Silsila, 1981

Directed by: Yash Chopra

I cannot hate this film. I just can’t.

It goes against my better nature, but I can’t. I don’t have the power to.

I despise cheating/adultery/sneaking around/hidden romances… all variations of dochebaggery.
I find all forms of self-sacrifice, withering, and pathetic justifications absolutely disgusting.
BUT
I appreciate semi-quasi-maybe-it-is-and-maybe-it-isn’t biographical flicks.
I love awkward semi-quasi-maybe-it-is-and-maybe-it-isn’t casting. It’s so true to life! It happens all the time!
Couple those with some of my favorites, Rekha, Shashi, Amitabh, Jaya and Sanjeev; throw in some Alps, romantic tulip fields, some nods to Clara Bow, and overall Yash-Raj-ishness and you probably will get a movie that I’m going to love.
This movie is like the cleaner, more endearing Bombay Talkie. It is highly, highly Romanticized, but it still has the same basic feel, except for all of the pathetic characters; on the whole, while I pitied the characters in this film, I neither hated them or thought they were right. They were just being human. (With glaring morality issues, but for this moment, that is beyond the point).
 
Shekher (Shashi Kapoor) is an officer in the Indian Air Force and he is truely, madly, deeply in love with Shobha (Jaya Badhuri*). 
 
Shekher has a brother Amit, whom he loves dearly too. And they do precious brotherly things… like shower together…?
The unfairness of this reverberates through MANY levels of unfairness.

Amit (Amitabh Bachchan) is a playwright, lauded for his voice which he uses to read his plays over the radio, and is smitten by the seductive Chandni (Rekha) whom he meets at a wedding and woos in precious filmi-love ishsyle. 

 

Chandni is promised to another man, but when she tells her father she is in love with Amit, he breaks off the engagement and allows her to follow her heart. When Shekher is killed in a rescue mission, Amit rushes off to the funeral and in the process discovers that Shobha is pregnant. Out of loyalty to his brother, and compassion towards Shobha Amit marries her. Amit writes a tearful goodbye to Chandni and shuts her out of his life for good…
 
Or so we think. While Amit plays the doting husband very well, especially after Shobha loses the baby, he is tormented by what his life could have been like, had he been free to marry Chandni. The more the couple drifts apart the more desperate Amit becomes in his quest to find Chandni and revive their romance. Almost by design the two meet, and meet again, and again and again… At first Chandni is firm, there will be no relationship. Amit is married, she too married a Dr. V.K. Anand (Sanjeev Kumar) and she will not take part in the eventual destruction of two families. 

 

Amit is nothing if not persistant, and eventually wears down Chandni’s resolve and the two begin a passionate, blissful affair. At first the relationship is taken casually by the respective participant’s spouses, but slowly, ever so slowly Shobha and Dr. Anand get the hints.  After a particularly telling display at Holi the lovers are confronted. Shobha tries to scold Amit but he does not find her serious and Dr. Anand persuades Chandni to forget her past before it rips apart their marriage. 

 

Later, when Dr. Anand and Shobha chat the Doctor tells Shobha that she has rights, and she has the ability to stand her ground and get what she wants too. Shobha races off to tell Amit that she loves him, and she does, but only after he confesses that he is being unfair to her, he loves Chandni and he’s leaving. 
 
Rather than put up a fight, Shobha lets Amit leave, citing that he will return when his sense of duty kicks in and that she is resigned to wait for him until that happens. 
 
When the two extramarital adulterers go to a wedding together “as friends” things get messy. And fast. During the ceremony Amit thinks of his wedding to Shobha and her newly confessed love for him, he’s haunted by his nonchalance and lost sense of duty.  A phone call in the middle of the wedding alerts the two decietful lovebirds of a plane crash involving Chandni’s husband. The two race to the scene where Amit sees Shobha. He is ready to jump into the continually exploding wreckage but is halted by Shobha who begs him no to. She doesn’t want to loose him, he should consider saving himself, if not for her, than for her unborn child.  With those magic words Amit’s demeanor changes and he softens a little. He promises that he will come back to her, and flies into the burning plane. 
 
Dr. Ananad is alive, remarkably, and Amit assists in dragging him out of the plane and to his wife; Chandni, in a move uncharacteristic for her thus far, embraces her husband and rejoices at his safety.
 
Amit races home to find Shobha (who had collapsed due to anxiety) and professes he is her husband, she his wife and nothing else matters. The film closes with Shobha and Amit strolling lovingly through a park, cuddling, goo-goo eying and looking very happy.

 

First a foremost I don’t understand why Amit had to marry Shobha at all. Se appeared to be an independent woman who could take care of herself. I understand that she would have been an unmarried mother, but surely all parties would have been better suited had Amit just married Chandni. The whole idea of marrying his brother’s fiancee, not wife, but fiancee, just seemed incredibly Biblical and dated. Plus, if I were to put myself into Shobha’s shoes, I wouldn’t have wanted someone to marry me just because they felt sorry for me. There was so much guilt, regret and misplaced sympathy in that that relationship, and that is just not healthy. Of course something like that is going to self-destruct. If not in an affair, in another way.
 
Amit needed to grow up, and that’s that. HE made the choice to offer marriage to Shobha so HE shouldn’t have felt the need to call up Chandni whenever he got a little mopey and insist they get back together, especially after she tried to say no! At least she was being a responsible adult in her attempts to have some sense of propriety. After her blatant refusal it should have been a non-issue, but Amit persisted and look where that got them.

I’m not going to even start on Shobha’s “I’ll wait till he returns because I have no claim on him, he has no responsibility to me, I only must do what he says and stand by him because I owe him for marrying me in the first place” stance. I refuse to go there. 

 
I think I was so sympathetic to this film because it was shot absolutely beautifully. Visual aesthetic will get you quite far in my book. Yash Chopra has a gift for composing stunning scenes that just ooze perfection. I drool over this mans lighting and his eye for creating ambiance and interesting pictures.

I especially liked Rekha’s treatment in this film. Obviously she was the femme fatal, and I don’t know if Yash was going through a Film Noir binge or what but there are some excellent moments where Rekha is shot  very much in the style of all the steamy oldies. She’s the Clara Bow of Bollywood. That’s my new name for her, because frankly, she is. Oh, her half-opened eyes and her pouty baby-doll lips, I can’t get enough! 

 

The performances made this movie. Being cast in their “real-life roles” (yes, I will get there**) added some spice and edge to the film. There was discomfort laced through every scene. There was tangible tension and moments of “Please stop looking at each other like that, and get back to acting, please” where I thought they had forgotten that they were playing characters.
 
 However, I do have to say that my favorite performance was by Sanjeev. He’s quickly becoming one of my favorites, he’s just so calm and collected, yet manages to convey everything his character is experiencing through his subtitles in his face and carriage. When he confronted Rekha about her affair it was heartbreaking, astonishingly real and overwhelmingly touching. 

 

The music is simply beautiful. Melodious, catchy, calm, soothing, beautiful…etc. Everything that good music is, this soundtrack has it. Of particular note are Sar Se Sarke and Ladki Hai Ya Shola. As well as having good songs, there are A LOT of them. As far as I’m concerned they’re all going on my iPod to help stave off boredom on my flight to India.

Ok, the drama.

As far as I’m concerned I don’t really care about the Rekha/Jaya/Amitabh real-life love triangle. I’m not one to get involved in celebrity woes and drama, and based on the effortless, minimal hunting I did no-one could tell me if it actually happened or not. Let’s though, say it did, in which case kudos to Yash Chopra for wrangling all three of these people and getting them to say “yes” to this film. On the other hand, let’s say it’s not true, and again, kudos to Mr. Chopra for getting them to play up the press the “affair” was getting. (I tend to lean towards the “yea, it happened” ideal, but still, I find that rather irrelevant)

I’mma say it again:
I love this movie.

*Jaya is billed with that last name, but on the film credits as Bachchan. I left her with that one, because that’s how I roll…
**I thought about not mentioning the real-lifey bits at all, but I know better than that. 

AND, a joy I had never considerd, Shashi in uniform! Enjoy:

 

Koi…Mil Gaya, 2003

Directed by: Rakesh Roshan

This movie almost made me loose the faith. It made me seriously question at one point WHY I would ever be dabbling under the dangerous influence of Indian Cinema.

There are so many things about this film that are just so fantastically absurd that I hardly spent a minute NOT in high-pitched, hysterical laughter. Ask K, she was there, she witnessed this loss-of-brain-spectacular. There are so many life-altering manifestations of “Just…WOW!”

1. What the heck was up with Rohit’s (Hrithik Roshan) mutant thumb!? Why was it there? Did it give him magical powers? Was it for eating delicious slugs from under logs? It is responsible for his amazing basketball skills?*

2. I still don’t get why Jadoo was even there. True to form, I was Twittering away (because I am an addict that needs a 12-step program) while watching this, so I might have missed that important detail, but it just seemed so… Ok, fine, I know it’s supposed to be Sci-Fi (which I have differing, yet very strong opinions on to begin with) but I felt it was lacking in development. It seemed very patched together, like there was more to the story at one time, but it all got hacked out.

3. Jadoo didn’t even do anything! He just looked rather like a blow-up doll (as far as his facial expressions are concerned.)the entire time and just aided Hrithik in his already stellar jumping. Oh, and turned Rohit into an insufferable cock-of-the-walk. I thought he was actually going to do something; like hatch elaborate plans for world domination, or travel back in time to a world stuck in 1920s Mobster New York where they have daily shoot-outs, fall in love with a woman who would then later die, tragically, struck by a car en route to a movie (if you get that, you know my deepest, darkest, best-kept secret). But he did nothing of the sort. He just looked cute, and made his brain glow every once and a while. Can we say “letdown”?

4. Rekha. Rekha. Rekha. I have a total girl-crush on Rekha. I want her hair so badly I’d shave her head and collect the pieces, make a wig, and then never take it off. I wish my name was Rekha, so that people could obtain as much pleasure from saying my name as I do when I say hers. Reeeekkhaaaa. Not only is she my one-true-love (sorry, Neetu, it’s not you it’s me… you know) but she has a few kick-ass moments in this film where she tells people what, exactly, is what. GO GIRL!

5. I can’t remember too much of the music, Twittering and alternating between tears and giggles as I was, but I did really LOVE Haila Haila. Maybe it was the orchestration, the playback singers, or Hrithik’s wardrobe, but it just felt like it had wandered out of a Shashi movie and transplanted into this one.

6. I seriously thought that Hrithik could just jump as high as he can. I didn’t even think about the use of harnesses until K made a sarcastic comment about them. It is fair to say that I felt really dumb, but at least glad that she pointed it out before the pivotal basketball scene. That would have really been embarrassing!

7. Preity Zinta, darling filmi clone, you are too cute for words.

8. I found everyone’s reaction to Jadoo a bit… melodramatic. They were going to open-fire on his house with cannons if the alien wasn’t surrendered? Odd.

9. Sometimes, I question casting directors taste level when Johnny Lever is involved.

10. This film actually did not make me question my faith in the Bolly. Good golly, that’s well and firmly established, and it is not going anywhere.

This probably isn’t a film I’ll be revisiting, unless I ever take up drinking, in which case it would be spectacular and well worth it. However, for all the sarcasm it was rather charming.

*There is some debate over the validity of Hrithik’s current “Jesus hair”. I for one, really like it. I dig men with longer-ish hair. Yum!

*Hindsight is a great intellgence booster. I get the thumb thing now.