Thursday, December 4, 2008

Do Hanky

Do Raste was a movie by Raj Khosla that released in 1969. This was a momentous year for Rajesh Khanna. Here was a genuine boy next door who wore bush-shirts over slim fit trousers. His diction (or should I say dialouge delivery) was to die for. He had worked in some avant garde movies like Ittefaq and Aakhri Khat. His Aradhana was a super duper hit. He was well on his way to his Phenomonen status and unequalled adulation.

But what to do, it was the time of the CLICHE. You would take a look at a girl in a saree with the palloo draped over her head and you said, ahhh here is the girl who will make my ghar a swarg. A girl with a bouffant and shamlessly bared arms n you went - nahi nahi, ye ladki mere ghar to nark bana degi. Smokers were BAD people, milk drinkers were innocent. Poor were good and Rich were bad. Villagers were good hearted and City dwellers were evil. Balraj Sahni, Jeetendra, Rajendra Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, Mumtaz, Sharmila Tagore were safe people, you couldnt trust Jeevan, Pran, Prem Chopra, Bindu, Helen and Faryaal.

So Do Raaste was a tale of a middle class family that believed in staying together. The mega-mom Veena had taken a step-son into her affectionate heart and promptly gives birth to 3 more children. The step-son (Balraj Sahni as Nabendu) vows to take care of his step-siblings like his own on his fathers death-bed. His wife (Kamini Kaushal as Madhvi) vows likewise and denies her children milk so that her step-in-laws may be comfortable. The oldest of the steps, Viju (Prem Chopra) is brainy and Nabendu takes huge loans to send him abroad to study. There is an undercurrent of expectation that he will take care of the rest when he is ready to earn big bucks.

The audience already knows that Prem Chopra (Viju) is a bad egg and there is trouble ahead. To top the cake with the cherry, he is married off to Bindu (Neela). Hey, the audience is buzzing .. bahut bura hua. Neela is a nagin in disguise and takes care of Viju's purse and makes him leave home. This is the pits.. no hero ever leaves home, it is always the evil villian. BUT hope is alive because the younger step is now tan tan tana Rajeeesssshhh Khanna. So the audience heaves a sigh of relief. Yeh zaroor is khandan ki izzat ko bachayega. Rajesh Khanna (Satyan) entertains the audience with some songs and a romantic track with Mumtaz (Reena). Chup gaya saare nazaare oye kya baat ho gayi, sings Reena with an innocent pout. Tune kajal lagaya din me raat ho gayi, sings back Satyan with a short shake of the head and a blink. What became a mannerism later is a fresh thing then. The females in the audience are sold hook line and sinker. What a looker !

Neela is up to her tricks to divide brother from brother. Nabendu bears it all stoically, he faces layoff right at the moment, his wife has to sell bangles, he has to sell some tasteless furniture, kids are kicked out of school, his step-mom dies of medical neglect, moneylender is claiming the house. To top it, his good step-brother Satyan (who looks at least 27) is still an undergrad, his step-sister cant work. Only their good neighbour, Jayant, who plays a pathan, helps them. So we have a tiny track on hindu-muslim ekta.

However, while the Nabendu group is going hungry what is Neela-Viju duo up to? They are throwing parties where Neela wears a foot-high bouffant with some loose curls dangling about her face. (She looks simply gorgeous with her large eyes slashed by thick eyeliner and the Marge Simpson do). AND they visit strip-tease night club. Gasp ! That is the PITS. There is a pretty good dancer who loses a couple of her veils while Viju smokes furiously and Neela seems to be ENJOYING HERSELF. The message is clear, this couple wants to enjoy life. The audience that has already wrung out one tearfilled hanky and is preparing to use another, gasps in horror. Look at this major slut, she is grinning and partying.

But thankfully, Madhvi bhabhi comes into her own and brings about a closure by going to Viju to beg him for some financial reprieve. While Viju and Neela are busy insulting her back, Satyan pops up at the door. How he found about about his bhabhi's whereabouts are going to remain a mystery to me forever, but he does take the bull by the horns and unlike his forgiving brother Nabendu, he does some plainspeaking. Among the things he says in his clear voice, he also intones - Jis ghar me mard aurat ka ghulam ho wahan me kabhi nahi reh sakta. There were many appreciating ceeties and claps at this. Then he locks his bhabhi in a room, and beats up his brother. Nagin strikes again, and hits Satyan on his head with a heavy flower pot.

Suddenly this emotional potboiler turns into a thriller. What will happen next? Will Satyan die? Will he require an operation? Will he complain to the police against Viju and Neela? But of course, Nagin realises that she cant wish away this part of the family and reconciles with them after Satyen tells the police he fell from the stairs. The audience squeezes out the last teardrops and goes home.

The movie was marred heavily by several cliche-ridden dialouges and situations. I dont think the writer had to do any hard work at all. Some camera movements were really strange. There was a song where Mumtaz and Rajesh Khanna were shot standing behind some coloured screens. The effect was definately kitsch there. But the beautiful songs probably stayed with them, and drew them back to the cinema hall. The lover-boy Rajesh Khanna sings - Yeh reshmi zulfein, yeh sharbati aankhen, inhe dekh kar jee rahe hain sabhi. Mumtaz did her bit by wearing a terrible orange saree and a behenji makeover for the naughty Bindiya Chamkegi. I wish she had worn a peppy pajami kurta for this one. Then there was the aforementioned - Chup gaya saare nazare oye kya baat ho gayi. And also 'Khiza ke phool pe aati kabhi bahar nahi, mere naseeb me e dost tera pyaar nahi'. Lakshikant Pyarelal gave some memorable numbers for this otherwise drab movie.

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