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Monday, 23 May 2011

Super Shyama (Do Behnen)

I've figured that this has been mostly a Rajendra Kumar month for me in terms of blog posts. But I am loving it. Simply because I've managed to watch some very good films (and some tepid ones). I now agree that this actor did make a mark in the audience's mind through his own mettle and talent. He was a good actor (even if he was not the best looking among them) and did manage to star in some very likeable films. This post of course will talk about a film starring Rajendra Kumar, but will this time celebrate his co-star in the movie--- Shyama.  
Do Behnen, Kedar Kapoor's thrilling drama about two sisters, is an enterprise that shows the true merit of Shyama, the attractive lady. She plays the pivotal roles and makes sure that all eyes are fixed on her. This film starts off excitingly and manages to hold its own right till the end is near. Yes, this is one film where Rajendra Kumar cannot do much. He is more of a pleasing partner to the lady in the frame--- Shyama.
I love how the film starts---with a lovely song that describes the characteristic differences between Vasanti and Malti (both played by Shyama). While Malti is the modern, charismatic prankster who wears her heart on her sleeves, Vasanti is serene, calm and domestic. In Baajerey manjirey (Lata Mangeshkar, music by Vasant Desai is lovely), Vasanti is singing a prayer hymn and Malti jumps around with lovely dance steps to depict what a free spirit she is (and sings Main natkhat ek kali). Malti ties two girly plaits and Vasanti wears her hair in a mature bun. Malti is adored by their father, while Vasanti finds favours with the mother (Mumtaz Begum) for her peaceful personality.
Soon it is time for the two girls to be married. One day Malti comes across a roadside romeo who floors her with his fast moves and glib talks. Anokhe (fathers always warn their daughters about these tricksters), smoothly finds a niche in Malti's heart. On the other hand, Vasanti's marriage is fixed with the son (Rajendra Kumar) of a wealthy doctor, who also has a daughter (played by Chand Usmani). When the boy goes to meet Vasanti along with the sister and Mufat Lal (Radhakishan in a stellar role once again), who handles the doctor's lab, Malti plays a naughty trick on them. But soon the air is cleared and the marriage takes place. On the wedding night Vasanti (she is really a very beautiful sight) regales her husband with Saiyyan pyara hain apna milan (a stunning song by Lata Mangeshkar). Everything looks halcyon till now.
 Malti on the other hand gets caught with Anokhe and is thoroughly reprimanded for keeping such bad company. In a weak moment, Malti falls for the false promises of Anokhe and takes an impulsive decision to elope with him. She does not care about her family's honour and the slander they would have to face for her action. Her breaking out of her home is adequately symbolised in the song Chun chun nana. Malti thinks Anokhe loves her truly but she is soon in for a rude shock. Anokhe loves her money and he leaves her in the hotel alone under the pretext of going to look for a job. Malti waits and waits and then breaks down. The hotel manager informs her parents and her mother comes to her rescue alongwith Vasanti, who had been staying with her parents during their misfortune.
When you think that all is going to be well finally, the director hits you with another good twist. While the three women are returning home, Vasanti loses her life in a freak accident. The mother, grasping this opportunity of negating the stigma on Malti's character and once again weaving her into the thread of civil society, announces to the media that not Vasanti but Malti is dead. Malti is flabbergasted but keeps quiet. Her mother dresses her up like Vasanti and sends her to her in-laws home, little realising the extent of trauma and guilt that she is subjecting her daughter to.
Malti lives a false life in her sister's home. Every moment she is scared, walks and talks with trepidation, is afraid about being found out and weeps all the time, for being the reason for all this sorrow. She tries to stay away from her sister's husband, repents for what she had done and at the same time tries to project a happy demeanour in front of everyone. This subterfuge is killing her slowly but she does not say anything as it will bring more dishonour to both the families. The director couldn't have chosen a more stark depiction of guilt. In Malti's eyes, you always see guilt and remorse, in her apprehension you can sense the pain of the lie she is living. When her husband tries to get close to her, she is wary and weeps. Initially tolerant, the husband also loses patience and hollers at her for not moving on with normal life after her sister's death. But then, who is to understand Malti's dilemma and feelings. You can see how this girl is suffering. If she could have, she would have altered the past. But such is life...
Do Behnen might be an obscure film but it surely needs to be discovered by old film lovers. This 1959 packs in everything. Romance, drama, suspense, comedy and great songs. And yes, I loved the camera work too. The closeups of Malti's face are awesome. Mirror images showcasing her feelings of guilt, that she is not able to look at herself in the mirror, all these touches only heighten the drama in the film. There is a scene where Malti is seen spending seven years in jail. The shadows of the prison bars reduce one of by to show how years elapse and its time for her to be free again. These little touches make the film so much more exciting.
Everyone acts so well in the film. Radhakishan, Leela Mishra, Rajendra Kumar, Mumtaz Begum, everyone is superb. But the special accolades should go to Shyama for dexterously depicting two characters who are so different from each other. Vasanti is mild, Malti is robust. Vasanti is soft-natured, Malti is spontaneous. But even more eye-catching is this actor when she slips into the role of a guilt-ridden silent sufferer who has to keep mum to guard her family's honour. The pain in her eyes is only too palpable. In her muted protests to stop this charade you can see how slowly she is withering away. In Shyama's state, you can see the true plight of impulsive and gullible youngsters...

14 comments:

  1. Nice review. A bit like "Mon Niye" starring Uttam Kumar and Supriya Devi (in a double role)

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  2. @Roshmi: Hmmm, really? Then I guess I should see that one also.

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  3. Oh, this sounds SO good. And I really like Shyama a lot - so pretty, and (when she was given the chance to do something other than just flash her eyes and be the nasty bhabhi), such a good actress too. I am going to be looking out for this one. Thank you for the recommendation!

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  4. @Dustedoff: Yes, this is totally Shyama's film!! This time when she flashes her pretty eyes there is so much more meaning to it. I watched it by chance on YouTube and liked it so much. I'm sure you will enjoy this one.

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  5. You must... and then review it too :)

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  6. @Roshmi: Ya sure. But first I must get my hands on it :)

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  7. If it is available in namma Bengal-uru... it must definitely be available in 'Maa, Maati, Maanush' Bengal ;)

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  8. @Roshmi: Ya I guess so. Let me check whether it is available in delhi!

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  9. Oh lovely. Another Rajender Kumar film!!! And Shyama too. Will definitely watch this one.
    Thanks for the recommendation, Sharmi.

    pacifist

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  10. @Pacifist: Ya it's been one big Rajendra Kumar month for me!!

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  11. Watched it!
    Rajender Kumar has really nothing much to do. It's Shyama all the way.

    There's another film called 'Anhonee' with Nargis in a double role as sisters (half sisters, actually), with a somewhat similar story, though the hero is aware that it's the other sister married to him.

    It has quite a good climax.

    pacifist

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  12. @Pacifist: Ya I know. I've seen it and written about it also. Here:
    http://oldfilmsgoingthreadbare.blogspot.com/2010/12/victims-of-circumstance-anhonee.html

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  13. I have seen this film and quite liked it. Actually saw it on good old Doordarshan. It is sad that the advent of satellite television has led to an informal ban on screening of black and white films.

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  14. @Shilpi: I know... It's so sad. Watching these old films on TV can be so much fun. A special channel should be made for that :)

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