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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Behind the scenes (Guddi)

There are several scenes in Guddi that I love. For, there are several scenes in this 1971 film that you aught to love. Deftly balancing a sweet romance with a poignant take on the true life in the inner precincts of film studios in Bombay (yes, I prefer calling the place so), Hrishikesh Mukherjee spins a tale that is so didactic. Interesting anecdotes populate every moment and lovely performances make this film a roller-coaster ride. At one point you feel that it is after all a coming-of-age sage of a young girl heavily infatuated with her matinee idol, at another point it is the stark depiction of the strange world of films.

Questions are thrown at you every instance as to whether it is the film actor who is the real hero,or is it the battery of technicians and crew members who actually make him appear so. Are they the real fulcrum of a successful film? While all these details are being thrashed out, Mukherjee effortlessly makes Kusum evolve into a more mature girl, educated after her brush with the razzmatazz of the film world, and realise finally where her heart lies...
Guddi is a simple teenager who is head-over-heels in love with Dharmendra, the hero. She daydreams about him and in her heart of heart has already pledged her all to him, little delving into the fact that he might just turn out to be a completely different individual in real life. But then, aren't puppy loves borne out of dreams and imaginations galore?!?

In her deep infatuation for the heartbreakingly handsome Dharmendra, there is hidden tales of similar feelings of several teenagers all across the globe. She is just the manifestation of what we all felt for our screen idols. I remember I had a thing for Shammi Kapoor, which I think I still have! But Guddi's love is far more deep, borne by the understanding that Dharmendra is as he appears in his films--robust, gallant, charismatic and chivalrous. He sings the best songs, romances his ladylove with panache, is drop-dead gorgeous and fights like the three musketeers rolled into one. So, how can a simple girl, who is living in a bubble of fantasies, resist this man's charms? Mukherjee draws up a good picture of her deep feelings for the actor. She is so much in love with him that when she does get to acquire an autograph from him, she is all coy and silent, with a soft smile on her face for being able to be so near to her hero! When Navin (Samit Bhanja) tries to glean from her as to who she loves, she in a very dramatic way tries to dissuade him from extracting the truth from her. You can gauge that this girl is steeped in the movies and banks on every opportunity to show off her prowess in mouthing filmy dialogues. What disturbs me however, is how Guddi's guardians plan to wed her off after she completes school. Seriously, what will happen to her college education? Or is she not good enough for that?
Guddi's tryst with filmdom happens when she visits Bombay with her sister-in-law (Sumita Sanyal) and Navin, her sister-in-law's brother, who likes her immensely. His eyes betray his true feelings for his young girl in the song Bole re papihara, sung beautifully by Vani Jairam (music by Vasant Desai), sung at a moment when Navin is trying to placate Guddi after she is upset over Navin not taking her for a film. The love story is so delicate that while it is growing, you won't even realise when the two characters mature.
Navin's sister raises the topic of Guddi's, who has a nice Christian name called Kusum, marriage with Navin. AK Hangal (Guddi's father) is happy and so is Mamaji, Navin's uncle, (Utpal Dutt). Navin shyly acquiesces to the offer because he loves Guddi. But when Guddi declines the offer, Navin's ego is hurt. He is all the more shattered when he learns that Guddi refused to accept him because of the love of Dharmendra!! Outrageous. Mamaji, on hearing, hatches a fun plan, to enlighten Guddi about the film world and prick her bubble of illusions about life. This is where Guddi's education ensues.
In the film studios whatever happens stuns Guddi but somehow we, considering that we live in an age where behind the scene news is brought quite regularly to our drawing rooms, are not surprised. Whoever said that technicians and spot boys are paid handsomely, that they do not live a hand-to-mouth existence. All this is quite well-known. But I really liked how Mukherjee drove home the point. He picked up superstars and made them do cameos in a film that belongs to an age where something like this is new.
Rajesh Khanna fumbles while saying his lines and so does Ashok Kumar. Amitabh Bachchan was raw and yet-to-become the superstar. Pran comes across as a gentleman with a golden heart. Ahh yes!! That scene is so heartwarming. I've been reading Bunny Reuben's ...and Pran. Every episode about the scintillating baddie is such a revellation. So when I saw the scene in Guddi that shows him as he really was, it was so enthralling. Pran was actually a great man, a superlative artist and a thoroughly stylish individual. Sadly, not much accolades have been showered on this actor who unfortunately got sidestepped by the 'heroes' he shared the screen with. He deserved the spotlight as much as them...
Anyways, I digress. From all these incidents however, Guddi learns that the world is so different from what she sees on the screen. The image that she had of her hero is just a figment of her imagination, courtesy the numerous films she saw featuring him. Gradually she realises that real life is so much more different. While all this is happening, Navin comes across as a sensitive, self-respecting young man with a steady head on his shoulders. So, even though he is hurt with Guddi's initial rebuff, he doesn't scoff at her when she clings on to him for a second chance. The couple emerges from their misunderstanding to be united.
Dharmendra is spectacular. Samit Bhanja is very good. Though his diction is jumpy, he makes up for it with his subtle expressions. Utpal Dutt is mind-blowing, as always. But it's Jaya Bhaduri who will make you smile with her eponymous role. She is sweet, without being saccharine-induced, naughty and very natural. But what makes her performance laudable is how she slowly sheds her childish demeanour to emerge a mature young woman. She doesn't lose her effervescence and spontaneity, she just reigns in her mindless illlusions and steps into the realm of reality where she discovers that the world is just as beautiful as it should be...

20 comments:

  1. It's been years and years, since I saw Guddi... but I remember being completely enchanted by it, and by the brilliant way in which Mukherjee showed Guddi's gradual realisation that life on the silver screen is NOT real life. Wonderful.

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  2. @Dustedoff: Yes, exactly. It's done without being preachy and all. A lovely film for sure :)

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  3. It was guddi that made me like Jaya so much. Her acting as a schoolgirl was so believable and those classroom scenes were so hilarious.

    Uphaar is a similar film.

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  4. PS: above post is by me...pacifist

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  5. I loved Guddi too, I hope Dilip Kumar never took offence to her remarks about his films in taht scene where she criticised them for being rather too slow lol

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  6. @Pacifist: Uphaar is good you are saying? Then I must watch it!!

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  7. @Pacifist: hey by this time I know that Anonymous is you!! ;)

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  8. @Bollywooddeewana: I'm sure he didn't take any offence. It was all done in jest :)

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  9. @Sharmi: That's a great review. It has been ages since I saw Guddi but I remember it as a sweet film. Hrishikesh Mukherjee is a great storyteller.

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  10. @Sreenath: Oh yes he is. And he tells the most sensitive story in such an easy way :)

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  11. Ram N Ramakrishnan12 August 2011 21:43

    @Sharmi: Saw Guddi again after reading your review. Many moons ago I saw it in a now demolished 70-seat theatre called Emerald in Chennai. Besides all the anecdotes you mentioned, I loved Hrishida's subtle editing (the first scene itself when the school HM catches Jaya coming late); Vasant Desai's score and the simple photography (Jayawant Pathare?) which was a treat to the eyes. Felt a bit sad that Vani was bamboozled out of Hindi playback world being a Madrasi; that Asrani deserved much more than he accomplished in his career; that Omprakash will always be Omprakash and finally Utpal Dutt - his was always a class act......thank you for bringing in fond memories.....Ram

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  12. Ram N Ramakrishnan12 August 2011 22:08

    @Sharmi: I stand corrected; on checking wiki I found that Guddi was shot by Dwaraka Dwecha the famous cinematographer who shot Sholay......no wonder the film stood out from the first shot of Jaya hopping out of the tonga to the very end, "jai Dharmendra!"

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  13. @Ram: Somehow Hrishikesh Mukherjee's films have always been special. Simply because he dealt with a variety of topics but told the story in such an easy way. Vani was so good, sad that she did not work :(

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  14. Loved this film, i wish they would play these films on tv :(
    --Neha

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  15. @Neha: I swear! It wud have been so much more enjoyable than the trash they dole out today!

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  16. I have watched it several times and loved it all the time :) Such a sweet movie ...

    P.S. The great Pran lives quite near to where I live in BLR. But haven't met seen him ever :(

    Ditto Manna De :(

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  17. @Roshmi: Pran lives in bangalore?!?!? Really?? I thought he lives in Bombay!

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  18. where did you get bunny reuben's...and pran from?

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  19. @Shreya: Ohh that was gifted to me by Srikumar, the publisher of Harper Collins when I had gone to interview him :)

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