Chirag (1969)

chirag

Sometimes even a viewer with no clue about filmmaking (that would be me) can sense when the director (in this case, Raj Khosla) is a good one. Such is the case with this film, which has a fairly unremarkable story (until the end, when it plunges into irritatingly stupid) and pleasant but dull music (Madan Mohan). But the romantic chemistry between the lead pair alongside the interesting camera work and the brisk pace keeps everything going, which kept me going too. The sometimes hilarious subtitles helped, although I doubt that Raj Khosla had anything to do with those. I should also say that Asha Parekh looked absolutely gorgeous in this film, and I think our director thought so too, because there are a lot of lingering closeups of our heroine!

The story, as I said, is pretty standard stuff. Rich boy Ajay (Sunil Dutt) meets Poor Girl Asha (Asha Parekh) and falls head over heels in love with her. She’s not enamored at first (since he has driven his sports car into her and her friends on their bikes), but he ropes his friend Tingu (Mukri) into helping him track her down.

chirag_toady

Tingu drags him to a college fundraiser, where Asha is performing—and one of her girlfriends, noting Ajay’s interest, gives him Asha’s phone number after the show (I would probably get rid of that friend quickly, although of course this was another more innocent time).

On a side note, Asha P. shows how truly graceful she is by carrying a waterpot with a live crow perched upon it as she dances—in one long single take—across the stage. Impressive! The crow sits completely unperturbed, although Asha herself looks a little relieved as she puts the pot down. (I just hope it wasn’t glued there.)

chirag_dance

There’s a little comedy around the fact that the same friend who is so free with Asha’s phone number also persuades her to pretend she’s from a wealthy family, but when Ajay finally takes his mother (Lalita Pawar) to meet Asha’s family and they discover that she’s poor it doesn’t matter.

chirag_approval

I’m a little surprised at Gayatridevi’s ready approval (so is Ajay). I think it stems from the fact that she’s desperate to get Ajay married during a short window of auspicious opportunity, and also it doesn’t take her long to start pressuring her new bahu for an heir.

chirag_descendant

Asha remains unaffected by her newly extravagant surroundings—there’s a sweet scene where her brother (Om Prakash) brings her a sari for Raksha Bandhan and then is ashamed to give it to her because it pales next to her expensive silks. When he accidentally drops it and she sees it, she tells him just the right thing:

chirag_sari

This scene—and quite a few others throughout this oh-so-formulaic film—leads me to ponder on the Awesomeness Of Asha P.

Had Nutan been playing her character, for instance, I think I would have swiftly gotten tired of her goodness (nothing against Nutan: she’s a fine actress! don’t send me hate mail!), but somehow Asha manages to portray sweet without being cloying or goody-goody. She has something that keeps her from falling into the sticky saccharine abyss. An entire post devoted to her is probably in order, but this will have to do for now.

chirag_ashap

Anyway, seven years pass, and Asha and Ajay are as in love as they’ve always been—but Gayatri’s benevolence is wearing thin. When Asha brings her an apple from the tree she had planted after her wedding, Gayatri throws it to the floor in disgust.

chirag_barren

Worried that Ajay is just as unhappy over the lack of offspring, Asha prays for a child. Ajay overhears her, though, and puts her fears to rest.

chirag_pain

Well…yes, Ajay, you will be, and soon!

On Diwali, a firecracker explodes in Asha’s face, the sparks burning her eyes.

chirag_diwali

I know I’m not supposed to, but I laugh. Then I quickly sober up, realizing that this is no doubt the end of what until now has been a sweet romance, and the beginning of what will rapidly deteriorate into trauma-drama-o-rama. I’m not wrong!

chirag_blind

chirag_drama

I can’t help myself, I start giggling again. DOUBLE Nahiiin Face! There are bits of scenery and hair flying around everywhere.

Asha and Ajay travel to Bombay to see a kindly eye-surgeon (KN Singh) who somewhat surprisingly doesn’t seem to know anything about filmi medicine.

chirag_doctor

Poor blind, barren Asha and Ajay return to Gayatridevi, who has had enough. Egged on by her munimji, whose agenda is to get his own niece married to Ajay, she begins plotting to separate our lovers—and succeeds by completely destroying all of Asha’s self-esteem and sense of worth after sending her son out of town.

chirag_blockhead

Asha returns to her brother and his wife’s (Sulochana) house, determined not to ruin any more of Ajay’s life and promising not to trouble them either.

chirag_corner

Sigh. There are still plenty of twists and turns to go before it ends! Will Asha and Ajay ever be reunited? Will Ajay marry again? Will his family tree be forever fruitless? Watch Chirag to find out—or not, unless you have lots of spare time (like me). The good things about the film are the very sweet relationship between Asha and Ajay—it’s very nicely played out by both actors; and the cinematography and camera angles are interesting as is usual for Raj Khosla’s films. The story, though, is tired and stale, and irritating—and not worthy of his (or anyone else’s) talents!

SPOILER—When it all starts going downhill I pray that it won’t all be resolved simply by Asha suddenly bearing a child, but of course that’s exactly what happens. Ugh, ugh, ugh!!!! END SPOILER

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29 Comments to “Chirag (1969)”

  1. He called her a CRAZY BUM? LOLOLOLOLOL

    did you notice though that Asha Parekh always had a sizeable derriere!

    • Yes, the thought occurred to me that it wasn’t the kindest of subtitles in that context :-) But I think she’s GORGEOUS, big crazy bum and all!

      • O man!!! Since we are on this track, let me just repeat a rather famous Asha Parekh joke.

        AP goes to the temple [as all our heroines arr wont to do] and tells god -“Bhagwan, mein tumhare paas badi aas leke aayi hoon”…{Lord, I have come to you with big hopes}…LOL!!!

  2. Aaahh! What bliss to have some time and sneak in a read at ‘Memsaab’s’. I don’t want to go and work, I want to stay home and watch ‘Chiraag’. Waaaah!

    That ‘crazy bum’ is great! A ‘subtitler’ with a wacky sense of humour! It seriously cannot be a literal translation. Am trying to wonder now what the dialogue was in Hindi.

    • Oh you are NICE. I wish I were there to watch a film with you too!!! We are having thunderstorm-monsoon type weather here and it seems like there’s nothing else I should be doing except snuggling under a kashmiri shawl with some nice 60s fillums.

  3. I have heard the title song by Rafi and always liked it, had some clue that some where along the line, the heroine losses her eyesight. Other than had no idea about this movie.

    Thanks for an entertaining post. My older sister was a great fan of Asha Parekh. She will be happy to know that some one admires her too! BTW, Asha Parekh is famous for a number of super hit hindi movies with lots of songs etc

    • Asha is probably my favorite heroine of all time. She just always elevates even bad material, and with good material it’s no wonder she had so many hits :) The Shammi-Asha pairing is the best ever!

  4. Forgot to add, Sunil Dutt looks very handsome and i would like to see the movie just for that although i don’t know if i have the patience for all that melodrama!

  5. I love the “crazy bum” subtitle and also the superb “blockhead” one! Delightful. :-))

    I hated the second half of this film – it’s so unbearable. Just a shade better than Chandan ka Palna, but not much.

    • Yes the blockhead one made me laugh out loud. I am blind AND blockhead! Poor Asha.

      And it could have been much better had the last hour been significantly different! I don’t think I’ve seen Chandan Ka Palna—sounds like an “avoid, yaar” film though :-D

      • Avoid chandan ka palna like poison!
        Don’t even go near it!

        • I see it has Meena in it, so assume there is a lot of weeping, although I also note that she has a complete change in behavior (evil western behavior!) which sounds like it could be awesome. Plus, Dharmendra and Mumtaz! Oh I am tempted…and yet I’ve been warned! Sigh.

          • Evil Western in Chandan ka Palna amounts to wearing tight shararas (not a good idea when you’re obese) and pretending to drink liquor. It’s a horrible, horrible film, DO NOT watch. And though Mumtaz is chic and Dharmendra handsome, they can’t save the film.

          • Listen to dustedoff!
            Beta maan jaa!
            Dustedoof speaks the truth. The only reason to watch it is dharmendra, but there are other movies wiht Dharmendra, which you could watch, than this guide to blind yourself movie.
            You would need way more whisky than you have ever needed for a film.

          • Okay, you’ve convinced me. I will run screaming if I ever even SEE the DVD. :-)

  6. Being barren seems to be a major theme in the 60s. And it never seems to be the blame of the man!
    Maybe there were lots of publicized cases of childless women being abandoned by their husbands and thus bollywood’s formulaic crusade against it.
    The only thing I ask myself if such films with such a storyline really help.
    I would have been great, if the couple had said we care two-cahoots about what the ‘society’ says, we will adopt a baby or two from the local anath ashram!
    Surely that is possible!
    Tell me, it is!

    ROTFL at “eye-surgeon (KN Singh) who somewhat surprisingly doesn’t seem to know anything about filmi medicine.”
    He should be sent to a Bollywood medicine college.

    “Asha returns to her brother and his wife’s (Sulochana) house”

    Om Prakash and Sulochana seem to have complained that they are tired of playing father and mother and they would rather be brother and sis-in-law of the hero or heroine.

    • Yes, much like Henry VIII’s wives, Indian women seem to bear the brunt of the blame for no kids. I thought of that too—would have been a much better message had they adopted some kids from an orphanage! We know there’s no shortage of them! And I think you are right about Om Prakash and Sulochana! They weren’t nearly as powdered up with gray as usual!

  7. LOL about the glued crow! (Um, I hope you’re not right about that… hmmm…)

    I read your spoilers (like you, I can’t help myself) and, oh nos. I don’t think I can sit through that. It makes me too mad.

    • I hope not too :) And exactly re: oh nos…that’s why I put the spoiler there!

      • Crows are too independent to sit just like that, jus tbecuase Asha Parekh has to carry them on a pot. Why couldn’t they use a fake one! We, hindi movie watchers are used to fake things, in fact we expect them!

        • It wasn’t a fake one though, because it was really one long smooth take, and it moved, and when she put the pot down it turned its head. You’d have to see it, but it was a live crow. And it didn’t even flutter its wings to keep its balance…but Asha was very graceful in her movement :)

  8. Filmi blindness! Why didn’t they find a proper surgeon who knows that the trick is to have her need something that can only be gained at great cost? An eye donation from her mother? A costly series of injections or a surgery? An exchange of husband for eyes a la “Fanaa”?

    • I know! I couldn’t believe it when an actual reasonable diagnosis was given!

    • A really hindi film doctor would have said that to heal her eyes it would be necessary that she stay away from her husband, because his Y chromosome gives bad signals due to the school he visited in the doon (?) valley.
      And then she regains her eyesight, when she visits Shirdi ke Sai Baba or Mataji or a Dargah or Mount Mary in Bandra or all of them. Better and faster cure is guarenteed if you do it with <nirupa Roy, who is highly experienced in such things!

  9. “The mother of that descendant will be you”

    I’m wondering whether the portrait on the left of the blank space is that of the present descendant.
    If it is, it is very unlike him.

    Sunil Dutt’s handsomeness is enough reason to see this film. Anyway I have a high melodrama absorbing ability. :-))
    And I love Asha Parekh!!

    Thank you for the review. It helps.

  10. Sunil Dutt resembles my younger brother Abbas Zamin staying in Pune.

  11. I heard the song teri aannkhon ke siva and wanted to know the story.. wikipedia disapointingly gave only an outline… Your review has given me an idea… Thank you… I want to watch the movie….

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