We continue our storytelling – I realize it is more storytelling than reviewing – of old Hindi films that are about fifty years old. This blog post has three films starting with the letter P: Paras, Parvarish and Piya Ka Ghar.
Sanjeev Kumar (SK) and Farida Jalal (FJ) are a happy brother-sister pair in a gaon in Paras (1971). They have their little zameen, they have their fasal (looked like flowers to me), and they have their mousi who keeps talking about why FJ must get married.
Life is good till some ruffian friend of the jagirdar’s grandson tries to get fresh with FJ. But she’s feisty, and says na na na by cutting off one side of the goon’s moustache. This is the ultimate sacrilege; the guy runs back screaming revenge. The mousi reiterates that the time for shaadi is indeed now.
The jagirdar grandson is apna Shatrughan Sinha (SS). He was younger, and even more evil. Remarkable chap, actually. He laughs uproariously to see his chamcha with half a moustache and consoles him with an equivalent of don’t-worry-be-happy.
But he starts worrying himself when the leader of the local kisan community demands his pound of wheat or whatever. SS sends his chhota bhai to finish off the kisan leader. The leader is brutally killed, blood spouts in a gush, but the act is witnessed by SK and FJ. Worse still, SK and FJ refuse to tell lies in court. SS’s chhota bhai is therefore sentenced to death and SS announces his badla plan loud and clear.
The elders in the gaon tell SK to go to the shehar because he’s not safe anymore. He sees the point, but, rather ridiculously, leaves his behen FJ behind. SS wastes no time in trying to rape FJ. But FJ has great nails. So, she pokes SS in the eye and escapes. An angry SS burns down the SK-FJ house leaving the mousi dead and charred inside.
On his way to the big city, SK makes a good beginning. He saves Raakhee (R)’s life while she’s dancing at a cliff with her sahelis. R, although rich as hell, is troubled. Her baap, Madan Puri, wants to marry her off to the moron grandson, Mehmood (M), of the city’s richest man. And her maa wants to marry her off to the evil SS. Truly the ultimate Hobson’s choice!
After a bizarre sequence of events (that I won’t explain), SK ends up impersonating M. R is delighted to see her saviour; so delighted that she bares her mind, soul and body to SK in a lake surrounded by erotic sculpture.
SK is happy to be with R but his atma keeps troubling him because he’s being untruthful. He’s especially worried about FJ’s fate. But all’s turning out well for her; FJ has found M and both are falling in love.
The rest of the film is all about intrigue as SK-R and M-FJ manoeuvre the circumstances to reach the eventual happy ending. The scheming and evil SS is neutralized, and, worse still, faces the ultimate ignominy of being bashed up not by the hero, but by the comedian M.
To be honest, parts of the film are enjoyable although KA’s music wasn’t his best. SK makes even the poorest film watchable with his talent, and FJ is quite a volcano of ability. R is beautiful, and even sheds beautiful tears. M commands attention; he could make madness really insane.
The thakur and his thakur-ain are going to have a baby after a long wait. The thakur is pleased as punch: his vansh, and his khoon, will continue to live on.
Just to make sure there are no last-minute alarms, the thakur decides that the baby will be born in a hospital. The baby is born, the nurse informs the thakur that it is a boy, the thakur is overjoyed … but just at that very moment there’s a fire in the hospital. To protect the babies, the thakur‘s boy is huddled with the boy of a tawaif and wheeled away to safety.
That’s where all troubles start. Which boy has the ‘pure’ blood of a thakur, and which boy has the ‘ganda‘ blood of a tawaif? You could’ve asked the tawaif to identify, but she’s dead. You could’ve asked the nurses to identify but they’re electrocuted. So kee korbo?
This is the dilemma that Parvarish (1958) grapples with. A pragmatic (and wise) decision is to take both the babies home, and allow the maa (Lalita Pawar!) to mother both the babies. The irrational (and dumb) expectation is that, as the boys grow up, their khoon will determine their behavior and that’ll solve the classification problem.
But the machine learning fails. Both the boys, Raj Kapoor (RK) and Mehmood (M) behave like normal kids. So normal that RK doesn’t have Mukesh singing for him till the very end, and Mehmood doesn’t crack a single joke.
By this time the daughter of another same-level-same-khoon thakur has grown up to become Mala Sinha (MS). MS is to marry one of RK and Mehmood, depending on who has the thakur’s asli khoon. MS picks RK, and RK picks MS to together sing a real masti bhara song.
There’s some turmoil, turbulence and trauma at the end with blood and tears, but it all ends well. Best of all, you don’t know till the very end who had the real thakur khoon. The implication is that khoon doesn’t really matter, and it is all about upbringing. For me, that makes Parvarish the most progressive film of the year 1958.
The music by Dattaram, who was a long-time Shankar-Jaikishan assistant, is rather good. In those magical musical times, even the assistants were outstanding. Remember S D Burman’s assistant Jaidev and his Hum Dono?
Piya Ka Ghar
Long before shaadi.com there was the pandit. Pot-bellied, vermilion smeared over his bare torso, he was the ultimate middleman. You trusted him because he pretended to be God’s emissary – and he exploited this trust to the hilt.
All he had was a grainy b&w photo of the ‘boy’ and the ‘girl’, but this was enough to launch a thousand dreams.
Piya Ka Ghar (1972) is the story of one such dream. It could so easily have gone sour, but it didn’t because of the amazing presence and ability of Jaya Bhaduri (JB). She’s not doing anything fancy, she’s not screaming or weeping or dancing or dressing provocatively. Yet, long after the movie ends, she stays with you.
The pandit has brokered a difficult alliance. JB’s husband Anil Dhawan (AD) is earnest and caring, but there’s just no place to sleep together, or even live together, in that Mumbai chawl. There’s loud background music, windows don’t close or cut off light, you can hear AD’s big brother and giggly wife utter sweet nothings and get cuddly, and there are big rats prowling around in the kitchen … which is doubling up as a bedroom! Yes, that’s the sort of life JB suddenly finds herself in.
Thankfully everyone around – and there are so many around! – is extremely nice. AD’s father is mostly playing cards with his friends and gulping tea endlessly, AD’s bhaiya and bhabhi are exceptionally sweet; the bhabhi even creates opportunities for the couple to get intimate … but something always seems to go wrong. And there’s the baby brother who is an immense cricket and Gavaskar fan.
A day-long Bombay outing for JB and AD creates more bonds and love, although it ends in a bit of a mishap. But at least JB is weaned away from her tauji, who she adores, and gets to see an Indian Airlines Caravelle, albeit on the ground.
But there’s no happy ending in sight to end JB’s plight, and her tauji ups the ante by suddenly turning up in Mumbai and insisting that his darling niece returns with him to their gaon. Everyone tries to do what they can to salvage a lost cause, but JB has the last word: this is my piya’s ghar and I’m staying here!
It is a lovely and endearing film that still holds charm. LP’s music has one superlative tune, and is generally good. But one petite and lovely girl really makes all the difference.