Some love stories last. . . forever

In India, love between a male and a female has always been a taboo in the eyes of the society and the surroundings (barring a few tribal exceptions). And what is a taboo is but natural the most attractive thing to a human-being. Hence, no wonder Bollywood (say Indian cinema) has produced love stories in abundance. Since the love stories run into thousands (may be lacs), it is very difficult to choose the top ten. Any list has to be a subjective one only, may or may not be agreed upon by anybody else. I am giving my list based upon my own choice, of course. So, on the occasion of the Valentine’s Day, here comes the list of my most favourite love stories from Bollywood :

  1. Mughal-E-Azam (1960) : Mughal-E-Azam is not only the greatest love story ever told in Bollywood movies but also one of the greatest love stories ever told on celluloid. On one hand, we have the immortal song – Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya picturized on the daredevil Madhubala (playing Anarkali), on the other we have the best ever romantic scene in which Dilip Kumar (Shehzaada Saleem) caresses the cheek of Madhubala (Anarkali) by a quill. The existence of the character of Anarkali is not corroborated by the history. But, even if it is an imaginary one, the love saga is immortal.
  1. Taj Mahal (1963) : The love story of Shehzaada Khurram (Shahjehan) and Arjumand Bano (Mumtaaz Mahal) is not imaginary as the history and the immortal Taj Mahal of Agra support it. The film starring Pradeep Kumar and Beena Rai contains classic songs like – Jo Waada Kiya Woh Nibhana Padega, Jo Baat Tujhmein Hai Teri Tasveer Mein Naheen and Paaon Chhoo Lene Do Phoolon Ko Inaayat Hogi.
  1. Veer Zaara (2004) : The love story of Veer (Shah Rukh Khan) and Zaara (Preity Zinta) is so touching and tear-jerking that I got overwhelmed by seeing it. Love does not know any boundaries whether of age, religion, caste or nation. The music composed by the late Madan Mohan Ji is great, involving songs like Jaanam Dekh Lo Mit Gayeen Dooriyaan, Do Pal Ruka Khwabon Ka Kaarvaan and Tere Liye.
  1. Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959) : This Rajendra Kumar-Ameeta starrer in which Anita Guha has also played a significant role, is simply a great movie in which the Shehnaai (an Indian musical instrument mainly played in marriages) has been played by the Shehnaai legend Ustaad Bismillah Khan Saheb. I like this movie so much that I will not say much about it. I urge all the readers, fond of watching emotional love stories, to watch it. It is a movie to feel, not to describe. The songs – Jeevan Mein Piya Tera Saath Rahe, Keh Do Koi Na Kare Yahaan Pyaar, Ankhiyaan Bhool Gayeen Hain Sona and Dil Ka Khilona Haay Toot Gaya are certainly immortal.
  1. Barsaat (1949) : Raj Kapoor has directed this classic love story involving himself and Nargis with another pair of his real life brother-in-law, Premnaath and debuting actress Nimmi. Shanker-Jaikishan and Hasrat Jaipuri-Shailendra team also debuted with this movie and created an aura teaming up with Mukesh and Lata, which is still alive.
  1. Gangster (2006) : Anuraag Basu has directed this Shiny Ahuja-Kangna starrer immortal love story which contains Emraan Haashmi as the third angle. This film can be described properly through its punchline – ‘She fell in love with him the day she betrayed him.’ This is an excellent love story with several twists and turns and a heart-tearing climax.
  1. Aradhana (1969) : This is the classic romantic movie which catapulted Rajesh Khanna to super-stardom. I liked it so much by watching it first on TV (Doordarshan) that later on I went to the theatre to watch it on the big screen. It invites the viewer to get himself drowned in the romance presented by the lead pair of Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore.
  1. Maine Pyar Kiya (1989) : This movie starring Salmaan Khan should be watched for the abundant romance and the always haunting Bhagyashree. The music is great and the on screen romance is simply enchanting.
  1. Bobby (1973) : Raj Kapoor read a poem – ‘Seventeen are no more young’ and planned this teenybopper love story which is definitely a classic. Just remember the scene in which Dimple opens the door to Rishi Kapoor with her hands stuck with wet flour and the dialogue of Rishi, saying to Dimple – Kewal Ek Ko Jaanta Hoon (I know only one girl). The debutante singer – Shailendra Singh created magic through his voice in the songs of the movie.
  1. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) : This Aditya Chopra directed, Shah Rukh Khan-Kajol starrer has proved itself to be one of the biggest commercially hit movies and it has a lot to recommend itself. The magic of this movie can be felt only by watching it (especially on the big screen).

Other than these top ten ones, I also recommend the following love stories which are par excellence :

  1. Anarkali (1953) : Saleem-Anarkali saga presented on the silver screen seven years prior to Mughal-E-Azam, starring Pradeep Kumar and Beena Rai. Just listen to – Ye Zindagi Usi Ki Hai and you forget everything except love.
  1. Arzoo (1965) : The Rajendra Kumar-Sadhana starrer musical directed by Ramanand Sagar is the movie of a lifetime. The on screen chemistry between the lead pair and the great songs in the voices of Lata and Rafi mesmerize the audience.
  1. Ek Duje Ke Liye (1981) : This Kamal Haasan-Rati Agnihotri starrer musical based upon the barriers of language and region in the path of love, is a heart-tearing tragic saga. The debutante pair created magic on the silver screen.
  1. Do Badan (1966) : Raj Khosla directed this Manoj Kumar-Asha Parekh starrer musical which is a tragic love story. It is very touching. All the songs are great viz. Jab Chali Thandi Hawa, Raha Gardishon Mein Har Dam, Lo Aa Gayi Unki Yaad, Bhari Duniya Mein Aakhir Dil Ko etc.
  1. Saajan (1991) : Lawrence D’Souza directed this Sanjay Dutt-Madhuri Dixit-Salmaan Khan starrer movie with great songs and used his total experience as a cameraman (he is originally a cameraman only) in picturizing it. The result of his efforts coupled with very good story, highly melodious music of Nadeem Shravan and towering performances; proved amazing.
  1. Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) : The innocent pair of Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla with the melodious songs in the voices of Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik sent the audience crazy. The end is tragic but overall, the movie is heart-touching.
  1. Jaan Tere Naam (1992) : Now TV star Ronit Roy cast opposite Farheen in this movie won the hearts of the lovers throughout India with the song – Ye Akkha India Jaanta Hai, Hum Tum Pe Marta Hai. The intensity of his love for the leading lady makes a deep-seating impact upon the viewers.
  1. Kuchh Kuchh Hota Hai (1998) : Karan Johar’s debut venture starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol with Rani Mukherjee as the third angle, is a thoroughly illogical yet thoroughly lovable love story with timeless music by Jatin-Lalit.
  1. Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965) : This Shashi Kapoor-Nanda starrer story of innocent love is definitely a classic by all means. Got remade as Raja Hindustani (1996) by casting Aamir Khan and Karisma Kapoor.
  1. Kabhi Kabhie (1976) : This Yash Chopra movie starring Waheeda Rehman-Amitabh Bachchan-Raakhee-Shashi Kapoor alongwith the young pair of Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh is a classic love story (with a message) beyond any doubt.

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A country of the bullies, for the bullies and by the bullies

A few years back, the Khap Mahapanchayat of Haryana had declared to stop the supply of milk and other eatables to Delhi till their demand for amendment in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, effecting a ban on marriage of youths from the same Gotra (clan) was met. And recently, the apex court of India has lashed out at such bodies clarifying to them in an unambiguous language that they have no business obstructing the marriage of two consenting adults. However it’s difficult to say as to how far they have understood it and going to respect it. Considering their activities hitherto, it appears that it doesn’t matter for them that they are killing the innocent youths who might have become the steersmen of the Indian boat in future.

Valentine’s Day is approaching. Bullying, harassing, humiliating and even forcing into marriage of the love-birds have become a norm on the Valentine’s Day for the self-appointed moral policemen. No government appears to check these so-called preservers of the Indian culture (!) who are nothing but thugs and goons. And the poor lovers (or just friends) have to see themselves as reduced to silent sufferers in their hands in the greatest (!) democracy of the world.

The dust has settled down on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmaavat’ which finally saw the light of the day and now all and sundry has accepted that there’s nothing objectionable in that which might have hurt the (so-called) sentiments of a particular community. However what about the sentiments and honour of the filmmaker and the artistes associated with the movie which has been openly hurt by the bullies in the name of the movie’s opposition. Now the same kind of activity has started in respect of the forthcoming movie – ‘Manikarnika’ as a wrong precedence has been established for the selfish groups to cash on. A few years back, Prakash Jha’s ‘Aarakshan’ had also faced the same bullying kind of opposition.

Our constitution-framers had envisioned the Indian democracy as a system of the people, for the people and by the people. However now our democracy seems to be as of the bullies, for the bullies and by the bullies. The barbarian era is coming back with the principle of Might is Right becoming the rule of the day. No regressive group has any fear of the law of the land which may stop them from their bullying, high-handed and terrorizing activities. The fear is only for the kind-hearted, innocent and right-thinking people who cannot survive in India because of the Darwinian principle – Survival of the Fittest. They are not fit for the country (that is, Mera Bhaarat Mahaan).

All this presents a very dismal picture before the eyes of any sensitive as well as sensible person. Every nook and corner of the country is manned and dominated by the bullies. All the evil things are done and propagated by the bullying groups and they even press for official sanction for them. And our honoured politicians are too keen to award even that to them. Why ? Because such groups are considered as controlling significant vote banks and what can be more important for our politicians than the vote banks ?

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A gentleman and a loafer ! Both at the same time ?

Shareef Budmaash (1973) is a crime-thriller directed by skilled director Raj Khosla, starring Dev Anand and Hema Malini in lead roles. Dev Anand himself has produced it under his banner Navketan. It’s an entertaining movie whose title fascinated me because once upon a time someone special used to call me lovingly Shareef Badmaash (gentleman loafer) only. I was Shareef to her because she had seen many virtues and pluses in me and one thing that had touched her that I respected her a lot (and got her respect in return). And why I was Badmaash to her, is something that I may not be willing to clarify here but the love-birds must be able to understand it even without anybody’s clarifying.

91775-Shareef Badmaash (1973)

Shareef Badmaash starts with the development of a new design of a sophisticated super aircraft by two Indian scientists after putting in their hard work for a decade. For the sake of the security of their new invention which is a confidential information, they destroy their research papers after preserving the complete blueprint in a microfilm. As this news gets spread in the underworld, many baddies become aspirants to get it which is worth crores of rupees if sold to the foreign powers.

The microfilm containing the design of the aircraft reaches an outlaw who is apparently a highly respected person in the society – Deewaan (Jeevan) when he gets these two scientists killed by his henchman (Mac Mohan) and usurps the microfilm. He keeps it in his safe containing a number-lock but his safe gets burgled by his confidant Ajit (Sudhir) only the same night who loots it for the sake of the precious jewellery worth lakhs of rupees kept in the safe but takes away the microfilm also alongwith them which Deewaan has very cleverly hid in a briefcase. Upon Deewaan’s complaint to the police (quite understandably his complaint covers the theft of the jewellery only without any mention of the microfilm), Ajit is arrested by the police and then sent to jail but the stolen stuff is not found with him.

Now Deewaan and many other criminals who are in quest of the microfilm (and also the jewellery), want to get Ajit released from jail and then hog the stolen stuff from him. For this purpose, they need a daredevil person capable of doing it. The name of a seasoned criminal Rocky comes to the fore in this regard. In the eyes of the law, Rocky is dead but the underworld players come to know that he is alive and now lives by wearing a different identity of Sust-Raam (Dev Anand). Now all the criminals try to lure him to get this job done by him for their sake. After initial reluctance, our hero Sust-Raam whose real name is Ramesh, decides to do it for Deewaan only whose offer is the biggest one.

To get Ajit released from jail, he ascertains all the relevant information the most important piece of which is that a cabaret dancer Seema (Hema Malini) is the girlfriend of the jailor. Now starts the interaction of the hero with Seema, the heroine of this movie. The narrative meanders through romance, songs, comedy, twists in the tale and surprises for the characters as well as for the audience till the climax arrives and finally the nation’s asset, i.e., the microfilm reaches its correct destination.shareef-budmaashShareef Badmaash is a formulaic movie, a typical potboiler of the seventies. However, as asserted above, it is an entertaining movie, keeping the viewer engaged from the beginning to the climax. We know that our hero cannot be a criminal. He appears to be a ruffian (Badmaash) but actually being a Hindi movie hero (in that era), he is bound to be a straight and law abiding citizen (Shareef) only. Hence the truth of Rocky’s identity must be hidden only to be known in the climax. The heroine’s character is also mysterious for a major part of the movie. Well, to enjoy the Bollywood movies of the seventies, we have to watch them with a proper mindset and we should not contrast them with the contemporary cinema. Despite predictability of the final outcome, the curiosity of how the things take shape and turn out with the progress of the movie, keeps the viewer glued to the screen. Seasoned director Raj Khosla has kept the script completely under his control and not allowed it to go out of hand anywhere.imagesDev Anand and Hema Malini always made a lovely pair despite the age difference between the two (of about quarter of a century). Mannerismic Dev and dream girl Hema always shared good on-screen chemistry between them and hence were always able to successfully pull together despite the routine scripts written for them. Shareef Badmaash is no exception. Dev Anand has delivered a stylish performance in the lead role despite his advancing years (he’s in his fifties). Hema is extremely charming. All others including the ever gorgeous Helen, are fit in their respective roles. The best among the baddies is undoubtedly Ajit, the stylish villain of the seventies. Shatrughan Sinha is also there in a cameo.220px-Shareef_BudmaashTechnically, this movie is okay with the length also being not much though lengthier movies used to be made in that period. The story flows well without any boredom anywhere. R.D. Burman’s music with songs in the voices of Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and Kishore Kumar is good. Asha-Kishore duet Neend Churaake Raaton Mein is the best song in my opinion.downloadSumming up, Shareef Badmaash is a nice timepass from the Bollywood of the seventies. Watch it to get an entertainment of two hours and odd minutes and meet Indian Gregory Peck – Dev Anand who is a gentleman (Shareef) and a ruffian (Badmaash), both at the same time.

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Do you know how to handle success and failure ?

In 1957, the living legend of Bollywood, Manoj Kumar debuted through a movie titled as Fashion. More than five decades later, the self-proclaimed realistic filmmaker of Hindi cinema, Madhur Bhandarkar who is habituated of showing the dark side of every phenomena in his movies, presented a movie under the same title. The movie not only got accolades for realistic (!) portrayal of the fashion world, but also was a box office hit and the leading ladies’ winning prestigious awards for their performances in the movie, proved to be the icing on the cake. Now the question is, should we believe anything shown to us in the name of reality only because the storyteller has earned a reputation for himself as a realistic filmmaker ? Let’s examine.

f851fa60-f7a8-4d26-aad1-74d8ccbbcf76Fashion (2008) tells the story of a small town middle class girl who made it big in the modelling world of Mumbai only to fall from grace very shortly. After watching the whole movie what I felt is that the movie should have been appropriately titled as ‘Model’ instead of ‘Fashion’ because it is filled with the experiences of the (female) models throughout. It does not touch any other aspect of the fashion world or the fashion industry. Do a few ramp-walking models and ad-agencies are the whole fashion world, excluding the dress designers with their marketing, canvassing and cut-throat competition; the tailors doing the real job, the changing fashion trends and the condemnable sexual exploitation of the newcomer models ? Madhur Bhandarkar wants us to believe that fashion world is just an aggregate of catwalk, big fashion shows, renowned showstopper supermodels, ad agency owners mighty enough to make or break any model’s career and of course, drug abuse, all night parties, drunken driving, wayward one-night stands and gay fashion designers ? No Mr. Bhandarkar ! Fashion world is too big to be just the sum total of whatever you have shown. Howsoever intelligent a filmmaker might be, he cannot be allowed to take his audience for a ride.

71fhz8WcwuL._SL1126_By incorporating the real life story of a ruined model – Geetanjali Naagpaal through the character of Kangana Ranaut, Madhur Bhandarkar has tried to prove his plot as authentic. But everything portrayed by him – irresponsible and unprofessional behaviour, drug addiction, carefree sexual life etc. on the part of the successful models is too exaggerated to be true in general. The reality for a few cannot be generalized for all. If success goes to the head of a successful model and she starts behaving irresponsibly in her personal and professional life thereby inviting her doom, it is her problem and the fashion industry has nothing to do with it.

Madhur’s research work is also poor. He has depicted Adarsh Nagar in Mumbai as the big centre of struggler models. This is an outdated fact. Now the real centre for auditions of new models is Link Plaza at Oshivera, Mumbai.

Madhur Bhandarkar has shown Priyanka, a small town girl with middle class morality, first living-in with another model, Arjan Bajwa and then getting sexually involved with any known-unknown person anytime without any hitch. Is it reality ? Come on Madhur ! The big reality is not an ambitious model’s trading her sexual favours with an ad agency owner for stardom, the big reality is the forced sexual exploitation of thousands of aspiring newcomer girls by model coordinators and ad agency owners which has been very conveniently skipped by you. Why ? Because it is easy to expose anybody outside your fraternity but very difficult to expose your own fraternity people. A sign of hypocrisy. Isn’t it ?

By default perhaps, the good thing portrayed by Madhur Bhandarkar is how success goes to a person’s head showing its ugly colour in his (in this film, her) behaviour, snatching the virtue of modesty and politeness, neglecting own well-wishers and creeping in of non-professional element in professional life. He has also shown the depression which is manifested when the life of the protagonist undergoes a lean patch. This is the bright side of the movie. It is also exemplary to show that one should strive hard to come out of depression and if fortunately life gives him (or her) another chance, he (or she) should exploit it to the fullest, avoiding earlier mistakes and transforming own personality in own interest.

x240-9fnThe movie is fast-paced and engrossing. And had Madhur termed this movie as an entertaining one instead of a realistic one, he would have been perfect in asserting so. The sets, the costumes and the technical aspects are good. The music has one or two chartbusters to its credit. Priyanka Chopra and Kangana Ranaut have deservingly won the national as well as the Filmfare awards for the best actress and the best supporting actress respectively for their performances. Kangana though seems to have found herself typed as a ditched, lonely, melancholous girl which may not be good for her in the long run. Full supporting cast playing the characters that keep coming in and going out of the life of the main protagonist, i.e., Priyanka Chopra, has done a good job. The actress not winning any award but the hearts of the viewers with her debut performance itself, is Mugdha Godse.

Madhur Bhandarkar’s appearing in a scene of the movie and calling himself a realistic filmmaker through the mouth of another character in the scene, is ridiculous. Don’t do this job yourself Madhur. Let the others do it for you.

11552338_oriMy concluding comments upon this so-called realistic movie – it is not a movie about fashion; it is, in fact, a collection of dos and don’ts (especially don’ts) in times of unexpectedly received huge success and hard-hitting failure. And the message is to keep your cool in both the life-situations. As Lord Krishna advises us in Bhagvad-Geeta to be a STHIT-PRAGYA (a man maintaining his mental-balance in all the times whether good or bad). And this only is the real strength of Fashion.

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Do you read detective novels and rely upon them ?

The world of fictional work can be classified in various categories / genres. One immensely popular category of such work is the stories of crime detection genre. People from all over the world have been reading / seeing such stories with a great interest for over a century. In the post-independence India, several Indian authors have produced detectives who are the desi versions of Sherlock Holmes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Perry Mason of Erle Stanley Gardener or Hercule Poirot of Agatha Christie. Such novels (alongwith the romantic and social novels) were a runaway success in India through the pocket book versions which were quite cheap and easily affordable by common readers until the advent of internet finally led to the dilution of the reading habit of the Indians and reading such books no longer remained their favourite pastime. However in the heyday of the pocket book business, not only millions of Indians read the detective novels but a sizable chunk of such readers believed in their stories also. Quite naturally, the mystery writers writing in vernacular (and more than them, their publishers) made a lot of money through regular penning of such novels. Some of them were even lucky enough to become millionaires through this profession. And more than the money, such authors gained popularity and a kind of celebrity status viz. Ved Prakash Sharma, Surendra Mohan Pathak, Colonel Ranjeet etc.

When this profession was at its peak (the decline started soon thereafter due to cable TV and internet), there came a Bollywood movie which portrayed a detective novelist as its hero. This movie is a suspense-thriller made in the style of formula-based potboilers. It’s Rupaye Dus Karod (1991). To me, this movie appears to have been made to cash on the popularity of detective fiction and detective novelists (at that time). It’s not an excellent movie but not too bad either.rupaye-dus-karod-indian-movie-posterRupaye Dus Karod (ten crores of rupees) is the story of a detective novelist (writing in Hindi, of course) – Ravi Varma (Rajesh Khanna) whose father had to flee from India in his childhood itself because of a conspiracy masterminded by his wicked business partners (Kiran Kumar and Sadashiv Amrapurkar). Brought up by his mother, he obtains a law degree but does not practise and instead writes Hindi novels of crime detection genre. Being the hero of a Bollywood movie, he is successful and famous in his profession. His father transmits a sum of Rs. 10 crores from abroad for his family and now the baddies (his so-called old friends and ex-business partners) are interested in usurping this huge sum. They are well-aware of the talent of Ravi Varma and therefore, they hire his services to draw a scheme so that this money could be usurped by them. For compelling him to do this job for them, they kidnap his mother and threaten to kill her.

Now, to save his mother’s life, Ravi Varma agrees to work for them and prepares a chain of small schemes which combined together, develop into a great scheme through which the villains will be able to usurp the hefty sum of Rs. 10 crores. However, since our hero is not a baddy himself and he is doing all this under compulsion only, his schemes are not meant for the threatening villains only but also for himself to get rid of their pressure, save the life of his mother and finally not allow the hard-earned money of his father (he does not know that the person sending the money is his separated father only) to get into the hands of the unscrupulous people. He involves some youngsters in his composite scheme as his assistants – Chunkey Pandey who is the son of Kiran Kumar and keeps on chasing skirts, Amrita Singh who is very keen and enthusiastic to become a detective herself, Avinash Wadhavan who is her brother, Deepika Chikhliya who is the assistant of this novelist hero etc. These youngsters trust him so much that they blindly follow his dictates. During the proceedings, another young girl – Sonu Waalia gets murdered. Now this story does not remain restricted to the scheming for usurping of the money mentioned in its title but gets transformed into a murder mystery. When the youngsters are caught by the law and come to know how they have been used by the hero, they misunderstand him. However, as expected, the hero turns the tables on the opponents, resolves the murder mystery, makes his young comrades come out of the legal trap they have been caught in and gets reunited with his parents in the climax.downloadRupaye Dus Karod is one of those movies which were made on novel themes and good scripts but the penchant of the moviemakers for the regular Bollywood formulae to ensure that the movie did well on the box office diluted the quality of the product coming on the screen before the audience. I always fail to understand why these filmmakers never realize that going for the regular formulae (songs, dances, over the top comedy, fights etc.) without a need, takes away the advantage of the novelty of the idea and the good script available with them and proves counter-productive also because instead of boosting the box office performance of the movie, such superfluous things make an adverse impact on the same.

And therefore, Rupaye Dus Karod is also no better than the run-of-the-mill Bollywood movies that used to come during the seventies, the eighties and the early nineties. The movie is entertaining, no doubt but it’s not as good as it could have been, given the good story idea which appears to have been lifted from some thriller novel itself. The movie has everything – comedy, romance, sentiments, ideals, action and mystery. However the whole movie is just an average product. The director could not do justice to the good script. A sort of seriousness is missing in the narrative as well as many characters of the story which should have been there to make an impact. The ending scene also contains novelty but again it’s not as impressive as it could have been.RupayeDusKarodSince I have read hundreds of detective novels in Hindi (because the book stalls used to be flooded with such pocket books around two decades back), I was amused to see the covers of many real Hindi novels shown in a scene. These novels were written by an author named Ravi Varma and perhaps to use them only, the hero has been christened as Ravi Varma in this movie. Erroneously, one cover shown is of a novel written by another author – Rahul. It’s a mistake on the part of the director and an omission on the part of the editor (to correct it in editing). Anyway, these gentlemen might have been confident that none would catch it (except Mr. Jitendra Mathur).

Technical aspects of the movie alongwith the music of Bappi Lahiri are just ok. The thrills in the climax are slightly better. Production value is also modest.

The director could not extract admirable performances from the artists. However Chunkey Pandey and Amrita Singh (today’s birthday babe) have tried their level best to make the audience laugh (though they look less humorous, more ridiculous). Rajesh Khanna is miscast in the lead role. Sadashiv Amrapurkar has got ample footage but he is also stereotyped. Avinash Wadhavan and Sonu Waalia are the better performers in this movie.

Summing up, if you are fond of detective novels (written in any language) and also feel that the incidents shown in such stories are close to reality, then you may like this movie. But otherwise also, this movie is a good one time watch and can be enjoyed on TV / computer in a lazy afternoon.

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My introduction to Surendra Mohan Pathak’s world

Surendra Mohan Pathak is an eminent Hindi novelist who has been writing relentlessly for the past half a century and his pen has not stopped even at the age of 78 years. Though due to the poor paper-quality, printing, binding and covers; such novels were categorized as pulp-fiction and looked upon derogatorily in the so-called literary circles but just like the formula-based Indian movies, they also remained an affordable (very very low cost indeed) source of entertainment for the Indian readers for decades. Surendra Mohan Pathak chose to become a mystery writer (though he penned a couple of social novels, a couple of children’s novels and several joke books too). Very shortly, he carved a niche for himself in the world of Indian pulp-fiction and gradually went ahead to stand tallest among all of his contemporaries. He has been unarguably the most read as well as the most durable (because he is still active) Hindi novelist. Now some of his novels have got translated to English too.

Though since the very childhood, I have been a book-worm and other than the studies (I have been very very studious throughout my student life), I liked only to watch movies (weekly) on Doordarshan and to read different magazines and books. I had never read any novel of Surendra Mohan Pathak till one day, my friend – Vishnu Mantri instigated me to read a novel of his. Vishnu Mantri had a great collection of pulp-fiction novels and I borrowed a novel of Colonel Ranjeet from him to read because I had read certain novels of Colonel Ranjeet (years later, through Surendra Mohan Pathak only, I came to know that it was a fake name) and liked them. Vishnu Mantri was an avid reader of Surendra Mohan Pathak and he forcefully gave me a novel of Surendra Mohan Pathak also alongwith that novel of Colonel Ranjeet and urged me to give it a try. That novel was titled as Kaala Kaarnaama (the evil deed).

I read that novel which was the original and the very first edition of that novel printed by Diamond Pocket Books in 1986. In the authorial (Lekhkeeya) of that novel, I came to know that it was the 94th venture of a serial hero. ‘94th venture ? That means this hero is damn popular’, thought I. And then I start reading and got so lost in the narrative that did not do anything else till the complete novel had been read. What an entertainment ! What a style of writing ! I got so much impressed that I thanked Vishnu Mantri for giving me that novel. And time proved that that reading was just the first step in the miles long journey of knowing this highly popular (still highly modest) author from close. After more than a quarter of a century, the day has come when I am penning a review of this highly admirable Hindi novel which is a murder mystery.

The hero whose 94th venture is Kaala Kaarnaama is Sunil Kumar Chakravarty who functions in the style of an investigator but actually, by profession, he is a journalist and he terms his line as investigative journalism in which the journalist has not only to report the happenings but also to delve deep into them and find out for the public what is not visible on the surface. Right to Information Act has got enacted in India just a few years back but Surendra Mohan Pathak has been maintaining it through the character of Sunil for decades that the public has a right to know. Hiding the truth from the public which is considered as supreme (at least constitutionally) in India is nothing short of a sin. And hence he is hell-bent upon bringing the truth to the fore, come what may and several times, he is not even hesitant to put his own life at stake for this cause.

Kaala Kaarnmaa tells the story of the murder of a stock-broker, Om Mehta who gets killed during a hypnotism-show by his own wife, Vijay Mehta who is supposed to be in a hypnotized state during the act. The showman is Dr. Raazdaan and the person who had arranged it is Om Mehta’s stammerer uncle – Roshanlaal who has to utter several words and phrases twice due to this physical deficiency of his. He is an alcoholic too and apparently a miser as well who has been living like a parasite in his nephew’s home for around a year. The marital life of Om and Vijay has not been a happy one and Vijay has been in love with a journalist colleague of Sunil named as Sanjay Sabbarwaal. The show of Dr. Raazdaan is such that the hypnotized wife has to lay into her husband with a knife which is apparently real but actually is made of rubber. However during the show when the moment of stabbing her husband comes for Vijay, someone substitutes the rubber-knife with a real knife and Om Mehta gets killed when all the spectators of the show as well as the showman are under an impression that it’s just a show and nothing else.

Now Sunil who has not been a part of the audience of the show, comes into picture and alongside police inspector Prabhu Dayaal one hand and Roopa Gupta, the lady reporter of the rival newspaper on the other, starts his own investigation of this murder. Sunil works for the newspaper – Blast whereas Roopa works for another newspaper – Chronicle. When the proceedings are on, attempts are made on the life of Vijay. Through her only, the story comes out that in that household itself, a young girl – Sonia was murdered by Om Mehta a few days back. Besides, someone attacks Roopa Gupta in the dark and tries to molest her. It also becomes known that Dr. Raazdaan is not what he claims to be.Three investigators – our hero Sunil, his professional rival Roopa Gupta and his perennial love-hate buddy inspector Prabhu Dayaal keep on trying to unravel the truth in their own respective ways and the mystery gets solved in a dark, stormy, rainy night.

Kaala Kaarnaama is less a whodunnit, more a howdunnit. It is not very difficult to guess the identity of the culprit but how he could carry out his plan to arrange the murder of the victim in the hands of his wife, is something pretty hard to guess and understand though the skilled mystery writer has spread clues at different places. I don’t know whether the plot of the novel is Surendra Mohan Pathak’s own idea or he has borrowed the basic grains from somewhere else but there is little doubt that this novel is highly entertaining.

The author is very proficient in blending humour in a suspense-based story and Kaala Kaarnaama is no exception. Through the talks of Sunil and his jolly friend – Ramakant Malhotra as well as Sunil’s humourous interactions with inspector Prabhu Dayaal, Sanjay Sabbarwaal, Roshanlaal and above all, his professional rival – Roopa Gupta; the author has left no stone unturned in making the reader laugh out loud alongside enjoying the suspense-filled drama.

Written in simple yet humorous language, Kaala Kaarnaama is a treat for the mystery-readers and through portrayal of different kinds of characters, allows us to understand that it takes all kinds of people to make this world and everybody is interesting in his or her own way, none is boring. This engrossing murder mystery introduced me to the enchanting world of Surendra Mohan Pathak and I unhesitatingly recommend it to all the Hindi readers.

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Staleness is the problem with such movies

The Gold Medal (1984) is one of those unfortunate movies which take an extra-ordinary time in getting completed (this way or that way) and / or released. Though this was the case with the immortal Mughal-e-Aazam also but that’s an exception. Mostly such movies which get completed at a crawling pace or released years later than they were made, render a feeling of staleness to the audience who rejects them outright irrespective of their entertainment value. Sometimes such movies suffer from continuity jerks too (because of dates problem of the principal characters) and that also goes against them. The Gold Medal boasts of stars like Jeetendra, Raakhee Gulzar, Shatrughan Sinha and Dharmendra (in a guest appearance) and it has been directed by Raveekant Nagaich who had earned a good name in the field of making entertaining crime-thrillers for around one and a half decade but its staleness invited its doom.download (1)Please don’t get confused by the title of the movie because the gold medal here does not refer to the gold medal won by anybody in some contest or examination. Here it refers to the identification symbol of the members of a criminal gang. All trusted members of that gang are given gold medals (containing the logo of the gang) by their boss. Our hero could arrange a gold medal for him only in the climax but gets exposed before the gangleader before he could get it and then the action-packed ending scenes take place to bring an end to the story.downloadThe Gold Medal starts with the killing of an honest, sincere and dedicated trade union leader (Dharmendra) who has been taking on the management of a factory for the cause of the workers. The owner of the factory (K.N. Singh) is not only a greedy and corrupt industrialist but also a traitor who arranges fracases, riots and unrest in India for enemy countries as well as the corrupt fellows like him and gets handsomely paid for every such misdeed. His criminal gang is involved in smuggling activities too. After masterminding the killing of the union leader, he tries to buy the integrity of the second most significant union leader (Shatrughan Sinha) but fails. However he has many other ways to handle this another honest man which he applies on him.

On the other hand, the case of catching the murderers of the union leader as well as eliminating this dangerous anti-national gang is handed over by the head of the Indian intelligence wing (David) to two of his efficient agents who are the hero (Jeetendra) and the heroine (Raakhee). The original clue to start the investigation is a gold medal found with the dead body of a member of this gang. How our hero and the heroine reach the core of this gang and eliminate it, forms the remaining part of the story.the-gold-medal-20065The Gold Medal is an entertaining crime-thriller made in the style of the seventies. But the problem is the same as mentioned by me in the beginning of this review. The movie got released in 1984 but just by passing through certain scenes of it, it becomes evident to the viewer that its making must have started at least a decade prior to that. The youthfulness visible on the faces of Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Shatrughan Sinha and Raakhee explains the long journey of its making and release in the fraction of a moment. The sets, the presentation style, the actors, the action sequences, the songs and dances; just everything evidences that it is a movie of the early seventies and not the eighties. Hence it appears that the audience of the eighties could not accept it

Besides, the movie suffers from continuity jerks and unbalance too. The footage got by the heroine, i.e., Raakhee is very less which is perhaps due to the producer’s failure in getting the sufficient number of her dates. Ditto for Shatrughan Sinha. Thankfully, this is not the case with the hero of this movie, i.e., Jeetendra who has carried this movie on his shoulders in his famous jumping jack style with his changing looks (due to the passage of time as the movie got delayed in its completion). In the beginning reels, K.N. Singh is shown as the main villain but the post-interval session shows Premnaath as the main villain who runs the gang from behind the curtain. Still one more villain is there who is termed as the supremo of the gang whose identity is revealed in the ending scene only which fails to convince the viewer because there has been no such indication towards him in the earlier part of the movie. The happenings of the story contain very less relevant stuff to justify the title of the movie.

All the same, The Gold Medal is an entertaining crime-thriller. The seasoned director has handled the story well despite the obvious limitations and he has been able to present a regular potboiler for the audience liking such movies. Songs and dances have been inserted at different places as per the norm of that period. The movie contains all the regular Bollywood formulae but the less footage for the heroine has diluted the romance element in the story presented on the screen.

Shankar Jaikishan have composed forgettable songs for the movie (it must be Shankar alone because Jaikishan had passed away in 1971). Still the opening song (Aazaadi Aayi Bhi To Kya) which has been picturized on Dharmendra and others is impressive. The technical aspects of the movie are in order though there is nothing about them which can be termed as excellent.

All the actors have performed routinely. However Jeetendra should be admired for getting this movie completed and ensuring that it becomes at least an above average entertainer. Dharmendra is only in the opening sequence of the song – Aazaadi Aayi Bhi To Kya and then the killing of himself and he is perhaps the most impressive performer.

On the box office, The Gold Medal sank without a trace. Stale movies have to meet this fate only. That’s why I feel sorry for the movies which are made by investing a lot of time, efforts and money but either could not get released or could be released years later only. I recommend The Gold Medal to those movie buffs who enjoy watching crime-thrillers made in the style of the seventies. It won’t disappoint them if seen with a low expectation.

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