Blast from the past Friday Review

Imtihaan (1974)

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24dfr imtihaan2   | Photo Credit: 24dfr imtihaan2


Surprisingly, in the glorious annals of Hindi cinema there are only a handful of films based on stories structured exclusively around life on college campus. Even fewer are those which portray diverse shades of student life sensitively or the delicate relationship between the teacher and the taught with a semblance of realism. “Imtihaan” is one such film which went on to be a success at the box-office, despite competition from blockbusters like “Roti Kapda Aur Makaan”, “Roti”, “Prem Nagar” and “Majboor”.

The seventies witnessed the troika of Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand past their prime and the emergence of superstar Rajesh Khanna with Amitabh Bachchan, portraying the angry young man challenging him. In this scenario, a devastatingly handsome young actor, with a chiselled jaw line, stepped in. He was Vinod Khanna. He was a strong contender to move into the frontline of actors. The going was not easy, considering that he had earned his spurs as a villain in sundry films. It was a slow climb. Khanna clawed his way into solo lead roles using off beat films like “Achanak” and “Imtihaan” as a stepping stone, before becoming an integral part of the mainstream bandwagon, a position he retained for the next couple of years before he quit.

In “Imtihaan”, his acting prowess is amply displayed as he dons the role of a serious, bespectacled lecturer, Pramod Sharma, who takes a teaching assignment in Adarsh Mahavidyalya, which is beset with issues of student indiscipline. Belonging to a well to do family, he is drawn towards teaching as a passion and satiate his idealistic moorings. In the college he faces an uphill task coming face to face with Rakesh (Ranjeet), who is an errant student always on the wrong side of law.

Meanwhile, he comes in contact with Madhu (Tanuja) daughter of the college principal, HP Shastri (Abhi Bhattacharya who fits the role perfectly). Suffering physical impairment due to an accident she is emotional disturbed due to the death of her love interest in a plane crash. Pramod infuses will to live in her with the two falling in love.

Rita (Bindu) who is the college chairman’s daughter and a student of the college is unable to come to terms with their relationship as she is infatuated with Pramod. When her efforts to woo him bear no result, she decides to malign him charging of sexual harassment, abetted by Rakesh. The false allegation and the trap fail to rattle Pramod, who is determined to prove his innocence. The denouement is interesting, although a bit predictable.

Madan Sinha displays considerable acumen as a director showing remarkable control over the script, which he handles with sagacity and élan. He elicits noteworthy performances from the cast, including Bindu, who won the Filmfare nomination for Best Supporting Actress. He is equally competent in technical details, as the camera is handled with finesse. The effort is all the more commendable as this was Sinha’s debut film as a director (he went on to direct only one more film, a decade later). Other actors in the cast, including Ranjeet give decent performances.

Tanuja and Vinod Khanna, complement each other in terms of screen presence and acting prowess. They are suitably restrained in their respective roles, as required by the script. However, one cannot but rue that Tanuja, despite being a natural actress and blessed with talent could never achieve the top slot, despite giving commendable performances in films like “Jewel Thief”, “Haathi Mere Saathi” and “Anubhav”.

Another highlight of the film is its strong musical score, composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal to lyrics penned by the redoubtable Majrooh Sultanpuri. Title track of the film, sung passionately by none other than Kishore Kumar, “Ruk jana nahin, tuh kahin haar ke” retains its chartbuster status till date. Equally riveting is the Lata Mangeshkar number, “Roz sham aati thi, magar aisi na thee”.

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Printable version | Nov 21, 2019 12:53:48 AM |

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