Khayyam is no more. This review is a tribute to the great music director.
I have heard that everyone loves a lover. Well, it may not be true. But it’s true that every lover loves a lover. A person who has been in love himself / herself is supposed to understand the love of others. Moreover, a broken-heart or a loser in love should definitely be able to understand the pain of someone whose heart is broken or who’s been separated from his / her sweetheart. Today I am reviewing a very old Bollywood movie which follows this theme only. This black and white classic movie is Shola Aur Shabnam (1961).Shola Aur Shabnam (flame and dew) is a triangular love story. Just think if you get separated from your love in your childhood and when grown-up, come across him / her only to know that he / she is the would-be spouse of your best friend whose obligations are also being carried by you, then what will you pass through ? This is exactly what happens with the hero of Shola Aur Shabnam – Ravi (Dharmendra) who gets separated from his childhood love – Sandhya (Tarla) and suddenly finds her as the betrothed of his friend-cum-obliger – Prakash (M. Rajan). Ravi tries to hide the fact from Sandhya that he is her childhood love but Sandhya, being very intelligent and smart (and gutsy as well) ascertains the truth and now she is not all ready to marry Prakash because her love for the childhood buddy is still intact in her adulthood. Ravi, on the other hand, burdened by the obligations of Prakash, is not ready to cog his friend and snatch his love-interest (Prakash has also been in love with Sandhya since the day he had seen her photograph before meeting her face-to-face). Ravi is an employee in the timber estate of Prakash’s father and his job exists because of Prakash only. He has to take care of his aged mother (Leela Mishra) and therefore, his childhood love is not his top priority in this practical world. But wait, there is another, very interesting convolution in the tale.
Prakash’s elder brother Aakash (Abhi Bhattacharya) has been a loser in love because the father of Prakash and Aakash (Mubarak) did not allow his marriage with his sweetheart (Vijaylaxmi) because of status difference and she had to commit suicide. That tragedy led Aakash not only to remain a bachelor for life but also to become a perennial alcoholic and an eccentric at times. When he comes to know that Ravi and Sandhya are childhood lovers, he first tries to separate them because of his sheer love for his younger brother, i.e., Prakash. But soon he realizes his mistake and thereafter leaves no stone unturned in uniting them and finally sacrifices his life for this purpose, making his father realize his mistake of separating the lovers.Shola Aur Shabnam is a well written and well directed film by Ramesh Saigal who has not only maintained the interest of the spectators from the beginning to the very end but also been able to move them deep within through the character of Aakash, his tragedy and the passionate love of Sandhya for Ravi. Several scenes are highly impressive and leave indelible imprint on the heart of the viewer. The movie seldom bores and amidst the profound love story, it has relief moments also. The track of the parents of Ravi (shown in the childhood of the lead pair) tickles the funny bone of the viewer like anything and the scenes during and after the lead pair ‘s knowing the truth (that they are childhood lovers) are highly romantic and carry immense repeat value for watching and feeling. There is not even an ounce of boredom in the movie. Since the major part of the story takes places in a jungle (timber estate), the scenes involving the elephants are not only impressive but also touching because of the linking of the human sentiments to those of the animals.
This lovely movie entertains and makes the eyes of the spectators humid at the same time. The helplessness of the hero (because of the responsibility of his widow and aged mother and the obligation of his benevolent friend) and the passionate love of the heroine (who teases the hero like anything after knowing the truth) are damn impressive. Despite the black and white version and the poor quality of the VCD / DVD, this movie can be seen any number of times. It’s not unduly long and there is nothing superfluous in it. The narrative moves towards the desired finale sans any digression in between.Technically the movie is perfect. In addition to the moviemaker, the performers too have done their job well. All the supporting characters are perfectly in their place. This is the debut movie of the heroine – Tarla and the screen reads while showing the credits – Introducing a new pair – Dharmendra and Tarla. May be Dharmendra had signed this movie first because his first released movie as a hero was Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere (1960) and his first screen appearance was Railway Platform (1955). M. Rajan and Mubarak have done well. Dashing Dharmendra with his boyish looks is able to loot the hearts of several young females. This first ever renowned he-man of Bollywood has bared his chest too and I am not able to praise both his personality and his performance sufficiently in words. He has been a natural performer since the very outset of his career and wins hearts effortlessly through his restrained performance (and his looks as well). Tarla is the heart and soul of the movie and she has made the audience laugh as well as weep through her performance. However the best performer is Abhi Bhattacharya in the author-backed role of Aakash, the loser in love who has nothing more to lose now and who is hell-bent upon doing anything worthwhile to unite any pair of lovers through the remaining life of his.Khayyam’s music is a very big plus point of this movie with the beautiful lyrics being written by Azeem Shaayar Kaifi Aazmi Saheb. This admirable music album contains two timeless classic songs – 1. Jeet Hee Lenge Baazi Hum Tum, Khel Adhura Chhoote Na which is a duet of Rafi and Lata, 2. Jaane Kya Dhoondhti Rehti Hain Ye Aankhen Mujhmein, Raakh Ke Dher Mein Shola Hai Na Chingaari Hai which, in my opinion, is one of the best solos of Rafi. The touching and meaningful lyrics coming from the pen of Kaifi Saheb have converted these two songs into immortal ones. The other songs are also a pleasure for the listeners’ ears.
After watching, I consider Shola Aur Shabnam as one of the most underrated love stories ever made in Bollywood. I have liked it immensely, may be because I am a highly emotional person, may be because I am able to identify with the character of Aakash of the story but I bet, any spectator who has ever been in love at any point of time in his / her life, will be won over by this movie whose watching will definitely prove to be an unforgettable experience for him / her. It may not be a masterpiece. It’s a heart-conqueror all the same. Only a loser in love can feel the pain of losing one’s love and therefore, empathize with other such ones. Aakash of Shola Aur Shabnam is one such sensitive person only.
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