Rajnigandha (1974)

First off —- aaaaaarrrrrrgggghhhhhh! Hindi movie subtitles make me crazy sometimes, the way they randomly appear and disappear just when you need them most. In this case, the *most important line* of the film was lost to me. I have no clue what happened at the end (or more accurately, WHY what happened at the end happened). All I know is that Deepa was happy and there were subtitles:

deepa happy

Then she became sad and disturbed, and the subtitles were gone:

sad deepa

I do know that on the way there I enjoyed sumptuous 1970’s era fashions and general grooviness*…

navin_glasses.jpg

and nostalgic views of Bombay and Delhi. Amol Palekar was sweet, Vidya Sinha and Ranjita Thakur very beautiful (in spite of it being the 70s, and who among us can say that)…and the story slow as molasses. I don’t know why, but I just need more action in my films. But it was a trip back in time for sure.

And if anyone reading this can explain the end to me, I will be most grateful.

*Sunglasses so huge they would completely engulf poor little Nicole Ritchie’s head

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30 Comments to “Rajnigandha (1974)”

  1. I haven’t seen this movie but I can picture it very very well thanks to your summary. I like your use of the photos and comments on the subtitles. And it is quite funny. (-:

  2. Well, this posting of yours is one and half years old. Since nobody has answered your query, here is an answer. Hope it helps. BTW, I just love this slow movies. It helps me unwind.

    The scene goes somewhat like this:
    Her thoughts after she receives the telegram:
    “Navin, why didn’t you send a letter? I wanted to hear this news from you.”

    Then she receives the letter from Navin, which says “Congratulations on receiving the job. I I had informed Ira about it and and asked her to send you a telegram. Rest in next”, at which she becomes sad.
    and it echoes “rest in next”, “rest in next”, “rest in next” and she gets sadder and sadder! Well, she is disappointed, that he doesn’t say/write the words, which she wanted to hear/read.

    Then Amol Paleker arrives with Rajnigandha (Polianthes tuberosa) flowers.
    (Rajnigandha: Perfume of the evening. Since these flowers are moth moth-pollinated, they bloom in the evening and give a beautiful scent)
    Vidya (thinks): Your touch, your embrace only these are true, all else is false, wrong!
    Vidya: Where were you all this time?
    Amol (noticing her tears): Oh, your Bombay job! Forget it, that is no reason to be upset. Do you know, what? I’ve been promoted. All our officers are nice and just. But we’ll have to remain in Delhi”
    Vidya: I don’t want to go to Bombay
    Amol: So our road for marriage is clear. C’mon, leave me now. Let me put the flowers in the vase.
    Vidya: No.

    Title song

  3. Ah, that does help—thanks harvey :-) although I still wouldn’t have liked the movie. It was too much like a Merchant Ivory film, where people just sit around and think, and look at each other, but nothing much happens and they don’t really say anything and the film doesn’t really go anywhere. Maybe it’s too much like my regular life where I sit around by myself and don’t do much, and nothing really ever happens (which I actually like). I don’t need to unwind with more of the same, I need to be entertained! ;-)

  4. What I liked about Rajnigandha is its simplicity.
    But I understand, when you say that it drags and the voice over all the time tends to get on the nerves. One can conveniently do other things alongside.

    The movie reminds me of my childhood. I must have been 4 years or so at that time and these 70’s prints and all bring back memories of those times.
    What is remarkable about the film is, that it brings in so many salient features of 70s Bombay life, like when Ira complains of the water supply or about her houshehold worker.

    Beautiful are also the moments about Amol-Vidyas “courtship”, the way he goes on talking aobut his union problems and conveniently forgets Vidya’s question of when to meet.
    Or the way he meets soem friends of his and forgets Vidya totally at the Cafe.
    By keeping Dinesh Thakur unattractive, the director ahs managed to show that the attraction which Vidya feels for dinesh is not of physical character but rather that she finds attention form him, which she is not getting from Amol.

    Further cute things in the movie:
    Vidya Sinha (!) telling Ranjita, that she has turned fat!

    Amol and Vidya sharing an umbrella

    Amol using blotting paper to dry himself.

    Vidya and Dinesh eating ice cream slabs. Do they serve them still?

    Big flower prints of the 70s:
    All my Aunts had such blue and yellow big flower print saris in the 70s

    The way Ranjita and Vidya lie in bed.
    As children, we (all the cousins) used to sleep in a row like this during the summer vacation.

    Rather interesting is the story if you look at it as the tale of two cities: Bombay and Delhi.
    Delhi reperesents here the solid basis for love and marriage, whereas Bombay is for the superficial infatuation.
    You find Ira and Pramod, who are married to each other but have other priorities than having children, i.e., material comforts and the ultimate dream of settling in the USA.
    whereas Amol and Vidya plan to marry and stay in India and have 10 (!) children.
    In Bombay, parties are celebrated at every pretext, where westerners are invited and people in skimpy clothes socialise and talk about shallow htings like boutiques.
    In Delhi, on the other hand a joint family is the norm and neighbours, who feel at home in your house.
    In Delhi, Amol has remained true to his socialist values and fighting in the trade union, whereas the ex-student unionist Dinesh has turned to film making in Bombay and that also for the multinational firms like colgate.

    Thanks for bringing the film to our notice again.

  5. That’s a lovely analysis of the film, harvey (you should be writing a blog!) :-)

  6. Don’t miss the small clip of the song “kamar patli nazar bijli” with Helen (!) and Biswajeet from the movie Kahin Din Kahin Raat.

  7. I was also looking to write abt this movie and thnx memsaab to give me tht opportunity.

    i was very excited when few days back i bought the CD of this movie as it got the Best Movie award of Filmfare, so my expectation were very high,…..But same as didn’t fulfilled.

    As in the end wht the moral/message of the movie was…..i don’t know.

    Was they tend to say tht when u r near to ur dear one u love them but when u parted 4m them u look 4 another one…..and then again back to life when u saw ur dear one again when he/she is near to u …..u again love them and forget abt other…

    Wht would be the end of movie if Dinesh Thakur had personnaly called her and congratulated her or in the letter asked some thing more tht could got her drove away…then …..She has to choose b/w amol and dinesh ……and wht would have been her decision….think abt it……

    i m waiting for ur comment……and i request harvey to give me some possible answer tooo.

  8. I was just bored by it mostly, and then couldn’t even understand the end because the subtitles disappeared. It was like watching grass grow, and then not getting to enjoy the green lawn.

    But from what you and harvey say, I didn’t miss much! (Ooh, and harvey—of course I saw the Helen clip! It was the best thing about it!)…

  9. I just finished watching the movie and could not get the ending either. So I googled the name of the movie and arrived at this site. Thanks for clarifying the ending. The movie was a good depiction of the 1970s urban India.

  10. do you remember what make the dvd was, i plan on getting this

  11. I found ranjita thakur to be more beautiful than vidya sinha.wonder whatever happened to her?couldn’t find any info related to her :((.Btw your blog ROCKSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!

    • Agree, Ranjita Thakur was much prettier indeed :) And thanks!

    • Ranjita thakur acted in a Hindi serial called PARIVARTAN(zee t.v.telecasted that serial) Perhaps in the year 1993-94 I think against then new, now famous character artiste Govind Naamdeo. At first I didn`t recognised her, She is beyound recognition in that serial, very thin and looked very aged.

      After that serial I never seen her in any movies or serials.

      Before Rajnigandha, she was there in Jaya Badhuri`s PIYAA KA GHAR. After rajnigandha she was there in Vinod Khanna, vidya sinha`s INKAAR(1977)

      She was Ranjita Takur, not Nandita takur(Nandita takur acted in films like Safar,Uphaar,Mahaan,Chhoti si baat etc)

  12. Was it Ranjita Thakur or Nandita Thakur ? Nandita Thakur did number of roles as friend of heroine and even did TV serials before completely fading out.

    Rajnigandha was based on a short story in Hindi by Manu Bhandari.
    Recently Basu Chatterjee was interviewed and he said that Vidya Sinha was not his first choice. BTW, Vidya was trying a break in films for long before she got this role. I remember Basu recollecting that though Vidya was around 30 at that time, she didn’t look her age.

    Can i share a secret with you Memsab ? I am sure you will like it.

    I was 5 years when this movie released in theatres and my father took us along. My mother did not know a word of Hindi and she felt like crying as we came out of the theatre. She is from South. She still tells me that she was helpless in trying to understand the storyline even as Vidya keeps on changing the flowers in the vase. Does it comfort you ?

    In Manu Bhandari’s story, she had written about the choice the protagonist has to make between the two men in her life. The story ends in a rather open – ended fashion, isn’t it ? The title song was hugely popular but the movie was ahead of its times.

    While in college, I have actually met Vidya Sinha in a jeweller’s shop in Matunga where she stayed. A non controversial actress, she married an industrialist but was a complete recluse. I do not think she ever gave any interviews. Once a group of B-grade actors had gone for an award function and there was mayhem at Dubai where it was held.

    One of the actors Deepak Parasher said, ” We all managed somehow. But Vidya Sinha was so much of a namaste with great difficulty”.

    She later on became a producer and produced “Be-abroo:” a story about a rape victim that starred Marathi actor Ravindra Mahajan and one movie wonder “Apeksha”.

    In 1975, under a state of emergency, Vidya was staying in a hotel. During the same period, a minister in the Govt called Mr.Vidya Charan Shukla knocked at her door, fully drunk, muttering – “Tu Bhi Vidya, Main Bhi Vidya, Kyon Na Ham Ek Sath Rahe ?” [“You are also Vidya, I am also Vidya, why can’t we stay together”}.

    It is worth noting that 6 years after her debut film, Vidya sinha switched to mother roles (Love Story, 1981).

    • I LOVE THAT STORY about your Mom :D It does make me feel better! This film was too much “room talk” to be comprehensible without understanding the language, for sure. Vidya Sinha did seem fairly reclusive, she’s not mentioned a whole lot in my film magazines from that era except in a vaguely disdainful kind of way, which probably means she didn’t give journos the time of day :)

    • Vidya sinha at present acting in a hindi Television serial(Doordarshan national channel is showing that serial,nowadays I don`t remember the name of serial exactly but something like MAA KI DUAAYEIN type title of that serial)in a mother`s role.

      Further, vidya sinha also seen (in a role of elderly lady)one year back in an advertisement of particular brand of suitcase.

  13. One more desperate person trying to decipher apparently the punch line and thanks to you I could get it. For me, Amol Palekar’s movies are “feel good” movies as they tend to be less judgemental and more close to reality. I recently watched Baaton batoon mein ,another gem I tell you and am on the hunt to watch this genre of films.

    • Baton Baton Mein was with Tina Munim, right? I watched it a long time ago. I do kind of love Amol Palekar although I didn’t like Rajnigandha very much. But he has made some great films :)

  14. I think this movie catapulted Amol Palekar to the “famous” league.

  15. amol was cool , typical marathi middle class…really identified with the guy… some really smiley movies

    choti si baat – vidya sinha , ashok kumar
    damaad ( a gem ) – with shreeram lagoo and saraf
    golmaal -( better than all the devgn franchise together)
    baaton baaton mein – a bandra special – check out leela mishra , pearl padamsee , ranjit chowdhury and tina

    Agar – tad confusing

    and

    gharaonda – housing realities :))

    Try them

    70 s fashions , overtime , local trains , pamposh in bandra , the middle class gentry trying to be fab and

  16. I really loved all these 70’s movies for their simplicity and portrayal of Indian middle class. Though I am an early eighties kid, I have seen Indian middle class taking leaps from DTC/Best buses to Fiat/Maruti to Toyotas and Hondas.

    I lived in Bombay for 2 years 2002-2003 and I realized culturally it’s still the same more or less. I could still see the same local train culture even today. Trains having names like 9:24 Andheri fast, 9:43 Dadar fast. People still push and jostle to get into the trains. It’s a part of the culture and lifestyle and is really enjoyable if you become a part of it.

    I am from Delhi and watching old Doordarshan on Youtube on still makes me nostalgic. I talk about this with my wife very often, we kids from late 70’s to late 80’s are a unique class of indian middle class which saw India change so rapidly in couple of decades.

    I will not complain about the change that has come about after multinationals and cable Tv came to India because it was inevitable. But I still love the time we had while growing up. 3 hrs of TV in the evening, Chitrahaar only twice a week, a movie per week with news break in between. I just loved all that. I want to go back to that time.!!!

    • I think I would have appreciated this more if I were Indian and had lived there during this time. But I’m not and I didn’t :) Thank you so much for sharing your memories!

  17. Hi Memsaab, recently watched Rajnigandha and though I too don’t like artsy, self indulgent movies, I found it different cause someone made a whole movie on what a woman is thinking that too in 70’s… The lead woman is thinking about two men and she is not a bad bad girl…She has almost forgotten her fiancee when she meets her past for whom she still has suppressed feelings. The moment they meet she has almost forgiven Naveen, except that he is not asking to… The Sanjay existence in her life starts fading when she meets Naveen and Naveen evaporates the moment she sees Sanjay again. A smart woman who accepts reality in short time after letting her mind wander a bit.

  18. Vidya debuted in this movie which was an instant hit… It seems to me, Vidya was too choosy about her roles in the films. I have never seen her in a glamorous modern attire (I might have missed it, but I believe I have seen most of her movies a number of times). I liked her acting in the less known movie ‘Mera Jiwan’ released in 1976 (about a doctor with a fake certificate who performs a successful operation). The beautiful song (sung by KK), ‘mera jeevan kuch kaam na aaya’ is filmed on her in this movie.

  19. Memsaab I just blogged about the fashions in this movie, they are actually quite realistic for the time period. Apologies for a comment on an early review:)

    Rajnigandha was actually part of the middle class cinema of 1970s which wasn’t garish Bollywood (alas unlike you I can never stand these and the 1970s had some absolute shockers, I think I was scarred by them as a child!) or the arthouse cinema of the time (Benegal, Mani Kaul etc.). There were a string of these movies made by Gulzar, Basu Chatterjee, Hrishikesh Mukherjee et al which imo perfectly capture some of the issues that faced urban and small town middle class folk of the decade (even the stars of the time acted in these – Chupke Chupke, Parichay, Dillagi, Anand etc.). They were laced with humour and the odd song making it more accessible than the Benegal kind of film. I often think that this is the kind of movie Indian cinema does best.

    Its possible though that unlike Bollywood these don’t translate well. As an e.g. Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi is not auteur cinema or “Bollywood” but most folk I know can instantly identify with the movie and like it. I have yet to see a proper foreign review of it though – its usually lazily classified as Bollywood yet at the same time the reviewer is a little befuddled by it:)

  20. RAJNI GANDHA happen Ibelieve somewhere around 1973/74 but as best of my remembrence it was not released in PANJAB since only mainstream cinema use to get release here in those days,Indian movies can be defined into three catigories Mainstream cinema,Par”el cinema and thirdone Joginder uncles cinema,now that he up there with god he must be enter”ing all gods with his cinema,back to this movie this another masterpiece from basuda,the first one of Amol uncle and Vidya aunty,basuda impact was such that extracted the best from each one of them,in process he made it sure that women can be in love with two persons at same time or was it something also with rajitha aunty also witout being manuplative/calcuative/cunning as the women showen it each and every sat.serials,thankfully I donot watch anyone so that sence”ties remain intact.in the end it becomes quite difficult to choose as it could for any humanbeing.A class master piece from Basuda,hereby Iwould also recommend MANPASAND1980,with DEVSAAB and DILLAGI1979 with DHARAM uncle to post 1985 genaration.RAVINDER MINHAS Jalandhar city panjab,minhas35@yahoo.com.

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