Talking to a friend about the films from the seventies which made an impression on me, I remembered Mere Apne and went searching for it on Youtube. Glad to find it, I sat down expecting a treat. I still loved the songs but the movie…hmmm…..
The film opens with an old lady, Anandi (Meena Kumari), who lives alone in a village. We see her being visited by a slimy man (Ramesh Deo) who claims to be a distant relative. He invites her to come and live with his wife and him in the city. Of course our antennas are up, expecting disaster, but Anandi quite innocently accepts his invitation. The director succeeds quite consciously or unconsciously to show us how very cynical we are, how our innocence has been lost.
Anandi is bewildered by the ways of the city. She realises only after being clued in by a servant that she has been brought by the couple to act as an unpaid nanny for their child. दूसरे को अपना कहे जब अपना काम पड़े she says to herself, understanding finally the ways of the world that she has come to. It is a dark world of disillusionment and the disillusioned, of joblessness and violence, of hunger and selfishness that the movie makers want to show us. She acts as our eyes as we are introduced to a world where family values have disappeared and selfishness rules, where the young are lost with none to guide them, where unethical politicians use strong arm tactics and violence rules the streets.
When she gets thrown out of her so called relative’s home, it is Shyam (Vinod Khanna), the leader of one gang, who takes care of her. She in her turn showers affection on the gang members and is slowly making progress in weaning them out of their destructive lives. But will she be able to turn them around? Or will she be destroyed herself? You’ll have to see the film to find out!
When I saw this movie in the eighties, it was already a decade old. It made an impact on me then. Now, in my advanced years, it seems to be too contrived. It is the script which I object to (sorry Gulzar, I do admire you normally!) The cast does a reasonably good job. Meena Kumari is competent if uninspired as the story teller. Vinod Khanna looks young and dashingly handsome and if he looks wooden at times, one is (well, I am) inclined to ignore it! Shatrughan Sinha is a strong and fascinating presence. Asrani, Danny Denzongpa, Paintal and Dinesh Thakur all have roles as gang members and make an impact in their own way. You’ll find many other well-recognizable faces in this cast rich film. Yet no one person stands out. Is that good or is that bad?
My issues with the script are manifold. Why is a woman praiseworthy when she puts up with a man threatening to beat her at every turn? Why is a woman bad because she dresses in western clothes and goes out to work? Why are old ways always better than new ones? Why is village life always better than city life? Why is being progressive evil? There are some skewed perceptions here…
The music by Salil Chowdhury is beautiful and Gulzar has written some memorable words. There are only three songs, all three very pleasing.
Haal Chaal Thik Thak Hai – Kishore Kumar, Mukesh. This sarcastic and political song is very well crafted and sung. Interludes on the mouth organ and the whistling add a nice touch. Kishore does his trademark yodelling making me nostalgic for that era of music!
Koi Hota Jisko Apna – Kishore Kumar. One of my all time favourites. Gulzar’s words touch the heart, see how well they are scripted!
कोई होता जिसको अपना हम अपना कह लेते यारों |
पास नहीं तो दूर ही होता लेकिन कोई मेरा अपना ||
आँखों में नींद न होती आँसूं ही तैरते रहते |
ख्वाबों में जागते हम रात भर ||
कोई तो ग़म अपनाता कोई तो साथी होता || (कोई होता)
भूला हुआ कोई वादा बीती हुई कुछ यादें |
तनहाई दोहराती है रात भर ||
कोई दिलासा होता कोई तो अपना होता | (कोई होता)
Salil Chowdhury’s music adds a melting pathos to the words but it is Kishore Kumar who raises the song from good to great. Superb.
Roz Akeli Aayee – Lata Mangeshkar . This is somewhat of a hidden gem ; though I remembered the other two songs distinctly, I had forgotten about this one. A gentle and beautiful melody.
To hear the whole album, click here.
My today’s choice was a forgone conclusion, even before I sat down to see the film. Here is Kishore’s Koi Hota. Enjoy!