I express my gratitude towards my dear friend and esteemed reviewer and blogger – Mazhar Nawaz for inspiring me to write this review. During my last visit to Bengaluru on 20.05.2012, I had a detailed discussion with him which included this movie also. Mazhar Bhai missed the story and the performance of Raaj Kumar in Karmayogi (1978) and I promised him to pen a review of this movie which I had seen long back on TV. Here comes the review.
In my review of Fashion (2008), I had referred to the concept of Sthit-Pragya as given in Bhagvad-Geeta which refers to a man maintaining his mental-balance in all times whether good or bad. This movie deals with another highly significant concept given in the highly revered book of Hinduism (Geeta) – the concept of Karma alongwith the connected concepts of Karma-Phala and Karmayoga.Lord Krishna says in Geeta that a man has a right over his deeds but not their results. He, therefore, should do his duty diligently without pondering over its outcomes. If the deeds are good, their outcomes will be positive. If the deeds are bad, their outcomes will, quite naturally, be negative. The fruits or the results of the deeds are never instant. They take their due course in materializing. Hence a person should be patient enough to wait for the results of his endeavours (specially when they are positive). And the best way to maintain patience is to be indifferent towards the fruits of your deeds. And one who believes in performing his duties with sincerity without thinking or getting impatient about the fruits / rewards, is called a Karmayogi. Karmayoga is, therefore, a detachment with one’s deed once it is over so that the doer is not eager about its result. A similar thing is said in the laws related to the activities of the subconscious mind that the detachment with the deed only leads to its success and any sort of attachment or chasing its result, may be counter-productive.
This theory of Karma (deed / effort) and Karma-Phala (reward of the deed) may sound impractical and not useful to many modern day people who go by common logic and feel that if the reward (or its timing) is uncertain, then what’s the meaning of effort. The protagonist of this around four decades old movie also thinks the same way. He is not patient to wait for the fruit of his effort. He wants his reward instantly. And this is mostly not possible only when the effort is good or lawful. However, unlawful activities may yield their materialistic rewards within no time. So, the hero – Shankar (Raaj Kumar) who was earlier betrayed and swindled by many people in his life, leading to his poverty and hardships, takes the path of crime which yields instant result (money) to him. His wife, Durga (Mala Sinha) is a highly religious and pious woman who firmly believes in the teachings of Geeta. Shankar feels that he and Durga cannot pull together as husband and wife. Hence he leaves her and leaving the village too, shifts to the metropolitan city. He also takes their son – Mohan with him and teaches him what he has learnt from life. Naturally, the personality of Mohan (Raaj Kumar in double role) also becomes a reflection of that of his father only. The father-son duo commits crimes in association with Keshav Lal (Ajit) and his confidante – Bhiku Ghasi Ram (Dheeraj Kumar).
On the other hand, Durga faces immense hardships. When Shankar left him, she was pregnant and after leaving the house (because it has been attached by the court because of non-payment of loan taken by Shankar against that), she gives birth to her second son who courtesy the good teachings and nice Samsakaras of his mother, grows up as an idealist – Ajay (Jeetendra). Ajay is a lawyer but he runs a newspaper also, named as – Karmayogi. Keshav Lal conspires against Shankar and gets him caught by the police. Since Shankar has murdered a police officer, he gets death penalty. Later Mohan happens to meet his separated mother and younger brother but he has already chosen his end and after seeking his revenge from the conspirators, follows his father to the gallows. However in his ending moments, his mother is there to recite the couplets of Geeta to him. These couplets are not only those belonging to the concept of Karma but also the concepts of soul and rebirth as explained by Lord Krishna.
The decades of sixties and seventies, in my opinion, were a period when there were several good script-writers active in Bollywood and therefore, numerous good scripts (enveloped in the regular box office formulae, of course) were written for Hindi movies. However, barring exceptions like B.R. Chopra, Yash Chopra, Raj Khosla, Manmohan Desai, Prakash Mehra, Raghunath Jhalani etc., skilled directors were not there to develop formula-based good scripts into equally good and impressive movies. And hence the quality of the movies got diluted due to average direction of the script. Karmayogi also suffers from the same problem. Director of this movie – Ram Maheshwari had earlier spoiled the brilliant script of Neel Kamal (1968) and in this movie also, he could not do justice to the brilliant story idea and the praiseworthy script (of Benoy Chatterjee and C.J. Pavri).Still if this movie has its moments and certain parts are damn impressive, then it’s mainly due to the stylish performance of Raaj Kumar in double role and the dialogues of Saagar Sarhadi which seem to have been specially written for him. Since both the roles of Raaj Kumar contain the same flavour, he did not need to deliver two different types of performances. He is stylish and mannerismic but carries this otherwise a run-of-the-mill kind of movie on his shoulders. It’s his performance which renders this movie a repeat value. If someone else has been able to leave her mark, then it’s Mala Sinha who despite less footage, has got the meaty role of the religious wife and mother who firmly believes in and follows the teachings of Bhagvad-Geeta. Jeetendra has got very less footage. Ajit, Dheeraj Kumar, Kanhaiyalal (the money-lender of the village), Nazir Hussain (the priest of the church who supports Durga) etc. are routine.The movie has two young leading ladies – Rekha and Reena Roy but both of them have got very less footage. Still Rekha is able to leave her mark as a cabaret dancer and gangster’s moll who is also a loving and caring elder sister (of Reena Roy) with a heart of gold. The movie features Yogeeta Bali also in a guest appearance.Music composed by Kalyanji Anandji is overall average but the Qawwaali picturized on Rekha, Ajit and Raaj Kumar – Tum Nahin Ya Hum Nahin is memorable. Its lyrics seem to have been specially penned according to the situation as well as the personality of Raaj Kumar. Asha Bhonsle, Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi have sung it brilliantly. The theme song of the movie – Tere Jeevan Ka Hai Karmon Se Naata (sung by Manna Dey) is also impressive. Varma Malik has penned the lyrics.
The action sequences and thrills are another plus point of this movie. Considering the standard of the seventies, the scene involving the motor-boat and the helicopter as well as the scene involving the running of a double-decker bus are highly impressive and laudable.Technically the movie is more or less okay. However editing is a bit confusing. The court-room drama after the murder of Keshav Lal in which Mohan, despite being the accused, performs as the defense counsel for himself is prolonged and dragging, however its culmination is simply brilliant. I feel, the script-writers have penned the script in such a way that only the personality of Raaj Kumar prevails in the story and the other characters are subdued before him. That’s the reason that justice could not be done to the roles of other artists.
An interesting trivia is that Mala Sinha had played the heroine of both Raaj Kumar and Jeetendra in the classic movie – Mere Huzoor (1968) and here she has played the mother of both of them. It is also one of the few movies of Jeetendra and Rekha in which they are not paired opposite each other.
Karmayogi could have become an outstanding movie, had the script been handled by a skilled director. Nevertheless it’s a formula-based Bollywood potboiler which deserves a watch because it’s entertaining and contains the memorable performance of Raaj Kumar.
© Copyrights reserved