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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Guru Dutt's last (Sanjh aur Savera)

Considering that this 1964 drama was Guru Dutt's last film outing before he succumbed to the dangerous cocktail of sleeping pills and alcohol, I'm ready to overlook any minor glitch that happens in the film. True, Sanjh aur Savera does have some unnecessary plot twists and some of the sadness could be done away with, but on the whole this Hrishikesh Mukherjee classic is quite an engaging tale on the games that God plays with us. The sequences are masterminded by the Almighty and it only is true that we are mere dices in His hands. And what better way to show that than the events that happen in Gauri's life. After all, she does not want to be unhappy, but can she force suffering away from her life. No, she does not have the choice to do so.

This is a very different Hrishikesh Mukherjee treatise, especially because the setting looks very much like that of a Southern production. And most importantly, if you notice the story and the cast, I would have loved to believe that more or less this is an AVM production.
One might ask why Gauri keeps mum when she can blurt out the truth to her husband. That would have saved her from the shame that befalls her and all the trouble that she and Prakash faces. But then, perhaps it is her apprehension about what her husband would think about her that forces her to keep mum. Also, somehow, sometimes these plot elements are required to take the story forward. And according to me, if the cast is good, the story tolerable and the performances are fine, I'm game to forgive even the slightest malfunction. And yes, if the music is nice. And in that department Shankar Jaikishan does a fantastic job.
Gauri (Meena Kumari) is taken away by Madhusudan (Manmohan Krishna) to his abode after her father passes away. There she quickly fits into the household with her warm and chirpy ways. Though initially she is resented by Prakash (Mehmood) because she is trying to usurp his rights of taking care of the uncle, Prakash soon realises that Gauri has the best intentions. She also floors him with her melodious singing abilities. Madhusudan considers Gauri lucky because as soon she arrives in the house, it appears that his daughter, Maya, has been liked by Rukmini Chaudhury, the mother of a famous surgeon called Shankar Chaudhury (Guru Dutt), with whom Maya is to be married. The match is fixed and Maya is called for from college. But Maya is already in love with Ramesh and comes home only to tell her father that she does not want to be married now. This insolence Madhusudan does not brook and goes ahead with the wedding preparations.
While the marriage is being conducted, Maya faints and is taken into another room. And as misfortune would have it, when no one is looking she elopes with Ramesh. Madhusudan is devastated and suffers from a heart attack. In order to save is dear uncle and the prestige of the family, Prakash implores Gauri to get into a bride's garb and go with Shankar to his house. Gauri is stunned to hear of this suggestion and is apprehensive but agrees only thinking of her uncle's health. On the wedding night she begs Shankar not to touch her as she is observing a fast. Considerate that Shankar is, he respects her priorities and leaves her alone. But at midnight when he sees the beautiful face of his wife, he is smitten. As days go by, Gauri tries to evade the attention of Shankar, Shankar tries to win her over with gifts and is understandably baffled when she recoils. He is worried that she does not like him.
At this instant, Madhusudan sends Prakash to Gauri's home to get her. He is extremely angry with the arrangement that Prakash has hastily put Gauri through. But Prakash is resourceful and takes both Gauri and Shankar to Benaras where Madhusudan is stationed currently. He justifies his stand and tells Madhusudhan that since Maya is dead (that's another story), Gauri should be now wedded to Shankar. So, in the presence of God, Gauri and Shankar are married. And Gauri is happy. Though Shankar still believes her to be Maya.
Soon the couple see joyous times. Gauri is happy and is soon going to have a baby. But lo! Maya comes back from the dead and some malicious relatives unleash poison into Gauri's happy conjugal life. Plenty of twists take place and Gauri's travails never seem to end. Will Gauri really be reunited with Shankar, the man who loves her so? Will he believe her after hearing everything?
No matter how contrived the plot is I found Sanjh aur Savera interesting. And the main reason for that is the wonderful performances by the able cast. Meena Kumari portrays joy and woe with equal ease. And yes, she is beautiful. Guru Dutt is affable and charming. The best part is that here he plays an affluent doctor, so far removed from the dreary image he carried in most of his earlier films. Guru Dutt I believe had a very special approach toward romance and here you get to see that. His pairing with Meena Kumari is different and hence, special.
Praveen Paul and Shubhan Khote have a good part in the film. And yes that song is absolutely stunning. Ajhuna aaye balma by Mohd Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur is sheer bliss for the senses. Also good are the title track and O Sajna mere ghar. 
A very special role has been slotted for Mehmood in this film. He plays Prakash, the good-hearted music lover without a care in the world. He loves his sister and his uncle dearly and can do anything for them. He is funny in parts and extremely happy-go-lucky. But when the time comes he undertakes immense responsibilities so that no harm befalls his dear ones. This Prakash reveals multiple goodness in his personality. And it's such a revelation to see Mehmood (one of the best comedians we've had) portray this delicate and multi-hued character!

4 comments:

  1. My thoughts exactly.
    I accepted everything in the film (including the story) because I liked what I was watching.
    Guru Dutt has a very romantic face and smile. I love it, and to be smitten with meena Kumari who's so beautiful made it all very interesting.
    And yes, I too was very aware that this is Guru Dutt's last film. It added extra value to it.

    pacifist

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  2. I was a little disappointed by this film. Meena Kumari was beautiful, of course, and Guru Dutt is great in a romantic role (I think he was really good at that - see Mr & Mrs 55? Ooh!! :-))... but this somehow just didn't work for me. I found it a little too family drama-ish; you're right when you mention it as resembling those AVM films. Too true!

    Still, a pleasant enough film - and the music is excellent.

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  3. @Dustedoff: YOu know I just saw a film that just outdid all the drama in this one. But I love these ones man!! So full of colour :)

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