Bhanwar (1976) is a regular mainstream Bollywood movie which is based on the Hindi novel of the same title written by renowned Hindi novelist and script-writer, Gulshan Nanda. I have read the novel also and found both the book version and the celluloid version of the story quite nice though by no means great. Since the lead character of this movie is a Christian girl, I feel that Christmas being around, the timing of this review is quite apt. Roopa D’ Souza (Parveen Babi) is a college girl who has none else but her mother, Rosy (Kamini Kaushal) in her life. She knows that her mother has taken divorce from her husband, Johny (Madan Puri) who is actually not her biological father but she does not know who is her father and why her mother did not marry him. Johny is a baddie and Roopa can understand that her noble mother might have married him under some compulsion only. Among her college-mate girls, Roopa is the something like the odd-man out because she is the only girl who is not having any boyfriend. In a party on the occasion of Christmas, she comes across Anoop (Randhir Kapoor) who, at her request, poses as her boyfriend before the other girls. Actually Anoop’s mother, Shaarada Devi (Nadira) wants him to see Anju (Aruna Irani) for the purpose of marrying. However Anoop falls in love with Roopa. When Anju comes to know of it, a rift appears in the hitherto solid friendship of her with Roopa.
Things take such a turn that Rosy passes away and now Roopa is alone. Before that, exploiting her monetary need, Shaarada Devi compels her to move out of Anoop’s life (because she wants him to marry Anju only). Roopa meets with an accident and it appears that she will have to live the life of a handicapped person now onwards. However a seasoned and famous surgeon, Dr. Varma (Ashok Kumar) comes to know of the case and decides to take a chance to operate her in such a way that the possibility of handicap is removed. The operation is successful and meanwhile Dr. Varma also comes to know of the fact that Roopa is his own daughter only. Due to lack of communication with Rosy and misleading by others, he has been considering Rosy as dead over all these years and married someone else. Now knowing the fact, he requests Roopa to become his daughter and takes her to his home where Roopa is stunned to find that Anju is the daughter of Dr. Varma. Shaarada Devi is hell-bent upon ensuring Anoop’s marriage with Anju only and has hired the services of greedy and wicked Johny and his accomplice, Ravi (Ranjeet). However everything is set right in the end for the noble-hearted Roopa.The story of Bhanwar (swirl) has been written quite interestingly by famous Hindi novelist, Gulshan Nanda. He was a master story-teller and that’s why the most successful in the world of Hindi fiction. None could beat his popularity during 1960-1990 and since his stories were easily adaptable for celluloid versions, so many movies were made on his novels. The title – Bhanwar has been used for the life of the lead character, i.e., Roopa who remains lonely and aggrieved, roaming fast in the water-swirl without any control over her own movements and acts, doomed to drown eventually. All the twists in the story (except the very first one which brings the hero and the heroine together for the first time) are hackneyed and we can always guess what is going to happen next. Still, the movie is by no means bad for the purpose of entertainment. The viewer also moves alongwith the twists and turns in the life of Roopa knowing very well that everything will eventually turn out just fine for her but the thing is that the movie does not bore him.
This formula-based movie is technically okay. Length is not much because the screenplay writer, Sachin Bhowmick and the director, Bhappi Soni have avoided superfluous incidents (except a small comedy track of Asrani, Aparna Chaudhary and Dhumal) and kept the movie strictly according to the novel. Despite the modest production value, the beautiful locations of Shimla have been captured very well by the cinematographer. Action and choreography aspects are routine.R.D. Burman’s music is also not extra-ordinary. However the Christmas party song – Merry Christmas To You is definitely a foot-tapper. It’s a Kishore-Lata duet. One more song also stands out – Rang Le Aayenge Roop Le Aayenge Kaagaz Ke Phool, Khushboo Kahaan Se Laayenge whose not only the composition but also the lyrics (by Anand Bakshi) are quite praiseworthy. This song with a sarcastic tone has been sung by Kishore and Asha.
Randhir Kapoor was in the prime of his career then and he has done well. He had his own charm and that’s why he could play a successful innings as a romantic (and comic) hero for more than a decade. It’s a mystery for me why his successfully running career finished all of a sudden during the eighties. The members of the supporting cast have done what they were expected to do in the assigned roles. Aruna Irani was also highly successful in second lead roles (and also vampish roles) during the seventies and she has done full justice to the role of envious Anju.
All things said and done, this is the movie of Parveen Babi whom I consider as one of the most underrated actresses of Hindi cinema because this lovely lady who possesses the distinction of being the first Indian woman to be featured on the cover page of the Time magazine, is remembered for her beauty and charms only whereas the truth is, she was a proficient actress also. The movie has been set on her shoulders only and she has carried it away successfully from the beginning to the climax.
While recommending this regular Bollywood movie to the movie buffs for a nice timepass, I wish all the readers a merry Christmas, singing the song of this movie – Karo Baaten, Mulaaqaaten, Aisi Raaten Jaagi Jaagi, Soye Soye Khoye Khoye Main Aur Tu, Merry Christmas To You, Merry Christmas To You …
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