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)
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?