In India, several poor or average movies go on to become commercial hits (even super-hits). Well, depends upon the taste of the audience. But the more painful fact for the cine-lovers and purists like me is that several superior quality movies which not only score on the front of cinematic excellence but also on the entertainment front, find themselves in the list of flops. The failure of quality movies plays the principal role in blocking development of quality cinema and making of admirable movies. The list of such movies is countless. Today I am reviewing one such multi-starrer movie which was a box office flop despite casting sellable stars in its lead roles, high entertainment quotient, melodious music and technical superiority. It’s Rajput (1982).Rajput (the descendants of the warrior race or the people from the royal lineage) is a movie directed by Vijay Anand who can unarguably be considered as one of the finest film directors Bollywood has ever seen. He assembled a great star cast for this movie consisting of Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Rajesh Khanna, Vinod Khanna, Ranjeeta and Tina Munim. He also got a sufficient budget from the producers, Mushir-Riaz to render the movie an aristocratic look and above all a very strong and thick storyline to accommodate the high profile cast, the good music and the impressive action sequences. He himself also left no stone unturned in making an interesting, impressive and memorable movie. But the box office result was not as it should have been.
The story of Rajput starts with two families belonging to the warrior race (the Rajputs). The first family is of Thakur Sangraam Singh (Om Shivpuri) who has two sons – Maanu (Dharmendra) and Bhaanu (Vinod Khanna) whereas the second family is of Thakur Prataap Singh (Rehman) who has a daughter – Jaanaki (Hema Malini). There is a very old feud between these two families but as always happens in Indian movies – Maanu and Jaanaki fall in love with each other. Jaanaki gets pregnant through Maanu but their marriage cannot materialize and she is married by her father (ignorant of her pregnancy) to a police officer – Dhirendra (Rajesh Khanna). When the groom and his companions (Baaraat) are going back to their place with the bride in the sedan, they are attacked by the bandits who are trying to snatch the bride (i.e., Jaanaki) away from them. Dhirendra fails their attempt but meantime he gets a false impression as if Jaanaki has been raped by a bandit. In fact, that bandit was killed by Maanu who gets arrested and sentenced with long imprisonment by the court. Dhirendra comes to know of his wife’s pregnancy and considers it a result of the rape that had taken place with her (as per his own knowledge and belief). However Jaanaki herself tells him that the pregnancy is the result of her love for someone else. Thereafter Dhirendra who actually loves his wife very much, avoids conjugal relationship with her but does not allow it to be known to anybody in his household. Jaanaki gives birth to a son who is loved by his foster father – Dhirendra very much.
The bandits who had attacked Dhirendra, Jaanaki and the group (Baaraat) belong to a former king of an erstwhile princely state who is not ready to accept the reality even after the merger of the state with the Union of India after the independence of the nation. This person is but natural another Rajput (a person having royal blood in his veins) – Jaipaal Singh (Ranjeet). He is licentious and one day he rapes Bhaanu’s sweetheart – Kamli (Ranjeeta). Considering herself as impure now (from the viewpoint of becoming Bhaanu’s wife), Kamli becomes Jaipaal’s keep and gives birth to his son. Jaipaal is still extracting money from the people considering himself as still the king and the people of the locality as still his subjects. Moreover, he is a clandestine bandit too, looting the people in the darkness of night while maintaining his clean image before the government authorities in the daylight. This continuous harassment of the people of the area leads Bhaanu to take up arms against the attackers. He rechristens himself as Bhawaani and becomes a bandit himself. However he is not a bandit for the commonfolk. He becomes a bandit to take on the real bandits. Now the frequent tussles keep on taking place between the real bandits led by Jaipaal and the modern Robinhood – Bhaanu now known as Bhawaani
Years pass. The son of Jaanaki has become a schoolgoing boy. Jaanaki has patched up with her husband – Dhirendra and living a happily married life in her home. Dhirendra has also elevated in his rank and still in search of the bandits who could not have been eliminated over these years and still they are a terror in the area. Maanu is released from jail after his sentence is complete and happens to meet Jaanaki. He is glad to see that he has a lovely son and his foster father – Dhirendra loves him very much. He is also glad to see Jaanaki’s marital bliss. Now, after finding out that his younger brother – Bhaanu has become a bandit to take on the real bandits, he joins hands with him.
One day Bhaanu suddenly comes across Kamli and the painful tale of her rape and giving birth to a son becomes known to him. He forces Jaipaal to marry Kamli and acknowledge her son as his own. Meantime, the legitimate daughter of Jaipaal – Jayakaamini (Tina Munim) who had been studying abroad, comes back to India. To teach Bhaanu a lesson as well as to misguide the police, Jaipaal arranges a false attack of bandits on himself and his people but Bhaanu takes advantage of this situation and checkmates Jaipaal by kidnapping Jayakaamini during the pandemonium of that false attack turning into a real fight between his gang and Jaipaal’s gang. Jayakaamini first hates her kidnapper but after coming to know of the reality of her father and Bhaanu’s endeavours to protect innocents from the loots of her father, she starts loving him. The action-packed climax culminates in Maanu’s sacrifice in his bid to save the life of Jaanaki’s son (whose biological father is himself only) and elimination of Jaipaal and his gang.The readers of this review might be thinking that when I have revealed the whole story here, what’s the use of watching the movie. However reading the story in the few paragraphs above and watching the movie on the screen are altogether different experiences. This story is much better, interesting, moving and impressive when watched on the screen. I was fortunate to watch it on the big screen but even on the small screen, this thrilling and sentimental movie is a treat to watch. Technically the movie is just superb and all the fight and chase sequences have been executed with finesse. The production value is high.The movie is so entertaining throughout its duration that its length is nowhere felt. The skilfully written screenplay does not contain anything superfluous and studded with not only characters but also interesting events. The impressive dialogues are the additional tassels on the narrative. This movie is a showcase of the talent of the director – Vijay Anand and a means to understand how and why he has amassed so much respect as a film-director.
All the principal male stars – Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna and Rajesh Khanna have done well in association with the female leads – Hema Malini, Tina Munim and Ranjeeta (today, i.e.,22nd September is Ranjeeta’s birthday). Ranjeet as the villain and the complete supporting cast have also done justice to their roles. The child artist has also impressed as the little son of Jaanaki. His dialogue – Hum Rajput Hain (we are the royal blood) is heart-winning.Melodious tunes composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal with the beautiful lyrics of Anand Bakshi is the icing on the cake. My favourite song (which always proves to be a tear-jerker for me) is Kahaaniyaan Sunaati Hai Pawan Aati Jaati (Rafi). The other songs – Mere Sang Sang Aaya Teri Yaadon Ka Mela (Kishore Kumar), Bhaagi Re Bhaagi Brij Baala (a beautiful Holi song), Yaheen Pe Humko Jeena Hai Yaheen Pe Humko Marna Hai, Doli Ho Doli (a parting song for a newly wedded girl) are also very impressive.The last two songs have been given voice by Mahendra Kapoor, Asha Bhonsle, Hemlata, Dilraj Kaur, Manhar Udhaas etc.
If you want to watch a thoroughly interesting multi-starrer movie with a brilliant mix of action and sentiments, Rajput is the right choice for you. It has good repeat value and one who likes it will always be tempted to watch it again.
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