Saturday, October 27, 2012

Annadata (1972)

Many of our old Hindi movies have messages that have not lost their relevance over the years. In fact some of them seem to have been written with a crystal ball in tow, for the incipience of the issues they reflected on at that time has turned into a chronic persistence in the modern world of today. Annadata, one such film made by Asit Sen almost forty years ago, is a film that moots the breeding selfishness in the modern materialistic world and questions whether there is any good left in the world deafened by the rumble of avarice and ambition.

A rich industrialist Amba Prasad (essayed by an immensely likable Om Prakash) is referred to as annadata because of his largesse and charitable disposition. In the urban jungle that incubates the battle between the haves and the have-nots, he stands tall as someone who uses his wealth for the good of everyone, and not just for himself. However, false news of his death opens a can of worms when a large number of his blood relatives start fighting amongst themselves while staking a claim to his empire. But what truly breaks his heart is when his adopted daughter claims to have been an illicit relationship with him (forced by her gold-digging parents), just to proclaim herself to be a true heir to his vast empire. This cruel accusation completely shatters the old man’s faith in the world and he leaves everything he owns in care of his manager, while embarking on a journey, with only his pet dog accompanying him, to discover his lost belief in mankind.

On his journey when he is just about to give up all hope, a chance encounter brings him in touch with Aarti (Jaya Bhaduri), who nurses him to good health. In the days that follow Amba Prasad discovers how one woman epitomized all that he was looking for in the world- honesty, selflessness, benevolence, and righteousness. When he had started getting the feeling of been marooned on an island of spite and no respite, Aarti’s care and love ensnares him in her small yet salubrious world that blossoms with empathy of its occupants. Amba Prasad also strikes a quaint companionship with Aarti’s lover Arun (Anil Dhawan), an idealist painter whose lack of means makes him hesitant to solemnize his love for Aarti.

The movie is far from perfect despite the well intentioned premise. There are unnecessary scenes and also some shoddy acting, led by a very stiff and unintentionally hilarious Anil Dhawan. A polished actor would have definitely added tremendous weight to some complex scenes that fail to achieve their purpose with the present actor. The songs by Salil Chowdhary, though melodious, aren’t as neatly woven with the story as say Gulzar film songs would be. But Jaya Bhaduri and Om Prakash’s assured presence, and the brevity of most scenes that could have fallen in the trap of sermonizing, ensures that the film remains a light yet meaningful watch that ends on a positive note. In fact the film traverses the gargantuan distance between pessimism and optimism in just about two hours.

Parting Note: Annadata is akin to a Hrishikesh Mukherjee film that has its screenplay woven around a good idea, and is given a light-hearted treatment with melodrama kept to the bare minimum.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dastak (1970)

That knocking on the door…

In the process of discovering and experiencing some lesser talked about or simply forgotten chapters of Hindi cinema, I have being surprised more than once by the sensitivity of our storytellers. There have been so many instances of ordinary real life emotions being brought out extraordinarily on celluloid, that one has to admire the thoughtfulness and the dexterity of the people who ‘wrote’ our Hindi movie heritage. Almost all the movies that we see today are a reflection on some or the other film from our past. Yes, there have been quantum changes in technique, setting, and circumstances, but the core emotions remain quite the same.

And thus when I saw Dastak, conceptualized and brought to life by Rajinder Singh Bedi, one of the stalwarts of Hindi and Urdu literature (and films), I was quite taken aback. Here is one story that is so unique, and so very glowing with brilliance, that it has almost no parallel. The idea, the context, and the sheer execution of this very human and humane drama, is a delight to watch.

A young recently married couple move into a small house in one of those crowded and cramped spaces of Mumbai. In a neighbourhood bustling with activity, the two decide to embark on a lifelong journey together. But all their dreams and all their expectations go for a toss once they discover the murky identity of their new abode, i.e. once they discover that just before them their home was being occupied by a notorious nauch girl and prostitute. Every second day in the middle of the night when the world sleeps, Hamid and Salma are harrowed by incessant knocking on their main door, by some or the other lost soul seeking refuge in the arms of Shamshad Begum, a lady who even in her absence manages to cast a icy cold wall between the much in love couple. How all this affects the psyche of the two, and how they attempt to fight the war their neighbourhood wages against them, is what the film is all about. At the same time a discerning viewer will appreciate the social commentary made in the background, leveraging upon what all happens in the foreground.

Rehana Sultan as Salma
There are so many metaphors used in the film, but none as striking as the caged mynah that becomes the third occupant of the cursed flat in question. Every day Hamid goes to work, leaving his comely wife Salma trapped at home. Her very existence till the evening, when Hamid returns, becomes a monumental challenge. The claustrophobic neighbourhood, with its closely packed blocks of urban settlement, ensures that there are always some prying eyes trying to close in on her whenever she seeks a bout of fresh air through the windows. The notoriety that their flat gives them moreover ensures that whenever she tries take forward her father’s legacy in classical singing, there are always suspicious voices to be heard questioning her integrity and the very fabric of their matrimony. Thus Salma without Hamid is not very different from their pet mynah that at least has the consolation of being free inside the cage, unlike its owner.

The other aspect of the story is Hamid’s struggle to find a new flat for himself and his wife. The city is unforgiving in its demeanour, with its intimidating tall structures and unscrupulous people. His work-life too is not exactly a cruise as every now and then he lands in a situation of moral dilemma where his ideals ensure that he makes no financial headway to erase ghosts of his wretched personal life.
Sanjeev Kumar as Hamid

In one very significant phase of the screenplay the couple decides to just run away from everything, back to their village. But there too, they witness enough misery to be compelled to return to their cursed urban abode. This excursion from reality to another reality teaches the two an important lesson that they acknowledge towards the end of the film, just after a spectacular climax. The last sequence of the story, that also includes a song, is a stamp of genius. One of the best Hindi movie climaxes ever for one of the most unique Hindi film ever!

The performances from the two protagonists, Sanjeev Kumar and Rehana Sultan are mesmerizing to the core. Has there ever been a more natural actor than the former? Rehana Sultan, in one of her first few films, is so good that it looks like she was born to play this role. The songs by Madan Mohan are melodious and heart-wrenching with lyrics that will make you bow your heads (and backs) in respect. What poetry by Majrooh Sultanpuri!

Parting Note: Do watch this film. Do watch this film. Do watch this film. Do watch this film. Do watch this film. (substitute for 5 stars)

P.S.: The chief editor for the film was Hrishikesh Mukherjee! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thikana (1987)

There was a time when Mahesh Bhatt used to make films. Good, bad, ugly- whatever- but they were never business projects, just stories that he used to put to life on celluloid. And more often than not they were stories that emanated from the heart that aimed to strike a cord with the hearts of the patrons. Strike a cord with hearts. Nothing above. Nothing below!

Thikana is one such story that is quintessential Mahesh Bhatt of the 1980s. Emotionally verbose, melodramatically intricate, perfectly imperfect, and remarkably sinuous. And yet at the core the film’s simplicity is akin to a child bawling in pain in front of his mother. Save the last thirty minutes when it deep-dives into the pits of mediocrity, the film could have been a well remembered one.

The genre of the movie can be defined as pulp fiction at best- the kind which is available in abundance in the bookstalls of the railway stations across the country. The sub-genres can be described as concentric circles- with mystery forming the outermost circle, and drama forming the central core. The story is woven around the travails of an idealist lawyer, Ravi, who is also unabashed drunkard. Anil Kapoor plays this wasted young man who is pitied, detested, and admired in equal measure. This is established by scene early on in the movie when an inebriated Ravi returns home one night to the caustic remarks of his widowed mother and the comforting presence of his elder sister Shashi (essayed by Smita Patil). What follows next is a full blown melodrama where a semblance of sobriety is incorporated through some wonderful dialogue. The very next morning, however, normalcy is restored, acting as a subtle metaphor to the new day and the fresh start it indicates.

Some other powerful scenes follow, one in which when Ravi’s self-respect is questioned he decides to do away with the ideals he had inherited from his father. In the court of law, he is asked to prove that a young girl is of legally marriageable age, when she clearly looks like being years away from that. How Ravi’s hands waver while signing the testimony and how he admits to have been led astray by his own insecurities, is a study in how a single powerful scene can etch out a characterization that in most movies a series of scenes cannot. Some remarkable scenes between Shashi’s fiancĂ© Ranbir Singh (a police officer- enacted by a superb Suresh Oberoi) and Ravi follow. In fact it is the relationship between these two men and their confrontations constitute the most emphatic part of the movie. A cameo by Anupam Kher is worth mentioning, but just like the movie- it is overstretched and redundant beyond a point.

The most striking part of this movie however is that each and every character has grey shades. And thus the dialogue is so forthright that it gets uncomfortable for an average Hindi movie watcher after a while. But what’s not unusual here is the generous use of songs, and none of them worth a mention. And neither the unnecessary and completely headache inducing last part of the movie, which kind of overshadows the merits of the first three-fourth of the movie to a certain extent. It looks like a lot of it shot keeping the commercial prospects of the film in mind. But in retrospect it might have just backfired.

Performances from Anil Kapoor and Suresh Oberoi are the highlights. Smita Patil is her usual poor weepy self and Amrita Singh (who plays Ravi’s love interest) is in her usual flashy yet lost avatar.

Parting Note: The film is engrossing for most parts and has some remarkably well-written moments of drama. However the last half an hour prevents this movie from being a fondly recalled one.

Trivia: This film was released after Smita Patil's demise and thus its release was dedicated to her.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Yaadein (1964)

Almost fifty years ago, with this movie, Sunil Dutt attempted something remarkably innovative and courageous… a hundred minute feature starring no one else but himself!

Vanity is undesirable. But no one can deny that some of the greatest artists been some of the most vainglorious people of their time. Be it painters or actors, politicians or writers. If the vanity was not in their words, it was in their works. If it was not in their works, it was in their actions. In some ways a Mahatma Gandhi walking semi-naked, with just a loincloth on, into the viceroy’s office was a blasphemously vain thing to do!

So, is humility overrated?

Cinema, being a visual medium, is a breeding ground for narcissism. Some people, the privileged lot blessed by above average looks, express the very emotion by being very finicky about their physicality. Some others take the other route, of being much in love with their craft- and in the process many of them end of pushing the envelope. ‘Yaadein’ is one such example where an artist’s indulgence with himself and his craft has produced an extremely unique and personal piece of work. More than a movie, it is a statement that there is no limit to creativity and that the possibilities are indeed infinite.

But all said and done cinema is a medium to entertain, most would say. But a few would add that it is also a medium to express. However, the two things are seldom separate as more innovative the expression, more is the probability of it also being entertaining. So is ‘Yaadein’ entertaining? Depends on what your cup of tea is.
For those who can appreciate experiments for how much out from the box they are, will certainly relish watching the movie, despite its excruciatingly slow pace. Also, there is another set of people (a big one at that) who might identify with a lot of things Sunil Dutt does in the movie- people who are married and especially ones who have been that for a while. But those who look for a story (a majority I presume) would be disappointed (that is if they manage to complete the film- my guess is they won’t! I just about managed myself).

The film has a young Sunil Dutt coming home after work and discovering that his wife has walked out of his life- taking with her their two kids and leaving behind a note… and lifetime of memories. As the night progresses the man starts reminiscing of the past and transforms from being an angry and vengeful husband to a helpless and hopeless romantic, longing for his wife and kids. In the process his soliloquy is what keeps the audience company. Instead of using other actors, Sunil Dutt uses sounds, dialogues, shadows, puppets, balloons, and what not- to create the scenes. To an ardent movie lover, this very compromise and how it is executed would be worth the hundred minutes of the run-time.

Once I was done watching the film, a question just came to my mind intuitively. How does Sanjay Dutt feel when he watches this film of his parents? It is like reading a personal diary for it contains so many moments that seem to come straight out of Sunil Dutt and Nargis Dutt’s lives. Today both of them are no more, but their work would remain forever for the benefit of their posterity (and the fans). Truly, cinema (or art in general) is one sure way created by mere mortals to achieve immortality. It is their elixir; it is their ‘Piyush’… (pardon couldn't resist!)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mere Jeevan Saathi (1972)

Imagine a scene:

A father and his seven year old son watching an IPL match together. In a commercial break a new Havells advert featuring a diminished and dilapidated old man and his countless fans (literal) captures the attention of the kid. He ignores it the first few times, but finally cannot resist asking his father the question.

“Papa, who is this old looking man, and why are they showing this ad again and again?”

The father looks at his innocent son, wondering what to tell him.

“Beta, he was a very popular film star once.”
“Papa, then what happened to him? Why is he not seen in films anymore?”

At that very moment the strategic timeout ends and the match resumes. The kid forgets the question he had asked his father, and once again gets lost in the glitz and glamour of the festival that celebrates his favorite sport, bat-ball. The old man and his fans are forgotten too, and the next time the ad comes, it is given hardly any attention. Meanwhile the father gives a wry smile when he sees print version of the same ad campaign in the newspaper he reads.

The Rajesh Khanna phenomenon is like folklore for the kids of my generation and the subsequent ones. Every now and then, when the topic of cinema and stardom was touched upon during the many family viewings of popular classics on television (mostly Amitabh Bachchan ones-Sholay, Amar Akbar Anthony, Deewar etc.), the name Rajesh Khanna was mentioned and dwelt upon for a few moments, and then life began as usual. The name got relegated to the back of a busy memory storage device, where it lies dust-ridden and ignored.

Ask a film aficionado from the 70s generation or about that time, and chances are that you will get to hear many crazy stories about the star’s sky-high popularity in the early 70s. Some will claim most emphatically that such a phenomenon was never seen again, and that it’s unlikely that it would be repeated anytime soon. His rapid rise to fame and the cruel fall to become an almost B-grade star is a stuff of filmy legends. Even after his fall from grace, he continued to do a lot of films, and even managed some intermittent hits, but never again that time returned when he was the Midas, and he was the gold.

Now when someone watches his films, it is hard to keep it separate from his real life story and the rise and troughs of his career. Almost all his films from the late 1960s to about 1973 (the year when he did a film called Namak Haram with the rising superstar at that time- Amitabh Bachchan), have him at his confident best (or it seems). Many of his later films too have great merit, but he as a performer doesn’t seem as assured and as much in command as he does in his early films. In fact Mere Jeevan Saathi, a 1972 film, is one which gives the impression of being designed to suit his larger than life image. It certainly revels in paying homage to all the things for which he was loved and adored. It is the kind of film which is unrestrained in singing eulogies to a persona that is bigger than anything else in the movie. After one watching this film, one can easily imagine the context and the phase in which it was made. And anyone who is interested in making sense of the Rajesh Khanna phenomenon must experience this one.

The superstar plays a Casanova, an artist, a singer. He gets to strut around in garish and loud clothes (in vogue at that time), gets to flirt with girls ready to eat out of his hands (and what not!), and gets to sing songs to an audience of admirers and fans. All this, and more, happens in the first half of the movie when he is chased by a rich spoilt princess (Helen), and he chases and demure and comely young lady doctor (Tanuja) and falls madly in love with her. In the second half things change color and Rajesh Khanna gets to play the other side of his persona that was quite famous at that time- the romantic hero stuck fighting through tragic circumstances. He meets with an accident and lands up in the palace of the very princess who he had ignored and rejected. At what more, he loses his eyesight and becomes a prisoner of his ardent admirer who treats him like a slave. Meanwhile the heroine (an ophthalmologist) sets up a hospital and meets another suitor and his family. What happens next is not very difficult to predict, but it is that kind of a film that holds not much novelty factor, but just comes across as a very well packaged story playing up the image of its lead star.

The most attractive thing about this film is its songs and music by RD Burman. Classics, all of them and I am signing off with my favorite of them all…

Friday, May 18, 2012

Nishant (1975)

Zulm karna paap hai, par zulm sehna us se bhi bada paap hai

This line may be an oft repeated one in many of the old Hindi Masala potboilers from the 70s and the 80s. But few would expect it to be the most definitive and poignant lines from Shyam Benegal’s take on the curses of the feudal system, Nishant (Night’s end). Nishant is a story set in the pre-independent era when our country was no country at all, but an agglomeration of fiefdoms, kingdoms, and states- some tiny and non-descript, while some mighty and formidable. Benegal tells the tale of one of the many insignificant Indian villages from that time, which has a landlord family lording over it. This village remains unnamed throughout the film which implies that the story could have been an occurrence in any part of our country. Though from the dialect and the customs and traditions shown in many of the scenes, it can be inferred that it is somewhere in Andhra where the cruel Zamindar (Amrish Puri) and his three younger brothers exploit the poor and helpless villagers in a bid to sustain and further their dominance over them.

Like Benegal’s previous work Ankur, this one is a no-frills representation of an era and a place that we deliberately choose to glaze over while talking about our great nation. Written by noted playwright Vijay Tendulkar, the seemingly straightforward story has many contours and dimensions that cannot be missed. However, the first forty minutes of the movie are devoted solely to setting the context and establishing the characters. Through some cleverly handled sequences we are introduced to the terror of the powerful feudal lords, their blatant and brazen suppression of the villagers through their illicit ways, their intra-familial dynamics wherein the eldest brother is the commander, the next two (Mohan Agashe and Anant Nag) are his devoted uncouth followers, while the youngest Vishwam (Naseeruddin Shah) is a sometimes reluctant sometimes eager follower of his elder brothers’ ways and means. This much confused youngest brother Vishwam later becomes the inadvertent catalyst of a violent revolution that sees the villagers take up the arms against their oppressive guardians, while his much affected wife Rukmini (Smita Patil) can be nothing but a silent observer.

Vishwam and Rukmini
While we have had movies that have dealt with the issue of zamindari, Nishant is unique as it mainly addresses the issue of carnal exploitation by the debauched men of the landlord family, while the other forms of exploitation are relegated to the backdrop. Unabashed in its treatment and unequivocal in its approach, the misdoings of the zamindars is clearly highlighted through the bouts of drinking and sexual gratification the brothers indulge in every night at the expense of one or the other innocent village girl. This world of moral depravity is shaken when the youngest brother Vishwam gets attracted to the wife of the village schoolmaster (Girish Karnad). The schoolmaster and his wife Sushila (Shabana Azmi) move in to the village and just as they slowly start to get attuned to the ways of the land, the Zamindar brothers’ forcibly take her away to their haveli, while her hapless husband kicks and wails watched on by the suppressed villagers. At the haveli, Sushila becomes a sexual object to the brothers, though the access to her is primarily given to the youngest Vishwam who is terribly besotted by her beauty. She is kept confined in the house, and slowly resigns to her fate. On the other hand her husband tries to appeal to all the official authority in this regard, but proves unsuccessful. But egged on by the village priest and spurned by an exchange he has with his wife in the temple (when she is allowed a visit there by Vishwam), the schoolmaster sparks a revolution in the villagers that takes a violent turn…

The reference to Ramayana is obvious in the way the narrative pans out. The Ravanas (Zamindars) forcibly take Sita (Sushila) as her hostage and keep her in Lanka (Haveli). Then Ram (schoolmaster) assembles a sena (villagers) to fight against the devil. However the similarities end here as everything else is a much stark departure from what happens in the epic. The treatment here is dark and disturbing, which makes the movie quite hard to watch (I saw it in two sittings).

It is tough to talk about performances in such a film where the written material is so strong. All the actors do a terrific job. In fact this movie is one of the early movies in the careers of all the major stalwarts of parallel cinema- Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Girish Karnad, and Amrish Puri. However the two strongest performances are by delivered by Amrish Puri and Shabana Azmi. The latter is simply brilliant in the temple sequence when she meets her husband. The way she expresses helplessness, defiance, anger, and disgust is simply seen to be believed. Amrish Puri has the physicality and presence of the cruel villain, and the director fully capitalizes on it by giving him such a persona. 

Parting Note: Like Ankur, this one too is a disturbing watch that basically mirrors some uncomfortable truths about our society through an engaging story. These Shyam Benegal films are a study in contrast to the Rajshri films from the same time that dwelt on all the things that were happy, well, and bright in our villages. In my opinion each of these schools of film-making is as important as the other and should be treasured equally.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Some Misfires!

It has been almost a year since I decided to discover, watch, and write about some of the lesser talked about Hindi films of the era gone by. I have always had a history of starting something new with great excitement, which generally tapers off after a few early bouts of enthusiasm. But this thing that I had started, and incidently without giving it much thought, has stayed with me. I love the entire process of unearthing, and then downloading/buying these films. Imdb has been of great help. To a film buff like me, it is the best site ever. Much more important than the usual social networking ones for sure. Some of the recommendations came from family, some very rare ones from friends, and many from filmy forums and other blogs. Initially I was in great doubt about whether to write about all the movies I see, or to make the effort only for the ones in which I see some or the other merit. I decided on the latter and have maintained that for most parts. Because I take considerable time in choosing the films to watch, I have had a very few bad experiences in that regards. Here I will list some of the films that I sat to see with great expectations, but which hardly managed to engage or entertain or enlighten me. And I never really had the heart to do a thousand worded piece on them.

1. Bemisaal: A Hrishikesh Mukherjee film starring Amitabh Bachchan in the lead. It looks like a complete winner from it's theme (I refrain from reading the user reviews if I am able to manage it, but couldn't with this one). However it was seriously a headache for me. It was easy to discern that this film was aimed at getting awards. The treatment of the film was quirky and dark for most parts, but sadly it was too incoherent to make an impact. I am sure many people can write deep and eloquent pieces on the acting performance of Mr. Bachchan here, but it is exactly that kind of a film. Pretentious. I hugely prefer a film like Juramana (from the same combo), over this.

2. Khilona: I really wanted to complete it. But couldn't. I think I couldn't go past the half and hour mark. It was too melodramatic, and the comedy track was too juvenile. Sanjeev Kumar's act in this film is considered one of his best. Hmm, easy to see why people will think that way. But I think there are numerous performances by him that are much much superior.

3. Mashaal: Man, I was super kicked about this one. A Yash Raj drama starring the veteran Dilip Kumar and a young and fiery Anil Kapoor. I had read somewhere that this is one of Yash Chopra's best. But to say that it was a letdown would be an understatement. The story had meat for sure. But the treatment was so archaic (or maybe it just hasn't aged well- but then his other movies have). As far as the performances go, Anil Kapoor was really impressive. But if there is a man who sees just one film of Dilip Kumar in his life- and if that film is this one- I bet he wouldn't even dream of considering him an acting great.

4. Mera Saaya: Considered a classic, and boasting of some great tunes, including the title song, I was very eager to see this Sunil Dutt and Sadhna starrer. However a very interesting plot became chronically repetitive beyond a point. Some of the sequences were so juvenile that I wanted to enter the film and put the case right. Seriously a huge letdown for me.

5.Rajnigandha: I absolutely love both Chitchor and Chhoti si Baat, so watched this in great anticipation. It is better than the average film for sure, but somehow it didn't impact me too much. The tone and tenor of the narrative was too uninspiring, and many of the scenes were too insipid. One of the films that inspired neither hate nor love. Indifference is I guess the right word to describe my feelings for it.

6. Shaukeen: I couldn't go beyond a few minutes of this 'cult' Basu Chatterjee classic comedy. Maybe things would have turned better later. But I was having no fun in watching the tharki buddhas ogling at young women (and not so young too). Eyesore.

7. Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda: I like the other Shyam Benegal movies that i have seen, but somehow I just couldn't appreciate this one. Too abstract, too philosophical, and too pretentious- evidently this one won many awards including the national ones. But then I saw the list of National Award winners chronologically... I think it had become a fashion by 1993 to give the award to Shyam Benegal.

8. Teesri Manzil:I haven't seen many Shammi Kapoor films from his prime. I had heard great things about this one from many people. Anirudh Guha, a critic I respect, had tweeted about this being his favorite film more than once. But I hardly enjoyed it at all. Shammi Kapoor acts the same way- be it the songs or a dramatic scene. While in the songs he exudes a joyous presence, in the rest of the film it is hard to bear him. Asha Paresh too irritates with her juvenile way of mouthing the dialogues. In my opinion she was the worst commercial actress ever.

There are many other movies which I saw and couldn't appreciate, but these are the ones I had expected to be really good. 

Parting Note: I am so pissed by all these movies that I don't even feel like putting pictures/posters of them. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Party (1984)

Govind Nihalani’s Party, based on a play by noted Marathi playwright Mahesh Elkunchwar, is indulgent cinema at its most brilliant. This irreverent indulgence however can be mostly attributed to the playwright, for it is set in the world of elitist art and theatre and there are long ramblings about the responsibility of art and its connections to politics. And thus, this is one of those rare Hindi movies that give the impression of being entirely written on paper before any of their shots were canned. It is the quintessential theatrical cinema, minus all its negative connotations. It is hard to remember any other such movie where long visceral monologues were the fodder for most of the narrative.

The movie is set entirely in one long party where the most elite and distinguished theatre personalities and journalists gather to celebrate the success of one of their own. This constrained time-frame and space builds up tremendous tension in the exchanges of many of the characters. But before the party is set in motion, the main characters get introduced one by one through a series of poignant scenes. A veteran insecure writer who is becoming stricken by the shallowness of his work, and his alcoholic and lonely girlfriend of ten years who craves for his attention; a bespectacled, fiercely independent, female journalist who is an open supporter of Maoists; an upcoming and hugely talented playwright who is grappling with the lack of purpose in his writing; a middle aged socialite who is throwing the party to celebrate her writer friend’s recent award, and her daughter who is a single mother waiting for the return of her lover, a talented young writer himself, who has gone to support and fight with the adivasis in the jungles of Andhra; a middle aged theatre star actor who has lost his own identity in the maze of iconic characters that he has lived and breathed. The troubles and emotions of all these characters collide and implode while they party and the wine flows…

Apart from these main characters under the spotlight, there are many other interesting peripheral characters that act as the director’s tool to make a comment on the moral depravity that is quite rampant in such high-society circles. The shallowness and superficiality that infests such people who are nothing but troubled souls from inside, quite unable to fight their own demons, is brought out remarkably through a series of exchanges that are quite intriguing to witness. And witness is what a stolid, sober, and quiet family friend of the rich hostess of the party does- Amrish Puri, once again after Aakrosh, in a role that is not quite connected to the main happenings in the narrative, but still is a vital and significant vehicle to channelize the director’s vision. He is the assured presence which is so unlike the rest of the people in the party, and yet in some ways as artificial as everyone else, for he chooses to take a back seat and let the show go on, despite his many reservations with a lot that happens during the course of the night. In some ways his character symbolizes a lot of people in our society who are dissatisfied and unhappy with the social happenings, but remain on the surface shielding themselves from the gaze of the dirty maze.

The political backdrop of the proceedings adds an intriguing dimension to all discussions between the lead characters. The growing social unrest in some corners of the country, and how some people some people pretend to be affected by it all is brought out wonderfully well through some dramatic exchanges. This backdrop also gives an opportunity to the makers to debate and discuss an issue that evidently is of great importance to them- the intertwining of art and politics and can both be really kept separate from one another. The last half an hour or so is devoted exclusively to this debate, and the rest of the things are relegated to the background. This change of texture is not exactly sudden, but is still quite stark. To many it may come across as too quirky, but it is nothing but an honest expression of an artist’s most personal thoughts and conflicts...

Some of the leading theatre personalities of that time make up the ensemble cast; however the two champions of parallel cinema of that time- Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri are given very small but significant cameos to play. All the actors do a seemingly fabulous job, but it has to be said that hardly anyone of them has been made to transcend his or her comfort zone. The written material is so strong and emphatic, and the treatment is so very much like a theatre play, that these veterans of the stage would have hardly found it very challenging.

Parting Note: Party is one of Govind Nihalani’s finest works, if not the finest. However it is hard to infer how much of its finesse can be attributed to him, and how much of it is the brilliance of the playwright who has written the play. It is certainly a much watch for all those who like watching unconventional cinema.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein (1977)

A completely misleading poster of the movie- playing up the drunkard jilted-lover image of Rajesh Khanna, and glorying a five minute Jeetendra appearance. The movie is nothing like what this poster indicates. 

Five minutes into the movie, and you can make out it is a Gulzar film. This Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini film is though not directed by the maestro himself, but by Meraj, who was an assistant to the man in most his earlier directorial ventures. But everything- be it the dialogues or the treatment, or even the look given to the lead actors- looks straight out of the Gulzar school of film-making. That he has written the screenplay is just a part of this happy occurrence.

The story is set in a village, very much like the Jeetendra- Hema Malini starrer Khushboo that came just two years or so before this movie. But this time, instead of Jeetendra, the moustache is donned by (the then on the wane) superstar, who gets to play a meaty author (read Gulzar)-backed role. Ravi (Rajesh Khanna) is a city bred educated but unemployed youngster, who doesn’t lose his sense of humor and wit despite his many failures to secure a decent employment. A chance encounter leads him to the job of a dakiya (postman) in a nearby village, which he gladly accepts. In the village he soon gets around to doing his job with much sincerity and dedication. Within no time gets acquainted with most of the village folk- each of who have their own story to tell. These include a senile old lady who awaits the return of her son, a young widow who has lost her husband in the war- but has not lost the zest for living, and a young lady named Mohini (Hema Malini) who to Ravi’s pleasant surprise appears more than willing to strike a companionship. Soon Ravi and Mohini start meeting everyday and Ravi falls in love with her, completely oblivious to the fact that she has very little interest in him- the person, and most of her attention is reserved for Ravi- the postman. This is because Mohini expects a letter from her lover, an army-man, to reach her. Ravi’s pleasing ways and respectful manners lead her to confide in him her relationship with this soldier (Jeetendra in a guest appearance). This love story of hers completely shatters Ravi’s heart, who had genuinely felt that Mohini’s affections were a result of them drawing closer to one another with each passing day. But consoling himself, Ravi decides to go the city and look for this soldier who had not written to Mohini despite his many promises. When he returns, the news arrives that Mohini’s beloved is no more and has lost his life in the war. It then becomes his responsibility, being a postman, to break this news to Mohini…

Not unlike Khushboo, this story too looks like a chapter out of Malgudi Days with all its simple and unhurried appeal. The drama in the story is somewhat based on the fact that in those days very few village people could read and write their own letters- and the responsibility of the same then rested upon the village postman- who thus became an essential part of their lives. In that sense the village postman acted like a ‘social glue’, being a common element in all the villagers’ lives. Here the song ‘Dakiya Daak Laya’ reflects on pretty much the same sentiment. While the postman drama is the backdrop, the innocent love-story with all its uncertainty and apprehensions, is the motif in the movie. Ravi’s one sided love, and his expression of the same through his sketches (that are revealed at the end), is quite endearing. The most unique thing about the movie however, is that despite all its underlying tension; it retains a light-hearted spirit on the surface. There are many instances of humor, though like in all other Gulzar movies, they are quite understated. But quite unlike most of his films, the music score here is not too memorable with two of the songs being quite situational, and a forced nautanki dance number (picturised on Rekha) not being as fun as it should have.

Rajesh Khanna puts in an earnest act, and quite underplays his character for most parts. It is easy to make out that he was a very fine actor, and thus his fall from fame appears more baffling (though perhaps that had more to do with his off-screen issues). Hema Malini is effective, though it looks like she walked down straight from the sets to Khushboo to this movie. The supporting cast doesn’t have much to do here with Farida Jalal (another Khushboo connection), Asrani, Amjad Khan, and Master Raju being the most popular ones from the ensemble.

Parting Note: This movie is a sweet love-story that deserves a watch by all those who like such village themes. And when you add the fact that it is almost a lost Gulzar film, it becomes a must watch for his fans. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gharonda (1977)

The star-cast and Imdb summary of this Bhimsain Khurana film gave an impression of it being a film in the mould of ‘Chhoti si Baat’ or ‘Rajnigandha’. After all, one can hardly expect an Amol Palekar or a Zarina Wahab to star in a movie that is not a feel-good entertainer. But ‘Gharonda’ is hardly that Basu Chatterjee or a Rajshri movie from the 1970s that would leave you smiling and cause you to drift away in a simple and endearing world where everyone is good at heart and there are hardly any vices. It surely tells a story of two working-class people living in an urban city (much like Chhoti si Baat and Rajnigandha), but here the tone and tenor is drastically different. The world out here is the big and bad one where people aren’t always sweet and don’t always have the best of intentions. They are insecure yet ambitious, apprehensive yet ruthless. They hardly think beyond their own interests and seldom give a damn about the lives of others. The film tells the story of two people in love who dream to have their own house in the concrete jungle of Mumbai, daring to take on all the challenges that the city throws on them. How their lives take a drastic turn post this, is what the film is all about.

Gharonda is more like a Shyam Benegal or a Govind Nihalani film in its treatment. Emphasizing on the dark human desires and talking about people going through their most troubled times, the movie is a dark and pessimistic take on human emotions and their worth (or worthlessness) in a big modern city like Bombay. Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahab play office colleagues who fall in love and decide to marry. But before taking the marital plunge, they decide to own a flat of their own for which Amol is forced to take a loan. But in a rather cruel twist of fate, the builder with whom they book a flat turns out to be a swindler. Not able to accept this big monetary loss, Amol’s room-mate, who had also booked a flat with the same builder, commits suicide. Amol completely breaks down but not before making an indecent proposal to Zarina that literally breaks her heart. Accepting defeat at the hands of the heartless society, Amol asks Zarina to marry their elderly boss (Shreeram Lagoo) who had shown interest in her on more than once occasion. He tells her that their boss couldn’t be expected to live for more than a few months at best, and after his death they could get together again and live comfortably off the old man’s wealth. Outraged at this suggestion, Zarina breaks all ties with him. But owing to her unstable financial condition and her wish to fulfill her younger brother’s ambitions of studying abroad, she decides to honor her boss’s proposal to her and marries him. However, she accepts her husband wholeheartedly and makes all the efforts to have him hale and hearty again. Meanwhile, devastated by this betrayal, Amol loses all interest in life and becomes a recluse…

There are a lot of elements in this film that are unconventional. Amol is shown to be living in a shady men’s hostel where one of room-mates has regular tete-e-tete with prostitutes. Even Amol brings Zarina to his room for the first time with not so noble intentions. The old man’s pursuit of a young Zarina (almost his daughter’s age) is again not something which is regular. Amol’s dissonance with the world and his complete disregard for his own self post Zarina’s marriage, again is something which is not worthy of a Hindi movie hero. He becomes an urban version of Devdas, and there is also a mention of his involvement with prostitutes. Zarina’s comfort level with her much senior husband is again dramatic, and quite uncomfortable. She becomes his trophy wife without any complaints and accepts him with all his deficiencies. More than a wife, she becomes his nurse, his householder, and his closest friend. Thus all the characters in the story have shades of grey, which is truly unique for a movie of its time and age.

The songs of the film are quite unlike the rest of the narrative. They are given an easy treatment and are sans any dramatic or visceral connotations. In fact if seen in isolation, they would give a completely different impression about the movie. ‘Do Deewane Sheher Mein’ is the memorable song from the album, one for which Gulzar won many accolades. As far as the performances go, Amol Palekar attempts a completely different role and although he does well, it is difficult to accept him this pessimistic and discontent avatar. Zarina Wahab too is not very convincing in the complex role and it easy to see why she didn’t become a very popular actress of that time. A Shabana Azmi instead of her could have added a completely different texture to the performance with her penchant for such complicated characters. Similarly a Shreeram Lagoo hasn’t got that imposing aura that his character needed. One feels that a Sanjeev Kumar or an Amjad Khan could have taken the film to an altogether different level.

Parting Note: Gharonda is a semi-Shyam Benegal film with a Rajshri cast- It has a powerful narrative that could have been well served by likes of Naseeruddin Shah, Sanjeev Kumar, and Shabana Azmi. The film tells a novel story and is given a realistic treatment. However because of its weak casting it fails to create a great impact and ends up being good film, but hardly a must watch one.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Geet Gaata Chal (1975)

What is the purpose of life? What is a happy state of mind? What is freedom? What is love?

Source: Wikipedia
These are some of the very deep philosophical questions that are extremely hard to answer. We have had tons of books written by the most eminent of thinkers and writers that attempt to give some answers to such human predicaments, but it’s hard to point out one that is the most satisfactory. However if we have to go back and look into our own holy texts- Mahabharata and its subset the Bhagvad Gita- we do get some insights. In these texts, none other than Lord Krishna, God on earth, gives a discourse explaining the meaning of life to Arjuna. Every now and then, he takes up examples from his own life to enlighten the lives of the Padavas. Krishna was a wanderer, a man who despite having a family never really chose to settle down at one place. It is most fascinating the way it has been presented in the texts and even the people who don’t believe in God and religion would find these stories very interesting.

Rajshri ProductionsGeet Gaata Chal, directed by Hiren Nag, is a delightful reconstruction of the ideas given in the text which is presented as an analogy drawn between the life of Krishna and a young man of the name Shyam (essayed by Sachin). This analogy is not too discrete and that comes out through the names given to the characters. Shyam was a name used for Krishna (a name that emerged because of his dark complexion). Here Shyam is a boyish young man who is like a free bird- with no settled home- no emotional attachments- and who keeps on wandering through villages and towns without a care in the world. Neither has he a destination in mind, nor does he have some aim in life- he just keeps traveling and discovering different cultures and places. On the way he meets and befriends various people, but never gets emotionally attached to anyone. It is ironical that his pleasing nature, his honesty, his charisma, and his charm makes it very easy for others to fall in love with him- but he hardly ever reciprocates with the same intensity as his admirers do. The closest companion he has is his flute and the songs on his lips that he keeps singing to the world while he travels.

The movie starts with Shyam watching a village nautanki where he becomes the savior after a loophole on the stage results in a momentary halt in the nautanki. With a melodious song he manages to placate everyone- from the audience to the performers. The troubled lead actress of the nautanki (an alcoholic too) gets attracted to the rakish charm of Shyam and invites him to her tent to spend a few moments alone. The simplicity of the boy prevents him from seeing the vice in the situation- a thing that comes out further when he addresses the lady as ‘didi’ (elder sister). It is the first instance in the film when he forms a bond with someone without him himself realizing the strength of it. This ephemeral attachment is enough for the lady to share a lifelong connection with Shyam, while the next day he leaves the village and moves on…

The next stop for Shyam is a village fair where he saves an elderly lady from a bull stampede. The lady takes Shyam to her family ‘Dharmshala’ (guest house), where he meets her husband (a rich Zamindar of a nearby village) and her daughter Radha (Sarika in a rare lead role). Both the Zamindar and his wife get taken in by the simplicity and likeability of Shyam and invite him to their home for a few days’ stay. Shyam is reluctant in the beginning but agrees when the he is told that the village is situated in the lap of nature and offers wonderful opportunities for sightseeing. Radha is irritated by the attention Shyam gets from her parents but is unable to prevent him from joining them. When they reach their Haveli, she tries to play some childish pranks on Shyam, but unfortunately for her all these tricks backfire. Soon Shyam becomes the cynosure of even Radha’s grandmother’s eyes, who gets mightily impressed by his soulful rendition of the Ramayana. Also, another village belle (Radha’s friend) of the name Meera starts being around Shyam a lot. It is this Meera who sparks a hint of jealously in Radha’s heart and makes her realize how truly wonderful Shyam is. In a dramatic incident when Shyam is playing the flute for Meera, Radha snatches it from his hand and breaks it into two. This is a wonderful moment and again beings out the director’s attempt to draw the analogy between Shyam and lord Krishna. The flute was the only constant in Shyam’s life, but when it is taken away from him- Shyam is more perturbed about Radha’s state of mind rather than worrying about losing his flute.

Soon Shyam gets more and more intermingled in the family affairs his hosts, and Radha gets more and more taken in by him. The Zamindar’s closest friend realizes the companionship between Radha and Shyam and decides to get them married. While the entire household prepares for the marriage, Shyam suddenly realizes that he is being trapped in worldly affairs. It dawns to him that like a caged bird he is about to be confined in the restricted space of a household and that he would never be able to fly again. Without saying a word to anyone, Shyam departs- once again adopting his nomadic ways. Radha is distraught, and so is her family. But she refuses to blame Shyam and decides to live out her entire life as Shyam’s wife. In her heart, he is her only sole soul mate- and she decides to wait for him till eternity.

In his journey Shyam encounters the same nautanki that he had once visited and where he had found an elder sister. He runs and embraces her. He tells her all about Radha and his last few days at her home. He tells her about his predicament- to remain a free bird or become entangled in the worldly affairs. His didi tells him that what he had done with Radha was wrong. Shyam is convinced and he runs back to Radha’s village and takes her hand. This is how the film ends but it is not really clear whether Shyam’s return is his acceptance of the worldly ways, or just a temporary acceptance of Radha’s true love for him.

Like all Rajshri movies, Geet Gaata Chal takes a very positive view of the world. There are no grey characters, no negative energies. The troubles and controversies are all a state of mind and get cleared up as easily as a few minutes rain clears away the dust in the air. It is certainly a world that borders on the utopian, but the Barjatyas have always believed in Ram (and thus Ram Rajya). Many of the dialogues and exchanges, if seen in isolation, would appear corny to a lot of people fed on the diet of world cinema. But when seen in its entirety the movie is a supremely well crafted effort that has a story to tell and ideas to discuss- which is does with sheer simplicity and joy. The songs by Ravindra Jain complement the story remarkably (like they always did). Now that I have seen a bit of his works, I can safely say that his sense of lyrics and music was simply unmatched. He was a true Hindi film music director- as his songs were tailored for his movies- and their stories. Most of his songs wouldn’t have had the same impact in any other film apart from the ones they were made for. The performances of Sachin and Sarika are nice and Sachin looks every bit the character he plays. No wonder he played the lead in the film ‘Gopal Krishna’.

Parting Note: Geet Gaata Chal is a must watch for anyone who loves family entertainers and is fond of rural settings. It is the kind of cinema that is not seen today- thoughtful and yet simple.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Buddha Mil Gaya (1971)

Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Salim-Javed never collaborated on a movie. In the 1970s, these were two institutions of the Hindi film industry that operated in different spaces altogether- and yet were able to enthrall the same audience with their distinct approaches to telling a story on screen. Both were prolific, and both were big brands. At the start of the decade Hrishikesh Mukherjee directed Buddha Mil Gaya’, comedy-thriller that is funnier than most out and out comedies of that time, and also has more thrills than most out and out thrillers of the period. And the striking thing about the movie is its almost ‘Salim-Javed’ian plot treated by Mukherjee in his own trademark manner. Also, it is one of those rare non-art-house Hindi movies in which the hero of the show is an old man- essayed by the inimitable Om Prakash. And what makes it more unique is that the old man here is not shown as frail or dependent on someone. The man here fights his own battles and takes everything head on, while not losing his sense of humor even for a moment. This elderly fellow is younger than most youngsters at heart- he is quick, he is nimble, he is charming, and he is brave. And he is remarkably entertaining.

The movie stars Deven Verma and Navin Nischal as slackers who do a bit of photography to earn their daily bread. Tenants to a kind yet fiery old lady and her granddaughter, the two guys are forever hard pressed for money. Then one day they see an advertisement announcing for a missing old man to report himself to his corporate partners in the next fifteen days, or else be at the risk of losing all his money to them. The two of them wish to catch hold of this old fellow and apprise him of this news. They think that this might lead them to a handsome sum of money. In a happy coincidence they spot the old man in one of the photographs they had clicked a few days back and very soon run into him at the same place where they clicked it. They request the man to accompany them to their home, and the man agrees because of a personal reason. The two however are unaware that this old fellow is on a grave mission to rest the ghosts of his past. Within no time they too get well and truly embroiled in the dangerous game of the old fellow. What follows next is what the movie is all about.

There are slight cinematic liberties that Mukherjee takes in the movie, especially in the first half. But all in all he has a taut script at hand which he executes with great dexterity on screen. It looks like the making of the film was a joyride and that fun and frolic gets reflected in the way the characters perform. The humor in the film is clean and sans any innuendos (as you expect with any Hrishikesh Mukherjee film), and it is remarkable the way the director derives genuine laughs in the most simple and innocuous of situations. The two heroines opposite Deven and Navin are Aruna Irani and Archana. The exchanges between the two couples are most deftly designed and it is ensured that none of it is the run of the mill stiff.

When the old man enters their lives and Deven and Navin get involved in his affairs- the two of them form a pair not far off from the Amar-Prem Jodi from Andaaz Apna Apna- two not-so-smart people led by the slightly less duffer but vastly more articulate fellow on the trail of something intricate. Both the actors do a fine job, more so Deven Verma who lights up the scenes with his flair for comedy. However, the life and soul of the film is the performance of Om Prakash. He is effervescent on screen and completely owns the second half of the story. The way he expresses himself in the ‘thumri’ he teaches Archana is simply amazing. It is pretty evident the man knew that he would never get many such opportunities to play such a flamboyant character- and thus makes the most of it. The story and the intentions of his characters in the film are kept as suspense till the last few minutes, and this adds an additional dimension of intrigue to the narrative.

The music by RD Burman is superb- two of the songs are quite popular. ‘Raat Kali Ek Khwab Mein Aayi’ is one of the timeless romantic numbers created by the maestro. There is also one slightly weird comic dance number with Om Prakash as the center of the attraction that comes towards the end of the film and works well in the context of the narrative.

Parting Note: Buddha Mil Gaya is the closest Hrishikesh Mukherjee gets to the Salim Javed brand of entertainment. But what makes it a must watch is his own trademark touches that ensure lots of fun throughout the film. I would place it slightly ahead of Bawarchi in the list of my favorite Hrishikesh Mukherjee films- a list that is led by Golmaal, Anand, and Chupke Chupke. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

JFFS: Chandni Chowk To China AGAIN

Sidhu (Akshay Kumar) returns to India along with Sakhi (Deepika Padukone), her twin sister Suzy and their father Chiang. Sidhu and Sakhi get married and they, along with Chopstick (Ranvir Shorey), open a high-end Chinese restaurant in the city. Soon they all get very busy with the day to day workings of the restaurant. The two sisters become really enthused about making it the best Chinese restaurant in Delhi and their father helps them in all their ambitious initiatives. But Sidhu soon gets very detached with the set-up…

Sidhu starts missing the feeling of fun and achievement that he had experienced when he had learnt martial arts from his father-in-law. Although his revenge is now over, he still has that urge in him to go out and do something big. He is convinced that he is not meant to live a normal life. So to pamper his urges he starts teaching martial arts to kids and youngsters in nearby Colony Park in the evenings. Soon his evening classes gain a lot of popularity and even oldies start enrolling for them- and those who don’t start visiting the classes just to enjoy the spectacle. Among all his students he takes a particular liking for a spirited twelve year old boy Krishna who soon becomes his favorite pupil. After a few weeks for his classes, he organizes a competition within his pupils to exhibit their skills to the world. For this competition Sidhu invites all famous people of his area. His father-in-law, a martial arts expert himself, also attends and accepts to open the show with a fun match with Sidhu- in which Sidhu gets well and truly beaten initially but then recovers to make some solid moves. The competition then begins and Krishna defeats a much taller, stronger, and older opponent to lift the cup. Thus Krishna well and truly becomes Sidhu’s beloved student- almost like a son.

Soon after the competition Sidhu visits Krishna’s home. He meets his widowed mother. In Krishna’s bedroom he accidently discovers a photograph hidden beneath the bed-sheet. It’s a photo of the boy along with his younger looking mother and his late father. When Sidhu sees the picture he gets a huge shock. The man in the picture is none other than his beloved Dada (Mithun Chakravorty) who was killed because of that villain in China. Sidhu confronts Krishna’s mother who tells him something which is most astonishing. She tells him his Dada was a secret RWA agent who was working incognito for his organization and keeping a check on a lot of notorious activities that take place in the Old Delhi and Chandni Chowk area. He used to keep his family life a secret from the world so that his enemies could not use his wife and son as bait against him. When he had died, some members of the RAW had visited their home to offer condolences and pay their last respects to her- at least that’s what she had thought at that point in time. But later she understood that what they really needed was a file that her husband had compiled on a lot that goes on in the area. His colleagues couldn’t find the file. But some unknown people started following her and her son wherever they went. She wanted her son to be strong and that’s why she sent him to the martial arts class.

After hearing everything, Sidhu urges the two of them to move in with him. To him they were his family- perhaps even a bit more than just family. They accept his offer. For the next few days Sidhu keeps revising in his head all his Dada had told him. He is convinced that the secret of the file was inside him- and he just had to find it. This one mission to recall that very secret starts haunting his life. He starts rewinding all his memories with Dada for that one clue.

One day when he, his father-in-law, and Krishna make their way back from their martial art class, a group of miscreants attack Krishna and pick him up before either of the two grown-ups can do anything. They chase the goons and free Krishna- finally getting to use their martial art skills in a non-simulative situation. Krishna also makes some smashing kicks and punches- and the three of them exchange high-fives. Krishna then points towards a rare rainbow in the sky. As soon as Sidhu sees the rainbow he instantly remembers something that Dada used to tell him often.

Indradhanush ke ant mein sone ka matka hai. Yeh sabko pata hai par aaj kal kisi ke paas waqt nahin hai us tak pahunchne ka.”

This abstract sentence used to befuddle him earlier- but today Sidhu makes a little sense of it. He starts to run back towards Chandni Chowk. Within no time he reaches his old shop- his dada’s shop. He enters their old room. Their on the wall is printed a rainbow that runs into the other room. He follows it and comes to the end of the rainbow. He looks around and spots a switch under the bed- right at the end of the rainbow. The presses the switch and a small crevice becomes visible. He looks inside and finds a note.

Ajay, if you have found this note it means that there is a high probability that I would be dead. The file is present where it should be. Make the best use of it.”

Sidhu cannot remember his Dada mentioning about Ajay to him. In fact he knew no one called with that name. Sidhu returns to his home and asks Krishna and his mother about Ajay. She tells him that a certain Ajay Sharma was Dada’s colleague in RAW and also a very good friend. The next day Sidhu looks up for Ajay Sharma and visits his home along with Dada’s wife. Ajay Sharma’s wife opens the door and tells that that her husband hadn’t been home for the past two months or so. She further tells them that she was not worried at all as her husband had done such things in the past too- that was the nature of his work. But she also tells them that this time she was really angry because he had not even tried contacting her in the two months. Not even a phone call.

Sidhu finds everything fishy- also the fact that the note had found him- and not Ajay. But he has no leads to work upon except that note which was designed in a manner that it could be understood only by Ajay. He reaches home, only to find it deserted. He goes to the restaurant and discovers that only his employees were present- and none of his family members. On the way back he is apprehended by two unidentified men- they tell him that all his family had been kidnapped by them-

We want that file in the next six hours

Before Sidhu can say anything they run off after leaving a visiting card in his pocket- he spends the next few minutes roaming around and completely dazed- not knowing what to do (Rahat Ali sad song in background) - after an hour or two he takes out the card and sees the address- and decides to go there and face everything head on. He borrows a car and makes his way out of the city- to the outskirts- a few narrow lanes lead him to a place from where a huge bungalow is in sight- he parks the car some distance away and reaches the bungalow- makes his way to a side wall- climbs a tree and enters clandestinely. Next few minutes are spent making his way inside the building- and once he does that- he spends the next few minutes searching for his family- all the while making sure that no one spots him- and if someone does, making sure that that someone is not able to tell anyone else about it.

Finally he reaches the room where his family is locked in- he meets them- they tell him that Ajay had already been kidnapped by the mates of the people who had kidnapped them- he was present in the same room- completely bruised and shattered- unable to speak and move. Before Sidhu can reach Ajay the goons enter the room and capture him. They beat him black and blue- and he is unable to return the favor as his family is held hostage at gunpoint.

Where is the file?”

Sidhu looks at his wife, her sister, her father- and the first thing that comes to his mind is – CHINA.

The file is in China- Dada took it with him when he went there.”
With whom in China?
We don’t know where he left it.

The goons go off and leave all of them in the room. Sidhu walks up to Ajay and shows him the note. Ajay tells him that Dada had indeed taken the file with him to China- and the note indicates the same. The file had been left by Dada in the city he had died. According to an old organizational division practice- before going on a dangerous mission the officer is supposed to leave secret items/information with the person who he trusts the most. In China the person he trusted the most would have been none other than Sidhu...

Sidhu, his father-in-law, and Suzy then go together to find that file. Krishna, Sakhi, Ajay, and Ajay’s wife remains as hostages. Upon reaching China they start visiting all the places where Sidhu had been with his bag. Sidhu was more than convinced that Dada would have kept the file in his bag. If only he would have taken the bag back to India- or even cared about it. Then Sidhu realizes that he had left the bag in Hugo’s den when he was fighting it. They make a few enquires and learn that indeed a bag was found and that it was kept in a safe in Hugo’s son’s house. Hugo’s son was sure that Sidhu would be back for the bag and he would get his revenge.

Sidhu, his master, and his daughter Suzy reach Hugo’s son’s den- an ultimate martial art showdown with them finding the file.

Meanwhile Krishna keeps reading a note that Sidhu had left him.

“here is a map of this bungalow. When you get a signal- escape from this place- I am convinced you can do it- and help everyone escape.”
When Sidhu finds the file he starts doing an old martial art trick of telepathy- Krishna, asleep at that time, gets the signal in his dreams. Wasting no time he and others start escaping from the place- Krishna making full use of his martial artistry.

They succeed. A day later Sidhu and others join them. File is handed over to Ajay who takes it to RAW and finishes Dada’s unfinished business. Dada’s son Krishna is sent to a special training camp to hone his skills. The goodbye between Sidhu and Krishna is just the beginning of a truly wonderful relationship.