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Friday, 12 August 2011

A likeable love triangle (Patthar ke Sanam)

There was a time when I thought that Waheeda Rehman was hardly a looker. Pardon me, but this was before I had seen some of her greatest black and white classics. And yes, I swallow back my words with utmost humility. For Waheeda Rehman is absolutely enigmatic and alluring in her old films. The camera loved her and the monochromes highlight the depth she had in her eyes and cast a attractive sheen on her sharp contours. Today if anyone asks me to talk about Waheeda Rehman's beauty and talent, I'll probably spend much more time waxing eloquent about her participation in the black and white films rather than in the coloured ones.

The other day I saw Patthar ke Sanam, a light romantic drama set in a small town of India (some of the places look starkly similar to Kashmir). This 1967 film strengthened my belief yet again that the Waheeda in coloured film is nowhere as dazzling as her black and white avatar. Probably because she was past her prime in terms of years. Somehow, in this film too, she looks jaded, similar to what she did in Ram aur Shyam. Paired opposite an attractive Manoj Kumar, there were numerous occasions when I thought that he could do with a younger person. Blame it on the colours on the screen, the cakey makeup or the bad costumes, Waheeda failed to scintillate this time. Her performance was good, as always, but somehow she looked so out of place. Sad.
The film, directed by Raja Nawathe, starts in a train compartment where Rajesh (Manoj Kumar) meets Meena (Mumtaz). He overhears a conversation inside the washroom and thinks that some ruffian is trying to molest her. Banging the door open, he is a bit taken aback when Meena clears his misconception showing him a radio which was blaring the piece. Meena is upset that Rajesh is travelling in a ladies' compartment, but this guy cleverly turns the tables on her and cheekily occupies the upper berth to his destination. Meena, as it appears, is back home after her completing her studies. She is the only daughter of a wealthy landlord in this town. She is pretty and extremely haughty. She rushes to meet her friend Taruna (Waheeda Rehman), who she discovers singing on the valleys. As the camera focuses on Taruna, I can only figure that this woman has been forced to get into some atrocious attires that hardly do any good to her personality. Though the song, Koi nahin hain (Lata Mangeshkar, music by Laxmikant Pyarelal) is good, it lacks the chirpy quality that should be present in the song of a carefree village girl.
Taruna and Meena, eventually get together to teach Rajesh a lesson. he is the new estate manager, employed under Meena's dad and the two girls try to fool him by pretending to be in love with him. Being the smart guy that he is, Rajesh quickly finds out why the two girls are being so sugary with him, and to trick both of them start playing their game against them. In the process we have a great song, Tauba yeh matwali chaal, picturised on the naughty Manoj Kumar, Mumtaz and Waheeda Rehman. And all this while I keep feeling Mumtaz looks so much better with the hero than Waheeda...
While all this is happening, both the girls fall in love with the dashing manager and Meena, the vain girl that she is, orders Taruna to step aside so that she can have Rajesh for herself. But truth is, Rajesh has fallen in love with Meena and woos her quite persistently. They both sing, Mehboob mere, a nice romantic ballad to seal their love. 
Rajesh's entry into Rai Sahab's estate has ruffled Lala Bhagat Ram's feathers, the unscrupulous thekedaar of the apple orchards. Pran is a lipsmacking delight in this role. His mannerisms, get-up, personality totally fits the bill. He also has an eye set on Taruna and is hell bent in having her for himself.
There are also skeletons in the closet of Rajesh's mother (Lalita Pawar), which if revealed would destroy teh peace and calm of everyone around. But in the end, as most Hindi films, everything is sorted out. Good people are exonerated and bad people are punished.That's the sum total of this likeable romance.
The tickles are generated by Hariya (Mehmood), Rai Sahab's servant, who carries with him a childish lisp. He loves Bhagatram's sister (Aruna Irani), but is too scared of the brother to stand strong in his convictions. But Mehmood is quite endearing and really funny. The song, Dushman hain zamana, a dream sequence picturised on him and all the other actors, turns out to be a catchy number.
Waheeda is good in her performance. Only if she looked a little younger. Mumtaz is a stunning vision and plays her part quite well. The only disturbing element is the jealous tints in her personality. She somehow was not being able to pull it off convincingly.
Pran was awesome, I say again. But the surprise package was Manoj Kumar, devoid of his staid mannerisms and boring monologues. He was quite funny with his quick one-liners, did some good romance and even danced sometimes. The title track, lip-synced by him, was the only drab drone that should have been deleted.
But otherwise, he was quite charming. Yes, even Hariya noticed how dashing he looked. Tall, strapping and the owner of a sweet smile... Whatever happened to this Manoj Kumar in the years to come...

8 comments:

  1. I think what 'happened to this Manoj Kumar' was that he was bitten by the patriotism bug! (It had already happened, actually, but it was still early days, and he managed to juggle both types of films at this point).

    I agree with you: Waheeda, though her acting was great, looked rather washed-out here. Actually, the only colour film in which I think she still looks as lovely as she did in B/W is Guide.

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  2. @Dustedoff: I knowww. Manoj Kumar was so good before he became Bharat Kumar :( And guess what the other day I was watching Guide and midway the DVD got stuck. I felt like breaking the TV and DVD player. So couldn't catch any bit of the film after Piya tosey naina laagey :( I think I will have to see the full film to check the Waheeda there!!

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  3. @Sharmi: I love Waheeda Rehman in her old B&W films. Among her colour films, she was fabulous in Guide. I thought she looked good in Neel Kamal too though she was past her prime. I have to check it out again to comfirm though. Nice review there! I remember the songs of Pathar Ke Sanam but not film. I will check it out :)

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  4. @Sreenath: Ya I guess Waheeda past her prime is not quite an attractive proposition. This film, however, is nice time-pass!!

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  5. But Don't you think it was the call of the script also, that Waheeda needed to look simple, sober, not as attractive & modern as Mumtaz. Only then it can be a test for Mr Manoj Kumar, whether he'll choose beauty or simplicity. I mean it can be a planned thing also. I watched this movie long back when I was kid. Btw I agree with everyone, she was so beautiful in Guide. And yeah Sharmi, do watch Guide for Dev Anand, I mean I still recall being so stunned for its climax. I was so small watching Guide on DD, and wondering how could a hero die such way in the ending, It was a new thing to me. Thank you for refreshing my childhood memories.

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  6. And please No khichai of Manoj Kumar Sir for his Bharat image. I mean that makes him who he are today....Surely, No regrets for dat !! Amidst western-influenced hippy dramas of that period, he was the wave of nationalism & Cultural Revolution. I mean whenever I hear "Jab Zero diya mere Bharat Ne".....It stills creates goosebumpy vibes all through my body.

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  7. @Gaurav: Hey, I'm game for simplicity but Waheeda is jaded here. I hope you can comprehend what I'm trying to say. Waheeda, for me, is any day better in her Black and white days. And yup, Guide was ahead of its times.

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  8. @Gaurav: Pardon me, but I liked Manoj Kumar before he became so overtly patriotic. For, whoever likes pontification!!

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