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Monday, 28 June 2010

Dull dupe (Bluff Master)

1963 seemed to be a lull year for the flamboyant Shammi Kapoor. Why else would we have films like Pyar Kiya to Darna Kya, Jabse Tumhe Dekha Hain, Shahid Bhagat Singh and Bluff Master? The first three I'm yet to watch. But, if they are as entertaining as Bluff Master, I'm better off without seeing them!!!
Manmohan Desai's tale about a clever (but not hardworking enough) young man loses steam somewhere in the middle of the script. True, Shammi Kapoor looks good, has a way with words and carries a confident personality on his broad shoulders, but after some time his actions look forced and lack conviction. Just like the way his character is devoid of development in B R Panthulu's Dil Tera Diwana. This upsets me.
For, if I am watching a film where my favourite is the lead, I'd better get him in a role that is smart, sassy and romantic. Not someone who is second fiddle to luck and dubious means...
Ashok Azad thrives on lies. He is best when he is duping someone or the other to extract puny sums of money for his daily needs. He gives a grocerer Rs 2, and in exchange borrows a jar of Brylcreem and other things. He then fools a super thin man into believing that this cream will help him become beefy. Overjoyed at this easy solution, this man coughs up Rs 16, the false cost of the hair gel. This is but one of the ploys that Ashok uses to ease this way through life. He sells false lottery tickets to Lajwanti, his neighbour in his chawl and also fools the owner of a photography shop to give him a camera so that he can get employed in a daily newspaper. Somehow I'm not convinced... Sure, Ashok is a glibtalker and is smooth. But, Desai's concocted situations lack the finesse of the charade that we saw in Professor. Anil, when he was lying about his social stature in Teesri Manzil to Sunita, induced laughter. Here, nothing of that sort happens. Even the scene where he invents a big fat lie to get back the camera from its rightful owner lacks the punch that Kapoor should otherwise put in. His fibs sound unconvincing and his expressions are not top notch. Whatever happened to those striking peepers???
Anyway. So, after laying his hands on the camera and succesfully getting the job of a photo-reporter in Bhukump (a fictitious daily), Ashok makes the mistake of clicking the photograph of the owner's daughter Seema (played by Saira Banu) slapping an eve teaser. And, thus he loses his job. But, not for long. Soon, he manages to win his place in the good books of Seema and she re-employs him. The reason? He sings a very forgettable qawwali, Chali chali kaisi hawa with her. I have to say that Kapoor in drag is despicable. Shamshad Begum's Leke pehla pehla pyaar from C.I.D. is too good for me to remember this one. I'm not particularly fond of Kalyanji Anandji's brand of music (barring a handful of songs). For instance, the romantic number Husn chala kuch aisi chaal lacks the sweetness that any love ditty aught to have. Except for Kapoor's attractive face and Banu's lissome frame, there is hardly anything in the song that's worth a mention. Oh yes, I forgot Pran's funny dance moves... they are so ludicrously hilarious!!!
Seema wants to fend off Kumar (Pran is devious as usual) so she starts cosying up to Ashok. Soon, she loses her heart to him and Ashok loves it, though he hasn't a penny in his pocket. Even when he had to gift her something for her birthday, he is busy borrowing money from here and there. Cash-strapped absolutely, Ashok then launches into a dance number. The festive Govinda ala re is but one redeeming feature in this film, otherwise full of loopholes. Kapoor dances with frenzy, making the song quite something to watch. It has flashes of his signature attitude, especially when he is rolling up his sleeves before the dance!!
But, the chemistry, like the one the lead pair shared in Junglee, is missing. The hero is too busy sorting out the difficulties in his life, repenting for his sins and laying booby traps for Kumar that the romance takes a beating. Only one scene between Ashok and Seema (after her birthday) reflects the love that the two share. Not enough...
Ashok's transformation is too sudden. And, it is marred further by Hemant Kumar's rendition of Ae dil kahi le jaa. Okay, this is final. Mohd Rafi is the best playback voice for my favourite Kapoor. Not Mukesh (Socha tha pyaar hum na karenge) or Hemant Kumar!!
Admitted Saira Banu looks like a doll. Wearing lovely sarees and suits, she is really peaches and cream. But, it's her squeal that puts me off. Her performance lacks the loveliness seen in her debut film Junglee. But, I do feel she looks ethereal in Bedardi dagabaaz.
When Ashok's neighbours call his bluff, they shun and insult him. That leaves Ashok all alone at the mercy of his fate. He has to save his mother, marry his sweetheart and finish off the villanous Kumar. All accepted. But, why do the neighbours come to help him when he is fistfighting with Kumar? What changes their mind all of a sudden? I'm confused...
The denouement is pretty abrupt, too. Many of my questions go unanswered. Is Ashok's mother okay with her son not being employed but getting married? Is she not worried about returning the debts of the villagers?
And, what about Seema? Is she okay with Ashok's pack of lies? No, I don't like seeing Shammi Kapoor play a liar. A struggler, yes. He did that in Professor. And, the results were awesome. But, I'd prefer a certain dignity in his character. And, I want him to do some good comedy. I'd like him playing a man of many talents. And, in Bluff Master, he has just one. Duping innocents. Gravely unconvincing, this...


  1. Couldn't say it better myself! Yes, definitely not one of my favourite Shammi Kapoor films. He looks great, Saira Banu looks great, and I love Govinda aala re (I also like Ae dil ab kahin le jaa!), but that's it. For me, Bluffmaster was very forgettable.

  2. @Dustedoff: Thank you Madhulika for the lavish praise. You know, while I was labouring through the film, I kept remembering the wonderful charade of Kapoor in Professor. Surely, our man can do sooo much better!!!

  3. @Sharmi: Haven't watched this one. And won't also, it seems.
    So waiting for the Awara review :)

  4. @Netdhaba: Ha ha, how will know what's great about the great films of Shammi Kapoor if you don't see the ones lacking greatness???

  5. Shammi looked great in it...but the story lacked conviction, couldn't keep me hooked to it. Inspite of having Shammi Kapoor right infront of me, my mind wandered away whiel watching it. Though I saw it just a year back, I don't even remember much of it. But he was a smooth talker and looked great. And so did Saira. I find her very loud most of the times, but she was subtle and sweet here.
    I had seen this, Tumse Achha Kaun Hai and Dil Tera Deewana back to back and I had to re-watch Dil Deke Dekho (one of my fav Shammi kapoor films) to get over the earlier ones. However, compared to the other two, I found Bluffmaster much better.

  6. @Sunheriyaadein: Tumse Achha Kaun Hai is really forgettable, (Shammi is old and looks like Babita's uncle). Dil Tera Diwana loses grip in the last few scenes. It just goes awry. But, in Dil Tera Diwana the songs are awesome. And, somehow I don't quite like Shammi's pairing Mala Sinha (I think she looks elder to him)!
    Saira Banu had an irritating habit of squealing. This somehow spoiled her dollish presence, Yeah, Bluffmaster did disappoint. So your favourite Shammi flick is Dil Deke Dekho? Mine is Teesri Manzil, followed closely by Professor. He just rocked in these!!
    Thanks for the comment Archana and keep reading :)