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Thursday, 14 April 2011

Almost nothing to like (Sharada)

Those of you who have seen Sharada and have liked the L V Prasad flick, please pardon this blogger. I too, like all you old film buffs wanted to see this Meena Kumari and Raj Kapoor enterprise for a long, long time. I had imagined that it is going to be one good drama with plenty of twists, turns, histrionics and punchy dialogues. But lo! What I got in return was an utterly contorted, soppy, vague and inane film that should not have been in the first place itself. This is not the way you project a self-sacrificing and great woman. The emotions are forced, the actions are unrealistic and a great team of actors totally wasted. There, I've said it. I've said bad things about a much celebrated 1957 film and I'm ready to accept the brickbats for it. But then, I have reasons for doing so.

Now for a short flashback on the story that starts off well but loses all the steam midway. Shekhar (Raj Kapoor) reaches an naturopathic ashram with his friends when one of them suffer from a severe tummy ache. There me meets Sharada (Meena Kumari), one of the staff, and is immediately smitten by her beauty and dedication to her job. But it is the constant referral to her being a 'devi' that irritates me. Why would anyone idolise a woman who merely does her job too well?! Anyways...
Shekhar is the eldest son of a rich widower called Kashiram (Raj Mehra). At home he is called Chiranjeev (a name that Sharada does not get to know when she first meets Shekhar). Though initially hesitant, Sharada agrees to marry Shekhar when after relentless pursuing he proposes to her. Shekhar is off to China for work and tells her to wait for him, so that they can get married when he returns. Sharada is obviously quite pleased with the proposition as she too by now harbours sweet affections for him in her heart. Mind you, this is where the goodness of the film ends. For, the plot totally goes haywire from here. I really liked the initial scenes where the relationship of Shekhar and Sharada are developed.
News comes that the ship in which Shekhar was travelling sinks. This leaves Sharada shocked and she suffers in bereavement. Meanwhile she also comes to take care of Kashiram's other children who grow close to her. Kashiram's munim suggests that he marry Sharada so that the children get a new mother as good as this woman. Sharada too, accepts the proposal on the insistence of her poor father Ram Sharan. But, bad times have only begun. Shekhar is after all not dead. He is nursed back to health by some tribals and is soon ready to return home to his father and Sharada, his love. But, when he reaches the ashram he is devastated to discover that Sharada is now married! He confronts Sharada with the most poisonous of words and she keeps telling him that in marrying, she had merely fulfilled her responsibilities. Till this moment I can understand Sharada's sad plight. She is a victim of circumstances. But when she starts grovelling for sympathy from Shekhar who is lambasting her husband I cannot understand why a woman would do so. Perhaps, she is a bit too faithful towards her husband now and is ready to forget her past love.
Then comes the scene where Chiranjeev now has to face his new mother. He even has to touch her feet. While he finds that detestable, Sharada happily blesses him. This gets too much for me. How is one supposed to see this! Embittered and heart broken that he has to call his past love mother, Chiranjeev takes to drinking and is forever inebriated. What I find weird is how Kashiram stays almost quite unaffected. All he does he huffs and puffs but he never gets to the root of the matter as to why his son is hitting the wrong road. When things go out of control, Sharada packs up and is about to leave the house with her husband and children. Then, swept with remorse, Chiranjeev calls out MOTHER! And, I faint!!
While things were quite ridiculous till now, it gets worse from here. Sharada, who is happy bringing up her step children and is in no mood to have some of her own, takes care of Chiranjeev as if he is her favourite son! And Chiranjeev, too, loves his new mother too very much!! Aarrgghh!! How on earth is that possible for any sane human being. This is depiction of distorted emotions. Something very queer and ludicrous.
Sharada wants Chiranjeev to get married and so he does. The new bride, Chanchal (Shyama), who always had a thing for this young man, is a bit taken aback by the fondness that Chiranjeev and Sharada share. And I ask, why won't she, when Chiranjeev giggles and laughs with his 'mother' and spends not so much time with his attractive wife.
Soon Chanchal is tipped of by a friend about Sharada's past affair with Chiranjeev and all hell breaks lose. And all this while, Kashiram can only complain about why the daughter-in-law is being so difficult without even going into the depth of the matter. Chanchal forbids Sharada to go near Chiranjeev. This pains her (obviously! She did have a thing for him in the past!) as he is her favourite son!! Fed up with Chanchal's tantrums, Chiranjeev leaves home. And the scripts now keeps climbing up every step of insanity...
Those of you who still have the gall to see this film, hats off to you. Here even the supporting cast is wasted. The director never really cashes in on Agha's coming timing, now Gope, Om Prakash and Manorama's talent. Anita Guha is seen in a wee bit role. Shyama is good but she is made to look too cruel and selfish (when her suspicion is not at all unjustified). Raj Mehra has a role that is too weak. The music by C Ramchandra is just about okay.
I've seen Raj Kapoor do better. Here he starts of sweetly, but thanks to the erroneous script, he just loses focus. His eyes and their magic are not cashed in on, his charisma goes unnoticed. In the end, he is just a limpid character playing to the tune of his 'mother'.
Meena Kumari looks beautiful. But that is not enough for me. I need her in an author backed role. I don't want to see her married off to an older man and calling her ex-lover son. I do not want her projecting herself as the self-sacrificing woman ready to lay down her life at every opportunity. That is so boring. And it's so sad that the director did that with this bombshell of an actor. True, she is victim of deplorable circumstances. True, you'd ask me what would she have done otherwise. I don't have the answers. It's just that Sharada and Shekhar do not impinge on me as mother and child. I squirmed every time Chiranjeev called Sharada MOTHER. They look way better as lovers and that's how the directors should have kept them!!


  1. Hey Sharmi! I know how you feel after watching this one. It's difficult to imagine Raj Kapoor and Meena Kumari as Son and Mother, let alone watch them as well. But, I don't hate it as much as you do. :P
    First of all, coz I knew the story and have heard how it was a very brave decision on Meena Kumari's part to accept this role after most of the heroines have turned it down. I simply watched it for Meena Kumari and could sit through coz of her scenes. Otherwise, its seriously a very ludicrous plot!

  2. I'll simply watch this for Meena it has been on my list and i do agree with punya this was such a bold move for Meena to make at a time when she seemed to be at her prime

  3. @Punya: Yes me too thinks i sat through it just for her sake :)

  4. @Bollywooddeewana: Wish she was also powerful enough to convince Prasad to change the ployt midway!!! ;)

  5. I think it may have been more interesting if the director had explored the idea of their love still being strong, despite the situation they had found themselves in. Maybe adultery, maybe murder. Ha, ha. Better than self-sacrificing drivel. :)

  6. I agree with Banno - there's something rather unnatural about former lovers slipping so easily into a 'mother-son' relationship. It would have been much more interesting, much more real, if their love remained strong enough to cause problems. Murder and adultery sound much more palatable than this bilge!

    Thank you for warning us off this one, Sharmi.

  7. @Sharmi: It is difficult to accept Meena Kumari as Raj Kapoor's step-mom. I usually avoid big melodramas and this is all the more reason to avoid. Thanks for warning :)

  8. @Banno: There you should have directed this one. Would have so much more interesting!!! SO Alfred Hitchkockian ;)

  9. @Dustedoff: My pleasure Madhu. I do not want all of you to suffer from the spasms of squirming that i did !! Stay away from this one, please!! ;)

  10. @Sreenath: Absolutely. Kilometres away please!!

  11. I didn't quite know the plot of this movie but I have always loved O chaand jahaan woh jaaye. So when I had done Meena Kumari special post last year, Nasir had mentioned about lovers slipping into Mother-son role in it. I had as much assumed there would be lots of self-sacrifice, so I was kind of prepared for it, or so I thought. But it hit me hard when I finally saw the movie. One moment, you are singing and dancing with your lover and the next moment, you realize that you are his mother now!
    I had a hard time watching and believing Dharmendra's Devar over a decade back (But that was all childhood love, and Sharmila had already forgotten about it. The memories were just one-sided from Dharmendra, so it was still convincing).

    I thought I had grown up enough to digest the drama and twists of Bollywood stories but I was totally wrong! And though I had a clue on the plot, this movie did take me by surprise!

    I started with the review of this movie almost a year back, but could never bring myself to finish it. May be I just didnt want to relive it all over again.
    But having said all that, I still love the song and I loved Shyama more than anybody else in this movie, though I am extremely fond of Meena Kumari. She was at least practical, her emotions, jealousy and tantrums were natural...something one could relate to.

  12. @Sunheriyaadein: Archana you could not be more right. I too could relate to Shyama's emotions!!