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Friday, 8 June 2012

Needs some re-casting (Holi Ayee Re)

Harsukh Jagneshwar Bhatt must have been seriously cashstrapped. Or else, why would he squander away a reasonable good script by casting some absolutely unknown faces in his Holi Ayee Re. The best he can manage are some famous character actors who salvage the film from the brink of disaster. But I feel, this 1970 romance-cum-family drama would have done fairly well if we would have had a better and a more formidable cast. Here's how...

Mala Sinha plays the female lead Suhagini/ Hemlata and according to her age, her character is well etched. She starts off being an attractive village belle who garners attraction from the son of the village Thakur (Rehman). This guy is God knows who (Wikipedia lists him as Prakash Thapa!) and when he is accidentally bumped off by Suhagini's father Mangal Singh (Balraj Sahni), you don't really feel sad. He can't emote and is quite a loser. The reason for his murder: He impregnates Suhagini on Holi and promises to marry her. But as shown in Hindi films that sons of rich men see girls as mere preys to satiate their lust, he too rebuffs the proposal of marriage from Mangal Singh. Mangal vows revenge and in the heat of the argument, smashed his head to pulp!!
This initiates a whirlpool of events. Jamuna (a young Dina Pathak) panics and runs with Mangal's baby son but meets with an accident and lands up dead. Dulari, an acquaintance of Mangal Singh, rescues the baby from being bitten by a snake and takes it away. Suhagini tries to commit suicide by drowning herself but has her conscience calling her to stop. Well, Bhatt couldn't have bumped off his only stellar female face, right?! While she is walking in a daze on the road, a middle-aged man picks her up and takes her to his house on the pretext that she would look after his son. This man is Anokhelal (Kanhaiyalal), played by an actor I'm immensely fond of, and who, to my utter irritation is sort of wasted in this non-dramatic role. He lusts for Suhagini, who calls herself Hemlata now, and has her screeching and running from his lecherous clutches, only to land up in a courtesan's den.
In the meanwhile, Dulari takes the baby and eavesdrops on a couple's prayer to God to give them a baby. She sees this as a good opportunity and places the baby inside the car of the couple, who after much deliberation adopt him.
Hemlata however is not forced by the madam of the house she finds shelter in to join the courtesan's trade. She is taken to a hospital and starts training as a nurse to provide for her son and herself. So, as the film stands here, Hemlata is struggling for a living with her son, Mangal Singh is imprisoned for murder and his son has found refuge in a rich man's house. The Thakur whose son was murdered also has a daughter called Sunita who is a baby.
The film rests on known and familiar faces till here. But as years pass by, the known faces take a backseat and the we are introduced to a bunch of nincompoops who can neither emote nor are lookers, barring maybe the girl who plays Sunita.
Firstly, lets talk about the man who plays the older version of Mangal Singh's son, or Hemlata's brother. He is tall but bulky and has a plastic face. The moment he tries to talk I feel like striking a blow on his nondescript face. It's better he keeps quite. He ruins the songs shared with Sunita (yes, a love angle develops between him and Sunita) and he is terrible, oh so terrible in everything. I wish they cast Dharmendra as this man and opted for either Leena Chandravarkar or some other known pretty little thing for Sunita. Sunita is not bad, but somehow she lacks the punch.
Shatrunghan Sinha is cast as Mala Sinha's son and let me tell you he looks totally disinterested in what's going on in the film. He grows up to be a police inspector but oozes zero charm, smartness or charisma. He has a meek voice throughout the film and the lines given to him are sad, sorry and insufferable. He romances a girl who appears barely three times in front of us. Well, the less said about her the better.
Years pass and owing to Mangal Singh's good conduct, he is released from prison. Events take him to his original son's house where he is employed as a servant. So, it's only a matter of time before they learn the truth about each other. Hemlata is a nurse in the same hospital where her brother works as a doctor. The Thakur wants his daughter to get married to the doctor but he is unaware of his reality: that he is the son of the man who killed his young son years ago. The film, as I said, contains all the ingredients of a good family drama. Only if the casting and performances were better...
What irked me even more was how blatantly the younger generation was prone to mistrust. Shatrunghan Sinha rebukes his mother for no reason once he gets to know that he does not have a father. The doctor suspects Mangal Singh of theft quite easily. And this after he has no clue of the misdemeanour, and has only been needled by his foster mother. Lame, so lame...
And yes, why name a film Holi Ayee Re, when it has nothing to do with the joy and cheer of Spring!
The songs are not bad, at least in that Kalyanji Anandji didn't disappoint much. But seriously, this Holi Ayee Re could have been saved from sinking...


  1. Hmm. This needs passing up. I like Mala Sinha, but not when she's being weepy and put upon. And the rest doesn't appeal to me at all.

  2. @Dustedoff: Really wish they tried for a better cast!

  3. Hehe, loved your succinct description of the plot;
    -panics and runs with Mangal's baby son
    -meets with an accident and lands up dead
    -Dulari,.... rescues the baby from being bitten by a snake
    -and takes it away.
    -Suhagini tries to commit suicide by drowning herself
    -but has her conscience calling her to stop

    Enjoyed reading this style in your review Sharmi :-)

  4. Sharmi, thanks for warning me off this movie, if seeing Mala Sinha on the cover of the DVD wouldn't have put me off already! What a doozy of a plot! Ugh!

  5. @Pacifist: Hehe, you have to see the film to believe it. I was simply laughing seeing the hero and his plastic face!!

  6. @Anu: Absolutely... Thank God I saw it and got fobbed off!! Now you all are saved :)