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Thursday, 25 November 2010

Strong ties (Dosti)

Seldom have I seen a film that stands strong just because of the engaging series of events. It does not have a stellar cast, it has no romance as its core element, it has no dashing hero, no pretty heroine and no slimy rogue. But still, it just keeps you hooked. The melodrama and some unnecessary plot elements notwithstanding, as well as some irrational behaviour. Dosti, Satyen Bose's tearjerker about two thick friends, is a film that defines all of the above...

Now I'm yet to come across such a good film focusing just on two friends. Seriously. Who would have thought that in 1964 when romances were the talk of the town, Bose would muster up the courage to make a family film about a blind young man and his crippled friend. I must say, Tarachand Barjatya, the father of Rajshri Productions (the one that is now making foolish films such Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon and Ek Vivaah Aisa Bhi) was a brave one. He defies many stereotypes in Dosti.
The first being the choice of the lead actors. Sushil Kumar and Sudhir Kumar. I had never come across them before so I was a bit circumspect about their performance. But might I add, they were easy and effortless. Sushil weaves in a subtle comic flavour to some of his dialogues and Sudhir melts my heart with his magnanimity. It's really sad that after watching Dosti, I followed it up with Taqdeer (I was really impressed with the two actors and wanted to watch more of them), another tearjerker from the Rajshri stable only to be disgusted and disappointed. Sushil was wasted in this Bharat Bhushan nonsense and I don't think the camera ever closed in on Sudhir so that I could correctly recognise him. Anyways, I'm not wasting any more time on this A Salaam disaster.
Coming back to Dosti, a film that has floored me quite a bit. I liked the chain of events that lead to the denouement, though I also feel that some of them are a bit too unfortunate and sad. Actually everything is a tad too sad. That Ramnath is poor, he is orphaned (after his mother, played by Leela Chitnis, meets with a freak accident) and loses the use of his left leg, he is driven away from school, he has to fend for himself on an empty stomach, even the tap where he goes to parched has dried up. I consider this the director's ploy to wrench the last teardrop from the audience. Then there are those dialogues that are lofty and extremely patriotic and a bit too in-your-face. But otherwise, I liked Sushil's performance. Though he hardly looks his character's age in the film, his performance was pretty strong.
Then comes Mohan's plight, a boy who is prone to misfortunes but always smiles no matter what. I prefer to call him the teacher and the guide in Dosti. He just knows what to say and what to do and is always soothing Ramnath's frayed nerves and supporting his dreams. Though I consider him a bit too sugary sweet, I didn'y mind watching how he goes about helping his friend.
I love the supporting cast, too. For instance, Abhi Bhattacharya as the headmaster, Nana Palsikar as the caring teacher and Leela Mishra as Mausi. Baby Farida was just about okay and Sanjay Khan's Mohan was pragmatic. This is another brave stance from the director. He cast Sanjay Khan in a role that is slightly grey and this is supposed to be the actor's debut. Not many would have dared to do this.
Now for the the bits I did not like. Why was Ramnath made to wear the silly shorts as part of the school uniform? As a student of class 10, he aught to have been given proper trousers. Was this a device to make Sushil look really young?
I just came back from Punjab and can vouch that even two hours outside the house can play havoc with your hair and skin! In the film, the two leads, who have to spend their lives mostly on the road, appear fresh as posies. Their hair is slick all the time and they are always clean shaven. Not very real, here.
Why does Baby Farida have that ghastly hairstyle? For a patient suffering from a chronic ailment, she aught to have been less well-dressed.
Why does Meena (Uma Raju) look hardly perturbed while on her job in the city, knowing full well that her brother might be in danger? In fact, I'm quite angry with her when she, like a spineless individual, shuns her brother out of sheer shame...
There is a bit of dichotomy in Sharma Sir's character. On one hand he is ready to take care of Ramnath, as this one is a meritorious student, but on the other hand this same man is iffy about taking care of Mohan, a more helpless boy. In fact, he does not even consider the option and separates Ramnath from Mohan. This is a somewhat cruel deviation from his otherwise benevolent personality...
Lastly, why does the director have to make matters worse by incorporating ludicrous bullies in the plot and then suddenly mend their manners for no reason...
But, apart from these miniature flaws, I feel Dosti is a good film. A different one in terms of story, songs (Laxmikant Pyarelal's score is a bit anthem-ish but solid), cast and execution. A film that glorifies friendship and its promises...

15 comments:

  1. Hi Sharmi,
    Very nice post on that classic! I appreciated your negatives, especially the ones about clothes and hair - but that's where the supension of disbelief has to be maintained, I suppose, and what you say about Sharma: but perhaps it wasn't so unusual at the time (and now? see Three Idiots) that teachers couldn't stop being prejudiced even when they were going out of their way for a student they felt deserved greater encouragement. Perhaps such generosity cost a certain amount, for such teachers who did not earn a lot, and they quieted their conscience by telling themselves that at least they had helped one of these meritorious students.
    What do you think?

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  2. @Yves: Points that certainly need to be noted. At least it was a good film. And, that's what matters for us filmbuffs :)

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  3. well,have you seen lalu bhulu[1959]-the original bangla version of dosti.by the way, i think dosti is definately among the best hindi fims ever made.it's so different and to think that this movie still holds the record for being the most successful hindi movie without having a heroine is something of an acheivement.Plus,i will recommend you to watch other Satyen bose masterpieces like jagriti,barjatri,masoom,payal ki jhankar.this director surely did not get his due.

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  4. @Madmusic: I saw Jagriti long time back. Time to catch the others now.

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  5. Can anyone tell me what has become of Sushil Kumar, Sudhir Kumar and Sanjay Khan ....Where are they now ?

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  6. Can anyone gve the resaon of their death?

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  7. Sudhir last movie is nanhe jaisalmer2007 ,sushil last movie is suhaani raat1974

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  8. Dosti(1964) is a masterpiece one of my favorite I can't believe the actors never have become superstars you can see why in this stupid and mindless Indian film Industry. Great acting & fantastic direction by Satyen Bose.Hats off to all the cast team involved in it . I am 22. I love and adore old movies like Dosti and Do Aankehn Baraah Raat. Now-a-days,we get to see so many jokers,idiots from so called filmy families the rascals don't have any idea what they do on screen. Sunil ,Sudhir should never be forgotten by any true Indian film fans. It is great to know this was remake of original Bengali film . I love Bengali movies .

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  9. In nanhe jaisalmer sudhir is not there.....

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  10. Bt in nanhe jaisalmer sudhir is not there....

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