This entire review is nothing but a giant spoiler, because the ending especially is So Many Kinds of Wrong that I cannot do anything but tell you all about it. My sister pointed out that if Rush Limbaugh and his ilk were to make a film this might very well be it, a sentiment I fully agree with. It spouts the same judgmental and self-righteous crap that those people do and is just as egregiously dumb, although clearly many people don’t find it as obviously stupid as I do. It’s a typical Manoj Kumar venture: everything modern (or progressive) is evil and can only be redeemed through the influence of traditional (and repressive) values and mores. It sums up exactly why I hate his “Mr. Bharat” persona.
Sweet pure Gangaram (seriously, this is one of MK’s most nauseating roles ever) comes to the big bad city from his village in order to find a bride. He meets a woman named Champa (Chand Usmani), helps her escape from the brothel where she has been trapped and adopts her as his sister. He also rescues an old crippled man called Baba (Balraj Sahni) from being beaten up by a nasty piece of work named Raju (Kuljeet, one of only Three and a Half Good Things about the film). Raju is after Barkha (Babita, who is Half a Good Thing), the wayward modern daughter in a wealthy family. Baba was crippled in a fire when he rescued Barkha as a child from her burning flat, and Ganga brings them into each other’s lives again and falls in love himself with Barkha.
Barkha inexplicably returns his feelings after Ganga gives her a cookbook for her birthday.
Granted, her choices are creepy Kuljeet or village idiot Ganga, but still. I might well have gone with creepy Kuljeet.
There are lots of references to Ganga’s purity and his ability to cleanse away the sins of modern living, with all the parallels possible between Ganga the man and Ganga the holy river drawn and then used to beat us repeatedly over the head.
When Barkha’s mother (Sulochana Latkar) agrees to get them married, her brother Rakesh (Sailesh Kumar) takes the proposal to Ganga’s home and finds Champa there.
He recognizes her and rushes home to tell his Ma and Barkha that she can’t marry Ganga because his sister is a prostitute. Amidst a great wailing and screeching of shehnais (or is it some other instrument?), Barkha and Ganga break up and we discover that Rakesh knows all about Champa because he seduced her on a visit to her village and then abandoned her. When she came to the city to marry him as he’d promised, he sold her off to the brothel to get rid of her.
Champa now goes to plead with him not to let Ganga’s good deed in rescuing her interfere with his marriage with Barkha, and predictably Rakesh sends her back to the brothel. Ganga rescues her again after discovering the truth (they have to fight off the goons Rakesh has sent to kill both of them):
and decides that he will get Champa married to Rakesh.
They meet Rakesh, and Rakesh pulls a gun on them.
Champa manages to get the gun away from him, and Ganga slaps her when she points it at Rakesh: it is a great sin to threaten your husband-to-be (although apparently not a great sin to slap her for trying to save her own and Ganga’s life). This results in Rakesh getting the gun back, and he shoots Champa in the back as she flees with Ganga.
Meanwhile, Baba has gone to Barkha and told her the truth about Champa and Rakesh, with the result that she and her mother (Sulochana) also decide that the obvious solution is to get Champa married to Rakesh.
Everyone ends up at Rakesh’s hotel on the occasion of his engagement party to wealthy Maya (Lata Bose), including Ganga who arrives with the bullet-ridden nearly-dead Champa.
They all give Rakesh a whole lot of “do-overs” along the lines of: “Okay you messed up but do the right thing now….Okay you messed up but do the right thing now….Okay you messed up but do the…” You get the picture.
But he continues to make poor decisions, culminating in his setting his own hotel on fire in order to kill poor unconscious Champa who has been left inside. Ganga rescues her again, and finally Rakesh, cornered now by his family and the police, runs into to the burning building to kill himself. Ganga goes in to save him for the sole purpose of…yes, you’ve got it: getting Champa married to Rakesh!
Rakesh is finally purified by I guess the combination of fire and Ganga. He apologizes to all and to everyone’s joy agrees to marry Champa, the woman whom he (let me recap for you):
- seduced and abandoned
- sold off to a brothel
- sold off to the brothel a second time
- sent his goondas to kill
- when they failed, shot in the back himself
- when that failed, tried to burn alive
That, my friends, is our happy ending. I haven’t even gone into Champa’s ongoing penchant for suicidal self-sacrifice although it comes as no surprise when she regains consciousness just in time to be grateful.
So why did I stick with it? Well as usual I don’t really know, except that it was cartoonish enough and so really over-the-top idiotic and self-contradictory (much like Fox News) that I just had to roll my eyes and giggle.
Barkha is a lively, self-confident girl whom I really like before she meets self-righteous prig Ganga and is transformed into a moron, which is why I give Babita Half a Good Thing status. She is a large part of the other Two Good Things (besides Kuljeet) about this film too: the fabulous songs “Lo Aayi Hain Jawani” and “Woh Pari Kahan Se Laaoon”.
The first she performs at a charity dance show after telling her conservative prospective in-laws (a groom her parents have fixed her marriage with at the beginning of the film) that she will be performing “Sita’s exile”—they break the engagement after seeing this, which of course was her plan all along. She looks gorgeous in this, and for the first time I see a resemblance between her and daughter Kareena.
And the second she sings with her friends as they tease Ganga about looking for a bride in the city. It is so much fun that I even like Ganga in it!
These songs are the reason I got the film and watched it despite my serious aversion to all things Manoj. I am saving you the agony of watching it by linking the videos here. Skip the torturous stupidity of the movie.
Hey, I sound like Baburao Patel!