Monday, 23 June 2008

Bargain Bin Beauties II : Shehzada (1972)

It was with some trepidation that I started to watch this movie. I had never seen a movie with Rakhee where she hadn't been a long-suffering mother, sometimes with the variation of a long-suffering, mentally imbalanced mother. I had grown somewhat weary with her doing this, especially as to me she appeared to acting just the same in the flashbacks which were meant to show happier days.

However, she really surprised me in Shehzada. Yes, she does turn on the waterworks on more than one occassion, but she also a plays a very charming and in some ways quite feisty young girl, and she does it very well.

The movie certainly has an impressively colourful start:

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The film tells the story of the titular Shehzada (Rajesh Khanna), but it actually opens his grandmother (Veena) making a great entrance into her palatial mansion. We learn swiftly that she has a sickly son (Karan Deewan) (suffering from a mysterious disease which makes him cough a lot and leads to liver failure), who lives separated from his wife and child.

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This child has grown up to be a truck-driver. He is happy with his lot and ones nothing to do with his grandmother as she isn't willing to accept his mother (Pandri Bhai) as her daughter-in-law.

Meet our dashing hero:
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He is also friends with Chanda (Rakhee), who runs a small stall.

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She has an evil uncle who tries to get her married to somebody old enough to be her grandfather, and she is saved by Rajesh's intervention. He takes her home to meet his mother, and we then learn why she is estranged from her in-laws: During the struggle for independence, her father, who was a freedom fighter, shot her father-in-law who was working for the British government. Rajesh's grandmother was unwilling to have her husband's killer's daughter stay in the house and his father had insufficient backbone to insist that his wife be allowed to stay.

Here we have the ideological conflict:
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I have to say, grand-father looks rather dashing in his picture:

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The rest of the movie deals with how this situation is resolved, and involves Rajesh stating repeatedly that his home is where his mother is, while his grandmother insists that her house is his home, and his father's health takes a turn for the worse. While the story is quite interesting, it is not what makes watching this movie so enjoyable. That is the interaction between Rajesh, Chanda and Rajesh's mother, Janki. The young couple is very cute together, and they are very sweet with Janki in a non-cloying way. Especially, since they take some time to own up to the fact that they have feelings for each other, and Mum is just waiting for them to tell her and finds their evasions quite funny. I really had great fun with the first ninety minutes or so. Towards the end there were too many impassioned speeches for my taste, and I enjoyed Rajesh Khanna much more when he was not giving speeches. He just seemed to be a bit wooden when he declared for the umpteenth time that his home is where his mother is. It was nevertheless interesting to see the same choice, namely staying with your mother, once presented as a paragon of filial duty and once as an act of spineless cowardice. Context obviously is important here, but Rajesh attitude to his grandmother does feel a bit harsh on occasion. It is a great strenght of the film that the grandmother is not portrayed as evil. She is stern but clearly fond of her son and grandson and her antipathy towards her daughter-in-law is at least comprehensible. It was certainly an enjoyable movie and to me a revelation as far as Rakhee was concerned.

The young couple being cute:
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Mother and son:
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Couply cuteness at night:

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and in wet:
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Bienen und Bluemchen:
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The other thing that is rather fascinating is that somebody is doing interesting stuff with the camera work. Lots of shots in unexpected angles and perspectives.

Maybe he got bored during the fight-scenes:
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Sitting pretty:
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The slightly different flashback:
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There are also a lot of stripes:
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possibly a sunset too many, but rather nice sunsets nevertheless:
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and an awesome carpet:
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And last but not least, the comic relief, who is actually quite funny:
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I have to say, that I generally find these sorts of characters less irritating in older movies.

6 comments:

Bollyviewer said...

A young Rakhee - I must see this! She wasnt always the long-suffering mother. She actually started out as super beautiful and in some cases super-fun too, like in Sharmeelee (it was reviewed recently on the Post-Punk Cinema Club). How are the songs in this?

antarra said...

I liked the songs, they were cute and fun. This was my first young Rakhee, and I war very impressed. She is very sweet in this.

a ppcc representative said...

Sigh. Rakhee is so often demented, which is a shame.

Hey, is that guy in the stripes the singer from Zanjeer's Deewane hai deewanonko?! Because I LOVE that song, and that guy.

antarra said...

I am not sure about the singer; it could be the same guy. He doesn't sing in this one but provides comic relief.

memsaabstory said...

I just got this (since I'm on my Rajesh Khanna kick)---can't wait to see it.

I love him and Raakhee together! Yum!

V. Manohar said...

RAJESH KHANNA - THE GREATEST LEGEND & REAL SUPER STAR OF INDIAN CINEMA :


There are romantic leading men and there are romantic leading men, but very few have taken cinematic love to legendary heights. While there might be other icons but Super-Star- Actor Rajesh Khanna after four decades, he is the ultimate true romantic legend.