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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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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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