This review is dedicated to Gulzar whose 83rd birthday falls on 18th August. While conveying my wishes to the great litterateur and filmmaker, I am presenting the review of this classic movie made by him four and a half decades ago.
Even when making meaningful movies, the sincere Indian filmmakers used to falter because they could depict the problem realistically and effectively but could not furnish any viable or practical solution to the same. Perhaps their brains could not go beyond the problem and reach the solution whereas (barring certain ticklish problems which we can consider as exceptions) in most of the cases, the solutions are inherent in the problems themselves because a lock cannot come into existence without its key. In Parichay (1972), we find an excellent movie in which the filmmaker has not only dealt with an acute problem but also come up with its solution. And the maker of this movie, i.e., Gulzar has not dealt with the issue dryly. He has chosen an utterly sensitive story containing intricacies of relationships whose finale leaves an indelible imprint on the heart of the spectator.Parichay (introduction) deals with the problem of naughty children. During our life, we come across several families complaining for the naughtiness of the children in them. However how many of them try to dissect the problem and understand its etiology with honesty on their part ? A child is another form of God. He is born innocent. If he has gone naughty or trouble-maker or obstinate or arrogant, then the guardians cannot escape their responsibility for this burning problem in their home. Parichay tells that to work out a viable solution to this problem when and where it exists, the solver has to go to its root and understand its background and its evolution from the beginning point to its present state. Once the mechanism of the lock is under his grasp, he can very well design the appropriate key to unlock it and allow the closed joys to come out for good.Parichay starts when an unemployed urban youth – Ravi (Jeetendra) gets the temporary job of a tutor in a village where his maternal uncle (A.K. Hangal) and maternal aunt (Leela Mishra) live. He has to tutor a group of children who are the grandchildren of a rich landlord – Rai Saheb (Pran) who lives with his sister – Sati (Veena). The children needing tuition are four but actually these are five siblings with Ramaa (Jaya Bhaduri), the grown-up one, being the eldest. They are orphan because their parents are dead. Their father – Neelesh (Sanjeev Kumar) had married against the wish of his father who being a stern patriarch, did not accept it and expelled his son and daughter-in-law from his home. Neelesh lived his life outside his father’s home in extreme poverty and once his wife was dead, the grief-stricken himself remained sick also for the remaining part of his life. His children took their grandfather only as the reason behind the plight and the untimely demise of their father and though being devoid of any alternative before them, they came to live with their grandfather after their father had passed away, they could never give forgive him. And this hatred only is visible in their obstinance, arrogance and naughtiness.
The naughtiness of the children targets the tutors kept by their grandpa for them and prior to Ravi’s taking over the job, many teachers have been made to run away. Ravi understands on the first day of his job itself that whatever is visible is only the tip of the iceberg and there is a lot to know for him if at all he has to perform his job successfully. He befriends the children and gradually comes to know everything that is buried in the past but raises its head in the undesirable conduct of the children. He is able to feel the hatred filled in the young hearts for their grandpa though he is not that a bad person. Nor was he the enemy of his the only son (that is, Neelesh, the children’s father). Whatever happened because he’s always been a man of principles and has never been ready to compromise with them. Ravi turns the hatred in the young hearts into love, respect and virtues and their naughtiness, arrogance and obstinance evaporate in a few days. The ice between the grandpa and the grandchildren gets broken and finally, the stage arrives where they are no longer strangers for each other. Their introduction (Parichay) has taken place. Ravi gets a job in the city and moves out in the absence of Rai Saheb. However meantime, love has also blossomed in the hearts of Ravi and Ramaa which becomes known to Rai Saheb and he ensures their union.Though the plot is inspired by The Sound of Music (1965), Gulzar has presented a story which is very much Indian in every aspect. Every frame of this movie smells of the Indian soil. There is a lot of (healthy) humour in the movie but amidst the humour too, there is an undercurrent of sentiments. It is a relationships-based story and the web of relationships has been designed very well by the script-writer. The audience does not remain aloof from the characters and the things happening with them and its the attachment of the audience with the characters and the incidents that makes this movie a winner. The movie is studded with touching episodes many of whom are able to make the viewer’s eyes humid. The filmmaker has made the audience grasp the essence of the movie that children need love, care and above all, understanding of their feelings. Punishment may be a deterrent for them to abstain from undesirable conduct but it cannot cleanse their hearts which have been soiled by their bitter experiences. Corporal punishment may be even counter-productive. To cure a disease, you have to administer the antidote of the causing substance.The movie deals with the love of the young pair with utmost subtlety and as per my understanding, subtle and untold love only is the real, the sincere and the deepest love. It does not remain on the surface. It reaches the bottom of the heart. When love is sincere and pure, it gets conveyed to the beloved even when not told in express terms (believe it or not, it’s true). The eyes speak, the cheeks speak, the breaths speak, the body language speaks. It cannot remain as concealed.
The ending scene is very touching when the pair gets united on the railway station and Rai Saheb feels that the dignity of the elders is in leaving the young lovers alone, i.e., not embarrassing them by their presence.The movie boasts of great performances. Jumping Jack Jeetendra has delivered one of the best performances of his acting career. Jaya Bhaduri has also done well. Pran is all pervasive in the movie on the strength of his powerful performance. All the child artists have rendered heart-conquering performances, especially the very little Master Raju. The complete supporting cast (including Sanjeev Kumar) is perfectly in place. Vinod Khanna is hilarious in his cameo as Ravi’s friend.The story has a rural milieu. The beauty of the village life is scattered in every nook and corner of this movie. There’s simplicity to the maximum without even an ounce of lavishness. The movie is interesting throughout and its duration is perfect. R.D. Burman’s music contains unforgettable songs like Beeti Na Bitaai Raina (in the voice of Lata and Bhupinder) and Saaare Ke Saare Gaama Ko Lekar Gaate Chale (Asha). However the song which is immortal for me is Musafir Hoon Yaaro, Na Ghar Hai Na Thikaana, Mujhe Chalte Jaana Hai, Bas Chalte Hi Jaana which has been sung by Kishore Kumar. Gulzar himself has written beautiful lyrics for all the songs.Gulzar is now considered a legend of Indian cinema (and Indian literature as well). Parichay is a masterpiece by him. No lover of quality cinema should miss it.
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