Monday, 11 October 2010
Till the time she makes the misjudgement of promising her husband and his father that she will never meet the man who is nothing but a well wisher. Silly as the ground of this promise is, she also loses her admirable persona as she silently accepts the accusations pummeled at her by her foolish husband. She weeps and laments in her mother's house, praying day in and day out to be reunited with the man, who in my eye, needs nothing but rude remonstrances. But then, Zindagi would have been different if I were to play my tricks...
This 1964 family drama is very long, with tedious and redundant ending, but the reason why I like it because somewhere at the back of my mind I knew from the very beginning that the cast will not disappoint. And they don't. Predictable as it may sound, the film starts happily, followed by loads of problems and miscommunications and then ending in a halcyon manner. So, I go to sleep happy that all is well.
Beena (Vyajayanthimala) takes up a job of an actress (a profession respected women those days did not get into) against the better judgement of her mother (Leela Chitnis). There she is trained by Gopal (Raj Kumar), the man who she sees as a mentor, but who soon starts adoring her secretly. Ratanlal (Hiralal), the patron of the drama company also eyes her lustfully (something that this young woman senses in the first meeting itself), resulting in Beena treating him with disinterest. This angers the malicious Ratanlal. He orders local goons to abduct her. While they are at it, Beena's screams attract Rajan (Rajendra Kumar) who is lazing nearby on his motorcycle with his dog, Honey (this German Shephard is too endearing). Rajan rescues the damsel in distress and love blooms (that's a given). A lovely song is sung by Rajan (the music by Shankar Jaikishan is very good) called Pehley miley the sapno mein (Mohd Rafi of course) appreciating Beena's beauty and charm. While they promise true love and companionship to each other, the match is opposed by Raibahadur Gangasaran (Prithviraj Kapoor, ah! I loved him), Rajan's father, because of the lack of propriety of Beena's trade. Though he relents to his son's wishes to meet Beena, he treats her in a condescending manner when she comes to do so. He offers her a hefty price to abandon Rajan. Beena, a sensible woman that she is, does not keep quiet. She makes it clear that her love is not for sale and walks off. Later she decides to leave Rajan because the status barriers are too high. Here I feel there is a similarity between her and Anarkali, the character of the doomed courtesan she is portraying in a drama. When she sings Hum pyar ka sauda kartey hain ek baar you almost feel it sounds like Pyar kiya to darna kya in the happy version and Mohabbat ki jhoothi kahani pe roye in the sad. Here the music directors combined both the feels of the songs from Mughal-e-Azam in one catchy number.
I felt that she should have made her stance clear that very instant. Why would a woman, who is true in all her dealings, be subject to such ludicrous adjustments.
The couple is married and happy. But, not for long. The fluke murder of Ratanlal by one of his goons called Banke (Jeevan) and Beena being forced to spend a night in Gopal's home creates a gargantuan misunderstanding. Gopal is suspected for murdering Ratanlal (as he, in a hotheaded argument with the victim, sweared to do so) and no one else but Beena can prove that he is innocent. Her testimonial in the court (the Raibahadur is a jury member for the same case) acquits Gopal but wreaks havoc on Beena and Rajan's home. This is where the film starts troubling me.
Rajan, who declared his unending love for Beena, starts despising her in one instant. How is that possible? That means his love is seriously shallow and not worth pining for. And, that's exactly what Beena does. She blames herself for her misfortune. Wrong, very wrong. The sad phase of her life goes on for a long, long time, before the cloud is cleared. And when she should have slapped some sense into her husband for treating her so shoddily, she makes me gasp by running into his arms all too happily. Gosh!! What just happened to the strong woman...
And yes, that earthquake could have been done away with. It just stretches the film nonsensically.
There is another good aspect about Zindagi. The pairing of Mehmood and Helen (she plays a typical village belle) is a sheer delight. Helen looks so pretty and is naturally ebullient. Mehmood is as usual funny and makes Dhumal's life hell. I think the Ghungarwa mora song, picturised on Helen and Mehmood, is the best track in the film.