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Saturday, 1 October 2011

Till death do us part (Yeh Vaada Raha)

As a teenager, I suddenly got gripped by Danielle Steel romances. It was then that her Promise impressed me. Fate construing against two lovers, only to have the tables turned back against it by the sheer power of their love-- this theme really touched my heart. Then one day, I saw a film called Yeh Vaada Raha, Kapil Kapoor's adaptation of this romance, and I realised how perfectly the story turned out in reel life. Here the love between the young souls appears even more sweeter, the mishap is much more unfortunate than it looks in the book and the incidents that count up to the halcyon ending is so well stitched together. Yes, this 1982 romance is one film I'd recommend to any hard-core mush lover.

The tale begins in Kashmir where Vikram Rai Bahadur (Rishi Kapoor) spots a lovely belle in the temple. He is immediately struck by her innocent beauty. He describes her to his friend who is a painter who creates a painting of hers. The young men make posters of this painting and paste it on every wall in the town. Understandably, Sunita (Poonam Dhillon), the girl in question, takes offense. She explicitly tells Vikram that she has nothing to do with men of his character. But in a public function, Vikram helps her from being insulted and laughed at. This draws the two together. What I absolutely love about this couple is how innocently they prattle about their future and their plans. Poonam and Rishi look like they are made for each other. He is handsome, she is pretty (very pretty, if I may say) and they look deeply smitten with each other. One cute thing about Sunita Sikkan is how she keeps remarking about Vikram's wealth. She says that the best thing she loves about him is how wealthy he is. Innocent and so harmless!!
While the couple is making merry, Vikram's martinet mother comes calling in Kashmir. Vikram goes to meet her with Sunita in tow and introduces her to his mum. But, Sharda Rai Bahadur (Rakhee in a fantastic role) is not impressed. After a few days when Vikram goes to Delhi to tell his mother that he wants to marry Sunita, she openly disapproves of the match. She tells him that she is an orphan and does not deserve to be the daughter-in-law of such a famous family. Vikram is ballistic and rushes back to Kashmir having decided that he will marry Sunita come what may.
The two speed in a jeep with Vikram's friend (Rakesh Bedi) to the temple. But on the way a dreadful accident takes place. Vikram is injured and unconscious. Sunita is nastily disfigured. Sharda rushes to be with her son and taking advantage of Sunita's vulnerable mental condition, forces her to leave Vikram alone. The doctor (Iftekar), a good soul, realises that he must help Sunita, who is a young girl and has her whole life ahead, refers her to an eminent cosmetologist called Dr Mehra (Shammi Kapoor). Sunita is taken away to Dr Mehra. The poor girl weeps on being separated from Vikram but clings on hope that some day fate will again bring her to him. While she is away Vikram regains consciousness. When he inquires about Sunita, Sharda tells him that she is dead. Obviously, Vikram is devastated and plunges headlong into depression and mourning.
Dr Mehra meanwhile studies Sunita's case and finds it challenging. Since he has no picture of the girl to refer to, he gives Sunita a new face, that is as attractive, but very different from what she was. I find the scenes of transformation remarkably done. Shammi Kapoor's expressions and Tina Munim's apprehension is so well put together. Sunita is happy that she has a second shot at life but is morose that with a different face, Vikram will never be able to recognise her. Dr Mehra adopts her (a close bond develops between the old man and this young girl) and convinces her that if the love that she and Vikram shared was true then one day it will triumph. Only, Sunita must see life afresh and start anew. She must have faith in God and in herself...
It's a beautiful tale strung together with awesome performances and a tight editing. Even though one might question the rationality of Sunita becoming normal to look at after the operation, it is done so splendidly that it becomes credible. I love Sunita's transformation from a simple Kashmiri belle to a smart city girl. If Poonam Dhillon was gorgeous in those tight-fitted suits, Tina Munim is fantastic in those western outfits. What I liked even more was her gradual transition from being Sunita Sikkan to Kusum Mehra. And then even when she is Kusum Mehra, in her heart of hearts she is still the simple-souled Sunita who just wants to get back to Vikram and wants him to love her for what she is. 
No character is painted wickedly. Even Rita Saxena (Sarika), the girl who is engaged to Vikram, displays rare compassion that is generally missing in the 'other' girl in Hindi films. She loves Vikram and is indulgent towards him. She wants his attention. But in the end when she realises that Vikram can only love Sunita, she lets him free...
Sharda is shown to be ruthless. But as she puts it, everything she does, it is for Vikram's good. The scene where she screams at Vikram and says that he has never bothered to find out about her well-being is so well done. Yes, this is a woman who doesn't mince words when she has to tell her son that he better listen to her orders because all these years he took her for granted. Fine acting by Rakhee, I must say.
In terms of acting, everyone was good. Rishi Kapoor fitted the role to the T. Poonam was vivacious and lovely as was required by the script. I think a clever stroke by the director is using Jaya Bhaduri's voice for Sunita and Kusum's characters. Be it for uniformity or to let Jaya handle the complexity of the role, it was a master plan. Though sometimes, she tends to overdo the shouting bit, I thought she was brilliant with the voice modulation.
Tina Munim is quite a surprise, though. She looks attractive all right. She is an attractive woman. But, she also displays finesse in handling this complex character. Tormented by memories of her love for Vikarm, she is not able to accept the fact that Vikram is away from her now. And even after she is so near, he is not being able to recognise her. Painful. She also cannot tell him the truth because she sees him getting engaged to Rita. So, was Vikram's love for her, true and deep. So many questions are paining her and she has to deal with them herself. This is perhaps the most meaty role Tina Munim ever did in her career. And she pulled it off rather well!!
The music is given by RD Burman. Though I'm a fan of his brand of music, I didn't think this one was emarkable except the title track. But the film in totality makes up for it. And the good thing is that the blissful title track is played trice in the film and that makes up for all the other plain songs. I bowled over by the song. I love seeing Poonam and Rishi serenading to it, and then I love Tina doing it with Rishi again. But the best part is how the director shows Tina Munim shedding the garb of Sunita Sikkan and becoming the new Kusum Mehra in the song. Though Tina looks gorgeous in an eastern get-up, I think she actually gets into her skin in those crisp western skirts and blouses. This is a new life for the girl and she is definitely going to make the most of it...  


  1. One of my favourite films from the 80s! I haven't read the book, but I've seen The Promise, and I think Yeh Vaada Raha was miles ahead of that. Oh, and that last scene... it never fails to leave me all dewy-eyed. :-)

  2. ahh lovely, i see you enjoyed this film as much as i did and always do. I love how you pointed out Rakhee's performance, i agree she was superb in this. I love this film to bits, its just awesome and i do disagree with you on the soundtrack I personally think its one of R.D's best, I totally love it.

  3. Same here. Liked it very much. I haven't read the book so no cribs about how it did injustice to it ;-)
    Rakhee and Shammi Kapoor added char chaand.
    It seems that Jaya Bachchan dubbed for both Tina and Poonam so that there was no change in the voice, and indeed you 'hear' Jaya.

  4. @Dustedoff: I think I was struck by how delicately the whole story was played out. No melodrama, no OTT histrionics. Just lovely!

  5. @Bollywooddeewana: I think RD has done a much better job in so many of his other films. BUt yes, the title track is blissful.

  6. @Pacifist: Rakhee was really good and Shammi was great. BUt I was really impressed with Tina Munim. She emotes well here. Her pain really shows on her face.

  7. @Sharmi: I heard about the movie but yet to watch it. Thanks for the review :)

  8. @Sreenath: Please watch. You'll love it :)