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Monday, 15 August 2011

If not for Shammi (Janwar)

The irrepressible Shammi Kapoor can be credited for often carrying an entire film on his lone shoulders. Signing this rebel star would mean that with his charm and antics he would see to it that a somewhat likeable film would attain sweet success. Janwar, Bhappi Soni's romance, is a film that falls into this category. If you were to ask me what this 1965 film has apart from Shammi's class histrionics, loads of fun cooked up by him, great songs picturised on the superstar and a nice romantic plot where Shammi rules the roost, I'd say hardly anything else. Even in the scenes where Prithviraj Kapoor hogs the limelight, he is praising Shammi Kapoor, who happens to be his younger son in the film!! That's the magic of our sweet prince, he just takes all the credit away with his characteristic flamboyance.

Janwar is a film that pays tribute to Shammi's wild charms. Even when he pursues Sapna, played by the very average Rajshree, he unleashes a kind of lethal magnetism that the lady finds difficult to resist. The story is so conventional but Shammi makes it special. Freewheeling and ebullient, it  is worth it just looking at Shammi in this film. Apart from him and some nice songs, there is hardly here that is worth mentioning.
Sunder Srivastav is the younger son of a wealthy industrialist, played by the inflated and heavy-voiced Prithviraj Kapoor. His elder son is Mahendra (Rehman), who he constantly rebukes for being inefficient in the matters of business. So, understandably, Mahendra is nervous when he is with his father and doesn't even muster up enough courage to tell him that he is in love with his secretary, Seema (Shyama). What is interesting is that despite being barely able to move about freely, for being so fat, Prithviraj delivers a fabulous performance as the domineering patriarch of the Srivastav family. He sounds almost stifled by his gargantuan weight, but he has a presence that no one can ignore. And yes, it is always special to see the father being indulgent towards his son, especially when the son is his real-life son.
Mr Srivastav's wife, played by Achla Sachdev, is however more soft natured. She is a stark opposite to her husband, who is absolutely pompous and vain. He has fixed up his son's marriages with daughters of rich people so that his family name is not jeopardised in the allegiance.
Sunder goes to Kashmir for a tennis championship alongwith his friend Chintu (Rajindernath). Though it is a bit awkward seeing Shammi in those unassuming shorts while on the playground, you hardly can help it. While travelling he meets Sapna through a strange incident where the girl and her friends insult him. On reaching Kashmir, he extracts sweet revenge when all the girls have to bite dust. Sunder is attracted to Sapna and makes her life hell with his incessant naughtiness. But while he is pestering her, he also makes it quite obvious that he likes her. With a deft move, he sends a tape recorder to her room with the message of his love, expecting her to listen to it and acquiesce immediately. But she too, is enjoying the courtship and takes her time. But then ultimately you have the girl admitting that she too has fallen in love with Sunder. And how could she not...
On returning to Bombay, Sunder tells his mother that Sapna is the chosen one for him. But immediately after, he learns that Seema has been thwarted by his proud father when she came to ask for Mahendra. Sunder realises that Seema must be in a dire situation and takes her to Calcutta to look for Mahendra. Seema is pregnant with Mahendra's child and during a doctor's checkup, Sapna (who is also in the same hospital after she meets with an accident) overhears the doctor congratulating Sunder who is accompanying Seema. Misunderstanding brew thick and fast. Sapna is devastated and believes Sunder to be a philanderer. While all this is going on, Mahendra is found wasting away his life and money in a courtesan's den. He is fed up of the continuous ranting his father has been doing against him and is fleeing expectations by squandering away his life with a courtesan. Sunder make him see light applying a clever trick against the greedy courtesan. Mahendra and Seema unite and all is supposed to be well now.
But who will make the obstinate father understand who shoos away everybody from his house thundering that his sons have brought him nothing but ruin. He also pulls the necessary knobs so that Sapna leaves Sunder alone. Realising what a petty man their father is, Sunder and Mahendra leave their father's home forever. But soon, the old man faces some harsh truths and his pride is broken. The film ends happily when everyone reunites...
The music by Shankar Jaikishan is good, but I've seen the duo do much better. Apart from Laal chadi maidan khadi, Tumse accha kaun hain and Meri mohabbat jawan rahegi (all sung wonderfully by Mohd Rafi), none of the songs had the spark. And Tumse hain humko pyar is hardly effective as a rock and roll number. The classical song, Mere sang ga, is nothing great. Rajshree is no Asha Parekh. No she cannot dance and looks too plain.
Bhappi Sonie should have made a careful choice of the heroine. Rajshree cannot match up to the magic of Shammi Kapoor. Her voice is coarse and her dialogue delivery is jumpy. She is the the owner of just a few expressions that she uses in turns for all the scenes. She can't dance. The only scenes where she looks nice is after Sunder proposes to her. I guess, his touch makes her somewhat radiant! Maybe, Sapna's role did not have too much of scope and was rather tepid. So, giving it to the fabulous Asha Parekh or Sadhana whould have been a waste. But somehow, it always looked as if Shammi Kapoor was making an extra effort to make up for the placidity of his onscreen sweetheart.
Shammi Kapoor is the life-breath of the film. The songs brighten when he sings and performs them, he is very funny, looks absolutely dapper in his T-shirts, funky shirts and jackets, is smooth during the romantic scenes and is very intense towards the end. I love the scene where he disguises himself as the old shikara owner to fool Sapna. Thoroughly ribtickling!! He is even more funny as the astute Arab sheikh. Look at him in the song Tumse acha kaun hain. No one could carry off this catchy number dressed in nothing but a blanket. But that's what Shammi Kapoor was. Unconventional, brave, naughty, delectable and a lady-killer...


  1. I really like Tumse accha kaun hai, as a song - Shammi Kapoor is at the top of his form here (there's also this cute bit where he goes hopping about near a chinar tree!). But yes, otherwise, I'm not terribly fond of this film. I don't mind Rajshree, actually - in any case, when Shammi Kapoor is onscreen, I'm rarely looking at his leading lady! - but they're better together in Brahmachari.

  2. @Dustedoff: Ya me too, I just stare at Shammi Kapoor. I liked the song, Meri mohabbat jawan rahegi, also. But the best is Tumse accha kaun hain!!

  3. This film had the complete package of Shammi, Kashmir, some lovely music and songs, and of course....colour (at that time).

    I too love the song Tum se achcha kaun hai. Needless to say Shammi was irresistible.
    I don't know what to think of Rajshree. She seemed beautiful, and yet.

    Like the vanished piano, students/people indulging in shairi has also vanished, and I loved it here.


  4. @PAcifist: Shammi just made Kashmir come alive, hain na!

  5. Ram N Ramakrishnan16 August 2011 at 10:20

    @Sharmi: the "dekho ab to" rock'n'roll in the film is a take on "The Beatles" hit - 'I wanna hold your hand', the tune was also a straight lift...(no...inspiration!). Thanks for the apt timing in bringing a movie on Shammi Kapoor who gave us some wonderful times. Dont you see his short-sleeved/short-length slacks are the fashion of the day?

  6. @Ram: ya I know about the Beatles inspiration but didn't mention it in the post coz I thought it's pretty evident. And Shammi definitely was a trendsetter, be it in the matter of clothes, dance or frenzied antics!!

  7. @Sharmi: I watched Janwar so many time mainly because of Shammi Kapoor and the songs. It is not a bad movie but Shammi made it much better than it is. In the song Lal Chadi Maidan Khadi, Shammi is awesome as the teaser.

  8. @Sreenath: I guess Shammi is awesome almost everywhere. Remember the room changing scene where he teaches Sapna a lesson. That was fantastic too!!

  9. @Sharmi: Yes, Shammi takes Rajshree on to the verge of tears with all his teasing in the movie.

  10. @Sreenath: Yup that's Shammi's signature. He drives his heroines up the wall before making the conquest of love!!

  11. I am yet to catch this one. But I will...

  12. @Roshmi: Ya do it, just for Shammi Kapoor!!

  13. @Amit: Thanks. Will surely check them out!!