REEMA LAGOO: The actress who defined the ‘new-age’ mom in Hindi cinema …

By

Sharada Iyer

The film, television and theatre fraternity as well as fans woke up on 18th May, 2017 to the shocking news of the untimely death of veteran actress Reema Lagoo who breathed her last in the wee hours of the morning. She had been shooting for Mahesh Bhatt’s television serial ‘Naamkaran’ and complained of uneasiness when she came home after the shoot. Though she was immediately taken to the hospital, she suffered a massive heart attack and passed away around 3.30 am.

Reema Lagoo was a rare combination of a beautiful face, a bubbly personality and loads of talent. She had acted in several Marathi and Hindi films as well as in Marathi plays and Hindi television serials and had a huge fan following. Though her soft and pleasant demeanour made her most suitable for the quintessential young ‘mother’ roles, she was also brilliant in strong character roles, comedy roles as well as roles where she displayed negative shades or acted as a seductress. She was equally at ease as the rich urban socialite, a middle-class mother or a woman in the rural setting. She added her own nuances to put life into the character and left a memorable mark. 

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Aakrosh

It was director Shyam Benegal who gave her the initial break in Hindi films. In 1980 she had a ‘lavani’ dance number in the director’s much acclaimed and hard-hitting film Aakrosh. In 1981, he gave her a break in Kalyug– touted as the ‘modern-day Mahabharat’. She had a supporting role as the wife of the second brother Kulbhushan Kharbanda.

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Kalyug

Soon however she graduated to accepting ‘mother’ roles at a very young age. She played the role of Juhi Chawla’s mother in Qayamat se Qayamat Tak when she was just 32 years of age. She had no qualms playing mother to all the top heroes and heroines of the nineties who were hardly a few years older than her. She was just 2 years older than Sanjay Dutt and yet she pulled off his mother’s role with such conviction in Vaastav that it is difficult to gauge the age difference when one is watching the film.

This amazing ability of hers to adapt herself to the demands of the time by switching over to ‘mother roles’ made her carve a special niche for herself as she gave to Hindi cinema the unique image of a ‘young urban mom’ and the character to this day remains synonymous with her. She became associated with Rajshri Productions, known for their family dramas and thus in Maine Pyar Kiya we were introduced to the lovable, ever-smiling, beautiful and friendly image of a ‘mother’ hitherto not seen in Hindi cinema. She dominated the nineties by acting in plenty of films which gave her ample scope to display her histrionics.

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The nineties saw a new generation of stars on the rise and new kind of cinema being made and she thus became an integral part of many block-buster films of that era – Maine Pyar Kiya, Aashiqui, Saajan, Vaastav, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Judwaa, Yess Boss, Kal Ho Na Ho, Dilwale and the biggest of them all- Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. She has played mother to a long list of stars which included Govinda, Monish Bahl, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan among the heroes and Juhi Chawla, Kajol, Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi, Urmila Matondkar and even Renuka Shahane among the heroines.

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At the same time her on-screen chemistry with her screen husbands was also a delight to watch. Whether it was Anupam Kher (Hum Aapke Hain Kaun), Alok Nath (Hum Saath Saath Hain), Sayeed Jafferey (Yeh Dillagi) or Shivaji Satham (Vaastav, Jis Deh Mein Ganga Rehta Hai), she was spot on. She also shared screen space with Naseeruddin Shah in Najaayaz, Rihaee and Police Public .

In this blog I am listing out some of her memorable Hindi films which showcase the talent of this multi-faceted actress:

HUM AAPKE HAIN KAUN

One of the biggest blockbusters of Hindi cinema this film revolving around a marriage took the country by storm with its unique story-line and outstanding songs. It touched a chord in every viewer’s heart and till today remains a rare film in this genre. Reema Lagoo was perfectly cast as the wonderful and lovable mother of Renuka Shahane and Madhuri Dixit. Her contribution to the success of the film was indeed enormous.

Just watch her expressions in the song which speaks volumes of her talent and it is also easy to understand why she became a much-loved screen mother!

YESS BOSS 

This film has her playing a widowed mother to Shah Rukh Khan. Both he and Juhi Chawla stay in his house and pretend to be married for a while acting as husband and wife so as not to hurt Reema Lagoo’s feelings.

KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI

She plays the understanding mother of Kajol, who knows that her daughter’s first love remained one-sided. She also shares a warm and friendly relationship with her would-be son-in-law Salman Khan and requests Kajol to give herself another chance in life by accepting him from the heart.

RIHAEE

This bold film directed by Aruna Raje questions men’s double standards as they set different set of rules for the men and  women of the village. All the men-folk of the village go to city to work leaving behind their wives and children almost the whole year. Reema Lagoo plays one such village woman who misses her husband and in his absence, she is only too eager to sleep with Naseeruddin Shah, the only male member of the village for a while.

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RUI KA BOJH

This is an NFDC film directed by Subhash Agarwal which deals with three principal characters- a father, his son and daughter-in-law and how his presence in the house affects their relationship. Reema Lagoo who plays the not-so-affable daughter-in-law is brilliant and leaves her mark opposite Pankaj Kapoor who plays the father-in-law and Raghuvir Yadav who plays her husband.

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HUM SAATH SAATH HAIN

In this typical family drama, she plays mother to four grown-up actors.- Mohnish Bahl, Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Neelam. But Mohnish happens to be her step-son and has a disability in his right hand. Everything is fine in the household till a group of Reema’s friends poison her mind against him and she starts acting like a typical step-mother and changes her colours.

VAASTAV

This film fetched her the Best Supporting Actor Trophy from Filmfare. This film which was acclaimed by critics and loved by the public is a thrilling underworld drama and has Reema in the role of Sanjay Dutt’s mother. She has a powerful scene in the end where her son begs her to kill him and set him free from his worthless life of crime, underworld, murder and drugs and had reached a point of no-return. Reema delivers a superb performance as she unhesitatingly pulls the trigger and sets him free.

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POLICE PUBLIC

In Police Public, a thrilling murder mystery, in spite of knowing the truth behind the murder of the daughter-in-law of the house-Poonam Dhillon, Reema Lagoo, who plays  a servant, sides with the murderers and even sleeps with the dishonest police officer Naseeruddin Shah. Finally it is only when CBI officer Raj Kumar threatens to pour acid on her face, does she spill the beans and confess to everything that she knows.

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YEH DILLAGI

In Yeh Dillagi, Reema Lagoo plays a typical rich snobbish high-society lady who is aghast when she comes to know that both her sons- Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan have fallen for their driver’s daughter Kajol. She tries her best to be antagonistic towards Kajol.

JIS DESH MEIN GANGA REHTA HAI

Here she plays a childless villager. She and her husband Shivaji Satham  are entrusted the job of bringing up Shakti Kapoor and Himani Shivpuri’s son who grows up to be Govinda. After 24 years, the real parents come back to take their son with them leaving Reema Lagoo heartbroken. She has several powerful as well as emotional scenes and she shines brilliantly.  Her crystal clear diction and loud voice add to the gravity of the scenes.

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NAJAAYAZ

Reema Lagoo plays a poor worker who by a quirk of fate encounters a wounded Naseeruddin Shah when he is running away from a gang out to kill him. She helps him to safety and ends up not only removing the bullet from his body but also sleeping with him. She plays a vulnerable character torn between her lover who is a criminal and their illegitimate son Ajay Devgn who grows up to join the police force. Yet she does not hesitate to take Naseeruddin’s side when the situation arises and even goes to the extent of slapping Ajay.

MAIN PREM KI DEEWANI HOON

In this remake of Chitchor, Reema Lagoo plays Abhishek Bachchan’s mother and has a small role only. But the class and dignity she lends to her character is amazing.

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SARKAR 3: Fails to be as gripping as the earlier installments of the Sarkar series

By

Sharada Iyer

sarkar3

In 2005 when Ram Gopal Verma’s Sarkar hit the screens the novelty of the script managed to impress  both the public and the critics so much that it went on to become a blockbuster-hit. This prompted the director to make a sequel Sarkar Raj in 2008 and this gripping thriller also went on to become a big box-office success. The story of a Don running a parallel government was hailed as the ‘Indianised’ version of The Godfather. The character of the protagonist Subhash Nagre  (played by Amitabh Bachchan) borrowed heavily from the late Shiv Sena leader Balasaheb Thackery’s life caught the fancy of the audience in a big way.

The films were also appreciated for the superb performances from the entire cast especially Amitabh Bachchan, Kay Kay Menon, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai. While Kay Kay Menon played Amitabh’s elder son Vishnu, Abhishek Bachchan played Shankar, Amitabh’s younger son. The relationship between the father and the sons formed an important crux as well as the highlight of this crime drama.

In Sarkar, Kay Kay Menon is killed and in Sarkar Raj, Abhishek Bachchan is killed. And now Sarkar 3 introduces Kay Kay’s son Amit Sadh.

First of all, only a person who has watched the earlier two movies of the Sarkar saga is bound to have a better understanding of Sarkar 3 as against the person seeing it in isolation. As the movie starts directly with Subhash Nagre aka Sarkar’s grandson’s entry into the scheme of things it would have been better had the director taken the trouble to give a short background into the story and the characters for any first time viewer. And even for those who have seen the earlier films, the gap is too long as it is 12 years since Sarkar came and 9 years since Sarkar Raj hit the screens.

Having said that, Amitabh Bachchan who remains the lifeline of the crime saga needs to be lauded for yet another brilliant performance and it is his enigmatic presence which holds the film from the first scene to last scene.

THE PLOT OUTLINE:

Having lost both his sons, Subhash Nagre is shown to be older and quieter and even though he is a broken man emotionally his spirit to fight for his people and his will to provide them justice has not waned at all. His razor sharp brain is still able to assess the situations, see through the facades of the people surrounding him and he is astute enough to plan and plot the killings of his enemies and traitors.

It is at this juncture that his grandson Shivaji (played by the youngster Amit Sadh) makes an entry into Subhash Nagre’s life. Though Shivaji supports his grandfather’s ideologies like his Shankar ‘chacha’, he possesses a volatile personality like his father Vishnu thereby making way for clashes and confrontations between grandfather and grandson.

The story follows the usual path where people come to ask his help or support. There are wily, power-hungry groups constantly fighting to finish Sarkar and there are people switching sides at the drop of a hat. As with the earlier films, there is a traitor leaking important information and the director manages to keep the identity of the traitor a suspense till the end…

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WEAK POINTS:

While the story does sound good on paper, the director loses his grip during execution. There are no exciting moments in the first one hour of the film and it is only after the Ganesh aarti song that things pick up a little bit. Dull lighting and weird close-up shots lead to lacklustre camerawork which also cause damage to the narrative.

Though Amit Sadh is very good in his role of the grandson he cannot make up for the charming presence of Abhishek Bachchan who is sorely missed. After all, there is always a special ‘x’ factor whenever Amitabh and Abhishek share screen-space.

There is no villain of the stature of Pran, Amrish Puri or Prem Chopra left in the industry today to match Amitabh Bachchan’s towering screen presence and personality and give him a ‘takkar’ (competition). Jackie Shroff as the evil mastermind is such a spectacular misfit that he single-handedly kills the very essence of the film with his average acting and dull dialogue delivery. He and the weird lady who plays his moll make the Dubai scenes look cheap and crassy.

Most importantly, while the first two movies stood out for the racy narrative and brilliant twists, Sarkar 3 is marred by its extremely slow pace especially in the first half. Though things do pick up post-interval ending in an intriguing climax the final product sadly falls short of being the dark thriller it was touted to be!

PERFORMANCES:

Amitabh Bachchan is in top form as usual. Amit Sadh’s work is also commendable. For a youngster, he shows tremendous confidence in standing next to a colossus like Amitabh and leave his mark. Manoj Bajpai in his short role is his natural self. Ronit Roy as Amitabh’s right hand man is superb though he could have been given a bigger role. Supriya Pathak is quite irritating. Yami Gautam has nothing much to do in the film.

About the actors playing the villains, the less said the better. None is able to leave a stamp as none have the cold-blooded evil look so necessary for films like these.

There is a spectacular Ganesh Chaturthi visarjan scene with an outstanding ‘aarti’ song sung by Amitabh Bachchan himself. Really Amitabh at this age never ceases to amaze! His resonating voice singing the song is absolutely spellbinding and this is easily the highlight of the film. Here is a video clip of the song and though it is not the full version as seen in the film, it is enough to give an idea…

TO WATCH OR NOT TO WATCH ?

It is a different kind of film and may not cater to popular taste and the slow pace may also prove to be off-putting. But Amitabh Bachchan fans should definitely watch the film for his performance and fans of the Sarkar saga may also end up watching it.

Coming in the wake of the Baahubali tsunami, the film will have tough competition to attract audience. Come to think of it, Baahubali has changed the cinema viewing experience so dramatically that it is going to be very difficult for any of the upcoming films to generate that kind of interest and excitement…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BAHUBALI 2: Awe-inspiring sequel to the spectacular first part

By

Sharada Iyer

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Now I am at peace. I managed to see the ‘first day-first show’ of the most awaited film of 2017-Bahubali 2 and got the answer to the cliff-hanger question on which Bahubali 1 had ended! After all, it had been a crazy period of two years waiting to know the full story.

Anyone reading this need not panic. There are no spoilers. I am just penning a few thoughts…

Two years ago when director S S Rajamouli unleashed his jaw-dropping extravaganza, audience throughout the country were left speechless. A spectacle as majestic as this had never been seen before in the history of Indian cinema. Mounted lavishly on an astounding budget the film was made simultaneously in Telugu and Tamil and dubbed in Hindi and other languages and raked in enough ‘moolah’ to emerge as the greatest blockbuster of Indian cinema. Combining brilliant story-telling with unbelievable special effects and laced with deep emotions the director touched a chord in every viewer’s heart…

…and now the team returns with an equally dazzling sequel replete with all the emotions, drama, intrigue, mesmerizing  special effects and outstanding fight sequences. This is probably the first instance of an Indian film being released in two parts and kudos to the director and story-writer for keeping alive the audience interest and maintaining the tempo and flow of the events in both the films. With the first part having raised the curiosity factor as well as expectation of the audience, the makers were faced with the daunting task of fulfilling all the high expectations… and what a sequel they have come up with! It matches the original in every aspect apart from giving an emotional and believable explanation to the reason the first part ended the way it did.

While the first part starts in the present and goes back to the past to reveal the story of Amaraendra Bahubali, the second part takes off from the past and beautifully comes back to the present to continue with the son Mahendra Bahubali connecting all the dots beautifully and coherently…

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Each scene has been crafted with a lot of love, care, thought, precision, scientific input and imagination. The intricate detailing of the sets especially regarding the grandeur of the kingdom ‘Mahishmati’ leaves us spellbound. The song situations in both films are a lesson in computer graphics and excellent choreography. The fight sequences and action scenes are simply breathtaking! It leaves us awe-struck at the unbelievable audacity of the director to have conceptualized and visualized such a magnificent drama and to have had the guts and passion to translate this imagination into sheer cinematic magic with his able team of technical wizards ! The result is a six-hour epic fantasy which takes cinema viewing to another level!!

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The tale of the two warring brothers – Bahubali and Bhallaldev to rule the Kingdom ‘Mahishmati’ leaves open a canvas large enough to include basic emotions of jealousy, loyalty, betrayal, confrontation, evil plots and extraordinary fights. The screenplay also includes two exciting love-stories which are very important to the script and a strong mother figure thereby assigning tremendous importance to all the female characters as well.

In the double role of Bahubali, Prabhas is so perfectly cast that it is difficult to imagine any other actor in India to have played the role so superbly. He gave five years of his life to breathe life into this cinematic character and manages to carve a memorable character with his special body language, his handsome looks, his winning smile, his remarkable agility during action sequences and his touching vulnerability during emotional scenes. With these two films, Prabhas outclasses the Khans and other stars to emerge as the current superstar of Indian cinema! bahu3

Rana Daggubatti as the evil Bhallaldev is also brilliantly cast and so is Nasser as the wily handicapped uncle. In the important role of Katttappa, Sathyaraj has created history by being the most intriguing character who formed the vital link which in a way held the two parts of the movie together during the two-year gap.

The ladies are also excellent in their respective parts. Anushka Shetty as Princess Devasena, Tamannah as the bow-and-arrow wielding warrior and above all Ramya Krishnan as Queen Shivagami- all live their role. Perhaps the choice of the entire cast from South is one of the biggest plus-points of the film. As Telugu artistes are not so well-known throughout the country they were able to bring a kind of rare  authenticity to their characters and lived their roles. Had any of the top Bollywood artistes been part of the film their starry images may have hampered with the vision of the director…

If Bahubali 1 broke all box-office records two years back, Bahubali 2’s box-office collections are even more earth-shattering and the film has already amassed Rs 100 crores on the first day itself followed by Rs 100 crores on the second day also. Bahubali 2 has been released in over 6500 screens across the country setting a new record for the astonishing number of screens allotted for any Indian film…

Watching the magic of ‘Bahubali 1-the beginning’ and ‘Bahubali 2- the conclusion’ unfold on big screen is a unique experience and an opportunity not to be missed by any film-lover…

 

 

 

 

A LOOK AT SOME OF THE NEW REMIXES OF OLD BOLLYWOOD SONGS

By

Sharada Iyer

In the recently released film Begum Jaan starring Vidya Balan, singers Arijit Singh and Shreya Ghoshal have tried to recreate in their voices the popular Mukesh-Asha Bhonsle number ‘Woh Subha kabhi toh aayegi…’ from the 1958 film Phir Subha Hogi . Though they are good singers, their version is not a patch on the original and fails to evoke any kind of emotion in the viewer’s heart and mind. The much needed pathos seems missing in their voices and they are unable to do justice to Sahir’s thought-provoking lyrics.

The reality of this hits us even more because the original was sung by Mukesh, a master of poignant songs! After all, how can a meaningful song written and composed for a different situation of a different film from a different era and for a different generation of audience have the same effect in any random film of today? In Begum Jaan which deals with prostitutes, the song comes at the end of the film and they have even tampered with the lyrics by changing the words ‘Woh subah kabhi toh aayegi…’ to ‘Woh subah hami se aayegi…’!

Remix – (Begum Jaan)

Original – (Phir Subha Hogi)

-This year seems to be particularly standing out for the record number of remixes that have hit the music scene so far. In March, directors Abbas-Mastan launched Abbas’s son Mustafa in a film called Machine which flopped badly but the only thing which caught the public eye was the remix version of the popular dance number from Mohra- Tu cheez badi hai mast mast…

Remix

Original

-The upcoming Sonakshi Sinha starrer Noor has a remixed version of Mohammed Rafi’s popular song ‘Gulabi aankhen jo teri dekhi…. from Rajesh Khanna’s 1970 thriller- The Train. It has been composed as a party song  by taking the first few lines of the original song and a lot of new lyrics have been added. We will have to wait and watch how popular this song becomes for the audience response has not been flattering so far!

Remix-(Noor)

Earlier in 2012, in Alia Bhatt’s debut film Student Of The Year, there was a remix version of the same song with a lot of brand names in English added to the lyrics.

Remix- (Student of the Year)

Original-(The Train)

-In the film Kaabil which released in January this year, singer Jubin Nautyal’s version of ‘Dil kya kare jab kisise kisiko pyaar ho jaaye…’ (Kishore Kumar’s song from Julie ) sounds so weak and diluted and if Hrithik and his father thought that they would win any brownie points for remixing this song for their film, they were clearly mistaken! And after all this trouble the song never made it to the film . Maybe it was deleted from the final cut or was made only as a promo video.

Remix

Original

-The same film boasts of another remix song. This time the Kishore Kumar number ‘Saara zamaana haseenon ka deewaana…’ from the film Yaarana has been sung by a female singer- Payal Dev and the song is picturized as an item number. While the choreography in the original was funny the remix version somehow looked vulgar.

Remix

 

Original

-In the remix version of the above song  while Kishore Kumar’s number was remixed in a female voice, we have a number from the film I Me aur Main where Kavita Krishnamoorthy’s song ‘Na jaane kahaan se aayi hai… from Chaalbaaz was rendered by a male singer and sung from a male perspective-‘Kisike haath na aayega yeh ladka…’

Remix

Original

-The 2013 film Boss starring Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi had the remix version of the song Har kisiko nahi milta yahan pyar zindagi mein…’ from Jaanbaaz.

Remix

Original

The film Student of The Year had another song in remix version included as part of college fun:

‘Ye chaand sa roshan chehra…’  

Remix

Remix as enjoyable as originals?

-In some cases like the songs of Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya, Queen and Raees, the remixed songs had a pulsating energy of their own and thanks to some imaginative choreography, these remixes managed to garner a popularity on their own merit. But that cannot take away the credit from the original compositions.

In the remixed version of ‘Laila main laila…’ newcomer Pawni Pandey’s spirited rendition coupled with Sunny Leone’s electrifying dance moves and SRK’s fight sequence, managed to capture the magic of the original song to some extent. Since both are picturized as club dances, the effect was not diluted.

Remix (Raees)

Original (Qurbani)

In case of ‘Tamma tamma loge…’, the situation is a club scene where this retro number is being played. This seems to justify the inclusion of the remix version of the original and our current stars get to dance and pay a ‘tribute’ to the original song. In fact, after watching Varun Dhawan’s pleasing moves, Sanjay Dutt’s awkward dance movements in Thaanedar do look funny.

Remix (Badrinath ki Dulhaniya)

Original (Thaanedar)

-The signature line from the song ‘Chalat musafir moh liya re… from Teesri Kasam , which itself is said to be inspired from a Bihari folk tune, has been used to compose the songs ‘Thaana mein baithe on duty…’ in Dabangg 2 and the title song of the film Badrinath ki Dulhaniya. The remixed versions are  a rage no doubt due to the extremely catchy  beats and lively picturization … and yet can the composers really take much credit?

Remix 

Remix

Original

-Another song which became a rage was the remixed version of the Asha Bhonsle number ‘Hungama ho gaya…  from the film Anhonee which was included in the 2012 super-hit Queen. The remix song has some lines from the original song and  soon became an instant hit when released.

Remix

Original

Remixes included to show a particular era:

-Sometimes remixes are included under the pretext of recreating a particular era and time-frame of the story in question. For instance the biopic Azhar, based on the events of cricketer Mohammed Azharuddin’s life, had the remix version of the superb song from TridevGajar ne kiya hai ishaara…’. As he had had an affair with actress Sangeeta Bijlani, a song picturized on her was conveniently lifted and remixed. But the remix was bad both in terms of rendition and picturization.

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The film Once Upon a Time in Mumbai showcased the life-story of a fictional character based on the lines of the underworld Don- Haaji Mastaan who was very popular for his crimes in the seventies. What better way to recreate the era then to have a cabaret number reminiscent of Helen-R D Burman combination which dominated the film scene at that time! The makers attempted to capture the magic of Helen by combining tunes of two popular songs!

‘Parda Parda…’

Remix

Original

Combination of two famous songs- ‘Duniya mein logon ko…’ from the film Apna Desh and ‘Piya tu ab to aaja…’ from the film Caravan.

-Bombay Velvet was a period drama set in the sixties and dealt with the world of crime and jazz clubs in Mumbai at that time. Once again filmmakers felt justified to include the remixed version of an old song- a Geeta Dutt classic from CID this time…

‘Jaata kahaan hai deewaane…’

Remix

Original

Full original song but sung by a different singer:

In the film Bombay Talkies, a small beggar girl is shown to sing old film songs and beg at a railway bridge. So director Karan Johar included two evergreen songs of the unbeatable duo of ‘Lata Mangeshkar-Madan Mohan’-‘ Ajeeb daastaan hai yeh…’ (film: Dil Apna aur Preet Paraya)  and ‘Lag ja gale…’  (film: Woh Kaun Thi) in the voice of a young singer Rashi Harmalkar.

Remix

Original

Remix

Original

 

Original songs- new picturizations-

There are some songs where the original track of the old song is kept intact but picturized on the current stars:

‘Kajra mohabbatwaala….’

Full original song but picturized on Kangna Ranaut in the film Tanu weds Manu

Original (Kismet)

 

‘Aapki nazron ne samjha….’

In the film Aligarh based on the real life story of a gay professor, Manoj Bajpai plays the title role. He is shown to be fond of old Hindi film songs and this classic song from the film Anpadh is shown to be played on the radio with the professor enjoying the song. It is okay to show a man enjoying a song but to have the full song picturized on his face was a tad too much to sit through in the film…

Original

Incidentally this song had a remixed version which appeared in the Hollywood film Mistress of Spices starring Aishwarya Rai

‘An evening in Paris…’

The song ‘An Evening in Paris…’ in Mohammed Rafi’s original voice from the film An Evening in Paris is played in the film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and the scenes showed Ranbir and Anushka dancing on the streets of Paris listening to the song on their ipod! But when this film had such original gems composed by music director Pritam, where was the need to include his song in the album? But it sure managed to create a justifiable reason(!) to include an old classic. The funny part is this was not included in the film when it released.

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‘Inhi logon ne le li na dupatta mera…’

There was a dance situation in the film Naya Andaz, where Rekha lip-syncs to the entire original song from Pakeezah.

Original

You Tube videos:

It is common knowledge that remixed versions of old songs are continuously churned out as D J remixes everyday with new faces. But a new trend seems to be to make these YouTube videos with established stars. It is one thing for young entrants and newcomers to indulge in such videos but it is weird to see stars like Hrithik Roshan and Sonam encourage remixes by acting in such videos.

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A FEW THOUGHTS:

Doing remixes of old film songs is not a new thing in our music industry. This has happened before in earlier times also. Ashok Kumar’s rendition of ‘Koi Humdum na raha… from the film Jevan Naiyya (1936) was sung again by younger brother Kishore Kumar in Jhumroo in 1960. It is not just a question of which version was better. The song was composed by Saraswati Devi and Kishore Kumar gave it a more melodious twist but the work of the original music director was not acknowledged.

There is also the case of the song ‘Inhi logon ne le li na dupatta mera…’. Though this song is remembered for the Lata Mangeshkar version, there were two more versions before this:

The original version was sung by Shamshad Begum in Himmat in 1941. Only the audio of this song is available but that has wrongly been superimposed on a dance sequence from a different film. One can still hear the audio clearly. The 2nd version is sung by Yakub in the film Aabroo. Did the original lyricist get credit for the words which were later altered a little bit in the newer versions?

Even if the acknowledgement is given, sometimes it robs the identity of the older stars on whom the song was picturized and the new generation starts associating the song with the new faces which is not morally correct. For instance, the ‘Hungama ho gaya… song from Anhonee is like a signature song of Bindu’s yet today people associate it more with Kangna. Similar is the case with Tamma Tamma loge…’. How then is the inclusion of the remixes justified?

In some cases the argument offered is that the old number had been long forgotten and it is only due to the popularity of the remixed version that the old song also came into limelight once again. So this way awareness is being increased in the younger generation who have otherwise no time to go back and hear the original old songs… Could this be true?

Instead of giving the new singers time, space and opportunity to leave their own footprint, why are they made to croon already popular old numbers? Neither the singer nor the composer nor the lyricist can take any credit…

Honestly what is the point of rehashing and re-recording the old songs which are now part of our heritage? They belonged to a different time and represent a different era and they need to be preserved in their original state. Respecting our legacy is important. Recreating old tunes in the name of ‘tribute’ does not spell progress or advance creativity.

Long after the artistes, song writers and all others associated with a song pass away all we have left to remember them is these songs… Take the case of the song ‘Gulaabi aankhen…’. If we pause to think, none associated with the song are around today- hero Rajesh Khanna, heroine Nanda, singer Mohammed Rafi, music director R D Burman, lyricist Anand Bakshi, director Ravikant Nagaich and producer Ramesh Behl- and yet they all will continue to live through this song which is a culmination of all their efforts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DUAL VERSIONS OF THE SAME SONG BY MOHAMMED RAFI & LATA MANGESHKAR

By

Sharada Iyer

Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar have been the two glorious pillars of our Hindi film music whose invaluable contribution to playback-singing was instrumental in laying the foundation of the ‘Golden era’ of Hindi cinema. This was the era when melody reigned supreme and songs formed an integral and inseparable part of our films.

Together they have given us several incomparable solos and many remarkable duets which are embedded in the psyche of every cine-lover. In fact, many a time it was the expressive and evocative rendering of these singers which infused more life into the song and the on-screen character than the emotive ability of the actors who were lip-syncing!

Interestingly, there were also some rare songs where these two giants got the opportunity to sing different versions of the same song! In this musical blog, I bring to you 21 such songs and a little note on the situations in the films where these dual versions were inserted. Such songs appeared at different times during the narrative of the film and depending on the situation in the story and mood of the characters singing, the versions were either sad or happy.

In some songs the male version sounds superior while in some the female version sounds better but there is no doubt that these two great singers created magic with their divine voices making both the versions memorable in their own inimitable way …

YAKEEN (1969)

The melodious song ‘Gar tum bhula na doge…’ from the taut thriller has dual versions and both are sung in a happy mood. Dharmendra gets to portray a brilliant double role- that of a noble scientist and a ruthless killer. While the Rafi version is sung by the scientist Dharmendra declaring his love for Sharmila, the Lata version is sung by Sharmila to the killer Dharmendra who is incidentally impersonating the scientist and pretending to have a memory loss. She sings this to remind him of their happy times spent together.

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

CHIRAAG (1969)

This film has the lovely number ‘Teri aankhon ke siva…’ sung in two versions. While the happy version is sung by Rafi where Sunil Dutt describes the beauty of Asha Parekh’s eyes, the sad version is sung by Lata after Asha Parekh loses her eyesight in a tragic way. In this case, though both the versions are nice, it is the Rafi version which became far more popular.

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

JUNGLEE (1961)

Both versions of the song ‘Ehsaan tera hoga mujhpar… are poignantly rendered as the words convey Shammi Kapoor and Saira Banu’s unwavering love for each other. In the movie the songs appear almost back to back with only a couple of scenes in between. The next scene after Shammi Kapoor pledges his love for Saira through this song, he has an argument with his mother where she forbids Shammi from marrying Saira Banu. To this Shammi Kapoor also tells his mother that if he cannot marry Saira then he would not marry anyone else either. A disillusioned Shammi then wonders what will happen to his promise to Saira! He feels guilty and then dreams of Saira singing this same song to him!

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

BHEEGI RAAT (1965)

The film is a triangular love-story. Pradeep Kumar and Meena Kumari love each other but by a quirk of fate she gets engaged to Ashok Kumar. The way music director Roshan has extracted two totally different versions from these two singers conveying contrasting emotions is just incredible. In fact, Roshan  gives Rafi one of his career-best songs in –‘Dil jo na keh saka wohi raaze dil kehne ki raat aayi…’ and the kind of hurt and pain Rafi Saab manages to convey in his version is unbelievable!  On the other hand Lataji infuses a quiet dignity to her sensuous romantic version,  Majrooh’s lyrics are simply awesome.

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

JAB PYAAR KISISE HOTA HAI (1961)

Though both versions of the film’s title song ‘Jiya o jiya o jiya kuch bol do…’ are fast paced, one version conveys happiness and the other imparts a sad feeling. Rafi’s lively singing matches Dev Anand’s on-screen ebullience and also brings a unique ‘X’-factor to the song which is completely missing in the Lata version. The memorable image of Dev Anand atop a car singing to Asha Parekh sitting on the train remains etched in the viewer’s mind till date. (Incidentally the picturization of this song reminds one of the famous song ‘Mere sapnon ki rani …’ from Aaradhna where Rajesh Khanna sings from a jeep to Sharmila sitting on the train and both songs were picturized in Darjeeling.)

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

MERE MEHBOOB (1963)

This Muslim-social of the sixties was not only a super-hit at the box-office but also had super-hit music with Naushad churning out some of his best tunes to give us outstanding songs. The title song Mere Mehboob tujhe meri mohabbat ki kasam…’ had two versions and both are sung in a romantic mood. The Rafi version is sung by Rajender Kumar during a college poetry competition where he not only pours out his feelings for his unknown lover but also pleads with her to come out in the open and meet him again! Incidentally he had had only a brief chance encounter  with the heroine Sadhana during which he had actually seen only her beautiful eyes. Yet he falls crazily in love with her. Rafi is simply brilliant bringing in all these feelings in his singing.

The Lata version is sung by Sadhana to her friends where she sings the same song remembering her unknown admirer whom she had heard in college. So the feelings evoked in the female version are somewhat different and lack the passion he brings to it. So this turns out to be a light romantic number and was not half as popular as the Rafi version. 

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

BARSAAT KI RAAT (1960)

This musical film is remembered for the outstanding ‘qawaalis’ which are beautifully woven into the narrative of the film. Bharat Bhushan is a poet and his brief encounter with Madhubala on a stormy night not only makes him fall in love with her but also becomes his inspiration for his song which he sings on radio the bext day. The song ‘Zindagi bhar nahi bhoolegi woh barsaat ki raat…’  is set to raag Yaman and once again the genius Roshan gives Rafi Saab another one of his career-best songs.

The second version or the duet version is sung under stressful circumstances. While these two are happy and in love with each other, Madhubala’s father  K N Singh is against their relationship.  Though she runs away from home to be with Bharat Bhushan, she is disillusioned by the circumstances and sings this song on a sad note. Rafi joins her at the end trying to pacify her and asking her to be positive. 

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar-Mohammed Rafi duet

LOVE IN TOKYO (1966)

Both versions of this haunting melody ‘O meri shahe khuma,o meri jaane janana…’ touch the inner recesses of our heart and leave a deep impact. Both the male and the female versions are happy with a touch of poignancy as the lovers are confessing their love but are missing each other.

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

PAGLA KAHIN KA (1970)

This film is quite an atypical Shammi Kapoor film where he has only one dance number. He is crazily in love with Helen for a good part of the film and not the heroine Asha Parekh. Further for some time he pretendst to be  madman and gets admitted to a mental asylum and after a while he really becomes mad and comes back for actual treatmenrt this time! Phew!not exactly on e of Shammi’s best!!!

In the Rafi version of the song ‘Tum mujhe yun bhula na paaoge…, Shammi Kapoor sings this song thinking of Helen and tells Asha Parekh, who happens to be the doctor treating him, how much he loves Helen. Actually in the beginning of the film, he sings a few lines of this lovely song to Helen on the beach.  Because of the heartfelt meaning of the lyrics- ‘…jab kabhi bhi sunoge geet mere sung sung tum bhi gungunaaoge…’ (you cannot forget me for whenever you hear my songs you are bound to sing them with me), this song became an iconic song and was played on the sad occasions when both Rafi Saab and Shammi Kapoor passed away. The words are so truly applicable to both of them.

Meanwhile Asha Parekh falls in love with Shammi Kapoor and helps him recollect his old memories by singing this song. She ends up adding her own feelings also. In comparison, the Lata version was not able to match the male version and did not become popular…

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

GHAZAL (1964)

During the sixties, many Muslim socials were made which opened up the prospect of including lovely ‘ghazals’. This film had the beautiful ghazal ‘Naghma o sher ki saugaat kise pesh karoon…’ and is remembered for the haunting version of Lata Mangeshkar picturized on Meena Kumari. In the film, Sunil Dutt overhears this song, falls in love with the poetry and the voice but is unable to find out the person singing. The next day uses a few stanzas of the same ghazal to sing his version at a get-together of poets being held in the same house. He does this in a bid to come face to face with the woman behind the voice he had heard the day before. This Rafi version is  a playful romantic number and not an exact copy of the Lata version as the tune is slightly modified and though the song is very nice, this time it is the Lata version which scores.

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

DEEDAR (1951)

The evergreen song- ‘Bachpan ke din bhula na dena…’ has a solo and duet version. The duet version is sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum and picturized on child artistes enacting the younger roles of Nargis and Dilip Kumar. In the film these two childhood friends get separated soon after the song as her father forces the boy to leave town with his mother. Years pass and she forgets about him and is happily engaged to Ashok Kumar. But Dilip Kumar  who had become blind after an accident had spent all these years thinking about her and yearning for her.

On getting his eyesight back he is shocked to see that not only is his childhood friend engaged to the doctor who had restored his eyesight but sadly has no recollection of him from her younger days. One evening when the three are out on a horse-cart, Dilip Kumar is unable to control his emotions and sings the same song hoping to revive her memory. But here Rafi Saab’s version is totally eclipsed by the duet version and Lataji’s innocent voice resonates in our ears to this day giving the song the status of a classic…

Lata Mangeshkar-Shamshad Begum

Mohammed Rafi

BETI BETE (1964)

This is a highly emotional and very interesting family drama where three siblings (Baby Farida, Master Shahid and a small baby) abandoned by their blind father are left to fend for themselves. Things become worse when the three get separated from one another tragically and grow up under different circumstances with different people. The adult actors in the role of the siblings are Jamuna, Sunil Dutt and Mehmood. Incidentally this film has the famous Rafi song ‘Raadhike tune bansuri churaayi…‘ which became so popular that it eclipsed the beautiful dual version song from the film.

Baby Farida is shown to sing this beautiful lullaby ‘Aaj kal mein dhal gaya…’ to put her younger brothers to sleep. Her brilliant acting along with Lata Mangeshkar’s evocative singing and the scene of the poor orphaned kids leaves an indelible and deep mark in the viewer’s heart. The duet version is sung when they are adults, as the sister and brother ( Jamuna and Sunil Dutt) sing this sad song remembering their childhood days and feel the pain of separation.  

Lata Mangeshkar

Mohammed Rafi-Lata Mangeshkar duet

JAB JAB PHOOL KHILE (1965)

This super-hit film with superb songs turned the ‘jodi’ of  Shashi-Kapoor-Nanda into a popular pair. Here Mohammed Rafi gets to sing a happy and a sad version of the super-hit song ‘Pardesiyon se na akhiyaan milana….’. The happy one he sings  as a happy-go-lucky boatman and guide in Kashmir and the sad one comes in the film when the rich tourist Nanda whom he falls in love with, goes back to her city after her visit and he thinks she is engaged to someone else. Both are superb songs conveying the perfect emotions. There is also a Lata version of the song which is a happy song and one in which Shashi Kapoor imagines Nanda singing on the boat just like him.

Interestingly the Rafi version became a super-hit while the Lata version is hardly known to many.

Mohammed Rafi-happy version

Mohammed Rafi-sad version

Lata Mangeshkar

ISHAARA (1964)

Both the male and female versions of this beautiful song ‘Dil beqaraar sa hai humko khumaar sa hai…’ set to tune by Kalyanji-Anandji are happy romantic numbers. The film belonged to the typical ‘family-drama’ genre so popular and prevalent in the sixties. While the happy version by Rafi was sung by Joy Mukherjee to Vyjayantimala, the Lata version comes as a flashback to Vyjayantimala when she reminisces their happy days as now they have been separated due to a misunderstanding. Once again Rafi Saab scores as his version definitely had an edge and that soft ‘x-factor’ required for such songs!

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

RAAT KE ANDHERE MEIN (1969)

The hit songAgar bewafaa tujhko pehchaan jaate…is from this unheard of film which starred Sonia Shani and Dev Kumar. Not much information is available about the film and the video for the male version is also missing. Will update as and when I get more information. For now the two versions of the song can be heard and the Lata version can be seen and both are sad songs sung under some hurtful circumstances.

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

TAQDEER (1967)

This family drama of separation and reunion had enough scope for multiple versions of the popular song- ‘Jab jab bahaar aaye aur phool muskuraye…’ to appear at different times in the narrative. The Rafi version is sung in happier times by Bharat Bhushan to his family. He plays a music teacher and teaches the song to his students also. But one night returning from an overseas trip his ship is caught in a storm and life takes an ugly turn. He gets separated from his family and he is thought to be dead. His wife ends up marrying the very person whom Bharat Bhushan had disliked. The Lata version is sung by one of his students as part of a program at a school function. She is now a music teacher there and is touched to meet her teacher after so many years. This version is also a happy version. (There is also a third version of the song which is a sad version sung by his three grown up children at a party but the singers are Mahendra Kapoor and Usha Mangeshkar).

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

SEHRA (1963)

This film directed by V Shantaram tells the story of two warring tribal groups set in the deserts of Rajasthan. Not surprisingly, the hero and heroine who belong to these opposite groups fall in love and face extreme opposition from their families. In fact the heroine Sandhya is then forcibly married off to another much against her wishes. Both the versions of the song ‘Taqdeer ka fasana jaakar kise sunayen.…’ are sad as they convey the hurt and pain of lovers who have been separated permanently. The Rafi version is sung on the day of Sandhya’s marriage and Lataji’s version echoes the same feelings before marriage. The film’s super-hit music was given by a now-forgotten composer Ramlal. He was the music director of the film ‘Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne‘ also

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

YAADON KI BARAAT (1973)

This super-hit musical thriller based on the ‘lost & found’ theme had the perfect script for the inclusion of a dual version song- a Lata Mangeshkar solo and a Rafi-Kishore duet. The Lata Mangeshkar version of the title song ‘Yaadon ki baraat nikli hai aaj dil ke dwaare… is sung by the mother to her three sons in happier times. However, soon after this happy family song tragedy strikes. The parents are assassinated and the three sons are separated. Years later they are reunited through the same song which the youngest son sings every day in a club in a bid to attract attention and to get in touch with his elder brothers…

Mohammed Rafi-Kishore Kumar duet

Lata Mangeshkar

AAYEE MILAN KI BELA (1964)

In this musical rom-com, Dharmendra and Rajendra Kumar play twin brothers (wow!) separated at birth but as their mother has been sworn to secrecy they grow up without knowing this truth about their identity. Rajendra Kumar and Saira Banu fall in love with each other and interestingly both the versions of this song Tum Kamsin ho nadaan ho…’ appear in the film almost successively with just one scene in between. Both are happy numbers sung equally brilliantly by the two greats.While the Rafi version has a little teasing quality to it, the Lata version is slightly more subdued but both bring out the love between the hero and heroine in their own subtle way.

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

JEEVAN MRITYU (1970)

Directed by Satyen Bose this Dharmendra-Raakhee starrer had an interesting plot with Dharmendra coming up with one of his best performances. Music directors Laxmikant-Pyarelal gave us the evergreen haunting number ‘Jhilmil sitaron ka aangan hoga…’ which had two versions. The happy version is a Lata-Rafi duet which is fast-paced romantic number sung in happier times by them. But fate intervenes and their marriage never takes place. Dharmendra is wrongly framed of a crime he does not commit and sent to jail. Later she gets the wrong news that he is dead and decides to don the garb of a widow and live her life in his memory. Out of jail, Dharmendra changes his appearance to that of a Sikh businessman to take revenge. One day when he enters Raakhee’s house he hears her singing the sad version. Both versions are wonderful but the duet became far more popular and remains so even today.

Mohammed Rafi-Lata Mangeshkar duet

Lata Mangeshkar

GEET (1970)

This Ramanand Sagar directed film had the immensely popular duet ‘Aaja tujhko pukaare mere geet re…’ composed by Kalyanji-Anandji . Not many are aware that there was a fabulous solo version also of the same song by Rafi Saab. This solo version comes in the film when Mala Sinha, a stage artiste from the city, comes to Kulu for a holiday and is mesmerized by the cowherd Rajender Kumar’s voice! The duet version is sung by both after they fall in love with each other.

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar-Mohammed Rafi duet

WHEN BOLLYWOOD ACTRESSES DECIDED TO MASQUERADE AS ‘MEN’!

By

Sharada Iyer

When I wrote my blog titled ‘Bollywood’s Drag-Queen Acts’ last year (https://myviewsonbollywood.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/bollywoods-drag-queen-acts/), which dealt with a few instances of Bollywood actors dressed up in female attire in our films, there were a few requests from friends to do a post on the ‘Drag-King’ acts wherein our actresses decided to dress up as ‘males’ on screen! So here goes…

Though the variety of scripts demanding the actresses to don the guise of a man was far lesser than in the case of actors dressing up as a woman, I managed to find 19 films (from 1954-2014) where our heroines took on this challenge! While some of the actresses had quite a few scenes in the male guise, others got to masquerade in the get-up only for one scene. The reasons for donning the male get-up varied from as simple a thing as playing a prank to something as grave as taking refuge in it to escape from being forcibly married off to a man of their parents’ choice. In some instances it was to take revenge  and in some it was to save their dignity from lecherous men ready to pounce on single women living alone. In one instance it was just to be included in an ‘all-boys’ sports team! 

VIDYA BALAN in Bobby Jasoos (2014)

Vidya plays Bilqees Ahmed a Hyderabadi girl who takes the name of ‘Bobby’ to become a ‘jasoos’ or private detective and solves the neighbourhood cases. During one of her cases she gets the opportunity to don several disguises as a guy to find the necessary information regarding the whereabouts of two girls in the area and to track them down. Vidya looks very convincing in the various get-ups but sadly she has not been allotted enough screen-time to make a great impact.

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RANI MUKHERJI in Dil Bole Hadippa (2009)

In this Yash Raj film Rani Mukhejee plays Veera a  village girl who is crazy about cricket and wants to be in her village squad as a batsman but is rejected by the selectors and the team captain (Shahid Kapoor) for being a girl. So she decides to become Veer Paratap Singh – Veera’s brother. Her make-up as Veer is very convincing, her acting is outstanding and the film is thoroughly enjoyable. Shahid who falls in love with Veera does not come to know of the real identity of Veer Pratap for a long time. The final innings of the match in the climax has both these ‘batsmen’ at the crease and has an interesting ending!

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RAVEENA TANDON and ISHAA KOPPIKKAR  in Ek Se Badhkar Ek (2004)

This was Kundan Shah’s last directorial venture. Here Raveena Tandon is a police inspector and Ishaa Koppikkar plays a RAW agent. To get some important information to nab the real culprits, these two dress up as Sikh guys. They do look convincing but the scene is a very short one and there is not much to write about.

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SHILPA SHETTY in Pardesi Babu (1998)

Shilpa Shetty is the daughter of a rich businessman and is going to be forcibly married off to the guy chosen by her father. She runs away from her house and lands up in Govinda’s small rented accommodation. But the landlady’s condition before renting out had been that since Govinda was a bachelor, he should not bring any woman into his room! For a while Shilpa Shetty disguises as a Sikh guy to escape being spotted until the truth is revealed and the two get thrown out of their tenement.reverse32reverse 33

SRIDEVI in Mr India (1987)

In this fun-filled film, Sridevi dresses up as ‘Charlie Chaplin’ in a scene. In this guise, she enters a casino along with a young boy and inadvertently ends up creating havoc. Unknown to her Anil Kapoor, who is invisible to everyone except the young friend who can see him through a special lens, bashes up the goons in the casino and to the onlookers it looks like Sridevi is the one doing it. This hilarious scene was included to elicit some fun and expectedly the audience loved it.

Here is the link to the above scene from the film:

SAIRA BANU- Victoria No.203 (1973)

This is a fast-paced comedy cum thriller which involves the theft of some valuable diamonds which are hidden in the Victoria No.203 unknown to its owners Saira Banu and her father. Unfortunately her father gets blamed for a murder he didn’t commit and she and her younger sister are left alone to fend for themselves. She decides to become a Victoria driver but she has to disguise as a man because she is informed politely that the license to drive a Victoria is given only to men. Saira Banu looks quite convincing and the hero Navin Nischol becomes chums with ‘him’!

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KUM KUM in Lalkar (1972)

This Ramanand Sagar war film starring Rajendra Kumar, Dharmendra, Mala Sinha and Kum Kum  was well-made and had lovely songs. Kum Kum plays a tribal princess who secretly loves Dharmendra and to help him from getting attacked by the enemy camp, she disguises as a tribal boy and helps them by being their guide and accompanying them on the dangerous mission. Of Course! After a while Dharmendra does find out the truth!

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TANUJA in Do Chor (1972)

Tanuja dons the guise of a man at night and goes about robbing specific pieces of jewellery from the houses of some rich businessmen and leaves a Swastik sign as proof of the thief’s presence. As the film’s name signifies, the film’s hero Dharmendra also happens to be a thief and catches her during one of her robberies, falls for the disguise and decides to become ‘partners in crime’ with this new thief. Tanuja fools him for a while and pretends to be the normal Tanuja’s brother but ultimately the truth is revealed. Tanuja has quite a few scenes in the thief’s get-up and looks smart and quite believable as a guy.

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PADMINI in Mera Naam Joker (1970)

This magnum-opus acted and directed by Raj Kapoor for R K Films was a classic and had a unique story-line. There are three leading ladies whom Raj Kapoor meets at different stages of his life and Padmini who comes in the third part of the film is initially introduced in the film as a boy working in a circus. Later when Raj Kapoor discovers her true identity she explains that it was to protect her dignity from the lecherous gaze of men and to earn a decent living that she had to forcibly pretend to be a boy. There are however very few scenes of her in the get-up.

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MUMTAZ in Himmat (1970)

This film directed by Ravi Nagaich had just one scene in which Mumtaz disguises as a young lad. After the death of her parents, the man she looked upon as a brother tries to molest her and she runs away in this disguise. She gets into a truck waiting at a level crossing which is incidentally being driven by Jeetendra and his friend Jagdeep. Taking her to be a boy, they decide to help her.Though Jeetendra finds out her reality he teases her for a while pretending not to know just to have some fun.

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BABITA in Kismat (1968)

This film has the evergreen Asha Bhonsle- Shamshad Begum duet composed by OP Nayyar-‘Kajra mohabbat waala, akhiyon mein aisa daala...’. The film released nearly fifty years ago yet this unique song retains its freshness and charm and remains a top favourite even today. This film is a fast-paced thriller, where a man hides an important coded message inside a guitar before he is murdered. Now the gang of crooks is after Biswajit-the owner of the guitar and thereafter the whole film is just a series of chase sequences with the villains running after his life and his guitar. He meets Babita and a friend on the way and to ward off the gangsters, they enter a dance troupe’s tent, disguise themselves and sing this awesome number. She dresses up as a guy and he as a girl.

ASHA PAREKH in Love in Tokyo (1966)

In this musical rom-com, when Asha Parekh learns of her father’s idea to marry her off to Pran-the man she dislikes, she dons the disguise of a Sikh and runs away from her house. She meets Joy Mukherjee and falls in love but continues to fool him in the guise of his Sikh friend as well. Expectedly after a while the truth is revealed. Though her outfit is well done, her shrill voice does seem a giveaway but then poor Joy Mukherjee does get fooled!

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SAIRA BANU in Junglee (1961)

In her debut film itself Saira Banu gets to disguise as a man albeit for just a scene. To play a prank on Shammi Kapoor, she disguises as a ‘sadhu’ or ascetic and  predicts that to avoid a catastrophe in his life he is required to travel to a distant place and bow before the Lord regularly for 15 days. He falls for the trick and starts on the journey but soon discovers that it was Saira Banu fooling him.

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MALA SINHA in Bewaqoof (1960)

In this full-on comedy film starring Kishore Kumar, I S Johar, Pran and Mala Sinha, this get-up is used just to play a prank. To escape from Pran who is following them, Mala Sinha and her friend (I do not know the name of this actress) decide to dress up as bearded men and drive away to a distant place. Coincidentally at the same time, Kishore Kumar and I S Johar who have also decided to disguise in ‘drag’ end up getting a lift from Mala Sinha in her car. On reaching the destination, the girls discover their truth and decide to fool the guys for some more time before revealing the truth. The scene is quite hilarious. While Mala Sinha and her friend look decent in their get-up, Kishore Kumar and I S Johar look obnoxious dressed as females!!!

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KALPANA KARTIK in Nau Do Gyarah (1957)

Vijay Anand makes his directorial debut with this film produced by Dev Anand. In the film Kalpana Kartik is being forced by her father to marry the good-for-nothing Jeevan. On the day of her marriage, when she is pondering over her plight, she overhears a conversation between Dev Anand (who had just dropped by to attend the wedding) and his friend where he suggests jokingly that if he were in the bride’s place he would run away. Taking a cue from this idea, she decides to run away. She disguises as a boy, caries with her some cash and jewellery and hides in Dev Anand’s trailer-truck conveniently parked outside her house.

She becomes his companion for a while before the truth of her identity is revealed. Interestingly later on towards the end of the film she reverts back to this disguise to thwart Jeevan’s plans to usurp a hidden ‘will’ meant for Dev Anand which would make him inherit Rs 9 lakhs of cash and Rs 2 lakhs worth of property (nau do gyarah! )

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MADHUBALA in Raj Hath (1957)

Produced and directed by Sohrab Modi, the film has him playing the King of an empire whose ego is hurt when his proposal to have his daughter (Madhubala) married to the neighbouring kingdom’s prince (Pradeep Kumar) is rejected. He then declares war on them but is aware that to enter the enemy’s fortress and navigate through its various secret passages, they need to get hold of the blueprint of the palace which has to be retrieved and for this purpose, a brave person is required to enter that kingdom stealthily and get the map from inside the King’s palace.

Madhubala dressed up as a young warrior comes forward for the task and is proud when ‘he’ is lauded for ‘his’ bravery by the King and granted permission to undertake this difficult task. She returns home after successfully completing the mission and in the process also ends up falling in love with Pradeep Kumar. But her disguise is successful as no one comes to know of her true identity.

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GEETA BALI in Rangeen Ratein (1956)

This is a unique film because here Geeta Bali does not just dress up as a man for a few scenes, but plays a male character ‘Gullu’ in the film. It is said that Shammi Kapoor and she were at the height of their romance around the time of the shooting of the film. The shooting was to be in the hill station Ranikhet which would require Shammi Kapoor to be away from Bombay for a while. So in order to be near him, Geeta Bali requested the director Kidar Sharma (who had incidentally given her the first break in films) to create a role for her. As there was no scope for a female character in the script, a male character was created and so Geeta Bali turned into a man for the film.

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VYJAYANTIMALA in Kismet Ka Khel (1956)

Vyjayanthimala is a street urchin and she and her street friends indulge in petty thieving and robbery to make a living. During one of her late-night outings where she had gone to steal some bread and bun for her friends and herself, she comes across Sunil Dutt who is hiding in the bakery. She is dressed up as a boy but a few scenes later her real identity is revealed.

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KALPANA KARTIK in Taxi Driver (1954)

In this film Dev Anand plays a taxi-driver and during one of his trips manages to rescue Kalpana Kartik from the clutches of two goons who take her to a lonely place and try to misbehave with her. After this, he takes her to live with him in his small tenement as she is new to the city and has come in search of a music baron who had promised to give her a break. Unexpectedly his old and orthodox ‘Bhabhi’ (sister-in-law) decides to come and stay with him for a few days. Dev Anand realizing the problems that can crop up if his Bhabhi comes to know that a girl is staying with him decides to chop off Kalpana’s hair, gets her to dress up in his loose-fitting clothes and turns her into his ‘cleaner and helper boy’ who is staying with him.

Kalpana looks convincing as a helper boy and also acts well.

Interestingly, the film produced by Dev Anand himself is directed by Chetan Anand, with dialogues written by Vijay Anand. The story  is by Chetan Anand, his wife Uma Anand and Vijay Anand and it is during the shooting of this film that Dev Anand and Kalpana fell in love and got secretly married also!!!

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Here are the YouTube links of a few songs featuring our ‘drag-kings’:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Badrinath ki Dulhaniya: A well-crafted rom-com

By

Sharada Iyer

Badrinath ki Dulhaniya is an out and out ‘paisa-vasool’ entertainer and makes for delightful viewing thanks to the dollops of humour laced into the enjoyable narrative and superb performances from Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan. But it is not just another flimsy entertainer because entwined in the plot are topical issues like dowry, male chauvinism, our society’s ridiculous obsession with a male child and above all the parental pressures which mentally and emotionally influence the youngsters and rob them of their freedom to choose the kind of life they want to lead or the life-partners they want to be with …

 

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To writer-director Shashank Khaitan goes the credit for putting across all these points without making it look too grim and preachy yet conveying the message loud and clear. The dialogues are really hilariously written and in a way the movie is like a mirror being held in front of the audience to show them the senseless mind-set which still exists in our country especially in the smaller towns and villages. Here young girls are still not allowed to dream, their wings being clipped as they are forced to ‘to settle down’ due to various reasons. And guys grow up thinking that just being a guy (literate or not) and that too the son of a rich landlord not only makes them ‘perfect’ groom material but also grants them the right to stalk the girl they fall for and harass her till she says yes! (Yes, that is a frightening reality!)

The story of Badri (Varun Dhawan) and Vaidehi (Alia Bhatt) who hail from the small towns of Jhansi and Kota respectively starts off when he sees her at a friend’s wedding and he falls for her immediately but at that time she is not interested. However being the film’s hero our stalker is in reality a good man but brought up on warped principles which have instilled in him the wrong perceptions of marriage and relationships. So he is not able to handle or understand her rejection.

And Alia-our new-age ‘dulhaniya’ is no Madhuri Dixit of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun who wordlessly agrees to marry her brother-in-law when her sister dies or Kajol of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge who accepts her fate and is ready to bury her love for SRK to become the bride to the man of her father’s choice. Alia has a mind of her own and is not willing to compromise at any cost. However she is also in a dilemma for she genuinely starts liking Badri. But the claustrophobic old-fashioned outlook of his parents and his inability to fight for her leave her with no alternative but to turn him down. When her repeated pleas to him and to her parents fall on deaf ears, she agrees to the proposal but leaves him in the lurch at the marriage altar much to the embarrassment of her parents and humiliation of her would-be in-laws.

She flies off to Singapore to become an air-hostess. Not one to give up Badri follows her there too till circumstances start to change his understanding and he learns it the hard way that a woman wants respect more than love and that her ideas are also equally important in a marriage for there is but one life for everyone… He is deported  and he comes back a changed man. He realizes that the free-spirited Vaidehi would be miserable in his household where his father’s rule dominates unless he has the guts to stand up and oppose him.

Of course! In the end things are sorted and the lovers do get together but not before the interesting scene where Badri gathers enough courage to confront his father on the day when his family is conducting a puja to pray for a grandson to be born to their pregnant daughter-in-law! Badri then has a show-down with his father and questions him on the absurdity of the very idea of such a function and reminds him that the city of Jhansi where they live is known for a daughter –the Rani of Jhansi– and not for any son. The era of gender equality had arrived and the earlier people like him accepted this truth, the better it would be for all of them…

The story may sound clichéd but the treatment is definitely not. Further it is a fact that however much we may talk of women empowerment in reality social evils of dowry and patriarchy still exist. Hence such love-stories will always find takers and hit the jackpot in whatever era they are made.

(Note: Actors Yash Sinha and Shweta  Basu Prasad  playing Varun’s ‘Bhaiyya’ and ‘Bhabhi’ respectively will definitely remind us of Mohnish Behl and Renuka Shahane from Hum Aapke Hain Kaun!)

The choice of Kota as the film’s setting deserves a special mention for attractively capturing the ‘Seven Wonders Park’ on the banks of Lake Kishore Sagar . Frankly, I had no idea of its existence and now it has made it to my list of ‘must-see places’!

Finally, no film is perfect and there are situations and scenes which need to be taken with a pinch of salt. And yet the film does stand out for raising some pertinent issues. As the framework is within a typical family drama, it will appeal to a large section of the audience across the country. Added to that the songs are catchy, the canvas is colourful and pleasing and the performances are good. Both Alia and Varun are not only perfectly cast and look good, their acting is spot-on and their on-screen chemistry is terrific!

So just go and enjoy this ‘typical’ Bollywood block-buster… It won’t disappoint you!