Saturday, February 5, 2011

Movie Review: Hum Dono Rangeen

When the evergreen Dev Anand decides to add colour to his last black-and-white film and wishes to present his 50-year-old film to the current generation, there is reason enough to look forward to the bygone golden era. Two names that make Hum Dono worth a watch are (of course) Dev Anand and writer Vijay Anand.

Set in the period of World War 2 on the backdrop of India-Burma war, Hum Dono is not an out-and-out war film (as might be the notion) but more of an emotional drama. The central plot had classic conflicts ranging from the rich-girl-poor-boy formula to the identity interchange in the double-role premise. However, while these may appear as clich├ęs today; in the scheme of things in1961 these were still one of those newfangled plot-points which went on to be trendsetter and subsequently stereotypes in Hindi cinema.

So the story starts with Anand (Dev Anand) who is rejected for being a good-for-nothing by Meeta's (Sadhana) superrich father. Anand takes it upon himself to prove his individuality and joins the Indian army. There he meets his look-alike Major Manohar Verma and the two become good friends. But Verma goes missing during the warfare and when Anand lands at Manohar's house to inform his family about the same, his wife Ruma (Nanda) and mother (Lalita Pawar) mistake him to be Manohar.

The story penned by Nirmal Sarcar was forthright and Vijay Anand had an as much straightforward approach in writing a screenplay which, though convincing, was predictable, unlike the thriller films he was popularly acknowledged for. The emphasis was more on inducing drama through dialogues and Vijay Anand came up with some very powerful lines. Even in common situations like when the prospective groom confronts the girl's father, the wordplay is so well-composed that you don't find the treatment formulaic.

The war sequences written by Montgomery Kee were interestingly executed with the action and effects qualifying to be decent enough for its time. However Anand's inclination to join the army seems too abrupt and hurried. The mistaken identity plot, which was subsequently used as a common ploy in almost every double-role film, resulting into a comedy-of-errors, was unusually used to a more sentimental effect here. That's also for the fact that Dev Anand wasn't exactly swapped with the corresponding female costars but merely had a one-sided switchover with Nanda, while Sadhana had no substitute male counterpart. Offshoots of such identity exchange were subsequently witnessed in Raj Khosla's ' Mera Saaya ' (1966) and Prakash Mehra's ' Haseena Maan Jayegi ' (1968).

Anand's chemistry with Meeta was as much charming as much as his vulnerability with Ruma. The final dramatic face-off between the two Dev Anands (Manohar and Anand) was essentially a highlight, leading to an expected happy end.

Despite having a war backdrop, the overall pacing of the film was slow and the almost three-hour runtime will clearly seem long in present times. But that era was perhaps alien to jump-cuts in editing, thereby extending the scenes to encapsulate a complete course of action. Music director Jaidev's compositions were certainly one of the biggest highlights of Hum Dono . Sahir Ludhianvi's lyrical gems like ' Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata Chala Gaya ', ' Abhi Na Jao Chod Ke ', ' Kabhi Khud Pe Kabhi Halaat Pe Rona Aaya ' and ' Allah Tero Naam ' added a magical dimension to the film with the music being fondly remembered even half a century after it was originally conceived.

Talking about the colourization of the film, as compared to the earlier coloured classics like the epic costume drama Mughal-e-Azam (1960) or the call-for-revolution Naya Daur (1957), Hum Dono is less demanding. But colour certainly makes the viewing experience more real and vibrant. Technically the colour restoration is imaginative, lifelike and flawless. Even the digitally re-mastered soundtrack marvelously adds to the melody of music.

Dev Anand exuded his trademark charm and style throughout the film. While there wasn't much difference between the two characters he played other that a slight forced variance in the baritone and a sticker moustache, he was loveable in both. Sadhana as the ideal sacrificing woman portrayed her character beautifully. Nanda was apt in her character of a housewife. Lalita Pawar played a positive character of a doting mother and was decent in her part.

Hum Dono Rangeen brings back the old world charm of cinema in a colourful way. If you have an appetite for old wines in new bottles, you can't afford to miss this one!

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