I thank my loving sister and esteemed reviewer and blogger, Chalojai Bahudure for inspiring me to pen a review of this movie. Souten (1983) was a commercial hit and Bollywood’s trade Pandits considered it as a movie signalling the comeback of Rajesh Khanna whose earlier release in that year – Avtaar was also a box office success. Unfortunately, that comeback did not materialize. However this box office grosser is a nice timepass and still remembered for its songs which were chartbusters those days.Souten (the other woman in the life of someone’s husband / lover) is the story shown as inspired by the true love of Radha for Lord Krishna. Mythology does not tell anything about Radha but her name is considered so pious (because of her true and selfless love for Krishna) that it is spoken before Krishna by the devotees (we always say – ‘Radhakrishna’ when remembering them). I have read the complete life-story of Lord Krishna derived from the Indian PURAANs (mythological scriptures). Radha’s name does not feature anywhere in them. But devotional folk-songs and folk-tales have popularized her more than Krishna’s wives. Despite not being Krishna’s wife, she has been being considered the icon of love for ages. Her selfless love for Krishna has always been considered as pure as fresh cow milk.Considering the same type of love as the essence of the story told in Souten, the names of the three principal characters have been kept as Shyam, Rukmani (Krishna’s principal wife) and Radha. In this story of the twentieth century, our modern Krishna (Rajesh Khanna) gets married to Rukmani (Tina Munim), the daughter of a multi-millionaire. Rukmani’s step-mother (Shashikala) and step-maternal uncle (Prem Chopra) are not happy with this marriage because they keep an eye on the wealth of her father (Pran). Misunderstandings are created between the loving couple and Rukmani’s decision to abort her pregnancy widens the cracks between herself and Shyam.
The third angle according to the title of the movie is of Radha (Padmini Kolhapure) who is the daughter of a financially weak and ailing person (Dr. Shreeram Lagoo) and works as a librarian to support his family. Shyam helps herself and her family and the interactions between them leads to sprouting of love in Radha’s heart for Shyam though Shyam is not infidel to his wife, Rukmani. However Rukmani suspects illicit relation between them and considers Radha as her ‘SOUTEN’ or the rival woman in the tussle for the man’s possession. Finally, Radha only takes a drastic step to reunite them.Souten starts with the romance of Shyam and Rukmani and provides several interesting moments to the viewers. The first half of the movie is pretty romantic, heart-tickling and takes the beaten path studded with regular Bollywood formulae. The intensity comes thereafter through the character of Radha and the forming of the triangular relationship. The director – Saawan Kumar Taak has been able to keep the interest of the audience alive for the major part of the movie.The story is set in Mauritius and the cinematographer has captured the scenic beauty of Mauritius very skilfully. Technically, the movie is good and has a high production value.Producer-director Saawan Kumar’s ex-wife Usha Khanna has composed melodious music for the movie (despite getting separated in personal life, professionally they had maintained good rapport). The best song, in my view, is – Zindagi Pyar Ka Geet Hai Jise Har Dil Ko Gaana Padega (separately by Lata and Kishore). However hilarious songs like Shaayad Meri Shaadi Ka Khayaal (Lata-Kishore) and Saasu Teerath Sasura Teerath (Kishore) were topping the charts when the movie was released. Meri Pehle Hi Tang Thi Choli (Kishore-Anuradha Paudwal), Jab Apne Ho Jaayen Bewafa (Asha), Main Teri Chhoti Behna Hoon (Lata) etc. are also quite good. Producer-director, Saawan Kumar has himself penned the lyrics. The songs are a very big plus point of this movie.Performance wise talking, the best performance has come from Padmini Kolhapure as Radha. She was a highly talented actress and all the movies done by her evidence this fact. Rajesh Khanna and his real life lover (those days), Tina Munim (who was, in fact, proving herself as the SOUTEN for his wife, Dimple Kapadia) have done well. The performance of the supporting cast is good but the villain – Prem Chopra has been given a role which is over the top and less villainous, more comical.Souten ends on a tragic note. However overall, this is a good entertainer and won’t disappoint the viewers. I, therefore, recommend it to the entertainment-seeking audience. And the sacrifice of Radha in the story underscores this eternal fact once again that true love is always selfless which does not demand anything for itself and always remains ready to sacrifice anything and everything for the beloved.
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