Monday, June 30, 2008

Movie Review: Mrs and Mrs 55 (1955) (Hindi film)

A 1955 (doesn’t take a particularly perceptive person to guess that) movie that stars the talented (but doomed) Guru Dutt. The melancholic talented Guru Dutt is mostly known for his sad movies. He committed suicide in his prime

Also starring is the woman acclaimed to be the most beautiful face in Hindi cinema: Madhubala. Some might add also Madhuri Dixit to the list. Well, certainly the latter is much more talented than the former and equally beautiful. But that’s a story for another day.

Madhubala stars (and starts) as the fresh, wet behind the ears lass dominated on the domestic front by a feminist aunt…..unusual for that age. A curious sub-clause in the recently opened will of her late father; compels her to look for a short-term marriage in order to inherit her rightful millions. Of course, that’s at her aunt’s prompting. Enter Guru Dutt as the penniless cartoonist (cartoonist, and not communist as he clarifies later in the movie) who agrees to be her temporary mate. The story proceeds on usual lines with the girl and boy walking into the sunset.

Where the movie scores is in its scores (music scores, that is). Each song is lighthearted, unique, highly hummable and remembered to this day.

Where the movie scores is in its scores (music scores, that is). Each song is lighthearted, unique, highly hummable and remembered to this day.

* Dil Par Hua Aisa Jadoo: the effect of love at first sight on GuruDutt

* Thandi Hawa Kali Ghata: the girl coming of age, frolicking with her friends

* Jaane kaha mera jigar gaya ji: a delightful song picturised on the comedian Johny Walker and his love interest (who is no mean charmer herself)

* Ab toh ji hone laga kisi ki surat ka

* Neele Asman mein

* Chal diye banda nawaz

* Udhar tum haseen ho idhar hum jawaan hai

* Meri duniya lut rahi thi aur main khamosh tha

A solid set of actors is what lends a strong backbone to this movie. While GuruDutt, Lalita Pawar, Johny Walker, even Tun Tun (or Uma Devi as she is known here) are competent where acting is concerned, Madhubala makes up for the shortage in that department by her endearing acting and high cuteness quotient. If that endearing smile and spontaneity wont attract you to Madhubala, I wonder what will.

Given the times and the era in which the movie was made, one will observe a lot of variations in the proficiency of acting. But the kind of lovable set of characters that one observes cannot be found in today’s Bollywood world of standardization (or McDonaldisation as I would prefer to call it).

I wonder if Sridevi has modeled her Hindi dialogue delivery on Madhubala: the staccato, childlike (and childish) falsetto voice.

And as far as the drawbacks are concerned:

In the print I watched, the chiaroscuro is jarring at times. More black then white. 

The music runs roughshod on the dialogues at times.

You get to watch Guru Dutt sing high pitched songs with admirable economy of lip movement. Indeed he appears to be like a ventriloquist with his dummy emitting suitable noises elsewhere.

Also in line with those times, one will find parts of this film overtly chauvinistic

Aside from that, its mildly delightful with the songs, a must watch.


Guru Dutt
Johny Walker
Lalita Pawar
Yasmin & KumKum
Uma Devi (TunTun)

Dialogues: Abrar Alvi
Lyrics: Majrooh
Music: O.P.Nayyar
Directed: Guru Dutt


bollyviewer said...

What, no mention of the interesting comedy? Or the romance? It was certainly a fun movie. I watched it years ago, so dont remember its technical flaws which anyway can be easily overcome by focusing on Madhubala (and Guru Dutt in an unusual comedic lead). :-D

The movie was actually a remake of an old Hollywood romantic comedy Come Live With Me, as I mention in my post on Hollywood's Hindi remakes.

Do you really think Sridevi channeled Madhubala? She did a very very poor job of imitating Madhubala's style and of course the latter's joie de vivre that comes through in all her movies.

Nirvana said...

Sorry, but the comedy or romance didnt appeal to me very much. It didnt seem to rise above the ordinary.

U are right, Madhubala has oodles of joie de vivre. Although i am no fan of Sridevi's, she too was incredibly popular in her time. But i dont think she consciously imitated Madhubala