Saw Kashmir Ki Kali (1964) a couple of weekends ago, and finally getting to reviewing it. Starring Shammi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Pran, Nasir Hussain, Anoop Kumar, Tun Tun, and others, and with music by O. P. Naiyyar.
This was the first Shammi Kapoor film I saw, and the first with Sharmila Tagore in the lead role. It is one of the very very few films I have seen without fast forwarding a frame, and for that alone, I absolutely loved it! Here are some highlights:
1. The way the film started out was very entertaining. Rajiv Lal (Shammi Kapoor) was a wealthy industrialist, and his mother insisted that he get married. To her, the selection process was as simple as this:
Rajiv's arrival to the scene was refreshing. With such effectiveness, and without saying much at all, he managed to get his way. And he even provided ammunition to singles whose insistent parents try to have things their way:
2. The scene with the pehli mulaaqaat (first meeting) between Rajiv and Champa (Sharmila Tagore) was beautiful. For some reason, I thought Tabu would be perfect here if there ever were a modern-day equivalent of the scene:
Champa's introduction was a thing of beauty. She was stunning and graceful.
3. Champa's saheliyaan (friends) seemed like such a fun bunch. I kept waiting for one of them to do her some injustice (if only out of sheer jealousy), but they stuck together and were as loyal as one could expect. Well done. They played an important role in this scene...
...which officially kicked off the courtship.
4. The pieces at Rajiv's mansion in Kashmir were very well done. They were slightly more melodramatic at times, but that was excusable because most of the segments were funny and entertaining. The four women did well.
So did Rajiv and his friend Chander (played by Anoop Kumar). The latter was excellent throughout, especially in this sequence that was a perfect build-up to an extraordinary song (more on the music below). Remember discussing truck art while reviewing Tashan (point 5). How cool is the color in the Mercedes logo in this? :)
4. Nasir Hussain played Champa's father. He was poor and blind, but a loving father who was concerned for his daughter's future (and his own -- call it selfish altruism if you may).
(Aside: I confused this Mr. Hussain with Aamir Khan's uncle who had the same name, would you believe it! That Nasir Hussain and Shammi Kapoor shared a strong bond, as Mr. Kapoor noted recently (see video in this post).)
5. How could one not love the Kashmir ki kali (both the literal and figurative)?
6. After waiting for a bit before things went wrong, Mohan (Pran) came to life. He was bound to, the blackmailer...
...and the storyline demanded more attention. The inflection point in the romance shared by Rajiv and Champa came when Rajiv's identity was revealed to her. He had deliberately hidden it, for fear of her be-rukhi (i.e. keeping her distance from him), but this eventually caught up to him. There even came a time when she refused to communicate with him.
6. And then there was a stretch during which the good old sentimentalists took over.
Most of it was well done and invoked sympathy for the characters, but this also led to the weakest portion of the film. The climax could have been much better, and the dishoom-dishoom between Rajiv and Mohan could have been condensed. Having said that, holding these last 20 minutes or so against the rest of the film would be an injustice.
7. The soundtrack to the film was extremely impressive. The songs were excellent and well placed. Mohammad Rafi took command, and commanded respect, much like the entire music crew did. The first song -- Kahin Na Kahin (watch it here) -- is yet another car song that I cannot stop listening to.
My favorite song from the film, Yeh Chaand Sa Raushan Chehra (here is a post dedicated to the song and its lyrics), showcases Champa's friends in remarkable fashion:
Ishaaron Ishaaron Mein (watch it here) is beautifully sung. Rajiv's attire in the song reminds me of Bhuvan from Radha Kaise Na Jale in Lagaan (2001).
Deewana Hua Baadal (watch it here) is a fantastic love song. Yeh dekh ke dil jhooma, li pyaar ne angdaayi. The word angdaayi was also used in Yeh Chaand Sa Raushan Chehra, and given the context in which the two instances were used, I am convinced that the soundtrack and its flow was nothing short of a work of genius. Splendid, splendid, splendid.
This song -- SubhanAllah Haye (watch it here) -- was only cool because Rajiv and his friend managed to fool Mohan. Khuda mehfooz rakhe har balaa se, har baala se...good stuff!
Hai Duniya Usi Ki is yet another fantastic song. Besides incorporating elements of jazz, it showcased (albeit in the background) the lovable Air India mascot, the Maharaja! I used to have one of these in my room as a child, and I never realized how old he was!
8. Overall, Kashmi Ki Kali is surely one of Bollywood's finest products. It showcased the bold...
...and the beautiful:
I am looking forward to checking out some of Sharmila Tagore's works. She was ravishing and perfect for the role of Champa.
(Aside: A lake, a yellow dress, and a boat reminded me of my favorite such instance from Maine Pyaar Kiya (1989) in the song Dil Deewana. Although that boat was hardly a shikaara.)
9. There is hardly a dull moment in the film, and both Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore are fantastic and expressive as ever.
Given this, I am going with four stars and then some for an excellent film that must be a torchbearer for everything that was good in Hindi cinema of yesteryear. If you have not seen it, you must!
Movie rating: 4.25/5 (Excellent!)
Music rating: 4.75/5 (Excellent!)
My classification: G (Very clean)
On a personal note:
I was exposed to Kashmir Ki Kali's music at a very young age, for my father used to play it frequently. It was one of the few soundtracks from older films I liked even before my teens. Somehow, I managed to not see its source through the years. Memsaab's review at this link finally pushed me to order it, and am I glad I did or what! This one's a keeper!
I know there cannot be another Kashmir Ki Kali, but I so want a remake of this starring Aamir Khan opposite Vidya Balan (who I think would do better than Soha Ali Khan)! And maybe Shammi Kapoor could play Nasir Hussain's role this time?!