Director: Raj Kapoor
Music: Laxmikant Pyarelal; Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
Running Time: 2 hours, 42 minutes
If you don’t come out of this film wishing
you were a teenager again and in love for the first time, you are in need
of an urgent oil change. Love here is so sweet, so innocent, so painful
and so full of a newly discovered sexual yearning that my knees ached with
long forgotten memories. Legendary director Raj Kapoor generally took on
fairly serious themes for his films dating back to the 1950’s, but after
his previous film – Mera Naam Joker – died at the box office he threw together
a piffle of a movie to clear his mind. In terms of plot there is little
here – young love – heartbreak – parental disapproval - that
hasn't been done a million times in every country, but this feels so hopeful,
tender and fresh that it is difficult not to surrender to its bubbly charms
– and to the radiant Dimple Kapadia. Deservedly, the film has become a
Unlike so many Bollywood films that attempt to
make 30 year olds look like teenagers, Kapoor chose two actual teenagers
to play his young lovers – one his very own son, Rishi Kapoor, who was
eighteen at the time and Dimple Kapadia who was a complete unknown and
only fifteen at the time – but who appears and plays older in this film.
They both became instant stars – and though Rishi is a bit spongy like
a soggy pound cake with a fondness for leather pants, large sunglasses
and ascots he still became a heartthrob and Dimple simply stole the collective
heart of a nation. She is marvelous in her collection of mini-skirts and
wide-eyed gazes. Her first appearance in the film is one of those “across
a crowded room” cinematic moments when Rishi sees her for the first time
as does the audience – her curious shy eyes taking in the lush surroundings,
her distinctive cleft chin punctuating her youth, her awkward stance –
and falls in love with her immediately and of course breaks into song soon
afterwards “I’m no poet, but my pretty one, ever since I have seen you,
poetry has just come to me”.
The smirky Pran and his wife (Sonia Sahani) aren’t
particularly fond of children and fill their time with business and social
affairs. Unfortunately, they have a tiresome little boy, Raj (later becoming
Rishi) who is being brought up almost solely by his governess, Mrs. Briganza
(Durga Khote) and they decide to ship him off to boarding school – and
apparently don’t see him till he turns 18! If all parenting could be so
easy! When he graduates, he comes home and they throw him a birthday party
filled with all of their own boring wealthy friends – including the older
experienced Aruna Irani who clearly wants to rob Raj of his innocence and
puts her ample cleavage to the test. Cake or me her body asks him. Sadly
for her cleavage, Rishi has already spotted Bobby (Dimple) and has been
knocked for a loop.
She is the granddaughter of Mrs. Briganza and
the two start a sweet courtship that bristles with sexual undercurrent.
In her bikini, halter-tops and short skirts, Bobby has Raj eating out of
her hand as his hormones do a doo-wop chorus. In one song sequence the
sexual longing is hanging in the air like a blown kiss as the two of them
are accidentally locked into a house and sing to one another “You and I,
both locked in a room and the key gets lost” as they roll around in a bed.
At one point he takes her to a party at Aruna’s in which a foul fellow
in a ruffled shirt paws Bobby and gets whacked around for his troubles.
The main deterrent though comes from his father who is adamantly against
his son marrying a girl from a lower class.
Bobby’s father (Premnath) is a fisherman – which
in itself doesn't thrill Pran, but the fact that his zipper is down during
their entire meeting because of an ill-fitting suit has Pran taking out
the checkbook and asking him how much he wants to keep his daughter away
from his son and to buy a suit that allows him to zip it. The father refuses
of course. So instead, Pran sets Raj up with the daughter of a wealthy
business acquaintance and doesn’t seem to care that she (a very young Farida
Jalal) is totally nuts. At this point the film takes a dramatic turn as
Raj and Bobby go on the run like Easy Riders and most of India seems to
be nipping on their heels including the vile Prem Chopra – and a Romeo
and Juliet ending seems to be straight ahead.
The music from Laxmikant Pyarelal is terrific
from the poetic Main Shayar to Nahin to the erotic Hum Tum Ek Kamare Mein
and the sparkling big number Jhoot Bole Kauwa Kaate. The dancing here is
also quite good – Aruna Irani is always fun to watch in her vampish performances
and she has two numbers – and both Dimple and Rishi show a few good moves.
The film certainly has a few drawbacks - there are some very awkward scenes
and the end in particular verges on being over the top corny, but by that
time you have already been sucked into this love story and are able to
forgive it for its transgressions.
Dimple is a heart-breaker here and her appearance
set off fashion trends and a huge amount of public affection – but much
to the public’s shock she married either during or right after the film’s
shooting - at age 16 – to superstar Rajesh Khanna and for all practical
purposes retired from the business and brought up their two girls – Twinkle
and Rinke (who are also actresses) – until the mid-80’s when she returned
to huge acclaim. She still acts from time to time today – the older woman
in Dil Chata Hai and Leela.
My rating for this film: 8.0