OMG but Shashi is still the mega finer of the two.
Duniya is, above all, a story about brotherly love. Apparently parentless, older brother Karan (Shashi Kapoor, real life uncle, PPCC darling) is constantly looking out for his younger brother Vishal (Rishi Kapoor, real life nephew, kind of lame but sometimes OK). In fact, Karan leads a double life: in reality, he is a poor trapeze artist at the local circus, but he pretends to be a big-shot businessman for his brother - spoiling him and never letting onto the fact that his pockets are empty. Alas, poor, beleaguered Karan constantly struggles to maintain this charade. Vishal, meanwhile, is a happy-go-lucky student at the local college. One evening, he spots a pretty girl, Neeta (Neetu Singh), struggling over the wall of the girls' dormitory. The two are immediately smitten (tho thweet) and, after a fun courtship which involves kinky disguises and a song, Vishal proposes to her and invites her on a trip with him to America.
They're so kinky, these two.
OMG kinky Saudi prince disguise.
All of this stresses the income-challenged Karan out big time. Even with the financial help of Mrs. Robins (Nadira) and some random friend, he is super anxious that Vishal will find out that he is a mere trapeze artist (or, as the film subtitles keep calling him, a funambulist). How will he pay for the wedding? And the trip to America? Mother of God. At the engagement ceremony, Karan even gets totally wasted and announces to everyone, "I am not rich, I am a funambulist in the local circus!" But alas, everyone thinks he's just joking and/or being philosophical and/or just wasted and/or they don't know what a funambulist is either, and so no one pays him any heed. Meanwhile Vishal's still waiting for the plane ticket.
Sigh. Drunk again.
Meanwhile, Karan's no-good trapeze partner, Rawat (Ranjeet, ugh), gets roped in to do a high-stakes theft by some random criminal boss. Rawat figures that the only way he can get from building A to building B, where the money is, would be to trapeze across, but he needs the help of his partner, Karan, to do so. Knowing Karan is desperate for cash, but not desperate enough to commit a crime, he lies to Karan and tells him they're saving a little wounded kitten in building B. Or something. Anyway, Karan agrees, because he is a liberator of cuteness in all forms, and they trapeze across in a cool funky Ocean's 11-style sequence.
OMG this part was so cool. We wish we had 3 slide projectors!
OMG the jazzy music here was really cool too.
Once there, Karan realizes he's been duped, and some scuffling occurs. This unfortunately ends in a spectacular fall where Karan is bashed against some concrete, falls ten floors, and is then run over by a truck. (Remind you of someone?) Yet fear not, Shashi Kapoor fans, he lives! It's now up to baby brother Vishal to seek revenge against the treacherous Rawat - this involves yet more disguises, more trapezing, more scuffling, and more songs.
The high point in the film is the shocking state Karan is left in after his spectacular fall. We will give nothing away, because the shock value is really priceless, but here are some of the reaction shots:
Indeed, SO SHOCKING is this plot point that it changes the tone of the film entirely. Suddenly the usual masala revenge becomes much more urgent because, dammit, look what they did to Shashi!
Tinnu Anand - the wonderful character actor from Ram Jaane, Bombay, and Laaga Chunari Mein Daag - is a very skillful director, knowing exactly how and when to yoke sympathy/horror from the audience. In brief, his melodrama is pitch-perfect. This is also where the skillfulness of Rishi's acting comes into play. OK, we admit that we laughed and laughed and laughed during the hospital scene, because it was just such juicy, hilariously opera-style melodrama, but we also had to marvel at Rishi's capability of looking truly, horribly aghast. Rishi seems to have inherited Shashi's fab ability to register shock. Yeah, Kapoor genes. The later scene, where Rishi has to carry the wounded Shashi out of the hospital, was also wonderfully operatic - just look at Rishi fighting the tears!
The music was going daaaa daaaaaa da da daaaaaa.
Then there's another scene which genuinely stabs you with its pathos: Shashi is being driven back home from the hospital and, at the intersection, he is approached by a beggar. We can't give too much away, but the irony of this situation is truly poignant. Yay, Hindi movie convention of poignant irony!
There's yet more fun to Duniya, apart from the Really Shocking Thing. First, the ishtyle! Everyone is looking their fabulous best - Shashi is trim, his hair is wild and free, his smile is almost comically shiny. He even gets into a number of scuffles, for those you that like your fruit a little bruised. Even Rishi, who we normally think looks like an idiot, has great hair and great shirts and a muppet-y bounce. Yeah, Kapoor genes. Neetu is lovable as usual, and she gets to sport some truly bad-ass outfits, as well as some truly bad-ass dancing. It goes without saying that, as sweet as it is to watch real-life husband and wife Rishi and Neetu cavort among flowers onscreen, it really was a damn stupid shame that Neetu retired at the age of Too Young. Anyway. The set designs are likewise fun and retro, in fact, in more than one scene we were distracted by the cool paintings in the background.
Aww. He is my little bruised pear. (Side note: check out that art! Yeah room deco!)
He also kicks Ranjeet's ass. YES!
Our only criticism would be somewhat lacklustre songs. Usually, all it takes is one good song to make a film, and it's unfortunate that a movie as fun and over the top as this one should have had such mediocre songs. Ah well, you can't have everything. (Except sometimes you can!)
Calling all Kapoors in the house for a group hug!