Arzoo (1965)

Rajendra Kumar, and Sadhanain a scene from 'Arzoo.'

Rajendra Kumar, and Sadhanain a scene from 'Arzoo.'

“Arzoo” is about Sadhana and Sadhana alone. But then it is also about Hasrat Jaipuri and Shankar-Jaikishen; about romance and enchanting locales in Kashmir; about a love story that was not a classic but alluring enough to influence a generation. It was a film that had everything that takes to make a mark at the box office but it was Sadhana who shone the brightest.

The ravishing Usha (Sadhana) is the ‘love' in the lives of Gopal (a sedate Rajendra Kumar) and Ramesh (a debonair Feroz Khan). Gopal loves Usha, meets with an accident and fades into oblivion. It is actually a sacrifice by Gopal to enable Usha marry Ramesh, who also happens to be his best friend. Usha has all along believed Gopal is dead but learns in time that he is not. Well, the climax, after some gripping twists in the tale, is best left to the viewer to discover. Sadhana was 24 years of age when “Arzoo” was completed. She had had five years experience in the film industry and was a mere 10-odd film old. But then her list of preceding films included “Parakh”, “Hum Dono”, “Asli Naqli”, “Woh Kaun Thi” and “Mere Mehboob”. She was an accomplished star by the time “Arzoo” graced the theatres and is well reflected in her handling of the romantic songs and serious situations. She was, to put it briefly, flawless.

Amid scenic beauty

Kashmir, astoundingly beautiful, forms the backdrop of the romance between Usha and Gopal. It is here that Sadhana makes her sterling contribution by slipping into the role with amazing ease. Her presence, with some captivating close-up shots in all her songs, lends value to the work of the lyricist and the composer even as Lata Mangeshkar produces the magic that makes her the legend that she is.

You would love to watch Sadhana sing “Bedardi Baalma Tujh Ko Mera Man Yaad Karta Hai” again and again. The melody is enhanced by the subtle use of saxophone by the duo of Shankar-Jaikishen, who are at their best in “Aji Rooth Kar Ab Kahaan Jaaiega”, sung sensationally by Lata and Mohammad Rafi. In Rafi's version, Rajendra Kumar woos Sadhana with “Aji Hum Se Bach Kar Kahaan Jaaiega” in a shikara.

For a pleasant change, Rajendra Kumar fits the role of Gopal and acts his part well too. Incidentally, he was also called Gopal in the super hit “Sangam”, released in 1963. This was one of his best performances after “Mother India”, “Goonj Uthi Shehnai”, “Dhool Ka Phool” and “Mere Mehboob”. The star, fondly known as ‘Jubilee Kumar' for the number of hits he gave, was a favourite of filmmakers in the 60s for this very reason and “Arzoo” confirms his acting skills. With Rafi as his background voice, Rajendra Kumar gets to sing one great number after another. He earned a Filmfare nomination but the award eluded him. It went to Sunil Dutt for “Khandaan”.

“Aye Nargis-e-Mastana” and “Aye Phoolon Ki Rani” are gems that Rafi produced with effortless ease, not to forget “Chhalke Teri Aankhon Se” as the camera captures Sadhana in some unforgettable close-up expressions. Romantic singing has rarely been so good with Rafi giving it his best. There is a superb qawwali “Jab Ishq Kahin Ho Jaata Hai” sung by Mubarak Begum and Asha Bhonsle, to complete the melodious journey. Music is the strongest point of “Arzoo”, after Sadhana, of course. The story by Ramanand Sagar is simple and the acting of all matches the script with Sadhana towering over the rest and the petite Sarla (played by Nazima) winning your heart in a cameo as Gopal's sister. Memorable lyrics and music add to the lustre of “Arzoo” but unfortunately the film did not reap the awards it ought to have.

“Arzoo” means longing for what you love and this film is one ‘arzoo' that meets your desire and you want to cherish for eternity – a combination of compelling music and song-writing, the right ingredient for a good movie. “Arzoo” is surely one.

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Printable version | May 18, 2022 9:12:37 am |