Baharon Ke Sapne (1967)

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We all know about the “Curse of the Second Half” which afflicts many films. I am happy that this one avoids that, but sad to say that it suffers instead from the “Curse of the Last Half Hour Or So” and devolves into melodrama and idiocy not befitting an otherwise really good film.

It is dominated by Nana Palsikar’s fine performance as Bholanath, an elderly man who has never lost his capacity for optimism despite a life of hardship and poverty. He has pinned all his hopes on his son Ram (Rajesh Khanna), whom he has educated against all odds. The conflicted father-son relationship is portrayed poignantly and believably by both actors. Jal Mistry won a Filmfare Award for his gorgeous cinematography (the art director should have too), and RD Burman’s music is a joy.

Ram has been educated at the cost of much sacrificing by Bholanath, but despite his college degree cannot find a job. This has naturally made him very despondent, and it doesn’t help that the other townspeople—who are somewhat jealous—mock him too.

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Ram’s feelings of depression and inadequacy are not helped by father’s determined cheerfulness. His is a character completely opposite from Bhola’s, and he only feels more pressure to succeed, and more despair when he does not. It’s sad to watch father and son each trying to do the right thing for the other, and failing.

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Ram’s sole source of comfort is his sweetheart since childhood, Geeta (a luminous Asha Parekh). She lives with her less-than-sympathetic aunt (Manorama) and much more sympathetic (and hen-pecked) uncle (Shivraj). We meet Geeta as she sings the lovely “Aaja Piya Tohe Pyaar Doon” to Ram one night.

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Geeta’s aunt disapproves of her relationship with Ram and would like to marry her off to Ranjeet (Madan Puri), a man who is better off financially than Ram and his family, but whom Geeta dislikes. Her uncle is more supportive of them, and tries to cheer up Ram as well (with little success).

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All this depressing angst is much relieved by lively cameos of the town’s life and its people, in particular the jovial (and often drunk) cycle repair shop owner Lachchu (Anwar Hussain) and his mechanic Pandu (Rajendranath). 

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Poor Pandu is in love with the beautiful Jaishree (Padma Khanna), who sells bananas with her mother for a living. 

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These little scenarios make up the Comic Side Plot, and aren’t overdone for once. Hooray for effective use of the CSP!

The town’s economy revolves around the mill, which belches forth choking black smoke all day but keeps many of the town’s people employed. It is here that Bhola has labored for 30 years, ruining his health but ensuring that his son could stay in school. In desperation finally, he takes Ram there to ask the mill manager Kapoor (Premnath) to hire Ram in an office capacity which reflects his education. Kapoor is impatient, and not tolerant of the niceties of small talk which Bhola’s generation is used to employing.

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Kapoor is also unimpressed by Ram’s degree.

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He tells Bhola that the mill only has a place for Ram if he’s willing to work as a daily wage earner like Bhola himself. A few weeks later—soon after Ram’s sister Champa gets engaged (another fun song)—Bhola is fired from his job. Unable to tell Gauri or his children, he continues to set off for work each morning with his tiffin, but spends the day sitting with a blind sadhu until it’s time to go home.

On Diwali, Ram and Geeta romance each other at a fair. There is another great song—in color!—as they ride a ferris wheel and dream about their lives together. It’s completely strange and out of place, but only in a good way.

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Meanwhile Gauri is worrying about paying for Champa’s wedding and dowry. She accidentally finds out finally that Bhola has lost his job, but says nothing about it. Undaunted by previous failures, Bhola urges Ram to attend the engagement party of the mill owner’s son, who was a classmate of Ram’s at school although they didn’t mix, and gives him money for a gift. Ram reluctantly allows himself to be persuaded that it may be a good opportunity to meet the mill owner and ask for a job, and goes, bearing a small marble replica of the Taj Mahal.

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His shabby clothes and poor offering are made fun of by the groom and his friends and he is pushed aside when manager Kapoor arrives. The party entertainment is Laxmi Chhaya and Bela Bose wearing what look like giant daisy earmuffs, and it’s a lot of fun, although Ram doesn’t much enjoy it—especially when they too laugh at him.

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Hurt and humiliated, he stops at the local (illegal) bar and has his first taste of alcohol with Lachchu. When he finally gets home drunk and his father asks him if he met the mill owner, he lashes out.

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Then he storms out, followed by Gauri—and as only a mother can, she castigates him for his ungrateful and selfish attitude.

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It’s a wonderful scene (Sulochana shines). Ram leaves to find work in Bombay, knowing that his father has no job and someone needs to support the family. He doesn’t find work there, either (he grows a beard, though!) and finally returns home, defeated again. But this time he goes to the mill and gets a job like his father had—as a menial laborer for very poor wages indeed. He doesn’t let his family know he is back, unable to face them, and spends his evenings at the liquor joint drinking what little money he’s making away (making a very effective point about alcoholism fueled by despair).

Bhola, convinced that Ram has gotten a good job in the city and will send money home, borrows a huge sum from the moneylender (Ram Avtar) for Champa’s wedding. Lachchu “convinces” the other townspeople to keep Ram’s presence in the town and at the mill a secret from his family.

It’s Geeta’s uncle who halts Ram’s downward spiral one day, pointing out that perhaps Ram is at the mill by God’s will.

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He tells Ram that the current Union leader is firmly in management’s pockets, and has done nothing for the workers in the mill. They are injured and fall sick because of mill conditions, and then let go when no longer useful (as Bhola was) with no compensation despite laws in place to protect them. He introduces Ram to a Union organizer—who has come to town with his own agenda.

Will Ram take up the fight for workers’ rights? If so, what will Kapoor and the mill owner do? What is the Union organizer’s real purpose? Can Ram ever pay off his father’s debts and make him proud? Will he be able to marry Geeta? At this point the story could have gone in several different directions, and unfortunately it chose to go off the rails. It answers the above questions, but stupidly.

Having said that, this is well worth sitting through, at least until those last dreadful thirty minutes or so. Rajesh Khanna doesn’t quite have his “Super Star” charisma and charm yet, but his acting skills are on full display. Ram is a character who could have been annoyingly morose and selfish in the wrong hands, but Rajesh imbues him with the humanity necessary to make him sympathetic. Asha Parekh doesn’t have a lot to do, but she is gorgeous (and has a feisty altercation with the fearsome Manorama!).

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And finally, the plot avoids sinking too far into pathos and melodrama (until the end) thanks to the charm of the town inhabitants (a great array of character actors), and the never-say-die spirit of Bhola. Wah! Nana Palsikar!

An *almost great* effort from one of my favorite producer/director/writers, Nasir Husain.

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48 Comments to “Baharon Ke Sapne (1967)”

  1. This looks slightly good, and from the screencaps rajesh looks less annoying but still cute! And this seems like a departure for nasir as theirs no singing n dancing in Kashmir!

  2. It’s not very masala-ish at all, but it’s a good film if you’re in the mood for something serious in nature. Just be prepared for a stupid OTT ending :)

  3. Hmmm….I am intrigued by the color dance number as well as the thought of seeing a whole number danced by Bela and Laxmi together, so I may have to get this one…that is, if I don’t already have it.

  4. I am now curious as heck about how it ends that its so OTT :) And I agree that Asha is looking very pretty- prehaps the most beautiful and non OTT ive ever seen her- not that that is a bad thing…:D

  5. Michael: You sound like me! :) I recently put the ones I haven’t watched yet in chronological and then alphabetical order. Is making them much easier to locate!

    Shweta: It’s just ridiculous. Could have been such a great film, too. But it goes into full-on ludicrous masala mode, which is lovely in the right place, but this is not it. Asha looked great, even in black and white :)

  6. LOL Greta, I also finally put my unwatched BW DVDs in alpha order…this is when I discoverd I had bought 3 copies of MAYA MACHINDRA and double copies of several others! Argh.

    I just get too excited when I shop!

  7. Memsaab

    One of my fav RD songs is Kya Jaanu Sajan Hoti hai kya gham ki shaam – the colour screen caps of Asha signing that song! It is in my fav collection of songs DVD and also a CD.

    Other than that I don’t know if i am interested in watching this movie – mainly due to my not liking B&W movies (though i have seen some really fabulous ones before)

  8. Hats off to u again memsaab. Great review on Super Star Rajesh Khanna. This was released in 1967 in Black & White movie and this movie was stepping stone for Nasir Hussain’s career. And over Super Star Rajesh Khanna’s acting was superb even though he was not peak in 1967.

    Film Name : BAHARON KE SAPNE
    Production Year : 1967
    Language : Hindi
    Genre : Social Family
    Producer : Nasir Hussain Films
    Director : Nasir Husain
    Music Director Shivram
    Star Cast : Rajesh khanna, Asha Parekh,
    Colour : Black & White

    Synopsis :

    Bholanath had lot of expectations from his son Ram. In spite of his efforts, Ram could not get a job. He was in love with Geeta and she too loved Ram and understood his predicament. Ram leaves the house and goes to Bombay to find a job. He returns disappointed to his hometown and he starts working in the same mill where his father used to work as an ordinary laborer. He soon wins everyone?”s heart and becomes the leader of the union. This leads to lot of conflicts between the management and the workers. Ram soon solves the conflicts and becomes a hero in their eyes.

  9. Memsaab—Other than one other in German (!), about which more later, I haven’t seen another review of this, one of my favorite early RKs so thanks very much. This was a film, I thought, that was an exception to the rule about the second half which really clipped along nicely. Alas for the last few minutes as you’ve noted. It’s the first time that RD and RK came together, fabulous songs but ‘Kya Janu Sajan’ of Lata’s and Rafi’s ‘Zamane ne mare jawan kaise kaise’ are simply sublime.

    This was also the first time that RK and Asha Parekh worked together and their only flop (Aan Milo Sajna and Kati Patang were big hits). And both are very, very attractive though hers was a small role. A very intense, young, conflicted RK, all bearded as he becomes a ‘mazdoor’ :-)

    Regarding the German review, the Google Translate tool calls RK ‘bildschön’ which is either beautiful or amazing, you choose! He’d have been 24-25 then? The translation was really a hoot, here is a part of it (reworked!) on RK.

    “Rajesh Khanna who debuted a year earlier, really masters the leading role with subliminal force which reminds one of the gentle rebels of American cinema. And the young Khanna is bildschön, no wonder he rapidly developed to become the superstar and scaled in 1969 with Aradhana the top of the popularity scale among all Bollywood actors.”

    This is now my new favorite word to describe RK :-)

    Here’s the link to the German review, the screenshots are amazing.

    http://www.molodezhnaja.ch/baharonkesapne.htm

    • He was great, no doubt, and I was really blown away by Nana Palsikar as Bhola. Such a subtle and moving performance…they really played well off each other too. Thanks for adding more detail as usual!

  10. I’ve been meaning to watch this film for years (really – ever since I was in school), mainly because the songs were so absolutely lovely (I’m particularly fond of Chunri sambhaal gori udi chali jaaye re: definitely one of Manna Dey’s best). But I remember an old school friend telling me it was a great movie till near the end, which is why I’ve desisted so far. I think I just might, your review makes the first 3/4 or whatever sound interesting enough to handle the last half hour!

    • Luckily Suhan had warned me so I was prepared for the disaster at the end, which helped, otherwise I might have just been stunned into silence :) Just doesn’t fit with the rest of it at ALL, but I do think that the rest of it makes the last bit worth sitting through.

  11. The song ‘Aa jaa piya’ is so haunting. On my top favourite list since years.

    This story of the crow and the peacocks is sadly true even now. I’ve seen so many poor people around me, going through great pains to educate their kids. The truth is that the way our education system is right now, they still don’t manage to get jobs, and feel ashamed to do something menial.

    A lot of it is also because of the dominance of English.

    So I’m always confused what the best way out for these people is. Obviously, education is a good thing, but it just needs to be better. Right now, it’s about 1/100th of what it needs to be.

    • The scene where he goes to the mill owner’s son’s engagement party is almost painful to watch. Very well done, and I’m sure it’s still true today. And I think Aaja Piya…is my favorite song from the film too (surprise! we have the same taste again!), although they were all beautiful.

  12. Actually, bildschoen is probably best translated as amazingly beautiful, though literally it would be as beautiful as a picture. You know, composite words are really practical. I miss them.

    Anyway, this looks good; however, I must resist the urge to buy more movies, I really must.

  13. This has long been on my to-watch list (and that last cap of Manorama is priceless!). I’ve been waiting for a good(ish) review to bump it up the list!

  14. It is definitely brooding Rajesh, not masala Rajesh, so you might like it! :) I did!

  15. This is one movie that is on my wishlist. I hope I see it one day. I love all the illustrations on your blog.

  16. Great review! I still remember feeling sorry for Nana Palsikar… Saw it on my BW TV set on Bombay DoorDarshan so had no idea this one was not in color.

  17. Ava, I do highly recommend it :) and thanks!

    Southie: Bhola was such a great character. And normally when films of this vintage are b/w I feel a little cheated, but this one is just gorgeous in b/w.

  18. Could you pls tell me 1 thing?Where can i get a chance to see that movie?After your review right now i am feeling very curious to know the ending.

  19. memsaab, a new filmfare awards clip….and Waheeda & Nargis (much older) went to the same hairdresser! meena kumari looks beautiful without all that heavy make-up..enjoy

    • From the late sixties he appeared in many movies with Rajesh Khanna as the lead hero such as Aakhri Khat,Aurat,Baharon Ke Sapne and after Khanna became a superstar in films like Doli,Dushmun,Joroo Ka Ghulam,Prem Nagar and Karm.

    • Superstar Mgr and the king of verstality of Tamil Cinema Sivaji Ganeshan were the chief guests. David is the comperer of the show.Also seen here is young Manoj Kumar and Sunil Dutt.The evergreen Hero Devanad at the age of 50 years looking as if 25 in 1971 when in the same function v could also see Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar as fat.
      other ladies were Waheedha,Nargis,Meena Kumari,Nutan,Krishna Kapoor.
      Plus Lata and Usha Mangeshkar.
      Kishore Kumar sings Rajesh Khanna song from Do Raaste of 1970 in the filmfare award function of 1971.
      Pran and Ashok Kumar are also seen in the video.

  20. Great clip, bawa! I loved Nirupa Roy’s flowered sari! and you are so right about Nargis and Waheeda’s hair :) Great to see all those stars.

  21. hi
    thanks for the review.
    i remember watching the movie on dd and it was SOOOO
    depresssing.
    At the end I thought I’d no perspective in this world.

    tough job to digest such a movie on sunday evening.

    bawa: waheeda and nargis were very good friends!
    btw nargis has the same hairdo!

  22. As far as I know Buildschön means photogenic……Hey how about a review on Baawre Nain. Its got some great music and RK looks awesome. (If you haven’t done it already). Sorry haven’t been through your entire archive as it is quite extensive….

  23. I don’t have Bawre Nain unfortunately…but will look for it :)

  24. Well wouldn’t you know that they WOULD screw a good thing up if they could? Just came across this little snippet from Nasir Husain on how the end of Baharon Ke Sapne was supposed to be. Not that it’d have made it to your list then though :-) Also, he’s snarky about Kaka being lean then :-) I understand the relationship got rocky after BKS. Rajesh was supposed to do Caravan and Rajesh fans posit that one of the reasons why the film had such fabulous music was because he went through the song sittings with RD. However, Nasir didn’t want to shell out the kind of money that Rajesh was pulling in then (Superstar phase and all) and Jeetendra eventually got in and the rest’s history. Anyway, back to BKS and Nasir’s take on it.

    “….I decided to make two films simultaneously [Teesri Manzil and Baharon Ke Sapne), and since Baharon Ke Sapne was one of my prize-winning stories, I chose that one to direct.…The film was realistic, a complete departure from the films that I had made till then, and remains my only film where I did not offer pure entertainment. G.P. Sippy and I were the first to sign Rajesh Khanna, who had won the Filmfare-United Producers’ Talent Contest. Rajesh as he looked then fitted my concept of a young man with the lean kind of look!

    But even with this stark social saga, Nasir never tasted failure – the film did average business, though the original sad ending of the story was changed to a happy, optimistic one. The outstanding music helped, with Pancham packing a wallop with some of his finest creations ever –the popular “Aaja piya tohe pyar doon” and “Chunri sambhaal gori” (Manna Dey’s sole hit for the banner) and the not-so-popular Kya jaanu sajan” and “Zamane ne mare jawaan kaise kaise.”

    http://www.screenindia.com/old/20020322/ftribute.html

    • What a lovely article, thank you Suhan for the link. Caravan with Rajesh!!!—what a thought!

    • Thanks for this article. I have often wondered how Jeetendra ended up being in a Nasir Hussain movie. Somehow Jeetu-NH did not seem to me to be a natural combo.

      Caravan is one of my all-time favourite movies. Total entertainer, superb songs.

    • Thanks Suhan. I hadn’t listened to “Aaja Piya” before. I keep discovering new and (great) Rajesh Khanna and Dharmendra songs.

  25. I thought Caravan was a Tahir Hussein movie ie produced by Aamir’s dad rather than Nazir Hussein!

  26. The article I linked is dismissive of the two songs in this film which I love. “Zamane ne mare jawaan kaise kaise” is heart wrenching both in how it was sung and picturized, especially towards the end. So apt, as Banno has noted before, about education then not really being the great leveller that it was supposed it could be, without the right connections. And also a real eye opener on what the Bombay of 1966-67 looked like.

    “Kya jaanu sajan” is Lata at her peak. And I think Asha has never looked more beautiful than she does in this film. See her in another lovely number “O more sajna o more balma”….Lovely! And RK–bildschön’ of course :-)

  27. The bildschön you speak of had a better on-screen persona here than during his super stardom.

  28. From the late sixties Nana Palsikar appeared in many movies with Rajesh Khanna as the lead hero such as Aakhri Khat,Aurat,Baharon Ke Sapne and after Khanna became a superstar in films like Doli,Dushmun,Joroo Ka Ghulam,Prem Nagar and Karm.

  29. What a charming review! I happened on the haunting “Kya janu sanam” on you tube, and was curious about the film, and so came to your blog. I thought that in the little flash backs in “Aja piya”, the girl looked older that the boy, and also later A P looks older than RK. That was intriguing, but apparently not part of the plot line?

  30. Bahaaron Ke Sapne is definitely an extra-ordinary movie which could have turned into a masterpiece if not for the irritating and burdensome final 20 odd minutes. You have rightly pointed it out. It’s sad that filmmakers used to make (and still make) pretty impressive movies but fail to conclude them with desired effectiveness. Bahaaron Ke Sapne not only exposes the ugly face of unemployment and the situation of the educated youths in that period but also communism and the communist leaders. It’s prior to Rajesh Khanna’s heyday in Bollywood and was a flop. If ended effectively and logically, it would have been commercially successful.

    Your review is quite nice and enjoyable.

    • Filmmakers often underestimate their audience’s ability to understand what really WOULD have happened and overestimate their inability to cope with something outside the norm. Tragic, really.

  31. Mansoor Khan (Nasir Hussain’s son and erstwhile director) in a recent interview on ‘Baharon Ke Sapne’.

    “…….my dad didn’t like sad movies. He was known for his happy films. He felt the audience couldn’t handle sadness. He had made Baharon Ke Sapne, which was based on a story he had written in college. It was a serious film and it didn’t work. He had to re-shoot a happy ending for the film after two days. I never agreed with this decision. I’ve always believed that the fate of a film is one thing, while its integrity is another thing.”

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/-i-took-up-making-films-to-redeem-myself-/1047499/0

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