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Monday, 8 November 2010

Simply streetsmart (Aar Paar)

I'm quite glad I saw Aar Paar. It shows Guru Dutt in a very different light. Here he carries his Bombaiyya swagger with elan. He floors girls like nine pins and cares two hoots about impressing his ladylove's father. He woos the well-off Nicky knowing full well that the task is already done and when rebuffed for the advances, shifts gears to approach the attractive but dangerous Shakila, aware that the tactic will pull Nicky towards him once again.
This time Dutt plays Kalu, a carefree lad armed with witty one-liners and a streetsmart approach towards all and sundry. When temporarily jilted he does not get sucked into the vortex of sorrow and render mournful dirges. He lightens the air with the sarcastic Mohabbat karlo ji bharlo (Mohd Rafi and Geeta Dutt) and braces up to face the imminent danger that shall soon come upon him for ganging up with the lawbreakers. He has a face that is extremely attractive and a smile that is roguishly charming. If only he had the body fit enough for a 29-year-old. But, all said and done, this Kalu is a memorable man in the world of cinema...
Now that's about all the good things I have to say about Guru Dutt's Aar Paar. For, apart from the charismatic lead actor and the superlative soundtrack, the movie fails to grip for reasons more than one. True, Shyama is attractive, but she is not as charming as I would have her. She falls too easily in love with a man much too below her social status, making the love story a bit too implausible in the beginning. If she would have not been so malleable towards Kalu's overtures, maybe the fun would have multiplied. It would have been a treat to watch Kalu trying a bit more hard to win over Nicky (now that's quite a modern name for 1954!)...
But Nicky has her postives. She sings the naughty Sun sun sun sun zalima with Kalu and the lovely, lovely Ae lo main hari piya. Now this song is a veritable masterpiece from OP Nayyar the great. Along with, Kabhi aar kabhi paar (Shamshad Begum) and Babuji dheerey chalna (Geeta Dutt), the song that introduces Shakila, the sultry temptress. Here's another person I see in a different light. Shakila, mostly used for playing the sweet beloved in her films. Here she is a rare treat as the villain's moll, who can do anything to arm twist her way into the hero's heart. She can fill his ears with misdirections, plot against him and his beloved and even sing some awesome songs to lure him to her cage. How else would you define the slow but seductive Hoon abhi main jawaan. Shakila looks ravishing in her dance costumes and seriously gives Shyama a run for her money with her teasing glances and smirks.
Now for the story. It's good, but could have been done better. For, it lacks the excitement of Raj Khosla's C.I.D, a film that Guru Dutt produced. I practically feel it slacking towards the end, when the drama aught to have been more edge-of-the-seat. The villains are hardly scary and the climax looks forced. Wonder whether Guru Dutt was rushing here?
The run-up to Kalu's induction in crime is also pretty lame. Kalu, who is otherwise pretty quick with his retorts, should not have been projected as gullible enough to be caught up with the wrong people. Also, what changes Rustom's stand so suddenly? Jagdeep, as Elaichi, is a put-off at times and the comedy is plain bad. Na na na na tauba tauba is redundant for sure.
For me Aar Paar was a film worth watching just once. I know the story now (it does not contain much excitement and lacks a taut script) and nothing really earth-shattering remains to be discovered. The women are lovely, but I've seen better. Then what could be the reason behind Aar Paar's success?
I'd vote for OP Nayyar's music. Magical, memorable and beautifully melodious. Guru Dutt, as the clever Kalu is good, but something's amiss. For me, Guru Dutt will always be living as the pathbreaking poet, Vijay. Here, it is definitely Nayyar who's calling the shots...


  1. What a coincidence - I rewatched this just the other day, because I was thinking of reviewing it for Johnny Walker Week. Even though I liked his acting as Rustom (and I won't hear a word against Arre na na na tauba tauba!!! - I love that song, more especially perhaps because it's the only song I recall seeing Johnny with Noor)... still, despite JW and despite OPN's fantastic music, I agree that this film lacked zip. Noirish, but nowhere close to the suspense of CID, for instance. I thought the focus here was rather diluted; I couldn't make up my mind whether this was a crime film or not.

  2. @Dustedoff: Okay, no words against the JW song! ;)
    Exactly, I'm yet to make my mind on whether this was a romantic comedy or a thriller !

  3. I love all the songs of Aar Paar. Such memorable songs from Rafi, Geeta Dutt and O.P.Nayyar combo. I would have liked to see Shakila play Shyama's role in this film.

  4. @Sreenath: The songs are legendarily good. BUt somehow I did not like the film in entirety. Guru Dutt was very good but the female characters were not well-fleshed out :(

  5. i love the babuji song a lot too, i'm yet to get on the Guru Dutt train and i still haven't seen any of his films i'll catch on with time though and honestly speaking i'd watch any mediocre film for the sake of O.P. Nayyar's music, he rarely disappoints

  6. @Bollywooddeewana: Yes, if you are a fan of Nayyar's brand of music this is so much of a winner. Enjoy the songs. And Guru Dutt is actually quite carefree and smart in the film :)