Its not so very often that you struggle to find some takeaways from a film. Gehri Chaal is one such struggle. It’s the nightmare of an interior/fashion designer brought on screen via South Indian film aesthetics of that period.
The intial scenes start with an impending bank audit and a worried chairman (or director or whatever…..). Zoom-out and zoom-in to an all-girls badminton court where all but 1 (Hema Malini) are dressed in lascivious shorts or some such body hugging outfit. Our Lady of Chennai is in a more demure set of skirts, well just one; to be precise. The court-setting is just an excuse for the thunder-thighs to break off into a song. And its at this point that the credits roll-in. No surprise here to discover that this is a South Indian production in Hindi. What follows is what passed-off as dance in those days. Inspired in part by the gestures of Indian hermaphrodites, Elvis-the-pelvis and a demented set of females giving full expression to their orgiastic side. Hema is the only saving grace in all of this.
Hema returns home to discover her father (the bank chairman or director or whatever) dead in a pool of tablets; an extra precaution to let the more idiotic viewers know the exact cause of the death. She disturbs brother AB in the middle of a pop performance watched with the seriousness of an attendee at a western classical concert. A shocked AB almost suffers a pseudo heart attack somewhere in the region of his upper abdomen, where his jacket pocket is; where he has just stuffed his father’s suicide letter. A couple of pills later and voila, it’s a matter of seconds before he is back to normal. Thanks, Merck .
To cut a long story short……real short: The father has purportedly robbed the bank of 20 lakhs and mentioned this in the suicide letter which AB wisely hides from the police. AB also a Director of Administration at the bank in collusion with the villain arranges for a bank robbery which involves burning of some important documents to prevent discovery of the fraud. AB’s friend Jeetendra, the CID inspector arrives to investigate the bank robbery and romance Hema in his free time. As for the rest of the story….fuck it.
Watch the songs featuring Jeetendra and you will know why he was also known as the Jumping Jack.
To come to the one alarming characteristic of this film is the drug-induced colour haze in which this film seems to have been made. Check out the outfits. I would have hated to have lived in this era of ill-coordinated color combinations. Oh, I forgot… I did. Anyway, amnesia seems to have gripped me. So to make it more bearable and academic, I started making a list. Here’s what I saw
* Pink walls and a book rack with green hardbound books next to an impassive Buddha statue and a blue dancing horse above
* Pink sofas next to red carpets and whats with these green hardbound books. They make an appearance here too
* A red worktable for a bank’s administrative director (that’s AB) with matching red chairs and vertical patches of pale yellow tiling on the wall. In this kaleidoscope of colours walks a biped wearing an orangish suit with a red tie
* The pink sofas from ABs office make an appearance at his home too. Curioser and curioser. The reuse percentage seems to have been set by Infosys
* Pink walls and pink flooring at the local cabaret. And pink banisters with odd bits of triangles stuck to the ceiling (also pink)
* The villains secret room with pale green walls, purple elevator doors with green borders and those odd bits of triangles make an appearance here too, on the walls though
* A villain who caresses an obviously stuffed toy dog of curious red hair shade sitting in front of panels more at home in an atomic research station, flanked by molls dressed in white and green miniskirt outfits
* Green curtains to the backdrop of green walls with Hema dressed in a full-sleeve green top
* Bad guys in dark black raincoaty-looking plasticky material (indoors!!!!) or alternatively in dark blazers over red turtleneck shirts with black fedora hats
* Green sofas, floral shirts
I just stopped………after some time
Other gems of this movie include a purely asinine chase where imposter police kidnap Jeetendra in a jeep and drive down an empty runway and attempt to drive their jeep over ramps into a moving truck. WTF. Whats the purpose? Who cares. The director had a checklist of action sequences he had to incorporate in the movie. His job is done. Then there is the Jeetendra attempt to foist himself in romance on Hema. Silly in thought and execution. And the public exchanges of confidential suitcases by a suit-clad Jeetendra with a Pathan in traditional wear. And a gangmember who wears a locket with the photo of his gang leader inside. Duh!!
As if that’s not enough, all the songs are singularly uninspiring.
Hema Malini is perhaps the sole item of grace in an otherwise bankrupt movie. She is grace personified. She emerges unscathed in every scene (well…almost), in every shot however inane the director’s imagination have taken him towards. Not a misstep from her, not a furried brow, she just doesn’t break into a sweat. Given her any kind of absurdity and she romps through. And AB does provide some sincere acting but there is a limit to what he can carry on his shoulders
The compromises one has to do for furthering ones career
Amitabh Bachchan (the 3rd name in the credits….hmm. food for thought)
Dialogue and Lyrics: Rajinder Krishen
Plackback: Lata, Asha and Kishor
Story, Scenario and Direction: Sridhar
Oh! and by the way......the name of the bank is Olympic Bank
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