Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Doosra Aadmi (1977)


It's 1977, and I'm buying condoms. Yes. Yes, really.


The coolest thing about Doosra Aadmi (The Other Man) is how different it is from what was happening in the mainstream masala of the 1970s. Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh and our beloved Shashi Kapoor would team up again two years later to make the spectacularly pulpy Duniya Meri Jeb Mein - a film which was far more in line with the usual dishoom dishoom funkiness of that great era. Since we saw Duniya Meri Jeb Mein first, we expected something similar from Doosra Aadmi. What we got was instead something that resembled very much a Donald Sutherland movie with songs.


It's 1977 and I've (possibly) got Marc Bolan of T. Rex on my wall. 'Cuz I'm hip and with it.


The plot is straightforward. Meet Karan (Rishi Kapoor) and Timsi (Neetu Singh). Karan and Timsi are young hipsters who meet, fall in love, get married, go on a honeymoon... and then proceed to do what it is real people actually do on honeymoons. This already generated a "WHOA!" from the PPCC, since Hindi films from the 1970s rarely acknowledged sex, and if they did, it was usually in a coy, roundabout suhaag raat (wedding night) way. Further "WHOA!"ing was obtained when Karan's parents (Gita Siddarth and the lovely Satyendra Kapoor, who we recently mentioned in our Mard review, here in a rare bourgeoise role) revealed themselves to be flexible, open-minded people. These parents had such progressive ideals as: young couples need their space! (They do?!) Maybe there is such a thing as being too young for marriage! (There is?!) What is this strange film we're watching? Who are these strange even-tempered people?


We love to boogie.


Anyway, Karan is an excitable, ambitious ad man, and he sets his sights on hiring advertising genius and classy lady Nisha (Rakhee). No one thinks Nisha will stoop to join such a fledgling ad firm, but once Nisha lays eyes on Karan, she agrees! "It can't possibly be Rishi Kapoor's muppety looks and funky threads," we think, and indeed it isn't. In a series of wonderfully delirious and disjointed flashbacks, we learn that there was... another man (don't ya love it when you can use the title?) in Nisha's life, way back when, and that man was none other than the lord of all things hot, Shashi (Shashi Kapoor). Karan reminds Nisha of Shashi - a wonderfully meta exploitation of the resemblance between real-life uncle Shashi and real-life nephew Rishi - and so she's all about hanging out with him. Karan, who's been going through a rough patch with Timsi recently, basks in the attention and happily responds in kind. Did I just hear the bell of adultery go clang? Timsi certainly did - and much drama ensues.


The movie had a lot of great moments of visual parallels. Rishi and Neetu.


Rishi and Rakhee.


Rakhee and Shashi.


This movie's vibe is snazzy and adult. It treats things like adultery, marriage and regret in open, generally mature ways - and this was a real treat! All the characters are more open-minded and semi-scandalous than usual - Beth already noticed things like Shashi surprising Rakhee just out of the shower, or Neetu appearing in aggressive, Western clothing when she confronts her man. And the narrative structure is similarly sleak: more in line with that cynical, urban vibe of the French New Wave or Donald Sutherland's Don't Look Now (well, sort of). The cross cuts between Shashi, Rishi and the zooming wheels of the car were particularly effective at creating tension and thickening the slightly surreal, slightly eerie flashbacks. Basically, it was the type of movie that looked like it would have jump cuts (though, tellingly, it didn't actually have any).


More crafty visual parallels. Uncle Überhot.


Nephew Knucklehead.


Major kudos go to Neetu and Rishi, who were both endearing as the young married couple - we just loved their teasing, "How are you, Baba?"/"Fine, Baba!" mock phone calls. Also, Rishi keeps impressing us with his acting; as in Duniya Meri Jeb Mein and Fanaa, there were many moments when we found ourselves going, "Whoa, Rishi. You're so... actorly!" Meanwhile, Neetu filled her role with gutsy aggression - a nice change from the usual passive, victimized cuckoldess. Rakhee was unfortunately in her demented avatar, an image she perfected over the course of many films: Sharmeelee (mod demented!), Baseraa (realist demented!), Trishna (inadvertently demented!), Muqaddar ka Sikandar (evil demented!) and Kasme Vaade (maybe not really but certainly acts demented!). Sigh. We've never liked the whole demented thing.

And this leaves our beloved, our adorable, our favoritest Shashi ji. As in Sharmeelee, Shashi's job here was merely to be the Other Man - the slightly objectified Perfect Boyfriend from long ago. Shashi was doing his typical masala thing of laughing really loudly and powering his charm with nuclear energy. OMG, when Shashi was like, "We're stalling, Nisha. I think we need to change gears," the PPCC actually burned down. Could he be any sweeter? Clearly no. Or when he flings himself into the snow?! Beth made a great post at Bollywood Fugly about all the various fashion Dos and Don'ts of this film, with special note going to Shashi for such fun as neckerchiefs and shirts which are unbuttoned but tucked in anyway. Wheee!


Rishi impressed us by looking really rough in his emo scenes. A movie where the actors don't always look fab?! What is this realism that you speak of?!

12 comments:

Anarchivist said...

Uncle Uberhot and Nephew Knucklehead! I almost choked on my morning coffee.

Filmi Girl said...

Ooo! This looks good! I've always found Rishi to be very cute - although not quite as hot as his Uncle Shashi-ji.

I love when Rishi gets all out of sorts and emo!
*time-travels back to the land of Bobby*

Beth said...

I echo the snort over "Uncle Uberhot and Nephew Knucklehead."

It's such an interesting movie! I need to see it again.

Any thoughts on how exactly one could confuse Rishi for Shashi (other than the magical, unstoppable powers of filmi filminess)?

This was the movie that made me love Shashi for sure. I think it was only my third movie or so, but yeah, the Shash is full-force ON here. "His typical masala thing of laughing really loudly and powering his charm with nuclear energy" summarizes it perfectly - it's as simple and awesome (in original sense of the word) as that.

memsaab said...

"The PPCC actually burned down"...hahahahahaaa! I do so hope the Shash reads your blog. He would be so happy.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

You know, I echo Beth's "how can any one confuse Rishi and Shashi"- except I guess the names rhyme :)

Like you, I've never warmed up to Rakhi's acting- she does look good in some movies though- Sharmilee, and Memsaab's recent Blackmail.

Filmi Geek said...

"Hindi films from the 1970s rarely acknowledged sex, and if they did, it was usually in a coy, roundabout suhaag raat (wedding night) way..."

I checked your index to see that you have indeed seen *Fakira*, and even though it disappointed you, I do hope you remember fondly the very naughty song sequence in that film. It not only acknowledged that newlyweds have sex, but also that in their enthusiasm for the activity they make sounds that other people in the household can hear, and may even break furniture. Pardon me whilst I fan myself.

ajnabi said...

Oh my, this sounds like fun! I need to de-KANKify before trying another Bollywood take on adultery though.

Oh, and how could you forget Rakhee's turn in Karan Arjun? Religious devotee to Kali demented! ;-) (Or maybe that should be, "bloody forehead demented!")

bollyviewer said...

I am with Beth over how could Rishi be confused for Shashi! They may have some similar features and I noticed that Rishi copies his Uncle's gestures and mennerisms a bit, but still....

Saw this movie years ago and didnt really think much of it. Hindi movies dont shy away from adultery per se. They only let men cheat on their spouse, not women! The only good thing about this one was that it did not demonise the other woman. Would have thought Timsi more feisty if she had thrown her errant husband out on his ears instead of taking him back when Nisha threw him out.

Rum said...

This was my first adultery movie ever, i watched when i was a young 'un but looking back it was very fresh and acknowledging, and Rishi was always best when he's emo!

avdi said...

An amazing movie for its times.

Did you see The Householder? (seeing that you are SUCH a Shashi fan.

a ppcc representative said...

Anarchivist - :)

Filmi Girl - It is quite good, give it a go! Especially if you have fond, Bobbyfied feelings for Rishi.

Beth - I think maybe if you threw Rishi drove by you at 30 mph in a car on the other side of the road, you might go, "Oh my God, I think I just saw Shashi Kapoor." But I think Rakhee was just desperate (understandable).

Memsaab - I sometimes worry that he does! He should now be aware of it (dum dum dum).

Shweta - I really really want to like Rakhee, but it's just as you said, I can't warm up to her onscreen persona. I think I loved her most in things like Kaala Patthar or Trishul, where she's in control and very sane.

Filmi Geek - Ahh, you are, as ever, correct. I had forgotten about all that zany romping in the bed! And what a wonderful song. It's been yonks since I watched that one.

Ajnabi - She was still playing demented in the 90s? Nahiiiin!

Bollyviewer - Ah, you're obviously correct, but I've become very, very forgiving of 70s Hindi films - especially those with Shashi.

Rum - Yeah, emo Rishi is the sab se accha Rishi, by far!

Avdi - Welcome! The Householder is sitting in my DVD pile, watching mournfully as I pick other DVDs for the team and leave it last. I don't know why I'm not going for it, I think I'm worried about Orientalism. Might give it a go sometime soon, though, if only to please my readership!

desi-at-large said...

I note that it's been three years since this was written and pray that you've watched `The Householder' by now.
Kannu, kannu arre baba jaanu was indeed rad for its times.
Still laughing over your alliterative abilities.
And wow, the Raakhee pattern of screen-dementia - never made that connection before. There's also another movie called Pagli with Rakesh Roshan, I believe. Songs on YouTube.
But even Nisha is sane enough to realize that Kannubaba is not her Shashi of yore and must now do Tapasya with Parikshit (with that spelling, I bet he was truly tested) Sahni as her Humkadam. My deduction entirely.