Or, The Nasir Hussain Rule Book of Fool-proof Rehashing.
I’m beginning to think I’m an idiot for trying to think up new stories every time I write. Look at people like Betty Neels or Nasir Hussain; they managed to get by with basically the same story, over and over again, and very successfully too. [which makes me wonder: were Hussain and Neels long-lost brother and sister?]
Take the latter’s Pyaar ka Mausam, for example. I’d seen this film as a kid and remembered little of it except the very good music and the pretty lead pair. A rewatch last night revealed that it amounted to a cocktail of Nasir Hussain’s earlier films: Tumsa Nahin Dekha, Dil Deke Dekho, and Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon. Same story, same plot elements, same rules from The Rule Book.
[Note: These rules will make more sense if you’ve seen one or more of the films I’ve mentioned above. If you haven’t, think of it this way: you’ll get to know about four films just from one review].
Rule #1: Story begins with generation 1. This generation is characterised by:
(b) Bad blood
(c) Wasti (though, to be fair, he didn’t feature in Tumsa Nahin Dekha)
Here, we begin at the estate of wealthy widower, Ranjit Singh (Wasti himself). Ranjit Singh has a daughter named Jamuna (Nirupa Roy) from whom he’s been estranged for the past five years, after she eloped with Gopal, a poor estate manager whom Ranjit Singh didn’t approve of. [I’m wondering why all the estate managers in old Hindi films end up romancing the disapproving boss’s female relative—daughter, grand-daughter, sister, etc].
Anyway, Ranjit Singh is now feeling the loss of an offspring, and has decided he wants to adopt the motherless child of one of his employees. The employee is, thankfully for Ranjit Singh, very morose after his wife’s death and doesn’t seem to want to live much longer…
…which is just as well, because he cops it soon after, in a skirmish with Shankar (Madan Puri) and Shankar’s dastardly gang. We also learn that Shankar is actually Ranjit Singh’s stepbrother. Ranjit Singh’s father willed all his wealth to Ranjit Singh, so a very sore Shankar has been, ever since, trying to wreak vengeance on Ranjit Singh and all of Ranjit Singh’s clan.
Meanwhile, we are introduced to Jamuna and Gopal (Bharat Bhushan) and their four-year old son, Sunder. Jamuna has been wanting a reconciliation with her father, but Gopal refuses; he’s still smarting with the humiliation of being rejected by Ranjit Singh. He’d much rather sit here in their hut, singing to his wife. [Basically an excuse to introduce us to this song, which will get repeated throughout the film. Thankfully, it’s a good song.]
Jamuna, however, writes a letter to her daddy behind Gopal’s back. Ranjit is overjoyed to hear of their whereabouts, and that Jamuna has a little son. “When they grow up, Seema and my grandson will be married,” he says to his sister Kamla (Dulari). [Rule #2: two unrelated infants of opposite sexes cannot be spoken of in the same breath without wanting to get them married as adults. And destiny always listens].
Ranjit Singh lets Jamuna know he’ll be coming to meet them on Diwali. Therefore, come Diwali, Jamuna sneaks off to receive her father at the local landmark, leaving Sunder in Gopal’s care.
Gopal, busy dressing up for the Diwali celebrations, doesn’t notice that Sunder wanders off outside by himself. And, just then, a passing traveller stops by, asking for shelter.
As if this isn’t complicated enough, the baddie, Shankar, has come to know—through his stooge on Ranjit’s estate—that Ranjit and Jamuna are being reunited. And that Jamuna has a little son. This means that Ranjit now has an heir to whom he will hand over all his money [leaving Shankar still ‘poor’, so to say, though he does seem to be rich enough to employ a horde of goons and keep them supplied with guns, trucks, and the other tools of their evil trade].
So Shankar sends off his men to torch Gopal’s hut, to get rid of Gopal, Jamuna and Sunder at one fell swoop.
With the result that:
(a) The traveller in Gopal’s hut burns to a crisp, leaving a convenient corpse for everybody to identify as Gopal.
(b) Gopal is blinded by the fire and a falling beam, and is hauled away to a hospital by passersby, who don’t stop to think that this man’s relatives might wonder where he’s got to.
(c) Jamuna, returning home with daddy, finds her hut burnt, her son vanished and her husband (or so she thinks) dead. The trauma drives her nuts.
And, it’s time for Rule #4: The fate of the child. The poor little waif has to be found and adopted by a passing couple who are:
(a) wealthy (to make sure the child grows up well-attired and well-educated enough to appeal to the child’s original relative’s sophisticated foster child)
(c) selfish and/or stupid enough to not look for the child’s relatives
And, of course, Rule #5: The child grows up to be smart, handsome (in Nasir Hussain’s films, it’s always the male child who’s lost), and having just gotten a ‘first class pass’ in his final year of college.
It is at this point that we meet up again with Sunder (now Shashi Kapoor), whose adoptive parents have named him Sunil. Despite the fact that they now have a natural son of their own (named Prakash, played by a terrible actor), they are very fond of Sunil.
This is where Rule #6 (accompanied by various sub-rules) comes in: The hero must fall only for the foster daughter of his lost relative.
Sub-rule (a): He’ll meet her at a party/picnic/on the road. (In this case, he meets Seema—played by Asha Parekh—at a picnic).
Sub-rule (b): She must be accompanied by various female friends, of whom Tabassum and/or Laxmi Chhaya will be particularly chummy.
Sub-rule (c): He must immediately fall in love with her, and decide that the best way to romance her is to fool her and her friends, by making one of them think he is actually betrothed to the heroine, while making the heroine think he is the fiancé of the friend instead. All very complicated and pointless, in my opinion, but it invariably lets the audience watch a good song. [If you’ve seen Dil Deke Dekho, you’ll know what I’m talking about. In Dil Deke Dekho, it was Megha re bole/Bade hain dil ke kale; here, it’s Ni sultana re pyaar ka mausam aaya].
Back to the present. Sunil goes off with his friend, and happens to meet Seema all over again. Only, this time, there’s a glitch: an unwanted third.
Rule #7: A buffoonish fiancé or intended must turn up, in the form of Rajendranath, wooing the heroine. He (Rajendranath) does, here in the form of Jhatpat Singh, a poet of doggerel, whose father has informed Ranjit Singh that Jhatpat Singh and Seema had been promised to each other as babies. [Ugh].
Rule #8: The arrival of this ‘kabab mein haddi’ must have little or no purpose other than to allow the hero to romance the heroine, mostly by pulling a fast one on her. In this case, Sunil uses the arrival of Jhatpat Singh to send Jhatpat Singh off on a wild goose chase, leading to a very silly bit of slapstick pie-in-the-face fight at a night club (with Shetty putting in a guest appearance). Jhatpat’s equally loony secretary, by the way, is played by RD Burman himself.
As part of all this pointless craziness, Sunil tells Seema that he, Sunil, is actually Jhatpat Singh. Which, of course, makes Seema declare vehemently that she will not marry him, no matter what. [Rule #9: The heroine, even if obviously in love with the pesky hero, must be obstinate about not loving him]. She makes faces at him, is generally rude and abusive (well, he is a pest, too, so perhaps she has reason), and she tries to make him jealous by going off with another man, only to end up drunk and having to be saved by Sunil, whom she pesters even further.
What with the last hour [more?] having been spent on the romance, and that out of the way now, the story can take a more dramatic turn. It’s time for Rule #10. The villain’s villainy must resurface in the form of his son, who should discover the facts of the matter and pass himself off as the long-lost heir.
Which, as you can well guess, is what the rest of the film basically revolves around. Nasty old Shankar has a grown-up son, Ramesh (Krishan Mehta), who’s as nasty as his daddy.
…have discovered long-lost Gopal. [This gives me an opportunity to plug in Rule #11: Coincidental meetings between long-lost relatives who cannot recognise each other now. Unknown to either of them, Sunil and a penurious Gopal have met on the road—Sunil has liked (and learnt) Gopal’s signature song. In turn, Gopal has shared the sad story of how his world fell apart].
Back to where we were, and Ramesh and his evil father plot to present Ramesh as the long-lost Sunder to Ranjit, who will of course immediately bestow all his wealth and the hand of Seema on this beloved grandson of his.
Hmm. If you happen to have seen any of the films I’d mentioned earlier, you’ll have a good idea of how terribly complicated all of this can become. It does (I think more than the other films I’d mentioned), and there’s loads of villainy, melodrama, self-sacrifice, mute suffering, and misunderstanding to come.
What I liked about this film:
The music. By R D Burman, set to lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri. The beautiful Tum bin jaaoon kahaan—sung playback by Kishore Kumar for Bharat Bhushan, and by Mohammad Rafi for Shashi Kapoor—is my favourite by far. But the other songs are great too: among the other ones I like a lot are Ni sultana re pyaar ka mausam aaya, Main na miloongi nazar hata lo, and Na jaa o mere humdum.
Shashi Kapoor and Asha Parekh. Perfect eye candy.
The complications in the story. For the first hour or so, it’s a little complex but with a little effort, one can still follow the story. After that, once it’s been firmly established that Sunil and Seema love each other, the story goes completely haywire, what with Shankar and Ramesh’s plotting, Jhatpat’s presence, and the many emotional highs and lows as Ranjit, Jamuna, Gopal, Sunil, Seema and a host of others try to figure out what’s going on. [I should probably add my name to that list of people. And this, mind you, when I’ve already seen a bunch of other Nasir Hussain films with pretty much the same plot].
If you like lost-and-found films (I do), I’d certainly recommend Nasir Hussain’s works. Dil Deke Dekho, Tumsa Nahin Dekha, and Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon are my idea of good, romantic/funny/dramatic films, with the right amount of complications—but Pyaar ka Mausam, as far as I’m concerned, goes over the top when it comes to complications. It’s still good, but not as much as the others.