Monday, May 5, 2008

Raja Saab (1969) - Jab Jab Phool Khile revisited

Take Jab Jab Phool Khile remake it 4 years later with the same set of people (add Rajendra Nath), tone down some of the female oppression, improve the heroine's dress-sense and you have Raja Saab.
Spoiler alert!
Raju (Shashi Kapoor) is a young orphan at an orphanage who is much given to daydreaming and weird hairdos. His daydreams always involve him playing a king - Raja or Sheikh are both acceptable. In the grip of one such daydream he insults the visiting Princess Beautiful (Nanda) and is thrown out of the orphanage.


Poor Raju (violins, please) tries various jobs with indifferent success and finally lands up being a masseur to a real, live prince (Rajendra Nath). The said prince's oddities leave him unfazed and he is ecstatic to be near a real Raja.
Well, Prince Funny Singh has a problem. He needs to insult Princess Insolent and what better way to do so than to have her insulted by a fake Prince! So Raju is turned into Raja Saab - Prince Funny Singh himself - and the prince becomes his secretary. The two of them sail forth to Kashmir. (Yes readers, you are right. They fly to Kashmir but "sail forth" sounds much better and I am allowed a writer's license.)
Raju is coached thoroughly on the etiquette of princely insults but fails to deliver when faced with Princess Insolent. She is none other than the Princess Beautiful whom Raju had insulted but now loves. Prince F. Singh is at a loss to understand his protege's behaviour and worries about his miscarried plan when he has a stroke of good luck. Somebody serves Raju some champagne. Our poor, innocent, orphan (cue - violins) is drunk within no time and manages to insult Princess Beautiful to Prince Funny Singh's complete satisfaction.
The next day poor Raju wakes up without a trace of a hangover, but a very guilty conscience for having insulted his lady-love. When the source of this guilt is explained to Prince Funny Singh, he is touched. Even Princes are human and respect true love. He helps Raju win back the princess's forgiveness and two are soon in love, inspite of Raju's regrettable habit of speaking like Raj Kapoor's tramp.
The path of true love never runs smooth. The Princess's uncle is expected to join them any moment and he knows the true prince. The truth will come out. Raju decides to cut his losses and run. When the truth is revealed to the princess she is heartbroken and misses her Raja Saab terribly. A sad song later she decides to take action. She loiters around neighborhoods in Raju's native Bombay (aye, amchi Mumbai) with her maid (Shammi) and manages to locate him. Now comes the difficult part - how to convince him that she is willing to give up EVERYTHING to be with him? Simple - she cons him into believing that she was a fake princess like he was a fake prince. Brilliant! First he cons and then she cons and then the story becomes convoluted (pun intended).
Several twists later the story comes to an end. Raju and the princess are united in a happily-ever-after union with minimal female oppression (well, you cant have a masala movie with no female oppression - it comes with the territory). For a review of Jab Jab Phool Khile and notes on female oppression check out the Post Punk Cinema Club.
Reasons to watch the movie:
1. The changing shades of Nanda's eyes.
2. Rajendra Nath's weight-lifting bouts.
3. Nice songs - Kal raat waali mulaqat, Humne aaj se tumhen, Tu jungle ki morni, Raju ka hai ek khwaab.
4. The ever beautiful Kashmir.
Reasons to avoid the movie:
1. Lame story
2. Shashi channels big brother Raj - very annoying!

9 comments:

  1. This sounds like one of the ghastly movies that Shashi sometimes did- oh well, everyone needs to make money..:) Thanks for the fair warning- will steer clear if I come across it!

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  2. What timing! see here :-)

    http://partiessareesandmelodies.blogspot.com/

    I can watch Shashi in just about anything.

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  3. Thats so true Shweta. I second Memsaab - I can watch Shashi in any crappy movie too! Just wish he didnt have to earn his money in soooooo many of them.

    Thanks for the link Memsaab. Sounds like Raja Saab is making an entry in blogland! For the record let me say that I disagree with your view that Shashi couldnt dance. For the 60's he wasnt a bad dancer at all, and his energy and charm sure as hell hid any defective dancing skills! ;-)

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  4. OMG this movie sounds FAB! Am I the only one who thinks it sounds kooky and sweet? Anyway, I'll get this into my hot little hands soon - I think I saw it at my resident DVDwala's the other day.

    Have to agree/disagree on some points though:
    1. Agreed. Will watch Shashi in any crap movie. The PPCC is severely in Shashiville at the moment.
    2. Agreed. Shashi is a crap dancer, but this, like his rotting teeth, is just another one of his charming imperfections. (That said, I think his dancing is absolutely adorable in Afoo Huddah from JJPK. Apologies for the spelling. And his body language is divine in Mujhse Mera Naam Na Puucho from Chor Sipahee.)

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  5. Pyar Kiye Jaa contains some incredible Shashi gyrations too.

    This one is in my Nehaflix shopping cart :-)

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  6. PPCC, kooky is right. Sweet it aint. Shashi Kapoor pulled off playing the ingenuous simpleton in Jab Jab Phool Khile through good acting and loads of puppy fat. In this movie he looks too suave and sophisticated to be the simple, lost soul and his insistence on sounding like Raj Kapoor is irritating (I found Raj Kapoor's tramp absolutely unbearable, too). But then again - its Shashi looking beautiful and doing the romance thing. Can watch any crap with an incentive like that! :-) And yes, Affoo Khudaya was pretty good, too. Cant say I remember much about Mujhse Mera Naam na poocho - clearly need to rewatch.

    Memsaab, Pyar Kiye Ja songs have some awesome gyrations, especially "Kehne ki nahin baat". I had to rewind and watch it several times before I could get on with the movie!

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  7. Me too!!!!!!! And when my sister visited, had to watch it over and over again with her! Hail to the food!

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  8. Me three!!!!!!!!! Sorry to be so late to the discussion, but isn't it just great to 1) revel in Shashi-licious moments and 2) share your joy with other like-minded souls? :)

    I just bought this. I'm sure I'll find it completely irritating, but like others, I'll watch anything with Shashi in it these days, especially from the 60s.

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  9. It certainly is great to find like-minded souls, Beth. :-)

    If you dont mind Raj Kapoor-style simple-Simons, you may not find this one so irritating. The songs and visuals are certainly a treat and for the only time in the Shashi-Nanda pairing, she does look glamorous.

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