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Thursday, 1 September 2011

The delicious dreamgirl (Seeta aur Geeta)

This is perhaps one of the few films which has been rehashed prolifically. Identical twins getting separated at birth. One grows up being tortured brutally by evil guardians, the other is rambunctious owing to an indulgent upbringing. The mal-handled one is shy, apprehensive and thinks twice even before breathing. A freak accident makes them change places and mayhem ensues due to mistaken identities. The extrovert teaches the evil ones a lesson or two, the shy one gets her due love at last. There's fun and loads of laughter before the kingpin of the villains find out the truth and quickly there is more action towards the denouement before everything becomes crystal clear and all go home happy. A film like this can only be awesomely entertaining, with great performances, frothy comedy and sweet romance. Not to forget the great songs. Yes, in totality, films like Seeta aur Geeta are absolute winners.

A rehashed version of Ram aur Shyam, Ramesh Sippy's family entertainer is even funnier than its predecessor. While no one can point a finger at the histrionics of Dilip Kumar, it is Hema Malini's vivaciousness that does the trick here. This 1972 film never has a dull moment. It starts off perfectly and ends immaculately. Hema Malini is like a sparkling brook that refreshes with its turns, twists and bubbly composition. If I may say so, she turns out to be a far better option than Dilip Kumar.
I believe there isn't anyone on this sphere who hasn't seen Seeta aur Geeta. It is a much celebrated film, with a stellar cast of Hema Malini, Sanjeev Kumar (Oh! how sensitively sweet and comic he is!), Dharmendra (he is outstanding as the street vagabond) and Manorama (ribticklingly wicked). While Pran sent the shivers down the spine in Ram aur Shyam, here it is the duo of Manorama and Roopesh Kumar (Ranjeet) who hurl the abuse at the poor Seeta. Ranjeet leers at the pretty but helpless girl given a chance and mounts terror in her mind. Manorama is wicked but her body language is so funny that you shed a tear out of the splits. Her henpecked husband played by Satyendra Kapu is hardly a patch on her motormouth abilities. They have a daughter, Sheela (Honey Irani), a spoilt brat, and a little boy (Sachin), who is quite fond of Seeta. Seeta braves the tumult only because she loves her grandmom (Pratima Devi), who is a handicapped weakling. She silently suffers everything because, one, she believes that she was born to suffer, and two, she doesn't have the guts to protest.
Cut to Geeta's world. Freespirited and spontaneous, Geeta is a hero in a women's garb. She is smart, saucy and brave. She knows how to handle situations and fibs at the drop of a hat. Partnering Raka (Dharmendra) in the business of entertaining the public, she is everything that Seeta is not. She is fast, clever and extremely resourceful. And it takes her but a few slaps and kicks to mend the horrible matters in Seeta's home. Hema is fabulous as the two girls. She is the demure Seeta with a soft restraint and a feisty Geeta with flamboyance.
I love the scene where she unleashes her fury on Manorama and Sheela for the first time. I literally punch in the air out of satisfaction. I cry out out, "You rock tigress!!" And then there is the scene where she pummels Ranjeet! Voila!! I call it women power!!
What is not to like Geeta? Look how she quips in the police station, sitting atop a ceiling fan! Some of the best one-liners are given to Geeta, the spunky siren. Not that Seeta is drab, but it's Geeta who lights up the ambiance wherever she goes. She slips into Ravi's car and fights with the stuttering Parsi even though she knows the accident was Ravi's fault. She impresses Ravi's parents with her signature style. She skates while romancing Ravi. And yes, she looks drop-dead delicious in all her attires. As the vagabond, she is rustic yet charming, in her sarees, she is elegant and pretty and in the westerns she is super chic.
Now for Hema Malini's equation with the two leading men. Hema and Dharmendra look like they were made for each other. Here also, they look superb. I adore how Raka initially makes fun of Seeta, who he believes is Geeta. The scenes where he forcibly takes her to perform, is hilarious. Starting out on a bitter note, they slowly fall in love. Oh! I love Dharmendra. He is just too handsome for me to think straight!! And the way he modulates his voice is just scintillating...
The surprise package is of course Sanjeev Kumar, playing the smart, affluent and charming doctor. His female patients try to seduce him, but he is too nonchalant about them. For, his eyes are set on the gorgeous Geeta, who is Seeta for him. Notice their exchanges, so full of sweet banters, miscommunication and false leads. But nothing can stop them from falling love. Sanjeev Kumar displays a subtle wit that balances the loudness of Geeta's persona. And yes, I love the song Koi ladki mujhey kal raat sapne mili. It is melodious, sweet and so infectious in its happiness.
Yes, the lead trio get some very good songs to flaunt. There's Khiladi hain koi, a fabulous street dance number, sung by Asha Bhonsle and Manna Dey, commenting on the hypocricy of society. Hawa ke saath saath is almost a romantic anthem today. Stylishly picturised and beautifully enacted, it is one of the songs where you hear Asha Bhonsle and Kishore Kumar enjoying themselves. While there is jollity in these songs, the introspective ones are Abhi to haath mein (Manna Dey) and Haan ji haan mainey sharab (Lata Mangeshkar). The score is versatile, there are songs to suit every occasion. Yes, RD Burman was at it again.
Though the last action sequence is a bit long drawn I really don't think that hardly mars the entire film. After all you get to see Hema Malini, dressed in a slit skirt and a funky top, sword fight with Ranjeet!! It is fast paced, too. Considering that a whole lot of incidents keep happening, the film rolls up in a neat two and a half hours. And every moment is filled with fun.
Seeta aur Geeta was later remade into Chaalbaaz, with Sridevi playing the title roles. She was funny in parts yes, but mostly in a very in-your-face way. Sanjeev Kumar's part was taken up by Sunny Deol and Dharmendra's (mind you, even in his tattered basics, his looks could kill) shoes were filled in by Rajnikanth. I hear that the film did not do badly. But, I wonder whether it had the same magic of Seeta aur Geeta, or rather Hema Malini, Dharmendra and Sanjeev Kumar, all fused into one scintillating potboiler?!


  1. I re-watched the film a couple of months back and enjoyed it as much as you seem to have done. Its a rollicking fun film, ísn't it? Hema was so good that even her voice didn't grate with me, Sanjeev is his natural, jolly self but Dharm - oooooooooooh..he is SO handsome even in his horrid clothes.. Good film. Cheers. Suja

  2. I've seen Seeta aur Geeta several times - and yes, I think it's better than Ram aur Shyam! Hema Malini is just superb in this. :-)

  3. @Suja: Yeah man, Dharmendra's looks can absolutely kill. Sanjeev is so charming. Overall such an enjoyable film!!

  4. @Dustedoff: Not just Hema, I love the entire ensemble cast. Love the madness in Manorama and love the two leading men!!

  5. Add me to the list of admirers of this film. Can't believe that Hema could carry the film so well on her shoulders.
    I would feel disloyal to Dilip Kumar if I said this was better, so I'll just say, he carried the film as a man would, and Hema as a woman would :)

    The satisfaction (in both films) in watching the switched character teach those evil people a lesson has never been as great in any other film on watching the villain being beaten up.

    Reading the review makes me want to watch it again. I think I will. :-D


  6. Ram N Ramakrishnan2 September 2011 at 19:41

    @Sharmi: Of all the movies with the same theme - Enga Veetu Pillai (MGR-Tamil) remade as Ram Aur Shyam, redrafted as Seetha aur Geetha and remixed into Chalbaaz - Seetha aur Geetha comes on tops, as you rightly said it is the magic of the trio - Hema,Dharam and Sanjeev on-screen, and the duo Ramesh Sippy and Pancham behind it......Ram

  7. @Pacifist: Though I think Pran was like terror in Ram aur Shyam and no one could have matched upto him, Roopesh too was quite fine. I love the scene where Hema orders him to apologise to the old servant and then hits him with a racket to do so. Ufff finger-licking good!!

  8. @Ram: I didn't like Chaalbaaz too much. I thought Sridevi was overdooing whatever she was doing. Rajnikanth, though he is a God in the south, doesn't impress me much. For me, a hero has to be good looking. And Sunny Deol can never spin the magic of his very good looking father. Raka is way too delicious. And yes, Hema is rollicking in Seeta aur Geeta.

  9. oh my god, oh my god, this is one of absolute favourite twins-who-get-lost-and-reunite hindi film!! Hema Malini is so bubbly!! I have (to my knowledge) never missed this film when it came on television :D and hawa ke saath saath is such a breezy song! :)


  10. @Neha: I knowww... I think this is the best twin-tale so far in Hindi films!!

  11. Strangely enough, the film was uncannily similar to Sridevi's Chaalbaaz (the other way round i mean)especially the scene where hema beats up her aunt's son and Sridevi beats up her chacha (both father's side relatives!)both with a hunter.. :D

    And oh how could i forget, I love Ranjnikant in this film!


  12. @Neha: I like Rajnikanth in his South-Indian films only! And Hema beats up her aunt's brother. He was really mean!!



  14. @Vijay: Hello and thanks for the comment. But I'd like to diagree. Movies like these should not be remade. They can't create the old magic.