blast from the past Features

Julie (1975, Hindi)

When it hit the screens, it swept the youth with its bold theme. The general unrest in the country seemed a passing phase and youngsters were too happy visiting theatres and catching up on Lakshmi, as attractive a lady as one could imagine. Good times, one thought, when Julie was making waves with its music and a story that stood out. The Emergency was yet to be proclaimed. India had just won the hockey World Cup. And the youth was humming ‘My Heart Is Beating’, a mesmerising number then, sung by Preeti Sagar, who had just the looks to be an actor. That she chose to sing was the misfortune of many a young mind.

Preeti Sagar’s song, peppy stuff that appealed to even those who did not understand the lyrics, but swung to the lilting tune, was a feature of the movie. In a splendid celebratory sequence, the Anglo-Indian family, high on alcohol, dance to the eldest daughter’s ode to young lovers. It was stylish to play the song at private parties and break into a rhythm that the family of Morris (Om Prakash) displayed on the screen. Hindi cinema was not known to feature songs in English and this was a trendsetter even though Raj Kapoor’s Sangam had a short number sung by a foreign voice. Preeti earned a Filmfare nomination for ‘My Heart is Beating’. She lost the award to Asha Bhosle’s classic ‘Chain Se Humko Kabhi’ from Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye. She won it three years later for Mero Gaam Katha Parey’ from Manthan. For all her singing talent, Preeti only craved for offers before fading away to sing nursery rhymes for kids. It wasn’t rosy for Lakshmi either, who played the perfect Julie. After the runaway success of her debut Hindi film, Lakshmi found solace and recognition in South Indian films. The leading man, Vikram, failed to make an impression on the audience in this heroine-dominated movie. He too was lost to the industry after some movies.

What made Julie such a hit? Lakshmi obviously. Coy and carrying herself with grace, she came as a whiff of fresh air, even though Dimple Kapadia had set hearts aflutter with her show in the iconic Bobby two years ago. Compared to Bobby, Julie was far more timid, imploring her alcoholic father to mend his ways but strangely succumbing to the desires of her friend’s brother (Vikram), much to the chagrin of Richard (Jalal Agha), who aspires to marry her.

Julie was a hackneyed portrayal of an Anglo-Indian family, living in India, dreaming of returning to its home in UK, speaking a smattering of Hindi. ‘ Hamara vaasta, tumhara vaasta, hey man, kya karta man’ emphasising their discomfort with the language.

Typically, the daughters wearing skirts and shorts, with a guitar-playing son (similar to Ranjit Chowdhry from ‘Baton Baton Mein’, father drowning himself in alcoholic sessions, joined by his wife (Nadira) too, their endless bitter fights that leave the children distraught. Not the kind of Anglo-Indian families one would come across. Not all Anglo-Indian families celebrate every little event with a drinking binge or talk of flying to England at the smallest pretext. Not all Anglo boys play guitar. They play football and rugby too.

Julie rode on the excellent performance by Lakshmi. She falls in love with her friend’s (Rita Bhaduri) brother and ends up an unwed mother. The issue of inter-caste marriage crops up even as Julie is forced to deliver the child and give it away in adoption to escape the social stigma attached to unwed motherhood. It was a bold subject, but director K. S. Sethumadhavan dealt with it in a deft manner, his narrative making many statements on the issue. The cameos by Bhaduri and Utpal Dutt added to the rich fare that Lakhmi and Nadira brought with their delightful acting prowess.

Other than Lakshmi, the star of the movie turned out to be Rajesh Roshan, a composer not in the league of his father, Roshan, but a man who created a niche following with his brilliant contribution that grew on his fans with time. From Kishore Kumar’s ‘Dil Kya Kare Jab Kisi Se’ and ‘Bhool Gaya Sab Kuch’, the composer creates melody with the Preeti Sagar number, and, of course, the melodious Lata Mangeshkar offering ‘Yeh Raatein Nayi Purani’. A lovely bhajan, ‘Saancha Naam Tera’ by Asha Bhosle and Usha Mangeshkar, brings out the classical touch of Rajesh Roshan’s range.

His music complemented Lakshmi’s brilliant portrayal of Julie, a ravishing college student. A 12-year-old Sridevi is not to be missed either. It was her first film in Hindi.

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Printable version | Oct 15, 2021 11:10:27 AM |

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