Saturday, June 21, 2008

Immaan Dharam (1977)



Bollywood movies from the 70's represent some of the most fun you can have legally. The costumes & songs are over-the-top inspired madness but what makes these movies truly stand out are the plots. Any multi-starrer from that decade usually has an ample dose of plot-twists galore, coincidences that border on insanity and ask you to put logic to rest for those three hours and 'Immaan Dharam' is no exception. This movie is not as well known as some of the other movies released around the same time and was a huge box office disappointment. Thus, I wasn't expecting too much when I popped it in but thought at the very least I get to see three of my favorite actors (Amitabh, Shashi & Sanjeev Kumar). However I realized I was in for a treat when I saw that the script/screenplay were by the immortal team of Salim/Javed. Our friend Beth over at Beth Loves Bollywood also recently saw this movie, check out her thoughts here.

And what a treat it was - with Amitabh donning the rare mustache to play Ahmed Raza & Shashi playing his best friend, Mohan Saxena. The movie starts out like a normal 70's Bollywood potboiler (as if there were such a thing!) but soon veers into some pretty heady territory about faith/immaan, morality and duty/dharam. This movie was such fun visually that I am going to stray from my normal blog post and give you a brief plot synopsis - sans spoilers and avec some great screen shots. The song for today is Hum Jhoot Bolte Hain by Kishore Kumar & Mohammed Rafi.

The movie opens up with our two heroes hanging out outside the courthouse hustling for cases in which they can provide false witness testimony...





Sanjeev Kumar (a fellow Guju) enters the proceedings as Kabir Das, the sole son of a wealthy businessman. Kabir lives by his own moral code that is inspired by the teachings of India's three major religions - Hinduism, Islam & Christianity. His father does not understand his son's rather bizarre belief system as daddy dearest has only one murti in his life - the almighty rupee...



Amrish Puri is then introduced as the ironically named Dharam Dayal - the dad's unscrupulous business partner. Here he bears an uncanny resemblance to Sher Khan from Disney's 'The Jungle Book'...



We now get to meet our heroine Rekha, starring as Durga. She plays a Tamil construction worker who turns out to be Shashi's love interest. Now for the uninformed, Rekha actually is from South India but in real life is quite light skinned. The producers gave her some kind of freaky fake tan that only serves to turn her skin orange. And we still haven't figured out whether it was a plot point (to make her dark just because she is southside) or because she toils tirelessly in the sun all day...



Rekha then cooks an amazing South Indian meal for her sweet Shashi and starts daydreaming about how nice he would look as a typical South Indian beau :)



They end up doing an obligatory Bollywood song & dance number in the rain and afterwards poor Shashi nearly comes down with pneumonia. Amitabh then scolds him about it, um, I think...



Shashi then goes to beat up a goonda that just tried to rape his & Amitabh's blind sister who is not actually related to them (really really long story). But since he is sick with pneumonia he is the one who gets beaten. Amitabh steps in to save his best bud and explains that he wasn't there initially because he had gone to get the doctor for Shashi but now...



Finally we meet Helen (yes Helen!) who is introduced into this already wayyyy complicated story as Jenny Francis. Jenny is a tortured soul whose only wish in life is to provide her young daughter with the father that she never met & hires Amitabh to play the part...



What happens next? Well dear readers, I can't tell you that but rest assured that the lives of all interested parties get very intermingled and our heroes eventually learn that no bad deed goes unpunished. That in the end, one's Dharam & Immaan play a bigger part in your life than you ever imagined and if you follow your heart - then maybe, just maybe, everyone will live happily ever after.

P.S. The PPCC did a great write up on this movie as well and I quote from their blog for two of my favorite scenes which occur after some serious soul searching by our two heroes:

Nonetheless, there are gorgeous moments when, after Sanjeev has properly converted Ahmed and Mohan back to their respective religions of Islam and Hinduism, the two of them have moments wherein they are given the holy book not of their own religion and then they both respect and revere it as their own. We at the PPCC die for these types of scenes. It's just so touching. It's like Om's necklace in Om Shanti Om.

In Amitabh's scene, Ahmed the Muslim is asked by his blind Hindu friend, Shyamlee, to read from the Gita. He pauses before pulling the book from the shelf and then uses a handkerchief to cover his head. "In my religion," he says, "we are taught to cover our heads when touching holy books."

In Shashi's scene, Mohan the Hindu watches his Muslim friend die horribly in the street, baking in the hot sun on the pavement. The friend begs him to take the Qur'an, his only possession, from his home. Mohan does so, pausing to mourn his friend's passing, and then hugging the holy book to his chest as he walks home in the pouring rain.


The video for today's song below...


7 comments:

a ppcc representative said...

Ahh, one of my masala faves. This movie is like comfort food for my soul. Proletarian, pluralist, with Amitabh and Shashi both playing against type (Muslim Amitabh! Poor Shashi!) and looking smoking hot. Someone really needs to put Koncam Koncam up on YouTube.

Thanks for the plug, Doc!

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

I like that Helen got a substantial part to play here- brilliant. Not convinced about Rekha's portrayal though- and the bald Shashi kind of scared me out!

Sanket Vyas said...

Shweta - other than b/w movies & 'Khammoshi - The Musical' - this movie is one of Helen's most substantial parts indeed. She starts out doing the typical cabaret-dancer-alcholic routine (why must all female alcoholics in Bollywood be Christians?) but gets to do more once her daughter is brought into the mix. Rekha's performance is sweet but a little raw - you can tell she was feeling her way around Hindi cinema early on. Bald Shashi - initially freaky but his actions eventually made it much less creepy, cute even, like an full sized Oompaloomp.

PPCC - Comfort food, brilliant! Considering I went through a serious phase in my youth wanting to see every movie these 2 did together I am shocked I missed this one. Did like the Koncam song and you are very welcome on the plug :)

bollywoodfoodclub said...

This looks wonderful! Thanks for the write up & excellent screen captures. I look forward to seeing this!

All the best,
Sita-ji

Sanket Vyas said...

Sitaji - It was a bit of wonderful sprinkled into an otherwise drab day. Stumbling across this film was akin to 'finding' money in your clothes before washing them :)

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