There is a streak of innocence about the romance that signifies the essence of this movie, a typical Basu Chatterjee presentation, so infectious, so appealing. Simple, realistic and aesthetic to the core, you will want to revisit and experience the joy of quality and meaningful cinema. No big stars and devoid of glamour, this was a standout offering by Rajshri Productions. It was a pleasant family event when cinema lovers drawn from all age groups gathered to savour this movie at cinema halls and later in front of their televisions sets.

This movie had all that it takes to create a hit; music, story and an assembly of actors who lent authenticity to their characters. Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahab form the lead pair, so middle class but what class! It is a common story but there is no hero wooing his lady love. Circumstances bring the two together and the cute presence of Master Raju sets up the stage for a superbly crafted narration that makes you yearn for more.

Palekar had come to make an impression as the common man’s hero, not really unappealing but his staid mannerisms casting a lasting impression. He had a niche following, set up by the success of “Rajnigandha” and “Chhoti Si Baat”, also directed by Chatterjee, a master movie-maker. His strong grooming in Marathi and Hindi theatre reflected in Palekar’s work on the screen. He was at ease and excelled in light roles, delivering with panache.

The losing hero tag sat on Palekar only because he slipped into the role with consummate ease. The clerk of “Rajnigandha” is Vinod, an overseer in this movie. He arrives in Madhupur village on work and is mistaken for Sunil Krishan (Vijayendra Ghatge), who is combining this visit to strike a marriage proposal with Gita (Zarina), a simple girl who has just written her matriculation exams. Her best friend is Deepu (Raju), a neighbourhood kid and the two spend time pulling off pranks when not flying kites and playing marbles.

Vinod endears himself to Gita’s parents, a timid schoolmaster (A. K. Hangal) and a domineering lady of the house (Dina Pathak). Vinod’s friendly ways enabled him to walk into the family as a welcome member, the mother visualising him as the perfect son-in-law. Gita is drawn towards Vinod, adept at playing and teaching the harmonium and also excelling in singing and imparting lessons. They are a lovable pair with the company of Deepu, a remarkably enacted character by Master Raju.

The introduction of Sunil, a foreign-returned engineer, also Vinod’s senior, gives a twist to the tale. He is the original prospective son-in-law that Gita’s parents had been waiting for. The discovery that Vinod is not the expected one suddenly transforms his acceptability in the family. The parents avoid him and slowly the reality dawns on Vinod that he is not welcome in Gita’s family. He also learns the truth behind Sunil’s forays to Gita’s house. He makes a graceful exit only to be persuaded by his boss to change his mind.

There are many enjoyable moments in the movie, some subtle humour, as Palekar and Zarina carry the movie forward at a pleasant pace. Deepu wins your heart with his inquisitive mutterings and stern judgment too when he wants Gita Didi to learn music from Vinod and not Sunil. The moment of the movie comes towards the end when Gita, a mild and submissive girl, decides to have her way. “Chal Deepu” she commands and walks out of the house on the day of engagement to Sunil.

Every actor gives a sterling performance in the movie which is lit up by the mellifluous voice of Yesudas to some vintage tunes by Ravindra Jain, who pens the songs too. “Gori Tera Gaon bada Pyara”, “Aaj Se Pehle Aaj Se Zyada” are popular even today, not to forget the classical duets “Jab Deep Jale Aana” and “Tu Jo Mere Sur Mein Sur Milale” by Yesudas and Hemlata. It is a compelling package that has an all-time charm.

Chitchor

Genre: Romantic musical

Director: Basu Chatterjee

Cast: Amol Palekar, Zarina Wahab, Vijayendra Ghatge, A. K. Hangal, Dina Pathak, Ritu Kamal, Master Raju, Shail Chaturvedi, C. S. Dubey

Story: Subodh Ghosh

Screenplay and dialogue: Basu Chatterjee

Music director and lyricist : Ravindra Jain

Box office status: Silver-jubilee hit in Mumbai and completed the debut silver jubilee hat-trick for Amol Palekar along with his debut film Rajnigandha (1974) followed by Chhoti Si Baat (1975) – all directed by Basu Chatterjee

Trivia: K. J. Yesudas and Master Raju won the National Awards 1976 for Best Male Playback Singer and Best Child Artist respectively.