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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Anari (1975)

Last week I saw Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and came away with the firm conviction that when it comes to being whacked over the head with a moral, I prefer my moral to come wrapped up in Hindi, with songs-n-dance, and 60s/70s fashion. Clearly, I needed to go back in time. While in the 70s, I happened to come across this Anari which is NOT the Raj Kapoor one, nor is it the more recent Karishma Kapoor one. Its a little known romantic thriller directed by Asit Sen and stars some of the most beautiful people of the 70s – Shashi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Kabir Bedi and Moushumi Chatterji! Aside: There seem to be too many Anaris in the Kapoor clan! (Anari = inexperienced/silly)

Raja (Shashi Kapoor) is a charming layabout who spends most of his time hanging out with his cronies and refusing the less-than-honest employment offers of old friend Vikram (Kabir Bedi). When he isnt busy impressing a rich passerby - Arjun Malik (Utpal Dutt) - with his acting skills, he is spending quality time eyeing his beautiful neighbour Poonam (Sharmila Tagore). Poonam takes an equally keen interest in Raja’s doings and spends a lot of time dimpling at his antics. After some cute maneuvering on Raja’s part and much dimpling on Poonam’s part the two embark upon a romance.
All doesnt go smoothly for the lovers. From the beginning, the vast difference between his fantasies and hers (he imagines a cotton-saree-clad sindoor-adorned-wife while she dreams of glamorous clothes, jewels and fast cars) doesnt exactly portend compatibility. And trouble at home soon breaks up the burgeoning romance. Raja’s union-leader brother - Viren (Kader Khan) - is knifed during a strike, leaving Raja in the position of being the family’s sole breadwinner. Throw in the 70s staple of unemployment, vidhwa maa, and kunwaari behen (widowed mother and unmarried sister) and poor Raja is quite unhinged with worry.
Poonam has her own problems – a drunkard father and an ailing mother. As they say: when poverty knocks on the door, love goes out of the window. A series of misunderstandings later, Poonam is riding off into the sunset with Vikram on his bike, while Raja is enmeshed in a deadly web. I personally feel that Poonam is smitten with Vikram’s hot good looks (and who can blame her?) and the brokenhearted Raja’s judgment is severely impaired as a result. How else can you explain his acceptance of Arjun Malik’s offer?
Arjun offers Raja twenty grand to impersonate Amit Rai (Anil Dhawan) and romance his (Amit’s) affianced bride Rashmi (Moushumi Chatterji). The reason? Rashmi is the daughter of Arjun’s adoptive parents, Mr. and Mrs. Malik (Harindranath Chattopadhyay and Anita Guha). She was betrothed to Amit while both were children and they havent met as grown-ups because Amit has been living abroad. Grown up Amit has – unbeknownst to the Maliks - turned into quite a libertine and Arjun wishes to save Rashmi future heartbreak by getting her a substitute fiance!
Raja is clearly unhinged since he swallows the whole story and is more than willing to participate. He helps lure Amit into the clutches of Arjun’s men and then proceeds to impersonate Amit with great gusto. Rashmi is delighted with her fiance and Raja falls head-over-heels for her.
Now that he is firmly enmeshed in Arjun’s web and all set on the path of love, Raja finds out Arjun’s true designs. Anybody with a smidgen of common sense could have drawn a diagram of Arjun’s less-than-noble plans long before this. But common sense isnt all that common, after all. So, when it is too late to extricate himself, Raja realises that he is meant to murder Rashmi. If he doesnt, both Rashmi and Amit will be murdered by Arjun anyway, and he will be framed.
Poonam, in the meantime, has descended into bad-girl-hood with gay abandon. She lives openly with Vikram, drinks and dances with the best of them in Vikram’s club, is bitterly unhappy at her loss of respectability – all in the space of the few short weeks it takes Raja to woo Rashmi. Guess she is a fast girl in more ways than one!
Will Raja be able to rouse his sleeping brain and work his way out of his predicament? Will Rashmi’s fashions get more err… striking? Has Sharmila ever looked more glamorous in the 70s? Can I get to spend quality time with Kabir Bedi in his deliciously wicked club? Well, the movie can answer at least some of these questions…
I started out by talking about head-whacking-morality tales. Well this one has the usual moral baggage of 70s masala – dont do anything dishonest, dont fantasise about riches and glamorous lifestyles, dont live with a man before marriage (only applies to good girls), and DO NOT accept a ride on a motor-bike with Kabir Bedi!
Now that I have recapitulated the plot and all the plot-holes, I am beginning to wonder what it was about the movie that I liked so much, and I did like it a lot! Apart from the beautiful people, there was some cute romance – Raja-Poonam and Raja-Rashmi (unfair – he gets TWO romances!) were both cute – and the movie was pretty fast paced and absorbing. It was also less wacky and over-the-top compared to standard 70s masala-fare, with some interesting plot twists. So overall, I’d say it is a pretty good watch. Just remember to duck when the moral shovel hits, and DO NOT expect the characters to be too intelligent!


  1. Handsome and smart would really be asking too much. Also, what would happen to the poor plot?

    I liked this one, too. It really is fairly down to earth in the context of the 70s, and given they way poor Raja is hit by one tragedy or potential tragedy after the other it's no wonder he is so confused.

    Although I found the song where they are both watching another couple romancing before they go off into their respective fantasies a bit peculiar. Joint stalking?

  2. Smart and handsome is too much too ask from a Kapoor Anari, I love the fashions in this movie, and Sharmila is great as a bad gal ever since an Evening in Paris! Though i am tempted to say Kabir looks HAWTER than Shashi here!

  3. Gebruss, down to earth is right. The poor people didnt live in big mansions, nor did they talk about being poor but having their honor (or words to that effect), and there was very relatively little melodrama. I wouldnt call Hum to jis raah pe a stalking number - more of a vicarious wish fulfillment one!

    Rum, of course Kabir was hotter. Thats how Sharmila got tempted into being a bad girl and not all of Shashi's entreaties could bring her back to the straight and narrow! ;-)

  4. Haven't seen this one, though I've heard of it. And from your review, I think I do want to see it, nothwithstanding the absolutely ghastly clothes... that last screen cap, with Shashi's eyes as wide as that horrendous red bowtie, is superb!

  5. OMG, I would almost rather just read your one liners I think. LMAO, really!

  6. I want to watch Ghosts of Girlfriends Past!!! :) I like Ryan Reynolds.

    Your captions are always hilarious! Thanks for the morning laugh :)

    Yes, yes....the beautiful people! Shashi, Sharmila, and Moushumi. Isn't it funny that I just posted about Jawaani, which had Sharmila and Moushumi?

    You're the best when introducing golden oldies alright. Thanks for this. For some reason, I just want to see it, just for eye candy :) You know me, I am the one to look. I think I will like!

  7. Ah this looks like excellent eye-candy timepass.

    I just watched a 50s movie with the same moralizing about "money is bad, m'kay?" Some things never change.

  8. dustedoff, I actually liked some of the fashions! Sharmila's gowns and sarees looked gorgeous though Moushumi's came out all wrong. I liked Kabir Bedi's crazy multicolored shirts/coats and big medallion, too - he makes fugly look great. ;-)

    Shell, thanks! The movie is pretty good fun too, if you like crazy fashions and subdued 70s melodrama.

    Nicki, GoGP has Matthew McConaughey, not Ryan Reynolds (you're probably confusing it with The Proposal that does have Reynolds) and is a just about bearable sort of film (now if only they'd thought of getting Hugh Jackman for the lead - then it would have been an awesome film!).

    I loved your screencaps of Sharmila and Moushumi - they both looked too young to play Moms! And this movie is overflowing with eye-candy - so if you dont care for the story you'll stil enjoy it! ;-)

    memsaab, it does have more substance than mere eye candy - all the 70s standard family tropes and lots of Shashi angsting! I wonder why all movies fall over themselves trying to tell us money is bad - are they perhaps trying to console the audience (us?) that we are better off as we are?

  9. I think so regarding the question has Sharmila ever looked so glamorous in the '70's, the movie i'm talking about is Be-sharam where she played Amitabh's love interest and she was Amjad Khan's sister. The movie however is not worth much, watch it only if you're a die hard Amitabh fan. I'll do a review with pictures sometime

  10. bollywooddeewaana, I am not a fan of AB's at all, but for Sharmila's glamorous styles, I just might watch Besharam. Or you could screen cap her fashions and I can just come see your post!

  11. Oh, this looks excellent. I am always looking for movies about the glamorous lives of fallen women. :) And when Shashi isn't even the "hot" one, that's a good life!

  12. "And when Shashi isn't even the "hot" one, that's a good life!" - very well put. ;-) Sharmila however, doesnt seem to agree, and is strangely unhappy with her glamorous and good life...

  13. I'm pausing mid-read to report that even after just those first two clips, I'm so keen to see this because of the awesome use of The Voice! THE VOICE! Sigh.

    Also I love Sharmila's rust and black sari in the second clip. It's so unfair that I look so stupid in a sari.

  14. Add me to the list of people who need to see this. The clothes are fly (hot pink ruffles and bonnet in a boat with a suave fellow wearing a white suit and plaid neckerchief? YES PLEASE) and it sounds full of the kinds of conundrums that never plague my workaday world. Though I probably wouldn't get on a motorbike with Kabir Bedi, even if he did happen to offer.

  15. Kya?!! You are unaffected by Kabir Bedi's charms? O well... to each her own. :-) Shashi is certainly worth watching here. He should have toned down his good advise though - after all his preaching, he goes and gets himself caught in the mother and father of all jams!

    And I refuse to believe that you look stupid in anything, let alone a saree.

  16. Helen be praised! I OWN THIS! My to-watch pile is so big that I've lost track of what's in it, even Shashi things, and I was going through it just now and made the find. HUZZAH HUZZAH! Too bad I have a houseguest all weekend :)

  17. WOE! I spoke too soon. My DVD is not subtitles. Sniff. BOOOOOO!

  18. And my typing is not checks, apparently ;)

  19. Fear not, we can organise a watch-along with translations of key dialogues provided (there is a lot of angst and romance which needs no translations)! And your big pile of to-watch DVDs sounds interesting - any other gems in it?

  20. Great blog, Bollyviewer!

    I haven't watched this film, but looking at Moushumi's outfit from the picture you provided, the following came to mind:

    I likey the trend repeat =P

    Also: Kabir's face in the first picture is spot-on with the capture =D

  21. What a fun blog! I love your chatty, snarky(but not in a mean way) style of Bollyreviewing, Bollyviewer.

    I thought I had seen most 70s Shashi movies, but missed this one somehow. Shall have to fix that deficiency in my education.:-)

    Speaking of 70s Shashi, have you seen Mr. Romeo? I can't recommend it enough. Here's a link to a song from it.

    How can ANYone resist this?:-)

  22. Armíné and Shalini, thanks and welcome to OiG!

    Armíné, you have sharp eyes and a great memory! Neetu's gown in the Kisi pe dil agar aa jaaye number is very similar to Moushumi outfit, here. Of course, Neetu being Neetu, can carry a yellow maxi to much better effect than Moushumi can.

    Shalini, you certainly need to fix that deficiency! Its pretty cute inspite of all the plot-holes. There are more Shashi movies in the 70s than I can ever hope to finish watching, but Mr. Romeo I have seen. Its a hoot, and the song you've linked to IS irresistible!