Saturday, 8 August 2009

Raaz (1967)

Raaz is a movie that sounds very good on paper; an appealing cast including Rajesh Khanna, Babita and a host of other people whose name I can't remember but whose faces seem familiar, a mysterious story of a young man haunted by extremely precise dreams of places he has never seen, and lots of nice music. Alas, it doesn't live up to its promise. Having said that, the start is quite promising. One stormy night, a masked man with piercing eyes kills a father in front of his baby daughter.

Oh no!
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The first "Nahin" and we aren't even five minutes into the movie:
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A woman, presumable the wife of the deceased, is then abducted and we continue with the luridly coloured title sequence, which has extra special sound effects when the names of the two leads are shown.

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Before the suspense of what the opening sequence was all about can do bad things to our blood-pressure, we meet the lady and the murderer again, this time aged by about twenty years and in a dungeon. Apparently, he, Sakar Nath, killed his brothers and abducted his sister-in-law, Paro, to punish her for not marrying him, even though he loved her. He has since brought up her daughter as his own, and she is now singing in hopeless longing for her dead lover (there is a strong implication that the cause of death wasn't natural). Paro is shocked, and with that the scene changes to a young man's bedroom whose dreams are haunted by the same song.


Aah, family, one can't live with them, one frequently gets murdered by them:

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The mysterious dreamer:

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The dream appears to take a turn for a worse and the sleeper wakes with a start. He gets up and goes to another room to look at some paintings. According to his best friend, the comic relief for the movie and purveyor of helpful exposition, Rocky, he paints what he sees in his dreams, including an extremely detailed picture of a railway station in India complete with the name on the sigen (how helpful), which is particularly strange, as they live in Africa and Kumar, for that is the young man's name has, to his friends knowledge, never been in India.


I rather like the lampshade:

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Don't worry, maybe your next dream will reveal the timetable:

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In order to get to the bottom of these disturbing dreams, the two young men decide to travel to India. They arrive late at the railway station in question, which appears to be deserted. Rocky goes to luck for transport to the town, while Kumar goes to speak to the stationmaster who is reading a significant looking book:


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and who also addresses Kumar by name. Meanwhile, Rocky has found transport but when the driver sees Kumar, he is shocked and runs away. Again, the film-maker is very concerned about the negative results of unnecessary stress, so we are told straight away why he is so shocked: he actually witnessed Kumar (or somebody looking exactly like Kumar) being killed and buried. Of course, not knowing the identity of the murderer would be bad for the viewers health, too, so he is revealed as Sakar Nath (now, there is a surprise)


Oh no!

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I am not sure this is the correct way of going about a mud bath:

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Luckily, the next driver is not a murder witness, so they make their way to a local dak bungalow, where they hope to be able to stay for the night. However, the gate keeper refuses to let them in, as he is afraid of Sakar Nath. Assorted townspeople react shocked to Kumar's arrival, until an elderly gentleman of eccentric appearance takes them home and offers them a bed for the night. He, too, addresses Kumar by name and acts as if he knows him, but encourages him to follow the path of true love while Sakar Nath is away. Rocky is rather puzzled by it all and begins to doubt his friends assertion that he has never been here before. He points out that he was gone for four month hunting in Africa, but Kumar insists that this is his first visit to this part of the world.


No room at the Inn:

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More shock!

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Dedication to recycling should probably stop at using your couch covers to make suits:

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Before long, the mysterious song is heard again and our host encourages Kumar to follow the voice, but Rocky has to stay behind. Following the voice involves walking a lot through prettily spread out fog. He spots a misty figure in the distance but returns home, before he establishes contact with her. In the same night, somebody comes through is window but is disturbed, and leaves, dropping a knife in the process. Surprisingly, this appearance is not immediately explained.


Listening very hard:

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On the road of true love, is twirly fog one up from soft-focus?

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Oh, a mysterious woman in white:

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Creepy, though I am not sure a white shirt was a wise choice for this undertaking

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The next day starts with some light comic relief, when two local girls come looking for Kumar babu and instead have to deal with Rocky. This ought of the way, we catch up with Kumar who for some reason is wandering around a mine. The overseer is (for a change) not shocked at seeing him, though everybody else is, but very irate and starts threatening Kumar and beats him up rather badly. Given that it is very early in the movie, and we already had one burial of the main character, I fail to be overly worried. He is rescued by one of the local girls, Indu, and she takes him home and patches him up, saying that he rescued her from some unwanted advances, and is therefore grateful to him. This leads to more puzzlement on Kumar's part.


The (presumably evil) overseer:

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Our confused hero:

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Meanwhile, the overseer, Thakur Singh, has come home and tells his father about having beaten up Kumar. As he is rather drunk, his father assumes that he must have been imagining things, but he doesn't explain why he is so unwilling to believe that Kumar was at the mine that day. Kumar, on the other hand is drawn out of the house again by the mysterious singing, and this time he meets the singer, a very pretty young lady, who looks a bit like a refugee from a Victorian romance and is most distressed when she realises that he has no idea who she is. However, this does not stop her from launching into the first song of the movie.


More puzzlement is being caused:

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This is my thoughtful pose:

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She is very happy to see him:

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He is confused:

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When even the song fails to help him recognise her, she tells him how they met. Their first meeting wasn't entirely auspicious, as she was pretending to be in danger in the jungle, and when he told her off for fooling him, the eccentric gentleman told him off for bothering a young girl. However, the next day, she sees him (in a very unflattering hat) defending the workers rights in the mines and is very impressed. This leads us to another song, in which Babita looks really lovely.


Apparently, grass was much greener in the past:

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How dare you wear a hat that is brighter than my shirt:

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Woohee, I am so happy:

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Their love story proceeds not hindered by the fact that Sakar Nath as Kumar's both is unhappy with his behaviour towards Thakur Singh nor by the sudden and unexpected appearance of snow, and is celebrated by another song. Alas, Thakur Singh spots them frolicing in the very green grass and reports back to Sakar Nath, who locks his daughter in her room causing much distress both to her and to Kumar.


This doesn't bode will for a closer relationship in the future:

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Snow, and so pretty:

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Alas, they are less alone than they assume:

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A pink peeping Tom:

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His and her matching pining:

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So much emotional distress of course needs to be expressed in yet another song (even my tolerance of frequently occuring songs is tested by now) and the two lovers meet at the end, only to be surprised by her father, who whips Kumar (showing me more of Rajesh Khanna than I wanted to see). He is taken home by the cart-driver (who is soon to become the murder witness, or so one assumes) and nursed by Indu and her sister. However, his recovery is very slow, and he only regains consciousness when Sapna who has run away from home, comes to see him. Unfortunately, her father has followed her and it comes to another confrontation with Kumar at the end of which he appears to agree to them getting married.


Calling out for his beloved:

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With success:

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Oh dear:

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The best medicine:

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I wouldn't trust him:

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With this, we come back to the present day, where Kumar remains extremely puzzled, as he doesn't remember any of the events he has just been told about. He goes back home where we are treated to another comic relief interlude. Kumar goes out again, and after scaring the poor cart driver yet again, is almost shot by Rocky, who is gone hunting with their host and appears to have borrowed one of the latter's suits.


He is getting the hang of being puzzled:

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Unfortunately, this isn't my reaction anywhere in the movie:

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Bad fashion sense seems to be infectious:

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That night Rocky, who is frustrated with his lack of success with the ladies, decides to dress up as Kumar to see whether this will lead to more success. At the same time, Indu learns that some goons plan to kill Kumar in an abandoned temple, where he is meant to have an assignation with Sapna. Rocky turns up in the same temple, and is attacked by a group of people disguised as statued, while he sings a male rip-off of Pyaar karna darna kya which is about as absurd as it sounds and can be easily found on youtube.


This was unexpected:

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The result of all this is that Indu is now smitten with Rocky; and that Rocky raises again the four month spend hunting, and when Kumar tries to show him his diary to proof that he was indeed in Africa, it turns out that the relevant pages are missing. Kumar meets with Sapna once more and they sing another song. There is also news, that Sakar Nath has finally returned home, and Kumar is encouraged to leave town. Before anything in that direction can happen, we are treated to another song featuring Indu and Rocky in their wedding night.


The poor book:

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The present really is quite foggy:

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This falls firmly under the heading “Songs the world doesn't need”

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Kumar refuses to leave, and Sakar Nath is somewhat puzzled by the insistence of everybody around him, that Kumar has returned. He is fairly convinced that he buried him in the particularly inconspicuous place.


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What will happen next? Will Kumar ever find out that people think he is dead? Is anybody buried under all those white flowers? Will true love triumph? Who is the mystery stalker? And who is burning down the palace?


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Honestly, if you aren't on a quest to watch all movies of one of the people involved in this; don't watch it. It's very irritating because the story could have had potential, if the writer hadn't insisted on telling us almost everything two minutes after something mildly mysterious happened, and then to pad out the lack of plot with a felt 146 songs. I like songs, I don't mind lots of songs, but this was pushing even me over the edge. No more singing! That said, the songs which don't involve Rocky are very nice, and may be pleasant to watch on their own, when they don't slow down the hardly-existent plot even more. Especially the one with Babita freshly in love is so much fun, and it might even have a rare appearance of her own hair. In some ways, it does take real talent to use a plot with that much potential and turn it into something this boring, however, it does not make for a pleasant viewing experience.

5 comments:

Bollyviewer said...

Your quip about Babita looking like something out of a Victorian romance reminds me that Rajesh Khanna's neck-wear made him look like the hero of a Victorian Gothic romance, too. So, maybe that WAS the director's intention!

And ya, a rare appearance of Babita's real hairline was the only remarkable feature of this film. In one of the songs, she actually looks a lot like Sadhana (who actually was her cousin) too.

It certainly takes a LOT of talent to destroy so much potential. Whose was the talent in question, I wonder...

memsaabstory said...

I had high hopes for this, and was sadly disappointed too. Although I didn't HATE it---but I couldn't even be bothered to write it up, it was so "meh".

Even Laxmi Chhaya couldn't save it.

antarra said...

Bollyviewer-- Now that you say it, the whole thing has something of a Gothic romance to it, so yes, maybe it was intentional.

Memsaab-- I am not sure I hate it; but it was such a disappointment. Somehow I mind less if the movie never had a hope to be good, but this is such a waste.

Liz C said...

I just watched this from the library, and after some extensive searching, I think you may be the only person on the interwebs who has bothered to write about the experience!

I, too, felt like the beginning had some nice Hitchockian-Gothic promise, but it just fell apart at the end. If only they'd spent as much time on the "mystery" as they did on the epic bulldozer "fight", it might have turned out better. But it was my first Babita film, so good to know that may have been her real hair.

Liakot Bhai said...

Hi guys..can someone help me.. i just saw raaz and honestly i did not understand the ending... whats the twist. is he really dead, is he reincarnated, twin brother ??
help