Thursday, June 30, 2011
I have always had a liking for the friendly and warm rural settings in both books and movies. Such settings may seem idealistic and may refrain from showing the murky realities, but their simple tone, and the simple problems that people in such stories have, have always allured me. Malgudi Days is my second favorite book after the Harry Potter series- and I was thrilled when I saw Gulzar’s ‘Khushboo’ unfolding in a manner similar to the RK Narayan’s classic fable based on the lives of people in a fictional village.
Starring Jeetendra and Hema Malini in lead roles, Khushboo is based on a story by Saratchandra Chatterjee (The man who also wrote Devdas). Kusum (essayed by Hema Malini) looks after a wealthy old lady who lives all alone in the village. This lady falls sick and Dr. Brindavan (Jeetendra in a role and look similar to his earlier film with Gulzar-Parichay) is summoned from a nearby village to tend to her. Kusum soon realizes that Dr. Brindavan is none other but the guy who she was engaged to marry as a kid. Their alliance had been fixed when they were very young, but it could not materialize due to certain misunderstandings. Subsequently, she and her mother had been unceremoniously disowned by Brindavan’s family- and while he and his family move on in life- Kusum remains still stuck in the past. She still considers herself married to Brindavan and refuses to marry anybody else.
Soon Kusum learns that Brindavan is married and even has a four year old son Charan. When Dr. Brindavan recognizes her and learns about how she still considers him her husband, he starts to feel a little guilty- but at the same time she gains a lot of respect in his eyes. He decides to marry Kusum (his first wife being no more) and solemnize the possessiveness she felt for him, but due to certain misunderstandings it does not happen. At the same time a beautiful bond develops between his son Charan, and Kusum. Charan also becomes very close to Kusum’s brother (played by Asrani).
The story takes a turn when Dr. Brindavan’s village gets hit by the epidemic of Plague. Many people die, including some of his near and dear ones- his highly efficient and respectful compounder Birju being one of the victims. As many people start leaving the village out of fear- there remains no option for Brindavan to leave Charan with Kusum at her home. He too starts living there on her behest, though most of the time he remains away tending to the victims of the epidemic.
Gulzar treats his stories with a lot of love and affection. I am yet to see many of his works, but I can bet that this would rate as one of his finest efforts ever. He is perhaps the most perfect writer/poet who has graced Hindi Cinema- I won’t exhaust my eulogies for him as, as I mentioned I am yet to see many of his works and hopefully write about. Hema Malini delivers surely one of her best performance ever, and Jeetendra is equally sincere and effective. The supporting cast, that includes the likes of Farida Jalal and Asrani, too leaves a mark with their earnest performances. Special mention must be given to Master Raju (who plays Charan) who simply lights up the screen whenever he appears and is most definitely the best child artist ever in Hindi Cinema.
This movie also boasts of memorable music by RD Burman. Each and every song is a gem and may be a part of the playlists of old Hindi film music lovers- ‘Bechara Dil Kya Kare’, ‘Oh Maajhi re’ being two of the most popular ones.
Parting note- I loved watching this movie, and people who don’t mind a simple story unfold at a leisurely pace will surely enjoy it.