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The Hills Are Alive

Friday, December 07, 2018
By Deepa Gahlot

This week’s release, Kedarnath is the story is a rich young tourist to the eponymous temple town in the hills of Garhwal, falling in love with a poor porter, who carries pilgrims up the slope to the place of worship.

At least a part of the plot is reminiscent of the 1965 film, Jab Jab Phool Khile, directed by Suraj Prakash, set in picturesque Kashmir, about the romance between an heiress and a boatman. (There is no storm and flood in the old film, but a disapproving daddy is in place).

Rita Khanna (Nanda), daughter of the wealthy Raj Bahadur Chunnilal (Kamal Kapoor) goes to Kashmir for a holiday along with her maid Stella (Shammi). She rents a houseboat on Dal Lake, that belongs to the handsome Raja (Shashi Kapoor), who lives there with his sister Munni (Farida). Raja is welcoming and friendly, Rita is charmed by his innocence and after spending time together on the breathtakingly beautiful locations, the two of them fall in love; but they don’t know it yet.

Rita leaves after her vacation, promising to return the next year. Back home, her father wants her to marry Kishore (Jatin Khanna), but Rita is reluctant. She goes to Kashmir, accompanied by Kishore, and after a spot of trouble with the jealous suitor, Rita decides that it’s the good-hearted Raja she wants to be with. But the class divide comes clanging down and Rita is dragged back to Bombay by her angry father. The besotted Raja follows her to the city.

Rita’s clever father, knowing that opposition would only make her more stubborn, says he would agree to the match if Raja could be made to fit into their social set. Rita tries to change Raja, putting him into suits, teaching him to eat with a fork, and waltz at parties. But Raja remains resolutely a conservative small-town-er—that includes being a male chauvinist—at heart. He is unable to adjust to city ways and accept his girl dancing with another man, sings the plaintive Yahan main ajnabi hoon, and leaves.

Of course, Rita, on overhearing her father gloat at the success of his plan to separate the two, realizes that she cannot lose Raja and runs after his train. In a scene used in Dilwale Duhania Le Jayenge and then in dozens of films, Raja pulls Rita into the running train and they embrace. The plot of the film was picked up for Raja Hindustani (1996), with more masala added.

The film was a huge hit, and some credit would go to Anand Bakshi and Kalyanji-Anandji songs like Pardesiyon se na ankhiyaan milana, Ek tha gul aur ek thi bulbul, Yeh sama hai pyar ka, Humko tumpe pyaar aaya and Na na karte pyar tumhi se kar baithe.

Nanda was not known for doing glamorous roles, but managed to get into gowns and western outfits to play the sophisticated Rita. The suave Shashi Kapoor, on the other hand, played a happy-go-lucky and incorruptible rustic to perfection in the film that helped his career zoom up.

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