Even if the love story that takes place in Ramanand Sagar's Arzoo is a tried and tested tale of goodness of the soul, gargantuan sacrifices, renunciation of love for friendship and ultimately realisation that togetherness and spiritual love are of utmost importance and they far supercede physical union, the 1965 romance is a stellar example of how to maximise on a great cast, a stunning locale and mindblowing songs. Not to mention the spectacular beauty that is included as a bonus. Not just Kashmir and its undulating valleys that speak volumes about natural splendidness, it is Sadhana's charm and glamour that not just floors two young males but also us. And I hear that this stunner once said in an interview that she considered herself attractive but not beautiful!! Objection!!
So when Sarju cozies up to her, balming her hurt pride with the teasing yet adorable Ae nargisey mastana, bas itni shikayat hain (Hats off to Mohd Rafi's rendition, Hasrat Jaipuri's lyrics and Shankar Jaikishan's music), you can see that the young haughty girl is enjoying every bit of the adulation showered on her by the smitten man. As she sits on her horse, looking glamorous in her sweater and black tights, we can only gauge that more prettiness and love ballads will soon follow.
But then, I'm not complaining. As long as I get to hear those songs, sung while serenading in the Mughal gardens of the paradise on earth, I'm happy. Let's face it. Rajendra Kumar was darn lucky to have some of the best romantic songs picturised on him. Ae phoolon ki rani is ethereal. Then there is Aji roothkar ab, though the magic lies in the awesome rendition of Lata Mangeshkar and the blissful disposition of Sadhana. But then, when you watch the two lovers exchanging those meaningful glances in a room that is full of people, there is a kind of rush in the heart. Sadhana is pretty, Kumar is tolerably handsome and most importantly, looks totally enamoured of his lady love. There are times during their courtship when you feel why is he hiding his real identity from this innocent lady. But then if Sarju would have revealed to Usha in the very beginning that he is not Sarju of Okhla village but Gopal, a doctor from Delhi, the script would have been written otherwise. We would not have the haunting Bedardi balam tujhko, picturised on the dejected Usha, woeful for her lost lover. She has no inkling that her love has just been rescued from the brink of death. He is maimed and unable to fulfill his promise. He now considers himself unfit to be her husband. This prepares us for the second phase of the story that comes forth as Ramesh's (Feroze Khan) love for Usha. And of course, the hilarious comic subplot of Mangdu (Mehmood), Sabi and the stupid Munim (Dhumal).
Arzoo is a tale of beauty. A visual treat as well as a treat for the senses, the story is interwoven with the landscape of Kashmir. It is a story that enforces the magnanimity of kindness, the graciousness of sacrifice, the attraction of friendship, the duties of a lover and the ultimate triumph of love. But, just back from Kashmir I can just declare that Arzoo is a tale that will remain with me for the beauty it celebrates. The beauty of the leading lady. And, the beauty of a land that has gone through much...