May 4, 2008

Aar Paar

Before we begin may I say I love this movie? I just did, and will say it again: I categorically love this movie, the cast, the songs, the cinematography - its all brilliant in my book. This is a Guru Dutt produced and directed crime noir, with VK Murthy taking charge of the camera, and there's truly nothing better!

Title: Aar Paar
Year: 1954
Cast: Guru Dutt, Shyama, Johnny Walker, Rashid Khan, Bir Sakuja, Uma Devi, Shakila.

Kaalu (Guru Dutt) is a taxi driver in Bombay- he has been in jail for a few months since he wasn't able to pay up a fine in an auto accident, and is now roaming the streets looking for a job.

He meets a very feisty Nikki (Shyama), whose car is broken. He helps her fix it...

... and it is love on first sight for him. Cue in the everlastingly brilliant "Kabhi Aar kabhi paar...,"

... where we also meet Elaichi (a very young Jagdeep, this was only his 5th movie) who will serve as Kaalu's sidekick for the next 2 hours or so.

Nikki isn't too impressed, and drives away without a look back.

He goes by a nightclub looking for a job, where a really beautiful Moll (Shakila) sways enticingly to "Babuji dheere chalna, pyar mein zara sambhalna..."

Kaalu doesn't like the club's owner Captain's (Bir Sakuja) offer of working as a driver too much, and decides to walk away, at least for the time being.

Kaalu walks on and finds an auto garage, and talks to the owner, Lalaji (Jagdish Sethi) about working there. In true Bollywood fashion, Lalaji is Nikki's dad, so that Kaalu can begin his wooing of her in earnest! Cue another great number"Sun sun sun sun zalima, pyar humko tumse ho gaya..."

But Lalaji catches the two romancing, and throws Kaalu out on his ear, much to Nikki's distress, who has become quite fond of him.

Kaalu goes back and becomes a driver for Captain.

Now Captain is set upon orchestrating a bank robbery, with a young and lean Johnny walker as one of the henchmen...

Lots of plotting and planning ensues, of which Kaalu remains somehow blissfully innocent and unaware.

In the interim, Nikki comes around, and sings a sweetly seductive, "Ae lo main hari piya..."

But her dad comes in the way again, and prevents her from eloping with Kaalu. Broken hearted, but still positive, Kaalu sings the wonderful "Muhabbat kar lo jee bhar lo..."

The songs showcases a ton of "extras"- random women frolicking on the beach; who stop by, each singing a few lines with Kaalu, on the subject of love and loving ...

This is less risque than it sounds; all the girls featured are very effervescent, and the song works really well.

We also have a side plot for Johnny, who though a part of Captain's group, is comparatively harmless. He must also do his own wooing, with the "Tauba kae ko karta, pyar na karta..."

Elaichi tells Nikki how messed up Kaalu is, and she accompanies him to Captain's club to beg Kaalu to come back, who of course refuses to return..

However, he soon after discovers the truth of Captain's businesses- besides the robbery plans, the latter is also a smuggler. Kaalu tries to back away, but is caught by Captain himself.

The gang imprisons Kaalu and try to force him to help out with the robbery, and of course he refuses...

... but they kidnap Nikki and Elaichi....

.. and blackmail Kaalu in helping them rob that darned bank..

...will Kaalu agree? Will love conquer all? Will Kalu and Johnny both escape Captain's clutches??? Does the almost fabled bank robbery ever really happen?????

This pic should be hint enough ;)

1- The songs! all of which are absolutely brilliant- this film is a hot bed of classic, unforgettable, immortal songs. If for nothing else, watch it for the songs, and you will be more than satisfied.
2- VK Murthy's best camera work, from what I have seen to date. The light and shade, the out doors- so amazing, that words aren't enough. Just see it.
3- For once, a feisty, strong heroine in Shyama! She is strong, resilient, peppy, and yet gentle, and I loved her here. She is modern, yet traditional: she helps out her dad in his auto workshop wearing an overall, looking as cute as a button. And then demurely dons a dupatta and refuses to elope when Kaalu suggests it! I need to find out what else she was in, so that I may catch up.

1- The plot is definitely not the most original; we are simply regurgitating the old- "good boy gone bad- then back to good" story. But it is balanced by everything else, so who cares!
2- I missed KN Singh- we had all the other usual suspects- Johnny Walker, Rashid Khan- so why not get him? Though Bir does a good job as well.


Bollyviewer said...

This sounds like fun. I've always meant to watch it for the songs and Guru Dutt, but somehow missed it everytime it came on TV. It clearly needs to go on my "have to watch" list!

Shyama looks really cute here. Most of the movies I've seen her in had her playing the evil daughter-in-law in family tear-jerkers like Bhabhi (1957) and Chhoti bahen (1959).

Anonymous said...

I love this film too...I love Guru Dutt, period.

I thought Shakila was just gorgeous in this. The songs are sublime :-)

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Bollyviewer: Aar-paar has spoilt me for life- I will probably now watch "Choti Behn" and "Bhabhi", wtc., and cheer for her rather than the downtrodden heroines alongside her :D

Memsaab: She is truly sooo gorgeous- to me she looks a lot like Nargis, though with more delicate features. I have taken some screenshots, and plan to do a series of artworks around her.