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Thursday, 10 March 2011

For her eyes only (Sunayana)

Hiren Nag's Sunayana could very well have been a different film if the end would not have gone the tried and tested path. Partial as I may sound, but somehow I feel that Inderjeet deserved Sunayana as much as Raju. For, didn't he look after her unconditionally when she had nowhere to go to? Didn't he keep mum about his feelings for her knowing full well that she would feel pressurised if he were to own up that he felt for her? Didn't he want to find her a suitable groom, never once presenting himself as a suitor? And most importantly, he never took undue advantage of her helpless condition.

Then why does the director make him appear like the magnanimous self-sacrificing do gooder, who willingly gives away his love to another man? How boring!! And yes, why does Vijayendra Ghatke always have to play these roles?
Sunayana, otherwise is not a very bad love story. It is simple, sensitive and quite pleasing to the senses. True, it does have elements that might irk you...for instance some inane gags by Rajindernath, Jagdeep, Mukri and Pinchoo Kapoor, and some events that could have been done away with, but the 1978 film after intermission, or rather after Sunayana gets back her vision, gathers much steam. And yes, it has the brilliant O megha composed by Ravindra Jain and sung beautifully by Hemlata.
Raju (Naseeruddin Shah), a naive villager, comes to the city with the aspirationof becoming a successful man. At the very onset, the director gives enough hints to prove that this man is a bumbling simpleton with a heart of gold. While figuring out what to do in the city on the first day of visit, he saves a blind girl from being run over by a car. He is quite saddened to discover that this girl, called Sunayana (Rameshwari) is blind. He promises to take her to the temple, where she sells flowers, and bring her back home every day. Touched by his thoughtfulness, Sunayana responds to his sensitivity with gifts of flowers and sugary sweet words. Understandably the two now share a bond that is special and unique. Raju takes it upon himself to get Sunayana's eyesight back. One day, he meets with a freak accident and is rushed to a nearby doctor who administers medicines to him to take care of his head injury. Raju is overjoyed to find that this doctor will be able to bring back the vision of his love. But the operation and medical procedure would cost a whopping Rs 2,000! (Quite cheap to me now, at this age!) Raju, a poor man, however, decides to do whatever he can to arrange for the sum.
Enroute his mission, he encounters a drunk socialite who implores him to go home with him. Then there is a nonsensical circus sequences (shown only to prove the extent to which Raju can go to gather Rs 2,000 for Sunayana's operation).
Though the scenes with Seth Heeraram (Pinchoo Kapoor) are rather tedious, they do help in taking the story forward. For, it is because of one such meeting with this rich but inebriated man that Raju is charged of theft. So, while Sunayana's medical expenses are met with and she is undergoing operation, Raju is behind the bars, pining to meet his sweetheart just once so that he can find peace in seeing her see everything around her.
Sunayana is quite depressed when on regaining her vision, she does not get to see Raju, who she considers her lord and master. She agrees to Inderjeet's proposal of going with him to his house and happily its in with the family comprising his mother (Sulochana) and sister Sushma. The mother and sister immediately understand that Inderjeet has taken a liking to Sunayana, who is amiable, pretty and has a pleasing personality. But he is not the person to wear his heart on his sleeves. The reserved person that he is, Inderjeet never tells Sunayana that he has fallen in love with her. So, this gives rise to a quaint love triangle. Inderjeet loves Sunayana, Sunayana loves Raju but is heavily indebted to Inderjeet and Raju (who is waiting to be free) of course loves no one else but Sunayana...
A film from the Rajshri stable will of course have a simple and sweet setting, and Sunayana is no different. Apart from the petty crooks, the script lacks any outrightly bad person. Everyone is so saccharine sweet over here, especially Raju, Inderjeet and Sunayana.
What I didn't like is how talents such as Leela Mishra, Mukri and Jagdeep were wasted. I also found the title track picturised on Rameshwari and Naseeruddin a tad wierd. It's not often that you get to see an actor like Shah serenading with a damsel to a lilting number!
Vijayendra Ghatke gives a subtle, restrained and good performance as the benevolent doctor who also has a heart. He is a romantic but does not make it overbearing for the woman he loves. And when the time comes, it is he who backs out so that the protagonists can be truly happy.
Rameshwari has always interested me. How can a woman look the same in every film of hers? How can she manage to play similar roles in almost all her films? Beats me! Anyway, here Rameshwari depicts her dilemma rather well. Though pretty plain jane to look at, she does turn out to be quite attractive in the second half. With her lustrous mane open till her waist and big eyes, she does make you feel for her. In the song O megha she looks really good...
In a role that can be called quite unusual for an actor of his calibre, Naseeruddin Shah leaves a lasting impression. It's not that he is doing too much in the film, but somehow his unassuming personality, his agreeable smile, his foppish antics and his emotive disposition hooks you from the word go. Here he plays the romantic lead, but he does it so differently that you almost feel that he should have been more clever and smart to get the lass in the end. In his simplicity lies his charm, in his selfless actions is hidden his beautiful heart. Something that Sunayana realises at the first instant and falls for...


  1. I saw this one ages ago... all I remember is the title song (though I don't recall the picturisation - just as well?!). The best Rameshwari film I have seen, though, is a little-known one named Maan-Abhimaan, with Raj Kiran. Very understated film, and one of the few instances I've seen of a Hindi film in which the protagonists don't fall in love at first sight. Or even second. I must look for it again...

  2. I have only seen Rameshwari once in a flick (don't remember the name) alongwith Raj Babbar and Reena Roy.. where she (again!) plays a blind woman, a long time back on Filmy. Well, I can digest saccharin-sweet characters, as long as they have some personality. Which, I am afraid to say, I could never find in this actor.

  3. The Sunayana, aaj in baharon ko tum song used to come on Chitrahaar quite often, making me quite curious about the film. But once I was grown up enough to realise it was Rajshri film, my interest kind of died! Rajshri specialises in the kind of saccharine romances that never quite work for me. Glad to know that I did not miss much!

    Dustedoff, I found Maan Abhimaan on Rajshri's site a while ago.

  4. I vaguely recall seeing it, but nothing more. I might just see it, despite the inspidit story, just to check out Naseeruddin Shah in a light romance. Actually I dont object at all to Rajshri films and their 'nothing much happens' stories every now and then, they are so relaxing on a hard day !

  5. @Dustedoff: This Maan Abhimaan does sound good. Let me search for it :) Thanks for the reco :)

  6. @Punya: I think you are talking about the film which had that Sheesha ho ya dil ho song !

  7. @Bollyviewer: Yes I believe Rajshri films are indeed a bit too sweet to digest :(

  8. @Suja: On a hard day, you can definitely sit and watch these. For, they do not require much mind work :)

  9. I enjoy watching Rajshri films :-)
    This story reminds me of Junta Hawaldaar . I haven't seen it yet, but have heard a part of it. It was just during my exams in 10th, this movie was aired on Zee tv and everybody at home was watching it. Obviously, I wasn't allowed to watch it. So, I just heard a few dialogues from my room and made out that the girl was blind. I like the title track, but don't remember watching the video.

  10. @Sunheriyaadein: OMIGOSH Archana, is that really you?? So good to hear from you after such a long, long time.
    You are right, we were not allowed to see so many films as kids. Like in my case, my mum just wudn't let be see Splash, a film starring Tom Hanks and a pretty mermaid. I remember vaguely that I was damn excited about seeing it after watching a trailor of it on TV. But alas, my mum packed me off to bed just at the nick of time :(

  11. Hi.. yes, that is the one I was talking about - Aasha. But I confused Jeetendra with Raj Babbar. Can't recall it much.. but I found it really boring.

  12. @Punya: Hehe.. a sure shot for boredom...Jeetendra, Rameshwari and the aging Reena Roy!!!