Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Meena Kumari's versatality knew no bounds. She could drape herself in almost any cinematic garb. Though she's christened as Bollywood's golden era tragedienne, I feel she was equally deft in comedy and romance. In 1962, she proves that, with a range of parts in Aarti, Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam and Main Chup Rahungi. All three roles garnered her a Filmfare nomination, each. She eventually went on to win for Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam. And, rightly so...
I'm yet to see Aarti, a family drama revolving around love and lust. I've watched the sublime Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam and I'm stupified by its make. The film is a masterpiece, if you allow this understatement. It is profoundly ethereal. I need to watch it again very soon. I am mesmerised by Kumari's beauty and performance. Her enigmatic presence is breathtaking and her eyes are intoxicating!!! But, on that, some other day...
Here, I'm going to delve into A. Bhimsingh's social drama, Main Chup Rahungi, where Kumari plays Gayatri, a simple village girl who suffers for love. She is paired opposite a very handsome and robust Sunil Dutt (dashing as always). She's clothed in plain sarees, ties a neat plait but still looks ravishing, fresh and attractive. Kumari's charming innocence draws you. In the scene where Kamal (Dutt), the landlord's son, dupes her into believing that he is but a petty employee of the landlord, you actually feel how unsullied she is. The riverbank sequence (where Dutt tries to woo her atop a horse) is lovely! They make for a striking couple. You actually see Kumari trying comedy in this film. And, she is good at it. Another example is the Dilip Kumar starrer Kohinoor.
Gayatri's father is indebted to the landlord because the rich man rescued him from the gallows and sent his daughter to the city for education. Along with her father, Gayatri is forever grateful to the master. So, when she discovers that her lover is none other than the landlord's son, she is scared to overstep her brief and turns away his marriage proposal. But Kamal loves her dearly and is adamant on marrying her...Gayatri agrees hesitantly but tradegy is imperative!!
Steeped in melodrama (I don't grudge that), Gayatri's confrontation with her father-in-law, is heartbreaking. The selfish old man gleans a promise off her to stay away from his son and keep mum on the marriage. He mentally torments her into complying. She breaks down and ultimately vouches that she will keep his word. She hides the fact, from all and sundry that she is married to Kamal.
But, fate has other things in store...in the form of a lovable and smoothtalking little boy, Shyam...This orphan is extremely adorable and tugs at your heart with his innocent one-liners, his characteristic mannerisms and his Tumi ho mata, pita tumi ho. Chitragupta composes hummable music for this film. The best, I think, are, Chand jaane kahaan and Koi bata de dil .
Meena Kumari's scenes with Sunil Dutt communicate with the romantic in you. She is pretty and he is handsome. She is shy, he is confident. She trembles from his touch, he woos her with elan!!!
But, most exciting are her scenes with wonderboy Shyam, who is Babloo in the film. Babloo gives rise to her motherly instincts. She cries with him, loves him and wants to hug him tight. The scene where she feeds him her tiffin is most effective... Babloo says, "One, two, three..." and Gayatri's peepers melt...(her mind flashes back to the wonderful time spent with Kamal). Really touching!!
The classroom scene is the best. Gayatri mistakes someone's else's prank to be Shyam's and canes him!!! The pain reaches her own heart...watch it!! It's really well executed!!
This legendary actor swept movie lovers off their feet, each time she occupied the screen. With stunning looks, intense peformances and a personality so rivetting, Meena Kumari's act seemed absolutely effortless...and flawless.
Sunil Dutt is outstanding, too. His transformation from a carefree lover to a grief-striken, jilted husband is immaculate and poignant. In fact, he is terrific opposite Shyam. We have a popular artist paired opposite a new child actor!!! The sparks are conspicuous by their absence!!
The film is shouldered by a solid supporting cast of Mohan Choti, Jagirdar and Nana Palsikar. But, the strongest shoulder is that of multi-talented Meena Kumari. This diva simply takes the cake away...