Flashback to 1975, a 12 year old boy and his 8 year old sister waiting patiently at a Ramlila ground in the outskirts of Bhopal for a “sadak chhap” ( street free-bee) movie to begin. The movie- “MERE-APNE”, starring Meena Kumari, Vinod Khanna, Shotgun Sinha and the regulars during early 70’s. When I say regular, all movies had Asrani, Paintal, Danny Denzongpa, AK Hangal and the likes in almost all movies. OK…so the movie begins at about 7.30pm give or take 15 minutes depending upon the scope of technical difficulties, sound testing etc. 20 to 30 minutes into the movie, we run home…….why? we have a 8.00pm or 8.30pm curfew…strictly enforced by Dad. Repeat the same scene about 10 to 15 times. Yes, ladies and gentlemen me and my dear sister watched the first 15-30 minutes of Mere-Apne umpteen times in the mid 70’s. Fast forward to 2007, I am sitting in the comfort of my family room with Sony surround sound and voila…I watched the whole movie after 30+ years with tears running down my eyes, thinking about my sister. She is in Baroda and did not think too much of it:-)
This movie narrates a story of unemployment, vigilante justice, failure of idealism, moralities and nonviolence, wily politicians, manipulative family members, corruption, Youth frustration, anger and discontent.
Mind you, India was a young democracy then, A young director, Gulzarji, who identifies with what was prevalent, captures the essence of unrest in the nation. he brings out the best in Shatrughan Sinha ( in my opinion, this movie belongs to him), Vinod Khanna and Meena Kumari. Danny, Mehmood and the rest of the crew did their part to perfection. No melodrama, no histrionics.
Although the theme appears to be the plight of Meena Kumari as an old timer being manipulated by young relatives to take care of their home and child and enmity and hatred between two rival street gangs, one has to look beyond that to understand how the director is subtly mocking the society and urging the common man to wake up and smell the coffee.
I really urge you to see this movie if you haven’t, it could be a wake up call or gentle refresher. Music is gentle and catchy. Shatru will keep you on the edge, Vinod Khanna will give you your money’s worth and Meena Kumari will steal your heart with her performance, Danny will leave you teary eyed.
Soak in and Enjoy.
*Originally posted at passionforcinema.com/cletterman*