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Monday, 12 March 2012

Flawed at heart (Andaz)

For the last few weeks both my husband and I have been talking about Mehboob Khan's Andaz. Watching the 1949 film was top priority for us and we just wanted some peace so that we both could relax and enjoy it. We've heard a lot about it, only praises, and were sure that we love the Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar chemistry. Nargis would be the perfect spice in there. My better-half and I are immensely fond of the young Kapoor, his roguish charm and of late, my man has realised that Dilip Kumar is The Dilip Kumar not for nothing. On his birthday he almost implored his friends to gift him the DVD of the film and he came home with a beaming smile saying, "This Sunday, then!" I was ecstatic, too. Why not? Raj Kapoor, I love. Dilip Kumar, I adore. And Nargis, though I don't think much of her looks, she is definitely one of the best actresses we've had in ages.

Andaz, he told me, was celebrated in all noted film circles and is till date one of the most talked about triangular love stories ever made. So, the expectations were like the gushing Nile!!!
Did the film deliver? Was it worth the wait? NO. And this is coming from someone who is extremely patient with old films. She let's the plot hang around for many minutes so that the twists have enough time to unravel themselves. She is ready to overlook glitches if the story is solid. She tells her co-watchers to slip into the age when the movie was made to honour the pace, the emotions and the setting of the film. All this, if the story and the characterisation is not flawed. Andaz, the much acclaimed movie from the famous Mehboob Khan, is a flawed script at heart. And how can I like it if I could not believe in it? The first half was slack, the second half was contorted. In totality, it was a Sunday evening wasted! The look of the film was good, smart, sharp and modern. The clothes were great; dapper suits and feather-light chiffons. Raj Kapoor looked great. But that's about it!
Even the treatment was ridiculously confused and jerky albeit with good cinematography by Faredoon Irani. Perhaps, at the end of it, Khan himself was fuzzy about what he wanted. He wanted it to be a sermon against the perils of modernity, showing the mistakes Neena (Nargis) makes for being a modern society girl, despite her father warning her so. She mingles freely with a young man and enjoys the attention she gets from Dilip (Kumar), in the absence of her fiance Rajan (Kapoor). But is she stupid enough to not realise that due to her over-eagerness in having Dilip for company, the later would mistake her actions for love. She even makes him a partner in her company after her father's demise, sealing Dilip's trust that Neena does love him. Neena is stupid, or I would say juvenile.
Rajan arrives and Neena slashes Dilip's heart with the announcement that he is her fiance. Shouldn't she have told this to him long back, or during the time when he was singing very suggestive love songs to her. Did she have any business walking around Dilip with a coquettish air? I believe Neena should have made her heart known to this unfortunate guy at the opportune moment, many of which did arrive. But no, she was happier revelling in his attention. Wrong of Neena to play with Dilip's heart, thus.
Well, when Dilip tells Neena that he loves her on the day of her marriage, Neena tells Dilip that she will only love Rajan. I see the baselessness of Dilip's action. Which sane guy would declare his love for a married woman on her wedding night? Wouldn't that rule out peace from her mind forever? But then considering Neena was ruthless with Dilip, she deserved to get it back from him. However, I was befuddled by Neena's reaction. If she is so much in love with Rajan, why would she bother about what Dilip felt and beg him to take back his words. They should be immaterial to her. What also gets my goat is when she impeaches him to stay back lest aspersions are cast on her character. Neena is selfish, self-absorbed and pretentious.
I call her so because she even rebukes Rajan for asking her who does Dilip love? Hey, that was such a harmless question that any man has the right to ask. Why is Neena so incensed by it? Or is it her guilt talking? Which means that she does have feelings for Dilip? Well, all too flummoxing!!
But then, she wants the injured Dilip to live not because he is a good man and doesn't deserve to die, but because he is her ticket to being proven innocent. If this is not selfish, what is?
Rajan is hurt and angry when he gets to know the truth about Neena and Dilip. He feels betrayed. But no matter how much hatred a husband he has for his wife, will any man stand in court and declare that he does not know who the woman is? Andaz shows humans in their extremes and doesn't really etch them properly. Neena is ridiculously flawed. Dilip procrastinates and hence fails. Rajan doesn't have enough meat and is shallow. What a terrific cast wasted My Khan! Can you imagine the prospects if the movie would have been better scripted? Raj Kapoor would have been like a whiplash, Dilip Kumar strong and retrained in his love and Nargis, the picture of trauma in her indecisiveness. This is what I call a perfect film gone down the drain. Pardon me, if I've incensed anyone, but these were my exact reactions on watching Andaz. The emotions in the film went ding-dong and so did my patience...
The music by Naushad, I'm sure was liked and praised in 1949 but it didn't find favour with me. And then there was that sick Prof DDT or something. Such silly actors should have been discarded out of a film like pests. He deserved nothing better!


  1. You're not going to like me much after this. :)

    Andaz is definitely not one of my favourites, the script letting down the performances, but I thought the characterisations were what made the film tick - Nina *is* quite unaware that her free and easy ways are open to interpretation, and she's young enough to brush it off when her father warns her (as a teenager, did you really think your parents were right?). She *is* attracted to Dilip, though she is not in love with him. Why not? When has 'attraction' had anything to do with love? And yes, she is selfish in that she wants to retain her friendship.

    Rajan *is* insecure, and jealous and goes overboard with his suspicions, to the extent that he is willing to perjure himself in court.

    Dilip is probably the most sympathetic, but even he is the average male - he feels he has been led on, and probably thinks that all it would take for her to give Rajan up is to hear him say that he loves her.

    I saw them as flawed, but human. Life is not so black and white. And unlike many movies of the time, I think Andaz weathered well; even today, it's not dated. Don't we see the same tropes play out? Not just in our films but in society?

    Where I had an issue with the film was when Mehboob Khan positioned it as a clash of idealogies - 'western' = bad; 'Indian' = good.

    And now I'll go off before you decide my taste is highly suspect! :)

  2. Lol at your review of this film, i felt the same way about it but i did like the songs especially 'toote na dil'. This film had me scratching my head that i had no idea what way to review it, you've relieved me of that now, bahut bahut shukriya ;)

  3. Ah Andaz! I share your views on this one. It really makes me wonder why the characters in the film do what they do and behave likewise? Why do they let things out of control before its too late? I sat down to watch it because I had heard and read only good things about it. But at the end, I was really exasperated by the three of them. I don't know why is it hailed as one of the best Love triangles because IMO, the triangle here is in bits-n-pieces, if you get what I mean. I have watched better triangles, if I may say so.
    And this is one Naushad album which didn't hold my attention. I watched it on Doordarshan and was flipping channels whenever a song came.

  4. While I'm not one of those who think Andaz is fabulous, I can see where Mehboob Khan was coming from. As Anu mentions too, this is a movie about human - everybody is shades of grey, not stark black or white. And as humans do, even the protagonists often act in ways that are stupid or selfish, or whatever. Another point on which I agree with Anu is that it's not dated (in fact, that is the exact word that comes to my mind whenever I think of Andaz).

    Despite all that, I think it's too depressing, and at the end, I didn't really find myself rooting for any of the characters. A little too close to real life? Perhaps.

    But I like Uthaaye jaa unke sitam - music and singing, not the lyrics that much - a lot. :-)

  5. @Anu: Haha, an adverse comment can never be a reason for me to not like you!!! I still like you a lot and yes, I do understand everything that you wrote about.
    The problem with me was I was expecting far to much from the film and felt like a shuttlecock while watching it. The emotions were too flippant or rather not charted concretely. Yes, Dilip deserves sympathy because he was wronged against. But why would he wait for Neena's marriage to declare his love. I feel he should have done that long back, when he already had an inkling that something was cooking between Rajan and Neena.
    Rajan is shallow and lacked strength. One gust of tumultous wind and he starts rocking!
    Neena for me was selfish. If she was so westernised she should have reasoned with Dilip and Rajan and sorted things out when there was time. Anyways, i chose not to think about the film anymore. Three great actors wasted in a confused script. That's all I feel :(

  6. @Bollywooddeewana: I liked Lata's songs more than Mukesh's. But the film was... let's not even talk about it :(

  7. @Punya: I can relate to your sentiments!!

  8. @Dustedoff: You know, I really was waiting for emotional fireworks when the declarations were made. BUt everything was so befuddled that nothing really happened. And that was so exasperating :(

  9. Well, I agree to a great extent with DO and Anu.

    As observers one can say why didn't/couldn't he...? But going through it oneself one doesn't think rationally. Head/heart thing ;-)
    If they behaved in a way that was correct and useful they would have been super humans.
    Nargis played the part of a woman who isn't bad, but quite selfish...and succeeded. That's why one gets angry/annoyed with her.

    Then there was the 'modern' angle as well. Perhaps at that time M Khan wanted to emphasise that to be 'modern' one needn't be 'westernized'. It was 1949, the British had just left, and things were beginning to change. I do agree with him there. Which doesn't mean all who think this consider western=bad, and just wants 'modern-Indian' as opposed to 'westernized- Indian', which is not the same, the latter being a superficial cloak while the former has chances of washing the baby (getting modern) and NOT throwing the baby with the dirty water.
    Of course it didn't happen that way and over the years western= modern, and it's not easy to change that.
    You see, if the film can get one to philosophise it has achieved something. LOL

  10. @Pacifist: I think the film really did achieve on the part of philosophising, right? But your points are worth noting :)

  11. Liked reading your review, but I think Mehboob Khan was right in portraying Nargis' character the way he did. I think meant to present her that way - carefree, ready to mingle, a little selfish with not a thought of the consequences.. And you wouldn't believe it - but I have known a few Nargis-like characters in my life :)
    --Neha Malude

  12. @Neha: Ya am sure there are plenty such characters in real life. BUt more than the way Nargis turned out, I had problems with the way the film was scripted. Didn't like that much :(

  13. @Sharmi: It looks like you had high expectations of this 1949 film. I have the DVD and it was on my to-watch list but may be I will wait a little :) I do like the songs of Andaz though!

  14. @Sreenath: Yes I did have very high expectations coz the director is a famous one and the actors are superlative artists. But alas... And I was disappointed with the music also :(

  15. Stupid movie cannot match any of rajesh khannas movies!!!!Dilip kumar your are not even Rajesh Khannas shoes you cannot ever touch him!!!'n

  16. @Anonymous: Now where did that come from?!

  17. So happy to have found your review, Sharmi. Just finished watching this film and could hardly force myself to make it to the end. I then looked up reviews, and my reaction to them was, "I don't think this film is about what you think it's about." I agree with everything you wrote, but take it a step farther: There's so much in this film that leads me to believe that she was in love with Dilip, but couldn't admit this to herself. What a stupid, shallow, spoiled, and selfish woman. I don't believe this has anything to do with the modern mores of 1949, and the remnants of the British Raj. One doesn't see too many examples of female narcissists in real life, but Mehboob came up with one for this film, for whatever reason. It's the old patriarchal archetype of the woman who destroys everyone around her.