Wednesday, August 17, 2011
On the maestro Gulzar’s 75th birthday, this is my humble attempt to recall one of my favorite films of his, one that I have watched many a times over the years and still find as endearing and as fresh as the first time I saw it- ‘Parichay’.
One of his early films, Parichay starred Jeetendra, Jaya Bhaduri, Pran, and Sanjeev Kumar (in an important cameo appearance). It is a simple story of an unemployed youngster, Ravi (Jeetendra in his first of the three movies with Gulzar), who takes up the job of coaching and reforming the five grandchildren of a wealthy businessman, Rai Saheb (essayed by Pran), in his uncle’s (AK Hangal) village. The grandchildren include Rama (Jaya Bhaduri), who is the eldest and is thus the leader of the pack. The five children are disrespectful and obstinate, and don’t share good vibes with their grandfather, owing to the strained relationship he shared with his son and their late father (Sanjeev Kumar). In an effort to reform them, Rai Saheb employed a series of tutors prior to Ravi, but all of them had been forced to leave by the five children’s reluctance to study and their penchant for naughty antics.
When Ravi takes up the job, the five of them try to do with him what they had done with their previous tutors and make him a subject of their tricks and pranks. But what leaves them utterly surprised is the calm manner in which Ravi brushes aside these pranks and does not even complain about the same to Rai Saheb and their strict aunt. What furthers their astonishment is that Ravi even refuses to use the stick to reprimand them, much to the displeasure of their aunt. Soon the kids take to his honesty, simplicity and affable nature, and start responding to his methods and his words. He becomes a very important part of their lives, and even Ravi develops a growing fondness for them, especially for Rama. How their relationship pans out is what the film is about.
The one thing that is noticeable about all Gulzar movies is that they all have very simple titles, which however always have some deep meaning attached and some strong connect with the story and the mood of the film. He calls this story Parichay, and rightly so for it is essentially about how the kids get introduced to their grandfather, with whom they don’t share a warm relationship, and vice versa. It is also a story of Ravi’s self discovery and his journey towards developing a purpose in life.
The performances by the leads are fantastic, but the real highlights of the movie are the really cute acts by the two youngest kids, and the stellar performance by Pran as the misunderstood Grandfather who is really out of ideas about how to make up with his distanced grandchildren. Even Asrani pitches in with an honest act- he was really one of the most versatile and efficient character artist of his times. The music of the movie acts as a character in itself, such is its beauty and such is its relevance to the narrative. RD Burman came up with some memorable music for Gulzar’s words, and the result were three splendid songs- the evergreen ‘Musafir hoon yaaron’, the haunting melody ‘Beeti na Bitayi raina’, and the charmingly playful ‘saare ke saare’.
As in all his other films, Gulzar chooses a simple tale with a heart and adds his masterly strokes in the form of witty dialogues, splendid music and moving drama. The craft of caressing a simple plot into an evocative and engaging feature is something that Gulzar practiced with trademark precision and uncanny ease over the years. It is hard to find any other Indian director with such a rich and full body of work, and adding his contributions to the world of poetry and music, he becomes truly unmatched and unparalleled.
Hoping that the magician lives on and on… his films and songs surely will…