The tale begins in the final days of the British Raj in India. A cohort of engineering students graduate a few months before Independence. Satyapriya and Naren are among the graduate ... See full summary »
A new Sanskrit teacher (Dharmendra) comes to teach at a girls' school. The chemistry teacher (Hema Malini) becomes annoyed at his style of teaching. He falls in love with her and tries to win her over.
Two unemployed slackers, Bhola and Ajay come across a newspaper advertisement about a missing elderly gentleman, whose estate is worth millions. They come across this male in the Hanging ... See full summary »
Sparkling comedy about a meddling friend whose attempt to rekindle the spark in his friend's relationship with his wife of seven years leads to complications to their lives, and to the ... See full summary »
Village born Lalloo re-locates to Bombay, and returns a wealthy man. He goes to meet his friend, Shankar alias Bhompu, and together they meet and share tales, mostly about women, sex, and ... See full summary »
Sapna (Mala Sinha) is having fun meeting his employee Rajesh (Biswajit) as Paro, and then, in the city as Sapna; and Rajesh falls for the simplicity of Paro. His heart breaks when he ... See full summary »
Mohammad Sher Khan is a Pathan who has re-located to India from Afghanistan and befriends Phagwara-born Veer Singh. Both are quite naive, they steal a truck from a businessman who has 20 ... See full summary »
Kishen a small village boy,finds himself transported to his married step sister Kadambini after his widowed mothers death. Kadambini takes her brothers responsibility with the intention of ... See full summary »
A lost-in-oblivion social-family-drama centered on delinquency by Hrishikesh Mukherjee
This is a mid 1970s movie starring Dharmendra and Saira banu in lead roles, and directed by none other than Hrishikesh Mukherjee, a man who helmed arguably some of the best Hindi movies made ever. There is another great matter of prestige attached to this feature, that of it being a Bimal Roy production, albeit posthumous. Bimal Roy, who himself arguably made some of the best Hindi movies ever, is also seen by many as the precursor to Hrishikesh Mukherjee, who he mentored along with a man called Sampoorn Singh Kalra, better known as Gulzar. So it will be fair to say that 'Chaitali', as a movie, boasts of some enviable pedigree. And yet, it is one of those criminally under-seen movies, reflected in just a handful of ratings it has garnered on IMDb (less than 20 on last count). It might have been a commercial failure at that time, but does it deserve the obscurity that it is shrouded in today? For sure not, as though the film is not faultless, it is still a reasonably engaging dramatic feature that makes a social comment on delinquency, forgiveness, and redemption.
Adapted from a Bengali short story of the same name, Chaitali inhabits a world that is much different from the general Hrishikesh Mukherjee fold, where most of his movies stayed away from depicting the darker strata of our social order. The narrative is centered on Chaitali (Saira Banu in the title role), a woman who has been forced by her circumstances and her unfortunate upbringing to occupy a space that constantly haunts her, but from which she not being able to escape. Creating a stark contrast, her life merges with a more typical Hrishikesh Mukherjee middle-class urban household, full of family values and righteousness. The first few minutes of the movie establish this moral rectitude and bonhomie of this family, headed by a kind matriarch, and assisted by that ever cheerful and passionately loyal servant (Asit Sen yet again). The tone and tenor of the film then changes considerably when Chaitali enters the household, guiltily taking advantage of goodness of the elderly matron, with the intention of swindling some money. All this while, the younger son of the family Manish, (Dharmendra in a mostly subdued role) is aware of the reality of the woman, but takes pity on her circumstances, apart from developing a soft corner for her. The drama later shifts to a religious sanctuary on the hills, where Chaitali shares her life story honestly with Manish, who gets utterly shaken by the grimy details of her upbringing, which include a criminally inclined father on the run, a brothel, many lecherous eyes eager to pounce on her adolescence, and a suitor (played uninhibitedly by Asrani) who is both a danger and a comfort to her in the murky vicinities of her life.
Throughout the story and its dramatic last act (the best executed from all in my view), Chaitali comes across as a highly complex character, both repulsed by and dependent on crime and delinquency. And this confusion, somehow, gets reflected in the treatment of the film, with its highly uneven tone oscillating between glimmers of hope and pits of hopelessness. Dharmendra's part is under-cooked and not well defined, with neither his motivations, nor his intentions, and nor his beliefs, coming out on screen clearly. This in some ways gets evened out by strong subsidiary characters- chiefly the lawyer elder brother (who gets a lot to do in the last act) and his wife (Bindu in a meaty part, but hamming it up completely).
The music of the film, much like the film itself, is not popular at all. There are just three songs, and seen in isolation, two of them are pleasant enough. But none add to the movie in any which way; this lack of memorable tunes another reason for the oblivion the film finds itself today.
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