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Well, Manchali came out in mid-seventies. Manchali was a moderate hit. Those days almost all movies made won back the investments. There was no Television, leave alone Satellite channel. Amitabh Bachchan summed up that era and its apparent gloss very well when he had said 'Actors of our generation were lucky. They got enough time to seep into public mind. These days an actor remains in the living room of everyone for 24 hours. His weakness, his mannerism, his inability to dance all are exposed much before he gets ample chance to rectify himself. I think actors who succeed these days are far more talented than we were.'
Those days there were no USB port either. So things were generally slow. The movies were slow. They had to be. Since those days you couldn't possibly have made a 'dark docu drama on Bombay' which would keep everyone riveted with one's chair for 2 and 1/2 odd hours. You didn't know there are 'nuances of lesbianism to explore in most relationship'. You didn't even know or possibly didn't hear the word 'psychopath' a lot many times. But still if you had made a movie, you would have to keep guys riveted. Once in a week - possibly Sunday - everyone will wear their best Terrilyn trousers and maroon guru shirt and take out his sari and Ponds powder clad girl friend next door to a theater. That's the only thing you could do. There was no esselworld either! And as with any hip dressed lover from a conservative society, you need to give them ample time to just sit together. Romanticizing each other's warmth and - nothing else - for 2 and 1/3 odd hours.
So everyone made pretty much benchmarked standard stories, slow ones, predictable ones into even more slow movies which had to go on two and 1/2 odd hours. Raja Nawathe - director of Manchali - was certainly not a Shyam Benegal and he sticked to the 'formulae'(or as Herr Mogambo said later - 'phor mullah').
Manchali is that story you never actually read but know by heart. A rogue and spoilt girl from a rich family hires a husband who apparently is from a poor family for reason as obscure as 'her chacha is not exactly keeping well and she must get married'. Then she sleeps on the King sized bed with almost as much pillow material as needed to cover her flesh and makes the poor-guy-on-hire sleep on balcony. As it always happens when poor guys sleep on balcony - he became St Augustus. Surprizingly he used to know twist and charmed the friends of his 'wife' very quickly. This type of movie used to had (have) a stock scene where the poor-guy-on-hire will slap the rich-girl-gone-spoilt in front of everyone. That single slap will change the girl forever. After the guy will say something like 'Har ek laDki ko thik karne ke liye yeh hi ek dawa hai chachaji. Aapko yeh bahut pehle karna chahiye tha'
(This is the only medicine for all such spoilt gals Uncle. Wish you had utilized it before.)
Exactly at this point our guy on the theater will feel very much elated. Or at least confident having actually heard and watched something which he always believes in just because his dad had always believed in the same. If the girl was not 'anglo-indian' - 99% chances are she was just 'finishing her B.A.. And she would have continued munching the 'Macy's Popcorn' as silently as she can - often gulping down less fried corns lest she is heard munching those.
The movie ending is as predictable as watching Saurav Ganguly bat in off form or watch Steve Waugh bat in any form. To make it really interesting - as it is in Manchali - it will be revealed finally that the poor-guy-on-hire is actually something of a 'millionaire in Shillong'.
All's well that ends well.
Well, since there was not really a lot to think about during making of these movies - the directors always tried to persuade the music directors into composing very decent and hummable tunes.
LP was the duo who could compose one such tune as easily as you can switch channel in a 15 day old TV from upon your bed. They don't at all disappoint. The music is superb, Well, if you are one who never listened to anything other than Pink Floyd I apologize.
Leena was supple. But still very fleshy. Just like our girl in the theater was. When all you do is 'finishing B.A.' in public and munching popcorns as silently as possible on weekends inside a dark theater in private - you got to be fleshy. Well, unless you are - umm - an 'anglo-indian' in which case you'd be working in some office as 'stenographer' or 'secretary' (two pre-USB era jobs meaning the same) and would be branded as 'someone who will sleep with just everyone' by everyone else in the office.
Watch Manchali. It's fun. It's nostalgic. It belongs to an era when there was no USB or Gladrags Manhunt contests.
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