Saturday, 9 August 2008

Bairaag (1976)

Let me begin by confessing that I have a weakness for what I call "temporary blindness movies". Maybe this is why I like "Deedar" so much. So when I heard of a movie with Dilip Kumar in a triple role involving blindness I was very keen to watch it. I have to say, I was not disappointed.

The movie begins by introducing us to a well-to-do couple Kailash (Dilip Kumar) and Pushpa (Saira Banu).

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He is a workaholic with some eye-problems which he never finds the time to have treated properly and he also forgets the wedding-anniversary. One day while driving along a rather scenic road the two have an accident which leaves him blind.


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His wife doesn't take the news very well and only recovers her will to live when she finds out that she is expecting. It seems a bit odd that she looses the will to live given that it is Kailash who ends up blind, but there you are. This is not the only odd thing in this movie.


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Pushpa delivers twins; however one of the boys is born blind and Kailash can't cope with the idea of having a blind son and asks the Doctor to kill they boy. The Doctor, who is a family friend, is shocked, but agrees in the end to take the child away. He puts the baby in front of a temple where he is picked up by a kindly priest.

You want me to do what to your son?
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Not the best start in life:
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Meet the kindly priest:
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During the following credit sequece we learn that the abandoned boy, Bola, has been taken in by the family of Thakur Chandraban, who is overly fond of alcohol and has a grand-daughter about the same age as Bola. Bola basically runs the household and is very devout, only the grandmother of the family dislikes him because he is an orphan. Bola is also very good friends with the temple snake.

There is a real snake as well, but I thought its stone-replica would do:
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Worhship gives an opportunity for filmi irony:
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Kailash on the other hand, is tormented by what he did. He is still under the impression that his son was killed. Pushpa worries about her husband and in the end he tells her what happened. She can't bear it and falls ill.

Pushpa worries:
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Her worry seems to have affected her choice of cloth for her husband, too (though they do match the wallpaper):
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Their son Sunjay grows up to be badly-behaved and disrespectful to his parents (now, why doesn't that come as a surprise). Pushpa dies while he is still quite young.

Sunjay grows up into a fairly irresponsible playboy. He has a fiance,Sonia, who is very cute, and also an affair with Helen. This isn't too good as Helen is also the girl-friend of a gangster.

Sunjay (and a mace????!)
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His fiance:
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Conversations which might make you want to reconsider your commitment to your engagement:
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Payer-meeting, yes, sure:
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All this running around with Sunjay makes Helen's boyfriend's hair stand on end:
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Back in the village, Tara is rather interested in Bola, who she teases in a couple of songs. Bola however is too aware of his humble position as a servant and of the disadvantage of his disability to realise what is rather obvious to the viewer. In any case, Tara's grandmother has other plans and she brings a proposal from a city-person. Tara then makes it more than clear to Bola that she would rather marry him (she waylays him in the temple with a garland), but he is shocked and refuses.

Tara looking earnest
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Tara and Bola in a swimming saucer:
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She really has her work cut out:
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and now he is getting worried:
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Now, we know that the city-person is Sonia's no-good brother, who needs money. He demands a large sum in dowry. While the family doesn't have that much money, Bola has been saving up, and keeps his money in the temple guarded by the snake. However, when he tries to give the money to Sonia's brother he is bitten by the snake. Miraculously this leads to him gaining his eyesight. He sees this as a command to go and recover the money.



So, Bola ends up in the city, while at the same time his brother is still flirting with two women at once. However, things are about to get complicated for Sunjay as well. He decides to skip his own birthday party; and instead elope with Helen, who is pregnant with his child. Now, Helen is practical and takes some of her gangster friends money to help them in their new life, and possibly also as revenge for him beating her up. Anyway, the next morning, Helen is dead, and Sunjay faced with a murder-charge. However, Bola had turned up at Sonia's brothers house and was forced into impersonating Sunjay at his birthday party where he got very drunk, being unused to alcohol and got into a fight with Helen's gangster friend. So, he has an alibi as he was at home nursing his wounds when Helen was killed.

Poor Helen:
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Poor Sonia is rather confused by her fiance's sudden change in behaviour and dress:
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In order to keep Sunjay safe, Sonia's brother comes up with the brilliant plan to make him go back to the village as Bola. Everybody is happy to have Bola back, and the family even agrees to his marriage with Tara. Tara, however, is the only one who suspects that Bola isn't who he claims to be.

Will the two brothers end up married to the correct girls? Will the family every be re-united? Who killed Helen? And what part does the this gentlemen play?

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I did like the movie, especially because it gave Dilip a chance to be both tormented and suffering, as Kailash, and goofy, as his two sons. I preferred Bola to Sunjay, but they were both well done characters. The girls are mainly there for decorative purposes, which is okay. I felt bad for Sonia, but I suspect this is at least partly due to the fact that I liked the actress better and would have preferred to see more of her and less of Tara. However, Tara was impressive in her insistence on marrying the one she loved, never mind his is a blind orphan of unkown parentage.

There is also a very young Kader Khan:
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some quirky interior decoration:

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as well as a novel approach to laundring money:

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4 comments:

Beth said...

Wow! I don't think I would have made it through this one. However, that set you have near the bottom is unbelievably fantastic!

Is there a future project of you cataloging all the Bollywood temporary blindness movies? Do do!

antarra said...

Hmm, I didn't think it was that bad.

I suspect temporary blindness might be a theme around here in the future. Possibly induced by some of the jumpers.

memsaabstory said...

I loved the triple role, but found the film a little too OTT even for me. Plus, Saira Banu gets on my last good nerve. But Helen kind of made up for that...

antarra said...

I didn't think it was that OTT, but, yes the triple role was great and very well done. I agree with you on Saira Banu, but at least she dies of shock (or mystery movie disease) fairly early on. Poor Helen, that was all rather sad.