Friday, October 28, 2011

Lekin... (1990)

“Yaara Sili Sili Virah Ki Raat Ka Jalna”

‘Lekin’ is a movie best remembered for this timeless song by Lata Mangeshkar. Directed by Gulzar and produced by the nightingale of Bollywood herself (along with her Brother Hridyanath Mangeshkar, who also takes up the responsibility of composing music for the film), Lekin is the most 'hatke' theme attempted by Gulzar in his long and illustrious directorial career. It is a story that is mythical, rustic, and open to interpretations- like so many of the folktales that can be heard in villages abode to old monuments that act as bridges between our past and the present. Starring Vinod Khanna and Dimple Kapadia in principal roles, Lekin is a story seeped in the culture of the most mystical part of our nation- Rajasthan.

Samir (Vinod Khanna) is sent to a non-descript village in Rajasthan to evaluate and classify the possessions of an old palace that was once owned by the king of that region, and the doors to which have not been opened since the past few decades. On the way he has a strange encounter with a gypsy woman (Dimple Kapadia). Not thinking too much about it, he reaches his destination where he discovers that his old friend Siddique (Amjad Khan) is now a collector. The very next day he starts his job in the old palace, but things take a strange turn when he meets the gypsy woman once again. Soon, a lot of things start happening thick and fast around Samir, of which he cannot make any sense at all. How Samir gets embroiled in the age old forgotten tale of the sandy ruins, and how his life gets hijacked by an apparition from the past, is what the movie is all about.

The movie is different not only in terms of its story, but also in terms of the way Gulzar has treated it. He very beautifully captures the mood of the ‘lands of kings’, and adds a stamp of authenticity in each and every frame of the narrative. He creates a world that sucks you into it, and involves just like a very well written and intriguing bit of poetry. There is suspense, but it is not hurried. Everything is languid, and each and every bit of the puzzle unfolds patiently. It appears that Gulzar wants the viewers to feel the restiveness, the confusion, and the curiosity that is haunting Samir. Also, in terms of its theme, Gulzar chooses a story that could well have been converted into a tacky Ramsey affair, in the hands of a lesser and a more commercially inclined man. But Gulzar not only tells a story, he also raises a lot of questions about the paranormal, and the supernatural. Of course, the viewers are left to form their own interpretations through the course of the story, and also at the end of it all. It may all seem implausible, as it does to the protagonist initially, but then suddenly it may start making sense. Or rather, you would stop caring about its plausibility, and would just start to go with the flow of the proceedings (that is what happened with me). The only glitch is that this flow gets a little too slow in the middle of the movie- and that has led to it becoming a lengthy feature at around 160 min.

There are a lot of important characters in the story played by well known names of that time including Alok Nath and Vijayendra Ghatge. Hema Malini chips in with a very important cameo appearance. And like in most Gulzar movies, the music plays an additional character, one which often commands more respect than the mere mortals on screen. That said, even the mortals aren’t far behind in this feature, for both Vinod Khanna and Dimple Kapadia do a fabulous job. Dimple Kapadia looks ethereal, and talks more through her eyes than through her words. Amjad Khan (highly obese at the fag-end of his career) is efficient as the hero’s best friend and confidante- and so is the actress who plays his wife.

Parting Note: For those who don’t mind a slow pacing to their movies, and can digest a theme involving supernatural elements, Lekin is a very good watch.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Vijeta (1982)

While no one can put a stop to ageing (the world is still waiting for the chemical formula), coming of age  is an arduous job. It is a journey like no other, which is more psychological than literal. Unfortunately history tells us that the best men, more often than not, get made only after facing a lot of hardships and going through personal losses. Maybe it’s a small tax that they have to pay on their path of self-discovery and conquest. 

Govind Nihalani’s Vijeta is a movie that emphasizes on the above fact and explores human relationships through challenging times. It is basically a story of guy’s journey from boy to man, and how he conquers his doubts and apprehensions to emerge victorious in life. The movie has been produced by Shashi Kapoor, and stars his son Kunal Kapoor as the protagonist.

Vinod (Shashi Kapoor) and Neelima (Rekha) form an estranged couple, who despite their differences live together for the sake of their only son Angad (Kunal Kapoor as a young surd). Vinod is in the entertainment business, while Neelima is a housewife who is highly involved with her pursuits in classical music (This deep involvement suggests a void in her life that she is trying to take care of). One day Angad, their son, returns home after leaving his boarding school. Utterly confused about what to do in life, and highly troubled by the shaky relationship his parents share, Angad feels that his life is completely worthless and confesses contemplating suicide in front of his mother (with whom he shares a friendly relationship, contrary to the acerbic one that he shares with his father). Neelima’s young brother (and Angad’s uncle), a Naval officer, takes Angad to stay with him for a few days. During his stay with his Uncle, Angad finds life in the armed forces highly disciplined, challenging, and adventurous, and decides to enter the National Defense Academy to train for becoming an Air Force Pilot.

Soon, after countering the initial resistance to the idea posed by his father, he enters the Academy and settles into a new regime that throws more challenges at him that he anticipates initially. Thus his journey ensues, and how along the way he forms new bonds- finds few friends for life and finds love, and how his success in life helps resolve the issues between his parents, is what the movie is all about.

The one thing that striking about this movie is its authenticity. Be it the manner in which human relationships are depicted, or the way the life at the Defense Academy is showcased- everything is done realistically and nothing is over the top. Even the love story between Angad and Ana (played by a young Supriya Pathak) is unconventional in the way it has been handled on screen- minus any melodrama and the usual kitsch associated with Hindi cinema. There are many sequences that deserve mention-right from the initial ones involving Shashi Kapoor and Rekha, to the pre climax when Angad is at the front fighting the 1971 war. Certain scenes are so powerful that they can be easily included in the best shot scenes ever in Indian cinema. One such lengthy sequence is at the Air Force training academy when the handling of an in flight glitch is depicted wonderfully. When one contrasts it to one such scene in the latest movie ‘Mausam’, one can only feel highly impressed by the way Govind Nihalani shot the scene almost 30 years ago without using the kind of digital technology that is at the disposal of the directors today (incidentally, just struck me, Supriya Pathak is another connection between the two movies).

This movie is embellished with truly remarkable performances, led by Shashi Kapoor and Amrish Puri. The latter is, in my opinion, the greatest character artist ever in our movies, and the respect for the former has grown leaps and bounds in my eyes after watching this and Junoon (both unconventional movies produced and backed by him). The people who play Angad’s friends are all very efficient, and so is Rekha, in a complex role that required much emoting but no histrionics (again unconventional by usual standards). Om Puri, who plays Angad’s Uncle, is effective in an extended cameo. Supriya Pathak is damn sweet in her portrayal of Angad’s love interest, and I wonder why she didn’t do better as a mainstream actor. The only one who disappoints a little is ironically the main lead- Kunal Kapoor, for whom this movie was a kind of launch vehicle. Maybe in an effort to remain restrained, he is surprisingly insipid and dull in many scenes, and does not enforce himself on the movie at all. He shows flashes of talent in a few sequences, but overall, it is not hard to understand why he was not a success as a mainstream actor after watching this movie where he was handed a role of the lifetime by his father.

Parting Note: This movie is a must watch for many reasons. One- it is a technically brilliant film that has a strong theme and an engaging storyline. Two- it is an unconventional take on human relationships, the kind is realistic and at the same time has tremendous entertainment value. Three- it shows life in the Air Force, and the growth of an individual as he progresses through the various stages of his career in the defense forces. And lastly, it is an ode to the human spirit, undying and relentless in its pursuit of acceptance, peace, satisfaction, and victory…

P.S. A poster of the movie, that did not care to even slightly depict its central theme. Commercials trappings hard to eschew completely in the big bad world of Bollywood.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

JFFS: Bhool Bhulaiya 2

This is the first post in a new series I am starting on the blog- 'Just for Fun Sequels' (JFFSs). Every other day, sequels for many successful films are announced- though ultimately only a handful do get actually made. Here I would post some possible continuations for some of our popular films that actually deserve a sequel. This is an attempt by me to keep my creative juices active- and add a different color to the blog- the color of imagination and endless possibilities... 
BB3 300x210 Just for fun Sequel: Bhool Bhulaiya
Radha (Amisha Patel) gives her consent and she and Dr. Aditya (Akshay Kumar) get married in an elaborate ceremony in Varanasi, after which Aditya returns to the US, taking Radha along. They start living a charmed life together, until their marital bliss gets interrupted by an assignment that comes in Aditya’s hands.
BB4 150x150 Just for fun Sequel: Bhool Bhulaiya
Strange happenings are reported from the ancient town of Angkor (Cambodia) where a team of five US archaeologists had gone to study the ancient scriptures and learn more about the Khmer dynasty. At the outskirts of the town, they had made an extraordinary discovery. They had found a hidden passage to one of the outer chambers of the great temple Angkor Wat. The chamber consisted of a huge replica of the painting of Suryavarman II, the king who commissioned the construction of the temple, the original for which was a popular tourist attraction in the south gallery of the temple. The painting showed the king seated on an elaborate wooden dais whose legs and railings were carved to resemble naga snakes, and with him holding a small dead snake in his right hand. Beneath the painting were written a few words in Sanskrit that meant “The secret to success lies in the weakness of the enemy”.
Suryavarman II in procession 300x225 Just for fun Sequel: Bhool Bhulaiya
The archeologists had decided to remove the painting from the chamber, believing it to be the key to many hidden facts about the ancient kingdom. They had taken the painting to their base camp on the outskirts of the city. The very night, there was a huge storm and a heavy downpour. It had seemed that the skies were angry, and were expressing their displeasure by thunder and lightning. Their base camp too had got struck by a bout of lightening that resulted in the death of one of their team members. Not only this, the next five days resulted in the death of two others in freak accidents. The remaining two Jim and Sunil had got a feeling that their removal of the painting had somehow triggered this mishap on them. Fearing for their lives, they had decided to restore the painting. The very next day, they took the painting to the chamber that they had discovered and restored the painting. But while getting out, Sunil had got struck on the head by something and had fallen unconscious. When Sunil regained consciousness, he discovered that Jim had gone, and so had the painting. Mightily shaken by the whole proceedings, he had wasted no time in reaching the city and taking a flight back to US.
After reaching US, Sunil gets a bit disillusioned and starts getting really bad dreams. He contacts Sidhharth (Shiney Ahuja), a good friend of his, who refers him to Aditya. Aditya hears him out but refuses to go forward with the case- sighting the fact of him being a psychiatrist and not a mystery solver. But on Sidhharth’s insistence, and Radha’s encouragement, Aditya decides to visit the Archaeological Institute of USA- Sunil’s employers. There he finds out the nitty-gritties of the mission gone wrong in Cambodia. But Sunil hides everything about them finding the painting and just tells him about the deaths of his colleagues in mysterious circumstances. Aditya decides to do some background research and spends a few days in library reading up the history of Cambodia and Angkor Wat in particular.
BB6 150x150 Just for fun Sequel: Bhool Bhulaiya
Soon Aditya and Radha travel to Cambodia, where they are accompanied by Sunil and two others from Archaeological Institute. Also, in Angkor, they are joined by a sexy female Historian Lisa, a localite, who is too hot and too smart for Radha to like. She gives a tour of Angkor Wat to Aditya, telling him about some really cool historical facts and myths, and also tells him a fable that is well known in the land of Cambodia, but which a few believe- or decide to believe…
Suryavarman II was a young and rebellious prince who was the great nephew of the then king Dharanindravarman. This was around 1110 AD. Suryavarman II wanted to be the king to the throne at which he had not legal king. But his great uncle was a really ineffectual leader, and quite aged too. Planning a usurping of the throne, Suryavarman got distracted when he fell in love with a traveler from the Chola Dynasty (Southern India) – Priyamani. Priyamani was the daughter of a learned noble in Kulothunga Chola’s court (the then Chola king). She had come to Cambodia on a state visit along with her brother Ajayratra, and with the intention of learning about the Khmer culture, and visiting the sacred Shiva temples in and around Angkor Wat. Dharanindravarman was a huge devotee of Shiva, and built royal temples for his beloved God. Suryavarman met Priyamani at one of these temples and they soon were involved in a passionate love affair, hidden from Ajayratra and Dharanindravarman. Priyamani got pregnant and Suryavarman decided to marry her. But when Ajayratra got to know of this, fuming in anger over the loss of face, he decided to kill his sister and the child in her womb. Before Ajayratra could execute his plans, Suryavarman escaped with his love and their unborn child for two years in the jungles. When he returned after two years, he told his uncle that he had been a fool and asked for his forgiveness. He also told him that both Priyamani and his son were dead. In reality Suryavarman had got in a treaty with an enemy of the state and to seal the pact had married his daughter- leaving Priyamani and their son- on their own in the forests. With the help of the enemy he battled his uncle after weakening his armies from inside like a termite, and killed him- taking over the Khmer throne.
Suryavarman then decided to build Angkor Wat, and in a departure from the norm, decided to make it Vishnu rather than Shiva the focus of the religious life. For this reason Angkow Wat faces the west- the cardinal direction in which Vishnu was associated. In fact, he hated Shiva, and anything to do with the God- perhaps in the memory of Priyamani and her devotion for the Snake God.
Now Priyamani and her Son vowed revenge, and entered the temple of Angkor Wat as Brahmins. The son Veeravardhan became well versed with the treasures of the temple complex and started small pilferages after gaining the trust of the most senior Brahmins of the temple complex. Legend has it that he accumulated a huge treasure and hid it in a secret chamber. The legend also has it that the chamber is guarded by a painting of Suryavarman- the replica of a famous representation of his in the temple complex. Soon after however Suryavarman got to know of Priyamani and his son being in the temple- and got them executed publicly. While Veeravardhan died like a warrior- Priyamani died with a secret desire in her heart- and hence her ghost returned to haunt the temple. Over the years she led to the destruction of the Khmer empire which went on a downward spiral- and finished completely hundred years later. What the legend also talks about is that Veeravardhan had left his son in the womb of the daughter of a temple priest- And that son and his subsequent generations guarded the treasure accumulated by Veeravardhan zealously- aided by the ghost of Priyamani- the guardian of her posterity. The legend says that even today, the treasure is being guarded by these people who owed their existence to a passionate love affair between Veeravardhan and a young lady.
Aditya hears this story and so does Sunil. He tells Aditya about their discovery- and that they had actually found the treasure chamber. Aditya wastes no time and enters the chamber along with a few armed personnel and Lisa- who refuses to be left behind. They reach the painting of Suryavarman and Aditya asks everyone not to touch it. He decides to explore the whole chamber before making a move.
Thus Aditya and Lisa start visiting the chamber every day, working painstakingly to find clues that could help them uncover the mystery. Every day they reach the painting, but don’t even touch it. And nothing really happens to them in the next two days. But on the third day, Aditya finds a few clues, a few footprints that he could not explain. The very next moment a few people come out of black shadows and attack them. Aditya manages to escape and keep them away. But Lisa gets lost in the dark of the temple…
Aditya, Radha, and Sunil visit the police station but the local police refuses to help them, and advices them to leave the country. They talk about Priyamani’s ghost and refuse to go inside the temple, fearing the Veeravardhan clan. Aditya understands that some murky plan is going on in the temple city, and the Police are involved in the same. He decides to take the things in his hands and makes some investigations in the nearby city. Hidden in the dark of the night, he spies on the areas around the entrance to the chamber. Using a magnetic compass and his significantly more effective sense of direction he makes a map of the entire region in his head. After three days of intensive mapping and spying, he finds another entrance- a secret tunnel- that by his calculations would lead to the same temple chamber.
BB7 300x225 Just for fun Sequel: Bhool Bhulaiya
He spies on that entrance- and soon enough he spots people emerging from the tunnel, with heavy boxes on their heads. He follows the trail, and finds them loading the boxes in trucks- that move towards the sea cliff- where the boxes are sent down to a waiting ship- that take them away God knows where-
Aditya fathoms that it is a smuggling ring that is been operated from within the temple premises- and the whole thing is being hidden around the temple fable of Veeravardhan- to keep the general public and the Police away. Aditya decides to go to Phnom Penh and take the help of the main city police force. They reach Angkor the very next day early in the morning and raid the chambers and catch the smugglers. They also find Jim who had been kept captive by the smugglers. But they find no trace of Lisa…
Aditya refuses to leave the city before finding Lisa. He explores the temple, and ultimately ends up again in front of the painting of Suryavarman. He reads the saying beneath the painting
“The secret to success lies in the weakness of the enemy”.
He looks at the dead snake in the hands of Suryavarman. The sign that he did not believe in the power of Shiva- the power which was everything for Priyamani. He decides to remove the painting and enters the den the smugglers were using. In a corner he spots a small Shiva temple. He goes over to it. The only Shiva temple in Angkor Wat. This was it- this was the weakness of the enemy- The weakness of Suryavarman to recognize the might of Shiva…
He explores the temple- and spots an inscription. It is a puzzle- one which if solved could lead to the greatest treasure of the world. Suddenly he hears the voice of Lisa…
BB1 300x199 Just for fun Sequel: Bhool Bhulaiya
“Come on Aditya, if someone deserves to know this secret- it is you- you got rid of the people who were defiling the sacred chambers of our forefathers- those wretched people who ended my clan- those who killed the last descendents of my son Veeravardhan…”
A secret entrance opens automatically as soon as the name is said by Aditya….
“Go inside Aditya, the greatest treasure of the world is yours”
“No. It belongs to this great land. It belongs to you. Your dynasty. I will let it remain here. Surely this will help your people when they are really in the need for it”
“You are a good man Aditya.”
“What I would like to do is to help you. Help you escape this mortal world. Help you escape its trappings. Help you move on…”
“Alas, that’s not possible Aditya. I brought terrible shame to my family back in India. I defiled the pride of my clan. Until and unless they don’t forgive me, I cannot be free”
“But they all are dead. Can’t anything be done?”
Aditya and Radha travel to a quaint little city in South India- Thanjavur- the city that was the capital of the Chola Dynasty at the time when Priyamani lived. They visit the ruins of a small Shiva temple and meet the priest there- an old man- whose ancestors went on till the times of the Chola dynasty. He asks him if he knew about Priyamani- who travelled far and wide to Khmer- some 900 years ago.
The priest is shocked to hear these words from Aditya. He tells him that he and his family were descendents of Ajayratra (Priyamani’s brother) – their secret had been passed on from generations to generations. Aditya tells him about the spirit of Priyamani been stuck in this mortal world- and seeking forgiveness from their family. He asks him to travel to Angkor- and makes all the arrangements for him-
ThanjavurTemple 300x225 Just for fun Sequel: Bhool Bhulaiya

As for him and Radha they return to USA- not before going to Varanasi and meeting Radha’s family and Siddharth- Every moment Aditya reflects on the vast maze (Bhool Bhulaiya) of Ancient tales and fables our ancient heritage is…

Thanks for your patience. It was a long first post. Hope you found it worth the effort. And kindly pardon the typos/grammatical errors that probably infest this post. It was written in rather a hurry. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Saath Saath (1982)

The sad demise of Jagjit Singh today marks he end of an era. The following is a write-up on a movie embellished by his 'Ghazals'- a movie that embodies his soul- melodious, thoughtful, and beautiful... 

Togetherness, affection, love… so many of our movies talk about these things, but hardly any of them  try to look into the actual meanings and connotations of these rather abstract emotions, and fewer still try to take a realistic look at these things. Saath Saath, a Farookh Shiekh and Deepti Naval starrer from the early 80s, is a movie that attempts to give an answer to an oft repeated question- ‘What is Love?’ (A question that has left many a philosophers and thinkers grappling, and whose answers, more often than not, are pretty vague ones that stem more from frustration rather than actual understanding or sudden flashes of cognition). This movie is the debut for writer/director Raman Kumar- another of those people who went downhill after showing a lot of promise in their first feature. One striking feature of this movie is that all songs are sung by the husband-wife pair of Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh, but more on that later.

Saath Saath starts off in a manner, which despite being predictable is fairly engaging. Geeta (Deepti Naval in a girl next door avatar), the only daughter of a rich industrialist, moves into a new college and meets Avinash (Farookh Shiekh in a fiery role of a young socialist), and falls in love with him. Avinash reciprocates, and soon their love blossoms, much to the happiness of their group of friends (all recognizable faces-ranging from Satish Shah to Neena Gupta). It is usually hard to put an exact reason to why someone falls for someone else. But in this case Geeta certainly takes to the revolutionary streak in Avinash, and his zeal for honesty and passion for making a difference in society. He is one who minces no words against the money-minded industrialists who, he believes, revel in their corrupt means and build their empires by exploiting helpless people who agree to become slaves to their exploitative ways just because of lack of other options. Avinash freelances for newspapers, but more often than not, finds his articles rejected on the pretext of them being too realistic and too aggressive against capitalists.

Geeta, despite being a daughter of an industrialist herself, fully empathizes with Avinash’s ideas and thoughts and decides to spend her life with him, despite her parent’s passive resistance. Soon they marry and move into Avinash’s small home; making it a home of their dreams by their understanding and love. Things start to change when Geeta gets pregnant, and because of their rising monetary requirements, Avinash joins the publishing house of his friend (Satish Shah), as an employee. Soon, blinded by his love for Geeta, and his desire to give her and their kid all the comforts in the world, Avinash leaves his path of honesty and starts to compromise on his ideals in the company of his profit minded friend and boss. How Geeta reacts to this, and how she starts to alienate herself from Avinash’s life is what the movie is about in its latter half.

Like most of the realistic movies of that time, Saath Saath too has a simple plot, but is taken to the next level by its thought and its conviction. Its purpose seems to be to highlight the meaning of true love, and at the same time draw out the distinction between life pre and post marriage, when even the best of men can sometimes move away from their staunch ideals due to rising responsibilities and higher stakes in life. Although the narrative gets a bit shaky in parts (especially during attempts to bring in some humor), and the culmination looks a bit simplistic and hurried (as if the writer was forced to end it this way), the movie is a delightful watch for most parts. Certain scenes are truly splendid- the post marriage scene between Avinash and Geeta when they both take up hectic jobs, and the scenes that bring out the change in Avinash’s personality in the latter portions, are worth a mention. But what really adds wonderfully to this movie is its music. This movie, despite being a fairly different and engaging one, is still remembered more for its songs by Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh. Kuldip Singh is the man behind the compositions, and the words are by Javed Akhtar. The two evergreen songs that form the backbone of this movie are ‘Tumko Dekha toh Yeh Khayal aaya’, and ‘Yeh Tera Ghar Yeh Mera Ghar’. The rest of the songs too are good, but not as popular.

The performances in such movies always appear better than what they are, but despite that it can be said that both Deepti Naval and Farookh Shiekh did an excellent job as the lead pair (though Farookh Shiekh looked a bit theatrical at places- especially during the ‘Tumko Dekha’ song and his scenes of outburst). The supporting cast (Rakesh Bedi, Satish Shah, Neena Gupta, Iftekhar etc.) doesn’t have much to do, and the focus never wavers from Deepti and Farookh.

Parting Note: All in all, Saath Saath is a good breezy watch (at just about 120 min), elevated to a great extent by its music and performances by its lead pair. Signing off with...

P.S: The editing is credited to David Dhawan, who incidently never attempted this kind of cinema after turning director.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sadma (1983)

Well this one is considered one of the classics of Indian cinema and is a favourite with many movie lovers. Despite knowing this, I was pushing back watching it for some reason or the other. Last week I finally decided to take the plunge and watch this tragic melodrama starring Sridevi and Kamal Hasan. And post viewing it, I was certainly left with mixed feelings.

Written and Directed by Balu Mahendra (a famous South Indian director), with dialogues by Gulzar, ‘Sadma’ is not your regular romance flick with a dash of melodrama thrown in. I think most are aware of its premise- a young upright and honest fellow giving shelter and care to a mentally challenged girl, and in the process falling in love with her.

Kamal Hasan’s plays Somprakash (Somu), a lonely guy who is a teacher in a private school based at one of the idyllic settings in the hill station Ooty (Karnataka). He is a self-sufficient fellow- he lives alone, cooks his own food, and does his own chores. Moreover Somu’s morals are not fractured, and he is loyal to his boss whose young second wife (Silk Smitha) makes direct passes at Somu almost every other day. His life takes an unexpected turn when he visits a city brothel at the insistence of his friend, and meets Reshmi (Sridevi). He finds Reshmi to be a strange case. Although a grown up woman, Somu discovers that she has the disposition of a six year old child. She talks, behaves, laughs, and cries like a kid, and Somu for his life cannot fathom how she got stuck in a brothel. He decides to help escape the place and ends up taking her with him to his place in Ooty. How the two grow closer, and become indispensible for each other over the course of time, is what the movie is all about.

The story is unconventional- but it is actually the characterization that is the highlight of the movie. The characters of Somu and Reshmi are extremely well etched out and the director knows exactly how to present them. Their personalities are a study in contrast; while Somu is a taciturn and stolid fellow with a great strength of character, Reshmi is all that Somu isn’t- playful and joyous. Thus the child-like Reshmi ends up filling the void of loneliness in Somu’s life and the two end up sharing a lot of bitter-sweet moments that form the best moments of the film too. As the narrative progresses, it incorporates two delightful and soothing songs by Gulzar and Ilayaraaja-

“Surmayee Ankhiyon Mein, Nanha Munna ek Sapna De Jaana”
“Aye Zindagi, Gale Laga le”

The climax of the movie is one of the most heart-wrenching you would ever see, and I think it is this climax that takes the movie from being just a good watch to being a must watch in most people’s eyes. However I feel that despite all the good things that this movie boasts of, it also has some serious embarrassing moments and does not escape the trappings of pleasing the front benchers of those times. And for me, because of this a lot is taken away from the overall impact of the movie- The entire Silk Smitha track is cringe worthy, and there is also one hideous song sequence between her and Kamal Hasan. Similarly the character played by Gulshan Grover with all his typical villainy complete with over the top glaring and lustful staring at the lead heroine is a complete put off. There is a mandatory action scene too, where the school teacher assumes a superhero avatar and jumps into a twenty feet deep pit to bash the villain. Frankly, all these things take the focus away from the central theme of the movie and add unnecessary minutes to the run-time.

Kamal Haasan delivers a first-rate performance and reinforces his credentials of being a terrific artist. His act in the last few minutes of the movie is considered one of his very best and might have actually decided the National Award in his favour. Sridevi’s performance appears a touch overdone. In some scenes I thought she was really irritating and did not manage to the embrace the cuteness and innocence her character required. But maybe she was just following the Director's vision, and that’s what he wanted from her. Silk Smitha, the film's other important character, just irritates with her in your face raunchiness and over the top expressions. The director tries to bring a touch of sensibility to her track by adding a dash of the lonely-young-wasted second bride theme. 

Parting Note: While Sadma is certainly a good watch, and is notches above the regular entertainers Bollywood dished out in the 1980s, in my opinion is not exactly as perfect a film it is made out to be. Good-of course no question, but great- I don’t think so…