jmathur_swayamprabha

IMDb member since October 2009
    Lifetime Total
    250+
    Top Reviewer
     
    IMDb Member
    13 years

Reviews

Monica
(2011)

A woman getting caught in the fatal game of power
Shivani Bhatnagar, an ambitious journalist working with the highly prestigious Indian Express newspaper, got murdered on 23.01.1999 in her flat in East Delhi. Her murder case became a high profile one and made headlines for a long time. A study of the victim's life journey, who was married and mother to an infant, reveals that it was nothing short of a heady cocktail of power, politics, press and passion and having a corporate involvement as well. However finally, it's a tale of a power game which proved fatal for her. Her ambitions finally realized their price, in the form of her life. Power can be derived from a political position, a police uniform, corporate entity, media, money, beauty, passionate love and the like wise. A feeling of being powerful may render a kick to a human-being but for a person, especially a woman, this game proves to be lethal only in the end because it's like a spider's web which is difficult to break free from. Things like betrayal and blackmailing are, more often than not, parts of this game. Powerful people may be beneficial to a beautiful woman in the short run (for the sake of their own axes to grind) but maintaining relationships with them and getting entangled in their affairs can be compared to playing with fire. And fire always burns. Everything ! Everybody ! Just like it burnt Shivani. IPS officer R. K. Sharma who was once posted in the office of the prime minister of India was the prime accused for her murder and said to have arranged it by hiring contract killers. However the name of a political heavyweight (Late) Pramod Mahajan was also dragged into this case (by the wife of the prime accused). Ironically, Mahajan also got killed in the hands of his own brother in 2006.

Twelve years after the tragic death of Shivani, director Sushen Bhatnagar made a Hindi movie loosely based on her life (and the rumours associated therewith), her murder and the murder trial. This movie is Monica (2011). Its protagonist Monica Jaitley (Divya Dutta) is a married woman but ambitious for power and position. She becomes a journalist and starts climbing the ladder of success and (perceived) power by making moral compromises. Her husband (Rajit Kapoor) is a drunkard and that also instigates to have relationship with an emerging politician Chandrakant Pandit (Ashutosh Rana). A corporate top brass Pamela Grewal (Kitu Gidwani) and a newspaper editor Aseem Ray (Tinnu Anand) also try to use her to further their own respective interests. Finally the inevitable happens when Monica captures some scandalous documents and tries to first blackmail and threaten Chandrakant who is about to be throned as the chief minister of the state (UP). She runs a lot for her life but can't escape. Her complicated life story gets unraveled in the murder trial that ensues.

The story of Monica's life comes before the audience through flashbacks taking place in-between the courtroom drama when the public prosecutor (Yashpal Sharma) narrates the relevant events to the judge (Kunika). It's a good way to present the plot instead of flat narration. Since the narrative is clearly inspired by the murder of Shivani Bhatnagar and her life events preceding the same, it appears to be realistic. It's a vivid portrayal of the politics of North India (UP and Delhi), the vicious nexus between big media houses and politicians on one hand and big corporates and politicians (with media houses also) on the other. It's more stark a reality of India today than it was when Shivani Bhatnagar had been murdered (in 1999). The director has not allowed the movie to go on theatrical lines and kept it as close to reality as possible. There was no need to show Monica's husband (himself a journalist) as a drunkard. Perhaps the director did it to prevent Monica from appearing as a bad woman. However with her ambitions being crystal clear, she was going to tread the wrong path even when her husband had not been a drunkard. The director has also shown with conviction that power-brokers can be more dangerous than the powerful ones. The narrative moves speedily and keep the viewer invested in itself. More or less, the director who has written the script also has succeeded in making an entertaining movie though he has not been able to make the audience root for the protagonist.

Music and the technical aspects are just okay. Dialogues are impressive. The movie has been edited well and it is not too long. The courtroom drama is the lengthiest and the most impressive part of the movie in which the writer-director has explained (from the mouth of the learned and sensitive public prosecutor) the politician-corporate-media nexus through the Set Theory of Mathematics with the protagonist becoming the intersection of these three sets. A lone ambitious person (especially a woman) can survive only until these sets make a criss-cross pattern because the intersection vanishes the moment these sets either totally separate or completely amalgamate (thus becoming a single entity).

Performances are praiseworthy. Divya Dutta has excelled in the title role and I consider her as one of the most underrated actresses of the Indian screen. Ashutosh Rana is a highly competent actor who can do the role of a politician even in a sleepwalking condition because such roles are tailor-made for him. All the supporting characters have done well. Kunika and Yashpal Sharma are better known for their negative roles but in this movie they have showcased their talent to do positive roles also as the judge and the public prosecutor respectively.

Is everything fair for success and survival ? For success, may be (people like me who do not believe in it are a rare species) and for survival, definitely yes. But why allow the things to go to such an extent ? There should be a check on ambitions too. The powerful ones are seldom sentimental towards anything or anybody with the sole exception of their power which they are willing to cling to throughout their life. Hence they are cold-blooded enough to eliminate anybody without any hitch whom they perceive as a threat to their power, prestige or existence. The ambitious women hobnobbing with such people forget (in their bid to touch the sky) that sooner or later they will be nothing more than mere pawns in the hands of these skilled chess players. And the destiny of a pawn is sacrifice only. The real Shivani and the fictional Monica had to meet that fate before realizing it too late that the corridors of power are temptingly pleasant when seen from a distance but dangerous things invisibly exist within them.

Including death.

© Copyrights reserved.

Toolsidas Junior
(2022)

A son restoring his father's lost pride
Today is the 19th birthday of my son Saurav. He has a billion dreams in his eyes. I am a loving father and a loving father always wants his son/daughter to become a winner in life. Even if a father himself is a loser in life, he does not want the same to happen to his generation next. That's always the attitude of loving and caring parents. But what about the attitude of the children when they see their father/mother undergoing the pain of losing in life ?

Hindi movie Toolsidas Junior (2022) tries to answer this question. Based on the less popular game of Snooker, this movie narrates the saga of a father who is capable of winning the Snooker championship played in the local (but high profile) club but always loses due to his being a alcoholic and the trophy goes to his arch-rival. This father is Toolsidas (Rajiv Kapoor) and his rival is Jimmy (Dalip Tahil). Toolsidas' wife (Tasveer Kamil) remains unhappy due to her husband's alcoholism and the problems arising out of that. However the most sorry figure is his younger son Mridul aka Midi (Varn Buddhadev) who is just a kid but is able to feel the pain of his father who is caught in the vicious cycle of failure-depression-alcohol consumption-failure.

Midi wants to see his father as a winner but always ends up seeing him as a loser. After undergoing many adventures with his confused and astray elder brother, he finally decides to restore his father's pride by becoming a winner in the contest. Where there is a will, there is a way. His will takes him to a retired Snooker player and former national Snooker champion Salaam Bhai (Sanjay Dutt) who guides him and trains him to play the game.

Comes the yearly tournament again and Toolsidas once again gets himself registered as a player. However this time, he is not the only participant coming from his family. Midi also gets himself registered but under the name of Toolsidas Junior. Now both the senior Toolsidas and junior Toolsidas are up against a formidable Jimmy in the tournament (alongwith the other participants, of course). And Midi, playing as Toolsidas Junior finally restores his father's lost pride by winning the tournament, getting the better of Jimmy in the final.

It's a simple story with a predictable end. It's a winner nonetheless. Only at the end of the narrative, we do come to know that it's based on the real life story of the filmmaker Mridul Mahendra and by making this movie, he has paid homage to his father. The way, the filmmaker has asserted in an interview, he brought back the lost glory of his father, the same way it's shown as done by the protagonist child of the story.

And since it's the real life story of the filmmaker (we believe his words), the movie is full of life. Despite a flat story, it keeps the viewer hooked throughout because the narrator narrates straight from his heart. The audience roots for the protagonist (knowing very well that he's going to win in the end) and that's really a big achievement for a movie like this. It's a sports drama but more than the sport, it's the drama soaked in sentiments that encompasses the spectators.

Billiards and Snooker are expensive games which are not affordable for the commoners. The rich and the high only can afford them and that too by joining the membership of any relevant club and not by purchasing the necessary equipments to play at home. It's clearly shown in the movie also as to how difficult it becomes for the kid to follow his passion to learn the game (as a matter of fact to make his father regain his lost pride). The film is realistic for the most part of it. The episode of the protagonist trying his hand on different things to earn money at the instigation of his good-for-nothing elder brother could have been done away with, in my view.

The movie is an emotional drama which not only underscores the fact that alcoholism is the mother of troubles and woes in a person's life (covering the life of his family members too) but also depicts the pain of living with the feeling of being a loser. The little son knows that his father wants to come before him as a winner only and it's extremely painful for him when the reverse happens. He empathizes with his father and since he wants his father's name to appear on the board showing the list of champions, he participates in the tournament not under his own but under the name of his father, suffixing the word 'junior' to it. It's a motivational tale of a kid's journey to achieve what his father wanted to achieve. And indirectly (without sermonizing) it renders the eternal message - Where there's a will, there's always a way. The movie is completely free from melodrama and the pleasant ending has also been kept low profile. In fact, subtlety is one of the biggest strengths of this movie.

It's the last movie of Late Rajiv Kapoor, the youngest son of the legendary Raj Kapoor. It was supposed to be his comeback movie but as fate would have it, it couldn't be possible and his admirable performance showcasing his acting range came before the audience after his demise only. Sanjay Dutt has given a terrific performance in the role of a former champion now living in isolation. The script-writer (who is none else but the director himself) has done the right thing by giving him a meaty role with entertaining one-liners but still using his star power sparingly, not allowing it to overpower the role of the protagonist. Tasveer Kamil as the mother and Chinmai Chandrashuh as the elder brother have done well alongwith the other supporting cast members. Dalip Tahil is amazingly subtle in the role of the antagonist. But all said and done, the movie finally rests on the tender shoulders of Varun Buddhadev as Midi. He is the heart and soul of this movie. He has not played but lived this role.

The story is set in Kolkata and the art director has done a brilliant job by portraying the city vividly as it might have been during the period of the story (early nineties). The editor has also done a good job by keeping the length of the movie under check. Background score and other technical aspects are also in order.

It's a presentation of Lagaan fame Ashutosh Gowarikar who has undoubtedly done a noble cause by bringing the inspiring story of Mridul Mahendra before the public. The movie has deservingly won the national award (under the Hindi movie category). It's a film meant for all the fathers and all the sons and reminds me of the quote of Horace - Deep in the cavern of the infant's breast, the father's nature lurks, and lives anew.

© Copyrights reserved.

Koyla
(1997)

Speechless SRK in an action-packed revenge saga
Young Shah Rukh Khan emerged as a romantic hero in Bollywood in the early nineties starring in movies like Deewana (1992), Dil Aashna Hai (1992) and Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992). However he took risk and did action-packed and gore-soaked movies like Darr (1993), Baazigar (1993) and Anjaam (1994) with his roles having negative shades in them. The historic success of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) catapulted him to the top of stardom and he became the first choice of the Bollywood filmmakers for romantic movies. Nevertheless he did not allow himself to get typecast and kept on doing action movies also. Koyla (1997) is one such movie only which is an action-packed and technically superior drama with good musical score but which did not click on the box office. The probable reason for its failure will come later in this review.

I had watched Koyla (coal) on the very first day of its release in the Batra cinema situated at Dr. Mukherjee Nagar in Delhi and was a little disappointed because I was expecting to see a movie with a good story. But despite getting a big-screen and value for money entertainment for around two hours and forty-five minutes, I felt that a technically good movie without a quality story is nothing more than the food which is delicious to eat but leaves something to be desired on the nourishment front.

The story is titled as Koyla, i.e., coal because its villain is a businessman known as Raja Saheb (Amrish Puri) who owns a coal mine. He is lusty despite his old age and sets his eyes on a local village girl Gauri (Madhuri Dixit). He sends wedding proposal for her but with the photo of not himself but his mute servant Shankar (Shah Rukh Khan) as the prospective groom. Gauri happily agrees only to be shocked on the conjugal night when she finds that the person claiming to be her husband is an old man and not the youth whose photo had been shown to her. However now she is helpless. Raja Saheb imprisons her when she refuses to accept him as her husband. When Shankar tries to help her, Raja Saheb goes after the lives of both of them. Now several twists keep on coming in the story which reaches its action-packed finale when the villain gets burnt in the flames emanating from the enormous stock of coal around him when the hero seeks his revenge from him for the atrocities levied on not only the heroine but also his own tragic life and making him an orphan in the past. Quite naturally, the path of the union of the lead pair of the story is paved thereby.

It's a Rakesh Roshan movie. Actor Rakesh Roshan had started directing movies in the late eighties and movie after movie, he kept on refining his directorial skills. He kept himself in the line of producing and directing formula-based masala flicks for mass entertainment. Before Koyla, he had made many such movies none of which had failed on the box office. Koyla became the first flop directed by him. Why ?

The first and foremost reason for the same is that the hero has been shown as a mute person in the story and he remains so for the major part of the narrative. With the grand success of DDLJ, Shah Rukh Khan's voice as well as his style and mannerism of speaking had become immensely popular especially among the young viewers. Hence finding their favorite hero as speechless or mute in the movie was a very big disappointment for them. Though his speaking ability has shown to have come back in the later reels of the movie, it was too little too late from the viewpoint of the audience which was enthusiastic to hear him.

Besides, a good movie always finds its feet on a foundation of a strong, convicting and appealing story. Hence to make a good movie, there should be a good story in the first place. The story of Koyla is dated, illogical and irritating at times. Undue footage has been given to the character of the villan, i.e., Amrish Puri (and his sidekicks as well) whereas the hero and the heroine have got comparatively less footage and less importance. Hence the talented due of SRK and Madhuri could not leave their mark in the movie in the way they were capable of.

Notwithstanding the flaws, Koyla is not a boring movie. The scenic beauty, the well-choreographed song and dance numbers, the eye-widening action scenes and the melodious music composed by Rajesh Roshan have definitely made this movie at least a one time watch. Two songs stand out - Tanhaai Tanhaai Tanhaai and Ghoonghate Mein Chanda Hai. Background score is good, Dialogues are okay.

Despite weak story and weak characterization, both SRK and Madhuri have given their best to the movie. Their pair is lovely and likeable by all means. On the acting front also, the are damn impressive. Comedian Johnny Lever has got a meaty role in this movie as the hero's friend and he has done full justice to it. Other supporting characters viz. Deepshikha, Ashok Saraf, Himani Shivpuri etc. Are also well in place. The minor villains are just okay whereas Amrish Puri has infused life into the character of the main villain though he appears to be akin to a joker at places.

Koyla is now remembered as the only flop movie presented by the producer-director Rakesh Roshan. However, it's not trash. If watched with a modest expectation, it does not disappoint a regular entertainment-seeker. The fans of SRK and Madhuri also can give it a dekko.

© Copyrights reserved.

Sheen
(2004)

Giving voice to the pain of the Kashmiri Pandits
Kashmir is burning. Everybody knows it. However when did the current wildfire get its first spark ? Even those who know it, are hesitant to utter a word about it. Kashmir was not burning this way till 1989. In 1989, Pakistan supported secessionists started a vicious campaign against the minority Pandit community of the Kashmir valley and forced them to leave their homes under threats to their lives, property and the honour of their women. It destroyed the secular character of the Kashmir valley and Kashmiriyat suffered an irreparable hurt. That spark has now developed into a wildfire which seems to be beyond anybody's control. The intention of Pakistan was to convert the valley into a uni-religious place and then start its hue and cry for its secession on the same religious ground on which it itself had been created on 14.08.1947. Pakistan has been successful in its wicked mission to a large extent and is now all set to get what it could not get through direct wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971 (and in 1999 too, at Kargil).

Secular, liberal and right-thinking human-beings whether they are Hindus or Muslims or Sikhs or Christians or likewise always suffer through the blind and heartless activities of religious fanatics. However whereas several good movies have been made on the plight of innocent Muslims, there is only one movie made on the misfortune of the Kashmiri Pandits. It's Sheen (2004) which was made by a victimized Kashmiri Pandit himself, Mr. Ashok Pandit. Sahara India financed and backed its making.

Sheen (snow) is the story of a Kashmiri Pandit family consisting of a widower father, Pandit Amarnath (Raj Babbar) and his daughter Sheen (Sheen) who is engaged to Mannu (Tarun Arora). Pandit Amarnath refuses to leave Srinagar when the terroristic activities go on against the Pandits, forcing them to flee from their homeland. When his own neighbour and beloved, Shaukat (Anoop Soni) turns against them alongwith other Pandits, he is taken aback. How the three protagonists struggle to raise the voice of the downtrodden and terrorized innocent Pandits is the remaining story which establishes in the end that terrorism has no religion and a misguided Muslim Kashmiri youth like Shaukat may also realize it but only after paying the huge cost in the form of the honour of his sister and his own life in the hands of the Pakistani terrorists.

Being a Kashmiri Pandit himself, director Ashok Pandit has made the movie with utmost sincerity and honesty. However I consider it his big mistake to direct the movie himself. Given the sensitive and the laudable story, he should have hired the services of some seasoned director of Bollywood to do justice to it and make a hard-hitting, yet touching movie, soaked with humanity. But his inexperience has let him (and the audience) down. The movie is not that impressive as it should have been. However his toil is to be appreciated. He has quite realistically highlighted the painful fact of the poor treatment meted out to the Pandits in the relevant camps at Delhi etc. Which was nothing short of insult to injury for those innocents.

Technically the movie is just ok. Cinematographer has captured the snowy beauty of Kashmir quite ably. The biggest asset of the movie is the highly melodious music of Nadeem Shravan with the meaningful and beautiful lyrics of Sameer for songs like Ye To Kashmir Hai Iski Fiza Ka Kya Kehna, Aye Sanam Kuja Beri, Main Ladki Kashmir Ki and Tum Dua Karo which have been sung by singers like Udit Narayan, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Sapna Mukherjee, Sonu Nigam, Kumar Sanu and Nirja Pandit; alongwith the Qawwaali of Sabari Brothers - Sahaara Chaahiye. However the best song of this movie is Aao Jannat Mein Jahannum Ka Nazaara Dekho which has been jointly sung by Kumar Sanu, Mohd Aziz, Nirja Pandit, Shreya Ghoshal, Sonu Nigam, Udit Narayan etc. No music lover should miss this extra-ordinary music album.

Performance wise talking, the newcomer girl Sheen in the title role, disappoints. Tarun Arora is so-so. The knock-out performances have come from Raj Babbar as Pandit Amarnath and Anoop Soni as Shaukat. Both have acted with utmost naturalness.

I recommend this movie to all the secularists and humanists in India as well as abroad and appeal to my Muslim brethren and sisters to support the cause of the Kashmiri Pandits who have been forced to live like refugees in their own country. Due to the disgusting vote bank politics in India, no strong voices are heard to sympathize with this pain-stricken community. Nothing appears to be done to heal their wounds. In my clear and unbiased opinion, peace can never return to Kashmir unless the Pandits are rehabilitated in their homeland and the secular character of Kashmir is restored. After driving out more than three lakh Pandits from the valley, the secessionist forces have diverted their guns towards the Sikh community now. My straightforward question is - if non-Muslims cannot live in Kashmir with peace and dignity, does secular India really need that Kashmir ?

Hamrahi
(1963)

Mujhko Apne Gale Laga Lo Aye Mere Hamrahi
In the Hindi movies made during the sixties the script-writers used to insert a suspense element (with or without a courtroom drama) in the final part of the screenplay for the story which was based on romance or social drama. This act of them added spice to the narrative flowing on the screen before the audience and enhanced the entertainment value of the movie. Sometimes, that suspense was an intriguing one and it was pretty difficult to guess the culprit (the murderer as in almost all such cases, the twist in the tale came due to happening of some murder only) and sometimes, it was quite an easy one and the audience could guess the identity of the real culprit very easily (which had to be somebody other than the hero or the heroine). Hamrahi (1963) falls into the second category, i.e., it's anybody's guess as to who might be the murderer. Nonetheless, it's a pretty good movie whose premise is not that murder but the emotional bond between the lead pair which took a long time (a sizable part of the movie) in developing.

Hamrahi (fellow-traveller) is the story of Shekhar (Rajendra Kumar) who is the son of the much respected public prosecutor Dharamdaas (Nazir Hussain) but being a playboy by nature, instead of doing any meaningful work, he keeps on philandering with many girls. Now our casanova hero stumbles upon two entirely different girls. One is a gold-digger - Hemlata (Shashikala) who considers herself as very clever and quite proficient in befooling men. The other one is a school teacher - Shaarada (Jamuna) who comes from a modest family but maintains and is proud of her high moral character. Shekhar, as usual, ditches Hemlata (after spending some good time with her) and despite her well thought-out and well executed machination, Hemlata is not able to stick to him. The way, a sensible traveller settles for a passenger train after missing a mail train, she catches Hanuman (Rajendra Nath) after losing Shekhar.

Shekhar, on the other hand, is smitten by the charms of Shaarada and genuinely falls in love with that simple girl. It does not prove to be difficult for him to get married to Shaarada who is motherless and lives with his father (Agha) and step-mother (Indira) and after losing her school teacher's job due to her name having been associated with that of Shekhar, has few options left with her. However just like Shekhar's father, she has also developed a very bad image of Shekhar in her heart and she does not mince words in conveying it to him on their first conjugal night itself. Shekhar, who has by now a change of heart and wants to win Shaarada's love, shows better sense and does not force himself upon her as her husband. They continue to live under one roof without behaving with each other like a couple but don't allow this fact to be known to the other members of that joint family consisting of Shekhar's mother (Lalita Pawar), his elder brother Mahesh (Mehmood), Mahesh's wife Shanti (Shubha Khote) and the children.

Days and months pass. Shekhar is not able to win Shaarada's heart due to one reason or another and Shaarada keeps on loathing him. The emotional tension between them keeps on intensifying. However, finally the day arrives when Shaarada realizes that Shekhar has really mended his ways and truly loves her. Now with the evaporation of the tension and misunderstanding between the two, our hero and heroine have become a couple in the true sense and are about to start a happy life hereafter but the twist in the tale comes with the murder of Hemlata for which Shekhar is booked and tried in the court. Who will fight for Shekhar since his father himself is the public prosecutor and firmly believes that he only is the guilty ?

The murder, its investigation and the ensuing courtroom drama has been given very less footage in the movie which is the correct thing as the audience can very well guess (correctly) as to who is the murderer of Hemlata. The obvious suspect only turns out to be the murderer. The script-writer and the director could have handled this part of the movie in a better way and made it a little longer and more interesting. Perhaps they thought (like myself) that the other, major, part of the story only is really important and this twist serves merely as a tool to generate a (small) unhappy phase in the narrative before it is carried to its desired happy ending.

There is a very well-known and popular Hindi maxim - Subah Ka Bhoola Shaam Ko Ghar Aa Jaaye To Use Bhoola Nahin Kehte (if someone loses his way in the morning but is able to reach his home in the evening, he is not to be termed as a strayed one). I could not find any proper equivalent for it in English but in simple words, it means that if an errant person has mended or shows inclination to mend his ways, he should not be treated too harshly and should be given a chance in this regard because it is never too late to make amends. This is the message which the movie tries to convey to the audience. The undertrial hero asserts the same thing in the court too, asking the society, the court and his father - Can an aberrant not mend his ways and become a better person ? I appreciate this thought but in a patriarchal society, this liberty could be given to the males only. Women were supposed to forgive their husbands for their earlier sins once they were back on the right path. They were not supposed to expect the same kind of consideration for themselves if they happened to be in a similar position.

All things said and done, Hamrahi is a fairly good movie which entertains throughout its duration without any yawning moment for the audience. It starts off well, moves on nicely and reach its denouement properly. Despite using stereotypes for many characters, the story does not seem to be out of place at any point though the track of gold-digger Hemlata and her husband Hanuman which attaches their landlord Gopi Nath (O. P. Ralhan) also later on is not a convincing one and mostly over the top.

The comedy side track of Agha, his wife Indira and his father-in-law Dhumal is entertaining but I praise the director for linking it to the murder and its investigation also. In fact, the comedy side track is pleasant only when it is not totally independent from the main plot but interwoven with it. The same cannot be said for the comedy presented by Mehmood and his wife Shubha Khote but their chemistry was always admirable and they entertain the audience very well.

Rajendra Kumar was not fit for the role of a playboy but he was natural like always in the role of a sincere lover in later reels. Jamuna could not completely hide her South Indian accent while speaking in Hindi but her looks and acting, both are pretty admirable. Shashikala is over the top as it was the demand of her role but her performance is flawless. It's always a pleasure for me to see Lalita Pawar in a positive role. Others are routine. However Mehmood has startled by his impressive performance in the ending reels while playing the defense lawyer for his younger brother Shekhar (in real life, he was younger to Rajendra Kumar) and proved that he was not just a comedian, his talent was versatile. While seeing him and Rajendra Kumar in those courtroom scenes, I could not help recalling Kanoon (1960) in which Rajendra Kumar played the efficient and impressive defense lawyer and Mehmood played the playboy who generated laughs for the audience in the tense courtroom drama.

Certain scenes of the movie appear to be predecessors for similar scenes in later movies. The scene in which Shekhar has to face more than one girl at the same time and then has to hide both of them (from his uncle who approaches him all of a sudden) reminisces similar scene(s) in Boeing Boeing (1965) and Hanuman's pretending to go out of the town but staying in the city only by renting a hotel room in order to spy on his wife reminisces of Sunil Dutt's doing the same in Hamraaz (1967).

Technically this black and white movie is okay. Dialogues, art direction, cinematography, background score etc. Are satisfactory. In addition to the dialogue of Shekhar in the courtroom (mentioned supra), the dialogue of Shaarada to the principal of her school while submitting her resignation from service is also praiseworthy when she underscores the significance of her character.

Shankar Jaikishan have done an excellent job in composing the music of Hamrahi using the beautiful lyrics of Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri. My personal favourite from the album of Hamrahi is Mohammed Rafi's Ye Aansoo Mere Dil Ki Zubaan Hain. However Lata Mangeshkar's classic solo - Mann Re Tu Hi Bata Kya Gaaoon, Lata-Rafi duet - Karke Jiska Intezaar and above all, the title track by Mubarak Begum and Rafi - Mujhko Apne Gale Laga Lo Aye Mere Hamrahi have also been heart-conquerors for the music lovers for the past six decades. Other songs Wo Din Yaad Karo, Wo Chale Jhatak Ke Daaman, Main Albela and Dil Tu Bhi Gaa are also melodious and ear-soothing.

Summing up, director T. Prakasa Rao has done a fair job in directing Hamrahi which is a decent movie for sure. The lovers of golden oldies will definitely like it.

© Copyrights reserved.

Shikari
(2000)

Not Baazigar SRK, it's Shikari Govinda
In 1993, the self-proclaimed Alfred Hitchcock(s) of Bollywood, i.e., director-duo Abbas-Mustan presented young romantic hero - Shah Rukh Khan who was till then considered a newcomer only in a very bold role which was not just some anti-hero kinda but something thitherto unseen and unheard in Bollywood. Why ? Because the hero was no different from any conventional villain, killing innocents to save his own skin and to achieve his goal (important personally for himself only). Bollywood had earlier seen anti-heroes but they were moral and conscientious. Despite being outlaws (or doing illegal things), they were definitely not so amoral as was the 'Baazigar' presented by Abbas-Mustan.

Baazigar (1993) which was an adaption of Ira Levin's novel A Kiss Before Dying was a huge box office hit and Shah Rukh Khan's courage to do such a role in the beginning years of his career as a hero was also appreciated. He also won the Filmfare Best Actor award for this role.

Years passed. One day, renowned film director N. Chandra who had directed quality movies like Ankush (1986), Pratighaat (1987) and Tezaab (1988) in the past; decided to make a movie on the lines of Baazigar and teamed up with popular hero Govinda for this purpose. Govinda who had started his career as a romantic hero, had become immensely popular for his comic timing during the nineties and delivered many hit comedies by then. Well, he decided to take a dive into the proposed risky project and accepted the risky role of the same kind of amoral hero (who is no better than a villain) as played by SRK in Baazigar. The result was Shikari (2000).

Shikari (hunter) begins with our (anti)hero's daredevil escape from jail after which he disguises himself as a middle-aged ugly man and travels from India to South Africa by Ship (on a fake passport, of course). In South Africa, he presents himself as a business tycoon Mahendra Prataap Singh (whereas actually he is Om Shrivastav) and becomes the rival of Virendra Singh Rawal (Nirmal Pandey) in the business of spices. On one stormy rainy night, he kills Virendra after revealing his true identity. He visits Virendra's home later on when his post-death rites are being performed in his real self and introduces himself to Virendra's mother (Sushma Seth), his widow Suman (Tabu) and his unmarried sister Rajeshwari (Karishma Kapoor) as his friend from India. Like Baazigar SRK, our Shikari Govinda also commits two more murders (of innocents) to hide his crime. Since he is an absconding prisoner, the concerned cop (Kiran Kumar) is on his trail. Besides, Rajeshwari starts her quest for her brother's murderer on one hand and falls in love with that very person on the other. She doesn't know that her widow sister-in-law Suman knows everything about the background of this murder (and also the murderer). Everything gets clarified and the narrative (which is now moving without any direction) is closed in a Baazigar like tragic climax.

First let's talk about the pluses of the movie. It's technically very good and the beginning 15-20 minutes including the introductory scene of Karishma Kapoor are simply awesome. I had seen this movie with my wife in the Chitralaya cinema of Boisar (Maharashtra) when it was released as I was serving at Tarapur Atomic Power Station those days which is situated at that place. It was a pleasure to see the thrills on the big screen (involving human-beings as well as a wild beast). Govinda's changing his face with the help of pieces of a mask may not be reliable but his face got entirely changed by that, is a fact. Even the audience might be finding it difficult to identify Govinda in that disguise. The scene involving the first (and the main) murder is also sensational.

Since, this movie is resting mainly on Govinda's shoulders only, he had to perform just very very well in the immensely challenging role which was stark contradiction to his popular image those days. And he has not disappointed. Though he did not win any award for his terrific performance in this role, it was really worth an award. His cruel looks when committing murders are simply hateful. But on the other hand, in the scene of his visiting the murder victim's household for condolence purpose, he has displayed his versatile acting skills which are simply adorable. That particular scene (with Govinda's dialogues in that) is very well written and that's why very impressive. Other actors are so-so. However (Late) Nirmal Pandey has delivered a praiseworthy performance.

The cinematographer has captured the beauty of Cape Town very well. Other technical aspects including the action and chase sequences are also okay. Editing is flawed but for that the script is to be held as culprit.

Musical score prepared by Aadesh Shrivastava is no match for the chartbusters prepared by Anu Malik for Baazigar. Only one song Bahut Khoobsurat Ghazal Likh Raha Hoon stands out in terms of both lyrics and composition (and also Kumar Sanu's rendition).

The main trouble of Shikari lies with its script only which is confused and is not able to explain many things properly in the end. Being a copycat is also no easy job as copying also requires some skill. N. Chandra tried to copy Baazigar but despite the best efforts of his principal artiste in the pivotal character, this Shikari of his fell flat on its face.

Shikari is interesting only in its first half. The post-interval session is a complete letdown. However, for diehard Govinda fans, it may prove to be a big treat as their favourite hero took risk to play a negative role in his heyday and excelled in that.

© Copyrights reserved.

Lajja
(2001)

Second rate tales of the second sex
On 7th July 1999, Siya Dulari, a lower caste woman was burnt alive (after a supposed gang-rape) in Bhawanipur, a small village in Uttar Pradesh (Kanpur Dehaat). As per the statement issued by the police, she was abducted and held captive for a week before the heart-wrenching treatment rendered to her by the accused people of upper caste. The guilt of Siya Dulari was that her teenager son had eloped with a teenager girl belonging to an upper caste in their neighbourhood. Her husband, fearing for such a backlash from the side of the upper castes, had already run away to save his life, leaving her alone. Till date, it is not known whether the perpetrators of this ghastly murder got the punishment they deserved or not. But this end of that poor woman remained in news for a long time and then was forgotten like all stale news.

This incident which was nothing but an illustration of the caste divide in (Northern) India where the lower caste ones are time and again reminded to stay in their place through such acts (in which the females of the downtrodden communities are the main sufferers), instigated filmmaker Raj Kumar Santoshi to make a movie covering this crime and highlight the plight of not only the lower caste women but the womenfolk in general in the Indian society as a whole. The result came in the form of Hindi movie - Lajja (2001).

Lajja (shame) is a cluster of female-oriented tales in which Vaidehi (Manisha Koirala) is the connecting link. She runs away from a troubled marriage involving a cruel and abusive NRI husband (Jackie Shroff). Finding that she has no place in her parental home also, she being pregnant, runs for her life and the life of her unborn child as the clutches of her husband are following her and in this journey, comes across troubled women like her, viz. Maithili (Mahima Chaudhary), Jaanaki (Madhuri Dixit) and Raam Dulari (Rekha), each one of them facing different issues with the common thread being the suffering due to being a female. In this men's world where they are the predators preying on those women who are conscious of their right and dignity and pronounce it too, these women come across some golden-hearted men too, viz. A thief (Anil Kapoor) and a bandit (Ajay Devgan). The final episode of the movie is the tale of Raam Dulari (modeled on the tragedy of the real life Siya Dulari).

Raj Kumar Santoshi has considered the mythological Sita as the quintessential and eternal example of a suffering woman in a patriarchal social set-up. That's why he has named the suffering women of his story as Vaidehi, Maithili, Jaanaki and Raam Dulari (all being synonyms of Sita). Only Maithili succeeds in emerging as triumphant (after a lot of drama) as she discards her dowry-based wedding. Vaidehi also gets a happy end to her woes when her abusive and chauvinistic husband has a change of heart and both of them return to the beginning point of this story (to live happily ever after). Jaanaki and Raam Dulari are not that lucky.

Personally, I found the episode involving Jaanaki being the strongest and the most impactful in which she twists the Raamayan scene being performed on the stage (herself playing Sita) and instead of giving Agni Pariksha, asks Ram to give Agni Pariksha to prove his 'purity'. However for the climax of the movie and (also the denouement of Raj Kumar Santoshi's narrative), the extremely tragic episode of Raam Dulari (which only had laid the foundation for making of this movie) only fits the bill.

Technically, the movie is quite good. Art direction, cinematography, choreography and action; all are up to the mark. It's excessively long but definitely it's not the fault of the editor. Music of Anu Malik and Illaiyaraaja (composed one song and prepared the background score) is good with the lyrics being meaningful and apt for the story. Acting wise speaking, none of the actors (including very young Sharman Joshi as Raam Dulari's son and debutante Aarti Chhabria as his upper caste girlfriend) has disappointed. All (including those playing the baddies) have played their parts well. Ajay Devgan appears to be miscast as a deadly bandit because he looks too slender to be that. However he has made up for that by his good acting.

The trouble of Lajja lies with its script and direction. Had Raj Kumar Santoshi made an independent movie solely on the real life tragedy of Siya Dulari, it would have been better (for him as well as the audience). But by packing too many women-centric social issues in his script, he has made it cumbersome. The movie has become too long to be endured by the spectators and thus its entertainment value and inspirational (or social awakening) value, both have got diluted. That's why the movie impresses in patches only. Jackie Shroff's wearing designer suits throughout the narrative (while chasing his runaway wife) is ridiculous. The baddies (and many events involving them) are totally filmy. And Ajay Devgan as the Desi Robin Hood is also totally unreal and out of place in the movie.

And the most filmy thing is the denouement in which Vaidehi delivers a long (and melodram koatic) speech on women-suffering and women-lib (after gatecrashing the felicitation ceremony of Raam Dulari's perpetrator) and then the result comes in the form of mob justice. A crowd of women thrashes the baddies by footwear and then they are eliminated. That may be enough for our socially awake filmmaker but is that enough to uproot the centuries old male-bias against the second sex in a majority of human-societies ? The movie was released in 2001 but even after two decades, have we seen any improvement in the situation ? No ! We have been seeing deterioration instead since then. Crimes against women have been and are on the rise only. Utterly simplified filmy solutions to grave social problems are an insult not only to the themes chosen for such movies but also to the intellect of the audience.

Summing up, Raj Kumar Santoshi has presented second rate tales of the second sex in Lajja which itself is a shame (Lajja). He could not make a box office grosser despite using all the tried and tested formulas. Nor could he do justice to the noble theme of the movie. Nevertheless, this movie is not a trash and should be watched to sensitise ourselves to the heart-piercing sufferings of our womenfolk.

© Copyrights reserved.

Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya
(2012)

Revisiting the era of Hrishi Da and Basu Da
During the seventies and early eighties, amidst several action-dominated flicks, the Hindi cinema intermittently presented low budget, neat and clean and simple movies too which provided light and rib-tickling entertainment and could be watched by a whole family together. Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee were flag-bearers of this kind of cinema which had developed its own audience and that's why such movies were though not blockbusters, able to recover that cost and minimum profit. It was that stream of the mainstream Indian cinema which had an identity of its own. Anand, Piya Ka Ghar, Baawarchi, Chhoti Si Baat, Chupke Chupke, Khatta Meetha, Golmaal, Baaton Baaton Mein, Khoobsurat, Naram Garam, Hamaari Bahu Alka, Kisi Se Na Kehna, Rang Birangi, Jhoothi etc. Were amidst the simple yet high quality movies served by these two directors, containing a bit of lovely romance and healthy laughs for the Indian families.

Times change. Just like in the life of any individual or the society at large, phases come and go in cinema too. These stalwarts grew old and stopped directing movies and with that the phase of healthy, clean, low-budget comedies also waned. In 2010, the success of an excellent comedy - Atithi Tum Kab Jaaoge provided a feeling that the bygone era of Hrishi Da and Basu Da could be back. There's an audience to welcome such movies if well-made. And then in 2012, a newcomer director, Mandeep Singh came up with a movie - Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya which though does not live up to the standard of Atithi Tum Kab Jaaoge, yet it's a decent movie which can be termed as a romance enveloped in comedy.

Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya (fallen in love with you) is a Punjabi title chosen for a Hindi movie being the words of a song of this movie. It is a movie which starts as a pure comedy and later focuses on romance. Autorickshaw driver, Viren (Ritesh) is in very low spirits when the owner of the autorickshaw, Bhatti (Tinu Anand) sells it and alongwith that the savings of Viren that he had hidden in that autorickshaw are also gone. He suspects that Bhatti had usurped his money before giving away the autorickshaw. Being meek by nature, he reaches Bhatti's house in an intoxicated state to fight with him and get his money back. The engagement ceremony of Bhatti's daughter, Mini (Genelia) is taking place at that hour who sees a golden opportunity in this event to run away from an unwanted marriage. She runs away from there with Viren, showing to the eye-witnesses as if Viren has kidnapped her. To the world, Viren is the kidnapper and Mini is the kidnapped but the reality is vice versa. Now starts the adventurous journey of this duo which is destined to become a couple in due course of time and during this journey, they arrange ample laughing and tickling moments for the audience watching them on the screen.

Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya renders much more entertainment in the first half than in its second half when the story lands up in Viren's own family. Since Viren and Mini get more screen time together in the first half, they are able to entertain the audience better with the skilfully penned script. The second half is less entertaining with family life, relationships and ethical issues intervening. Still the sequence of kidnapping of a foreigner in this half is quite hilarious. The climax is typically Bollywoodish with the expected reunion of the kidnapper and the kidnapped (it's difficult to decide now who's who) who have become lovers in their hearts.

Despite satisfactorily written comic script and good direction, I will not term Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya as some great comedy movie. The item song of Veena Malik has been unnecessarily forced into the second half which mars the simplicity and decency of the movie. Besides, the writer could not think of many amusing incidents for the later half and sentimental twists have been inserted to move the narrative and fill the time duration before the climax arrives. However, the movie does not bore. The dialogues are also in sync with the script. Though the movie is sans any vulgarity, the director could still have done better and kept it thoroughly 'vegetarian'.

The movie has some ethics-linked discussion too. Though I feel from the talks of the hero's father (Om Puri) and sister (Chitrashee Rawat) that we, the Indians, have mastered the art of justifying all our wrongdoings through decorative but hollow logics, still when it's said that the sister steals because she wanted to become a magician but could not become and now vents out her frustration by demonstrating this art of the hand (Haath Ki Safaai), the argument has some merit. Many talented youths resort to the wrong path because they do not get a right path to channelize their talent and energy. And the father's speech to his son in the pre-climax scene, defining a coward and inspiring the son to shed his cowardice and shoulder responsibility is just superb.

This movie does not boast of foreign locations, costly sets and costumes and a high production value but the simplicity in the life of an autorickshaw-driver in Delhi is heart-winning and the greenery in the fields of Haryana is eye-soothing. The art-director and the cinematographer have done their parts well. Other technical aspects are also in order.

Music is another plus point of this movie. The melodious songs composed by Sachin-Jigar containing the beautiful lyrics penned by Mayur Puri and Priya Panchal are like oasis in the desert of today's Indian cinema where it is fast becoming difficult to differentiate between music and noise. Songs like Main Waari Jaawaan, Tu Mohabbat Hai, Jeene De and Main Pee Pa Pee Pa Ho Gaya are ear soothing, eye soothing and heart soothing at the same time. Only the item song picturized on Veena Malik is not in line with the mood of the movie and should have been dispensed with.

Ritesh and Genelia have tied the sacred knot in their real life and hence their reel life chemistry has got positively affected by their real life love. Both have done exceedingly well. Where normalcy is required, they are normal and where over-the-top performances are required, they again fit the bill. All others have supported them perfectly.

Summing up, Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya may not be some great or unforgettable movie but it's like a gust of fresh air in the suffocated environment of formula-based and big-budget Bollywood movies containing more style and less substance. If you are fond of watching the golden oldies (of rom-com genre) of Hrishi Da and Basu Da, this movie is the right choice for you.

© Copyrights reserved.

Madam Chief Minister
(2021)

Blending many wines to make a political cocktail
Madam Chief Minister is a movie whose makers (perhaps) perceived themselves as someone akin to a skilled cocktail-maker. Hence they picked many ingredients from the real (North) Indian politics (during the last decade of the twentieth century and the inaugural decade of the twenty-first century) and blended them well (as per their wisdom) to prepare a drink which might render a thrilling kick to the prospective consumers, i.e., the (Indian) spectators. And the result came in the form of this movie which renders thrill but that's all. Hence it can be called a reasonably good cocktail but not good enough to fetch sufficient accolades for the barman, i.e., the makers of the movie.

The 'Madam Chief Minister' shown in this movie is Tara Roopraam who is a relatively young unmarried woman from a lower caste (Dalit) maintaining a boy-cut hairdo, using a fiery tongue and having an unquenchable thirst for power; who has been a protégé of a hard-working Dalit leader taking on the privileged castes as well as the well-established political parties (through his own newly established political outfit); who enters into such a power-sharing agreement with the other prominent political party (widely perceived as the party of the privileged castes) after the electoral results are out that both the parties will have their own Chief Ministers for half of the term of the government and gets the first turn to hold this post for herself and all these happenings take place in Uttar Pradesh during the nineties. No prizes for guessing which real life female political leader of UP our Tara Roopraam is modelled upon.

However despite the political journey of Ms. Mayawati being an interesting one, the filmmaker was (perhaps) scared of showing her life as it is for one thing (without making the movie as her biopic). And secondly, he wanted to ensure the commercial success of the movie. Resultantly, despite using the famous (or notorious) slogan of Kanshi Ram (Mayawati's political mentor) - Tilak Tarazu Aur Talwar, Innko Maaro Joote Chaar which is an utterly humiliating slogan for the so-called Dwij castes of the Hindus, i.e., the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas and the Vaishyas; the filmmaker completely avoided not only the caste identity of the protagonist but also her feminine identity throughout the duration of the movie. Had the leading lady been a leading man or an upper caste woman, it would hardly have made any difference to the narrative presented on the screen.

Besides, to make an entertaining spicy movie, the writer-cum-director, Subhash Kapoor arranged certain other ingredients to increase the kick-rendering ability of the main liquor. And he jampacked the narrative with thrilling events. Plainly speaking, despite the guest-house incident really happening with Ms. Mayawati in June 1995, several facts have been twisted in this and many other anecdotes of UP politics of the nineties. The director has shown that the protagonist (being the sitting CM) was trying to induce the MLAs of the rival party to come to her side when a violent attack took place on her. It's not fact-based with respect to Mayawati's life who actually became UP CM for the first time the next day of that incident. Besides, it's been shown that the protagonist was saved by her OSD who put his own life in danger for that purpose and out of gratitude, she married him later. The fact is - Mayawati was saved by a BJP MLA, Brahm Dutt Dwivedi in that violent incident who himself was shot dead in February 1997. And as far as breaking the rival party was concerned, the director has shown the protagonist as breaking the alliance partner party by tempting its MLAs with the promise of making them ministers whereas the fact is - Mayawati's own legislative party had been broken by the then UP CM Kalyan Singh in 1997 and then he had made every turncoat a minister in his government.

Due to filmmaker's jampacking the script with several thrilling (true, partly true or false) episodes, the narrative moves unduly fast and does not allow the characters especially the protagonist (Madam Chief Minister) to emerge as real flesh and blood human-beings. Especially in its second half, the story loses its realism completely and appears as something utterly filmy that can be enjoyed but can't be believed. Should we believe that a sitting CM (whether Mayawati or anybody else) kills someone with own hands without caring for the witnesses around ? Such kind of unbelievable things were shown by Prakash Jha also in his decade old movie Raajneeti (2010) which was a modern version of Mahabhaarat. Besides, the political ascent of the protagonist is also too fast to believe. Above all, though Mayawati used to wear costly gold ornaments before public (her supporters), she never presented herself as something sensual by mouthing titillating things (about herself) before the audience. It's been wise on the part of the filmmaker that he has not claimed for any similarity between his film's protagonist and Ms. Mayawati, else he (in my humble opinion) would have been badly beaten by her party members and supporters.

When the story itself is a fiction posturing as something real, the same is bound to happen with the artistes too playing the relevant characters. Despite the earnest efforts of Saurabh Shukla as Master Soorajbhan (the character modeled upon Late Kanshi Ram, the founder of Bahujan Samaj Party) and Manav Kaul as Danish Khan, the OSD turned husband of 'Madam Chief Minister'; the characters appear to be artificial by all means and for that the script and its treatment is the culprit, not the artistes playing them. As far as Richa Chadha in the title role is concerned, she is a good actress doomed by the half-baked character as the role assigned to her.

Swanand Kirkire has penned and Mangesh Dhakde has composed a very good song Chidi Chidi for the movie. The background score is okay. The other technical aspects are also okay. There are unanswered questions and continuity jerks in the narrative for which the editor can be held responsible to some extent and the director to a great extent.

Finally, one thing which the movie underscores with certainty before the narrator signs off is that power is the ultimate thing and everybody with howsoever pious intentions he/she might have entered politics becomes desirous to hold on to. The taste of power is just like a strong drug with addiction bound to take place sooner than later. Power which might have been perceived as a means to achieve something in the beginning, becomes an end in itself. And it applies to almost everybody.

Including our 'Madam Chief Minister'.

© Copyrights reserved.

Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal
(2007)

Revisiting Hip Hip Hurray and Chake De India
Yash Raj Films' Shimit Amin directed movie - Chak De India (2007) can deservingly claim to be the best sports movie made in Bollywood. If we set aside the biopics of the Indian sportspersons released during the past few years, we have got some good and some average sports movies made in Bollywood. The pioneer in this line was Prakash Jha's debut directorial venture - Hip Hip Hurray (1984).

Watching Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal (2007) renders a feeling to revisit both Chak De India and Hip Hip Hurray though it was released barely three and a half months post the release of Chak De India. As the movie progressed scene by scene, a sense of deja vu enveloped me and I strongly felt that the script-writers (Anurag Kashyap-Rohit Malhotra-Vikramaditya Motwane) must have sought inspiration from both these movies when he were writing the screenplay of Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal. Nevertheless, it is to be admitted that it's overall a good movie which entertains as well as motivates albeit in a different setting, i.e., Southall, England.

The main character of the story is not a human-being but a Football club named after its location - Southall United Football Club which has been a loser in competitions for decades and whenever it competes in any event, nobody gives it any chance to win. Now the trouble is, the place of the club taken on lease, is to be vacated unless the lessee pays the due amount of three million pounds to the lessor who is planning to build a shopping mall and a theme park at that place. To save their club, their ground and their passion for Football, the club members which are all Asians, get an opportunity in the form of the English Football League whose winner is going to be paid a sum of (exactly) three million pounds as the prize money. Can they avail the opportunity and make the impossible possible ?

Well, we know the answer. After all, it's a masala Bollywood flick. But then the end of such movies is bound to be a predictable one. The highly admirable two movies mentioned in the beginning of this review are no exceptions in this regard. Now the thing is, despite the predictable end preceded by an adrenaline rushing climax, if the movie is able to keep the audience glued to the screen with unwavering attention, it's a success of the filmmaker. Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal achieves this end only partially. Studded with Bollywood clichés, this movie is unduly long with confused characterization of certain principal characters. The writers and the directors have tried to connect certain facts and tie loose ends in the end and they have also raised the issue of racism (anti-Asian bias) prevailing there but despite (and because of) that, the narrative meanders through confusing lanes and make this lengthy movie an exhaustive one for the spectator.

The most confused character is of Sunny Bhasin (John Abraham) who considers himself a British and not an Indian (his parents are Indian) but does not give a damn for the racial bias imposed on him. And his professionalism is based not on professional ethics but money and allied things. Other characters like the captain of the Football team (Arshad Warsi), his sister who happens to be the physiotherapist of his team (Bipasha Basu) and the coach who is an ex-player of this club (Boman Irani) are relatively less confused but confused beyond doubt. It reduces the credibility of the story despite the fact that the writers have incorporated the real life incident of the Munich Plane Crash happened in 1958 in which eight players of the Manchester United Football Club were killed, into the narrative.

Racism is condemnable irrespective of the part of the world where it is practiced. However imposed patriotism for their country of origin also does no good to the immigrants. Patriotism or love for the motherland (of self or the parents) becomes lifeless and artificial once it is worn on the sleeve. And that's what the writers and the director (Vivek Agnihotri) could not understand. Love for India (or Pakistan or Bangladesh) once shown off unnecessarily by the characters of the story, starts giving the look of something plastic.

The Football matches have been shot well and the art-direction is also up-to-the-mark, the director and the editor could not render the stuff available with them the form of a slick movie. Hence the movie though entertaining, impresses in patches only. Though Football is widely perceived as a violent game, showing the players in a violent mood almost every time is irksome. The romantic track of John-Bipasha is quite unnecessary. Ditto for the item song - Billo Rani. Albeit the music composed by Pritam is good, especially the title track. Background score and the dialogues are so-so.

Acting is good and all the principal as well as the supporting characters have done justice to their roles though Bipasha Basu's character hardly matters in the movie. Ditto for her (and Arshad Warsi's) younger brother's character. John Abraham has a great screen presence which make up for his limited expressions and acting talent. Boman Irani has done a pretty good job as the coach. His speech to his players before the final match is on the lines of Shah Rukh Khan's speech to the female Hockey players in Chak De India but it contains a very good message - ultimately moments only matter whether it's a match or a life and hence they are to be seized to shine and cherish later on, rest is all routine.

Hip Hip Hurray was a Football film only. If some other quality Football movie that comes to mind, it is Bend It Like Beckham (2002). Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal could not match the quality of these classics. It's a decent timepass and a one time watch notwithstanding.

© Copyrights reserved.

Life in a Metro
(2007)

Is life in a metro like this ? Oh no !
Life In A ... Metro (2007) is a Hindi movie directed by Anurag Basu. Anurag Basu is definitely a good director but like many other good directors, he lacks originality and hence lifts not only stories but also scenes from various (mostly Hollywood) movies. Life In A ... Metro is no exception but he has executed the idea fairly well. The movie is overall a good one which impresses to a great extent. All the same, it is to be admitted that director Basu has not done complete justice to the stuff at his hand.

The movie contains many stories running parallel to one another (total four) and every character of every story is related to at least one of the characters of some other story. The stories (and their characters) cross path at some point after the interval. There are total four such tracks. The first one is of the married couple of Kay Kay Menon and Shilpa Shetty who are having a baby out of their wedlock. Theirs is not a happy wedded life as Kay Kay is an infidel husband and is having an affair with a girl working in his company (Kangana Ranaut). A sincere youth Sharman Joshi also works in the same company and loves Kangana in his heart. Thus both these youths are bossed by Kay Kay who exploits them and they willingly get exploited for the sake of their respective careers. Kangana allows Kay Kay to use her body (without any emotional connect between them) whereas Sharman provides the key of his flat to Kay Kay to carry on with his illicit affair with Kangana (despite the fact that he himself is emotionally attached to Kangana). He provides that 'facility' to his other colleagues also for making additional income.

On the other hand, Kay Kay's frustrated but helpless wife Shilpa Shetty happens to come across an artist Shiny Ahuja who is a divorcee. They find each other on the same wavelength in no time and Shiny starts loving Shilpa whereas Shilpa despite liking him, is hesitant to get out of her wedlock. Kay Kay is a chauvinist who maintains double standards. He is unapologetically having an affair with Kangana but is not ready to tolerate Shilpa doing the same (or something similar) in her life. In other words, a lubricious husband Kay Kay wants his wife Shilpa to remain a Sati Saavitri.

The third track belongs to an elderly duo - Dharmendra and Nafisa Ali. Dharmendra had dumped his love for the sake of his career but realized his mistake in the twilight zone of his life and he comes to India from abroad for the sake of his old (and still existing) love for Nafisa who is now awaiting her death in an old age home. They decide to live together in that ending phase of their life but death does them apart when Nafisa passes away in their night of physical togetherness. Thus Dharmendra learns the invaluable lesson of life to prefer love and relationship over career and success the hardest way.

The fourth track is of Konkona Sen Sharma and Irrfan who are bachelors while in their thirties. Konkona is Shilpa's sister and Kangana's roommate. Her quest for a soulmate (or at least a straight beau) continues until she meets Irrfan. This is a fun-filled track in this otherwise serious movie which, quite naturally, culminates in the union of these two singles who had been ready to mingle for years and years before running into each other.

The movie is an entertaining one and the first three tracks strike a chord also in the viewer's heart (though it's the fourth track only which finally makes him feel better) in the pre-interval session. However the post-interval session lets the viewer down to some extent if not fully. The stories do not move ahead properly and the characters do not behave in a natural manner in the narrative which appears to lose the right track after the interval point. Dragging begins and a feeling starts coming to the viewer that now the narrator has to end these stories (and the movie) anyhow, convincingly or unconvincingly. Anurag Basu has made silly errors of milieu also which can be caught by any attentive viewer.

The career-oriented youths in the (metro) cities are ready to do anything and pay any cost without having any moral issues to rise (materialistically) in life as per the vision of the director. Well, I have also spent time in metropolitan cities but not sure whether this is a universal truth. And even if we get ready to consider it a universal truth, it is not and cannot be specific for the metros. The same must be true for the working life of the youths in small towns also. The director has not been successful in selling this idea to the audience despite hard-hitting scenes and dialogues. By default perhaps, the director has depicted almost all the characters as trying to make peace with themselves and resolve their inner conflicts. But that's also a reality which cannot be confined to metro cities only.

Male-chauvinism is a reality whether in a metro or in a small town or in a village but why should a well-educated and cultured lady decide to stay in a stinking wedlock with an infidel and abusive male instead of moving ahead in life with someone who truly understands her, loves her and is ready to shoulder the responsibility of her kid from the failed marriage also ? Shilpa's bidding goodbye to Shiny in the end and staying back with Kay Kay is hard to digest. Then this is not life in a metro. This is the same slavish mindset of Indian females that has been continuing since the feudalistic age or better say, times immemorial.

Konkona-Irrfan track is a rom-com and provides relief moments in the movie. This track only can be said to end on a happy note, not the other three ones though Kangana accepts Sharman's love and ends her illicit affair with her boss, i.e., Kay Kay (who has no need now to give the key of his flat to his boss as he himself can 'use' it). Nafisa's death makes the viewer sad but at the same he is also made to feel that it was quite unnecessary. When the movie ends, it renders a feeling to have watched an interesting and a fairly good movie but not something extraordinary or outstanding or even highly laudable.

The performances are the best part of this product. All the actors have risen above the script and rendered credibility to their characters. Actors like Konkona and Irrfan who are better known for their intense performances, have surprised with their brilliant comic timing. All others are also completely natural and highly impressive in their respective roles. The movie would have been a disaster had the performances not been up to the mark. However the director has shortchanged a talented actor like Shiny Ahuja by giving him much less footage than deserved by him as well as his role.

Pritam's music is definitely good and any music-lover will appreciate it. However the way the songs are positioned with the flow of the narrative (while being shown as sung by a threesome having nothing to do with the plot of the movie) is unique which may appeal to someone and may appear weird to someone else.

As asserted in the beginning of this review, the writer-director Anurag Basu has lifted story and sequences from many movies. Still he could not make a movie which could be called an outstanding one (after a few years, he achieved this feat with Barfi). In his view, selling (and buying) of sexual favours and doing (or abetting) immoral things for material gain culminating in illicit relationships is a norm in metro cities and not fidelity, sincerity and truthfulness in male-female relationships as well as restricting needs and desires to one's means. I am finding it hard to accept. Exceptions do not form the rule Mr. Basu.

Khel Khel Mein
(1975)

The fatal prank
Who, whether a boy or a girl, does not enjoy playing pranks during his/her childhood and teen-age, during the school-days and the college-days ? Most of us must have played pranks during our those happy-go-lucky days of our life and enjoyed them with our companions of same age-group. But what if some prank goes so wrong that it culminates in someone's death ? Then it becomes horrorsome for those innocents who have played it just for fun. Hindi movie - Khel Khel Mein (1975) tells such a story only.

The pranksters of this story which is based on a novel 'Good Children Don't Kill' penned by Louis Thomas are college students - Ajay (Rishi Kapoor), Nisha (Neetu Singh) and Vikram (Rakesh Roshan) who send a letter of extortion to a miser jeweler Ghanshyam Das (Janaki Das) only to know the next day that Ghanshyam Das has got murdered. Now this threesome has to save itself from the law knowing not as to who could be the real killer. Suddenly Ajay and Nisha who are the love-birds come to know that Vikram has got killed which takes their horror to dizzy heights. Besides, they always find an overcoat-wearing stalker (Dev Kumar) behind them. Involvement of a dreaded criminal known as Black Cobra also comes to their knowledge. How Ajay and Nisha are able to save themselves and bringing the real criminal to justice forms the remaining part of the story.

Khel Khel Mein (simply in the course of some friendly game) is a very interesting story which starts with college pranks, college romance and two boys becoming friends after initial fight. The real story takes off with the prank of the extortion letter and then the narrative turns into a speedy one despite songs and dances appearing in-between. Director Ravi Tandon has ably directed the script of Sachin Bhowmick and has not allowed the audience to feel even an ounce of boredom throughout the movie. Right from the carefree college life of the principal characters to the suspense and thrill, everything including the song-dance and romance entertains. Satyen Kappu's comedy is also admirable tickling the funny bone of the viewer.

Dialogues (by Kader Khan) and other technical aspects are neither very good nor bad.

R. D. Burman has composed very good music for the movie with the lyrics of Gulshan Bawra using the voices of Asha Bhonsle, Kishore Kumar and Shailendra Singh. Songs like Khullam Khulla Pyar Karenge Hum Dono and Ek Main Aur Ek Tu are still popular. Other songs including Humne Tumko Dekha Tumne Humko Dekha Aise sung by Shailendra Singh are also good.

Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh who were destined to become real life couple in due course of time, have done very well and it's the on-screen chemistry of Rishi-Neetu pair which gives this thriller movie a romantic flavour. Seeing a very young Rishi Kapoor in this movie, it becomes really very difficult to believe that today exactly one year has passed since this extra-ordinarily charming actor left for his heavenly abode. Among others, Rakesh Roshan, Aruna Irani, Iftekhar, Dev Kumar, Janaki Das, Satyen Kappu, Lalita Pawar etc. Have played their respective parts quite satisfactorily.

Summing up, Khel Khel Mein is a complete value for money movie which is both hilarious and thrilling in a single package. Just watch it for sheer entertainment and you won't find any reason to regret.

Insaf 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.

Insaf 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.

The Lunchbox
(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.

See all reviews