Now-a-days, it’s just a routine to openly discuss the male-female or husband-wife relationships without any prejudices or biases. However it was difficult to imagine such a free and frank Hindi movie a few three decades back. In 1980, a movie came which created a lot of uproar, controversy and discussions in this regard. This movie is Ek Baar Phir which was the maiden venture of the producer-director Vinod Pande. And it gave Hindi cinema an outstanding actress belonging to the genre of Shabana Aazmi and Smita Patil, i.e., Deepti Naval whose birthday is today, i.e., 3rd February.Ek Baar Phir (once again) tells the story of a middle class girl who is too glad to be married to a popular Bollywood film star. However soon after her marriage, the realities of her married life as well as the real face of her husband starts getting revealed to her. Herself, being a clean-hearted girl of good moral character and full of Indian virtues and adorable values, is taken aback by the newly emerging facts she hadn’t even dreamt of while getting married. Concidentially she happens to visit Britain and there she comes across a struggling student who is an artist too. By interacting with him, she is able to discover the truth that he is the kind of a person that she always wanted to see as her man. Then she takes a bold decision about her life in general and her married life in particular.Ek Baar Phir was by all means a path-breaking movie in that period of more than three decades back. At that time, the Indian psyche was not at all ready to see a woman on the screen as the typical Hindi movie heroine who leaves her husband and moves alongwith somebody else (though years back Mumtaz had done a similar thing in Aapki Kasam (1974), leaving her doubting husband Rajesh Khanna but that was the story of a different genre). By showing that, director Vinod Pande had taken a big risk but that was the first genuine step in the way of woman-lib in Hindi movies (say Indian movies).The treatment of the story is utterly realistic and the movie got critical accolades because of the brilliant direction. The heartlessness of the Bollywood heroes and the cruel system prevailing there has been shown on the screen with utmost sensitivity. A few decades back, neither the banks were giving loans for making movies (as it was not considered an industry) nor the underworld was supposed to be financing them. So the financial position of certain not-so-well-off moviemakers was so precarious that sometimes they had to fall to the level of selling their houses. And because of such kind of a situation, they had to even fall at the feet of the egoistic and money-minded superstars. That was the time of super-stardom of certain heroes which was misused by them (and their secretaries too) to exploit the poor producers.
However the biggest plus point of the movie is its honest examination of husband-wife relationships which makes it a winner all the way. For the first time in a Hindi movie, it was shown that the wife was not ready to adjust with her husband’s vices and not ready to be carried away by his success, richness and social stature as well. She wants to see her husband as a man of principles and ideals (just like her) and is not content just by becoming the proverbial Cindrella who has got the prince of her dreams. She finds his heartlessness, money-mindedness and loose character (womanizing when away from her due to outdoor shooting) as disgusting.
Even bolder thing shown by the revolutionary director Vinod Pande was that when the good wife, being disenchanted with the husband whom she can no longer respect in her heart, finds a man on her wavelength, she decides to break-free out of the suffocating wedlock and move alongwith her newly found love without caring for the obloquy of her (and her family of birth as well as her in-laws). Prior to this movie, an Indian woman was always expected to make sacrifices and endure everything. This was the movie which openly declared her right to evaluate, choose and decide for the first time in the history of Hindi movies. That’s why I have termed this movie as a path-breaking movie, a trend-setter for (male-female) relationship-based Hindi movies.
The only thing that I felt as not proper on the part of the wife in the story that she does not properly communicate her resentment to her husband regarding his objectionable activities and approach towards life. In my view, had the director shown free and frank communication from her side before her taking the bold step to leave her husband, the movie would have been a flawless one. However this flaw does not snatch the flare of being an outstanding movie from Ek Baar Phir.
One of the most natural actresses of Indian cinema, Deepti Naval showcases her abundant talent in the first lead role of her cine-career itself. It’s, by and large, her movie and she has infused life into the role of the sensitive but suffocated wife. Suresh Oberoi has been one of the most underrated actors of Bollywood. He is simply brilliant in the role of the selfish, infidel, insensitive and money-minded husband. Pradeep Verma has also performed well in the role of the wife’s newly found love.
Music by Raghunath Seth is admirable. The best song is the Bhupinder-Anuradha Paudwal duet – Ye Paudhe Ye Patte Ye Phool Ye Hawayen. The other songs too are quite good. The beautiful lyrics have been written by the director Vinod Pande himself.
Cinematography, editing and other technical aspects of the movie are also up to the mark. Overall the movie is able to keep the viewer focussed despite the emotional plot which does not contain many twists and turns. It’s definitely an interesting saga, well-narrated.
Any movie buff who is willing to know how the woman of Hindi movies got herself free from the shackles imposed upon her by the stale traditions and the patriarchal psyche continuing for ages and a revolutionary change set in three and a half decades back for the Indian cinema, should not miss this movie. This movie is for all those who are interested in watching meaningful cinema.
© Copyrights reserved