, is Mugdha Godse.

Madhur Bhandarkar’s appearing in a scene of the movie and calling himself a realistic filmmaker through the mouth of another character in the scene, is ridiculous. Don’t do this job yourself Madhur. Let the others do it for you.

11552338_oriMy concluding comments upon this so-called realistic movie – it is not a movie about fashion; it is, in fact, a collection of dos and don’ts (especially don’ts) in times of unexpectedly received huge success and hard-hitting failure. And the message is to keep your cool in both the life-situations. As Lord Krishna advises us in Bhagvad-Geeta to be a STHIT-PRAGYA (a man maintaining his mental-balance in all the times whether good or bad). And this only is the real strength of Fashion.

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Nainon Waali Ne Haay Mera Dil Loota

If anybody asks me the name of my most favourite Bollywood actress of the bygone era, I will not take a fraction of a moment in replying – Saadhana. This gorgeous lady ruled Bollywood in the sixties through memorable movies like Arzoo (1965) and Mere Mehboob (1963). Highly talented director, Raj Khosla made a trilogy of mystery movies taking Saadhana in the lead role – 1. Woh Kaun Thi (1964), 2. Mera Saaya (1966) and Anita (1967). Whereas in the first and the third, Manoj Kumar was cast opposite her in the male lead, Sunil Dutt was cast as her hero in Mera Saaya. Since I have been a fan of Sunil Dutt too, this movie is a very big treat for me. I have seen it umpteen number of times. Reason ? Not just the lead pair and their amazing on-screen chemistry but the other aspects of the movie too – spellbinding suspense, mesmerizing music, engrossing courtroom drama, hilarious comedy, rain of romance, the works. This movie has something to offer to all kinds of movie buffs. It can undoubtedly be called a perfect entertainment spanning some 160 minutes.

The story of Mera Saaya (my spirit) is based in the City of Lakes in Rajasthan, i.e., Udaipur. The story starts with the death of the wife, Geeta (Sadhana) of a renowned criminal lawyer, Thakur Rakesh Singh (Sunil Dutt) who becomes melancholous after parting with his beloved wife. However the real story takes off when police catches some dacoits and a woman with them who is the ditto of Geeta by her face and more importantly, she claims to be so. To refute her claim, Thakur Rakesh Singh cross-questions her in the court. At the same time, she also cross-questions him in order to prove that she only is his wife (she refuses to arrange any defense lawyer for her and decides to present her defense herself only). The interesting court-room drama finally culminates in herself first losing her case and then her mental balance, to be sent to asylum consequentially. However the mystery gets resolved through the ringleader of the dacoit gang in the ending scene of the movie.p128954_p_v8_aaMera Saaya has everything to recommend itself. There is not a single boring moment in the movie. This is unarguably the best directorial venture of Raj Khosla and the best ever acting performance of Saadhana. The narrative grips the viewer from the opening scene itself and does not loosen that grip till the very end of the movie. The courtroom drama is one of the best courtroom dramas portrayed in Bollywood movies. Dhumal and Mukri have provided enough laughs and relief moments in between the heated-up drama and intense emotions. The character of the maid, Kumud Bole and her activities add up to the intricate mystery. Alongwith the director, the screenplay-writer and the dialog-writer have also done their jobs pretty well.Madan Mohan has given the music of a lifetime in this movie with all the songs as immortal classics. Raja Mehdi Ali Khan has penned the beautiful lyrics for the songs. The movie has Lata’s timeless songs like Tu Jahaan Jahaan Chalega Mera Saaya Saath Hoga and Nainon Mein Badra Chhaye, Asha’s great item number – Jhumka Gira Re Bareilly Ke Bazar Mein and Rafi’s intense sad song – Aapke Pehlu Mein Aakar Ro Diye. One more song of Lata is there which is my favourite because of intermittent romantic dialogues and Sher-o-Shaayari of the lead pair – Nainon Wali Ne Haay Mera Dil Loota. The choreography of the songs is also laudable.

 

The way Saadhana has been my favourite actress, the same way Sunil Dutt has been my favourite actor over my life time. In fact, Saadhana had her best on-screen chemistry with Sunil Dutt only and this charming pair has lit up the screen with their marvellous interactions in the story, may they be in the courtroom or in their household or in the beautiful locales of Udaipur. The romance is lovely and the emotions are intense. The love of the husband (Sunil Dutt) and the wife (Saadhana) looks damn real and the viewers may wish that their real life love be like that only. The romantic teasing through dialogues interspersed with Sher-o-Shaayari as well as the gestures of Sunil Dutt and Saadhana in the song Nainon Waali Ne Haay Mera Dil Loota tickle the romantic hearts so much that it’s an experience to watch this song. The pain of losing the partner portrayed by both these artists is able to make the viewer empathise with them. Saadhana’s dancing performance on Asha’s song – Jhumka Gira Re Bareilly Ke Bazar Mein has made this dance number an unforgettable one. The supporting cast has rendered excellent support to this amazing pair which is all-pervasive in the movie.Mera_Saaya_posterMera Saaya is watchable for the scenic beauty of Udaipur also. Since I am a Rajasthani and I have resided too for more than one year in Udaipur, I can say that this world famous City of Lakes has never been shown more beautifully in any other movie. It’s a huge pleasure to see a lovely pair romancing in a romantically beautiful location.Normally a mystery movie does not bear repeat value because of the nullification of the suspense factor after the first watch. But Mera Saaya is a great exception. Despite the suspense being revealed upon you after the first watch, you can watch it umpteen number of times. And every watch will give you the same soothing, nice feeling in your heart. It can impartially be termed as ‘the perfect entertainment’.

A masterpiece indeed.

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RK loves her. SRK loves her. So will you.

During the eighties, a talented youth from Delhi started his acting career through TV serials and got popular through serials like Fauji and Circus. Then he got a break in the Hindi movie industry established in Mumbai (then Bombay) which was his ultimate aim. Popular heroine turned producer Hema Malini signed him for her first directorial venture which was titled as Dil Aashna Hai casting him opposite a very young girl who had already become a star in her own right. This girl was Divya Bharti and this boy was Shah Rukh Khan now fondly called as SRK in the cine-world.

However prior to Dil Aashna Hai (1992), another movie signing these two got released first and is now credited as Shah Rukh Khan’s debut movie. It’s Deewana (1992). Thus despite Dil Aashna Hai being Shah Rukh Khan’s first signed movie, Deewana became his first released movie. Cast opposite very pretty and extremely popular teenager Divya Bharti only, Shah Rukh Khan is an angle of this triangular love story. Another angle has been played by extremely popular romantic hero of Bollywood movies – Rishi Kapoor who had already touched the peak of his career by the time of this movie. Thus this movie stars RK, Divya and SRK in principal roles. Directed by Raj Kanwar, it was a box office hit and its music composed by Nadeem Shravan was even a bigger hit with the songs being hummed by the romantic ones even today. It has deficiencies in the script and its picturization but its pluses especially the great music appeal and the extra-ordinary performances make up for them.Deewana-1992-500x500

The story of Deewana (crazy) starts with the romance of Ravi (Rishi Kapoor) who is a popular singer and from a very rich family with Kaajal (Divya Bharti) who is a dancer. They get married and start living happily when the trouble strikes due to the greedy and scheming uncle of Ravi – Dheerendra Prataap (Amrish Puri) who masterminds the killing of Ravi, leaving Kaajal as widow, adjusting with her life with the support of her loving mother-in-law – Laksmi Devi (Sushma Seth). Now comes the main twist in the tale.

Relocated to another city with Lakshmi Devi, Kaajal comes across a happy-go-lucky youth Raaja (Shah Rukh Khan) and despite her reluctance to marry, she finally gets married to him, succumbing to his true love for her and the pressure of her mother-in-law who wants her very young daughter-in-law to live a normal life again. Gradually the things start getting normalized for Kaajal when the cruel joke of destiny comes to the fore.

Ravi returns alive after struggling between life and death for a very long time. He becomes Raaja’s friend but is shocked to find his wife Kaajal as Raaja’s wife now. Kaajal is virtually dumbfound to find her first husband (and the first love of her life as well) as alive. This new fact is so baffling and brings such a storm in Kaajal’s life that Lakshmi Devi can’t even rejoice the return of the only son of hers. How this puzzle of life can be resolved now for all these three protagonists ? The solution can be utterly filmy only with the villains roaming around, smelling the main characters like blood-hounds.

This story of Saagar Sarhadi is good but its presentation on the screen is not that great. Sometimes, too many good songs also become a problem because they are to be adjusted in the script, creating situations for them. That is one reason for the lacklustre narrative. Besides, the director (Raj Kanwar) also could not do justice to the story and a proper balance between the screen time of the three main characters could not be ensured.1625-Deewana (1992)Still if we are able to enjoy the movie, then it is because of two things. Firstly, the music composed by Nadeem Shravan is extra-ordinary. Sochenge Tumhen Pyar Karen Ki Nahin, Teri Ummeed Tera Intezaar Karte Hain, Paayaliya Ho Ho Ho, Aisi Deewaangee Dekhi Nahin Kahin Maine, Koi Na Koi Chaahiye Pyar Karne Waala, Teri Isi Ada Pe Sanam Humko To Pyar Aaya, Tere Dard Se Dil Aabaad Raha: every song is a treat to listen to. Kumar Sanu, Vinod Rathod, Alka Yagnik and Saadhana Sargam have given their voices to these enchanting songs. To be frank, many of these songs hinder the flow of the story but the quality of music (and choreography also) alongwith the lyrics (by Sameer) is so good that they are, in fact, a solid reason to watch this movie.40d73dcf82d38ceeafbd83830f4ba3aeSecondly, the performances of the lead characters are simply superb. Rishi Kapoor has always been considered a great actor and he has done his part well here also. Despite the significant age difference, his pair with Divya Bharti appears quite lovely. Shah Rukh Khan has proved in this first big screen appearance of himself that he’s the horse of a long race. He has displayed his sentiments with commendable control of expressions. And finally, it’s Divya Bharti who is the heart and soul of this movie, dazzling in an author-backed role. Barely 18 years old at the time of this movie, she is so charming that this movie can be watched many times for herself only. The supporting cast including the negative characters, is routine.Deewana 1992 Hindi DVDRip 480p 400mbTechnically, the movie is alright. Dialog, background score, action and thrills, cinematography and art direction; almost everything is satisfactory. Several scenes are a visual treat. Length is definitely on the higher side and should have been curtailed.rsz_photogrid_1441430239943Divya Bharti passed away (it’s said that she committed suicide) at the tender age of 19 years in 1993, rendering a permanent throb to the hearts of millions of her admirers including myself. If not for the dashing heroes, if not for the memorable music and if not for the entertainment contained; please do watch this movie for the sake of the very beautiful Divya Bharti. In this movie Rishi Kapoor loves her, Shah Rukh Khan loves her, so will you.

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Zindagi Zinda Dili Ka Naam Hai . . .

This review is my tribute to Rishi Kapoor who has left for his heavenly abode today. May his soul rest in peace.

Zindagi Zinda Dili Ka Naam Hai, Murda Dil Kya Khaak Jiya Karte Hain (life is the name of never-say-die spirit, what the hell do the dead-hearts live). These are the lines I have read and listened to several times. What do we actually mean by a Zinda Dil person ? Dictionaries are not of much use because this term (Zinda Dil as adjective or Zinda Dili as noun) is to be felt to understand its true meaning. It’s such a term of the Urdu language which can’t be understood academically, it can only be understood emotionally.

Zinda means alive and Dil means heart. So a Zinda Dil person is whose heart is always alive, who never loses his (or her) heart come what may. Always maintaining ‘never say die’ spirit, such a person knows to smile at the face of the adversities and even heart-breaking events taking place in his life.

When Swami Vivekananda asserted – ‘My countrymen should have nerves of steel’, he meant his countrymen (the Indians) to be Zinda Dil only, i.e., the bravehearts, for such people only could free the country from the shackles of slavery and take it to the heights it deserved (and still deserve).

Today I am reviewing a movie which is by no means a great movie but the message rendered through the role of the main protagonist (and his father too) is that a person has to be a Zinda Dil if at all he has to overcome all odds and do something worthwhile in life. That’s the message of Lord Krishna too in Geeta that you conquer yourself (not get broken in hard times) and you will conquer the world.

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Zinda Dil (1975) belongs to Arun (Rishi Kapoor) who has learnt to be a Zinda Dil since childhood because of the unfair treatment meted out to him by his ex-serviceman father, retired major Sharma (Pran) because his twin brother Kewal (I don’t know who the actor is) needs special care due to being a weak-heart since birth. The raw deal given to him by life turns him into a sensitive yet such a strong man from within who can truly be called an iron-man. He learns to toil hard for getting everything and to sacrifice everything too for the sake of his fragile brother. He has to forgo even the love of his life, Rekha (Zahira). However this sacrifice make his father realize his worth. He moves to the city to start a new chapter of his life with Jyoti (Neetu Singh). The perennial villain, Ghanshyam (Roopesh Kumar) is everywhere to harm him and settle the score with him for several old losses. Some more painful revelations are still to come to the fore, giving him even stronger jolts. However our Zinda Dil hero handles each odd with his Zinda Dili.02_33_27_vcd-zinda-dilThe plot of the movie is just so good that I wish I were a filmmaker and could remake it in a much better way. Had the basic grains been handled by a seasoned and able director of the calibre of Yash Chopra or Vijay Anand, he would have turned the same into a memorable movie, perhaps a masterpiece. However the inefficient director has reduced this great idea to just a regular Bollywood potboiler and that too in a poor way. Due to poor direction only, the movie was a flop.

The cinematographer has captured the beauty of the Himachali region quite proficiently through his camera. Production value is okay. Editing is poor.Zinda DilThere are two main face-saving graces for this movie – 1. Good music by Laxmikant Pyarelaal. Two songs – The title track (Rafi) and Shaam Suhaani Aayi Khushiyaan Bann Ke Pehli Baar (Lata Mangeshkar-Mahendra Kapoor-Shailendra Singh) stand out. One more song – O Meri Jaan By God Main Teri Life Bana Doonga (Shailendra Singh) is also good to listen (and to watch).ZindadilAnd 2. Rishi Kapoor, of course. Rishi is undoubtedly the most handsome as well as the most talented one in the whole Kapoor clan. His boyish looks are so charming that just to watch him, this movie can be seen multiple number of times. Plus his dancing talent is the icing on the cake. However I admire him more to play this intense role with such a high degree of sensitivity that had the movie been successful on the box office, he would have been a serious contender for an award. He is, in fact, the heart and soul of this movie.download (1)Among others, Neetu Singh is lovable like always. Rishi-Neetu pair is unarguably the best reel-life pair turning into a real-life one. Their on-screen chemistry has always been amazing. This is one of their earlier ventures, yet the magic created by them lights-up the screen and makes this faulty movie worth a dekko. I consider Pran as one of the all time great actors of Indian cinema. His is a marvellous performance in the difficult role of a handicapped ex-serviceman who is a braveheart himself and turns our hero also into a braveheart, namely, Zinda Dil.

The minus-points are too many in this movie. Still, I recommend it to all the Rishi Kapoor fans as well as the regular entertainment seekers. The message of the movie is exemplary for sure which I reiterate – Zindagi Zinda Dili Ka Naam Hai, Murda Dil Kya Khaak Ziya Karte Hain.

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I can relate to it in several ways

This review is my tribute to the extra-ordinary actor – Irrfan (Khan) who has passed away today. May his soul rest in peace.

I happened to watch Piku (2015), a much acclaimed movie,  a bit late but I was glad that I could watch it in theatre. Seeing it alone in a three-fourth empty theatre, I was able to get a feel of what was going on the screen in front of me and relate to the characters, their relationships and the events in several ways.

Piku is an emotional story (not comedy as I found as mentioned in many reviews) of a Bengali father and his motherless daughter. The father has chronic constipation problem and can quite justifiably be termed as a hypochondriac. His weird behaviour and mannerisms are irksome and irritating for his devoted daughter who can scream at him but cannot leave him. She also wants a normal life but is unwilling to get married because of the concern for her father. And her selfish father is quite content with that, repelling every man who makes advances to her with a supposed intent to finally marry her (the father doesn’t bother for the daughter’s casual affairs). He seldom realizes that he has made his daughter’s life hell and the daughter is also forgetting fast that she is also a human-being and has a right to live her life. She needs a break and that she gets in the form of a journey from Delhi to their ancestral house at Kolkata. The owner of the taxi hired by them has to become their chauffeur also for this long road journey. He himself is a troubled man at home with his nagging mother and sister making the day-to-day life hell for him. However being optimistic, sprightly and jolly by nature, he takes life in his stride and doesn’t allow himself to be bogged down by such things. And he only shows mirror to both the father and the daughter during his short-term association with them. The self-sacrificing daughter is Piku (Deepika Padukone), the selfish and irritant father is Bhaskor Banerjee (Amitabh Bachchan) and the happy-go-lucky taxi-owner having a never-say-die spirit is Raana Chaudhary (Irrfan).piku-teaserI have been suffering from regular constipation problem since my childhood and I still remember that when I was on an audit tour from Kolkata (then Calcutta) to the tea gardens in the Upper Assam region in the first quarter of 1989, this problem of myself had become a much-talked about subject there (I was ridiculed like anything). Thank God, now this bowl problem of myself does not trouble me so much on regular basis. All the same, I could relate to Bhaskor Banerjee’s character and wondered while watching the movie whether I also would trouble my family members in my old age in the same way. Well . . .

My mother who was a learned scholar of Hindi language plus a good singer and instrument player in her youth had got more and more troublesome in her advancing years. My father passed away in 2003 and since then my mother had been living with myself (or with my wife at her workplace when she was in a government job and posted at a place different from mine). She passed away on 23.01.2018. During the ending years of her life when I was living at Hyderabad, her problems had increased like anything which were physical for sure but more than that mental. Bhaskor Banerjee’s act of hiding salt-container reminded me of certain such things quite unknowingly done by her. In December 2014, she had a paralytic attack and since then we (myself, my wife and our children) used to take care of her almost the same way as Piku is shown to be taking care of Bhaskor Banjerjee in this movie. When Piku tells Raana that oldies have to be taken care of like kids and that’s to be done by their offspring only, I agree with her in toto.

The younger ones are always preached by the people and the books not to be selfish and take care of their parents and elders in the best possible way. Nothing wrong with that. But how often are the parents and the elders preached to respect the feelings, the sentiments and the needs of the younger generation ? When the preceding generation emotionally blackmails the succeeding generation to get the things done according to its desires and crushes the heart and the soul of the latter, the preachers vanish and the books become silent to it. Is it okay to extract the price of your love, care and efforts towards your children in the form of depriving them of their desired and deserved happiness ? Selfish love is no love in my opinion and emotional blackmailing is nothing short of a sin to me. I don’t know whether Bhaskor Banerjee could realize it or not in this movie because he is never shown to be introspecting. He is always shown to be imposing himself upon others especially his daughter. But !

But his selfishness and hypochondria also have a silver lining. He is concerned for his daughter and does not want her to get married to someone who is suffering from the same problem, i.e., constipation. By revealing this fact, the able filmmaker establishes that all’s not wrong with the self-centred father.I feel that the way you behave in your old-age (most often unknowingly) is only a reflection of your real personality built over the long years of your life because personality is nothing but a cluster of habits and thoughts. Hence it’s better to take care of it when you are young with an active brain under your control. In the advanced years, your brain goes out of your control and you unknowingly portray yourself in the same way as you have been throughout your life. The same is the case of Bhaskor Banerjee. He must have been the same person during his young and not so old years (including the lifetime of Piku’s mother) as he is as an old man shown in the story.

I have found several moviemakers blowing the trumpet of their movies being original which they aren’t but Shoojit Sircar appears to be an exception. Despite my limited knowledge of the Indian and world cinema and literature, I firmly believe (because I feel like that) that Piku has an original story though it’s a one line story expanded to make a full-fledged movie. Writer Juhi Chaturvedi has penned a heart-touching and that’s why heart-winning screenplay and the low profile yet very talented director has brought it on celluloid with a high degree of proficiency. Partly it’s an in-house drama and partly it’s a road movie. There is no need to think much or expect much, the best thing for the spectator is to allow himself / herself to flow with the characters and become a silent member of their group. I did just like that and the result came to me in the form of such a satisfaction that I had experienced never before.

The filmmaker has quite sensibly abstained from showing Piku and Raana as having a romantic relationship in the end but he has shown that they have become good friends. Since Piku didn’t like Raana initially (knowing him as the owner of the agency sending taxi for her), hence it’s quite interesting to guess as to when she started liking him. Well, I could not spot that moment in the movie and this is the most natural thing in a male-female relationship especially when they are known to each other for quite some time. You can always recall the moment when you started disliking someone but cannot recall the moment when your liking for someone sprouted in your heart. And when this liking just happens over a period of time without a conscious awareness on the part of the individual, it’s bound to last long. And if it develops into a romantic relationship later on, that love is also likely to last for a lifetime.

The only thing that I found as not that natural in this movie is the free discussion about a girl’s sex-life. The heroine’s aunt (Moushumi Chatterjee) is inquiring about it like any other mundane day-to-day thing of life. Moreover the father is also aware of his daughter’s active sex-life (and quite unhesitating to tell it to the others). Perhaps I am too old-fashioned to admit that it’s quite normal in urban modern life.

Rest everything shown in the movie is quite natural. Every character appears to be a real flesh and blood human-being. The movie did not prove to be a laugh-riot for me as asserted by many reviewers. May be because hardships of life have snatched my sense of humour. But I was moved deep within at many places. The climax is tragic in the conventional sense but the movie does not end with the climax. The following scenes, i.e., the ending ones makes the viewer feel light, relaxed and optimistic instead of feeling sad. The heroine’s fuming at her father’s name’s incorrect spelling on the name plate (Bhaskar instead of Bhaskor because Bengalis pronounce words with an ‘o’ in between) and the final dialog between the heroine and the erstwhile maid of her home is the masterstroke of the filmmaker to end the movie on a high note.

Shoojit Sircar got noticed for his admirable works in the form of Vicky Donor (2012) and Madras Cafe (2013). However I have been his admirer since his very first venture – Yahaan (2005) which is a highly underrated movie in my view. He has shown his class once again here and proved that excellent work can be carried out and got noticed without publicity and noise also. This movie is a winner all the way from its first frame to its last frame.

Piku scores in all the departments right from cinematography to editing to background score. Anupam Roy has prepared melodious and impressive songs (with lyrics also being written by him only) which may not be chartbusters but render a soothing feeling to the ears of the listeners.

It’s a movie with a Bengali flavour. Though the story begins in Delhi and moves to Kolkata in the post-interval session only, nevertheless you find yourself in a Bengali environment throughout its duration. Not only the Bengalis, people from all the regions will relish this attribute of the movie.piku-2015Deepika Padukone has excelled in the title role. Herself and the legend known as Amitabh Bachchan appear to have lived their roles instead of performing them. I rate Deepika’s performance as her best till then and AB’s performance as one of his best. The complete supporting cast has done a marvellous job. Every artist is perfect in the assigned role including the yesteryear’s beauty Moushumi Chatterjee and the class actor Raghuveer Yadav. However many different things shown in the movie take the shape of a story only when joined by an adhesive known as Irrfan. This outstanding actor has infused life into not only his own role but also every scene which features him.

During the two hours I spent in the theatre, I was lost in the story titled as Piku reminiscing various things of my past and present life, relating to various things shown on the screen and feeling as if I were with Piku, Bhaskor Banerjee, Raana Chaudhary and the other ones, observing and listening to them. What an experience it was ! What an experience it was friends !

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It shook the Indian political class in 1981

Now-a-days when any Indian movie portrays a corrupt and criminal politician, we’re not surprised because it’s routine. However this was not the case till the seventies when the Indian moviemakers considered politicians and cops as sacred cows whom no finger could dare to point at. Movies like Aandhi and Kissa Kursi Ka were banned during the internal emergency in India. Emotional drama Aandhi showed the mud-slinging character of the Indian politicians whereas Kissa Kursi Ka, a satire, mocked the Indian politicians and the functioning of the system in India in general. However these movies did not show politicians as criminals or shaking hands with the criminals.ANDROID-1000056090-hm_tab_xxhdpiBreaking the path in the early eighties, Padmalaya Films presented a movie, directed by S.V. Rajendra Singh (popularly known as ‘Singh Babu’ in Kannada cinema), starring big names like Jeetendra, Hema Malini and Parveen Babi. This movie was Meri Aawaz Suno (1981). This movie is actually the Hindi remake of Sinbh Babu’s Kannada movie – Antha (1981) only with Ambareesh playing the lead role. It showed the might of the baddies in India getting strength from the high-profile politicians and cops on perennial basis. And that’s why when an honest cop tries to expose and book the criminals; the system, instead of supporting him, goes against himself only. The hero finds in the ending scene that all his efforts and sacrifices (physical torture and loss of his own family members) have gone in vain and the system is going to punish him only (and not the criminals). Thus Meri Aawaaz Suno also underscored this fact that in India, the roots of corruption are so deep and strong that good loses to evil and truth loses to untruth.61325862The makers of Meri Aawaaz Suno were so scared of the Indian law-makers and law-enforcers that they pronounced the disclaimer loud and clear through a voice from the background in the beginning scene – ‘Our story belongs to a fictitious country named as Mundustan (not Hindustan)’. Despite this very big (and repeated) disclaimer, the movie generated a big controversy as the Indian cops and politicians found it as a mirror for themselves, showing their real faces. Though this controversy and opposition helped the movie in becoming commercially successful, perhaps thereafter only the tradition of showing a disclaimer on the screen prior to the start of the movie (All the characters of this movie are fictitious and any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental) started in the Indian movies.

Meri Aawaaz Suno (listen to my voice), is the story of an honest cop, Sushil Kumar (Jeetendra) whose sister had been abducted by the human-traders through a deceitful marriage. His senior officer (Om Shivpuri) finds that his face is similar to an imprisoned hardcore criminal – Kannwarlaal. To encash this coincidence, Sushil is sent on a mission to enter the criminals’ gang as Kannwarlaal, collect evidences against them and ensure their arrest on the basis of those evidences. Doing his duty diligently and with utmost sincerety, Sushil swallows his own tears upon his sister’s committing suicide in front of his eyes and his mother’s final rites taking place without his involvement. One evening, he is stunned to see the police commissioner and high-profile politicians participating in the gangsters’ party. He takes their photographs too showing their involvement in the illegal practices of the baddies.

However the twist in the tale comes when Sushil arranges the arrest of a significant member of the gang, Aazaad (Shakti Kapoor) but his own senior officer arranges Aazaad’s release under the pretext of  ‘pressure from above’. Aazaad exposes Sushil before the gangsters (Kader Khan, Ranjeet etc.). Becoming aware of the fact that he has collected evidences against them, they inflict inhuman torture on him (uprooting nails etc.) and also kill his pregnant wife, Sunita (Hema Malini) with her unborn child in front of him. With the help of the gangsters’ moll (Parveen Babi), he finally escapes first and then carries the baddies directly to the court to hand them over to the law alongwith the evidences against them. But to his painful disbelief, he finds that the law is having shackles for him, not the culprits. The goddess of justice is taking the side of the law-breakers and not him, the law-protector.MV5BNGQxZjVjZWEtYzc4Zi00NTBhLWJlN2QtOTg3NGFmOWVmZjk2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjc5Mjg4Nzc@._V1_

Meri Aawaaz Suno seems to have been made with a lot of caution because of the fear of the mighty law-makers and law-enforcers in the minds of the people behind the movie. Still it shook the Indian political class as well as the heavyweights of the Indian police with its release and a demand emerged to ban it (or at least suitably edit it). This controversy not only helped this above average movie to be commercially successful but made it a path-breaking one also because thereafter portrayal of politicians and cops as corrupt and criminalized became a trend during the eighties and the nineties. Anyway, no such movie proved to be so close to heart as Meri Aawaaz Suno.The action sequences of the movie are very good. Laxmikant Pyarelaal’s music is good, containing songs like – Achchha Hua Tum Mil Gaye, Gudiya Re Gudiya Tu Batla and Mehmaano Ko Salaam Hai Mera. Technically the movie is up to the mark.Meri-Aawaz-Suno-Hindi-1981-500x500Very few movies utilized the acting talent of Jeetendra in the real sense and Meri Aawaaz Suno is one of them. Despite caricature like portrayal of the baddies and overdramatic effect in sequences, Jeetendra stands out as giving one of the best performances of his career in a role packed with both action and emotion. Leading ladies – Hema Malini and Parveen Babi could not get much footage. Supporting cast alongwith the villains have performed according to the respective roles assigned to them.Meri_Aawaz_SunoAfter the movie is over, the final words (emerging from the background in the ending scene) keep on echoing in the mind of the viewer – Kanoon Majboor Hai, Iski Aawaaz Ab Kaun Sunega ? Iska Faisla Ab Aap Keejiye (The law is helpless, now who will listen to his voice ? You decide it now).

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He is victorious by name only

Centuries ago William Shakespeare had asserted – ‘What’s there in a name ? He’s right. Anything or anybody can be given any name which may not have anything to do with its real nature or worth or life events. Through his thriller novel – Dus Lakh  (a sum of rupees ten lacs or one million) Hindi novelist Surendra Mohan Pathak created a hero named as Jeet Singh whose destiny goes contrary to his name. Jeet means victory or win but the destiny of this person is to remain a loser as highlighted by the story of this novel which was first published in 1996.Dus-Lakh-Surendra-Mohan-Pathak-925704633-435994-1This hero Jeet Singh who was christened by his mother as such under the impression that her son would conquer the world when grown up, considers himself a loser only. He could not gain adequate education to make a stout career. The only thing that he could learn is to open locks and make duplicate keys of them. Accordingly he adopted the profession of a locksmith. However just by working as a locksmith, he was not able to earn sufficiently to make both ends meet. So he started using this art of his for unlawful purposes, to be straight, busting the locks of safes and vaults and stealing money, alone or in association with others like him. Originally from Himachal Pradesh, destiny brought him to Indore where he was arrested and tried for a theft. However after getting bail from the court, he jumped the bail and migrated to Mumbai where the story of this novel is set.

Having started living in a Kholi (very small, matchbox type, accommodation in Mumbai), Jeet Singh comes into contact with a very beautiful girl Sushmita living in his neighbourhood who works in the office of a Chartered Accountant and being motherless, lives with her widow elder sister Asmita and three children of hers. Asmita works in a big departmental store owned by a Sindhi businessman – Pursumal Changulani and it is found that she has cancer whose treatment requires a sum of Rs. 10 lacs. Jeet Singh, having fallen for the charms of Sushmita, promises to her that he would arrange the required sum of Rs. 10 lacs within the limited time of 3 months available for Asmita’s treatment (as told by the concerned doctor) and in turn, Sushmita indirectly promises him to accept his love. How Jeet Singh makes many (unlawful) efforts to arrange that sum facing several ups and downs in that bid of his and when, quite unexpectedly, he is able to arrange that sum on the final day of that deadline how a cruel setback is rendered to him by his ill-fate, forms the remaining part of the story.

The USP of this novel which is one of the most popular novels of this eminent Hindi novelist, is the passion of the hero to get the required sum to fulfill the promise made by him to his sweetheart and then get her hand for life in return. His passionate love is the force through which he overcomes all the hurdles coming in his way and becomes ready to take any risk. But alongwith his passion, the hide and seek game that his fate constantly plays with him, is also something which makes the narrative lively and engaging. Unknowingly the reader starts sympathizing with the hero whenever he loses anywhere and praying for his ultimate victory in his battle to get the love of his life. Making the reader relating to and sympathizing with the low profile hero (he also suffers from an inferiority complex for not being able to do something or become something worthwhile in his life) is the biggest success of the author. The ups and downs in the hero’s journey of getting the required sum of Rs. 10 Lakh from the starting point to the finishing point when he visits his sweetheart with the suitcase containing that amount, is a breathtaking rollercoaster ride which consists of a good dose of emotion too for the reader.

The hero time and again curses his fate and feels that his mother had wrongly christened him. Named as Jeet Singh and popularly called by the nickname of Jeeta (winner / victorious), he finds this name as a cruel joke on him when he comes across losses time and again in his bid to win and succeed. His grief-filled assertion at the end of the novel when he’s not able to control his feelings and bursts into tears missing his mother and complaining to her for christening him as such, may prove to be a tear-jerker for any reader. And let’s acknowledge this fact that while the readers of some good work of fiction get inspired by the activities and their outcomes in case of a winner, they happen to sympathize with the protagonist if he turns out to be a loser (despite all reasonable efforts made by him to become a winner). A man can do his best to do or get something but uncontrollable factors are always there who have their own role to play. That’s why destiny or luck is remembered and quoted time and again in the course of life. And the losers have to console themselves for the (undesirable) course of events or happenings or outcomes by believing in – ‘It was written. Jeet Singh of Dus Lakh also remains a loser perhaps because this only was written for him.

The author has very effectively highlighted the thought-train of the hero who could not make a proper living because of lack of education or knowing something enabling him to earn reasonably. He is not a criminal by nature and first his poverty and then his passionate love for the needy girl only thrust him into the world of crime. He is not happy by becoming a criminal but he has no other way out to earn the hefty sum within the very limited time available with him. Circumstances have made him a killer also whereas he wanted to confine himself to the safecracking / vaultbusting act only during the criminal activities joined by him. That’s also a part of his ill-fate and underscores the dictum – ‘Man proposes, God disposes’. What you want or need, may or may not happen but what’s written / destined is bound to happen. Besides, he carries out all his risky activities on the premise of a vague and indirect promise made by the girl which depicts the naivety embedded in the character of this hero coming from a small town of Himachal Pradesh.

Alongwith the hero, the author has presented the character of his true friend Enzo in the novel. Believing in the maxim – ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed’, Enzo not only sympathizes but also empathizes with his friend Jeet Singh and is ever ready to do anything for him. His final sacrifice for Jeet Singh is able to moist the eyes of the readers.

The author has, like in many of his other novels, has highlighted the corrupt and the high-handed character of the Indian police who cannot stop crimes but is never hesitant to demonstrate its blind and uncontrolled power on the hapless poor and innocent.

The language used by the author is simple including the dialogues of the hero as he is a modestly educated, low profile person. However the layout of the narrative and the dialogues between various characters are quite impressive. Certain things are told in flashback through the hero’s narrating them to his friend(s).

This novel got so much success and the hero got so much fame that the author decided to make this hero a serial hero. Till now, ten more novels of Jeet Singh have come before the readers after this introductory novel of his. Presently he is a highly popular hero of Hindi pulp fiction world. However it’s his first venture Dus Lakh only which enables the readers to understand him properly. This emotion-soaked novel has a great repeat value and the Hindi reader who reads it once, would love to read it again and again.

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