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.
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?!