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Friday, 20 May 2011

Two in one (Sajan)

So this is where Basu Chatterjee got the idea of Pasand Apni Apni from. Even as I watched Mohan Segal's Sajan, I could not help but notice the glaring similarities with Chatterjee's romantic comedy. Everything looked alike. The plot, characters and the developments. Only, while Segal did not give much scope to the character of the theatre company owner, Chatterjee made him a full-fledged comic personality on his film. He took Utpal Dutt for the role and cashed in on his talent. But otherwise Mithun Chakraborty's role is absolutely similar to Manoj Kumar's and Rati Agnihotri borrows from Asha Parekh's character. At least in the first half.

In the second half however, Sajan becomes an engrossing murder mystery, while Pasand Apni Apni continues with the romantic and comic strains. But on that some other day. Here we will deal with Sajan, a film that contains good doses of romance, drama, comedy and thrills.
Rajni (Asha Parekh) works in Modern Theatre company and is a beautiful dancer. One day she is running late for work and takes a lift in a swanky car. The car happens to belong to Ashok Saxena (Manoj Kumar), the son of wealthy industrialist Jwalaprasad Saxena (Sapru). Seeing her getting dropped by Ashok's car, one of the theatre's staff (Shammi) believe that she is seeing Ashok and the rumour mills start working overtime. To escape being thrown out of work, Rajni too nods in acquiescence when the theatre owner asks her about the affair. Now her employer wants to cash in on the news, makes Rajni the heroine and tells a local newsreporter of his connection with Ashok Saxena. Next day, Ashok is stunned to see the news of his romance with a girl called Rajni, who he has never even met before. He rushes to Modern Theatres to clarify the case and gets to meet Rajni. This meeting is quite interesting.
Rajni thinks he is a news reporter and wants to know about her romance with Ashok. She cooks up a fairy-tale like story to gull him. Ashok is bemused but keeps quiet and lets her spin the tale. She even sings a song to show how madly she is in love with Ashok. Ashok is instantly attracted to Rajni and imagines himself serenading with her in Nishat Bagh to the tunes of Sajan sajan pukaru gailyon mein (Lata Mangeshkar; music by Laxmikant Pyarelal). Asha Parekh looks gorgeous in a white sari. She dances so well. And that hairdo adds to her overall charm. You can see why Ashok is smitten.
Ashok stays mum on his real identity even as Rajni is slowly falling in love with him. He even helps her to impress her employer by posing as the rich Ashok. He comes dressed up nattily so that the employer believes him to be Ashok and when Rajni asks him how he got to come in Ashok's car, he says he bribed the driver (Om Prakash). There are times when Manoj Kumar is quite naughty in the film. So much better than his drab patriotic persona. Only wish he wasn't so hunched throughout the film and tried for an even more relaxed persona. His clothes could have done with a little less formality. In the song Resham ki dori (Mohd Rafi and Lata) he looked so uptight. It is a beautiful song and Asha Parekh looks resplendant in an orange salwar suit. But he is all buttoned up in terms of movement and expressions!
Anyway, the romance is pretty solid and Rajni tells her mother that Ashok wants to get married to her. Ashok's rich father is also happy with the match. But there is a secret about Rajni's father that might mar her future happiness. Lajwanti (Sulochana) hides from Rajni about who her father was and what heinous crime he did. The past hits back in the form of Seth Dharamdas (Madan Puri) and is all set to crash the world around Rajni, Ashok and her mother. In the nick of time a murder takes place and increases the excitement quotient in the film. The inspector (Raj Mehra) zeroes in on three suspects who try to foil their exploits but are unable to do so. I really love how the director kept the execution taut so that the interest always stays.
The 1969 film is quite a good one. It might not have the thrills and chills as Teesri Manzil, Jewel Thief or CID, but on the whole Mohan Segal does quite a good job. At least the transition from a frothy romance to an engaging mystery is done well. Madan Puri is brilliant and Om Prakash is good. In fact, all the characters are well-etched.
Asha Parekh is very pretty and does a fine job. She is bang on target as the effervescent Rajni who will get the truth out of the wicked party. She has no qualms in telling her mother that she will not have her fool around with her future. I simply love the expressions on this woman's face. And yes, she dances some terrific dances as usual.
Manoj Kumar is a much watered down version of his handsome self in the early sixties. His smile sometimes has the charm of before but somewhere that energy is missing. His voice is too heavy and his hair looks funny in some parts. He hunches for no reason and there are times when I feel that he will just cover up his face with his palm. A different role for him, Kumar does try hard to deliver a good job. But I so miss the earlier spunky dude who lifted my spirits in Banarasi Thug, Hariyali aur Rasta and Woh Kaun Thi. In this film, you get an aging Manoj Kumar who is already on the path of nationality. And that surely is the spoiler!

14 comments:

  1. I too like Manoj Kumar, and find him quite good looking. With Asha Parekh adding to the charms of the film, I think I should watch it (am duly warned about the aging MK :)

    Another film (of Manoj's)to watch is Himalay Ki Godmein. Though it is a 'do-good' role it's not really like his jingoistic roles. Mala Sinha might disappoint, but I found it worthwhile.

    pacifist

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  2. I liked this film - when I watched it, I hadn't known it was a murder mystery (all I knew about it was that it starred Asha Parekh, which was enough reason for me to watch it!). But yes, loads of fairly good suspense, and pretty entertaining. I do wish Manoj Kumar had loosened up a bit.

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  3. @Pacifist: I've seen Himalay ki God mein and I feel that it is quite good. Mala Sinha looks a bit caked but otherwise the film was pretty worthwhile. And the songs were lovely. This film stands out for Asha mostly. Here she does not have the lisp also. I really loved her so much!!

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  4. @Dustedoff: Yes, it was so irksome to see him be so uptight. He could have been so much better as a freewheeling guy!! I now really want to watch Shaadi (he makes it as an actor, huh!!!) and Nakli Nawab!!

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  5. Yes Sajan and Pasand Apni Apni were similar but I love the element of suspense in Sajan.

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  6. @Shilpi: Yes and that Asha Parekh is so lovely here, hain na??

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  7. I am getting flashbacks of seeing this movie in the theatre when I was young but can't quite put my finger on it. It does sound interesting, thank you.

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  8. @Suja: Yes it is good. Really interesting plot development. Wish I was born during the time when these films would show at the theatres. Would have been so much fun to see them. I think I'm born in the wrong time :(

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  9. by the way, sharmidi, both sajan and pasand apni apni were inspired from a hollywood film called happy go lovely[1951].Interestingly,Aamir khan's ghajini 's romantic plot between asin and aamir was inspired from the same hollywood film.of all these four films, happy go lovely and pasand apni apni are real treat to watch.The same cannot be said about the other two.Also ,no plagiarism charges can be alleged as happy go lovely lies in the public domain.gets easy for filmmakers,is that not so?.AND YES SORRY FOR MY SOMEWHAT RUDE AND ANGRY BEHAVIOUR IN SOME OF YOUR OTHER POSTS.BUT THAT CAN SOMETIMES HAPPEN WITH SOMEONE WHO IS A SELF ACKNOWLEDGED CRAZY PERSON AND GOES BY THE NAME OF MAD AND SOMETHING AND SOMETHING.

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  10. Will catch this one too... only have to find the DVD

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  11. @Roshmi: It's got good mystery towards the end!!

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