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Saturday, 7 April 2012

A tidy little gem (Abhimaan)

Let's not even deliberate on the resemblances that Hrishikesh Mukherjee's 1973 classic Abhimaan shares with the life of real-life couple Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan. For, some might say the movie is almost similar to how Amitabh tries to uproot Jaya in terms of popularity, some might declare that all that is bunkum. So, let's just avoid the oft-discussed.
Instead, let's immediately delve into the beauty of this marvellous emotional drama where love, ego and understanding forms the crux. Abhimaan is not just a film, it an experience that needs to be felt. When the good times roll, we need to regale in the mirth. When the storm of ego and pride clouds the halcyon state of affairs in Subir and Uma's life, we need to take a leaf out of it and realise what goes wrong and how it needs to be avoided. While the two lovers suffer, we pray that everything turns out just fine and that music ultimately irons out all the differences that has crept in voluntarily as well as involuntarily.

Subir Sen (Amitabh Bachchan) is a successful singer who visits his aunt in his ancestral village. There he spots an unblemished village belle Uma (Jaya Bhaduri) and is smitten by her ineffectual charm. He is also quite struck by her singing prowess. Unlike him, she has been tutored in the classical notes of Indian music and that shows in her deft rendition of Nadiya kinarey (Lata Mangeshkar breated life into SD Burman's composition). The two get married. Subir loves Uma dearly and Uma, is of course, overjoyed at this sudden gust of happiness. The two return to the the affluence of Subir's home in the city. At a reception party to celebrate the marriage, Subir sings a soulful ballad with Uma (Lata Mangeshkar and Mohd Rafi charm with their sensitivity) called Teri nindiya rey and Subir declares that from now on he will be signing musical contracts that will star Uma also. This decision, feels Subir's acquaintance, Mr Ray, will bring about Subir's downfall. For, the old man clearly sees that Uma is way more talented than Subir.
In the party we also see Chitra (Bindu's character is so different and sensitive. Thank goodness she wasn't given a grey tone), who is Subir's friend. She had initially thought thought Subit would ultimately choose her as a life-partner and was a tad sad when she heard of the marriage. But when she hears Uma singing in the party she realises that the couple is made for each other.
Good times roll as Subir and Uma rock the music industry singing one glorious tune after another. We have the bouncy Lootey koi man ka nagar (Lata and Manhar Udhas) to regale us. But soon, disturbances come calling. Producers see the gem that Uma is and gradually she starts getting much more offers than her husband. She is reluctant to take them up, but Subir coaxes her, despite feeling a pinch of jealousy at Uma's sudden fame.
Things turn nasty as Subir keeps his dejection to himself and ignores Uma (much to her grief) only because he is utterly insecure of her fame. But then, he is not brave enough to announce his problem to his wife and when she tacitly tries to tell him that she won't sing anymore, he shoves her aside saying that she should not think that he is jealous of her success. Matters come to such a point that he implicitly tells her to get lost from his home and life.
Uma runs away to her father's home (A K Hangal), where it is learnt that she is soon going to be a mother. But even after learning this happy news Subir chooses to stay put in the city. His gargantuan ego prevents him from rushing to his wife and settling all the differences. He keeps brushing his responsibilities aside till the time when Uma loses her baby during childbirth and suffers from severe emotional trauma. Subir now is repentant, his ego has subsided, but feels ashamed to go to her. After repeated reminders and caustic words by his friend Chandru (Asran) and aunt (Durga Khote), does he relent and goes to get Uma back. He begs for Uma's forgiveness, but will Uma ever be the same happy girl again? Will music ever flow back into their lives? Will the two be able to overcome the tragedy that tormented Uma all this while? And will Subir be sufficiently punished?
Of the last bit I'm not sure of. For, I feel Subir gets away far too easily. Right, Uma goes to her father's house without taking Subir's permission. But what would the poor girl do? Subir was ill-treating her. No, he never hurled abuses at her or resorted to physical violence. He just completely started ignoring her, an even more painful proposition considering he was so vocal about his love for Uma in the beginning. The chemistry that the two shared is depicted quite regularly. Subir builds a wall around himself to keep Uma out for no fault of hers. Didn't she say that she was happy singing only with him? It was Subir who convinced her to go solo. Then why should she bear the brunt of his insecurity and jealousy. Why is she to suffer is he cannot handle her fame? Immature husband.
Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri are apt for the roles they play. Bachachan is good but Jaya is somehow, inches ahead of him. Her expressions in times of joy or woe are just immaculate. She looks lovely, the quintessential Indian beauty who wants nothing else but a happy home with her family. 
Here we come to the age-old discussion about man's position being higher than that of women in society. Uma is shown to be clearly much more talented than her husband. He is popular but soon finds his throne being usurped by his simple wife who bears no ill will towards anyone. Why is she such a thorn in his heart of she did garner a little more praise than him? The big question of male ego and pride comes to haunt the life and love of Subir and Uma like it must have done in the lives of so many couples.
And sadly, for everything that Subir does, in a fit of jealousy, sentiments and irrationality, Uma has to pay the price. Why? She loses her child, she turns into a stone and she suffers from severe emotional setback. Even after what her husband does to her, she wants his love and wants him to be successful again. Maybe, some will call her a sacrificial lamb. But perhaps, she realises that love can undo all the damage done. She tries to forget the past but the moment she hears the strains of Tere mere milan, she breaks down thinking about the loss she has suffered and hoping in her heart that not all is lost. This is the moment when tears rush down my eyes. I am angry with Subir for whatever he has done. But somehow, with that song, there is a renewal of hope and understanding. Along with the couple who have gone through much, I too believe that true love will triumph over all...

16 comments:

  1. Amitabh once said (in a Special Jaymala programme) that when he was filming Abhimaan he felt its similarities to his life. Only, Hrishida had apparently based the story on the marriage of Kishore Kumar and his first wife Ruma. This was a beautiful movie, and one I use to show people who tell me that Amitabh only did 'angry young man' roles. Of course, Saudagar is another, but then Abhiman is more to the point because it came at a more successful time in his career.

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  2. Good analysis Sharmi. Agree with all your points.
    I love this film. There is a story which is different, there's good acting, good music and both the main stars are ones I'm very fond of. Jaya looks lovely, and Amitabh is his usual attractive, sexy self :-)

    pacifist

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  3. @Anu: I've heard about this Kishore and Ruma inspiration. And ya, I really wish amitabh played more such roles.

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  4. @Pacifist: Well, Amitabh and sexy... hmmm. Not for me ever! He did act well, but sexy, nuh uh :(

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    1. :-( :-(

      pacifist

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    2. @Pacifist: Haha, what to do?! I guess it's because of the overkill of people loving him. ANd I so hate him now :(

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  5. Lovely film - thank you for reminding me of it, Sharmi! And Jaya's face was so very, very expressive.

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  6. @Sharmi: Great review of Abhimaan. Acting is superlative and songs are such gems. SD Burman gave real soulful music. Small correction - the song is Teri bindiya re and not Teri nindiya re. Of all the songs I like Teri bindiya re and Tere mere milan ki the best :)

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  7. @Sreenath: Oh yes, i just got carried away!! ;) I love Ab to hain tumsey also :)

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  8. @Dustedoff: I knowwww, she was so good. Wish we had more such performers today. But alas :(

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  9. ps: Joining pacifist - Amitabh *is* sexy!

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  10. @Anu: Hahaha, okay, point accepted from your point of view. But never for me!! ;)

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  11. @Sharmi: Catching up with your blog after a long break. Abhimaan will always remain a memorable film. It is strange that Sachin Dev Burman, despite all his great music, took 19 long years to win the Filmfare award for best music director after Taxi Driver in 1954. That he stood with amazing grace all those years giving lilting melodies shows his genius. Abhimaan was also my first LP record. This movie will remain etched in memory for a longtime to come. Ram

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  12. @Ram: Yup it was a brilliantly sensitive film indeed :)

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  13. This is one of my all time favourites. I believe that this is among the best of Hrishi da, along with Anand, Anuradha, Satyakam and CHupke Chupke... All frail human emotions, romance, success, failure adn insecurities have been finely woven into this movie. You can read a post of mine which I pucblished some years ago
    http://visionsofcinema.blogspot.in/2009/01/when-egos-clashed-in-abhimaan.html

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