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Saturday, 17 March 2012

For some time pass (Man ki Aankhen)

I wouldn't recommend this film highly. But yes, if you are in a serious mood for some family drama, especially some induced by the caustic mother-in-law, then this is THE film for you. For, all sparkling fireworks, both good and bad, is reserved for Lalita Pawar. And like always, she never fails to deliver here. When she is the doting mother, she is every bit as loving to her sons. But when she bears her fangs towards the daughter-in-law she is not particularly fond of, then God save the young bride. Lailita Pawar is splendidly sarcastic, ejects poison at the drop of a hat and never minces words to declare that she truly hates this girl. And in her histrionics there is that level of perfection that makes her such a revelation to watch. Lalita Pawar is the attraction in this otherwise tepid film. And this, despite the film starring the handsome Dharmendra and the talented Waheeda Rehman.

But come to think of it, Rehman was already over the hill in 1970, when this film was released and she looks jaded too. She appears a tad old beside Dharmendra, who is at the peak of his good looks. Even Dharmendra lacks the chutzpah here. Perhaps his role is not very meaty or lacks the steam that we associate him with in his other films. But on the whole I did manage to sit through Man ki Aankhen because it has a plausible storyline and good performances.
Mrs Agarwal is a rich widow having two sons, Naresh (Sujit Kumar) and Ramesh (Dharmendra). Like every aging mother she too wants to get her sons married soon and is on the look out for prospective brides. But there's a catch. She wants a bride who will bring with herself a large cache of dowry. Just banknotes won't do. She wants jewellery, hard cash as well as a car. The more the better. She reasons with those calling her greedy by saying that it is a matter of prestige for her to take such a large dowry. She fixes Naresh's marriage with Vandana (Faryal), only daughter of Rai Bahadur (Brahm Bharadwaj), despite not finding her agreeable. Fact is Vandana is too modern for the sober and simple Naresh. But his mother salivates at the thought that Vandana is the only heir to the large empire that the Rai Bahadur has and is also happy that she gets a hefty dowry. On the wedding night we get to see Vandana as the upstart and ultra-modern chic girl who cares two hoots about traditions and customs. She gets her husband addicted to the club culture she indulges in and despite Naresh initially balking at the sight of Vandana dancing with other men, he too slowly gets pulled into the dangerous concoction of alcohol, betting and cards.
In the meantime, Ramesh visits a hilly village in North India where the family owns several fruit orchards to settle a large business consignment. There he meets up with his old school teacher Dinanath (Manmohan Krishna) and his wife (Leela Chitnis). He recognises his teacher's daughter Geeta (Waheeda Rehman) and gradually the two get close. Ramesh and Geeta fall in love with each other and Ramesh marries Geeta in the village itself and takes her to the city, thinking that his mother will forgive this folly because she loves her son. But he does not know Mrs Agarwal! The moment the mother hears that Geeta is no rich princess but the daughter of a poor and simple village school teacher, she throws a fit. She tries driving Geeta out and when Ramesh hinders her plan, she promises to ill treat Geeta so that the later gives up and leaves for her father's home.
But Geeta is made of sterner stuff. She is forced to do all the housework (and mind you, the Agarwals live in a huge mansion!), she hardly has any time for her husband (while Vandana and Naresh enjoy all the merriment of life), she is treated like a beast of burden, and despite all she does, her mother-in-law unleashes her fury on her regularly without fail. Ramesh tries to take Geeta away from all this, but the righteous girl does not want to the germ of separation between mother and son. So, she cools Ramesh down and continues to suffer with a smile. 
Ramesh is weak I feel. He sees his wife suffering but silently agrees to his mother's whims. Both Naresh and Ramesh are too scared of their mother initially and don't have the guts to stand up against her. This is one major flaw in the Agarwal brothers.
Things come to such an extreme that Dinanath is heavily insulted and abused by Mrs Agarwal when he comes to meet his daughter. Not being able to take this heinous behaviour against his father-in-law Ramesh leaves home with Geeta. And things take a turn from here...
I can understand why the director cast Rehman in Geeta's role. Geeta is supposed to be a good woman who suffers but is strong. Rehman lacks the fire of her youth but she does play her part well. She does not look great (except in one song where she wears a white saree) but that's not what she is here for. She is given some goody-two-shoes lines and she is an actress able enough to mouth them impeccably. I would have rather seen a younger girl cast opposite Dharmendra. She does look a wee bit too old with him. Especially when he is so handsome.
Faryal is the glam quotient in the film. She has a fabulous figure and wears some awesome clothes. There is a scene where she goes to the club with Naresh wearing a green saree and a tube blouse. It's bold but she carries it with panache. Her character is well etched and she does a good job playing the spoiled daughter who learns a lesson the hard way.
The music by Laxmikant Pyarelal is tepid. I just about remember the songs, O jaanewala aaja and Dil kahen ruk ja rey.
But as said before Lalita Pawar rules the roost in this film. I don't think anyone played the wicked mother-in-law as she did. So earnest was her projection and so immaculate was her performance. Here she is crippled by a false belief and she acts on the basis of that. And sometimes you really feel like banging some sense into her. But when that mouth opens, nobody dares to utter a word. Such was her power, such authority over her art...

10 comments:

  1. I'm sure I've seen it, but can't remember much. Seems like a typical cruel saas and bahu tale.
    What's a 'tube blouse'?
    pacifist

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  2. Hi
    Thats , was well observed descrition of the film scenes comes clear in front.
    nice one ...I really like the way you
    keep pace with ..story n flow in writing...

    Great work ..keep it up :)

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  3. Hmm. This sounds like a 'must-pass-up' for me. I hate these predictable saas-bahu-spineless son melodramas.

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  4. @Pacifist: Tube Blouse is one without any straps. It's like a circular piece of band over your chest!!! That's the best way I can explain that!!! :P

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  5. @Vivek: Thanks a ton and keep reading :)

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  6. @Dustedoff: Yeah, it wasn't that great. just timepass :)

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  7. Hmm, I'm glad I haven't seen this film. If the 'virago mother-in-law' trope doesn't make me want to kill someone, then the 'martyr daughter-in-law' stereotype will. I've never understood the doormat complex. And of course, Faryal will mend her 'modern' ways and become good Indian bahu, no? Thanks for seeing it so I don't have to! (And yes, that's Greta's tagline that I've happily usurped.)

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  8. @Anu: Hahhahahha... thanks for thanking me so!!

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  9. @Sharmi: Nice review. You did not mention director Raghunath Jhalani but he made some great suspense films and dramas like Anamika, Aya Sawan Jhoom Ke, Aaye Din Bahar Ke and Uljhan so I think I will give this a try :)

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  10. @Sreenath: Ohh Anamika is one of my favourites!! The other ones are lovely too!!

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