Friday, October 3, 2008

Movie Review: Manpasand (Favourite) (1980) (Hindi movie)

This is the Hindi film industry’s adaptation of the English film ‘My Fair Lady’, itself based on a book by George Bernard Shaw.

In which Dev Anand (the never-aging (and I am being sarcastic over here) actor) plays a middle-aged bachelor who is a master musician, exactly what kind of, we will never know. He tinkers with very strange machines (which he has developed and sells in between to Yamaha) that measure how ‘surila’ a person is. He also presumably teaches music to aspiring singers. Coming back to his machine, it occupies the length of a wall and is topped by light bulbs: white ones light up when a person is singing in tune and the coloured ones when he/she is not. At this point you can switch off the movie and you wouldn’t be missing much.

The story: DA bets with his friend, Girish Karnad (himself a middle-aged bachelor) that he will teach a music-deaf person to be a good singer and GK should then proceed to marry that person. That music-deaf person is Tina Munim, a seller of datoons (twigs of the neem tree used as toothbrush-cum-toothpaste) in trains. DA turns TM (the one with the glittering smile) into a good singer and the twist in the tale is that TM falls in love with DA and vice-versa (although DA himself doesn’t know it until its pointed out by GK). Both the odd characters come together in the end, but not before they have a big misunderstanding. TM thinks DA has used her to win a bet, DA thinks the girl is ungracious in not accepting that its because of him that her life changed.
This is a film with low production values and some not-so-competent character actors. In fact even the main actors are so-so.

DA and GK are 2 big weak points in this film. The Dev Anand school of acting probably involves using the same set of 50 standard expressions in rotation irrespective of the situation. And banking upon a strong screen presence and complete confidence (misplaced or otherwise) in front of the camera. His is the self-absorbed method of acting. Self-absorbed in narcissism, I mean. GK is equally self-conscious but uncomfortable throughout the movie. The less said about his acting; the better.

TM occurs here in one of her earlier films. She is just about adequate and spunky (that’s become one of my favourite words nowadays). Tina Munim in the first part of the movie is the rather good-looking well made-up slumdweller girl who sells ‘datoon’ in the trains and utters cuss-words in every other sentence. In the second part she is turned into a lady and a singer.

Who could have predicted that Tina Munim would eventually marry Anil Ambani (the scion of one of India’s topmost business magnates) who was not long ago hailed as the world’s 6th richest person. And who is now going into partnership with Steven Spielberg to produce Hollywood movies. And possibly buy an English football club in the bargain. And whose brother (rated the 5th richest man in the world not long ago) has only last year gifted his wife with a jet airplane and who has recently built the world’s costliest residence (a 60-storey building in Mumbai worth $1 billion). How times change!!!

But before you see me salivating and drooling unabashedly, let’s turn back to the movie.

The story is odd and sounds slightly ugly to me. TM essentially falls in love with a father-figure. Their love is difficult to comprehend. One wants to be submissive, the other wants to dominate and then there’s the age difference to think-of. Is Kamli (TM) trying to find the father that she never had? Mercifully, the 2 of them are not shown in any physically-close sort of shot.

Which brings me to Mehmood, who plays TM’s father in the film. Mehmood, the rascally father of TM who is even willing to sell his daughter to the highest bidder (in marriage), for a change displays subtle humour. He also adopts a very different style of dialogue delivery (different from the one we are familiar with…..and expect from Mehmood) which is comic as well as a piece of accomplished acting. He also pitches in with a reasonably well-sung song; sung by himself that is.
It’s Mehmood and Leela Mishra who delight in the film. Leela Mishra as the caretaker at DA’s residence is her usual self. Lovable and wise.

As for the songs, 2 are well hummable
* Bas Meetha Meetha Bolo – sung in a crowded train compartment
* Suman Sudha Rajnigandha – but why does Lata say Rajniganda instead of Rajnigandha? Mmm….needs to be investigated.


Dedicated to G.B.Shaw
Dev Anand
Tina Munim
Girish Karnad
Simple Kapadia (Sp.App)
Leela Mishra

Playback: Lata, Kishore, Rafi, Mehmood, Tina Munim
Choreography: Vijay-Oscar
Cinematography: K.K.Mahajan
Dialogue: Basu Chatterjee
Lyrics: Amit Khanna
Music: Rajesh Roshan
Produced by Amit Khanna
Screenplay and Direction: Basu Chatterjee


bollyviewer said...

Mehmood was subtle in comedy?!! This I need to see or rather re-watch. I saw this one years ago and do not remember all the details anymore but Girish Karnad always struck me as a very good actor.

Nirvana said...

It is subtle by Mehmood's standards, but i do concede that maybe i was a bit generous in my praise. Still, he has toned down a bit for this role.

As for Girish Karnad very recently i saw another movie starring him: Nishant and now Manpasand. In both he was okay, but nothing to rave about