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Friday, 28 May 2010

Wrong pair (Mere Sanam)

Bengalis have a thing for Bengalis. But, my love for films is not parochial. If that had been the case, I'd be swooning over the likes of Biswajit and Joy Mukherjee. Instead, I find myself drawn to the flamboyance of the very Punjabi Shammi Kapoor, and Dev Anand. One, a robust romantic and the other a naughty charmer.
True, Mukherjee and Biswajit were two of the top draws in their times, but they fail to floor me. In fact, I feel these screen idols were plain lucky. They got to act in wholesome family dramas, made by talented directors, embellished with fantabulous music (many memorable Rafi songs) and got to romance pretty ladies.
One such film is Amar Kumar's Mere Sanam. This 1965 technicolor entertainer stars Biswajit and Asha Parekh, with some great support from Pran, Achla Sachdev, Laxmi Chhaya, Nazir Hussain and Mumtaz. Though the plot is slightly borrowed from
Robert Mulligan's 1961 romantic comedy, Come September, the director throws in appropriate twists to suit Indian tastes. The film starts of as a sweet romance, before a conniving Pran incorporates enough villainy to ensure an action-packed climax.
The film's lead pair is inadequate. While Asha Parekh is a spunky Neena, Biswajit is hardly apt as Kumar. There are reasons. Biswajit is overtly fair and has pink lips (not a fine example of a handsome Indian hero! In some scenes, he is even fairer than his ladylove)!!! His diction is irritatingly accented by Bengali intonations and he is not convincing as the intense lover. While Parekh is confident in Neena's shoes, Biswajit's act is wobbly. And when he starts dancing, all hell breaks lose. This is not Shammi Kapoor, whose dance has attitude (this script so demands him!!). You have to have the chutzpah to match Parekh's nimble footing. She is kickass as a dancer. Her moves are fluid, her expressions spot on. So, you can't fool around with those grooves when you share screen space with her. And, Biswajit does just that. His steps are clownish, without any style. In fact, when he just watches his sweetheart shimmying, he looks best. In the scene where Neena twists with an Elvis lookalike to make Kumar envious, she is great. Thank god her partner (and not Biswajit) is nifty too.
When you want to flaunt your frame, you have to be dead sure that you have the brawn for it!! Biswajit is not. There is a sorry sequence where he has to scamper home with just his knickers on because the girl he is relentlessly pursuing played a nasty prank on him and vanished with his clothes!! Not a great sight!!
But yes, Biswajit is tolerable in some romantic scenes. Not passionate enough but goes with the flow of Parekh. She is a stunner in Mere Sanam. She lends appropriate doses of spunk and charisma to the personality of Neena. Initially she is a prankster, then a mellow sweetheart, then a defiant daughter and then a brave girl who snatches her lover from the jaws of death. Her arguments for love are solid, her eyes emote too well and she is a lovely sight to behold. Skilled in both Eastern and Western dances, Parekh beautifies the melodious tracks by OP Nayyar further.
In Pukarta chala hu main, she defines vanity on a bicycle, enjoying the attention by an attractive stranger (Rafi is awesome)!
In Hum dum mere she makes jelly of Biswajit (two left feet). A spangled red gown accentuates her curves, while she shimmies with grace.
In Hue hain tum pe ashiq hum, she is haughty. With her big eyes (affected with anger for being hoodwinked by her wooer) shunning Kumar's advances, Neena knows how to give it back!
Altercations sorted, the two embark on their romantic trip. Then you have the buoyant Roka kahin bar maine dil ki umang. Here you get to see how lithe Parekh is and how inept Biswajit looks as the dancing romeo! Asha Bhonsle's Jayiye aap kahaan jayengi is a masterpiece. With the beautiful valleys of Kashmir as the backdrop, Neena calls out to her lover with this mellifluous song!! And Kumar can't help but get ensnared in this lovely web of love!
Love brings with it a fair share of misunderstandings, longings and sorrows. Tukde hain mere dil ke is a representation of that. An ideal love song signifying the security of love, this one stands out for Parekh's vulnerable looks and Rafi's superb voice modulation.
Haji haji, performed by a scintillating Neena is a resplendant Arabic garb, is a typical round-up to the entertainer. Trying to fish her lover out of the scheming villain's den, Parekh's moves are simply delightful.
Here, we come to Bhonsle's Yeh hain reshmi zulfon ka andhera, a first-of-its-kind item track. It's sexy, slow, teasing nature hooks you right away. Coupled with the honeyed voice of the singer and Mumtaz's voluptous beauty. She is extremely glamourous in her figure-hugging copper costume and is blatantly seductive with her eyes and body! If only her wig was not as ludicrous!
Mere Sanam stands out for being a reliable family entertainer, with a tolerable plot and memorable music. And of course, Pran. Biswajit pales in comparison to this dashing crook. The otherwise tame drama gets a wickedly smart twist, courtesy the odious glibtalker Shyam (Pran) and his scheming plots. A smooth criminal this, in MJ's words...


  1. Shammi Kapoor as Kumar?
    Well, one thing's sure. Had that been the case, Asha Parekh would not have gone one-up on the hero in every song in this film.
    Nice post, as usual

  2. Okay, point taken. But, the movie would have been at a different level if Kapoor played Kumar!! He would make Mere Sanam rock!!!

  3. My favourite thing about Mere Sanam is the music - superlative. I like Asha Parekh a lot, but Biswajeet, while not as high up on my can't bear list as Raj Kumar or Rajinder Kumar, isn't at all among my favourites! But the songs are awesome - especially Pukarta chala hoon main and Yeh hai reshmi zulfon ka andhera - and the film's entertaining enough.

    How about Shashi Kapoor as a possible alternative? He doesn't have the 'big hero' persona of Shammi, but is much more likeable than Biswajeet...

  4. @dustedoff: Shashi Kapoor is certainly better than Biswajeet, but wouldn't he have, at age 26, looked a tad raw (as in younger) opposite Asha Parekh in the 1965 film?

  5. @Dustedoff: U know Madhulika, I watch Mere Sanam just for the songs...and I thank god for the blessing called OP Nayyar.
    Yes, even I don't like Rajendra Kumar. Raj Kumar, may be in some films, yes, he's played his part well. But, as a romantic hero a complete no no.
    If you've seen Kanyadaan (deals with a serious issue) Shashi Kapoor is good with Parekh but since he has a boyish charm, looked a bit kiddish beside her. He, in fact, looked good beside say, Nanda (Jab jab phool khiley???). I think we could have done with Joy Mukherjee, if not Shammi the great. At least, he would still be a bit manly beside Parekh and not looked so sorrily girlish...

  6. @Dwaipayam: You're right. In 1965 Shashi Kapoor must have been a baby (beside Parekh, of course)!!! And, he would have looked a bit raw. In fact, I feel Shashi really matured as a looker and performer in the 70s. But in the 60s he was still jumping around with that boyish charm and not doing much of acting :)

  7. @Dwaipayam: As Sharmi says, Shashi Kapoor manages pretty well opposite Asha Parekh - other than Kanyadaan (which I find very irritating as a film!), there's also Pyaar ka Mausam, in which they're great together.

    @Sharmi: Yes, Joy Mukherji would've certainly got my vote for Mere Sanam! I wish there was some way of just pressing a button and remaking a film with the cast YOU want... ;-)

  8. @dustedoff: Guess what Madhulika, I saw Ziddi yesterday for the second time and now am doubly sure that Joy would do well indeed romancing Asha in Mere Sanam. At least, a brawny man to balance her spunk!
    And ya, that button is needed indeed!

  9. sunheriyaadein (somehow couldn't post the comment with my wordpress account)
    @ Sharmi : I have watched and re-watched this movie just for the songs. I am also not very fond of Biswajeet, but like I always say, he got to feature in some of the most memorable songs be it Mere Sanam or Yeh Raat Phir na Aayegi, to name a few. Ah....if only this movie had Shammi Kapoor, it would have been a favourite of mine!
    @ dustedoff : I wish we could do that! And yes, Joy Mukherjee would've definitely got my vote too, any day!

  10. @Archana: Isn't this amazing...Shammi Kapoor seems to be the winner in all cases!!! Yes, Yeh Raat Phir Na Ayegi had some amazing songs also...but Biswajit was not good at all (looked lost in all scenes)!!
    Says cheers to Shammi, the great, then!!

  11. Two things about this movie work music and mumtaz! She is hot:)Anorexic, size zero women should see her. I love watching her in "ye hai reshmi" she's oozing confidence and oomph while our man the idiot Bisu nearly ruins the song with his stupid expressions and pink lips:) Despite her looks and acting skills she played the second fiddle for a long time before finally bagging lead roles in seventies mostly with Rajesh khanna i guess. She's among the few actresses who went on to become the lead from playing vamps and the heroine's best friend! And then there is Pran the Gentleman Villain with his narrow-eyed scheming expressions, he's a hit!
    And finally me says "Kumar beta" can only be played by Shammi!

  12. @Abhi: You said it...Shammi rocks, ain't he???
    And ya, Mumtaz is a great combo of glamour, cuteness and sexiness...not only in this song but also in many of her later films!!! I remember the god-awful films called, "Night in London" and with Dara Singh!!! What a waste of her charm!!! And then the films of the 70s happened, where she played those confident sweethearts!! Lovely!!
    And yes, Pran. Old films seem incomplete without his lip-smacking villainy!!