Raju Hirani might just whip up magic with “PeeKay” this year. But around this time, some 50 years ago, cinegoers were swearing by “Dosti”, a film that triumphed with its tale of love and sacrifice.
Like the cold breeze that creeps in without permission, the New Year dawns upon me even though I am reluctant to let go of the old one. Though the blanket insulates me from the biting winter it does not prevent me from reflections, as they always do around year end, about what could have happened, has happened or might still happen to my liking! Churning destiny’s menu of hits and misses, my mind strays across the filmdom about a movie I’ll definitely not miss in 2014 and a yesteryear hit that is still relevant even after 50 years!
Grilling myself truthfully, I grant I am intrigued by Salman Khan’s “Jai Ho”, Arshad Warsi’s “Calling Mr. Joe B Carvalho”, Abhay Deol’s “One by Two” as also by Farhan Akhtar’s “Shaadi ke Side Effects” and Kundan Shah’s “P Se PM Tak” as these films might be worth their ticket money. Why even Madhuri Dixit– Juhi Chawla starrer “Gulaab Gang” and Ranbir Kapoor’s “Bombay Velvet” are on my viewing calendar but, in all honesty, if there is one film I’ll not miss and definitely see in 2014, it is “PeeKay”. Not because it has a certain Aamir Khan but because it boasts of Raju Hirani who, unlike many of his voluble fraternity, lets his craft speak for him.
Through successive entertainers like “Munnabhai MBBS”, “Lage Raho Munnabhai” and “3 Idiots”, Hirani has exhibited a Hrishikesh Mukherjee-like ability to impact the mind and heart alike, proving socially meaningful themes too can be artistic vehicles of mass consumption. I have no idea about its story yet I feel “Peekay” will be another insight into a relevant part of our lives and hence, not for Aamir, neither for Anoushka nor Sanjay Dutt but I’d see “Peekay” out of my esteem for Hirani’s skills as a director.
Hirani’s films could impact Indian society even after five decades and this contemplation invokes a thought about which 50-year-old film would still be relevant with its subject and treatment. Watching the best Hindi movies of 1964 again, I am left misty-eyed remembering the wonderful times we had at the theatres when there were no popcorns, no bucket seats, no Dolby stereos, no air-conditioners and yet films like “Sangam”, “Aayee Milan Ki Bela”, “Dosti”, “Ziddi”, “Rajkumar”, “Chitralekha” and “Ghazal” to “Kashmir Ki Kali”, “Haqeeqat”, “Zindagi”, “April Fool”, “Leader” and “Woh Kaun Thi” left us spellbound with their magnificent stories and musical fare.
Review the list minutely and you find only “Dosti” was without a star cast! Of the remaining dozen, four revolved around love triangles; one was a suspense thriller, another an all-time war classic, one a costume drama, while five others were zany romances. Even today Raj Kapoor’s “Sangam” can hold on its own against the best in technical and directorial brilliance just as “Woh Kaun Thi” and “Haqeeqat” remain unsurpassed in suspense and war film genres. If “Leader” is an example of how even a poor script gets a boost with Dilip Kumar’s histrionics, “Ghazal”, “Rajkumar” and “Kashmir Ki Kali” are proof of how melodious music helped films zoom to success. With the help of Kidar Sharma, Raj Khosla, Chetan Anand, Shakti Samanta, Ramanand Sagar and others, stars like Rajendra Kumar, Sadhana, Shammi Kapoor, Saira Banu, Manoj Kumar, Asha Parekh, Dharmendra, Meena Kumari, Sunil Dutt, Sharmila Tagore, Ashok Kumar and Vyjayantimala not only gave stupendous performances but also had audiences pining for more.
Yet “Dosti”, a small budget film, to me is a winner since Ban Bhatt’s story scripted by Govind Moonis was so sensitively designed by veteran Satyen Bose that it turned an ordinary saga of two physically-challenged friends into an eternal tale of devotion and sacrifice. Marshall Braganza’s poignant visuals and Bose’s gentle coaching made adolescent actors Sudhir Kumar and Sushil Kumar give such refined performances that they became overnight sensations. Of course, their walk into hall of fame was made easy by Mohammed Rafi’s divine vocals set in perfect harmony by Laxmikant Pyarelal’s music to Majrooh Sultanpuri’s meaningful lyrics.
As a society undergoes a grim crisis of faith, a film like “Dosti” besides being a tribute to triumph of human spirit over adversity also restores our trust in relationships. Hundreds of films have been made upon themes of the blockbusters listed above but rarely we come across a motion picture about “strong” physically challenged protagonists, Obviously, if the two ‘heroes’ remain in our collective consciousness, it is because in a dark and dreary landscape, they inspire confidence in the goodness of mankind. Good cinema provides spectacular insights and inspirations into mundane aspects of life and “Dosti” certainly qualifies as a stupendous film.