Why isn't this movie better? Pyar Ka Mausam
This is the best moment in the whole film. Except that, tragically, Shashi does not look as much like Shashi as he does in many finer moments in other movies (hence the comparison in the first place!). How can such a thing happen? I don't know, but there you have it.
Seriously. Why? It's so enh. The bratty-disolves-to-lurve romance is cute enough, and there are other typical dramatic elements in place - fires, lost family members, adoptions, inheritances, blindness, evil bandits - that should all add up to a perfectly workable movie. But they don't. It's just...blah.
Asha Parekh's feisty Seema is one of the two good components.*
She's bratty and loud and takes every opportunity to show off her dancing skills. As she should, as a 60s heroine. Plus she gets to be drunk while wearing a large metal fish on her head! What's not to love! Asha works her facial expressions and voice like crazy; she's very physical in the role, with whole-body pouts and winks. You could probably critique it as being cartoony, but I enjoyed it anyway. I'd like to say I was fond of the hero, Shashi Kapoor's Sunil/Sundar/Pyarelal/lord he has a lot of identities in this movie (I'll call him Sunil in the rest of the post to avoid confusion), but I wasn't particularly.
He's kind of smug and pushy, self-confident in a somewhat off-putting way, and he lacks the flirty, chipper, sweet charms a 60s hero should have. Despite his tragic childhood and the drama of the familial lost-and-found reveal, he comes off as blankly sunny and spoiled, just gliding around and being blithe with most of the other characters. Given the setup of separated family members, you know it won't be like that forever. Later on, Sunil has a meltdown and Shashi gets to do his anguish thing,
yelling at his adoptive parents that they were selfish to have taken him in when they found him as a toddler abandoned by a temple. Ingrate! Unless I missed a scene, the film does not have Sunil and the people who raised him reconcile, either, abandoning them entirely in favor of his biological parents. There are a few moments, like this one, when I thought Sunil's lines and Shashi's performance are overdone - and not at all in the easy-breezy character in the first part of the story. Shashi...disappoints. Sigh. It was bound to happen sooner or later. He doesn't have the most interesting role to work with, but I don't think he does much with it other than prance around with a guitar - itself a fine tactic, but it does not a movie make. The character and the performance are unengaging.
Nirupa Roy does her usual ma thing. Here she is before the dramatic trauma (or should that be traumatic drama?) and after, with an added layer of krazzy4.
The comic relief guys - a Lucknow poet and his secretary, who says the same catchphrase over and over - are soooo annoying. Fast-forward past them with all due speed.
The poet has foot-long flowers attached to the end of his shoes.
There are a bunch of other people running around - friends and relations (almost everyone is related in some way or other, even the bad guys) - but all you really need to know is that they either tangle up the threads of misinformation and misidentification or they help tease them apart and lead Seema and Sunil, and Sunil and his history, to togetherness. It doesn't even end satisfactorily. It's one of those stories that just stops. There's a big fight, then a dozen of the side characters come running up to the scene - all in a line, no less - and then the film cuts to this.
We're left to assume the two figures are Seema and Sunil, but the director doesn't show us their faces. Huh? It's like the writers were reviewing their work, got to the end, and then slapped themselves on the forehead yelling "Oh right! It's called Pyar Ka Mausam, not Fire and Fisticuffs Ka Mausam, so we'd better remind people about the romance!" and stuck the Seema/Sunil-ish couple on before the credits roll. (And no, in my opinion, the title does not suit the film.)
As usual, PPCC sums it up well: the whole movie sits awkwardly and is oddly dull, like Sunil's unbuiquitous blah brown hat.
In addition to Asha Parekh, the other bright spot, and an exceptional one at that, is R. D. Burman's music and its picturizations. The film's signature tune, "Tum Bin Jaoon Kahan," which we hear three different times, didn't move me, but I loved "Aap Se Miliye," in which Seema performs a dance about various bad boyfriends**, including Sunil!
The different relationships have different settings, including the mountainside picnic where she and Sunil first meet, a Mughal palace (not pictured), Egypt (with many mini pyarmids and sphinxes), a Spanish courtyard (hence the toredaor and flamenco getups), and...well, I guess it's the wild west, since she's dressed as a pink cowgirl, but there's also a windmill, which confused me. In the last scene, she takes her pistol and picks off all the bad boyfriends one by one until the last one falls at her feet in remorse. It's really cute. In "Aap Chahe Mujhko," Sunil pretends to flirt with a very tacky blond dancer to make Seema jealous (as you do).
She never speaks - she just shimmies. Seema and her friends storm into the cabaret in matching costumes (she's in the fish barrette and silver fish-emblazoned red skirt) (as you do) and interrupt her with a full choreographed song (as you do), turning everyone's attention back to Seema, where it belongs. I don't know what this song was about, but it comes off as sassy and "I'm better than she is! You're stupid not to choose me!" (A proto "Hey! You! I don't like your girlfriend!", perhaps?) Next, Seema is slipped a mickey and almost raped by a guy she meets at the cabaret, Sunil saves the day, and then she (oh okay, Lata Mangeshkar) slur-sings another cute song ("Main Na Miloongi"), lurching and grooving around as Sunil rolls his eyes at her escapades. Then there's "Che Khush Nazare," i.e. "The Gypsy Song." (You can see him do that goofy back-and-forth kicking move that the Boogie Woogie look-alike parodies in the previous post!) There's a silly backstory about how Sunil's dad once showed up at this same house and sang with the gypsies and won his mother's heart, so Sunil resolves to do the same with Seema and sings with the gypsies too.
And no, there is no particular reason for the story to have gypsies. They do show up again later in the movie to help out in a fight, but they could have been farmers or townspeople or whatever. However, what they lack in reasonable exposition they make up for in costumes and musical stylings, so I'm definitely pro their inclusion.
You'd think - or I thought, at least - that a late 60s movie, no matter how uninteresting, would be saved by mega Shashi screentime. Oodles of yummy Shashi! But nahiiiin! it is not to be in Pyar Ka Mausam. Frankly, he is not styled to ultimate potential. See the bleh hair? Too poofy and unmoving. Not Manoj Kumar poofy, but still. Does not live up to expectations.
Suit jacket=good. Cravat=potentially good. This particular combo=Thurston Howell.
Update to post (November 11, 2008): alert reader Temple has described Shashi's look in this film as "Masala Mister Bean." Perfect.
Still, the Shashi Pradesh Ministry of Culture, Department of Outreach and Public Relations, requires that I share whatever Shashilicousness I can find, so here it is.
I very rarely find brooding attractive, but Shashi has made it so.
Hero posing! (And I do like the white suit.)
The hills are aliiiive with the sounds of Shaaashi (la lalala)! The scenery in this movie is a definite plus.
Fake-pretend baby Shashi is cute too.
The other things I liked about this movie are mostly inconsequential and irrelevant, but I'll include them just for proof that the movie is not full-on unpleasant - just unsuccessful at the more important goals of movie-ness.
Pale pink sari with matching lipstick and hair flowers=do. Green polka dots with green stripes and capris=do.
Love the orange pants and big white sunglasses.
Dapper, jovial friends=do. Here they have just been introduced to Sunil, who greets them with "Hello everybody!" (what a dork) and they all smile and wave back. This whole scene reminds me of the 60s segment of "Woh Ladki Hai Kahan" in Dil Chahta Hai (best picturization EVER), where the kids cheerfully romp on a mountainside.***
As PPCC pointed out, the self-referential humor is delightful (see top image). Trying to woo Seema, Sunil says he needs to tell her something important and takes her hands. She asks why he had to grab her hands, and he explains that that's how it's done in the movies.
Yeah you have! Done by smoothies like Shashi!
Two tiny visual details I liked. First, the credits overlap double Os in people's names, leading to
As previously mentioned, I find the "oo" in "Shashi Kapoor" very satisfying to say - Shashi should have "ooooh" in his name, in some sort of beneficent tautologicial propriety - and I appreciate it being emphasized. Or maybe the cirlces overlapping are just a reminder that this is a story about love and (re)union. Second, as Sunil sings to Seema in a garden adorned with Greco-ish statues (as you do), we get a nice parallel of posterior drapery.
It'd be better if he were making the OK sign next to one of their rears, like in "Tumse Milke Dilka Jo Haal," but it's not that kind of song.
Ugh, all that, and I haven't even answered my own initial question. To close, I don't know why this movie didn't engage me. I even watched it twice, popping it back in the DVD player when I realized I couldn't think of anything to say about it after my initial viewing. To be fair, that was with Antarra, who is very funny and very encouraging of Shashi-related/inspired tangents, and we were chatting a lot, so I missed a few things. But that's why I knew I needed to watch it again! I can't in all honesty say it's EPIC FAIL or anything, but it just didn't add up to anything special for me, and you can find better iterations of any of its good qualities elsewhere.
* Someday I'm going to get someone to do my hair and makeup like this so I can properly test out what it's like to be a 60s movie heroine.
** The songs on this DVD weren't subtitled, so I'm guessing at the nuances of their content.
***OMG Is Saif supposed to be SHASHI in that song? That would be so great! Post-modern movie pyaar overload!