Blast from the past Friday Review

Prem Shastra (1974)

Dev Anand Photo: Vino John

Dev Anand Photo: Vino John

Amarjeet showed a lot of promise with his debut production and directional venture “Teen Deviyan” in 1965. Almost a decade later he repeated the romantic saga of an author in “Prem Shastra”. This time physical love dominated the plot and did not yield the desired results. Besides the Dev Anand-Zeenat Aman combination was unable to set the silver screen on fire. An audience used to viewing the eternal romantic Dev Anand wooing Suraiya, Geetabali, Madhubala, Waheeda Rehman and Nanda could not accept the Dev Anand-Zeenat Aman pair.

Sagar Sharma (Dev Anand) is a popular author and a favourite of girls. During one of his trips to a location in search of a plot he autographs his novel for a much younger admirer Varsha lovingly called Barkha (Zeenat Aman). Sagar and Barkha develop an emotional bonding and fall in love. They develop intimacy. Later due to pressures in his life, Sagar requests Barkha to forget him.

Publisher Diwan (Asit Sen) informs Sagar that one of his best-sellers was receiving brickbats as it highlighted an affair between a father and a daughter. Many women activists were asking for a ban on the book. Undaunted, Sagar decides to defy them by moving to court, if required.

Sagar returns home and as usual comes across his drunkard spoilt wife Nilu (Bindu). Both stay under the same roof but have no bond. The story takes an unpredictable turn with Barkha visiting Nilu. Barkha is pregnant and Nilu introduces her as her sister. The family gynaecologist informs Sagar that Barkha is preparing for an abortion. Sagar visits Barkha and urges her not to opt for abortion.

More surprises come as it is unveiled that Nilu blackmailed Sagar to marry her. During a heated confrontation she says Barkha is Sagar’s elder brother’s (Abhi Bhattacharya) daughter. A desperate Sagar visits his elder brother to discover Nilu lied.

The climax develops with flashbacks of Nilu’s past when she was Miss India in 1951. Nilu had torrid affairs with three rich womanizers, Arona (Rehman), Malhotra (I.S. Johar) and Chowdhury. In fact Anthony D’Silva (David) the marriage registrar registered Arona’s marriage with Nilu.

Desperate to ruin Sagar and Barkha, Nilu even appoints a hardcore criminal (Anwar Hussain) to finish them if required. A gripping court room climax reveals the truth and Sagar is united with Barkha.

An offbeat and bold theme, “Prem Shastra” could have been a brilliant film. The amateurish script and direction by B.R. Ishara make it a forgettable film. The emotional quotient and Indian heart is missing in “Prem Shastra”. Cinematography by Fardoon Irani is commendable with use of soft colours to highlight certain sequences. He takes good close-ups of Dev Anand, Bindu and Zeenat Aman’s eyes.

Dev Anand, who looks aged, performs with his usual style. Histrionically he does not have much to contribute. Bindu shows some flashes of brilliance but appears too vampish. Zeenat Aman cannot perform. David, Rehman, Anwar Hussain and I.S. Johar are not utilized property. Anju Mahendra in a guest appearance does not impress.

Lyrics and music by Anand Bakshi and Laxmikant-Pyarelal are average. The songs “Mujhe Pyar Kar”, “Tip Tip, Tip” and “Dosto Mere Kissa” by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle are mediocre. The title score is memorable. “Prem Shastra”, if scripted and filmed sans the sexual angles would have surely hit the bull’s eye at the box office.

Genre: Social drama

Director: B.R. Ishara

Cast: Dev Anand, Zeenat Aman, Bindu, I.S. Johar, Abhi Bhattacharya, Anwar Hussain, Asit Sen, Rehman, Anju Mahendra

Written by: B.R. Ishara

Lyrics: Anand Bakshi

Music: Lamikant-Pyarelal

Box office status: Average


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Printable version | Jul 5, 2022 9:37:45 am | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/prem-shastra-1974/article8310028.ece