Hindi
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times
{mosimage}I accidentally happened to pick up the DVD of Hindi All time classic - Hrishikesh Mukherjee's "Abhimaan" (Self Respect) recently. I had seen this movie in DD-1 many years back when I was too young but couldn't remember much of it now. When I saw it recently I was just swept away by its old world charm. I fell in love with Jaya Bhadhuri, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and its timeless songs, not necessarily in that order. End of the movie I was reminded of another movie that came years later - Akele Hum Akele Tum (AHAT), which also shared few similarities like successful female protagonsits, marital conflict set and most of all deriving their plot form Hollywood. (Abhimaan = A Star is born, AHAT = Kramer vs Kramer) While Abhimaan has managed to live eternally as classic, AHAT was relegated to dark corner as an unsuccessful remake, sincere performance of Aamir Khan and another flop of Manisha Koirala.

{tab=Abhimaan}
{mosimage}It is all about proud, successfull Subi Kumar who enjoys loyalty of the female fans from all walks and stages of life (his picture in Filmfare cover is storked by a 'hungry' fan, small girls dancing to his tunes, turning on by his song while applying lipstick), adulation with a macho swagger on stage (Meet Na Mila...). Subhir falls in love with Radha, a simple village girl from his aunt's place, for her divine voice. After hearing her in their wedding reception, a maestro predicts trouble for Subir's life because she is more talented than him and will overtake him in no time. Regrettably his words come true, Radha carves a niche for herself in the tinselville, and Subir's ego is hurt. She offers to cut down her work but he ends up humiliating her more. A vulnerable Radha returns her father's home lonely, suffers a miscarriage that turns her more of a vegetable. Subir realises his mistake and recovers her to normalcy.

I loved this movie for the performance of Jaya Bhadhuri. She was starkly against convention - short, not westernised yet she simply stole the hearts of audiences with the performance. Her magnetic charisma is so strong that I couldn't resist falling in love with her and no wonder tall Amitabh was smitten by her. Jaya's silence is far more effective and her calm, composed personality, an amazing screen presence that works wonder for the portrayal of Radha.

Second reason I loved was its timeless magic quality about songs composed by RD Burman. The movie is about a musical couple, so it's role is very important. I am still awestruck by its lyrical quality. Lataji's solo are feast for the strong appetite of music lovers. Given any day I prefer her 'Piya Bina..' & 'Lute Koi Man ka..' than any other today's songs. A rare instance of film's album diplaying the depth and poignancy.

What worked in favour of Abhimaan? - As said above the old world charm, simplicity in scenes and their execution have a major hand in it. Almost every character is sharply etched, unwanted scenes appear nowhere in hindsight and also the apt casting. The way the characters evolve are beautiful, just like Subir's reaction to the remuneration of Radha and hiking his salary just for the effect of ego, weaning of their marriage is symbolised by the early morning bed time romance sequences are few to name.

Again Abhimaan's success could be the mirror to the chauvinism of society. Radha offers to step down to save her marriage, which found its favour with the Indian male audience. Also Radha had a miscarriage, turns vegetable, suffers a lot which garnered the sympathy with lady audience. The movie ends with a hurried, melodramatic climax with restoring the Radha's life to normalcy by infusing music in her again. Just a hint that Subir will pillar Radha's career than distancing her from music in future. A subtle message that is left to audience's interpretation.

On the whole Abhimaan is all about pride, resolving ego issues between the couples. The beauty of the movie is its objectiveness that it didn't take anybody's side instead Hrishida just told a simple story letting the audiences to pick and interprate themselves. Just before moving to AHAT, few titbits about this movie. I loved the movie so much that I am in a mission to collect all the Hrishikesh Mukherjee films.

It was rehashed badly in Tamil as 'Nenjamellam Neeye..' with 'mike' Mohan and Radha in lead. The treatment was not only loud but also had a lot of changes with the screenplay. May be due to change in times, the women grew bolder. Here Radha doesn't turn to vegetable instead searches her lost husband, locates him only to find that he is attracted to another character played by Poornima Jayram (ala Bindu in 'Abhimaan') and on the way to a marriage. On their scheduled marriage day Poornima gets to know their past and sacrifices her life ( I think she dies, not sure of...). Only redeeming factor of this movie is a beautiful song - 'Yaaradhu... Sollamal Nenjalli Povadhu...' sung by Vani Jayaram.
{tab=Akele Hum Akele Tum}
{mosimage}This Aamir Khan, Manisha Koirala starrer was in news for its plagarism from Hollywood hit 'Kramer vs Kramer' and the director didn't spare even its publicity posters. Again like Abhimaan, AHAT focussed on the conflicts between a professionally successful wife and a not so successful husband. Rohit (Aamir Khan) and Kiran (Manisha Koirala)have a commmon goal in life - to become successful singers and this similarity leads to their marriage. After a 6 years of marriage life, Rohit gets few chances to show off his talent and Kiran demands to include her in audition, for which Rohit refuses. Kiran leaves Rohit and their 5yr old son Sunil and makes it big in filmdom as a leading lady. With new found success and confidence, she wants her kid back in life but Rohit refuses the custody. A legal battle was drawn and a mud slinging takes place in public. No brownie points to guess the ending.

Aamir Khan was purrfect as loser Rohit. The actor has a right combination of attitude and vulnerability to carry of a complex role like Rohit. Not many actors had the guts at that time to play a loser in a mainstream movie. I cried in the last scene where Aamir weeps out loud when the kid moves to its mother's place. Also I liked the supporting character Farida, played by Tanvi Azmi to the hilt.

Manisha as Kiran screeches, hams, looks awful with not so pleasant mannerisms and a poor photography. At the end you never feel sympathetic for her even by a micro inch. The movie was mainly rescued by the onscreen chemistry between the kid Sunil and Rohit.

Why AHAT didn't cut an ice with Indian audiences? - The first and foremost reason is that the Indian audiences didn't accept a female protagonist who walked out of marriage and even her child to make it big in career. Especially in India, no matter however pinnacle reached in career, a woman is always seen as a home maker and expected to put family ahead of her career. We are seeing lot of woman on top slowing down once they are in the family way.

Also her husband is not shown tormenting her and he himself is having the audience's sympathetic support. This not-so-bad-marriage being broken by her career ambitions definitely might have created a negative mord-of-mouth among the lady audiences.

The enviable onscreen father - son chemistry between Aamir Khan and Master Zulfi just out did the whole premise of the movie. My mother who was seeing the movie along me at home was saying 'How she felt like leaving such a lovely kid?'

The audiences' lack of support to the female protagonist Kiran, played by Manisha Koirala and the chauvinistic mindset of Indian audience couldn't accepting her choosing career and name over a loving family. At the end of the day AHAT suffered at the box office, remaining a not so good memory for Manisha Koirala and its producers. It was released with DDLJ, which weakened the film's whatsoever prospects left at the ticket windows.{/tabs}