Directed by Raj Kapoor
This movie introduced three things: Rishi Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia, and the genre of teenage romance. The story is a variation on Romeo and Juliet, and because of this and of the quality of acting and film-making, it will bring to mind and heart the same feelings felt when watching both the 1960’s and 1990’s Romeo and Juliet movies, with a little Love Story and Titanic feelings thrown in (I’ve never seen Titanic, but I know how people responded to it). Raj directs and plays one of the supporting characters, Bobby’s father, as a fat, jolly, silly man. Raj, of course, is the master of Bollywood, but it is Rishi and Dimple who carry this movie. Rishi is moon-faced and only retains a ghost of the handsomeness of his father and grandfather; his face lends his character of Raj a mooniness as well, which is appropriate since he writes poetry in his spare time. His character is not the bleeding heart a poet would be in America; he can be cheeky and hang with the in-crowd when necessary. Dimple as Bobby is very sixteen; loving one minute, saucy the next. The ending is rather too over-the-top for me, but it’s only the last few minutes of the movie, so I let it pass.
Song Highlights: Laxmikant-Pyarelal outdid himself on these songs, as nearly all of them are memorable immediately, and none of them grate on my Western ears as some Indi-pop songs do. The three that stand out even from these are the first song, “Main shair to nahin,” when Raj sings one of his poems to the guests at his birthday party; “Jhoot Bole Kauva Kate,” when everyone dances in the street after a wedding; and “Hum Tum Ek Kamre Mein,” the song when Raj and Bobby are locked in a house together and spin a tale of romantic titillation for themselves (here, the fantasy scenes feel authentic and entirely appropriate). During the last song I mentioned, there are so many laudable shots; you can tell the director Raj is loving being able to play out the picture in his mind so perfectly, such as when the characters Raj and Bobby repeatedly embrace in different areas in a field of yellow flowers, the sunlight flashing between them (which flashes out what is clearly meant to be kissing). Lyrics were by Anand Bakshi.
Tidbits: One scene is famous for recreating when Raj Kapoor met Nargis for the first time; she answered the door and thought he was a pesky stranger, so she absentmindedly wiped flour paste from what she was cooking onto her forehead. Dimple married a much older Rajesh Khanna, who was about to be displaced as the Bollywood star by Amitabh Bachchan (and, to a lesser extent, Rishi). As most actresses who married, she then retired from movies, but she came back to it years later after her divorce.
Rating: Audiences may balk at the first song, in which Rishi is made to recite one of his poems and instead breaks into song, which the girl who taunted him into reciting it dancing along (Aruna Irani, the excellent dancer, usually put into the role of the dancing “vamp”). During the song, he daydreams he sees Bobby’s face superimposed on different areas of the room. If you can get past this (it’s actually a great tune), the rest of the movie does not use anything else that would seem unacceptable to a Western audience.
Library Collection: If your purpose is historical, popular, or musical, this should definitely be included for the reasons given in my review.