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Friday, 29 October 2010

Forced tragedy (Do Badan)

I have a question. Does Vikas perish beside the deathbed of Asha in the last scene of Raj Khosla's Do Badan? If so, what's the rationale behind it? For, he is suffering from no ailment as Asha is, has just got back his vision after a successful eye-operation and looks absolutely fit and fine? Given those, is the sight of seeing his ex-lover breathing her last, enough to take his life away? Ambiguous as it is, the climax of the otherwise engaging Do Badan is hurried and too sudden...

Also, why is an intelligent woman like Anjali sticking to a cry-baby like Vikas? She is extremely talented, hardworking and very pretty. She would be better off going her own way and doing something more worthwhile than being party to Vikas's sad sojourn. But then, love has different languages and I believe Anjali's love makes itself felt through her actions rather than her words. She is kind enough to shelter the desolate and blind Vikas and plays along with him as he weaves a false tale to malign himself in Asha's eyes... Simi Garewal is fabulous is this very different supporting role of hers. Strong and matured, she makes up for the lapses in Manoj Kumar.
Lastly, what is the need for the comic interludes in the film? Dhumal lacks the comic timing, Mohan Choti is plain boring. Without their tedious scenes, Do Badan would have been more tight...
That's about all the nitpicking that I'm going to do here. For, I did like this 1966 tragic romance. At least I found it interesting enough to sit through it. Though right from the start you have a vein of sadness running thick in the film and all the songs carry that sorrowful tinge, its the unique treatment to the drama that grabbed my attention. And, with Raj Khosla's hand, you can afford to wait for the sudden twists and the different turns...
Vikas (Manoj Kumar) is a poor but studious young man from Kashmir, studying in a Delhi college with Asha (Asha Parekh), a rich girl from Srinagar. After their initial misunderstandings both become close friends and Asha helps Vikas with his study expenses. A stroke of bad luck (Vikas's father passes away suddenly) forces Vikas to drop a year in college and he in unable to go back to his books for the want of funds. His brother swindles the family property out of him, too. Being the epitome of goodness (in this case a bit too irritating), Vikas relinquishes his property to his brother and goes about his way looking for a job.
In the meantime Asha has already fallen in love with Vikas and pines for him. She sings a wonderful ballad called Jab chali thandi hawa (Asha Bhonsle) while remembering the man she has given her heart to. Soon the two meet again and start spending time with each other. They both confess their love for each other, while Asha surreptitiously helps him find a job in the timber factory of her father.
When Vikas comes to know that Asha is indeed her employer's daughter his pride is hurt and he is angry. But she pacifies him with Mat jaiyo naukariya chodke, a song that is naughty but hardy exuberant. It is only for Asha Parekh's sparked dance moves that the song is noteworthy.
Though Vikas is apprehensive about their status difference, Asha assures him that she will always be there for him. But, that is not to be. For the devious Ashwini (Pran) is lurking around in the corner. He poisons Asha's father's ears against Vikas, resulting in the old man announcing in a party that Asha is now engaged to Ashwini. Vikas is aghast and Asha is sad. With his heart stung, Vikas sings Bhari duniya mein akhir dil as Asha watches on mournfully. She tries reasoning with her father that she loves Vikas and will not be happy with Ashwini, but her father is hell bent on getting her married to the man of his choice for the sake of his honour and false pride. His decision is looked down upon by his brother (Manmohan Krishna) who sympathises with the couple but his plea falls on deaf ears.
Humiliated and dejected, Vikas wants to leave Srinagar and go to Delhi. Ashwini plots to kill him by messing up with the jeep in which Vikas will leave. The accident happens but Vikas does not die. He becomes blind. Since he is loathe to depend on Asha for the rest of his life, he extracts a promise from Ashwini (who comes to meet him) that the latter will tell her that Vikas is dead. Hearing so, Asha plunges into a mourning situation, from which Ashwini cannot bring her out. So, he rushes to Vikas again for help. This time Vikas plans to deceive Asha by pretending to be in love with Anjali, the doctor who is taking care of him. Anjali, the respectable woman that she is, will have none of this but complies to Vikas's request... 
A lot of things happen from here on. Asha and Ashwini marriage takes place to the background tune of the dirge Rahaan gardishon mein hardam (Mohd Rafi). Asha is not able to accept Ashwini as she still loves Vikas (why?). They both go for their honeymoon where, at a bar, Asha sees Vikas singing and slaps him and then comes to know how villainous Ashwini has been. In order to seek revenge for his hurt pride, Ashwini makes Asha's life hell, locking her up in her room and never giving her any freedom to move. Anjali convinces Vikas to go for an eye operation and it is successful, too.
Meanwhile, Asha is sucked into depression and loses the will to live. Seeing her state, Ashwini is swept with remorse and promises to bring Vikas to her. She waits for him singing Lo agayi unki yaad (Lata Mangeshkar). Vikas walks into the room, Asha sees him, smiles and dies...
Well, if it had to happen so simply, what was all that build up for? Did she really have to die after all that she went through? When a happy ending is perfectly possible why force a tragic one? This Mr Khosla is a tad hard to digest...
The film's music though, I have to admit, is very good. Despite of the funereal air about it, the songs have an everlasting quality. Ravi in this has done a fabulous job. 
Manoj Kumar is very himself. Most comfortable with his constipated look, he makes his tragic avatar very commonplace. There is hardly a moment when I sympathise with him, even though an awful lot happens to him... He is wronged against, loses his eyesight and his lover. But, there is something so lugubrious about him that puts me off...
Pran is very different here. In fact, isn't it awesome that the villain does get to marry the heroine? And, here it is even more amazing that the villain loves the heroine not for her money but for her sake and will go to any extent to erase all memories of her past lover from her mind. He has a gargantuan ego for sure. But, that ego is put away when he actually sees Asha withering away. The villain changes for the better... So unusual for a Hindi movie...
Asha Parekh is probably the best part of Do Badan, even though she gives in too easily. She is very subtle (I'm more used to her ebullience though) and looks lovely. With a role that gives her quite some scope, why on earth did the director decide to bump her off in the end? Please enlighten me... 


  1. "When a happy ending is perfectly possible why force a tragic one?"

    True. I don't get the need for that, either. In a film like Bombai ka Babu there is no way in which everybody can be happy; here, it would've been possible, even if formulaic. But no, they probably decided this had to be tragedy, no matter what. Not one of my favourite Khoslas, but I love the music, especially Jab chali thandi hawa. Fabulous song!

  2. @Dustedoff: Isn't it hard to believe that Raj Khosla made this film after seeing the likes of Woh Kaun Thi and Mera Saaya. What a waste of the spunky Asha Parekh!

  3. A very good review Sharmi of a film which belongs to my childhood. Although I have not seen the film I understand your irritation both at Manoj Kumar and the comedy track. The comedy track those days was a real irritant but almost was a must in all films , I have no idea why. I remember there were times I would be engrossed in a film only to be rudely shaken up by the irritating comedy track that usually had no connection to the main story. As for Manoj KUmar do I need to add anymore to what you have already mentioned.

  4. @Shilpi: The only comedian I loved to watch was Mehmood. He was awesome. And his tracks with Shubha Khote and Dhumal were so so funny :)

  5. i've seen this and the only good things i liked were the songs and you've summed it up perfectly forced tragedy is what it is, a disappointing film overall

  6. @Bollywooddeewana: I think the most awful thing is Asha dying.

  7. @Sharmi: Good review. I try to avoid movies with tragic ending as much as possible. For me, if a movie has a tragic ending at least the hero and heroine have to meet in their re-birth -- like in Madhumati :) I am surprised Do Badan is made by Raj Khosla. Very different genre for him. There are some great songs in the movie though.

  8. @Sreenath: Yes, in fact I just stuck around for the songs and Asha Parekh. And Simi was good too. :)