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Saturday, 24 September 2011

Rollicking discovery (Do Ustad)

I've been telling this to people and they are cracking up. My friends are brushing my statements away. My husband wanted me to repeat what I said thrice pretending that I wasn't clear enough. Well, all the reactions are understandable. I do not grudge them even a bit. For, when you tell anybody, yes, anybody, that Mohd Rafi did sing for Raj Kapoor, there might be times when people would suspect your mental stability. Thankfully, before I was declared a loony, YouTube came to my rescue. I promptly searched for the songs of Do Ustad and put them in front of my husband. And, as expected, like me, he stood amazed, gaping at the screen.

Yes, Mohd Rafi did sing for Raj Kapoor. The film was Tara Harish's Do Ustad, and it was a complete entertainer. And yes, the playback of Rafi sounded absolutely perfect in Raj Kapoor's lips. In fact, if I may say so, it sounded much better than Mukesh. So, if you ask me, Raj Kapoor should have opted for either Manna Dey or Mohd Rafi for his playback. Mukesh made him sound too melancholic, preachy and drab. There I've said it.
Once you listen to the jaunty songs of Do Ustad, and how wonderfully Raj Kapoor emotes in them, you'd fall for this actor. He is freewheeling, flirtatious and deeply romantic. He dances with gay abandon and romances Madhubala with aplomb. He moves without any apprehensions and makes the most of the halcyon situations. Raj Kapoor is such a joy in this 1959 film. And I wonder what took me so long to discover it!
This film has everything, brothers separated in childhood, growing up to be crooks and petty thieves, a fabulous romantic plot, mistaken identities, misunderstandings, awesome comedy, kickass action and a bunch of suprb songs composed by the melody master O P Nayyar. Packing all this in a neat two and a half hours, so much happens in the film that you just might get a bit carried away. But sit tight. For, here in you will encounter a totally different Raj Kapoor, still piercing with his intense gaze but altogether so frothy and lighthearted. You will catch him whispering sweet nothings to Madhubala who is a walking talking vision. He will sing, dance and make merry. And yes also fulfill all the responsibilities of a brother, a lover and an uncle. He starts out as a heartwarming crook with a flair for comedy but when the time is right he mends his ways and starts out afresh on a straight path.
Jagan has been implicated for murder. Even after the judge implores him to defend himself, he is mumb. Only after being coaxed by his brother, Rajan, he opens up about his past and relates the reasons as to why he became an offender. Extremely poor, Jagan says that the world was very harsh to him and his younger brother Rajan. A victim of social pressure and cruelty, the two brothers are separated. While Jagan promises to himself that he will build an empire for himself with the help of lies and deceit, Rajan grows up to be a frequent guest of law. He is a petty thief with a smart suave personality. Jagan is a serious criminal but leads a dual life where he has a loving wife (Sulochana).
Released from jail, Rajan (Raj Kapoor not the buffoonish tramp here. He is suave, dapper and extremely glib. Yes, his eyes retain the magic and his personality the magnetism) spots Madhu Sharma, who he learns can be the source of some hefty income. He fools her pretending to be Raj Kapoor (awesome trick! The director even shows a poster of Shree 420 and soon Rajan's cronies convince him that he resembles Raj Kapoor. So he can safely dupe Madhu Sharma), the actor, who is trying to evade the clutches of fans. Very soon, Madhu is enamoured of the man and they sing a lovely song together called Tu ladki main ladka. Noteworthy is how flexible Raj Kapoor is in this song. He really makes some nifty moves as the Pathan dancer. Mohd Rafi sounds just as fine for Raj Kapoor and Asha Bhonsle is lovely for Madhubala. As the plot unfolds, Madhu Sharma is being forced to marry a puppet by her conniving uncle. Fed up she flees from her home dressed as a pathan.
Her wicked uncle, who is greedy for her money, declares that she has fled with Rs 1 lakh and whoever brings her back will be rewarded with Rs 10,000. Jagan is hot on her trail and so is Rajan. While Jagan is only behind the money, Rajan is somewhat interested in her. He dupes Jagan and rescues Madhu from Jagan's clutches. Madhu of course does not know that Rajan is the one taking her away. The scene where he dresses up like a woman and forces her to come out of the bathroom is hilarious. It is so cute how Madhu giggles and takes Rajan's name when she learns that it is he who actually rescued her from Jagan. They sing the jaunty Ruk ruk ruk with gaiety. I love Madhubala here. Both make such a handsome couple.
But, soon Rajan's grey persona surfaces. Unable to locate the Rs 1 lakh that Madhu is carrying, he offers to hand over Madhu to Jagan for a paltry Rs 10,000. Madhu overhears the conversation and is devastated. She can't imagine that Rajan would sell her. Madhu tries to escape from Jagan's den but is caught. Soon Rajan realises what he has done and wants Madhu back. In the meantime Jagan's wife comes to know the truth about her husband and is distraught. She is on the brink of suicide when Rajan saves her and takes her with him, after which he resumes his search for Madhu.
Yes, a crazy lot of things keep happening. And all this happens quite fast in the film. So there won't be any boredom. Plenty of incidents take place. Clouds of misunderstandings are cleared before they gather again. People separate and get back together again. Amidst all the bitterness what reigns supreme is the love plot between Rajan and Madhu and the awesome tracks.
Some of the most enjoyable ones are Rik tik tik, picturised on a gown clad Madhu and a disguised Rajan. It is a lovely club number. Madhubala is so pretty here and Raj Kapoor just is so free and easy. Then there is Tere dil ka makaan has a hangover of Leke pehla pehla pyar from CID, (same composer) but the picturisation is darn too good. A tribal Madhu and a snake charmer Rajan! Nazron ke teer marey kas kas kas is great, too. A lovely romantic number, it just shows how superbly Mohd Rafi's voice fits into raj Kapoor's persona. Asha Bhonsle, in all these tracks, is simply mellifluous. The last one of the love numbers is Humpe dil aaya to bolo. It again showcases the flamboyance of the two singers and the lighter side of the actors. Raj Kapoor is handsome and Madhubala is gorgeous.
While the film is absolutely a potboiler, with a social message (as like in all Raj Kapoor films) there is hardly any pontification. In fact, not much reels are spent delving into the wrongs that society did against the two brothers. The director focuses quite a bit on the development of the romance between Rajan and Madhu and that is what makes the film so enjoyable. Moreover, the time that is spent towards the end showing Jagan and his plight started getting a tad too long. Sheikh Mukhtiar, I beg everyone's pardon, had quite a grotesque face. The less shown him the better. He does act okay. But I concentrated more on the lead pair.
What a fine couple Raj Kapoor and Madhubala make! Raj Kapoor has a certain physicality about his approach towards Madhubala and he has no qualms in showing that, Madhu revels in Rajan's admiration and they two really prove that love needs to be shown  and breathed. Raj Kapoor is devoid of his mannerisms here. He is sharp, smart and has attitude. Madhubala is lovely, just breathtaking and makes teh film so much more worth it. Anyone, if anyone, knows of any other film where these two actors were the romantic leads, please do care to share the information. I'll be so indebted...


  1. Oh this is a new one, never heard of this Jodi before, in fact I never thought they shared screen space

  2. I never knew that everyone thought Mukesh was the only singer for Raj Kapoor ;)

  3. Sharmi, this sounds like a really good film. I'd heard of it before, but haven't seen it. I'd love to see Raj Kapoor without his intensity and irritating mannerisms.

  4. Oh, you've sold me on this, Sharmi! (And that's saying a LOT, considering I don't care for RK much). I'd heard about Do Ustad, but now I can't wait to get my hands on it. :-)

  5. @Bollywooddeewana: I too did not know that these actors shared screen space. So I was surprised to see them do so here. Please watch this, it's nice!

  6. @Mette: Well, I think mostly all of Raj Kapoor's songs have been sung by Mukesh. There is of course Manna Dey who sang the awesome romantic tracks. But I speak for myself. Never even remotely thought that Mohd Rafi would sing for this Kapoor.

  7. @Banno: Yes, here he is different. Really so.

  8. @Dustedoff: Oh gosh, now that I've raised expectations of so many of you, I just hope you like the film. It's fun definitely, barring the preachy bits delving on Sheikh Muktiar. But Raj and Madhubala make such a lovely pair!!

  9. Nice review, maybe I'll get back to that when I have a chance. Right now, I just wanted to mention that when I reviewed this film three years ago, I took the exact same Madhubala screen cap:

  10. @Richard: Great. I'm off to read your post now!!

  11. I saw this film a couple of years ago,a nd yes, Raj Kapoor is so good here. I do find him handsome and love the expression in his eyes when he wants to be romantic.

    In fact I'm beginning to realise there are more films of his without his typical mannerisms than with them. Unfortunately the one 'with' the mannerisms are more famous and considered to be classics.

  12. @Pacifist: Exactly. Try watching Dil Hi To Hai, it's lovely too. It stars him and Nutan and both are so cute together!! And some lovely songs!!

  13. Visiting your site after a long time. Did you notice the Vinod Khanna - Randhir Kapoor starrer Haath Ki Safaai had a similar story actually it would not be wrong to say it was a straight lift after all Salim- Javed did get their inspiration from old films. I had seen Do Ustaad on doordarshan ages ago and when I saw Haath.... I had a sense of deja vu.

  14. @Shilpi: I've seen Haath ki Safai but don't remember much. Just the song, Wada karle sajna stays with me. I really liked Do Ustad though. And Randhir is no patch on the entertaining Raj here.