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Monday, 9 October 2017

Bemisal (1982)

I was trekking to Gurgaon the other day from Noida, where I live. For the uninitiated, let me tell you,
that's like crossing two states!
The distance is a crawl, and a sapping one at that. Daily commuters from Noida to Gurgaon will relate to the grief I go through during such occasion arises. But, thank heavens for FM radio, which makes the journey a wee bit pleasant.
The moment I got into the car Lata Mangeshkar's Aeri pawan dhunde kise tera mann transformed me into a reverie. It's such a beautiful song. After enjoying the rendition, I quickly googled the song, traced the film and after reading the gist was piqued to watch it. All I can say is that I did not live to regret the decision.
Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Bemisal (1982) is an engaging drama of human relations bordering on greed and benevolence. But what I loved most was the character sketched for Amitabh Bachchan. While from afar he appears an affable, happy-go-lucky doctor, his personality is far more intriguing and charismatic than the others in the film. And it is laced with a deep sense of magnanimity influenced by the benevolence he was gifted with when times were far from favourable. His regard for those who helped him out never diminishes and his sense of duty is unparalleled. The crests and troughs of his journey is worth graphing. Dr Sudhir Roy's actions make the film so believable. Despite the tardy subplot of Ruby Dutt.
Dr Sudhir Roy, a child specialist, and Dr Prashant Chaturvedi (Vinod Mehra), a gynecologist, have been brought up by an advocate. Sudhir never ignores the fact that the rich advocate saved him from a deplorable life by adopting him and giving him a steady upbringing and education. For that he remains forever indebted. Hence, when it comes to abdicating the woman who he is attracted to for the sake of his foster brother, he doesn't waste a moment before making the sacrifice. Even though he can gauge that Kavita (Rakhee) might be more keen to marry him, he owns up his murky past to dissuade her. But more importantly he implores her to marry Prashant because that would make him happy.

But this is no man to harbour a wounded heart. He immediately jumps back into a happy state because his family is happy. He starts calling his sister-in-law sakhi and forges a unique bond with her... a bond of friendship, love and trust. That is why probably, no matter what, sakhi reaches out to him in times of distress.

When he realises that his brother is setting out on a path of dishonesty, he expects his sakhi to show him the way, but he doesn't balk in the path of prosperity for the husband-wife and silently charts his own route. Here he doesn't let anyone understand his pain. He just is there always, for everyone.
Even when Prashant has committed a heinous crime, Sudhir is the way out. And, he never stops from doing his duty... Because he remembers how Prashant's father had given him a purpose to live... when the floodgates of hell were closing in on him...
This is not a typical Hrishikesh Mukherjee kind of film but I guess that is what made it such a pleasant surprise. The subjects are rather grim and serious here, though the execution isn't too dark. The director has dealt with heartbreak, depression and crimes such as abortion without too much pontification. If you were to ask me, the editor could have tightened the Ruby Dutt subplot but then perhaps it was retained to up the intrigue factor about Sudhir's personality. Whether he's at all capable of cold-blooded revenge or will be let sane judgement overcome a vindictive strike...
This is the first time I found Vinod Mehra painted with grey shades. A rich doctor, disillusioned with the mechanism of the industry, is easily swayed to commit illegal abortions and accumulate unaccounted for wealth in the process. This was brilliantly depicted. But I would rather have his relationship with his wife developed in the script. The bond both share is hardly delved on. As a result, when Kavita supports her husband despite learning that he's into unscrupulous practises, it's difficult to accept why she blindly does so. The film rather etches a beautiful connect between her and Sudhir and hence when there are the dilemmas towards the end that need to be sorted, the audience is constantly on the edge as to why Sudhir is choosing to do what he does...
The music of the film, crafted by RD Burman, is quite good, especially the aforementioned song. It is
a blissfully lyrical piece picturised in breathtaking Kashmir. I'm glad the journey happened that day actually. It brought back this melodious track to my senses after a long, long time. And, it got me to this well made film starring Amitabh Bachchan in an avatar that I absolutely adored...


  1. I remember seeing this movie when I was in college..long ago on my mother's insistence...though she is not much a fan of Amitabh...she said i loved the movie..and boy I was amazed..true this very much different from the usual hrishikesh mukherjee film's but it strikes a string. In between a good review.

  2. True. I've been watching these Hrishikesh Mukherjee films made during these years and I find them pretty engaging. Moreover they project Amitabh in a very different light...

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