Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Oonche Log (1985)

Oonche log (1985) is another movie loosely based on Wuthering Heights. However, it starts on a somewhat less dramatic note than the previously reviewed Dil Diya Dard Liya, in that the young boy who grows up to be our hero doesn't lose his parents at sea, but loses his mother in a car accident caused by Thakur Vikram Singh's (Pradeep Kumar) driver. Vikram Singh is so horrified by this event that he adopts the boy Raju. While his daughter, Poonam, is rather pleased by this addition to the family, his son, Maan, is less than impressed and makes his dislike of Raju very, very obvious (refusing to shake his hand, refusing to sit at he same table with him, etc.). In the end, Vikram Singh is so exasperated by his son's behaviour that he sends him off to boarding school.

This is the most cheerful the movie will ever be:
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He probably would have preferred a puppy:
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Vikram Singh also has a brother Pratrap Singh (Prem Chopra), who (to everybody's great sursprise given who plays him) is a somewhat shady character who spends too much money on wine and women. Vikram Singh is fed up with his behaviour and threatening to stop supporting him. Before he can follow through on his threat, Pratrap smothers him with a pillow, hoping to get away with it as Vikram was known to be a heart patient. Unfortunately (well, for him) he wasn't quite as unobserved as he believed himself to be.

This is bad news for any prospects of familial harmony:
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Is this from this year's "fratricide collection"?
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Shouldn't he be in bed at this time of night?
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Vikram Singh's sudden death means that things take a turn to the worse for Raju. Not only will he henceforth be treated like a servant (Pratrap Singh shares his nephew's dislike of Raju, even though he doesn't know that Raju saw him killing his brother), he also is branded with a sign of ownership, and is used as a stool when Maan goes out riding. His one friend is Khan (Raza Murad).

Years pass, Maan Singh grows up to be Danny Denzongpa, Raju grows up to be Rajesh Khanna, and Poonam grows up to be Salma Agha, and everybody else now sports fetching streaks of grey. Otherwise, not much has changed: Maan Singh is mean to Raju, basically treating him like a dog; Khan is kind to Raju, Pratrap is overly fond of wine and women. Of course, the puzzle is why on earth Raju didn't run away years ago, but he says that his love for Poonam kept him there, and he won't leave as long as she loves him. His fond childhood reminiscences leads us to the first song.

At least there is someone looking after Raju:
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You have changed a lot, Maan Singh:
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Oonche log (1985) is another movie loosely based on Wuthering Heights. However, it starts on a somewhat less dramatic note than the previously reviewed Dil Diya Dard Liya, in that the young boy who grows up to be our hero doesn't lose his parents at sea, but loses his mother in a car accident caused by Thakur Vikram Singh's (Pradeep Kumar) driver. Vikram Singh is so horrified by this event that he adopts the boy Raju. While his daughter, Poonam, is rather pleased by this addition to the family, his son, Maan, is less than impressed and makes his dislike of Raju very, very obvious (refusing to shake his hand, refusing to sit at he same table with him, etc.). In the end, Vikram Singh is so exasperated by his son's behaviour that he sends him off to boarding school.

This is the most cheerful the movie will ever be:
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He probably would have preferred a puppy:
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Vikram Singh also has a brother Pratrap Singh (Prem Chopra), who (to everybody's great sursprise given who plays him) is a somewhat shady character who spends too much money on wine and women. Vikram Singh is fed up with his behaviour and threatening to stop supporting him. Before he can follow through on his threat, Pratrap smothers him with a pillow, hoping to get away with it as Vikram was known to be a heart patient. Unfortunately (well, for him) he wasn't quite as unobserved as he believed himself to be.

This is bad news for any prospects of familial harmony:
Photobucket

Is this from this year's "fratricide collection"?
Photobucket

Shouldn't he be in bed at this time of night?
Photobucket

Vikram Singh's sudden death means that things take a turn to the worse for Raju. Not only will he henceforth be treated like a servant (Pratrap Singh shares his nephew's dislike of Raju, even though he doesn't know that Raju saw him killing his brother), he also is branded with a sign of ownership, and is used as a stool when Maan goes out riding. His one friend is Khan (Raza Murad).

Years pass, Maan Singh grows up to be Danny Denzongpa, Raju grows up to be Rajesh Khanna, and Poonam grows up to be Salma Agha, and everybody else now sports fetching streaks of grey. Otherwise, not much has changed: Maan Singh is mean to Raju, basically treating him like a dog; Khan is kind to Raju, Pratrap is overly fond of wine and women. Of course, the puzzle is why on earth Raju didn't run away years ago, but he says that his love for Poonam kept him there, and he won't leave as long as she loves him. His fond childhood reminiscences leads us to the first song.

At least there is someone looking after Raju:
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You have changed a lot, Maan Singh:
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I am not sure that there is a way to prevent this ending in tears:
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One day, Poonam insists on riding a horse which hasn't yet been broken in properly, with predictable consequences. Luckily, Raju is there to rescue her. Unluckily, the two are observed by Maan Singh, who takes his anger out on Raju and gives him a thorough beating. We also learn that, when not beating up the servants, Maan Singh and his uncle enjoy betting on horses and dancing girls. One of the dancing girls is very interested in uncle Pratap (or, presumably, in his money) and would like to elope with him; but he stalls her by saying that he first needs to embezzle more of his nephew's money. Meanwhile, Poonam has taken some flowers to the injured Raju, who is even more smitten with her after this, and goes to thank her, even though that means meeting her in what is her (extremly large) bathroom. She receives him graciously which leads us to another song, this time involving a very wet but thankfully fully clothed Raju.

An accident in the making:
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At least help is at hand:
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Personally, I would have preferred some painkillers:
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This bathtub is bigger than my flat:
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There is really some rather nice greenery in this picture:
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Next we are introduced to Maan Singh's fiance, Sonia (Priti Sapru). Despite the fact that she dresses in western clothes she appears to be a nice and girl, and is concerned about Raju who has a high fever. Of course, this worries Poonam and she goes to look after Raju. Alas, things never go well when those two are involved, and Poonam is bitten by a snake. Raju sucks out the poison and carries her to the main house; where he is beaten (again) for daring to touch Poonam. Sonia actually stands up for him and points out that normal people would thank him for what he did, and she also takes some medication to him to counteract the poison he inadvertendly swallowed.

She is kind of cute, if somewhat challenged in the fashion department:
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An uninvited guest:
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Unfortunately, she doesn't convey much more animation when conscious:
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I do sense a certain amount of tension here:
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After Raju recovers, he goes to see how Poonam is doing (at night, in her bedroom) and the two finally declare to each other what has been painfully obvious to anybody else for a while: they are in love. This necessitates another song with much running around various bits of greenery. Towards the end of the song, they are spotted by Maan, who is just prevented by his uncle from shooting Raju there and then (apparently, killing people in broad daylight is no longer permissable for Thakurs, what has the world come to). However, beating people up in the stable is permissable, and this is what Maan proceeds to do. When Poonam finds the injured Raju, she dips her hand in his blood and confronts her brother. Of course, Raju isn't actually dead, and he even makes it through Maan things next attempt to kill him, which involved being thrown to the dogs. However, in one of the confrontations he does mention that he knows that Pratap Singh killed his brother.

Doing this in plain view may not have been the brightest idea either of them ever had:
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Son, you need to learn to be more discreet in your homicidal tendencies:
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Have you been busy with the fingerpaint again:
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He just won't stay dead:
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Poonam realises that it is very likely that her brother will one day suceed in killing Raju, something she would rather avoid if at all possible. As Raju is staying because of their mutual love for each other, she decides that the way forward is to tell him that she doesn't love him. She does this in a very convincing manner and a heart-broken Raju leaves to the strains of a sad song. Alas, Pratap Singh doesn't want an eye-witness to his dastardly dead alive, so he tries to kill Raju in a somewhat convoluted manner. He leaves Raju for dead, but of course he isn't, and he is picked up by a somewhat ominous looking hunting party.

How could I love someone who can't keep me in the staircases I am use to?
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Oh, for crying out loud just shoot him:
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We are the good guys, no, honest:
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When Raju wakes up he finds himself at the house of an older gentleman who very eagerly enquires about Raju's family. It turns out that Raju is actually this gentleman's grandson. He threw his son out of the house after he married a lady from a poor family but later regretted his actions and has been looking for them for years.

How dare you marry someone from a stair-less family:
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She loves me because of my superb taste in shirts:
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So, now that it has turned out the Raju actually is from a wealthy family (and what a shock that was) it is time to plot revenge. The instrument of the is Mubarak Ali (Deven Verma), an employee of Raju's grandfather, who makes Maan Singh a profitable business offer, which he gladly accepts as he is feeling the pinch somewhat financially, what whith all the wine, women and horse-racing, as well as an embezzling uncle. Mubarak Ali says that he works for a very wealthy businessmen. When the aforementioned businessman finally deigns to meet Maan Singh and his family there is a gallery of shocked looks as he looks just like Raju. A suggestion that he looks similar to a servant, however, almost makes Rai Bahadur Rajev Singh, walk out in a huff. However, good relations are restored though Rajev never seems to warm completely to his host, who are still a bit suspicious about the fascinating similarity.

Of course he is completely trustworthy, why do you ask?
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Mind you, he may just have seen Sonia's dress:
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Maybe she caught her reflection in the mirror:
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It's infectious, she is shocked, too:
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He, on the other hand has practised the disdainful look:
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Before the suspense can get too much, the secret is revealed to the one person who always cared about Raju and who Raju still cares for, Khan. Back with the rich people, Raju causes more confusion for Poonam by flirting with Sonia, sending her flowers and generally paying a lot of attention to her. Suspicions are further aroused and the tension heightened when Pratrap finds himself in an unfortunate incident with some horses and several metres of rope.

I can recognise you, now that you have taken off the sunglasses.
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Flower wars?
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This scene seems oddly familiar:
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Meanwhile, Maan Singh has been losing money on the share market, taking the advice of Mubarak Ali and Raju. Several tense encounters later, one in a billiard room and one at Raju's birthday, the tension culminates (at least for the time being) in a horse race between between Maan Singh and Raju.

We got the colour cheap when the renovted the local pool:
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Suspicion personified on a balcony:
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Not even Sonia's clothes manage to lighten the atmosphere:
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What will happen next? Who will win the race? Will Raju suceed in ruining Maan Singh? Will Sonia desert her fiance? Will Poonam get a chance to explain why she told Raju that she doesn't love him? Will Maan Singh survive? Will Sonia recover her fashion sense?

This isn't really a great movie. It may well provide entertainment for a rainy Sunday afternoon if there is nothing better on offer but not much more. It may work better for people who are greater fans of Rajesh Khanna than I am.

6 comments:

Rum said...

Omg this looks like the cheezy awful 80's rubbish that Rajesh Khanna made his comebacks with! Salma Agha has always been a really limp actor, she can't emote properly and I found myself shouting at her in Nikaah to act like she cared for the 2 men in her life! I guess this is one of the cases where singers should never be actors!

Bollyviewer said...

"It may well provide entertainment for a rainy Sunday afternoon"

Frankly, watching Salma Agha "act" is the most painful experience on earth - enough to ruin even an entertaining, interesting, well-made film, which this one (if my memories are anything to go by) is not! You deserve a bravery medal for sitting through the entire film. :-D

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

I dislike both Salma and Rajesh, so I cant imagine sitting through this- well maybe only with the hand firmly on the fast forward button. Neither of the leads could emote worth peanuts :)

Suhan said...

You’re droll, love your style! And no, not even a diehard fan of Rajesh Khanna [and I am, I am :-)] can stomach this tripe.

In his defence, most of his films post the early 80s were focused on feathering what one presumes was already a well-feathered nest. He had a very successful 1983 with ‘Avtaar’, ‘Souten’ and ‘Agar Tum Na Hote’ and signed a slough of films after that. Some good, most bad like this one, and a few far, far worse.

However, this film was my first introduction to Salma Agha (I’ve uncharitably noted elsewhere that she redefines the whole meaning of a pathetic block of white wood). Rajesh Khanna has always been known as a ‘one take’ actor. So apparently during the shooting of ‘Oonche Log’ Salma Agha repeatedly muffed her lines and after finally getting it right in the 21st take or so flopped down tired and relieved. Only to start up disbelievingly when Kaka drawled politely to the director, “Another take for me if you please”! Love him :-) She didn’t obviously from all one reads in the mags of the time!

簡單嗎 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
antarra said...

I agree with the general consensus that Salma Agha can't act. I have seen trees with a wider range of emotions. There is however some entertainment to be derived from trying to predict which shade of metallic eyeshadow she will wear next.

It's actually not on my list of awful movies I never want to watch again, it's on my list of okay to watch again if somebody insists but bring some more complicated knitting so as not to fall asleep movies.