In many of my reviews I have underscored this fact that Gulshan Nanda wrote Hindi novels so proficiently during the period spanning from the sixties to the nineties that not only his works became exceedingly popular, making him the undisputed king of Hindi pulp fiction but also led to the making of many Hindi movies. I feel, after success for a few years in this context, he had started writing novels by keeping an eye on the making of movies on them only. That’s why, his novels took the shape of the scripts of Bollywood movies when arrived on paper.
One such immensely popular novel of his is – Sharmeelee (the shy girl) which led to the making of a commercially successful movie of the same title in 1971. I have read the novel and also seen the movie and I liked both. But the celluloid version has become superior courtesy the beautiful snowy locations shown on the screen alongwith unforgettable melodies and heart-winning performances. Presented by Subodh Mukherjee and directed by Sameer Ganguly, Sharmeelee is a very good movie which entertains as well as impresses.It’s the story of twin sisters – Kanchan and Kaamini (Raakhee in double role). Kaamini is an extrovert, smart and ultramodern girl whom any boy may fall for whereas on the contrary, Kanchan is a coy girl who speaks very less and is hesitant to interact with the outsiders. The trouble is that both are identical in looks and thus whosoever (prospective groom and his family members) comes to see Kanchan to decide for a matrimonial alliance, falls for Kaamini instead and the marriage offer for Kanchan gets diverted to Kaamini. Though the parents of the sisters refuse to marry Kaamini to any such person, they get more and more worried for Kanchan and her future. The shy girl (Sharmeelee) Kanchan is deeply aggrieved within her due to such happenings and feels that she has become a burden for her family.
The story takes up when a young and smart army officer, Captain Ajit Kapoor (Shashi Kapoor) comes across Kaamini (alongwith her friends) and instantly falls for her charms. He is an orphan and has been fostered by the priest of a church, Father Joseph (Nazir Hussain). The narrative takes an interesting twist when the offer of matrimonial alliance comes for him from the parents of the sisters. They are willing to marry Kanchan to him and because of the sisters being identical, Ajit readily agrees for it but coming to know of the fact it’s Kaamini whom he had met and got smitten by, he refuses to marry Kanchan and makes all others agree to marry Kaamini only to him. Now comes a storm in the lives of all concerned.
Kaamini who was earlier ready to marry Ajit flees away from her house on the D-Day and it is known after some time that her car met with an accident. Though her dead body is not found, there’s enough evidence that she is no more. Now to save the prestige of the family, the parents of the sisters marry Kanchan to Ajit. Though Kanchan tells this fact to Ajit in a letter prior to the marriage, Ajit remains unaware of it because that letter is not allowed to reach him. He marries Kanchan mistaking her for Kaamini and comes to know the truth on their first conjugal night. Feeling betrayed and heartbroken, he returns to army base, leaving a weeping Kanchan behind.
After some time, when Ajit has drowned himself into alcohol in the fond memories of Kaamini and is trying to extinguish the fire in his heart through drops of liquor only, he happens to meet Kaamini again which is a pleasant surprise for him. Kaamini’s loving association improves his condition. The final twist in the tale comes when Ajit is assigned the responsibility by his superior to catch some traitors spying for the enemy country. These traitors include a young female also and Ajit is shocked like anything to find that her face is the same as that of his sweetheart. Who is she – Kanchan or Kaamini ? To find out the answer to this question alongwith Ajit and to know what’s the finale of this story, you have to watch this movie.Sharmeelee (1971) is a regular Bollywood potboiler but the performances and the music make it special. The director too deserves admiration for presenting the good story which is originally a Hindi novel, quite interestingly on the screen. Right from the word ‘go’ to the ending scene, the movie is highly entertaining. Other than the romance and the sentiments, the twists coming every now and then, keep the spectator hooked. After getting over with this 165 minutes long movie, you don’t complain for its length. Instead you may be asking for some more of it. There is not even an ounce of boredom in the complete movie.Shashi Kapoor and Raakhee have done brilliantly in lead roles. Raakhee deserves special mention for her superb performance in the twin roles which are polar apart from each other. Her switching over from one role to other is so natural that you can assert only one word for that – WOW. In the scenes involving both the sisters, we see two utterly different colours of her acting in the same frame. The complete supporting cast has done justice to the assigned roles.Technically the movie is quite admirable. The screenplay is so tight that the length of the movie is nowhere felt. The art director and the cinematographer have done their jobs well. The beautiful snowy locales of the Himalayan region have come alive on the screen. The production value is high. There is no imbalance in the movie and the elements of romance, sentiments, action and thrill have been blended well to render a high degree of satisfaction to the audience.The melodious music composed by Sachin Da (S.D. Burman) with the beautiful lyrics penned by eminent Hindi poet – Gopal Das Neeraj, is a very big plus point of Sharmeelee. Khilte Hain Gul Yahaan is the most popular song sung separately by both Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar for Shashi Kapoor and Raakhee respectively. Megha Chhaye Aadhi Raat (Lata singing beautifully in the classical Raag – Madhuranjani), Aaj Madhosh Hua Jaaye Re Mera Mann (Lata-Kishore), Reshmi Ujala Hai Makhmali Andhera Hai (Asha Bhosle), Kaise Kahen Hum Pyar Ne Humko Kya Kya Khel Dikhaaye (Kishore) and the title track (O Meri Sharmeelee) sung again by Kishore Da; all are quality songs which stay with the listener. Any genuine music lover can never forget many of these.All in all, Sharmeelee is a heart-winning love story. Watch it alone or watch it with your sweetheart, you are sure to get drenched in the shower of love.
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