My regular readers know very well that I am a great admirer of Late Sanjeev Kumar whom I consider the greatest ever actor of Indian cinema. His birthday falls on 9th July. He was not slim-trim or fit-faat like the other heroes (leave aside today’s gym-freak heroes). He was obese. Nevertheless, by God’s grace, he had got such a handsome personality that he appeared quite dashing and perfect to play a romantic hero on the silver screen.Today I am reviewing a light movie of his which stars Reena Roy in double role. It’s Ladies Tailor (1981). This long-forgotten movie is unique in the sense that it features the hero of the movie in the role of a tailor. Perhaps no other mainstream Bollywood movie has featured the hero in such a role. Our hero is specialized in stitching clothes meant for ladies only. Besides, this movie is set-up in Lucknow and all the characters are Muslims. Hence the treatment of the plot in Muslim milieu renders another uniqueness to the movie. It’s an interesting movie, no doubt.
Our ladies’ tailor hero is Mehboob (Sanjeev Kumar) who is an employee in a high-profile tailoring shop in Mumbai and stitches the clothes for the Bollywood heroines for the requirements of different movies. However he is not very happy being away from his family. So he decides to return to his native city – Lucknow and live with his family, earning a living by opening a tailoring shop there itself. He comes across the heroine – Nikhat (Reena Roy) in his train journey who is travelling with her friends. When he is home, his widow mother and younger sister are too happy with his return and he wows never to go away from them now. He opens his tailoring shop in Lucknow with the help of his friend – Salim Beg (Pran). Now the practical problem props up for him.
Lucknow being the traditional Muslim city, the Burqa-clad Muslim women are not interested in giving the measurements of their physique to him or even showing him their faces. Finally, he comes to the conclusion that if at all, he has to run his shop and earn a living through his tailoring profession, he cannot afford to look young. Hence he masquerades as an old man and naturally, now the ball of his business starts rolling because neither the customer ladies nor their husbands (or fathers) have any objection in their coming out of the veil before a father-figure, i.e., Mehboob in old man’s get-up. Mehboob tailors the garments of Nikhat also but when he goes to her residence to deliver the garments himself, he happens to meet her look-alike elder (unmarried) sister – Aamra (Reena Roy in another role). He also comes to know of some other colourful characters in that house, viz. Aasif (Deven Varma), Amjad (Amjad Khan) and Shehnaaz (Aruna Irani). Aamra is very much impressed by the decent personality of Mehboob and he even allows her younger sister, Nikhat to attend a fashion show with him outside the town. As expected, Nikhat and Mehboob (in his actual, young form) fall in love. To maintain his dual personality before Aamra, Mehboob frames the false story of his younger brother who is irresponsible and stray by nature. Aamra also starts liking Mehboob in his old version and decides to marry Nikhat to his (so-called) younger brother.
Interesting twists keep on coming in the story till one day Aasif is murdered. Thereafter Mehboob’s dual life is also exposed to the family of his sweetheart. Now Mehboob who is finding himself unable to make eye-contact with Aamra who is now arrested and tried for the murder of Aasif (her younger brother having a bit abnormal personality), has to catch the real murderer and regain his own respect as well as the honour of his family. Aamra proceeds on Haj in the ending scene.
Ladies Tailor is more or less a remake of Shammi Kapoor’s classic comedy – Professor (1962). Though the Muslim milieu chosen for the story makes it different, still the basic grains are the same. It is definitely a couple of notches below the classic movie of Shammi Kapoor, however it renders a decent entertainment. The beginning of the movie features many popular Bollywood heroines in guest appearance (because the hero is tailoring their garments in Mumbai) which adds value to the movie.
The director has been able to realistically portray the hitch of the traditional Muslim society in allowing their women to come out of the veil before the outside men and that way an element of novelty has been inserted into the otherwise old story. The narrative flows smoothly and there is no boredom for the major part of the movie. The ending scene when Aamra moves to the ship to proceed on Haj, seeking farewell from Nikhat and Mehboob, has also been made interesting through innovative thinking.
It’s the movie of Sanjeev Kumar (despite the double role of Reena Roy) who has carried it on his shoulders. Despite obesity, he looks dashing and impressive. Among others, he has got ample support from Pran who has infused life into the character of jolly-nature Salim Beg. The traditional Lucknow of the eighties has been portrayed in the movie in a lively manner. The art director has done his job proficiently. And the script-writer has implanted the famous Tehzeeb (culture) of Lucknow in the story with finesse. Laxmikant Pyarelal have given music according to the mood of the movie. The best song is – Ab Yeh Jaana Ki Ise Kehte Hain Aana Dil Ka (sung by Rafi and Lata).
Overall, it’s a light-hearted movie which will be liked by all Sanjeev Kumar fans as well as the regular movie buffs who are seeking a nice timepass.
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