Blast from the Past Columns

Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973)

Shashi Kapoor’s versatility as an actor and his contribution to filmmaking was recognised recently. The Dada Saheb Phalke award bestowed on him was an honour that sat well on this veteran and much under-rated actor.

The list of hits he starred in is long and what stood out was his ability to carve out his presence in the company of some who enjoyed the backing of the script or the director. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Kapoor shone with his distinct style. Deewaar may have been written for Amitabh Bachchan, but it was Shashi Kapoor who matched the towering protagonist of that trendsetter with a performance that is talked of in glowing terms even today. ‘ Mere Paas maa hai’ is etched for its impact on the audience as much for the stunningly restrained manner in which Kapoor uttered those words.

Kapoor was an ever-romantic. A flirt, a playboy, a compulsive Romeo. His image was built around his ability to woo his leading ladies in a style that remained unique. The swagger was a vogue, head slightly tilted, arms swinging and beckoning the heroine, one romantic song after another penned to fit his persona of a carefree young man out to win the world. He slipped into his roles with a natural flair — an adoring lover, a doting brother, a caring son. He could play any character with finesse. Remember Munna, the youngest of the family in Waqt, an all-time classic? He came out a winner even when the field was packed with stalwarts such as Balraj Sahni, Raaj Kumar, Rehman and Sunil Dutt.

Eight years after Waqt swept the audience off its feet, he figured in a movie that appealed to the masses for its story and music. It was a love story that brought Shashi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore together in a hit. They had been paired for the first time in Waqt, she rich and he poor. In between they worked together in Aamne Samne, Suhana Safar and My Love, but it was Aa Gale Lag Jaa ( AGLJ) that worked for them.

Shashi Kapoor is Prem, an apt name for a dreamy lover, who can hardly keep a job. A skilful skater, he is hardly stable when he sees a pretty face, at times getting slapped in public. His first encounter with Preeti (Sharmila Tagore), a medical student on an educational tour, costs him his job. But his efforts win him her love. It seems so easy. Sing a song on a skating rink and find your girl. In this case, it is the Kishore-Lata number ‘Wada Karo Nahi Chodoge Tum Mera Saath’ that lights the spark and ‘Tera Mujhse Hai Pehle Ka Naata Koi’ that clinches the issue. Circumstances lead Prem and Preeti into blistering cold where he revives her with his body heat, a medical remedy he had come to discover from the “freezing cold vs. human body” lecturer of that group of students.

Preeti, now pregnant, is sent to a nursing home to deliver the child. The child is born but she is told it is stillborn. Crestfallen, Preeti returns to Bombay. The two are separated by a scheming Heerachand (Om Prakash), the wealthy father of Preeti. The father convinces Preeti that she has been shunned by her lover, who, in turn, believes it.

Time flies. Preeti is engaged to Dr. Amar (Shatrughan Sinha), whose sister Tikki (Roohi Berde) falls for Prem, who has come to earn his living as a skating teacher. The characters come together as the story assumes a complex nature. Prem lives to cure his polio-stricken son Rahul (Master Tito). Dr. Amar takes upon himself the responsibility. He not only gets Rahul to sprint but also operates Prem back to safety after the latter is stabbed following a brawl with some disgruntled students attempting to molest Tikki.

It was a story that was brought to life by Manmohan Desai. Logic did not find a place in Desai’s dictionary and he could create unimaginable situations, far removed from reality. He believed in providing non-stop entertainment and this movie had the ingredients to keep the fans engrossed.

Shashi Kapoor dominates the screen even as Shatrughan Sinha gives a stellar performance in days when he was looking to shed his image of a villain and seek roles as a hero. It was not the best of his movies, but Kapoor could count this as one of his biggest hits, thanks to a taut story and some delightful music by Rahul Dev Burman. The soulful Na Koi Dil Mein Samaya with Prem hugging Rahul is an emotional number that lingers much after the film is over. May not be a classic, but AGLJ is worth a revisit anytime.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 10:10:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-columns/aa-gale-lag-jaa-1973/article7336864.ece

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