Amitabh Bachchan is the most iconic personality of Hindi cinema. This is the inference I draw after looking at his enviable filmography- which comprises of few of the most popular movies ever and at the same time still includes a range of movies on diverse subjects- covering diverse genres. It is a true testament to his phenomenal range as an actor that in a period in which he was dishing out ‘angry young man’ blockbusters and huge money spinners by the number, he still tried out stuff that gave him the opportunity to indulge different facets of his acting prowess. ‘Jurmana’ by Hrishikesh Mukherjee is his one such endeavor.
Starring him alongside Vinod Mehra and Rakhee Gulzar in lead roles, Jurmana is a romantic drama, kind of stuff that one would associate more with someone like Rajesh Khanna or one of the Kapoor clan. Bachchan plays Inder- a super-rich spoilt brat, a womanizer, and someone who believes in the philosophy that money can buy anything. On a visit to a quiet small town for a construction project, he meets his old college friend Prakash (essayed by Vinod Mehra), who is living a lifestyle that is poles apart from Inder’s own. A few days into his stay he spots Rama (Rakhee in a typical seedhi-saadhi avatar) and gets attracted to her charm, oblivious to the fact that his Prakash has true feelings for her. Just as Inder decides to woo Rama, Prakash gets its inkling- and there ensues a bet. Prakash believes that the simple Rama would in no way get attracted by the charms of the suave and debonair Inder, and would instead teach him a lesson. What Prakash doesn’t realize at that point of time is that it is this presumably harmless bet that would turn their lives upside down.
The sequence of events unfolds in a predictable manner for most parts but that does not take anything away from the intensity of the drama. The scenes where Amitabh turns on the charm of Rakhee are interesting and show him in a different light altogether. Towards the later part of the movie when the story shifts to Mumbai, it loses a bit of steam- but the culmination of the story is good- and there could not have been a better way to end the movie.
The music is good, which is not at all a surprise. The song ‘Saawan ke Jhoole’ is the pick of the lot and graces the narrative more than once. The performances by the actors are top notch- though the character played by Mr. Shreeram Lagoo (of Rama's dad) is a bit hard to digest. Amitabh Bachchan stand head and shoulders above the rest (both literally and figuratively). Rakhee pitches in an earnest performance. I have seen a lot of her work lately and she certainly was amongst the better actresses of her time.
Parting note- The movie is a good watch for a lazy Sunday afternoon, and it is certainly one of the underrated works of the masterful Hrishikesh Mukherjee.