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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Anupama (1966) – romance Hrishikesh Mukherjee style!

Sharmila Tagore in Anupama (1966) Bollywooddeewana’s awesome Dharam week posts, and Daddy’s Girl’s fabulous 5 Decades of Garam Dharam post on the occasion of Dharmendra’s birthday, reminded me of my favorite lead pair – Dharam and Sharmila (or Dharmila as Daddy’s Girl calls them!). Co-incidentally, the two share the same birthday! What better excuse could I have, for re-watching some of my favorite Dharam-Sharmila films? They are both so gorgeous and have more great films together than any other favorite lead pair of mine. This one tops my list of favorite Dharmila films along with Chupke Chupke - both directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. While Chupke Chupke is classic comedy at its best, Anupama (The Incomparable One) is the coming-of-age story of a timid and shy young woman.

Once upon a time there was a very happy couple – Mohan Sharma (Tarun Bose) and his new bride Aruna (Surekha). They were deliriously in love with each other. As happens with deliriously happy couples in Bollyland, they are soon expecting a baby. This does not turn out to be the good news that we might expect - complications during the delivery end Aruna’s life. The baby daughter survives, and is called Uma. Mohan, inconsolable in his grief, blames poor Uma for his wife’s death, and hates her. She is brought up by Sarla (Dulari), Aruna’s nurse, virtually out of his sight.
In his grief, Mohan becomes a workaholic by day and a drunk by night. While sober, he makes his dislike of Uma very plain, but in his drunken moments, he lavishes gifts and affection on her. With such a Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde for a father, its no wonder that Uma grows up to be a very withdrawn and timid young woman. She barely speaks and is terrified of most people.
When Mohan is invited to visit Mahabaleshwar, to recover from his alcohol-induced illness, he takes Sarla and Uma with him. At Mahabaleshwar, they stay with his friend Suresh Bakshi (Brahm Bhardwaj) and his manically cheerful daughter Anita/Annie (Shashikala). Suresh, like Mohan, lost his wife soon after Annie was born. But the contrast between Annie and Uma couldnt be greater. Annie has all the confidence and natural exuberance of a much loved child. Uma, on the other hand, has all the timidity and lack of self-esteem that comes of knowing herself unwanted and unloved.
To Mahabaleshwar also come Ashok (Dharmendra), his mother and sister, and his friend Arun (Deven Varma). Ashok is a poor and idealistic teacher, struggling to support his vidhwa Maa (Durga Khote) and kunwari behen Gauri (Naina). Arun is a vilaayat-returned engineer, and son of Mohan’s late friend. Mohan has plans of getting Uma married to Arun. Knowing of Arun’s connection with Mohan, Annie promptly invites him and his entourage to stay with them at their gigantic villa. This is where Uma’s life begins to change.
Ashok, the sensitive poet-writer, is drawn to the shy and quiet Uma. With gentle perseverance, he tries to bring her out of her shell. His Mom and sister also develop an attachment to Uma. She basks in the warmth of her first real friendship and begins to fall for Ashok (and who can blame her?). Ashok pursues his acquaintance with Uma when they return from Mahabaleshwar (atta boy!), and succeeds in getting her to utter her first few words in the film! Cautiously, Uma begins to reach out to him and his adorable family. Their blossoming romance is a joy to behold. Inspired by her, Ashok writes his novel Anupama – a book that will subsequently help determine the course of their relationship.
Ashok-Uma’s is not the only romance brewing. Arun is drawn to Annie – once he’s got over his initial shock at her manic cheerfulness! Annie is equally drawn to Arun. The cheerful and young-at-heart Uncle Moses (David), fosters their relationship and encourages them to plan for marriage. But Arun is promised to Uma! Try as he might, he cant work up the courage to tell Uma’s intimidating father that he wants to marry Annie.

What happens to these tangled relationships? Do Ashok-Uma and Arun-Annie find their happily-ever-after? Will Uma let go of a lifetime of striving for her father’s approval and strike out for her own happiness? Will Annie stop overdosing on her “be cheerful, be perky” tonic? I suggest you watch the film and find out yourself!
Its a lovely film with a beautiful story, satisfyingly well told – all the hallmarks of a good Hrishikesh Mukherjee film! The characters are very believable and the film depicts them all so sympathetically. The stunning black and white cinematography adds depth and feeling to the emotions swirling through the film. On a more frivolous note, there is so much pretty in the film. From the gorgeous lead pair to the beautiful Shashikala and handsome Deven Varma – they are all so beautiful! Plus, it has the best music out of all of Hrishi da’s films. Check these out: Lata’s joyful Dheere dheere machal and lovely Kuchh dil ne kaha; the exuberant Asha numbers Bheegi bheegi fiza and Kyon mujhe itni khushi de di; and Hemant Kumar’s haunting Ya dil ki suno duniyawaalon.

Dharmendra is superb as the principled and sensitive writer. Not once does he go over the top. Even his “we are poor but happy” speech sounds sincere and heartfelt, rather than filmi. His character is also very well written. I loved that though Ashok does his best to woo Uma and give her some faith in herself, he also gives her room to grow and make her own decisions.
Sharmila is equally good as Uma. Uma barely speaks in the film, yet Sharmila manages to convey Uma’s silent fear of her father, her striving for his approval, and her growing satisfaction with Ashok’s affection (Sharmila makes full use of her dimples to convey half-smiles as only she can!). However, I do wish she’d left off her bouffants as Hrishikesh Mukherjee apparently requested her to. The well-coiffed hair add a touch of glamour that detracts from Uma’s quiet and simple character!
Of the rest of the cast, I found Shashikala’s Annie rather grating. Her bubbly enthusiasm and cheerfulness was very, VERY overdone, especially since the rest of the cast put in a pretty understated performance. My favorite, apart from the leads, was David. He was utterly charming as the jocular and fun Uncle Moses and had just the right mix of avuncular and friendly to make him the best confidante in matters of the heart!
Interestingly, according to this write-up on Stardust, the film was inspired by a real-life Uma!


  1. Freat review, thanks! I enjoyed both Surekha (so cute) and Shahsikala (refreshingly non vampy for once- yay!) in the movie. Thank you for the link on startdust- love it!

  2. Oooo I knew i needed to see this film when "Guddi" said i should lol! It was so cute and i loved the bouffant and tried on tangled her to some avail!

    @Shweta - where have u been! Liked shashikala upto a point but she was just tooooo happy

  3. Thank you for that review! I've been raving about Anupama over at sunheriyaadein's blog, so it was great seeing this over here. What a lovely film - and the end always brings tears to my eyes (which is saying a lot, considering I'm not a weepy sort).

    I wonder why Dharmendra never got a Filmfare award for films like this and Satyakam - I thought both performances were superb. I guess there were better performances in the same year by other actors...

  4. Shweta, great to see you back in blogland again!

    Shashikala was non-vampy and pretty, but her happiness and bubbliness were dangerously close to insanity!

    Rum, I have seen this film way more than Guddi did! :-D

    Sharmila looked to-die-for pretty and I've always loved her gigantic bouffants (here and elsewhere). Hrishikesh Mukherjee apparently tried very hard to persuade her against sporting a bouffant in this film and she says in a recent interview that she regrets not paying attention to him! I must say that Hrishi da was right.

    dustedoff - Dharmendra should have gotten a Filmfare for this or Devar in '66. Was he even nominated?

    And ditto on the tears thing - except in my case I need tissues throughout the film!

  5. I love this movie. The early Dharmendra is so yum and I've always thought Dharmila (yay, new portmanteau!) long neglected in Bollyland love. They're the right amount of hotness and personality for each other, you know? Hema was always a little too blink-blink for Dharam and RK was a little heh-heh for Sharmila. Much as I love Sharmila and Shashi together (SO pretty), I must say these two are perfect for each other.

    And Anupama is amazing because you actually see Uma growing over the duration of the film. A woman with a growth arc? *faint*

  6. True, "Dharmila" should be the hottest new pair in blogland - now I am tempted to re-watch Chupke Chupke for the umpteenth time! I must admit to liking Shashi+Sharmila a teensy weensy bit more, just coz of the whole his-n-her's dimples thing - but they dont really have many good films together.

    The best part of the film? Not only is Uma allowed to grow, Ashok does not insist that he will marry her only if she is nicely gift-wrapped and handed over to him by her father. The 60s were way ahead in feminism than the 90s were! ;-)

  7. Aww... you've made me want to rewatch this tonight! I totally agree with you on all points - such a pretty film, beautiful music, and a grating Shashikala! LOL I did find her annoyingly perky and OTT, except towards the end of the film. But 'Dharmila' were just gorgeous!

    Shashi and Sharmila were adorable together - double dimple impact! They were so cute together in the one film of theirs I've seen (the one with the awful hypothermia-sex thing - 'Aa Gale Lag Jaa' I think) - what other movies did they do together?

    And I love Amrita's comment: 'Hema was always a little too blink-blink for Dharam and RK was a little heh-heh for Sharmila'. I do love Hema+Dharam but this is so true!

  8. I need to watch this again too, now.


  9. I really want to watch this movie now. I've always liked the songs and I adore Dharmila jodi.
    dustedoff has been praising this movie so much. She had even given me the link to ur post. And now after I read ur review and saw the screencaps it's too much of a temptation to resist! This week's been extremely hectic...I only hope I wont have to work over the weekend. Wud catch hold of this movie and watch it immediately

  10. I love this movie too and nodded my head in agreement with almost every sentence you wrote.

    Ashok is one of my favorite male characters in Hindi films and belongs in the Bollywood Best_Male Roles_Hall_of_Fame alongwith such luminaries as Shashi K in Kabhie Kabhie and Swarup Dutt in Uphaar.

  11. Daddy's Girl, yay! for Dharmila (I'm going to be borrowing your word pretty often!). Shashi+Sharmila are, definitely "double dimple" impact, but I dont like of any their films as much as I like their jodi. They have more than a dozen films together as young leads and more mature ones - my favorites are New Delhi Times and Paap Aur Punya, though My Love, Aamne Saamne and Suhana Safar are also pretty watchable.

    memsaab, we should do a watchalong - as soon as I have renewed my stock of tissues! :-)

    Archana, I dont want to raise your expectations (when everybody praises something, its bound to fall flat!), but do watch this. For me, this film was love-at-first-sight.

    Shalini, what a great idea - "Bollywood Best Male Roles Hall of Fame"! I am going to steal your suggestion for my next post.

    You know when I first read your comment, I thought you were talking of "Upkaar" and couldnt figure out how you could find a great male figure in a Manoj Kumar film! I need to revisit Uphaar and maybe track the Bengali version which was, I think, Aparna Sen's filmi debut.

    Plus, we need to look at the filmi connection between loud cheerfulness and goodness of heart - Shashi in Kabhi Kabhi was almost as gratingly cheerful as Shashikala in Anupama!

  12. I love this film! And I agree Shashikala grated on my nerves in this film. Watching this I much preferred her as a vamp!

    Also with Amrita on the Dharam being so much yummier in older fillums like this one. I know I wrote something about how awesome the Shashi-Sharmila duo was, but the whole time I was writing that, I was thinking "maybe Dharmila was even better?" - thinking of this, and Satyakaam

    David has always been a great character actor and he shines here! His joy and wisdom tinged with the right amount of poignancy is priceless here.

    Surprisingly, the number of times I've seen this, I've only cried at the end. Great movie BV, thank you for this!

  13. This is one of my fav Hrishida movies. His movies are so realistic without being real. As a teenager I always wanted to be a charracter in his stories.

    I liked Shashikala's character in this film. It is similar to her role in Sujata. Her romance with Deven Verma was heart-warming and without complications. Her family and her love serve well as a "contrapunkt" to Anupama's story.

    It is so funny when, Deven Verma feels Dharam's muscles and says that he feels much more like a pehelwan rather the poet he his! *sigh*
    I also like the scene, where Shashikala asks Sharmila to elope with Dharam and asks her on the telephone if she has understood and instead of saying yes, she just nods, without realising that since they are on phone, Shashikala can't see her. To which Shashikala retorts "abhi phir se sirf sar hilaya hoga".
    - Spoiler-
    The last scene reminds me of DDLJ. Only that here Anupama takes the decision i her own hands rather than being a pawn in men's hands.
    -Spoiler ends-

    I love such films.
    Thanks for the review and the hilarious captions!

  14. Lol at the last shot of David Abraham, he's one of my favourite character actors.

    I just said to Daddy's girl not too long ago on how i haven't seen too much of his 60's stuff, counting i've seen only 3 to be exact do review Devar soon i always seem to pass it away when shopping

  15. Naveeda, Dharam had the market cornered, when it came to sensitive and idealistic writers. And I was thinking about Dharmila when I read your Shashi-Sharmila post, too. But you must admit that the songs from this film, while truly haunting and lovely, do not stick (annoyingly) in your head the way Tera mujhse hai pehle ka naata koi or Waada karo nahin chhodogi tum mera saath do! :-D

    harvey, that comment of yours is bang on! Hrishida movies are truly realisic without being real.

    Shashikala did have a very similar character in Sujata, too, but dont you think she was a bit more restrained there? Maybe she was like Mala Sinha - needing a Guru Dutt to "tone it down"! ;-)

    That scene you describe, it was between Uma and Gauri (Ashok's sister), and not between Uma and Annie. Gauri calls up Uma to come visit them once, before they leave for the village and thats when she starts nodding on the telephone. It was such a cute scene.

    While watching the last scene, I was thinking of DDLJ too. And my thoughts were very uncomplimentary to the latter! I wonder why a timid and shy young woman in India was allowed to make up her own mind while a fiesty, vilaayati kudi like Kajol had to take permission from her menfolk to be happy. Another instance of Yash Chopra making a film "before its time", perhaps?

    bollywooddeewana, you SHOULD watch his 60s stuff. I like his 60s movies waaaaay better than any of his later films. He has a ton of spy thrillers, romances, social dramas and just plain awesome films then, without even a hint of the kaminey, kutte, main tera khoon pi jaaoonga (rascal, dog, I will drink your blood!) that was to come!

    I'll definitely try to write up Devar - but its a rather dark film and will take some resolution on my part to rewatch.

  16. This is one movie I have been dying to see! Alas haven't found it yet. So I will wait and then read your review.

  17. Filmbuff, I think its up for free viewing on (un-subtitled, though). I hope you see it soon - I cant recommend this film strongly enough! :-)

  18. I can speak, read and write hindi fluently - don't need subtitles.

    Thanks for the info.

  19. Then you can definitely enjoy Anupama on Rajshri!

  20. Hi Bollyviewer,
    I saw Anupama a few days back, and wanted to let you know I appreciated your humoristic take on it, especially about Uma's ma-approved "bouffants"!

  21. Its a lovely film, isnt it? Re the 'Maa-approved bouffants' - somebody had to, since Hrishida clearly did not! ;-)

  22. " The well-coiffed hair add a touch of glamour that detracts from Uma’s quiet and simple character! "

    On the other hand I think it lends credence to the idea that she was a person just waiting to burst out of her shell.
    The more I think about it, it's a great movie. Even like Shashikala now. Yves makes some interesting points about her transformation in his recent blogpost.

    Will you do a Devar review? I haven't seen it but am dying to. Dharam is gorgeous there and the songs...

  23. Sophy, thats a novel take on Sharmila's bouffants! It certainly makes me a whole lot more sympathetic to them (like I dont love them to bits already!). :-) I've been meaning to write up Devar for a while now, but something or the other just seems to come between Dharmila and me! Will get to it, soon.

  24. Finally I saw this movie last night. Such an awesome experience that I still feel like i am sleep walking through several scenes. Just can't describe my feelings on this lovely movie. I have heard two songs before "dheere -2" and Ya dil ki suno but not the others. Kuch dil ne kaha is my fav song from the movie.

    All the actors have done well and I do agree that Dharam's 60s movies were way better than the 70s ones. David was too good. I initially found Shashi Kala a bit annoying but actually started appreciating her character and acting as the movie progressed. I think Shashi Kala and David's characters were a perfect foil to the more serious nature of both Sharmila and Dharam. That is a clever part on Hrishida ie to keep the film engaging and interesting and not let it flow into a melancholic movie.

    Sharmila looked so young - must have been 17 or 18 yrs old!

  25. I am so glad you liked it, Filmbuff! Its a lovely film...

    I too thought that Hrishida meant Shashikala as a sort of counterpoint to all the melancholy in the film, but she could have been happy and bubbly without being so loud. Sharmila must have been 19-20 when the film was shot - very young!

  26. Dharmendra was nominated as the Best Actor in Fimfare for the year 1966. Not for 'Anupama', 'Devar' or any other movie, but for the Golden Jubilee hit 'Phool Aur Patthar'. However, the winner was Dev Anand for 'Guide' (1966).

  27. Dharam has been given a raw deal by the judges of these awards. Dharam actually deserved awards for a lot of his movies!

  28. Shashi, Dharam lost out to Dev Anand?!! That is unjust.

    Filmbuff, it never ceases to amaze me how some actors get a reputation for being good actors (yes Dilip Kumar I am looking at you!) while really good actors like Dharamendra and Ashok Kumar never get their dues! O well, I bet Dharam has had way more fans over the ages, than any of his "superstar" contemporaries.

  29. It also took a while for Dharmendra to have a super hit (Phool aur patthar). Biswajeet, on the other hand, who didn't look as good and didn't act as well got lucky the very first time in Bees saal baad, (1962). But, like you said, Dharam got his dues--he's still around, acting, and much loved--that should be enough for anyone.

  30. sophy, Biswajeet may have struck it lucky early on, but his luck didn't last very long. Dharam, on the other hand, got the best of the crop of fun films, and I doubt if many people in the current generation even know who Biswajeet is!

  31. True True - why only this generatioh, even our generation, I don't think anybody was curious about Biswajeet ! On the other hand, every kid on the block knows about Dharam even now for some of his famous films and lines! I read an interview with Askhay Kumar who said that he too gets nominated but has never won any awards despite his films being commercially very succesful. He reckoned that he is happy to be like Dharam Paji who also had several hits and fan adulation but few awards! I am not a AK fan but I think he has chosen a good role model in Dharam though!

  32. Filmbuff, whats with all the awards-less actors comparing themselves to Dharam Paaji?! Didn't Govinda say something like that, too? Akshay is better than Govinda, but frankly, I dont think he is the same class as Dharam acting-wise, nor has he done the same calibre of films.

  33. Ha ha the picture captions are tooo funny. Great post. :)

  34. dustedoff: "I wonder why Dharmendra never got a Filmfare award for films like this and Satyakam - I thought both performances were superb. I guess there were better performances in the same year by other actors..."


  35. Amrita:" you know? Hema was always a little too blink-blink for Dharam and RK was a little heh-heh for Sharmila. Much as I love Sharmila and Shashi together (SO pretty), I must say these two are perfect for each other. "

    Amen 2 that!

  36. Dharmila .... absolute fav of mine.

  37. Filmbuff:"Dharam has been given a raw deal by the judges of these awards. Dharam actually deserved awards for a lot of his movies!"

    YES! YES! YES!

  38. Shashi:"Dharam lost out to Dev Anand?!! That is unjust."

    Filmbuff:"it never ceases to amaze me how some actors get a reputation for being good actors (yes Dilip Kumar I am looking at you!) while really good actors like Dharamendra and Ashok Kumar never get their dues! O well, I bet Dharam has had way more fans over the ages, than any of his "superstar" contemporaries."