Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Love (1970) - romance + trauma-fest

my_love_title my_loveLike all movies that are cursed by a bad second half*, this one begins very promisingly. There are snapshots of exotic Kenya including African wildlife and the “wild” tribals (much as I resent the exoticisation of India I can bear it tolerably well when its done to any other part of the world!) – all of which should convince you that you are in exotic Africa!
Raj Kumar (Shashi Kapoor) and friend Tom Genda (Rajendra Nath) are on their way to the Airport to the accompaniment of I love Paris. At the airport though, a disappointment awaits them. The troupe of Indian performers that they meet at the airport does not include their favorite “Lata Devi”. The troupe manager Pran Mehra (Madan Puri) has brought instead, an unknown singer called Sangeeta Thakur (Sharmila Tagore). Raj is enraged at this substitution and threatens to cancel the East African tour he has planned for them.
Why would anybody be enraged at seeing Sharmila instead of Lata? It might sound strange to you and me but perhaps Raj is a different kind of guy? As it turns out, he is angry because he hasnt seen Sharmila err… I meant Sangeeta’s dimples, yet. The moment he sees them its love-at-first-sight for him. And Sangeeta isnt exactly averse to his attentions – she dimples beautifully at his fumbling attempts to declare his love.
Enter trouble in the form of Raj’s childhood playmate Rani (Azra). She is in love with Raj (he does have some neat dimples of his own, after all) and has been promised his hand in marriage by his dad Mr. Rai (Jayant). Rani manages to convince Sangeeta that Raj is something of a playboy and shouldnt be taken too seriously. The troupe’s star dancer Lakshmi (Lakshmi Chhaya) tries to convince her otherwise but Sangeeta stops dimpling at Raj. He is heartbroken but doesnt lose heart (hmm… thats two hearts, right there!). To the viewer’s complete satisfaction though, he speedily convinces Sangeeta of his sincerity and undying love.
The couple go on a tour of the wild sights in Kenya and romance in the most exotic and unusual settings – a bed in Sangeeta’s bedroom! (Sheesh, it’s only the 1970s. What was the Censor Board thinking of?!!)
When Rani fails to break them up, she takes the matter up with Raj’s father. Rani’s father (Raj Mehra) is Mr Rai’s good friend and more importantly, a very rich man. Rani is his sole heiress. Mr. Rai isnt about to let Raj marry a penniless nobody from India. And fate hands him the perfect opportunity for putting a spanner in the works and incidently, of ruining the movie!
Raj and Tom participate in a car race (the East African Safari Rally!) and meet with an accident in the last lap. Raj is seriously injured. When Sangeeta attempts to see him, Mr. Rai lets her know that he disapproves of her relationship with his son. For Raj’s father’s sake, Sangeeta gives up Raj and returns to India. I couldnt believe she was doing it. I asked her loudly and repeatedly, “Aakhir kyon?” but she ignored me! :-(
Anyway, Raj recovers consciousness to find his love gone. After a painful scene with his Dad, he follows her to India with Tom. The two establish their headquarters in Raj’s Aunt, Durga’s (Nirupa Roy) place. Durga is Mr Rai’s sister who married against his wishes and is still estranged from him despite losing her controversial husband. Her nephew though, is very dear to her, and she’s overjoyed when she learns about Raj’s love story.
Raj goes to see Sangeeta but she tells him their affair is over. When he turns up at her performance, she has him thrown out of the theatre! Raj is broken hearted at Sangeeta’s rejection and both of them are miserable, separately. The dimple quotient of the movie suddenly drops down to zero and I am equally unhappy.
Things are at a bad pass. Raj has taken to drinking and wearing designer stubbles. Sangeeta decides to drop her career while Pran sees the opportunity to snag her as his wife. To make matters worse (or more dramatic), Raj’s father comes over with Rani and her father to claim Raj.
Will Raj marry Rani now that Sangeeta has cast him off? Will Sangeeta fulfill Pran’s dreams and marry him? Will the movie’s dimple quotient ever recover to its level in the first half? To find that out, you will have to see the film yourself! I aint tellin…
The movie has a very promising beginning but the second half degenerates into a trauma-fest with no just cause for it. Surely the writers could have manufactured some interesting mis-understanding? A quick glance at the “Essential Guidebook to Bollywood Masala” would have revealed several alternate scenarios that would have served way better than the father-does-not-approve method.
The first half though, is very well done and the romance is melt-into-a-puddle sweet. More on the plus side - there is plenty of eye candy. Shashi, Sharmila, Azra and Lakshmi Chhaya, all look very, very good. Rajendra Nath is less annoying than usual and Jayant is appropriately menacing. Nirupa Roy is in the transition phase where she appears to be in-training for her careless-mother days that are yet to come.
Apart from the beautiful people and exotic locales, there are some great songs with music composed by Daan Singh (anybody heard of him before?). My favorite is the poetic Mukesh number Zikr hota hai jab mohabbat ka, but the lesser known Asha numbers Sunaate hain sitare raat bhar, Bheegi bheegi raat mein ho gayi, Guzar gaye jo haseen, Rafi’s My Love panzi waango and the sad Mukesh number Woh tere pyaar ka gham are also pretty good.
Its not a movie I’d wholeheartedly recommend to anyone but fans of Shashi and Sharmila. For others, you can watch it for the eye candy, the great songs and some good romance but be prepared for the cursed second half!
Edited Nov 26, 2008:
*Phrase courtesy Aspi via Beth.

18 comments:

Banno said...

Where did you dig this up? Yes, I could watch it for the dimpled duo.

Which is the phrase courtesy Beth? Kept scrolling up and down, confused.

ajnabi said...

"Dad, come out from behind the Ultra icon!" rotfl I love how cute Shashi and Sharmila look together! Still, I don't think I'll be giving this a look-see anytime soon; your synopsis seems like more fun than the movie.

Nicki said...

Ooooh, haven't heard of this movie and sounds like something I would enjoy too. Thanks for sharing.

memsaab said...

Oh if only I could find it on DVD with subtitles, I would own it in a nanosecond!

The curse of the second half has ruined many a Hindi movie, alas.

Bollyviewer said...

Banno: I stumbled across this when I was looking for old movies at Webmall India - Shashi+Sharmila just couldnt be resisted!

And "the curse of the second half" is the phrase I came across on Beth's. Its so useful to describe a lot of movies that I've adopted it too!

ajnabi: They certainly looked lovely together every time, but apart from New Delhi Times none of their movies were all that great. Of course, I never let that stop me watching every one of them! :-)

Nicki: You are welcome! Hope you enjoy it if/when you get to see it.

memsaab: This one was a VCD so it should be easily transferable to DVD. Dont know why they dont do it instead of issuing VCDs.

The curse of the second half is really a pretty common but dreadful one in Hindi movies. Its particularly annoying as the first half was so well written. Maybe the original scriptwriter stopped at the first half and the second half was scramblingly completed by an incompetetnt hack!

memsaab said...

It does seem like that sometimes!

VCDs are sadly rarely subtitled...that's my main problem with them :-)

gebruss said...

This looks lovely; I will put it on my ever growing "need to see"-list. Especially since I have a rather weak spot for movies involving a trauma-fest. I rather like Shashi and Sharmila together, and I still think Aamne Saamne is a brilliant movie.

Bollyviewer said...

memsaab: VCDs are rarely subtitled and always bad prints. Wish they'd just magically convert into DVDs!

gebruss: I love Shashi+Sharmila too - between them there is so much eye candy! But their movies are a bit meh.

Aamne Saamne was OK - I loved the songs and the romance. But for a thriller there were so many plot-holes and so many unnecessary dramatic touches to make Shashi's character look suspicious (remember him trying to wipe the sweat off Sharmila as if he is about to strangle her, with dramatic fluorishes in the background music?) that I couldnt engage with it. This one could be so good with just a few minor changes that I wish I could go to 1970 and re-write the script just a bit!

gebruss said...

Aamne Saamne had me at the edge of my seat biting my nails with the thriller bits the first time round, though I can see the plot holes looking back. Maybe I am just easily taking in by that sort of story.

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Reviewer said...

I have never even heard of this movie,but sounds interesting at least to see the two main leads:)

Bollyviewer said...

Ms. Kamath, I am so glad to hear from Eros. My experience with your company has been very bad and I am so glad you're giving me the opportunity to air my grievance. A few months ago I had ordered a DVD of Haseena Maan Jayegi starring Shashi Kapoor. Your company sent me the another film of the same name starring Govinda and then did not exchange it for the one I had ordered after getting me to ship back the wrong DVD! I wanted to use the pay-and-download option on your website but couldnt get it to work and all my emails to customer service were totally ignored. I hope your coming on the scene means that Eros has decided to try and provide some customer care. I personally will not buy DVDs from your company nor will I ever recommend it to anyone.

Reviewer, I hadnt heard of this movie either but some of the songs were familiar from radio especially the Zikr hota hai number.

Beth said...

"The Curse of the Second Half" was coined by the very clever Aspi of aspisdrift.com, though I borrow it regularly (and I think I have credited it as such a few times, and if I haven't, then shame on me!). It's a great term.

Sharmila and Shashi look absolutely adorable together here! Exoticized Africa, though? Yech. It happens to us all, but yech.

Bollyviewer said...

Edited the post to add Aspi's reference. Its definitely a great and very useful term.

Shashi+Sharmila were always soooooo cute - I just wish their movies together would live up to those standards, though!

This is the first instance of Africa (exoticised or otherwise) that I've seen in Bollywood, though Hollywood made quite a regular feature of it.

Beth said...

I think the first Hindi film exoticizing Africa I saw was 2000's Hera Pheri. I've got some doozy screen captures up in my post. Not that that movie should get any more of your energy :)

Bollyviewer said...

I never thought, but African decor and crazy "African" dances are also exoticizing Africa! :-) Hmm... Guess I should call My Love the only example of set-in-Africa exoticization, then.

And you didnt like Hera Pheri!?? I must admit that I dont remember the "item number" you refer to (or any of the songs, for that matter) but found the film quite funny!

Anonymous said...

Just watched the film; my VCD was bad;true the second half was bad ; it was too predictable and left me wanting......
Loved to see Shashi kapoor as usual....songs r pretty good....
.........Sigh!!!

Bollyviewer said...

Sigh! indeed. :D It could've been so much better, but I guess we should just be glad that it wasn't worse!