Saturday, May 21, 2011

Chitchor (1976)












A few minutes into this Basu Chatterjee- Rajshri productions collaboration, I almost shouted ‘Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon’. A quick Google search later I was indeed vindicated. Sooraj Barjataya’s ‘Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon’ was indeed an underwhelming remake of this little gem of a movie. While its newer rehashed version is a tedious 176 minutes watch, Chitchor is an unusual hindi movie from the 70s with a breezy runtime of just about 100 minutes.
Chitchor stands for everything that made our earlier cinema so endearing- life like characters, simplicity of the plot, melodious music, engaging situations, and subtle humor. The setting is beautiful and in a way adds a lot to the movie…
“Gori Tera Gaon Bada pyaara- main toh gaya maara- aake yahan re…”
The premise of mistaken identities is simple enough- but it is the execution that is the winner here. Again, like most other Rajshri productions, the movie stresses on recognizing and relishing the simple pleasures of life. A bouquet of fresh flowers that the heroine (Zarina Wahab) gives to the hero (Amol Palekar) every evening is symbolic of the same. Amol Palekar is truly amazing in his portrayal of a cultured, well mannered and musically inclined man who is sent by his company for overseeing a construction project being carried out near the village where the story takes place. Zarina Wahab is an unusual Hindi film heroine. Certainly not the best looking of her times, this dusky lady has an unconventional appeal that works very well for this movie.
With a story with such few characters, the supporting cast does a fabulous job. The parents and the other hero- I don’t know him by name (he plays what Abhishek played in MPKDH) are effective. Special mention must be given to the kid who plays Zarina’s friend here. The relationship between him and Zarina is really sweet and is a highlight of the movie. In fact it can be said that the kid is the third most important character in the story. No, maybe that recognition should be given to the music which plays a big role in taking the narrative forward. The songs are soothing and melodious- notice the lyrics that convey the feelings of the characters in a superb manner.
Parting note- Although its story is familiar- the movie is still a must watch as it has the one thing that today’s movies lack- simplicity…

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