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Friday, 24 December 2010

His or his (Rajnigandha)

Never was a girl's dilemma in love depicted so subtly. In Basu Chatterjee's Rajnigandha, Deepa is torn between her two loves time and again and has to make up her mind on who to settle down with. She keeps comparing the two men in her life, their personalities and character and ultimately uses the nth minute to decide that first love does not necessarily have to be true love.

Sometimes Deepa's character might look immature and unsteady, but then one has to notice that in fact Sanjay does try her patience on occasions more than one. And despite separating from Naveen (Dinesh Thakur) under acrimonious circumstances, this ad-film maker now is going out of his way helping her out. This makes Deepa's situation all the more difficult. A film that is so sensitive yet poignant in its depiction of a woman's thoughts, Rajnigandha, adapted from Manu Bhandari's Yehi Sach Hain, seriously leaves an indelible impression on my mind for reasons galore.
Firstly, I love how Chatterjee has chosen the most next-door people as his leads. Vidya Sinha, in her first screen role, looks like any pretty girl who in engaged to someone and waiting for the opportune moment to get married. She harbours dreams and aspirations like any other woman. She depicts her ire and exasperation at Sanjay's lack of responsibilities like any one of us. She dresses like the girl next door in pretty sarees, with her hair tied in a loose plait. She is soft and emotional. That is why she suffers from a heady dilemma as to whether to reveal to Naveen that she has buried her past and has moved on with Sanjay. But then when she sees that Naveen is helping her out, her previous love for him surfaces again. Can we call this love? Or is it a mistake on her part to recognise this very feeling? I would say that girls forget their first loves with lot of difficulty, especially when the end to that first love happens due to a silly reason. Perhaps Deepa wants Naveen to own up that he was the wrong party and still loves her. Perhaps she is not ready to accept that Naveen sees her as a friend now and has a life and world of his own where she is just an outsider. It takes an indifferent shunt from Naveen for Deepa to realise the truth of her life with Sanjay. 
This lad is a loquacious and talkative soul, always bothered about his promotion. But then Sanjay wants this promotion so that he can marry Deepa, the woman he loves. He has never felt insecure with her, even after being aware that she is going to Bombay for a job interview. He knows that she might meet Naveen, her first love. But he is fully sure that Deepa loves him and is ready to let her be. It's awesome how he makes her laugh and admits his faults at the drop of a hat. Only if he were more punctual and a tad more sensitive towards the gal. But I have to admit that Amol Palekar is absolutely suited for Sanjay's role. He walks with the unassuming style of any man who is roughing it out in his office, yet has the charm to romance a pretty girl, to the envy of his colleagues. Great choice Mr Chatterjee for Sanjay's character.
I love the tidbits where the director depicts the constant comparisons between Sanjay and Naveen. Like in the scene where Deepa imagines greeting Sanjay, when actually she is meeting Naveen. When she changes her saree to a blue one, knowing full well that Naveen likes that colour and remembering a time when Sanjay didn't even bother to compliment her when she wore a new saree. Then there are those nuggets that speak so much about Deepa's conflicting emotions. This 1974 film is fabulous in its imagery and subtlety. And yes the two brilliant songs by Salil Chowdhury are definitely worth mentioning. The Lata Mangeshkar sung title track is beautiful. But the Mukesh sung Kaibaar yuheen dekha is a surprise. In music, picturisation and lyrics it wins hands down.
The last bits are interesting. Deepa comes back to her Delhi home to be greeted by a bouquet of tuberoses in the vase, a sign of Sanjay's presence in her life. She is suffering because she does not know whom to choose as a life partner. She has not got any signal from Naveen so that she can let go of Sanjay. A letter from her friend Ira breaks her down emotionally and she realises that her future lies with Sanjay. Naveen has let her down again (he has written a very terse letter) as he did so many years ago when he broke up with her without even a sane explanation. He has humiliated her again. Perhaps, this is the time when she actually buries her past and embraces the promise of a happy life with Sanjay, the man who lends a beautiful fragrance to her life...


  1. Long been on my films to watch, i've seen screen caps in various places and i love Vidya's look in the film, and she makes a lovely pair with Amol like in Choti si baat, i generally like the simplicity of Basu's films, i saw Pasand Apni Apni recently and that was a sweet little film as well

  2. I have heard about Rajanigandha.. but never knew that it is based upon Manu Bhandari's Yahi sach hai.. but just as fate would have it.. I have been gifted a collection of Manu Bhandari's stories 2 weeks back and thoroughly enjoyed this one.. now some one pls gift me the movie, too! :D

  3. @Bollywooddeewana: Yes, her pairing with Amol Palekar really stands out. Pasand Apni Apni is worth it because of Mithun... he is so effortless in the film :)

  4. @Punya: Pray that Santa gifts you one this festive season :)

  5. I'd read the story long ago and was amazed that it actually made it to a film - a Bhartiya naari getting to choose between two love interests, both of whom she loves? It's absolutely revolutionary. And as the film unfolds, I can completely understand her being torn both ways - they're both charming and interesting in different ways.

  6. @Bollyviewer: Yes, especially when Naveen is so helpful and gives scope to Deepa to compare him with Sanjay :)

  7. When we were in college we were exposed to these simple, sweet and what I describe as quiet films;'quiet' because Salim-Javed had yet to burst into the scene with all the fight sequences and some amount of blood and gore with films like Sholay, though Zanjeer had I think released the audience was still receptive to these films. After Rajnigandha came Choti Si Baat another delightful film by Basu Chatterjee,I really loved these films no fights, no blood and gore. His Pasand Apni Apni was a nice film but a major part of the story was lifted from the Manoj Kumar-Asha Parekh starrer Saajan.

  8. @Shilpi: oh is that so. I have seen Pasand Apni Apni but am yet to see Saajan. Yes, these films are indeed delightful :)