REVIEW

Movie Review: Aa Gale Lag Jaa - An Oldie, A Goodie, and ...

April 16, 2007
Beth Loves Bollywood

What makes a movie suitable material for one's Desicritics debut? Kudrat (even starring my almost-favorite Akshaye Khanna) was boring and Chokher Bali escaped me completely, so how about one that features a small but important plot point that a week of thinking still hasn't unraveled? Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973) is the story of almost-couple Sharmila Tagore (Preeti) and Shashi Kapoor (Prem), who meet cute on roller skates, romp in the snow, and then get torn apart by her stern father, who doesn't think unemployed Prem can be trusted around his medical student daughter. Add in Master Tito as an adorable disabled child and Shatrughan Sinha as a skilled doctor (Amar) who is both threat and hope and let the weeping begin.

Spoilers follow.

You know how it's going to end, but this film requires more energy to sort all that out than some other Bollywood stories. And here's where the energy is needed: after the romp in the snow, Preeti falls in an icy stream, and when Prem gets her to the shabby mountain house, she's in such shock or fear or chill that she cannot speak - or get herself out of her wet clothes, so...well, you can guess. Prem has to do it for her, and he can find nothing to revive her except body heat. His discomfort over the situation plain on his face, he uncomfortably takes of his own wet clothes and slips into bed with her. A few scenes later, she's pregnant.

This scene probably does not merit the attention that my brain has been giving it in the days since I watched the film. But I cannot figure out what I am supposed to believe has just happened. Given that she was incoherent, could she possibly have been active in making such a decision? On the other hand, in the morning after, she's all sheepish smiles, which I have to believe means she made a choice and was happy with it. Surely a viewer isn't supposed to accept that someone would be sappily smiling after - not to put too fine a point on it - being raped? Frankly, that was a lot for me to deal with, and I wish I could ask the screenwriter what they intended me to think had happened. Any of the options I come up with leave me in bizarro world, in which either 1) our hero is a monster, 2) our heroine is happy to have been raped, or 3) we have to assume, with no actual information, that Preeti made a miraculous recovery from her hypothermia and was happy to sleep with Prem all in one short night.

But I'm a seasoned Bollywood-watcher, happy to put disbelief aside when needed, so I took #3 - but as you can see I'm still not entirely satisfied with that option, least of evils that it is. To my surprise, I found disbelief much harder to ignore when the social and emotional issues around the creation of a human life were involved. And anyway, the real villain is of course Preeti's dad, who twice schemes to keep the two lovers apart.

Aa Gale Lag Jaa has most of the Recommended Masala Allowance of family drama, comedy (though some of that is unintentional, as we watch Shashi Kapoor whiz around on skates and even take out four criminals, also on skates), and romance, though the elements are not as evenly distributed as I would like, with most of the comedy front-loaded, leaving the second half of the movie for Perm's broken-hearted suffering and Rahul's heart-melting antics that unknowingly bring about the reconciliation we've been anticipating.

In all honesty I cannot say this movie offers much that you haven't seen before - except maybe the roller skating, which really is quite enjoyable - but it you want a good cry, it's all but a sure thing. And there's certainly nothing wrong with seeing something you've seen before, put in a new package and delivered by a different combination of actors. I adore both the leads, and I can report that they turn in perfectly good performances, much stronger in the funny and sparring bits than in the melodramatic.

Not remotely Indian, but very, very interested - and completely in love with Bollywood!
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Movie Review: Aa Gale Lag Jaa - An Oldie, A Goodie, and ...

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Author: Beth Loves Bollywood

 

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#1
Amrita
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April 16, 2007
12:46 AM

Lmao Beth! Welcome to DC!

Ah, Shashi Kapoor and Sharmila "Mickey Mouse" Tagore (as she's fondly referred to in my house) on roller skates. What's not to like? The scene that gave you all that grief is a plot point dear to many a Bollywood writer's heart - saved from hypothermia by sex!

Its the chaste version of getting drunk and making out with that hot guy you wouldnt have so much as made eye contact with if you weren't so trashed. But in Bollywood, drunken sex becomes a medicinal necessity and face is saved all around.

Glad you enjoyed the movie. Btw, if you go the writer's forums then I'm inviting short posts on your fav oldie (pre-1990) movie for inclusion in a new feature called Take Two. I'd love it if you were to be a part of it.

#2
Sujatha
URL
April 16, 2007
01:03 AM

Beth, welcome to DC!

This reminds me of the time my (much older) cousin was telling me the story of a Tamil movie and this exact same situation occurs in that as well. She went on and on about the heroine feeling cold, the hero taking her clothes off trying to make her warm, etc. and then a pregnant (pun!) pause and then she said, "the heroine became pregnant." I was like, "Wha?!" I didn't know the mechanics then and that description left a lot more questions in my mind than it satisfied any curiousity, I tell ya.

But it is Bollywood code. Everyone understands it at some level and no one understands it logically, if that makes any sense.

#3
Gizmo
April 16, 2007
03:43 AM

ze Charrrukkh being the topmost actor of ze booollywwood shuld lead by exampple and take broom and startt cleanin up the bombay, home to the mighty boooollywwooood and city with most shanty-town in the world !

#4
Aspi
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April 16, 2007
10:43 AM

Beth, not only is it good to see you on DC, but my favorite Gizmo is back. I missed him so!

About the movie - between Sharmila and Shashi what's the dimple quotient you think? The highest Bollywood has ever seen.

#5
PH
URL
April 16, 2007
10:44 AM

Good piece, Beth. Really enjoyed it.

#6
Beth
URL
April 16, 2007
03:28 PM

Thanks everyone for the encouragement and thoughts! I'm delighted to be here and can't wait 'til I figure out how to actually post properly...which is why you're supposed to read the manual first, which I plum forgot. Anyway....

Sujatha, I know exactly what you mean about there being things that we all agree to assign a certain meaning to and understand yet that we all know don't make sense. This has to fall under that category. But being of a research-y mind, I'm just dying to know if we're supposed to assume her actual consent. It's just too creepy otherwise. Although maybe I'm giving this all sorts of weight and meaning it's not supposed to have :)

Aspi, I'll have to get out my special Dimple Measuring Device. It might blow a fuse.

#7
Bishwanath Ghosh
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April 17, 2007
01:48 AM

Lovely piece!

And, of course, the music of Aa Gale Lag Jaa! -- each song is a gem. I would recommend Ae Mere Bete to all.

#8
Maja
URL
April 18, 2007
07:01 AM

I must see this for the rollerskate action if nothing else! It sounds great ...
An entertaining review as always, Beth :) AND I found this excellent website thanks to the link on your blog.

#9
The Buddha Smiled
URL
April 21, 2007
01:47 PM

Hey Beth - welcome to Desicritics! :) This is a madly active, (and actively mad) forum of some of the best (and worst!) that desi blogging has to offer. Am sure you're going to love being a part of it.

Dimple Measuring Quotient? That sounds like something a sleazy Rajesh Khanna could have use for...

Has anyone ever thought about compiling a list of all the Bollywood movies that involve hypothermic sex?

#10
Deepa Krishnan
URL
April 21, 2007
11:35 PM

Welcome to DC.

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