The great Indian family, rendering great messages

Tara Rum Pum was released on 27.04.2007 and I went to watch it with my family in the Om Cineplex of Kota on 29.04.2007 simply because of an animated bear family shown in the promos containing one mom-bear, one dad-bear and two bear-kids. That animated bear family appeared so lovely to me, my wife and above all, my kids that we could not stop watching this movie. However the experience of watching this movie went beyond my expectations. Though I found some flaws in it, nevertheless, as a whole, it turned out to be not only a complete family entertainer but also a movie rendering some invaluable lessons of life to the audience. When I came out of the cinema hall, I was not the same person who had entered it. This movie had inspired me, energised me and provoked certain thoughts in me (in addition to entertaining me). Now more than thirteen years have passed when I look back and recall what this movie was all about. My life has undergone drastic changes during this period and the original instigation for the change had come from this movie only.Tara Rum Pum tells the story of a US based Indian cab driver turned car racer – Rajveer Singh aka RV whose fate provided him the right channel to showcase his talent of fast driving through Hariprasad aka Harry (Javed Jaffrey). He went on to win 50 high profile races and made enormous money, married the love of his life – Raadhika nicknamed as Shona (Rani Mukherjee) and got two lovely kids when the ill-fate struck him and his rival in profession masterminded his accident during a race. The real story of this movie starts with the aftermath of that accident. RV survives but loses something as precious as life – his self-confidence. The haunting moments of that mishap have taken on his nerves, not allowing him to reach his peak in any race. The speed of his driving breaks down the moment the bygone painful moments start haunting him. Now he is scared of picking up the required speed during any race. And the result is obvious. He fails. After winning 50 races prior to his accident, he goes on to lose 10 in a row post his accident.

The world does not belong to the losers. A loser is bound to lose money, resources, recognition, support, opportunities, almost everything. RV also heads for the same destiny because he is no longer a winner. He has to digest the harsh reality of being a loser. But one thing he has not lost – the faith of his wife in him and his abilities. She has loved him in his riches. She loves him in his poverty too. She had married her against the wishes of her rich father and now in the difficult times, she is not ready to accept any parental help and hurt the self-respect of her man. But the problem which is staring right into the face of both RV and Shona is even bigger than their poverty. Hitherto they have fostered their children luxuriously but now their offspring has to learn to live in the conditions polar different from what they are used to. How to convey it to the tender hearts ? The parents, i.e., RV and Shona devise a plan to make their little son and little daughter accept the changed situation. They tell them that they are going to participate in a reality show whose requirement is to live in poverty and if they successfully spend their time in impoverished conditions, they will win the show.

RV, Shona and the little ones shift from a palace like mansion to a small shack and start living under severe monetary constraints with RV becoming a cab driver again and Shona playing piano in the hotels and parties. The only thing that they strive hard to ensure that their children do not lose, is good education. The parents work hard and arrange enough money to ensure that their kids are able to continue in their erstwhile school. Hardships do continue in terms of food, clothes, shelter and medical treatment. The zenith of their trouble comes when their little son needs a costly operation to survive. How to arrange the hefty sum ? RV’s adversaries are happy about it, mocking his helplessness and misfortune. The moment has come for RV to overpower the painful flashback and re-enter the skin of the winner. Harry comes up with an opportunity which RV can encash to repulse the inching death of his son and the ill-fate of the whole family. Can he do it ?In my blog post – Main Der Karta Nahin, Der Ho Jaati Hai … I have asserted that it’s the fear in a man (or a woman) which leads to his (or her) doom; hence get rid of fear and sooner or later, you will get rid of failure too. Late Dhirubhai Ambani used to say – ‘Seek an opportunity in every adversity you face’. RV learns it in the movie when a horrifying adversity is looming over his family. I got the inspiration from this movie only that if you don’t take any risk, you are taking the biggest risk. Besides, fear precedes failure and you have to overcome the fear (real or imaginary) first in order to escape the failure. This movie motivated me to take a risk in my career when an injustice was imposed on me in my then employment which was in the public sector. I left the job and grabbed an opportunity in the private sector. Other than the job security issue, there were several other practical difficulties too. However seeking motivation from Tara Rum Pum, I changed my job as well as place and shifted to Delhi in June 2007. Destiny has landed me in the southern part of the country now. Can’t say whether the decision proved to be right or wrong in due course of time, however it was to be taken to protect my self-respect and Tara Rum Pum gave me the courage to take that risk.

The movie underscores Indian family values and highlights the significance of saving alongwith earning. The lesson that RV learns the hard way is if you spend every penny you earn without any saving for the unforeseen difficult times, those times will hit you harder than normal. The movie underscores the significance of wife’s love and support for the husband when he is not the winner in the worldly life and her standing by him in the tough times. Shona’s protecting her husband’s self-respect when the days are no longer sunny for him, is exemplary. Such wife only is able to pave the way for the return of happy times for the family later. After watching this movie, I told my wife that I would gift a DVD of this movie to my daughter in her marriage so that by watching it, she is able to understand what an ideal wife is all about.

The plot of the movie has been inspired by certain Hollywood movies. Cinematic liberties have been taken aplenty and the movie is melodramatic in some parts. The filmmaker conveniently forgot that impoverished people can’t wear designer clothes. Anyway, the positives of the movie outnumber its negatives. It is interesting from beginning to end and several scenes leave a deep emotional impact on the viewer.Shot lavishly in the USA, this movie is technically superb. Vishal-Shekhar’s music is ear-soothing. I like its title track the most in which the animated characters appear with the human characters.

Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukerjee make an ideal on-screen pair. Both have complimented each other very well and lit up the screen with their marvellous performances. The child artists alongwith Javed Jaffrey and others have also done their parts perfectly.

So here comes the great Indian family which sticks together and renders some great messages for life. I don’t know why this decent family entertainer did not score on the box office. For me, at least, it has a repeat value.

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Main Der Karta Nahin, Der Ho Jaati Hai . . .

In my life, almost everything came my way somewhat late. I learnt to cycle at the age of 15 years, learnt to drive a scooter (I can’t drive a motorbike even today) at the age of 26 years and I learnt to drive a car at the age of 38 years. The popular song of Henna (1991), sung by Suresh Wadkar (with Lata Mangeshkar) seems to be meant for me – Main Der Karta Nahin, Der Ho Jaati Hai (I am not deliberately late for anything, the delay just happens). downloadThe same thing applies to swimming. I learnt swimming at the age of 32-33 years in the swimming pool in the township of NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd.), Rawatbhata (Rajasthan). Thereafter I taught swimming to my daughter there itself and I have been successful in teaching it to my son also after shifting to Hyderabad (in the swimming pool in the BHEL township). Now my son has become an expert swimmer and diver by practising and trying new things on his own. A few years back, when I was swimming in the swimming pool there in the evening hours, some thoughts flashed in my mind all of a sudden which I am sharing through this blog. 

Due to regular swimming at Rawatbhata (I used to swim almost everyday and sometimes twice in a day), it has become quite normal for me to remain floating in the water without doing anything with my body. Without any movement from my side, I am able to stand upright in the deep water or lie on its surface treating it like a bed. I remember, those days my fellow-swimmers used to express surprise over this skill (if any) of myself, asking me – ‘How are you able to stand in the water without any movement of your hands or legs or the likewise ?’

Well, the answer appears to be – now my body has become friendly with the water. It has become habituated to float even when I am not trying to swim or doing anything at all (except breathing). But then the question emerges when the body is the same as it was when I could not swim, then what’s the difference between the time when I did not know how to swim and now ? Why could I not swim then and felt like drowning whenever I entered the water-body ?

These questions were churning my mind like anything when I was swimming (in fact, relaxing without doing anything) in the pool that evening. And just like the lightning in the clouded sky, my mind got illuminated with the answer. The perfect answer ! Those days, I used to remain under the fear of drowning, for my subconscious constantly reminded me – ‘You don’t know swimming. You may drown.’ And it’s the fear which made me feel like drowning. Else the body was the same, the water was the same (similar), the conditions were the same (similar). But the wall of fear is no longer there, blocking my urge to enter the water-body and now feeling within my subconscious that I cannot drown, I fearlessly lie down on the surface of the water-body or stand upright in it. In Goa, I swam in the deep sea too (faraway from the shore, my body was loosely tied by a rope though whose other end was in the hands of the boatman). The thing which I suddenly learnt today (like the illumination of some GYAAN in one’s heart), it’s the fear in a man (or a woman) which leads to his (or her) doom. Get rid of fear and sooner or later, you will get rid of failure too.

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A logical thriller

While reviewing Sunny Deol starrer Right Yaaa Wrong (2010), I had mentioned this movie which had been released in 1980. The plot of Right Yaaa Wrong seems to have taken a leaf out of Be-Reham. at least in the portrayal of the relationship between the two male protagonists of the movie. Be-Reham (1980) is a good socio-crime thriller which works because the director has given utmost logical treatment to the plot and its characterization aspect which won’t appeal to the people who are fond of (or have got habitual of) watching over the top movies. However, I liked it when I saw it on TV because the logical characterization and realistic narrative appealed to me. Besides, the message pertaining to the image of a dutiful cop also seemed exemplary to me because our country has been facing the image-crisis of most of the public figures and barring exceptions, none is kept in high esteem by the common people.

It’s a crime-action-thriller with a social connotation. A lot of crime-based plots used to come in the movies of 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s with most of them making a mockery of crime and criminals with unusual get-up given to the gang-leader, well-decorated dens containing some gadget systems as well, dancers performing before the villains, larger than life hero shattering the den and bashing the baddies alone with the police arriving to perform only the last formalities of arrest. This is a movie which stands out and presents a systematic and logically knitted web of crime, cops, relationships and moral dilemma. Please keep your brains with you while watching it because then only you will be able to appreciate its pros.

The plot of Be-Reham (merciless) revolves around Sanjeev Kumar, the police commissioner and Shatrughan Sinha, his subordinate inspector who is his devotee and always keeps him in high esteem. The dead-honest and dutiful cop Sanjeev opines that policemen are no ordinary civilians and to do their duty perfectly, they should be careful with their public image. He gives this lesson to Shatrughan when he finds him enjoying wine, dine and dance with his lady-love Reena Roy and others. However Sanjeev himself has to face the dilemma of following the law of the land or maintaining his image (which he feels, represents the image of the whole police department) when accidentally a bad character is killed by him at the house of his ex-flame, Mala Sinha who had been led by circumstances to become a prostitute. Mala stops him to call the police and asks him to leave in order to stay away from any type of scandal that may tarnish his image. However after getting herself arrested post his departure, Mala feels that she may not be able to sustain the police interrogation and there remains the possibility of herself revealing the name of Sanjeev. To avoid any such likelihood, she commits suicide in the police lock-up. Investigating officer, Shatrughan finds certain clues hinting that a big gun of his own department may be involved in this murder case. However he respects Sanjeev so much that he suspects everybody except him. Another parallel track in the movie is of Sanjeev’s college buddy, Kader Khan who is now a big smuggler and involved in other illegal activities also. He tries to bribe Sanjeev but his this act itself brings him into the suspicion of Sanjeev. After getting information about his real activities, Sanjeev goes after him. In the action-packed climax related to the kidnapping of a big Indian scientist by Kader Khan, Sanjeev gets killed but not before submitting his letter for confession of the murder at Mala’s residence to Shatrughan.

This crime-action-thriller is good to watch because of the logically flowing narrative and logical layout. Nowhere it is over the top and the all the scenes related to the police department have been convincingly executed (which, in my opinion, was very very exceptional in those times). There is nobody larger than life and the villain with his activities and mannerisms is thoroughly reliable and convincing. Yes, we can imagine by seeing Kader Khan and his movements how the real life smugglers and traitors might be looking like. Very few cinematic liberties have been taken in the movie. Other than the song and dance of the romantic pair of Shatru and Reena, the sequence of the performance of a lady Qawwaal (Moushumi Chatterjee) arranged in order to bring out the eye-witness (Keshto Mukherjee) from his hiding, is the only big cinematic liberty taken to push the story forward. Else everything is realistic. Shatrughan’s inquiring his seniors regarding their whereabouts on the murder night, is an example of realistic presentation of the things. If you start enjoying the realistic way of telling the story of crime investigation and police action, this movie will prove thoroughly engrossing for you. Just pay attention to the scene of Kader Khan visiting his client, Helen in foreign and you will realize how the people of the crime world talk and behave. No gimmicks, no useless dialogues, nothing overboard; everything natural as expected of flesh and blood individuals. Summing up, it is a no-nonsense movie.As was the tradition in that time, the director (Raghunath Jhalani) has kept the character of Sindhi inspector Malpani (I.S. Johar) who provides laughs. However the director is cautious enough not to reduce him to just a laughter-generating character. He does serious things as a part of his duty assigned by his seniors and is sacrificed in the hands of the smugglers while on duty. Thus the reality aspect has not been compromised even in his case.

One more reason for me to like this movie is the assertion that image is very important. Yes, not only for the celebrities or the leaders of the nation, but also for the people at the helm of affairs in the public life, being image conscious is very important. I am not advocating the hiding of any crime accidentally taken place. However, public feelings are always associated with the image of the people in news (for good reasons of course) and therefore, cheapening oneself in the public-eye may not help the cause of performing profound duties for the department or the society or the nation. I endorse Sanjeev’s view underscored in this movie. He is not escaping the law to save his own skin. Being police commissioner, he is more concerned with the image of the whole police department. That makes this movie different from and superior to routine cat and mouse game movies.

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I have always been a Sanjeev Kumar fan. And Be-Reham is more or less a movie of Sanjeev Kumar only, one of the greatest actors Bollywood has ever presented. He was an acting legend. This movie also has more or less been carried by him on his lone shoulders. Kader Khan, I.S. Johar and Keshto Mukherjee alongwith Moushumi in her cameo, have done well. The disappointing ones are Shatrughan Sinha, Reena Roy and Mala Sinha.

Music is so-so. However the Qawwaali pictured on Moushumi is good. Technical aspects and the action scenes in the climax are good. The movie has not been unduly dragged, considering the norms of that period. Dialogues are also okay and perfectly fit in with the naturally advancing storyline.Be-RehamMany filmmakers of Bollywood advise their audience to leave their brains at their homes before leaving for the theatre, in order to enjoy their so-called entertaining movies. However this movie can be enjoyed by keeping your brains with you. All the lovers of crime-action-police movies as well as all the Sanjeev Kumar fans will surely like this logically told saga.

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A grand musical and visual romantic treat

In the late fifties, Nasir Hussain (Aamir Khan’s uncle) started the trend of masala Hindi movies in which the least attended aspect was the story. The screenplay was created on the basis of some set formulae – melodious music, some action, some comedy, some romance, the works. When colour movies became a routine since the sixties, one more thing which got added to this set-up was beautiful photography of beautiful locations. Nasir Hussain made the Bollywood movie viewers habitual of such movies in which two and half hours entertainment was guaranteed without any proper storyline.Such movies became box office success and the formulae of this type of mix-masala continued till the early seventies without a hitch.

One such movie is Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon which was released in 1963, starring Joy Mukherjee and Asha Parekh. The title of the movie had been taken from an emotional song of another Joy Mukherjee starrer Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962). One song was composed for this movie too as the title track because fortunately like the hero, the music director was also the same for both these movies – O.P. Nayyar. While Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (directed by Raj Khosla) was a black and white movie, Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon was made as a colour movie with negative and celluloid material of such a good quality that even today the print of the movie is a visual treat for the viewer with eye-soothing colour combination in the scenes of the beautiful locations of Kashmir.The story as I have already mentioned is just a formality to make a romantic movie with melodious songs to fit in alongwith a comedy track and a track for the baddies who need to be beaten by the hero in the climax before their arrest by the generous Indian police. Hero Joy Mukherjee is fostered by his mother because of rift between his father and mother. His father fosters his friend’s little daughter (Asha Parekh) like his own child. Destiny brings the hero and the heroine together and they find themselves in deep love. Villain (Pran) enters the scene to take advantage of the situation that the rich father of the hero does not recognize his son and presents himself as his son. After a good dose of comedy, romance and action to the viewers, the final outcome is – all’s well that ends well.Under the pretext of the romance between the lead pair, the director Nasir Hussain got ample opportunity to insert melodious songs sung by Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhosle. And music is the biggest plus point of this movie for which you can watch it again and again without giving a damn for the story. Rafi’s classic songs – Banda Parvar Thaam Lo Jigar (which is the title song), Laakhon Hain Nigaah Mein Zindagi Ki Raah Mein, Aji Kibla Mohatarama Kabhi Shola Kabhi Naghma and my favourite Aanchal Mein Saja Lena Kaliyaan Zulfon Mein Sitaare Bhar Lena alongwith Asha Bhosle’s classic song Aankhon Se Jo Utri Hai Dil Mein as well as Dekho Bijli Dole Bin Baadal Ke make this movie a musical treat. Rafi-Asha duet – Humdum Mere Khel Na Jaano Chaahat Ke Ikaraar Ko is also no less. One excellent Rafi-Asha duet – Zulf Ki Chhaon Mein Chehre Ka Ujaala Lekar Teri Veeran Si Raaton Ko Sajaaya Humne is not found in the movie available on CD (perhaps the complete version of the movie has not been transferred on the CD) and can be listened to in the album only (now it can be seen on youtube). Summing up regarding the music of the movie (by O.P. Nayyar), it’s timeless. Majrooh Sultanpuri has written the lyrics with highly emotional and meaningful words which, being strung in the melodious compositions, touch the listeners deep into their hearts.

Cinematographer has exploited the opportunity of arresting the enchanting beauty of Kashmir in the colour movie (whose trend had just started those days) to the greatest extent possible for him. If anybody gets the opportunity to watch this movie on big screen, he/she must be highly fortunate to watch the enchanting beauty of ‘Heaven on Earth‘ in the most satisfying manner.

Direction of the movie is routine but the songs have been aptly placed. The scene (alongwith the relevant dialogues) picturized on Joy and Asha which consists of the song – Aanchal Mein Saja Lena Kaliyaan – is emotionally penetrating for tender-heart romantic people (like me) and definitely a memorable one.

Comedy tracks are two. The bigger one is of Rajendra Nath which is inter-twined with the main plot and another one is a watered down one in which Ram Avtar, as the hero’s friend, makes the audience laugh. However, being short of a full-length storyline, the comedy track of Rajendra Nath has been excessively prolonged. Tabassum and others, as the Sahelis (friends) of the heroine, also present amusing situations in the movie.Performances are okay whether they are of the charming lead pair (good on-screen chemistry between them) or of the supporting cast alongwith the villains and the comedians. Pran has not got a meaty role as the villain considering his reputation for the negative roles in that period but he has tried his best.

Technically the movie is perfect and it has a high production value.

Overall, the movie is successful in entertaining the audience and that’s why it was a hit. I watch it whenever I am willing to get the combined effect of the visuals and the songs upon me which is always mesmerizing. I recommend it to all the lovers of melodious music who are also desirous of light romantic entertainment.

I dedicate this review to the music legends – Asha Bhosle and Late Bhupen Hazarika whose birthday is today (8th September).

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Yellowish beauty with fragrance of good nature

Once again, I am reviewing a novel of my favourite Hindi mystery writer – Surendra Mohan Pathak. Amongst his novels categorized under 5-6 different series, I love the Sunil Series novels the most. Sunil Kumar Chakravarty is an investigative journalist and holds the position of the chief reporter of a national daily – Blast which is published from Rajnagar, a fictitious metropolitan city situated somewhere in India. This hero has been so popular that Mr. Pathak has penned more than 100 novels under this series. Sunil is a Bengali youth and a bachelor whom the receptionist of the newspaper – Renu romantically teases every now and then. He has earned the trust and fatherly affection of his employer – Mr. B.K. Malik who happens to be the owner and the chief editor of the newspaper. News editor – Roy is an aged Bengali who happens to be the immediate boss of Sunil but Sunil never allows him to dominate over himself. In his investigative endeavours, Sunil is mainly assisted by his junior reporter – Arjun and his friend – Ramakant Malhotra who is a Punjabi youth of his age group. Ramakant runs a night club (named as Youth Club) but helps Sunil through the services of his trusted staff members and whenever possible, partakes in Sunil’s adventures himself too. Due to his typical working style, Sunil almost always crosses the line of the police due to which police inspector Prabhu Dayaal (whom Mr. Pathak has shown as a dutiful, honest and efficient police officer) always remains annoyed with him. However the superintendent of police (now Mr. Pathak has redesignated him as the Deputy Commissioner of Police) – Ram Singh is Sunil’s old friend. Sunil’s adventures run through this fictitious city of Rajnagar and the nearby fictitious cities and towns too, viz. Vishalgarh, Vishwanagar, Iqbaalpur, Taarakpur etc. and also some nearby tourist places viz. Jhery and Sunderban.

Peela Gulab (yellow rose) is the 92nd venture of this crime reporter hero. The title of the novel is as such because the plot is based on the murder of a film actress – Medha who was admiringly called ‘yellow rose’. She was a sweet and good-natured girl and her complexion was not very fair but yellowish like molten gold which enabled her beautiful face to be given the analogy of a yellow rose. Well, Mr. Pathak has imagined such a girl whose fairness can be compared to that of a yellow rose. Writers and poets can imagine anything. However, I am in agreement with Mr. Pathak that a beautiful girl can be given this tag because once I also used to call a girl as ‘yellow rose’ in my real life. Mr. Pathak has praised the yellowish tender beauty and the fragrant good nature of Medha through description but not shown her in the novel.

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Peela Gulab deals with the murder of Medha who aspired to become a top heroine but could not and got reduced to the level of second female lead only in the movies done by her. She got murdered when she was going to marry another unsuccessful actor – Ashok Suri. In addition to his investigative journalism profession, Sunil has one more reason to try to unearth the mystery of Medha’s murder. He was fond of her due to her sweet nature and she was his friend. He delves deep into the case with the help of his hand-in-glove heavy drinker friend – Ramakant and also seeks the help of his known film-journalist – Shyam Varma. There are many suspects in front of him – Ashok Suri, Medha’s fiance and would be husband; Manoharlaal, Medha’s greedy maternal uncle; Khoob Chand Somani, an aged film-producer who wanted to marry Medha; Shaarada Bansal, a rich widow who wanted to marry Ashok Suri; Nirmal Kumar, Medha’s true lover etc. Sunil examines the activities of every suspect through his investigative eye and finally exposes the real murderer. In between, his regular tussles with police inspector Prabhu Dayaal who is his love-hate buddy for a lifetime, also take place.

Like almost all the novels of Sunil series, Peela Gulab also renders a spicy reading to the reader and thoroughly entertains him. I can guess that Mr. Pathak might have borrowed the plot of the novel from some foreign pulp-fiction work. However his style of Indianizing the story and characters has an originality of its own and the decorative tassels added to the main narrative are his and his specialty only that no other author can copy. The language used for narration and dialogues is simple but impressive. Mr. Pathak’s hero Sunil is a witty person who overpowers the other one through his smartness and quick-wit. He is never awed by the wealth or status of the other person and never hesitates to call a spade a spade. Mr. Pathak has always termed Sunil as his counter-ego and asserted that he says those things which Mr. Pathak himself wanted to say on similar occasions in his life but couldn’t dare to. And it’s this smartness and gutsy approach of Sunil which makes the novels of this series so special.

The only minus point that I see in this novel, is that the mystery is not great. The reader can guess the real culprit with some intelligent deductive reasoning. However despite this weakness, the novel makes an interesting reading from the very first line to the very last line. I unconditionally recommend this novel to the readers of Hindi fiction of crime detection genre.

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Pickpocketing ? No, this is the craft of the hand

Making the things disappear from the sight of the onlookers (or someone’s possession) is called an art of magic which the professional magicians demonstrate in their shows. In Indian lingo, this is called – Haath Ki Safaai (the craft of the hand). But some petty criminals use the same term for their act of pickpocketing too, boasting this skill of theirs with pride and considering it no less than any other art. In Riteish-Jenelia starrer – Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya (2012), the sister of the hero keeps this ‘art’ of hers in high esteem and later it is known that she demonstrates it every now and then because she wanted to be a professional magician but couldn’t. The moral of the story is that youths pick up the wrong path when they do not get any right path to channelize their skills and energy. Hence it is important that the society provides opportunities to them to utilize their talent and vigor in the right direction.

Haath Ki Safai (1974) is a run-of-the-mill Bollywood movie based on the ‘lost and found’ formula in which two brothers are separated in their childhood and cross paths in their youth. The title of the movie has been kept after this craft of the hand (Haath Ki Safaai) professionally adopted by the younger one of them. The movie is a very entertaining one.The person demonstrating his Haath Ki Safaai in this movie and is proud of this art of himself is Raju (Randhir Kapoor) who was separated from his brother Shankar (Vinod Khanna) in childhood. Both these brothers have grown up in criminalized environment and criminals’ company and therefore, become criminals themselves. Raju has become a pickpocket whereas Shankar becomes a gangster. Destiny makes them cross paths time and again and they start disliking each other (without knowing that they are actually brothers). Shankar is happily married to Roma (Simi Grewal) who wants her husband to leave the path of crime and finally, he agrees for that. However the crime world is not a place so easy to quit.

Raju comes across a runaway rich girl – Kaamini (Hema Malini) who is escaping from his uncle who is forcing her to marry Ranjeet (Ranjeet) against her will. Gradually Raju and Kaamini fall in love. But it’s Kaamini only which again becomes a bone of contention between Raju and Shankar. After a lot of drama and action, the brothers finally identify each other and the reunion of all the four lead characters takes place with the arrest of the baddies.The USP of this potboiler is the character of Randhir Kapoor alongwith his heart-winning performance. He makes the audience laugh time and again with his perfect comic timing. The memorable comedy song – Peene Waalon Ko Peene Ka Bahaana Chaahiye is a showcase of his comic talent. His demonstration of his pickpocketing art not only justifies the movie’s title but also entertains the viewers very much.

Writers Salim-Javed and director Prakash Mehra have done their best in making a thoroughly engrossing movie. The screenplay studded with the frequent encounters of the two male leads is taut and does not allow any boredom to creep in. Action, thrill, romance and sentiments are there in the movie in optimal quantum but it’s the comedy which overpowers everything and adds immense value to this apparently ordinary movie.In addition to Randhir Kapoor, the other main characters also have done pretty well. Vinod Khanna won the Filmfare best actor award for his role in this movie. However I admire Simi Grewal very much who was always a natural performer irrespective of the role assigned to her. Hema Malini had started her career a few years back as the heroine of Raj Kapoor but in this movie she is quite at ease while playing the heroine of Raj Kapoor’s son, i.e., Randhir Kapoor.

Kalyanji Anandji have composed good music for the lyrics of Gulshan Bawra. Peene Waalon Ko Peene Ka Bahaana Chaahiye (Kishore-Lata) is the most popular song of the album which proves to be no less than a mini laughter show for the audience. But the other songs – Vaada Karle Saajna Tere Bin Main Na Rahoon Mere Bin Tu Na Rahe Hoke Juda, Tumko Mohabbat Ho Gai Hai Humse, Tu Kya Jaane Wafa O Bewafa, Ooparwaale Teri Duniya Mein Kabhi Jeb Kisi Ki Na Khaali Rahe etc. are also quite good.

Technical aspects are all in order. Production value is decent. The movie is not unduly long.

Randhir Kapoor had not allowed himself to be shadowed by his legendary father (Raj Kapoor) and carved a niche for himself in cine-world through his natural talent and sincere efforts. Haath Ki Safai is one of his memorable movies which the typical Bollywood movie buffs will like for sure.

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Aawara overturned

The great showman of Indian cinema, Raj Kapoor had made a classic movie – Awara (1951) containing an interesting and meaningful discussion about Nature vs. Nurture issue and the conclusion drawn was that nurture is more important in shaping the personality of an individual than nature or the genes in his / her blood. I am in complete agreement with this conclusion. A child is like a lump of clay which is shaped by his / her nurture and the associated environment only in which he / she grows up. The role of his /her genes, if any, is minimal only.

Awara and Dharam Karan

However around two and a half decades post Aawara, Raj Kapoor’s elder son Randhir Kapoor directed a movie in which this argument was contradicted and it was established that genes play a far greater role in shaping an individual than the fostering and environment. Well, I find it difficult to agree with that assertion. But I appreciate that the movie made by Randhir Kapoor under the prestigious banner of his father is definitely an entertaining movie which was a box office hit also. It’s Dharam Karam (1975).

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Dharam Karam is the story of Shankar (Premnaath) who is a hoodlum and, therefore, better known as Shankar Dada. He is not at all happy with this form of his life and he wants his offspring to become a law-abiding, decent and honourable individual. He believes that it’s possible only by his nurturing in a suitable environment and not his home and the milieu he is in. Hence when his wife gives birth to a baby boy, he switches him with a simultaneously born kid who is the child of a renowned artist Ashok (Raj Kapoor). Now Shankar’s son Ranjeet (Narender Nath) grows up in Ashok’s home and Ashok’s son Dharam (Randhir Kapoor) grows up in a slum.

Now as per vision of the script-writer (Prayag Raj) and the director (Randhir Kapoor himself), genes prove to be stronger than fostering and environment. Thereby despite growing up in a defective environment, Dharam does not become a baddy and despite growing up in a desirable environment, i.e., Ashok’s home, Ranjeet takes the wrong path. Destiny brings all the characters of this story together and Shankar realizes his mistake in the climax when the children come to know who their real fathers are.

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Dharam Karam is a damn interesting movie. The narrative maintains its momentum from the very beginning to the very finish. If this movie is watched for sheer entertainment only, it’s fine. However the thought propagated by it is dangerous. I don’t know how Raj Kapoor allowed his son to make a movie overturning  the theme of his all time great classic Aawara. A child arriving on the Earth has no control over the surroundings in which he is born. And hence blaming the genes in his blood for his taking the wrong path in life, is a sheer injustice to him. In fact, it’s the quality of the nurture, the environment and the milieu which makes all the difference in development of his personality.

Technically the movie is superior and lives up to the repute of the R.K. Banner which is known as the first family of Bollywood. The screenplay is formula-based but able to maintain the curiosity of the spectator throughout. Writer Prayag Raj has written the dialogues also which are not great. Considering the mood of the movie and the script, better dialogues should have been written.

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Randhir Kapoor was a good actor (at least in my opinion) but he was a better director who knew his job well. He has directed only three movies in his directorial career – 1. Kal Aaj Aur Kal (1971), 2. Dharam Karam (1975) and 3. Henna (1991). And everyone of them has turned out to be a good movie. He has directed this movie also quite proficiently and extracted good performances from all the lead actors including himself as well as his legendary father. Rekha being his love interest in the movie didn’t have much to do though.

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R.D. Burman’s music is admirable. It contains two gems in the voice of Mukesh – 1. Ek Din Bik Jaayega Maati Ke Mol (this classic song elaborates a great philosophy of life), 2. Tere Humsafar Geet Hain Tere (sung by Mukesh with Asha Bhosle and Kishore Kumar). Other songs are average.

Ek Din Bik Jayega Maati Ke Mol

I recommend Dharam Karam to all the entertainment-seekers but with my reservation about the theme of the movie. A seed may be good but if it does not get proper proper soil, water, manure and care; it cannot grow up into a stout tree. So much talent is wasted in India because the talented kids do not get the requisite nurture and desirable environment. They are the unfortunate buds which are not able to bloom into fragrant flowers and wither out before time.

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Heartache makes a star ! Really ?

In Gulshan Nanda’s Hindi novel – Sisakate Saaz (on which Hindi movie  ‘Mehbooba’ was made in 1976 starring Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini in lead roles), the singer hero, Prakash tells the heroine (she is also a singer), Ratna -‘Aapki Aawaaz Mein Kashish Hai Lekin Dard Ki Kamee Hai’ (your voice is fascinating but it’s deficient in conveying pain). The maker of the movie under review, i.e., Rockstar (2011) has picked up this message only. There are many such examples pertaining to the genius artists whose heartbreaks led them to stardom (by refinement of their talent). I remember the example of a teenager, Saahir who, after getting his heart broken through the discard of a girl, went on to become one of the greatest Shaayars (Urdu poets) and the world knows him as Saahir Ludhiyanvi. But can it happen to anybody and everybody ? I have also been suffering from heartache for years since the day the love of my life went away from me, have I been able to become a star in the art-world then ? If heartbreak makes a star, then all the bathroom-singers and casual writers of India should go on to become stars. 

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When I watched the maiden directorial venture of Imtiaz Ali – Socha Na Tha (2005), I found it simply lovable. I am highly impressed by the hilarious blockbuster of him – Jab We Met (2007). And I had watched his next venture – Love Aaj Kal (2009) twice in the theatre only to find my eyes wet on both the occasions during certain sequences of that movie. However, despite acknowledging the great effort of himself in making Rockstar, I am not able to relate myself to it in any way. I remember that in Love Aaj Kal, I was lost so much in the narrative that when the word – ‘interval’ appeared on the screen, I was startled. However, during the screening of Rockstar, I looked at my watch several number of times. Despite a tragic story being told on the screen, I did not feel any throbbing in my heart (I am a highly sentimental person though). In all the previous movies of Imtiaz Ali, I found the principal characters in them as of this world only but in this movie, both the hero as well as the heroine appeared to me as belonging to some other planet. How can such a movie develop a rapport with the spectators when it is not being categorized as fantasy either ?
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The singer (or musician or both) – Janaardan (Ranbir Kapoor) comes to know from his friend Khataana (Kumud Mishra) that if he has to excel like a true artist, his should suffer a heartbreak. To fulfill his dream of making it big in the world of music, he starts striving for that only. A casual acquaintance with a girl, Heer (Nargis Faakhri) turns into a deep friendship and further turns into love which is first realized by the girl and thereafter only by him, finally leads to a heartbreak when he comes to know that she will soon depart from this world due to a bone-marrow problem. Now he comes to know how painful a heartbreak is.
This story when told on the screen, contains several indigestible incidents. The hero seems to be more eccentric less romantic. He is always ready to take the heroine (as well as the world) for granted. I have heard of such type of eccentric mood of late Kishore Kumar but never believed it. And the heroine too is, at least to some extent, casual in her approach towards the hero. The activities of both go overboard at several places in the movie. The hero’s family kicks him out (never to bother about him thereafter which is quite unconvincing) but the heroine’s family (parental as well as marital) is generous enough to allow her to live and do anything in the company of the hero. Well, she is fortunate (and unfortunate too because she dies after some time). The director has tried to test the brains of the spectators at many places by providing scope for them to interpret the things happening in front of them. However there is no dearth of potholes in the script.

Ranbir Kapoor has done exceedingly well despite his confused and underdeveloped character. In fact, he can be one strong reason to watch this movie. Nargis Fakhri has also tried her level best but she seems to be miscast in the role. Among others, Kumud Mishra as Khataana is a character whose appearance on the screen provides some relief moments to the overburdened (with heavy and confusing narrative) spectators. Late Shammi Kapoor, in his last screen performance, has left his mark in the role of an esteemed clarinet player.

There is a lot of noise about A.R. Rehman’s music in this movie. It’s good and according to the mood of the movie but it’s by no means great. The song in the climax of the movie – Naadaan Parinde is good but if somebody has listened to the old songs like Itna Na Mujhse Tu Pyar Badha (Chhaya – 1961) and Ankhiyon Ko Rehne Do Ankhiyon Ke Aaspaas (Bobby – 1973), he / she can see the shadows of these and some other old songs in that. In fact, more than Rehman’s music, it’s the lyrics of Irshad Kamil which are praiseworthy.

Cinematographer has done a marvellous job. Right from the locales of Delhi to the beauty of Prague and certain other Indian and foreign locations, the complete movie is a treat to watch. It’s an eye-soothing experience, no doubt.

Imtiaz Ali has tried to be realistic in portrayal of several scenes in the movie but the basic trouble is that he has chosen an unrealistic story with unreal principal characters. His is a gigantic effort in developing the narration but he could not infuse life into the bulk of it. Hence it’s good but does not appeal. And therefore, unlike his earlier ventures, it does not have a repeat value. Nobody may like to watch it again.

In my review of Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), I had termed that movie as an imperfect one whose imperfection itself led to greatness. Imtiaz Ali has also made an imperfect movie but unlike the former, it’s by no means great. But then, who can claim to be perfect in this world ? Let’s appreciate Imtiaz Ali’s excessive creativity which has, unfortunately (for him as well as for us), crossed the limits of sanity.

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The intoxication of pain in a lover’s heart

I dedicate this post to my friend – Prabhu Laal Prajapati who had gifted this non-filmy music album to me when the year 2003 was nearing its end. Since a song of this album – Waqt Ne Hum Se Kaisa Liya Imtihaan was his favourite (due to the lyrics he could identify with) and since I had shared some personal hurts in my heart with him, he thought I would like this album. Later on I kept that album as a gift from him and arranged a copy of the same for him. This is a non-filmy music album containing mainly Ghazals and Nazms sung by the renowned playback singer of Bollywood movies – Kumar Sanu and I found it quite good. 

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The title of the album is Nasha (intoxication) but unlike another music album of the same title presented by Pankaj Ud-haas, this album does not contain mainly the songs related to intoxication through liquor etc. There are two such songs only in the album whereas the other ones belong to love, separation, bereavement (due to parting of the beloved), sentiments, performance of duties and philosophy of life. 

This single cassette album starts with Kisi Ki Yaad Saataye Sharaab Pee Lena. This song though referring to liquor-consumption in the initial lines, is quite different and emotionally appealing in its stanzas. The second song is a very beautiful as well as touching Nazm – Waqt Ne Hum Se Kaisa Liya Imtihaan, Tumne Roka Nahin Hum Ruke Bhi Nahin, signifying the pain of parting and the sentiments associated therewith. The next song is a philosophical Ghazal rendering the message of moving ahead in life, leaving the past behind – Zindagi Tujhko Naye Mod Pe La Hee Denge, Tu Hamen Kuchh Bhi Na De Hum To Wafa Hee Denge. And the last one is a very painful song underscoring the loneliness of the person concerned after the loss of the sweetheart – Kis Se Baat Karen (whom to talk to now).

The alternative side of the cassette also contains four songs. The very first one is again a Ghazal soaked in the pain which arises when the love of one’s life has been lost – Koi Na Geet Pyar Ke Gaaye Andheri Raaton Mein. The next one is a below par song – Sharaab Pee Pee Kar which, in my opinion, is the weakest song of this album. The third one is Nazar Milaayi Tune Dil Na Milaaya, Haay Tera Pyar Mujhe Raas Na Aaya which is a song with a tinge of complaint towards the now separated beloved. And the last one is Na Kabhi Wafa Karoonga Maine Faisla Kiya Hai, Bas Farz Ada Karoonga Maine Faisla Kiya Hai which is a beautiful Nazm through which the concerned lover declares that now onwards he will pay attention to discharging of his duties only, ignoring things like love, fidelity etc. in his life.This album is a long forgotten non-filmy album and not in line with the repute of Kumar Sanu but I feel, that it is overall good and can be listened to by the painstruck hearts at least (who can relate to it). Barring the two songs specifically mentioned above, all the other songs are quite good. Pandit K. Razdan has written meaningful lyrics for the songs and Jeetu Tapan have composed admirable melodies for them. Released by Tips in the year 2000, this album was not a commercial success as such (perhaps because it was released at the wrong point of time) and hence, it can be considered as underrated in my opinion.

Kumar Sanu has sung all the songs (solos) whether they are Ghazals or Nazms, quite beautifully keeping the feeling embedded in the words intact in his voice and he has been successful in conveying the pain in the heart of the unfortunate lover to the separated sweetheart (if she can listen to these songs).

The title of the album is apt because pain and tears also contain a kind of intoxication for the gloomy lover who has lost something invaluable (for him / her). I know how intoxicant it can be to shed tears when losing oneself in someone’s memories and hence this album containing Ghazals and Nazms pertaining to the parting of the singing person’s sweetheart, is full of intoxication only. The losers in love only know how pleasantly engrossing it is to dive into the river of someone’s memories and it happens when they listen to pieces of music like those contained in this album.

The lovers of music and Urdu poetry will find Nasha as reasonably good because out of the eight songs, six are quality songs. Such songs are not heard on radio or TV channels too and hence listening to them directly from the album is the only way out. Kumar Sanu commands his own fan-following in India as well as abroad and it’s a treat for his admirers.

Today is Kumar Sanu’s birthday. I sign off with my hearty birthday wishes to this extremely popular singer as well as my positive recommendation for this album.

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Thrill but no suspense

Right Yaaa Wrong (2010) is a Hindi movie under the thriller genre. However it is not the routine run-of the-mill Bollywood suspense thriller. It is not an original story either. The filmmaker has lifted the story from a Hollywood movie – Above Suspicion (1995). All the same, he can be given the credit for Indianizing it proficiently and making a grossly watchable thriller for the Hindi movie audience. The director (Neeraj Pathak) has revealed the suspense just after the crime. Leave aside making it a whodunnit mystery, he has not even allowed it to remain a howdunnit mystery. Audience is well aware of who did it and how did it, much earlier than the climax of the movie. Nevertheless the movie is interesting and able to make the viewers sit on their seats till the last scene.Sunny Deol plays the usual ideal (and superman like capable) cop who works in association with his colleague cum close friend – Irrfan. In between the initial action sequence of Sunny, the director starts unfolding the plot as if he is in a hurry. The infidelity of Sunny’s wife and the loose character of his cousin give a hint of the forthcoming storyline. However a paralyzed Sunny’s making a scheme for his backstabbers to implement which should result in his own death, confuses the viewers albeit for a very short while. This is the interval. Soon after the interval, the twist in the tale is very much within in the knowledge of the audience. Here the narrator demonstrates his commendable skill to maintain the interest of the viewer for the remaining part of the movie. Irrfan comes into active role, accusing his friend and colleague to mastermind a cold-blooded double murder and vows to get the guilty booked. Konkona Sen Sharma, his sister, enters the screen in the role of a sympathetic lawyer believing in the innocence of Sunny. Investigation, interrogation and trial scenes follow culminating in exoneration of Sunny and mental break-down of his dutiful friend, i.e., Irrfan who feels defeated and wounded with a painful sense of not being able to protect the honour of the law of the land.

The beauty of the narrative is that it fully justifies the title of the story. There are difficult moments in an otherwise straightforward and clean-heart person’s life too when he faces the moral dilemma of deciding what is right and what is wrong. Flowing with the events of the movie in the post-interval session, the viewer starts feeling that both the leading gentlemen are right in their own ways and none of them can be labelled as wrong.  Sunny’s making his enemies work upon the plan of their own murder, mistaking it to be the plan of Sunny’s murder, is simply breathtaking. And after the murder(s), the happenings and the developments in the story envelop the attention of the viewer in a different manner because the cat and mouse game between Irrfan (the cat) and Sunny (the mouse) is different from n number of such games shown in other movies. This cat and this mouse are emotional for each other and the bone of contention is only their individual perspectives of right and wrong and the storyteller has added spice to the already interesting tussle by bringing the cat’s sister – Konkona on the side of the mouse. Despite lack of mystery or suspense, the eagerness remains for the climax. However the climax, though not a let down, is not so impressive as it should have been after a sensational courtroom drama.The director, instead of picking his script ditto from Above Suspicion, could have amended it a bit and kept the mystery (of at least the howdunnit aspect) alive till the climax thereby making it a genuine suspense thriller. Had he done it, the movie would have been a better one. All the same, I make no attempt to snatch the credit from him for making an entertaining thriller. The events related to the double murder reminisce me of Sanjeev Kumar starring thriller of 1986 – Qatl as well as another Sanjeev Kumar starrer of 1980 – Be Reham alongwith a relatively recent Bollywood thriller – Maharathi which was released in 2008 and of course Hollywood classic – A Perfect Murder (1998) with its Bollywood rip-offs like Humraaz (2002) and Vaada (2005). Yet it resembles them only in bits and pieces and overall it is able to carve out another, different niche for itself.Right Yaaa Wrong (right or wrong) is a food for thought also. Can ethical values and laws of the land be considered as absolute in their own right or they need to be given a second look according to the tricky situation at hand demanding resolution ? Should an honest, sincere and loving person not be given a chance to judge them differently when life compels him to do an unethical thing or take the law into his own hands ? And how should a dutiful cop think ? Should he allow himself to get carried away by the noble and virtuous personality of the criminal or the etiology behind his crime and become a silent party to his crime by not performing his sacred duty of catching the law-breakers and presenting them before the court of law ? The answers are not easy.

The music of the movie is by no means excellent, however the very few songs inserted into the movie are well integrated with the narrative. The lead characters – Sunny, Irrfan, Konkona, Isha Koppikar as the unfaithful wife and the actor playing the backstabbing cousin; all have played their parts with utmost sincerity. Irrfan as always, is able to steal the show with his genius. Sunny has been given a chance to exercise his old and well-known action talent in the beginning part of the movie in which he has done well, making his action fans happy. But more importantly, he has done full justice to the real, meatier role of a cheated husband and a loving `n’ caring father in the later reels of the movie as well. Full marks to him. Deepal Shaw (lady police officer), Suhasini Mulay (magistrate) and Govind Namdeo (public prosecutor) are also first rate.

The technical departments of the movie are up to the mark. Editing has made the movie crisp and engrossing. Sunny’s wardrobe also needs a mention. The dresses selected for him give him a younger (though he was 53 years old at the time of this movie) and smarter look.

Overall a good movie. Doesn’t matter that it is a copied one.

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