Sunday, January 15, 2012
India lives and breathes in its villages. Unfortunately most of us city bred people don’t even appreciate this fact (till the day we take a train and realize that cities are like small traffic lights on a long expansive road). Our movies of today don’t really appreciate this fact either. I personally have always loved the rural settings in movies and books and such movies act have a great cathartic effect on me. The languid and all encompassing life of villages with limited means and limited ambitions has always had a great pull on me. The days in such settings somehow seem rather unhurried and more meaningful to me. I have always wondered whether other people also feel the same way about rural life (or do I have a strong past life connect). I have no answer and frankly I don’t care. When I saw this little gem of a movie from Rajshri- Paheli, I got so much sucked into its world that I found it very hard to get back to my world. It was really difficult to get it out of my head.
Paheli is a sweet story of a city boy visiting his grandmother in his ancestral village and a village girl who becomes his companion there. The movie has no big known names and was the launch vehicle for all its young actors including Arun Govil. Montu (Satyajeet) has just completed his school and decides to visit his grandmother in their village in his summer vacations along with some friends. There, he meets Gauri, an exuberant and full of life village girl who initially teases him a lot for his city ways and then strikes a great companionship with him. Montu’s friends find it difficult to adjust to the village life despite the love and affection thrown at them from all quarters and leave for the city after two days. Montu stays behind and falls in love with the village and its people. He and Gauri spend some great and joyous time together- exploring the vistas and everything else the village had to offer. They run around, they fight, they argue, and they learn from each other. Theirs is the sweetest age of first love, and the movie revels in their joys of discovering it without actually realizing it.
Finally the time comes for Montu to leave the village and return to the city where he has to enroll in a college. He makes a promise to both his grandmother and Gauri that he would return to the village in his next summer vacations one year later. That one year passes rather quickly and he hurries back to the village, only to realize that many things have changed in the one year that has gone by, including Gauri who has started behaving rather weirdly in his company. Montu cannot make any sense of this frustrating paheli (puzzle/riddle) that he had to contend with. He wants Gauri to be the same way as she was one year back, but cannot realize a simple truth that was staring at them from all quarters- The simple truth that she and he were grown up people now. But everything gets sorted out at the end of course.
The movie is a delightful take on adolescent love. It smells of and exudes our Indian values and culture- the values that getting somewhat diluted in the current times. It is like an experience and transported me to a different world altogether- a world that is peaceful and compassionate. But most of all it introduced me to Gauri- a character that I absolutely loved. Nameeta Chandra, the girl who plays Gauri, does a great job of it and is truly the life and soul of the movie. After watching this movie, I did quite a search on her and realized that she almost disappeared after doing this movie (she did a devotional movie Ganga Dham with Arun Govil and a bit appearance in a Masala potboiler in the late 1980s- that’s it). It is unfortunate as I found her enthralling and would have loved to see more of her. I guess I will have to make do with watching bits and pieces of Paheli every now and then. It is truly an unknown gem by Rajshri, and it’s quite strange that there are not many reactions on the movie online. Though many people have commented really fondly about this movie and Nameeta on its YouTube songs links. So I guess I have not really gone mad!
Signing off with few of the wonderful songs of the movie (by Ravindra Jain)