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Friday, 1 October 2010

Two tales of love (Aradhana)

The question is, which of the two love stories do I like most in Aradhana? Is it Vandana and Arun's beautiful tale truncated by a cruel stroke of fate? Or, is it Suraj and Renu's cute saga that effects only smiles?
After an umpteenth watch of this wonderful Shakti Samanta romantic drama, I have an answer ready. I love both. While Vandana and Arun's tale scores because of the very tragic yet memorable angle to it, Suraj and Renu's pairing succeeds because it is surprisingly spontaneous.
I'm not getting into the emotional and teary aspect of this famous 1969 film. For, what is to be said about Vandana's sacrifice that has not been mentioned before.
In fact, the first time I saw Aradhana, I weeped copiously. I got choked every time that recognisable strain filled the background everytime Suraj met Vandana and she saw her Arun in this young dashing man. Lots have been said about the magnanimity of Vandana's character, her sorrows, her sad plight and the awesome climax. Enough has been written about Sharmila Tagore's award winning performance (she bagged her first Filmfare for this). So, Old Films and me will stick to the two love stories that make Aradhana such a brilliant experience time and again.
Why do I feel that Aradhana has been set in Darjeeling? The breathtaking landscape so reminds me of the Queen of Hills... Anyway, I'm digressing. Vandana (Sharmila Tagore) comes home to her father after completing her college in a toy train (see, Darjeeling again!). While on her way, she witnesses two young men on a jeep, one of them singing Mere Sapno Ki Rani. Realising that the flirtatious track is addressed to her beauty, she smiles coyly, while enjoying the compliment. And how can she not? After all the song is very good (Kishore Kumar) and the singer is extremely handsome (Ah! the young Rajesh Khanna).

Vandana's father is Dr Anil Tripathi (Pahari Sanyal). One day a young man visits him for his services and has water thrown upon him by Vandana accidentally.I find this initiation to their love story superbly enticing. Rajesh Khanna's Arun is naughty, good looking, yet a bit slow in girl matters. After being attacked with a bucket of water, he wipes his face, smiles and says, "Camera nahin hain, warna ek achhi photograph ho jata". With that he launches his charm offensive onto the innocent and pretty Vandana. Wrapped in a towel, he makes you laugh the next instant. His courts Vandana with style and makes sure that the girl feels special and loved. Guided by his friend Madan (Sujit Kumar), he makes every right move to impress both the girl and her father. But, I guess he does not have to try too hard. His flamboyant personality, good heart and his natty uniform are enough to floor one and all. And, I love it how he keeps feeling shy when his senior (Ashok Kumar) mentions him and Vandana in the same breath.
He calls Vandana 'Veenu', adding that personal touch to his relation with his sweetheart and promises the world to her. Veenu, too, is over the moon. Someone who loves her very much, cares for her and is ready to lay down his life for her, Vandana is too happy to be true and flashes those deadly dimples quite often. But somehow, somewhere, there lurks that niggling sense of foreboding that the two will not be together so easily. There must be hiccups round the corner? That nagging feeling stays throughout Kora kaagaz ka yeh man mera and Gun guna rahein hain bhawrey (awesome music by SD Burman). In Roop tera mastana however, the senses are two dizzy and numb to feel scared. Such is the magical effect of this scene of desire!!
Suraj and Renu's love story is easier on the senses. Two young lovers waiting to get the sanction of their parents so that they can tie the knot. Renu is podgy yet very pretty, Suraj is charming and funny. He is even better than his father. He does his own groundwork when it comes to convincing his gal's father (Madan Puri) and even teases his sweetheart with a harmless 'Renu moti'. And yes, he looks really handsome with that moustache. He is fast-tongued and extremely dapper when it comes to clothes. Renu could not have got anyone better. She herself is a sweet girl, abiding, a bit stubborn sometimes, but very loving towards her father and her 'new' aunt (old Sharmila looks good, too). I always thought that Farida Jalal would make a lovely lead actress. Whenever I see Aradhana, my beliefs are reconfirmed. She is head-over-heels in love with Suraj and is visibly concerned when he meets with an accident. The hospital scene is again very enjoyable. I love how Suraj makes his accident sound so silly and light. And then in the next instant introduces Renu to his mother...
My father and I used to wait for Baagon mein bahar hain everytime we sat to watch this Shakti Samanta classic. There is something very catchy about the words, the tune, the picturisation and the chemistry between Rajesh Khanna and Farida Jalal. They actually look as good as Sharmila and Rajesh do. Maybe because it is a different pair, never tried before, hence, so unique. The teasing and mischievous quality of the lyrics enhance the jolly mood of the song. What a way to dissuade your lover!! What a way to extract an acquiescence from your sweetheart! And the lilting melody (Mohd Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar)...
I've suddenly realised that I've focused quite a lot on Rajesh Khanna's personas here. But, I'm not to be blamed, I'm afraid. A film which catapulted him to superstardom remains quite a memorable experience mostly because of his antics (and Sharmila's too, I agree). But there is something about Arun and Suraj that stabs you in the heart, leaving you numb with pleasure. A delightful lady-killer if I may call him so...


  1. I don't mind you focussing on Rajesh Khanna at all! ;-) He's really dishy in this - both as Arun and as Suraj. I remember, there's a photograph of his which is shown in Vandana's hands, in which he's looking particularly gorgeous. And I agree with you: I like both love stories. A lot!

  2. @Dustedoff: Yes, yes, I remember that photo. Wasn't Rajesh Khanna truely truely the cutest!!!

  3. This is one of my favourite films, everything from the songs to the actors, the clothes especially Sharmila's accessories and sari's were all so pretty. In fact i couldn't help but take lots of screen caps of her

  4. @Bollywooddeewana: Mine too. I just love this film. You know, Sharmila mostly carries a very short pallu. My mom says that when this film released that style became a rage. Every young girl wore her saree that way. I myself, have tried wearing my saree this way many times.
    Okie, now I'm off to read your take on it :)