Listening to: Saajan (1991)

Saajan 1991What a blockbuster this was! Remembering the music to be quite decent, I decided to re-watch it yesterday.  I am neither a fan of Salman Khan, nor of Sanjay Dutt, so I was questioning myself even as I sat down to watch it.

I need not have hesitated. In fact, it was quite a well made film, if a bit formulaic. It has a number of irresistible features  :

(1) One spirited and beautiful woman  √
(2) One sensitive, poetic but disabled young man with a debt towards (3) √
(3) One rich playboy with a heart of gold √
(4) One indulgent dad, one pretty, maternal mum √
(5) One annoying man-servant for comedy in bad taste √
(6) One beautiful hill-station √
(7) Low Self-Esteem, Lies, Blind Love, Stupid And Unnecessary Self-Sacrifice, A Conversation with God, Angry Trashing of a Room, Over-Emotional Drama, Bad Men Who Attack Women, Dancing On Slopes, Singing Sadly On Lost Love and many other such essential ingredients to a good Bollywood masala √

Aman  is a young orphan under the care of a priest. Physically disabled, he is picked on by other children. Akaash is the only son of rich and loving parents. He comes to Aman’s aid and they become good friends. Though they are like chalk and cheese, there is love and affection between these two which leads to Aman being adopted by Akaash’s family.

Akaash (Salman Khan) grows up to be a rather spoilt young man, seemingly interested only in pretty girls and having a good time. Aman (Sanjay Dutt) is quite the opposite. A serious young man, he is academically successful and a poet who goes by the name ‘Sagar’ to guard his identity.  Aman suffers from low self-esteem due to his physical disability and his background as a penniless orphan. An incident with a silly young woman reinforces his low self-esteem.

Pooja is a lively young woman who deeply admires Sagar’s poetry and writes to him. A pen-friendship develops, leading to unexpressed deeper emotions. But Aman’s lack of confidence does not allow him to take this any further. When Aman goes to Ooty on business, he meets Pooja and recognizes her from a photograph. Seeing that this is Madhuri, one can see quite easily why he becomes so enchanted with her. He doesn’t reveal himself, instead he pretends to be a friend of Sagar.

When Akaash comes for a visit, by Bollywoodian-coincidence, he sees Pooja and it is love at first sight. When Aman learns of this, he decides to sacrifice his love for his friend. But is this such a selfless act after all? Is he not just hiding his cowardice in this so called selfless act? Though Akaash is initially reluctant, he takes Aman’s advices and pretends to be Sagar to win Pooja’s hand. Soon they are to be wed.

Aman’s slow withdrawal from him raises Akaash’s suspicions. He finds out that Aman is actually Sagar and that Aman is in love with Pooja. How will this triangle be resolved? Who will get the girl? Whom does Pooja really love – her poet or the man she thinks is the poet? Well, I am not giving away the ending, so you’ll have to see it for yourself!

The script is well written and the characters well developed. My serious objections to a girl’s affections being bartered and shared between two men as if she is a commodity were reflected in Pooja’s outburst in the climax, so I was appeased somewhat.

Madhuri is a glowing beauty, outstanding even in this Bollywood world of beauties. Her smile shines like a 1000 watt bulb. She is also a very good actress and brings conviction to the character. Salman Khan looks much more appealing in this pre-over-muscled-bulk form. Sanjay Dutt is well suited to play a poet with his heavy-lidded eyes and sleepy manner. Both men are adequate in the normal moments but fail in the emotional or dramatic scenes. Sanjay’s dialogue-with-God should have been a tear-jerker for the matinee-ladies, but I would be surprised if it induced even one sniff! Salman gets his moment of drama later but again, I was unmoved. Madhuri’s righteous anger was much more convincing. In spite of all my criticisms, the movie is quite watchable, so I am not trying to dissuade anyone.

Given that it is a movie about a poet, I eagerly watched out from nice Shayari but unfortunately, it was but average. I’ve some examples for you below, what do you think?

यह वक़्त बतायेगा कि मैं शोला हूँ या शबनम |
आँसूं हूँ अभी वक़्त के पलकों में रुका हूँ ||

बड़ी मुद्दत से मेरे दिल में इक तस्वीर बैठी है |
तेरे जुल्फों के छाओं में मेरी तकदीर बैठी है ||

दूर तक जहाँ भी यह नज़र चली जाए |
मुझे तू ही तू हर पल नज़र आये ||

The music by Nadeem-Shravan is not as good as I remembered, but still, I’ll call it easy listening. The lyrics by Sameer are a bit pedestrian, but there are a couple of nice lines. The one thing which grates terribly is the choice of S.P.Balasubramanyan as the voice of Salman Khan. I admire SPB’s singing in Tamil and Telugu films but somehow his Hindi always sounds wrong. More than the accent, it’s the intonation which is disturbing.

  • Pehli Baar Mile Hain – SPB. Should have been an upbeat melody but instead I felt a thread of sadness – music director has failed in triggering the right emotion. Orchestration is very old fashioned. Sad smile
  • Bahut Pyar Karte Hain – (female version) Anuradha Paudwal,  (male version) SPB. A nice melody. Unfortunately Anuradha has a ‘little girl’ sound to her voice which I don’t like and SPB’s vocal flourishes are misplaced.  I don't know smile
  • Mera Dil Bhi Kitna  – Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik. This title song is a slow and pleasant and the singers do justice to it.  Some nice sitar work in the instrumentals. The picturisation is very nice.  Open-mouthed smile
  • Tu Shayar Hai – Alka Yagnik. The refrain with its instrumentals is very unusual and memorable. Alka has sung very well. Madhuri is watchable in spite of some bad choreography and horrendous costume design.  Open-mouthed smile
  • Tum Se Milne Ki Tamanna hai – SPB. Not to my taste. Sad smile
  • Jiyen To Jiyen Kaise – (version 1) Kumar Sanu, Anuradha Paudwal, SPB (version 2) Pankaj Udhas. This ghazal has a beautiful melody. The singer selection ruins version 1 for me, but Pankaj Udhas is very very pleasant to hear. Lyrics are not too bad :कैसे कहूं बिना तेरे ज़िन्दगी ये क्या होगी
    जैसे कोई सज़ा कोई बद-दुआ  होगी
    मैंने किया है ये फैसला
    जीना नहीं है तेरे बिना  Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Dekha Hai Pehli Bar – SPB, Alka Yagnik. Nadeem-Shravan have re-used the refrain-with-instrumentals like in the Tu Shayar Hai song in this film. I quite like it, it is unusual. The 90’s choreography is odd, looking at times like an aerobics routine and Madhuri’s wardrobe is a shame. Smile

To listen to the whole album, click here.

My selection is evidently Jiyen to Jiyen Kaise. I present a version by Pankaj Udhas, not from the film, but in a live performance. Its quite lovely, enjoy!

8 Comments

Filed under Bollywood 90's Music, Pankaj Udhas

8 responses to “Listening to: Saajan (1991)

  1. Srinivas Bhogle

    As soon as I saw the Saajan review show up on my mailbox, I told myself that Suja will surely have something to say about the two young men ‘gifting’ the young lady to the other as if she was a stuffed toy.

  2. Srinivas Bhogle

    Long before this happened in Saajan (1991), it had also happened in Sangam (1964). Then too a spirited Vyjayantimala let Raj Kapoor and Rajendra Kumar know exactly what she thought of the sacrificing duo’s sacrifices.

    • I didnt make that connection, though of course you are right! Must review Sangam one of these days, I like the music…
      I thought you would make some pithy comment re SPB, but you didnt after all🙂

  3. This sounds like glorious fun, thanks for having revieed it. I don’t mind Salman , especially the Salman from those years, and I love Madhuri, whom you say is “a glowing beauty”, so I’m not hesitating, I’ll definitely try and watch it soon. Do you know if it’s on the Internet, subtitled?

  4. indigoite

    Not one of my favourites although I am a big fan of old(ish) Hindi film music. Your point about SPB singing Hindi songs is so true. I cringe too when I listen to him. Thankfully he hasn’t sung many. In Tamil however, he’s a once in many generations singer.

    • I prefer the music from 50s-60s-70s but I do enjoy watching films from all the decades. There is always something to admire. The film production quality started improving in the eighties. The choreography improved a lot in the nineties. The 2000s brought in better and better cinematography (though I do love the cinematography in some of the black and white oldies as well) and the current decade seems to be heading towards special effects to match the ones in Hollywood. Keeps us all amused, Bollywood does🙂

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