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Escape from Taliban (2003)
Sushmita Banerjee killed ! No escape from Taalibaan !
I am shocked to read the news of Sushmita Bandyopaadhyaay's murder in today's newspaper. The Indian authoress who wrote her true life story in the shape of a novel - Kaabuliwaalar Bengali Bou (Kaabuliwaala's Bengali Wife) was shot dead by the Taalibaani militants outside her residence in the Paktika province of Afghanistan. Sushmita had fallen in love with an Afghan businessman - Jaanbaaz Khan and shifted from Kolkata to Kaabul in 1989 after marrying him. After the emergence of an Islamic fundamentalist militant organization titled as Taalibaan (students) in 1993 and its capturing administrative powers, reducing the formal political regime to almost naught, life became hell for Sushmita there with certain very painful truths about her husband also coming out to fore which were hitherto unknown to her. She managed her escape from there through a lot of toil, hardship and struggle and penned down that phase of her life in the form of the above-mentioned book. This book got used as the basis of a Bollywood movie which is Escape from Taliban (2003).
Directed by Ujjwal Chatterjee, Escape from Taliban features Manisha Koiraala in the lead role and Ali Khan in the role of her husband. The lady protagonist, i.e., Sushmita marries her Afghani lover despite opposition from her Bengali Hindu family but when moved to Afghanistan with him, she is horrified to see humanity being butchered in every particle of the land where it's a crime to be a non-Muslim and it's even greater crime to be a woman. She is rechristened as Sayeeda after conversion and gives birth to a baby child while living with her in-laws. Her humanitarian heart weeps for the oppressed innocents in this barbaric land. Some hidden truths about her husband also get revealed to her. Now she wants to be back to her motherland, i.e., India with her daughter but it's a Herculean task. How she is able to make this great escape happen forms the remaining part of the story.
Over the past two decades of their reign, Taalibaan seems to be willing to take the world to the medieval era and convert it into Daar-ul-Islaam (the land of Islaam) where everybody is Muslim and leads his / her life according to the Sharia rule (as interpreted by them). They do not believe in giving the basic human rights and the bare minimum respect to the non-Muslims as well as the females (of all categories and communities) as well as those who do not support their ideology. They are cruel. They are insensitive. We have the latest example of a little girl Malaala Yousufzai who was shot by them because she was promoting education among Muslim girls. And quite unfortunately, their biased and condemnable ideology is directly / indirectly supported by several Muslim leaders and organizations all over the world including the so-called secular India. Sushmita vividly portrayed the pitiable condition of non-Muslims and females (of Muslims and non-Muslims alike) in her book and Ujjwal Chatterjee who has written the screenplay of this movie also, has done the same by making the celluloid version of the book with sincerity and honesty.
All the same, the movie is not an excellent one. It depicts reality and does not digress from its motive, nevertheless it's to be acknowledged that it could have been a much better one as the heart-tearing reality has not been portrayed with the amount of passion required for the purpose. The movie thrills more, moves less. With a better star cast and a better director, it could have been a masterpiece. At several places, the film appears to be just something above average which is sad considering the strength of the plot which is the much acclaimed book. The movie is technically okay though.
Vanraaj Bhaatia's music and Mehboob Kotwaal's lyrics have not created any chartbusters but all the songs are meaningful, admirable and perfectly in sync with the mood of the movie.
Manisha Koiraala has done well in the lead role. Ali Khan as her husband and the other members of the cast in various supporting roles have done justice to their work.
While recommending this movie to all those who take interest in watching realistic, meaningful and purposeful movies, I wonder why Sushmita went back to that country after making such a daredevil escape from there. Perhaps because she was a sensitive lady and a true humanist and she went back only to help others like her. Ever since her return to the cursed land, Sushmita was ceaselessly busy in social work especially pertaining to women's healthcare and upliftment and that's what's not acceptable to the beasts who want to keep the half of the mankind as enslaved to the other half for eons to come.
Sushmita could manage an escape from Taalibaan during the nineties but now she has succumbed to their cruelty with little hope that this great sacrifice of hers will bring about any positive change in Afghanistan or the thinking of the fundamentalist Muslim brotherhood at any place. While paying my tribute to the brave Indian authoress, I take this opportunity to make an appeal to all the humanists of the world to rise up against this barbarianism and imposition of the outdated thinking and inhuman practices on the world. The so-called secular Indians may still not break their silence (they are ready to adjust to anything undesirable done in the name of Islam for the sake of their secularism which is nothing but maintaining of double standards for Muslims and non-Muslims). However all the humanists should join hands to save humanity and innocence from Taalibaan and similar outfits.
Hariyali Aur Rasta (1962)
Greenery of joys and thornful path for lovers
Hariyali Aur Raasta is a musical journey in the beautiful backdrop of Darjeeling with Manoj Kumar and Mala Sinha playing childhood lovers - Shankar and Shobhna. Shankar believes that they will be united but Shobhna is apprehended with the thought that lovers have to be prepared for the thronful path (Kaanton Bhara Raasta) also in their life alongwith the joyful greenery (Khushiyon Ki Hariyali). Her apprehensions come true when her father who is the trustee of the estate of the late father of Shankar, asks her to leave aside from the path of Shankar's marriage with Rita (Shashikala), fixed in childhood by their parents. The story takes several twists and turns with the highly melodious and sensitive songs and ultimately leads to the re-union of the separated lovers after many years.
The movie has been ably directed by Vijay Bhatt which keeps the audience glued to the screen. Right from the emotional scenes of the childhood of the pair, to the love-filled teasings of the now college-going lovers, to the numerous twists in the tale; everything is perfectly in place. The movie is filled with emotions and emotional situations. The character of the Christian lady (played beautifully by Krishna Kumari) who is like a mother figure to the motherless Shankar and her tragic death because of the wrongdoings of her bribe-taking dishonest husband (Om Prakash), deeply move the audience. The director has forced a few laughters in the otherwise serious movie perhaps to provide some relief to the audience (through the character of Om Prakash) which could have been avoided because they are not in line with the sentimental mood of the movie.
The performances are good. The lead pair has done well. Shashikala as the negligent wife and mother is mostly OK and somewhere over the top. However it is the supporting cast which deserves a special mention. Manmohan Krishna as the honest, dutiful trustee of the estate and the affectionate guardian to Manoj Kumar who had become an orphan in childhood, has done a terrific job. I have already mentioned about Krishna Kumari. Other actors including Om Prakash (sometimes over the top as an alcoholic) and the child artists also have ably supported the lead actors and the narrative.
The cameraman has captured the green beauty of Darjeeling in the sixties very well (despite the limitation of its being a black and white movie). The production value and technical aspects are also well-handled.
The songs are too many but they are not forced in the narrative. They are situational and help in carrying the story forward. Nowhere the viewer is bored and genuine sympathy is generated by the storyteller for the separated lovers. The climax of the movie is quite impressive.
The biggest plus point of the movie is definitely the melodious music composed by Shanker-Jaikishan. Most of the songs are timeless classics. Whether you take the immortal solo of Mukesh - Teri Yaad Dil Se Bhulane Chala Hoon or you take Mahendra Kapoor's memorable song, sung on the screen by a boatman - Kho Gaya Hai Mera Pyar or the title song by Lata or the classic duets of Lata and Mukesh - Ibtda-e-Ishq Mein Hum Saari Raat Jaage, Bol Meri Taqdeer Mein Kya Hai and Laakhon Taare Aasmaan Mein; each one is simply a gem. The lori sung by Lata which contains the gist of the story - Ek Tha Raja Ek Thi Rani, is also praiseworthy.
Summing up, Hariyali Aur Raasta is a treat to watch for the lovers of musical love stories. Watch it once and you will love to watch it again.
Kissi Se Na Kehna (1983)
Don't tell anybody that I know English
Director Hrishikesh Mukherjee had made a classic comedy in the form of Chupke Chupke (1975) presenting the Hindi vs. English debate amidst a laugh-riot for the audience. After a few years, he again dealt with this theme with a different story, focussing on English this time (Chupke Chupke focused on Hindi). This movie which is also a comedy, is Kissi Se Na Kehna (1983) starring the red hot pair of that time - Farooq Sheikh and Deepti Naval in lead roles with Uptal Dutt being at the centre of the story.
Kissi Se Na Kehna (don't tell it to anybody) is the story of a widower - Kailashnaath (Utpal Dutt) who is searching for a bride for his grown-up son - Ramesh (Farooq Sheikh). Since he finds certain English educated girls as totally Westernized in their outlook, life-style and behaviour; he decides to marry his son to a girl who does not know English. This decision of his puts Ramesh into trouble because he is in love with a medico - Dr. Ramola (Deepti Naval). His father's friend - Laalaji (Saeed Jaaffery) helps him by presenting Ramola as a totally naive and modestly educated village girl who has no knowledge of English and the love-birds get happily married.
But as the story progresses with hilarious incidents in the family of Kailaashnaath involving his interactions with his daughter-in-law, Ramola starts feeling guilty because she is a lady who believes in truth and it hurts his conscience that she is lying to her father-in-law (who also believes as much in truth only and hates lie in similar quantum). She wants to reveal the truth to Kailaashnaath but Ramesh stops her for the sake of the family bliss. However the day comes when Kailaashnaath needs medical aid and with no alternative around, Ramola only attends him in her professional capacity of a doctor. After some emotional tension, the story concludes on a happy note.
Kissi Se Na Kehna is not a laugh-riot as Chupke Chupke but it entertains the audience throughout its duration. Set in a simple milieu, this low budget and neat 'n' clean movie tickles the funny bone of the viewers for most of its duration and generates smile on their lips. Though, in my view, the script of this movie is not as strong as it should have been considering the theme; nevertheless it is an appreciable movie which can be watched with complete family. The seasoned director has done his job well despite not-so-strong script.
The points raised by Kailaashnaath are genuine and valid. He is not against English as a language because in his opinion (and in my opinion too), every language is divine. He is against the imposition of English relegating our own cultural and lingual heritage. When several nations could progress by relying on their own languages instead of English, why can't India ? The imposition of English as a medium of Education as well as a language of public dealings is nothing but a sign of our mental slavery to the Western culture.
However the director has very wisely shown Kailaashnaath as realizing his error of discarding English and English-literate females altogether because despite being a highly qualified and English-educated lady, Ramola has proved to be a perfect daughter-in-law for his family, giving utmost respect to the elders and soaking herself in the Indian cultural values. Her guilt-complex of lying to her father-in-law itself is a sign of her inner piety. And that's the point which needs to be understood to bring about the required balance in our outlook and behaviour with respect to the issue of English vis-a-vis our mother-tongue (Hindi in this movie).
Technically, the movie is all right because it is a simple movie devoid of lavishness. Lengh is perfect. Music composed by Bappi Lahiri is another weak point of this movie.
The title of this movie has been taken from a song of another Farooq-Deepti starrer Saath-Saath (1982). Farooq and Deepti made a lovely on-screen pair and presented some memorable movies during the early eighties. In Kissi Se Na Kehna too, their on-screen chemistry is perfect. The story revolves around Deepti and she has delivered another admirable performance. Farooq as a man caught between his wife and his father is not far behind. Saeed Jaaffery and other supporting cast members are perfectly in place. The best performer is, undoubtedly, the seasoned actor Utpal Dutt who is all pervasive in the movie.
On the occasion of Hindi Day, I reiterate the viewpoint of Kailaashnaath that every language is divine and respectable. However let's not forget that it's our mother tongue in which we learn to speak, listen, understand and interact, may it be Hindi or Bengali or Oriya or Tamil or Telugu or Kannada or Malayam or Maraathi or Assamese or likewise. And therefore, it deserves more respect than English which though necessary for life, is ultimately a foreign language only. And mother tongue is just like mother to a human-being. Despite loving, respecting and giving importance to his wife very much, a married man cannot allow her to supersede his mother. That's my view.
I recommend Kissi Se Na Kehna wholeheartedly to all the movie buffs.
Zinda Dil (1975)
Zindagi Zinda Dili Ka Naam Hai . . .
Zindagi Zinda Dili Ka Naam Hai, Murda Dil Kya Khaak Jiya Karte Hain (life is the name of never-say-die spirit, what the hell do the dead-hearts live). These are the lines I have read and listened to several times. What do we actually mean by a Zinda Dil person ? Dictionaries are not of much use because this term (Zinda Dil as adjective or Zinda Dili as noun) is to be felt to understand its true meaning. It's such a term of the Urdu language which can't be understood academically, it can only be understood emotionally.
Zinda means alive and Dil means heart. So a Zinda Dil person is whose heart is always alive, who never loses his (or her) heart come what may. He knows to smile at the face of the adversities and even heart-breaking events taking place in his life.
When Swami Vivekananda asserted - 'My countrymen should have nerves of steel', he meant his countrymen (the Indians) to be Zinda Dil only, i.e., the bravehearts, for such people only could free the country from the shackles of slavery and take it to the heights it deserved (and still deserve).
Today I am reviewing a movie which is by no means a great movie but the message rendered through the role of the main protagonist (and his father too) that a person has to be a Zinda Dil if at all he has to overcome all odds and do something worthwhile in life. That's the message of Lord Krishna too in Geeta that you conquer yourself (not get broken in hard times) and you will conquer the world.
Zinda Dil (1975) belongs to Arun (Rishi Kapoor) who has learnt to be a Zinda Dil since childhood because of the unfair treatment meted out to him by his ex-serviceman father, retired major Sharma (Pran) because his twin brother Kewal (I don't know who the actor is) needs special care due to being weak-hearted since birth. The raw deal given to him by life turns him into a sensitive, yet such a strong man from within who can truly be called an iron-man. He learns to toil hard for getting everything and to sacrifice everything too for the sake of his fragile brother. He has to forgo even the love of his life, Rekha (Zaaheera). However this sacrifice make his father realize his worth. He moves to the city to start a new chapter of his life with Jyoti (Neetu Singh). The perennial villain, Ghanshyam (Roopesh Kumar) is everywhere to harm him and settle the score with him for several old losses. Some more painful revelations are still to come to the fore, giving him stronger jolts. However our Zinda Dil hero handles each odd with his Zinda Dili.
The plot of the movie is just so good that I wish I were a filmmaker and could remake it in a much better way. Had the basic grains been handled by a seasoned and able director of the calibre of Yash Chopra or Vijay Anand, he would have turned the same into a memorable movie, perhaps a masterpiece. However the inefficient director has reduced this great idea to just a regular bollywood potboiler and that too in a poor way. Due to poor direction only, the movie was a flop.
The cinematographer has captured the beauty of the Himachali region quite proficiently through his camera. Production value is OK. Editing is poor.
There are two main face-saving graces for this movie - 1. Good music by Laxmikant Pyarelal. Two songs - The title track (Rafi) and Shaam Suhaani Aayi Khushiyaan Bann Ke Pehli Baar (Lata-Mahendra Kapoor-Shailendra Singh) stand out. One more song - O Meri Jaan By God Main Teri Life Bana Doonga (Shailendra Singh) is also good to listen (and to watch).
And 2. Rishi Kapoor, of course. Rishi is undoubtedly the most handsome as well as the most talented one in the whole Kapoor clan. His boyish looks are so charming that just to watch him, this movie can be seen. Plus his dancing talent is the icing on the cake. However I admire him more to play this intense role with such a high degree of sensitivity that had the movie been successful on the box office, he would have been a serious contender for an award. He is, in fact, the heart and soul of this movie.
Among others, Neetu Singh is lovable like always. Rishi-Neetu pair is inarguably the best reel-life pair turning into a real-life one. Their on-screen chemistry has always been amazing. This is one of their earlier ventures, yet the magic created by them lights-up the screen and makes this faulty movie worth a dekko. I consider Pran as one of the all time great actors of Indian cinema. His is a marvellous performance in the difficult role of a handicapped ex-serviceman who is a braveheart himself and turns our hero also into a braveheart aka Zinda Dil.
The minus-points are too many in this movie. Still, I recommend it to all the Rishi Kapoor fans as well as the regular entertainment seekers. The message of the movie is exemplary for sure which I reiterate - Zindagi Zinda Dili Ka Naam Hai, Murda Dil Kya Khaak Ziya Karte Hain.
Rishta Kagaz Ka (1983)
Paper can create a relation but cannot end it
A piece of paper ,i.e., a legal document can very well create a relationship. In civil marriage, the marriage certificate creates the relationship of husband and wife. However once a relationship comes into existence, it cannot be ended abruptly just by another piece of paper. A divorce decree may end the legal bond but can it end the emotional bond shared by the twosome for a certain period of time ? Can it erase the memories (sweet or bitter) of that association from their hearts. That's why so many case of remarriage of an erstwhile divorced couple are seen in today's time.
Similarly, an adoption document creates a relationship between the adopted child and his / her fostering parents as well as their natural children, if any. The adopted child automatically becomes the brother / sister of the naturally born children of the adopting parents. This relationship is created by a piece of paper which is the adoption document. However can another piece of paper end such a relationship ? This is the question raised and aptly answered in a Hindi movie which is Rishta Kaagaz Ka (1983).
Rishta Kaagaz Ka (relation of paper) is the story of girl - Suman (Nutan) who is adopted by Professor Sharma (Gajaanan Jaagirdaar) when her natural parents are no more. Mr. Sharma is already having two sons in his family but he is very happy to have a daughter also now in the form of Suman. Suman falls in love with Dr. Ravi Kaul (Suresh Oberai) and they decide to get married. However destiny has other plans. One of Suman's brothers - Bunty dies in an accident on the wedding day itself. Considering the fact that after the demise of her adopting parents, she only has to take care of their other son (Master Raju), Suman decides not to marry and foster her younger brother in a motherly way performing the responsibilities which were to be performed by the parents had they been alive.
Her younger brother grows up in the form of Arun (Raj Babbar) and falls in love with Aarti (Rati Agnihotri). Suman happily arranges the marriage of her younger brother with the love of his life who happens to be the daughter of a rich family. She does not find it get going comfortably with her elder sister-in-law after marriage and feeling restless under the so-called 'rule' of Suman in the house, ensures that Arun and herself live separately from Suman. Besides, since Suman is still in touch with Dr. Ravi Kaul (after all, he is her beau and he has also opted bachelorhood for the sake of her love), Arun happens to doubt the 'character' of his elder sister and a kind of hatred emerges in his heart for her. However after certain twists in the tale, he realizes his mistake and returns to his sister only when it's too late.
The title of this movie is apt because in his ending moments, Suman underscores this fact before Arun that their relationship was created through a piece of paper (that is, her adoption document) but once developed, the relationship cannot remain limited to that paper (or any other paper) and therefore, it cannot be ignored or abolished as such. The movie ends in a touching manner with these words of Suman leaving a long lasting mark on the hearts of the viewers.
The story of this movie may remind of Rajshri's classic movie Tapasya (1976). However after watching it, you may find that it's different in treatment. Unlike Tapasya, it ends on a tragic note and appeals more. On the occasion of the Independence Day (of India), I had reviewed an old black and white movie - Phool Bane Angaare (1963) whose story also follows a similar path. In that movie, it's the brother who dies in the end whereas in Rishta Kaagaz Ka, the sister dies in the end. However, the most significant thing is that even after the death of the individual, the relationship that had come into existence in his (or her) life continues. Even death cannot end such affection-filled sincere relationships. They continue to live in the memories of the survivors.
Despite being a sentiments-soaked movie, Rishta Kaagaz Ka is not devoid of entertainment. It has romance and songs plus a good dose of comedy also. Seasoned comedian Johnny Walker proves in this movie that despite his old age, he was unsurpassable in the field of comedy. He renders ample number of relief moments in this serious drama.
Technically, this movie of middle class people is up to the mark. In addition to the script-writer and the director, the editor has also done his part well, cutting and joining certain shots very proficiently to create an extra-ordinary impact. Cinematographer and art-director have also done their respective jobs well.
Rajesh Roshan has composed good music with the lyrics of Majrooh Sultaanpuri. Allah Teri Shaan, Sajna Sun Sun Meri Chaabi Ki Chhun, Chhota Sa Bhaiya Hamaara, Kya Ho Gaya Mujhe etc. may not be chartbusters of their time but they all are quite good to listen and also to watch.
Raj Babbar and Rati Agnihotri have done well as the young romantic pair. However they do not come anywhere near to the seasoned senior actors - Nutan and Suresh Oberai who have delivered very impressive performances. All others are well in place.
Rishta Kaagaz Ka is an underrated movie which did not do well on the box office and now it can be considered a movie which is long forgotten despite its good quality. Just watch it and then you will also vouch for its quality like me. I wholeheartedly recommend it to all those who like relationships-based sentimental dramas.
Good Boy, Bad Boy (2007)
Nobody is actually bad, let's nurture goodness
The story of Good Boy Bad Boy revolves around an ideal teacher and two students (one termed as the 'Good Boy' and another termed as the 'Bad Boy'). The story is set in a college marred by indiscipline of the students. It is joined by a new principal - Deewaan Chand Awasthi (Paresh Rawal) who once used to be a student of this college. Mr. Awasthi firmly believes that there is nothing like absolute badness in a student. It's the goodness which needs to be identified and nurtured in every student because it exists in everybody in one or the other form. He starts working on the basis of this philosophy of his and divides the students of every class into three sections (A, B and C) on the basis of their academic performance, nature, aptitude and personality. However it does not happen in case of two students - Raajan Malhotra (Tushaar Kapoor) and Raaju Malhotra (Emraan Haashmi) who get sections quite opposite to their actual status. The so-called Good Boy - Raajan is sent to section C whereas the notorious Bad Boy - Raaju is sent to section A. Awasthi does it under the pretext of interchange of names (the identity cards of both of them read 'R. Malhotra') but the truth is that he deliberately wanted to do it because he wants the Bad Boy to shed his bad habits and start taking interest in studies whereas on the other hand, he wants the Good Boy (who is actually a book worm) to be a bit extrovert and start taking interest in extra-curricular activities to develop an all-round personality. And he succeeds in the end when the desired improvements are visible in the personalities of both these boys and both of them can be termed as good boys now.
Despite being copy of a Hollywood movie - Class Act (1992), the story is good but the director Ashwini Chaudhary and the producer (and perhaps the ghost director) Subhash Ghai could not restrain themselves from forcing regular Bollywood formulae into the screenplay and thus spoiling the very objective and mood of the movie. Until you set the commercial angle aside at least for some time, you can't do justice to a noble theme chosen for the movie. And that exactly happened with this badly made good movie. The movie fails to impress upon the audience its theme and objective and appears just like another regular and average potboiler made to draw the college-going youths as well as the permanent front-benchers to the theatre.
The movie as well as its main protagonist is not able to clarify as to why a good boy is to be transformed into a not-so-good boy. Just to bring the extra-curricular talents of a book worm to the fore, there is no need to put him in the category 'C' when he deserves 'A' on the basis of his high academic performance, good habits and admirable nature. In section 'C' he is compelled to sit with the spoiled boys (and girls) who can be termed as the problem-children or rotten tomatoes. On the contrary, the Bad Boy is undeservingly put in the category 'A'. Is he rewarded for being bad ? Won't he spoil the environment of the section studded with studious and teacher-respecting cultured boys and girls by his uncalled for language, activities and behaviour ? The steps taken by the principal to instigate the desired changes in these boys appear to be childish. Besides, it appears that the principal is hell-bent upon transforming these two boys only and not the hundreds of other students in the college.
Since there're two young heroes, there bound to be two young heroines too to play as their love-interests. Hence we have a Bad Girl - Dinky Kapoor (Tanushree Dutta) for the Good Boy and a Good Girl - Rashmi Awasthi (Isha Shravani) for the Bad Boy. The Good Girl is none else but the daughter of the principal himself. These poor heroines (especially the Bad Girl) don't appear to be knowing as to what they are expected to do (in addition to romancing with their respective heroes). Other than the principal and one lecturer (played by Abdullah Nasser), the characters of the teachers of the college are caricaturesque.
All the same, I feel that the message rendered is good though not conveyed properly. Every boy or girl is good from origin and it's the duty of his / her guardians on one hand and his / her teachers on the other to first identify and then exasperate and nurture what is good in him / her. Labelling is easy. Helping that boy / girl to get rid of that undesirable tag is difficult. And unfortunately, most of the teachers follow the easier path because they do not want to take any pains to follow the difficult path which ultimately leads to highly positive result - positive for the individual, positive for the institution, positive for the concerned student's family and positive for the society at large.
The movie underscores the significance of the role that can be played by the family members of a 'Bad Boy' in reforming him. If he takes a positive step, at least his family members should forget the tag of Bad Boy attached to him and appreciate him, boosting his morale for going further ahead in the right direction.
Though almost all the reviewers had termed it as sheer trash, I do not think so. In my view, despite flaws, this movie is a one time watch for the purpose of entertainment. It does not inspire (which it should have considering the theme chosen) but it definitely entertains and does not compel the audience to look at their watches. Plus those who aspire to join the teaching profession and rise in that, should sincerely study the character of Principal Awasthi of this movie and attempt to follow his thought-train and approach.
Andhera Hai Mann Ka Diya To Jala Le . . .
Seema (1955) is a gem from the black and white era of Bollywood. A true classic indeed. It's an idealistic movie with a strong psychological base.
Seema (threshold / boundary / limit) is the story of Gauri (Nutan) who is an orphan and lives with her greedy and exploitative uncle and aunt. She only earns for them by working as a maid-servant in a household but they treat her very poorly. A criminal-minded male-babysitter Baanke (C.S. Dubey) also works in the same household and keeps on trying to make advances to Gauri. When discarded, he traps Gauri under the false charge of theft. She is released by the police on the personal guarantee of her guardians (the greedy uncle and aunt) but now they refuse to keep her with them. Being labelled as a thief, now this innocent and truthful girl does not get any job elsewhere too. Lustful people cast their eyes on her physic only. Homeless, jobless, starved and bearing the stigma of the theft that she had not done, she gets filled with anger for Baanke, she approaches him but again gets cheated by him through his sweet talks and the police catches her again. Now seeing almost the whole world against her, she loses her temper and starts behaving like an insane person. Since her guardians have refused to take her to their home, the police sends her to a charitable institution (known as Aashram) meant for the care and rehabilitation of homeless females only which is run by a benevolent person Ashok (Balraaj Saahni) with the help of a lady called Didi (Pratima Devi) who is the superintendent of the females living in the Aashram and a male assistant - Muralidhar (Sunder).
Gauri is not ready to live there or listen to anybody in this regard. Her insane behaviour continues resulting in the breakage of furniture, window glasses etc. and she refuses to consume any food (though she has not eaten anything for quite a period). The inmates of the Aashram as well as the people associated with the management of that are not able to understand her anguish and the cause of her stubborn and rebellious behaviour. However the in-charge of the Aashram, i.e., Ashok refuses to be judgmental towards Gauri and asserts something similar to the assertion given in the beginning of this review - 'Being unaware of the background / experiences of some person, you can't understand why he / she behaves the way he / she behaves; you may not be knowing the bitterness of life that he / she might have gone through'. And when Gauri accepts food from the hand of a little girl and showers her affection on her, he immediately realizes that she is noble at heart and needs sympathy (as well as empathy) to recover from some trauma that she might have undergone.
Now Gauri gets normal with the passage of time and by the effect of the positive environment in the Aashram but still the fire within her heart against Baanke has not been mitigated and she wants to take her revenge from him. She gets empathy and help from her inmate Putli (Shubha Khote) who has been a criminal in her past. She moves out of the Aashram one night and reaches Baanke. She beats him black and blue and thus vent her anger, stuffiness and frustration out; returning to the Aashram thereafter feeling light and relieved. However, for breaking the rule of the Aashram (going out without permission and without any escort), she gets punishment to live in seclusion for a night. Considering it an injustice (as she feels that by punishing Baanke, she has done nothing wrong), she starts behaving rebelliously again which immediately renders a message to Ashok that perhaps the theft-charge levied on her was not genuine. He traps Baanke with the help of Muralidhar and by arranging his confession, gets the stigma of being a thief washed away from Gauri's forehead. Now Gauri not only becomes absolutely normal but she also refuses to leave the Aashram and with utmost gratitude towards Ashok, keeps on working tirelessly and sincerely to meet the noble objectives of the Aashram. Ashok works very hard despite the fact that he is a heart patient. He is able to sense the tender feelings in Gauri's heart towards him but feeling that he may not live for long and getting concerned for Gauri (perhaps because he also has started loving her within his heart), he asks her to marry Muralidhar and settle down in life. Besides, he decides to move out of the city for some time so that Gauri is able to drive her thoughts away from him and marry peacefully in his absence. However it does not happen and the true love of Gauri only triumphs in the end.
Shankar Jaikishan have composed unforgettable gems with the help of the heart-conquering lyrics of Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra. It contains Manna Dey's classic devotional song - Tu Pyar Ka Saagar Hai, Teri Ek Boond Ke Pyaase Hum on one hand and Lata's gems viz. Suno Chhoti Si Gudiya Ki Lambi Kahaani, Mann Mohana Bade Jhoothe and Baat Baat Mein Rootho Na on the other. It also contains Mohammad Rafi's impressive song - Hamen Bhi De Do Sahaara Ki Besahaare Hain. However the song which I am never able to forget even for a moment is Rafi's classic philosophical song - Kahaan Ja Raha Hai Tu Aye Jaane Waale, Andhera Hai Mann Ka Diya To Jala Le (where are you heading for O traveller; there's dark before you, hence first light up the lamp of your heart before proceeding).
Seema is undoubtedly an excellent movie. A masterpiece for sure.
Aaj Ki Taaza Khabar (1973)
You will find it as better than Golmaal Returns
Director Rohit Shetty started his popular Golmaal series in the year 2006 and presented the second movie of this series titled as Golmaal Returns in 2008. The movie was a big hit on the box office. However its plot was by no means original. Gomlaal Returns is actually a remake of an old Bollywood comedy - Aaj Ki Taaza Khabar (1973).
Aaj Ki Taaza Khabar (today's breaking news) is the story of Sunil (Kiran Kumar) and his ever-suspicious wife - Geeta (Raadha Saluja) who thinks that her husband is a flirt. One night Sunil unwillingly gets stuck up with a stranger lady and could return to his home the next morning only. Considering his wife's skeptical nature, he hesitates to tell her the truth and instead, cooks a story with the help of his friend Amit (Asraani) to serve to Geeta to convince her regarding his absence from home for that night. The story contains a fake friend of his named by him as Champak Bhumiya and his fictitious address where he claims to have spent that night. However the situation takes a very interesting turn when Geeta sends a telegram to that imaginary Champak Bhumiya at the address told to her by Sunil and all hell breaks loose when the telegram reaches its destination which is a genuine address and there is a genuine Champak Bhumiya (Paintal) residing at that address. These developments result in a lot of confusion, misunderstandings and laughs (for the audience). Finally, all's well that ends well.
Aaj Ki Taaza Khabar starts hilariously with a henpecked husband and his nagging wife and thereafter the twists and turns coming at regular intervals keep the interest of the viewer alive till the climax. Laughs may not be in plenty but there is no dearth of smiles here. It may not be a great comedy but a satisfactory entertainer for sure. And there is a message for the ever-suspicious wives also (who perceive their husband as regular flirts and skirt-chasers) that such kind of attitude without any concrete basis may prove fatal for the marital bliss of themselves only.
This is a low budget movie with a middle class milieu rendered to the story. Technically it's okay as far as the art direction, the cinematography and the editing are concerned. Background score and dialogs are also in line with the comic mood of the movie.
Kiran Kumar who perhaps got his true calling in the villainous roles during the eighties and the nineties, had started his career as a hero and this movie is one of those flicks in which he was cast as the hero. He possessed a handsome personality and it's unfortunate that he could not become a successful hero. He has done well here because he has always been a good actor. Raadha Saluja may not appear to be a heroine material to today's viewers considering her ordinary looks but she was a good actress. And frankly, if Mallika Sherawat can be a successful heroine, why couldn't Raadha who was, in many ways, better than Mallika and her likes. Seasoned comedians Asraani and Paintal have generated laughs for the audience, coming true to their reputation in that period. All the other cast members have also done justice to the assigned roles.
Shankar Jaikishan's music is strictly okay. Only one song - Mujhe Meri Biwi Se Bachaao remains in the memory after the movie is over. This song, filmed on Kiran Kumar when he is bathing in the bathroom, is very good to listen and very amusing to watch. Decades later, the words of this song were used as the title of a movie starring Nasiruddin Shah and Rekha (released in 2001).
Aaj Ki Taaza Khabar badly flopped on the box office whereas its newer version Golmaal Returns proved to be a huge commercial hit. Well, hype and publicity matter more in today's time. While recommending this movie as a decent watch to the entertainment-seekers, I also advise those who have seen Golmaal Returns to contrast these two movies. I am sure that like me, they will also find Aaj Ki Taaza Khabar as better than Golmaal Returns.
Agni Sakshi (1996)
Sleeping with the Enemy, i.e., Nana Patekar
Hollywood movie - Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) starring Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin and Kevin Anderson presented the story of a runaway wife who has to run away because of her abusive husband and then she finds her soulmate in the form of another, better man who does not take his love to absurd possessiveness culminating in abuse of his spouse. This story idea impressed Bollywood filmmakers so much that within a few years, many Bollywood adaptations of this story came on the Indian screen viz. Yaaraana (1995) featuring Raj Babbar as the villain, Agni Saakshi (1996) featuring Nana Paatekar as the villain, Daraar (1996) featuring Arbaaz Khan as the villain, Koi Mere Dil Se Poochhe (2002) featuring Sanjay Kapoor as the villain etc. Among all these, Agni Saakshi emerged as the best adaptation of the Hollywood movie and therefore, it proved to be a box office grosser whereas the other ones flopped. I watched it twice in the theatre.
Agni Saakshi (the sacred fire as the witness) tells the story of Shubhaangi (Manisha Koiraala) who is actually a runaway bride with her real name being Madhu. She was married to Vishwanaath (Nana Paatekar) who though loved his wife was overpossessive about her and there was a sadistic abnormality in his personality. Madhu now rechristened as Shubhaangi comes into contact with Suraj (Jackie Shroff) who instantly falls in love with her and marries her. However the marital bliss of Shubhaangi aka Madhu proves to be short-lived when Vishwanaath who was made to believe that Madhu was dead, finds her and then demands her back from Suraj on the ground of himself still being the legal husband of Madhu. After many dramatic and thrilling incidents in the narrative, Shubhaangi aka Madhu gets rid of him to spend her life happily as Suraj's wife.
Writer Ranbir Pushp and director Partho Ghosh have handled the story very well and after devoting some footage to the romantic track of Shubhaangi and Suraj as well as that of Shubhaangi's friend Urmila (Divya Dutta) and Suraj's younger brother Ravi (Ravi Behl), does not allow the audience to yawn even for a moment. The breathtaking narrative keeps the audience thoroughly engrossed for the major part of the movie. This 142 minutes long movie is highly entertaining, there's little doubt about it.
The biggest USP of this movie is unarguably Nana Paatekar who is a natural actor and is able to infuse life into any role assigned to him. He has brought the overpossessive abusive husband Vishwanaath alive on the screen and turned this movie into an extra-ordinary one which cannot be categorized with the run-of-the-mill stuff made in plenty in Bollywood. His scenes and dialogs have been written with care and attention and his mesmerizing performance has made every scene featuring him a highly impressive one. If not for anything else, this movie can be watched at least or his sake.
The director has exasperated the sadistic love of Vishwanaath for his wife with finesse. The audience wants to hate the abusive husband but cannot because this sadism contains an indirect element of comedy also. Despite feeling sympathetic for the aggrieved wife, the audience cannot help but laugh at the mannerisms of the husband who is apparently the villain of the story.
Other than Nana also, the director has been able to extract natural performances from his cast. The second best performer is Manisha Koiraala who has excelled in the role of the aggrieved wife who has no option but to run away from her abusive husband and adopt a second identity to live the remaining part of her life peacefully. She loves her second husband from the core of her heart but is very much concerned for his well-being and safety which is in danger because of her first husband's chasing her. Manisha was very beautiful in her twenties and her performance in this movie is one of the best performances of her career. Jackie Shroff is fine as the hero though his tragedy is that the villain has got a higher profile than him in the movie.
Nadeem Shravan have composed good music for Sameer's lyrics. Jaana O Jaan-e-Tamanna Tu Meri Gulfaam Hai, O Piya O Piya, O Yaara Dil Lagaana, Waada Karo Dil Se Kabhi Door Nahin Jaaoge Tum, Mujhko Dildaar Yaar Aisa Chaahiye, Ab Aankhen Band Karo etc. are all reasonably good to listen and enjoy.
Summing up, Agni Saakshi is the best Indian version of Sleeping with the Enemy which is damn entertaining and likable by all categories of audiences. I recommend this thoroughly entertaining thriller movie to not only the fans of Nana Paatekar but the movie buffs in general also.
Hum Se Badkar Kaun (1981)
Deva O Deva, Ganpati Deva, Tumse Badhkar Kaun
Shortly the day of Ganesh Visarjan is arriving which day the devotees immerse the idols of Lord Ganesha, the god of wisdom 'n' removal of hurdles in any work, which had been installed on the day of Ganesh Chaturthi (the fourth day of the bright fortnight of the Bhaadrapad month as per the Indian calendar) are immersed in water. Lord Ganesha has been one of the most popular gods of the Hindu community and he is the first one to be invited on any auspicious occasion may it be the marriage ceremony or the house-warming ceremony. I am also a devotee of Him and have fasting on every Wednesday since long. I very fondly listen to the devotional songs related to Him. The song which I like most among them is - Deva O Deva, Ganpati Deva, Tumse Badhkar Kaun, Aur Tumhaare Bhakt Janon Mein Humse Badhkar Kaun (O Lord Ganpati, who is better than you and who is better than us among your devotees ?). This song is from the movie Hum Se Badhkar Kaun (1981) which I am reviewing today.
Humse Badhkar Kaun (who is better than us) is based on the old and hackneyed 'Lost & Found' formula of the Indian movies. Normally, two brothers (or sisters or one brother and one sister) are shown as being separated in their childhood who reunite when grown-up. There are certain movies in which three brothers are shown as being separated as such viz. Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Aahuti (1978) etc. Humse Badhkar Kaun is unique in this regard that it shows four brothers getting separated in their childhood, they grow up in different environments and avail different personalities and enter different professions. This regular potboiler is an entertaining movie.
These four brothers are Chandan, Bablu, Raaju and Pappu whose father is killed by the villain of the story - Laalchand (Ranjeet) and the children get separated from their mother Raadha (Purnima) as well as one another. They grow up under different environments and quite naturally become different kinds of adults. The eldest one, i.e., Chandan grows up as Bholaraam (Amjad Khan) and becomes a milkman. The second one, i.e., Bablu becomes an honest and dutiful cop - Vijay (Vijayendra Ghaatage), the third one, i.e., Raaju becomes a burglar - Johnny (Danny Dengjongpa) and the youngest one, i.e., Pappu becomes a robber-under-a-mask - Tony (Mithun Chakraborty). Well, for these foursome, four love-interests are also required. Hence we have the heroines in the form of Kammo (Padmini Kapila), Rekha (Kaajal Kiran), Jeena (Neeta Mehta) and Teena (Ranjeeta). These brothers cross path with one another as well as the baddie according to the screenplay written for them.
The fact that forms the basis of different activities on the part of the various characters of this story and also lays down the foundation of the action-packed climax is a treasure whose the deceased father of the boys was a custodian of and he had given one key of the lock of that treasure to each one of his sons (total four keys were there). The keys are not identical. They are different and the treasure can be unlocked by applying all the keys only one after the other. Quite naturally, the villain is after the treasure. Finally, the brothers including the law-breaking ones, the law-abiding one and the law-enforcing one, join hands to seek their revenge from the villain, ensure that the treasure goes into the correct hands, reunite with each other as well as their lost mother and (but natural) get their sweethearts to end this movie.
Director Deepak Baahri has directed the movie in the style of the regular Bollywood potboilers and there is nothing extra-ordinary about it. All the same, the movie is entertaining and can be given a watch for that reason. The beginning, the take off, the development and the climax of the narrative; all are routine and well-identified for those who have seen a lot of such masaala movies during the sixties, the seventies and the eighties. Despite this, the movie proves engrossing once the spectator is in and starts enjoying the movie without taxing his mind. Considering the fact that it contains four heroes and four heroines, there is an ample quota of romance. The romantic track of Bholaaraam, the milkman and Kammo (Padmini Kapila), his English teacher is the most amusing and entertaining one.
Technically the movie is in line with several such run-of-the-mill movies made during that period. Nothing great but nothing poor also.
Raamlaxman could not prepare memorable music with the lyrics of Ravindra Rawal. Except Deva O Deva Ganpati Deva, the songs are average fare.
The heroines meet the objective of being eye-candy for the audience because there is nothing much for them in this male-oriented script based on the theme of crime and revenge. This movie belongs to the heroes and all of them have done their respective jobs very well. I especially mention Amjad Khan who has infused life into the role of a milkman. While watching this movie, it's pretty difficult to think that this actor only immortalized Gabbar Singh of Sholay on the screen. Ranjeet as the villain and the other supporting cast members are routine.
While shouting Ganpati Baappa Moriya, I recommend Humse Badhkar Kaun as a nice timepass to the entertainment-seekers.