Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Yateem (1988)










'Western' is a really popular genre in Hollywood. But if we have to look for a Hindi movie that can be put in a similar bracket, we won’t go further than Sholay. However there are many other lesser known Bollywood movies that embody the western spirit- shot in virgin countryside, with horseback chases, gunshots, dacoits, loot, and romance. Yateem, written and directed by JP Dutta (the man who made ‘Border’), is one such movie. I had not heard about this one at all until I chanced upon a page on it recently. And upon watching the movie subsequently I got more than one reason to be surprised of.

First- the cinematography- the locales- the shots- are all spellbinding. As a kid when I used to travel on the Bhopal Shatabdi express to Gwalior, I used to be fascinated by the view of the Chambal valley in a stretch between Agra and Gwalior. It always made me curious and I yearned to explore the unknown terrains it kept hidden. And this movie helped me satisfy my curiosity. It has been shot in Chambal and its heartlands, and also in UP and parts of MP and Gujarat/Rajasthan. The way the shots have been mounted, the frames have been captured- is really fascinating. Upon watching it one can easily appreciate that India offers each and every kind of natural beauty a tourist may seek elsewhere in different parts of the world.

Second- the storyline- has many really unconventional elements that can be considered bold for the Indian audiences. In fact this may have been a plausible reason for its critical and commercial failure at the time it released. The movie explores forbidden relationships and the central conflict arises because of a woman seeking pleasures outside her home.

Third- Sunny Deol’s performance- over the years Sunny has been synonymous with high adrenaline action with him beating the pulp out of many hooligans at once. This movie too has its share of action packed scenes; however the difference is that Sunny’s portrayal of anguished young policeman has a certain raw charm about it which is missing from his current day performances. He manages to convey vulnerability, pain, and fervor at the same time- a feat few modern day actors can accomplish.

Fourth- the gripping drama and dialogues- many elements of the story are formulaic, however the narrative is fast paced and engrossing for most parts.

And finally- there are no memorable songs in the movie despite having Laxmikant-Pyarelal at the helm. Now this is a surprise because the movies in a 80s depended heavily on music to engage the viewers. The run-time is a bit long and fast-forwarding the songs helped.

Parting Note- This movie will draw totally diverse reactions. Some may trash it vehemently, but there would be others who would give it the highest praise. For me the movie worked as a more than decent time-pass ‘masala’ entertainer elevated by its performances and stunning cinematography.

15 comments:

  1. One of my all time favorite.

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  2. The songs are very good.

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  3. I agree wholeheartedly with the review. It is an excellent movie... Not only the central conflict of a married woman seekingrevenge for being spurned, but also the hero and heroine are bang square in the middle of a traditional "grown up together brother sister relationship"... which they reject because they realise they're in love. I loved the background score of the movie too... and the viewer feels the heat and dust of the movie... The terriffic close-ups - all actors do a great job but Sunny Deol really nails it. What a film!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Appreciate your views.

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  4. The best movie I have ever seen, nice shots at temples, dargahs. Somebody please tell me where was the son g 'dil ne chaha ' shot, so many temples. If I knew I would love to go there.

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  5. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Appreciate your views. I don't know where the song was shot for sure... can be the khajuraho temples

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  6. It looks like the song was shot at Sonagiri, Madhya Pradesh. It is a Jain pilgrimage place.

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    1. Thanks for the tip! Would love to visit the place.

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    2. Those all temples and dargahs are in datia district in madhya pradesh and this film is shooted in badoni a town in datia.and that temple is sonagiri jain temple near badoni
      I know all this because i am from datia.

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  7. I saw this movie in 1989 and since then dying to know where the locales are at least once trip in a month. Now that I chanced on it my next trip should be to Sonagiri. And what an unconventional movie. The implications of extra marital relationship which again is a consequence of marriage to a much older man are thoughtfully portrayed. The romance of the lead pair - a full quarter century ago - is the boldest ever ; miles ahead of even today's post global stuff. A movie that deserves fullest critical acclaim.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your views. I would also live to visit Sonagiri soon :)

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  8. Sonagir G jain temple confirm, when I watched the first time I recognized this place. I visited many time there.

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  9. I love this movie. I used to watch it a lot during my childhood on zee cinema.
    And as kids, our taste may be questionable plus there's always the bias of nostalgia. However, I recently watched this movie again on tv and loved ,loved it. Cinematography, shots, direction, story, acting everything is top notch. Plus the breathtaking locales lend a most vivid charm to the story of the outlaw. A western as you say but also one that explores themes of a nympho's revenge. Then again, the old man who marries her is hardly less culpable.
    How he's so enamoured by his young wife (seq blindfolds a man's judgment) that he refuses to see the truth and instead finds false narratives like that of his dead mother who warned him "daku ka beta daku" to fit into his own wrong judgment.
    I was very impressed by JP Dutta's work here. Border though nice was always too sentimental types so IMO this film is his best work. And then just the acting that he was able to get out of Sunny Deol is another revelation. I find generally he can't act but here he displays all the emotions as you said-the raw masculinity, vulnerability, betrayal, being misunderstood,.....so many and then his chemistry with Farha who's also good as a nubile girl. Kharbanda is excellent as always and Danny also menacing enough.

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