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Bas yahi ek pal... Timeless

Opulent mansions and imported cars. Dapper men in tuxedos and pullovers. Beautiful girls in diamonds and churidars. A lost-and-found story. A multi-starrer with hummable songs. That’s Yash Chopra’s Waqt, that released in July, 53 years ago. 

Socialist India of the 1960s hadn’t seen anything like it. Till then, films had rich people in mansions with a staircase and a piano, but Waqt upped the game entirely. Swimming pool changing rooms! Blood-red carpets! Porcelain dolls! Buick cars! 

But why the film is still so watchable is because it is a great story told well. A family is torn apart by an earthquake, three brothers land up in different places and grow up to be a gentleman thief (Raaj Kumar), a jolly lawyer (Sunil Dutt) and a sad but gorgeous chauffeur (Shashi Kapoor). The father grows old in jail for a murder, the mother by sewing clothes to make ends meet. The film is all about how their lives tantalisingly crisscross without their knowing, with two-and-a-half love stories (elegant Sadhana leaving two brothers smitten, cute Sharmila dimpling at Shashi), immortal lines and songs, another murder, a gripping courtroom drama climax and an urbane baddie thrown in. In the end, time that had torn the family apart, brings them together. Never a dull moment. 

Still, three things stand out. Ae meri zohra jabeen, a rare sensual tribute to middle-aged marital love, where the husband (Balraj Sahni) makes his wife and the mother of three blush like crazy in a roomful of people. Aage bhi jane na tu, a stunning Ravi-Sahir Ludhianvi song picturised on a stunning Erica Lal. And that maturely handled frisson between Sadhana and Raaj Kumar. She’s in love with another man, but knows Raaj is smitten and handles it like a lady. So timeless.

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