A major chunk of the Indian movies are love stories and the idea of love triangle has also been hackneyed to the extent that now-a-days hardly any filmmaker must be pondering over it for his next venture. However if I have to make a list of love-triangles made in Bollywood, Saajan (1991) will be my numero uno in that list. It was released on 30.08.1991 and I had seen it with my friend Sanjay Laddha in the Priya theatre of Kolkata (then Calcutta) on 11.11.1991 (after my C.A. Final exams were over). Since then I have seen it a number of times on T.V. also. Though more than two and half decades have passed since its release, this movie still looks fresh and haunts after watching. I don’t know whether the story idea was original or borrowed from somewhere else, however it worked excellently and built the premise of a sentimental love story in which the element of sacrifice becomes prominent between the two male protagonists who, by default, become the reluctant rivals of a girl’s love. Kader Khan and his wife, Reema Lagoo adopt the handicapped orphan friend Aman (Sanjay Dutt) of their son Akash (Salmaan Khan) and foster him like their own son, showering love upon him even more than their own son. Besides, Akash also keep Aman’s friendship above everything else in his life. However Aman finds himself burdened by their obligations within his heart. He is a Shaayar (Urdu poet) and gets published under the pen name of Saagar. A middle class girl Pooja (Madhuri Dixit) who runs a book shop to make a living for herself and her mother Anjana Mumtaz in Ooty, becomes his fan and maintains contact with him through letters. Akash, on the other hand, becomes a womaniser, not giving a damn for the real love. To take care of their new project of constructing a hotel in Ooty, Aman reaches there and comes across Pooja. Pooja befriends him when he tells her that he knows Saagar personally and he promises her to manage her meeting with him. He sees that Pooja loves Saagar. Gradually he also falls in love with her but without expressing his feelings to her.The story takes a twist when Akash reaches Ooty and falls for Pooja upon the very first encounter. When Aman comes to know of his love for Pooja, he decides to sacrifice his love to pay the obligations of his fostering family and he introduces Akash to Pooja as Saagar. Pooja starts loving Akash but under the false impression of himself being her Saagar. With the passage of time, Akash comes to know that Aman himself is Saagar and he loves Pooja too within his heart. He immediately understands that Aman is trying to repay the obligations of himself and his parents through this sacrifice. Now it’s his turn to sacrifice for his friend and he gets the lovers united.Saajan is the maiden directorial venture of the cinematographer-turned-director Lawrence D’ Souza and his has used his cinematographic excellence to the hilt while directing this emotional drama. The different camera angles catching all the three main protagonists in a single frame; depicting their mutual relationships, their inner feelings and the peculiar equations between them are simply marvellous. Besides, the picturization of songs like Bahut Pyar Karte Hain Tumko Sanam and Jiyen To Jiyen Kaise Bin Aapke is nothing short of outstanding. This movie is definitely a marvel of cinematographic technique and those movie buffs who have seen it on the big screen are definitely fortunate.Another very big highlight of Saajan is the exceedingly melodious music composition of Nadeem Shravan who were in top form those days and the lyricists Faiz Anwar and Sameer have given them excellent support. Only for one song – Bahut Pyar Karte Hain Tumko Sanam, I know that it’s a copy of a non-filmi Nazm – Bahut Khoobsoorat Hai Mera Sanam (sung by the legendary Ghazal singer – Mehndi Hasan Saheb). For the rest (viz. Dekha Hai Pehli Baar, Tumse Milne Ki Tamanna Hai, Tu Shaayar Hai Main Teri Shaayari, Mera Dil Bhi Kitna Paagal Hai, Jiyen To Jiyen Kaise Bin Aapke and Pehli Baar Mile Hain) I give full marks to this music team which includes Anuradha Paudwal, Alka Yagnik, S.P. Balasubrahmanium, Kumar Sanu and of course, the popular Ghazal singer – Pankaj Ud-haas (Jiyen To Jiyen Kaise Bin Aapke) also. The music album of Saajan is an all time hit and even today, listening to these songs renders a soothing feeling to the listener’s heart.However, the debutant director faltered in controlling the length of the movie. The comedy track of Laxmikant Berde and Guddi Maruti (including the parody of old songs picturized on them) is totally superfluous and should have been done away with in editing. In fact, Kader Khan himself provided so much relief in this emotional story that specialist comedians were not required. The movie should have been trimmed by at least 20-25 minutes. Otherwise the direction is marvellous, production value is high, the beauty of Ooty has been captured in superb way (especially in the song – Mera Dil Bhi Kitna Paagal Hai Jo Pyar To Tumse Karta Hai) and the narrative flows smoothly, carrying the audience effortlessly with it.
Performances are highly admirable. For Madhuri’s dance number – Tu Shaayar Hai Main Teri Shaayari, both the choreographer and Madhuri deserve huge clappings. One of the great dancing queens of the Indian silver screen, Madhuri has acted well too. However the movie mainly belongs to the male leads. Sanjay Dutt has delivered the performance of his life-time in this movie and I am sorry to see that he did not win any award for his intense role, marvellously performed. Salmaan Khan has performed brilliantly in his Casanova act as well as in the role of first a true (but irresponsible) lover and thereafter a sincere, sacrificing friend. The climax belongs to Salmaan only and he provides a memorably touching end to the story. The ending scene is able to move the sensitive audience. Among the supporting cast, Ekta as the arrogant society girl who genuinely loves Salmaan, Kader Khan as the boys’ father, Reema Lagoo as their mother and Anjana Mumtaz as Madhuri’s mother are perfect. Laxmikant Berde and Dinesh Hingoo have done good comedy. I also appreciate Raja Duggal for his cameo as Babulaal, the owner of the tea shop in Ooty.Saajan is a treat for the romantic people who like emotion-filled mature romance. It was a blockbuster and I bet, it may again prove to be a blockbuster if re-released. It has immense repeat value and can be watched any number of times for the visual as well as the audio satisfaction provided by it to the viewers to their hearts’ content.
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