So, what happens when friend, guest blogger and fellow Bollywood aficionado Achala Srivatsa traipses into her living room, pours herself some red wine, kicks off her high heels and settles herself down on her comfy couch that’s pointed towards the telly? Well, read on to find out her story…
While surfing channels on a lazy Saturday afternoon, I suddenly happened upon SSS which, as anyone born before 1980 knows, was Raj Kapoor’s Magnum Soft Pornus – where an excruciatingly coy Zeenat Aman manages to produce one of her most hilarious roles yet.
In the interest of providing life improving information to my readers (mainly friends, relatives and acquaintances who feel duty-bound to read my stuff) I decided to watch this absolute gem of a movie, or rather skim through it in 10 minutes. Here are a few highlights that prove my point – If I have missed out any important detail, feel free to correct me.
First off, here is a woman whose face has been horribly disfigured (HD) by a fire or some such and has, therefore, taken a cunning vow to conceal half her face BUT reveal all her body so that everyone’s attention is drawn to the two bits of loin cloth and the laughably itsy bitsy blouse cut to her navel. By the way, her name is Rupa (Get it? Get it?) As an aside, let me say – ZA, the jasmine in the hair… what were you thinking?
Anyway, while flitting lightly along the road, she sees our Fair Hero (FH) and promptly jumps into a waterfall with him – ostensibly to scrub his back…no, really… to scrub his back. They quickly get entangled in the bushes as Lata Mangeshkar sings some of the worst songs of her career (all the while closely covering her face with her ghunghat –important point that).
Needless to say no one realizes that ZA is HD until fairly late into the movie. By everyone, of course, we refer to Shashi Kapoor, whose brain has evidently been so addled by her fashion statement that he cannot read between the lines of deeply inscrutable statements like “If I were horribly disfigured would you still love me?” Who’d guess she was dropping a hint as heavy as a brick? Evidently everyone except our FH.
Interwoven are his and her fantasies where ZA changes her regulation loin cloth for a pearl embedded one and then tries out a Bharat Natyam style dance which will go down in Bollywood history as one of the most awkward dances ever seen on screen. The song will be remembered, or forgotten as the case may be, as one of Mukesh’s worst ever – the poor man’s loyalty to RK being the only reason he took this up no doubt. I have seldom watched anyone embarrass themselves so thoroughly and elaborately –although the endless scenes where ZA weeps copiously wrapped around an embarrassed Shiv Ling come close.
Meanwhile the wedding takes place and the groom discovers the grand deception. Clearly hoary sayings about beauty being skin deep / beauty is as beauty does etc. were not drilled into his head at his mother’s knee, and he goes into an apoplectic rant – “What? Her? But … she’s horribly disfigured!! But she’s got this thing on her face!” She responds with ”Please don’t send me back, my Baba will die!” Evidently, Baba’s house rules on dressing are pretty relaxed (nothing over half a meter) but married beti cannot return to her father’s house.
But wait, there’s more – Our FH thinks there’s been a switch! That the lady with the scar is a stand-in for the real beauteous ZA. Now once ZA figures out that the love of her life has the IQ of a pebble, her plan falls into place. She meets him secretly as the Rupa of his fevered imagination – with a coy ghunghat drawn across half her face, while she holds it in place with her teeth. You’d think FH would demand to see her face, but nooo. Long story short – pregnancy, disbelief, drama, reconciliation.
Now if these highlights don’t make you want to DVR this movie and watch it every week, I don’t know what will. But to get back to my original point – why did Raj Kapoor hate Zeenat Aman?