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Monday, 7 November 2011

Seven day saga (Woh Saat Din)

If Sonam Kapoor were half as talented as her father, Anil Kapoor wouldn't have to tax his brains double time on how to secure a sound future for his pretty-but-plastic offspring. The father was really a thorough entertainer. He acted well, right from his first films, carried some rhythm in his toes and was cute to look at. Look at his flamboyant portrayal of a village bumpkin in Woh Saat Din and you'd know that Anil Kapoor was serious about the trade he was getting into. In his first lead role as Prem Pratap Patialewale, Anil Kapoor leaves an indelible impression on sensitive minds. The film, a funny yet sweet saga about a simpleton struggling it out in the big bad city, is a window to the talent that Anil Kapoor would only unleash in his later films. That he was not just riding the popularity of his producer father Surinder Kapoor, but striving to prove that he deserved reckoning is only too true in Bapu's Woh Saat Din.

The first part is hilarious because Prem shrouds his struggle and his emotions under a thin veil of lightheartedness. Sure, he gets a sound backing from the uber-talented Padmini Kolhapure, who wears her heart on her sleeves in this film, and the subtle yet strong Naseeruddin Shah. But, when it comes to flexing his muscles before a powerhouse of talent or rather bigwigs in the industry, Kapoor chose not to get intimidated and play to the tune given to him. Result: He succeeds with flying colours, his effort laudable for its sheer translucency.
Woh Saat Din is a tender 1983 film that stands out for its offbeat execution. The film starts on a note of suspense where a man is tying the knot with a woman. The atmosphere is heavy with an unnerving silence, amidst which the purohit's chants just clear the air. The bride is awkwardly morose, the groom fulfills all the Vedic dictums religiously. No one is smiling, the cheerful ambiance of a wedding ceremony is missing. But the director makes sure that the final vows are heard and understood when uttered. Every word, every line is almost grated into the head of the couple as well as the audience with their clarity.
When the groom brings the bride home, we learn that he is a widower with a daughter, Chanda (a sweet girl). Anand's (Naseeruddin Shah) mother (Dina Pathak) is bedridden and counting her days. She blesses the bride (Kolhapure) and is visibly happy to see that after a prolonged refusal Anand agreed to heed her insistance. Maya off course is too quiet for comfort. The couple go to their room and Maya faints. Luckily Maya's husband is a doctor and he promptly pumps the poison out of her discreetly. When the girl gains consciousness, Anand implores Maya to reveal everything to him under a pledge of secrecy.
That a girl swallowed poison on the day of her marriage points directly towards her reluctance to get hitched. The doctor is worried and would like to know the root of her grudge from the beginning. It is here that the director takes us on a tour of emotion, passion, love and longing...
What's worthwhile is how the chemistry between Prem and Maya develops. While Maya is the overtly passionate girl who speaks about her love for Prem openly, the latter is the cartoon with a sensible mind and sensitive soul. Innumerable funny snippets contribute to the cementing of their bond. He loves Maya but is aware that her wards will never accept an unemployed and poor individual for their son-in-law. He is honest, hardworking, sturdy and talented. He is loudmouthed but warm, impulsive but rational. And even when Maya allows him to take liberties with her, he is steadfast about his duties and her honour. He does nothing to earn but once he has given her his word, he does not step back when it is time to marry her. But will his hard work, his truth, his honesty, his efforts pay off? Will Prem and Maya be united?
Bapu weaves a unique tale of love and responsibilities between three adults who are bound by traditions yet have to answer the call of their hearts. (The remake, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, was nice too. But somehow, I will always favour this one for it's beautiful simplicity.) These three individuals have themselves tied up in knots and it is also up to them on how these knots will be untied. What I admire about Anand is how he never forces his decisions on Maya. In the end, it is Maya who decides her own fate. Anand never implores her for anything. He just requests her to fulfill her responsibilities as his wife for seven days, before he reunites her with Prem.
Naseeruddin is as usual marvellously subtle, sober and restrained as Dr Anand. He downplays his emotions with aplomb. In the scene where his mother passes away, note how he silently weeps as a son who has lost a dear one. It's heartrending...
Padmini Kolhapure plays the passionate young girl to perfection. She is touched by the simplicity and honesty of Prem, the villager and falls in love with him. She tries to seduce him but fails. She plays naughty tricks but fails. But she soon learns that Prem is trying to hide his true feelings from her on the grounds of practicality. Padmini delivers a crackling performance as the girl lost in love. She is compassionate and caring. And even when her heart lies with Prem, it is her innate goodness that makes her care for her in-laws and Chanda. Great show by Padmini.
The music by Laxmikant Pyarelal acts a good filler. In the first scene introducing Prem, the actor speaks of the greatness of the composer-duo. What is remarkable is that when Anil Kapoor sits at his harmonium, it almost appears as if he himself has composed all those tunes! Such is his earnestness, his delivery and his expressions! He is the livewire of this film. He is hilarious without being pushy, he is funny without being loud. He mixes chaste Punjabi with Hindi and makes us all roar with laughter. His speedy banter is basically a trick at hiding his profoundly sensitive soul. Something that leaves us speechless when explored...

48 comments:

  1. Didn't know that 'Hum Dil de chuke Sanam' was a remake of this, but that would make it a remake of a remake. The original was a 1981 Tamil hit called 'Andha ezhu naatkal' starring K.Bhagyaraj, written by him as well.

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  2. Sharmi, Let's not even talk of Sonam Kapoor. But I remember 'Woh Saat Din' and Anil Kapoor in it, though I saw it years and years ago. It may be worth a re-visit.

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  3. Sanjay Leela Bansali is a 'copycat',all his films (even khamoshi)are copies , dunno why he is considered a 'leading' director.
    btw, Anil vs Salman who is better/worse?

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  4. Oddly enough, I've never bothered to find out what this film was all about - somehow I was under the impression that it was one of those horrifically violent films, like Tezaab. Anyway, thank you for enlightening me - I've now added it to my DVD rental queue! Am looking forward to watching it. :-)

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  5. Hello Sharmi: As quoted earlier, this was a remake of "antha 7 natkal" the hindi version transliterating the title. It was K Bhagyaraj's success story in Tamil celluloid (incidentally he directed Amitabh in 'aakhri raasta' yet another remake). The first half of the story was based on the real life incidents of famous tamil music director (known to the world as MSV and his rhthym assistant Gopalakrishnan). In my opinion Bansali rehashed Mani Ratnam's "Mouna Raagam" which was a better version of an earlier tamil flick "Nenjathai Killathey"! In the filmworld these get classified as "inspiration"

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  6. @Anonymous: Oh wow, didn't know about the Tamil version. Is it worth watching? Is it as entertaining like it's Hindi copy?

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  7. @Banno: Yes, I seriously sometimes feel like slapping Sonam. She is so irritating !!!

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  8. @Chris: I feel Anil Kapoor was any day better than Salman in terms of performance.

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  9. @Dustedoff: Oh you mustust see this. It is just wonderful. I'm sure you will like it.

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  10. @Ram: Yes, inspired for sure. Thank you so much for all this trivia :)

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  11. Yes, a nice film indeed.

    There is a Bengali one too ... starring Chiranjeet (in the role of Dr. Anand) and Tapash Pal (essaying Anil Kapoor's part.) I think the heroine was Shatabdi Ray. However the name of the film eludes me.

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  12. Great review, it makes me want to see the film immediately! After reading the comments, I wonder if I should just watch the Tamil original? Bhagyaraj made good films..

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  13. @Roshmi: Wasn't the heroine Debasree Ray? I've seen that one too but don't remember the name. But yes, the Bengali one isn't a patch on this one :)

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  14. well,all the four films i.e. woh saat din,hddcs,south indian original of woh saat din and the bengali one are actually inspired from Maitreyi devi's super popular bengali novel 'Na Hanyate'.The basic plotline of all these films is taken from that novel.Infact,that novel was also based on Maitreyi devi's own life.

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  15. @Suja: You can watch both I think!! Double whammy!! :)

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  16. @MAnmusic: Well this post is sure unravelling many trivia!!

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  17. @Sharmi: I watched this long back but didn't remember a thing until I read this review. I didn't realize HDDCS was based on this! I will try to watch this soon. Bapu is a talented director but seems to have lost his magical touch of late.

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  18. @Sreenath: Oh really? Which was the last film he directed?

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  19. Bhagyaraj is a versatile actor/director/writer/musician/jack of several trades in Tamil cinema. His films, while not too high-brow, were known for some characteristic "twist" or the other. I've mostly seen the Hindi remakes of his films - Aakhree Rasta, Woh Saat Din and Mohabbat (another young Anil Kapoor with a diabetically sweet Vijayeta Pandit), Gopi-Kishen (Sunil Shetty), Masterji (ugh, Rajesh Khanna)come to mind. I'm sure there were several others too. I'm not too sure, but I think Beta and Andaaz(both AK again) were amongst the last in Hindi at least.

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  20. @AKM: Ohh Beta?!? BUt that film was good with the iconic Dhak dhak karne laga showcasing the scintillating Madhuri Dixit !!!

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  21. Umm... Beta was a remake of a Tamil movie. The songs were a sort of superhit collection of Tamil/Telugu hits of the preceding years : )

    Listen to the opening bars of these songs and you'll get the point!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_88LwUH1d-E

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NTfviERGfM

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  22. @AKM: Sure, let me just tune into them!

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  23. @Sharmi: Bapu is still making films in Telugu. His recent Telugu film Sundarakanda of 2008 was a dud. His latest Telugu movie Sri Rama Rajyam is ready for release this month. It is a mythological and is expected to be received well. BTW, there is some confusion whether Woh 7 Din is based on Bapu's own Telugu movie Radha Kalyanam of 1981 or Bhagyaraj's Antha Ezhu Naatkal. These two are same but I have see contradicting statements on Net as to which is the original :)

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  24. As Sreenath says, the Wiki pages on Andha 7 Naatkal and Radha Kalyanam have conflicting information on which is first. It's possible that both were made around the same time, though I suspect the original story idea may have come from Bhagyaraj (simply because the hero is named Palakkad Madhavan, a more likely transplant in a Tamil setting.)
    Interestingly, the actress who plays Radhika in the Telugu movie is Radha (whose real-life name is Radhika, and she is also the sister of Ambika, who is the actress who played the lead in the Tamil version.)

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  25. @Sreenath: Hmmm. now here's lots to ponder on!

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  26. @Anonymous: Man... now i really think I should see these famous films :)

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  27. I would put in a word for the Tamil version, which I enjoyed, Bhagyaraj was a hoot as the wannabe music director. But feel free to try out both versions, they will have their individual regional charms, I'm sure.

    P.S. To add to the confusion of Radha and Ambika, I must add, they are both of Malayali extraction. I used to walk by the house they built every day on my way back from school ;)

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  28. @Anonymous: All this is just whetting my appetite to see all these films now.

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  29. Sharmi: There you go.....look at your pick of woh 7 din and the info (trivia) it has thrown in. Great to read it all...Ram

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  30. @Ram: I swear!!! LOngest comment thread so far!! So thrilled :)

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  31. I'm completely ignorant about this particular decade of films. Haven't seen Anil Kapoor in any film except Slumdog.
    Perhaps I'll start with this one.
    pacifist

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  32. @Pacifist: Ohh you must see this one!! It's lovely.
    This is the longest comment thread I've ever had. Seems I am lucky!! Thank you so much you kind souls :)

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  33. @Sharmi: Yeah, this must be the longest thread on your blog :)

    @Anonymous: Just a correction. The heroine in Telugu version Radhika is not Ambika's sister. Radha, another famous Telugu heroine is Ambika's sister. I am sure you know Radhhika who acted in Telugu version is Sarath Kumar's wife but you might have mistaken bcause of similar sounding names :)

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  34. @Sreenath: I just choose to read all of it now. And see the movies soon enough :)

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  35. @Sreenath:

    Looks like the Wiki page for Radha Kalyanam should be edited. It is showing the name of the heroine as Radhika, acted by Radha, instead of vice versa.
    Radha_Kalyanam
    So much for my theory about the possible sequence of which film came first.

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  36. @Anonymous: In Wikipedia's cast section we first have actor/actress name followed by character name so what they have is right. I know it's confusing but you can easily know based on the hyperlink for actor/actress name :)

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  37. Since I have been adding to the confusion regarding Radha/Raadhika, here's a sampler from the Telugu version, just for the fun of it, with a very young Radhika playing the role of Radha ;)

    Youtube link

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  38. @Anonymous: I'm off to watch the link!!

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  39. hii.. Nice Post

    For latest stills videos visit ..

    www.chicha.in

    www.chicha.in

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  40. I love this movie, one of my favourites from the decade. And I keep recommending it to everybody. I even made one of my teammates sit with me and watch it.
    All three of them Anil, Naseer and Padmini are brilliant in their roles. And the story itself is cute....funny and entertaining at places and serious at times. I love that scene where Anil asks Naseer - toh maa kab maregi and Naseer gets a call saying his mother is no more. The silence there conveys so much.
    I had first watched this movie when I was in 7th or 8th standard and two things about this movie that have always stayed with me are -
    The song - pyaar kiya nahin jaata ho jaata hai
    And the dialogue at the end : Ladki ka dil aaine ki tarah hota hai...
    And everytime I watch this movie or am reminded of it, I keep wondering if it's really true :-P
    Would love to watch the telegu and tamil version of it.

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  41. @Sunheriyaadein: Yes, now I too want to watch the Tamil and the Telegu version :)

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  42. Sharmi, I loved your opening line about Sonam - I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who finds her dashed irritating! Woh Saat Din was a wonderful movie, and so much more from the heart than HDDCS. It seemed more real somehow, though the whole speech about how the 'magalsutra' is 'pavitr' peeved the hell out of me when I saw it first (and when I saw it subsequently too). It seemed like the girl had no choice at all. Aaargh! But Bhagyaraj's movies were like that - I always thought of his movies as regressive - because, at the end, the heroine *always* had to apologise. :( Thus spoiling what was unfolding so well until then.

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  43. @Anu: YOu know, what I loved about the film was that it looked so real. But I wish there developed a kind of bonding and attraction between the husband and the wife so that when the wife refuses to go, Yo still feel that she was growing a certain liking for the new man in her life!! Hmmm... wish all these directors take tips from us, eh ?!?!! ;)

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  44. @Sharmi - But I wish there developed a kind of bonding and attraction between the husband and the wife so that when the wife refuses to go, Yo still feel that she was growing a certain liking for the new man in her life!!

    This. Exactly! I mean, why the heck can't we want to stay with the man because we actually come to like him, instead of just because we happen to hold our necks out like sacrificial goats?? I mean, is there some rule that says a woman can only love one man in her life time? And if that rule is there, then why not allow her the choice to say 'I'm NOT going to marry the guy you chose for me, because I love another'??

    Atleast, in HDDCS, they did show Nandini coming to like Vanraj before the whole mangalsutra being pavitr trope came into play (the rest of the film was over-the-top but God, the songs!).

    Sorry. *getting off soapbox sheepishly* This is one of those cankers under the skin that refuse to go away. :( Women are so much chattel even now. Especially in films!

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  45. @Anu: Yes, I guess Bhansali realised that the Mangalsutra trope will not work with the modern generation. ;)

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