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Thursday, 4 November 2010

Clash of ideals (Saath Saath)

Once you've made it to the 40th minute of Raman Kumar's Saath Saath you can rest assured that there will be no boring moment from here on. The journey of Gita and Avinash get extremely engaging. The couple's daily chores throw light on the very routine lives that most of us spend today. They try to make ends meet, maintain a budget for their expenditures, take up jobs to meet the rising costs of food and living and share with us all and sundry experiences. In fact, these nuggets make the film so next-door and enhance its appeal.

It gets only better as Avinash gradually starts following the path that he had so far battled against. He puts all his ideals in the backburner as soon as he gets the first taste of lucre. The man who once penned two brilliant lines (Maana ki main majboor hoon, laachar nahin hoon, insaan hoon, bikne ko main tayyar nahin hoon) under extreme exasperation kills the idealist in him to run after money. For that he slays the honest soul in him, bribes when required and even resorts to cheap and vulgar means to earn money. But then, like all romantic films, no matter how realistic they are, this too ends on a happy note, with the blinkers raised from Avinash's eyes just on time. A bit of introspection and the bitter thought of separation from Gita eggs Avinash to realise that he is in fact following the wrong path, directed towards self-destruction as well as damage of the cultural thread of society.
But, there are times when even Avinash's rationale sounds sane, too. How can a person go on fighting for his ideals on an empty stomach? How long can a person go on being happy with the bare minimum? And is it always possible to earn fast bucks by being righteous? There is a fine line between pragmatism and realism in the film that the director balances with aplomb. There are times when I do side with Avinash, simply because I want him to do well in life and spend some happy moments with his wife, who has been going through rough. Two young students, who get married for love, have to work really hard to keep the oil burning. While Avinash is completing his MA, Gita takes up the job of a teacher in a school and some private tuitions. The long hours she spends outside slowly distance her from her husband, who would rather have her stay and home and concentrate on her studies. The reducing messages on the letters spell the lack of communication that seeps into the couple's life. They start their life together singing songs, but then slowly things become very difficult. Gita becomes pregnant, but even this happy news is makes the two very worried. For there is no money to bring the baby home. These are niggling but very serious demands that domesticity makes. So, is it altogether very wrong of Avinash to try and make Gita's life a little easy and comfortable?
Avinash is not a poor man, he reveals later in the film. But he chose to make it the hard way by being honest. And this is what attracts Gita. Even when he relinquishes his ideals for some easy money, he does so for Gita and their child. What man would not love to live in a spacious apartment? He loves Gita all the time, even when he is relentlessly running after money.
Yes, Avinash does some wrongs also. He sells his soul very fast to commercialism. He is a smart man and Satish uses his acumen to full extent. But Gita should have warned him right at the start to avoid the bitterness from creeping in. I find it a misjudgment on the part of Gita to wait till the last to give a piece of her mind to Avinash. But then the film would have not been if she would have done so...
I liked Saath Saath for its unique treatment and the portrayal of such real emotions. The songs are good especially Tumko dekha to, Yeh tera ghar and Kyun zindagi ki raah mein. The latter one is especially significant because of the hidden taunts that Gita directs towards her materialistic husband. And Chitra Singh's rendition is great. Jagjit Singh too, does a fine job. I love the sweetness of Yeh tera ghar yeh mera ghar, especially how the director captures how the two grow accustomed to each other are share cozy moments.
But there are flaws too in this 1982 gem. Why is so much time wasted on Avinash's college friends and the self-absorbed gossip monger of a teacher? Neena Gupta is absolutely irritating. Avtar Gill is redundant. Rakesh Bedi and Iftekar are wasted. Satish Shah gets to do a different role though. I also find it amusing that all the friends are called by their real names in the film, portions of which at times look raw and patchy.
But the film stays memorable because of Farooq Shaikh and Deepti Naval, who are so easy to connect with as Avinash and Gita. Shaikh is fabulous in his complexity and Naval is superb in her simplicity. I love the scene where she retorts sharply to the teacher to mind her own business and concentrate on finishing the course. Here is a girl who knows her mind and is faithful to her convictions. She is not ready to sacrifice her self esteem and will not tolerate her dear ones to follow the wrong route, too.
Shaikh is the scene stealer here. He balances his honesty and greed with equal ease, never really giving up on the simplicity of his personality. He is never loud yet so powerful. You can perfectly identify with him as he traipses along the dangerous path to attaining riches. He is the hero who makes his grey look attractive, too...


  1. Considering that I love the songs of this film, and that I'm so fond of both the lead actors, it's odd that I've still not got around to watching this film. Have heard a lot of praise for it, and have guessed that this is something I need to watch... thank you for reminding me! Am putting this on my rental wishlist right now.

  2. @Dustedoff: Even though this is not as fabulous as Chashme Buddoor, this is pleasant and engaging with compelling performances by the leads. I think you will like it :)

  3. Hmm i didn't find Chashme Budoor all that exciting, the film was a bit too tame for my tastes, i blame my love for over the top melodramas for that, its not a film i'll watch more than once, the one time i saw it was sufficient for me. I might watch this for Jagjit Singh's songs though, i love his music for Prem geet

  4. @Bollywooddeewana: Oh you love melodrama, pura Hindi film style? Then I'm sure you mostly like all of 1980s and 90s Hindi films. But this one I assure you is devoid of any melodrama :)

  5. This film is what I call a soothing film. There is no 'Maar Dhaad, villain, irritating comedian and so on.

  6. @Shilpi: Yes, I found it an engaging narrative :)

  7. Lovely review! I just got this delivered to me yesterday from Induna, so this is perfect timing! I'm happy to read that it sounds as charming as I was hoping- will have to come back and revisit your review after I watch it. Of course, anything with Deepti Naval will make me happy so I'm sure I won't be disappointed! The one film of hers that I simply cannot find thought is Main Zinda Hoon, which I am simply dying to see! Anywho, nice review! :)

  8. @Minaiminai: Hey I had seen Main Zinda Hoon a long, long time back, but it was so powerful that I remember every single bit og it. Yes, since these are obscure gems it is difficult to get hold of them. The film has awesome performances by Deepti and Pankaj Kapur, as well as the strong supporting cast. Thanks for the lavish praise. Welcome here and keep reading :)