Listening to: Gharonda (1977)


The title ‘Nest’ is an excellent one for the film, one of the few I have seen on the subject of lack of housing in Mumbai. An interesting and well made film with a good cast and excellent music, it has been largely ignored by Bollywood bloggers. The only review I read was scathing which surprised me as I found the film to be a good watch. 

A young woman Chaaya (Zarina Wahab) joins a small business as a typist. She had been interviewed and selected by the well-to-do, middle-aged owner Mr. Modi (Shreeram Lagoo). A widower, he is introduced to us as recovering from a heart problem.

At work, a rather chaloo young man, Sudeep (Amol Palekar), stars a flirtation and soon the two start spending a lot of free time together. One would think that they are in love. Puzzlingly the song Tumhe ho na ho, which shows the mental status of the young woman, tells us that much as she enjoys his company, she is certain that she is not in love with him. It is puzzling because we see that they seem to be much engrossed in each other and soon decide to marry. The one big hurdle is the lack of housing in Mumbai and when they put a deposit for a flat in a new construction site, they are both very happy.

In the meanwhile, Chaaya is uncomfortably aware of the interest shown towards her by Mr.Modi. She learns early on that she was hired for her resemblance to the late Mrs.Modi. Even though there is no overtly inappropriate advances by Mr.Modi, he shows her favouritism and her guard is up. There is soon a confrontation with her saying ‘आपके मन में पाप है ‘ (you have sin in your mind) while he responds gravely saying ‘तुम मुझे अच्छी लगती हो’ (I like you) and that he would like to marry her.

The construction the young couple have invested in turns out to be fraudulent and it leaves them both in shock. ‘I cannot fight this battle where one is lost before one starts’ says Sudeep. ‘It looks as if one can climb here (in this city) only by putting one’s feet on someone else’s head’. In this important scene of the film, we come to know the mind-sets of the two protagonists, which is critical in understanding their actions to come. Sudeep wants Chaaya to accept Mr.Modi’s proposal as he is unwell and would not live long. After he dies, his wealth would be theirs. Her first response is ‘छी! किसी की कब्र पे मेरा घर बनाऊँगी ?’ ‘Shall I make my house on someone’s tombstone?”. I enjoyed Gulzar’s unmistakable hand in the dialogues, like for example इस शहर के लोग रोने के लिए नहीं कंदा देते, मरने तक इंतज़ार करते हैं कंदा देने के लिए .

But the seed planted takes root. Chaaya is disillusioned with Sudeep. She also wants to help her brother with his higher education and agrees to marry Mr.Modi with a mercenary intention. She tries to fit into her new life but is conflicted in many ways. But she finally manages to reconcile her conflicts and accepts her husband whole heartedly. He also thrives in this marriage and his health improves.

But Sudeep doesn’t fare well. He can’t accept the loss of his girl. Perhaps he never meant her to follow the suggestion he thought of in despair? He is also hunted by the loan-sharks from whom he had borrowed for the disaster of a flat purchase.

How will it all resolve itself? Will it resolve itself? The ending seemed a bit hurriedly put together and I didn’t find it well convincingly scripted but then I’ll let you see it and decide for yourself.

Shreeram Lagoo carries the film ably with Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahab doing good jobs in their roles. Jalal Agha has given an excellent performance in a supporting role, as also Sudha Mehra whom I have always admired for her acting skills.

The music is excellent but I give first credit to Gulzar and Naqsh Lyallpuri’s beautiful poetry which Jaidev has moulded expertly into music.

  • Tumhe ho na ho – Runa Laila. Excellent lyrics and charmingly sung by Runa Laila. After seeing it, I wanted to eat chaat in Chaupati too! Jaidev has made his music match Naqsh Lyallpuri’s poetry perfectly. I had mistakenly thought this to be Gulzar’s work but thanks to a reader, I stand corrected.  Open-mouthed smile Red heart

    मुझे प्यार तुमसे नहीं है नहीं है मगर मैं यह राज़ अब तक न जाना
    कि  क्यूँ प्यारे लगते हैं बातें तुम्हारे मैं  क्यूँ तुमसे मिलने का ढूँढूं बहाना
    कभी मैंने चाहा तुम्हे छू के  देखूँ कभी मैंने चाहा तुम्हे पास लाना
    मगर फिर भी इस बात का यकीन है मुझे प्यार तुमसे नहीं है नहीं

  • Do diwane sheher mein – Bhupinder and Runa Laila. Well written by Gulzar, beautifully sung and charmingly filmed, it shows how songs can be incorporated convincingly even in a non-masala film. When the hero and heroine caper, they give in now and then to giggles at themselves and are very aware of making a spectacle of themselves!Open-mouthed smile Red heart
  • Ek akela ik sheher mein – Bhupinder. The sad version of the above song. Very beautifully written and sung. Gulzar always shines in his sad poetry . How cleverly he writes! Take for example : जीने की वजह तो कोई नहीं मरने का बहाना ढूंढता है  Open-mouthed smileRed heart

To listen to the full album, click here.

As there are basically only two songs, and both very good, I am going to embed both for you. Enjoy!



Filed under Bhupinder, Bollywood 70's Music, Runa Laina

12 responses to “Listening to: Gharonda (1977)

  1. indigoite

    Oh yes, one of those movies that came when I was at an impressionable age ! If I watched it today, it might be a disappointment, but in that day and age, it was different. Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahab often stood for the “different” movies those days , the time when Amitabh ruled the skies.

    Both brilliant songs. Vividh Bharati used to play them every day and even today I seem to recall the words even though I haven’t heard it for decades.

    One of those nostalgia inducing posts of yours.

    • Ramesh, compared to the trash that still abounds in Bollywood, this movie still is a good watch. I dont expect you’ll be too disappointed, so watch it if you can spare the time. Its on youtube. I am glad you like the songs as much as I like them, the words are so beautiful!

  2. Srinivas Bhogle

    “Taare … aur zameen par?” “Of course!”
    “Asmani, ya aasmani?”

    Can’t forget these interludes within a song. I think Gulzar mian was showing off a bit, but it worked very well (see, I still remember it!).

    I also have a second observation here: that Runa could toggle effortlessly between the ‘talk’ and ‘sing’ modes. Asha Bhosle was very good at this, as indeed was Kishore Kumar. But Rafi and Lata didn’t sound good at all in the ‘talk’ mode. Especially Rafi. Remember that painful start to the Love in Tokyo song: aaja re aa zaraa?

    • You are probably right Srinivas about Lata and Rafi. I cant remember too many songs which had talk elements of Lata or Rafi but I have it my mind that Lata never sounded like any actress when she talked, her speaking voice was much too different. Kishore was adept of course but as you say Runa Laila sounded perfectly fine too.

      And as to asmani and aasmani, I too remember that dialogue well especially as I also wondered why it was asmani and not aasmani…aasmani is aasman jaise, but what is asmani?

  3. Filmbuff

    Hey Suja – glad to read your posts again! This is one of my fav hindi movies both for the story, direction, action and songs of course. It is a pity that Runa Laila had a very short time in Hindi films. To this day i have the song tum ho na ho in my fav songs playlist! i would love to watch this movie again after so many yrs. How is Mel?

    • Oh Hello again 🙂 Runa Laila did a few other films just after this one, I remember, but she didnt enjoy a like success. There is a very good copy in youtube at present, here is the link is you want to see it. Its a very well put together film and even after 35 years its eminently watchable. There were only a few scenes which made me wonder a bit, but its a strong candidate for a re-watch 🙂 Mel is being its capricious self with summer one day and winter the other but I am as always pleased to be down-under 🙂

  4. Banno

    Suja, lovely post. I remember feeling very disappointed at the way ‘Gharonda’ ended. But the songs, will always remain etched in my memory. The words of course, but also the voices, that were so different, so fresh.

    • Thank you Banno 🙂 Oh, so the ending struck you as well as being disappointing? So I’m not alone then.. I was content with the jist of it, but the way the director hurried it through didn’t work well. They should have cut short some other sections of the film to make room for a better ending. Oh well 🙂 It still was a good watch.And as you said, Runa and Bhupinder sounded outside the norm but yet very very pleasing.

  5. just a small nitpick : tumhe ho na ho mujhko to was NOT gulzar’s song it was Naksh lyallpuri. hope you will correct your post


  6. J

    I love the song “do deewane”. Both voices go so well together. I tried to watch the movie a few years ago but gave up at some point after the 2 fun songs were over 🙂

    • Hi again J 🙂 You are right, Runa’s voice is a very good match for Bhupinder’s. Actually, I was very taken by Bhupinder’s voice from the first time I listened to him. As for Runa, I had divided thoughts. She had done some sufiana music which was played again and again on doordarshan – damadam mast kalandar for example. There was sometimes more show and less musicality in these performances and even as a child as I was then, I was not attracted to the showiness. In fact, as I listened to the songs from Gharonda I felt that I had done her a disservice, there might have been show but there definitely was essence underneath… As to the film, it was quite watchable I thought, I am surprised you gave up!
      Cheers. Suja

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