Pighalta Aasman (1985) has all the charm of a Harlequin romance (and that isn't a bad thing). We start with a lady (Rati Aghnihotri), obviously meant to be older as she wears huge glasses and has tastefully sprayed on grey hair, receiving a telegram that her book has been published. Before we even know her name she starts reminiscing about the story. An undetermined number of years ago, she worked as a secretary (then without glasses and grey hair) for a rich businesswoman (Rakhee). Anu tells us, that her employer is very proud and not too fond of men, as she is convinced that they are all faithless, while she herself spend her spare time writing about an as yet unfinished story. After the credit sequence, we learn that Aarti's unmarried state deeply disturbs her aunt, as, of course, a woman's life is unfulfilled until she is married.
Meet the family:
Anu may be keeping a romantic secret:
As the day of Aarti's company's annual function draws close, she is asked to participate in a song-contest. Before the contest, Anu probes Aarti some more on the topic of marriage, and it turns out that her father, who was very proud, always refused any proposals, as he considered all suitors beneath him and his daughter, and some of this attitude has rubbed off. In the song contest, Anu defends love, while Aarti proclaims that love can only lead to unhappiness as men are always unfaithful. Anu lets Aarti win, but Aarti knows full well what Anu has done.
Aarti has also business interests in Kashmir, and one day she learns that there are some problems with a field, which belongs to her but has been used by a person named Suraj for years, though her father may have given permission for it to be used. Aarti has no idea who Suraj is, but luckily, her aunt is fully informed: Suraj's father and Aarti's father were best friends. They married on the same day, and their wives' gave birth on the same day. Unfortunately, Aarti's mother died in childbirth, and her father, at loss what to do with the infant, left her with his best friend's family while he went of to Dehli to make money. Suraj's father is already dreaming of getting the kids married to each other (as you do).
It's not going to last:
Years passed, and one day Aarti's father returned, now very wealthy, to collect his daughter. Suraj's parents are naturally not very keen on letting her go, but Aarti's father insists and seems to have acquired more than his fair share of arrogance with his wealth, insulting his former best friend quite badly. We also learn that Aarti suffers from the same illness as her mother, and that upsets of any kind lead to a fever, but her father points out that he has the money to get her treated and takes her away. Suraj's mother asks the aunt (who actually is her aunt) to go with Aarti, so the poor thing won't be all on her own. Suraj's father died a couple of years later, heartbroken by how his friend had treated him.
However, all the money in the world could not cure Aarti from her illness, of which she got an attack after being taken away from her family. We get treated to the very silly visuals used to indicate that she is having an attack of rheumatic fever:
Because people just talking about it wouldn't have had enough impact?
We return to the present, and are introduced to Suraj, who looks just like his father, (which is all right with me), just without the beard and the glasses (which is kind of a shame because I liked the beard and the glasses). He has received a legal notice from Aarti's solicitor and isn't exactly happy about it, but his mother is really upset, murmuring things about like father, like daughter.
Mother and son:
Meanwhile, Aarti has arrived in Kashmir. As she is driving along she finds her road blocked by a motorcyclist (any guesses who said might be?), her car then sprays him with dirt, he forces her to stop the car and they proceed to have on of these fights which clearly indicate that the two participants are meant for each other. When Aarti arrives at her factory, one of the machines isn't working. She is clearly underwhelmed by this, and not much better pleased when it turns out that the person who fixed the machine much earlier than expected is no other than the offending motorcyclist. Suraj decides to hide his identity and tell her that he is called Badal, and is a good friend of Suraj. Suraj actually has a friend called Badal, who works with him in their electronic goods shop (though it later would seem that Suraj has an engineering firm of some description, and now, I am not really sure why he is repairing random machinery for Aarti's company either), and who is our requisite comic side kick. He is mildly comic (and only appears in very small doses, which helps).
A match made in heaven:
Not love at second sight either:
Ah, I suppose there was no way around you:
Personally, I would recommend some gloves:
Over the next days/weeks/month (I am not sure, the weather is extremely variable), Aarti and "Badal" keep bumping into each other (not literrally) and having disagreements about the merits of Suraj's character. It also becomes more and more obvious that Aarti is rather fascinated by her new acquaintance and that he likes her, too. Back at home, his mother is complaining that Aarti hasn't been to visit them yet.
Sometimes on horseback:
Sometimes in restaurants:
This looks good:
Aarti, on the other hand, would quite like to meet Suraj in person to sort out the court case, so she goes to his house. Nobody is home, apart from Badal (not "Badal"), who claims to be Suraj. However, Aarti isn't a successful businesswoman for nothing (and there are also large pictures of Suraj and his father dotted around the living room), so she works out what has been going on. She leaves without meeting the other members of the family. The next time she meets "Badal" she provokes him into admitting that he is actually Suraj by being very uncooperative about the court case. Once the identity-issue has been cleared up, Aarti expresses her feelings for Suraj in a song which involves running in slow motion, soft focus, and superimposed images of the beloved.
If you look really hard, you may spot some subtle clues:
Alas, a sign of things to come:
It must be true love then:
and the snow is back:
This jumper-thing, does it run in the family then?
Unfortunately, the romance is cut short by a phone-call from Anu (remember her?), who reminds Aarti that there is work waiting for her back home. Aarti isn't to happy about the separation, but Suraj assures her that he is going to come to see her as soon as his work allows him to do so. It seems that Aarti's resistance to love and men has been summarily overcome.
Back at home, Aarti tells Anu all about the recent developments and also asks her to tell her about Anu's own love story. We are then treated to a flashback, as Anu remembers her first meeting with her lover. He charmed her by driving his motorcycle all over the sari she had spread out do dry on the lawn, as he came to visit her father, a retired teacher, because he had just passed his engineering degree. Several meetings later, Anu is proud owner of a red rose and thoroughly charmed. However, he has to leave for a while, which gives Anu the and when he returns, Anu has lost her father
I suspect this doesn't mean what you think it means:
One brave woman:
Suraj feels responsible for Anu and takes her home. His mother isn't very impressed by this. She wants him to marry a rich girl who will bring lots of dowry so he has a financial safety net, if times should get difficult. Suraj doesn't want to get married yet, and he makes it very clear that he feels only compassion for Anu and has no intention to get married to her. Anu, who has overheard the conversaion, decides to leave the house and goes to Dehli.
This is my “ I don't want to get married” face:
This is my “He doesn't want to marry me” face:
While Aarti expresses surprise, that their men share the same name, neither of the two realises (yet) that there is actually only one Suraj. This does seem a bit odd, given that Anu presumably knows where in Kashmir Aarti went. Before long, Suraj announces that he is going to come and visit Aarti. Unfortunately, the great joy of this news brings on another bout of Aarti's fever and she decides to spend some days in a nursing home, rather than having Suraj see her in her illness. She asks Anu to look after Suraj till she is well again.
Suraj is more than a little surprised to find Anu at Aarti's house. He is als relieved, as he was quite worried about her sudden disappearance, and clearly completely clueless as to her reasons for leaving. The two settle quickly into an easy and friendly relationship. However, Aarti, who makes frequent check-up phonecalls, isn't too happy that Suraj spends so much time with Anu and in the end tells Anu to tell him that she is in a nursing home. Anu also asks Suraj not to tell Aarti that they have known each other earlier.
Any initial awkwardness
is quickly overcome:
Poor Aarti seems to spend most of her time on the phone:
A habit which is also adopted by Anu:
A rather worried Suraj comes to see her the next day, but is soon convinced that there is nothing seriously wrong with her, and the two celebrate their love in another song. However, their happiness is only short-lived, as Aarti becomes very jealous one evening when a dinner guest is being overly friendly with Suraj. They have a fight which involves both parties smashing some rather pretty plates. Suraj, however, manages to convince her that she is overly suspicious. Unfortunately, realising Aarti's suspicious nature, doesn't make him break off his friendly relations with Anu who he clearly regards as a little sister.
Angry stares contest:
What will happen when Aarti finds out, that Anu and Suraj actually knew each other beforehand? Will she be able to trust the man she loves, or will her natural suspicion take over? How will Anu react when Aarti confronts her with the truth? And will Suraj get any say in the matter of who of the two he is meant to marry?
And will the protagonists overcome their tragic phone adiction?
I do not have a problem with phones:
This is a very straightfoward movie, concentrating on the three main protagonists and their conflict. As I said at the beginning, it feels very much like a Harlequine romance and I wonder whether it is actually based on a novel of some sort. It's very nice to have people falling in love, who aren't teenagers and refreshingly, there are no random fight scenes. All in all a very pleasant movie.
Gratuitous Shashi pictures:
And one very tasteful ashtray: