A damsel among three close friends

I dedicate this review to the evergreen screen goddess of Indian cinema – Rekha whose birthday falls today (10th October). I convey my hearty wishes to her.

Neeyat (1980) is a formula-based Bollywood potboiler which I had watched in the Mahavir Talkies cinema of my hometown – Sambhar Lake (Rajasthan). This was the last movie watched by me in that local theatre and hence I still remember it. It’s an entertaining movie meant for the regular audience of Bollywood cinema.

Neeyat (intention) is the story of three close friends who are now out of college and pursuing different lines, but still keeping their friendship intact. They are Jeet (Jeetendra), Vijay (Shashi Kapoor) and Ajay (Rakesh Roshan). Jeet is the son of a big businessman (Pinchoo Kapoor) who is clandestinely involved in illegal activities albeit maintaining his dignified and benevolent image in the society. Vijay is the younger brother of a newspaper editor (Dr. Shreeram Lagoo) who is a committed newsman. Ajay has joined police force and is now a cop. Jeet joins his father’s business which is mainly running a five star hotel and also arranges a respectable job for hitherto unemployed Vijay in that itself.

Suddenly a mysterious girl strikes the lives of all these three friends in different ways and at different points of time. This girl is Rekha (Rekha) who meets Ajay in a train journey, Jeet in a marriage and Vijay on a dark road in night hours. And all three heroes fall for her. Rekha reciprocates the love of Vijay and they both decide to get united. However Rekha’s guardian (A.K. Hangal) being burdened by an old obligation of Jeet’s father, engages her to Jeet. Seeing Rekha as getting engaged to Jeet and being the love-interest of Vijay, Ajay sidelines himself suppressing his feelings for Rekha in his heart forever. However he advises Vijay to keep a distance from Rekha who is now the fiancee of Jeet who is unaware of the love affair that has come to a halt.

However Jeet’s father who is not happy with Jeet’s friendship with Vijay, ensures that Jeet comes to know of the love of Vijay and Rekha. That knowledge of Jeet generates a rift in the friendship of Vijay and Jeet. Jeet accuses Vijay of backstabbing him and Vijay quits his job in Jeet’s father’s hotel. Jeet also breaks his engagement with Rekha. Now comes another twist in this tale of three friends.

A jailbird breaks the jail and reaches Jeet’s father who only had sent him to jail despite being his boss himself. Scorned by him, the jailbird now reaches Vijay’s journalist elder brother and tells him that Jeet’s father only is the ringleader of the criminal gang active in the city. Vijay’s brother prepares a banging news headline for the next day’s newspaper on the basis of the runaway jailbirds statement but he gets killed before being able to complete that job.

Now Vijay on his own and Ajay as a part of his duty, start searching for the murderer of Vijay’s brother. On the other hand, Jeet feels that there’s something fishy regarding his father as well as Vijay’s deceased brother (despite breaking his friendship with VIjay, Jeet has been keeping his elder brother and sister-in-law in high esteem and they have also been continuing their affection for Jeet like it was earlier). He also starts sniffing the things as they are going on. Finally, truth becomes known to all these three friends and the movie concludes on a tragic note after an action-packed climax.This regular potboiler has nothing special or extraordinary to boast of but there’s little doubt that it’s an entertaining flick. The script has been written by inserting all the tried and tested formulae in optimal measures. Friendship is the aspect most stressed in the story and a love-triangle thereafter. A good dose of romance is also there and good comedy has been blended with both the friendship and the romance ingredients of the story.

The movie opens with a highly amusing scene of the three friends and thereafter once the heroine comes into picture, many entertaining scenes follow because of her interaction with each one of them. The narrative is slow till the interval point but fast afterwards when the crime angle takes prominence. Certain events have been shown in flashback and blended with the present scenario of the story very well. Seasoned director Anil Ganguly has directed this routine story quite admirably.

Technically, this movie is up to the mark. It’s not unduly long. Musical score of Kalyanji Anandji is pretty good. Pyar Karna Nahin Aaya, Hum Teeno Ki Woh Yaari, Mere Yaar Ye Din Ho Mubarak Tujhe, Tumhen Aise Kaise De Doon Apne Ghar Ka Pata, Pyaase Dil Ki Pyas Bujhane Aaja etc. are quite good to listen and they have been nicely picturized also. Kishore Kumar, Amit Kumar, Nitin Mukesh, Mohammad Rafi and Asha Bhosle have given their voices for the various songs.

Performance wise talking, Dr. Shreeram Lagoo is the best performer whereas all others have done neither badly nor excellently. Deven Varma has done good comedy whereas Ranjeet as the confidante of Jeet’s father has given a comic touch to his negative role with the help of his pet words and stylish dialog delivery. Despite performing routinely, the three heroes have demonstrated good on-screen chemistry and their camaraderie impresses the audience.

Neeyat is a nice time pass and I recommend it to the entertainment seeking audience who like entertaining flicks made in the style of the seventies. All the four principal actors of the movie, i.e., Shashi Kapoor, Jeetendra, Rakesh Roshan and above all, Rekha had their own fan following in their heyday and Neeyat will be liked by their fans also.

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The paper boat floating on the river of my tears

Kaagaz Ki Naav (paper boat) is such a (Hindi) novel penned by Surendra Mohan Pathak that always soaks me in tears. The author of this novel has earned name and fame as a writer of mysteries and thrillers. Mysteries and thrillers contain crime and hence some crime is at the crux of such a story. Kaagaz Ki Naav is also a novel studded with criminal activities of many of its characters. However is it only a crime-thriller ? No ! This is a unique crime-thriller soaked in sentiments. I have read this novel many times and on every occasion, I have shed tears while going through it.

The story of Kaagaz Ki Naav is set in the notorious slum of Mumbai (it was Bombay when this novel was first published in 1986) – Dhaaravi, the hideout of several criminals where plans of crimes are made and thereafter executed in respective different places. Quite naturally, it contains cops too. Honest cops ! Dishonest cops ! Criminals as well as cops are also human-beings. They love. They want to be loved. This story contains many such characters whose activities form a unique blend of crime and love. This so-called crime-thriller is actually a cluster of many love stories and all are tragic (though one of them reaches its desirable destination but too late).

The first love story dates to three decades back from the main story. This is of a Maratha Hindu boy – Yashvant Ashtekar and a Christian girl – Maartha. Due to difference in religious faiths, Yashvant Ashtekar’s parents prevent him from marrying Maartha and she is forced into marriage with a Christian boy by her parents without anybody’s knowing that she’s pregnant through Ashtekar. Only Ashtekar knew it. She gives birth to William who is fondly observed by his biological father, i.e., Ashtekar from his childhood to adulthood without the revealation of their relationship. Ashtekar punishes his parents and also himself (for his cowardice) by deciding never to marry any other girl. Moreover he never gets sexually intimate with any woman after Maartha’s departure from his life. He joins police force and rises up to the level of an inspector. On the other side, Maartha has to undergo a very unhappy married life with an abusive husband. Other than William who has been fathered by her lover Ashtekar, she does not beget any other child too.

William grows up to have his own love story with Monica. On the Christmas eve, he climbs up the cross of a church and threatens Monica that if she does not agree to spend the complete Christmas eve with him, he will end his life by jumping from there (readers may contrast it with the famous scene of the extremely popular movie – Sholay in which Veeru climbs up the water tank and threatens to jump if his marriage is not allowed to take place with Basanti). Monica has to bow before his wish and after enjoying the whole night (without William’s even touching Monica), William proposes to Monica the next morning and they get married the same day. Monica gives birth to William’s son Mickey in due course of time. But …

But meantime another love story was going on involving Monica only but it’s a one-sided love story. William’s partner in criminal activities – Anthony Francoza who is famous as Tony Daada in the locality of Dhaaravi, has been loving Monica within his heart. When Monica gets married to William, he is not able to tolerate it. He designs an intricate conspiracy through the execution of which he is awarded an imprisonment of six months by the court and during this period only, William gets murdered. After his release from jail, Anthony supports William’s widow Monica because he is known as William’s close friend and therefore, is expected to support his widow. Under the disguise of this support, Anthony actually tries to come close to Monica and win her heart. On the other hand, since Ashtekar had always been aware of this fact that William was his son only, he vows to catch his murderer and bring him to book.

The fourth and the most touching love story is of Laalchand Hazaare and Khursheed. Laalchand is the son of Ashtekar’s friend Late Vasant Hazaare. He lives with his mother and grandmother and has unfortunately fallen into the bad company of Anthony aka Tony and his confidante Abbaas Ali and he takes part in bank robberies with them. His nickname is Lallu but since in Hindi Lallu means idiot (or simpleton), he wants everybody to address him by the name of Laalchand only. Ashtekar admonishes him to leave the company of criminals like Anthony and Abbaas but he does not listen. Destiny brings him into contact with Khursheed, a sex worker who has been thrown into this quagmire by her mother only. Lallu is twenty-one years old whereas Khursheed is twenty-four. Lallu is a Hindu whereas Khursheed is a Muslim. However as almost all the Indian music lovers must have listened to these lines of the immortal love-song sung by Jagjit Singh – Na Umr Ki Seema Ho Na Janm Ka Ho Bandhan, Jab Pyar Kare Koi To Dekhe Keval Mann (In love, there is no bar of age or birth as a lover sees only the heart of the beloved), love blossoms between them like anything. Khursheed has always seen males as hungry of her body only. For the first time in her life, a male has seen her heart and fallen in love with that only. She decides to leave her tainted profession whereas Lallu decides to leave the world of crime. Thus both these young lovers decide to shift to some faraway place and start their (joint) life afresh as straight citizens. But man proposes, God disposes. Before Lallu and Khursheed could turn their dream into reality, first Lallu is arrested and thereafter Khursheed is murdered. Their dream is shattered. Lallu is shattered within himself as well. And that prepares the ground for the breathtaking climax of the story which takes place at Anthony’s magnificent bungalow situated in Khandala.

The author has written in the preface of the first edition of this novel (published in 1986) that he has tried to give the novel the shape of an event-oriented one instead of a character-oriented one. He is right because either almost all the characters are to be considered as the principal ones or none is to be considered as such. Every character is a puppet in the hands of the destiny and flows with the events taking place around and with him / her. But these characters have been well-developed by the seasoned author and they emerge from the pages of the novel before the reader as if they were real. The novel grips the reader from the opening scene itself and the grip does not get loosened till the ending scene in which Lallu tells his name to Maartha as Lallu and not Laalchand (Maartha is shown to have married Ashtekar after the death of her first husband and thus at least one of the four love stories finally reaches a positive note). The dialogs of the novel are also very impressive and it is studded with scenes that are able to move any sensitive reader deep within.

I had read this novel first in 1991 when I was doing my C.A. by living in Kolkata (then Calcutta) and thereafter in 1994 when I was preparing for the main examination of the Indian Civil Services by living in Jaipur. Recently I have read it for the third time. What’s common in these three readings of this novel by me ? The common thing is that every time I wept like anything while travelling through the pages of the novel. The title of this novel is Kaagaz Ki Naav (paper boat) which has been kept as such because Ashtekar asserts at a place that crime is like a paper boat which cannot float for too long and cannot go too far. But this paper boat floats on the river of my tears. This is an underrated novel of Surendra Mohan Pathak which despite certain weaknesses, can be considered as one of his very best. This pulp fiction work can definitely be compared to many high profile literary works.

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The lamp of a husband’s love

Chirag (1969) is a family drama directed by Raj Khosla starring Sunil Dutt and Asha Parekh which is remembered more for the immortal song of Mohammed Rafi – Teri Aankhon Ke Siva Duniya Mein Rakkha Kya Hai. It is feelgood cinema of the sixties containing Bollywoodish twists in an apparently ordinary story but in the end, everything is not shown as being set right which separates it from the other family dramas. Besides, by default perhaps, it has an ingredient of a husband’s sincere love for his wife which remains intact despite all the negatives taking place in their conjugal life. And that, in my opinion, is the thing which brings Chiraag out of the category of regular potboilers and makes it a memorable movie.

Chiraag (lamp) starts with a rich but small family of Gayatri Devi (Lalita Pawar) and her son – Ajay (Sunil Dutt). Gayatri Devi is a widow who has lost her husband and now, resultantly, got over-possessive for her the only son who, just like his late father, is fond of fast driving. He falls in love with a girl from a modest background and Gayatri Devi bows before the wish of her son under a hope that the girl chosen to be her daughter-in-law will beget her grandchild and thus the lineage of the family will continue. This girl is Asha (Asha Parekh) who is not having parents and has been fostered by her elder brother (Om Prakash) and sister-in-law (Sulochana).

After the marriage, Asha gets overwhelmed by her husband’s abundant and unconditional love whose flare never fades. However when she is not able to conceive and bear a child for seven years, the affection of her mother-in-law for her gets incessantly diluted with the passage of every succeeding day. Things move from bad to worse when she accidentally loses her eyesight. Now Ajay, leaving all the worldly things, starts devoting the maximum of his time to her care. This further irritates Gayatri Devi who now starts feeling that her daughter-in-law is a burden on the household. Her confidant employee (Kanhaiyalaal) instigates her to go for Ajay’s second marriage and starts making his moves cleverly in such a way that his niece – Sandhya (Snehlata) gets married to Ajay.

One day, Ajay is deliberately sent outstation by Gayatri Devi and in his absence, Gayatri Devi sends Asha to her brother’s home. However there too, she approaches her and tells her that her getting out of Ajay’s life only will make Ajay’s life better and he’ll be able to become a father by marrying another girl. Asha decides to commit suicide and jumps into the nearby river. However Gayatri Devi’s desire of getting Ajay married again does not come true because he loves Asha so much that he’s not able to imagine some other woman in her place. His coming to know of her mother’s activities regarding Asha creates a distance between the mother and the son. However Gayatri Devi who is no less obstinate than her son, puts pressure on him to remarry by her hunger-strike.

On the other hand, Asha is saved by a fisherman (Nazir Hussain) and his wife (Dulaari). Now Asha comes to know that she is pregnant and bearing the lamp (Chiraag) of her husband’s dynasty in her womb. By the time the preparations of Ajay’s second marriage are complete at his home, Asha’s confinement has taken place in the fisherman’s hut and she has given birth to a son. The fisherman and his wife arranges Asha’s reaching her brother. In order to handover to Ajay the lamp of his dynasty, i.e., his son, Asha reaches him when the ceremony of his second marriage is taking place. The movie ends on a happy note when Ajay is less happy to see his son and more happy to see his blind wife alive who is dearer to him more than anything else.

Chiraag’s screenplay has been written in a pretty ordinary manner but partially due to the good direction of Raj Khosla and partially by default, this plain family drama has become quite impressive. The wafer-thin story line has been supplemented by songs, dances, comedy and romance. The story moves at a very slow pace in the first half and for some duration in the second half also but the final outcome is satisfactory. Since the very first encounter of the lead pair in the story, the filmmaker has underscored Ajay’s abundant love for Asha which is as deep as the ocean and as infinite as the sky. Ajay’s very first visit to Asha’s residence has been designed by the script-writers to create comedy but by default, it ends up highlighting Ajay’s unconditional love for his sweetheart which wins her over like anything. And after the marriage has taken place, Ajay has no complaints for Asha for anything including her not being able to conceive. He is quite happy by showering his love on her, demanding nothing from her, expecting nothing from her. And when he loses her, there is no end to his grief. Nothing can console him. Nothing can render any relief to him. It’s his love which moves as the undercurrent in the entire story. In the climax too, he regains his joys not through the fact that he has become a father but through the fact that his child’s mother, i.e., his beloved wife is back. The director could have provided the movie a routine Bollywoodish happy ending by showing that Asha gets her eyesight back but he has not done so and ended the movie with Ajay and Asha’s reunion only. The best song of the movie – Teri Aankhon Ke Siva Duniya Mein Rakkha Kya Hai – is played in the background of the scene of their reunion despite the fact that Asha is still blind. A sensitive viewer like me can derive the conclusion from it that instead of Asha’s external eyes, the eyes of her soul are important for Ajay.With this story, the movie would have been barely of two hours duration. However songs and dances have been inserted to add to the length. Madan Mohan has composed pretty good music with the help of Majrooh’s lyrics. Other than the timeless – Teri Aankhon Ke Siva, the other songs of the album viz. Jab Dekh Liya To Chhupenge Kahaan, Chhai Barkha Bahaar, Bhor Hote Kaaga Pukaare Kaahe Raam, Chiraag Dil Ka Jalaao, More Bichhade Saathi etc. are also quite good to listen (and to watch as well). Lata and Rafi have sung all the songs.

Technically the movie is up to the mark. The art director and the cinematographer have created the environment according to the requirement of different sequences. Certain nature-based scenes have turned out to be immensely beautiful.Performances are praiseworthy. Especially Sunil Dutt has done exceedingly well in the lead role of a loving husband. Asha Parekh as the loving wife and daughter-in-law first and a blind woman thereafter, is satisfactory in her performance. Lalita Pawar and others are also perfect in their respective places. Mukri has done good comedy as the hero’s friend.Summing up, Chiraag is a good family drama which can be seen for entertainment and also for a message that the love between a husband and a wife should be such that it remains unaffected by all kinds of contingencies emerging in their marital life.

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The sentimental festival of the Indian ladies

Today is Karva-Chauth. The fourth day of the Krishna-Paksh (dark-fortnight) of the Indian Panchaang (calendar). Indian married ladies have a sentimental attachment with this festival and putting it straight, it is their festival only. It underscores their affection for their life-partners and their willingness to pray for their long-life. The Indian (mainly Hindu) ladies have a fast on this day for the sake of their Suhaag (husband) for whom they pray to the Almighty (a goddess known as the Karva-Chauth Maata) that it should always remain with them. A mythological story of a girl is related to it which is said to have been told by Shiva to his wife, Paarvati and Krishna to his sister, Draupadi.

This fast is a very strict one which is maintained throughout the day without consuming anything solid or liquid (not even plain water). It is broken at night after moonrise by seeing the moon through a sieve. The most sentimental thing for the married lady is to break her fast by drinking the water from the hand of her husband (whose sake the fast has been had for).

Well, I believe, though the Indian tradition (as in most of the relevant matters) expects the wife only to have a fast for the sake of the life of her husband, the husband can also follow suit for the sake of her life and well-being. In a patriarchal society, the ladies only are expected to sacrifice and suffer but can’t we, their counterparts, share some of their hardship and thereby try to empathize with whatever they undergo ?

I had maintained a fast on this day in 2008 to extend my moral support to my wife for her fast. During 2009 and 2010, I could not do it due to certain reasons. However, thereafter, I have been skipping my breakfast and lunch every year on this day to morally support my wife and have my dinner with herself only when she breaks her fast (I can’t say about myself that I also maintain a fast on her lines because of consuming water and tea).

Today, while sending my good wishes to all the married women on their festival, I advise them to go for wearing of special garments, different types of adornment and make-up (and a stylish hairdo, if they feel appropriate) tonight. Though I believe, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, beautifying oneself externally has its own importance. As a Hindi song says – Sajna Hai Mujhe Sajna Ke Liye (I have to make myself beautiful for the sake of my lover). They will break the fast by having a look of the moon in the sky. Let their husbands also see the moon on the Earth (in their personalities).

 

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Singapore gets heated up by the flames in Nagaland

Ace Hindi mystery and thriller writer Surendra Mohan Pathak has created a series hero with 121 ventures till date. This hero is Sunil Kumar Chakravarty who is a Bengali by birth but now settled in a fictitious metropolitan city known as Rajnagar situated somewhere in North India. He is an investigative journalist by profession and works full time for a national daily known as Blast.

Now his ventures belong to his investigating some crime (mostly a murder) and unearthing the mystery associated with it only. However in the first decade of his writing  (mid-sixties to mid-seventies), Mr. Pathak exposed a different facet of this hero’s personality by presenting him as a spy in many novels who works as a member of a govt. department known as Special Intelligence which is a branch of the CBI.

Colonel Mukherjee is the director of Special Intelligence and he sends Sunil on secret missions from time to time to protect and further the nation’s interests. This identity of Sunil is not known to anybody except Colonel Mukherjee and some other members of Special Intelligence like him. The last such novel written by Mr. Pathak is Operation Singapore which was published first in January 1976.Operation-Singapore-Surendra-Mohan-Pathak-925703466-435994-1

Operation Singapore picks up the thread of its story from the problem of Naga insurgency in India. Nagaland came into existence as a separate state under the Indian union in 1963 but the unrest due to the non-fulfillment of the Naga people’s aspirations, started pretty soon.

The seventies and the eighties witnessed severe violence in the North East of India. Nagaland remained one of the severely troubled regions. The author has based the plot of this spy-thriller on the trouble in Nagaland in that time and maintained that the Naga rebels and also the Naxalites active in the N.E. region of India were getting assistance of arms and money from foreign powers who wanted to see India as weak and unstable. He has accused China for that in this novel.

In Operation Singapore, our spy hero Sunil gets the assignment from his boss in Special Intellience, i.e., Colonel Mukherjee to go to Singapore and meet a Chinese person Chow Han who wants to sell some key information to the Indian intelligence regarding the supply of arms by China to the Naga rebels as well as the information regarding the ringleader of such rebels who is the mastermind behind all this nuisance.

This mysterious ringleader is known as Marshall but his real identity is not known to anyone. His organization is a very large one and his agents are active in many countries. Chow Han is one such agent only. As per Colonel Mukherjee’s instructions, Sunil has to meet Chow Han, get the information from him and upon finding the information as genuine and worthwhile, pay the demanded sum to him. A Singapore-based Indian intelligence agent named as Kutty is to give all the necessary assistance to Sunil in this regard.

No sooner does Sunil come out of the Paya Lebar airport of Singapore, than some Chinese start following him. In his bid to meet Chow Han, he has to face many troubles. Still the desired meeting between him and Chow Han is not able to take place and finally when he is back to his hotel at night, he finds Chow Han as murdered in his room.

Being trapped in murder charge, Sunil has to run from there to save himself from the cops and also to think as to how to accomplish the mission to get some useful information about Marshall when Chow Han himself is dead. He contacts Chow Han’s wife – Tin for this purpose.Now Chinese agents go after the lives of both Sunil and Tin (in addition to the local cops who are trailing Sunil because of Chow Han’s murder) and they have to run for their life which is joint for the time-being.

Tin arranges this significant information for Sunil that a convoy of trucks laden with lethal arms has started for India via Malaya, Thailand and Burma (now Myanmar) and also this information that Marshall himself has been in Singapore but has moved out recently, perhaps for India.

Sunil has to stop these lethal weapons which are in very high quantum from reaching the hands of Marshall and capture them for the Indian government. With the help of Kutty and some daredevilry shown by himself, Sunil is able to leave Singapore and reach Rangoon via Malaya (or Malaysia) where his fellow Special Intelligence agents – Gopal and Wing Commander Raamu have already reached to participate in the mission of capturing the arms which are to enter India from the border of Burma somewhere in Nagaland. Sunil and his comrades are able to snatch the arms from Marshall’s men but Sunil’s mission is still incomplete.

He has to unmask Marshall and bring him to the law of the land. The novel ends with the complete success of Sunil’s mission known as Operation Singapore and he (later on the whole India) is startled to see the real identity of Marshall. Marshall’s identity gets exposed but Sunil’s identity (as an agent of Indian intelligence) doesn’t. He doesn’t get any award or recognition except the praise of his boss.indexOperation Singapore is a breathtaking thriller which is not very long as far as the number of pages is concerned but the story has been expanded on a very large canvas. The narrative moves through the countries of Singapore, Malaya, Burma and India and a feeling of thrill remains throughout from the first page to the last page. The identity of Marshall is the element of suspense which keeps the curiosity of the reader alive till the ending pages.

The author has written the novel in such a way that everything described appears to be completely authentic. The names of the real places have been used to render the narrative a realistic feeling and the author seems to have great knowledge of the relevant countries and their geography.

Through the character of a Chinese girl – Tai, the author has inserted some humor also into the action-studded narrative by referring to the fact that in Hindi the term Tai is used for aunt (father’s elder brother’s wife).

The author has underscored that an Indian may not face any language problem in Singapore because four languages – English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil are spoken very widely there and enjoy the status akin to that of a national language.

While revealing the identity of Marshall in the ending pages, the author has very correctly pinpointed that the real masterminds behind the turmoil in different parts of India are difficult to be identified because not only these traitors who are the agents of the enemy countries, usually enjoy a very respectable position in the society as well as in the psyche of the commonfolk but they keep a strong cover of some benevolent / legal and desirable activity also for their real doings. They are not high profile arrogant outlaws. Instead, they are well-known and highly admired people whom we may not suspect even in the wildest of our dreams to be the mind behind the acute troubles visible in our land.

Through Sunil’s character, the author has highlighted the suspicious mentality of a spy who has got a vigorous training to suspect everybody and not keeping anybody out of suspicion. Considering the leakage of information from the Indian camp, Sunil is shown as suspecting the servant of Colonel Mukherjee – Dharm Singh for that. This has happened not only in this novel but also in many other novels presenting spying ventures of Sunil. However his suspicion on Dharm Singh never turns into belief.

The situation in the North East of our country has changed a lot since this novel was written (more than four decades back). The situation has improved at some places (like Mizoram) and worsened at many others.

China is still keeping an evil eye on our land. However this novel can still be enjoyed very much by the Hindi readers. Containing a fast-paced, action-packed narrative, it’s like a thrilling roller-coaster ride for the reader.

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Pukaarta Chala Hoon Main Gali Gali Bahaar Ki …

As said in a couple of my earlier reviews, the decade of the sixties witnessed many Bollywood potboilers which lacked any solid story but were made in such a way as blending melodious songs, good locations and charming actors in the otherwise routine script that they proved to be quite entertaining for the audience and hence quite naturally, scored on the box office. Today I am reviewing one such movie again. It’s Mere Sanam (1965).Mere-Sanam-Bollywood-925024037-435994-2.jpgMere Sanam (my sweetheart) is the love story of Neena (Asha Parekh) and Kumar (Biswajeet) with Shyam (Pran) playing the role of the villain and Kaamini (Mumtaz) being his accomplice in his evil designs. The story has been woven like this that Neena, her female friends and her mother reach a holiday spot and find accommodation in a lodge whose owner is Kumar but the caretaker is Shyam. Shyam obliges the ladies by allowing them to stay there but Kumar arrives at the lodge and asks Shyam to remove those ‘intruders’ from there. Now Shyam who is actually a baddie (involved in illegal opium trade also), tells different false stories to the female-group on one hand and Kumar on the other. As usual in our Hindi movies, eventually Kumar and Neena fall in love but Shyam himself wants to marry Neena to usurp her wealth (she is actually the daughter of a rich man who had got separated from her mother and herself long back). He creates misunderstandings between them with the help of Kaamini but the things take such a turn that Kaamini gets murdered in the hands of Shyam’s man with Kumar being trapped in it. After a few more twists in the tale, the lovers reunite and the villain is caught by the law.Mere-Sanam-Bollywood-925024037-435994-1The first part of the story has been adapted from the Hollywood movie – Come September (1961). I have found that this idea has been adapted (with some changes) in a couple of other Bollywood movies too. Anyway, the script has been written quite interestingly as per the taste of the Indian audience.The interest of the viewer has been maintained till the interval through rom-com and post-interval through the activities and plans of the villain. The beautiful locations of Kashmir and the melodious songs have helped the otherwise not-so-great screenplay. The thing is, you enjoy whatever comes on the screen and that’s the only important thing for a film’s success.Bombay Talkies-Mere Sanam (1965) BBiswajeet and Asha Parekh make a charming pair and their on-screen romance is damn good. However, considering the nitty-gritty of the script, Shammi Kapoor would have been a better choice for the role of the hero. The supporting cast is routine. Rajendra Naath as the comedian, Pran as the villain and Mumtaz as the vamp fit the bill of their respective roles. No performance is great. No performance is bad either. If at all, someone is to be mentioned specially for her performance, it’s Mumtaz whose vampish act which also contains the chartbuster song of Asha Bhosle – Ye Hai Reshmi Zulfon Ka Andhera Na Ghabraaiye leaves its imprint on the mind of the spectator.

Technically, the movie is up-to-the-mark. The cinematographer has captured the beauty of Kashmir very well. Length is according to the norms of that period and since there is no boredom and the well-known formulae of romance, comedy, sentiments and thrill have been blended optimally, the length of the movie appears to be appropriate. Editor has done his job well. Ditto for the art director. Background score is also okay. The movie has a high production value.imagesThe biggest strength of the movie is undoubtedly the memorable music composed by O.P. Nayyar. Considering his aversion for Lata Mangeshkar, he has got the female songs sung by Asha Bhosle only. Ye Hai Reshmi Zulfon Ka Andhera Na Ghabraaiye, Jaaiye Aap Kahaan Jaayenge, Roka Kai Baar Maine Dil Ki Umang Ko etc. are quite ear-soothing in Asha’s enchanting voice. However the movie boasts of Mohammed Rafi’s memorable songs also viz. Humdum Mere Maan Bhi Jaao Kehna Mere Pyar Ka, Huye Hain Tum Pe Aashiq Hum Bura Maano Bhala Maano, Tukde Hain Mere Dil Ke Aye Yaar Tere Aansoo and above all, Pukaarta Chala Hoon Main Gali Gali Bahaar Ki. Majrooh Sultanpuri has penned the praiseworthy lyrics for these songs. If for nothing else, this movie can be watched repeatedly for the songs only.

Mere Sanam is a formula-based regular Hindi movie and there is nothing great about it. However it has a high entertainment value and if you are willing to watch it to get a nice timepass, it will certainly not disappoint you.

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Raamu, my unique friend

With my due apology to my human friends, I candidly assert that I have always found animals as better than human-beings. I am not a psychologist, nor am I an expert on animal behaviour. However as my life experiences suggest, the animals are true to their self, their natural instincts and their behaviour patterns. They are never violent without a genuine reason, they do not betray their benefactors, they are not ungrateful (which I consider a great virtue in any creature) and above all, if they love someone, they carry on with the relationship thus coming into existence with utmost sincerity. It’s we, the human-beings only, who backstab, betray, show ungratefulness, harm others for own vested interest, kill for flimsy reasons and above all, shamelessly justify our wrongdoings without even the slightest repentance or any concern for the victims.

I arrived at Hyderabad by shifting from Delhi in October 2009. My little son felt loneliness for quite some time until he befriended with two children of a neighbouring Christian family. Now these two children – Francis and Franklin are among the best friends of my son – Saurav. He came across a dog which used to live near the house (residential quarter in the colony of BHEL) of Francis and Franklin. My son liked that dog very much and christened it as Raamu. Initially, despite being fond of Raamu, my son remained a big scared of going very close to it lest it should bite him but with the passage of time, that fear in him waned out.But this blog is not about the relationship of my son with Raamu. This is about the strange bond unknowingly developed between Raamu and myself. While playing with my son, I also happened to come across Raamu and it took me a long time to understand that Raamu was very fond of me. Gradually only I have discovered this fact that Raamu not only identifies me very well but also approaches me without any understandable reason. When I give food to it, sometimes it eats, sometimes leaves. That means it does not come to me for the purpose of food. It comes to me purely out of its fondness for me. It likes standing beside me, sitting near to me, sniffing me, rubbing its mouth against my trousers and barking lento by looking at me (as if trying to communicate something to me in its own language). Now-a-days the situation has reached to this extent that Raamu identifies my scooter from a long distance and comes to my house alongwith me while running side-by-side the scooter.

Love or affection is bound to be reciprocal especially when the person concerned is a sensitive one like me. The day I realized Raamu’s love and fondness for me, my heart reciprocated its sentiments without delay. Now I am as fond of it as it is fond of me. The day Raamu does not visit me or is not visible elsewhere, I start feeling restless and get concerned for it. Now my wife and daughter have also understood Raamu’s fondness for me and got habituated to its daily visit to our house.The behaviour pattern of my unique friend, Raamu and this unique friendship of itself and myself has again underscored one eternal truth that you cannot correctly pinpoint the reasons for someone’s love (or fondness) for someone else, may it be a human-being or an animal or even a plant. Hence, what’s there in hatred folks ? Let’s love and let love. Let the mystery of love remain a mystery only. We do not need to know its reason. After all, the fragrance matters, not its source or the reason for its coming into existence.

 

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