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Chandni : Eternal Moonlight

Her heart was a secret garden, and the walls were very high“.
-William Goldman, The Princess Bride

Chandni is not just a character from this movie, but she is a character who has been residing in Yashji’s thoughts for a long time. What culminated in this movie was the effect, but the cause of it can be found in his earlier works. Yashji is not a writer, I do know that. And this implies that Chandni is not a character that he has created. And yet, the character kept coming back to him, again and again. It was more like the character found him, rather then he going after the character.

The story of this movie was written by Kamna Chandra, who had earlier written Prem Rog, and her next work was 1942 A Love Story. She has been really selective about her work, and the quality of her work shows in the characterisation. She writes strong grounded characters, be it male or female. The screenplay was written by Arun Kaul and the dialogues were beautifully written by Sagar Sarhadi, another person who has a rare quality of writing mesmerising lines. Earlier, Sagar Sarhadi had written the screenplay of both Silsila and Kabhi Kabhie.

The bubbly and garrulous Chandni meets the naughty and romantic Rohit. When Rohit strikes the lighter at the staircase and the glow from Chandni’s faces brightens the screens, it almost like a storm-in-a-tea-cup moment. Even the heartbeat of the audience stops for a moment. Who wouldn’t fall in love when a smart and daring stranger compliments a beautiful small-town girl! And not just compliment, but open the heart like a bedsheet and shower all the petallic words. The fortress had been breached, someone had gained entry into Chandni’s heart. She just wanted to convince herself that its infatuation, but in fact it was love.

And that deep a love is resounded in the words of Chandni when she questions Rohit ‘Agar tum meri jagah hotey to tum kya karte?‘, when he comes back to reclaim her. Its not easy to fall in and out of love, not for people like Chandni & Rohit. What Rohit does is cruel, but sacrificial at the same time. Both Rohit and Chandni are two sides of the same coin. Chandni wants to tend to Rohit’s leg injury and even becomes his wheelchair in the act, but Rohit wants Chandni to lead her own life and not waste her time on him. She is ready to hear all abuses from his family members, and he is ready to abuse and humiliate her for her own good, so she goes away. And in the process, both of them hurt each other. But if there is more tears than smiles, how can it be called love? Suddenly, the love of Chandni pushes Rohit into going for a treatment. And after he regains his mobility, he shows up at her door. Rohit should not have come back into Chandni’s life, it was too late.

In the meanwhile, Chandni moves in with her friend in a new city and tries to gather the pieces of her broken life. She comes across Lalit, a person who owns a tourism business. Lalit is also a loner, having lost his loved one. But he has accepted life the way it is since his relationship had a closure. That’s where Chandni’s story was different, she did not have a closure. Walking out on Rohit was an impulsive decision, and not a thought out plan.

Its not everyday that you come across a character like Chandni, someone who is so full of energy and bundle of joy, someone who spreads cheer and keeps her pain to herself, someone who makes you feel good although she maybe herself be under duress, someone who nurses your pain and licks her own wounds. When someone loves you with all their devotion, least that we can do is not hurt them. But Chandni has always suffered, and not just at the hands of her loved ones but also by nature’s design. It could have been God’s way of saying ‘don’t love with all your heart’, but Chandni probably doesn’t wish to hear that. When she loves, she brings the moon to her man’s doorstep, but when she cries, there is no one to console her.

I had started out talking about Chandni, the character, rather than the movie. The above story is similar to the story of the character Chandni from Silsila. Just equate Rohit with Amit and the helicopter accident with the death of Amit’s brother. Chandni went onto marry Dr.Anand, but we don’t know under what circumstances. It was an incomplete story without any closure, and suddenly one fine day, she comes face to face with Amit. She is again pushed into making a choice.

The movie ‘Chandni’ explains what may have happened after the departure of Amit from Chandni’s life. How Dr.Anand came into Chandni’s life and the many questions that Chandni must’ve asked herself before deciding to move on. The situation in Silsila is a lot more tense, because Amit and Chandni were married, but not happily-married. Both of them were leading a life of compromise, a marriage of convenience rather than conviction. Amit should not have come back into Chandni’s life, it was too late.

But here, in this movie, both are still yearning for each other. When Chandni is in doubt, her friend tries to convicne her saying ‘Rohit tumhara guzra hua KAL tha, Lalit tumhara AAJ hai‘. But she is still not convinced. Although she agrees to marry Lalit, its more a decision of the mind than the heart. Buth when Rohit comes tumbling down the stairs on the day of the wedding, Chandni’s inner feelings come to the fore. A bride, a soon-to-be-wife of Lalit, forgets everything and runs upto Rohit; that one scene changes everything for everybody. A story that had started from a staircase and mandap ends with mandap and staircase. The same questions about love and loyalty start bogging Chandni. She is again pushed into making a choice.

Chandni was dumped by her boyfriend because she was just a toy for him and when she got pregnant, it was like a burden for him to handle; so Chandni was ditched in Daag. She had trusted him with her life, and here she was, left at crossroads. Sunil comes into her life and lends her legitimacy, while she gives him a new identity. And when things were going fine and she had started liking Sunil, from nowhere Sonia lands up to reclaim Sunil. Sonia should not have come back into Sunil’s life, it was too late.

Again, by nature’s design, Chandni is hurt. Her marital life is marred by another woman, and she doesn’t know how to handle the situation. She can either lose Sunil or share him. She is again pushed into making a choice.

That has been the bane of Chandni. She is always left to make a tough choice. In Daag, Chandni ends up sharing her object of affection with somebody else; more out of societal pressure than free will. In Silsila, Chandni chooses to make amends to her life and forget Amit for ever. She has an awakening and they both decide that it would be selfish if they didn’t honour the committment of their spouses. Amit too has a realization and agrees to let go. In both movies, the story of Chandni’s life was incomplete.

Finally, its here that Chandni has a proper closure. She gets to cry the tears of joy. All the wandering years spent in search of love, ultimately results in attaining it. And only Yashji could have made it possible by making this movie during the time when action movies ruled the box office.

Shiv-Hari were the music directors of this movie as well as Silsila. In fact, they even went on to do the music of Darr and Lamhe. Also, a signature tune in this movie went on to be used as a tune for a song in Lamhe, Kabhi Mai Kahoon. Their extensive use of tabla and santoor in both movies is a standout point. They understood the demands of the situation really well, and gave an awesome musical score. They pushed Amitabh Bachchan into lending his voice in Silsila, and they did the same with Sridevi in this movie. Wish they had continued to give music to some more movies, but we have to be content with a handful of albums from this brilliant duo, Shiv Kumar Sharma and Hari Prasad Chaurasia.

The lyrics were penned by Anand Bakshi and the songs are sung in every wedding since then. Mere haathon mei nau nau chudiyan hain & Mai sasural nahi jaoongi has risen above the status of being just a song and has become a folklore. Its the simplicity of the situational lyrics that keeps us glued to the movie, be it Tu mujhe suna mai tujhe sunao apni prem kahani or Lagi aaj sawan ki phir wo jhadi hai. The songs are memorable and they sit easy on our lips without taxing the brains. It was a phenomenal artistry with the pen.

There is a Chandni all around us, but we probably fail to see her or perceive her. Sridevi as Chandni came across as a loyal, sweet and an innocent persona. Her love was pure as gold and soft as marshmallow. Sridevi justified the character, and for once, she corrected her diction so the dialogues seemed natural and effortless. Rohit was played brilliantly by Rishi Kapoor. Its so easy to not notice him because all the attention is on Chandni. But as a frustrated lover or a romantic fool, he rises above the level of the script. And not to forget, Vinod Khanna as Lalit was immaculate. It was a while since we had seen Vinod in such an avtar, and he lent credibility to the character of Lalit. You feel for him towards the end, and for Waheedaji who plays his mother.

Chandni ushered in a new era of love and romance. In an interview Yashji had said that when he was driving down the lanes of Bombay, everywhere he saw movie posters of heroes with guns. That’s when he decided that his next movie would be a love story, and Chandni happened to him again.

This post was also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2012 in bollywood, movies

 

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Daag : First Movie Under Yashraj Banner

Only when you want to fly so badly that you give up being a caterpillar, is when you can become a butterfly. That’s exactly what must have been going on in Yashji’s mind. He had directed five movies under the shadow of his brother Balraj for BR Films, and now he was itching to start a production house of his own where he could make movies of his choice. And Daagwas the first movie of Yashraj Films.

The story of Daag was written by Gulshan Nanda, who had earlier written Kati Patang. Gulshan Nanda had adapted the novel Mayor of Casterbridge, and the story came to Yashji. Wonder what Yashji saw in the story that he was all excited and wanted to produce/direct it. If you see the movie, you will realise that this unconventional movie has no safety net. The only way he could have kept the audience hooked was by having a face that the audience loved seeing, no matter what he did. Rajesh Khanna was a superstar in the early 70′s and his stardom may have prompted Yashji to sign him on as a safe bet. So, Rajesh Khanna was just incidental to the movie, rather than integral.

Sunil Kohli, played by Rajesh Khanna, is a die-hard romantic. He loves Sonia and amidst Ab chaahe maa roothe ya baaba, yaara maine to haan karli, they get married soon after college. While on their way to honeymoon, a heavy thunderstorm blocks their path. Sunil meets a dear old friend Dheeraj who helps them out in this rough weather.

Dheeraj plays the perfect host, but only for a while. His animal instincts get the better of him, and he attacks Sonia with the intention of outraging her modesty, while Sunil is out trying to make alternate travel arrangements. Sunil returns just in time to save Sonia and in the ensuing fight, a violent strike from Sunil leaves Dheeraj dead. A criminal case is slapped on Sunil and he is decreed with death sentence.

Most movies would end with such a climax during the 70′s and 80′s. But this movie only begins to find a footing at this juncture. Sunil and Sonia get separated even before they could start their new lives together. All their dreams, hopes and aspirations get shattered. To make matters worse, the police van which was used for transporting Sunil to the jail, meets with an accident and he is the lone survivor. Sunil is caught in a situation with no option. He understands that life has given him another chance to live. If he declares himself ‘alive’, he would be sent back to serve the punishment.

As I earlier said, its an unconventional love story. Sonia lives like a widow while Sunil re-settles with a new assumed identity. And here, Chandni enters the scene. She is a woman who has inherited a lot of wealth, palatial home but her heart is a cup in which no happiness has been poured, its brimming with sorrow.

Some people look for love, but instead get trapped in lust. Such was the story of Chandni. The person she loved, gets her pregnant and leaves her, absolving himself of all responsibilities. Our society is very cruel where having a child out of wedlock would never be acceptable. The necessity to give her child a social acceptance and to save Chandni and her family of the ignominy of the situation brings the story to its first cross point between characters. The story progresses when a turn of events brings Sunil into Chandni’s life. It could be out of a selfish necessity of Sunil or the unfortunate desperation of Chandni that Sunil agrees to give Chandni’s unborn child his name and agrees to be her husband albeit just for the society. This arrangement was a symbiotic one, where it led to a new identity for Sunil and a respectable name for Chandni and her new born.

It may have been a situation of convenience for Sunil where he would be shielded from the law and would enjoy the amenities of a palatial house and luxuries he had never thought of and at the same time, to be in the company of a beautiful and attractive woman. His true love for Sonia may have prevented him from acting on it, but who is to say that he was not resisting any attraction that any man with any degree of romance in him would have for a woman as virtuous as Chandni. And who is to say that Chandni, on realising that a man who lived with her in the same house and who she at some level may have accepted as her husband had not made any advances at her, was not compressing a sense of frustration within herself.

Just when Chandni had finally managed to forget her horrible past and had got used to Sunil, Sonia comes into their life like a thunderstorm; and she shakes the foundation of their relationship. There was a volcano of emotions bottled up between of Sonia and Sunil that needed an eruption point. Something that took the situation by the scruff of its neck and shook the characters to realise their true feelings.

Sunil & Sonia find themselves in a difficult situation yet again, where inspite of being under one roof, they couldn’t be together. Mere dil mei aaj kya hai, tu kahey to mai bata doon, but there is so much to say that Sunil didn’t know where to begin from. Sunil is obligated to Chandni due to societal pressure, but his heart beats for Sonia. Chandni is unaware of Sunil’s past and in enraged by his sudden proximity with Sonia.

Love also results in jealousy. Sometimes people think they are not jealous/envious, but when they see their loved one having a good time with somebody else, the green monster appears from nowhere. Sonia is jealous of Chandni because she can’t be seen with Sunil in public, while Chandni is jealous of Sonia because although Sunil is with her, his heart is with Sonia.

This is a story that has happened in many a household, and such peculiar problems require unique solutions. This awkward situation leads to a nonconformist end, possibly the only ending that could be an acceptable solution to all three characters. Only an iconoclastic director like Yash Chopra, with his deft handling, could have made the movie palatable. Its his understanding of a man-woman relationship, that results in creating such credible characters.

This poem of love had some really good music from Laxmikant-Pyarelal and lyrics was written by Sahir Ludhianvi. Some songs are timeless pieces and are hummed to this day. Sahir captures the sense of the drama very well and pens his thoughts nicely.

This was the last superhit movie of Sharmila & Rajesh Khanna together. Sharmila Tagore, as Sonia, gave a very good controlled performance. But it was Rakhi who walked away with the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress, for her role as Chandni. And Yashji won the Best Director award for this movie.

This post was also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2012 in bollywood, movies

 

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Aadmi aur Insaan : Of Friendship & Betrayal

Zindagi ittefaq hai
Kal bhi ittefaq thi
Aaj bhi ittefaq hai

On first hearing, it sounds like a title track for the movie Ittefaq, which was being made around the same time as this movie. Following the super-success of Waqt, Yash Chopra soon began working on a movie which had its roots in socialism.

India was on the path of industrialization, and lot of factories were coming up. Many development projects were on the anvil, construction of dams and irrigation projects were a priority. Akhtar Ul Iman used this backdrop and scripted the movie which was a story of two friends, one rich and the other poor, Munish & JK.

Yash Chopra roped in Dharamendra to play the humble and honest Munish Mehra. Dharamendra was shooting for Satyakam with Hrishikesh Mukherjee, and that could have been one of the reasons for casting him in this movie as the character of Munish was a little similar to Satyapriya Acharya. Those were the days, when Dharamendra was not yet labelled as He-Man. In those days, he had a lover-boy image, a man of honour and integrity, brainy and brawny. While he did play a simpleton in movies like Seeta Aur Geeta, Jeevan Mrityu, Satyakam etc; in parallel he also did thrillers like Do Chor, Ankhen, Shikar etc.

Even in this movie, he did justice to the character of Munish Mehra. Siding up with Dharamendra was Feroz Khan who played JK alias Jai Kishan. JK is a rich brat industrialist who loves to party and knows his drink.

Jaam pakad badha ke haath, maang dua ghatey na raat
Jaan-e-wafa teri kasam, kehte hain dil ki baat hum
Gar koi mel ho sakey, aankhon ka khel ho sakey
Apne ko khushnaseeb jaan, waqt ko meharbaan maan
Milte hain dil kabhi kabhi, warna hai ajnabi sabhi
Mere humdum mere meharbaan
Har khushi ittefaq hai

It was a chance meeting that brought Munish and JK together. JK liked Munish’s sincerity and honesty; and he decides to alleviate Munish’s burden. JK helps Munish financially and also sponsors his education. JK comes across as a benevolent person who wants the welfare of Munish.

Munish returns to India, armed with a degree and JK soon makes him the in-charge of his construction project. While on duty, Munish chances upon Meena, played by Saira Banu, and falls in love with her. He of course doesn’t know that JK too likes Meena a lot.

While Munish is going about his duties, he accidentally finds out about JK’s financial irregularities and how he has expanded his empire by wrong means and business malpractices.

A two-hero movie invariably has a duel and here too, Munish & JK are locked in a bitter duel that involves Meena on one hand, and JK’s favours done for Munish on the other. One weighs more than the other, but which side will Munish swing?

Husn hai aur shabaab hai, zindagi kamyaab hai
Bazm yoon hi khili rahey, apni nazar mili rahey
Rang yoon hi jama rahey, waqt yoon hi thama rahey
Saaz ki lai pe jhoomle, zulf ke kham ko choomle
Mere kiye se kuchh nahi, tere kiye se kuchh nahi
Mere humdum mere meharbaan
Ye sabhi ittefaq hai

JK feels betrayed, the one person whom he had trusted, turned against him. He hoped that Munish would remain indebted to him for life. But instead, Munish dared to go against a friend who had done so much for him. Its an interesting movie about human relationships, about friendship and honoring that trust. Its never an easy task to take a stand, but Munish takes a stand and the duo split.

Munish takes up another job, trying to forget the bitterness. Yet again, just by chance, a case comes to Munish, to investigate the collapse of a bridge. It turns out that the bridge was constructed by JK’s firm. Will Munish do a fair investigation based on ground realities or will he mix emotion with his profession and use this as a vehicle to get back to JK?

The problem with honest people is that, they have very few options. They are always in a pristine white zone; rarely do they choose to stay in a gray area or live a life filled with ambiguities. On the flip side, the ones in gray area just have one objective; that objective could be anything, love, money, status symbol. Whatever be the objective, they find ways and means of getting there, by hook or by crook. That’s the basic difference between a man [aadmi]  and a civilised/moralistic man [insaan]. Feroz Khan, for the stark portrayal of JK, won the Filmfare award for Best Supporting.

Except for the song Zindagi Itteaf Hai sung by Lata mangeshkar and Dil Karda, O Yaara Dil Dara sung by Mahendra kapoor, the other songs weren’t anything to write home about. It was the same team that had worked in Waqt, Sahir Ludhianvi & Ravi. But somehow, the consistency was lacking this time around.

This movie again shows Yash Chopra’s strength as a director. Be it the tight thriller Ittefaq or this movie, he excels in both. The reason I have mentioned Ittefaq so many times is that, both these movies released in the same year. And while Yashji was shooting for this movie, Saira Banu fell ill and the shooting had to be halted for a few months. Restless person that he was, Yashji and Akhtar Ul Iman collaborated again on Ittefaq project which was shot within a month. When Saira was back in good health, he wrapped up this movie.

Some people aren’t able to give their best even while directing just one movie at a time, but Yashji did justice to both movies. The ease with which he switched from melodrama to thriller genre, and then back to the melodrama, is commendable. Basically, his understanding of movies, the spirit of the story, and comprehending the characters with all their flaws, is tremendous.

In AAI, Yahsiji has captured the milieu of the construction site very well. Be it the bridge or the government offices, he is spot on. But best of all is the way he films human emotions. Feroz Khan’s anger, arrogance and the hurt was shown very well. He is quite a spontaneous actor, so it becomes all the more important to give him enough time and space and he does wonders. Even in movies like Safar, Arzoo, Apradh etc, he comes good in scenes where has to display remorse and anguish.

Dharamendra is excellent in the movie, be it the honest officer or the good brother or the faithful friend; he plays all the parts with such ease and fantastic body language. Never does he try to overpower other characters in the movie. In fact, he gives Saira and Feroz enough space to shine in the movie.

Yashji balanced the characters very well; never showing one better than the other. He shows both sides of the story and nobody comes across as a villain; they are all trapped in a situation of their own making. Just remember that, much before Namak Haraam, there was Aadmi aur Insaan.

This post was also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2012 in bollywood, movies

 

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Kaala Patthar : Adaptation of Lord Jim

Joseph Conrad’s novel Lord Jim, first published in 1900, finds a resonance even today; so timeless was his tale. And many a movie has been based on this book, only the setup has changed with the changing times.

It’s a tale of living an ignominious life and how the protagonist redeems himself. Very recently, we saw this theme being played out in Chak De India, with SRK in the lead role. And before that, Abhishek Bachchan in Zameen got an opportunity to re-live the character of Lord Jim.

But many years ago, it was Salim-Javed who brought this fine tale to Yash Chopra, Indiansed it, added the much needed entertainment quotient by introducing new elements into it and roped in Amitabh Bachchan to breathe life into the character.

After Deewar, Kabhi Kabhie & Trishul, this was the fourth collaboration of Yash Chopra, Shashi Kapoor and BigB. But for this movie, where Amitabh & Shashi gel well and are on the same side, in the three previous encounters they have always crossed swords with each other. In this movie, we don’t get to see that. Here we see Shashi’s calm and cool attitude being the best response to Amitabh’s smouldering anger, equal and opposite in effect.

Among the star cast, Rakhi and Neetu were again regulars who had worked with Yashji earlier; but Shatrughan Sinha and Parveen Babi were new to his school of direction. Their discomfiture in the movie can be gauged by the fact that neither of the two acted in a Yash Chopra movie again. Shatrughan has always indulged in theatrics in his characterisation, as seen in Vishwanath & Kalicharan. And such characters are rarely found in Yashji’s movie. And what can one say about Parveen Babi; she always had the looks but lacked substance.

Much before Coalgate scam and mine block allocation, there was a Seth Dhanraj, played by Prem Chopra, a capitalist who believed in making money by looting the mineral resources and depriving the coal miners of a decent livelihood. And the entire story revolves around this coalmine setup.

Before getting branded as the tour guide of Switzerland, Yash Chopra was known for capturing various industries with good detailing in his movies. In Deewar, the movie begins with a trade union meeting in the rain, and how they discuss the terms and conditions of the factory owners. Later, the movie goes onto capture smugglers lifestyle and how wheeling and dealing goes on in the underworld. In Trishul, Yashji dives deep into real estate development, opening and closing of tenders, and what underhand tricks are used for winning a tender etc. In Kabhi Kabhie too, poet Amit retires into a life of an industrialist. Even in later years, the movie Vijay had the modern outlook on Mahabharat with the backdrop of competitive industrial war. That’s the mark of a good director, they work hard on the characters and the detailing. They are never afraid to try a new setup, a different storyline or unique situations.

Here too, the coalmine workers and their living conditions are captured pretty well. Their working environment, the siren that marks the start of the working hours, the tea stall and the entire setting and backdrop is done with lot of effort.

We see a brooding BigB, playing Vijay Pal Singh, who is nursing a deep pain in his heart, some guilt of the past, a hurtful truth that he cannot runaway from. In his attempt to hide from the world, he takes up a job at a nondescript location where nobody would recognise him. He goes about his job silently, without interacting with fellow workers. The only person who seems to understand him is doctor Sudha, played by Rakhi, and she is the only person with whom he ever speaks.

Sudha can see through the hollowness in his heart and the vacuum in his life, but she can do nothing to fill it as he has built a wall around himself that nobody but him can break. In such a situation, Salim-Javed drops in two characters – Ravi, an engineer who marks the mining zone and looks into the concerns of the workers, and Mangal, an escaped convict who is just looking to have some fun while he keeps the police busy.

Mangal, played by Shatrughan Sinha, annoys Vijay, challenges him to a duel and behaves cocky just to cause an imbroglio, but for no particular reason. And on the other hand, Ravi, played by Shashi Kapoor, tries to assuage the animosity between Vijay & Mangal. BigB and Shatru were pitted against each other just for some whistles and cheap thrills. But it didn’t add much value to the movie. It was just the coming together of two huge actors, UP ka bhaiyya and Bihari babu.

The movie keeps you interested as we are still unaware of the cause of Vijay’s inner turmoil. But the additional characters of Ravi’s & Mangal’s love interests weighs down the movie. It not only reduces the pace but also the intensity of the movie.

Just when the movie starts drifting, Salim-Javed pull another fast one to bring about a sudden mood swing. A mishap takes place and how the lead characters change themselves for the better, and how they all come together to help save lives of the coalminers, takes the movie forward.

Vijay’s hour of redemption finally arrives, where he faces fear dauntingly and exorcises the demons of the past. The shadow of his inglorious act finally vanishes as the sunshine of guilt floats behind the clouds of a brave act, and he is ready to face the world again, with his head held high. He had the author backed role, and Amitabh Bachchan did complete justice to the character.

But the movie didn’t do very well at the box office. Only if Shatrughan Sinha or Shashi Kapoor had been given a meatier role, the movie might have fared better. It was Bachchan’s show all the way. Although, Rakhi did well to get noticed. Rest of the characters just became a supporting cast, in this show largely driven by Vijay.

The movie had some rather mediocre music and forgettable lyrics. Rajesh Roshan was the composer and Sahir Ludhianvi was the lyricist; needless to say, they never worked together again. Ek Rasta Hai Zindagi, sung by Kishore Kumar is the only memorable number from the movie. Rest of the songs were passé and uninspired. One of the few movies of Yashji with such indifferent musical score. Later, Faasle and Vijay were added to this list.

Overall, the movie was no great shake. Salim-Javed probably missed out on that elusive x-factor, which they usually get it right in most movies, but not this time. This was the beginning of a long and listless time that Yashji had to endure for a whole decade. From 1979, when Kaala Patthar released, to 1989, when Chandni released, was a muted period for Yash Chopra. All his movies fared badly in this 10 year period, starting with this movie. Silsila flopped, Vijay and Fasle were disasters and Mashaal was average.

But the story of Lord Jim is eternal, and it shall be played out again and again, in different regions with different flavours and a different backdrop. And Kaala Patthar will always be mentioned, even as a footnote, only because of its honest effort and a good adaptation.

This post was also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in bollywood, movies

 

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Waqt : Yash Chopra’s Magnum Opus

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
John Lennon

Lala Kedarnath was a joyous man, celebrating his success and singing to his lady love Aye Meri Zohrajabeen. He was a self-made man who never believed in astrologers or predictions; and making it on his own was one of the reasons for his pompous party. But little did he know that destiny had other plans for him.

Soon after the song and dance, a massive earthquake shook Lala Kedarnath off his feet. The entire town was in chaos, and a stampede took place. With people running helter-skelter in search of safety, his entire family was separated from each other. This was the grand premise of the movie Waqt. A premise that soon became a formula for many a lost-and-found movies. Not just that, Waqt was also one of the first multi-starrers. Manmohan Desai mastered this genre and made a name for himself, but much before him, it was Yash Chopra who provided the template for Naseeb, Amar-Akbar-Anthony, Suhaag etc.

The movie had a vast scale at the production level itself. Yashraj’s elder brother Balraj Chopra, wanted to cast Prithviraj Kapoor and his 3 sons in the movie. But Yash was quick to point out that the audience would easily recognize the three brothers and then the movie would just be a matter of ‘when’ , rather than ‘how’ the entire family comes together. After much thought, Balraj Sahni was cast as Lalaji. And only Shashi Kapoor stayed on from the original casting, owing to his previous performance in Dharamputra which was also directed by Yash Chopra. He played the role of the youngest brother Munna who grows up to become Vijay. Rajkumar entered the scene and was cast as the eldest of the 3 brothers, Raju who becomes Raja. Sunil Dutt was cast in the movie due to his previous association with BR Films, and of course his acting skills. He played the middle brother, Bablu who becomes Ravi, who is older than Vijay but younger than Raja.

Although the movie was already getting bigger in grandeur, the Chopras went ahead and signed the biggest actresses and the most beautiful faces for the female leads. There was Sharmila[as Renu] opposite Shashi, earlier she had starred opposite Shammi in An Evening In Paris; Sadhna [as Meena] was cast opposite Sunil Dutt.

Back to the story, when the 3 brothers were separated, Munna being a toddler was in his mother’s arms. So, he grew up with his mother, in abject poverty. Munna wasn’t able to pay for his education while Bablu went to vilayat to study law. Blame it on luck! Munna even takes up driving to eke out a living.

Ravi was adopted by a rich family while Raja ends up with the anti-social elements. While Vijay lives an impoverished life, his brother Ravi and Raja have a lavish lifestyle. This was one of the first movies which celebrated opulence. Chopras did not shy away from showing people from higher strata of society indulging themselves. Ravi’s family while away their time in clubs and holiday spots, they swim and play badminton. All this was being picturised when socialism was at its peak and film makers shied away from showing richness.

But Chopras were always liberal, traditional but liberal. And here in this movie, we see the prototype of Rahul/Raj’s character in Ravi. He was the kind of guy who could sweep women off their feet with his smooth talk and suave style. His ‘gul-e-gulzar, jaan-e-bahaar, toofan-e-humdum‘ was an oft repeated phrase for addressing his lady love. Ravi is a nonchalant guy with no hang-ups, and he handles life with ease. He forgets about the party that his family has hosted to celebrate his becoming a barrister and is instead found fishing in the blue waters and under the blue sky soaking some sun; there was a similar scene in DDLJ where SRK forgets about the valedictory function. Ravi also indulges in a car race with Raja to woo the woman with speed and machismo. He loses the race and still walks off with the heroine, very graciously. Ravi was the ‘cool dude Rahul’ of those times.

Interestingly, the sript-writers also managed to squeeze in a love triangle here, in an already formulaic setting. Raja’s affection for Meena is more than obvious by his overtures. And in a classic sequence, to showcase that his love will not bloom, Raja gives a buoquet to Meena at the airport, Meena gives that buoquet to Ravi as she welcomes him back home, Meena introduces Ravi to Raja and in a flash Ravi gifts that buoquet back to Raja to mark the start of their friendship.

The movie had some really romantic moments, again a first for the silver-screen was the locker room conversation after a swim, and the sweet-nothings exchanged between Ravi and Meena which were brow raising for those days. Sadhna was so sexy and comfortable in the bikini, and Sunil Dutt in his boxers was a hunk; both singing Hum Jab Simat Ke Aap Ki Baahon Mei Aa Gaye. The two get so cosy that we become uncomfortable after a point. But that’s how Yash Chopra shoots lovey-dovey scenes, he gets into the moment and captures it so well. Its never vulgar, just sensual; this is one of his trademarks.

Fantastic composition by Ravi and lovely lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi to express the closeness of the couple. The movie had good hummable music. There was another beautiful song Din Hain Bahar Ke that was filmed on Shashi and Sharmila. Both songs were sung by the duo Asha Bhonsle and Mahendra Kapoor. The album is an Asha Bhonsle special, as she has leant her voice to 4 of the 6 songs. Kaun Aaya Ki Nigaahon Mei Chamak Jaag Uthhi sung by Asha and the title song still rings in our ears, Aage Bhi Jaane Na Tu. Manna Dey has of course, immortalised the song Aye Meri Zohrajabeen. Yashji’s keen sense of music is another notable feature. All his movies had great music and meaningful lyrics.

Great directors etch memorable characters and Raja was one of them, created so well by Yashji. He gave the character an edge and made him stand out. Rajkumar walked away with the meatiest role and all the accolades. Who can forget the ‘Chinoy Seth, jinke apne ghar sheeshe ke hon woh doosron par pathar nahi phenka karte‘ or even the line ‘yeh bachchon ke khelne ki cheez nahin, haath kat jaye to khoon nikal aata hai‘. He had a heart of gold but his hands were blackened with illegal deeds, his suit was clean but his job was dirty, his words were harsh but his mannerisms were soft, Raja was a character immersed in gray.

In a scene of passion and desperation, Raja is shown trying to murder Ravi and thereby remove the thorn and pluck the rosebud Meena. Many years later, this particular love triangle gave rise to Darr where SRK played out Raja’s character of an obsessive person wallowed in one-sided love.

In comparison, Vijay’s life was much more simpler than Ravi and Raja’s. He was poor and so he had very limited choices in life. Renu loved him, but then love is the propriety of the rich who can indulge in such luxuries. Vijay always took it that, he was born to serve and work his way up in life. His priorities were clear, his ailing mother and his incomplete education was to be taken care of.

How the trio’s life shapes-up and what kind of situations they face as they cross paths many a times, unbeknownst to themselves of their kinship, is interesting. Multi-starrer, lost-and-found, love triangle, and if all this was not enough, they even added a murder mystery and a court-room drama in this magnum-opus. In a twist of fate, Raja is prime accused in a murder and Lalaji gets him arrested while he was trying to flee from the scene of crime, Vijay became the key witness and implicated Raja and Ravi defends Raja in the court. Such was the whirlwind story and screenplay, that inspite of being long it keeps you hooked.

The court-room proceedings flouted all norms of legal procedure, but it did make for a thrilling watch. The manner in which Ravi tries to sway the jury and the strange ways that he adopts to establish Raja’s innocence was fresh and filmy. What Yashji did in Waqt, inspired Subhash Ghai to do the same in Meri Jung.

Be it the love sequences or the brotherly affection or the scene of the murder or the court-room setup, everything was perfect. The setting was great, music was good and acting was awesome. The movie won 5 Filmfare awards – Best Director, Best Story, Best Dialogue [Akhtar Ul Iman], Best Supporting Actor [Rajkumar] and Best Cinematographer [Dharam Chopra]. Only Sadhna lost out on the Best Actress award which went to Meena Kumari for Kaajal; and rightly so.

Yashi ji took the story written by Akhtar Mirza to a different level with the casting and direction. It isn’t an easy job to handle so many stars and give them all meaningful roles to play. But Yashji was excellent at that. He managed to give justified screen time to all characters, big or small. This is reflected even in his later works. And he always believed in casting mature and good actors, one of the reasons being that, with mature actors even a simple scene looks great. Actors like Sunil Dutt, Rajkumar, Balraj Sahni etc lent credibility to the character, they made it look believable. After 180 + mins of laughing, crying, romancing, singing and dancing, the entire family finally re-unites and the film ends on a happy note.

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…”
John Lennon

This post was also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2012 in bollywood, movies

 

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Thanks For All The Laughs, RIP Jaspal Bhatti

Serial banaane wale, kya tere mann mei samayi
Kaahey ko comedy banaayi tuney, kaahey ko comedy banaayi

Kahan se miley tumhe nakli se actor
Kahan se laya ye flop director
Kaahey ko kiya tuney serial ka halwa
Prime time ka tuney kiya hai malwa
Gup-chup tamasha dekhe, waah re teri chaturayi
Kaahey ko comedy banaayi tuney, aahey ko comedy banaayi

These were the words of the parody song in the episode of ‘Kabristan ka chowkidar‘ which was one of the episodes of Flop Show. This one parody sums up the efforts of the motley crew, ably handled by Jaspal Bhatti, to capture the society and the ills of the bureaucracy. The above episode was on making of a tv series. Towards the end of the episode, a body equivalent to ITA, awards Jaspal Bhatti for ‘Best Comedy’ and Bhatti saheb, in his typical sarcastic tone says ‘Humne to tragedy banayi thi !’

A tragedy played on the tv screens and we laughed ourselves silly because every incident was slice of life. Our interactions with government officials, our struggle to get a telephone connection, our hassles with the builder/contractor, our long wait for a chief guest to cut a ribbon, our inability to push medical bills lying at the boss’ table, our attempt at working for a PhD, and so many such incidents depicted in the serial are straight out of our lives. We can identify with these issues even today. And that’s one of the reasons why Flop Show has stood the test of time as it still strikes a chord with the common man.

His cast was usually remained the same; the reliable Vivek Shauq and his wife Savita featured in most of the episodes. Another highlight of Flop Show was the credit rolls. Misdirection, Production Damager, Camera Jerks etc. It was like, they were making fun of themselves while still addressing serious issues. And he had the uncanny wit to call the series Flop Show.

In just 10 episodes, he tried his best to throw light on civil society and the babudom. Week after week, the satire played on as he took up one issue at a time. In one of the episodes on the difficulty of obtaining a new landline phone connection, he showed the benefits of having a lines-man as a damaad [son-in-law]. In an era where common man had to wait for 6 months to get a telephone connection, a damaad in telecom could benefit the entire family. While in another episode he showed the nexus between builder and neta; how a bad quality of construction ends up as a reward to the builder when a resident of the house was trying to drive a nail into the wall and the entire wall fell on a small time thief  and he was nabbed, is just hilarious.

His parody songs in Flop Show were just superb. ‘Jis gali mei kirayedar se jhagda na ho, uss gali mei hume ghar lena nahi‘, in the episode where tenants take ownership of house and drive out the real owners. Then ‘Bill da mamla hai‘, parodied on Gurdas Mann’s song was used in the episode where Bhatti gets his friend’s treatment done on his office expense at ‘Hit & Trial’ hospital.

His late foray into films was also a welcome move. But barring a few performances, like in Aa Ab Laut Chalen, he wasn’t utilized well. Maybe, he wasn’t used to being directed by others or probably didn’t like the limitations of doing cameo roles. That’s the reason he kept going back to making movies for his own production house. Although he did a couple of more tv shows like ‘Thank you Jijaji’ and ‘Full Tension’, but none of them could match the wit or content of ‘Flop Show’. Flop Show became his identity.

Bhatti was also known for organising events that would make fun of government policies and decisions. He would create fake political parties with hilarious names like ‘Hawala Party’ and ‘Suitcase Party’ during elections, and poke fun at the political class. His sense of humor and the deep satire was appreciable. Without trying to be over-the-top, he would convey the message in a sly manner.
The rip-roaring laughter that Bhatti generated was infectious. Bhatti was not just a satirist, but a good observer of the way things function. His work in Ulta Pulta and Flop Show are basically social commentaries. And he continued this even on his twitter account.

His sudden death has shocked one and all. It was really premature, as he was just 57. And what’s worse is that, he isn’t around to see the release of his latest movie ‘Power Cut‘ which he was busy promoting for past few months. He still had a lot of laughs left in him, but we shall never hear it.

Last year it was shagird Vivek Shauq, and this year guru Bhatti has joined him. On the brighter side, heaven will now be a funny place and he can spoof Chitragupt and Yamraj. Please don’t shed tears for him, that would only be hurting his spirit. Spread smile and cheer, and he will continue to live-on. Thanks Bhatti ji for all the laughs you provided us. R.I.P.

Also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2012 in bollywood, movies, personal, sitcom

 

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Poonam Pandey Celebrates KKR Win

And finally fulfils the promise made of posing in the nude if KKR win the IPL5

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Its now SRK’s turn to go down the Howrah Bridge and ride on the Hooghly with the trophy!

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in bollywood, cricket, ipl

 

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