I watched Tere Mere Sapne (1971) last night – another Bollywood film I’ve seen recently that I enjoyed a lot.  It is a bit of a tear jerker, and some people won’t like so much pulling of the heart strings, but it pulled those strings well…  And it’s one of those old(er) movies with some strong messages in it too. There’s a message about how a good person (this time a doctor who becomes famous) should not let success go to his head; there’s the message about not letting the practice of medicine be subjugated to the pursuit of wealth; there’s the very realistic message that someone with a lot of money can inflict a terrible tragedy on people and completely get away with it… There also are amusing scenes with the characters complaining about justice and morals and everything else being lost to people’s pursuit of individual status and their greed. (Once again, an old Indian movie – this time from the ’70s – contains social commentary that is all too relevant to “my own” country of the present day.)

Sometimes the main characters, Doctor Anand Kumar (played by Dev Anand, of course) and his good wife Nisha (Mumtaz) become a bit too one-sided. For instance, when Anand becomes too successful, he also becomes a bit too obviously a jerk (at least for a while).  And all through the movie, Nisha might be a bit too unfalteringly good. (All right, maybe she’s not perfect – a bit stubborn, certainly, and maybe a little quick to feel jealous, but especially later on, I just wished she had some kind of temper (like just about everyone else here) or some vice. Mumtaz seems to play her well, though; I’d like to see her in more films.)

Also, at first, the couple together become a bit too sweet of an item; there was a point, in fact, where things got slightly mushy for my tastes, even in the S.D. Burman soundtrack (although he has some great tunes in this movie too).

(“Hey Maine Aasam Li”)

But then other things happen to complicate matters:  There is the accident that seriously injures Nisha, the aforementioned tragedy caused by someone who can get away with it because he is rich.  The movie certainly becomes more interesting after that.

And then there’s the appearance of the potential other woman, the famous actress called Malti Mala, which really livens things up.  I think this character is pretty good, too, both sad and sympathetic but often a bit funny, the morose and attention-hungry movie star who feels that fame has caused everyone to stop appreciating her as a real human being.  (A familiar character type, though done nicely to the hilt.)  But Malti Mala becomes particularly impressive because of the real movie star playing her.

I’ve seen a few movies with Hema Malini, including the most famous – i.e., Sholay – but this is the first time that I began to feel that she has to be one of my favorites.  (I know that I have a lot of company in that club…)  It was inevitable that I’d fall for her dancing, considering her skills and vitality and the way that she uses bharatanatyam (among other classical forms), and, yes, I always saw her as being one of the prettiest.  (An obvious heiress in these ways to a couple of South Indian actresses who became prominent in the ’50s – who are my favorites of all.)  But I greatly appreciate the way she acted in this role too.

I found Malti Mala refreshing as the glamorous potential-other-woman because she actually is a sympathetic character, not the kind who would at all consciously think of seducing the good doctor into evil ways.  In fact, it’s Malti Mala who suffers misfortune because of the sincerity of her feelings, and though she might seem a bit spoiled sometimes, she turns out to have dignity and grace.

I love the scene when Malti Mala learns about Anand’s marriage and his devotion to his wife (although that devotion has somewhat come under question in other scenes), and she runs out of the room to cry hysterically, then returns smiling and acting as though everything is fine.  Hema Malini plays that scene perfectly, by the way.

Malini’s dance for the song “Thai Thai Thatha Thai” is out of this world. I love the elements of bharatanatyam – especially those yogic poses that involve balancing on one leg – mixed in with moves that are probably very far from that form.  The glamor element is over-the-top (especially near the close), but deliberately and amusingly so.  And the singing by Asha Bhosle is memorable.

(“Tha Thai Thatha Thai”)

Although I like Asha’s singing in “Mera Saajan Phool Kamal Ka” even more.  And, as I said months ago, I love the dancing here by Jayshree T.; I think she is very unique as well as being agile and incredibly swift in her movements; plus, she surely is one of the greatest Bollywood vamps.

(“Mera Saajan Phool Kamal Ka”)

Dev Anand is good in this movie. Some people seem to be bothered that he’s a bit older here than in his great classics (and maybe by the fact that he’s more than two decades older than Mumtaz?), but I don’t have a big problem with that (after all, I myself, am almost as old as he was when he acted in this movie – though I was only 9 or 10 at the time that it came out).  I don’t know if he’s as interesting here as he was in some of the earlier movies, but that might be because the character isn’t quite as interesting in this movie as the one Dev played in films such as Kala Bazar.

The writer/director is the same as in those earlier movies, i.e., Vijay Anand.  One thing I like about these Vijay Anand movies (at least from the few that I’ve seen so far) is that there always is an emphasis on ethics and principles, but that emphasis tends to enhance the movie without ever weighing it down.  And the morals of the story are conveyed in an emotionally effective manner, right up to the end.
P.S. Vijay Anand does a nice acting job in the role of Dr. Dr. Jagannath Kothari, a supporting character who does a lot to help the plot along. To do this character and a few others in the film justice, I would have to write a much longer review – or else work on this one (maybe sometime later?).

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