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Thursday, 21 March 2013

The livewire (Khoobsurat)

What a jolly, buoyant film Khoobsurat is! And, it definitely bears the stamp of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, its director. It's frothy, fun and engaging from the word go. You don't have to think too much. Sit down with your family, or alone, and have a happy watch. There's nothing in this 1980 Filmfare award winner that can disappoint you. Although, one song seems to stretch it a bit but on the whole this is another sheer entertainer from Mukherjee.

Another good reason why Khoobsurat can never let you down... Rekha (she won her first Filmfare for this one). She is the heart and soul of the movie, breathing life into the script at every turn. She is the beautiful here, the one who makes life worthy of living. She negates all the drudgery, all the seriousness, to ring in mirth, laughter and jollity.
Manju (Rekha) and Anju (Aradhana) are sisters. They live with their father Ram Dayal (David). The three make a merry family where conversation is made in couplets. While Ram Dayal has brought up his daughters with all their manners and etiquette in place, he hasn't necessarily taught them to be austere or devoid of life. So, Anju and Manju laugh, giggle and enjoy themselves aplenty. But the girls have their integrity and sense of responsibility in place.
Dwarka Prasad Gupta (Ashok Kumar) is a retired advocate whose household is controlled by his martinet wife Nirmala (Dina Pathak is stupendous in this role. You mostly see her as the dear mother or aunt who is affectionate and always smiling. So, it quite a different role she plays here!). His four sons and their wives are completely in awe (if I may say scared) of the mother and the house is governed by a set of rules and regulations that Nirmala as jotted down for everyone to follow. These rules should not be broken or else the family members should be prepared to get their due punishment from Nirmala. Not that she is a bad person, but frolic and laughter somehow never really made into her emotional vocabulary. She doesn't know how to take things easy or to enjoy the moment. She feels that if a house is devoid of rules and discipline, nothing can save the family from disintegrating.
So much as the family members hate Nirmala's ideals, they don't really have the spine to raise their voice against her diktat. So they meekly behave themselves and wish in their heart of heart that someday they would be rescued from this labyrinth of rules.
When Anju is married to the second son of this family, the path is cleared for Manju to make her entry here and give a slice of fun to the Guptas. For the first time in their life the Guptas start enjoying themselves. Dialogues at the dinner table start happening in couplets, ringing laughter is heard in the corridors that earlier stayed quiet and calm, picnics and soirees are held on the terrace. Manju unleashes the merry sides of every one in the Gupta household, barring Nirmala, who continues feeling that Manju is childish and irresponsible for the way she behaves.
Whoever knew that Jagan Gupta (I so loved Ranjit Chowdhry during these years and was so so sad to see him play a sex-starved servant in Fire) loves music and is waiting for approval from his mother? Manju helps him own it up to himself. Dwarka Prasad Gupta stealthily smokes in the garden for fear of his strict wife. Manju cleverly dissuades him from smoking while telling him that his wife after all cares for him. The eldest daughter-in-law (Shashikala) has a talented dancer in her. Manju sets her feet moving to music at the first opportunity. What is wonderful is that Manju unleashes the latent desires and creativity in all the family members and spreads the message that it is okay to break rules once in a while, so long as you don't hurt anyone's sentiments. But deep down, we all know she is hurting Nirmala's beliefs. Will Nirmala be able to recognise the real gem in Manju?
So much as I loved all the performances in Khoobsurat, I completely fell for Rekha here. She is so effortless and charming. She is funny, chirpy and flamboyant. Acting doesn't look like acting when Rekha does it. Voice modulation, facial expressions, dances, dialogues, she has everything in place. No wonder Inder (Rakesh Roshan), the young doctor falls for her. Ashok Kumar is the loving father who only has sweet words for everyone. Dina Pathak is excellent in this different role.
As much as I feel the songs (music by RD Burman) contribute to the story, I think Saarey niyam could have been avoided. It is kind of gimmicky and stretches the length of the film for nothing. Since Manju already proves to the Guptas how it is okay to not follow rules from time to time, with her actions, this song, I feel, is redundant and reiterates what she already has said.
But apart from that the score is lovely. Especially Piya banwari (Asha Bhonsle), a classical romantic number that is fresh and melodious. It reveals another aspect of Manju's character. This irrepressible youngster is also capable of soft sensitive emotions. She has fallen in love and is abundantly shy and sweet now in front of her sweetheart. Sun sun sun didi is also a catchy number by Asha Bhonsle. Listen to the lyrics, they are funny. This song throws light on the deep filial bonding that Anju and Manju share.
Khoobsurat is a film that you watch when spirits are low or when the idiot box is airing nothing good. Trust me, this film, bearing the signature stamp of the master director Hrishikesh Mukherjee, will surely make you smile... and laugh out loud!


  1. The movie was as Rekha says in it "nirmal anand" to watch. A light hearted movie.Somehow it reminds me of "Jhoothi" in which Rekha gave a superb performance.......

  2. @Sharmi: Nice review! Watched this long back so don't remember much. Music is not typical RD Burman like right?

  3. Good review, Sharmi. This was one of the first Rekha films I remember watching and appreciating as a kid, and to date it remains one of my favourite films of hers. Much fun. :-)

  4. @Coolone: Yes, even Jhoothi was awesome!!

  5. @Sreenath: I guess its time for you to watch it again. Yes, the score wasn't typical RD.

  6. @Dustedoff: Hi Madhu. This film is a sure mood lifter!

  7. This was Rekha in her second avatar. :) Yes, fun and frothy film as you call it, and a perfect banish-Monday-morning-blues fare.

  8. Never cared for Rekha and still don't but I watched this movie four times in a dingy, uncomfortable movie theater. Loved it for its wit and the superb performances of Ashok Kumar, Dina Pathak and Ranjit Chowdhury.

  9. @Soumya: Hmmmm. Good that you liked it at least.