Mausam, 1975

1975
Directed by: Gulzar
Mark my words if I wasn’t itching for a movie to show-off Sharmila Tagore’s acting chops after Aamne Saamne and I got one!
Mausam totally hit the jackpot for me, it had feeling, depth of emotion and characters I ached for. Their pain was so tangible that it seeped through the screen and into me.
The synopsis on Netfilx Watch Instantly led me to believe that this film was going to be Masala-tastic, what with the promise of long lost daughters, prostitutes, broken promises, angsty student affairs…etc, but it was nothing along those lines. The film was clean, real, honest and meticulously fine-tuned. Sharmila and Sanjeev Kumar give beautiful performances that come to life and are relatable.
Gulzar was not only the director but also wrote the story, screenplay, dialogues and lyrics (he is, in fact, an amazing lyricist responsible for other pristine works like Paheli, Dil Se and Asoka, to name a few) for the film. That sort of across-the-board involvement is what helped to make this film move with such fluidity and grace.
Mausam is also loosely based on the book The Judas Tree by A.J. Cronin, which is totally on my list of “must reads” now. Comparing synopses I’d say the movie took about 80% from the book’s plot.
Dr. Amarnath Gill (Sanjeev Kumar) is an aged, wealthy doctor who visits a rural town in Darjeeling for relaxation and solitude from his stressful profession (he designed some kind of “cure-all” pill… that he himself won’t use, ironically).  However all he can think about is the time he spent in the same small town 20 or so years ago when he was a medical student. He had met and fell in love with the local doctor, Harihar Thapa’s (Om Shivpuri) daughter Chanda (Sharmila Tagore).
He had promised to return to marry Chanda after he finished his medical exams and became a doctor (on Chanda’s fathers orders) but never returned due to extreme circumstances.  He learns that Harihar has died and that after many years of protesting against marriage in case Gill was going to return Chanda was married to a lame, crippled old man.
Ah, stalking your memories…

He goes from town to town tracking her down only to discover at last that she had been driven mad by her longing for Gill and died. He also learns that Chanda had a daughter with her lame husband, whom she had wanted to pursue a medical degree. Gill in turn hunts down the daughter, Kajli (Sharmila), to discover that she works as a prostitute after being raped by her mother’s brother-in-law and sold to a brothel.
Gill pays for Kajli to stay with him the entire time he is in Darjeeling in an effort to “Pretty Woman” her. He buys her beautiful sarees, reminds her she is a woman, and becomes the father figure that she never had growing up. Gill cares for her out of remorse for the “sins” he committed against Chanda. He seeks his own redemption in the saving of Kajli.  We see Kajli transform from rude, crude, swearing and smoking hooker to a refined, calm, beautiful young woman. While Gill offers no affection outside of parental concern Kajli finds herself caring for him.
Another classic case of Saree Envy!
When Gil goes to pay to take Kajli away forever she protests and runs back to the brothel. The brothel’s Madame (Dina Pathak) urges Kajli to accept this way out of the business, forcing Kajli to see the changes within herself that have resulted from Gill’s care. Kajli returns to Gill and tries to seduce him, but Gill reacts violently and throws her out of the house, during the action reveling himself to the be doctor that had abandoned her mother so many years ago.
The next morning Gill leaves Darjeeling only to meet Kajli standing by the gate, holding the picture he had given Chandra*. He admits his faults, asks for forgiveness, not from Chanda who could never forgive him, but from Kajli, who he could give a respectable life to. Kajli agrees to go with him and they drive off together back to the city.
Sharmila was stunning as she morphed from Chanda to Kajli. They were both so dynamic, so different. It was hard to believe that they were played by the same actress. I’m so hardcore on the Sharmila wagon now, I’m defiantly going to be watching for more of her stuff from now on. Oooh, she just sparkles! I was however distressed by her missing eyebrows… but after about ten minutes I hardly even noticed the lack of them, she did such wonderful things with her eyes and body-language that they were hardly a negative.
Sanjeev also played the youngster and the older man to perfection. I actually had to check IMBD and Wikipedia three or four times during the course of the movie becasue I just couldn’t believe that the older Gill was played by him. At all! His costuming, change of body-language and the cerebral, wealthy sort of patience in his demeanor was mind blowing. They aged him better than they aged Shah Rukh in Veer-Zaara! And it was the same amount of years! He also looked like he was about 30 lbs. heavier when he was older… WILD! My hat to Sanjeev!
Mausam is defiantly going on the “Must Buy” list! ASAP!
*I totally thought (bless my crazy heart) that Kajli was holding a gun and was going to shoot Gill. There were mere seconds left in the film and I just didn’t see a resolution to the drama… thankfully I was wrong but I was extremely tense for about 2 minutes.
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Aamne Saamne, 1967

Directed by: Suraj Prakash

Get used to floating hands…

On Netflix this was billed as a “Thriller”… I don’t know if I would call it that, exactly, but there were moments where I was a little startled. There are a lot of disembodied floating hands, shadowy lighting effects, Henry Mancini circa Breakfast at Tiffany’s music, angry boyfriends and brothers, stalking, death threats, cliffs and a murder so if you call that thrilling by all means I allow you to do so.

And people walking far too close to cliffs…

To me the movie was all about Shashi!

I was filled with glee throughout this move. Shashi was abounding, breaking hearts with his smile and his tight, very tight white pants, awesome dance moves and that puppy-dog look that he uses as he smolders all over the place. Let’s Go!

Deepak (Shashi) is accused of murdering his wife in the middle of the night, however, in court he is proven innocent due to lack of evidence or circumstantial evidence (or something ambiguous about evidence). Naturally since his wife was rich everyone assumes that Deepak has paid off the investigators and purchased his innocence.  Looking disgruntled and deliciously angsty in that tight white suit he moves to Mumbai and changes his name to Gopal.

The meaning of life is woven into that suit. 

It’s worth noting that for someone who is apparently innocent he acts amazingly guilty all the time. He jumps at noises and shields himself with a briefcase in fear when he meets his gardener. This is done on purpose to create suspicion in our precious Shashi… but more on that later… His gardener is worried that he is a batchelor, but never fear! It’s Bollywood, and someone (anyone!) is bound to get married sometime (anytime!) during the course of the film.

Are you accepting applications?

Across his courtyard lives the beautiful Sapna (Sharmila Tagore) at whom Gopal spends a lot of time staring at through his window, following around and trying to woo. Stalking is cute(?), but only when it’s not happening to you… or it’s anyone BUT Shashi or Shah Rukh.

“Sheer coincidence becasue I was… you know… stalking you.”

Sapna is annoyed by his behavior, but she kind of likes it because she’s a little self-absorbed, and complains to her boyfriend Prem (Prem Chopra) who is in some oddly arranged cohorts with Sapna’s brother Pran (?) Both of them threaten to kill Sapna if she doesn’t marry Prem… in fact most of Pran’s time is spent pressuring Sapna into marriage with Prem. Sapna is hesitant on the subject (because she’s falling in love with Gopal of course!).

Yeah, annoyingly attractive.

Sapna begins to understand her love for Gopal when she nurses him in the hospital after he was in a rouge merry-go-round accident (in her defense, so he thought). Gopal is in the hospital for what seems like a month, even though he’s only ever shown with a single band-aid on his forehead… and what kind of injury do you get from a merry-go-round?! Injures are not important, what IS important is that they fall in love and desire to marry one another.

This is my new phone background. I stare at it for hours.

When Sapna tells her brother she is going to marry Gopal instead of Prem she is threatened (twice!) that death looms for her if she marries Gopal.

He’s about ready to pull a gun on his sister… or flash her.
What kind of screwed up knife is THAT? 
No true villain would touch that embarrassment.

Naturally Gopal and Sapna run away get married and honeymoon in Kashmir (during which time it appears that Prem and Pran have forgotten their murderous desires because they aren’t seen again until the big showdown at the end).

Do you know what kind of people really look like that when they’re sleeping?
Gods.

During their honeymoon things start to get weird… Sapna is pushed off of a cliff (I actually screamed… I was just taken off guard) and she overhears someone talking to Gopal about his previous wife and the murder and his suspected guilt. Sapna goes into overanxious, freak-out mode.

The rest of the movie is a race to find answers, is Gopal/Deepak a lady killer or not? Is he trying to kill Sapna and take all of her money? If not Gopal, who is behind all of the madness?

I’m not going to tell you, but I will say two things:
1. In the epic fight scene in the end, Shashi was costumed in a leather vest and bright red shoes. Amazzzzzingg!
2. Just like with Severus Snap in Harry Potter, I was so right. I’m an expert at “reading” people and I’m never wrong (except for Don, that TOTALLY had me!)…

There were moments where I looked at Gopal and was a little confused, was he just playing me really well like Don, or was it all just coincidence and suspicion? Shashi did a great job at playing it both ways without giving it away. Just as soon as you were convinced one way he did something to make you think “Well… maybe not?”. Bravo at playing with my head Shash. Bravo.

Sharmila was cute, I guess… It was the first time I have seen her in anything and Sapna isn’t the most developed character in the entire world. She mainly stood around and looked either smug, lovey-dovey, or scared-to-death. I’d like to see her in something else just to see what she has up her sleeve, there were moments where she was channeling Audrey Hepburn like a pro and I just ate it up, clearly she has more to offer than what I saw.

The music was fantastic. It was stuck in my head when I tried to sleep after watching this film, which is typically a good sign. The only thing that was lacking was female interaction. The songs were all performed by Shashi who just walked around Sharmila while she looked on at him doe-eyed and fluttering her eyelashes. What’s disappointing is that there was some great material for what could have been killer duets and the composer didn’t go for it. Pity.

The costuming in this film caught my attention. Maybe it was the white suit at the beginning (probably) but I was just looking at the clothing a lot when I was watching this. It was preppy and dripping with 60s greatness. I had some wicked sari-envy and rejoiced constantly that whenever Shashi wasn’t in my favorite shirt-and-sweater ensemble the costumer had the good sense to display his chest hair.

Oh, you sure did.

I should note that I watched this on Netflix In-demand and my picture quality was horrendous (but not so awful as the In-Demand Swayamvar which was nigh unwatchable) and the sound was just terrible.

I’d like to back off, if I could tell whom I was backing off of.

Despite all that I persevered, and I’m glad that I did, I really liked this film. I really like a lot of films but this one was just different because it stressed me out a little. There was a glimmer, and just a little glimmer or doubt in the outcome in the story line that kept it captivating.

Aaaand, just becasue I have a soft spot for preppy boaters: