I think this movie was about forgiveness (of both self and others), or maybe temptation, or recognizing the flaws in one's sense of reality, but I'm not sure. The question I've been thinking about all day is what it meant to say by including small, simple scenes of things you don't see very often in popular Hindi films - not making a big production out of being shocking but just showing adults, both younger and older, making decisions without thinking them through as far as they should have. Some characters demonstrate a lot more id than responsibility and others are self-sacrificing, and generally these behaviors coincide with values that are basically categorized as modern or traditional.* Yet I don't think the movie is saying "non-traditional is bad, look what happens to people when women stay single and have jobs alongside men, look what happens when a couple gets married without parental approval." There's something about the everyday-ness (at least, "everyday" by my own personal standards) of some of these scenes that drew me into the story and the characters much more than I would have thought a 1970s movie about temptation and complicated relationships would. We see a young newlywed trying to buy condoms, the couple rolling around in bed,
a man visiting a woman who is not his wife as she steps out of the shower,
a lechy older husband who gropes his young female students,
and, most interestingly, a wife who, marching into her husband's workplace to find out what he's been doing all those late nights, seems to wear as a sign of her independence the flared pants and tight shirts that she earlier ditched for salwaar kameez at the husband's request.
It's very difficult to say much more without giving away the whole story, and for once I really want to respect that, because I would love for more people to watch this and talk about it with me, and I know most people don't like knowing the plot before they see the movie. If you're really skittish and think you might like to watch this - and you should, as it's really interesting - then you should probably play it safe and not read any further, although I'm not going to say anything that isn't in the imdb plot summary.
The title alone tells you quite a bit about what's going on. Translated as either "the other man" or "the second man," so I am told by Hindi-speakers, you know there are at least three people in this love story. In fact, there are four people: Karan (Rishi Kapoor) and Timsi (Neetu Singh) are impetuous newlyweds, and he hires Nisha (Rakhee) to work for his advertising agency, but she's got a mysterious past that involves Shashi (Shashi Kapoor, who is my new FPMBF runner-up, by the way - I simply cannot get enough Shashi).
I find it really interesting that the title refers to the second/other man, shifting the focus of the story to Nisha, instead of the second/other woman, which would make it centered on the Karan-Timsi marriage, which is what you'd expect from Bollywood. The movie opens with a long stretch of nothing but scenes of Karan and Timsi falling in love and getting married (despite his father's disapproval), which I think sets the viewer up to assume the movie is primarily concerned with them, but after finishing it, I think the story was really about Nisha, and it is surprisingly sympathetic to her, even though she's got her sights firmly set on a married man. Though she is technically the instigator, Nisha clearly has a lot of heart and does not mean to do anything wrong - she's just blinded by pain. She also has the tough love of Shashi's best friend, who eventually gets through to her that she cannot try to re-live her past with someone new, especially when said someone is married.
As uncondemning as the movie is of Nisha, it is equally tolerant of Karan, who is foolish, bossy, selfish, rash young man. He's also...I can't think of the word, but "easily swayed by appeals to his ego, his feelings of success, and his love of a good time," a gadabout. He's an ethical lightweight, that's what he is, who seldom thinks before he acts. Karan responds quickly and in kind to Nisha's advances, so he's certainly not a quivering victim of a predatory older woman - she may have started it, but he was more than willing to finish it. I mean, I ask you, is this the behavior of an innocent man?
Karan is chastised by his father for his dubious behavior, but the ending of the film is completely filmy and far too easy to follow from the difficult emotions everyone is feeling - and of course Timsi has to capitulate, even though her husband was behaving as above, apologizing for something that is completely self-preserving and reasonable. Timsi and Karan don't even have a discussion at the end - they voice-over their thoughts, as though they are reading each other's minds. Highly unsatisfying. Anyway, Rishi Kapoor played this role so effectively that I really disliked him - and began to wonder if maybe he's just actually like that, so easily did he pout and whine and break when his sense of pleasure was restrained.
So: please see it and tell me what you think. I think there are many interesting bits going on here, but maybe I'm making too much of things.
And now for some silly photos. It was 1977, so it was bound to happen.
- Karan clearly wears way too much cologne, since we can see it on camera.
This goes on for several seconds - I can smell it from here.
- Shashi offers Nisha some romance advice.
I think he's reinforcing the idea that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Interpretations welcome. Bollywood love advice is bound to be good.
- You can check out Bollywood Fugly for the movie's few wardrobe problems, but I refuse to say that these particular sunglasses are anything other than superfly.