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If I can just give to the world more than I take from it, I will be a very happy man. For there is no greater joy in life than to give. Motto : Live, Laugh and Love. You can follow me on Twitter too . My handle is @Raja_Sw.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Gulzar's Koshish ("An Attempt")

I have just finished watching what I can safely say, without the slightest hesitation, is one of the best movies I have seen in my life.

When this movie was released in 1972, I was a very young boy. I remember the film being talked about a lot at that time. The universal opinion was that it was a very moving story about a deaf-and-dumb couple and their experiences in life. That the performances of the couple in the film were just outstanding and that this was a landmark movie in Indian cinema.

You know what ? I am a bit ashamed now but at that time none of this excited me. My eldest sister, who had seen the film and liked it a lot, narrated the story to the rest of us siblings who had not seen it. I understood it in bits – having switched off for a large part. It sounded quite depressing – not exactly my cup of tea.

To be fair, I was not even ten then. I was used to Rajesh Khanna, Shammi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Asha Parekh and Mumtaz movies – with loads of masala, songs and action. Kati Patang types. You come and tell me that there is an excellent movie made about a deaf-and-dumb couple and their experiences in life – and you cannot even come up with one song of the movie – sorry, you haven’t the slightest chance of getting me interested.

But that was the early 70s and I was still a young boy.

The movie somehow remained in my mind as a good movie of its time. And I know that I have wanted to see it for a while now – if only to judge for myself what it is all about and, quite importantly, whether I have it in me to appreciate a film of this type.

Today I finally got to see the film. It was quite by accident actually. I was on youtube looking for songs (as usual !). And then I saw this clip Koshish 01/12. I immediately clicked on it – and worked my way all the way to 12/12 without once losing interest.

One of the nicest things about the clips was that the film was also sub-titled. Not that I needed it – but that means that it is a film that can be enjoyed by non-Hindi viewers also. Which is just brilliant – because a film like this deserves to have an international audience. The subject-matter is universal.

The film is simple. No exotic sets or grandeur about it. Maybe it is its simplicity that is one of its most appealing features.

Apart from this, I liked the film for a number of other reasons.

Firstly, the film was not half as slow as I had resigned myself to expecting at the start of the movie. I thought it would be a typical “art” movie of the 70s – where a pot of rice would be shown boiling for 10 minutes. The rice would then spill over – symbolizing that a situation had got out of control.

No, this film had a reasonable pace about it.

Secondly, it is a very down-to-earth film. I like such movies – I can easily relate to them. And though the story is about a deaf-and-dumb couple, it is not presented in a pitiful, “preachy” manner.

Thirdly, the performances are absolutely top-notch. Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri are two of the finest actors ever to grace a Hindi film – and they do a fantastic job here. The other actors too have put in a very good, soft performance. This is a very welcome departure from the average Hindi film of the time which contained a fair amount of hamming and over-acting.

Fourthly, there are no unnecessary songs to dilute the flow and impact of the film. There is only one song in this series (I believe there is another song by Sushma Shreshta that is not in this version).

Fifthly, and probably similar to the fourth point above, there are no comic side plots to dilute the flow and impact of the film. Also quite unusual for the times.

I can go on and on. There are many other reasons why I like this film. Maybe I will mention just one more. And that is a very personal one.

Many scenes in the movie reminded me of my father. His hearing was severely impaired in the late 1950s (side-effect of an illness). So, from the time I got my senses, I only remember him as being hard of hearing. Later on in life, it got worse. Much of our communication to him would be in writing or sometimes in sign language. We were all used to it in the family, so it was no big deal.

In all this, he never ever let his hearing impairment or disability come in the way of what he wanted to achieve in life. And I do not ever recall him wallowing in self-pity or anything of the sort. If anything he would laugh it off, joking sometimes that he was probably better off not hearing what his children had to say about him.

Of course, in his case, unlike that of Sanjeev Kumar in Koshish, it was thankfully only hearing impairment and not speech-impairment. It makes the whole situation very different, of course.

But there are some scenes that hit me really close to home. Like the scene where Sanjeev Kumar rushes to the doctor when he thinks his son could be deaf. It reminded me of the time when I was about seven and had a lot of pain in my ears.

My father rushed me to the hospital and insisted that the doctor check both my ears thoroughly. Perform every possible test. I remember him repeatedly saying to the doctor “Is he alright ? Is he OK ? I don’t want my son to become like me”. The doctor kept re-assuring him that there was nothing to worry about but my father was quite worried that evening.

Anyway, I could not help remembering this incident when I saw a somewhat similar scene in Koshish today.

I do not expect others to quite like this movie as much as I did. At the very end, there is a bit of a debatable twist but we need to keep in mind that this was 1972 and, whether one agrees with the end or not, it does not take anything away from what is otherwise, in my opinion, an excellent film, very well-made.

I am mentioning here just the link for the first part. If you are interested, you can continue to see the rest. I think it is worth watching.

Let me know what you think of the movie. I think it is Oscar material. Or at least nomination-worthy.