Saturday, 1 August 2009

Pyaar ki jeet (1987)

Whereas Pighalta Aasman felt like a romance novel, Pyaar ki jeet is very much a condensed version of a soap opera. We begin the story at Dr. Kumar's hospital. He is a successful surgeon, and he is also very clearly of the opinion that medicine should pay and therefore unwilling to treat people who can't pay his full fees. He is good friends with a minister and his son, Anand, (Vinod Mehra) who just finished his medical studies. His father is planning to built a hospital for him, but while the building work is going on, he plans to send him to a small village where Dr. Rehman (Shashi Kapoor) is working, so he can buy a formula from him. Though Dr. Kumar and Dr. Rehman studied together (the creaking sound you hear is my disbelief suspender trying to cope with the strain), they went very different ways, and Dr. Rehman dedicated his live to serving the poor and now lives in a village, being himself not very well off, although he is highly qualified and has several degrees from abroad. Dr. Kumar thinks that Dr. Rehman could do with tightening a couple of screws.

They are such good friends:
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They even have the same coffee set:
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Dr. Anand
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We first meet Dr. Rehman while he is attempting to repair his bicycle. His trusty servant/practice nurse/loyal retainer/general dogsbody is not only our comic relief for his movie but also provides useful exposition if necessary, so we learn that Dr. Rehman is looking for a sucessor, mainly because he is suffering from a heart condition, but he is finding it very difficult to find someone to come and work in this remote village. So, when Anand turns up and tells the locals that he is a doctor and looking for Dr. Rehman, it is only natural (well, sort of) that everybody assumes that he has come to be Dr. Rehman's successor. Everbody is terribly happy about his arrival and any attempts to clear up the misunderstanding are brushed away.

Dr. Rehman (and his bicycle)
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The first meeting:
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I am sure he wasn't expecting that:
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The next morning, while accompanying Dr. Rehman on his round through the village, Anand again tries to clarify the misunderstanding, but alas, he doesn't manage to get a work in edgeways. In the end, Anand resort to writing a very strongly worded letter, saying that he isn't an idiot like Dr. Rehman to spend his entire life in a village in the middle of nowhere, he is just here to buy the formula. However, when he goes over to the doctor's house to place the letter on the hall table, he finds Dr. Rehman collapsed on the floor, as he has suffered an attack of his heart condition and had (as heart patients have a tendency to do (at least in the movies)) placed his medication in a particularily inaccessible place.

Determined letter writing:
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Early movie happiness doesn't bode well even for middle-aged doctors:
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Anand to the rescue:
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After Anand has sorted the medical side of things and helped Dr. Rehman back to his bed, the two have a conversation at the end of which Anand makes up his mind to stay and work in the village at least for the time being. Shortly afterwards, the tranquillity of village life is disrupted by the arrival of Sohni (Rekha).

Half the men in the village are very happy to see her, while the women are distinctly underwhelmed (and the other half of the men is on the Committee for prevention of moral corruption). There is a strong implication that she is a woman of loose morals. Sohni announces her arrival by means of a song.

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However, her arrival ends with her having a stone thrown at her, but who should come t oher rescue by Dr. Anand. Sohni is immediately smitten, the doctor is less convinced.

She appears to have taken a liking to you:
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Subtelty isn't her strong suit:
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Over the next days Dr. Anand has to fend of various advances by Sohni. He isn't terribly successful, especially since he does come to her aid when the village women are nasty to her at the well which only serves to convince her further that he is interested in her. Her plans include: dressing demurely (though that doesn't last very long, mainly because she is offended because Dr. Anand doesn't notice), pretending to have been bitten by a snake, and in the end she comes with a wedding procession to fetch him which leads to another song:

Plan A:
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Plan B:
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Dr. Rehman dispenses relationship advice:
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Now, this is what I would call determination:
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I don't think he stands a chance:
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In between we learn that the local Thakur is very interested in Sohni, but she isn't interested in him at all. Sohni also attempts to buy food for an elderly couple who have lost their son, but the wife doesn't want to take her money, so she gets Dr. Rehman to act as a go-between. We also learn that Dr. Rehman's payments very rarely involve money.

I think there is a considerably probability that he is evil:
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That's not a bag of money (alas)
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Meanwhile, Sohni's attempts to come closer to Dr. Anand have gotten her into trouble with the village council. It is pretty clear that the only person who is on her side is Dr. Rehman; everybody else doubts her morals and is unwilling to listen to her defence (and she is silent on one crucial point, namely how she earns her money in the city). Nevertheless, they can't force her to leave the village.

The decision-makers:
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Zooni is many things but not defenseless:
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The next day, Sohni comes again to see Dr. Anand, and he brushes her off again. However, when he complains about her to Dr. Rehman, Dr. Rehman fills him in on Sohni's tragic background (you didn't think she would have no tragic background, did you). She was abducted on her wedding day! By Dacoits! Her father had testified against their leader's brother in court. He is killed during the abduction and when the dacoits are arrested and Sohni is returned to her in-laws the next day, they refuse to take her in as they assume that she must have been raped. She protests that no such thing happen, but the chief dacoit confirms that she was raped, although she wasn't, because he wants to ruin her life even further and has nothing to loose. Her future husband then tried to rape her (charming individual, isn't he) but when the matter is taken to the village council he claims that she was trying to take advantage of him. Again, Dr. Rehman is the only person who believes her, and when her claim is rejected, she turned into the wild girl she is now.

The blushing bride:
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Of course, I would trust him rather than my daughter-in-law:
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If you think I am wild; I will show you wild:
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Shortly after Dr. Anand has been apprised of these facts, Sohniencounters the Thakur once more. He offers her a lot of money, if she spends the night with him, but she tells him that she doesn't need his money, and should she ever need it she will come to him on her own account. (Of course there is no way this could become important later). She also asks Dr. Rehman for relationship advise, and he says that maybe sorting out things with the village council might help her in her pursuit of Dr. Anand. However, before she can get very far, Dr. Anand's father turns up. He is worried by his son's long absence and concerned that he may have been enticed by Dr. Rehman's lofty (and economically non-viable) ideals. The two have a long discussion which culminated in an impassioned defense of his choices by Dr. Rehman, who thinks that for the pursuit of economic success a textile mill might be more appropriate than a Doctor's practice.

Dispensing sage advice:
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Not seeing eye to eye:
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Dr. Anand is taken back to the city by his father, who throws a party in honour of his return. Sohni has followed him, and when he isn't particularly welcoming (which really shouldn't come as a great surprise to her), she gate-crashes the party in the guise of a dancer and we get another song. Anand then tries to drive her back to the village, but on the way they encounter a couple who have been involved in an accident. Anand tries to rescue the husbands wife with an emergency operation carried out there and then but the patient dies. His widow regards Anand as her husband's murderer and the whole matter ends up in court.

My poor eyes; so much sparkle:
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He still isn't particularly impressed:
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Bad ideas I had today:
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While Dr. Kumar seems to be mainly concerned about what this whole court-case is costing him (well, he is nothing if not consistent), Dr. Reham manages to convince the court that Dr. Anand isn't a murdered by (yet another) impassioned speech. There is also a quick reminder that Dr. Rehman isn't a healthy man as all this excitement isn't good for his heart.

A knight in tweed and bow-tie:
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She may be causing a lot of trouble, but she is very pretty:
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These events also have convinced Dr. Anand that maybe his father's focus on making money isn't the best way forward and he decides to return to the village. His father is so unhappy with this decision that he breaks off all relations with his son; for him his son is dead (now, what are the odds that Dr. Anand will require a substantial amount of money urgently in the next twenty minutes or so). Sohni, on the other hand, is very happy about Dr. Anand's return, and he can only get her out of the house after he has assured her that it doesn't need cleaning, nor do his clothes, and all his buttons are present and accounted for. She isn't deterred and returns again and again, even spending a day standing in the rain when Anand tells her to wait outside, but he doesn't warm towards her.

Oh, the drama:
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Andand is really amazingly resistant to her charmes:
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More resistance:
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After a brief (and rather screechy) comic interlude involving Sohni getting drunk, and Dr. Rehman finding out how Sohni earns her money and why she isn't telling anybody what she does, the Thakur, who has heard of Dr. Anand's interest, sends some of his ruffians to deal with the competition. The come across Sohni who beats them up single-handedly but is injured in the process. This, finally, makes Dr. Anand realise that he loves her, regardless of her bad reputation, and the two expresss their newfound happiness in a song involving large butterflies.

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However, can their way to a happy future really be that simple? What misfortune will befall them next? Will the Thakur let Sohni go this easily? Will Dr. Anand's father agree to their marriage? And most importantly, can Dr. Rehman's heart withstand any further excitement.

This is one of these movies which has enough plot for three or a several month long TV-series. I found it fun to watch, especially since I found Dr. Rehman very adorable (and he has plenty of screen-time), and it is entertaining to try and predict what is going to happen next. Rekha was good as Sohni, and I liked the fact that she was never transformed into a demure heroine who lets the hero do all the fighting. Vinod Mehra didn't impress me, however, this was my first movie with him, so I am reserving judgement; and he was okay (ish) as a straight-laced doctor. All in all, it's solid entertainment of the cheesy variety. There is a message about medicine and money-making in there, too, but it isn't rammed down one's throat (too much) and garnished with so much other stuff that the movie doesn't feel too preachy. And because I liked Dr. Rehman, there are:


Gratuitous Shashi pictures:
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4 comments:

bollywooddeewana said...

What a fun fiilm, and it is very soap operaish indeed i saw this a few months back and i really didn't think much of it, a rewatch is definitely due

I absolutely loved Rekha in her sequin outfit, i saw the preview and thought, i have to watch this if only for that part.....Lol

Bollyviewer said...

I've only seen half the movie, but I was surprised at how much screen time Shashi gets - more than the "hero" himself! That first scene of his (bicycle repairing) - I was terrified that they'd show him actually riding it (in suit and bow-tie, no less) and kept thinking, "no wonder the bike broke"! Still... he IS cute here.

Vinod Mehra was never one of my favorites, but he was better in some of his earlier movies (with Moushumi Chatterji and Rekha). Rekha was just too charismatic and overwhelming in this period for him to be even half-way interesting by comparison. Her character's name, by the way, was "Sohni", not "Zooni".

The troublesome widow is Moon Moon Sen - Bangla superstar Suchitra Sen's daughter and Riya and Raima Sen's Mom. She was lovely looking, but couldnt act!

antarra said...

Bollywooddeewana -- Rekha was quite gorgeous here. As for the movie, I wouldn't claim that it is good, but it is very entertaining and didn't seem dull to me.

Bollyviewer -- Name is duly corrected (I got two letters right :)). More screentime for Shashi is a good thing here; and he does ride the bicycle in the second half of the movie (briefly) in his suit and bow-tie without the poor thing collapsing.

Vinod Mehra definetly paled in comparison with his two co-stars. But at least I know I don't have to run if I come across his movies.

Moon Moon Sen did look lovely, and luckily, not much acting was required for her part.

Cardamom said...

I remember this.....this is the one with the catchy "Soni" song....you brought back some old memories....

:)

will be back to read more!