Parampara (1992)

Its title means 'tradition', and it keeps with one of the most prominent and consistent traditions of Hindi cinema, which is also arguably a decades-old value-add for the masses. Directed by Yash Chopra, Writer Aditya Chopra's debut film, which also marks Saif Ali Khan's acting debut, sticks to the one of the most conventional family drama recipes. It succeeds to an extent less than is expected of a film with its stellar cast. Yet, the involvement of the cast and their performances are more than good enough to not be ignored, and what they make of the conventionalism is not at all bad for fans of the genre.

Thakur Bhavani Singh (Sunil Dutt) and his son Prithvi Singh (Vinod Khanna) share a tumultuous relationship over the father's upholding of tradition involving duels and subsequent killings. The other big issue between the two is that Prithvi has fallen in love with Tara Shankar (Ramya Krishna), sister to Gora Shankar (Anupam Kher), and member of the gypsy 'clan'. By the time Prithvi's father arranges a marriage for him with a woman of an equal 'class', he's married and fathered a child with Tara.

Yet, he must leave Tara and marry according to his father's wishes. That does not mean he is disrespectful to his new bride Rajeshwari (Ashwini Bhave). They eventually find love and have a child before Prithvi dies trying to, in his words, "end the tradition of hatred." Yet, as the father laments the loss of his son (here's a beautiful shot, think of the countless interpretations!), it is tradition that continues to matter most.

Fast forward a couple of decades and Prithvi Singh's sons are in college. Tara's son Ranvir (Aamir Khan) and Rajeshwari's son Pratap (Saif Ali Khan) meet in a beautifully executed race sequence.

They make some fun music and party hard.

All the while accompanied by Vijaya (Raveena Tandon -- paired opposite Aamir) and Sapna (Neelam).

Of course, Ranvir and Pratap eventually learn of their relationship, and their friendship changes to enmity. Each is groomed by his mentor, Pratap by his grandfather, the Thakur, and Ranvir by his uncle, Gora. Gora has the better argument and a message of peace, he just has much less leverage because of a relative lack of power, wealth, and accompanying status.

Tradition says the only way to resolve their dispute is with a duel between Prithvi Singh's two sons, in which one must die. And duel they must, despite rational thinkers (here, almost exclusively the women, it seems) pleading their case. Who will survive? What will come of it for the greater communities and clans they represent? And will the ladies stick by their men? Watch Parampara to discover. Its end might just be consistent with...well...tradition.

First things first. If you like duels, you must see this film. Just those involving Aamir and Saif offer good indication. A race involving a car and a horse. Then the formal one-on-one on three occasions, one each with foils, swords, and guns. Each is very well executed with the right intensity.

As much as I hate guns, I guess they can be used as an effective tool to foster love. How else could one explain this?

There is about a 20-minute segment half-way through the film in which comedy takes over. The film could certainly have benefited from more of it.

It's telling, because most of it involves Aamir and Raveena.

Surely, a precursor to their pairing in a classic comedy from a couple years later.

Aside: A well-deserved flashback (or flash forward, in the film chronology), from Andaz Apna Apna (1994)!

The music (Shiv-Hari) is about average, but the the picturizations and actors keep things interesting. Where there are gypsies, there will be a gypsy song, so there's Hum Banjaare by Lata Mangeshkar. Everyone who's rated Hum Pyaar Karne Lage on YouTube must like it more than I. And we know well that Aditya Chopra likes open fields :)

Neelam and Saif get Mere Saathiya, and Aadhi Raat Ko is my pick from the album. It's silly, I know, but it is used well, and stars Raveena in shalwar kameez! 8)

From a thematic standpoint, it is probably fair to think of Parampara as reinforcing the needlessness of the roles of tradition in family feuds, in some ways reminiscent of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988). However, what is a lot more different here is the depiction of the struggle to break out of what one inherently carries with blood lines. This is reflected by at least eight characters mentioned above, and although that might seem to be a lot, it's the very obvious masala nature of the film that makes its integration seamless.

I mentioned the cast, more than anything, making much out of little. The right amounts of emotion and intensity elevate this to a watchable film. This is evident from start to finish. Sunil Dutt, Vinod Khanna, Anupam Kher, and Ashwini Bhave (yes!) are the best actors in the film, which is not surprising given the year in which it was released. (There's a reason I haven't said much at all of Bhave.) Dutt is very effective in his work as the senseless father, father-in-law, grandfather, and community leader.

Woah, doesn't Sanjay Dutt look exactly like his dad?

Aside: He was also an excellent equestrian. Aamir has been quite vocal about his commitment to commitment being influenced by his working alongside Mr. Dutt in this film, who, it turns out, disappeared from the sets of Parampara for close to an hour on horseback, so he could tame the horse he'd be shooting an important scene with!

We talk of tradition in a civilized world that has made all sorts of progress in the last century, but this is probably going to go down as the most 'traditionally' relevant question in the history of mankind. (Speaking of which, you might find Salman Khan's latest blog post interesting -- especially the last two paragraphs.)

Neelam for public office!

Aamir, Raveena, Saif, and Neelam are present in a little less than half of the film. It would have been interesting had its format been closer to QSQT, with a short introduction to a greater theme, with more for these four. They're all in good form here. But then, we wouldn't have much of Khanna and Ramya, and it's not like there is a whole lot more integrated into the script that the youngsters would have to do. In other words, this could have been just as effective had it been shorter. Sadly, the one glaring letdown in the film is the script.

Having said that, if you're a fan of family drama, there is a chance it might work for you. If you're a fan of the cast, it's worth at least one viewing. And if you're a fan of both the genre and the cast, then you, like me, might consider it a fairly decent timepass flick. At the end of the day, it's not close to the best family dramas the actors have consistently delivered. Suffice it to say that a fitting tag line to the film would be: Tradition - It's in the name!

Movie rating: 3/5 (Above average)
Redundancy despite good performances can only be so good. Aditya Chopra knows not to heed that, but if you like his style of story-telling, you might like this much more than I did. Perhaps I am more critical of it given the cast. If you've seen it, please let's discuss know how you liked it.

Music rating: 2.75/5 (Average)
The background score is a complement to the drama, but the soundtrack very linear and conventional. Its integration is about okay. Overall, I cannot help but feel Shiv-Hari, who have delivered music to the likes of Silsila (1981), Chandni (1989), Lamhe (1990), and Darr (1993), could have done a lot better. Having said that, both Shivkumar Sharma and Hariprasad Chaurasia are phenomenal musicians who continue to give fans of Hindustani classical music so much to appreciate. No blasphemy intended, I think they're just exponentially better away from film.

My classification: PG-13
(For theme, language, sexual situations)

And finally...
Isn't it a wonder the film that turned around Saif's career nearly a decade after the release of Parampara, was one in which he starred alongside Aamir and Vindod Khanna's son Akshaye?


Shellie said...

I'd rather take a couple's drama or family drama (that's the romantic in me), but if I can watch and enjoy a family dramas like K3G and QSQT, then surely Parampara is worth a try - at least for Saif and Aamir. Plus, I'm a sucker for a good sword fight.

dunkdaft said...

I just cant recall any song or scene from this movie. Hah..its been eons since I watched. [which I think only once i did] Cause I didn't liked it at all. As I never liked the revenge saga genre. [ofcourse except QSQT :p] I even can't remember its songs !!!! Its like this movie doesn't existed at all. hah. I think I should watch it to see how good Aamir and Ravs looked together. Especially in Fun Moments.

And the wonderous thing you've found. DCH !!

[i see in this post, you have put the story in great detail ]

Nicki said...

Oh my! How much I miss this film! Yes, many bad fashion sense but I still loved the movie overall. I've always wanted to see Aamir and Saif again and glad they were together in Dil Chahta Hai,

I also really adored Aamir and Raveena. I wish Raveena would make a comeback. One of my faves from the 90s. I was so disappointed that Time Machine with Aamir and Ravs got shelved and suppose to be a remake of Back to the Future.

Neelam is just too adorable. I remember watching this film and wishing that Aamir and Neelam would be paired together. I got my wish with Afansa Pyar Ka but I didn't like it that much :( Wish they would be paired off again

ajnabi said...

LOL Ignorance exemplified: I saw the picture at the top and said to myself, "Gosh, that guy in the middle looks a lot like the Thakur from Sholay!"

This looks interesting. And I want to see more Neelam; Nicki's got me watching her stuff.

JJC said...

I actually quite enjoy watching parampara here and there. I like the old traditional thakur type stuff. The cast has among the best. I love Vinod Khanna, hes so handsome. Im not a fan of Ashwini but i liked her here and that movie Heena.
The 'aadhi raat' song had a cute picturisation and 'hum banjaare' is very catchy.

theBollywoodFan said...

Shell: Since you like sword fights, you will at the very least enjoy bits of this. Again, I must warn you that Aamir and Saif get going only in the second half. If you go in not expecting too much, you'll be fine.

Darshit: Are you sure you've seen it? :P It's really not as bad as it might sound. A revenge saga can still be good. The story here is simple but with that many characters (and great actors), how can one not describe them some more?! You know what I think of the songs. This one came and went, didn't do much. Now, there's this other Aamir movie from 1992 that was (and is, I think it's fair to say) quite the rage. Saving discussion on that for a future post dedicated to the film. :)

Nicki: That's good to know! Wouldn't it be something if Aamir and Raveena made it to Andaz Apna Apna 2 or something? Even if they play someone's uncle and aunt (say, to Imran and Genelia), it'd be great! All the possibilities!

I'm so glad you mentioned Time Machine. I don't think I ever knew why it was shelved, so if you have that info/remember anything from back then, do let us know!

Here's a great video on the making of Time Machine. It would have been something to see Naseeruddin Shah, Rekha, Aamir and Ravs tackle Science Fiction! (We did see Rekha, Naseeruddin Shah, and Raveena get there after all, albeit this decade; thinking Krrish and Aks.) See 4:10 into that video for an Aamir-Raveena comedy piece. And the director's also talking of Aamir going back to the 1960s to meet a struggling Amitabh Bachchan in the film!

theBollywoodFan said...

Ajnabi: You're in good company when it comes to Neelam films! And I remember discussing this with Nicki as well, I think Neelam's most memorable works came opposite Govinda, back when he took on films other than comedies. That's probably why Govinda and Salman get along so well today. Could have been so different a landscape of actors had they stuck to more conventional hero-giri (i.e. heroism).

JJC: I agree it's not bad at all to see 'here and there'. And yes, the thakur-style stuff still works okay for me. Haven't seen Heena, which I hear is Ashwini's most appreciated work. And yes, 'Aadhi raat' was cute, I kept thinking how subtle the lyrics are in what is a rather provocative poem, LOL.

Thank you all for your comments! Cheers.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to look without reading, squinting...want to spoilers. Must see film and report back yaar.

All the best,

Unknown said...

Hi Bollywoodfan!

I watched Parampara quite a long time ago and should watch it again to comment on the music... but I do know that I also enjoyed the parts of comedy in it and that the film would have benefited from a more generous dose. What a great synopsis you have written. Very inviting to give it a rewatch. :-)

Nicki said...

Thanks for the video for the making of Time Machine. Honestly, I've heard nothing about why it got shelved.

The uploaded commented below

"It was supposed to release in the early 90, 1992 or 1993. 

Like a lot of other Shekhar Kapur films, he seemed to lose interest as financing issues caused delays and there were some casting issues (Aamir apparently wanted Juhi Chawla to replace Raveena Tandon).

It's a pity it was never completed as it looks quite interesting and entertaining! "

I really disagree though. But who knows.

theBollywoodFan said...

Adab Sita-ji! I think you'll really like this! Especially given how much fun some of the zany bits can be, for those of us who are willing to buy into the theme (I've seldom had an issue succumbing to the filmmakers' view). Quite an emotional mishmash, which means it's traditional masala fun :) Do let me know what you think of it.

Aline! Thank you for your comment. I'd be interested to know your take on the music. Have you listened to some of the other non-filmi stuff by Shiv and Hari? If you haven't, I think you should. You will love it!

Nicki: That's interesting gossip! It would have been even worse if a project with Aamir and Juhi got shelved. Aamir's praising Raveena in that video, so that might not be it after all. Oh, well.

Pitu said...

This was such an annoying and regressive film :( and Saif looked horrid and effeminate in it. Raveena was simply gorgeous though and I LOVE LOVE LOVE 'Adhi Raat Ko' :-D *sigh* I also kinda like 'Phoolon ke is shahar mein' to some extent.

theBollywoodFan said...

Yep, such a like-dislike relationship with it. Adhi Raat Ko is pure fun, though, very true! And doesn't Saif often look effeminate? :D