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!)

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