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Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Banal prejudices (Parvarish)

I don't believe this! An entire film hovering on the predicament of a father who is not able to distinguish his own son from another child who is just as cute!! Ridiculous! And I thought Parvarish would have more meat to it!

Frankly speaking, I was quite keen to watch this 1958 drama. Not only because it stars some famed names in the field of acting, but also the story read interesting. A couple's new-born gets mixed up with an illegitimate baby in the hospital nursery. Though the father is distraught at not being able to identify his child and being forced to take home both the babies (the illegitimate's mother has passed away during childbirth), the mother is more than happy and loves both babies. As the boys grow up, there is more tension when society castigates the father for nurturing an illegitimate child as his own. Things really get serious till a solution is thought of by one of the boys.
Promising as it may sound for a gripping family saga full of morals and tears, Parvarish turned out to be one awkward tale that kept going round and round no matter what. The father kept nagging about the same old thing, society caste aspersions that were banal and ludicrous, the boys hardly had much to do, and in the end it took a whole lot of melodrama for the father to comprehend that a good upbringing is what maketh a man...
Thakur Jaswant (Nazir Hussain) and Rukmini (Lalita Pawar) have a baby boy after several years of marriage. Justifiably, the couple is over the moon. But a freak fire accident mixes their baby up with the baby of a courtesan. After repeated attempts, the doctors cannot help in telling the Thakur which one is his own baby. This shatters the respectable man as he considers it a cruel blow of fate. Since he might run the risk of taking the wrong baby and maligning his image in society, he is forced to take both the babies home. His wife, Rukmini, however, never distinguishes amongst the infants. She rears them up with the best of teachings and makes them two fine happy-go-lucky men.
The thakur's friends caste aspersions against his action and tell him that no respectable home will give their daughter to his sons in hand of marriage. But on the contrary, the thakur's friend, Thakur Harnam promises him that when his daughter Asha grows up, he will get her married to either one of the boys, now named Raja and Ramesh. Hearing this Thakur Jaswant is relieved, though he is always weary of his sons, since he does not know which one is his own (Foolish man, crying over spilled milk!)
Pic courtesy:
The Thakur's relentless turmoil over the true identity of his own son is really exasperating. All the time the director, S Banerjee, brings him on screen, he talks about his misfortune and ill luck. Mister, why can't you forgive and revel in the happiness of seeing your boys growing up. I'd say, the boys get more love from their mother and from Banke Mama, a shirker who nicely cosies up to the comforts of this rich household. But while he is cheeky enough to irk the owner of the house, he actually reveals his love for both the boys through many of his actions. Banke (played by Radhakishan, definitely one of my favourite supporting actors), wriggles into this household after declaring that he is the maternal uncle of the illegitimate baby. So, technically he too cannot choose his nephew. Rukmini accepts him as his own brother and allows him to stay at this house so that he can be near his nephew. What the thakur should have learnt from this slacker is how to not mull over the past and accept the future. That the boys love him is evident at how they tease him lovingly and use up every chance to go and meet him when he leaves this house. Banke too, loves both the boys never once discriminating against them.
As years pass, Thakur Jaswant asks his friend Harnam to keep his promise of giving his daughter, Asha's (Mala Sinha) hand in marriage to one of the boys. But trouble starts when Banke is insulted by Harnam and he has to leave everyone and go to his kotha. Situations turn real nasty and soon the boys have to decide on how to give some peace of mind to their father. Raja (Raj Kapoor) plays a trick on his brother Ramesh (Mehmood) and leaves home. He makes everyone believe that he is a bad man and the father readily agrees and is very happy that his lifelong problem has been sorted. But what he does not know is that Asha loves Raja and even Rukmini is not willing to see Raja in a bad light. Too many complications and misunderstandings happen. And by the time the film ends, I'm too embroiled to think straight. It's all a daze...
The first problem with the film is that the director has taken some very big names but didn't manage to do justice to their characters. For instance, a talented man like Nazir Hussain cannot be shown to be so uni-dimensional. Raj Kapoor is too clever and attractive a personality to be wearing these soppy shoes. Mehmood is too good with his comedy to be just here as a silent spectator. Mala Sinha is another talent that goes wasted. Though she looks good, I was expecting so much more from her.
The only two characters who intrigued me were Radhakishan and Lalita Pawar. Radhakishan is as usual razor sharp with his wit and expressions. But here, he has a warm side to him. And Pawar plays a loving and doting mother here, something that not many of us are prone to seeing. She even looks lovely in the song Jhumey re (great music by Dattaram).
The other good part of the film is the lilting score. Masti bhara hain samaa is a joyous romantic number, O mama is funny (awesome jugalbandi by Manna Dey and Mohd Rafi), Belia belia is catchy, Aansoo bhari and Looti zindagi are mellow and Janey kaisa jadu kiya is peppy. With this kind of a strong score to support it, I wish this film was much more than banal prejudices and hollering melodrama...


  1. I haven't watched Parvarish, but I remember reading bollyviewer's review of it - she hated it too! I just had a re-look at her post on the film, and she ends with a "you've been WARNED! Watch at your own peril." Now I'm certainly never going to watch this one. As it is, I find Raj Kapoor rather iffy.

    BTW,the screenshot with Radhakrishan and Lalita Pawar is from bollyviewer's blog, isn't she? I can read her trademark captioning under it too... you might like to give credit.

  2. @Dustedoff: Hi Madhu, I did credit it to Oldis Gold-bollyviewer. Take a look again :)

  3. Ah, okay! God knows how I missed it the first time. Too much film-viewing has played havoc with my eyesight. ;-)

  4. @Dustedoff: He he... I think it has done that to me tooo.. But how do i stay away from them!?!?!?

  5. The aim of the film wasn't bad, though they took the easy way out with the use of clichés to solve problems, especially the way 'equality' was restored.
    But I thought that the film tried to make a powerful socially relevant point about not judging people by their birth.

    What I found sad was that they should have been more compassionate towards the people of the kotha.

    Music was fabulous.
    It was nice to see Lalita Pawar in that role.

    Raj Kapoor as a drunkard is soooo good :-D

    I didn't mind the film, though the two fathers were beginning to get monotonous.


  6. PS;
    And of course after having read about Sheela Vaz over at Richard's I was excited about her two dances so different, one western and the other on the kotha.

    *I hope I'm right in thinking she was Sheela Vaz*

  7. @Pacifist: Yes, it started off really well but got a tad tedious later. Raj Kapoor was good in some scenes. I thought his romance with Asha will bring him back to his spicy avatar. But alas :(

  8. @Pacifist: I remember seeing Sheela Vaz in the Kotha song. But I think the Beliya number was picturised on some other dancer. I think so.

  9. I haven't seen this but i'll forever remember the O mama song, such an earworm it is

  10. @Bollywooddeewana: I bet it is! If you haven't seen this one, you just might skip it. For, though it has a great cast, the characterisation and story lacks steam :(

  11. This was surely remade as 'mere do anmol ratan' in 97-98.There are many similarities.
    If Raj Kapoor is clever and attractive (who calls him that anyway?)wonder what Shammi Kapoor is?

  12. @Chris: Hi Chris, how are you?
    Well, I guess I'll try and see the remake then. :)