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Updated: August 1, 2013 19:07 IST
BLAST FROM THE PAST

Chacha Bhatija (1977)

Suresh Kohli
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A poster of 'Chacha Bhatija'.
Special Arrangement A poster of 'Chacha Bhatija'.

Dharmendra, Randhir Kapoor, Hema Malini, Yogeeta Bali, Jeevan, Rehman.

This is Manmohan Desai’s second and the last movie with Dharmendra, that too in the same year — the first being blockbuster “Dharam Veer”. Even though a hit, it was also the director’s least successful of the four films in the same year made on the tried and tested formula of lost-and-found siblings: this time though as uncle and nephew. Shankar (Dharmendra) is a black marketer romancing Mala (Hema Malini) while Pinky (Yogeeta Bali) is Sunder’s (Randhir Kapoor) love interest. It had seven Anand Bakshi songs set to passable music by the busy team of Laxmikant Pyarelal, but sadly wasted as they seem totally misfit contextually. Hema is, as usual, a delight to watch, especially when working under the supervision of seasoned choreographers like by P. L. Raj and Kamal Master.

A lackadaisical story by Prayag Raj converted into not only a logic-defying screenplay, it had throwaway dialogue for the frontbenchers by Salim-Javed and badly conceived and executed fight and action sequences that received boos from the audience.

Falling prey to Laxmidas’s (Jeevan) calculated plans, issueless millionaire Ranbir Singh Teja (Rehman) unknowingly banishes his pregnant wife, Sita (Indrani Mukherjee) suspecting her of infidelity. Yet she leaves behind a newborn which Teja believes is his offspring but is actually Laxmidas’s cousin Sonia’s baby who is gradually brought into the house by him, first as a governess and then as his legally wedded wife. Meanwhile, Sita, attempting suicide, is pulled out of the river by a pious Muslim, Gul Khan (Anwar Husain). She, in time, actually delivers a male child sired by Teja.

Meanwhile, unable to convince Teja about Sonia and Laxmidas’s plans to kill him, his teenage sibling Shankar runs away from the house, finds refuge in an old woman’s house (Durga Khote) and grows up to be a street smart black marketer of cinema tickets overnight changed into an honest man. Sunder, meanwhile, under the care of a doting mother and Gul Khan, grows into a stud-trainer graduate, an accomplished ballroom dancer, fighter.

Much of the narrative, once they come face to face, deals with confrontations between the estranged nephew and his uncle. But once they get to know the truth, they plan to expose Sonia. Not much to guess until the climax is reached without any surprises.

The comic interludes despite Kesto Mukherjee’s now-in-now-out appearances are lacklustre, and leave no impact even on the frontbenchers. As was usual then, the girls, especially Yogeeta Bali, has little to do after a throwaway scene that demands no histrionics while Hema is engaged in some fight and song-and dance sequences that manage to keep the narrative somewhat alive. Sonia Sahni has been wasted. Dharmendra looks totally disinterested in the proceedings while Randir Kapoor overacts looking totally comical in action sequences. Rehman is full of poise and Roopesh Kumar is his usual self in a completely undeveloped character.

“Koi mane ya na mane”, and “Ma ne kaha tha beta” stand out for the rhythm rendered by Mohammed Rafi and Shailendra Singh respectively as also the Lata-Rafi duet, “Tera sheeshe ka samaan”. The four other songs are just passable: “Hey lala hey lala jhoomo zara” (Asha Bhosle-Mohammed Rafi-Shailendra Singh), “Batli ko thod de” (Lata), “Jeena zaroori hain” (Kishore Kumar), “Bhoot raja bahar aaja” (Asha).

Both cinematographer V. Durgadas and editor Kamlakar understandably had little to do in the film. Made under the banner of Dreamland by actor-producer Baldev Pushkarna and M. M. Malhotra, it was Manmohan Desai’s most forgettable venture even though it was the year’s fifth highest grosser which reportedly did a business of Rs.3,50,000,00 then.

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