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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Romance and entertainment (Lukochoori)

This is prime time entertainment. Twin brothers who are very much aware of each others' existence, sisters who fall in love with each of them, parents who are loving and indulgent yet stern, comedy that is absolutely situational, songs that hark back to the time when Bengali music ruled the roost and performances that are so easy on the senses. Set in Bombay of yore, Lukochoori is one film that pits a comic Kishore Kumar against a restrained one, each one having enough screen time and opportunity to show off his colour and ability, thereby confirming the fact that if and when Kumar wanted he could deliver a fine performance.
What also works for this film is that you see the top Hindi film actors speak in Bengali, behave Bengali and ooze responses that have a very Bengali feel to them. Kishore Kumar, the otherwise buffoon in Chalti Ka Naam Gadi and Jhumroo (who somewhat spoils the romantic interludes with his cartoon expressions), is sweet and sensitive as Shankar Chowdhury and funny and freewheeling as Buddhu. Yes, the name can put you off, but watch this Kumar Chowdhury's antics to be thoroughly entertained.
And best of all, Kishore speaks in Bengali, a language that he is born with. Listening to him render those Hindi songs all through the years, this comes as such a welcome change. His diction is flawless and his singing is splendid. What he never perhaps tried in Hindi cinema, he does so in this 1958 romantic caper: play a sober and struggling music director with a controlled approach. This not just acts as a foil to the otherwise flamboyant Kumar who is an extrovert, it also reveals a unique aspect of the actor in Kishore Kumar.
Mala Sinha did quite a few Bengali films. One of the most popular ones are Lukochoori and a romantic drama with Uttam Kumar. While I fail to remember the latter's title, this film sees her being serenaded by Kishore Kumar. She is pretty and perky and makes for a lovely couple with Kishore. Mala Sinha had a very Bengali face: big eyes, broad frame and a homely disposition. All this make her such a domestic favourite with us Bengalis. Even Anita Guha looks quite attractive with the hero, here. Guha happens to be one of my family acquaintances. As a young girl, I often saw her shying away from the camera (this was when she was old and retired from films). Her sister told us that she did not want to see herself as old and frail. Seeing her in Lukochoori today I can gauge her reluctance in being photographed as an old lady. Call it insecurity or a veiled sense of vanity, there should always be a faint aura of exclusivity about them.
I digress. The story of Lukochoori now, in short. Kumar, or Buddhu, has been transferred to Bombay, where he has to join a company called Bengal Traders. His father instructs him not to stay with his brother, Shankar. The patriarch is unhappy with Shankar as the latter is in love with an artist and also composes music for films (a taboo for youngsters from respectable families those days). But Buddhu has other plans. he is too fond of his brother to obey his father. He starts living with his twin the moment he reaches Bombay.
It appears that Shankar is in love with Gita (Anita Guha), a young and talented artist, who reciprocates his feelings. They two have decided to get married, but Gita's mother balks in the way. The mother (Rajlakshmi Devi), a stern woman will not have a wayward musician for her son-in-law. But Gita's father, a professor by profession, is indulgent towards his daughter. Gita tells everything to Rita (Mala Sinha), her sister and obviously nothing is hidden from this young girl, who works in Bengal Traders. Though her mother does not want her to work, she does so of her free will.
While the love story of Shankar and Gita progresses, Kumar, a.k.a Buddhu encounters Rita on his first day at work. While the meeting is not exactly pleasant, the two start developing a liking for each other, mostly on Kumar's initiative to break the ice. He is garrulous and funny, Rita is chirpy and pretty. Soon, the office eavesdroppers (including Anup Kumar), put two and two together and figure out that something fishy is cooking in Rita and Kumar's world.
All is fine but when a case of mistaken identity arises, Gita is forced to believe that Shankar no more loves her and has fallen for Rita. On the other hand, Kumar's father fixes his marriage with someone else. On hearing the ghastly news, Kumar feigns illness and seeks Shankar's help to get out of the sticky situation. Shankar comes forth to help him but despite knowing the truth about Kumar's heart's desire, keeps mum. What follows is absolute midsummer madness and mayhem, when confusion runs amok and gags are aplenty. Please watch to see how the truth unfurls...
This is a wonderfully freewheeling romantic comedy: fast paced, action packed and entertaining. The incidents are interspersed with some lovely songs composed by Hemant Kumar and while I do not care much for Kishore playback in Hindi films, I quite liked his renditions here. The famous song Shing nei tobu naam tar shingho belongs to this film. Some lovely Rabindrasangeet are woven into the soundtrack, too.
Given the pleasantness of this film and the precision with which Kishore Kumar plays his dual part, I wonder what made him so buffoonish in his Hindi films. He is superb as Shankar and Kumar and juxtaposes Kumar's effervescence with Shankar's restraint. I can never say that Kishore was a good looking man. But overall in this film, he appears quite smart and sober. This is one film where, for a change, I do not mind him as the leading man...


  1. Nice write-up that made me nostalgic. The film has been a favorite of mine since ages though I am not a Kishore fan. The plot has a spring in its steps and the bubbly execution a whiff of Shakespearean comedy. The songs are a winner, bearing the stamp of the b/w Bengali romance of the 50s. Though the acting is up to the mark, the film, I feel, stands out because of the superb circumstantial comedy. A must watch and one of the top 10 Tollywood romcoms.

  2. @Netdhaba: My God... what a pleasant surprise! Welcome, welcome! Yes, this film really surprised me with its neatness. Without any excesses and stupid gags, it is a thorough winner :)

  3. I'm not much of a fan of Kishore Kumar (as an actor) - I find him too clownish. But this sounds delightful (and I've heard of it). Will certainly look out for it.
    BTW, the Mala Sinha-Uttam Kumar starrer that I've heard of is Khelaghar. Was that the one you meant?

  4. @Dustedoff: If the story deals with Uttam grooming a village belle so that her city-bred fiance approves of her, but then ultimately falling in love with his pupil himself, then yes, that IS the film!

  5. This seems so interesting. And the best part is that I've found a link to watch it one - with subtitles :)

    It's on youtube.
    Here's the link to the first part, if anyone's interested.


  6. Nice. Looks like I got to watch this one too

  7. @Roshmi: Yes please do. It's quite some fun.

  8. hii.. Nice Post

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