should have been called Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!!! It’s an irritating exercise in complete and utter narcissism from Raj Kapoor.
Here is a quick synopsis (from the DVD cover, because I can’t be bothered):
If Raj (Raj Kapoor) had his way, he would have been a poet, not the engineer that circumstances made him into. The perfection of nature fascinated him more than the nature of mechanical things. One day Raj is sent to work at the Saraswati Dam, the exquisitely beautiful location. As Raj reveled in his new found paradise, his father visits him and tells him about his deceased mother’s wish that Raj should marry Chandra (Vijay Laxmi), the sophisticated daughter of a rich family friend. On his father’s insistence, Raj agrees to write to Chandra. The letter is sheer poetry, but it’s beauty completely wasted on Chandra who wants to ignore it. Neelu (Nargis), her teenage sister, moved by the writer’s eloquence and sincerity, acknowledges the letter on her behalf. Neelu’s reply sparks off a correspondence and then circumstances that lead Neelu and Raj falling deeply in love. Just when it seems that they will live happily ever after, Raj is diagnosed suffering from TB, a disease that killed his mother. A shocked Raj decides that he loves Neelu too much to commit her to an uncertain future and deceives her into believing that he actually loves Chandra. Does Neelu ever find out Raj’s selfless love for her? Will the two lovers be united again?
Why should anybody care? My mother, my sister and I all want to slap Raj, hard.
Here is one of the few bright spots: Pran as his (non-villainous) doctor friend, Kailash:
Raj spends a lot of time feeling sorry for himself and—more importantly—causing innocent, open-hearted Neelu to suffer. God forbid he should respect the girl he loves enough to tell her what’s going on, and let her make decisions about her own life and how she wants to live it.
No: it’s much better to let her suffer in ignorance, with her faith in her own judgment and trust in others completely ruined!
There are 45 self-indulgent minutes in the middle of the film that just switch from Neelu sobbing in the fetal position on her bed to Raj racked with consumptive coughing in a sanatorium—back and forth, back and forth. Neelu incidentally wears the exact same chrysanthemum-print outfit for months on end. I don’t think it’s a clever ploy to highlight her depression though; the film is not that intelligent. Maybe they had a very small wardrobe budget.
Anyway, I guess this endless loop of sobbing and coughing is supposed to drive home the point that we are supposed to feel sorry for him and admire his sacrifice; I just want him to cough up his lungs once and for all, and EXPIRE already so that we can all move on.
His self absorption doesn’t end there. He has to drag Neelu’s sister Chandra into his scheme (unwittingly on her part—she has no idea that he is the man who has broken Neelu’s heart). He flirts with her in front of Neelu, and leads them both to believe that he wants to marry Chandra. Why should he be honest with her either? Who cares if he ruins their relationship in the process? And breaks Chandra’s heart too? It’s all about him, him, him.
Then he emotionally blackmails Kailash into agreeing to marry Neelu (is there no limit to how many lives he can ruin?). He finally comes clean with Chandra—although he burdens her now too with the plea not to tell Neelu.
But after everything he has put Neelu through, he can’t bear to fade away quietly and let her get on with her life. No, he needs to go to her wedding gasping his dramatic last so that everyone can see how noble and self-sacrificing he is.
I guess it’s a good thing that Chandra tells Neelu everything (she’s much smarter and less selfish than Raj), although personally I think Neelu would be much better off with Kailash. Everyone applauds Raj’s “selfless love” and Neelu falls at his feet while Mom, my sister and I all gag in disbelief.
And then he doesn’t even die but miraculously gets better!
Besides Pran, the other two bright spots in Aah (although not bright enough to make it worth watching): Rashid Khan as Raj’s TB specialist (in a most excellent Freudian beard and hairdo), and the music. Singer Mukesh plays a tongawallah in the final song as he carts a “dying” Raj to Neelu’s wedding.
Luckily, I watched Awara a few days later which was a much better film and so Raj Kapoor redeemed himself slightly.