Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Door ki Awaaz (1964)

Another oldie I stumbled across in the DVD store. The cover had my favorites Joy Mukherjee and a young Saira Banu. So, I happily dished out the moolah and acquired the movie. The film had some unexpected surprises in store for me. Alert: spoilers ahead.
The plot: Prakash (Joy Mukherjee) is seeing off his sister Mala (Malika) at the station and is smitten by the unknown beauty (a gorgeous Saira Banu) who is to be Mala's cabin mate for the journey. The train subsequently meets an accident and Prakash discovers his heart throb severely injured and suffering from a total loss of memory. Mala and he convince their mother to shelter the girl and name her Jyoti (light). Prakash woos his beloved and in due course she reciprocates. The cute couple dance and ride into the sunset singing lovely duets. They even manage to overcome family opposition and marry - all without Jyoti remembering her past.

All this and the movie is barely half over... I composed myself for the forthcoming tragedy.
Jyoti is expecting a child. "OK", I tell myself, "she will lose the child and go mad singing lullabies to dolls". The pregnancy proceeds uneventfully though, and Jyoti produces a baby boy - Raju (Baby Rajoo). O well, the boy will have a terminal illness or Prakash will start having an affair and Jyoti will bring him back to the straight and narrow by means of the child. As the next few scenes flicked past and nothing of the sort happened I rapidly lost my bolly-confidence. All these years of bolly viewing and I cant predict what happens next!!! My self-confidence was at an all-time low.
Then something happened to make me forget all that. Jyoti and Prakash organised a birthday party for Raju's third birthday and guess what - Johnny Walker came and sang Hum Bhi Agar Bacche Hote (if we could have been children, too). Those of you who grew up watching Chitrahaar (film song compilations) on Doordarshan (yes, I know this shows my age) will remember this song from the Children's day programs along with other classics like Nanha Munha Raahi Hoon, Dadi Amma Dadi Amma Maan Jao. It was like discovering an old classmate in the most unexpected place!
Since most of you dont want to read about me going into rhapsodies over some obscure song, let me get back to the story. Just after the party Jyoti goes out of the house, gets hit by a car and presto - gets back her memory! You may well wonder why the doctor didnt administer a crack on the skull to restore her memory, long before this. 'Coz the laws of moviedom forbid it. They also tell you that getting your memory back is not a good thing. With good reason. Jyoti regains her past memory but forgets everything that happened between the two accidents. Prakash may not be an ideal husband and Raju may not be thecutest of kids but surely they aren't so forgettable??!!
The new Jyoti (we dont know her name yet) resumes the train journey that the accident interrupted years earlier, leaving behind a grieving family. We find that she is Bela, a nautch girl who lives in a kotha. Gasp! So poor Prakash was married to a WICKED woman all these years and Raju has a tawaayaf for Mom!!! Your bolly sense kicks in and tells you - she forgot her past. That makes her a pure woman worthy of marriage.
Prakash searches high and low for Jyoti while Raju cries heartbreakingly for Ma. Deewar was yet to be made or Raju might have learnt Shashi's strategy to capture Ma. 
Prakash's search brings him to a friend's wedding where he sees Bela perform a mujra. His sharp gaze immediately detects his beloved and he leaves no stone unturned in his quest to regain her. His perseverence doesnt bear fruit. Thats when he has the bright idea of importing Raju - surely a mother's heart would recognise the child. Aaa.... Prakash is an avid bollyviewer too, you conclude. He knows what is required to melt a woman's heart. The moment she sees Raju, Bela remembers her Jyoti avatar.
So you think this is the happy ending? Think again. Now that the mother's heart is roused and the wife has taken over the tawaayaf, a moral dilemma confronts Bela. How can she go back home and bring shame upon the family? How can the family accept such a flawed woman? Isn't this the point where she should kill herself to preserve family honor? The laws of moviedom do decree some alternate scenarios and you need to watch the movie to figure out which mechanism comes into play. Suffice it to say that all ends happily ever after.
Reasons to watch this movie:
  • Beautiful Saira Banu.
  • Pran looking suitably smarmy as the villain after Bela and Jyoti.
  • Great songs composed by Ravi: Muqaddar aazmaana chaahta hoon, Haathon mein haath hothon pe afsaane pyaar ke, Husn se chand bhi sharmaaya hai, Ek musafir ko duniya mein kya chahiye and my favorite Hum bhi agar bacche hote featuring the coolest kiddie and toy bands.
Reasons to avoid the movie:
  • Predictable and boring storyline.
  • Uninspired comedy (courtesy Johnny Walker and Om Prakash).
  • Joy Mukherjee's dropping jaw and popping eyes.

7 comments:

  1. Hmmm...I dislike Saira Banu intensely but I LOVE Pran and Johnny Walker.

    I think this film is in my pile "to be watched" --- thanks for the review!

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  2. You are welcome memsaab. :-)

    I know what you mean about Saira Banu. She tended to be awfully annoying in her later movies - remember her high-pitch shrieking in Shagird and Padosan? Here she is really pretty, though. Pran and Johnny Walker are my favorites too, but not in this film. Here they are thrown in like item numbers are added onto movies these days!

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  3. She was pretty in Junglee and Bluff Master with Shammi too...but I still couldn't warm up to her. I don't know why, honestly...

    But sounds like this can move farther down on my list :-)

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  4. I've just added this film to my rental list, i won't expect too much from it as your review seems to suggest, but i was blown away by the Birthday song which i found on youtube while looking for a bollywood birthday song for a friend, i'm sure that alone would be worth it

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  5. The birthday song is a favorite of mine too - Rafi sounds like he's having as much fun singing at as we have watching it! I hope it comes subtitled, since it has fun lyrics.

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  6. I just cannot take Saira Banu's screeching. And the stort does appear a bit of bolly-crap. But if ever this is aired on television I just might sit through just for Pran and Joy maybe ;)

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  7. This is from Saira's pre-screech days! So on that count, you are safe. It has nice songs, pretty leads and a story that sounds great on paper. So I'm not sure why tings don't work out to make it a better film!

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