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Thursday, 26 August 2010

Hail Khairoo (Noorie)

Even as the camera pans across the verdant valleys of Kashmir with the beautiful Noorie and attractive Yusuf serenading to Aaja rey o mere dilbur aaja, there is a sense of foreboding that all shall not be well. Blame it on the opening scene of the old storyteller giving out that the innocent Noorie is missing for a long time or the dejected face of Yusuf pining for his lost love, the entire mood of Manmohan Krishna's Noorie is one of sorrow and dejection. The halcyon setting, generally associated with a Yash Chopra production, is conspicuous by its absence.
Everytime I looked at Poonam Dhillon, I felt that it is her pristine beauty that would be her nemesis. Everytime I smiled at the innocent romance of Noorie and Yusuf, I was scared that their love would never experience the joy of marital bliss.
But, I kept expecting miracles to happen. Even when the debauched Bashir Khan spots Noorie and wants to conquer her, I pray that the devil will not ravage his prey. But something about this 1979 film screams tragedy. When you have director Manmohan Krishna at the helm (the one who plays the storyteller), I think that is what you can expect. He turns a perfectly romantic drama into a tragedy without steam. He makes the film look like himself. Sad and sorry, just like his depressing eyes!
The film starts well. Noorie (Poonam Dhillon), the beautiful daughter of Ghulam Nabi (Iftekhar), loves Yusuf (Farooq Shaikh). She just dreams of setting up a happy home with her charming lover. Living a modest life at a lumbering village in Kashmir, with her caring father and Khairoo, their faithful dog, she eggs Yusuf on to talk to her father about the marriage. Though Yusuf is a bit jittery at first, situations so unfold that soon Noorie and Yusuf are ready to tie the knot.
But, fate has other things in store. Yusuf's employer, Bashir Khan (Bharat Kapoor) has his eyes set on Noorie. Khan is a promiscuous and wicked man who preys on the helpless village girls to satiate his lust. He gives a hint to Ghulam Nabi, who works as a tree-cutter for him, but the latter defends his honour and his child, from the lecherous eyes of Khan. Khan's cronies, comprising Faulad Khan (who is himself lusting after Noorie) and some other louts, give him ideas as to how to conquer Noorie. The odious man plans Nabi's death so that Noorie is left alone and desolate. He also sends Yusuf away for a job so that he can have Noorie to himself. One rainy night, when Noorie is weaving happy dreams about her marriage with Yusuf, Khan storms into her hut and rapes her brutally (this scene is shot fabulously). Unable to bear the shock and scared to withstand the stigma raised against her tainted character, Noorie commits suicide by drowning herself. All this is witnessed by Khairoo, who later hunts Khan downs and extracts sweet revenge.
What happens to Yusuf then, who is near death after Noorie dies? Grief-stricken to the core, he wanders about in the valley weeping for his beloved. His is a sad plight. Listless and distraught, we can just wait and watch as to what befalls him.
I had heard so much about this film that I was, I'm afraid, expecting a lot. But apart from a few poignant moments, the film failed to excite me. The script was tight though and apart from two superfluous songs (Qadar tune na jaani by Asha Bhonsle and Aashiq ho to aisa ho ) there was hardly any stretching. The landscape was breathtaking...thick mountain forests clouded by the haze, with brooks and streams gurgling by. The film perfectly depicts the peaceful life of mountain villagers, their little hopes and small aspirations. The costumes are well-matched to the setting and nothing is over the top. Poonam Dhillon looks  immaculate as Noorie. She is fresh, pretty, soft and sensitive. Appropriately shy and refreshingly spontaneous, Dhillon actually makes you feel sorry for her when tradegy strikes the poor girl.
Iftekhar is good as Noorie's father. His friendship with Lala (Madan Puri) speaks volumes about the amicable relation between villagers. Though he is poor, he maintains a dignified stand towards life and is not ready to sell his soul. He is great in the scene where he buys a pair of anklets for his daughter and accidentally drops them. A group of dogs run over them. An ominous sign that something dreadful is about to happen, Iftekhar's disturbing expression says it all. Madan Puri was different as the benevolent Lala, who appears warmhearted yet childish when he picks up banal fights with his friend. Bharat Kapoor looks absolutely diabolical as Bashir Khan. His eyes are mean and his swagger speaks volumes about his debauched character.
I thought Farooq Shaikh was a miscast. After having reveled in this talented actor's performances in Chashme Buddoor, Kisise na Kehna and Katha, I was expecting a lot from him. But apart from a few pleasant romantic sequences, some tragic scenes and the climactic action, Shaikh didn't have much to do. Yes, he looked charming as Yusuf, but that was about it. His character was not developed much. I wonder how Vijay Anand or Raj Khosla would have dealt with Yusuf's persona?
And, I wonder what these two directors, so well adept in handling thrillers, would have done with the denouement? For, Krishna's ending is too tepid and predictable. Devoid of twists, turns and excitement.
Talking about lacklustre, I'm reminded of Khayyam's score. Apart from the title track (sung well by Lata Mangeshkar and Nitin Mukesh) and Chori chori koi aaye (Mangeshkar), none of the songs are memorable.
The best source of entertainment I believe, is Khairoo, the smart dog. Watch his antics and be floored. He drinks tea, goes to work with his master and protects Noorie responsibly. Note the scene where Ghulam Nabi is being buried and your heart will melt seeing the canine's reactions. I'd say this simple story gets its high points when Khairoo gets into action mode and ensures justice. Little wonder then that he is shown as the hero who plots revenge so that the evil Bashir Khan gets his rightful due...

8 comments:

  1. I had exactly the same feeling. Poonam was sweet. Farooq didn't have anything much to do. But I absolutely adore this guy!
    Storywise it was ok...at times I wish they would let the sweet romance remain the way it is instead of turning it into a tragedy. I like the title track and Chori chori koi aaye . Khairoo was the real hero! :-) I tried giving tea to our dog after watching the movie, but she didn't drink :P

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  2. @Sunheriyaadein: I blame Manmohan Krishna's melancholic temperament for turning the sweet romance into a tragedy. I don't know why, but i kept expecting that some miracles will happen. But the film's end totally disheartened me. If not for Khairoo, i would have really hated this one :)
    Maybe your dog wants masala chai, and not just simple tea :P

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  3. my feelings on this are quite different, for me it was just a saturday afternoon type time pass i'e' a cute movie just to get through time but the songs stayed with me on first listening, i totally loved them, i had a feeling it was a romeo an juliet syle story, it was the third or fourth movie i reviewed on my blog when i just started last year, below are my initial reactions, and i guess its still the same

    "Closing in at about 1hr 54mins Noorie is one of the shortest hindi films i've ever seen. Its hard for me to criticise Noorie, as it's a simple, sweet & straight to the point story, although it gets all sad and dramatic towards the end. If you like lighthearted, simple entertainment that's easy to follow, and one that has great songs then you'll find yourself singing even after the movie is over, then definitely check out Noorie"

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  4. @Bollywooddeewana: Yes, it is definitely a sweet simple story, but I feel its ending is a bit disappointing. But I'm glad you liked the film, for it is really a very famous film. I like the title track and Chori chori koi aye but the other songs I did't quite like. Thank you for your comment :)

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  5. I saw this when I was a kid, and you can imagine how long it's been (and how forgettable), that I've since then harboured the impression that the hero was Mithun Chakraborty!! Yes, I don't know why I thought that, either. Maybe because of Tarana? I saw that around the same time and have an impression of green hills and blue skies and pine woods from that too.

    But tragedy, I can't bear. No, I don't think this goes on my to-rewatch list.

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  6. The sad version of the title song, with a sad Farooq and Poonam in flashback, clearly implied tragedy of rather gargantuan proportions. So, I've never tried to watch this, even though I love both the leads. But I had no idea that Manmohan Krishna directed this, or that he was of melancholy temperament. He's always struck me as very sweet and comforting in all his onscreen roles!

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  7. @Dustedoff: Ya me too, I will also not see this film again.
    Mithun, haha. Then I think I have to see Tarana to see what Mithun does there. :)

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  8. @Bollyviewer: There are some films where Krishna is a sweet old man, but there are some wher he plays melnacholic characters. And, i find him looking very sad all the time, I don't know why!
    You can see this film once just for the dog, but otherwise very very forgettable :(

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