The legendary badman in an unforgettable role

It’s been five years since Pran left for his heavenly abode on 12.07.2013. He was the cruel and deadly villain of Bollywood movies who was so much hated by the audience that for a very long period, the Indian parents were not ready to christen their newly born sons as Pran. Despite being a versatile actor, Pran Sikand was typecast in villainous roles for around two decades. While paying my tribute to the legendary on-screen villain who was a great human-being in his personal life, I am presenting the review of a black and white period movie in which Pran has played the title role and interestingly the title of the movie is after the villain and not the hero. This unique B&W classic is Halaku (1956).0822023.CINE.lbpHalaaku was the grandson of the ruthless and fearsome Mongol invader Changez Khan. He occupied vast areas of Iraq, China, Russia, Afghanistan etcetera with his valour. However this movie deals with his occupying and ruling of Iran. This movie is a brilliant mix of romance, action and sentiments with Pran being all pervasive in the pivotal role of Halaaku.0822021.CINE.lbpThe love story of Parvez (Ajit) and Neelofer (Meena Kumari) is at the centre of the movie. The main twist comes in the story when the then ruler of Iran, Halaaku (Pran) happens to see Neelofer and stakes his claim on her. Living in a patriarchal social milieu, the women did not have any say in such vital matters of their own lives those days and the clear rule was ‘beauty belongs to the mighty’. In such a situation, quite naturally, the onus of saving Neelofer from Halaaku and also saving her love to meet a tragic death falls on her beau Parvez. The movie very impressively narrates how Parvez is able to demonstrate his valour to Halaaku and wins a bet compelling Halaaku to fulfill a promise made by him to Parvez. But the thing that wins Halaaku’s heart is not Parvez’s valour but his patriotism and putting his nation above his love and his sweetheart. Won over by the patriotism of Parvez, cruel and insensitive Halaaku is able to explore his soul and then he takes an unexpected decision. The villain comes out of the gaberdine of villain in the end and demonstrates his big heart and sensitivity towards others’ feelings.images (1)I had watched Halaaku on Doordarshan some three decades back and was taken aback by the stunning performance of Pran in the title role. Though the hero of the movie is Ajit, it’s Pran who won all the accolades of the audience and the critics alike through his mesmerizing performance. He is the villain of the story, mind it. Ajit and Meena Kumari have also done well as the romantic lead pair. Minoo Mumtaz playing the Christian wife of Halaaku (who is strongly against his marrying another woman, i.e., Neelofer) is also admirable.The complete supporting cast including the great dancer Helen has also performed satisfactorily.MV5BMjA1OTQ1YTMtYzQ3ZS00NGM5LWIyMGEtZTEyY2ViNDBkMWZiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTk3NTc0MTk@._V1_It’s difficult for me to say as to how much the story of the movie stands true to the history. However as the Salim-Anarkali love story is immortal despite not being corroborated by the history, the same can be asserted for this movie also. The script is very well written and the director (D.D. Kashyap) has ably directed it. There is no boredom in the movie and the narrative keeps the audience hooked throughout.imagesAll the technical aspects of the movie including its length are well in order and there cannot be two opinions that Halaaku is a very well made movie. The time of the thirteenth century A.D. has been created quite admirably on the screen.0822027.CINE.lbpShankar Jaikishan have composed highly admirable music for the movie with the help of the beautiful and touching lyrics of Shailendra. Almost all the songs are quite good to listen. Two songs of the album are immortal – 1. Aaja Ke Intezaar Mein Jaane Ko Hai Bahaar Bhi which is an unforgettable romantic song of Lata and Rafi, 2. Dil Ka Na Karna Aitbaar Koi which is a memorable sad song of Lata.0822016.CINE.lbpWith my salute to the one and only Pran Saheb, I recommend this classic movie from the black and white era to not only the admirers of Pran, Meena Kumari and Ajit but also to all those movie buffs who take interest in watching such gems from the treasure of Hindi cinema.

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Deserves a dekko solely for Akshaye Khanna

Among the contemporary Bollywood movie directors, I am a big fan of the director-due Abbas Mustan. Their filmmaking style contains watching the DVD of some good Hollywood thriller, then getting the script of their next movie ready by using the theme of that Hollywood movie, changing the characters and the milieu according to the taste of the Bollywood movie audience and getting some good songs composed by the music directors. Earlier they used to borrow the title also from some old commercially successful Bollywood movie. This formula has worked well for them in many movies made by them. One such movie is Humraaz (2002) whose title has nothing to do with the story or the classic Hindi movie made by B.R. Chopra – Hamraaz (1967).

Humraaz was released on 05.07.2002 and I had watched it in the Aakash Cinema of Kota exactly sixteen years back with my wife and little daughter, i.e., on 07.07.2002 which was a Sunday. I had gone to see that movie being under an impression that it’s a murder mystery. However despite liking the movie, I felt that the directors were not interested in keeping any mystery or suspense in the movie. They were more interested in making a lavish movie with ample dose of thrill and showing use of modern gadgets.There are only three main characters in the story – Karan (Akshaye Khanna) who is the leader of a music band, Priya (Ameesha Patel) who is Karan’s associate in the band and sweetheart in the real life and Raj (Bobby Deol) who is a multimillionaire businessman. Karan manages to get the contract of running music band on Raj’s cruise and then his sweetheart Priya makes Raj fall in love with her. The director-duo has very generously exposed it at the interval point itself that the love of Priya for Raj is fake and she has trapped him in that under some scheme masterminded by her real sweetheart Karan.

After the interval, the game of checks and checkmates begin between Karan and Raj when Raj comes to know about the real link between Karan and Priya. However Priya bows before the real love of Raj for her and she no longer remains as willing to dance to the tune of Karan and be a faithful wife to Raj instead. Raj first decides to kill Priya considering her as infidel but soon he comes to know of the change of her heart also. However by that time, he has already taken his plan to ensure her death, only to be checkmated by Karan who is the real mastermind here. Finally, it’s the villain only who loses in this chess-like game, not the hero.

As said earlier, the title of Humraaz (someone who knows your secret or someone whom you have shared your secret with) has nothing do with the story presented. Though the narrative is very interesting and keep the viewer engrossed, there is nothing like suspense for him. After coming to know of the collusion of Karan and Priya in the scheme of trapping Raj and extorting money from him, whatever little suspense has been there, is also gone and there is hardly any suspense in the post-interval session. The curiosity of the audience regarding the conclusion has been maintained though.The story has been written by taking the basic grains from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic movie – Dial M for Murder (1954) which was remade as A Perfect Murder (1998). However the directors appear to be more interested in showing lavishness, remote-control gates, video-conferencing through internet (which was a recent development in the world of technology at the time of this movie), one-way mirrors in bathrooms of the cruise etc than having a good script for the movie, using those basic grains. That’s why their grip on the movie gets loosened at many places and the movie could not be as good as it could have been.Technical and production value wise, the movie scores like anything but lavishness leaves a positive impact on the audience only when the script is taut and engaging and Humraaz loses the plot on this count. Raj (Bobby Deol) takes interest less in his business and more in watching nude females through one-way mirrors fitted in their bathrooms. And mind it, he is the hero of this movie. His roaming about the world alongwith his cruise, leaving his vast business behind and leaving his mother in Jaipur (their hometown), also does not make any sense. The lead female character is given the form of a vamp in the major part of the movie but she turns out to be the heroine in the final reels. Changing her infidel and greedy character to that of a devoted wife or Sati Saavitri is sudden and not very convincing.

Himesh Reshammiya’s music contains foot-tapping numbers and can be considered as overall good. Bardaasht Nahin Kar Sakta is my favourite song from this album. Shiraz Ahmed’s dialogues are as average as his screenplay is.

Performance wise talking, both Bobby Deol and Ameesha Patel are average alongwith the supporting cast members. The real performer in this movie is the villain Akshaye Khanna who has delivered a sensational and convincing performance. He is a talented actor and was able to create his sizable fan-following in the initial years of his career itself. The movie alongwith his role may be considered as ordinary but his performance is extra-ordinary.

If you want to watch an Indianized version of Dial M for Murder or A Perfect Murder, I suggest you to watch Mukul Anand’s Aitbaar (1985) which is a much better adaptation of the classic Hollywood movie(s). Still, courtesy Akshaye Khanna, this Abbas Mustan presented Bollywood potboiler is also worth a dekko.

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A great scientist turning into prisoner no. 100

Qaidi No. 100 (prisoner no. 100) is the 100th novel of famous Hindi novelist Ved Prakash Sharma which was first published in 1983 when the author was only 28 years of age. It’s a grand story written on an extra-ordinarily large canvas and has been spread into two volumes. Qaidi No. 100 is the second and the final volume but the story is carried over in that from its previous part which is the 99th novel of the author named as Hatya Ek Suhaagin Ki (murder of a married woman).vpsThe tagline of the novel as mentioned on its cover page is –The story of a bride turned into prisoner no. 100 by time (or destiny). However more than being a (runaway) bride, the protagonist of this story is a great scientist unfortunately born in a good-for-nothing family where there is no care or concern for her talent. Her strong willpower to become a great scientist coupled with the inspiration of a real guru in the form of a lecturer in her college, enables her to leave India and pursue higher studies abroad. This novel tells the epic tale of this girl with several twists in her life, turning her into prisoner no. 100 first in jail and then in asylum.

This highly talented girl is Sangeeta born in such a defective family that is not only financially weak but also contains mentally distorted and poorly thinking people in the form of her father and her brother. Her brother Teetu has become a small time criminal with a friend of his named as Baagesh. Despite being Teetu’s friend, Baagesh is more sensible and understands Sangeeta better. He considers Sangeeta as no less than his real sister but he is helpless when she suffers in her home in the hands of Teetu and their backward-thinking father Durgadaas. Her mother is also a sufferer like her.

In such darkness of her life, Sangeeta finds a ray of hope to sharpen her talent and make it big in the world of science especially medicine. Professor Divakar, a lecturer in her college, identifies her talent and then considering the adverse situation in her home, manages to send her abroad for higher studies with a new name Neelam. Professor Divakar helps Sangeeta when she is being forcibly married by her family (to be straight, by her father and brother) and this runaway bride leaves the nation with his help only to return as the great scientist Neelam after a few years. The prime minister of India (indirect reference is there to Mrs. Indira Gandhi) welcomes Neelam and she seeks her help to get a well-equipped laboratory to search the treatment of cancer (which was considered an incurable lethal disease in those days). On the other hand, after ensuring Sangeeta’s safe exit from India and a warm reception abroad, Professor Divakar surrenders to the law and gets sentence of imprisonment under the charge of abducting Sangeeta.

Neelam had got married to Suresh while being abroad and when she comes back to her motherland, Suresh also accompanies her. The trouble strikes because of the lecherous nature of Suresh who not only makes merry on the wealth and facilities available with his hard-working wife remaining hours and hours in the laboratory only busy with her research but also brings call-girls to their government allotted residence itself. The day Neelam is successful in inventing the treatment of cancer and approaches Suresh’s room to share her joy with him, she is shocked to find a call-girl there. In a hate-filled rage she kills that woman and then tries to kill Suresh also but he escapes. Neelam is arrested and tried for murder, becoming prisoner no. 100 in jail. During her trial, she shows signs of insanity and consequentially sent to asylum. Coincidentally, here also she gets her no. as 100 only.

Now the great scientist Neelam now known as ‘Prisoner No. 100’ is confined to an asylum where nobody visits her except her close friend Seema. The story of Seema is also tragic. She had lost her parents long back and has been fostered by her blind uncle Balwant, a retired sergeant of the Indian army who loves her very much. Her ill-fate has made her the wife of a greedy and criminal-minded man named as Gajraaj. He apparently runs a printing-press for his living, showing the world as well as Seema that he’s not after Seema’s inherited wealth. He plans to prepare currency notes by forming a team of six members including Teetu and Baagesh (who were associated with Neelam when she was known as Sangeeta). The currency notes are to be printed on the special paper used for government made currency. That special paper is imported and carried in a highly secured van from the airport. Gajraaj and his team capture this van but things take such a turn that the special paper (on which they were planning to print currency notes) goes out of their reach. Situation compels them to plan Seema’s murder. However Seema escapes and Gajraaj dies. Neelam, being in the asylum, is aware of all these facts through Seema only.

After Gajraaj’s death, the stories of the lives of Seema and Neelam get associated like flesh and blood. Now Neelam wants money for her research work which can be arranged by preparing the currency notes on the paper looted by Gajraaj and his gang. Seema is standing by her but firstly, they have to checkmate Gajraaj’s criminal associates and secondly, they have to escape the law also as an eminent and highly respected detective of India – Keshav Pandit is investigating the death of Gajraaj, suspecting Seema for that. Seema’s blind uncle Balwant is always standing by his loving niece. However to escape the law while helping Neelam is not that easy because of not only Keshav Pandit but also the RAW (Research & Analysis Wing) who is investigating the loot of the van containing the special paper to make the currency notes and has been keeping a close watch on first Gajraaj and after his death, Seema. A mysterious criminal known as Trikaaldarshi also comes into picture. How the story of the great scientist Neelam who was born as Sangeeta at Naasik, culminates is the climax.

This novel is highly interesting and contains a grand story with frequent twists and currents for the reader. The first part of the story embedded in Hatya Ek Suhaagin Ki contains the story of Seema, her blind uncle, her greedy husband and the activities of the criminals who want to prepare currency notes. It starts with the attempt on Seema’s life and then the reader comes to know of the van robbery and the incidents connected to that, through flashback. It’s a grand treat of suspense, thrill and sentiments as well. The character of the main protagonist of the story, i.e., Neelam does not get much footage in that. Neelam’s story is contained by the second part, i.e., Qaidi No. 100. The thread of the story of Seema alongwith the van robbery episode is brought from Hatya Ek Suhaagin Ki and joined to the story of Qaidi No. 100 in between when Neelam escapes from the asylum and meets Seema. Thereafter these two different stories amalgamate into one and that forms the remaining part of Qaidi No. 100. Perhaps the author had no other option for the layout of the story because two almost entirely different stories were coming through two different characters of Seema and Neelam. However this kind of storytelling has turned Qaidi No. 100 as a novel complete in itself. Therefore, if someone is not able to read Hatya Ek Suhaagin Ki, even then he / she can enjoy Qaidi No. 100 because the essence of the story of Hatya Ek Suhaagin Ki is given in brief while carrying it over to Qaidi No. 100. It’s just like the act of joining two rivers.

It’s a grand story which, to be enjoyed properly, should be read fully. The plot summary given by me supra does not tell everything about it and cannot substitute the reading of the entire novel. The canvas of the story is exceedingly large with several sparkling colours used to make the picture. It’s a fantastic novel, no doubt.

The novel has high inspirational value also. There may be several talented boys and girls unfortunately born in defective families suffocating not only their talent but also their lives as normal human-beings. But where there is a will, there is always a way. Hence the talented children should not lose heart and should keep the lamp of hope as ablaze in their hearts through sheer willpower. Every labyrinth has an exit. Every lock has a key. Every problem has a solution.

The novel very touchingly underscores the pious relationship between a sincere teacher and a sincere student. I also had such a relationship with my English teacher Late Shri Surendra Kumar Mishra. This novel portrays such a relationship between the teacher Professor Divakar and the student Sangeeta. Narrow-minded people (like the father and the brother of Sangeeta) could not see anything in that beyond sexual attraction because the teacher is a male and the student is a young girl. However when the thoughts and the intentions are pious, such relationships can do miracles the same way a miracle happens for Sangeeta in this novel enabling her to become what she deserved to become.

The author has very skilfully underscored through the characters of Sangeeta and Baagesh that sometimes the deemed relations are stronger and more understanding than the blood relations. He has portrayed that Sangeeta’s deemed brother Baagesh understands and loves her as well as sympathizes and empathizes with her much better than her real brother Teetu who always misunderstands her, curses her and oppresses her. Despite not being related to Sangeeta through blood, Baagesh always stands by her even years later when she has become Neelam.

The character of Keshav Pandit is the highlight of the complete novel. First introduced in the author’s highly popular novel ‘Bahu Maange Insaaf’, this character is shown as a great detective who works for the Life Insurance Corporation of India, investigating dubious policy claims. He is shown as not only a kind person with a great human side of his personality but also a very cunning and witty detective who is an expert in rattling the likely criminals or suspects through his intelligent interrogation and cross-questioning. His character adds a lot of spice to the already very interesting story.

The author has not only taken a lot of liberties in telling his story but also he has used the concept of planchette to call a dead man’s spirit. Ironically, the main protagonist of the story is a great scientist. Then such kind of a phenomena in the story appears to be contradictory and out of place. This does not allow the story to remain a realistic one. Otherwise also, many things appear to be out of place or completely unreal. However except the planchette issue, no such thing gets noticed by the reader because of his / her being engrossed in the thrilling story. However one more minus point caught by me is that some significant questions have been left as unanswered.

The language (Hindi) used by the author is simple but the dialogues are very impressive. Having struggled in his own life (during his childhood and early adolescence), the author seems to have seen life from pretty close. And that’s the reason why he has presented a lively and touching portrayal of the plight of Sangeeta (and her mother too) in her home.

Qaidi No. 100 is a story well-told. Despite flaws and deficiencies, it’s a grand treat for the Hindi readers. Though Qaidi No. 100 is complete in itself, If the reader is able to read Hatya Ek Suhaagin Ki also prior to that, his / her entertainment will get something like the icing on the cake.

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When ? Why ? And where ?

Kab ? Kyoon ? Aur Kahan ? (1970) is a suspense thriller as suggested by its title (When ? Why ? And Where ?) which stars Dharmendra and Babita in lead roles with Pran playing the villain of the story. It is an entertaining movie and worth a watch by all standards. The producer-director of this movie – Arjun Hingorani had a strange fancy regarding the titles of the movies made by him. He always used three ‘K’s in the title concerned. Hence the title here also contains three ‘K’s, considering the mystery-filled plot, the title is apt though.KabKyoonKahan-00019The movie opens with the killing of a rich man (Murad) in an accident staged by his adversaries. Then starts the world tour of Asha (Babita), the daughter of the victim. She happens to come across Anand (Dharmendra) during her sea-journey and they fall in love (quite naturally). When she is back home, attempts start on her life too. Apparently, it’s her greedy uncle (Pran) only who is masterminding everything because he wants to usurp all the wealth of hers by eliminating her. Being unaware of her uncle’s evil designs but quite aware of his licentious nature, Asha happens to kill him one night when he tries to molest her close friend Lata (Ashoo). On one hand, Anand is investigating the death of her father in his capacity of a C.I.D. officer, on the other she herself becomes a murderess who now has to get rid of the dead body of her uncle in her bid to escape the law. After many interesting incidents and twists in the story, the mystery gets unravelled.Kab__Kyoon__Aur_Kahan_Kab ? Kyoon ? Aur Kahaan is a movie which contains the romantic encounter of the lead pair in the initial reels but soon gets on its crime and suspense-filled track. The main twist in the story arrives at the interval point and the narrative in the post interval session is so fast that it never loosens its grip on the spectator at any point of time. The result is – the spectator keeps on watching holding his breath and making guesses about the mystery and the further development of the story. The movie has been written as well as directed very well.images (2)There are ample doses of romance blended with comedy in the movie but finally, it’s the suspense aspect that takes it over. Firstly, it appears to be a flat crime-thriller with a well-identified villain (Pran) and his well-identified villainous activities. However gradually the story advances in such a way that an aura of mystery prevails on the screen and consequentially on the minds of the viewers. The movie does not bore at any place and it has been made by using all the regular Bollywood formulae whose mix appears to be almost right. There may be viewers who are able to guess the solution of the mystery correctly. They are bound to feel entertained by this flick all the same.41qmtgjIAxLPerformances are admirable. Dashing hero Dharmendra, gorgeous heroine Babita (I always find her much prettier than her daughters who are high profile contemporary heroines) and the stylish evergreen villain Pran are all very impressive in their respective roles. Pran’s unique style of smoking (leaving rings of smoke from his mouth) was something that nobody could imitate. His performance in the final part of the movie is simply awesome. Debutante Ashoo as the heroine’s buddy, Helen as the villain’s accomplice, Shetty as a rowdy on the ship, Hiralaal as a mysterious lunatic etc. are well in place. Asit Sen and Dhumal have done good comedy.Art-350Kalyanji Anandji’s music is not great but not bad either. The title track (Ho Gaye Tere Ho Gaye) is the best from the album. The music directors themselves alongwith the hero (Dharmendra) are the presenters of this movie.imagesTechnically this colour movie is up to the mark. The sequences involving the ship, the sea and the natural beauty are quite impressive. This mystery is a little bit scary too. Action and thrills are good. Length of the movie is also optimum.images (1)All in all, Kab ? Kyoon ? Aur Kahaan ? is an interesting suspense movie which the mystery fans can enjoy like anything. Courtesy the heart-tickling romance, the audience of romantic movies is also sure to like it.

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Is bloodshed mandatory for a revolution ?

We have heard and read a lot about revolutions. Several people especially those who follow the Marxist philosophy and support the cause of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, maintain that a revolution has to be violent and contain bloodshed to be effective in bringing about the desired change in the system or to put it straight, of the system. It cannot afford to follow non-violence.

Well, most of the revolutions in the world have been violent only but usage of violence has its own dangers. That’s why the Father of the Nation of India, Mahatma Gandhi never advocated violence and maintained that to achieve pious ends, the means also should be pure. He firmly held the view that violence and bloodshed never solve any problem or bring about any meaningful revolution. ‘Win your opponent by changing his heart through your love and logical arguments and not by killing him. Eliminate hatred in his heart so that he comes over to your side and there remains no need for you to eliminate himself’, asserts Gandhiji. Yeh Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai (1966) has been made on this theme only.925703425sYeh Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai (how beautiful this life is !) narrates a story which appears to have been penned in the wake of the gloom prevailing in India after suffering the humiliating defeat in the hands of China in the war of 1962. The movie shows the clippings of Hitler and the world war II in the beginning and then declares that life is beautiful whereas death is horrifying and hence let’s worship life and discard violence and killings irrespective of our objectives and missions undertaken.

The story presents Mr. Gupta (Ashok Kumar) as the most popular politician of the region (akin to Jawahar Lal Nehru) who believes in reforming and replacing the existing system through peace and people’s constructive cooperation for the benefit of the whole society. His one time associate, Mr. Jolkar (Moti Laal) has left him and his party and launched his own political outfit because of the ideological differences between the two. Mr. Jolkar (akin to the communist opponents of Jawahar Lal Nehru in that period) believes in revolutionizing the system prevailing in the country by eliminating those who oppose any such change. He opines that violence is acceptable (and sometimes required) to meet the desired ends. He feels that Mr.Gupta is the biggest obstacle in his path of gaining political power and thereby bringing his desired system into reality and hence he decides to arrange his murder.

A very intricate scheme is made by Mr. Jolkar and his associates to eliminate Mr. Gupta. A young and dedicated worker of Mr. Jolkar’s party – Sanjay Malhotra (Joy Mukherjee) is assigned the job of first entering the household of Mr. Gupta, piercing his security and then kill him. However piercing the strong armor of security covering Mr. Gupta is not that easy. To ensure that, Sanjay uses the secretary of Mr. Gupta (Saira Banu) who is already in love with a member of their party. She is made a pawn in this dangerous game because a look-alike of herself has been spotted by Sanjay and his companions. This look-alike is the princess of an erstwhile princely state whom Sanjay traps in his fake love and then schemes to substitute Mr. Gupta’s secretary with her to ensure his entry to Mr. Gupta’s residence through herself only.yeh-zindagi-kitni-haseen-hai-1966-200x275Though Sanjay is able to trap the princess in his fake love and make her dance to his tune and thereafter enter Mr. Gupta’s house along with her by posing himself as her fiance, everything does not go according to his plan and not only he realizes the heinousness of the crime he’s about to perpetrate but also first, he has to run for his life and then he finds himself trapped in the charge of the murder of another worker (a female) of Mr. Jolkar’s party. The climax contains a highly emotional tone with Mr. Jolkar’s realization of his treading the wrong path.Yeh Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - Various Artists - (1966) - []Pious intentions do not necessarily lead to pious results in case the correct things necessary to execute them are not done. Exactly this has happened with Yeh Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai. The movie starts very impressively with the declaration of the futility of violence along with showing the black and white clippings of Hitler and the scenes of the world war II and soon after the credits are over, a murder takes place and sets the momentum of the story with the display of the political heat between Mr. Gupta and Mr. Jolkar. The scene of Mr. Jolkar’s showing indifference to his daughter’s death while getting that news amidst his speech to the public, is damn impressive and underscores how insensitive people become when they believe in violence and violent means to meet their objectives. But !

But thereafter the movie proves to be a complete letdown on account of its poor, unimpressive and ridiculously unbelievable script. I do not know the origin of the theme as to whether it’s the own idea of the script-writer or lifted from somewhere. However the end result of his work is disastrous.

A major chunk of the narrative has been devoted to Sanjay’s implementing his scheme of trapping the princess in his fake love and then fill this wrong fact in her psyche that she is not any princess but the secretary of Mr. Gupta. It’s this part of the story which lets the complete movie down, making a mockery of the great theme picked for making this movie.
The prolonged climax showing a very emotional meeting of Mr. Jolkar and the princess in which Mr. Jolkar celebrates the birthday of his deceased daughter in the company of the princess, is the most impressive part of the story after the initial reels. Thus giving the movie the analogy of a human body, we can say that the head and the feet are in order whereas the complete middle portion is defective. These two (beginning and ending) portions of the movie are its face saving grace.

The scenes which are directly linked to the theme of futility and undesirability of violence are the most impressive ones. The scene of the sacrifice of the lead actress in one of her roles is able to move the audience deep within. How the committed party workers are brainwashed to be ready to sacrifice their own lives along with those of their near and dear ones for the so-called great cause has been shown effectively.indexRavi’s music along with the lyrics of Rajinder Krishan is overall good. The voices of Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhosle only have been used. The best song is definitely the title song in Asha’s voice whose lyric is meaningful and touching.

It’s a color movie and the colors in the major part of the movie are quite bright and eye-soothing. Beautiful locations of India and abroad have been used for different scenes and the scenes are a treat to watch. The movie is not unduly long.

Director R.K. Nayyar (husband of the legendary actress Saadhana) could not draw praiseworthy performances from the lead pair. Despite being in double role, Saira Banu could not do much except looking beautiful (she was called ‘Beauty Queen’ in her heyday). Joy Mukherjee is over the top for most of time especially when he is trying to brainwash the lady for his vested interest (in fact, the vested interest of his party). It’s the seasoned actors of Bollywood – Ashok Kumar and Moti Laal who have delivered towering performances and thereby succeeded at least partially in hiding the deficiencies of the script. The supporting cast has done well.

A much better screenplay should have been written for the noble theme of the movie which is good in bits and pieces only. Even today if this theme can be picked up and a logical, coherent and taut script is written on that premise, a good director may be able to present a memorable movie with that. I wish I get an opportunity to make a movie on this theme.

Summing up, Yeh Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai is a great opportunity wasted. However, courtesy some impressive sequences, some great performances, some good songs, beautiful locations and above all, the great theme; I recommend this movie as a decent one time watch to those who are fond of watching golden oldies.

Coming back to the question posed by me in the title of this review: Is bloodshed mandatory for a revolution ? My answer, just like that of the maker of this movie, is – No ! Revolutions or changes in the macro systems are permanent only when they are set in the psyche of the masses. Change of thought-process and approach towards things is mandatory for revolutions and not the shedding of the blood of those who do not appear to be on your side.

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That unforgettable evening

Today is 30th June and exactly 17 years later, I am penning an unforgettable experience of my life in which my wife, my little daughter and my beloved scooter were my companions. In that period, I was posted at Rawatbhata, a town near Kota (Rajasthan) at the atomic power plant. The distance between Rawatbhata and Kota is about 50 kilometers. Though organization’s buses were going everyday from Rawatbhata to Kota, carrying the employees and their dependents, I used to derive pleasure in covering that distance through my scooter, driving through the topsy-turvy road passing through a jungle and small villages.

As the Summer vacations were ending, my wife, being a teacher in a school of the Govt. of Rajasthan, had to resume her duties on Monday, 2nd July 2001 and therefore, she had to catch the night bus from Kota to Jodhpur on 30th June 2001. Unfortunately, I forgot to book the seats of my wife and daughter in the organization’s evening bus going to Kota (called Mini Bus) and now no alternatives being available at that time, the acute problem of catching their bus for Jodhpur was staring at them.

The only solution left was to reach Kota through my beloved scooter which I have always considered my family member. For me, my Bajaj Super scooter has been no less than the personal plane of a multi-millionaire person. Having left with no other option, my family agreed for it though the weather was bad and slight rainfall had already started. Anyway, at 6.30 p.m, we started our journey with my wife sitting behind me and my little daughter sitting on the child’s tiny seat in front of me.

No sooner did we get out of Rawatbhata, then it began to rain heavily. Besides, since the path going through the forest area was dark and I had put the headlight on, mosquitoes were coming from all sides to disturb me and my daughter who was sitting in front of me. We used goggles but it proved comfortable for none of us. It was raining cats and dogs and my wife was cursing me like anything for not taking timely action to book their seats in the ‘Mini Bus’. But the journey was going on. Mosquitoes were disturbing me in driving in addition to the showers coming directly to my face.

However, my old faithful, the scooter did not stop even once despite the rain-water falling continuously on its body (and the bodies of myself and my family members too). My family members were fuming and fretting but I was enjoying the drive. It was a scary (because in the dark, wild animals could come out from the forest) but adventurous experience for me.

After the drive of around one hour, we were half-way from our destination and we reached a small village called Borabaas where tea-stalls were located on the roadside. I stopped the scooter and we had tea and snacks. After that small break, the journey got resumed with the scooter showing its full loyalty towards me (and my in-laws too who had given it to me in dowry). This time, my daughter sat with her mother, with myself handling the complete luggage in front of me by entangling it in the child’s seat. However we had to re-arrange the situation of the luggage and the passengers many times during the remaining part of the journey. Still, I was enjoying the drive because it was a unique experience not expected to be repeated in my life.Finally, after remembering God thousands of times during the journey, we reached our destination exactly at 9 p.m. when the Jodhpur bus was just about to leave within a few minutes. We had a sigh of relief that my family narrowly escaped missing the bus. While leaving, my family was concerned about me because in that rainy weather and dark path, it was impossible to go back to Rawatbhata in the night. Anyway, I bade bye to them and hired a room in a hotel near the bus stand, parked my scooter in the hotel’s parking and slept just by enveloping my torso in the towel provided (because I did not have any clothes to change).

In the morning, I awoke at 6 a.m. after having an incomplete sleep of 5-6 hours. I was relieved to find that the rain had stopped sometime during the night and now the weather was clean. At 7 a.m. after seeing Lord Sun rising in the East, I left my hotel room and took my beloved scooter from the hotel’s parking. Thereafter I drove back to Rawatbhata without any hurry because that day (1st July 2001) was a Sunday and I did not have to attend the office. Enjoying the drive again, this time in the day-light and the clean, yet pleasant weather, I reached my home comfortably after two hours, taking a tea-break in between. At home, when I was relaxing, I thought about the preceding evening and got amused to remember that experience. ‘It was an unforgettable evening’, I thought. Yes, it was. That’s why, I still remember it, even after such a long time-gap.

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Murder Mystery cum Romance cum Social Drama

During the sixties, the world of Hindi cinema witnessed several movies which were originally family or social dramas alongwith the regular dose of romance and songs but a suspense angle was inserted in the later part to create a twist in the tale and thereafter though the movie continued to entertain the spectators but the source of that entertainment was changed to a mystery (almost always belonging to a murder) . Such movies if scripted and directed well, proved to be excellent entertainers and box office grossers. Today I am reviewing such a movie only starring super stars of that period – Dev Anand and Vyjayantimala. It’s Duniya (1968).521971618_ab6c1b15dc_oDuniya (world) is a movie which has been titled on the basis of a song being played in the background of certain intense scenes of the movie. Else, the title has nothing to do with the story which is mainly a family  drama in the first half and an intriguing murder mystery cum court-room drama in its post-interval session. The movie is just very very entertaining and can be compared to a delicious spicy dish rendering high satisfaction to the consumer after consumption.imagesThe story of Duniya starts with three children – Mala, her brother Gopal and their friend Amar. Amar’s mother (Sulochana) is a married woman but not able to live with her husband who has married someone else. The mother of Mala and Gopal (Mridula Rani) has sympathy for her and she is quite happy to see the love and affection among the children. Gopal has developed stealing habit through bad company and his mother is worried about his future. But Amar who is determined to become a lawyer upon growing up, is confident of helping his friend whenever he faces a trouble in life. Destiny separates the families and consequentially the children. Years later, Amar (Dev Anand) and Mala (Vyjayantimala) come across again and the childhood love gets reignited between them upon their recognizing each other. Things have taken such a turn in Mala’s life that after her mother’s demise, she has been fostered by Mr. Raamnaath (Balraaj Saahni) who is the public prosecutor in the city court. Amar is his son only but this fact is not known to either of them. Mala is ever concerned about her brother Gopal (Suresh) who has been missing for years. She is unaware of the fact that presently Gopal is serving a baddy, Mohan (Prem Chopra) as his driver under the fake name of Raam Singh. Mohan conspires with the old confident of Raamnaath – Girdhaari Laal (Nana Palsikar) to usurp his wealth and becomes his fake son (claiming to be through his estranged wife, terming her as dead now). Raamnaath, believing Mohan to be his son, engages Mala to him despite knowing very well that she loves Amar. For marrying Mala, Mohan ditches another girl. Further, Mohan’s smuggler friends want him to return the evidences of their smuggling business to them but he blackmails them on their basis. Besides, Gopal who recognizes Mala as his sister, is very sorry to see that she is going to be forcefully married to a baddy like Mohan. Thus, the scenario is this that so many people have their respective reasons to desire for Mohan’s death. Quite naturally, Mohan is a dead pigeon now.
DuniyafilmAnd he actually gets murdered. Gopal is arrested for his murder and put under trial. Now Mala comes to know that Gopal is none else but her estranged brother only. She first seeks help from Raamnaath to save Gopal’s life. However Raamnaath who is still under the impression that Mohan was his son, is hell-bent upon ensuring the strictest punishment for Gopal through the court. Mala, therefore, goes to the shelter of her love, Amar who is also the childhood friend of Gopal. She appeals to his childhood friendship to do something to save Gopal’s life. Now the courtroom drama starts with Raamnaath as the public prosecutor and Amar as the defense counsel of Gopal. The murder mystery is resolved in the climax, Gopal is released and all the characters of the story who had been separated by destiny, get reunited.
downloadThough the complete movie is entertaining, its most entertaining part is the court-room drama in which very interesting tussle takes place between public prosecutor Balraaj Saahni and defense counsel Dev Anand. Both of them are unaware that they are father and son and they try to outwit each other through arguments and evidences. The storyteller has inserted a very interesting twist in the script after the father’s recognizing his son which makes the narrative spicier.duniya (1968)Prior to the mystery angle, the movie keeps the viewers engaged first through the sentimental social drama and thereafter the romance of the lead pair. These parts are also very interesting and do not allow any boredom to creep in. The romance of dashing Dev Anand and gorgeous Vyjayantimala has been given less footage but it tickles the romantic hearts through a few scenes and songs. The brother-sister track (of Gopal and Mala) is full of sentiments and forms an integral part of the story. Thus the movie offers something to all kinds of audiences. To be honest, the storyteller has done a superfine job and has been successful in keeping the viewer hooked from beginning to end. It’s the script of Duniya which makes it a winner.

Technically the movie is good. Though the comedy track of Johnny Walker is there in the movie, it has not been given undue footage and the length of the movie does not appear to be something objectionable to the viewer who finds every minute of the running time as interesting. Shot in the Filmistan Studio of Mumbai, the movie has an authentic milieu.

Shankar-Jaikishan’s music is another plus point of this movie. Dooriyaan Nazdeekiyaan Ban Gayeen (Kishore-Asha), Falsafa Pyar Ka Tum Kya Jaano (Rafi), Jawaan Tum Ho Jawaan Hum Hain (Rafi), Duniya Isee Ka Naam Hai (Mukesh-Shaarada) etc. are a treat to the ears of the music lovers. It also contains the famous patriotic song – Yeh Dharti Hindustan Ki  (Asha) which has been penned by the famous Hindi poet – Gopal Das Neeraj.

Performances are admirable. Dev Anand is present with his style and mannerisms which make up for his acting deficiency in intense and high tension scenes. An interesting trivia that I have noticed is that Amar was the favourite screen name for Dev Anand in his heyday as in many of his successful movies, he has been christened as Amar. Balraaj Saahni is the most impressive performer. Vyjayantimala is not only gorgeous but has acted well too. She is most effective when expressing her love and care for her brother. All others have done their bits to (2)Duniya is a movie in which all the entertainment formulae have been mixed in the optimum proportions. Hence the final product is skewed or tilted from no angle. It’s perfectly balanced and symmetrical. That’s why, it renders a complete satisfaction to the watcher. I unconditionally recommend it to the movie buffs of all categories.

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