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Tuesday, 17 August 2010

How green was this valley (Hariyali aur Rasta)

Of 1962's Hariyali aur Rasta, 1964's Apne Huye Paraye and 1965's Himalay ki God Mein, I am most fond of the first film. All of them star the trio of Manoj Kumar, Mala Sinha and Shashikala. All of them pair Kumar and Sinha with Shashikala playing the third woman out to disturb the happy romance between the couple. And, all these films have a roughly similar plot with a tweak here and a twist there. Manoj Kumar falls for Mala Sinha but has to marry Shashikala (either because he is betrothed to her or because she is cunning enough to trap him). But the man can never forget his past love.
The rest of the story proceeds with how Shashikala, the mean vamp, is obliterated from the scene so that the two lovers can unite again. Simple, short and sweet.
Now to why I like Hariyali aur Rasta the most. Apart from the fact that Manoj Kumar looks delicious (I really liked him as the romantic hero), Mala Sinha is gorgeous and Shashikala is sassy, Vijay Bhatt's film (Himalay ki God Mein was also by him) has a free-flowing storyline with good performances. Shot in picturesque Darjeeling, this is a pleasing love story that is well laid out. The songs are great (courtesy Shankar Jaikishan) and the supporting cast does a good job. There is hardly a moment that is stretched (okay, maybe some scenes featuring Om Prakash) and the execution is not flaky. Enough reasons to enjoy this film, I think.
Shankar's father passes away extracting a promise from Shivnath (Manmohan Krishna) that he will take care of his son. He also makes Shivnath the trustee of his tea estate and makes sure that when the boy grows up he is married to Rita, the daughter of a close friend. In the meantime Shankar befriends Shobna, Shivnath's daughter. Childhood friendship grows into young love and Shankar (Kumar) is seen romancing Shobna (Sinha) on the verdant hills of Darjeeling. They sing beautiful songs, exchange sweet nothings and profess undying love for each other, oblivious to the fact that Shankar is betrothed to Rita (Shashikala), who now has grown into an ultra-modern social butterfly. Soon the news about the lovestruck couple spreads and Shivnath is forced to forbid Shobna from seeing Shankar. Shobna is devastated to find that her love has no future and she leaves with her father to distance herself from her sweetheart. Unfortunately the train, in which Shivnath and Shobna are travelling, gets derailed and there is a terrible accident. On hearing the news, Shankar rushes to the rescue site. Though he is able to find Shivnath (covered to his toe in bandage), Shobna is missing. Shankar is distraught.
Meanwhile a few fishermen discover the unconscious Shobna on a seashore and take her away. Co-incidentally, the desolate Shobna overhears Shivnath and Shankar crying over the fact that she is no more. Shobna takes this as a cue to go away from their life forever (so that Shankar slowly overcomes his grief and settles down with Rita). She begs the doctor of the hospital to employ her as a nurse (she does make a loving and charming one).
Shivnath forces Shankar to marry Rita (to honour his word given to his old friend).
But, though Shankar marries Rita, he cannot quell Shobna's memories. More so because, Rita, an attractive women, is not able to fulfil her responsibilities towards her husband. She is more busy doing her social chores, attending women forums and fancy dress parties. Cooking for her husband and taking care of the house is not her forte. She is vain and rude and hardly loves Shankar. Owing to marital discord Rita shifts to Calcutta to be with her father. There she gives birth to a baby boy, who Shankar loves dearly. You must watch this for the ups and downs that Shankar, Shobna and Rita go through to settle matters in the end.
The earliest of the films starring the same three protagonists, this Vijay Bhatt romance is a much tighter version (albeit being a bit lengthy) than its later cousins. The songs, I repeat, are fabulous. Though I thoroughly missed Mohd Rafi, I could take Mukesh just because the music was so darn melodious. Lata Mangeshkar's Yeh hariyali aur yeh rasta  is superb. It has a kind of resonating quality; Mangeshkar's sweet voice reverberates through the Queen of Hills. Couple that with the attractive Kumar and ebullient Sinha, and you have a classic. The love duets Allah jaaney kya hoga agey and Bol meri taqdeer  are quite melodious (I love Sinha white costume in the second one), though they would've been way, way better in Mohd Rafi's voice. Mahendra Kapoor's Kho gaya hain mera pyar and Dil mera chup chap jala (Mukesh and Lata) are passable. The best dirge in the film is Teri yaad dil se.  Sung quite well (though sometimes he gets a bit prosaic) by Mukesh, this song stands out for its lyrics (Shailendra) and soulful melody. And of course the lovelorn expressions of dashing Kumar.
Oh I forgot Asha Bhonsle's Parwano ki raah mein, picturised of the pretty and lithe Helen. I love the male dancers' butterfly costumes. Innovative and colourful.
Manoj Kumar, I've said before, was quite a tolerable actor in his black and white films. He was tall, attractive and smart. I like him in his romantic films and I love his smile. It has something. And here, he looks very good with Mala Sinha. She is of course the better actor of the two. She portrays joy and sorrow with equal ease and makes for a gorgeous young woman struck by love. In the second half, she is a dutiful nurse (looking neat in her uniform) who is torn between her love and responsibility. A strong performance.
But, despite the two charmers here, I want to cheer more for Shashikala, just for her performance. Sassy and individualistic, yet foolish and cruel, Shashikala plays her part well. She is modern (and hence, has no qualms in making the first move towards her husband on their wedding night) and soaked in self love. She is thoroughly disinterested in her husband's life and wellbeing and has a self-centered approach towards everything. On one hand she lectures people on how to be a good mother and wife and on the other hand she is blissfully unaware of how wrongly she is treating her husband and son. What a contradiction in her personality!
Saying that I feel Shashikala spices things up in the film (like Nadira did in Dil Apna aur Preet Parai) and deserved more screen time. Instead of wasting so many reels on Om Prakash's puerile banter, Bhatt could have used Shashikala more. This talented actor always had surprises up her sleeves. Something definitely worth exploring...

10 comments:

  1. I totally loved this movie when I had first seen it when I was around 15. I had liked everything about it - all the actors, their performances, the songs and the story itself. And I remember I had tears rolling down my cheeks during Laakhon taare aasman mein . And yes, I like Manoj Kumar in his B&W films as a romantic hero.
    I saw it again last year, and still liked it a lot. But didn't find it as touching as I had found it the first time. Sounds strange now, but I liked sad films back then. My fondness for the film was directly proportional to the amount of tears I shed while watching it. But now, I prefer seeing people happy and cheerful. I like watching movies that make me feel good.
    I found Himalaya Ki Godh Mein pretty OTT. Didn't know about Apne Hue Paraye but I like this movie a lot...I still do :-)
    I adored Shashikala in both the films though. She's a beauty with oodels talent.

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  2. It's been too long since I saw Himalaya ki God Mein, and I think even longer since I saw Apne Hue Paraye, so of the three films, the only one I remember is Hariyali aur Raasta, which I reviewed last year. It left me underwhelmed; I thought the contrast between the foreign-educated, Westernised (read 'bad') girl and the traditional, long-suffering Indian ('good') girl was too sharp and they were too black and white.

    But yes, the songs are great, and Manoj Kumar and Mala Sinha are very easy on the eyes. :-)

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  3. @Sunheriyaadein: I don't quite remember seeing Himalay ki God Mein. And Apne Hue Paraye was so-so. But this one, I guess, is the best of the lot because of its story and songs. Manoj Kumar really was good looking.
    I too like happy films now but this one's story is quite free-flowing. So it's pleasing for the senses.
    I like Shashikala too. I think she was a very good actor.

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  4. @Dustedoff: I think I'll have to see Himalay ki God Mein soon. That will complete the trio.
    Manoj Kumar and Mala Sinha make a nice couple. The songs here are brilliant.
    Only thing is, I think, back then the independent mind of a foreign educated girl was seen as a negative quality by most directors. hence Shashikala's role was shown as negative. But I believe there are many women now who see their career as equally important as their families. And that is not wrong at all.
    Thank you for the comment :)

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  5. I knew I want to see it the moment I saw "Allah jane kya hoga agey..." and "Yeh hariyali aur yeh raasta..."!
    Hvn't seen a Manoj Kumar-Mala Sinha starrer yet. Though I think that Sinha had a tendency to go OTT, given a loose rein from the director.. still, she looks like a million dollars and add to that a dashing Manoj Kumar in B&W and you have a treat for the eyes! Looking forward to it. :)

    P.S. : Is it there on youtube?

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  6. @Punya: It might be, I haven't checked. Yes, Manoj Kumar was so atrractive. I loved him in his B&W films. Sometimes I was a bit put off by Mala Sinha because even at a very young age she looked a little extra grown up. But she was really pretty. And this one is a good film, better than Apne Huye Paraye and Himalay ki God Mein. Enjoy the film. :)

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  7. Hmm... I love the songs of this film, but from the plot synopsis it's clear that this film would need a Gulzar to make it palatable to me! :D I am rather tired of Bollywood's educated+independent woman = BAD and doormat woman=GOOD stories. Plus, I am not a fan of either of the leads. Mala Sinha tends to go overboard with melodrama and I've never warmed up to Manoj Kumar, not even in his pre-Mr. Bharat phase. Guess I'll just have to content myself with the songs...

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  8. @Bollyviewer: Ha ha, yes Gulzar sure has something in his treatment that would change many stories drastically!
    If you just cannot take the film, I think the songs are good enough to watch alone :)

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  9. I'll give this a go, i reviewed Himalay ki God mein a while ago, and found it rather drab, apart from the songs that is. And i do love Shashikala like you do but she suffered from being typecast, once i see Shashikala in a film credit, i already know what her role will be

    http://bollywooddeewana.blogspot.com/2010/01/himalay-ki-god-mein-1965.html

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  10. @Bollywooddeewana: This one is quite a likeable film and it has lovely songs. And I think Manoj Kumar was really attractive in his pre-Bharat Kumar days.
    Yes, I once heard an interview of Shashikala where she said that she had yearned to become a lead actress but failed to achieve success. So she took up these roles. Even though her roles are pretty predictable she makes things spicy. I loved her in Aarti and in Anupama (here she played a positive role). Himalay ki God Main I have forgotten, will try and watch it again. Now off to read your post on the film :)

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