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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Prefer the remake... a bit more (Kangan vs Uljhan)

When I watched Nanabhai Bhatt's Kangan a few months back, I quite liked it. Though the narrative ran a tad slow, it had the elements of an engrossing mystery. The best part was Nirupa Roy starring as the female lead. She really was a pretty sight and played her part well. I never liked Ashok Kumar as a male lead so here too I was noncommittal. But the main thing was the story. It was a gripping mystery that hooked me to the very end.

The other day, I watched Raghunath Jhalani's Uljhan. And wonder of wonders, it was a remake of the 1959 film. The story was absolutely same but the treatment, I might add, was better. Not that the old one was bad, but the remake had everything in place. The cast was fabulous and the 1975 film ran fast. Which means it's even more engrossing.

The film opens with the preparations of the marriage of Anand (Sanjeev Kumar) and Karuna (Sulakshana Pandit in her debut role). Amidst all the fun and gaiety, Brij Bhushan (Ranjeet) corners Anand's sister, Kamla (Farida Jalal) and blackmails her about some love letters she had earlier written to him. The odious man asks her to meet him in his hotel room at 8 pm or elsehe would hand over the testimonies of their earlier affair to her husband. This would surely bring her and her family ruin. Kamla is distraught with this development and runs to Karuna who is getting ready. She tells her everything. Karuna being the good Samaritan offers to get the letters from Brij Bhushan by going to the hotel room herself. This is dangerous. She is the bride and any delay would malign her forever but she wants to help her friend Kamla. So she goes wrapping herself with a shawl.
Her plan is not full proof. The manager of the hotel Sharma (Viju Khote) who has a keen memory, notices her. So does the taxi driver (Agha) who takes her to the hotel. But nothing prepares her for what she faces when she goes to Brij Bhushan's room. He makes indecent remarks and is a creepy man. He makes it very clear that his intentions are hardly honourable and in return for the letters he demands a night of fun with her. He pounces on her and attempts to rape her. Karuna fights him and in a drastic step hits him with a candle stand on his head.
While escaping with the letters, her shawl gets stuck in one of the drawers. Panic stricken she tears the shawl before leaving with the small part stuck in the drawer. Even in the taxi, she drops one of the letters while paying the cabbie. Karuna is a simple girl who is not suppose to be here so it's a given that all these goof-ups will occur. And understandably all these loose ends will not escape the eye of the law.
Especially when the sharp legal eye belongs to Anand, Karuna's husband! That means right from the very beginning Karuna is living with the hawk who will pull all stops to nab the killer. The investigation drama is interesting. Karuna is the loving and doting wife who is also naughty at time. But whenever the topic of Brij surfaces, you can sense her discomfiture. She is always at tenterhooks as to what will become of her. She killed Brij to defend her honour and to help Kamla but who will listen to her? Who will understand that she is not a cold-blooded murderer.
There are numerous scenes in the film that are worth mentioning. Apart from the romantic scenes between Sanjeev Kumar and Pandit. He is effortless and she isn't bad either. But the scenes focusing on Kumar tightening the noose around the killer are very good. Like how he deduces certain things and how when he comes to realise that his wife just might be the killer, his pained expression is remarkable. But with Kumar, you can expect only a good performance.
Kalyanji Anandji's music fits the purpose. I think there a naughty flavour to Subah aur shaam. It's coquettish tone hides it original intention; to distract the hawk detective from discovering an important clue regarding the murder. This is the only song that I actually remember. The other songs were just about okay.
Aprt from the story there are other connections between Kangan and Uljhan. Ashok KUmar who played the male lead in the 1959 film, is Anand's father Kailash Chandra in Uljhan. Like Nazir Husain in Kangan, he helps in vindicating his daughter-in-law.
Nirupa Roy was good as the the lead in Kangan but since I'm so used to seeing her as the sister or the mother that it left a hangover in my head. It took me a while to shake that off while I was watching Kangan. As opposed to that, Pandit was fresh, new and was quite good as Karuna. She depicted her dilemma with utmost ease. She along with one of my favourites, Sanjeev Kumar, made Uljhan a slightly better proposition for me...


  1. I do remember seeing this film when I was a kid. I've never liked Sulakshana Pandit much, but I agree that she was quite good in this film.

  2. Mmm, I disagree. Because the ploy of Karuna dropping the letter in the cab was rather silly from my perspective. Why I liked Kangan better was because Karuna is a very no-nonsense type, very independent and strong-willed. Sulakshana, though she did a good job, had a more watered-down version of Karuna - she was quintessential 'heroine' sacrificing for the good of her friend and future family. Uljhan wasn't as deftly directed, in my opinion, and neither was the script as taut as the earlier film. From the legal thriller that it was, it became a social drama, though I agree with you that the performances were top-notch.

    So, I guess, this joins the few films on which you and I disagree. :)

  3. @Banno: Ya i think she was good in this considering it was her debut.

  4. I'm intrigued by Sharmi's preference for Uljhan, and Anu's for Kangan, so I guess I'll have to watch both since no one says any one of them is not worth seeing :)
    And I love suspense and mysteries.

  5. @Pacifist: Yes yes see both. In fact, both are good. I think I actually prefer Uljhan because I totally adore Sanjeev... hehe

  6. update:
    Watched Kangan first (as it came first). Must say it went at a good pace and I wasn't bored. Don't know what to say about the unfunny humour of Shammi and Gope.
    Now I will watch Uljhan. :)

  7. @Pacifist: Ya ya pls watch Uljhan. Though you might or might not like it :)

  8. Watched Uljhan and liked it very much. Sanjeev as always was good not withstanding his yellow suit and orange sweater :-D Sulkshana Pandit was good for a first timer.
    5 things were better in Kangan so puts it on a higher level.
    - script was tighter. There was less waste of time in melodrama.
    -there were no songs explaining the situation, and feelings of Ashok Kumar/Nirupa ROy (which got diluted and less effective in Uljhan).
    -I liked that Kamla owned up, and her husband was broad minded enough to accept it unlike in Uljhan
    -I missed the heated argument that takes place in Kangan with Nirupa's father-in-law supporting her
    -the scene where Sanjeev tries to play the fool with Sulkshana was real in Kangan when Ashok tries to presents the handkerchief with K. It was all very suspenseful.

    But Uljhan is quite good too. Liked it :-)


  9. @Oacifist: Maybe that Sanjeev Kumar thingie is playing too heavily on me. Have to watch Kangan again.

  10. @Sharmi: Seems to be an interesting film. Thanks for the review!

  11. @Sreenath: Yes watch them. They are nice.