Patanga is a very simple film based on the very simple film-world problem of not telling the heroine Renu (Vimi) that she has been engaged to marry someone (I forget this character's name, so let's call him by the actor's name, Ajit) other the man she's in love with, Shyam (Shashi Kapoor).
You'd think one of the elder generation who finagled the match would have mentioned this to her, especially because, through a typical "hey, everyone in this story is connected to everyone else!" setup, Shyam's father works for Ajit's family, Shyam and Ajit consider themselves brothers, and her family lives with (and is perhaps financially dependent on?) Ajit in his giant inside-out wedding cake mansion, meaning she spends a lot of time there.
But no. The film would have been 30 minutes long if things had proceeding according to normal-world rationales. So instead poor Renu wonders why previously happily moppet-y Shyam is suddenly sulking and pouting and drowning in drink, while Shyam tries to be as offputting as possible so Renu will forget about him.
This is good news if you like gloomy, self-pitying Shashi and/or songs featuring sharaabishtyle Shashi. There are three such songs in Patanga! First, sad Shashi expressing his melancholy at a grand piano in the main floor living room of the mansion in "Jhoom Ke Ga Yoon Aaj Mere Dil."
We all love a good melancholy-grand-piano-in-mansion-living-room song!
Then there's the considerably more fun and confrontational "Pilo Aaj Pilo," in which Shyam wobblingly attempts to demonstrate to Renu how horrible he is, and thus she should no longer love him, by trying to dance with two white ladies at the same time.
This is top-form Shashi sharaabing, this is. While it is hard to beat the sheer entertainment value of the hero's extreme depravity of dancing with two white women, my heart belongs to the third sad Shashi song, "Sone Deti Hai Na," in which he tawaifs it up with Laxmi Chhaya in front of some of the faceless Important Men of Ajit's social circle.
I'm pretty sure I've never seen a man, let alone a non-tragic hero, lolling around on the floor in someone's house (so, not drunk in the brothel).
In the brief comic relief side plot, Rajendra Nath plays an orphan-thief (a character type you will see again soon in Khanna-o-Rama). Fortunately, he meets the elderly woman who lost her child at the fair (Leela Mishra) almost as soon as we do, and they get that all sorted out within the first half hour or so of the movie.
And guess who part of his family turns out to be!
Squaring away his identity, family, and love interest (an irony-appropriate princess played by Zeb Rehman)
ASAP really does leave nothing else to happen in the movie except the afore-mentioned not-telling-Renu-she-is-engaged and its related misunderstandings and ignorance. Oh, and one completely un-integrated but otherwise awesome song. "Patanga Jal Jal" is lots of fun - especially at 4:20, where Jayshree T's partner whirls around her in circles on his knees -
but it seems completely tacked on. None of the characters in the film are actually in this song; Shashi and Rajendra Nath look at it from afar, but I don't think they're even shown in the same frame as any of the dancers.
At 3:40 in the video above, you see Rajendra Nath grooving along to the song in the audience; I don't known about you, but if I stumbled across a group of energetic dancers singing a catchy ditty about love using the metaphor of a moth and flame, I would certainly stick around to enjoy it and probably do some mad shimmying from the safety of the nearby shrubbery.
Right. I really have nothing more to say about this movie. It's cute enough, but it doesn't have much going on. Since sad, sad Shashi is not my preferred flavor, I grew impatient with how stupid it was that no one would tell Renu they planned to marry her off; it's somewhat understandable that she did not walk around admitting her love affair with Shyam to her family and their host and why he wouldn't admit it either, for risk of upsetting his father's boss/his brother, so that left only the people actually responsible as a way out. Things come out fine in the wash - and by "wash" I mean "mob of torch-wielding villagers dangerously near haystacks" - but I cannot truly recommend this film unless you're a completist of any of the major players or really, really in the mood for sulking or stumbling Shashi.
But since I bothered to take them, here's a parade of screencaps. I am so fond of Rajendra Nath as Shashi's friend/sidekick. They seem to give each other room to do their thing.
A nice self-referential joke pops up a few times.
And speaking of looking like, Ajit loves to paint portraits. Here is his masterpiece:
I wonder if this is actually from a poster for one of his films - or at least the handiwork of one of the amazing poster artists? I love it! And another great "heroine gazes fondly at small picture of Shashi" bit:
(And yes, the color on this dvd is WHACK.)
In "Thoda Ruk Jayegi To," Shashi does the "I will bother you constantly to show you that I like you" shtick. I don't remember him driving a car, but he does dance on one.
Oh Shashi, me too.
Kreepy Kwality Ice Cream girl!
Did I mention there is drinking in this film?
And some sad, sad Shashi?
This is the first film I've seen Vimi in, and she looks to me very much like a cross between Babita and Hema Malini.
And to end, perhaps the best part of this film is that it has two songs with Laxmi Chhaya (which are first and last of the eight songs overall, interestingly - the film begins and ends musically in the same place), and, as ever, she is awesome.
Bas. Watch the songs and enjoy the above pictures of Shashi emoting. Otherwise, skip it.