Monday, 30th October 2017

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When it rained, Barsaat made waves

The film had oodles of heartbreak, deaths, a selfish cad, a cruel dad, twists and turns and the final weeping rain

By Sulagana Biswas
  • Published 19.04.19, 10:51 AM
  • Updated 19.04.19, 11:02 AM
  • a min read
  •  
Barsaat laid the foundation for the RK banner A still from the film

Barsaat mein humse mile tum sajan, tumse mile hum, barsaat mein...

It’s the blockbuster that laid the foundation for the RK banner and India’s first film family. Completing 70 years this month, despite its grandfatherly status in 2019, this is a very young film. Ranbir Kapoor’s granddad, producer-director-actor Raj Kapoor was all of 25, his other stars Prem Nath, Nargis and Nimmi were even younger. Cinematographer Jal Mistry, who lends this B&W beauty its haunting chiaroscuro effect, composer duo Shankar-Jaikishan and lyricists Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri were also in their 20s, in fact Jaikishan only a teen when he started work on this film. And strange but true, Ramanand Sagar of the over-the-top telly Ramayana holiness, wrote this passionate love story about two city slickers and two mountain maidens.

There’s Pran (Raj Kapoor without the Chaplinesque buffoonery) the loverboy, there’s Gopal (Prem Nath, naturally roguish and as dishy as anything Hollywood produced back then) the playboy. The girls, Reshma (a young Nargis with an adorable habit of wrinkling up her nose and sniffling) and Neela (less girl, more tragic metaphor for pining love played by debutante Nimmi with a knack for tearful smiles), are rustic innocents from the hills. Neela worships Gopal, who’s into use-and-throw (this film is not squeamish about sex). Director RK reprised the trope of the plains sullying the hills in his lavish Ram Teri Ganga Maili 36 years later. Also, a scene where Reshma runs to Pran playing the violin, almost swooning, and he holds her and the violin in a way at once masterful and sexy, became the RK Films icon. The tune is a waltz, Waves of the Danube, composed by the Romanian Iosif (or Ion) Ivanovici.

Loads happen in this love story. Heartbreak, supposed and real deaths, selfish cad, cruel dad, twists and turns of fate and the final weeping rain. The film feels overlong and overwrought. But even today, keeping the viewers hooked are the personal journeys of the quartet, especially Prem Nath. Writer Sagar kept his best lines for the cad with the glad eye. Even a millennial belle would like to reform this rake.

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