Question : An empty pond contains a single leaf. On each succeeding day the number of leaves in the pond doubles from that on the preceding day. If the pond is full of leaves on the 30th day, which day was this pond half-filled ?
Answer : On the 29th day.
The Malthusian theory of population has brought the world on the doorstep of the 29th day. As per this theory the foodgrain production increases with time as per the arithmetical progression, i.e., 1,2,3,4,5 …etc. whereas the population increases with time as per the geometric progression, i.e., 1,2,4,8,16 …etc. Quite naturally, the available foodgrain (say all kinds of resources necessary for the mankind) falls short to take care of the consumers at large. This theory also asserts that if human-beings don’t control their population growth, nature seeks its own recourse to restrict it through natural calamities taking a heavy toll of lives.
In a discussion, my dear friend Nishant Singh had termed population explosion as the biggest problem of India as well as the world. A few years back, a Pakistani movie – Bol had come, dealing with this issue caught in the web of outdated religious beliefs and bigotry. Bol (2011) raises a very pertinent question in the end that when killing is a crime, why producing a child (without being able to foster him / her) is not a crime. Acclaimed authoress, poetess, blogger and cine-reviewer Geetashree Chatterjee had penned an excellent review of Bol. However I am presenting the review of a very old Bollywood movie which also deals with the same issue and raises the same question. It’s Parivar (1968).Parivaar (family) is the story of Karam Chand (Om Prakash) who has a son, Gopal (Jeetendra) through his deceased wife and many daughters through his second wife, Bhaagwanti (Sulochana Chatterjee). He does not believe in family planning and believes in going ahead with expansion of his family. His second wife, i.e., Bhaagwanti treats her step-son, i.e., Gopal very badly and forces him to leave the house of his father. Gopal’s father is very much aggrieved by it (because he loves his son very much) but being a henpecked husband, he cannot do anything about it. Gopal becomes a doctor and gets a government job as well. Falling in love with Meena (Nanda) who is a girl from a different caste, he gets married to her despite opposition from the side of Meena’s parents. They start their family but quite wisely, decide to keep it restricted to two or maximum three children.On the other hand, the financial condition of Karam Chand’s family gets worse and worse with the passage of time because of limited income and several mouths to feed. He does not get any moral support from his insensible wife, Bhaagwanti who believes that it’s the duty of her husband to bring money to the house, irrespective of the means used. A licentious friend of Karam Chand, Deewaan Chand (Krishan Dhawan) takes advantage of this situation and traps the eldest daughter of Karam Chand, Sapna (Maadhavi) in his lusty web by extending monetary favour to herself and her mother. When Gopal and Meena come to know of it, they approach Bhaagwanti and try to open her eyes but instead of listening to them, she insults them and drives them out of her home.Gopal and Meena beget three children, two sons and a daughter. However the daughter who is very dear to Meena, does not survive. But instead of going for one more child, Meena decides to foster the children of others. The children of a wine-shop owner, Michael are adopted by them after he is arrested and sentenced to jail. They propagate family planning and enlighten the people with a traditional mindset regarding the ill-effects of unnecessarily large family where the resources to feed, clothe and educate the children fall short of the requirement. The side stories of their friendly couples, especially Seetaraam (Rajendra Nath) and Amba (Sarita Khatau) also run parallel to theirs, involving similar issues.Due to the ignorance of Karam Chand, crookedness of Deewaan Chand, insensibility of Bhaagwanti and immaturity of Sapna; the unfortunate day comes when Sapna gets pregnant through Deewaan Chand and seeing that this fact becomes known to her parents, commits suicide. Karam Chand kills Deewaan Chand but knowing this fact, Gopal confesses for the murder to save his father from the gallows. However the loving father does not allow his son to get punished for the crime committed by him. He interrupts the trial of Gopal and tells everything in the court, asserting that the way there is a punishment for killing, there should be some punishment for giving birth to children also when the capacity to become good parents is not there. He dies in the court itself and then Gopal has to shoulder the complete responsibility of the family left behind. In the ending scene, Meena who has hitherto been satisfied with being a housewife only, decides to do a job and increase the family earning to make both ends meet for everyone in the now extended family.Instead of being a hard-hitting movie like Bol, Parivaar is a regular potboiler with the intermixing of all the usual Bollywood formulae. All the same, it’s a laudable thing to make a movie with an exemplary message without deviating from the main purpose of entertaining the audience. It was the time when a lot of effort was invested in writing good (and original) scripts for the movies and specific story departments were maintained by reputed banners. That’s how such good stories used to come to the fore. Since the box office could not be kept out of sight, the stories were mixed with all the entertaining spices of romance, comedy and music. The same is the case with this movie which entertains as well as provokes a thought.Technically the movie is good though the balance in the main story and the side tracks is not perfect. All the same, it is nowhere boring and not unduly long also. Kalyanji Anandji have composed good music for the movie with the help of beautiful lyrics of Gulshan Bawra. Aaj Hai Do October Ka Din, Aaj Ka Din Hai Bada Mahaan (Lata) is an inspiring song dedicated to two great leaders of our nation – Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shaastri. Among other songs, the best song is – Hamne Jo Dekhe Sapne, Sach Ho Gaye Wo Apne (Lata-Mahendra Kapoor).Performances are good. Both Jeetendra and Nanda have done well alongwith good on-screen chemistry between them. Om Prakash as the ignorant father who could not first control the size of his family and thereafter its fate, is the best performer. Sulochana Chatterjee as Bhaagwanti has also done quite impressively. Rajendra Naath and Sarita Khatau (she is now-a-days known as Sarita Joshi) have generated enough laughs. Complete supporting cast including the child artists have done justice to the assigned roles. The badman of Bollywood in that period, Man Mohan is in the cameo appearance of a kind-hearted taxi-driver and he also impresses.
Those who have seen (and liked) Bol, can watch Parivaar on CD / satellite channel / internet and contrast this formula-based flick with that outstanding piece of art. Both contain glaring similarities but Parivaar is a family drama with an entertainment value. Its story was written (by Brij Katyal) decades back whereas the maker of Bol has made his movie in the light of the milieu present in Pakistan, hence the similarities in these two movies might be due to coincidence only.
I wholeheartedly recommend Parivaar to one and all.
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