The magic of poetry in cine-lyrics

First of all, I sincerely thank my dear friend and esteemed reviewer and blogger Mazhar Nawaz for inspiring me to write this review. Yogesh Gaud (or Yogesh Gaur) is the name which should have shone in the world of literature but fortunately for the cine-lovers, he entered Bollywood and wrote certain lyrics which became part of memorable songs enriching Bollywood music. Staying away from the rate race and the politics of Bollywood, this great poet did not get sufficient opportunities to showcase his talent and only some selected music directors gave him chance to pen lyrics for their compositions. Most of his lyrics are real gems, containing high literary value.Following are my top ten songs written by Yogesh :

  1. Kahaan Tak Yeh Mann Ko Andhere Chhalenge (Baton Baton Mein – 1979): This is one of the most underrated songs of Kishore Kumar and the least known song of the movie. Penetrating the heart of the listener deep within, this sad song touches many shores of the ocean called emotion. Rajesh Roshan has composed it and Amol Palekar has performed on it.

  1. Aaye Tum Yaad Mujhe, Gaane Lagi Har Dhadkan (Mili – 1975): A very touching song sung by Kishore Kumar and filmed on Amitabh Bachchan with the melodious composition of Sachin Da (S.D. Burman).
  1. Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli Haaye (Anand – 1970): The immortal philosophical song of Manna Dey, the singer and Rajesh Khanna, the performer with the music of Salil Chaudhary.

  1. Na Jaane Kyun Hota Hai Yeh Zindagi Ke Saath (Chhoti Si Baat – 1975): A very touching song sung by Lata Mangeshkar, composed by Salil Chaudhary and filmed on Vidya Sinha which underscores this peculiarity of love that after the separation from the beloved, the heart reminisces even the most trivial things of him / her.

  1. Kai Baar Yun Bhi Dekha Hai (Rajnigandha – 1974): A very philosophical song sung by Mukesh and filmed on Dinesh Thakur and Vidya Sinha with the composition of Salil Chaudhary which highlights the running of the heart after a mirage, breaking all the bounds.

  1. Rimjhim Gire Saawan, Sulag Sulag Jaaye Mann (Manzil – 1979): A very romantic rain song sung by Lata and Kishore for Moushumi Chatterjee and Amitabh Bachchan which has been composed by Pancham Da (R.D. Burman).

 

  1. Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuchh Kaha (Baton Baton Mein – 1979): A very romantic duet in the enchanting voices of Asha Bhosle and Amit Kumar with a romance-soaked dancing performance of Amol Palekar and Tina Munim. Rajesh Roshan has composed it.

  1. Rajnigandha Phool Tumhare Yun Hi Mehke Jeevan Mein (Rajnigandha – 1974): A very soft and heart-winning romantic song linking someone’s love to the fragrance of the flowers of tuberose. Lata has sung it for Vidya Sinha in Salil Da’s music direction.

 

  1. Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaaye (Anand – 1970): Mukesh’s immortal song sung for Rajesh Khanna under Salil Da’s music direction. This lyric contains a unique blend of pain and love. A lonely person visualizes someone’s love as the day loses its existence into dusk and the evening deepens.

  1. Raaton Ke Saaye Ghane, Jab Bojh Dil Par Bane (Annadata – 1972): Lata’s underrated song sung for Jaya Bhaduri with Salil Da being the composer. This beautiful song is an inspiring one which renders the invaluable message never to lose hope despite adverse times.

In addition to the above, the following lyrics penned by Yogesh are also very dear to me :

  1. Guzar Jaaye Din Din Din (Annadata – 1972): Kishore Kumar has sung it in frolicsome style for Anil Dhawan who is cycling in the scene. The composition is of Salil Da.

  1. Yeh Din Kya Aaye Lage Phool Hansne (Chhoti Si Baat – 1975): A very beautiful song whose every word is soaked in joy and enthusiasm of a happy heart. Under Salil Da’s music direction, Mukesh has sung it for Amol Palekar.

  1. Maine Kaha Phoolon Se Hanso To Woh Khilkhila Kar Hans Diye (Mili – 1975): A very good song inspiring to live the life to the fullest just like the flowers. Lata has sung it for Jaya Bhaduri under Sachin Da’s music direction.

 

  1. Badi Sooni Sooni Si Hai Zindagi Yeh Zindagi (Mili – 1975): Kishore Da’s sad song sung for Amitabh Bachchan with Sachin Da being the composer.

  1. Koi Roko Na Deewane Ko, Mann Machal Raha Kuchh Gaane Ko (Priyatama – 1977): Rajesh Roshan has composed this joyous song and his brother Rakesh Roshan has performed on it with the playback given by Kishore Kumar.

 

  1. Tum Jo Aao To Pyar Aa Jaaye (Sakhi Robin – 1962): A romantic duet of Manna Dey and Suman Kalyanpur sung for Ranjan and Shalini with Robin Banerjee as the music director.

  1. Sau Baar Banaakar Maalik Ne Sau Baar Mitaaya Hoga (Ek Raat – 1968): A long forgotten yet immensely beautiful song of Rafi, composed by Usha Khanna in which the beauty of the lady is praised by the lover with different metaphors used to narrate the beauty of her different limbs. Ravi Kumar sings it on the screen praising the beauty of Simi Grewal.

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Mysterious murder of a mystery writer

Mystery writing is an art mastered by certain people whether they use original ideas or plagiarize others’ ideas but it’s by no means an easy job. Those who are able to pen enthralling murder mysteries become quite popular in the world of readers. I don’t think that any such author (or authoress) is able to think of his / her own murder even in the wildest of his / her dreams. However today I am reviewing a novel which contains the mystery of the murder of a person who himself is a mystery writer by profession. Eminent Hindi mystery writer Surendra Mohan Pathak has penned this novel under his Sunil series. The title of the novel is Front Page.

Front Page contains the mystery of the murder of an eminent mystery and thriller writer Ram Faujdaar who pens novels in Hindi in the style of Sidney Sheldon. He is a bachelor but has fostered his niece Soni like his daughter only. Soni’s late father has made such a will that she will be able to inherit his property only when she marries a suitable boy chosen by her uncle, i.e., Ram Faujdaar for her. But she is in love with a boy Shashank Saalvi who is considered as unworthy for her by Ram Faujdaar. Shashank has been arrested twice by the police, first time under the charge of raping a Sweedish tourist lady and second time under the charge of shoplifting. His sister Shobhna Saalvi is a known dope-addict and is said to be having an illicit relationship with a famous (as well as notorious) self-proclaimed godman – Rangaswamy. Their parents are no less in the eyes of Ram Faujdaar. Father Shivnaath Saalvi has gone bankrupt in his business of printing paper and now functions through a silent partner whereas mother Suman Saalvi used to perform full nude cabaret in the pre-marital period of her life. Quite naturally, Ram Faujdaar is not at all ready to allow his niece to tie the sacred knot with a boy like Shashank.

Otherwise also, there is no love lost between Ram Faujdaar and the Saalvis. Faujdaar is currently busy in penning a novel titled as Dozakh Ke Keede (the insects of hell) in which he is said to have created many characters like the Saalvi family plus a colourful occultist who terms himself as a godman but is actually involved in lascivious and immoral activities. This information has reached the Saalvis because Shivnaath Saalvi is the supplier of printing paper to Faujdaar’s publisher Alakhnaath Paandey and it has, but natural, further aggravated the hatred and tension in the hearts of the Saalvis towards Ram Faujdaar. Ram Faujdaar as well as his secretary Subroto Majoomdaar is concerned about the reaction to be faced after the publication of this novel less from the side of the Saalvis and more from the side of Rangaswamy who is having strong political connections in addition to the huge band of his followers.

And then Ram Faujdaar gets murdered in his felicitation function itself arranged by his publisher Alakhnaath Paandey in his residence-cum-office. He is shot dead when the function is underway and he is addressing the audience from the dais. The hero of this novel – crime reporter Sunil Kumar Chakravarty and his close Punjabi friend Ramakaant Malhotra are also present in the function and they are surprised to see that though Faujdaar has been shot dead, there is no apparent movement pertaining to his shooting and the murderer seems to have vanished in thin air just after shooting. Now investigation of the hero proceeds on the line parallel to that of the police. The mystery gets intensified when the investigating officer is also found as shot dead in the premises itself. Finally, our journalist hero is able to unearth the whole mystery and unmask the murderer.

The title of this novel has nothing to do with its story. This title has been kept only because of the profession of the hero who is a journalist and works on full time basis for a national daily – Blast which is published from the fictitious city of Rajnagar (created by the author for this series of his). Anyway, the novel is damn interesting right from the start to the finish. The curiosity of the reader has been maintained throughout the narrative and with ample doses of humour, the novel has been rendered a high entertainment value by its author, i.e., Surendra Mohan Pathak.

The author has very skilfully developed the character of the murder victim who is a sensitive person within his heart though he maintains a stern persona while dealing with others. He wants his niece to follow the right path and be able to differentiate between true love and fake love before choosing her life-partner. He does not want to come in the way of her joys but she misunderstands him because of her lack of maturity. Another character that stands out due to the author’s efforts is that of Subroto Majoomdaar who is the author’s secretary and has been hand-in-glove with his employer in his lifetime.

The author has also highlighted the life and activities of the self-proclaimed godmen through the character of Rangaswamy. When this novel was written (first published in 1988), a well-known self-proclaimed godman Chandraswamy used to remain in the news headlines. He had strong presence in the corridors of Indian politics also and that’s why the readers of this novel (in that period) were able to contrast the fictitious character of Rangaswamy with the real life character of Chandraswamy.

Written in spicy Hindi, the novel keeps the reader hooked for more than 200 pages. Though I feel that a reader who regularly reads murder mysteries can guess the identity of the murderer through deductive reasoning, this fact does not dilute the quality of the book.

Front Page is an engrossing murder mystery and underscores that ‘truth is stranger than fiction‘. A mystery writer himself can be murdered in a mysterious fashion and that real mystery may be more intricate than the fictional mysteries penned by him.

I wholeheartedly recommend Front Page to all the mystery fans who can read Hindi.

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Let your life not be sans any aim

I sincerely thank my dear friend, Sharad Shrivastav Ji for inspiring me to write this review. Lakshya (2004) is the second directorial venture of the young and talented director Farhan Akhtar starring Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta in lead roles.Lakshya (aim) is the exemplary story of a carefree as well as careless youth, Karan Shergill (Hrithik Roshan) who is in love with Romila Dutta (Preity Zinta) but she finds it difficult to spend her life with a person like Karan who does not have any aim (LAKSHYA) in his life and happy to spend a lazy life on the strength of the money earned by his father. On the contrary, Romila has an aim for herself – to become a successful news-channel correspondent. Karan does not take the things seriously and joins the army casually only to run away from the Indian Military Academy within a few days due to the hard training and strict discipline there. But once he realizes that an aimless life is not worthwhile and his way of life needs to be changed for the better, he rejoins the army and gets an aim during the Kargil war of 1999. He successfully accomplishes his aim and being an Indian hero, gets the love of his life, i.e., Romila too.

Several years prior to the making of Lakshya, a similar incident had happened in a friendly family of myself when the young boy (a child of 10-11 years) was sent to the Military School by his parents and within a month, he ran away from there and came back to his house because the tender boy could not bear the strict discipline of that school. However since the boy was my student ( I had taught Maths to him while he was preparing for the entrance exam.), I was respected by him and his family and had a say in the matters of that house. I advised the boy’s parents to keep patience for some time and resend him to the Military School after a few years. They did the same and this time, it clicked. The boy had his education from the Military School, successfully cleared the NDA exam. and joined the armed force. Right now, he is an army officer. The story of Lakshya though different from this real life episode, reminded me of that boy whom I am proud of in the capacity of a Guru.The message of Lakshya is pretty clear and exemplary for one and all. Though it’s established now that our lives are without aims from the side of Nature (or Almighty), it’s in our own interest to have some aim for us. The aim should be a positive one (and not something unlawful) which will provide a direction to our life and activities. There has to be a vision for our life sans which the life may be like a rudderless vessel drifting on the waters at the mercy of the waves and tides. Setting a goal makes the life of the concerned person meaningful. Thereafter the life is lived and not spent. And setting a goal does not mean just earning a living (as most of the Indians understand and follow). It’s much more. It helps us in growing-up and understanding ourselves. Finally, each one of us has to die some day. At that moment, there should be a satisfaction that a life has been well-lived and something worthwhile has been done. Then the death will also be peaceful and meaningful.

A country like ours which is studded with youth power, requires youths moving ahead with one or the other productive aim in their sight, one or the other pleasant dream in their eyes. That dream fills colour in the sketch of the individual’s life. After his maiden venture – Dil Chaahta Hai (2001), Lakshya came as the second venture of director Farhan Akhtar who is the son of the legendary script-writer and Shaayar, Javed Akhtar. Since Dil Chaahta Hai was a box office hit and critically acclaimed too, comparisons with that were natural. And Lakshya, despite being a good movie made on a good theme, could not live up to the expectations. The subject has been handled dryly and despite the hero’s final triumph in the war (capturing point no. 5179), the director could not convince the audience at large. The big question remains in the end whether winning one strategic point in the war fulfilled the objective of the movie. Should there not be a larger aim in life ? Further, I don’t think anybody can join, leave and then rejoin the Military Academy so easily as shown in the movie.The on-screen chemistry of the hero and the heroine as well as their relationship in the story could not be exasperated to the optimum. Despite casting stalwarts like Amitabh Bachchan, Om Puri, Amrish Puri and Boman Irani; the director could not tap their potential and they were reduced to supporting actors in insignificant roles. The movie is good in patches only, nevertheless it has the flavour of an idealistic movie and deserves admiration. Unlike DCH, the entertainment value of Lakshya is low.

Though the chemistry between Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta has not been developed properly on the screen, both of them have delivered power-packed performances individually. Hrithik has demostrated once again that given a good role, he is unmatchable. And Preity who has been given the get-up of the ace journo Barkha Dutt, has also done her part pretty well. As said earlier, many talented actors have been wasted in supporting roles but nobody has disappointed through his acting.Technically the movie is good but considering the gravity of the Kargil war episode, the work should have been better. Action and thrills are just okay. Length is also not too much. Dialogues are neither great, nor bad. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy could not create the Dil Chaahta Hai magic in their musical score. However Main Aisa Kyon Hoon, Kaandhon Se Milte Hain Kaandhe, Agar Main Kahoon, Kitni Baatein Yaad Aati Hain etc. are according to the mood of the movie. Background score is also in order.

All in all, Lakshya though not a great movie, is laudable due to its subject matter and certain plus points. Let’s have some aim. Let’s have some dream. Let’s make our lives meaningful. Everyone may not be fortunate enough to have his cherished dream fulfilled but as Ajay Devgan (as the martyr Captain Manoj Pandey) says to his superior officer in LOC-Kargil (2003)‘Some goals are so worthy that it’s glorious even to fail‘.

So true ! Hit or miss, the LAKSHYA should be worth aiming at.

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A tribute to Verghese Kurien, the Milkman of India

26th November is commemorated as the National Milk Day in the memory of Dr. Verghese Kurien whose birth anniversary falls on this day. I am paying my tribute to him through this review which is of a movie whose Dr. Kurien himself was a part of.
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Hailed as the Milkman of India, Dr. Kurien was the pioneer of White Revolution in India which not only substantially increased milk production in India but also systematized its collection and distribution and a network of milk cooperative societies came into existence through the relentless efforts of Dr. Kurien. This campaign known as Operation Flood, created dairy cooperatives all over rural India ensuring that the milk producers get the right price of the product and are saved from the exploitation of the middlemen. Then prime minister of India, Laal Bahadur Shaastri made Dr. Kurien the chairman of the newly created National Dairy Development Board and the brand Amul (derived from the Sanskrit word – Amulya, i.e., priceless) which came from Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. became famous worldwide.
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However no good work could be (and can be) done smoothly in the feudalistic and exploitative set up of India. And that’s shown in director Shyam Benegal’s movie – Manthan (1976) whose story was given by Dr. Kurien himself. Renowned playright – Vijay Tendulkar wrote its screenplay and legendary Shaayar – Kaifi Aazmi wrote its dialogues. This timeless classic film shows the victory of good intentions over the mighty vested interests through the collective might of the masses. It won the national award for the best feature film in 1977 and also the national award for the best screenplay. It’s said that for making of this movie, around 5 Lakh farmers of Gujarat had contributed @ Rs. 2/- each and that fund only was utilized as its production cost.

Appearing to be inspired by the real life experience of Dr. Kurien himself (when he being very young, had undertaken this campaign with a strong will to do something worthwhile despite all the odds blocking his path), the story of Manthan (the churning) starts with the arrival of a vet, Dr. Rao (Girish Karnaad) in a small village, Sanganva (Gujarat). He has been deputed by the government to start a dairy cooperative in that area. His team includes Deshmukh (Mohan Agashe), Chandavarkar (Anant Nag) etc. Quite naturally, the local dairy owner, Mishra (Amrish Puri) who also happens to be the money-lender of the village, is not finding this activity as compatible for his exploitative business. He buys milk from the poor milkmen of the village at very less rates and makes exorbitant profit which is now in danger due to the forming of the cooperative society in the village. On the other hand, the sarpanch, i.e., the head of the local governing body of the village (Kulbhushan Kharbanda), sees the cooperative as another means to further his power and awe in the village. The major chunk of the village population consists of the lower caste people known as the HARIJANs and they look upon not only these high profile exploiters but also the urban incomers as their enemies only, mighty but unreliable. Their leader is a good-hearted but arrogant and short-tempered youth, Bhola (Nasiruddin Shah).

Quite naturally, the path ahead for the idealist young hero, Dr. Rao is thorny and stony. But he decides not to compromise with his ideals and not to get awed by the might of the opposing one. He considers all human-beings as equal and endeavours to involve the HARIJAN (lower caste people considered as untouchables in that era) milkmen in the cooperative society so that the purpose of the cooperative movement is served in the real sense. Bhola first misunderstands him but once seeing his pious intentions, he joins the society with his caste brethren. Dr. Rao also gets ample moral support from a sensible and mature milkwoman – Bindu (Smita Patil). However where on one hand, Mishra is conspiring against Dr. Rao and the cooperative society, the sarpanch after losing the election of the chairman of the cooperative society to a HARIJAN youth, goes against them on the other. Mishra gets the support of the drunkard and wicked husband of Bindu in his evil scheme and he makes many moves simultaneously to jolt Dr. Rao and his endeavors and grind his own axe. The sarpanch finally arranges the calling back of Dr. Rao to his original place through a government order. However by this time, the poor as well as the oppressed masses have identified their collective strength through the inspiration of Bhola and they do not allow the cooperative society to lose its existence despite the return of Dr. Rao and his team.

Manthan is an utterly realistic, yet exemplary movie like many movies made by the great director, Shyam Benegal during the seventies and the early eighties. And that’s the reality of India that finally the rural folks who were poor and downtrodden because of the social hierarchy, recognized their strength and finally made the dream of Dr. Kurien a reality. Though still there are thousands of milkmen in India who sell their milk directly to the consumers, mostly the dairy movement has spanned the country and the milkmen now get the right price of their product through the dairy cooperatives. Vested interests might not have left any stone unturned in discouraging them as well as the dairy cooperative movement as shown quite emphatically in this movie but finally the toil of Dr. Kurien and the masses behind him fuelled by his inspiration, showed its colour.

As per Hubert Calvest, ‘Cooperative is a form of organisation wherein persons voluntarily associate together as human-beings on the basis of equality for the promotion of the economic interest of themselves.’ In this concept of cooperative organization, the thing to be understood is that persons associate together as human-beings on the basis of equality. Every human-being is equal irrespective of his wealth or status or share in the corpus fund of the institution. And that’s what is propagated by Dr. Rao in Manthan which finally leads to the defeat of the mighty sarpanch in the election for the chairman of the cooperative because the vote of every member carried equal weight. And this spirit only has made the cooperative movement a success worldwide, especially in India.

Manthan ably underscores the patriarchal set up of the Indian society where the husband despite being drunkard, irresponsible and good-for-nothing considers himself as the owner of his wife who has to abide by his will only. That’s how Bindu gets distanced from Dr. Rao despite having developed a nice understanding and human bond with him earlier. The director has also quite realistically shown that male-female attraction never fails to show its colour and a woman is always able to recognize the nature of the glance of a male that falls on her.

Manthan is technically superior and the complete rural milieu has got enlivened on the screen because of the shooting of the script in the real life setting of the village – Sanganva alongwith the brilliant cinematography of Govind Nihalani and Shama Zaidi’s praiseworthy art direction. The characters are shown as speaking the same dialect as prevalent in the region and several real villagers have also acted in the movie. Every frame (and every character) appears to be real. The length of the movie is not much but whatever is there, the narrative proves to be thoroughly engrossing for the viewer. There is no laxity or boredom anywhere. Despite being a serious movie, the director has inserted humour too through a scene in the ending reels when Mishra (Amrish Puri) delivers nice talks to the villagers by reading them out from a written paper.

Music director Vanraj Bhatia has made background score according to the mood of the movie. There is only one song – Mero Gaam Katha Paare, Jahaan Doodh Ki Nadiya Baahe in the movie for which Preeti Sagar won the Filmfare award for the best female playback singer. Originally it’s a Gujarati folk song. For the song of the movie, the lyrics were penned by Neeti Sagar. And now this famous song with a clip from the movie, is always used as a part of the advertisement of Amul.

The famous theatre personality, playright and actor – Girish Karnaad has excelled in the lead role of Dr. Rao. The film also features another pillar of Indian theatre – Mohan Aagashe. Many actors who were introduced to the Indian cine-audience through the parallel cinema movement of the seventies are there in this movie, viz. (Late) Smita Patil, Nasiruddin Shah, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Anant Naag etc. and everyone of them has left his / her mark through admirable performance. Abha Dhulia as the wife of Dr. Rao who wants her husband to be back to the city, has got very less dialogues but she also makes her presence felt. Late Amrish Puri with his peculiar dialog delivery, amuses the audience despite being in a negative role.

The experience that Dr. Rao underwent (and perhaps Dr. Kurien as well) has been with me too several times during my career. As rightly said by Bhola to Dr. Rao in the movie that it’s easy to talk about ideals (or begin with them) but the real achievement is to stick to them even when everything goes against the protagonist. The idealism of most of the idealists loses its steam and even its breath midway because they are not strong from inside to endure the adverse times. All the same, the ending scene of Manthan declares loud and clear that an idealist may lose, the ideal doesn’t.

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He’s not Lallu but the biggest player in the fray

Lallu is a term used in North India to denote a person who is excessively naive or purely stupid in the context of the worldly knowledge. Popular Hindi novelist Late Ved Prakash Sharma wrote a novel under this title which was a suspense thriller and published in 1994. Ved Prakash Sharma gave the story of this novel to Bollywood director Umesh Mehra for making a Hindi film on that. Umesh Mehra not only bought the story but also hired the services of Ved Prakash Sharma to write the screenplay and the dialogs of that movie. Popular action hero Akshay Kumar was signed for the lead role. The movie proved to be a box office grosser. It’s Sabse Bada Khiladi (1995).Sabse Bada Khiladi (the biggest player) is the story of a simpleton (Akshay Kumar) who calls himself as Lallu. He saves the life of a rich businessman, Jamna Daas (Avtaar Gill) when a truck was about to trample him. Jamna Daas has a motherless daughter, Sunita (Mamta Kulkarni) who has become a brat. A crooked criminal lawyer Amar Singh (Sadashiv Amrapurkar) is planning to usurp the wealth of Jamna Daas by getting his son Amit (Mohnish Behl) married to Sunita. Amit has been successful in trapping Sunita in his fake love. Now the situation is that the self-proclaimed Lallu has himself got injured in his attempt to save the life of Jamna Daas. Out of gratitude, Jamna Daas arranges his medical treatment and also gives him a job in his household. Feeling that Lallu is innocent and clean-heart, Jamna Daas assigns him the responsibility of bringing Sunita on the right track. Since this does not suit the greedy father-son duo, i.e., Amar Singh and Amit; they go after Lallu. A police inspector, Kekda (Gulshan Grover) also becomes a part of this scenario. He is also trying to grind his own axe in the given status of things but he suspects that Lallu is not what he claims to be and his real motive is not just grabbing Jamna Daas’ wealth. Now a game of checks and checkmates start between Lallu and his opponents. Finally, the real identity of Lallu as well as his real objective comes to fore and he only emerges as the winner in the end, proving himself to be the biggest player (Sabse Bada Khiladi).While making a Bollywood movie on a good story or a good novel, it is a Herculean task for the filmmaker to do justice to the original work. Why ? Because he has to take care of the commercial considerations and stud the script with regular formulae viz. songs and dances, romance, comedy, fights etc. so that the movie can appeal to the masses habituated of watching such flicks. And in this bid, the original story gets distorted. Exceptionally, sometimes the movie proves to be a better creative work than the novel / story. However on most of such occasions, it’s the movie which comes a cropper when compared with the good literary work which is its premise. Sabse Bada Khiladi falls into the latter category. I read the novel first and watched the movie later and concluded without any doubt in my mind that the movie is many notches below the novel. While the novel is a brilliant suspense thriller, the movie is a run-of-the-mill Bollywood movie with many things going over the top, diluting the quality of the original story.

The novel has been written on a very large canvas which could not be covered in the two and a half hours long movie. But this is one aspect only. The style of narrating itself is faulty in the movie. The novel starts with Lallu’s encounter with the benevolent rich man and gradually the story unfolds on layer-by-layer basis, rendering shocks to the reader after every few pages, the movie starts with those events which have been narrated in the novel in flash-back. The flat narration has not allowed the suspense factor to thicken and envelop the audience in the desirable manner. The movie focuses more on romance, (slapstick) comedy, songs and dances and action and less on the mind-games between the protagonist and the antagonists which is the backbone of the novel. Unlike the novel, the movie is devoid of any shock value.Several sequences have gone over the top. The negative characters (and also the heroine) appear to be caricatures instead of real life human-beings. The courtroom scenes have been executed in a raw manner, being nowhere near the real courts of India. The movie is an interesting one, all the same. Those who have not read the novel will find themselves as hooked throughout. It does not bore at all.

Rajesh Roshan’s music with the lyrics of Dev Kohli is also a plus point of the movie. Mukkala … Muqaabla … and Bholi Bhali Ladki had become chartbusters when the movie was released. If I have to choose the best song, then I will choose Har Dil Mein Hai Rab Basta which is linked to the Lallu avatar of the hero making the entry. Music is not great but it’s appealing and adds value to the movie.Performance wise talking, the director seems to have allowed the actors to act in whatever way they wanted. Character actors – Avtaar Gill and Sudhir Dalvi (playing the role of the doctor of Jamna Daas) only are able to impress. Akshay Kumar has acted according to his action hero image of that period. He had already become famous as ‘Khiladi’ (player) by that time and this movie consolidated his position in the industry in that form. It’s a pity that a fine actor like Mohnish Behl had to overact (perhaps because of the instructions given to him by the director).Technically the movie is up-to-the-mark. The get-up of Lallu is impressive. Cinematography and art direction are satisfactory. Length is appropriate. Background score is in order. Production value is decent.

All in all, Sabse Bada Khiladi is a value for money flick. Definitely a nice timepass. However as said earlier, the novel is much superior to the movie and therefore, while recommending the movie to the typical movie buffs, I advise those who can read Hindi to read the novel Lallu which is a gem from the pen of the famous Hindi novelist Late Ved Prakash Sharma.

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The predecessor to Lamhe, Joggers’ Park & Nishabd

Human relations are complex, especially the male-female romantic relationship which sees no bar. As a song of Jagjit Singh from the movie Prem Geet (1981) says – Na Umr Ki Seema Ho, Na Janm Ka Ho Bandhan, Jab Pyar Kare Koi To Dekhe Keval Mann (love sees the heart only and not any bounds of age or birth or the like wise). In the new millennium, two movies dealing with the romantic relationship between an aged male and a much younger female, have been in news – 1. Joggers’ Park (2003) and 2. Nishabd (2007). However around two decades prior to these movies, one movie dealt with this issue through a highly sensitive and touching story. This underrated movie was Anokha Rishta (1986).s-l300Anokha Rishta (unusual relationship), perfectly harmonizing with its title, is the story of an unusual relationship between Mary (Sabeeha) and Robert Brown (Rajesh Khanna). Teenager Mary is an orphan and lives in an orphanage run by nuns. Her education had been sponsored by Robert’s father in his lifetime. After the demise of his father, when Robert takes independent charge of the family business, he comes to know of this sponsorship. Being benevolent by nature, he decides to continue it in his father’s name itself. Mary has never met her sponsor and she even does not know him by name. For her, the identity of her sponsor is -‘uncle’ only whom she regularly writes letters and her uncle (earlier Robert’s father and now Robert) always responds to them. A youth (Karan Shah) loves her but she ignores his advances because of his image of an irresponsible and loafer boy. On the other hand, Robert has always been in love of Dr. Pramila (Smita Patil) but due to following different religious faiths and their parents not allowing them to marry someone from a different religion, they could not marry. However being mature and true lovers, they chose not to marry somebody else too and decided to remain bachelors only.

The twist in the tale comes with Mary coming across Robert in a party and despite himself being more than double of her age, falls in love with him. She expresses her feelings to him but he discourages her from making advances towards him in this way. On the other hand, maintaining a benevolent attitude and wanting her to lead a happy life, Robert helps Mary’s lover to come closer to her and guides him to grow up, besides giving him a job in his own office. Mary, being mad in Robert’s love without knowing that he only is her sponsor and ‘her uncle’ whom she writes to and gets letters from, keeps on living in her dreamy world of a married life with Robert. Her problem is that she cannot share her feelings and mental agony (of not getting positive response from Robert) with ‘her uncle’ because all the incoming and outgoing letters (written to ‘her uncle’) of Mary are screened first by the head of the orphanage (called ‘mother’).

Finally, when Robert breaks her heart (in her own interest only), she decides to become a nun and writes a final letter to ‘her uncle’ with a special and last request to the head of the orphanage to deliver it to ‘her uncle’ without opening it and reading its content. Dr. Pramila, knowing all these developments, tries to stop Mary but she remains firm on her decision. Now her lover (the youth, now an employee of Robert) also gets desperate upon knowing this decision of hers. Finally the onus falls on the shoulders of Robert only to do something to prevent Mary from taking this drastic step and that leads to the highly emotional and impressive climax.Anokha Rishta1This story written by P. Padmarajan has been presented on the screen in a manner par excellence by the director, I.V. Sasi. The narrative flows freely and keeps the viewer guessing about the climax. In this movie, the love of a teenager girl towards a much elder male is one-sided because he looks upon her in a fatherly way only. And I feel that such type of things happen on the part of the young girls quite often because they search for their father in their beau or their husband. Nothing shown in this movie is unnatural and all the characters are real flesh and blood human-beings only. Tender feelings and sentiments, both are in abundance in the movie. The internal loneliness, stuffiness and heartache of Mary becomes lively on the screen as the story proceeds scene-by-scene.anokha rishtaYash Chopra made a movie – ‘Lamhe’ with somewhat similarity in the story in 1991 in which he showed that the much younger girl finally wins the heart of the elderly man and he marries her, ditching his lady-love of his own age-group. However in this movie, I found the things as more realistic with the elderly man, instead of bowing before the wish of the much younger and immature girl, helps her by showing her the right path to lead a wedded life with a young man of her own age-group who truly loves her and preventing her from playing with her life under the frustration of not getting the first crush of her life.index1Anokha Rishta is a very interesting emotional movie in which relief has been provided at places through the character of Satish Shah, an old employee in Robert’s office and his informal adviser. There is no unnecessary dragging of the story and technically also this movie is okay. R.D. Burman’s music does not boast of any chart-buster but it is in accordance with the mood of the movie.ARRajesh Khanna has delivered a mature performance in the mature role of Robert. Smita Patil is, like always, at her very best. Karan Shah as Mary’s lover alongwith Satish Shah, Shafi Inamdaar and other supporting characters are also all right in their respective roles. However this movie belongs to debutante Sabeeha who is the daughter of Ameeta, a Bollywood heroine of the black and white era. She looks quite fresh and has performed naturally, infusing life into the role of Mary. This is definitely her best performance in her short-lived career and perhaps the only lead role done by her.Anokha-Rishta-925617153-435994-2Anokha Rishta did not gather any headlines or controversies or hailing reviews like Lamhe or Joggers’ Park or Nishabd. In fact, this admirable movie went virtually unnoticed. Released in 1986, this is one of the last movies of Smita Patil. I doubt, even several of the die-hard fans of Smita Patil may not have watched this movie.Anokha-Rishta-925617153-435994-1Anokha Rishta is not a classic movie. It has its own share of mediocrity and flaws. Still, it’s much better than several overhyped movies. Emotional people like me can definitely relate themselves to it in many ways.

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Applying the teaching of Bhagvad-Geeta differently

I express my gratitude towards my dear friend and esteemed reviewer and blogger –  Mazhar Nawaz for inspiring me to write this review. During my last visit to Bengaluru on 20.05.2012, I had a detailed discussion with him which included this movie also. Mazhar Bhai missed the story and the performance of Raaj Kumar in Karmayogi (1978) and I promised him to pen a review of this movie which I had seen long back on TV. Here comes the review.

In my review of Fashion (2008), I had referred to the concept of Sthit-Pragya as given in Bhagvad-Geeta which refers to a man maintaining his mental-balance in all times whether good or bad. This movie deals with another highly significant concept given in the highly revered book of Hinduism (Geeta) – the concept of Karma alongwith the connected concepts of Karma-Phala and Karmayoga.220px-KarmayogiLord Krishna says in Geeta that a man has a right over his deeds but not their results. He, therefore, should do his duty diligently without pondering over its outcomes. If the deeds are good, their outcomes will be positive. If the deeds are bad, their outcomes will, quite naturally, be negative. The fruits or the results of the deeds are never instant. They take their due course in materializing. Hence a person should be patient enough to wait for the results of his endeavours (specially when they are positive). And the best way to maintain patience is to be indifferent towards the fruits of your deeds. And one who believes in performing his duties with sincerity without thinking or getting impatient about the fruits / rewards, is called a Karmayogi. Karmayoga is, therefore, a detachment with one’s deed once it is over so that the doer is not eager about its result. A similar thing is said in the laws related to the activities of the subconscious mind that the detachment with the deed only leads to its success and any sort of attachment or chasing its result, may be counter-productive.

This theory of Karma (deed / effort) and Karma-Phala (reward of the deed) may sound impractical and not useful to many modern day people who go by common logic and feel that if the reward (or its timing) is uncertain, then what’s the meaning of effort. The protagonist of this around four decades old movie also thinks the same way. He is not patient to wait for the fruit of his effort. He wants his reward instantly. And this is mostly not possible only when the effort is good or lawful. However, unlawful activities may yield their materialistic rewards within no time. So, the hero – Shankar (Raaj Kumar) who was earlier betrayed and swindled by many people in his life, leading to his poverty and hardships, takes the path of crime which yields instant result (money) to him. His wife, Durga (Mala Sinha) is a highly religious and pious woman who firmly believes in the teachings of Geeta. Shankar feels that he and Durga cannot pull together as husband and wife. Hence he leaves her and leaving the village too, shifts to the metropolitan city. He also takes their son – Mohan with him and teaches him what he has learnt from life. Naturally, the personality of Mohan (Raaj Kumar in double role) also becomes a reflection of that of his father only. The father-son duo commits crimes in association with Keshav Lal (Ajit) and his confidante – Bhiku Ghasi Ram (Dheeraj Kumar).

On the other hand, Durga faces immense hardships. When Shankar left him, she was pregnant and after leaving the house (because it has been attached by the court because of non-payment of loan taken by Shankar against that), she gives birth to her second son who courtesy the good teachings and nice Samsakaras of his mother, grows up as an idealist – Ajay (Jeetendra). Ajay is a lawyer but he runs a newspaper also, named as – Karmayogi. Keshav Lal conspires against Shankar and gets him caught by the police. Since Shankar has murdered a police officer, he gets death penalty. Later Mohan happens to meet his separated mother and younger brother but he has already chosen his end and after seeking his revenge from the conspirators, follows his father to the gallows. However in his ending moments, his mother is there to recite the couplets of Geeta to him. These couplets are not only those belonging to the concept of Karma but also the concepts of soul and rebirth as explained by Lord Krishna.Karmayogi

The decades of sixties and seventies, in my opinion, were a period when there were several good script-writers active in Bollywood and therefore, numerous good scripts (enveloped in the regular box office formulae, of course) were written for Hindi movies. However, barring exceptions like B.R. Chopra, Yash Chopra, Raj Khosla, Manmohan Desai, Prakash Mehra, Raghunath Jhalani etc., skilled directors were not there to develop formula-based good scripts into equally good and impressive movies. And hence the quality of the movies got diluted due to average direction of the script. Karmayogi also suffers from the same problem. Director of this movie – Ram Maheshwari had earlier spoiled the brilliant script of Neel Kamal (1968) and in this movie also, he could not do justice to the brilliant story idea and the praiseworthy script (of Benoy Chatterjee and C.J. Pavri).downloadStill if this movie has its moments and certain parts are damn impressive, then it’s mainly due to the stylish performance of Raaj Kumar in double role and the dialogues of Saagar Sarhadi which seem to have been specially written for him. Since both the roles of Raaj Kumar contain the same flavour, he did not need to deliver two different types of performances. He is stylish and mannerismic but carries this otherwise a run-of-the-mill kind of movie on his shoulders. It’s his performance which renders this movie a repeat value. If someone else has been able to leave her mark, then it’s Mala Sinha who despite less footage, has got the meaty role of the religious wife and mother who firmly believes in and follows the teachings of Bhagvad-Geeta. Jeetendra has got very less footage. Ajit, Dheeraj Kumar, Kanhaiyalal (the money-lender of the village), Nazir Hussain (the priest of the church who supports Durga) etc. are routine.karmayogi-indian-movie-poster-mdThe movie has two young leading ladies – Rekha and Reena Roy but both of them have got very less footage. Still Rekha is able to leave her mark as a cabaret dancer and gangster’s moll who is also a loving and caring elder sister (of Reena Roy) with a heart of gold. The movie features Yogeeta Bali also in a guest appearance.Karmayogi-Movie-925660829-435994-1Music composed by Kalyanji Anandji is overall average but the Qawwaali picturized on Rekha, Ajit and Raaj Kumar – Tum Nahin Ya Hum Nahin is memorable. Its lyrics seem to have been specially penned according to the situation as well as the personality of Raaj Kumar. Asha Bhonsle, Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi have sung it brilliantly. The theme song of the movie – Tere Jeevan Ka Hai Karmon Se Naata (sung by Manna Dey) is also impressive. Varma Malik has penned the lyrics.

The action sequences and thrills are another plus point of this movie. Considering the standard of the seventies, the scene involving the motor-boat and the helicopter as well as the scene involving the running of a double-decker bus are highly impressive and laudable.karmayogi-1978-eros-dvd-11809-pTechnically the movie is more or less okay. However editing is a bit confusing. The court-room drama after the murder of Keshav Lal in which Mohan, despite being the accused, performs as the defense counsel for himself is prolonged and dragging, however its culmination is simply brilliant. I feel, the script-writers have penned the script in such a way that only the personality of Raaj Kumar prevails in the story and the other characters are subdued before him. That’s the reason that justice could not be done to the roles of other artists.

An interesting trivia is that Mala Sinha had played the heroine of both Raaj Kumar and Jeetendra in the classic movie – Mere Huzoor (1968) and here she has played the mother of both of them. It is also one of the few movies of Jeetendra and Rekha in which they are not paired opposite each other.

Karmayogi could have become an outstanding movie, had the script been handled by a skilled director. Nevertheless it’s a formula-based Bollywood potboiler which deserves a watch because it’s entertaining and contains the memorable performance of Raaj Kumar.

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