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Monday, 1 November 2010

Earth-shatteringly good (Waqt)

I'm experiencing a hangover of fashion. A deluge of it has been sweeping my existence for the past two weeks now. So, while in the mood, I watched a film that not just has a lot of fashion and style in it, but is also a masterpiece that weaves in a lot more. Awesome story, smashing dialogues, handsome males, lovely women, great music, wickedly attractive villains, superb plot, superlative performances, swanky cars, stylish homes and yes, gorgeous clothes...
Waqt, Yash Chopra's pathbreaking multi-starrer has always competed with my favourite film Teesri Manzil to garner the top spot in my celluloid crazy heart. Fact is, there have been times when I found it almost nudging over the Shammi Kapoor thriller from the tip. With its taut storyline, cinematography steeped in style and colour and fantastic direction, Waqt surely deserves all the acclaim it has won. But, Shammi Kapoor will be Shammi Kapoor...
Saying that, I must ensure that Waqt is a crackling piece of cinematic effort. Its dramatic story is played out with so many twists and turns that there is no boring moment ever. Okay, the title track might lull you a bit (I was never a fan of Mahendra Kapoor) but then it is an important aspect of the script. Telling all that man is but a puny plaything in the hands of Nature, it shows how Lala Kedarnath is belittled by God for thinking himself to be the master of his own fate. The transition of the happy family riding on the Lala's success and riches to sad separated souls bereft of the joys of a comfortable living becomes evident through this track. 
One of the best thing about Waqt is how every scene flows into the other. For instance, the escaping of Raja from the grip of the tyrannical manager of the orphanage moves into the scene where Raja, now the master robber, is absconding from the lawkeepers. The siren of the police van coupled with an exciting background score makes this robber a fashionable thief, who knows the tricks of the trade only too well.
Then there are the smashing dialogues, they are the soul of the film. Every line is related to each other and heavy with innuendos. Raja's smart retorts to Chinoy Seth, his conversation with Ravi and Meena, Vijay's verbal exchanges with Renu and so on and so forth. Here I'd love to believe that the best lines are reserved for Raja. His appeal lie in those sharp and clever lines, without which his swagger would lose the roguish charm. And yes, there's the gritty approach of Ravi in the court. The last 15 minutes attain an absolutely nail-biting character due to the fast paced and flamboyant interrogations by this gifted lawyer.
Waqt is a study in contrasts. And both sides are good, mind you. Yash Chopra shows poverty in its true form. The Lala's looks really deplorable after he finishes his jail sentence. Vijay and his mother seriously have a tough time making ends meet. Vijay, the pragmatic youngster that he is, tries to caution Renu about the irrationality of their affair. But Renu, the rich girl is snugly ensconced in her bubble of fanciful dreams and is not bothered about jolting herself out of it. In this, Chopra's characters are spot on. In fact, she is so smitten by this driver that she is utterly rude to Ravi. (I actually feel like smacking her on the face in that scene).
The rich look glamorous in Waqt. Their homes are luxurious and their standard of living is opulent. They eat their soups from the finest China and use the best silver cutlery. They drive expensive cars (Buick and Merc) and wear delightful clothes. The men relax with billiards, fishing and cards and the girls read romantic poetry, daintily play badminton by the lake and go boating with their lovers. And sing some lovely songs to keep themselves occupied. At least that's what Meena does in a haze of love. Hearing the news that Ravi is on his way to Bombay she sings the lovely Kaun aya ke nigaahon mein (Ravi's music is as pleasing as Asha Bhonsle's rendition). Couples rejuvenate themselves in snow-clad Switzerland as well as with a bout of swimming. And while they do that they sing lovely tracks such as Din hain bahar ke and Hum jab simat ke aapke.What a life!!
I'm not going into the story of this mind-blowing film. It's an entertaining family film with lots of drama, melodrama, songs, dances, fights and yes, a racy, pacy climax. The court scenes are awesome and has Motilal in a rare special appearance. Members of a family are separated by a natural disaster. They never meet or recognise each other even though they are only inches away. Then the director places some credible occurrences and they unite and everything is hale and hearty in the end. That's about all and is done with finesse.
I'll concentrate on the actors who make this 1965 joyride even more enthralling. Balraj Sahni is the perfect Lala Kedarnath.Though a bit morosely preachy sometimes, I love his natural look and his costumes. He is so good in Manna Dey's Ae meri zohrajabeen (Dey should have sung all the portions of Mahendra Kapoor). Achla Sachdev is her usual self as Lachmi. Shashi Kapoor looks serious but excruciatingly handsome as Vijay. And he makes a fine pairing with Sharmila Tagore, whose Renu is a natural. I love her in that pink salwar suit with white lacy frills.
Rahman is devious but a man in command. Stylish with his coats and tiepins, he know when to play his cards. Madan Puri is is okay in the role of the hotheaded Balbir.
Everyone is so good in the film. But, the three main leads deserve a bit more applause. Sunil Dutt, Sadhana and Raj Kumar are absolutely earth-shatteringly good. Sunil Dutt begins as this carefree rich lad, too happy to have a charming beloved and enjoying his love life, but then graduates to this serious lawyer who has a tough onus to fulfill. His transition from a garrulous young man to a responsible one is awesome. And doesn't he look good with Sadhana? I love their scenes together and his cozy pullovers that exemplify his manly charm.
Raj Kumar is the dandy crook Raja. As mentioned before, the best lines are kept for him. His smirk has attitude and so does his swagger. He dresses stylishly, is confident of his own charm and knows what to do when another man is jeopardising his chances of romancing Meena. As the clever thief with a golden heart, Raja steals many a thunder.
Sadhana is the epitome of prettiness in Waqt.  She wears the best of Bhanu Athaiya's costumes and looks strikingly gorgeous in them. Especially that black sari she wears for Chinoy's party. (My husband has promised me something like that soon. Fingers crossed). In fact, there are times when I think that Sharmila pales in comparison to Sadhana's loveliness. She is chirpy, spontaneous and absolutely breathtaking in Waqt. Isn't it awesome that Chopra makes everyone look so fetching in the film (yes, even Leela Chitnis looks an elegant beauty with a high nose). Have you ever seen Shashikala look so good? She surely looks super in Aagey bhi jaaney na tu. No one is out of shape, all the clothes are well-cut and stitched and not a hair is out of place. A sure treat for the senses...


  1. @Sharmi: Great review. Yash Chopra is a master story teller. Waqt is no doubt a gripping movie and a masterpiece. Both Sadhana and Sharmila look so pretty in the movie.

  2. @Sreenath: Yes the film is a masterpiece. And both the ladies look lovely but I personally feel that Sadhana was breathtaking :)

  3. This is one of my favourite films too. Total paisa vasool, and such lovely music - Aage bhi jaane na tu is my favourite 'dance party' song. So absolutely fabulous, and Erica Lal is the epitome of the sophisticated crooner!

    P.S. My mum has a sari that's ditto the black one Sadhana wears at the party. ;-)

  4. BTW, I think Mahendra Kapoor sang much better in Humraaz!

  5. vah! vah! vah! You know i still haven't seen this, its right up there with classics like Mughal e azam which i am saving up to watch this forthcoming holidays, i've delayed my viewing as i know i'll love them come what may and like dusted off thouhgh i think i'll go a step further and say 'aage bhi jaane na tu' is simply one of my favourite songs of all time. I also have to say that i do love Mahendra Kapoor i've heard the same complaint you've made about him from numerous people but i simply love his singing style

  6. @Dustedoff: I envy your mum and you too (since you will inherit it). I want a sari ekdum like that :) And Inshallah one day I will have one :)

  7. @Sreenath: Humraaz is another film that I will write about soon. But somehow Mahendra Kapoor does not excite me at all :(

  8. @Bollywooddeewana: Oh you will absolutely enjoy this. And I also feel envious as you will getting those thrills for the first time. Not that I do not like watching this over and over again but someone the first time is always much more exciting :)

  9. This is a film which features in my most favourite list. My favourite dialogue is the one which Balraj Sahani(excellent performance) delivers at the end cautioning his son, he says,"Aisa mat kaho beta waqt ne mujhe aisa tamacha mara". This is not a filmi dialogue, life does deliver some rude punches for some people and it often comes without a warning.

  10. @Shilpi: Yes that one is good. But I think the most kicking lines are the ones full of innuendos, spoken by Chinoy Seth and Raja. Awesome film for sure :)

  11. A classic and a favourite of mine, too. The dialogues, as you have said, are razor-sharp, the canvas sweeping and the ease with which Chopra handles a multi-starrer is a lesson in direction. Every actor is given his/her space to rule; the effect is awesome.
    Kudos for your excellent take on Bollywood's first film shot in Switzerland :)

  12. @Netdhaba: I wonder why Yash Chopra doesnt make films like this anymore. But, I think I know the answer. You do not get scripts and actors like these anymore... We are definitely living in sad times for cinema :(

  13. Oh awesome. Where was this blog earlier?
    This movie has one of the 2-3 most legendary dialogues in HIndi movie history - Jin ke ghar sheeshe ke hote hain woh doosron pe paththar phenka nahin karte hain....
    BTW are you taking requests for reviews? Please do...

  14. I remember only Raajkumar in this movie. He actually overshadowed everyone here.His sharp suites, his T shirts, his muffler, white leather shoes. His entry in that black suite , in the party of sadhana. His tense moments with Chinoy seth.... and so on.He was exclusive throughout, in the class of his own.His whole personality radiates elegance with a raw and latent power. An excellent review of an all time classic.

  15. @Quezar: thanks a ton. Raaj Kumar was absolutely aewsome in d film. But Sunil DUtt and Sadhana were so good too. I just totally love dis film.

  16. The movie is remembered for balraj sahni and raaj kumar dialogues, story and songs only. It made raaj kumar, the raaj kumar we all know.