Mujhko Apne Gale Laga Lo Aye Mere Hamrahi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Not Baazigar SRK, it’s Shikari Govinda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Revisiting the era of Hrishi Da and Basu Da

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Second rate tales of the second sex

On 7th July 1999, Siya Dulari, a lower caste woman was burnt alive (after a supposed gang-rape) in Bhawanipur, a small village in Uttar Pradesh (Kanpur Dehaat). As per the statement issued by the police, she was abducted and held captive for a week before the heart-wrenching treatment rendered to her by the accused people of upper caste. The guilt of Siya Dulari was that her teenager son had eloped with a teenager girl belonging to an upper caste in their neighbourhood. Her husband, fearing for such a backlash from the side of the upper castes, had already run away to save his life, leaving her alone. Till date, it is not known whether the perpetrators of this ghastly murder got the punishment they deserved or not. But this end of that poor woman remained in news for a long time and then was forgotten like all stale news.

This incident which was nothing but an illustration of the caste divide in (Northern) India where the lower caste ones are time and again reminded to stay in their place through such acts (in which the females of the downtrodden communities are the main sufferers), instigated filmmaker Raj Kumar Santoshi to make a movie covering this crime and highlight the plight of not only the lower caste women but the womenfolk in general in the Indian society as a whole. The result came in the form of Hindi movie – Lajja (2001).

Lajja (shame) is a cluster of female-oriented tales in which Vaidehi (Manisha Koirala) is the connecting link. She runs away from a troubled marriage involving a cruel and abusive NRI husband (Jackie Shroff). Finding that she has no place in her parental home also, she being pregnant, runs for her life and the life of her unborn child as the clutches of her husband are following her and in this journey, comes across troubled women like her, viz. Maithili (Mahima Chaudhary), Jaanaki (Madhuri Dixit) and Raam Dulari (Rekha), each one of them facing different issues with the common thread being the suffering due to being a female. In this men’s world where they are the predators preying on those women who are conscious of their right and dignity and pronounce it too, these women come across some golden-hearted men too, viz. a thief (Anil Kapoor) and a bandit (Ajay Devgan). The final episode of the movie is the tale of Raam Dulari (modeled on the tragedy of the real life Siya Dulari).

Raj Kumar Santoshi has considered the mythological Sita as the quintessential and eternal example of a suffering woman in a patriarchal social set-up. That’s why he has named the suffering women of his story as Vaidehi, Maithili, Jaanaki and Raam Dulari (all being synonyms of Sita). Only Maithili succeeds in emerging as triumphant (after a lot of drama) as she discards her dowry-based wedding. Vaidehi also gets a happy end to her woes when her abusive and chauvinistic husband has a change of heart and both of them return to the beginning point of this story (to live happily ever after). Jaanaki and Raam Dulari are not that lucky.

Personally, I found the episode involving Jaanaki being the strongest and the most impactful in which she twists the Raamayan scene being performed on the stage (herself playing Sita) and instead of giving Agni Pariksha, asks Ram to give Agni Pariksha to prove his ‘purity’. However for the climax of the movie and (also the denouement of Raj Kumar Santoshi’s narrative), the extremely tragic episode of Raam Dulari (which only had laid the foundation for making of this movie) only fits the bill.

Technically, the movie is quite good. Art direction, cinematography, choreography and action; all are up to the mark. It’s excessively long but definitely it’s not the fault of the editor. Music of Anu Malik and Illaiyaraaja (composed one song and prepared the background score) is good with the lyrics being meaningful and apt for the story. Acting wise speaking, none of the actors (including very young Sharman Joshi as Raam Dulari’s son and debutante Aarti Chhabria as his upper caste girlfriend) has disappointed. All (including those playing the baddies) have played their parts well. Ajay Devgan appears to be miscast as a deadly bandit because he looks too slender to be that. However he has made up for that by his good acting.

The trouble of Lajja lies with its script and direction. Had Raj Kumar Santoshi made an independent movie solely on the real life tragedy of Siya Dulari, it would have been better (for him as well as the audience). But by packing too many women-centric social issues in his script, he has made it cumbersome. The movie has become too long to be endured by the spectators and thus its entertainment value and inspirational (or social awakening) value, both have got diluted. That’s why the movie impresses in patches only. Jackie Shroff’s wearing designer suits throughout the narrative (while chasing his runaway wife) is ridiculous. The baddies (and many events involving them) are totally filmy. And Ajay Devgan as the Desi Robin Hood is also totally unreal and out of place in the movie.

And the most filmy thing is the denouement in which Vaidehi delivers a long (and melodramatic) speech on women-suffering and women-lib (after gatecrashing the felicitation ceremony of Raam Dulari’s perpetrator) and then the result comes in the form of mob justice. A crowd of women thrashes the baddies by footwear and then they are eliminated. That may be enough for our socially awake filmmaker but is that enough to uproot the centuries old male-bias against the second sex in a majority of human-societies ? The movie was released in 2001 but even after two decades, have we seen any improvement in the situation ? No ! We have been seeing deterioration instead since then. Crimes against women have been and are on the rise only. Utterly simplified filmy solutions to grave social problems are an insult not only to the themes chosen for such movies but also to the intellect of the audience.

Summing up, Raj Kumar Santoshi has presented second rate tales of the second sex in Lajja which itself is a shame (Lajja). He could not make a box office grosser despite using all the tried and tested formulas. Nor could he do justice to the noble theme of the movie. Nevertheless, this movie is not a trash and should be watched to sensitize ourselves to the heart-piercing sufferings of our womenfolk.

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A mystery in Lonavala

Maut Aaee Dabe Paaon (death came silently) is a murder mystery penned by eminent Hindi mystery writer Surendra Mohan Pathak. The story is set in the Hilly town of Maharasthra – Lonavala.

The murder victim is an aged rich person Vishnu Mohan Adhikari who had married a much younger girl Meera some three years ago. When he had proposed her, she did not deny under the hope of a decent and respectable wedded life and not because she is a gold-digger. However after wedding only, she came across the narrow-mindedness of Adhikari who had married by following his philosophy which was ‘wife is cheaper than maid’. Having no choice, she has been continuing with her married life knowing very well that the young family physician of ailing Adhikari, Dr. Shyam has been harbouring soft-feelings for her in his heart (without any response from her side).

Meera comes to know about the death of her husband when she approaches him with his morning tea. More than his death, the thing that startles her is a paper affixed in his computer-printer (being eccentric, Adhikari had been communicating to everybody in the family in writing for quite some time) and that paper says that she has an affair with Dr. Shyam. Frightened, she removes that paper from the printer and call the other members of the family – Abhishek, the nephew of Adhikari; Nidhi, the niece of Adhikari and Prabhat, her boyfriend who is a flop theatre-personality. Dr. Shyam also arrives and suspecting that the death is not a natural one, calls Dr. Devre, a senior and experienced doctor for examination of the body.

Dr. Devre advises for postmortem of the body as he feels that Adhikari has died of poisoning. Once it is established, all the family members become suspects in the eyes of the investigating police officer as now it’s a case of murder. Adhikari’s friend-cum-lawyer, Shekhar Saable also gets involved in the proceedings. Meera gets another shock when a private detective, Bhojani who has been after the family members under an assignment from Adhikari, blackmails her on the basis of his findings. Being the prime suspect for the murder, she finds no family member sympathizing with her but Dr. Shyam and advocate Saable appear to be on her siide. Soon, Bhojani also gets murdered in his office making this murder mystery more intricate. Finally, with the help of her silent lover, Shyam; Meera is able to prove her innocence when the real culprit is unmasked.

Maut Aaee Dabe Paaon is a traditional whodunit. Surendra Mohan Pathak has spread the story on the pages of the novel in his trademark style and kept the entertainment value of the book intact till the ending pages. The characters are utterly human with no unnaturalness in anybody’s character. He has explored the complexities of human mind also in his bid to explain the solution of the mystery. The novel is not a lengthy one and the compact narrative keeps the reader glued to the book. The story does not digress anywhere from its main path and moves straight towards its destination, i.e., the denouement.

With his storytelling, the author has allowed the readers to get acquainted with the geography of Lonavala (and to some extent, Khandala). Mr. Pathak has written two novels with the setting being Lonavala – this one and Saazish. Due to reading these novels only, I had developed a desire in my heart to visit Lonavala. And after reading the novel being reviewed in June 1997 and Saazish in January 2000, finally I made my first visit to Lonavala on 13th and 14th May of the year 2000. During that period, I was serving at Tarapur Atomic Power Station in district Thane of Maharashtra. The visit proved to be such a pleasant one for me that thereafter Lonavala became my favourite vacation point.

The minus point of the novel, in my opinion, is that any intelligent reader (who is fond of reading mysteries) can guess the identity of the murderer with a little bit of effort. However, the mystery being a simple one, can be considered a plus point also if looked from a different angle. The language is simple, the dialogues of the characters while talking to one another are praiseworthy and overall speaking, the narrative flows very well.

Published 24 years back in hard copy, this novel was not having a good production quality at that time. Since, it was not republished in hard copy later, it’s difficult to find any copy now for any prospective reader. As of now, it’s not available in e-book form also (a sizable number of Mr. Pathak’s old novels are presently available in e-book form on Amazon Kindle). Hope, it appears in e-book form soon.

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Revisiting Hip Hip Hurray and Chak De India

Yash Raj Films’ Shimit Amin directed movie – Chak De India (2007) can deservingly claim to be the best sports movie made in Bollywood. If we set aside the biopics of the Indian sportspersons released during the past few years, we have got some good and some average sports movies made in Bollywood. The pioneer in this line was Prakash Jha’s debut directorial venture – Hip Hip Hurray (1984).

Watching Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal (2007) renders a feeling to revisit both Chak De India and Hip Hip Hurray though it was released barely three and a half months post the release of Chak De India. As the movie progressed scene by scene, a sense of deja vu enveloped me and I strongly felt that the script-writers (Anurag Kashyap-Rohit Malhotra-Vikramaditya Motwane) must have sought inspiration from both these movies when he were writing the screenplay of Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal. Nevertheless, it is to be admitted that it’s overall a good movie which entertains as well as motivates albeit in a different setting, i.e., Southall, England.

The main character of the story is not a human-being but a Football club named after its location – Southall United Football Club which has been a loser in competitions for decades and whenever it competes in any event, nobody gives it any chance to win. Now the trouble is, the place of the club taken on lease, is to be vacated unless the lessee pays the due amount of three million pounds to the lessor who is planning to build a shopping mall and a theme park at that place. To save their club, their ground and their passion for Football, the club members which are all Asians, get an opportunity in the form of the English Football League whose winner is going to be paid a sum of (exactly) three million pounds as the prize money. Can they avail the opportunity and make the impossible possible ?

Well, we know the answer. After all, it’s a masala Bollywood flick.  But then the end of such movies is bound to be a predictable one. The highly admirable two movies mentioned in the beginning of this review are no exceptions in this regard. Now the thing is, despite the predictable end preceded by an adrenaline rushing climax, if the movie is able to keep the audience glued to the screen with unwavering attention, it’s a success of the filmmaker. Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal achieves this end only partially. Studded with Bollywood clichés, this movie is unduly long with confused characterization of certain principal characters. The writers and the directors have tried to connect certain facts and tie loose ends in the end and they have also raised the issue of racism (anti-Asian bias) prevailing there but despite (and because of) that, the narrative meanders through confusing lanes and make this lengthy movie an exhaustive one for the spectator.

The most confused character is of Sunny Bhasin (John Abraham) who considers himself a British and not an Indian (his parents are Indian) but does not give a damn for the racial bias imposed on him. And his professionalism is based not on professional ethics but money and allied things. Other characters like the captain of the Football team (Arshad Warsi), his sister who happens to be the physiotherapist of his team (Bipasha Basu) and the coach who is an ex-player of this club (Boman Irani) are relatively less confused but confused beyond doubt. It reduces the credibility of the story despite the fact that the writers have incorporated the real life incident of the Munich Plane Crash happened in 1958 in which eight players of the Manchester United Football Club were killed, into the narrative.

Racism is condemnable irrespective of the part of the world where it is practiced. However imposed patriotism for their country of origin also does no good to the immigrants. Patriotism or love for the motherland (of self or the parents) becomes lifeless and artificial once it is worn on the sleeve. And that’s what the writers and the director (Vivek Agnihotri) could not understand. Love for India (or Pakistan or Bangladesh) once shown off unnecessarily by the characters of the story, starts giving the look of something plastic.

The Football matches have been shot well and the art-direction is also up-to-the-mark but the director and the editor could not render the stuff available with them the form of a slick movie. Hence the movie though entertaining, impresses in patches only. Though Football is widely perceived as a violent game, showing the players in a violent mood almost every time is irksome. The romantic track of John-Bipasha is quite unnecessary. Ditto for the item song – Billo Rani. Albeit the music composed by Pritam is good, especially the title track. Background score and dialogues are so-so.

Acting is good and all the principal as well as the supporting actors have done justice to their respective roles though Bipasha Basu’s character hardly matters in the movie. Ditto for her (and Arshad Warsi’s) younger brother’s character. John Abraham has a great screen presence which make up for his limited expressions and acting talent. Boman Irani has done a pretty good job as the coach. His speech to his players before the final match is on the lines of Shah Rukh Khan’s speech to the female Hockey players in Chak De India but it contains a very good message – ultimately moments only matter whether it’s a match or a life and hence they are to be seized to shine and cherish later on, rest is all routine.

Hip Hip Hurray was a Football movie only. If some other quality Football movie that comes to mind, it is Bend It Like Beckham (2002). Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal could not match the quality of these classics. It’s a decent timepass and a one time watch notwithstanding.

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Blending many wines to make a political cocktail

Madam Chief Minister is a movie whose makers (perhaps) perceived themselves as someone akin to a skilled cocktail-maker. Hence they picked many ingredients from the real (North)  Indian politics (during the last decade of the twentieth century and the inaugural decade of the twenty-first century) and blended them well (as per their wisdom) to prepare a drink which might render a thrilling kick to the prospective consumers, i.e., the (Indian) spectators. And the result came in the form of this movie which renders thrill but that’s all. Hence it can be called a reasonably good cocktail but not good enough to fetch sufficient accolades for the barman, i.e., the makers of the movie.

The ‘Madam Chief Minister’ shown in this movie is Tara Roopraam who is a relatively young unmarried woman from a lower caste (Dalit) maintaining a boy-cut hairdo, using a fiery tongue and having an unquenchable thirst for power; who has been a protégé of a hard-working Dalit leader taking on the privileged castes as well as the well-established political parties (through his own newly established political outfit); who enters into such a power-sharing agreement with the other prominent political party (widely perceived as the party of the privileged castes)  after the electoral results are out that both the parties will have their own Chief Ministers for half of the term of the government and gets the first turn to hold this post for herself and all these happenings take place in Uttar Pradesh during the nineties. No prizes for guessing which real life female political leader of UP our Tara Roopraam is modeled upon.

However despite the political journey of Ms. Mayawati being an interesting one, the filmmaker was (perhaps) scared of showing her life as it is for one thing (without making the movie as her biopic). And secondly, he wanted to ensure the commercial success of the movie. Resultantly, despite using the famous (or notorious) slogan of Kanshi Ram (Mayawati’s political mentor) – Tilak Tarazu Aur Talwar, Innko Maaro Joote Chaar which is an utterly humiliating slogan for the so-called Dwij castes of the Hindus, i.e., the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas and the Vaishyas; the filmmaker completely avoided not only the caste identity of the protagonist but also her feminine identity throughout the duration of the movie. Had the leading lady been a leading man or an upper caste woman, it would hardly have made any difference to the narrative presented on the screen.

Besides, to make an entertaining spicy movie, the writer-cum-director, Subhash Kapoor arranged certain other ingredients to increase the kick-rendering ability of the main liquor. And he jampacked the narrative with thrilling events. Plainly speaking, despite the guest-house incident really happening with Ms. Mayawati in June 1995, several facts have been twisted in this and many other anecdotes of UP politics of the nineties. The director has shown that the protagonist (being the sitting CM) was trying to induce the MLAs of the rival party to come to her side when a violent attack took place on her. It’s not fact-based with respect to Mayawati’s life who actually became UP CM for the first time the next day of that incident. Besides, it’s been shown that the protagonist was saved by her OSD who put his own life in danger for that purpose and out of gratitude, she married him later. The fact is – Mayawati was saved by a BJP MLA, Brahm Dutt Dwivedi in that violent incident who himself was shot dead in February 1997. And as far as breaking the rival party was concerned, the director has shown the protagonist as breaking the alliance partner party by tempting its MLAs with the promise of making them ministers whereas the fact is – Mayawati’s own legislative party had been broken by the then UP CM Kalyan Singh in 1997 and then he had made every turncoat a minister in his government.

Due to filmmaker’s jampacking the script with several thrilling (true, partly true or false) episodes, the narrative moves unduly fast and does not allow the characters especially the protagonist (Madam Chief Minister) to emerge as real flesh and blood human-beings. Especially in its second half, the story loses its realism completely and appears as something utterly filmy that can be enjoyed but can’t be believed. Should we believe that a sitting CM (whether Mayawati or anybody else) kills someone with own hands without caring for the witnesses around ? Such kind of unbelievable things were shown by Prakash Jha also in his decade old movie Raajneeti (2010) which was a modern version of Mahabhaarat. Besides, the political ascent of the protagonist is also too fast to believe. Above all, though Mayawati used to wear costly gold ornaments before public (her supporters), she never presented herself as something sensual by mouthing titillating things (about herself) before the audience. It’s been wise on the part of the filmmaker that he has not claimed for any similarity between his film’s protagonist and Ms. Mayawati, else he (in my humble opinion) would have been badly beaten by her party members and supporters.

When the story itself is a fiction posturing as something real, the same is bound to happen with the artistes too playing the relevant characters. Despite the earnest efforts of Saurabh Shukla as Master Soorajbhan (the character modeled upon Late Kanshi Ram, the founder of Bahujan Samaj Party) and Manav Kaul as Danish Khan, the OSD turned husband of  ‘Madam Chief Minister’; the characters appear to be artificial by all means and for that the script and its treatment is the culprit, not the artistes playing them. As far as Richa Chadha in the title role is concerned, she is a good actress doomed by the half-baked character as the role assigned to her.

Swanand Kirkire has penned and Mangesh Dhakde has composed a very good song Chidi Chidi for the movie. The background score is okay. The other technical aspects are also okay. There are unanswered questions and continuity jerks in the narrative for which the editor can be held responsible to some extent and the director to a great extent.

Finally, one thing which the movie underscores with certainty before the narrator signs off is that power is the ultimate thing and everybody with howsoever pious intentions he/she might have entered politics becomes desirous to hold on to that. The taste of power acts just like a strong drug with addiction bound to take place sooner than later. Power which might have been perceived as a means to achieve something in the beginning, becomes an end in itself. And it applies to almost everybody.

Including our ‘Madam Chief Minister’.

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The cinders of racial hatred devastating a nation

The constitution of India guarantees every citizen immunity from any kind of discrimination based on race, religion, caste, sex or place of birth. This guarantee is from the side of the state but the founding fathers of this nation-state had taught its citizens also to practice the same in their life. This is an ideal universally accepted for mankind that all human-beings are equal and any discrimination on any ground terming any community as superior to or inferior than any other one is something that should be discarded in its entirety.

However ideal is one thing, reality is another. The death of George Floyd in the USA and the Black Lives Matter movement present a burning example that a lot is still to be done to turn this ideal into reality. When this is the situation of a modern and well-educated nation like the USA, what to say about the less developed nations. It took more than a century to end apartheid in South Africa. As far as India is concerned, the less said the better. Ironically, we were wiser and more humane in this regard when the education level of the Indian majority was quite low and a sizable chunk of the citizenry was virtually illiterate. The more we are getting educated (or boasting to be educated), the more bigotry and inhumanity appear to be engulfing us, i.e., the Indians having an educated mind but keeping it under lock with the key leaving in the safe custody of the power-hungry Indian politicians.

This problem of race and religion based prejudices and bias is not a new one. It’s been perpetuated for long. And such misguided thought processes of the commonfolk in any community always provide opportunity to certain vested interests to grind their own axe. They widen the divide between communities and leave no stone unturned in making them perceive each other as own enemies. Evil tricks are used, blatant lies are spread and financial aid is arranged from enemies of the country (who also have to grind their own axe at the cost of that unfortunate country) to incite violence which may lead to civil war. One community is brainwashed (or all the involved communities are brainwashed) in such a way that it starts feeling the need for a separate homeland (a sovereign nation) for itself. The unfortunate partition of India in 1947 was the outcome of such processes only.

Something similar had started in Punjab also during the seventies after the Anandpur Sahib Resolution was passed in 1973. A 30 something youth named as Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale became the face of Sikh militancy in the late seventies and the early eighties with the demand of a separate nation for the Sikh community (Khalistan). Killings of the innocents became an everyday affair. Casualties included not only the commoners but also high profile cops and journalists. The ruling party at the centre first fomented Bhindranwale for its own political interests but when he went out of anybody’s hands and became completely uncontrollable, then the Govt. of India had no choice but to handover the situation to the army and then under a military operation carried out in the Golden Temple of Amritsar (known as Operation Blue Star), Bhindranwale got eliminated with hundreds of his fellow militants. Still it took more than a decade further for peace to return to Punjab.

When the militants were causing havoc in Punjab and elsewhere in India (perhaps with the clandestine help of money and weapons coming from Pakistan) during the early eighties, Hindi novelist (Late) Ved Prakash Sharma decided to pen a novel based on this theme. The Hindi novel that finally came before the readers was titled as Maang Mein Angaare (cinders in demand). This low price pulp fiction novel is an excellent piece of literature in my opinion. It’s a suspense thriller which not only works as an eye-opener for the reader but also keeps him hooked from the very first word to the very last word.

Maang Mein Angaare tells the story of a fictitious small nation named as Chaman which has recently got liberated from the colonial rule of the USA due to the freedom movement running under the stewardship of a patriot youth named as Watan who is now the president of this peace-loving nation. Chaman is mainly populated by two communities – the Whites and the Blacks with some Indians also being a part of its citizenry.

One day, all of a sudden, the Whites start dying with the blame coming on to the Blacks. Black militancy spreads through the length and breadth of Chaman and a rebellion against the government becomes known to all and sundry.

Some militants get caught and their torture starts by the authorities in order to extract significant information from them. But the twist in the tale comes when a military doctor who is Black by race, turns rebel and gets three captured militants freed by killing those who have been torturing them for quite some time. The name of this doctor who has hitherto been perceived as a very wise, sober and reasonable person by one and all, is Nazim. He is the husband of Aruna, a lady of Indian origin. When Nazim gets himself embroiled in these unusual activities, Aruna is about to give birth to their first child.

Nazim and the three Black militants (whom he has set free from the custody of the authorities) come into contact with certain sympathizers of their cause (a separate nation for the Blacks named as Blackland) and finally reach the leader of the group who assigns them a challenging task of hijacking an aeroplane. Nazim makes a plan and implements it with his other three companions. A senior officer of military intelligence of Chaman, Douglas is on their trail but before he could reach them, they succeed in hijacking an aeroplane going to Russia and compels its pilot to take it to the USA. There they find that the government of the USA is actually on their side and they have been arrested only to fool the world. Their trial also starts in an American court which is nothing but an eyewash. They come across large scale preparations going on to brainwash the Black community as well as to carry out huge destruction in Chaman. They are also assigned certain jobs (linked to these activities) according to their respective interests. What happens thereafter is the climax of the novel.

The author, with his magical writing style, is able to keep the reader spellbound throughout the duration of the novel and renders a soothing feeling to his heart in the end. It contains a very big lesson for any community in any nation as not to allow itself to be misguided by (true or fake) information and understand the importance of co-existence with the other communities living there. He has clarified the meaning of the title of the novel also in the ending pages only. The characters emerge before the reader like real flesh and blood human-beings and through their talks and exchange of ideas, he has put forth his point with firmness and clarity. The language used is simple but the novel is undoubtedly a page-turner.

This novel, as I have clarified earlier in this review, was written in the wake of the Sikh militancy in Punjab in that period aiming for a separate nation for the Sikh community. However its subject-matter is still relevant for India or any other country of the world. Hatred among different communities living in a nation whether based on race or religion or the like wise acts as cinders burning the fabric of the nationhood as well as the humanity. Let’s not allow ourselves to be brainwashed by anybody whether our compatriot or any foreigner in such a way that we become prejudiced towards our fellow communities and start looking upon them with suspicion which may turn into hatred with time. I rest my case and recommend this almost four decade old novel to all the lovers of Hindi literature.

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The fatal prank

Who, whether a boy or a girl, does not enjoy playing pranks during his/her childhood and teen-age, during the school-days and the college-days ? Most of us must have played pranks during those happy-go-lucky days of our life and enjoyed them with our companions of the same age-group. But what if some prank goes so wrong that it culminates in someone’s death ? Then it becomes horrorsome for those innocents who have played it just for fun. Hindi movie – Khel Khel Mein (1975) tells such a story only.

The pranksters of this story which is based on a novel ‘Good Children Don’t Kill‘ penned by Louis Thomas are college students – Ajay (Rishi Kapoor), Nisha (Neetu Singh) and Vikram (Rakesh Roshan) who send a letter of extortion to a miser jeweler Ghanshyam Das (Janaki Das) only to know the next day that Ghanshyam Das has got murdered. Now this threesome has to save itself from the law knowing not as to who could be the real killer. Suddenly Ajay and Nisha who are the love-birds come to know that Vikram has got killed which takes their horror to dizzy heights. Besides, they always find an overcoat-wearing stalker (Dev Kumar) behind them. Involvement of a dreaded criminal known as Black Cobra also comes to their knowledge. How Ajay and Nisha are able to save themselves and bringing the real criminal to justice forms the remaining part of the story.

Khel Khel Mein (simply in the course of some friendly game) is a very interesting story which starts with college pranks, college romance and two boys becoming friends after initial fight. The real story takes off with the prank of the extortion letter and then the narrative turns into a speedy one despite songs and dances appearing in-between. Director Ravi Tandon has ably directed the script of Sachin Bhowmick and has not allowed the audience to feel even an ounce of boredom throughout the movie. Right from the carefree college life of the principal characters to the suspense and thrill, everything including the song-dance and romance entertains. Satyen Kappu’s comedy is also admirable tickling the funny bone of the viewer.

Dialogues (by Kader Khan) and other technical aspects are neither very good nor bad.

R.D. Burman has composed very good music for the movie with the lyrics of Gulshan Bawra using the voices of Asha Bhonsle, Kishore Kumar and Shailendra Singh. Songs like Khullam Khulla Pyar Karenge Hum Dono and Ek Main Aur Ek Tu are still popular. Other songs including Humne Tumko Dekha Tumne Humko Dekha Aise sung by Shailendra Singh are also good.

Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh who were destined to become real life couple in due course of time, have done very well and it’s the on-screen chemistry of Rishi-Neetu pair which gives this thriller movie a romantic flavour. Seeing a very young Rishi Kapoor in this movie, it becomes really very difficult to believe that today exactly one year has passed since this extra-ordinarily charming actor left for his heavenly abode. Among others, Rakesh Roshan, Aruna Irani, Iftekhar, Dev Kumar, Janaki Das, Satyen Kappu, Lalita Pawar etc. have played their respective parts quite satisfactorily.

Summing up, Khel Khel Mein is a complete value for money movie which is both hilarious and thrilling in a single package. Just watch it for sheer entertainment and you won’t find any reason to regret.

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I love my India ? Childish !

Music director Shravan left for his heavenly abode on 22.04.2021. This review is a tribute to him.

Two slogans are usually found as floating on the air in India – the first one is in Hindi which is Mera Bhaarat Mahaan (my great India) and the second one is in English which is I Love My India. Producer-director Subhash Ghai made a full-fledged movie by writing the script on the basis of that second slogan only. This entertaining movie presenting a childish interpretation of I Love My India is Pardes (1997).images (1)Pardes (foreign land) is the story of Kishorilaal (Amrish Puri) who is an NRI settled in US but has been nurturing the love for his motherland, i.e., India in his heart despite living away for it. Arjun (Shah Rukh Khan) is his foster son who has grown up with his real son Rajeev (Apoorva Agnihotri). Sorry to find most of his family members including his son as completely coloured in Western culture, Kishorilaal decides to arrange such a bride for his son who is soaked in Indian culture and values that through her the desired Indian Samsakaaras and life values reach his son and the generation next as well.

Kishorilaal’s quest for such a bride finds a perfect choice in Ganga (Mahima Chaudhary), the daughter of his childhood buddy Suraj (Alok Nath) who is living in India. He sends both Rajeev and Arjun to the house of Suraj to see Ganga and confirm that matrimonial alliance. However after the engagement of Rajeev and Ganga in India, Kishorilaal insists that prior to the wedding Ganga visits US and spends some time with his family in order to familiarize with her in-laws as well as the environment there. And there starts the trouble. Several undesirable things come to Ganga’s notice and she has to flee from US with the help of Arjun. Shortly, she is able to find out that Arjun, not Rajeev, deserves to be her life partner. Kishorilaal also realizes that it’s incorrect to cut the Indian girl from her roots and compel her to take root in a foreign soil.images.jpgThe idea behind the movie is definitely good and the conclusion rendered is agreeable. It’s a lesson for those parents of Indian girls who feel that by sending their girl abroad through her marriage with an NRI, they will be arranging a happy and prosperous life for her. Even when the boy’s family is wealthy and the boy earns well, it may not always be advisable because if the boy has grown up abroad, his personality and psyche must have been groomed according to the environment prevailing there and the girl brought up in India may not be able to adjust with him as well as in the family of the in-laws. Finally, mental adjustment matters the most in the marriage of a girl and not the wealth and the luxuries of her husband or her in-laws. But !

But Subhash Ghai who was considered an expert in making formulaic movies during that period, has not done proper justice to the story idea. To justify his theme and the conclusion of the story, he has taken different points and facets of that to the extremes and reduced many characters (in both the Indian and the foreign milieu) to mere caricatures. Love for India cannot be proved by shouting I Love My India loud (as done through a song of the movie). This love should reflect through understanding the Indian values and way of life. And it’s here where the movie falls flat on its face.

There are several ridiculous things in the first half of the movie in which the story moves at a snail’s pace. The most ridiculous of them  (at which I was beating my head in the cinema hall) is the Kabaddi match played between the two teams who are staking their claims on Ganga in order to take her away as the daughter-in-law of the respective families. The bet is that whosoever wins the match will take away Ganga through her marriage with a boy of the team. Such a laughable stock has been presented in a movie made on such a brilliant theme !18931-Pardes (1997)Arjun’s character appears to be selfish in the first half when he tries to convince Ganga for marrying his buddy Rajeev by telling lies as well as hiding certain truths about him from her because he is burdened by the obligations of Kishorilaal and willing to shift to India forever through his help only. His developing tender feelings in his heart for Rajeev’s would-be bride is also not convincing and in a way contradictory to his behaviour and attitude.

The would-be bride’s family agrees to send their daughter to the house of her would-be in-laws abroad, this itself is hard to digest. Though the filmmaker has clarified that they’re not at all willing to do so but submit to Kishorilaal’s insistence for that, nevertheless it appears to be quite unlikely. Considering the later developments in the story, their naivety in this regard appears to be impractical.Pardes Movie Dialogues & PosterThe second half of the movie is fast-paced with many twists and turns but they appear to be imposed to justify the case of the filmmaker and not evolving with naturalness. Personally I don’t feel that smoking and drinking make a bad boy. All the same, a good wife is able to make her husband (if otherwise he’s nice) get rid of such bad things after marriage also. As far as his promiscuity is concerned, this fact also appears to be suddenly thrown at the face of the audience (as well as the heroine). The boy’s father’s ignorance of this kind of nature of his son is a serious issue (especially when he’s bringing a girl from India to US and allowing her to spend time with his son prior to wedding) which the filmmaker has neglected.

The climax has also been dealt with in typical Subhash Ghai style which entertains but doesn’t impress. The heroine elopes with the hero without any love in her heart for him which doesn’t make much sense. In the end, the whole stuff of the movie appears to be something having pious intentions behind but not executed properly and honestly.

This lavishly made movie is technically superior. The only flaw in this regard is its excessive length. The editor and the director should have curtailed its length by at least 30 minutes by removing many unnecessary sequences. The overall form of the movie renders an impression that it was made under the hangover of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge (1995). However every movie cannot become DDLJ even with certain similarities in the story and the lavish style of filmmaking.

Nadeem Shravan have composed very good music for the movie. I Love My India is somewhat over the top. But certain others songs – Do Dil Mil Rahe Hain, Dil Ye Dil, Zara Tasveer Se Tu Nikal Kar Saamne Aa Meri Mehbooba etc. are very melodious and heart-winning.

Shah Rukh Khan has done well replicating his DDLJ act in many scenes. Amrish Puri despite his confusing characterization, has also done very well in the author-backed role. He has also thrown glimpses of his role in DDLJ especially in the beginning as well as the ending part of the movie. The supporting cast is well in place except those characters who have been portrayed in a caricaturesque manner. Debutantes Apoorva Agnihotri and Mahima Chaudhary have delivered admirable performances. Mahima Chaudhary looks quite pretty. I did not find her as that good-looking in any other movie.

All in all, this formula-studded movie which was a box office hit also, is quite entertaining but does not do justice to its noble theme because it deals with the love for one’s motherland in a childish manner. The treatment of the subject is melodramatic for a major part of the movie. Love for the motherland should reflect in one’s attitude and deeds. It’s not possible by shouting I Love My India from the rooftop of one’s house or by singing and dancing on a song containing these words.

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