Published: Sun, March 26, 2017
World | By Tasha Manning

Alaap | Indian Cinema

Alaap | Indian Cinema

Directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Produced by N. C. Sippy
Story idea: Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, Hrishikesh Mukherjee;

("Prelude," Hindi, 1977) Screenplay: Bimal Dutta; Dialogue and lyrics: Dr. Rahi Masoom Reza ( "Koi gata ​​em>" by Harbansraj Bachchan); Music: Jaidev; Cinematography: Jawant R. Pathare; Art direction: Ajit Banerjee; Playback: Lata Mangeshkar, Yesudas, Kum Faiyyaz, Asrani, Madhurani, Bhupendra, Dilraj Kaur, Ustad Bade Gulam Ali Khan

Dedicated to the memory of the great singers KL Saigal and Mukesh, this charming and unpretentious film offers The palate-cleansing change from the spicy "masala" epics that dominated its era, and features their superstar Amitabh Bachchan in a decidedly offbeat role. Though its central themes of protracted father-son conflict and of a suffering artist in a callous world are routine enough, its comparatively realistic depiction of life at various social levels in a provincial town, witty yet understated dialogues and beautiful songs that are deftly integrated into The storyline, and masterful but low-key performances all serve to lift it above the ordinary.

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After a prickly initial exchange with the grand old lady, Alok wins her heart and is accepted as a pupil, much to his own and Ganeshi's delight; Radhiya is also secretly pleased. He also learned of Sarjubai's relationship, long ago, with a heartbroken Raja (Sanjeev Kumar), which leads to the song Ayi ritu saavan ki ("the season of rains has come").

Alas, Triloki Prasad soon comes to know that he is consorting with "useless riff-raff" -people who drive tongas and smoke beedies-and flies into a rage, both because of Alok's disobedience of his order and because he himself Is running for the Chairmanship of the Municipal Corporation (the equivalent of Mayor) and he will not have the honorable family besmirched (there is a nice vignette here of him plotting caste-bloc politics with a couple of cronies-a true slice-of- Life). She is the only one who has been married to her husband, and she has been married to him for a long time. One Kishen. Triloki Prasad triumphs in court and Sarjubai loses the home she had purchased with a lifetime of savings; Alok is furious and uses the money his triumphant father has given him to buy to buy instead horsecart with which to earn an honest living: thus he will daily shame his stiff-necked father and live in sympathy with the humble people he has Come to love and whom his father seeks to destroy.

Although Rekha gives a fine and understated performance, the Alok's adoring and long-suffering wife, the romance of the usual sort is downplayed here, and the strongest female character is in fact the aging courtesan-singer Sarjubai, wonderfully portrayed by Chhaya Devi. Though she gradually assumes the role of Alok's lost mother, she never lapses into the pious maternal stereotypes common to so many Bombay films, but instead offers a complex and rare portrait of an earthy, mature, and experienced woman who has both loved and deeply . She has added a further dimension to the history of portrayal of courtesans and professional women in mainstream cinema (cf. BHUMIKA, PAKEEZAH, UMRAO JAN), and even though few specific details of her life are provided, we sense the extent of her experience and Of her independence of spirit, and we feel that we know her deeply by the film's end. Triloki Prasad, who gradually cuts himself off from all his near and dear kin.

[The DEI DVD of this charming film features a superior quality print, although it is marred by a tendency for the image to move up and down during the first few scenes- if the frames were slipping out of alignment (did not anybody check on this? ). Though a bit irritating, this undesirable feature does not persist and is not enough to spoil viewing. Subtitles, though not provided for the many songs, are generally good, however they mistakenly call Ganeshi's sister "Raziya" (a Muslim name!).

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