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A suspense-soaked version of Daag The Fire
Jazbaa is termed as the copy of a Korean movie Seven Days (2007). However after watching it, I am able to contrast the theme of Jazbaa with an old Bollywood movie - Daag The Fire (1999) starring Sanjay Dutt, Chandrachur Singh and Mahima Chaudhary which was directed by Raj Kanwar. While all the reviewers are singing in chorus that Jazbaa is the Indian version of Seven Days, not a single one is pointing out that Seven Days itself could be inspired by the Bollywood movie - Daag The Fire. The scripts are different, no doubt but the theme and the undercurrent is the same. Jazbaa is looked upon as a thriller based on the issue of rape but in fact, the real theme of Jazbaa is different. It's the story of a corrupt lawyer whose personal tragedy proves as an eye-opener for her. The same is the theme of Daag The Fire though there is no suspense element in Daag The Fire like this movie. The role played by Aishwarya Rai in Jazbaa is akin to the role played by Chandrachur Singh in Daag The Fire. And anybody can verify this fact that the final interaction of Aishwarya Rai and Shabana Aazmi in Jazbaa is a ditto of the final shot of Daag The Fire involving Chandrachur Singh and Sanjay Dutt. Then who is a copycat ? Is the maker of Jazbaa only who has unfortunately earned the ill-repute of lifting stories of his movies from foreign movies ? But the thief is always the one who gets caught. Whosoever knows the trick of the trade, i.e., not to get caught escapes the stigma of being called a thief.
Now for the assessment of Jazbaa. It's a quality suspense-thriller though the filmmaker, i.e., Sanjay Gupta has focused more on style than substance.
As clarified in the opening para of this review, Jazbaa is the story of a corrupt lawyer (Aishwarya Rai) who takes the cases of the outlaws and the guilty only in order to earn handsomely which is not possible by fighting for some cause or ensuring justice to innocents. However when her daughter is kidnapped, this lawyer who is a single mother, finds the world as upside down for her. With the help of her silent lover who is a suspended cop (Irrfan), she pays the ransom not in cash but in kind which is to get a convict of rape and murder free from not only the gallows but also prison. The bulk of the story goes in the efforts of this lawyer-cum-bereaved mother and her silent lover. On one hand, they are busy in arranging evidences in favour of the convict, on the other, they are busy in searching for the kidnapped child. What happens in the end, proves to be an eye-opener for the corrupt lawyer.
Though the director Sanjay Gupta has not done proper justice to the good stuff at his hand, the movie is nevertheless gripping right from the word 'go' to the climax. The issue of rape is imposed on the script and the data of this crime given in the end are useless and irrelevant. Actually the focus should have been on the corruption in the profession of law when reputed lawyers become defense counsels for the people guilty of heinous crimes like rape and murder for the sake of getting exorbitant fees from their clients. But the director has not done so. There are 'n' number of plot-holes and untied loose ends alongwith inconsistencies and contradictions in the script and many things are not clarified till the very end, the most prominent of which is the mastermind's getting complete information of every move of the lawyer after the kidnapping of her daughter. How could it be possible ? Sanjay Gupta may be knowing. The audience couldn't make it out even after watching the complete movie. Besides, Sanjay Gupta only must be knowing the relevance of the title of this movie which has nothing to with its story.
All the same, the movie works because of its pace. The fast pace of the narrative does not give any time to the audience to pause and think. The viewer just keep on watching while holding his breath. Besides, this is not a pure thriller. It's a suspense-thriller. The suspense element has been kept intact till the climax which is a big achievement of the director.
No songs are required in this type of movie because songs only interrupt the flow of the fast-moving narrative. All the same, Jaane Tere Sheher Ka Kya Iraada Hai is quite impressive in terms of both lyrics and composition (plus Irrfan's performance on that).
This is termed as the comeback movie of Aishwarya Rai and her admirers are going gaga over her performance in this movie. However though the aging actress is quite beautiful even in her forties and post motherhood in her real life, her performance is so-so only. Those who are admiring her performance are not able to differentiate between acting and shrieking. Despite being a heroine-centric movie, Irrfan takes the cake as far as the clapping and accolades of the audience are concerned. However it's Shabana Aazmi who is the best performer though she is definitely miscast for the role of the mother of a teenager (being in her sixties, she straightaway looks as the grandma of a teenager).
While advising all the reviewers to check the facts properly before terming any Indian movie as a copy of some foreign movie because almost all are copycats now (including both the Indian and the foreign filmmakers) sending originality for a toss, I recommend this fast-paced engrossing movie to all those who are fond of suspense-thrillers. It will prove to be no less than a roller-coaster ride for them.
Jo Raah Chuni Tune . . . Tribute to Ravindra Jain
Ravindra Jain is no more. The extra-ordinary composer and lyricist who was in a league of his own, has left for his heavenly abode on 09.10.2015. But he will always live in the hearts of lovers of music and Hindi poetry. He was near blind by birth but never allowed his physical deficiency to overpower his inborn talent. He was not only a composer sticking to melody and Indian classical as well as folk music but also a brilliant Hindi poet and that's why many of his compositions are based on the lyrics penned by him only. His works, both as a composer and as a lyricist, radiate the fragrance of Indian soil. After starting his journey in Bollywood from composing a song in 1972, the first big break that he got was Saudagar (1973) made by the prestigious Rajshri banner of Bollywood. Since then he became a regular music composer of the Rajshri banner whose movies always followed the tradition of simplicity and Indianness under the leadership of late Tarachand Barjatya, its founder. Later he composed music for the highly popular mythological serials like Raamayan and Krishna also. Talented singers like K.J. Yesudaas and Hemlata were given opportunities to sing for Hindi movies by him only. While paying my tribute to this unique and highly talented artiste, I am presenting my review of an old Hindi movie whose songs were composed by him. This simple but lovely movie made by the Rajshri banner only is Tapasya (1976).
Tapasya (penance / mortification) is based on a story penned by eminent Bengali litterateur Ashapoorna Devi. It tells the story of Indrani Sinha (Raakhee Gulzaar) aka Indu who is in love with Dr. Saagar Verma (Parikshit Saahni) but when the two are just about to tie the sacred knot with the consent of their guardians, Indu's life takes a sudden tragic turn when her father passes away and the motherless family has none except Indu to look to. The tale of Tapasya is nothing but Indu's sacrifice for her younger siblings who were going through their childhood at the time of their father's demise. The elder sister plays the role of both mother and father for her younger sisters and brother only to come across their selfishness and ungratefulness years later. Her sacrifice is equally matched by the sacrifice of her beau Saagar who waits for her for years and years allowing his youth to pass with bachelorhood forced on him. Indu's Tapasya ends when she gets united with Saagar in the end.
The movie has a North Indian setting but the story has been penned by a Bangla authoress, the screenplay has been written and directed by a Bengali director and the pivotal role has been played by an actress originally from Bengal only. Thus the total environment has a subtle Bengali touch. The movie is a low budget simple one but strikes a chord in the audience's hearts. It touches and moves. It inspires and strengthens self-belief as well as the belief in the great Indian tradition of sacrificing own happiness for the sake of the family. Except some melodrama at certain places and following the wrong notion of well-educated and well-off females being selfish and ill-mannered, the movie is natural all the way right from start to finish.
I have a great respect for the director Anil Ganguly who has also directed gems like Kora Kaagaz (1974), Trishna (1978) and Humkadam (1980). He has done full justice to the story of the eminent Bangla authoress in his dual capacity of script-writer as well as director. Besides, nowhere has he deviated from the laudable Rajshri tradition of simplicity and a respect for the Indian family values. This simple movie keeps the viewers engrossed because the Indian middle class audience can easily relate to it. In those days at least, the belief of the Indian audience in the Indian family values as well as the life virtues was intact (now it has got diluted to a great extent in the wake of consumerism). That's also one reason that this well-presented story won the hearts all over the nation.
In the promotion of the movie, there was a caption on the posters - 'Raakhee in the role she was born to play'. And Raakhee's mind-blowing performance in the pivotal role proves this assertion right. She virtually lived her role of Indu and quite deservingly won the Filmfare award for the best actress for her performance. Always an underrated actor - Parikshit Saahni is not far behind and he has lent able support to Raakhee in this heroine-centric movie. All others have also done their parts well.
Now for the music. The beautiful lyrics of various songs have not been penned by Ravindra Jain as has been the case with many of his movies. The lyricist is the dialog-writer of this movie - M.G. Hashmat who has created poetry of high literary value for certain songs. However it's Ravindra Jain only who strung the beautiful words in melodious compositions coming out of the Indian music tradition. Jo Raah Chuni Tune Usi Par Chalte Jaana Re (sung by Kishore Kumar) is the best song which tells the epitome of the story also and runs throughout the movie. Other songs are also admirable. My personal favourite is Kishore Kumar-Aarti Mukherjee duet - Do Panchhi Do Tinake Kaho Le Ke Chale Hain Kahaan.
While paying my tribute to Ravindra Jain, I recommend this beautiful movie to one and all. Watch Tapasya and enter the world of simplicity and the Indian family values smelling the fragrance of Indian soil in every nook and corner of it.
Tum Se Achcha Kaun Hai (2002)
Tumse Achchha Kaun Hai ? Koi Nahin Dear !
You can't watch all the movies for inspiration or message. A lot many of them are to be watched for pure entertainment only and then this underhyped and less promoted one is for those only who want neat and clean wholesome entertainment consisting of an ideal family in which Bhaiya and Bhabhi are no less than parents for the younger brother, a lovely romance, a love triangle that come into existence due to an obsessive second female lead, a struggler but talented singer's success in the competitive world of Mumbai and finally the action and the thrill in similar optimum quantum as salt in Daal or Sabzi or Aata.
The extra-ordinarily handsome and dashing hero Nakul Kapur is a villager in his debut (and unfortunately the last also) movie, living in Jaisalmer with his loving Bhaiya and Bhabhi and always dreams of making it big in the music world, courtesy his god-given singing talent. A tourist - Aarti Chhabaria arrives his city with her college group and identifies the diamond hidden in dust just like an able Jauhari. She advises him to come to Mumbai. And when getting his Bhaiya-Bhabhi convinced with difficulty, he moves from Jaisalmer to Mumbai, he gets shelter in the house of his motivator, Aarti living with her widow mother and younger sisters (a mother of grown-up daughter has no hitch in allowing a largely unknown male to live with them, great filmy mother !) but the harsh realities of the career and market frustrate him. He is not ready to let go the virtues developed in him during his village life but not ready to give up as well. And then arrives the spoiled rich butterfly - Kim Sharma who hears his voice in a road show (it was his last resort to make the people hear his voice and see his talent) and falls for him. With her support, Nakul really makes it big in the Bollywood music world but Kim's obsession for him creates a love triangle of Nakul, Aarti and Kim, ultimately leading to a violent climax, sending Kim to wheelchair. But Nakul is still grateful to her for everything done by her to build his career.
The highly melodious music of this movie composed by Nadeem Shravan has made this movie comparable to Saawan Ko Aane Do (the musical hit of Rajshri in 1979) but that similarity is for the 50%part of the movie, the balance 50% has its take on Ram Gopal Verma's Pyar Tune Kya Kiya. But this cocktail is not bad, it's rather good and gives you a satisfactory feel. All the formulae have been mixed in the right proportions in the movie and you know when all the required ingredients masaalas) are properly mixed (nothing much, nothing less), the dish is bound to be delicious. That's the case with Tumse Achchha Kaun Hai. The entertainment provided does not allow the viewer to pay attention to the directorial mistakes or the cinematic liberties taken to lead the movie towards a reasonable end of the story. Engrossing. Definitely.
Music as I have already admired is TAKH's biggest strength. At least five of the total seven compositions are highly melodious as well as meaningful and able to touch the chord of the listener's heart. The next strength is performances. The protagonist, Nakul Kapur has given an amazing performance and in my view, he was the deserving claimant of the best debut award for the year 2002. He has showed his talent and guts in action, dance, emotion, romance; where not ! But surprisingly tragic fact is that he just disappeared from the silver screen after this praiseworthy debut. That's how the cruel world functions. Aarti Chhabaria and Kim Sharma though, are still acting in odd movies and at least they cannot be called unemployed. Most of the characters have done well (some underplayed, some exaggerated but overall impact has been satisfactory for the story that has come before the spectators). Aarti Chhabaria, first time in a lead role, looks pretty though shown fully clad in traditional Indian clothes, just like the girl next door (behenji type). It proves that to look beautiful, a girl does not essentially have to be glamorous. Kim Sharma could not repeat the Urmila Matondkar act of Pyar Tune Kya Kiya but she has worked hard to deliver a convincing performance. Finally, Raghuveer Yadav, a highly talented actor coming from the stream of realistic cinema, has delivered a knock-out performance that stands out among others. The cinematographer has admirably captured the beauty of Rajasthan in the first half of the movie. Dialogues are also good. Editing is OK.
My advice to the viewers - just watch the movie with moderate expectation and be clear in your mind that you are watching it for wholesome entertainment and not for any other objective. Then, you take my word for it, you will love it. It was a box office flop, perhaps because of bad publicity and new unknown faces in the leads. But it is worth a dekko.
Personally asking, I would like to watch it again and again. The personality of Nakul Kapur in the movie is such that I would not have been surprised had I found several young unmarried girls of our country falling for him (as was the trend for Rajesh Khanna in the late sixties and early seventies). Had the movie been given better publicity and become a box office success, who knows Nakul would have become the next heartthrob of the young Indian females. But that's called destiny.
A saga of family bonds and sacrifice
The great Indian tradition embedding family values, has always kept love and family bonds on a high pedestal. And the litmus test of your love for your family is to be ready to sacrifice self-interest. Baseraa is an excellent movie released in 1981, underscoring the importance of sacrifice. The movie is by no means outdated or something giving an air of imposing self-sacrifice upon some member of the family for the sake of false family pride etc. It is an outstanding movie in which there is no villain. Only the fate is the villain which plays with the members of a family in which everybody loves everybody and keeps the happiness of the whole family above his or her self-interest.
The story plot is different and just very very good. A happy housewife and mother of a son, Rakhee gets lunatic and has to go to the asylum. In order to take care of her small kid, her father gets her younger sister, Rekha who is a widow, married to her husband, Shashi Kapoor. She also begets a son and the family though happy in general amongst abundant love among its members, is always feeling a pinch that the original lady of the house is spending her life in the asylum. The happiness of the family increases with the now grown-up elder son, Raj Kiran being engaged to a nice girl, Poonam Dhillon. Yet the pinch because of Rakhee's condition, exists in hearts of the family members The real plot of the story takes shape when after a gap of 14 years, Rakhee becomes normal. The psychiatrist treating her is of the opinion that she should get her house and her family as if nothing has changed over these 14 years as any setback because of the changed status of things and relationships may give her mind an undesirable jolt, reverting her back to lunacy. Now the family which loves Rakhee very much, tries its best to hide the changed scenario within the family and the household, from her. In this process, everyone suffers, her sister Rekha and her small child being the biggest sufferers. However when Rakhee comes to know the real status of things, she feels that she is the barrier between her family and its permanent happiness. And she takes a big self-sacrificial decision to keep the happiness of her family intact.
The beauty of this movie is that the narrative flows naturally without any undue dragging at any spot. The director, Ramesh Talwar has demonstrated his better sense by not allowing anything going over the top and keeping all the sequences upto their optimum length only. He has used flash backs quite admirably to explain the things. However he has not shown any haste in expanding the real story and taken his time in patiently unfolding the minute details of the family and the happiness within. It is an emotional family drama which flows nicely and maintains the curiosity of the viewer throughout. The plot of the movie does not need a baddie. So all the characters are quite noble whose hearts are brimming with kindness and love. All the same, they look flesh and blood human beings and not like the creatures coming from some other planet. This normalcy of all the characters is the strength of the movie.
All the three main protagonists of the story have given excellent performances. I consider Shashi Kapoor as the most under-rated actor of the Kapoor clan of Bollywood who despite being a very good actor, never got the praise he deserved. He has given a natural performance as the family head, restless to do justice to all the members of his family which include his two wives who are sisters. Rakhee has delivered a fine performance in the difficult role assigned to her (her real life husband Gulzar has written the screenplay, dialogs and lyrics of this movie). However the show-stealer is Rekha who has delivered a mesmerizing performance. She is visible in the movie in many forms - a naughty younger sister and a teasing sister-in-law, a responsible housewife who loves her sister's son not less than her own son, an affectionate and sensitive mother and finally a sacrificing wife and sister who is ready to personally suffer to any extent if her suffering is the condition for her elder sister's normalcy. She has showcased her abundant talent in each of these forms. The other characters - Poonam Dhillon, Raj Kiran and the child artist (who appears to be the childhood version of the now well-known model cum actor, Jas Arora) have also done exceedingly well in their respective roles.
The music does not have any chartbusters to its credit. However all the songs are quite good to listen and the lyrics are quite meaningful. I will mention two songs here - 1. the title song - Jahaan Pe Savera Ho, Wahin Pe Basera Ho, 2. Aaungi Ek Din, Aaj Jaaun which has been picturised on naughty Rekha on the first night of her sister and brother-in-law after their wedding.
The movie contains many emotionally appealing scenes. However the scene between Rakhee and Poonam Dhillon leading to the climax of the movie is the soul of this movie. I am not detailing it. It's better to watch the movie to feel its impact.
The technical aspects of the movie are perfect. The director and the editor have not allowed the movie to be unduly long. It's crisp and not loaded heavily with emotions. It's a tear-jerker, yet everything is kept under control to make the things appear as realistic.
All in all, Baseraa is a good emotional family drama which reminds us of the great Indian tradition of family values in which the happiness of the family is the numero uno interest of all its members.
Boy steps into manhood by becoming a winner
Vijeta (winner) is a very touching as well as very inspiring movie which portrays the journey of a youth from boyhood to manhood. It is the story of Angad (Kunal Kapoor) who is the son of Nihal Singh (Shashi Kapoor) and Neelima (Rekha). Angad has a tense and troubled childhood because of his father's self-pitying and guilt-complex soaked attitude to life and in turn a highly defective and counter-productive fatherly treatment to him. Home is no better than hell for him because of the ever-present tension between his parents the background of which is his father's being infidel to his mother sometime in the past. As a result of this situation, the kid Angad is not able to grow-up like a normal child.
In the verbal duels taking place between his parents, Angad who has been made a Sikh by his mother, takes the side of his mother because of his deep-seated dislike for his father. But his father is genuinely concerned for his future seeing the lack of self-confidence in him. This fear of the father is all the more intense because he looks upon himself as a sufferer and a loser in his life. Going through his teens, Angad is not finding any ray of hope and enthusiasm in his life until one day a visit of his maternal uncle Arvind(Om Puri) who is a militaryman, takes place and then after spending some time in the military environment, Angad decides to join the Indian air-force and goes ahead with his intention despite opposition from his nagging father who is over-concerned for him.
But joining the armed force is one thing and doing something worthwhile is another. The old demons of childhood haunt Angad and he remains apprehensive of taking risks though he aspires high - dreaming to become a fighter-pilot. However under the strict training of the air-force instructor Mr. Verghese (Amrish Puri) with the womanly love of his daughter Anna (Supriya Pathak) coming to him, Angad slowly but steadily starts growing up at the mental level and taking real steps into manhood. And then the moment for him to prove that he has actually come of age, arrives when India is caught in a war with Pakistan in 1971. And quite expectedly, our hero who is no longer a boy, emerges a winner (VIjeta) to the boundless delight of his parents especially his father as well as to the inner satisfaction of himself.
A man, really or perceptually, may be a winner in life or a loser in life but if he looks upon himself as a loser or a sufferer in life, he should not allow the same to affect the upbringing of his generation next. The little ones who are like clean slates or lumps of clay, need to be nurtured with utmost care and the demons of the past of their parents / guardians should not be allowed to ruin first their childhood and then their adulthood which largely depends upon the fact how their childhood has been spent. Vijeta underscores it quite emphatically.
Husband and wife may be having grudges against each other due to one or more reasons and some of them may not be resolvable also because you cannot unring a rung bell and life does not have any UNDO command like a computer has. But they have to understand one thing loud and clear that one has to move on in life especially when the future of a kid who is innocent and has nothing to do with the past of his parents, lies ahead for taking care of. The parents of the hero of Vijeta come to understand it quite gradually after spoiling the childhood of their son by their defective approach. Thus this tale is not only of the hero's coming of age, it is also of his parents' coming of age.
The movie does not bore at any place though the pace of the narrative has been deliberately reduced by the director in the post-interval session but that slow pace suits the movie well and truly speaking, enhances its impact upon the audience. Since a realistic filmmaker has directed the movie, except for the expected climax, there's nothing filmy here. Everything appears to be real though the conversations of the characters living in the military milieu appear to be a little more intellectual than they should have been in real life.
The storyteller has been quite successful in carrying the audience alongwith the characters of the story and the things happening to them or happening because of them. That mental connection of the audience who is able to relate to the characters and starts longing and praying for the hero to ultimately emerge as a winner (Vijeta), is a great achievement for any filmmaker. Vijeta is a movie which sensitises, moves, touches, energizes, delights and finally conquers the spectator.
Full marks to the art director, the cinematographer (director Govind Nihalani himself), the editor, the costume designer (Shashi Kapoor's wife and the hero's real life mother - Jennifer Kendal) and the action director for creating a completely realistic environment on the screen for the story of the movie. Ajit Verman's musical score is admirable. Mainly it's the song in Raag Bhairavi - Mann Anand Anand Chhayo sung by Asha Bhosle and Satyasheel Deshpande which remains with the audience.
Performances are outstanding. Kunal Kapoor could not play a successful innings as an actor in Bollywood but for this role, he appears to have brought his heart out. Supriya Pathak was very pretty in her youth and she has excelled on the acting front also. Shashi Kapoor and Rekha have entered the skins of their characters. The same can be asserted about the other cast members too.
I recommend this extra-ordinary movie to all those who are fond of viewing quality cinema.
Satiating the appetite of the soul
The Lunchbox (2013) tells the story of a housewife who is an excellent cook and tries to win her husband's heart by following the route via his stomach. But the indifferent husband is making her soul die gradually but definitely through his apathy - apathy towards herself, her whole existence and everything done by her for him. Life has become quite dull and hopeless for her. The only reason for her to live is her little daughter plus her aged mother looking after her ailing father.
This housewife living in Mumbai is Ila (Simrat Kaur) who everyday prepares the lunchbox for her husband and send to him through the tiffin delivery service carried out by the famous Dabbawaalas of Mumbai. She keeps on trying newer recipes for her husband's lunch by seeking the advice of an elderly lady in her neighbourhood whom she calls 'aunty'. And one day the aunty's recipe works but the outcome does not affect Ila's husband - Rajeev (Nakul Vaid) whom the tiffin was originally sent to. Due to a rare error made by the Dabbawaala, the lunchbox reaches a stranger named as Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan) working in a government owned insurance company. He is an elderly widower and willing for early retirement from his job to shift to Nasik.
Now the lunch which was never eaten completely by Rajeev, is liked so much by Saajan that he licks the lunchbox empty. And when the lunchbox emptied this way, reaches back to Ila in the evening, it's a pleasant surprise for her. However the pleasantness of surprise gets diluted when she comes to know that it's not her husband who had eaten that lunch but someone else. However even this indirectly conveyed appreciation of her cooking brings some cheers to her heart. She sends a 'Thank You' note in the lunchbox the next day hoping that the lunchbox will reach the same person again.
And yes, it reaches Saajan only again. And again. And again. Her note and the subsequent such notes start fetching Saajan's replies too. She writes in Hindi but Saajan replies in English. However the language of sentiments is unique and is not dependent on the medium. Hence a bridge is built through these letters between the hearts of the twosome. Like Ila, Saajan is also completely lonely and his loneliness has adversely affected his personality. But now the lunchbox has become something like a postman for both these lonely and suffocated souls to open up and pour own heart out because now each of them has found a listener in the form of the other.
Letters keep on coming and going. Now they wait for the lunchbox - Saajan in the day time and Ila in the evening - just to get the letter of the other one and know what he / she has said from his / her side and when there is a mutual liking between the communicating persons, there's never any dearth of the topics. The result ? Elementary Sir ! The result is love. The love which knows no bounds of age, looks, class, marital position, family etc. etc. etc.They have fallen in love - from Ila's side without even seeing Saajan but the apprehensions are also there. It requires a lot of courage to take risks to move from what we are in to what we long for which is absent at least in Saajan. Well, then should we conclude that the love story has ended ? No ! Whether the lovers get united or not, the love story continues. because love does not cease to exist.
It's not a movie about the lunch or its quality or its consumption and subsequent appreciation for the lunch-maker. It's about opening up of two persons to each other through letters through which the characters of this movie who come to know of each other and then move from liking each other to loving other. But !
But what would have happened had the lunchbox sent by the lady been wrongly delivered to some female instead of a male ? Then this love story would have not come into existence even if that lunch-consuming stranger lady had been appreciative of the food and understanding and empathetic by nature. Why ? Because a love story has to be between a male and a female only. Even when the concerned male and the female never come face-to-face or even see each other's photograph or even hear each other's voice, the feeling that the interacting person belongs to opposite sex itself is able to stir the heart of the individual. Opposite charges attract each other and like charges repel each other. It is true in the case of human-beings too. Especially we, the Indians, tend to foster an unexpressed desire in our hearts to interact with a person of opposite sex and allow our hidden romantic feelings to exhibit themselves because our social set-up does not allow us even today to go ahead in a love-affair and male-female interaction without a marital bond between them is still looked upon with contempt by the society. Hence any opportunity to taste that forbidden fruit is grabbed with enthusiasm. Hence even without any sexual orientation of the (real or deemed) relationship, a feeling of getting involved with a person of opposite sex is found soothing for the heart. The same appears to have happened to Saajan Fernandes and Ila also. The lunchbox originally contained food for the appetite of the body but once it became the medium of communication between the individuals at the two ends of its daily journey, it started carrying the stuff to satiate the appetite of soul of the twosome.
An outstanding movie it is !
Main Azaad Hoon (1989)
Big B's most underrated movie
Main Aazaad Hoon is the most underrated movie of the star of the millennium(!) Amitabh Bachchan who is definitely the living legend of Indian cinema. It got released in 1989 and flopped on the box office. But the notable thing is that it got ignored by both the viewers and the critics. In fact, the movie deserved a better treatment because it is quite different from the masala movies of Amitabh Bachchan and one of his better works.
Inspired by Hollywood movie - Meet John Doe (1941), It is a movie of a person whose actual name has not been told in the movie. He is nicknamed as Aazaad by an ambitious journalist of a newspaper run by even more ambitious mediaman. A false story is published in the newspaper that the person named Azaad will suicide on the next republic day(26 January) as a protest of the corrupt system prevalent in India. The purpose of this false story is to boost the declining sale of the newspaper. The sale, in fact, gets boosted up but now the readers want to meet the person named Aazaad. The lady journalist, in a very smart move, catches a layman to play the role of Aazaad for money and assures him that he would not have to commit suicide on the given day as he will be released and allowed to flee away anywhere before that. The person who is none other than our Big B, is ready to do it but while performing the role, he comes to realize the pains and problems of the common man coupled with realities of the rotten system. Becoming sympathetic to the people's plight and feeling from within to give a meaning to his otherwise meaningless life, he actually commits suicide on the already declared date. His sacrifice awakens the sleepy and dormant masses and they are made to realize that each one of them is, in fact, an Aazaad in himself.
Quite astonishingly, this movie has been made and directed by Tinu Anand, the masala moviemaker. It is sans any romantic lead pair and consequentially any romance with songs and dances, any traditional baddies and consequentially any relevant scenes of fight, chase, shootout, explosion or other type of action or thrill for which Amitabh Bachchan was known for about two decades of his career(the so called angry young man tag was attached to him for such kind of roles only). This movie is totally different, realistic, sensitive, thought-provoking and to a large extent, logically made. To my knowledge, Amitabh Bachchan has never acted in any other movie of this category. It is a hard-hitting statement on the corrupt and manipulative system which was and still is prevalent in India.
Despite being a realistic, non-formulaic movie, it is engrossing and able to focus the viewer's attention on the screen throughout. Recently Amitabh Bachchan has acted in RGV's Rann in which the corruption rampant in the media has been exposed. The same thing is here also but when this movie had been made, electronic media was not prominent in India. Hence it has exposed print media which was(and which is) no less corrupt than the electronic media working for vested interests and own commercial growth only. Journalists are toeing the lines of newspaper owners only because they too are joining the media for glittering careers and not for any ideals. The complete portrayal of the reality within the media house is utterly realistic. Powerful mediamen foster political ambitions, is a fact highlighted through the character of Manohar Singh, the newspaper owner.
Amitabh Bachchan has got national award for best actor twice - first for Agneepath and second for Black. In my view, his performance in Main Aazaad Hoon is far better than both those performances and he should have won the national award for this movie instead. He has entered the skin of the protagonist completely and given a gem of a performance. Shabana Aazmi as the journalist, is natural, as usual. One of the big names of Indian theatre, (late) Manohar Singh has played the role of the owner of the newspaper house with highest degree of efficiency. Other performers like Annu Kapoor, Sudhir Pandey, Raja Bundela, Ajeet Vachchhani etc. are also up to the mark.
The script as well as the direction are superb except dragging at some places which could have been avoided. The climax is hard-hitting and unforgettable. All the technical departments of the movie are all right. Music has been given in the movie by Amar-Utpal and this offbeat movie contains only one song - KITNE BAAJOO KITNE SAR- written by Shabana Aazmi's father, the legendary Shaayar Kaifi Aazmi and sung by none other than Amitabh Bachchan himself.
It happens sometimes that useless or weak movies catch undue attention(and box office success too) whereas excellent movies pass by unnoticed. Main Aazaad Hoon belongs to the second category. Even AB's fans are not aware of this movie. It is movie which should be watched by not only the admirers of Amitabh Bachchan but also the people fond of watching sensible, thoughtful and useful cinema.
Satte Pe Satta (1982)
Seven brides for seven brothers
Satte Pe Satta (1982) is the Indian remake of Hollywood movie - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) directed by Stanley Donen and starring Howard Keel in the lead role (of the eldest of the seven brothers). It's a romantic movie showing a family of seven brothers. When the eldest brother is able to find a bride for himself, he has to do it for his six younger brothers too. Sippy Films used this story to make Hindi movie Satte Pe Satta (playing card no. 7 thrown on the opponent player's playing card no. 7) starring Amitabh Bachchan in the lead role of the eldest brother. Besides, while writing the script of this Bollywood version of the Hollywood movie, they introduced a look-alike of the eldest brother also so that Amitabh Bachchan who was on the peak of his popularity those days could play a double role in the movie.
The title of the movie has been kept as such because of the prominence of number 7 in the movie (seven are the brothers and thereby seven brides of them also appear), else the story has nothing to do with any playing card game. It's an entertaining movie using the theme of the Hollywood movie and adding Bollywoodish formulae viz. look-alike, a conspiracy to usurp property and fight in the climax.
The seven brothers of this movie are orphans whose names have been kept after the names of the days of a week. Well, it was the easiest way to christen themselves as there are seven days in a week. When someone asks them what they would have done had they been more than seven, they reply that in that condition, they would have christened themselves after the names of the months of a calendar year viz. January, February, March etc. So these seven brothers are named as Ravi (Amitabh Bachchan), Som (Sudhir), Mangal (Shakti Kapoor), Budh (Paintal), Guru (Kanwaljeet Singh), Shukra (Vimal Saahu) and Shani (Sachin). The eldest one, i.e., is somewhat educated and sophisticated whereas the other six are completely uneducated and uncivilized. Ravi rules them and takes work from them like bonded labourers.
The straight day-to-day life of these brothers has been going on monotonously for years. They live in their house situated in a jungle without shaving or taking a bath or dressing up properly. Quarrels are frequent among them. Only Ravi maintains contact with the outside world and when he's in the house, he keeps on bossing them. The still water of their combined life is stirred by Ravi's encounter with Indu (Hema Maalini). After initial difficulty, Ravi is able to win Indu's heart and marries her. But when Indu comes to his house as his bride, she's taken aback by the look of her husband's household and his younger brothers. She decides to civilize them and become their instructor for this purpose. However the sight of Ravi's happy married life with Indu has created romance in the hearts of the other six brothers too. They find their brides among the friends of Indu. On one side, Ravi sets on the mission of bringing the marital happiness in his brothers' lives, on the other, a criminal conspiracy comes into existence.
Indu's wheel-chair bound friend Seema (Ranjeeta) is an orphan whose uncle Ranjit (Amjad Khan) is having an eye on her wealth and he wants to kill Seema to usurp that. For this purpose, he hires the services of ex-jailbird Baabu (Amitabh Bachchan in double role). When he comes to know that Baabu is the look-alike of Ravi, he kidnaps Ravi and sends Baabu to his home whereas Seema is spending time with her friend Indu and her marital family. Baabu enters the household impersonating Ravi. The conclusion of the story is anybody's guess.
While the first part of the movie is a lift from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and full of comic, romantic and emotional moments, the second part is nothing but another Bollywoodish plot of a villain's evil design to usurp a heroine's property. Quite naturally, it's the first one which is more important and serves ample entertainment to the audience. All the same, courtesy Amitabh Bachchan's comic timing and a scene specially written for this purpose, the second half has also become an entertaining one. Director Raj N. Sippy has handled the script very well and done a decent job.
The movie features a plethora of male-female actors. Actors like Saarika and Vijayendra Ghaatage are also there in guest appearances. All including Hema Maalini and Ranjeeta have done well. It's painful to see a highly talented actor like Kanwaljeet Singh doing a side role in this movie. But ultimately the movie belongs to Amitabh Bachchan. He has got maximum screen time in his double role and he has delivered admirable performances in both the roles. Especially as Ravi, his performance is terrific and despite being known as an action hero, he has generated a treasure of laughs for the audience through his performance in that role.
Satte Pe Satta carries immense repeat value and can be seen many times. It was a huge commercial hit when released and can prove its worth even today if re-released. It's a big treat for not just the fans of Amitabh Bachchan but all the movie buffs.
Pita Par Poot, Jaat Par Ghoda . . .
There is a very old Hindi saying - Pita Par Poot, Jaat Par Ghoda; Bahut Nahin Par Thoda Thoda (the son gets traits of his father and the horse gets the traits of its race, at least to some extent if not completely). The theme of the Hindi movie Aurangzeb (2013) contains the spirit of this saying.
The title has been kept after the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb because he had ascended to the throne after killing his brothers and imprisoning his father. And from that, the writer-director Atul Sabharwaal has picked up a statement - 'Kingship knows no kinship'. However this principle of life is grasped in its true spirit by only one character of the movie - Ravikaant, the Deputy Commissioner of Police of Gurgaon (Haryana) who uses his kinsmen as well as others as mere pawns on the chessboard of his sky-high ambitions but the person he brainwashes to play Aurangzeb to suit his plan, does not do so despite agreeing initially for that.
The story starts with aged Vijay (Anupam Kher), ex-cop who had lost his job because of a so-called encounter in which the wife and little son of a gangster Yashwardhan (Jackie Shroff) are said to have lost their lives. Vijay is an isolated person in his household because his own son Aarya (Prithviraaj Sukumaaran) does not look upon his honest father as his role model. In this family of cops with all the males including the son-in-law of the house being police officers, Aarya who himself is the Assistant Commissioner of Police, considers his corrupt uncle Ravikaant (Rishi Kapoor) as his role model. Coincidentally, the son-in-law of the family is an honest person but for all others including Ravikaant's son Dev (Sikandar Kher), their police service is nothing but the business of collection, i.e., bribes from the outlaws.
Suddenly Aarya comes to know from his father in his ending days that the wife and little son of Yashwardhan had not died in that so-called encounter. They are alive and considering his moral responsibility towards them, Vijay has been taking care of them. An emotional relationship had developed between Vijay and Yashwardhan's wife Veera (Tanvi Aazmi) who had become police informer against her outlaw husband and after losing his job, Vijay has taken care of Veera just like a husband and her son Vishaal (Arjun Kapoor) just like a father. Vishal knows Vijay only as his father and does not know his biological relationship with Yashwardhan. Before his death, Vijay reveals this secret to Aarya and urges him to take care of Veera and Vishaal. After Vijay's demise, starts the main track of this movie.
Aarya breaks the news of Vijay's demise to Veera and Vishaal. However finding that Vishaal is the look-alike of his twin brother, i.e., Yashwardhan's son who is the only son of himself in the knowledge of the world, he devises a plan with his uncle Ravikaant to get better of Yashwardhan and bring him to book. He feels that thus he will also be able to wash the stain of killing two innocents from the name of his late father. Under this plan, Vishaal's twin brother Ajay (Arjun Kapoor's second role) is kidnapped and he's replaced by Vishaal in the life of Yashwardhan. Vishaal is entrusted with the responsibility of passing of significant information about the unlawful activities of Yashwardhan to Aarya and Ravikaant.
Vishaal, impersonating Ajay, enters the life and empire of Yashwardhan who is in real estate business but carries out shady deals too. Gradually Vishaal is able to understand his biological father better who no longer appears that bad to him. On the other hand, the real mission of Ravikaant dawns upon Aarya alongwith this truth that to fulfill his ambitions, Ravikaant does not care for the lives of even his nearest and dearest ones and thus he also comes to empathize with his deceased father Vijay who had always cared for the people more than his own vested interests. What happens then is a forgone conclusion.
This story is a cobweb of greed for money and power, intricate conspiracies, betrayals and of course, principles of leading a life which are bound to be different for different people. Atul Sabharwaal has penned the script on a large canvas and executed its first part, i.e., the pre-interval session very well. The trouble lies in the second half, i.e., the post-interval session in which the movie loses its naturalness and thereby its grip on the audience. The story is taken to its conclusion in a completely Bollywoodish manner which might have suited a movie made in the seventies but definitely not a modern movie.
Performances are all good. The best performer is undoubtedly veteran Rishi Kapoor followed by Prithviraaj Sukumaaran. A highly talented actress like Deepti Naval has been wasted which is definitely incorrect on the part of the filmmaker. The only mentionable scene she gets in the movie underscores the significance of power handled by top cops in India and highlights the mindset of the Indian wives regarding that power and the corrupt activities of their men associated therewith.
Before signing off, I come back to the original statement which says that a son is bound to get some traits of his father. The opening scene of the movie itself presents the quote of Horace - 'Deep in the cavern of the infant's breast; the father's nature lurks, and lives anew.' Finally, not only the biological son but also the foster son of Vijay (Anupam Kher) are able to manifest the real nature of their father in their activities which propounds it loud and clear - 'Apno Ki Keemat Sapno Se Zyaada Hoti Hai' (your near and dear ones are worthier than your dreams or ambitions). Mughal emperor Aurangzeb did not believe in it but I do. And, in my opinion, this only is the real conclusion of the movie.
The path leading to truth is bound to be thorny
This classic Hindi movie directed by the legendary filmmaker Hrishikesh Mukherjee starts with the assertion that the most sacrosanct quest is the quest for truth. One should strive for getting the truth, reaching the truth. But pious intentions do not and cannot ease out the difficulties, hardships and pains to be faced in this regard. The hero of this movie named as Satyapriy Acharya is determined to follow his family ideals in his practical life. Like Mahatma Gandhi, truth is God to him. And he sets out in pursuit of truth only after obtaining an engineering degree.
The story starts in the period when India was on the verge of getting political independence from the colonial rule and the princely states were, in all likelihood, going to lose their existence in the sovereign republic of India. The common psyche of the Indians was filled with enthusiasm, optimism and hope for a better future. Our hero whose the only relative is his grandfather Satyasharan (Ashok Kumar) living in isolation, away from the practical (and cruel) world,also shares this psyche with his countrymen.
The movie tells Satyapriy's journey towards truth. He speaks truth. He lives truth. However the thing that he forgets that in this practical world, truth also needs the worldly might to survive. A man like Satyapriy may be able to pursue truth through sheer inner strength but if he is not living in isolation and has to survive among those who are not like himself, day-to-day life may become hell for him. Following truth only in his life, he is likely to find that gaining worldly comforts, peace of mind and a normal life has become a mirage for him.
And that's where the real inner strength is required. The path leading to truth can never be flowery. It's bound to be thorny and the traveller of this path should be mentally prepared to sustain all the resultant wounds and the pain emanating from them. The hero of this movie, i.e., Satyapriy is such a person only. He sustains everything and lays down his life in the end while treading the path of truth only. Does his death matter for anybody ? Yes, for his wife Ranjana (Sharmila Tagore) and her kid whose biological father is not the hero but a rapist (Manmohan). And through them only, the aged grandfather of the hero realizes what it takes to follow truth in the real sense.
According to a Hindu mythological tale, Lord Vishnu had taught a similar lesson to Sage Naarad who was proud of his devotion to Vishnu but could not utter his name even once during the execution of an assignment of carrying a brimful container of oil on his head in which he was not allowed to spill even a single drop of oil out. Similar is the test for the follower of truth. Following truth while living in isolation or in your comfort zone is no achievement. You are a proved a genuine truth lover only when you are able to follow it amidst the worldly life in which this love of yours is tested on almost every step. Once realizing it like Sage Naarad, the hero's aged grandfather adopts his daughter-in-law and her kid and takes them to his place while earlier he had not allowed the kid to ignite the pyre of Satyapriy (the Hindu custom of Mukhaagni) owing to the kid's not being the biological son of Satyapriy.
It's a pain-soaked movie rendering a message to the residents of politically independent India that their real test lies in maintaining their inner strength to follow the ideals of the freedom struggle in free India which was (and is) a much more difficult task than to gain political freedom from the foreign rulers. When this movie was made, the Indian masses had started feeling disenchantment from the words of the leaders and the ideals propagated for decades with the promise of a better future, better life to the commoners.
Satyakaam is based on a novel of eminent Bangla author Naarayan Saanyal telling a heart-piercing story. How a person who is determined to follow the path of truth only, suffers in the hands of the greedy, biased and cruel world; is shown realistically in this story. As said earlier, truth also needs tangible might to take on its worldly adversaries and survive their onslaught. However, asserting quite pessimistically, the genuinely truth loving, non-compromising people seldom gain such a might. Ruination only is their destiny. Hrishi Da, one of the greatest film directors of India, has done complete justice to the spirit embedded in the novel.
The writer and after him, the director has presented the truth-loving hero as a normal human-being only with the human weaknesses of hesitation and momentary cowardice in him. Besides, it's also underscored that maintaining a normal conjugal relationship with a raped woman is even more difficult than to marry her as the hero is never able to be normal with his wife in their intimate moments and the wife deeply feels the pinch of it.
Performance wise talking, all including the heroine - Sharmila Tagore and child artiste Saarika who used to play the roles of a boy child those days (credited as Master Suraj), have done pretty well. Sanjeev Kumar who plays the role of Dharmendra's close friend Narendra who only is the narrator of this story, is also perfect.
However the movie belongs to Dharmendra and Dharmendra only. He did not get any award for his role in this movie but it seems that he has not acted but lived Satyapriy on celluloid. This is perhaps the best performance of his career.
Late Hrishi Da himself had termed Satyakaam as the best movie ever made by him. This masterpiece is not meant for the regular entertainment seekers. It's for the audience of profound, well-meant cinema only.