Today I was accused of being VCD-resistant. It's true, despite the smorgasbord of wonders they offer. They're famously unsubtitled, and, call me crazy, but I figure the spoken (and sung) words are pretty important to understanding a film. The ones I've seen also suffer from poor audio and visual quality, and the Moser Baer VCD of Rootha Na Karo was no exception, with the second disc sounding like it was being transmitted by a radio station just out of range. But when a very nice person sends you a VCD of the last of Shashi and Nanda's nine films together,* it's hardly likely you'd drag your feet. Look how it visually encapsulates its very raison d'être!
It also hosts a parade of under-loved people - Aruna Irani in the female half of the comic subplot (the other being Rajendra Nath, my favorite comic subplot actor for a Shashi project), Kumari Naaz as a scheming buttinski, and Laxmi Chayya - who would have been enough enticement on their own.**
My movie-related Hindi has increased steadily over the years. I can catch weddings, lies, corpses, brothers, or ghosts with the best of 'em, but of course even simplistic plots hold tons of language I just can't follow from visuals and tone of voice alone. It's not fair to writer/director Sunder Dar and everyone else who worked on this for me to say much about it, but here's what I gather: it has a ton of great music by C. Ramachandra***, the side plot and melodrama are kept to a minimum, and Shashi and Nanda are clearly very comfortable working with each other and create a cute vibe of an established relationship that is on its way to being ironed out into happily ever after. Her character (Neeta) isn't a complete snob or quivering mess by the end of the film, so that's nice too.
I know I've done a Nanda/Shashi madlib already, but I'm not sure how else to post pleasant yet uncertain source material. And no, not posting is not an option. You'll understand why when we get to Nanda's hats. Ready? Put on your creative caps, get a piece of paper, write down your very best ideas, then fill in as you read.
1. transitive verb, past tense
4. plural noun with slightly negative or ominous connotations
5. part of the body
6. occupation/vocation that probably doesn't make most practitioners rich
7. intransitive verb, 3rd person singular
9. adjective with positive connotations
10. type of Bollywood stock side character
13. type of clothing, plural
15. adjective, comparative form
17. household item not bigger than a breadbox, plural
18. a different household item not bigger than a breadbox, plural
20. location within a city
21. verb, infinitive
22. part of the body (different from #5)
Wait, what? Neeta (Nanda) and Sudhir (Shashi) have already ___1___? And they're already in a ___2___? Ooookay, movie, have it your way and buck all the conventions.
Awww. Everything's hilltops and flowers!
It's hard to make a story out of that, though, so the script establishes that the couple has a little quirk: Neeta constantly gets ___3___ at Sudhir (not sure why, exactly) and then he placates her and they make up, over and over.
And of course there are a few ___4___. The first is innocent enough: Sudhir seems worried about what Neeta has on her ___5___. Can't say I blame him.
The second is that Sudhir is a ___6___ and Neeta is, of course, rich (but you might have assumed that already, given that we've got Nanda in the role). But the most important to the plot is that Naina (Kumari Naaz doing her best Bloefeld impression),
Neeta's cousin, falls for Sudhir. She ___7___ to break them up by telling Neeta that Sudhir is only interested in her for her ___8___ and is using her.
Naina is quite the mastermind: the couple's established cycle of squabble/make up is now aggravated by Neeta's new suspicions.
Apart from that, the movie is ___9___, especially when Laxmi Chayya shows up in a superfluous but fun song set in a ___10___ community in the mountains.
How could anybody not be happy with this amazingly realistic ___11___ out their window?
Or with such awesome ___12___ shirts to wear?
Shashi really is king of the superfly button-up shirt, isn't he?
Except for her headwear, Neeta has some great outfits too. I particularly loved her ___13___.
Meanwhile, Sudhir's friend Anil (Rajendra Nath) has somehow scored himself a bevy of beautiful women, each one determined to be his one and only.
This is where I especially rued my lack of Hindi - it's quite hard to understand, based just on what I could see, what about him could attract this many women. But soon he gets snared by a new ___14___ (Aruna Irani, already adorable at just eighteen years old).
Her accessories are as ___15___ as Neeta's yet somehow far more stylish. Frankly, I do not know what happened with these two, and the movie seems to abandon their plot without giving it much ___16___, but they have a cute song, so that's probably good enough.
Speaking of good songs, check out this fantasy-like set piece with oversized ___17___ and ___18___!
Is it just me, or is it ___19___ that we see a hero in the big fantastic set piece, especially in such snazzy costumes?
Fab! In addition to wearing blinged-out costumes, Shashi also does the twist at Bombay's favorite ___20___.
Briyanshu, these shots are for you!
Naina's evil ___21___ builds,
Her cardigan is the best knitwear I've seen in Bollywood in the years before Rani's outfits in Black. I covet it.
and eventually she manages to convince Neeta that Sudhir is doing something really sinister. In actuality, he's doing something that ensures Neeta submit to old-fashioned gender roles and robs her of her pragmatic independence - so yes, still fairly sinister in my book - but never mind. Nanda gets ___21___ and Shashi shows us another weapon in his arsenal of emotional attyaachaar, the Clenched ___22___ of Ethical Disgust!
And then he broods while staring into a fire - a special treat for the emo sadists out there!
Nahiiiin! We like our Nanda and Shashi romping in the snow in dorky knitwear, not sulking by the fire! Surely Naina's machinations will not succeed! How will Neeta ever be sure of Sudhir's love? Can Sudhir put up with any more doubts and false accusations? How will Sudhir ever be able to control a woman who can fix her own ___23___ (which I think actually doubles nicely as a symbol of her enduring independence and individual free will)?
Find out in Rootha Na Karo - or, if you don't have subtitles either, enjoy the movie you've just written, providing your own narration and interpretation of events as needed. I think Shashi will be delighted either way.
Aside to producers: this is one weird logo you have here.
Aside to makeup artists: maybe eyeliner that is as broad as the person's eyebrows has somehow gone a smidge too far.
* Shashi historians, is she his most frequent heroine?
** The credits say Jayshree T (known to me as the cabaret dancer in Sharmeelee) is in this too, but I'm not sure I spotted her.
*** Though apparently "Aap Ka Chehra Mash Allah" is a lift of Bert Kaempfert's "That Happy Feeling."