Bandhan
India 1969
Directed by Narendra Bedi.


Rajesh Khanna -- the name is like a thunderclap in Bollywood cinema. He rose to superstardom in 1969, but had all but faded by 1972 -- a blink of an eye compared to the decades long reign of many other Bollywood stars. But Rajesh razed the ground behind him, sweeping poor Shammi Kapoor, among others, out of the limelight, and sowed the seeds for the rise of Amitabh Bachchan and others in a more "action" vein. So how come I've never seen any of his movies? Honestly, it's because none of them look very interesting. Poised between the goofy charm of Shammi and the angry young Amitabh, a good looking face can only get you so far.

BANDHAN is a film about the salt-of-the-earth villagers, people in desperate poverty, who have only their land and their crops for wealth. Naturally the moneylender is a feature villain, yet compared to other moneylenders, the one here is positively angelic, allowing himself to be swayed against best business practices towards compassion to the poor women of the village. But, he has a daughter, Gauri, a wild tom-boy who always gets into fights with the always righteous Dharma (Rajesh Khanna), who as a child even turned in his theiving, no-good father (Jeevan) for stealing. And when Dharma and Gauri fall in love and wish to get married, he goes through the roof. Not helping matters, Dharma's father continues to be the scum of the village, visiting the local brothel and even giving the necklace meant to be dowry for his daughter's wedding to a nautch girl (Aruna Irani, who gets a nice dance number for her troubles). By the end, it seems the two fathers will utterly destroy the two lovers rather than let them be together.

The teasing and sparring turned to love of the two main characters is both entertaining and endearing. The fathers are not played as complete villains, both are given chances for redemption. Dharma's mother (Achla Sachdev) is about the only character I have no use for, she plays the stereotypical Indian mother, without fault, defending her husband's honor because he is a God to her, even when evidence to the contrary daily appears. At last, she drives Dharma out for daring to get angry about his father's indolent ways, precipitating the climactic scenes of the film, which take place in a courtroom, filled with dramatic speeches and desperate looks. The great Sanjeev Kumar makes an appearance here as a helpful barrister, but his performance is unexceptional.

What I remember most from watching BANDHAN is not golden boy Rajesh Khanna, but rather the delightful and playful Mumtaz, wearing beautiful costumes and frolicing and dancing her way barefoot through river and field.

Rating: Marginally Recommended (Marginally Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on May 18, 2007.


Comments

A lovemark of humility – Super Star Rajesh Khanna
It is impossible not to acknowledge Super Star Rajesh Khanna as the colossus of Indian cinema. From his films we have been imparted the wisdom to know that "pain" is but an element of life. This Titan however, has surpassed himself in all portrayls by the faith he has inspired that "life "is stronger than the element. That life and love are capable to counterbalance all. Super Star Rajesh Khanna is endowed with the charismatic capability of profound giving. He is a Greatest Living Legend of Indian Cinema.

Posted by: V. Manohar at February 6, 2009 09:07 PM
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