TOILET- EK PREM KATHA: Entertaining and Educating

By

Sharada Iyer

Toilet-Ek-Prem-Katha-2017

Once again Akshay Kumar hits the bull’s eye with his latest outing ‘Toilet-Ek Prem Katha’ which weaves an engaging love story around the serious issue of open defecation of women in villages. The plot of the film takes inspiration from the real life incident of a young 19-year old newly-wed bride Priyanka Bharti in UP, who decided to run away from her in-laws’ house on April 13th 2012, two days after her marriage as she could not bear the thought of open defecation which was the system accepted by all the women-folk in that village. She had grown up in a house with a closed toilet. So she insisted that if her husband wanted her back, he must build a toilet for her. This move of hers made quite a stir and she set an example for other women in her village.

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Priyanka Bharti (Source: Internet)

 

(http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/21-year-old-stands-for-the-need-for-sanitation/story-E5ZAjDe3cVTAtPB5TinNbI.html )

( http://www.thebetterindia.com/22322/a-brides-movement-that-changed-the-scenario-of-female-sanitation-facilities-in-villages-priyanka-bharti/ )

Considering the nature of the topic, the film could have easily veered off into a dull documentary type of film but director Shree Narayan Singh spins the powerful social message intelligently in a narrative peppered with lots of humour, emotions and drama which keep the viewer engaged throughout the film.

Initially Akshay Kumar’s character like any other villager can’t understand the sensitivity of the issue and comes up with various types of ‘jugaad’ (low-cost and temporary plans) to solve the problem. But once he realizes the seriousness of the situation, he vows to find a solution without compromise even if it meant sacrificing his love. Revealing anything more about the story would spoil the fun for those who have not yet seen it.

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To make a mainstream film on this topic and get a superstar to act in it was a tough call but the gamble has paid off. The film is an eye-opener regarding the simple things about our routine which we take for granted. Many of us probably cannot even begin to imagine the kind of difficulties these women must be going through-embarrassment, unhygienic conditions and even unsafe surroundings. The film does not tackle the problem in its entirety and the solution shown in the end is not the end of this monstrous problem but it is certainly a step towards drawing our attention to the gravity of the situation.

As part of the promotion strategy, the makers and the stars even managed to build several toilets in many places which was a good step in keeping with our Prime Minister’s ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’. The film is very apt and timely and helps to focus on this much ignored problem of our rural areas. When a popular actor is involved, spreading the message becomes easier more effective due to the reach of the star involved.

The film has already crossed the rupees 50-crore mark in the 1st three days and is all set to enter the ‘100-crore club’ quite comfortably once again proving that Akshay Kumar is the real superstar of the box-office. Always attempting to deliver something new in every film, Akshay has proved his mettle time and again in all kinds of genres and has steered clear of getting stuck with any kind of image which is really laudable!

The Performances:

The brilliant and perfect casting of all the characters in the film is the biggest plus point of the film. Akshay Kumar is superb in the role of the one-man crusader and gets to display a gamut of emotions from romance and excitement to anger and disillusionment. It will not be incorrect to state that this role could not have been carried off so convincingly by any other actor. Giving him support at every step is Bhumi Pednekar who also plays her part to conviction, much like her earlier outing in her debut film ‘Dum Lagake Haisha’.

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Sudhir Pandey as the irritating father is spot-on and so is Anupam Kher as Bhumi’s uncle with his obsession for Sunny Leone. The other scene stealer is young Divyendu Sharma who plays Akshay’s younger brother. He has a charming screen presence, is extremely likeable and adds a lot of humour to the scenes.

Points to Ponder:

Apart from emphasizing on the ‘toilet’ issue, the film also sheds light on the ridiculous system prevalent in many families in our society whereby a son is not allowed the freedom to have his own ideas or question his father on anything and forever living in fear of incurring his wrath. In the film Akshay Kumar is a 37-year old man who is unable to find a bride for himself only because his Brahmin father has some conditions which have to be met failing which he would not give Akshay permission to marry.

There is a scene in the film where the father slaps Akshay. Scenes showing grown-up heroes and heroines being slapped by their parents are quite common in our films and no one seems to mind this as it seems to have been accepted as something normal by the makers, the actors, the audience and even the censors! The only reason could be because such a practice must still be prevalent! Is this also accepted as part of our ‘culture’? Don’t we need to come out of this mind-set?

As we celebrate the seventieth Independence Day of this great country of ours, the film also makes us question certain ideologies and regressive practices which even today enslave us in the name of ‘custom’ and ‘culture’.  We may have got independence from British rule but we still need to strive for freedom from these appalling beliefs and meaningless diktats which are big obstacles in the path of progress. Sanitation and hygiene have always taken a backseat in our country and especially so for the women in our society who are bound by many rules in the name of ‘custom’ and ‘culture’ laid down by the men.

Verdict:

The film is definitely worth seeing for the points it raises, for Akshay Kumar’s breezy performance, for Bhumi Pednekar’s feisty portrayal, for the wonderful supporting cast, and for the hummable songs which fit in well with the rural theme. Critics seem to have a problem with the running time of the film but such an issue needs that much time to unfold and for the message to be conveyed. Akshay’s fans are certainly not complaining…

Here is a nice song in Sonu Nigam’s voice:

‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ crosses all limits of absurdity and baloney

By

Sharada Iyer

At a time when women are struggling to be treated with respect and dignity and not to be viewed as objects of lust, here comes this bizarre film with the heroine Anushka Sharma openly wanting a validation of her ‘sexiness’ from the hero Shah Rukh Khan throughout the film. She literally throws herself at him begging him to ‘check her out’ to see whether she is ‘sexy’ enough or she is the ‘sister’ type! And all this even though she has a fiancé back home and is just a random tourist stuck with her tour guide in a foreign country!!!

Jab Harry

The film falters at every step starting from the very first scene and maintains the incongruity for the entire duration ending in a clichéd and listless climax. Indeed it is difficult to fathom why SRK chose such a script which offers him neither novelty nor challenge at this stage of his career and especially when he is completing 25 glorious years in this industry.

And pray what made him do that awkward and totally unnecessary kissing scene with Anushka? A star who attained the tag of ‘The King of Romance’ without resorting to such gimmicks all these years looks a complete misfit in the scene.

Here are five reasons why ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’  fails miserably on every count:

The unbelievably inane plot:

Anushka plays a girl from India who is part of a big group tour to Europe and SRK is the tour guide. Just after the tour ends when he is about to set off to enjoy his personal time, she misses her flight on purpose and forces him to accompany her to search her engagement ring which she has lost during the trip. Her indifferent family and her fiancé just leave her in the lurch and board the flight back home. Now she forces him to embark on the full tour all over again and search for the ring in every possible place!!!

Imtiaz Ali’s unimpressive direction:

For a film touted to be a romantic journey and discovering true love, director Imtiaz Ali does not create even one magical moment between his lead pair. In many places the situations created are so silly and contrived that it becomes dull and irritating after a while. With two talented artistes at his disposal, it is sad he did not put any effort to create something memorable. Both Jab We Met and Highway had such special cinematic moments to take home but this one falters big time like his Tamasha which also had an equally useless story-line.

Most predictable and boring narrative:

From the very first scene we know exactly how the film will end. At least the journey could have been dotted with great music, funny situations, drama and romance. But no! Neither do the actors come across as an endearing pair nor does their supposed ‘love’ story touch our heart. And all those done-to-death European locales did nothing to add any extra meaning to the plot.

Complete lack of chemistry between the lead pair:

The ageing SRK still exudes charm but at this stage to accept him as a ‘playboy’ was really difficult. His body language and eyes just do not convey that and somehow once he meets Anushka, he keeps his distance and treats her with respect. It is she who goes after him relentlessly and behaves in a weird way. Why she wants to flirt with her guide and wants him to treat her like his girlfriend throughout their trip seemed so senseless and out of place. In fact she seemed to be having fun and had no real interest in looking for the ring! 

Anushka also looks too overbearing in front of SRK and talks too much doing the same type of characters she has been doing all along. Her Gujarati accent after a point gets really annoying and on the whole her character is not really likeable. 

Uninspiring and mediocre music:

A love-story without good music makes no sense. Music can work its magic as it really helps in repeat value. Even a banal film like Ae Dil Hai Mushkil ended up with a fantastic musical score from Pritam. There was a time SRK’s films had superb music – Dil Toh Pagal Hai, Raju Ban Gaya GentlemanDDLJ, Om Shanti Om . But here even though he is the producer, he has not really shown much interest to weave melody into the narrative. The situations have been artificially created and those new  playback singers just don’t seem to suit SRK.

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In Conclusion

An endearing love-story should either concentrate on the magical chemistry of the lead pair or else create drama around them by having a brilliant supporting cast. Jab Harry Met Sejal does neither.

What made the makers even think of such garbage is beyond belief! This year clearly does not belong to our ageing Superstars! First it was Salman Khan and his unbelievably useless Tubelight and now with this film Shah Rukh Khan gives him tough competition for the most nonsensical film of the year.

One wonders if SRK and Anushka had watched this film after completion for then they may not have embarked on those maddening promotional tours doing all those publicity stunts to entice the audience into cinema halls!

The film is not doing well and the collections are below par. That is heartening for it means audience cannot be taken for a ride. Now perhaps SRK will also compensate his distributors the way Salman Khan did after his Tubelight crashed at the box-office…

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A FEW OUTSTANDING KISHORE-ASHA DUETS PICTURIZED ON SOME UNUSUAL ON-SCREEN PAIRS

By

Sharada Iyer

Whenever Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle teamed together for duets, they always created magic! Kishore’s resonating vocals were matched by Asha’s ebullience and together they lent a special ‘X’-factor to their duets. It was not very important to know the actors on whom these duets were picturized as people could enjoy the emotions and feelings conveyed by just listening to these two greats who added life and character to the songs in their own inimitable way.

 

The seventies was still a part of the Golden era where melody reigned supreme. Even if the films did not do well, the songs attained popularity. Those were the days when radio was the most important source of keeping in touch with film songs. Film buffs either looked forward to the radio programs or waited for the weekly ‘Chaya Geet/Chitrahaar’ programs on Doordarshan channel to catch a glimpse of the songs, unlike today’s scenario where one gets to see them on television innumerable times. Hence many of the songs attained popularity through the merit of these singers and were not always dependent on the charisma of the actors lip-syncing to the songs.

Today is Kishore Kumar’s 88th birth anniversary. In this blog I have chosen twenty fabulous duets of Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle, not picturized on popular mainstream actors but the songs remain favourites even today! These films released between 1969 and 1979.  

SANSAR (1971)
Actors: Naveen Nischol-Anupama

Directed by Dilip Bose Sansar was a typical family melodrama involving two brothers-Abhi Bhattachrya and Navin Nischol and a loving ‘Bhabi’ played by Nirupa Roy with newcomer Anupama playing Navin Nischol’s love interest.

Both the actors at the time of release of the film were comparatively new and yet to make a mark in the industry. Though Navin Nischol ‘s debut film Saawan Bhadon had become a hit Sansar was one of his early films and he was still to establish himself. This was the film Anupama signed first though two other films released before this. Sadly, many may not even recollect her name today as she acted in very few films and quit the industry to get married.

The film’s music by Chitragupt was a big hit and this song penned by the great Sahir Ludhianavi remains evergreen and is perhaps the only way we may remember the heroine’s face…

 

CHALAAK (1973)
Actors: Kiran Kumar-Radha Saluja

A dull film with new talents and an average script dealing with murder, deceit, double-crossing and smuggling, the film hardly made even a whimper when it was released. The hero was Kiran Kumar, son of the famous villain Jeevan and heroine was Radha Saluja. Both did not have any acting talent to boast about but survived in the industry for a while.

The music director of the film was Ganesh, a name not heard of by many. He was one of Pyarelal’s brothers (of Laxmikant-Pyarelal duo) and used to assist LP in many of their films. This particular duet became very popular and remains so even today…

 

 

AANSOO BAN GAYE HAIN PHOOL (1969)
Actors: Deb Mukherje-Alka

Deb Mukherjee was a very average actor with highly questionable talent. But being the son of the famous producer Sashadhar Mukherjee, owner of Filmalaya Studios, he got the opportunity to act in a few films. In this film he teamed up with Alka, whose career never quite took off. She had a sweet face but always got B-grade films opposite dull heroes and she soon quit the industry.

This timeless Kishore-Asha duet composed by the maestros Laxmikant-Pyarelal became a super-hit at that time and continues to enthrall us even today…

 

ADHIKAR (1969)

Actors: Deb Mukherjee- Nazima

This family drama was headed by Ashok Kumar and also had Raj Mehra, Nanda and Pran in important roles. Here Deb Mukherjee is the hero who falls in love with Nazima but ends up marrying Nanda. Nazima was a talented actress but somehow remained the ‘proverbial sister’ in most of the films and was generally seen in supporting roles. Luckily she has had some very melodious songs picturized on her.

Once again a foot-tapping melodious composition from R D Burman and interestingly the lyricist here is a hardly heard name Ramesh Pant. Interestingly he was the dialogue writer of Rajesh Khanna’s classic film Amar Prem for which he won a Filmfare award.

 

DHAMKEE (1973)
Actors: Vinod Khanna-Kum Kum

This film directed by Dulal Guha is an interesting thriller where Vinod Khanna plays an inspector. He is in love with Kum Kum but her father is suspected to be a smuggler. The film also had writer-director Subhash Ghai as an actor along with Ramesh Deo and the two sisters Jayashree T and Meena T.

Music by Ganesh is average except for this one duet stands out for its melody…

 

HUM TUM AUR WOH (1973)
Actors: Vinod Khanna-Bharati

Bharati was essentially a Kannada actress who made her debut in Hindi films in 1967 and her handful of films include Purab Aur Paschim, Mastana and Sadhu Aur Shaitan. Both she and Vinod Khanna looked good together.

This film did not create any stir but two of the songs composed by music directors Kalyanji-Anandji became very popular- One was a Kishore Kumar solo-‘Priye Praaneshwari…’ and the second was his duet with Asha Bhonsle.

 

 

ABHI TO JEE LEIN (1977)
Actors: Danny Denzongpa-Jaya Bhaduri

Who would have imagined the ace villain Danny singing such a lovely song with ‘the-girl-next-door’ heroine Jaya Bhaduri? This film had a story revolving around students, college life and the ensuing campus politics.

Music directors Sapan Sengupta and Jagmohan Bakshi who started their careers as assistants to Salil Chowdhary later composed music for some films under the name of Sapan-Jagmohan. But they did not last long. In this song their music sounded similar to R D Burman’s and has a soft soothing quality that suited the picturesque scenery.

 

HONEYMOON (1973)
Actors: Anil Dhawan-Leena Chandavarkar

This film is a highly entertaining light-hearted musical with relatively new faces which released in 1973. The film stars Leena Chandavarkar, Anil Dhawan, Suresh Chatwal, Nazima and Utpal Dutt and had superb music by the very talented but underrated music director Usha Khanna.

There are two Kishore-Asha gems which have stood the test of time and remain favourites even today. The first is a duet sung by Leena and Anil Dhawan on their Honeymoon and the second song is picturized on unknown faces and sung inside a train. These songs speak volumes of the super talent of Usha Khanna and the magic of the Kishore and Asha!

 

MAIN SUNDAR HOON (1973)
Actors: Biswajit-Leena Chandavarkar

A remake of the Tamil film ‘Server Sundaram’ starring comedian Nagesh, the Hindi version is remembered for Mehmood’s outstanding performance and superb music by Shankar Jaikishen. Biswajit and Leena Chandavarkar also star in the film. Both the men fall for her but she loves only Biswajit.

Biswajit who is generally associated with Mohammed Rafi numbers was fortunate to have Kishore Kumar singing for him in the film. This lovely duet picturized on him and Leena is remembered to this day even though they made an unusual on-screen pair!

 

 

SEEMA (1971)
Actors: Kabir Bedi-Simi Garewal

The very mention of this film brings to our mind the haunting song in Mohammed Rafi’s voice ‘Jab bhi yeh dil udaas hota hai…’ with a few lines hummed by singer Sharda. This song became so hugely popular that in spite of the film’s poor performance, the music is still remembered.

The film also had a fabulous Kishore-Asha duet which also became popular but somehow never got associated with the film. Further hardly anyone remembers that the unusual actors lip-syncing to this popular duet were Kabir Bedi and Simi Garewal ! All credit to Shankar-Jaikishen for the lilting songs…

 

MADHOSH (1974): 
Actors: Mahender Sandhu- Reena Roy

Mahendra Sandhu acted in very few films in the seventies the best known among them being Agent Vinod which was a box-office success. His other films are not really remembered and even his name is not remembered by many. He is the son-in law of yesteryear actor-singer Surendra.

This film was among actress Reena Roy’s early films when she was still struggling as a newcomer. She had to contend being paired opposite B-grade actors like Mahendra Sandhu before Kalicharan opposite Shatrughan Sinha catapulted her into the big league. 

RAAKHI AUR HATHKADI (1974):
Actors: Vijay Arora-Asha Parekh

In her recently released autobiography Asha Parekh mentions this film as one of the biggest flops of her career. It is not surprising considering the fact that an ageing Asha not only played a college student but was also paired opposite a young Vijay Arora and the pair looked a complete misfit. Asha Parekh had a double role in the film and she gets to play both mother and daughter.

The film had a clichéd story of childless couple, adoption, prostitutes, etc., and perhaps might have been appreciated had it released a decade earlier. Music by R D Burman was good and this particular Kishore-Asha duet remains hugely popular even today…

 

 

KHALIFA (1976)
Actors: Randhir-Kapoor-Rekha

Randhir Kapoor could not make his mark in films in spite of big breaks opposite top heroines as he had neither any special charm nor talent. However many of his films had superb music which helped him retain his recall-value, the biggest examples being Kal Aaj aur Kal and Jawani Deewani. This Prakash Mehra directed Khalifa which released in the same year alongside very hit films like Dus Numbri, Kabhie Kabhi, Chitchor, Mausam, Nagin, Fakira, Laila Majnu, Do Anjaane etc., could not really catch the public fancy even though the film featured him in an interesting double role and had Pran, Madan Puri and I S Johar to add value.

R D Burman whipped up some melodious songs of which the one chosen here is my favourite. The song is on the lines of ‘Nahi nahi, abhi nahi,…’ from Jawani Deewani, and Randhir is expressionless as usual and there is nor much chemistry with Rekha. How one wishes that the song sung with so much verve and feeling had been picturized on some romantic star…

RICKSHAWALAH (1973)
Actors: Randhir Kapoor-Neetu Singh

This film was a remake of the successful Tamil film ‘Rickshawkaran’ starring MGR and the film won him the National Award for Best Actor. But the remake in Hindi was a big flop.

This film marked the debut of Neetu Singh as an adult actress and ironically opposite her future brother-in-law Randhir Kapoor. Their pairing did not become popular and later on she made a successful pair with her would-be-husband Rishi Kapoor. She had earlier been popular as a child artiste under the name of Baby Sonia. The film also starred Mala Sinha.

The chosen duet composed by R D Burman is really melodious…

BHANWAR (1976)
Actors: Randhir Kapoor-Aruna Irani

This was a typical Bollywood ‘masala’ film starring Ashok Kumar, Kamini Kaushal, Randhir Kapoor, Parveen Babi and Aruna Irani in pivotal roles. Though predictable the movie is fairly entertaining with good songs.

The duet chosen here is the best song of the film and is picturized on Randhir and Aruna Irani who do make an odd pair with Parveen being the third angle of the triangle in this love story. Lyrics by Anand Bakshi aptly bring out the ensuing tension between the three and R D Burman once agi comes up with a foot-tapping number

ZAMEEN AASMAN (1972)
Actors: Sharad Kumar-Yogita Bali

This action thriller directed by Veerappan had Ashok Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Rekha and Yogita Bali. Indrani Mukherjee plays a double role as Ashok Kumar’s first as well as second wife. Yogita Bali is in love with Sharad and the two get to lip-sync to this interesting duet.

This film surprisingly had music by Kishore Kumar himself. The song is picturized on a relatively unknown face Sharad Kumar who acted in very few films in a supporting role. The other film I can recall with Sharad Kumar is Joru Ka Ghulam, where he pretends to be Nanda’s husband to fool her parents while the real husband Rajesh Khanna pretends to be the cook.

RATNADEEP (1979)
Actors: Girish Karnad-Hema Malini

This was a film with an off-beat story and a unique cast. Hema Malini for all her ‘DreamGirl’ tag has boldly attempted to come in various off-beat films from time to time. Here she teams up with the talented Girish Karnad who plays double role. The Girish Karnad in the song is a look-alike of the Girish Karnad who is dead. The look-alike lands up in the house feigning a memory-loss and is impersonating as Hema’s husband to get his hands on the estate money. While she is the innocent victim, his guilt can be seen in this song.

R D Burman comes up with this masterpiece of a duet sung superbly by Kishoreda ansd Ashaji.

BUDDHA MIL GAYA (1971)

Actors: Navin Nischol-Archana

Director Hrishikesh Mukherjee who is  known for gems like Anand, Namak Haram and Chupke Chupke decides to spin an intriguing and thrilling tale of murder and suspense in Buddha Mil Gaya. The film starred Om Prakash in a major role apart from Navin Nischol, Deven Verma and newcomer Archana.

Archana was the daughter of director Hemen Gupta who had made films like Anand Math and Kabuliwala. She acted in just three or four  films and was very fortunate to have two superb evergreen songs picturized on her- a Kishore Kumar solo ‘Raat kali ik khwab mein aayi…’ and the Kishore-Asha duet chosen here ‘Bhali bhali si ek soorat…’. R D Burman’s does a brilliant job with his compositions as well as the background music.

ANAND ASHRAM (1979)
Actors: Uttam Kumar- Sharmila Tagore

This Shakti Samantha directed film could not recreate the success of his previous film Amanush which had the same actors Uttam Kumar and Sharmila Tagore. The film also starred Ashok Kumar, Rakesh Roshan and Moushmi Chatterjee.

The film’s music was given by Shyamal Mitra and this particular soft romantic duet attained phenomenal success. The name of the film is remembered to this day only because of the magic of Kishore and Asha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA: Bold, Brave and Brilliant

By

Sharada Iyer

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In the movie one of the protagonists, a young college student, mouths this seemingly ordinary yet powerful dialogue which in a way sums up the essence of the entire film “Aap hamaari azaadi se itna darte kyun ho?” (“Why are you so afraid of our freedom?”). The question directed towards all those out-dated societal norms and diktats against women since ages really makes us wonder why women are not allowed to come up in life and have ownership of their own bodies and minds! The freedom of choice remains a far-fetched dream even today in our society…

The content is bold because the story of the four protagonists from the by-lanes of a small town, dares to take us right behind closed doors of their homes and in doing so holds a mirror to the patriarchal and male chauvinistic mind-set of our society where men revel in controlling and repressing women physically, mentally and emotionally till they are even deprived of the very desire to dream.

In fact the makers met with their very first obstacle when the ‘sanskari’ Censor Board created a ruckus by refusing to certify the film and tried their best to get it banned because they felt the content was ‘too female-oriented’ and ‘not fit for viewing’. This very step is in keeping with what the producer-director duo are trying to convey through their film.

THE PLOT

The film essentially traces the journey of four lower middle-class women in a small town belonging to different age-groups and their everyday struggle to find some hope in the dreary humdrum of their lives. They dare to dream of a different kind of life for themselves than the one they are forced to live currently. They dare to dream of a life of freedom from the shackles of the society…

It is the deftness and conviction with which the stories are told that makes for an engaging and thought-provoking viewing . Their struggle is very much an intrinsic part of their daily routine from which there seems to be no escape, yet they continue knowing that one day the bubble may burst and they may then have to face society’s wrath and pay a heavy price. It is the momentary pleasure and opportunity to prove their assertion which gives them strength.

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One of the protagonists, Ratna Pathak Shah, is a 55-year old widow whose inner desires are aroused on seeing her young physically fit swimming instructor. This track is perhaps the boldest track of the film. Normally widows in our society are expected to behave in a particular way and keep their sexuality and desires under wrap while no such rules are there for men who merrily marry as many times as they desire. She gives vent to her feelings in her own way…

The track with Konkana Sen’s story is the story of many a woman we come across in our everyday life. Such women find their dreams clipped by domesticity and a heartless husbands who just use them as objects of lust and sex and nothing more. Whatever she tries to achieve professionally is done surreptitiously and there is always the fear of being caught. She may not own her body but her mind and thoughts are hers alone…

The third character is Ahana Kumra, an enterprising and bubbly young woman who works in a beauty parlour and has a photographer boyfriend with whom she gets intimate with gay abandon. They even make secret plans to run away to start their own business. But her mother forcibly gets her engaged to a young man who makes it clear to her in subtle terms that there would be no need for her to step out after their marriage. Sandwiched between the two men her life seems to go for a toss and her dreams have no hope of getting materialized…

The fourth story is about a young college girl played by Plabitha Borthakur, who aspires to be fashionable and nurtures a dream of becoming a popular singer like her idol Miley Cyrus and fights hard to be ‘accepted’ as part of the ‘cream’ crowd of the college. Yet she has to lie and steal her way in life as her parents are very conservative and she has to wear her ‘burkha’ all the time and this frustrates her no end… 

THREE CHEERS TO ALL THE LADIES

The narrative never turns into a boring documentary as the dialogues by Gazal Dhaliwal are spot on and some of the situations are laced with humour which keeps the viewer engrossed. Lyrics by young Anvita Dutt are meaningful and music by Zebunnisa Bangash is apt for the setting.

Ratna Pathak Shah never ceases to amaze. Here she takes up a role so bold that one wonders if anyone else in her place could have pulled it off with so much dignity! Konkana Sen is always a pleasure to watch. She always gets into the skin of the character and her natural acting leaves us speechless. The two newcomers Ahana and Plabitha stand out for their authentic portrayal and manage to make their mark alongside the two veterans. The male actors Vikrant Massey, Sushant Singh, Shahashank Arora and Jagat Singh Solanki are very good in their respective roles.

The film also brings to my mind two other films with stories on similar lines. The first is director Pan Nalin’s ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ (2015) which dealt with the problems and repressions faced by the women belonging to the slightly upper-strata of society and the second is director Leena Yadav’s ‘Parched’ (2016) which dealt about the everyday lives of the women of a village in Rajasthan. All three are superb films and interestingly all the three films when screened at International Film Festivals were appreciated but back home there is always the tussle over the censorship issue.

Some people may have a problem with the ending as this is no commercial ‘masala’ film where a Prince Charming is waiting to rescue our damsels. This is a slice of reality where the women have to confront the bitter truth of their lives everyday knowing that maybe everything will explode towards the end one day. Maybe for some sections of the society coming out of this warped mind-set will take time but for now women like these will keep the fight on.

Kudos to producer Prakash Jha, distributor Ekta Kapoor and writer-director Alankrita Srivastava for having the guts to come up with such a bold script and getting on board a team of brilliant actors who had the nerve and sincerity to play the poignant characters in the film. There are no cheap or titillating scenes in ‘Lisptick Under My Burkha’ and there is certainly nothing scandalous because of which our censors got all worked up. The film is definitely worth seeing for it gives a glimpse of reality and makes us realize the price women have to pay for their freedom!

And to think the film may have remained in the can !!!

What the censors probably did not realize is that their meaningless move to curb the film inadvertently worked as a PR for the film. In spite of getting fewer screens to release their film (they had to compete with the big-budget films like ‘Jagga Jaasoos’ and ‘Munna Michael’ and the Hollywood biggie ‘Dunkirk’), it is heartening to note that ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ has been declared a hit owing to word of mouth publicity. After all isn’t there something devilishly appealing about wanting to see a film which almost got banned by the Censor Board!!!

 

‘DOUBLE ROLE’ FILMS OF RAJESH KHANNA

By

Sharada Iyer

The concept of ‘Double Roles’ remains an enigmatic genre and unique to Indian cinema. Hollywood and World Cinema have generally stayed away from exploring the possibilities of such stories. A possible reason could be that our industry is dominated by the star-system whereby it is the charisma and persona of the star that is embedded in the psyche of the audience and hence the fascinating idea of seeing their favourite actor/actress in more than one role in the same film has always caught the fancy of the fans. At the same time it offers the actors to test their own acting prowess as well.

Superstar Rajesh Khanna is one of the handful of actors who got the opportunity to play ‘double role’ in more than ten films in his career. He also belongs to the select band of actors who started their career with a double role. His repertoire of ‘double roles’ has an interesting mix of characters where he got to play father and son or identical twins but for the most part he played look-alike characters who just crossed path by destiny. 

Today is Rajesh Khanna’s fifth death anniversary and this blog-post is a tribute to this charming, endearing and amazingly gifted actor who defined ‘superstardom’ in the most unique and unprecedented way. From 1967 to 1985, there are eleven films where Rajesh Khanna donned the ‘dual avatar’. Here is a brief description of the story and his character in these films.

RAAZ (1967)

Director: Ravindra Dave

 Heroine: Babita

double roles5Though Chetan Anand directed ‘Aakhri Khat’ reIeased first in 1966, the murder-mystery romantic thriller Raaz was technically the first film signed by Rajesh Khanna. His heroine Babita also made her debut with this film. The film starts in Africa where Rajesh Khanna staying with his friend I S Johar starts getting visions of a woman and a place in India in his dreams. To get to the bottom of this, the two leave for India but to his surprise everyone recognizes him but thinks he is a ghost. The plot takes an intriguing turn as he finds out that he is supposed to have been murdered some time back and is even shown the grave where he has been buried. And Babita is convinced that he is her lover who had only disappeared.

Revealing anything more about the plot would mean spoiling the fun for anyone wanting to watch. How and where does the second Rajesh Khanna fit in and what exactly did happen to the murdered Khanna forms the crux of the film. Being a film of the sixties and being the debut film for both the hero and heroine, there are lots of songs and some of them became very popular. It is difficult to imagine that this was Khanna’s debut film as his acting is very natural and expressions are spot on. The charisma which made him a Superstar is very much there to see and the film is very enjoyable.

ARADHANA (1969)

Director: Shakti Samantha

Heroines: Sharmila Tagore, Farida Jalal

double role6The film which changed the fate of Rajesh Khanna forever catapulting him to dizzying heights of superstardom also sealed the Rajesh Khanna-Kishore Kumar ‘jodi’ and for the next twenty years they continued to give one musical hit after the other till Kishoreda died in 1987. The story of the film was initially conceived as a two-hero film with the first hero dying before interval. It was writer Gulshan Nanda who suggested the double role angle and the rest as they say is history.

No doubt Rajesh Khanna is brilliant in both the roles of the father and the son, but there is no scene where they come together on screen as the father dies young and the son appears much later. So in both the roles, he gets to portray characters who are not only of the same age but also belonging to the same profession- Air Force pilot. The only small physical difference is that of a moustache sported by the son.

Though S D Burman is credited for the landmark music of the film, his son R D Burman’s contribution was no less. As the senior Burman was taken ill, R D being his assistant took over and added his genius touch to many aspects of the songs. Here is an iconic song from the film which is said to have been filmed in a single take…

 

SACHAA JHOOTA (1970)

Director: Manmohan Desai

Heroines: Mumtaz, Faryal

double role7This super-hit which fetched Rajesh Khanna his first Filmfare Best Actor Award is easily one of the best films of his career. Packed with unexpected twists and turns that keeps the viewer engaged from start to finish with the thrills, action, comedy and emotion, the film also gave to the industry one of its most loved romantic on-screen pairs- Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz. Though Shashi Kapoor had been approached for the role, he refused to work opposite ‘B-grade’ heroine Mumtaz and as luck would have it the film fell into Rajesh Khanna’s lap and there was no looking back…

Rajesh Khanna is rocking in both the roles-that of the two look-alikes: Bhola-an honest village simpleton who is a band musician and Ranjit- the ruthless diamond smuggler. When Bhola comes to town in search of work he enters a masquerade party where the police mistake him for Ranjit. Initially Ranjit (in the black dress and mask) is shocked to see his look-alike but soon comes up with an ingenious plan whereby he convinces the innocent Bhola to masquerade as Ranjit for a while. He then continues with his robberies and this completely foxes the police who are all the time actually following Bhola masquerading as Ranjit.

The film’s climax in the court is a memorable scene when both of them are standing and everyone is confused as to who is the real Bhola ! All the songs of this film are outstanding and remain evergreen even today. Here is the number sung at the masquerade party…

 

HUMSHAKAL (1974)

Director: Jambulingam

Heroines: Tanuja, Maoushmi Chatterjee

double roles8This film has an interesting plot where Rajesh Khanna plays two look-alikes- Ram, the manager of a huge estate and Lakshman, a poor worker in the same estate. One day the worker saves the manager’s baby and that’s when they meet and are struck by their identical faces. Seeing her baby’s life in danger, the manager’s wife Tanuja faints and gets mentally affected. After this due to some unavoidable circumstances, Lakshman has to pose as Ram for a while without anyone finding out the truth. But one night Lakshman saves Moushmi from a lecherous man and ends up marrying her. Now it becomes more difficult for him to keep up with this dual lifestyle and this leads to misunderstandings and confusions. The mystery is solved in the end and all lose ends are neatly tied.

Rajesh Khanna is his charming romantic self and basically both roles are very similar. So there is no scope of displaying any difference kind of histrionics. R D Burman’s music is one of the highlights of the film and all the songs are superb. I have chosen a lovely romantic number which remained at the top of the popularity charts for several months…

 

MEHBOOBA (1976)

Director: Shakti Samantha

Heroine: Hema Malini

double roles9This film tells an absorbing tale of re-incarnation and unrequited love of a previous birth which haunts the lovers in the current birth. In the previous birth, Rajesh Khanna plays a Royal court musician and falls in love with the court dancer Hema Malini but as their love story is doomed due to unavoidable circumstances, they die promising to get united in another birth. In the current birth, it is Rajesh Khanna who first remembers everything when he chances upon Hema Malini’s photo in an abandoned villa. One day he comes across Hema Malini, who is a village girl and starts pursuing her reminding her of their previous birth. Once again there are obstacles in the form of Prem Chopra, the tribal who has set his eyes on Hema and Yogeeta Bali who is Rajesh Khanna’s fiancé…

Rajesh Khanna is at his romantic best in both the roles and his confrontation scenes with Prem Chopra are always a delight to watch. He also gets to lip-sync to some outstanding songs composed by R D Burman especially the haunting song ‘Mere Naina Saawan Bhaadon…’ which connects the two births. The image of Rajesh Khanna in his denim jacket strumming the guitar and singing this song remains embedded in the minds of his fans…

 

MAHACHOR (1976)

Director: Narendra Bedi

Heroine: Neetu Singh, Aruna Irani

double roles10This movie starts off as an interesting tale of a street-smart conman taking the place of a royal prince who had disappeared several years ago. The Rani Ma (queen mother) is anxious to hand over the entire fortune to her son on his return. This switch is engineered by the crook Prem Chopra who somehow gets Rajesh Khanna to do the job for him as soon as he comes to know that the missing prince looks exactly like the conman. But once he enters the place, Rajesh Khanna has a change of heart and with the help of Neetu Singh, a princess whom he falls in love with, they manage to locate the real prince. Apparently years back he had been kidnapped and kept captive in the dungeons and treated badly because of which he grows up to be a mentally retarded man who has no clue to the happenings around him. Aruna Irani also loves Rajesh Khanna but he treats her always as a good friend.

The events are quite fast-paced and once again the Rajesh Khanna-Prem Chopra combination proves to be the USP of the film. Rajesh Khanna puts in a breezy performance as the conman who enjoys his tryst with the lawmakers and has no qualms going to jail for the odd jobs he does as long as he gets paid. He uses this money to help the needy in the slum colony where he resides. As the mentally retarded prince, he hardly has any scenes. He just has to suck his thumb and look dazed which he does.

Here is a song in which the conman is captured by Prem Chopra for going against him and we can get a glimpse of the retarded prince as well…

 

BHOLA BHALA (1978)

Director: Satpal

Heroines: Rekha, Moushmi Chatterjee

double roles1This movie had quite a senseless storyline in which Rajesh Khanna plays an honest insurance agent and a dreaded dacoit. A chance encounter in a train ends up in the insurance agent saving the dacoit’s life and to reward him, the dacoit joins an insurance policy of some princely amount! Though initially his company folks are thrilled with him, later they want him to go back and cancel the policy for which they need the dacoit’s signature. Now Khanna ventures out again but this time though the dacoit is kind to him, his associates hold him as a captive in their camp as he is now aware of too many details of their whereabouts. The story then meanders aimlessly and somewhere both the Khannas get time to romance their heroines- Moushmi for the agent and Rekha for the dacoit.

While Rajesh Khanna exudes his usual charm in the role of the insurance agent, he was a complete misfit as a dacoit. To make things worse, Kader Khan has dubbed all the dialogues for the dacoit Rajesh Khanna which is probably why his acting didn’t seem to gel with the character. One wonders what made the director and Khanna himself think of such a ridiculous idea! That single-handedly killed the very essence of this already listless film.

A couple of songs became very popular. Here is a solo number by Kishore Kumar which is not heard too often nowadays but was a hit at that time…

 

KUDRAT (1981)

Director: Chetan Anand

Heroines: Hema Malini, Priya Rajvansh

double role11Once again Rajesh Khanna gets to be a part of a reincarnation saga and once again Hema Malini plays his lover. This time however the plot is intriguing as there is murder in the plot and the last 45 minutes of the film are devoted to some brilliant courtroom drama where Rajesh Khanna plays the prosecutor and Priya Rajvansh the defence lawyer. Hema Malini in the present birth is engaged to Vinod Khanna but has recurring dreams of images of some faces and events which make her very distressed. When she meets Rajesh Khanna, unknowingly she feels a connection with him and realizes he is one of the faces she sees in her dream. Rajesh Khanna is a lawyer and out of gratitude to his mentor Raj Kumar, agrees to marry his daughter Priya Rajvansh. On their engagement day Hema Malini comes face to face with Raj Kumar and suddenly remembers all the details of her previous birth and accuses Raj Kumar of having murdered her. The unique story-line of the film won the Filmfare award for the best story that year!

Rajesh Khanna is brilliant in the film. As the man caught between knowing the reality of his previous birth and having difficulty in accepting the truth that the very mentor whom he had adored and looked up to all his life could have been such a cold blooded murderer, he gets to display a gamut of emotions. As the romantic villager of the previous birth he is his usual romantic self though looking a lot older than his earlier films probably owing to a deviation from the trademark Rajesh Khanna hairstyle…

Music of the film is superb with the song ‘Hame tumse pyar kitna …’ by Kishore Kumar attaining extraordinary popularity.

 

DARD (1981)

Director: Ambrish Sangal

Heroines: Hema Malini, Poonam Dhillon

double role12The film is a remake of the 1960 classic Mamta with a few alterations in the script. Instead of the mother-daughter angle in Mamta here the story revolves around the father-son duo with Rajesh Khanna essaying both the roles. Hema Malini, a rich and upcoming lawyer is in love with a poor Rajesh Khanna and as usual, her father manipulates things in such a way that she is sent away to study abroad and he forced to marry someone who dies at childbirth leaving behind a son. He also takes the murder rap on himself for an act committed by his evil brother-in-law. Hema Malini agrees to bring up his son who also grows up to be a lawyer.

Once out of jail, the old Rajesh Khanna works as a gardener in Poonam Dhillon’s house. But the young Rajesh Khanna has an instinctive dislike for the gardener knowing that he had been in jail. Now the evil brother-in-law returns to blackmail Hema Malini and this time the old Rajesh Khanna actually kills him. The young Rajesh Khanna is now the prosecutor and Hema becomes the defence lawyer.

The movie was good and essentially belongs to the older Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini. Needless to say he is superb in the older role. As the son, however he goes a little overboard with his mannerisms trying to pass off as a young 25- year old romancing Poonam Dhillon. Around this time, Rajesh Khanna had put on weight making him look old and it also looked weird when he addresses Hema Malini as ‘Ma’! The court scenes towards the end are wonderful. Music by Khayyam was one of the highlights of the film. Here is a song where both father and son can be seen:

 

DHARAM AUR KANOON (1984)

Director: Joshi

Heroines: Asha Parekh, Jaya Prada

double role13.jpgThis film is a multi-starrer with Dharmendra, Danny and Vinod Mehra also having important roles. Rajesh Khanna plays father and son. The father is a Judge and does not get along with his son Rajen who decides to move out of the house and live in the nearby slum. There are many murders committed and all cases come to the court of Justice Diwan who gives his verdict of death sentence based only on the facts presented irrespective of whether the accused is his best friend or his son…

The scenes between Dharmendra and senior Rajesh Khanna are enjoyable and once again Khanna shines in both roles. Songs were very average and made no impact. Here is a rain song picturized on the son Rajesh Khanna…

 

HUM DONO (1985)

Director- B S GLaad

Heroines: Hema Malini, Reena Roy

doubleroles14.jpgHum Dono which released in 1985 was the last film where Rajesh Khanna got to play a double role. This fun-filled comedy film was a remake of the Telugu film Sommokadidi Sokkokadidi  and was later made in Tamil as well with Kamal Hassan starring in both versions. In this film a poor villager gets to know that he has a look-alike in Dr Shekhar who has a flourishing practice as a doctor and earns a lot of money working at an impressive hospital. He decides to impersonate him once he leaves the clinic and pockets whatever money he makes treating patients who come to him. He even falls for the girl who had set her sights on the doctor. Nobody finds anything wrong as the doctor is known to be very forgetful and lost many times.

After a while the Doctor finds out about his impersonator and decides to get him kidnapped by a gang. He then goes to the poor man’s house and starts liking the life there with the poor man’s mother and girlfriend. Basically lot of confusions occur and becomes a laugh riot with things getting muddled. It is a well-directed film and it is great to see Rajesh Khanna tapping his comic talent to the full.

Here is a song where the doctor Rajesh Khanna is amused to see his impersonator romancing his friend

 

MOM: Sridevi’s 300th film does full justice to her talent

By

Sharada Iyer

I am penning a few thoughts after watching Sridevi’s 300th film-Mom, which released yesterday: 07-07-2017. Fifty years back, it was on 07-07-1967 that her first film Kandan Karunai was released where she is a child artiste playing the role of Lord Murugan! She then went on to conquer the Tamil, Telugu and Hindi film industry becoming the top actress in all the three! She is truly deserving of the title of ‘Superstar’ more than anyone else.

sridevi

Five years back she made a mark with ‘English Vinglish’ where she fights for the respect a housewife deserves and now in ‘Mom’, she tells us not to underestimate the power of a mother. Interestingly, the occupancy of the cinema hall where I went to watch the ‘first-day-first-show’ of this film was much more than it was for Salman Khan’s recently released Tubelight, giving a clear indication that Sridevi commands respect and a fan-following of her own which is independent of the presence of any of the other top stars!

sridevi7

On the face of it director Ravi Udayavar’s debut film Mom is an emotionally charged revenge drama where the perpetrators of the heinous crime of rape are brought to justice by the victim’s mother. But the film is more than just that. The film explores the circumstances leading to such acts and the consequent physical, mental and emotional trauma the family undergoes which leaves a permanent scar on their body and soul. It makes us question many things in our social fabric which are chillingly scary and unnerving but don’t seem to have any answers.

Sceptics may argue that this kind of ‘female-oriented’ revenge saga has nothing new to offer but the alarming insensitivity of our law and order system to this dastardly act is indeed terrifying! Many times the police waste no time in nabbing the culprits but the rapists escape scot-free because of the various loopholes in the prosecution’s case, lack of concrete evidence, effortless perjury committed by the witnesses and finally the immorality of the lawyer representing them.

Under these circumstances, the audience is not only able to connect with the revenge-scenes unfolding but also derives immense satisfaction from the kind of deserving punishment meted out to these perpetrators. This empathy and Sridevi’s stupendous performance thus end up becoming the film’s biggest USP. There is no doubt whatsoever that only Sridevi could have done this role which required her to bring to life the character of the mother who is utterly helpless to take away her daughter’s trauma and pain. In fact she goes beyond just acting because she becomes the character, Devki. Her voice modulations, her expressions, her emotional outbursts and her steely determination all leave the viewer spellbound and make for compelling viewing .

sridevi4

The brilliant Nawazuddin Siddiqui adds yet another feather to his versatile cap. This time he goes in for a voice modulation and a make-over as well, which has him donning a bald pate, crooked teeth and glasses. His role is more of a supporting nature yet in that short time he endears with his sparkling wit and a performance which the people are not going to forget in a long time.

The talented and charming Akshaye Khanna remains as handsome as ever and continues to remain underutilized and does his best in the not-so well-written role. The two Pakistani actors Adnan Siddique who plays the father and Sajal Ali who plays Sridevi’s step-daughter are also superb in their roles. Adnan brings an endearing dignity to his performance and leaves an indelible mark as the sensitive father. There is a close-knit warmth in the father-daughter relation not seen very often in our films. As the victim, newcomer Sajal Ali is very effective and conveys her pain and suffering very well.

sridevi6

The rapists are seemingly ordinary-looking men and the fact that rapists can come in any form and shape adds more fear to the disturbing set-up. The film ‘Pink’ with the message of ‘NO means NO’ may have minted money at the box-office but in reality men still find it hard to take a ‘No’ from girls and this seems to be their only form of revenge for their hurt ego. 

Are we ever going to find a solution for this? Also the widespread pub-culture among young teenagers and the infamous ‘farmhouse-parties’ where drinks are flowing freely and drugs are available easily is certainly a cause for concern. Youngsters in that age-group can become rebellious and difficult to control whether in school or at parties and any advice only leads to further damage. The scene also sends a clear message to the youngsters who innocently attend such parties where security and women’s safety are totally non-existent!

The director also steers clear of showing any graphic depiction of the monstrous act! In fact the scene which shows the closed moving vehicle from an aerial view becomes even more chilling as we realize how lonely and deserted the city roads are at that time of night in Delhi and how helpless anyone in that situation would be! So many times we read about such cases in the newspapers and our imagination during that scene will leave us shaken! A R Rahman adds his own dimension to the scene with his chilling background score…

Likewise when the killers are punished it is not brute force of any physical kind but ingenuity which takes precedence and the results are equally effective. So there is no bone-battering which happens when our male stars resort to revenge in the action films.

The film shows the difficulties and emotional turbulence faced by the family trying to deal when a horrific incident wreaks havoc in their lives and changes things forever. There is also another sensitive angle to the story here. Sridevi happens to be Sejal’s stepmother and the daughter has not yet accepted her fully. In fact the undercurrent of resentment is clearly evident in their relationship and their day-to-day conversations. So when this trauma occurs, she turns to her father which hurts Sridevi emotionally but she respects, understands and accepts her daughter’s feelings with grace and dignity.

sridevi5

It is not as if the film is flawless and perfect. It does have its share of cliches and melodrama but the film is definitely worth a ‘dekko’ for the plot so relevant in today’s times, for Sridevi’s towering performance and for the one and only Nawazuddin Siddiqui! Also, though the story has no surprises as anyone who has watched the trailer will have a rough idea of what to expect, the treatment is different and the narrative is very fast-paced keeping the audience engrossed from start to finish!

 

 

 

BOLLYWOOD 2017: Half-yearly report card

By

Sharada Iyer

As the first half of 2017 came to an end it was clear that Bollywood did not really have great Box-Office collections to report. Except for the tsunami called Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, which swept away all the box-office records, held till date, none of the other films could rake in much ‘moolah’. Considering the fact that Baahubali 2  was not a Hindi film per se, still the dubbed Hindi version alone managed to fetch more than Rs 500 crores which is indeed a staggering figure! The success of the film certainly sent some strong messages to our industry in general and our so-called ‘superstars’ in particular, about what a strong story and script can do to a film. But here the concentration sadly still seems to be on reserving festival weekends and weird promotional gimmicks to lure the public into cinema halls just to get the coveted ‘record-breaking’ first-weekend collection!

b2017 2

THE MONEY SPINNERS

The modest-budget films which actually did well were the fun-filled rom-com Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya starring Alia and Varun, the ever-dependable Irrfan Khan’s take on the education system in India in the hilarious Hindi Medium, a docu-drama on Sachin Tendulkar’s life Sachin-A Billion Dreams and Taapsee Pannu’s Naam Shabana– a thrilling prequel to the 2015 film Baby.  Though Jolly LLB 2, Raees and Kaabil did not boast of outstanding collections, they still managed to make a mark at the box-office.

The Ghazi Attack, again a Telugu film dubbed in Hindi and A Death in the Gunj an English film directed by Konkana Sen also did surprisingly well considering the niche target audience and the absence of any stars. Anarkali of Aarah which tells an unapologetic tale of an erotic dancer received rave reviews for Swara Bhaskar’s performance. Phillauri stood out for its unique storyline with Anushka Sharma playing a friendly ghost and narrates two parallel storylines with one in the present and one belonging to 1919. Her performance as well as those of her co-stars – Suraj Sharma and Diljit Dosanjh was appreciated.

DISAPPOINTMENTS

The big stars faltered and flickered. Salman Khan’s Tubelight fetched some of the worst reviews and reactions from the critics and fans alike. When such films are rejected one should feel happy that the audience still expects some standard and will not accept any and every trash churned out. Two other stars – Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan who fought for the same release dates ensured that their films ate into each other’s collection. For all the fuming and fretting that Hrithik and his father did, Kaabil had a regressive story which showed a rape-victim committing suicide just so that Hrithik could go on a revenge spree. Really, should such films even be allowed to release? SRK attempted something new in Raees and did a good job but the choice of Mahira Khan as his heroine took away the enigma of his romantic image which affected the collections.

Akshay Kumar’s Jolly LLB 2 actually belonged to Saurabh Shukla. Not only was his character a brilliant one, his fantastic performance took the film to another level and he outclassed Akshay effortlessly. Though Akshay’s acting was very good, his character in the film was not a very honest one.  In fact his irresponsible behaviour results in an innocent pregnant mother’s suicide and for a film dealing with legal system one wonders how he gets away scot-free without a case being registered against him!

Vidyut Jamwal’s Commando 2 also fell flat and so did Sonakshi Sinha’s Noor. Amitabh Bachchan’s top-class performance could not save Sarkar 3 which really had nothing new to offer. Likewise Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s class act could not do anything to Haraamkhor which boasted of a bold theme of a sexual relationship between a 14-year old girl student and her tuition teacher. The film ran into censor trouble and affected the collections. Our censor board surprisingly seems to have no problems against rape and suicide but bold themes certainly attract their ire!

DEBACLES

Some love-stories expected to do well also crashed badly and deservedly as the magic of love was very much missing in them. OK Jaanu starring Aditya Roy Kapoor failed to excite the audience the way its Tamil original ‘O Kaadal Kanmani’ had done. While the Tamil version with its fresh take on a live-in relationship was a lovely film with the young stars bringing in an endearing liveliness to their romance, Shraddha Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapoor could not convey the kind of chemistry needed to propel this kind of film. Half-Girlfriend, which was based on Chetan Bhagat’s dull book by the same name expectedly did not do well. Arjun Kapoor looked too huge and old to be playing a first year college student and the uninteresting script never really gave any scope for performance or romance to the lead pair. Raabta turned out to be a messed up and uninteresting reincarnation saga and never really blossomed into a heart-felt love-story.

One of the biggest debacles of the year was the much awaited love-triangle Rangoon which was completely rejected by the audience. It was sad because all three actors- Kangana Ranaut, Saif  Ali Khan and Shahid  Kapoor came up with excellent performances. Vidya Balan’s Begum Jaan was also a dismal film and could neither generate sympathy for the prostitutes nor evoke any kind of patriotic feeling. Manisha Koirala’s Dear Maya and Raveena Tandon’s Maatr died a quiet death without making any noise. Honestly such films have no takers in today’s scenario.

Two top-line producer-director fathers Suneil Darshan and Abbas-Mastaan gave break to their sons in Ek Haseena Thi Ek Deewana Tha and Machine respectively but the films were so bad that they sank without a trace. Wonder what will happen to the career of their sons!

THE OTHER SIDE OF 100 CRORES

Every year while trade pundits are busy analyzing only the films that entered the ‘100 crore club’, there are countless flicks which are released to empty halls and go abegging for attention and audience. Such films have unattractive titles which further add to their woes. Neither is there any promotional activity preceding their release nor any buzz surrounding their star-cast. Examples of films released in this category include – Coffee with D, Hind Ka Napak Ko Jawab: MSG Lionheart 2, Wedding Anniversary, Mona Darling, Laali Ki Shaadi Mein Laddoo Deewana, Mirza Juliet, Ajab Singh Ki Gajab Kahani, Sweety weds NRI, Behen Hogi Teri, Love You Family, etc. Why and for whom are such films made is anybody’s guess.

Some films had good actors but hardly any interest was generated before their release. Irada had Naseeruddin Shah, Aa Gaya Hero had Govinda, Trapped had Rajkumar Rao and Runningshaadi.com had Amit Sadh and Taapdee Pannu. Poorna was the biographical adventure of the youngest girl to climb Mount Everest.

COMPETITION FROM HOLLYWOOD

The action adventures and animation films from Hollywood continue to enthrall the audience and some of them make good money as well. Pirates of The Caribbean 5-Dead Men Tell No Tales, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Kong: Skull Island, Beauty & the Beast, The Mummy, The Circle, Despicable Me 3, Cars 3, Boss Baby, Baby Driver and Wonder Woman are some of the films which hit the bull’s eye and competed with our own films.

This year two of our top Bollywood heroines had the guts to leave everything here for a while to concentrate on their Hollywood debuts. Both of them acted in films which were big-budget releases with top stars. While Deepika Padukone acted alongside Vin Diesel in XXX: The Return of Xander Cage’, Priyanka Chopra played the main vamp’s role opposite Dwayne Johnson in ‘Baywatch’. Though the films did not do well either here or abroad, our heroines did manage to get noticed especially Priyanka Chopra who is currently riding a wave of popularity in Hollywood. However the fact remains that the roles hardly got them much screen-space and definitely did not require them to showcase any perceptible talent. So was it really worth all the brouhaha they created?

MUSIC

Although the first half of the year did not come up with too many outstanding songs a few of them were certainly very good and went on to become chartbusters:

 

A soft number from Jolly LLB 2:

 

A fun-filled track from Hindi Medium:

 

A catchy romantic duet from Kaabil sung by the blind lovers:

 

The endearing chemistry of Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt in all the songs of Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya:

 

An electrifying dance number by Sunny Leone in Raees:

 

CONCLUSION

Though there was no lack of variety in the subjects, the treatment and narrative could not be up to the mark but all is not lost. A lot of interesting releases are lined up for the second half and many are expected to become blockbusters. Every Friday brings the excitement of a new release and new hope though which among them will actually succeed remains to be seen…