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Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Long and very drawn (Sasural)

Blame it on my overtaxed brain. I've been choosing the wrong films for a few days now. When I most need a frothy entertainer with great songs and a charming lead pair, I'm making erroneous choices of social dramas that look engaging from outside, but are tedious and hollow once unraveled. T Prakash Rao's remake of Telegu hit Illarikam is one of those blunders that I'd better stayed away from. For, Sasural is long, monotonous and lacks the winning punch.

The cast is promising, though. Rajendra Kumar as the honest and poor Shekhar, B Saroja Devi as the rich Bela, Lalita Pawar as the vain mother, Anwar Hussain as the conniving and lecherous Rajan Murari, the pretty Jayshree Gadkar (she has a lovely dance number in Sunle meri payal sung by Lata Mageshkar) as the unfortunate Gauri, Mehmood as the clever and lovable Mahesh, Shobha Khote as Sita, Mahesh's wife, Dhumal is Dharamdas, the funny miser and Leela Mishra plays his wife. Shankar Jaikishan puts in a great score and Mohd Rafi's silken voice make Teri pyari pyari soorat ko utterly memorable. The other songs, namely Kya mil gaya, Ek sawaal main karoon, Apni ulfat pe and Yeh albela tor na, are pretty good too. The story starts off with aplomb. But then somewhere in the middle, everything goes awry. It's as if everyone suddenly feels that the whole film is a banal enterprise...
Shekhar has been brought up by his maternal uncle Dharamdas who is a miser. He wants to mint money from the remotest of opportunities. When a marriage alliance for Shekhar comes from the rich Thakur (Bipin Gupta) of his only daughter Bela, Dharamdas seizes it as a chance to make some quick money. The Thakur wants a husband for his daughter who, after marriage will go and live with his in-laws, and Dharamdas does not have a problem with that. But considering that Shekhar is projected as an idealist in the film, he too, readily accepts the proposal. In that he is too abiding of his elders for my taste.
Shekhar's sister Gauri has run away from home because Dharamdas wanted her to marry a man much elder to her. When she is all set to commit suicide, Rajan Murari, the trickster saves her and marries her in a temple under a false identity. She believes him to be a Godsend but he is anything but that. On being cornered by his father, the plotting Govindram, he leaves his wife so that he can marry Bela and usurp all of the Thakur's property. When the devious father and son arrive, they are too shocked to learn that Bela's marriage has been fixed with Shekhar. They decide to wreak havoc in the Thakur's household and start planning Shekhar's downfall by poisoning everyone's mind against him.
While all this is taking place there is the subplot of Mahesh and Sita. Mahesh comes to live in his father-in-law's house because he is tired of living away from his wife. Dharamdas, a thorough miser that he is makes Mahesh do all the household chores so that he scurries back home. But Mahesh is too clever and teaches his father-in-law a lesson. I'd have loved it if Mahesh and Dharamdas's antics were more tight and witty. They hardly spark the laughter, simply because their scenes are too stretched. I guess, they learnt their lesson from this 1961 film. For in later films where Mehmood, Shobha Khote and Dhumal play similar characters, they ensure crazy gags.
Just when you think that the mind games will juice up the story, the inane twists and lengthy turns rob the spark. Shekhar's protests against his wife's accusations are just a whimper, Bela's suspicion against Shekhar's fidelity is uncalled for (she could have just clarified her case when she saw Shekhar and Gauri exchanging dear greetings) and Rajan Murari's actions are yawn-worthy. Lalita Pawar is absolutely wasted and so is Leela Mishra, two immensely talented actors. And, Shekhar's Pathan act is boring...
Gaping at the loopholes in the plot I almost feel that Bela should have gone to Shekhar's house and suffered because of Dharamdas's nitpicking persona. That might have spiced up this topsy-turvy tale...
One word for B Saroja Devi. I have to admit here that I never saw much beauty in her huge face and big eyes. She looks over madeup all the time (her smile is pretty though) and her voice is a tad harsh. She emotes well but sometimes overdoes it. Though famed for her Southern good looks along with Padmini and Vyajayanthimala, I think she doesn't have the delicate charm celebrated in heroines of yesteryear. She dances well, but then she is a Southern belle...
Gosh, that was a poetic line. Considering I'm not a poetry lover, Sasural sure hit the wrong knobs in my cranial chamber!


  1. I'm swiftly coming to the conclusion that it's better to avoid films that have something to do with family in the title. Parivaar (ghastly film on family planning, starring Jeetendra and Nanda), Bhabhi, Chhoti Bahen, Chhoti Bahu, Badi Bahen, Ardhangini... all either very avoidable or certainly not stuff you should spend money buying to see! This seems to be part of the same category.

  2. @Dustedoff: He he, clever decision. And by the way, what were Jeetendra and Nanda playing, aunt and nephew???
    I can only like family sagas if there is some spice element in it. Say in the form of Shashikala or say Lalita Pawar, in their real elements!!

  3. Hats off to all you reviewers for sitting through such films to be honest as a youngster I remember when such films were shown on doordarshan I almost felt embarrassed to watch them.

  4. @Shilpi: More than embarrassed I was bored to extinction almost. Saw a very good film today :) Will put it up soon. watch out :)

  5. I saw this movie about 50 years back when I was a kid and the songs, esp Teri pyari pyari soorat ko ... made a big impression on me. Actually, my dad used to sing that song to my mother! However, I have learned my lesson that movies with good songs are generally to be avoided because very few of them come with good stories! I can't imagine how you managed to sit through the whole movie - my sympathies!

  6. @Sharmi: Oh, Jeetendra and Nanda were the leads in Parivaar - I think it's 1969 or 70 or so, when he was pretty new though she was well-established. Believable jodi, but the film was so painful, I couldn't even bring myself to review it.

  7. @Lalitha: Hi, though this film was disappointing, I have seen many films that have great songs and a credible story. This one, and some other ones, for some vague reason, meander aimlessly. Ha ha, thank for the comment and the sympathies :)

  8. @Dustedoff: I can absolutely understand your plight. My sympathies :)

  9. Ahh yet another one i had on my list o review i agree with your points, though i do have to say that i liked Saroja Devi despite how shoddily her character in the film was written,she really reminded me of Vyjayanthimala and i would say their beauty is on the same level. Despite this being drab i'd take or watch it a 100 times over Palki

  10. @Bollywooddeewana: I liked Padmini much more than Saroja Devi. Here the story starts of well but peters out. But worth a watch once anyway.