Sanjeev Kumar’s Dastak

The 1971 B&W hindi movie starring Sanjeev Kumar and Rehana Sultan is a classic not to be missed. It is deftly handled running just  a bit over two hours and with some great music and lyrics to back it.

Rajinder Singh Bedi was a noted writer who expanded his radio play to create the movie. He donned multiple hats as a writer, screenplay, producer and director. Hrishikesh Mukherjee edited the movie that went to win numerous National Awards including the Best Actor and Actress for the lead pair.

The opening scenes present a lovely montage of Mumbai of the yore with all the noted landmarks being seen almost as they are even today. We meet Sanjeev Kumar and Rehana Sultan as a newly wedded couple who are happy to find a good home in the city and busy setting up their household.

Well a deal that sounds too good to be true usually is exactly that. Imagine their grief when they discover that their home is right in the midst of a red light area and the previous occupant of the place was a noted singer who would entertain many patrons.

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Jeeves and the feudal spirit.

Wooster’s adventures seem to move in familiar circles but they are no less interesting on account of the same. So Wooster is back in Brinkley to serve the interests of Aunt Dahlia. He gets caught up once again in an engagement that threatens to see him finally succumb to matrimony.

Things turn a pickle fairly fast and it is the ever reliable Jeeves who come to the rescue and saves the bacon.

It is complicated without Bertie wanting it to be such. He is headed to Brinkley where he will run into the company of Florence to whom he now stands formally affianced since she has broken off with Stilton Cheesewright who refused to oblige her and sport a moustache. Bertie has indeed made a career in being the default stand-by fiancé for many spirited ladies who keep breaking off with their Prince Charming.

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Rituparno Ghosh’s Raincoat

A poignant tale indeed and one that reinforces a popular quote by Marjorie Rawlings as well – ‘A woman never forgets the men she could have had; a man, the women he couldn’t’. Now ain’t that a perfect formula to create ‘sepia-tinted’ memories?

 

Ajay Devgan (Mannu) essays the role of an unemployed youth from Bhagalpur in Bihar who comes to Kolkata in search of his friends to seek financial help to launch a small business. He also cherishes the desire to meet Aishwarya (Neeru) who was the girl next door and his companion since childhood. They wished to marry but ultimately circumstances ensured that Neeru was married to someone else. Ajay is shown to be pained and frustrated by his inability to change things – while he is kind-hearted he is also ineffectual in managing the demands put on him.

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R C Sakthi’s ‘Manitharil Ithanai Nirangala’

Imagine casting Kamal Haasan and Sridevi together in a movie but not as the romantic lead pair. Instead you place them in a fraternal roles but back them up with powerful content. Sakthi holds the distinction for notching up this feat and the movie was quite an interesting fare.

Sakthi’s career as a film maker belied the early hopes of a great success and at the end of it he didn’t quite live up to his initial billing based on hits like ‘Manatharil Ithanai Nirangala’ and ‘Dharma Yuddham’.

 

The initial scenes are a bit traumatic and meant to prop up the final climax. But the story really picks pace when Sridevi, on losing her father and being alone, decides to take support from her friend (Satyapriya) who lives in a village. Here she first encounters Kamal as Satyapriya’s husband.

Kamal runs a ramshackle mechanic shop and ekes our a rather precarious living. He is short-tempered and known to love his tipple. He believes that a gruff exterior is required to ensure that the world at large does not take you for a ride. Yet he does have a heart of Gold and shares an affectionate relationship with his wife.

The village society is patriarchal and feudal in nature – and Kamal does not quite mind being from the old school. Yet he provides enough space for Sridevi to assert her influence. It is quite remarkable that nearly 4 decades ago the director tried to convey certain positive stories including promoting re-marriage for widows and showing Kamal to reform himself by kicking the bottle.

Of course not everything is revolutionary – there are some copy book elements as well. Thangavelu-Surulirajan duo, who befool the simple villagers by pretending to be Godmen, are quite hilarious. And the comic track is developed further by involving Manorama as well. Manorama shows shades of her genius though the script does not provide her adequate scope to deliver her trademark performance.

Sridevi becomes a damsel in distress who is appropriately rescued by a White Knight in shining armour. And promptly our hero falls in love with her and chases her to no end with a marriage proposal.

Sridevi’s unsavoury past collides with her present hopes and there are some tense moments as the climax builds up. The story takes in a twist or two but sticks to final commercial formula by drawing curtains with a statement, ‘all is well that ends well’. The drama seems to be bit overdone in an attempt to shock the audience but we are used to melodrama in Tamil cinema.

A lot of liberties could be taken in the movie since both Kamal and Sridevi were relatively newcomers and not reached their super stardom. The characterization is a strong plus particularly for Kamal who looks the part.

Overall a satisfactory outing and worth a watch as a re-run.

Credit: Dinodia Photos / contributor Courtesy:Getty Images

Credit: Dinodia Photos / contributor
Courtesy:Getty Images

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves

The rather stoical British motto in face of adversity is much required as Bertie rushes in to enemy territory by visiting Totleigh Towers.

For readers who are familiar with the past adventures, there is no need to remind the stiff and frosty relations that Wooster shares with the Pop Bassett who happens to be the owner of the establishment.

And it is quite an ensemble cast that awaits Wooster and Jeeves as they visit once again to undertake comical adventures while resolving the tender issues pertaining to sundered hearts. In brief the opening scene has two couple on the scene – Bassett’s daughter, Madeline, is madly in love with Pinker who happens to be a dear friend of Bertie as well. Madeline happens to have been proposed earlier by Wooster and so he is the back up arrangement if things go awry for the couple.

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(Wo)Man with a Saxophone

Saxophone, or Sax as it is lovingly nicknamed, is primarily a western wind instrument and chiefly used in Jazz music. It is always fascinating to watch anyone play this powerful instrument with finesse.

My earliest memories are from childhood days when an uncle in our neighbourhood used to practice on his Sax every Sunday evening without a miss. Those were the pre-internet and cable TV days wherein such entertainment was savoured and I would never quite give it a miss.

I admit to having been biased in visualizing Sax being played by a man – enough and more examples abound now wherein the fairer sex has stolen a march on men in this as well. But certain memories and images are so very classic and endearing. There are few occasions wherein the Sax get its honourable due in Indian music. One of the scenes that most of us have come across are the Army bands playing ‘march’ songs using the Sax. They are engaging and energetic and the perfect musical tribute for occasions like Independence Day or Republic Day.

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The inimitable Jeeves.

It is less of a novel and more of a collection of short stories featuring Wooster, Bingo and Jeeves. It works well as a concept for practically every other chapter sets up an intellectual challenge for Jeeves to intervene and resolve.

The psychology of the individual is in full flow as Jeeves unerringly spots the nub of the matter. His running feud with Wooster on the latter’s weird and colour challenged preferences for accessories such as socks, cummerbund, tie and swats all bit dust in deference of Jeeves being acknowledged to be a living genius when it comes to managing the affairs of the human heart or bettering the bookies odds.

The overture is a perfect beauty – it is an innocuous story of Bertie’s dear friend Bingo falling in love with a waitress and having to buttress all support he can get to convince his uncle in favour of the alliance. His uncle’s will matters a lot since he funds Bingo who otherwise is quite short of the funds. We seem to be merrily coasting along to endgame when a twist in the tale appears and seems to have a spanner in the works. Well not really when we finally learn of Jeeves master strategy in the case.

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