Wednesday 14 May 2008

Trishna (1978)

One of the cutest scenes in the film. They ham it up, big time.

Trishna won't be converting anyone to the Shashjeev cause, but it is a decent film, worth at least a single viewing because of some cute moments and a very fine Shashi wearing my grandmother's sunglasses.

The plot starts off strong: Aarti (Rakhee) and Sunil (Sanjeev Kumar) used to be a happily married couple, but they've grown apart recently. So apart have they grown that (1) Sunil ridicules his wife's hobbies in front of his colleagues at a work social, (2) Sunil forgets his nephew's name, and (3) Sunil forgets he's on the phone with Aarti and sometimes leaves her on the line for hours. Mother of God. Is this the husband from hell?! Anyway, Aarti is justifiably a little upset with her circumstances. Sure, she's got a big house with servants, but she is bored, lonely and neglected.

The only point in Sanjeev's favor is that, like Rishi, he favors medium-format Russian cameras.

But is that enough to please a woman? NO!

Enter my grandmother! I mean, Vinod (Shashi Kapoor). Now Vinod is one classy guy. He's great with kids, great with jokes, great with fashion, great with looks and he's the new interior designer. Fab-ulous! By the requisite Law of Hindi Movie Irony, Vinod is Aarti's old college classmate and, in a worrying twist, he used to have a thing for her. A thing he still nurtures (see his wallet with her picture inside!). If this is starting to smell like Darr, worry not, Vinod's aching heart is mostly treated with respectful sanity. He may still love her, but he's not a psycho. Now, we, the audience, know that - but tell Aarti!

Grandma!! Oh, wait, no, it's Shashi.

Will readers of the PPCC please compare this picture of Shashi with the "Burt Reynolds" Shashi picture and tell me if they don't seem like two different people.

At first, Aarti just loves the attention and sympathy Vinod showers on her. However she starts to get a little worried about his advances. And things get really awkward when Aarti attempts to commit suicide after Sanjeev forgets their wedding anniversary (sigh, yes really, read on) and Vinod saves her. So, one night when Vinod is all like, innocently, "hello? I just wanted to borrow your butter, ho hum", Aarti's all like, "HOLY SHIT!!" and she shoots him in the head. OK, it was an accident, and she feels awful about it, but now - what to do with the dead interior designer!? Hmm. Per the advice of her useless friend (still not making any comments on the stupidity of the heroines, please read on), they decide to shove Vinod's body into the back of the car and bury him in some remote location. Yes. Really.

OMG. I can't believe I killed our interior designer.

At this point, the film comes apart like poorly kneaded pie crust. Aarti and her friend are positiviely FREAKING OUT that they killed the interior designer by accident. Sunil comes home, all smiles and guilt over his recent neglecting of his wife, and then - yes, really - Vinod wanders back to the house looking bewildered and a bit worse for wear. WTF?! Vinod has suffered brain damage and is now an amnesiac who stares blankly at walls and sometimes gives a perplexed "Ji?!" when people talk to him.


The PPCC seriously considered turning the film off at this point. But we stuck it out to see that all ends well - memories are restored, couples reunited, and interior designs finished.

Honey, I found our interior designer! He was buried in the back under the tulips.

Well. This film could have been fabulous had there been a bit more masala to it. Emotional entanglements, brain damage, guns, interior design, pink shirts and children - this could have been SO GOOD. Instead, the filmmakers decided to play it Western - that is, treating the film as a serious psycho thriller instead of masala melodrama. Was this a remake of something? It sure felt like one.

The PPCC can already suggest a number of improvements that would have turned this unintentionally ridiculous and not-fun thriller into something with a bit more panache. Or, as Farah Khan's villains would say: "Use the Manmohan Desai angle. It always works."
1. Increase the number of songs. Kalyanji-Anandji wrote the music for this and it has merely three songs, which are all a bit meh. We can already suggest a perfect place for one: When Shashi and Rakhee are on their awkward twosome picnic, and it starts to rain. This song would satisfy the conventions of cavorting among trees and sexy wet clothes. It would also be a poignant exposition of Shashi's love for Rakhee and her mixed feelings to him.
2. Sanjeev and Shashi should be brothers, but this will be unbeknownst to them until very late in the film. It can be revealed by:
  • Shashi regaining his memory (perhaps through another song) and remembering their childhood together.
  • Or else the appearance of their long-lost father, played by Pran, who could perhaps also be a neurologist and assist in Shashi's recovery.

3. The cute little kid who is Sanjeev's nephew and Shashi's friend will have suffered from polio and be in a wheelchair - this tragedy can be exploited for some cheap tears during the children's song.
4. The cute little kid's legs will be healed by Pran, who will reveal that it wasn't polio at all but was rather a really intense longing for his mother. (Yes, a longing so intense it caused temporary neurological damage.)
5. His mother will be thought dead for much of the film, until very late, when Shashi regains his memory, and we learn that she is (1) alive and (2) Shashi's wife. She will be played by Rekha.
6. All this necessitates a prologue which will explain (1) why Shashi and Rekha were separated, (2) why Shashi and Sanjeev were separated, and (3) why Pran appears so late in the film. Perhaps Pran could be a doctor on the wrong side of the law? Perhaps Rekha could have become a "dishonored" courtesan woman, because Shashi and Rekha were so poor? This would require a beautiful Umrao Jaan-esque flashback ghazal, made extra poignant by referring to lost husbands and lost sons, while a perplexed "Ji?!"-ing Shashi looks on. This ghazal could replace the lame qawwali already in the film.
7. Rekha will be Rakhee's sister, so that way they can all be related twice-over. This will also explain Shashi's crush on Rakhee - her resemblance to her sister!
8. The true villain of the film will not be Misunderstanding, but will rather be Kader Khan, who seeks vengeance against Pran because the latter failed to save his son's life after Kader Khan and Junior were on the run from the police during a smuggling crack-down. Kader Khan will be the one who made Sanjeev become an overworked doctor and meanwhile kept Shashi and Rekha down.
9. Kader Khan Junior will actually be alive and well and living in Bombay as a policeman. He will be played by Vinod Khanna, and he will reform his wayward father with the use of earnest heartfelt tears, tears, and yet more tears. And maybe another song. Zindagi to beeeeevafaaa hai...
10. In the end, everyone will be reunited into one big happy family. And Kader Khan and Pran will actually be brothers, so that everyone is now related three-times over.

Since we're directing this alternative Trishna, we would also mimic Kaala Patthar's super-abrupt ending followed by aerial shots of a coal mine and hauntingly beautiful and upbeat choral music. At the end of the rolling credits, we would then throw in a Muqaddar ka Sikandar-style plug for good measure: "Remember It Was a PPCC Production!"

Tiny Tim's lovin' it!

Shashi's lovin' it! We're all lovin' it!


Anonymous said...

Oh god! I have no desire to see this, but I will purchase your improved version. I loathe stupid heroines above all else.

Also, I like how the addition of Pran is a key element in your new, improved version of this film.

When I get to write and direct my Bollywood film, I'm going to beg 80-year old Pran to make a cameo.

Anonymous said...

Peeps! You have *almost* missed your calling! Get thee to Bollywood, stat!

They could really use you, judging by recent releases.

This was in my Nehaflix shopping cart, will ponder upon whether it should stay there or be removed....

It is never, ever too late for a Pran appearance.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Wait- I'm confused- Rakhi shoots him in the head, and he comes back?? How? I'm tell.

Bollyviewer said...

Hey PPCC, let me know when your version of the movie comes out. Do you think if I send back my Trishna DVD and explain how I wanted your version, Nehaflix'll replace my DVD?

You dont mention the Laila-Majnu item scene - the only good thing in this whole dreary mess!

Anarchivist said...

If anyone is watching "Dexter" -- I don't want to spoil anything, but there's a plot twist in the first season that is right out of your commentary. Now I realize that, if only there were some item songs in between murders, it would be the very best tv show ever!

Of course, what tv show couldn't be improved with masala-ization?

Beth Loves Bollywood said...

Okay WHY is there no comment that THAT IS BINDU?!?!?

Ahem. Anyway.

"WHAT?!?" I said out lout to my living room as I was reading the part when they shot Shashi.

I echo the vah-vahs for your improvements. Could we also have a double role? Maybe the kid's mom is played not Rekha but by Rakhee2? (You'll see why I want that after you watch Sharmeelee.)

Beth Loves Bollywood said...

On further thought, the story might also be zinged up by further "playing it western" - namely, by having the pink shirt-wearing, good-social-skills-having, dashing interior decorator actually just be gay, and then he could fall for Kader Khan Junior Vinod Khanna. And then we could have Shashi and Vinod dance together and the world could end and my head would explode.

Filmi Girl said...

Beth, you'll just have to wait for "Dostanna" to get "Pretending to be Gay" John Abraham pretending to fall for Abhishek (or something). :D

If the gay storyline becomes popular, we'll have so many more exciting plot options!

the PPCC is a big fat idiot said...

Filmi Girl - The stupid heroines are indeed VERY stupid, and Rakhee unfortunately plays on her second setting, the one I don't like: Demented Woman. Ughh.

Pran is always key. KEY.

Memseeb - Ha, maybe I'll mail this off to a Bombay producer. Mehh... I'd say this is one to rent, not buy.

Shweta - Ooh, don't want to give it away as it's a spoiler, but it involves the cunning use of a revelatory flashback.

Bollyviewer - Ah yes, the Laila-Majnu scene! Only capped it. I agree: it's the best scene in the film.

Anarchivist - Dexter, as in Dexter's Laboratory, the cartoon!? I knew they sometimes parodied Kurosawa, but I never thought Hindi! Masala TV. I would have died and gone to heaven.

Beth - OMG I DIDN'T EVEN NOTICE!! You really are eagle eyed! And OMG you're right - it should be two Rakhees, a la Sharmilee. That would explain Shashi's strange attraction. If we get a double role, I want to be the dumb one and you can wear an "I'm With Stupid (arrow)" t-shirt!

Beth2 - Slash Hindi! I think that would really mean that the world had spun itself off its axis. Hot, though.

Filmi Girl2 - Must investigate Dostanna! Must also investigate Dharam-Veer!

Beth Loves Bollywood said...

The BFug (=Bollywood Fugly) crew is all a-lather about Dostanna. We wants our Abhishek!

Anarchivist said...

Ha ha ha! No, it's just called "Dexter." It's a cable series about a serial killer with a moral code, so he only kills other evil people. Surprisingly very good. But a masala "Dexter's Laboratory" would also be awesome!

mittalji said...

I am at

Anonymous said...

I happened to see this movie just yesterday. It was not that bad as u say. But yeah I watched it till rakhee's sister , dearest Bindu tells her to be careful. But, considering the time in which it was made, movie is quite gud. And there was one honest shirt which said"Pink is power". So, I no longer associate pink with gay... World is very weird... Shashi kapoor and Sanjeev kumar were definitely good. As far as stupidity of heroines goes, it may be reaction in panic.... Anyway, enjoyed reading your review..

memsaab said...

I finally got around to this, and I too spent a great deal of time thinking of better plot devices! It just cried out for help :)