I should start out by saying that while I am far from perfect, and do not require anybody else in my life to be perfect either, there are certain types of people that I just try to keep at a distance. These are:
- The Drama Queen: not happy unless she is the center of attention, and willing to do whatever messed-up, selfish, childish thing it takes to stay there. A perfect narcissist!
- The Jackass: never thinks much about the repercussions his thoughtless and (usually stupid) actions and decisions (or lack thereof) may bring until it’s far too late. A total idiot, and a coward too!
- The Martyr: often weepy, and always long-suffering, this person refuses to do anything to help herself and also enables people around her to do all the wrong things as well. Self-sacrifice is so overrated!
If you’ve seen Ijaazat, you may see where I’m going with this. The film revolves around three people and yes, each one embodies one of the types I’ve just described above. Mahender (Naseeruddin Shah) is a complete Jackass who marries the Martyr Sudha (Rekha), and then allows the Drama Queen Maya (Anuradha Patel) to interfere in their married life. That is pretty much it, in a nutshell, and the fact that it takes well over two hours to tell the story should give you some idea of how painfully slow it is too. Luckily I was watching this with Beth and we kept each other from slitting our own wrists.
The performances are just fine, and the movie begins promisingly enough. Mahender and Sudha meet unexpectedly at a train station, where they are each waiting for the morning express train. It’s clear that they have a “history” together, and that history unfolds through flashbacks. Mahender is in love with Maya (and lives with her), but is getting pressure from his grandfather (Shammi Kapoor) to get married to Sudha, with whom he has grown up.
He confides the truth to Sudha, to whom he’s been officially engaged for a few years. She gives him some good advice.
I already don’t care much for young Mahender, who can’t tell his grandfather the truth and wants Sudha to somehow fix it all for him. It doesn’t help at all that he looks like a washed-up 1970s porn star.
The thing about the aptly named Maya is that she’s a bit of a free spirit, and doesn’t want to get married. She is prone to going off alone for long periods of time without telling anybody where she’s going or for how long, leaving only cryptic poems in her wake. Finally fed up with this, Mahender decides to cave and marries Sudha (as to why she’d marry a man she knows is in love with someone else…well, her mother wants her to, and she’s a good Martyr). All is well until Maya returns and begins calling Mahender.
WTF? Why should your wife tell your ex-lover to phone you somewhere else, you Jackass?? Ugh. For the next hour Maya demands all his attention with such ploys as writing sad poems to him, buying a baby, and finally taking an overdose of pills. The film devolves into an endless circle of suffering and self-absorption. Mahender falls for every ploy and indulges Maya, while Sudha frets. I think we are supposed to feel sorry (or something) for Maya—Sudha certainly seems to—but I find her self-centered, spoiled and…a complete Drama Queen. I just want to slap her (and him, and Sudha).
Naturally, all of this wears down their marriage so it’s no surprise (and in fact it’s a relief) when Sudha has finally had enough and leaves.
He hasn’t????? Get a clue, you Martyr!
So what has happened in the intervening years? Why should we care?
I know that my dislike of this Gulzar “classic” will make some of you sad (although hopefully not mad). I even hated RD Burman’s music. But I will tell you one thing: the ending was SUPERSWEET! I loved it! DO NOT read further if you don’t want to know the ending.
MAJOR SPOILER BELOW!
Living well is said to be the best revenge, but upgrading to The Shash has got to be even better!
Bask in it, Sudha! BASK!