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Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Fun fable (Teen Bahuraniyan)

Teen Bahuraniyan projects Prithviraj Kapoor in a very different light. As the patriarch of a joint family, he is both stern as well as indulgent. Playing the woolly grandpa Dinanath, this actor is a revelation of sorts. His obesity doesn't hinder his delightful performance in this comic fable about a family and its tryst with false pride.
Kapoor here is old.
He does not look as handsome as he did in Awara. He is very fat, has a mop of white hair, a bushy handle-bar moustache, a gruff voice and a slow gait. But, who cares? Watch out for those regular chuckles that he tries to hide with his plump palm and the glint in his eyes. They make him so much fun to watch. (I almost feel like bear-hugging him and pinching his apple cheeks) And of course, there are those lessons that he so lovingly delivers to his grandchildren, in his schoolmasterly fashion. And, those morals that he tries to drill into his foolish children's heads accompanied with a soft admonishing rap. He makes the morals of the story so lucid and easy, and the film, so enjoyable. While you laugh at the riotous incidents, you pick up a few lessons on the way. But the execution is hardly grating. Teen Bahuraniyan is a frothy comedy with a serious moral, that is passed on with a laugh.
This 1968 film, directed by SS Balan and SS Vasan (were they brothers???), is the story of how three women fall prey to superficiality and show-off. Initially happy with their modest set-up, their lives undergo a sea change on the arrival of a new neighbour in the form of Sheila Devi, a famous film actor. These women are Dinanath's daughters-in-law. They are obedient, responsible and good. Parvati, the eldest, is married to Shankar (Agha), the music teacher. Sita is married to Ram, a clerk in the high court. Radha is the youngest and is married to Kanhaiya, a medical representative. They are extremely attentive towards their family and love each other. In short, they tie the family members together with their thread of love. And Dinanath, a retired school master, basks in this love and care.
Kalyanji-Anandji's score gives us some colourful songs. Humre angan bagiya shows the bonding between the sisters-in-law. They laugh, sing and dance together. And, they even wear similar sarees, but in different colours. The sons religiously hand over their monthly salaries to their father (this is 1968 you see) who takes care of the family budget.
But, then one fine day, Shiela Devi arrives in the neighbourhood. Shashikala is pretty good as the famous yet humble actress who is drawn to these people because of their simple living and tastes. With the arrival of the actress, all hell breaks lose in Dinanath's household. His daughters-in-law invite the artist to their abode and a date is set for the same.
The run-up to this date is hilarious. Pandemonium ensues as the sons and their wives overhaul the entire house just to prove to Sheila Devi that they are rich. Furniture is bought in installments, fans on credit and more fancy items are brought in on rent. The wives demand silk sarees, ornaments and other vanities from their husbands, who sadly have to relent, given their milquetoasty personas.
There is a scene where Radha and Kanhaiya gauge the proceedings in the house standing close to a freshly painted pillar. As the paint is wet, they get stuck. Just then Dinanath proceeds towards them and scolds them for their show-off, arrogance and foolishness. A chuckle escapes my throat here. Especially when the sons go on to explain their methods to spruce up the house!!! But, Dinanath, the wise man that he is, warns them that this germ of superficiality will destroy the peace in the house. But, his bunch is not bothered now. For, Sheila Devi is too much of an attraction...
Cut your cloth according to your cloth, Dinanath chides. But, his children are busy getting carried away. Bite as much as you can chew, he reiterates. But Parvati, Sita and Radha are having too much fun flaunting their silk sarees, fighting over who will entertain Sheila Devi first, clawing at each other over a borrowed diamond necklace, needling each other and shirking their duties towards their children and their father-in-law. Each big or funny incident is written down on the blackboard (Dinanath teaches his grandchildren on that) and is loudly read out from time to time. It's a funny tactic on the part of the directors.
In the midst of all this mayhem, there is a cute love story between Sheila's secretary, Mahesh (Jagdeep) and Mala, Sita's sister. Then there are the there sons who surreptitiously come to increase their acquaintance with Sheila, the beautiful actress, with hilarious results, of course. Then one day three anonymous letters reach the daughters-in-law, warning them about their husband's illicit affair with the beauty. The fun quotient just increases. Parvati, Sita and Radha start sniffing out for THE husband who is doing hanky-panky!!
Shankar, the hen-pecked man, that he is keeps fumbling before his wife when she charges him with accusations. Kanhaiya is too smooth a talker for his simple wife. But, it is Ram's case that is comical. One night Sita in on her guard to check whether her husband is having an affair with Sheila. She mistakes a thief to be her husband and starts scolding him profusely. It is so because she is not wearing her spectacles. And, the thief scampers off with the borrowed diamond necklace... Ha ha..
Soon, the women start hating Sheila Devi for ruining their lives and go back to their basics. But, the fun is hardly over...
This film doesn't have any big star (barring Prithviraj Kapoor). But, you won't miss them. For, the actors are so good with their expressions, dialogues and actions that you will be in splits in many occasions. And, the story is sweet, simple and very everyday. This could be happening in anyone's house on any given day. it is easy to relate to the incidents.
Watch out for the scenes where Shiela comes to visit the family. It's ribtickling absolutely. And, then there's the fun song Aamdani atthani kharcha rupaiya. Awesome picturisation. Oh, forgot to mention, Aa sapno ki rani. A really rollicking dream sequence on Rajindernath and Shashikala...
While I love Rajindernath's role as Kanhaiya, I really liked Sita in the film. For once, Rajindernath did not play the buffoon. He was the smarter brother who tried solving difficult problems. He was also cheeky enough to blackmail his brothers for small sums of money. Cool.
But, it was Sita who stood out. A goodlooking woman, she looks really funny with those glasses. She has cunning tricks up her sleeves to prove that she is smarter and sharper than her sisters-in-law. Her antics are really amusing!!
Considering that Teen Bahuraniyan is a Gemini Pictures production, it is but obvious that you get Southern highlights in the film. Understandably, the three main female characters are played by actors from the South. They are voluptous beauties, looking a bit OTT with their loud makeup. The frames are a riot of colours and so are the songs. The acting is a bit dramatic, it reminds me of those old Tamil films or maybe a comic skit on stage. But, nonetheless, the film's really mirthful.
A few wastes though. Kanhaiyalal, Dhumal and Lalita Pawar (extraordinary talents) get a mere cameo. Why them? Their puny roles could be essayed flawlessly by many others...
Notwithstanding these minor glitches, Teen Bahuraniyan was highly enjoyable. And, mostly for the delightful bahus and their clever father-in-law, as the cute old Aesop. Prithviraj Kapoor, in this funny fable, absolutely stole my heart!!


  1. Some comic relief at last. Good going!!!

  2. @Shilps: Ha ha... I know. Was getting a bit too brooding right? I'm glad this eases the tension :)

  3. I had read about this movie on memsaab's blog and though I haven't seen the movie myself, I know the story. Cute and Simple it is....saw the songs on youtube. Love papaji! And you are right...our beloved Shammi looks a lot like his father.

  4. @Sunheriyaadein: If you haven't seen the film yet Archana just grab and watch it. It is really entertaining and will remind you of those old fables that taught us the morals of life. Only that this one is really funny. The three woman are hilarious with their expressions and Papaji rules. A must Sunday afternoon watch, I say :)
    I have often faced opposition on my opinion about Shammi resembling Prithviraj the most. But, now am super glad that I have someone in my company... Yaayyyy :)

  5. Me too, sunheriyaadein! I read about this on memsaab's blog too, and haven't yet got around to seeing it. Sharmi, thanks for endorsing memssab's opinion of it. Now that two of you are saying it's a fun watch, I'd better make some more effort in finding the film and watching it! And hey, I think Shammi looks a lot like Prithviraj Kapoor in his older days, too.

  6. @Dustedoff: Yes, yes, that booming voice, that smile, that girth. Just that the hair is different, otherwise he is ditto his father. This film is really fun. Just go grab and watch it :)

  7. Hmm... good post but here's another film i haven't watched :(
    Achha, does Prithviraj Kapoor match up to Shammi in the funny roles (in this film and in others) he's done?
    Maane, who can better tickle your funny bones?

  8. @Dwaipayan: Shammi is funny with his humorous expressions and his ribtickling body language. I never said Prithviraj is comic. He is cute. It is the way he reacts to the situations in this funny film that induces laughter. And, it his his roundness that is soo sweet. His moustache, his girth...
    Shammi Kapoor is anyday funnier. Watch Professor and Teesri Manzil. No one can step into his shoes :)
    Perhaps, he gets these funny genes from his father only. Who can say?
    Watch this film some day to see the difference in the father and the son. This one will really entertain you with its awesome ensemble cast :)

  9. Must say, ur review made me search all over the net for this comedy! Dying to lay my hand on it, asap! will comment after watching it.
    PS: You are one of the best movie reviewers I have read, lately. Enjoy ur posts, thoroughly. :)

  10. @Punya: Gee thanks. It's a great compliment :) Actually I love old films too much and write about my feelings on them :)
    I agree, you might have a bit of a problem finding this film. It is a bit obscure and moreover, it does not have the big stars. But once you lay your hands upon it, I'm sure you will love it. It is a colourful roller coaster ride :)

  11. amdani aththani kharcha pucho na pucho haal......natija than than gopal..

  12. @Cancerian: Exactly, isn't that a super fun song!!! And what amazing expressions by Prithviraj Kapoor!!!

  13. The three heroines of the movie -- Kanchana (acted as Sita), Jayanthi and Shaukar Janaki are big names in South. Kanchana was a popular air-hostess-turned-heroine while Jayanthi and Janaki were more popular as character artistes. I haven't watched this Gemini flick yet but will give it a try :) This movie is actually a remake of 1967 Tamil film Bhama Vijayam.

  14. @Sreenath: Oh thanks for the trivia. You must see this film, it's simply delightful :)