By reading the title of this review, the name of the movie which flashes in the minds of the new generation viewers is Farha Khan’s blockbuster movie – Om Shanti Om (2007) because the story of OSO contained love, killing, rebirth and prevalence of justice by booking of the culprit in the next incarnation of the victims. While acknowledging the entertainment value of OSO, I opine that it was overhyped and the out of proportion commercial success that it got was more due to hype and less due to its quality. It completely lacked originality, borrowing several scenes from different movies and lifting the climax straightaway from Bimal Roy’s classic movie – Madhumati (1958). Today I am reviewing an old movie which contained all the above mentioned ingredients but which is leagues ahead of Om Shanti Om in terms of plot, its treatment and music. This multi-starrer movie is Kudrat (1981) whose story revolves around its heroine – Hema Malini who has turned 69 today.Kudrat (nature) starts with the arrival of Chandramukhi (Hema Malini) with her parents to Shimla and to the pleasant surprise of her parents, an old friend of her mother has also come over there with her young son, Dr. Naresh (Vinod Khanna) who is a psychiatrist. Naresh and Chandramukhi become friends and Naresh silently starts feeling love for Chandramukhi in his heart. However a trouble starts taking place with Chandramukhi. She starts experiencing nightmares. A dream that frequently occurs to her is her chasing someone and then getting entangled in the hanging roots of a huge banyan tree. Further, she finds many places and people as quite familiar to her though she has never been to Shimla before (except when she was just an infant as told by her parents). Besides, she gets fascinated to the public prosecutor in the city court – Mohan (Rajesh Khanna) and in a state of something like seizure, she starts calling Mohan as Maadho and herself as Paaro. As she is undergoing fits time and again, it’s a challenge for her friend, Naresh to correctly diagnose her problem and then cure it.
Naresh uses hypnotism and makes Chandramukhi to revisit the bygone phase of her life. However by default, in that hypnotic state of hers, Chandramukhi reaches back to her previous birth when she was Paaro and was in love with Maadho (now Mohan in this incarnation). Maadho’s sister, Satto (Aruna Irani) was her best friend and she was living happily with her father (Satyen Kappu) in a nearby village. Through this experiment and talking to Satto who is still alive, Naresh comes to know that she was raped and killed by someone. Besides, her beau, Maadho had died even before her death. Knowing that Mohan is none else but Maadho of the previous incarnation, Naresh seeks his help to cure Chandramukhi (who was Maadho’s sweetheart Paaro in that birth). By meeting Chandramukhi frequently, Mohan feels himself as in love with her despite the fact that he is supposed to marry Karuna (Priya Rajvansh) who is a lawyer and the daughter of Mohan’s godfather, Chaudhary Janak Singh (Raaj Kumar). When Mohan invites Chandramukhi and Naresh to a party thrown by Chaudhary Janak Singh (Raaj Kumar), she gets frightened like anything to see him and runs away with a terrible shriek.
Now Mohan and Naresh alongwith Satto who is still alive, starts digging the buried past related to Maadho’s death and Paaro’s going missing. By hypnotizing Chandramukhi again, they now know a lot about the crime and the culprit. But the problem is how to prove the guilt after so many years. There’s a dismissed (and drunkard) police constable (Keshto Mukherjee) still alive who knows something significant about Paaro’s death because her aggrieved father had lodged an FIR in the local police station for her disappearance and her dead body was never found. Satto, Mohan and Naresh also seek the help of a holy man (Raj Mehra) who tells some relevant things to them with the help of Bhrigu Samhita (the holy code supposed to have been written by the great sage, Bhrigu Maharaaj).
Mohan gets the case of Paaro’s disappearance reopened and files a criminal suit in the local court against the supposed culprit on the basis of the evidences and the witnesses avaiable with him. After a gripping court-room drama and many twists in the story, justice finally prevails and the love-birds of the previous birth get united in this birth.This brilliant and intriguing story would have got messed up in the hands of an inefficient director. However fortunately, it was directed by one of the most proficient and respected directors of Indian cinema, Chetan Anand (the elder brother of Dev Anand and Vijay Anand) who has handled very well not only the intricate script but also the high profile star cast. He has done justice to the roles of all the actors including Raaj Kumar, Hema Malini, Rajesh Khanna, Vinod Khanna and Priya Rajvansh and presented the story on the screen in the most interesting manner.
Right from beginning, the wire of suspense starts enveloping the viewer and releases him / her only when the movie is over. The mystery first gets folded and thereafter unfolded on a layer-by-layer basis and keeps the viewer as thoroughly engrossed.The seasoned director has not shown any hurry in compacting the story and taken his time in spreading its threads and developing its characters. Hence the story moves a bit slowly in the beginning reels but it is to be admitted that it does not bore even in that phase. And once the story picks up speed, the spectator is spellbound for the remaining duration of it. Even when the suspense regarding the nightmares of Paaro is revealed and the culprit is known to the audience, another suspense regarding the missing dead body and proving of the guilt in the court remains and therefore, the viewer cannot afford to leave the movie at any point.Alongwith suspense, there is a good dose of romance also in the movie which gets enhanced by the melodious songs composed by R.D. Burman and penned by seasoned lyricists like Anand Bakshi, Majrooh Sultaanpuri and Qateel Shifai. Hamen Tumse Pyar Kitna Ye Hum Nahin Jaante, Tune O Rangeele Kaisa Jaadu Kiya, Dukh Sukh Ki Har Ek Maala Kudrat Hi Piroti Hai, Saawan Nahin Bhaadon Nahin etc. are all very good songs. I will mention my two favourites from this album – 1. Chhodo Sanam Kaahe Ka Gham Hanste Raho Khilte Raho (sung by Kishore Kumar and Annette) which is a foot-tapper, 2. Sajti Hai Yun Hi Mehfil Rang Yun Hi Dhalne Do (sung by Asha Bhosle) which is a soulful song and should be listened to peacefully.
The cinematographer has able captured the beauty of Shimla and the picturesque scenes are a treat for the eyes. Besides, since the flash back (pertaining to the previous birth of the lead characters) belongs to the British rule in India, the milieu of that period has been very impressively brought alive on the screen for which the art director deserves a pat.
Chetan Anand has given all the principal actors ample opportunity to show their talent. Hema Malini and Vinod Khanna have emerged as the best performers. Raaj Kumar could not fully get rid of his mannerisms. Rajesh Khanna and Priya Rajvansh have disappointed. The court-room scenes have gone unnecessarily over the top due to Priya’s unnatural performance. Aruna Irani, Deven Varma, Keshto Mukherjee, Satyen Kappu etc. have impressed in their supporting roles.
Summing up, this reincarnation based drama is a spellbinding musical suspense thriller with a good dose of romance. While conveying my heartfelt birthday wishes to the evergreen dream-girl Hema Malini, I recommend this highly entertaining movie to both the suspense thriller audience and the romantic movie audience.
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