A simple-hearted—even outright simple, really—man turns out to be the look-alike of a much-wanted criminal. As a result, the police train him to impersonate the criminal so that they can get enough evidence to crack down on a web of crime.
I have no idea if Don (1978) was inspired by Mr India. Don is in many ways a very different film (the criminal, for one, dies fairly early on in the proceedings; for another, it’s a much more complex plot): but there is that fleeting resemblance.
Mr India begins by introducing us to Gullu (IS Johar), naïve and simple, as he goes about job-hunting, and getting rejected at every office because he doesn’t fit the regional profiles demanded by the parochial employers of these places. Gullu gets briefly hired by someone who wants to rig a ‘Mr India’ weight-lifting competition, with Gullu pretending to hoist what is actually wooden dumbbells rather than iron.
…which could probably have been more appropriately titled How to Jump to Conclusions and Mess up Lives. Or Never Trust a Sinister Mamu. This is one Muslim social – a genre I have long admitted to being very fond of – which has been recommended to me so often, I’ve lost track of the recommendations. On the one hand, I wanted to see it because it has some lovely songs; on the other, the thought of watching Meena Kumari in one of her last few films – well, that wasn’t something I was really looking forward to with anticipation. But all those recommendations tilted the balance.
My sister and I were discussing, with much fondness, my father’s love for classic Hindi cinema. When my parents bought a DVD player, I offered to look out for old films that I could buy for them. “Any particular favourites you’d like me to buy you?” I asked. Papa’s list included Sangdil, Daag, Anari, Ratan, Andaaz, Albela, Sone ki Chidiyaand a bunch of other films—all of them selected mainly because they had superb music.
And I am very much my Papa’s daughter. It takes just one good song for me to rent a film (I may not go so far as to buy it, though). I’ve done it with Akashdeep, and I’ve done it again with Bhai Bahen. Here, fortunately, I was a little luckier. Even though the best thing about it is the lovely Saare jahaan se achha, Bhai Bahen is, overall, an interesting and rather offbeat little film.