Madhosh (1974)

The only reasons that I don’t completely despise this film are that it finally enabled me to identify the location of The Room (details are in that post), and pretty much every moment in it is a Screencap Waiting To Happen. It is a scarf-fest of unbelievable proportions. I guess I can also finally say that I have seen a Mahendra Sandhu movie, although I detested it so much that I may never be able to forgive him (I’ve not been able to watch a Tom Hanks film since he inflicted Forrest Gump on me).

Madhosh seems to have grand pretensions of being a modern look at valuing women, but its subtext (and not really very “sub” at that) is so relentlessly sexist that it is mostly just a rehash of that dehumanizing goddess-whore form of female oppression which masquerades as respect. I gather that the word madhosh means drunk or intoxicated, which perfectly describes the people who made this if they really thought this film had anything worthwhile or different to say.

Mahendra Sandhu plays Raj, a man we are supposed to believe is attractive and charming, if a little misguided. In reality, he is a narcissistic sociopathic rapist who should be rotting in jail. I loathe him at first sight.

He is utterly and completely repellent, and convinced that he is God’s irresistible gift to the ladies. As the credits roll, he seduces a series of adoring females in hotel rooms, by swimming pools, and on palm-fringed beaches, but none of it is convincing to me because he also:

  • licks his lips when he looks at girls (NONONONO)
  • wears shiny shirts unbuttoned to his chest
  • smokes incessantly and blows the smoke directly into people’s faces
  • won’t take no for an answer
  • is grabby

and that’s just the stuff I know within the first ten minutes of the film.

He is egged on and abetted by a creepy little gaudily-dressed chamcha named Pyarelal (Raja Duggal?).

His best friend is a singer named Goldie (Rakesh Roshan) who performs at a nightclub (The Room!) in the evenings. Poor Rakesh is burdened by his usual dreadful wig (Fine! You think you need a wig! Pay some good money for one! and don’t make it a combover, for Christ’s sake!) and also by a wispy little caterpillar of a fake mustache. Sigh.

Raj’s wealthy mother (Veena in a bad wig) ignores her beloved beta’s awful behavior like a good cineMaa should. (Do I even need to put adjectives like “bad” in front of “wig” any more? I think not.) She has asked for Goldie’s help in finding Raj a bride, because, you know, he’s such a catch *eye roll*.

Goldie doesn’t approve of Raj’s lechery, and tells him that the new dancer he works with, Mona (Helen), won’t fall for Raj’s charms. When Raj grabs Mona’s dress in the club that night, Goldie comes to her rescue (because poor helpless Mona can’t deal with it herself I suppose, even though she’s clearly as disgusted by Raj as I am).

Afterwards, Raj insults her by insisting that if she’s a cabaret dancer then she must be a prostitute, and asking her how much money will convince her to sleep with him. Goldie chastises him for this attitude, and it’s obvious that he cares for Mona, although Raj learns nothing from their exchange.

Thwarted for the time being, Raj distracts himself by visiting a courtesan named Munni (Jayshree T) who works for brothel madam Pannabai (Shyama). Up for sale: her ostensible virginity, the euphemism for which is “nose ring”.

But alas. Raj and Pyarelal (whose personality is even worse than his clothes!) pass Mona one day trying to hitch a ride at the side of the road. He pulls over and apologizes to her for his bad behavior earlier, then offers her a lift. Pyare drugs a Coke and gives it to her, then takes his leave. She loses consciousness and Raj drives off into a lonely area and rapes her (after blowing smoke into her face).

When Goldie hears about it, he is livid. He goes to see Raj and I bash my head on the arm of my chair.

Fortunately for Mona (although I understand I’m not supposed to think that way) Raj refuses, even when Goldie says that she will probably kill herself. Goldie swears that when Raj himself gets married, he will seduce Raj’s wife in revenge. I sigh again.

Women are not pieces of property or pawns to use in your pissing contests. They are NOT.

Maa now asks Raj to go check on one of their timber estates, and he takes Pyare with him. Almost immediately, his eye is caught by a feisty village belle named Meenal (Reena Roy, one of the only bright spots in this and it’s not her fault it’s such a horror show).

There’s a gratuitous catfight as well—I can enjoy a catfight as much as the next guy, but not when there isn’t any reason for it other than to titillate. It’s just another nail in this film’s coffin, not that it needs any more.

Then Raj naturally tries to rape Meenal too, but since he’s forgotten to drug her she is able to fight back.

Raj wastes no time on self-reflection or why it is that women want to kill themselves after making his acquaintance. He falls in love with Meenal thanks to her dedication to her izzat. Better dead than unchaste, even if you’ve been raped! When your only choices are “irredeemable whore” or “above-reproach goddess”, what’s a girl to do?

It gets worse. We are led to understand that Raj is the way he is because of an awful predatory governess who tucked him in as a boy (little Master Aamir Khan!) and then when he was grownup and could have easily said no, seduced him. The arm of my chair meets my head again.

He sets out now to change Meenal’s mind about him, swearing that he’s a changed man and even getting rid of sidekick Pyarelal when he continues to tempt Raj. Possibly convinced by his new predilection for cowboy outfits (replacing sleazy leisurewear) or because he saves her from a man in a moth-eaten bear suit, Meenal agrees to marry him.

Maa raises no objections, being simply happy to finally have a bahu and they tie the knot (literally! Hey, is that where the expression comes from?). Raj takes her home with him and for a brief while they are happy as she learns some English, how to wrap a saree, and the magic of modern inventions.

But Goldie has learned of Raj’s marriage, and gets a look at Meenal one day as they drive past each other. Plus it’s not long before Raj is lured back into old habits and the courtesan Munnibai, who pretends to attempt suicide because of her love for him. He sets her up with an income and visits her once a week on Tuesdays—not just as “a friend” either. He even blows his bride off on Karva Chauth! Maa frets along with poor Meenal.

Maybe you should have set some limits on your son, Maa, before he became a spoiled self-absorbed prince.

Goldie learns of Raj’s arrangements with Munnibai and sets up a meeting with the disaffected Pyarelal.

When a disillusioned and heartbroken Meenal confronts her husband about his infidelity, he first tries to placate her and then tells her to go to hell.

Goldie saves Meenal when she tries to kill herself by jumping into the ocean; she confides in him and he tells her briefly about Mona and befriends her. They begin spending a lot of time together, which enrages that jackass hypocrite Raj.

I should say that the one thing the filmmakers did right here was to let Meenal remain a feisty girl with a mind of her own even after marriage (well except for the suicide moment, but she gets over that quickly). She takes gleefully to the plan of making Raj jealous (although he doesn’t seem jealous so much as worried about his reputation) and she is not intimidated by his threats. She continues her friendship with Goldie even when told not to and I love her for it.

But Raj is not the sort to take something like this lightly, and it’s pretty clear that he hasn’t changed much at all from the man who raped poor Mona. Will Goldie and Meenal really fall in love? Will Raj ever get an effing clue? And what has happened to poor Mona?

If you want to know, you are welcome to ask me because I really don’t think anyone should see this film (the ending is the worst part of all). It’s awful, unless you enjoy sexism and slimeballs (and if that’s the case you probably don’t come  here anyway). I didn’t even really much like RD Burman’s music, although it’s always fun to watch Helen dance. The cinematography is excellent, and I don’t think I need to say much about the eye-watering fashion: the screencaps pretty much speak loudly for themselves, na?

Oh all right, I do have SOME things to say.

It’s not surprising given the story that the men out-peacock the women in this by a huge margin. But of course the most stylish and peacocky thing of all—even when Rakesh Roshan is wearing a party hat on his shoulder—is The Room. Hotel Horizon zindabad!

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70 Comments to “Madhosh (1974)”

  1. I want to know how it ends! And then I want to throw all those teapots at the writers! God it’s hard to remain dignified in the face of all this.

    But. God save The Room!

  2. The handlebar moustache that Rakesh Roshan sported in this movie were a rage at that time. Almost every uncle of mine has a 70s pic with such a handlebar. My mom still calls them “Mayur Madhwani style”, after Mumtaz’s husband, although I think thats just because she saw these first on him :)

    This has to be the biggest fashion disaster movie ever. It seems like they just cut the dupattas to make those scarfs.

    I would still like to know the climax- does roshan sr dies,or is it happily ever after for everyone?

    P.S: Whose playing that governess?, and is the Aamir Khan, THE AAMIR KHAN? I thought his only child appearance was in YKB.

    • Yes, that is little Master Aamir, definitely our Aamir Khan. He really still looks kind of the same as he did when he was little.

      And okay, that’s two who wanted to know so here be:

      *SPOILERS*
      It ends with Veena loading a pistol and telling Raj to kill Meenal for besmirching the family honor. He goes off and tries to shoot them first in the Room (thwarted when the room goes dark) and then at Goldie’s home, where he bursts in and shoots Meenal dead. Then he and Goldie have a huge fight and smash all the furniture although sadly Goldie’s wig stays on. Finally Raj is about to shoot Goldie when Helen appears and points HER gun at him. He is astonished to see her, and even more surprised to find out that Goldie has married her (which was one of the nicer things—at least the woman who was raped here didn’t have to die for it and even found a non-rapist husband). They tell him that Meenal is like a sister to them and that he’s killed her for nothing and he sees the light. Distraught, he puts the gun to his own head and pulls the trigger, which would have made me like the film much better except that at that point Veena appears and we see that Raj is still alive and she tells him that she had filled the pistol with blanks and the whole thing was a setup to make him reform. Meenal isn’t dead either of course and returns happily to her husband and Helen forgives Raj for raping her and they all live happily ever after.
      *END SPOILERS*

  3. My head is extremely sore now from being bashed on the arm of my chair CONTINUOUSLY!!!

    Good that you put up the spoliers because there’s NO way I’d be able to sit through this myself without wanting to throw something at the screen.

    Without wanting to sound overly moralistic, I have to say that I just cannot STAND movies where women are treated as “property” – my blood boils!!! Mind you, there are plenty of Bollywood movies out there – old and new – that see this as “perfectly normal’. Iin Madhosh, this seems to be the CENTRAL theme of the movie. And what’s worse, the movie seems to celebrate it too!!! Yuck!

    Another thing I hate is when mothers turn a blind eye to their adult sons’ misdemeanours. This is another not infrequent behaviour – and pisses me off! Come on, the guy’s a rapist – and the mother still fawns over him? What sort of responsible woman is she?

    Oh, I see SO many things in this storyline, e.g. the assumption that cabaret dancer = prostitute, that a girl raped should preferably marry the rapist (that’s another common line of thought – Pagla Kahin Ka!), the end in which the guy gets away comfortably…too many things that make my blood boil!!!

    Ok, enough about the storyline.

    About the review itself, absolutely love it, Greta! Your reviews are usually a pretty fair reflection of your thoughts – you say things exactly as you see them. And when a movie “gets” to you, its review is always that much more readable because there’s always that much more passion thrown in. This one is clearly in that category. Love the review, probably one of your best, certainly in recent times! Thanks. :-)

  4. Had me ROTFLOL :-D. Oh those fashion caps really made my day. Such slime… are not impossible to find – and some of them can charm the socks off you. Must have been inspired by one of the cronies of the Director or writer :) Thanks for revealing the ending – I don’t think I could have sat thru it! Your review really helped to chase away the blues :)

  5. Not for me. I did think at that time, that Mahendra Sandhu was such a dish.

  6. My earlier comment is on approval :(

    And do you recall the wicked reference to Mahendra Sandhu in Om Shanti Om?! His surname rhymes with a naughty Indi slang :)

    • I don’t remember it, probably because he’s only ever been on my radar because of vintage magazines. This is the first film I’ve seen him in.

      • The reference is in the slimy hero of the film unit where Deepika gets caught in the haystack fire – Shahrukh and Shreyas Talpade – annoyed at the preferential treatment the ‘hero’ is getting – almost (but not quite) voices the word :)

  7. Any good songs worth recollecting in this crappy movie?

  8. Repeating comment.

    The Director or writer must have been inspired by one of their charming cronies :) Great review Memsaab! Really chased away my blues :) Those fashion caps really made my day ROTFLOL.

  9. I am so sorry for you that you watched and lived through what sounds like THE most horrible movie to watch and live through.

    And why do women forgive their rapists/almost-rapists? Esp if he decides to marry her. Why on earth would you marry someone who rapes you??? That is the biggest unsolved mysteries for me. I remember this movie Hamara Dil aap ke paas hai where Anil K. raises a very pertinent question – if a woman forgives her rapist just cuz he consented to marry her, then every rapist would walk around with a mungalsutra and put it on every woman he rapes and have a helluva time, wouldn’t he?

    • Equating rape with sex is a mistake many people make, but yeah…taking it to the level of having to marry your rapist to save your reputation is just plain awful.

  10. I hope atleast,they have picturised my favourite asha bhosle-R.D.Burman Duet “Sharabi aankhein, gulabi chehra”(on whom they have picturised this song? Must be on Helen and Rakesh Roshan). Further, this film have got good songs from Rahul dev Burman. This film has been produced by Aamir Khan`s Late father Tahir Hussain, Am I right?

    • Yes, it’s picturized on Helen and Rakesh (link to the video is in the post). I didn’t care for the songs much, to be honest. And yes, it was produced by Tahir Hussain.

  11. Story ko “Goli maaro”(sorry for the rudeness of my language),
    I just love the films of 1960`s and 1970`s, the actors, actresses, the colour,the music,the feel of my childhood all associated with these films.
    I remember, my parents didn`t allow me to see hindi movies having adult contents,But I have to satisfy by seeing the colourful posters of these hindi movies on the roadside posters plastered near my primary school or the path leading to my school.
    I remember, during rainy days, I used to fall in the ponds filled by rainy water, while seeing the posters of the Hindi films and reading who is the music director,who is the director and other credits.

    Don`t laugh at me, till now, I have a fascination for these posters of Hindi movies,whenever I see songs or scenes of old hindi movies,picturised on roads, automatically, still, I observe whether any posters are there plastered on roadside walls or billboards. They are the entrance gates to my dreamworld.

    Picture “Achchi nahin to kya hua?, Atleast I have got my quota of nostalgia”,
    Great review,
    “Films kitne bhi buri ho, I just LOVE your selection of movies for reviews”.
    “TUM JEEYO HAZAARON SAAL, KE DIN HO PACHAAS HAZAAR”(This is my way of educating you, the HINDI langauage, so that you can read my “Tooti phooti HINGLISH”

    Sorry, I bored you, with my useless murmurings.

    with regards

    • No, I like hearing film memories of people who grew up watching them :) I used to walk into cars because I would always walk with my nose in a book!

  12. One thing that I notice from the screencaps is that Rakesh Roshan is trying extremely hard to ape the ammerisms and appearance of Rajesh Khanna – the superstar of that time.

  13. My lecturer who taught me Literary Theory and Criticism used to tell the class that Aristotle would have never approved of commercial Bollywood films if he were alive today, and this film bears witness to her testimony…

  14. I really appreciate that you would sit through such torture for our sake. Zakhmi Aurat was crying out loud to be made already.

    My only reason to watch this movie would be to see `Sharabi aankhein’ because of RDB tries out a new vocal exercise and YouTube has a couple of lousy links. I figured out what Asha Bhosle song Jayshree T sings thanks to your screencap (Nathani meri bolay/dolay re?).
    For the longest time, I grew up believing that a rape victim had no choice but to end her life, thank you Indian cinema. And having watched in `n’ number of movies, a `fallen’ woman had no choice but to die so the other `pristine’ woman could take her place in the hero’s heart. I still have trouble accepting how Amar Prem was resolved. If Anandbabu lived in the same place as Sharmila’s character, why didn’t he look after her once his marriage broke up, wait now, did it – not made clear. Why does he conveniently hand her over to Nandu? Will it be okay with Nandu’s wife, so what if Farida Jalal has such a kind face?
    Like you say, at least, they didn’t bump off Helen. And say, don’t the other victims want to take this luchcha to task?
    Groan! those handlebar mucchein and that WIG.
    Mahendra Sandhu also played the guy Raakhee marries in Joshila.

    • Actually Tom put up a version of “Sharabi Aankhein” which meets his usual high standards. There is a link to it in the post and also the Jayshree one. And I can’t stand that women are either “fallen” or “pure” and nothing in between—it is so ridiculous and unrealistic and (as I said) deHUMANizing. Of course the men who think that way probably feel that THEY are perfect. Eye roll.

      Mahendra was in Joshila?! I did not know that. Will have to revisit it!

      • Oh, Mahendra also played `Agent Vinod,’ I’m guessing, opposite Asha Sachdev. `Lavleena aa gaya main’ is a number picturized on Helen (Lavleena) and he’s dressed as a Sheikh.

  15. Oh yeah, remembered this – wasn’t Faisal Khan’s debut movie also called Madhosh? It didn’t exactly intoxicate the public either – what to do, Aamir Khan was on their minds.

  16. Producer Tahir Husain cast Reena Roy and Rakesh Roshan soon after in “Zakhmee” (1975), which also had our favorite actress Asha Parekh and Sunil Dutt as the other duo. Clearly, Tahir didn’t hold “Madhosh” against them. I haven’t seen “Zakhmee” but if you review it, I would love to read it, but a heads up: Tahir’s son Tariq is also in it. You were somewhat kind to Tariq than I would have been in your posts of “Yaadon Ki Baraat” (1973) and “Hum Kisise Kum Nahin” (1977), both directed by his uncle Nasir Husain.

  17. I hate, loathe, detest this movie…so much so that I didn’t even read your review (I don’t want to “relive” any of it). Should have warned you not to watch it.-(

  18. Great review, as usual, of a movie that sounds awful in most areas! As regards Rakesh Roshan, that was the look sported by one of my favorite uncles in those days, as well as most of the guys in my college, and fool that I was, I used to go gaga over that look! Now I find it revolting and wonder why I did it in those days! And yes, I remember those outsized lapels, and even my hubby had a couple of jackets with those huge lapels – ugh! As for the movie itself, I do wish that Raj had been shot dead, instead of being forgiven by his long-suffering wife and living happily ever after – the very thought that a woman could do that makes me gnash my teeth – grrr! I am glad I have never watched this movie and never will, so thanks, memsaab, for warning me in advance, should I ever be tempted!

    • It’s amazing what you can get used to and think looks good at the time! Clothes (and hairstyles!) I sported in the 70s make me cringe now when I look at old photos. Awkward family photos, indeed :)

  19. Great review and I’m happy that The Room is now identified.

    Hrithik looks so much like his father that even if I didn’t know who he is, I would have reached the conclusion by just looking at the screen caps (and yes that wig is utterly horrible)

    • Yes, it’s astonishing to me how much Hrithik resembles his dad, except he’s beautiful and Rakesh…well, maybe without the wig I would have thought he was better-looking, but I can’t get past it :)

  20. I don’t know about intoxication but I do feel like I’m having a bad hangover already after reading this. There would have been no problem if they wanted the main character to be a sociopath but at least they should spare us the sanctimony.

  21. *arrgghh*
    this sounds so horrible.
    thanks for putting up this warning for coming generations!

  22. Upcoming Summer Attraction! NEELKAMAL – Starring (Strike off Waheeda Rahman) Greta aka Memsaab aka Neelkamal – and Raaj Kumar.

    Fade in: Memsaab staring at the walls of THE ROOM. Why does it attract her? What is that pulls her to the ROOM again and again?

    Raaj Kumar (in sepulchral tones): Tumko aana hi hoga Neelkamal aka Memsaab (You HAVE to come Neelakamal aka Memsaab).

    It is your PAST LIFE calling you Memsaab. Memsaab walking in a trance to THE ROOM.

    Memsaab in THE ROOM sipping a drink (you DON’T eat in a restaurant has gone downhill) gazing into the ghostly eyes of her long lost love whom she can see but we can’t…… Fade out

  23. It sounds like the most awful ghastly mess. The wigs, Mahendra Sandhu, the sleaze, yikes! Though I guess Helen and the Horizon room make up for it.

  24. Any idea why Rajesh Roshan was bald even back in the 70s? Did he loose all his hair in his early 20s? :$ I don’t think he’s done a movie without a wig ever.

  25. Ah yes, the wigs…BTW when did Rakesh Roshan start losing his hair? I’m trying to figure it out for no apparent reason. It looked like real hair in his first movie Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani (1970).

  26. Hello Memsaab,

    Awesome blog you’ve got there! I don’t really have any more words of appreciation for your work than what others before me have shared with you but hats off to your love and dedication to Indian cinema! Anyway, just one interesting addition to your review of this movie- as despicably Z-grade this movie sounds like, they do have a reason for the hero blowing smoke into people’s faces: http://www.blog.ronlim.com/images/2009/tipalet_cigarette_ad.jpg

    Cheers and keep up the great work! In some 25 years when Indian cinema (hopefully) becomes mainstream in the global audience, it will be due to the meticulous and loving work of people like you!

    Sabeshan

  27. The psycho-pathological Raj and the hideous Goldie, what a sick combo!

    Rakesh Roshan looks much better now with that shining bald head than he looked 38 years ago. Hideous is a very mild term for this creep of a hero. He did his best to imitate Rajesh Khanna, and often he was the choice for B grade directors and producers who could not afford the Kaka’s price in those days. And more often than not he did a very bad job of it.

    You have aptly put it, the film is a “rehash of that dehumanizing goddess-whore form of female oppression which masquerades as respect’.

    Its a pity that you have to endure these slimy and shady characters so that we guys don’t have to go and see them.

    BTW who is the insect who played Pyarelal? His mug looks vaguely familiar.

    But these dehumanizing movies do serve some purpose, though that could not have been the motive of making these insufferable movies. These characters sicken you so much, that a normal person would never, even in the wildest of dreams, ever try these sexist cues in real life. To that extent they may have been of some purpose.

    Needless to say, a great review.

    • I am not sure who played Pyarelal, but I think it may be Raja Duggal…he was featured in the credits prominently as being “introduced” in this, and had one of the bigger parts. But I don’t know for sure.

      Rakesh indeed looks much better just going with his bald head. Most men do :)

      At least the clothing was very entertaining and I found out the story behind The Room. But otherwise, avoid yaar.

  28. Memsaab, I followed your blog ever since I looked up for details about Laxmi Chhaya, and ever since have been a silent follower. I blog mostly about feminism, and feminism and films, and I can’t explain how much I enjoyed you tearing into this piece of crap (although sadly this is just tip of the iceberg and you could see plenty of films with such rampant misogyny and rape apologia, where rape is OK where she is married by her rapist in the end – and not to being with the sexual harassment masquerading as ‘romance’) – and that somewhat took away the trauma that I had to go through watching this :)

    Also just to add, although I am a big movie buff, you are just Bollywood encyclopedia! And I frequently use your site as reference for many old Bollywood films. I don’t think any Indians can beat you at that either :D

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