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Friday, 18 March 2011

Raw appeal (Baarish)

There is a good thing and a bad thing about watching a very, very old Dev Anand film. That would be films in the 50s, when he was yet to become the charismatic debonair who made all of us weak in the knees. He was yet to get the swagger, that style, that mischievous glint in his eyes that crushed the knee caps to jelly whenever he appeared on the screen. And yes, he was yet to get that sweeping hairstyle!

Let's get over with the bad thing first. Dev Anand in the 50s was yet to do all those rollicking romances that quickened the heart beat. He was yet to play the thoroughly unusual roles of a robber and conman in Bombai ka Babu. He was yet to win our hearts with his Tere Ghar ke Saamne. He was yet to try his hand in all sorts of roles. He was yet to deliver matured well -rounded performances. It would say, another there four years when we would get a Guide, a Kalabazaar, a Teen Devian or a Kalapani from him. So understandably his deliveries would have to be amateurish, his look devoid of the sophistication of his later avatar and his performance solely owing to his spontaneity. In Baarish, we get to see all these aspects of Dev Anand. He almost blurts out his lines, his romance lacks the stabbing quality and his clothes look too frumpy. His character is that of an impulsive young man who is out to avenge the death of his elder brother at the hands of a powerful ganglord. Exciting as it may sound, Ramu here is not even remotely close to Karan Mehra in Kalapani. His romance with Chanda (a bit on the natural Nutan a bit later) is sweet but too childish. But then, I liked to see this fledgling blossom so marvellously.
Now for the good part. If you have noticed keenly, once Dev Anand became popular enough to quote terms and conditions in the industry, he became very strict with how he looked in his films. He was never comfortable with showing skin. He always buttoned up his shirt till the very first hole and wore his shirtsleeves long. In Baarish, I believe Dev Anand was ordered around by the costumes head. So, (it is quite exciting!) we get to see the bare-bodied Anand in a rare, sensitive and passionate moment with Nutan, who herself looks extremely vulnerable. Not to mention, he was a handsome young man (but wonder why he wore his trousers so high?!?!?) and his raw appeal really could weaken any young girl. There is many more scenes where he gallivants around with the front of his shirt open. And that is some scene, I tell you!
The other good part in this 1957 romantic thriller is how spontaneous Anand is. He cares two hoots about what his audience is thinking about him. When he feels like being rude, he is so, when he feels like loving Chanda, he does so. No artistic baggage, no preconceived notions!
Okay, enough have I deliberated on this actor. Now a bit about the film that turned out be quite simple in terms of story and execution. These were the times when anything that sounded even remotely like a romantic thriller was lapped up by the audience and what everyone cares for was whether the film has a good-looking lead pair, an able supporting cast, melodious songs and a tolerable story. In that Baarish does not disappoint.
Ramu, an illiterate young man, lives in a slum with his elder brother Gopal (Nana Palsikar is absolutely wasted in this role), who is involved in some petty crime under Behari, a local ganglord. Angry over a dispute, Behari gets Gopal killed. Ramu swears to avenge Gopal's death. In the meantime, his friend Mohan (Anwar Hussain), who is sent to jail after he commits a crime, asks him to go to his village to give some money to his old parents. When Ramu enters the village he is teased by a pretty girl, who happens to be Chanda (Nutan look kind of well-endowed with her puppy fat), Mohan's sister. Mohan's father passes away as soon as Ramu goes to their house and Mohan's mother (Lalita Pawar is also wasted here) pleads him to take her and her daughter to the city to Mohan (she is not aware that her son is involved in bad work there). But before that happened we are treated to a harmless fight between Ramu and Chanda, where it emerges that both of them will go on to share moments of tender love (Well! they are the lead pair!)
On arriving in the city, Mohan's mother and Chanda put up at Ramu's house (Ramu lies to them that Mohan is travelling on work). The louts of the neighbourhood eye Chanda and tease her day and night (the song Surat ho to is innovative and shows how attractive Nutan can really be. Music in this Shankar Mukherjee film is quite nice). Chanda does not put up with that. She is young, pretty, feisty, petulant and a ball of fire. She answers back at the drop of a hat and even swears to break a young man's face with a punch. Go Girl!!
But Ramu will have none of that. He asks Chanda to behave herself and soon the two are found coo-chi-cooing on the terrace.
The elderlies of the locality are fed up of this nuisance and complain to Mohan's mother. Ramu, the hot-headed and impulsive man that he is shoos everyone away and even tells them that one day Chanda will be his wife. Chanda is thrilled at this. It is really heartening to see the way Nutan's expression changes when Ramu, after much cajoling by Mohan's mother, agrees to marry Chanda. She leaps in joy and gives an awesome awesome smile. Ah! The beauty of Nutan!
So, the two get married but their worries are not over. Ramu meets with an accident, while hot on the pursuit of his brother's murderer, on his wedding night and is feared dead. But then, he stealthily meets up with Chanda and tells her to keep mum so that he can get to the real killer. A clever disguise is taken up by him, there is plenty of cat-and-mouse chases  between the ganglord and Ramu, the neighbours caste aspersions on Chanda's character when she is pregnant (it's the result of a passionate rendezvous between Chanda and Ramu, where he is seen shirtless!!). For, the neighbours are not aware that Ramu is still alive and kicking! But after all this trauma, the ending is obviously happy!!
Nutan, as usual was a delight in the film. Forgive me for being partial. But I feel she was perfect right from the beginning of her career. As the sprightly village girl Chanda, she is so sweet and naughty in the song Dal masur ki. In the song, Phir wohi raat, she is beautiful. I'd say, in this early thriller, she is the one who leaves a mark. A mark of a natural charmer. Charming away to the hilt!


  1. Dal masur ki?! There's a song that goes like THAT? :) trust hindi films to one-up each other as far as bizarre numbers go!

    P.S: I love Nutan, I REALLY love her. Next door girl, such subtle acting and still manages to do justice to the role through and through.

    Great post!

  2. The song 'Yeh moonh aur daal masoor ki' was the one thing I actually remember about this film - not much else! Nutan was great, though Baarish itself isn't one of my favourite Dev Anand-Nutan pairings. That said, I have to admit I am partial to the Dev Anand of the 50s. Without that awful puff of hair, without those mannerisms, and heartbreakingly handsome, to boot! Some of my favourite Dev Anand films are from that decade: Munimji, CID, Paying Guest, Kala Pani, Nau Do Gyarah... I also think his acting is more believable (perhaps because he hadn't adopted those mannerisms of his yet?) during this period. But yes, 60s films like Guide, Hum Dono, Jab Pyaar Kisi se Hota Hai, etc have their own Dev Anand. :-)

  3. @Neha: Yes, there is a song like that and it is fun to see the perky Nutan :)

  4. @Dustedoff: Yes I love the films that you mentioned. But I just love him too much in the early sixties!! By the way, have you seen Kinara? How is it?

  5. No, Sharmi - I haven't seen Kinara. But will keep an eye out for it!

  6. Sharmi are you sure the film's called Kinara and not 'kinare kinare'?

    I've seen kinare kinare where he stars with Meena Kumari.
    It was part good, and perhaps could be considered slightly different. It also starred Vijay Anand.

    The songs were good too.

  7. @Dustedoff: I too have been looking out for it for some time now :) Btw Happy Holi!!

  8. @Pacifist: Yes yes, Kinare Kinare it is. I so want to see it. :)

  9. Hey.. nice review as always. I have been looking for baarish and ultimately found it online. But don't know why I just couldn't gather enough 'mood' to watch it. :P

    And yes, Wish you a very Happy Holi!

  10. @Punya: Yes, you really require to be in the mood to watch this Dev Anand-Nutan that is not totally devoid of flaws. :)

  11. @Sharmi: Nice review. In Dev Anand's film of the same year Paying Guest, he had his distinct swagger and mischievous style. I am surprised he wasn't the same in Baarish. May be this film was too long in the making or the role/director did not allow him to use his style :) I am a big fan of Dev-Nutan combo so I will catch up with this soon.

  12. @Sreenath: Hi. Though I really liked the romantic bit of Paying Guest, I thought that the end was a bit of a dampener. :(

  13. @Sharmi: I meant Dev Anand had that distinct style in Paying Guest, a film of the same year 1957 so I was surprised when you said that style was missing in Baarish :)

  14. @Sreenath: Yes, it was missing in Baarish! He was no where near his early sixties self!

  15. Hi Sharmi,
    Thanks a lot for this great review of Baarish, you know my weak point! So no, I do not forgive you for being partial with Nutan: you can never be enough. In fact, it isn't partiality, it justice. And wow, what must it have been, "charming away to the hilt"! Excuse me, but isn't that a little too far down :-))

  16. @Yves: No no, she is is actually the best part of this film. Really charming away to the hilt :)

  17. I had reviewed this film sometime back -

    It was really a big surprise seeing Dev Anand shirtless ;-)
    I had uploaded that part where Nutan leaps in joy when Dev says he would marry her -

  18. @Sunheriyaadein: Sure now I'm off to read the post :)

  19. Hey Sharmi: I found this blog a month ago and have been reading it since then...I love fact I saw some of the movies e.g. Baarish , Solva Saal just because I read your blog post and was curious and loved those movies..keep it up...a..the only problem I faced was some of the Bengali movies that I got did not have was able to follow the story but missed a lot of good dialogues I guess ..thanks and the let the old movies come in :)


  20. @Rahul: Hello and welcome Rahul. I'm glad you like this space. I'm so much in love with old films that I just can't get myself to watch the new ones. I'm so happy that there are so many of you who love these old films. Take care and read on :)