Blast from the past Friday Review

Mere Humsafar (1970)

Balraj Sahni who starred in "Mere Humsafar" directed by Dulal Guha.   | Photo Credit: HINDU PHOTO ARCHIVES

It was the mint fresh flavour of “Mere Humsafar”, directed by Dulal Guha (who also wrote the screenplay; dialogues were by BR Ishara) that contributed to its box office success, despite facing a stiff challenge from other blockbusters, including the steam-rolling Rajesh Khanna juggernaut, who gave mammoth hits like “Suchha Jhutha”, “Kati Patang” and “Aan Milo Sajana”. Guha had assembled an ‘A’ team for his film, to compose the lyrics and score music, besides eliciting fine performances from his lead actors, the effervescent Sharmila Tagore and the earnest Jeetendra.

Equally praiseworthy is the work of cinematographer M. Rajaram, who captured the pristine surroundings of Himachal Pradesh with classiness, making the backdrop a part of the storytelling experience and R. Tipnis, who wielded scissors with finesse to ensure that the film did not falter on the editing table.

The story, by Krishna Chandra, is unpretentious and starts from a village in the hills of Himachal Pradesh where Raju (Jeetendra) is enamoured by an ex-convict and village outcast, Ustad Anwar (Tiwari), from whom he takes training on how to wield the knife in combat. Unable to make ends meet and burdened by debt which his father had contracted, Raju decides to shift to Bombay where he plans to take up a job. His aim is to save money to purchase a pair of bulls to till his land and repay the debt.

For want of a better mode of transport he slips into the rear of a truck passing through his village, where, in the confined space he comes face to face with Tarna (Sharmila Tagore), another stowaway. As the truck winds its way to the plains, the inevitable happens, as Raju and Tarna are bitten by the love bug. The latter part of the journey to Bombay is completed in a goods train. However, in a twist of fate, the two get separated on reaching their destination and find themselves in entirely different surroundings.

Tarna lands a role in a film directed by Ashok Babu (Balraj Sahni, dapper and displaying utmost ease in portraying his role), to whom she is introduced by Mittal (veteran actor Jeevan in a rare positive character). Renamed Meenakshi for her film avatar, she is recognized by Raju, who finds himself in the midst of urban riff-raff through a poster of her film. He, thereon, makes several attempts to meet her and express his unyielding love, at the studio where she is shooting, at the launch of her film et al.

However, all his efforts are thwarted by Ashok Babu who wants Tarna to realize her potential as an actress. A misunderstanding brews as Tarna sees Raju in the company of another woman, Kusum (Laxmi Chhaya). After a series of hiccups the story reaches a dénouement with Ashok Babu relenting, and allowing Tarna to go with Raju, the love of her life. As a parting gift he presents them with a pair of bulls which are ferried to the hills in the same truck that had got them to the city.

The film has a formidable music track by Kalyanji-Anandji set to lyrics by the redoubtable Anand Bakshi. Particularly riveting is the title track sung by Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar, “Kisi Raah Mein Kisi Mod Par”. Other songs include “Mera Pardesi Na Aaya” sung by Lata Mangeshkar and “Mausam Hai Baharon Ka” sung by Mahendra Kapoor.

Jeetendra, despite his obvious shortcomings as an actor, shows just why he managed to have a long and certainly enviable stint at the box-office. He has a formidable screen presence that helps him cover the lack of histrionic ability with ease and aplomb, something which endeared him to the masses, if not the classes and gave him the opportunity to act with generations of actresses, from Rajshri to Sridevi.

Sharmila Tagore strikes a delicate balance between chutzpah and serene grace, although “Mere Humsafar” cannot be ranked along with her more nuanced and memorable roles, as in “Aradhana”, “Amar Prem” or “Mausam”. But her chemistry with Jeetendra worked for the film at the box office, which was amongst the most successful releases of 1970.

In the supporting cast Jagdeep makes a mark as the assistant of the truck driver.


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Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 9:52:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/blast-from-the-past-column-mere-humsafar/article6704559.ece

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