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Saturday, 25 December 2010

Not an ideal husband (Chaudhvin ka Chand)

And I hear that this M Sadiq triangular love story was such a roaring success that it pulled Guru Dutt out of the slumps after his Kaagaz ke Phool failed to click. For, apart from some snatches there is hardly anything convincing about Chaudhvin ka Chand, set in 1960's Lucknow. Yes, the songs are marvellous and the lead cast is brilliant. But the severely flawed character of Aslam really broke my heart. Or should I say, tried my patience...

A husband stumbles upon the fact that his best friend is in love with his own wife, without realising that the woman is now wedded to someone else. That he is really pained at the thought of his own friend desperately trying to get the girl is understood. But, what baffles me is that this man is so faithful towards his duties for a friend that he is ready to separate from his wife for no serious reason so that she can marry his friend. Absurd and irrational on the part of Aslam. Even though he loves his wife dearly and sings paeans to her beauty, he ludicrously maligns his honour so that his wife decides to move away from him. He is more eager for his friend's happiness rather than living a blissful life with his wife. Torn between his duties for a friend and his love for his wife, he even asks the woman to decide, though he clouds the question with innuendos. The unsuspecting woman tilts the scales in the favour of the Nawab, thus increasing Aslam's dilemma. With so much confusion happening, Chaudhvin ka Chand appears stretched and forced. The entire premise of the events are faulty and full of erroneous decisions.
But the film does not start badly. Nawab (Rehman looks smashing) and his friend Mirza (Johny Walker) spot a beautiful girl in a fair and the Nawab is immediately smitten. Though he pursues her relentllessly, he is never able to meet her or express his feelings in front of her. But that does not diminish his passion for her. He even rejects an alliance that his mother brings for him and asks Aslam (Guru Dutt), his best friend to marry the girl so that he can go on to marry the girl he loves. As luck would have it, this girl turns out to be Jameela (Waheeda Rehman), the girl that the Nawab had seen in the fair. So, unintentionally, the Nawab is instrumental in bringing Jameela and Aslam together. Aslam is over the moon to get such a loving and pretty wife and pays tribute to her beauty with the stunning title track. Seriously, this is the high point of the film. Ravi's music, Shakeel Badayuni's poetry and Mohd Rafi's silky voice come together to create one of the most memorable love songs of all times. Couple that with Guru Dutt's expressions and Waheeda's attractive face and you have a winner...
Many more misunderstandings follow and the Nawab is never able to come in front of Jameela. But things turn for the worse when one day he meets her in Aslam's house and without thinking twice tells his friend that she is the woman he is passionate about. Aslam, without reasoning with his friend and telling him the truth, decides to give up his love. He starts visiting a courtesan and distances himself from Jameela, who finds it weird that Aslam has changed so much. She grieves over his lack of attention with Badle badle mere sarkar (Lata Mangeshkar) while Aslam plunges into sorrow in the courtesan's realm as she sways to the scintillating Dil ki kahani (Asha Bhonsle), picturised on the fantastic Minoo Mumtaz.
Misunderstandings keep mounting till the Nawab gets to learn the truth. He recognises his errors but goes on to react in a very impulsive way. The end is hence, obviously abrupt... It leaves questions in my mind... 
I always felt that Waheeda Rehman looked the best in her black and white films. When colours came into Hindi films, she was just a watered down version of her earlier attractive self. In this film, she is playful at first but then when she starts sermonising she appears too weak. Like when she chides her brothers when they come to harm him. She tells them that no matter how much she is wronged by her husband, she will continue serving him. How regressive!!!
Guru Dutt's character is the weakest (though his chemistry with Waheeda is sparkling). The man who appears funny and passionate in the beginning loses the plot when he gets to know about his friend's desires. He should have told Nawab the truth at the very onset to avoid all miscommunication, rather than feeling wretched for something he is not to be faulted with and singing the super slow Mili khak mein mohabbat. How can a man tolerate another man lusting after his wife? This bit really put me off...
So, the most sane character in this drama set in Lucknow turned out to be the Nawab. Rehman looks like a million bucks and is like any young man head over heels in love with someone. At least he has the gall to reject an alliance because he loves someone else. He passionately pursues his love, is desperate about finding her and is totally committed. And, when he realises that his is a lost cause and he has been loving the woman who cannot be his, he decides that the pursuit needs to be put to an end. In his impulsive act, we do see his pain. I'd rather had him living to face the world bravely. But then, with a story quite full of flawed portions, a little impatience on his part can actually be forgiven...


  1. It's been a while since I watched Chaudhvin ka Chaand, so I don't recall the nuances, but yes - I do remember being put off by the Guru Dutt character's blinkered attitude towards love and friendship. I found him very irritating. Not one of my favourite Guru Dutt films, though the music is great, and the title song in particular is outstanding.

  2. @Dustedoff: I actually felt like whacking him when he shrouds his dilemma with the mention of a diamond as he takes help from Jameela. Why can't he present the actual picture? That would have made matters so easy!!!

  3. "Why can't he present the actual picture? That would have made matters so easy!!!" You're not thinking, Sharmi. Just imagine what would happen if Guru Dutt had told Waheeda about his friend's dilemma. She would've had to take poison to step away from between friends. By not telling her, Guru Dutt cleverly saved her life - and saved the movie from a premature THE END! And Rehman got to do a super dramatic death scene. You wouldn't want to change all that, would you? ;D

  4. @Bollyviewer: Ha ha well said!! Yes, I admit my mistake ;)

  5. Chaudhvin ka Chand... Like you, that was a disppointment. So much so, that I felt I would waste my time writing about it! Something that you have taken up courageously! Even Waheeda Rehman here (is it me writing this?) struck me as rather bland. Pity!

  6. Seems like the makers of Deedar -e-yaar copied this, i quite liked thta, despite its ridiculousness, the songs more than made up for it

  7. @Yves: I thought Waheeda Rehman was rather boring in Jameela's role. She looked pretty alright but lacked the spunk of some of her other roles :(

  8. @Bollywooddeewana: There are many films that have been inspired from this one. I think the title track is the best one, at least it is the most famous one. Now I'm off to read your post :)

  9. Am I the only one who really likes this film inspite of its flaws (which almost every film has, anyway)?

    It's among my favourite films. There! I have declared myself and am ready to face the consequences :-D

  10. @Pacifist: No, no you will face no consequences. Everyone has his own opinion. In fact, this film has its good parts (Rehman and the songs). BUt somehow I've seen Guru Dutt play much better roles. So, I had a bit of a problem accepting him in this weak role. But, thanks for the comment and keep reading :)

  11. This film reminds me of an amusing incident, once Rehman was being interviewed by Tabassum on television and he recalled how he landed the role in this film, he said that he had stopped getting the hero's roles,Guru Dutt told him "you have become fat, your stomach is popping out, you cannot be a hero now so it would be better if you start doing the supporting role". Rehman with an amused look on his face as he recalled this incident laughing rather sheepishly said,I thought he was right,"I had become fat and my stomach was popping out so I might as well do this role."
    I love the songs of this film.

  12. @Shilpi: But I so liked Rehman in this film. He was better than even Guru Dutt. Yes, the songs were good. But I had problems with the script :(