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Sunday, 8 May 2011

Fun departure (Dil Hi To Hai)

Those of you who are accustomed to being bogged down by the conventional role play of Raj Kapoor should watch this romantic comedy. Yes, Raj Kapoor is the hero in Dil Hi To Hai and he does some delightful comedy with panache. Strange isn't it? Even I was a bit skeptical about seeing Raj Kapoor get into the shoes of what would otherwise be the perfect part for maybe his brother, Shammi Kapoor, but the actor pulls off this personality with elan. For me therefore, it reinstates the fact that Raj Kapoor should not be underestimated. He sometimes displays shades that might just flummox and surprise!!

Yesterday, a documentary on Manna Dey featured the flamboyant classical number, Laaga chunari mein daag from this 1963 CL Rawal and PL Santoshi classic. The song was picturised on a doddering old man, sitting on the stage performing this song while a young classical dancer matched steps to his tune. Since my eyes are more accustomed to seeing Shammi Kapoor don such hilarious avatars from item songs, I prepared myself to see a Shammi Kapoor extravaganza when I sat down to watch Dil Hi To Hai. But lo! It turned out that the lead actor would be Raj Kapoor after all. A tad disappointed that I would get to see the usual tepid histrionics, I literally gasped when Raj Kapoor actually started the gags. Yes, I seriously was stunned to see this side of Raj Kapoor's repertoire. He sings, dances, romances and beats up the baddie. All these were fine. But when he actually disguises himself as the old Khan Saab and pulls out all the stops to fool the heroine in order to woo her, it literally looks like this is a totally different Raj Kapoor. He actually displays an awesome flair for comedy!!
Dil Hi To Hai is a sweet romance, with little or no tension. And with great songs composed by Roshan. There's of course the most popular Laaga chunari mein daag that shows Manna Dey's true talent. And there's Nigahen milaney ko jee chahta hain, sung immaculately by Asha Bhonsle. This song is such an enlivening moment in the film. Picturised on a dancing Nutan who looks like a dream, this song juxtaposes the joy felt by a young girl on falling in love and the fun that her lover derives from fooling a baddie due to some mistaken identities. You have to see it to believe it.
Considering that I'm not a great fan of Mukesh, I sincerely liked all the songs sung by him in this film. The title track was jaunty and depicted the lively personality of Chand (Raj Kapoor) as against the mean personalities of some of his relatives (mainly Manorama and Pran). This struggling radio singer knows how to be happy and doesn't have a care in the world. Then there is Tum agar mujhko na chaho, picturised in a party. Raj Kapoor looks dapper in a sherwani and Nutan looks gorgeous in a sharara. And it's magical how the girl gets drawn to her favourite singer in a hall full of people.
This is one film where Raj Kapoor displays least of his usual mannerisms. He is a bit bloated but he still looks good. And those fitted sherwanis do a lot of good to his body.
The film starts with Mumtaz Begum praying to God for the safe journey of her son, Yusuf, to her house. Soon news is brought by her husband, played by Hari Shivdasani, that Yusuf will be brought the following day by Begum's brother Zafar (Shivraj) and sister-in-law, played by Manorama. This is one loophole. The directors do not make it clear why Yusuf was living away from his parents in the first place itself. To look after Yusuf the couple has also called for a nanny (here played by Leela Chitnis).
The scene shifts to the station. Here Zafar, along with his wife and son, Shekhu, is waiting to catch the train to go his sister's house. But the train is delayed. It appears that Yusuf (played by the adorable Master Babloo) is treated cruelly by Manorama who also convinces her husband to leave Yusuf on the platform and tell his sister that Shekhu is actually her son. This would ensure that Shekhu would get all the property of the rich couple. He would also gain the huge property of Khan Bahadur (Nazir Hussain), to whose daughter Yusuf is supposed to get married to when he grows up. So, when Zafar leaves the original Yusuf after crumbling under pressure from his wife, Yusuf is taken care of by the nanny who is also present at the station.
Years later the false Yusuf is eying Jamila (Nutan), the Khan Bahadur's daughter, despite having a lover in Bahar, a dancer. But Jamila falls in love with Chand (Raj Kapoor) after meeting him in a party. Jamila's father wantes her to take music lessons and she insists that she does so from Chand. But Yusuf (Pran) locates a certain Khan Saab (Raj Kapoor) who he feels is old and hence, no competition for his romantic pursuits towards Jamila. Thus the fun game starts!!
Raj Kapoor plays a hilarious double game with Jamila and Yusuf and eventually makes Yusuf appear like a fool in front of the Khan Bahadur. In the process, the old but extremely clever Khan Saab manages to win over Jamila and they have a rollicking romance. They sing an intoxicating love ballad called Tumhari mast nazar. I love how Nutan and Kapoor behave in the song. Drugged by a paan seller, they simply can't control themselves. They giggle and serenade in a lovely garden while Chand is steadily falling head over heels in love with this gorgeous maiden.
But when Pran is in the core of things, nothing blissful can last forever. He creates misunderstandings and problems so that Chand is separated from Jamila. But unlike in his other films where Kapoor waits for fate to take actions, he takes things into his own hands and rescues Jamila from being married to the villain. And we also have a lovely climactic song, Parda uthey salaam ho, followed by a bitter duel between Raj Kapoor and Pran. Yes, this film has Kapoor doing everything that he was never seen doing!!
The story of Dil Hi To Hai is fuss-free. The romance is sweet, the comedy is solid and the performances are able. Nutan is lovely and chirpy, Pran is devious and wicked. But, the film will live on for Raj Kapoor who at least made an effort to depart from his tried and tested image. This surely was a fun makeover...

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for this review, Sharmi! I had found this film in the catalogue of the DVD rental I use, but had abstained from renting it because I saw that the cast included Raj Kapoor. Now that I know he's not his usual self, but an entertaining avatar, I'll order it pronto! Can't wait to see it. :-)

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  2. @Dustedoff: Yes yes, please do. I think you will like it. And the songs are so good, so unlike Mukesh :) Check out Raj Kapoor as Khan Saab, he is pretty funny :)

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  3. Hi Sharmi,
    I had been wanting to get Dil Hi To Hai some time ago, but it isn't available at Nehaflix: where did you get it from? Induna? (In fact, I went and checked, and it is available there! I've ordered it. So thanks, because of you, I'll be able to set my eyes on it soon)
    I enjoyed your review!
    Yves

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  4. @Yves: Hi. Actually I watched it on Youtube. And yes, I sure did enjoy it. I'm sure you will like this one :)

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  5. I think your understanding of good music has a big gap if you cannot appreciate Mukesh's singing. I pray that you see the light soon !!

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