Ravindra Jain is no more. The extra-ordinary composer and lyricist who was in a league of his own, left for his heavenly abode on 09.10.2015. But he will always live in the hearts of lovers of music and Hindi poetry. He was near blind by birth but never allowed his physical deficiency to overpower his inborn talent. He was not only a composer sticking to melody and Indian classical as well as folk music but also a brilliant Hindi poet and that’s why many of his compositions are based on the lyrics penned by him only. His works, both as a composer and as a lyricist, radiate the fragrance of Indian soil. After starting his journey in Bollywood from composing a song in 1972, the first big break that he got was Saudagar (1973) made by the prestigious Rajshri banner of Bollywood. Since then he became a regular music composer of the Rajshri banner whose movies always followed the tradition of simplicity and Indianness under the leadership of late Tarachand Barjatya, its founder. Later he composed music for the highly popular mythological serials like Raamayan and Krishna also. Talented singers like K.J. Yesudaas and Hemlata were given opportunities to sing for Hindi movies by him only. While paying my tribute to this unique and highly talented artiste, I am presenting my review of an old Hindi movie whose songs were composed by him. This simple but lovely movie made by the Rajshri banner only is Tapasya (1976).
Tapasya (penance / mortification) is based on a story penned by eminent Bengali litterateur Ashapoorna Devi. It tells the story of Indrani Sinha (Raakhee Gulzaar) aka Indu who is in love with Dr. Saagar Verma (Parikshit Saahni) but when the two are just about to tie the sacred knot with the consent of their guardians, Indu’s life takes a sudden tragic turn when her father passes away and the motherless family has none except Indu to look to. The tale of Tapasya is nothing but Indu’s sacrifice for her younger siblings who were going through their childhood at the time of their father’s demise. The elder sister plays the role of both mother and father for her younger sisters and brother only to come across their selfishness and ungratefulness years later. Her sacrifice is equally matched by the sacrifice of her beau Saagar who waits for her for years and years allowing his youth to pass with bachelorhood forced on him. Indu’s Tapasya ends when she gets united with Saagar in the end.
The movie has a North Indian setting but the story has been penned by a Bangla authoress, the screenplay has been written and directed by a Bengali director and the pivotal role has been played by an actress originally from Bengal only. Thus the total environment has a subtle Bengali touch. The movie is a low budget simple one but strikes a chord in the audience’s hearts. It touches and moves. It inspires and strengthens self-belief as well as the belief in the great Indian tradition of sacrificing own happiness for the sake of the family. Except some melodrama at certain places and following the wrong notion of well-educated and well-off females being selfish and ill-mannered, the movie is natural all the way right from start to finish.
I have a great respect for the director Anil Ganguly who has also directed gems like Kora Kaagaz (1974), Trishna (1978) and Humkadam (1980). He has done full justice to the story of the eminent Bangla authoress in his dual capacity of script-writer as well as director. Besides, nowhere has he deviated from the laudable Rajshri tradition of simplicity and a respect for the Indian family values. This simple movie keeps the viewers engrossed because the Indian middle class audience can easily relate to it. In those days at least, the belief of the Indian audience in the Indian family values as well as the life virtues was intact (now it has got diluted to a great extent in the wake of consumerism). That’s also one reason that this well-presented story won the hearts all over the nation.
The art director and the cinematographer have successfully maintained the air of simplicity as required for the milieu shown in the movie. Dialog by M.G. Hashmat are perfect for various scenes. The editor also has done his job well. It’s a compact movie.
In the promotion of the movie, there was a caption on the posters -‘ Raakhee in the role she was born to play ‘. And Raakhee’s mind-blowing performance in the pivotal role proves this assertion right. She virtually lived her role of Indu and quite deservingly won the Filmfare award for the best actress for her performance. Always an underrated actor – Parikshit Saahni is not far behind and he has lent able support to Raakhee in this heroine-centric movie. All others have also done their parts well. Asrani as the heroine’s younger brother deserves special praise because he has performed very well in a profound role coming out of his comedian image.
Now for the music. The beautiful lyrics of various songs have not been penned by Ravindra Jain as has been the case with many of his movies. The lyricist is the dialog-writer of this movie – M.G. Hashmat who has created poetry of high literary value for certain songs. However it’s Ravindra Jain only who strung the beautiful words in melodious compositions coming out of the Indian music tradition. Jo Raah Chuni Tune Usi Par Chalte Jaana Re (sung by Kishore Kumar) is the best song which tells the epitome of the story also and runs throughout the movie. Other songs are also admirable. My personal favourite is Kishore Kumar-Aarti Mukherjee duet – Do Panchhi Do Tinake Kaho Le Ke Chale Hain Kahaan.
Tapasya not only won critical acclaim but also was a commercial success. It also won the national award for the best film providing wholesome entertainment in 1975. Its remake – Ek Vivah Aisa Bhi (2008) could not be as impressive as the original. While paying my tribute to Ravindra Jain, I recommend this beautiful movie to one and all. Watch Tapasya and enter the world of simplicity and the Indian family values smelling the fragrance of Indian soil in every nook and corner of it.