First, apologies for the prolonged silence. I have been watching lots of movies but wasn't particularly inspired to write about any of them, apart from one, whose subtitled version promptly is stuck somewhere in the mail, and while I am still trying to find the courage to write up Clerk, I came across this 80s-movie starring Shashi Kapoor, and here I am again.
At the beginning we meet the Kapoor-family, Prem (Shashi Kapoor) and his wife, Bhavna (Rakhee), and their two children. They are all extremely happy, Prem is a successful businessman who when confronted with a young lady willing to enhance her business proposal with some more personal attention make it very clear that he is not at all interested in this sort of thing.
The happy couple:
And their cheerful house:
I am shocked, shocked, I tell you:
One day, Prem receives a phonecall from his friend (and requisite comic relief person) Ratan (Deven Verma), who is going to court in an attempt to evict his tenant and her numerous noisy children. Prem quite obviously doesn't want to get involved, but Ratan is very insistent. The reason for this becomes clear when it turns out that Bhavan is the judge presiding over his case.
This movie clearly predates mobile phones:
And very stern she appears:
Luckily for the tenant, Bhavan is not influenced by her husband's friendship with Ratan, and that evening Prem helps Ratan to drown his misery. The next day is Saturday, and we learn that Saturday is reserved as a special day for husband and wife:
whereas Sunday provides fun and relaxation for the whole family (well, maybe less so for the children):
So much happiness this early in the movie can't bode well. And indeed, the weekend idyll is interrupted by the arrival of Prakash Dutt (Prem Chopra) who has a letter for Prem. Now, the way he emphasises that this letter is meant for Prem and Prem only, strongly suggests that there is something fishy about it. However, Prem doesn't receive visitors on Sundays, and neither does he deal with any kind of business, so he asks his wife to read the letter to him. It turns out to be a request from a friend of his called Sneh (Zeenat Aman), who urgently needs his help due to unforeseen circumstances. Bhavan is somewhat puzzled as to who this might be, but Prem tells her that they met some years ago in Bombay. Bhavan then encourages him to go and see what Sneh needs him to do (Bhavan might just be too good for this world.)
He may be here to spread tidings of gladness and joy; but then again:
Just business aquaintances, sure:
I told you, just a business aquaintance:
We get a mini-flashback to Sneh and Prem's first meeting, which suggests that they were very friendly with each other and which has an incredibly frustrating (to me) scene.
This I do not approve of:
Oh, and you might want a look at Sneh, too:
After some stock footage of a plane, Prem arrives to meet Sneh. Alarm bells begin to ring, as running towards someone in slow motion at the airport is not normal movie behaviour for people who share just a friendly business relationship. After this outburst of enthusiam, the two settle down to a more sedate and rather quite drive home to Sneh's which gives them ample opportunity to remember all about the last time they met.
This involved a picnic with friends which of course gives us the chance to enjoy our first song. The energetic dancing is interrupted by a sudden downpour which also results in emphasising some of Sneh's natural assets with not entirely unpredictable consequences. Prem had mentioned to Sneh that he is a married man in the conversation preceding the song; but this minor detail seems to have slipped both their minds. The next morning they awake to regrets, but Sneh assures Prem that she won't try to interfere with his marriage as long as he promises to remember her in his moments of loneliness.
The past is a country without glasses, but with bad hats:
What are they cooking?
That's a very scenic place you have choosen to be remorseful in:
His and hers matching remorse:
On this cheerful note we return to our car journey in the present. That evening, Sneh phones up Bhavna to let her know that her husband has arrived safe and sound, and the two take to each other. Bhavna is very understanding, but she clearly misses her husband, too. The fairly relaxed atmosphere is not going to last very long, as Sneh has some news for Prem, which stuns him but doesn't stun the experienced movie watcher: He has in fact three, and not (as he previously believed) two children. Sneh brought up their son on her own, but she now wants him to get to know his father. Prem is underwhelmed by this development, but she emphasises that she doesn't want him to publicly announce his fatherhood, or leave his wife, she just wants her son to know who his father his (she has a very good reason for this, but the movie takes some time to get there).
This conversation is surprisingly less awkward and tense than it could be:
Poor Bhavna, all in the dark:
How did he not spot the giant picture in the back before?
After some pleading on Sneh's part, Prem agrees to meet his son. For reasons which aren't clear to me (apart from providing some very nice visuals) the first meeting takes place in a church, and father and son instantly like each other. It follows a very nice family bonding song, only slightly spoilt by the niggling question what Bhavna and the children are going to make of it. In the end, all the running around on the beach proves to much for Sneh and she collapses.
Nobody can resist the combined power of my red coat and a spiritual environment:
Do I detect a hint of symbolism?
Hmm, this is all very sweet but it can't end well:
It turns out that Sneh is suffering form stomach cancer, and needs to go to the States for treatment, although the chances of recovery are very slim. She tries to continue to hide the seriousness of her condition form Prem, but her Doctor (Bindu, and no, it really doesn't work) has already told him what is going on. He agrees to look after his son, Bittu, while Sneh is in the States. It is very obvious that she doesn't have much hope of coming back. There is also someone else, who is very interested in her not coming back alive, namely Prakash Dutt, and he bribes a nurse to give her something which will ensure that she dies on the operating table.
An unexpected casting choice:
A painful conversation:
Oh, he is evil! I would never have guessed:
After taking Sneh to the airport, Prem returns home, taking Bittu with him. On their way home, they meet some friends of Prem's, Mr. And Mrs. Shrivastav, and they remark on Bittu calling Prem Papa, so Bittu suggests that Uncle may be a better form of address for the time being. Bhavan welcomes Bittu with open arms, and the other two kids take to him as well. Bhavan remarks that it is sad that some fathers are just unwilling to take responsible for their children (if only she knew), and Prem begins to show sings of stress, but otherwise things settle down fairly quickly and we have another brief instance of the family bonding song (only with a slightly different set of people).
I begin to worry about everyone still being so happy around here:
Deceiving my wife is giving me a headache:
And she looks so lovely, strange fashion notwithstanding:
Over in the States, a close inspection of a piece of foil reveals that Sneh's chances are not looking good but she takes the news fairly calmly. Prem, on the other hand, is feeling more and more uncomfortable with the situation, but his friend Ratan advises him that it is his duty not to tell his wife about his infidelity, given that at the moment only he is unhappy, if he tells her, they are both going to be unhappy.
Honestly, what's going on here:
Snuggles, but for how long?
I suppose he means well:
Before things can get too depressing, there is some good news: Ratan has gotten married, to now other than his tenant with all the noisy kids. As he is careful with money, he and Prem have a joined wedding/wedding anniversary celebration, which of course requires another song, during which Bittu imagines the scene with slightly different protagonists.
One happy couple:
Another happy couple:
That's one happy couple too many:
Meanwhile, in the States, it turns out that Sneh's operation is possible after all, and after some rather gruesome pictures of her (or at leas somebody's) innards (honestly, don't watch this while eating); she is on the way to recovery. This joyful news inspires a bout of dangerous driving on Prem's part which sends some fluffy chickens flying. The only person not happy about this development is Prakash, who had designs on Sneh's wealth after her death. He now decides that blackmailing Prem may be the way forward.
I am sure this scene was entirely necessary:
What evil plot can I come up with next?
A spot of blackmail, perhaps?
I don't think so:
However, this plan backfires quite badly. So, what will Prakash come up with next? Will Bhavna ever find out who Bittu is? What's going on here?
And who has died?
How very appropriate:
To me, this was an okay movie. It has lots of things I like, especially in the non-teenage romance department, and in the non-judgemental manner in which the affair is handled, (and all the eyecandy it provided for me), however, the whole sub-plot concerning Prakash and its sudden violent turn somehow seemed unnecessary and out of place. I would have liked it a lot better, if it had just focused on the two (or is that 1 1/2 ?) couples dealing with the consequences of Prem's infedility. The songs are okay and there is a lot of peculiar fashion on show. All in all, an okay movie, definetely worth a watch for the devoted Shashi-fan, and nothing to be avoided by other people if they have a spare evening.
Gratuitous Shashi-pictures (rather a lot of them, I am afraid):