jmathur_swayamprabha

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Insaaf Ka Mandir
(1969)

The temple of justice
Nothing happens in this world or in an individual's life before the right time for that thing to happen arrives. This assertion has proved to be true for me in the context of several things in my life. And as Joseph Murphy asserts in his bestseller book - 'The Power of Your Subconscious Mind' - If you sincerely desire something, your desire will ultimately be materialized by the effect of the power released by your subconscious mind, some of my desires have also come true albeit after a long (and patient) wait. Watching Insaf Ka Mandir (1969) was one such desire only which kept on thriving in my heart for years and ultimately got fulfilled in 2017. I had seen a part of this movie on ETV channel around two decades back and liked that part so much that started longing for watching the whole movie. And all of my efforts to watch it were in vain because neither I could catch it again on any TV channel, nor find its VCD / DVD. For the past few years, I had been searching it on internet but except one song, nothing of the movie was uploaded on internet. And when one fine morning I found it uploaded on youtube, there's no end to my joy. And upon watching it, I got another surprise because the uploaded version was nothing but a copy of that was shown on ETV channel only (with the ETV logo appearing clearly on the screen alongwith the notifications of break / news telecast rendered during the running of the movie. Well, my wait to watch Insaaf Ka Mandir proved to be worth it because I got a complete satisfaction of watching a good movie.

Insaaf Ka Mandir (temple of justice) is the story of Sunil (Sanjeev Kumar) who is a law-graduate and comes to know from the last letter of his fostering father (who had written the letter just before his demise) that he's the offspring of some unknown parents and his mother is alive. That letter only gives him the reference of Mrs. Durga Devi Jain (Nadira) who can take him to his mother. Sunil who was earlier studying Law through a boarding college, moves to Mumbai (then Bombay) with his family servant Sunder (Asit Sen) to meet Mrs. Jain and then approach his long-lost mother through her. However he is taken aback to see that Mrs. Jain is all set to adopt him as his son and when he insists upon meeting his mother, Mrs. Jain makes it a condition that she will ensure his getting his mother only when he agrees to become her son and thus the legal heir of all her wealth. Being a man of self-respect, Sunil turns down her offer and decides to search his mother himself without the help of Mrs. Jain or anybody else. Destiny makes him meet Mr. Badri Prasad who is a renowned lawyer of Bombay and whose daughter Sunita (Snehalata) was his class-fellow during his law course. Sunita was already in love with him and now he also starts loving her. However while in association with Sunita, her father and his assistant Shambhu Shanker (Manmohan Krishna), Sunil comes to know of the mysterious death of Mrs. Jain's step-daughter - Saadhana (Aruna Irani) which was termed as suicide by police.

Sunil observes that both Sunita and Shambhu Shanker who was earlier an employee of Saadhana's father, i.e., Mr. Jain are of the opinion that Saadhana had not committed suicide but Mrs. Jain had murdered her. However Mr. Badri Prasad is of the opinion that his daughter Sunita and his assistant Shambhu Shankar both are nurturing a wrong notion in their hearts whereas the truth is that Saadhana had indeed committed suicide only. He advises Sunil to investigate the case himself and by ascertaining and establishing the truth, clear their misunderstanding about Saadhana's death and Mrs. Jain's so-called role in that. Sunil alongwith Sunita, now his sweetheart, investigates the case and on the basis of his findings, gets the shelved case of Saadhana's death reopened. He becomes the de-facto public prosecutor (a lawyer working under the supervision of the authorized public prosecutor) and charges Mrs. Jain of murdering her daughter. Mr. Badri Prasad, on the other hand, becomes the defense counsel of Mrs. Jain. The truth behind Saadhana's death and many allied issues get unearthed after an intriguing and gripping courtroom drama. And finally Sunil happens to meet his mother also whose quest was also going on for him alongside the investigation of Saadhana's death. I don't deny that like most of the Bollywood movies, the script of Insaaf Ka Mandir also consists of flaws and plot holes. But they are not too many and pluses in the movie are adequate to outnumber and thereby overshadow them. I was so much entertained and impressed by the movie that despite spotting plot holes in the script, I did not pay much attention or importance to them. The movie grips the viewer since the very beginning and that grip is not loosened till the ending reels. There's some dragging in the climax after the revelation of the truths hitherto hidden to the hero but before that there is no slackness in the movie except the romantic songs featuring the hero and the heroine. However that romance is also so heart-conquering that the romantic viewers can excuse the director for that though it blocks the flow of the narrative. It's a well-made movie, no doubt.

Insaaf Ka Mandir is not a whodunit or a mystery because the suspense is mainly for the hero and not for the audience because certain things are quite obvious and no red-herring is able to distract the viewer from the truth. The emphasis here is mainly on the emotional tension between certain characters. All the same, the curiosity factor remains alive throughout and there is no boredom anywhere. Director B.R. Ishara was quite skilled in directing such movies in those days and he has done his job well in this movie also. He only is the writer of the movie alongwith being its director and he has narrated the story in such a way that the truth is revealed on a layer-by-layer basis with the final revelation being damn impressive. A sizable part of the narrative in the post-interval portion is devoted to the courtroom drama which is spellbinding. The narrator has termed the courtroom as the Temple of Justice and that's reason behind titling movie as such. The end is tragic and able to move the viewer deep within. There was no scope for comedy in the script, nevertheless some laughs have been generated for the viewers through the talks and mannerisms of a servant in the household of Mrs. Jain.

Since I am quite impressed by the romance of the lead pair which virtually won me over, I mention it specially. The character of the heroine of this movie is awesome who is motherless but has got good SAMSAKAARAs from her father who is a wealthy person and a reputed lawyer but never shows arrogance and maintains utmost humility. He has passed on the same traits to his daughter also who falls for the charms of Sunil but keeps him comfortable knowing that her love is one-sided. The way she effortlessly wins Sunil's heart, enables her to effortlessly win over the audience as well. Their romance is not only neat but also appears quite natural on the screen. The character of the heroine's father Badri Prasad is exemplary who gets the sincerity of the love blossoming between his daughter and Sunil examined through a private detective and after the confirmation of that, decides in favour of their union without a fuss. The way he treats people junior / younger to him or having a modest background / financial status, is an example how rich and successful people should maintain their humility and sensibility.

Sanjeev Kumar has been one of the greatest actors of not only India but also the world and he has done full justice to the down-to-earth Sunil who is in quest of his mother as well as the young lawyer investigating and then dealing in the court the case of a mysterious death. Snehalata with her girl-next-door looks has made a perfect pair with Sanjeev Kumar and their on-screen chemistry is wonderful because of which only the romantic encounters and interactions of the hero and the heroine are able to strike a chord in the heart of the audience. Prithvi Raj Kapoor as the judge has brought dignity and depth to the character. Aruna Irani, Manmohan Krishna, Tarun Bose, Asit Sen and the complete supporting cast members are perfectly in place. The best performer is undoubtedly Nadira who has infused life into the complex character of Mrs. Jain. I don't think that any other actress of that era would have been able to do justice to this difficult role. Sapan Jagmohan haVE prepared ear-soothing music for this movie with the help of the beautiful lyrics of Naqsh Layallpuri. However the best song of the movie (in my view) - Nindiya Khokar Nain Hanse has been penned by Anwar Sahasrami. Other songs -Shaayar To Nahin Hoon Lekin, Sun Pyare Sajna Re, Koi Bahaar Ban Ke, Pyare Aa Ja Chori Chori and Aap Hi Ki Kasam are also good to listen. The songs of this movie do not claim to have been chartbusters but any music lover will appreciate them. Sung by Mukesh, Mohammad Rafi, Suman Kalyanpur, Asha Bhosle and Usha Mangeshkar; all the songs are not routine, some are situational also.

Made with a modest budget, this movie is technically okay. Background score and editing are up-to-the-mark. Dialogues are praiseworthy. The movie is neither lavish, nor unduly long.

Summing up, despite certain weaknesses in the script, Insaaf Ka Mandir is overall a good and entertaining movie which is able to satisfy the audience of all the categories though at the crux of it, it's an emotional drama.

Insaaf Ka Mandir
(1969)

The temple of justice
Nothing happens in this world or in an individual's life before the right time for that thing to happen arrives. This assertion has proved to be true for me in the context of several things in my life. And as Joseph Murphy asserts in his bestseller book - 'The Power of Your Subconscious Mind' - If you sincerely desire something, your desire will ultimately be materialized by the effect of the power released by your subconscious mind, some of my desires have also come true albeit after a long (and patient) wait. Watching Insaf Ka Mandir (1969) was one such desire only which kept on thriving in my heart for years and ultimately got fulfilled in 2017. I had seen a part of this movie on ETV channel around two decades back and liked that part so much that started longing for watching the whole movie. And all of my efforts to watch it were in vain because neither I could catch it again on any TV channel, nor find its VCD / DVD. For the past few years, I had been searching it on internet but except one song, nothing of the movie was uploaded on internet. And when one fine morning I found it uploaded on youtube, there's no end to my joy. And upon watching it, I got another surprise because the uploaded version was nothing but a copy of that was shown on ETV channel only (with the ETV logo appearing clearly on the screen alongwith the notifications of break / news telecast rendered during the running of the movie. Well, my wait to watch Insaaf Ka Mandir proved to be worth it because I got a complete satisfaction of watching a good movie.

Insaaf Ka Mandir (temple of justice) is the story of Sunil (Sanjeev Kumar) who is a law-graduate and comes to know from the last letter of his fostering father (who had written the letter just before his demise) that he's the offspring of some unknown parents and his mother is alive. That letter only gives him the reference of Mrs. Durga Devi Jain (Nadira) who can take him to his mother. Sunil who was earlier studying Law through a boarding college, moves to Mumbai (then Bombay) with his family servant Sunder (Asit Sen) to meet Mrs. Jain and then approach his long-lost mother through her. However he is taken aback to see that Mrs. Jain is all set to adopt him as his son and when he insists upon meeting his mother, Mrs. Jain makes it a condition that she will ensure his getting his mother only when he agrees to become her son and thus the legal heir of all her wealth. Being a man of self-respect, Sunil turns down her offer and decides to search his mother himself without the help of Mrs. Jain or anybody else. Destiny makes him meet Mr. Badri Prasad who is a renowned lawyer of Bombay and whose daughter Sunita (Snehalata) was his class-fellow during his law course. Sunita was already in love with him and now he also starts loving her. However while in association with Sunita, her father and his assistant Shambhu Shanker (Manmohan Krishna), Sunil comes to know of the mysterious death of Mrs. Jain's step-daughter - Saadhana (Aruna Irani) which was termed as suicide by police.

Sunil observes that both Sunita and Shambhu Shanker who was earlier an employee of Saadhana's father, i.e., Mr. Jain are of the opinion that Saadhana had not committed suicide but Mrs. Jain had murdered her. However Mr. Badri Prasad is of the opinion that his daughter Sunita and his assistant Shambhu Shankar both are nurturing a wrong notion in their hearts whereas the truth is that Saadhana had indeed committed suicide only. He advises Sunil to investigate the case himself and by ascertaining and establishing the truth, clear their misunderstanding about Saadhana's death and Mrs. Jain's so-called role in that. Sunil alongwith Sunita, now his sweetheart, investigates the case and on the basis of his findings, gets the shelved case of Saadhana's death reopened. He becomes the de-facto public prosecutor (a lawyer working under the supervision of the authorized public prosecutor) and charges Mrs. Jain of murdering her daughter. Mr. Badri Prasad, on the other hand, becomes the defense counsel of Mrs. Jain. The truth behind Saadhana's death and many allied issues get unearthed after an intriguing and gripping courtroom drama. And finally Sunil happens to meet his mother also whose quest was also going on for him alongside the investigation of Saadhana's death. I don't deny that like most of the Bollywood movies, the script of Insaaf Ka Mandir also consists of flaws and plot holes. But they are not too many and pluses in the movie are adequate to outnumber and thereby overshadow them. I was so much entertained and impressed by the movie that despite spotting plot holes in the script, I did not pay much attention or importance to them. The movie grips the viewer since the very beginning and that grip is not loosened till the ending reels. There's some dragging in the climax after the revelation of the truths hitherto hidden to the hero but before that there is no slackness in the movie except the romantic songs featuring the hero and the heroine. However that romance is also so heart-conquering that the romantic viewers can excuse the director for that though it blocks the flow of the narrative. It's a well-made movie, no doubt.

Insaaf Ka Mandir is not a whodunit or a mystery because the suspense is mainly for the hero and not for the audience because certain things are quite obvious and no red-herring is able to distract the viewer from the truth. The emphasis here is mainly on the emotional tension between certain characters. All the same, the curiosity factor remains alive throughout and there is no boredom anywhere. Director B.R. Ishara was quite skilled in directing such movies in those days and he has done his job well in this movie also. He only is the writer of the movie alongwith being its director and he has narrated the story in such a way that the truth is revealed on a layer-by-layer basis with the final revelation being damn impressive. A sizable part of the narrative in the post-interval portion is devoted to the courtroom drama which is spellbinding. The narrator has termed the courtroom as the Temple of Justice and that's reason behind titling movie as such. The end is tragic and able to move the viewer deep within. There was no scope for comedy in the script, nevertheless some laughs have been generated for the viewers through the talks and mannerisms of a servant in the household of Mrs. Jain.

Since I am quite impressed by the romance of the lead pair which virtually won me over, I mention it specially. The character of the heroine of this movie is awesome who is motherless but has got good SAMSAKAARAs from her father who is a wealthy person and a reputed lawyer but never shows arrogance and maintains utmost humility. He has passed on the same traits to his daughter also who falls for the charms of Sunil but keeps him comfortable knowing that her love is one-sided. The way she effortlessly wins Sunil's heart, enables her to effortlessly win over the audience as well. Their romance is not only neat but also appears quite natural on the screen. The character of the heroine's father Badri Prasad is exemplary who gets the sincerity of the love blossoming between his daughter and Sunil examined through a private detective and after the confirmation of that, decides in favour of their union without a fuss. The way he treats people junior / younger to him or having a modest background / financial status, is an example how rich and successful people should maintain their humility and sensibility.

Sanjeev Kumar has been one of the greatest actors of not only India but also the world and he has done full justice to the down-to-earth Sunil who is in quest of his mother as well as the young lawyer investigating and then dealing in the court the case of a mysterious death. Snehalata with her girl-next-door looks has made a perfect pair with Sanjeev Kumar and their on-screen chemistry is wonderful because of which only the romantic encounters and interactions of the hero and the heroine are able to strike a chord in the heart of the audience. Prithvi Raj Kapoor as the judge has brought dignity and depth to the character. Aruna Irani, Manmohan Krishna, Tarun Bose, Asit Sen and the complete supporting cast members are perfectly in place. The best performer is undoubtedly Nadira who has infused life into the complex character of Mrs. Jain. I don't think that any other actress of that era would have been able to do justice to this difficult role. Sapan Jagmohan haVE prepared ear-soothing music for this movie with the help of the beautiful lyrics of Naqsh Layallpuri. However the best song of the movie (in my view) - Nindiya Khokar Nain Hanse has been penned by Anwar Sahasrami. Other songs -Shaayar To Nahin Hoon Lekin, Sun Pyare Sajna Re, Koi Bahaar Ban Ke, Pyare Aa Ja Chori Chori and Aap Hi Ki Kasam are also good to listen. The songs of this movie do not claim to have been chartbusters but any music lover will appreciate them. Sung by Mukesh, Mohammad Rafi, Suman Kalyanpur, Asha Bhosle and Usha Mangeshkar; all the songs are not routine, some are situational also.

Made with a modest budget, this movie is technically okay. Background score and editing are up-to-the-mark. Dialogues are praiseworthy. The movie is neither lavish, nor unduly long.

Summing up, despite certain weaknesses in the script, Insaaf Ka Mandir is overall a good and entertaining movie which is able to satisfy the audience of all the categories though at the crux of it, it's an emotional drama.

Ek Nazar
(1972)

My favourite Amitbh-Jaya starrer
Real life pair – Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri have been cast together in many movies including classics like Abhimaan and Zanjeer as well as multi-starrers like Sholay and Chupke Chupke. But my personal favourite movie in which tall Amitabh and short Jaya were cast opposite each other is Ek Nazar which got released in 1972. I have watched this socio-romantic movie which contains a murder and a bit of mystery also, many times on satellite channels, yet I am never tired of watching it again and again, not for the sake of any message or inspiration or likewise, but for sheer entertainment and Amitabh-Jaya on-screen chemistry which is magical (perhaps because of the off-screen chemistry between them).

Ek Nazar (one glance) was directed by Babu Ram Ishara who was once an assistant of the legendary Bimal Roy. He is better known for his path-breaking bold movies like Chetna and Zaroorat. In this movie he has directed a good story in such a good manner that the engrossing narrative coupled with the good performances and highly melodious songs has become a very good watch for the audience. Thoroughly entertaining and leaving a good feeling after it is over.

The plot belongs to a courtesan Shabnam (Jaya Bhaduri) who is a big fan of a Shaayar Akash (Amitabh Bachchan) who is actually the son of a big lawyer. One more family is in the scenario which is the family of Akash's friend Ashok (Raza Murad) who is also a young lawyer and the son of a judge. A meeting of Akash and Shabnam leads to a highly fragrant romance between them. However this romance is not acceptable to Ameena Bai (Nadira) who is the guardian of Shabnam and owner of that Kotha. One distant relative of Ashok's mother – Deepak (Sudhir) is also visiting the Kotha in the disguise of a Nawab. In Akash's house also, this relationship is opposed, leading to his leaving his home and residing with a friend who runs a restaurant. Subsequent events flow in such a way that Ameena Bai is murdered and Shabnam is charged and tried for her murder. The court-room drama that follows the murder, ultimately leads to the happy ending of the story.

The screenplay is very good and the thoughtful direction and good editing has made the movie thoroughly gripping for a viewer to watch. The melodious music serves as the icing on the cake. Though almost all the songs are simply excellent, special mention is deserved by Patta Patta Boota Boota Haal Hamara Jaane Hai whose first two lines have been borrowed from the classic ghazal sung by the legendary singers like Mehndi Hassan and Ghulam Ali. Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar have sung the ear-soothing songs of the movie which do not hinder the flow of the story, instead they support it and add to its strength.

Amitabh and Jaya have delivered very good performances, courtesy their real life romance in that time. The supporting cast has also done well. I will specially mention firstly for the actor who has played Amitabh's restauranteer friend (his is a lovely and admirable performance indeed) and secondly for Raza Murad whose debut movie it is. Raza Murad looks very young and he has delivered a knock-out performance in his meaty role. Bollywood did not do justice to this highly talented actor in the later years of his career. He is an awesome actor all the same.

The director has managed to maintain curiosity throughout the movie despite the fact that the murderer can be guessed by the audience. The motive and the background of the murder remains the mystery which is resolved only in the climax. It is a good entertainer by all means. The use of drawings and water colour paintings in the court-room climax for narrating the flash back events, is a commendable example of directorial creativity and imagination.

I will continue to watch Ek Nazar whenever I get opportunity and I recommend it to all the Amitabh-Jaya fans as well as the people interested in watching a gripping socio-thriller with a good dose of romance.

Jazbaa
(2015)

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.

Tapasya
(1976)

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.

Nice timepass.

Baseraa
(1981)

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.

Vijeta
(1982)

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.

Dabba
(2013)

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.

Aurangzeb
(2013)

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.

Satyakam
(1969)

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.

Don
(1978)

The Real Don - Smart ! Cunning ! Dangerous !
Seventies were the decade of crime-thrillers in Bollywood when a plethora of such movies were presented to the audience. Among them Don (1978) is a milestone movie which demonstrated what a quality crime-thriller is all about. It enhanced the popularity of already very popular Angry Young Man of India - Amitabh Bachchan.

The word Don (perhaps) traces its origin to Don Vito Corleone of the classic work of Mario Puzo - The Godfather. However it's the Hindi movie Don which coined this term in the world of Indian fiction (both movies and books), rendering its meaning as a gangster.

The hero of this movie is an international criminal Don (Amitabh Bachchan) who leads a smugglers' gang but himself works for another gangster Vardhaan. It's Don who remains in limelight and being chased by the police whereas very little is known about Vardhaan. Don is a very smart, cunning, dangerous and ruthless criminal who is very difficult to be got better of.

However one day, this high profile and domineering gangster gets killed in a police encounter. However except the encountering police officer Mr. D' Silva (Iftekhaar), nobody knows that Don has died. Mr. D' Silva decides to take advantage of this situation as he knows a look-alike of Don whose name is Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan in another role). He ensures Vijay's entry to the gang of smugglers as their boss, i.e., Don so that the complete network of the smuggling activity can be caught by the law. In the gang, Vijay presents himself as Don to the members of the gang and stealthily keeps on searching significant information about the activities and links of the gang.

Vijay has to remain wary of a girl Roma (Zeenat Aman) who is an expert in judo and karate and Jasjeet (Pran) who is a handicapped person because both of them are hell-bent upon settling their respective scores with Don. He comes to know of the existence of some Vardhaan whom Don and his gang works for but nothing is known about him. He wants to provide all the relevant information to Mr. D' Silva so that a huge police action could be carried out against the gang. However the sudden demise of Mr. D' Silva puts Vijay in deep trouble as now he is not able to prove before the law and the society that he's not Don because Mr. D' Silva was the only person knowing his real identity. The action-packed climax paves the way for Vijay's redemption once Vardhaan is unmasked.

This highly entertaining and very well made movie inspired many movies to be made later viz. Daav-Pech (1989) starring Jeetendra in lead role and Madam X (1994) starring Rekha in lead role. Farhaan Akhtar straightaway made its remake in 2006 starring Shah Rukh Khan in lead role. Many other movies which did not lift the whole story of Don, also used certain ingredients of it. Meri Aawaaz Suno (1981) is also one such movie in which Jeetendra has played the lead role. But very few people know that the writers of Don - Salim-Jaaved themselves had written it by seeking inspiration from Shakti Saamanta's China Town (1962) in which Shammi Kapoor has played the lead role.

Don is a fast-paced thriller with ample doses of comedy through the character of Vijay who impersonates Don. Right from the opening scene which establishes the title character as a bold, cunning, sharp-minded and authoritarian individual before the audience to the climax, the whole movie proves to be completely engrossing for any viewer. There is no moment of boredom in the movie and both the script and the direction (by Chandra Barot) have done complete justice to the original story idea. Salim-Jaaved used to write dialogs also and they have written impressive dialogs in sync with their script.

Kalyanji Anandji have composed very good music for this movie containing the chartbuster as well as still very popular songs like Khai Ke Paan Banaraswaala, Arre Deewano Mujhe Pehchaano, Jiska Mujhe Tha Intezaar, Ye Mera Dil Pyar Ka Deewaana and Ee Hai Bambai Nagariya Tu Dekh Babua. These songs are counted among the all time popular songs of Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar.

Technically, this movie is up to the mark with all the action and thrills being very good according to the norms of that period, good cinematography and art direction, effective background score and razor-sharp editing.

All the principal characters have done justice to their roles and left their mark may it be very smart Zeenat Aman or the seasoned actor Pran or the villains or the actors like Iftekhaar and Helen whose roles have their own significance in the story. Who can forget Helen's performance on Ye Mera Dil Pyar Ka Deewaana ? And finally, Don is a memorable movie mainly because of Amitabh Bachchan. Nobody could do this role better than AB. His tall personality with the God-given extra-ordinary voice make him the ideal choice for the domineering role of Don. He looks like a real don who is chased by the police of many countries. The remakes of Don could not be as impressive as the original version because no other actor doing this role possessed such an extra-ordinary personality. Big B has delivered an unforgettable performance in the roles of sturdy Don and jolly Vijay.

This movie is so impressive and carries such a high entertainment value that its being a blockbuster is not at all surprising. It has been re-released many times and it is capable of rocking the box office if released in theatres once more.

Pardes
(1997)

I love my India ? Childish !
Pardes (foreign land) is the story of Kishorilaal (Amrish Puri) who is an NRI settled in US but has been nurturing the love for his motherland, i.e., India in his heart despite living away for it. Arjun (Shah Rukh Khan) is his foster son who has grown up with his real son Rajeev (Apoorva Agnihotri). Sorry to find most of his family members including his son as completely coloured in Western culture, Kishorilaal decides to arrange such a bride for his son who is soaked in Indian culture and values that those Samsakaaras and life values reach his son and the generation next as well.

Kishorilaal's quest for such a bride finds a perfect choice in Ganga (Mahima Chaudhary), the daughter of his childhood buddy Suraj (Alok Nath) who is living in India. He sends both Rajeev and Arjun to the house of Suraj to see Ganga and confirm that matrimonial alliance. However after the engagement of Rajeev and Ganga in India, Kishorilaal insists that prior to the wedding Ganga visits US and spends some time with his family in order to familiarize with her in-laws as well as the environment there. And there starts the trouble. Several undesirable things come to Ganga's notice and she has to flee from US with the help of Arjun. Shortly, she is able to find out that Arjun, not Rajeev, deserves to be her life partner. Kishorilaal also realizes that it's incorrect to cut an Indian girl from her roots and compel her to take root in a foreign soil.

The idea behind the movie is definitely good and the conclusion rendered is agreeable. It's a lesson for those parents of Indian girls who feel that by sending their girl abroad through her marriage with an NRI, they will be arranging a happy and prosperous life for her. Even when the boy's family is wealthy and the boy earns well, it may not always be advisable because if the boy has grown up abroad, his personality and psyche must have been groomed according to the environment prevailing there and the girl brought up in India may not be able to adjust with him as well as in the family of the in-laws. Finally, mental adjustment matters the most in the marriage of a girl and not the wealth and the luxuries of her husband or her in-laws. But !

But Subhash Ghai who was considered an expert in making formulaic movies during that period, has not done proper justice to the story idea. To justify his theme and the conclusion of the story, he has taken different points and facets of that to the extremes and reduced many characters (in both the Indian and the foreign milieu) to mere caricatures. Love for India cannot be proved by shouting I Love My India loud (as done through a song of the movie). This love should reflect through understanding the Indian values and way of life. And it's here where this movie falls flat on its face.

There are several ridiculous things in the first half of the movie in which the story moves at a snail's pace. The most ridiculous of them (at which I was beating my head in the cinema hall) is the Kabaddi match played between the two teams who are staking their claims on Ganga in order to take her away as the daughter-in-law of the respective families. The bet is that whosoever wins the match will take away Ganga through her marriage with a boy of the team. Such a laughable stock has been presented in a movie made on such a brilliant theme !

The second half of the movie is fast-paced with many twists and turns but they appear to be imposed to justify the case of the filmmaker and not evolving with naturalness. Personally I don't feel that smoking and drinking make a bad boy. All the same, a good wife is able to make her husband (if otherwise he's nice) get rid of such bad things after marriage also. As far as his promiscuity is concerned, this fact also appears to be suddenly thrown at the face of the audience (as well as the heroine). The boy's father's ignorance of this kind of nature of his son is a serious issue (especially when he's bringing a girl from India to US and allowing her to spend time with his son prior to wedding) which the filmmaker has neglected.

The climax has also been dealt with in the typical Subhash Ghai style which entertains but doesn't impress. The heroine elopes with the hero without any love in her heart for him which doesn't make much sense. In the end, the whole stuff of the movie appears to be something having pious intentions behind but not executed properly and honestly.

This lavishly made movie is technically superior. The only flaw in this regard is its excessive length. The editor and the director should have curtailed its length by at least 30 minutes by removing many unnecessary sequences. The overall form of the movie renders an impression that it was made under the hangover of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge (1995). However every movie cannot become DDLJ even with certain similarities in the story and the lavish style of filmmaking.

All in all, this formula-studded movie which was a box office hit also, is quite entertaining but does not do justice to its noble theme because it deals with the love for one's motherland in a childish manner. The treatment of the subject is melodramatic for a major part of the movie. Love for the motherland should reflect in one's attitude and deeds. It's not possible just by yelling I Love My India from the roof of one's house or by singing and dancing at a song containing these words.

Aashiqui 2
(2013)

Love can never be selfish Mr. Rahul !
Aashiqui 2 the love story of Rahul (Aaditya Roy Kapoor) and Aarohi (Shraddha Kapoor). Rahul is a singer whose popularity is on the decline because of his own negligent and self-destructive attitude. He has turned into an alcoholic and lost all his interest in singing as well as life. Suddenly he happens to come across Aarohi who is a talented singer and wants to make it big in life. And out of the blue, in her he gets a purpose for his life. He coaches Aarohi himself and ensures that she gets the right break in the world of music. He falls in love with her and develops one and only wish in him to see her on the top of the world.

On the other hand, Aarohi also falls in love with Rahul but gradually she feels less out of gratitude and more out of her love for him that he needs her care. With the passage of time and observance of Rahul's alcoholism and self-destructive approach towards life, she loses her interest in her singing career and becomes more and more interested in taking care of Rahul. Rahul whose career has come to an end, feels that by diverting her attention to himself, Aarohi may lag in her career. His pessimism towards his life leads him to end his life which appears meaningless to him. Now it's up to Aarohi whether she wants to leave the world of music forever and get lost into oblivion or continue with her career the way Rahul wanted her to.

Assessing the movie, let me admit that it's really a well made movie and the writer (Shagufta Rafique) and director (Mohit Suri) are able to convey what they purport to convey. The thing is whether what they think (and therefore present) is agreeable or not. All the aspects of the movie including music are good. Both Aaditya Roy Kapoor and Sharaddha Kapoor have done excellently. Shaad Randhawa as Vivek, the secretary cum friend of the singer hero, has also done admirably. The supporting cast did not have much to do in this movie.

Now I am willing to ask the filmmaker a very significant question - what's understood by love ? Generally I feel that love means to care and to share. Plus love involves sacrifice for the sweetheart wherever required. The writer and the director of Aashiqui 2 seems to have misunderstood the meaning of sacrifice. Firstly, sacrifice should be meaningful and required. Secondly, it should be made by understanding the desire of the sweetheart from his / her viewpoint. Imposing own viewpoint and thought-process on the sweetheart and ignoring what he / she wants or likes can be anything but love. And that's where this movie has faltered.

In this movie, the hero who has become a slave of his own alcoholism and is moving non-stop on the path of self-destruction, decides everything for the heroine from his side without giving even a single thought to her desires and liking. It is his desire to see the heroine on top of the world but it is by no means her desire. She finds her happiness in loving and caring for him. Once she realizes it, the progress in her singing career has lost its meaning for her. She would have got pleasure, had the hero improved himself and his approach towards life. He promises to her in the ending reels that he will join gym and lead a disciplined life and above all quit drinking. However it's his inner weakness that he finds himself as unable to fulfill that promise and runs away from life. The heroine very rightly terms him a coward in the end. But my point is - he's not just a coward but also a self-centred person who could not look at the things from the angle of his sweetheart.

The hero not only gives a lot of pain to the heroine in his lifetime but even after his death when the heroine is ready to quit singing and move to some faraway place, the hero's friend (who was earlier against his paying this much attention to the heroine's career) convinces her to continue with her career and fulfill the deceased hero's desire to see her on the top of the world. Is it not utter selfishness ? Love means to understand your sweetheart and not to impose your thoughts and desires on him / her. The hero chooses the easy path of ending his life and avoids the difficult path to mend his ways. Is it love ? No ! In fact, it's the heroine who shows her sincere love towards the hero after his death by deciding to continue with her singing career against her own will.

I underscore that seeking your own pleasure through the acts of the other one is by no means love for him / her. If you really love someone, try to understand wherein his / her pleasure lies and then act accordingly so that your sweetheart gets genuine happiness. A true lover always sees his / her happiness in the happiness of the sweetheart only. Aashiqui 2 shows just the contrary from the side of the hero. In my considered opinion, it's not at all love (or Aashiqui). It's sheer selfishness. And love can be anything but selfish.

Kismat Konnection
(2008)

The connection of lady luck
Lady luck is the personification of luck in the form of a lady bringing good or bad fortune for a person (mostly a male as it's the males who think this way). Males look upon the females they love or like as lucky for them and it's just a wild thought that their association brings good luck to them. Well, such phenomena may not exist but several people believe in its existence. And as they say, man's thoughts only reveal themselves to him in tangible form, such things do happen also (may be out of pure coincidence or due to the famous Law of Attraction). Kismat Connection (2008) tells such a story only.

Set in Toronto, the story of Kismat Connection (the connection of luck) is the story of two young architects - Raj (Shahid Kapoor) and Hiten (Vishal Malhotra). They are talented and sincere but their luck does not favour them and they are struggling hard to get work. While continuously approaching Mr. Gill (Om Puri), a director of a construction firm - Batra and Gill in their bid to get a contract, they stumble upon Priya (Vidya Baalan) who runs a community centre meant for the modestly earning people. Soon Raj starts feeling that Priya is his lucky charm. Love blossoms in his heart for Priya and he expects better days for him when two significant developments take place.

Raj comes to know that Priya is engaged to Karan Behl and they are going to tie the sacred knot soon. On the other hand, the coveted contract sought after by Raj and Hiten turns out to be the one which will result in the demolition of the community centre Priya is associated with. After a good dose of comedy in the first half and a good dose of sentiments in the second half, the movie ends in the Bollywoodish 'All's well that ends well' style.

The director of this movie is Aziz Mirza and it is the signature movie of this director who had earlier directed movies like Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992) and Yes Boss (1997) having a similar tone. The movie is entertaining, no doubt. And the theory of lucky charm may not be a scientific one but it may appeal to a sizable chunk of Indian audience (including myself). It's a weak movie all the same with the director trying to pack too many things in the climax when the hero delivers his emotional speech and gets what he wants.

The first half of the movie which focuses on comedy is more interesting and makes the viewer sit through it. However the later part follows the tried and tested formula-studded path and starts boring. Well-identified scenes appear first to bring the members of the lead pair closer, then to separate them and then to reunite them, rendering a feeling that the filmmaker has nothing new to offer. The later reels have a clear hangover of Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006) also when the issue of the dismantling of the community centre for the sake of the project of the mall creates a twist in the story. However everything remains quite predictable and the audience knows the end beforehand.

It's difficult to understand why the filmmaker has set the story in Canada whereas the same could have been narrated with an Indian backdrop in a much better way especially when all the characters of the story are Indian only. Setting the story on a foreign land has diluted its impact for the Indian audience because it becomes difficult to relate to it on account of this very reason.

Vidya Baalan has replicated her Lage Raho Munna Bhai act because she has got a similar role and similar script as well. However while she was perfect for Sanjay Dutt who's much older to her, she is quite a mismatch for Shahid who is younger to her. She appears to be her aunt from all the angles and their on screen chemistry is quite unappealing. Shahid Kapoor, Vishal Malhotra, Om Puri, Boman Irani and others including Juhi Chawla in a cameo have done their respective parts well. More than the chemistry between Shahid and Vidya, it's the chemistry between Vidya and her peculiar friend Boman which impresses the audience.

Technically this movie is good and the beautiful locations of Canada have been captured very well by the cinematographer. The movie is lengthy and should have been made crispier through proper scripting and editing. Pritam's music is good.

I recommend Kismat Connection as a decent entertaining watch to the regular movie buffs. Well, whether you consider someone special as your lucky charm or not, is up to you but you can enjoy this movie which is more or less a fun movie.

Bhoot Bungla
(1965)

A haunted bungalow and a mysterious killer
Mehmood has been perhaps the most popular and high profile comedian of Bollywood movies. Starting from character roles, he became hero in certain movies and then switched to comedy roles only to become the most sought after comedian during the sixties. However to prove his versatility, he again moved to lead roles by the outset of the seventies and became a director also. His first directorial venture was Bhoot Bungla(1965) which, despite being a fun movie for a significant part of it, falls into the genre of suspense-thrillers.

Bhoot Bungla(haunted bungalow) is the story of three brothers two of whom get mysteriously killed. The eldest one(Moni Chatterjee) is the father of the heroine of this movie - Rekha(Tanuja) whereas the second one was a bit insane Raamlaal(Nana Palsikar). The third, surviving one, is Shyamlaal(Nazir Hussain). The uncle of these three brothers had been murdered some fifty years back and then their aunt disappeared from the bungalow which is the residence of this family with her son, never to appear for all these years. After the two consecutive killings, the investigating cop(Jagdish Raaj) advises Shyamlaal and Rekha to shift from this bungalow to their apartment in the city for the time-being.

Now Rekha who was earlier studying abroad and thus living away from her father and other family members starts getting life threats over phone. A singing competition brings her into contact with Mohan(Mehmood) who alongwith his companions, runs a club named as Youth Club. One day upon saving Rekha from an attack on her life, Mohan realizes that she needs help and there's someone who wants to kill her for some unknown motive. Now Mohan starts examining the facts as they appear and the happenings as they have taken place as well as taking place. In the course of this investigation, the bungalow which is the original residence of Rekha and her family members, is found to be a haunted house.

But the reality is something else. After a lot of suspense spread in the narrative, the climax unravels not only the mystery behind the bungalow's appearing to be a haunted one but also the reason behind the killings of Rekha's father and uncle plus the threats to her own life as well as the identity of the culprit.

I watched Bhoot Bungla on internet and found it to be quite a satisfying suspense-thriller. Starting with a murder that takes place half a century prior to the period of the main story, this movie remains a fun movie for a sizable part of it which amuses the audience very much. From the title and the environment created for the story, it may appear to be a horror movie also. To be frank, certain scenes are really scary. However ultimately, it's suspense-thriller.

Mehmood has done his job very well as the director of this movie. Despite certain plot holes in the script as well as leaving many things as unexplained in the end, he has been able to keep the audience engrossed. He has not given any undue footage to himself and also kept the fun-quotient under check. The fun and comedy come as a relief to the audience whereas the suspense remains prime in the movie.

Mehmood has extracted good performances from the artistes including himself. Tanuja is very pretty and she has acted well too. The complete supporting cast is also well in place. Music director R.D. Burman also has done a small role in this movie. It's really interesting to see Pancham Da on the screen. Renowned radio announcer Ameen Sayaani is also present in the scene of the singing competition.

Technically this black and white movie is okay. Its length could have been shorter, however considering the norm prevailing in Bollywood those days, it's quite appropriate and there is no dragging to bore the audience. Since the hero himself was an established comedian, quite sensibly, no separate comedy track has been kept in the movie. Dialogs are also good.

Pancham Da(R.D. Burman) has composed good music for the movie which is an evidence of the gusts of fresh air and new waves entering the field of Bollywood music through himself because it's different from the kind of music composed for Hindi movies those days. Aao Twist Karen is a foot-tapper. Other songs are also good. Background score is soaked in suspense and thrill and is perfectly in sync with the mood of the movie.

Considering the overall quality of the movie, I won't say that Bhoot Bungla is some great movie or some extra-ordinary suspense-thriller. However it is an interesting movie which is sure to be liked by both the mystery fans and the fun-loving audience.

Jagriti
(1956)

Is Desh Ko Rakhna Mere Bachchon Sambhaal Ke . . .
A teacher's greatness is more than that of the parents in a child's life and an ideal teacher is considered even greater than God. Why ? Because an ideal teacher is able to shape the student which is like a lump of clay, in its proper form which is desirable for his own life and desirable for the society and the world as well. A ideal teacher is called GURU because he removes the darkness in the student and fills light in his heart.

Bollywood have come up with several Hindi movies portraying the stories of ideal teachers. Nartakee (1963), Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti (1967), Imtihaan (1974), Taare Zameen Par (2007), Aarakshan (2011) etc. are certain such movies only. However perhaps the greatest of such Hindi movies is Jaagriti (1954). This black and white movie is a rare gem from the treasure of Bollywood which emphatically underscores what difference an ideal teacher can make as well as what difference an ideal friend can make in a student's life.

Jaagriti (awakening) is the story of Ajay (Rajkumar) who is a 11-12 years old boy with naughtiness reining in every particle of his personality. He is fatherless and his uncle (Bipin Gupta) is his guardian who considering his complete lack of interest in studies and his childish nuisances crossing all the limits of endurance, sends him to a boarding school. There Ajay comes into contact with Shakti (Ratan Kumar), another fatherless kid but quite contrary to Ajay in behaviour and attitude despite this fact that he is handicapped (in legs).

Ajay becomes fond of Shakti who has only his mother in the world. Shakti always instigates him to leave his nuisance-making habits and devote to the studies but Ajay pays little attention to his advices. His fondness for Shakti doesn't mitigate though. Now there comes a change in the boarding school with a new teacher being appointed as the in-charge of the boarding-house.

This new, very young, teacher - Shekhar (Abhi Bhattachaarya) is having a new vision of education and grooming of the young students for the life ahead. He does not believe in corporal punishment but believes in developing an understanding with the young ones, being friendly with them and teaching them in such a non-bookish way that they comprehend and grasp the curriculum much more as compared to the traditional way of teaching. He pays special attention to problem children and in no time, identifies Ajay as one such child. He tries his level best to transform Ajay but his efforts bear fruit only when Ajay's fast friend Shakti passes away in an accident. Now Ajay is no longer the Ajay as he used to be. Now he is a role model for the other students.

Jaagriti is a heart-conqueror right from the word 'go' to the ending scene which contains the immortal song Hum Laaye Hain Toofaan Se Kashti Nikaal Ke, Is Desh Ko Rakhna Mere Bachchon Sambhaal Ke (we have rescued the boat from the storm, take care of this nation O Kids). The whole movie is studded with touching scenes, some of them are able to bring tears to our in eyes in the most natural way. The whole milieu is realistic and the relationship between two near lonely friends as well as between an ideal teacher and his students as shown in the movie is not only desirable but also believable.

The movie underscores this eternal truth that pious things can be done provided pious intentions are there. Noble thoughts can always be turned into reality if sincerity is there in one's words and actions. An ideal teacher not just preaches, he leads by example. That's why anybody and everybody should not opt for the profession of teaching. A person with a strong moral character with sensitivity in his heart and maturity in his behaviour only should become a teacher.

A teacher carries the great responsibility of making ideal members for the society and ideal citizens for the nation. Hence first, he should follow the right path. Then only he will be able to show the right path to his students. Shekhar of Jaagriti is one such teacher only.

Jaagriti is a great movie from the viewpoint of friendship also. A sincere friend always stands by his friend but at the same time, being his true well-wisher, he shows him the right path also and cautions him against following the wrong path. Shakti of Jaagriti is one such true friend only who is able to transform his friend Ajay in the desirable manner if not in his lifetime, then after his death as after Shakti's death, Ajay takes a solemn vow to be what Shakti wanted him to be.

Jaagriti is excellent in all the aspects of filmmaking. The biggest plus point is its music. With the immortal lyrics of Kavi Pradeep, Hemant Kumar has composed unforgettable songs viz. Hum Laaye Hain Toofaan Se Kashti Nikaal Ke, Aao Bachchon Tumhen Dikhaayen Jhaanki Hindustaan Ki and De Di Hamen Aazaadi Bina Khadg Bina Dhaal. It also contains a very touching mother-kid song - Chalo Chalen Maa, Sapno Ke Gaaon Mein.

Child artists - Rajkumar in the role of Ajay and Ratan Kumar in the role of Shakti have marvelled in the movie. Abhi Bhattachaarya is perfect in the role of an ideal teacher. All others also fit the bill.

Writer Manoranjan Bose and director Satyen Bose have presented an immortal movie in the form of Jaagriti which is a text book written on celluloid regarding teaching as well as nurture of the young ones. A must for every teacher who considers his / her profession as a noble one and puts a premium on performing his / her duty with utmost sincerity. An ideal teacher may not get much tangible benefits but he gets abundant respect of his / her students which is something invaluable for him / her and enviable for others.

Anuraag
(1972)

Never allow your faith in goodness to be shaken
The bitter experiences of my life have shaken my faith in ethics, goodness and the sublime values of life. However the movies like Anuraag (1972) is one such phenomena which reassures me that these noble things have not vanished altogether and one should not allow his faith in them to be evaporated.

The decade of seventies when medicine had not made much progress in our country and the persons who happened to have caught some lethal decease, were seldom able to survive; Bollywood presented many movies whose protagonist was a Zinda-Dil person with an ever-present smile on lips and possessing a jolly nature with a never-say-die spirit but suffering from a lethal decease. Such protagonist, but natural, died in the end, leaving all his loving ones as grief-stricken behind him. Anand (1970), Mili (1975) and Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se (1978) were certain movies in this genre. Anuraag also falls into that category only. The difference is that this movie presents a child suffering from cancer who donates his eyes to a blind girl so that she could see the world through his eyes after his demise.

This kind-hearted and nice child of Anuraag (love) is Chandan (Satyajeet) who is the grandson of Rai Saheb (Ashok Kumar) who has already lost his son and now invested all his love in his little grandson Chandan. He lives with his widow daughter-in-law (Nutan) and sees the shadow of his lost son in Chandan only, teaching him all the virtues and noble values of life. Chandan happens to come across a blind girl Shivaani (Moushumi Chatterjee) who lives in a charitable home meant for girls like her only. She is a good sculptor and through Chandan, she comes into contact with Chandan's mother and grandfather on one hand and a nice boy Raajesh (Vinod Mehra) on the other. Raajesh falls in love with her and decides to make her his life partner. However his father Amirchand (Madan Puri) gets ready for their marriage only when Shivaani gets her sight back. It is known after her relevant medical examination that it's possible only when some donor gives his / her eyes for transplantation in her body. Suddenly Chandan is found to be suffering from cancer which has gone beyond the stage of treatment. Coming to know this truth, Chandan decides to donate his eyes to his loving Didi, i.e., Shivaani and finally Shivaani is able to see this world through Chandan's eyes.

The movie gets emotional and turns into a tear-jerker in its final half an hour only. Prior to that, it's mainly a feelgood movie which producer-director Shakti Saamanta has made in the style of the prestigious Rajshri Banner of Bollywood. Certain(both tragic and comic) sequences of this movie remind us Rajshri's blockbuster movie – Hum Aapke Hain Kaun(1994). The story is flat and told as such only. We see good people with their good thoughts and gestures only. Except for the caricaturesque character of Raajesh's father who is a miser but ready to spend money for the sake of fame and honour, all the characters shown are completely positive and virtuous. Prior to the tragic twist in the story, the narrative consists of comic situations and dialogs which may not be able to provoke laughter in the viewer but certainly brings a smile to his / her lips.

The incident of Chandan's trying to understand how it feels to be blind reminds me of a story 'The School for Sympathy' read by me in my English textbook when I was in my secondaries. His deliberately not solving all the questions in the examination so that another boy who is needy of scholarship, is able to get the first rank, also reminds me of a similar story read by me in my Hindi textbook during my primaries. Through these episodes, the filmmaker has highlighted the virtues embedded in the character of this child which touches as well as inspires the audience.

Anuraag is a simple movie, not lavish. It is technically good all the same and every frame of it is beautiful. It is a compact movie which only was the right thing to do for the filmmaker considering its wafer-thin storyline.

Sachin Dev Burman has composed good music for the movie with the help of the beautiful lyrics of Anand Bakshi. Devoid of any chartbusters, this album contains ear-soothing and soul-soothing songs like Sun Ri Pawan, Woh Kya Hai, Neend Churaaye Chain Churaaye, Raam Kare Babua Hamaar Phulwa Ko and a very good lullaby - Mera Raaja Beta Boojhe Ek Paheli.

Child artist Satyajeet has performed very well in the pivotal role whereas Bengali actress Moushumi Chatterjee has also done satisfactorily in this debut Hindi movie of herself. Seasoned actors Ashok Kumar, Nutan, Madan Puri, Anita Guha, Abhi Bhattachaarya, Satyen Kappu etc. all have done their parts satisfactorily alongwith the romantic hero Vinod Mehra. Shakti Saamanta's favourite actor Rajesh Khanna has delivered a touching performance in his special appearance in the role of flower-seller Gangaraam.

Anuraag won the Filmfare Award for the best movie which is surprising as this movie is a very simple movie and was not a blockbuster as well. All the same, it's to be admitted that such movies emphatically underscore that goodness does exist even today which is to be preserved and nurtured. The good and virtuous people as shown in the movie may be difficult to find in today's selfish times but their race has not gone extinct. The dumbfound(with grief) character of Ashok Kumar rightly asserts that God forces the strictest of tests of life on such people only. And it's their greatness that even then they do not give up their goodness and noble values of life adopted by them.

I recommend this lovely and inspiring movie to one and all.hem.

Umrao Jaan
(1981)

Ye Kya Jagah Hai Doston, Ye Kaun Sa Dayaar Hai
Umrao Jaan(1981) is based on the novel - 'Umrao Jaan Ada' of Mirza Mohammad Haadi Ruswa. I happened to watch the movie first and read the novel later. And undoubtedly, director Muzaffar Ali's cinematic version of the story originally written in the nineteenth century and said to be the true story of a true character, is better than the written work.

The story belongs to the Tawaayaf(courtesan) Umrao Jaan who was born at Faizabaad as Ameeran. After getting kidnapped and sold to a Kotha(brothel) in Lucknow, she grows up and becomes famous among the rich and the elite because of her Shaayari(Urdu poetry) sung in her melodious voice and coupled with her enchanting dances. However she finds almost everybody around him as greedy for her earnings and she continue to move through her journey of life with a sense of complete loneliness within her. Certain males enter her life and raise false hopes in her heart for being able to live a normal married life containing a loving husband, social acceptance and motherhood but finally, she finds that loneliness only is her destiny.

Taking the story from the said novel, producer-director Muzaffar Ali himself has written the screenplay and dialogs of this movie in association with Shama Zaidi and Jaaved Siddiqui. This script has been written quite crisply without giving undue footage to anything and not allowing the focus to divert from the principal character and her woes. The narrative with the gloom and loneliness of the principal character prevalent in every moment of it, moves at a reasonable pace without allowing any laxity or boredom to creep in. The audience is not only kept engaged in the narrative and glued to the screen for more than two hours but also made to feel the pain, the feelings and the stuffiness of the pivotal character. It is a very impressive movie, no doubt.

The ending scene is just superb in which Umrao Jaan wipes the mirror to see her face in that. It's an example of sheer brilliance on the part of the filmmaker who conveys the permanent sense of loneliness in the courtesan to the audience leaving the theatre without any spoon-feeding. Anybody who has watched this movie on the big screen must have left the theatre with a throbbing in his / her heart.

Umrao Jaan can be termed as pain-filled poetry written on celluloid. It stirs, moves, pinches and brings tears to eyes. It's a journey made by the spectator alongwith the courtesan known as Umrao Jaan. Within a few minutes, the narrative envelops the viewer and makes him a part of the unusual story of the protagonist being told to him.

The art director has brought the period of the 19th century alive on the screen. The complete milieu including the architecture, the dialect, the clothes, the style of living etc. are authentic. The cinematographer has also left no stone unturned from his side in this regard and thus a realistic account of that era is presented to the audience who also happen to witness the turbulence due to the Gadar or the mutiny of 1857 by a section of the Indians against the British rule.

Rekha quite deservingly won the national award for the best actress for the title role played by her in this movie(though Jennifer Kendal Kapoor was a stronger contender for that award for that year for her performance in 36 Chowringhee Lane). Rekha does not seem to be acting, she appears to be actually living the life of Umrao Jaan. Originally a Tamilian, this talented actress has portrayed the Urdu speaking Shaayara cum Tawaayaf in an amazing manner.

Farooque Sheikh as Umrao Jaan's lover and all the other characters have also done exceedingly well. Even the small characters of Maulvi Saheb(Gajaanan Jaagirdaar) and Bismillah(Prema Naarayan) are able to leave their imprint in the movie. The romance between Farooque and Rekha is so delicate that the audience can't help falling in love with them and their relationship.

Khayyam has composed immortal music with the great Shaayari of Shaharyaar for this movie. All the ghazals and nazms are so touching that any lover of music and Shaayari can keep on listening to them again and again. Dil Cheez Kya Hai Aap Meri Jaan Leejiye, In Aankhon Ki Masti Ke Mastaane Hazaaron Hain, Zindagi Jab Bhi Teri Bazm Mein Laati Hai Hamen, Justujoo Jiski Thi Usko To Na Paaya Humne etc. are heart-conquerors. Most of these are gems in the voice of Asha Bhosle whereas Zindagi Jab Bhi Teri Bazm Mein Laati Hai Hamen is a memorable ghazal of Talat Aziz. The album contains a couple of folk songs also and a classic written by Amir Khusro. However the pain-soaked ghazal (which is placed at the end of the movie) which always brings a flood of tears in my eyes is - Ye Kya Jagah Hai Doston, Ye Kaun Sa Dayaar Hai, Hadd-e-Nigaah Tak Jahaan Gubaar Hi Gubaar Hai.

Umrao Jaan is a true classic. A masterpiece. It was remade by J.P. Dutta in 2006 by taking Aishwarya Rai in the title role. Though I found J.P. Dutta's movie as closer to the novel of Mirza Haadi Ruswa, it lacked the soul of the story. If anybody wants to meet the real Umrao Jaan that used to exist some 150 years ago, then this movie only is the perfect choice for him / her.

Gandhi
(1982)

A tribute to Richard Attenborough
Sir Richard Attenborough has passed away. The artist who is best known for his Oscar winning directorial venture - Gandhi (1982) is no more. An actor turned director, Richard Attenborough touched the sky of excellence in his making of Gandhi. This was the first English movie seen by me. While paying my tribute to the great filmmaker, I am reviewing that only.

Gandhi starts from 24 years old Mohandaas Karamchand Gandhi's journey to South Africa in 1893 with a law degree in his possession. And then starts his quest for truth while sticking to his path of non-violence, together forming his great mantra of Satyagrah. After fighting against racial discrimination for 21 long years on the foreign land, he came back to his motherland to follow the same philosophy and strategy of his against the colonial rule in his own nation. After roaming about the nation on the advice of Goalkrishna Gokhle, he started his struggle from Champaran in 1917 and went ahead with the masses taking that beginning to the point of Quit India Movement in 1942 after which end of the colonial rule in India was just a matter of time. But the problem of mutual distrust and hatred between the communities was even bigger than the colonial rule which divided this great nation and swallowed lakhs of innocent lives including the one which was of Gandhi himself. \ Richard Attenborough has done justice to his work and recreated history on the screen with near perfection. This sincere filmmaker devoted two decades in making of this epic movie and the end result proved to be an invaluable asset to the Indian cinema as well as the world cinema. He showed better sense by showing Gandhi's political journey only in his adulthood and skipped the events pertaining to his childhood. A movie is to be completed within a reasonable time frame and hence it was necessary to leave the initial phase of Gandhi's life.

Flaws are there in the movie. Sardar Patel (Saeed Zaffrey) does not look the legendary Iron Man of India from any angle. Ditto for certain other characters alongwith ignoring certain significant historical events of that period. But these flaws cannot snatch the characteristic of being a great movie from Gandhi. Attenborough's in-depth research work and perfect casting of Ben Kingsley and Rohini Hattangadi for the lead roles of Gandhi and Kasturba contributed a lot to make it an unforgettable movie. Ben Kingsley is said to have slept on a small mat for a pretty long period in order to acclimatize him with the immortal character from the history of mankind. And when the movie was shot, he seemed to have created the soul of Gandhi in his earthly body. Lesser known Indian actress Rohini Hattangadi brought Kasturba alive on the screen.

Attenborough extracted brilliant performances from almost all the cast members especially the Indian ones. No Hindi movie lover can forget Supriya Pathak as Manu and Neena Gupta as Abha in this movie. Making a realistic movie on that turbulent period of history while keeping Gandhi at the nucleus was by no means an easy task (and that's why two decades went into its making), so justice could not be done to certain historical characters. However the great filmmaker avoided trivial things which any formula-obsessed Indian filmmaker would not have been able to avoid viz. the affair of Acharya J.B. Kripalani as well as that of Sucheta and that of Indira and Feroze.

By default perhaps, certain biases and contradictions in the great man's personality have been revealed though there's no bias in the filmmaker's approach either towards Gandhi or against Gandhi.

The movie is an engaging one right from the word 'go' to its conclusion as John Briley has written the screenplay with sheer brilliance. The complete narrative moves forward speedily without a pause. The whole milieu is realistic and we seem to travel through that era getting a vision of India that was in the days of the British rule while watching this movie. All the action sequences render a feeling of realism. Technically, this is a flawless movie. Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar has prepared optimum music for this extra-ordinary movie I have seen both the English and the Hindi versions of this movie (on Doordarshan, of course) and found that anybody interested in history or the life of Gandhi can watch this umpteen number of times. It entertains as well as enlightens.

As asserted in my review of the book My Experiments with Truth also, I feel sorry when I find people seeking pleasure in cursing Gandhi and enjoying the seemingly indecent talks about him (especially those related to his so-called experimentation in celibacy). You cannot understand Gandhi until you have at least a particle of himself in you. Attenborough had it, that's why he could understand what kind of a man M.K. Gandhi was.

While paying my tribute to Richard Attenborough, I can't help remembering a dialog from this immortal piece of art of himself. When Gandhi was arrested at a point in the movie, the concerned police officer says to him, 'I am sorry Mr. Gandhi but you are under arrest' and Gandhi replies, 'I am not sorry'. That, I feel, should be our spirit for sticking to our ideals and our chosen path.

Mehboob Ki Mehndi
(1971)

Jaane Kyun Log Mohabbat Kiya Karte Hain . . .
Rajesh Khanna was a romantic hero and hence most of the movies made by riding on his popularity were scripted as romantic movies. Whatever might have been the story idea, the screenplay gave a lot of emphasis to romance between Rajesh Khann and his heroine. Mehboob Ki Mehndi (the henna applied to the hands of a lady which is meant for her lover) is one such movie only.

The story of Mehboob Ki Mehndi has a Muslim milieu containing Muslim characters. The plot is based on the character of an erstwhile Nawaab(Muslim ruler of an erstwhile princely state in India) but now impoverished Anwar Kamaal(Pradeep Kumar) who wants to settle an old score with Nawaab Safdarjung(Inftekhaar). He approaches the house of Safdarjung in order to kill him and his son Yusuf(Rajesh Khanna) but is not able to do so and waiting for a suitable opportunity to do so in future, he accepts to serve in his household under the fake name of Khairuddin. However gradually the good behaviour and respect rendered to him by Yusuf makes his killing job difficult with the passage of time.

On the other hand, Yusuf falls in love with Shabaana(Leena Chandavarkar) who is the tutor of his nephew. Love blossoms in the heart of Shabaana too and their courtship heads towards the desired destination of wedding. However there is a secret about Shabaana not known to Yusuf and his family that she is the daughter of a courtesan with nothing known about her father. However a strange emotional bond gets developed between aged Khairuddin and orphan Shabaana. In the climax, the secrets buried in the past of Shabaana as well as those pertaining to the identity of Khairuddin no longer remain the secrets once a killing takes place and everything is set right after an interesting courtroom drama.

As said earlier, Rajesh Khanna starrers during that period focused on romance more than anything else. Following that tradition, Mehboob Ki Mehndi also focuses on romance only which, like all the hit movies of Rajesh Khanna, is ably supported by melodious songs. The romance is bound to be dignified as the characters of the movie are Muslim characters and the milieu is traditional Muslim milieu soaked in the famous Muslim culture (Tehzeeb). It's delicate and touching as well.

The movie, written by Anjana Rawail and directed by Harnaam Singh Rawail, is very interesting right from the opening scene to the culminating scene. The sentimental and social parts of the plot have been beautifully amalgamated with the romantic part. Except the desirable interruption of melodious songs and undesirable interruption of the prolonged comedy track (which was perhaps a necessary evil for Hindi movies in those times), the narrative flows very well and heads towards its conclusion which is though a forgone one(considering that it's formula-based regular Bollywood movie) but the curiosity of the audience as to how it will be arrived at, is kept alive throughout.

Technically the movie is sound. The art director and the dress designer have kept the Muslim background of the story in mind while doing their respective jobs. And they alongwith the cinematographer, have done very well. Most of the scenes are very beautiful and eye-soothing. Background score and editing are also okay. The only irksome thing is the lengthy comedy track which, if done away with, would have made the movie crispier and better.

Laxmikant Pyarelaal's music with the lyrics of Anand Bakshi is a big highlight of the movie. Which Indian cine music lover has not heard Lata Mangeshkar's classic number - Jaane Kyun Log Mohabbat Kiya Karte Hain ? Alongwith that the album of Mehboob Ki Mehndi contains melodious songs like Ye Jo Chilman Hai Dushman Hai Hamaari, Mere Deewaanepan Ki Bhi Sada Nahin, Pasand Aa Gayi Hai Ek Kaafir Haseena, Itna To Yaad Hai Mujhe Ki Unse Mulaqaat Hui, Apna Hai Tu Begaana Nahin and of course, the title track in the enchanting voices of Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and Hemlata.

Rajesh Khanna is at his romantic best in the movie. He is present here with all the gimmick and mannerism he was famous for. Beautiful Leena Chandavarkar has created good on screen chemistry with him and performed the emotional aspect of her assigned role also very well. Seasoned actor Pradeep Kumar is the best actor in this movie. All others are also well in place.

This interesting movie has a repeat value and can be seen by multiple times by the lovers of romantic flicks.

Tum Bin...: Love Will Find a Way
(2001)

Newcomers shine in this penitence cum love saga
A Bollywood movie made with newcomer actors is successful only when either the newcomers are from high profile Bollywood families and the movie is released with a lot of hype and pre-release publicity or when the movie is indeed very well made and truly deserves success and applause. Tum Bin (2001) falls into the second category.

The story of Tum Bin (sans you) revolves around the character of Piya (Sandali Sinha) who is all set to marry her beau Amar (Raakesh Baapat) when he dies in a car accident which involves Shekhar (Priyanshu Chatterjee). Out of his guilty-conscience and a desire for penitence, Shekhar joins the concern of Amar which is now run by Piya and facing acute financial problems. Shekhar, with his hard work, not only brings the company out of troubles and make turn it into a viable one but also renders emotional support to Piya so that she could get out of her grief. In this process, he happens to fall in love with Piya. One rich businessman Abhigyaan (Himanshu Mallik) proposes Piya to take over her company as well as marry her. Now Piya who appreciates Shekhar's efforts made for her company and also feels within her that perhaps Shekhar loves her, is in a fix. In such a situation, this truth is revealed to her that Shekhar only was responsible for the death of her beau Amar. The movie ends on a positive note after a tense emotional drama.

The story of a man's accidentally killing someone and then falling in love with his woman has been presented on the screen on quite a few occasions in Bollywood. I don't know where the original inspiration comes from but this theme was used by Gulzaar quite beautifully to make Kinaara (1977) taking Jeetendra, Hema Maalini and Dharmendra in lead roles. With my due respect to the legendary filmmaker Gulzaar, I express my personal opinion that Tum Bin is more interesting than the star-studded and slow-paced Kinaara. The script is very well written and director Anubhav Sinha has maintained the flow of the narrative quite skilfully without allowing the audience to get bored at any point.

Kinaara was made by Gulzaar with the top stars of Hindi cinema whereas Anubhav Sinha has made this movie with newcomers and to his great credit, he has extracted brilliant performances from all the four newcomers out of which three are purely debutantes despite the fact that this is his debut also as a film director. Priyanshu Chatterjee is the best performer followed by Sandali. Raakesh Baapat and Himanshu Mallik alongwith the supporting cast also have done well. Good performances have helped the director in making the movie an impressive one.

Shot completely in Canada, Tum Bin is a visual treat. It's a eye-soothing and heart-soothing colourful celluloid trip to Canada. The cinematographer deserves a lot of applause for his work. The movie is technically sound though the length should have been less.

Nikhil-Vinay's music is another big plus point of Tum Bin. The title track, Chhoti Chhoti Raatein Lambi Ho Jaati Hain, Tumhaare Siva Kuchh Na Chhhat Karenge, Koi Fariyaad Tere Dil Mein Dabi Ho Jaise, Pyar Humko Hone Laga etc. are quite melodious. Faiz Anwar's lyrics written for them are meaningful and touching. The songs of Tum Bin have a long life and they are fondly listened to by the music lovers even after so many years.

This theme was again used barely one and a half years later in Dil Ka Rishta (2003) in which Arjun Raampaal and Aishwarya Rai played the lead roles and interestingly, it's Priyanshu Chatterjee who played the role of the dying man. However Dil Ka Rishta could not become as impressive as Tum Bin.

The message of this story is - move ahead in life, leaving the past behind and forgiving someone if he is truly repenting upon whatever negative got done by him. Philosophically talking, love and hatred are two sides of the same coin. The way sometimes excess love for someone takes the shape of hatred, the same way we may happen to love someone we have hated a lot. Life never stops. It keeps on moving. Hence we also should move on and allow the wounds of the past to be healed.

I recommend this beautiful movie to all who like love stories and emotional dramas.

Barsaat
(1949)

Maestros join hands to create a musical aura
Bollywood's greatest showman and legendary filmmaker Raj Kapoor started his own production house and his journey as a film director with Aag (1948). However he wanted to make a complete team of himself which could continue for years like a strong and well-coordinated unit and moreover like a family. He wanted it especially in terms of music because he put a heavy premium on the musical score of his movies. This team he could make with his second production as well as directorial venture - Barsaat (1949). With Barsaat, an aura of melodious music started in Bollywood whose nucleus was Raj Kapoor and his production house - R.K. Banner. Raj Kapoor's musical team included lyricists - Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra, music composers - Shankar Jaikishan and singers - Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh. Starting from Barsaat, this music making team presented many great albums to the music lovers containing several immortal songs.

Barsaat (rain) tells the story of two friends - Pran (Raj Kapoor) who believes in true love and Gopal (Premnaath) who believes in 'enjoy and forget' philosophy. These two friends are roaming about countryside when they happen to meet two different girls. Pran falls for the charms of Reshma (Nargis) whereas Gopal comes across Neela (Nimmi). Pran decides to unite with Reshma against all odds but Gopal ignores Neela after returning to the city these two friends belong to. Neela keeps the flame of Gopal's love as burning in her heart while waiting for him in her small, old house situated on a hill. After a lot of sentimental drama, Pran is able to make Reshma his life partner whereas Gopal realizes the importance of true love in a man's life but he is able to come back to Neela only when it's too late.

The movie is very touching and a beautifully made one. Director Raj Kapoor had started demonstrating his skill in making heart-conquering love stories right from his debut venture - Aag. In this second venture of himself, he has gone a few steps farther and presented a mesmerizing love-soaked narrative which contains two different love stories - one with a happy ending and the other one being a tragedy. Different people have different perceptions of male-female love. The thinking patterns of different ones are bound to be different according to their upbringing and life-experiences. It was as true in that era of the forties as it is true today. Gopal of Barsaat does not believe in true love and feels that philandering with different females is the correct way of life until the eye-opening moment comes for him. It may happen with anybody. My knowledge about romantic love was also academic only until I got someone's true love for real.

This very well made movie written by Ramanand Saagar (who later on became a very famous movie and TV serial director in his own right) is very interesting and the narrative flows very well. The songs are too many but they do not irritate or bore. Instead they enhance the enjoyment of the viewer like anything just like the icing on a cake. The story meanders through many turns and reaches its heart-piercing climax impressively, leaving a throbbing in the heart of the viewer with the ending scene. I feel, Raj Kapoor could have avoided the tragic ending of the movie and substituted it with a happy ending. However it's to be admitted that despite appearing somewhat out of place, the tragic ending has made a greater impact than what would have been made by a happy ending for the love story of Gopal and Neela.

As said earlier, the biggest plus point of Barsaat is its music only. Music maestros joined hands for the first time under the stewardship of Raj Kapoor and created an aura which is everlasting. The movie opens with a beautiful song - Hawa Mein Udta Jaaye Mera Laal Dupatta Malmal Ka which has been picturized on a long forgotten actress - Vimla. Thereafter the whole movie is a treat for the music lovers from the side of the composers, the lyricists, the singers and above all, the legendary filmmaker Raj Kapoor. Jiya Beqaraar Hai Chhai Bahaar Hai, Barsaat Mein Humse Mile Tum Sajan Tumse Mile Hum, Mujhe Kisi Se Pyar Ho Gaya, Mera Aankhon Mein Bas Gaya Koi Re, Chhod Gaye Baalam Mujhe Haay Akela Chhod Gaye etc. etc. etc., there's a long musical river for the listeners to float on the waves of melodies. Barsaat's music is immortal and will continue to enchant the melody lovers for ages. The movie contains a foot-tapper also - Patli Kamar Hai Tirchhi Nazar Hai on which famous dancer Cuckoo has delivered a mesmerizing performance.

This black and white movie is technically superior. Almost everything is perfect or near perfect. The picturization of certain songs in the rain (being true to the title of the movie) is simply wonderful. Raj Kapoor believed in presenting the songs of his movies on the screen in the most beautiful manner possible, thus making the audience love to watch them again and again. Barsaat is a standing example of this belief and ability of himself.

Performances are also brilliant. Raj Kapoor himself was a great actor. And under his own direction, he was truly extra-ordinary. Alongwith himself he has extracted admirable performances from Nargis, Premnaath and debutante Nimmi (who went ahead to play a long and successful innings in Bollywood after this movie). Supporting cast has also done well.

In the presently running rainy season, it won't be in appropriate to watch this classic from the black and white era of Hindi cinema whose rain is an inseparable part of. I recommend this blockbuster movie to all the cine-lovers in general and melody lovers in particular. Allow yourself to be drenched in this rain of music, love and emotion.

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