Friday, October 28, 2011
“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.