My Love (1970)

Here we have another relatively obscure film which does not deserve to be abandoned to the unprofessional shenanigans of Ultra, although it isn’t any masterpiece for sure. But stars Shashi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore are young and gorgeous, as is the exotic setting (Kenya, complete with Masai warriors and lovely wildlife footage). They are backed up by the *extreme* cuteness of Laxmi Chhaya—who dances several times too—and the blessed presence of stalwarts Madan Puri, Rajendranath, Nirupa Roy, and Jayant. It is of course not subtitled and much of the angst went over my head (not necessarily a bad thing); but I loved the travelogue eye-candy of the first half and giggled through the melodramatic soap-opera quality of the second half, complete with crazed camera angles and abundant overuse of the zoom lens, Emoting Shashi, and strident musical effects.

Even the African and gora extras get in on the action, albeit with their trademark lack of enthusiasm.

Anyway, the plot is the least of my concerns when there is so much to delight in. Any plot details that I do give may or may not be accurate and in fact I may have made the whole thing up wholesale, but also maybe my version is better than the original (maybe not).

I do know for sure that we open with Shashi driving a convertible, Rajendranath riding shotgun and reading Mad magazine; they are listening to “I Love Paris in the Springtime” and Shashi uses both hands to comb his hair while still speeding along, which seems to me not only dangerous but also pointless. They are Raj Kumar (Shashi) and his best buddy Tom Genda (Rajendranath), and they are headed for the Nairobi airport to meet a singer named Lata Devi (ha ha!) and her manager Pran Mehta (Madan Puri).

Raj is furious when he discovers that Mehta has brought along not Lata Devi (whom he says is sick) but an unknown singer named Sangeeta Thakur (Sharmila Tagore) and her dancer friend Laxmi (Laxmi Chhaya).

I must say that this film is a complete Shashi Showcase: he is by turns petulant, haughty, charming, despairing—and always, always cosmopolitan (except for one abhorrent scene which I’ll get to). And he gets to speak English a lot, always a plus with Shashi.

Raj stomps off back to the hotel and cancels the show scheduled for that night. People are expecting the famous Lata Devi, not some unknown upstart! But Sangeeta comes to plead with him and explains (this is probably completely wrong, but if I’d written the story this is how it would go) that Lata Devi isn’t sick, but that Mehta is trying to help her get her career started and she needs to pay for her mother’s medications. Raj’s heart melts, especially after he gets a good long look at the beautiful Sangeeta (those eyelashes sweep down and then back up), and the show is on.

The audience at the East African National Theater is pretty pissed off at Lata Devi’s no-show, but Sangeeta’s beautiful singing (“Sunaate Hain Sitaare Raat”—Asha Bhosle sings the songs) wins them over. The music in this was written by Daan Singh (lyrics by Anand Bakshi)—Ultra’s vcd cover incorrectly credits him with direction, and S. Sukhdev with the music, but they have it backwards (idiots). I hadn’t heard of Daan Singh before (he just passed away in June, apparently), but I liked the music in this a whole lot.

Also, the film was written by Prayag Raj (I always think of him as “The great Prayag Raj” being as that he’s responsible for some of my all-time favorite movies) and he is listed as one of the actors in the credits (as he often is). I am wondering if he plays the Ustad responsible for Sangeeta’s songs, also traveling with Mehta. Does anybody know? At the end of this song there is a hilarious little interlude where he begins to follow Raj out onto the stage to acknowledge the applause, and Raj turns around and pushes him in the chest, back into the wings.

I digress (a common side-effect for me of no subtitles).

Raj is thrilled with the response, and clearly pretty smitten with the lovely Sangeeta. She is quickly the toast of Nairobi and is feted with a hilarious strip-tease type performance by one “Caron Leslie” and “Jerry”, who prances and postures behind her in a red satin devil suit. Shashi apparently was quite enamored himself of the actress Leslie Caron, and even danced with her once at a Berlin film festival—I’m guessing this is a tribute of sorts to her, although Miss Caron might not see it that way.

As she strips down to a furry white bikini and shakes her moneymakers, Sangeeta gets more and more embarrassed—as a good Hindustani ladki should—while everyone else is delighted. But seeing her friend’s discomfiture, Laxmi comes to the rescue and takes over the dance floor.

Oh Laxmi! How I adore you. And so does my friend Tom, who has un-defaced and uploaded the whole thing for your delectation. Seriously you need to watch this.

Raj now sets out to woo the shy Sangeeta, but there is a big obstacle (and not just in beehive hairdo form). His wealthy and domineering father Rai Sahab (Jayant) wants him to marry Rani (Azra), the daughter of his best friend (Raj Mehra). Rani wants to marry Raj too, and she’s quickly aware of his attraction to Sangeeta (after he sings another lovely song on a touristy outing with them: “Yeh Tumhare Raaste”).

Rani’s first move is to warn Sangeeta off in classic “He’s mine!” fashion; but when it’s obvious that Raj himself is feeling mutinous about her possessiveness she goes running to his father, who assures her that she has nothing to worry about.

Sangeeta at least has taken Rani’s words to heart (plus manager Mehta, who doesn’t want to lose his new meal ticket, also weighs in on Rani’s behalf), and she stops speaking to Raj. This is excuse enough for two more Laxmi dances, hooray! Girl just loves to dance (and thanks again to Tom). I love the meta-lip-synching going on in the first one: Laxmi lip-synching for Sharmila lip-synching for Asha B.

So much Laxmi goodness!

But eventually, with Laxmi and Tom’s help (Tom—Genda—is now also wooing Laxmi in his bumbling CSP manner) the two manage to find some time alone together in the African wilderness.

Love blossoms, because nothing spells romance quite like a cheetah feeding on a bloody carcass.

While Raj and Sangeeta are dancing with Masai warriors and going on safari, Rani is fuming and complaining to Rai Sahab about his son’s behavior. Rai Sahab asks Raj about his relationship with Sangeeta in front of Rani; Raj explains that Sangeeta is the singer for the shows he is producing and he has to spend time with her as part of his job. Raj is clearly intimidated by his father (Shashi’s facial expressions are priceless), and he escapes with relief as Rai Sahab tells Rani that she is “a fool”. I almost feel sorry for her, but not quite.

He’s not fooled for long. Rai Sahab and Rani overhear Sangeeta telling Raj that she doesn’t want to return to India—and Raj is overjoyed. Hmmph!

Rai Sahab’s opportunity to sabotage his wayward son’s romance comes soon after. Raj and Tom have entered a three day car rally through the rainy-season mud of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania—and Raj crashes the car near the end.

He is badly hurt (Tom is okay). As he lies unconscious in surgery, Sangeeta runs dramatically through the streets of Nairobi to the hospital. I sense that Happy Happy Fun Time in Africa is at an end, and I am right. Rai Sahab and Rani are already at the hospital, and Rai Sahab has a long and dramatic conversation with Sangeeta in which he finally persuades her to give up Raj (although I have no idea what his leverage is, besides the usual “sacrifice yourself for his family izzat” etc.). She returns to India with Laxmi and Mehta, heart-broken but noble, while Raj recovers from his injuries. Rai Sahab tells Raj that Sangeeta has gone, but not why, of course.

At Raj’s birthday party, Rai Sahab announces his engagement to Rani.

The DRAAAAA-MAAAAAA! Time to get the earplugs out: this music popped up *every ten minutes* during the second half, I kid you not.

(Manorama and my friend Ted Lyons get to witness the party goings-on in person!)

Will Raj be able to defy his father? Will he even want to, given that Sangeeta didn’t show up when he was hospitalized and went home? Will Sangeeta faithfully honor her promise to Rai Sahab to stay away from Raj? Will she gain fame and fortune in India as she did in Nairobi? What will Mehta do in order to hang onto her?

I’ll tell you one thing: it really pisses me off when Raj hits Sangeeta so hard that one of her earrings breaks. What kind of message is that, movie makers? Grrrr.

It impedes my ability to wholeheartedly love this movie, although the rest of it is good Mills and Boon soapy fun. It seems strange too, coming from the same people who give us this gem at the very end! I laughed out loud.

Anyway, there’s always Laxmi to fall back on. She makes almost as many cute faces as Shashi does, and she doesn’t hit anybody.

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47 Comments to “My Love (1970)”

  1. ZOMG why haven’t I seen this??? WHY HELEN WHY????? Even if just for the classically Kapoor driving and Laxmi’s beret?

    I have decided to be very, very wary of engaging with any more films in which Shashi says “izzat.” Does this one fit that category, or is it mainly his dad who takes that line?

    I played that DRAMAAAAA music and Leroy came over to see what was up. :D

  2. I don’t believe Shashi himself is concerned with izzat and in fact mention of it seemed generally weak to me (but that could be a language barrier issue). But you would thoroughly enjoy Shashi’s bad driving habits in this one (the car rally! combing his hair!) and he is very cute when he isn’t hitting Sharmila.

    And I love Laxmi’s baby-bottle-nipple hat beyond words. And the chrysanthemum earrings.

  3. Those chrysanthemum earrings were the rage then, memsaab! I enjoyed reading your review, since I do believe that this movie sank without a murmur when it was released, and I don’t even remember the songs – believe me when I tell you that those were the days when I listened to film songs all the time, even when I was supposed to be buried in books! Now I will have to look for the songs in this movie and listen to them.
    Shashi combing his hair with both hands while driving? That sounds priceless. I have to watch this one!

    • I would love to find a vintage pair of those (or would they be considered antique now, sigh) :) I really liked the songs, although the only one that seemed to be mentioned on the net was the very sad “Woh Tere Pyaar Ka Gham” which was actually my least favorite, although still lovely). Just be warned that it only seems to be available on Ultra vcd, and I almost didn’t make it through both discs—they wanted to fail very hard. I think it was only my force of will that kept them spinning.

  4. I got a little mixed up there, right after those two Laxmi Chhaya videos you’d embedded – you thanked Tom (Daniel, of course), and then there was that bit about “Tom is now wooing Laxmi”. For a moment, I went “Huh? What the –?!” and then, of course, I remembered Tom Genda. :-D :-D

    I’ve seen half of this film (I bought it mainly because of the song Woh tere pyaar ka gham), but the VCD packed up halfway through. :-(

    • “Tom is now wooing Laxmi”

      I should be so fortunate! As memsaab commented to me just yesterday, it’s so unfortunate that Laxmi Chhaya passed away so early because she’s one person many of us would liked to have known better.

      • “I should be so fortunate!”

        I thought your reaction would’ve been something along those lines! It is so sad that she passed away long before so many of her fans got to know of her.

        • :) It did read like Tom (Daniel) was wooing Laxmi. So true, Tom, there are so many of us who would have liked to know Laxmi Chhaya better, at least through her films.

          Tom Genda is a fabulous name, by the way, isn’t it?

          And grrr to Shashi hitting Sharmila. Just can’t swallow that any more.

          But this does sound like another film I must see.

    • Hehehe.. me 2.

      I thought Tom had already done the Laxmi Chhaya video, so I wondered why he was going back to her.

    • HA HA HA HAAAA! I have fixed it (I think) although I’m sure Tom Daniel would woo Laxmi if he could. I’ve decided that it’s not Helen I want to be in my next life, but Laxmi. I *heart* her so much.

      ETA: And my reply seems to be at the bottom of a lot of comments along that line (didn’t notice that until I left it)…well, Tom, maybe it’s just a sign that Laxmi feels she IS being wooed by you and your devoted care of her legacy :)

      I loved the name Tom Genda, it made me giggle, although I have no idea why. Does “genda” have some sort of meaning? Rajendranath was hilarious in this, relatively subdued but full of funny faces himself.

      And yes, see above—the vcd wanted to pack up several times but I glared at it until it resumed.

      • ‘Genda’ can mean either of two things. if the ‘d’ is a soft one (as in ‘Madhu’!), it means marigold. If it’s a hard ‘d’, then it’s a rhinoceros.

        • Oooooh!!! PERFECT. I am positive it was “rhinoceros” with a hard “d”—there was lots of footage of them, and it seems so appropriate for Rajendranath in general :D

  5. This actually has a magical Mukesh number – woh tere pyar ka gham. Never dreamt of watching it, though.

    • It is a lovely song, but all of them really are nice I think. I loved “Sunaate Hain Sitaare Raat” too, and the dance numbers. But the dramatic brass and percussion took over the second half—“Woh Tere Pyaar Ka Gham” was a soothing oasis in the midst of it all :)

  6. The man in 20th screencap is indeed PRAYAAG RAAJ,I don`t have any proof regarding this. But I have seen much aged Prayaag raj`s photographs in film magazines. By what I have seen in those photographs, I guess the man with beard, in blue sherwani and round white cap in 20th screencap is Pryaag raj.He is short and fat and wide mouth. I am 99% sure about this.

    regards

  7. So much of Laxmi Chayya in a film has to make it good and the ‘kissing is not allowed in indian films’ is GREAT!! What was the director doing in the remaining part of the film?

    • I know, I really LOL’d when that came along at the end :D Except for that one scene where Raj hits Sangeeta (just so so unacceptable to me) it was a pretty “modern” (for 1970) take on love and family obligations. It’s even implied that Raj and Sangeeta go to bed together!!! (They are shown making out on one, in a safari lodge.)

      ETA: I think that’s what bothered me so much about the slap—it’s as if even “progressive” Indian men like the ones who made this film feel that it’s okay to show something like that, like it’s a natural part of men and women dealing with each other. UGH.

      • “it’s as if even “progressive” Indian men like the ones who made this film feel that it’s okay to show something like that, like it’s a natural part of men and women dealing with each other.”

        Yeah, that hurts much more than if shown in some other conservative film. There one can rage and rant, but in a film one likes, it just makes one sad and hurt!
        Hard to forgive something like that!

  8. I love Sunate Hain sitare.. This is one movie I WISH I COULD SEE. Maybe I will.

    • We can only hope that someone rescues it from the oblivion of a bad Ultra vcd and puts subtitles on it and releases it. But I won’t hold my breath! Until then, though, it is worth tracking down and suffering through :D

  9. I think you did just fine without the subtitles. And I loved the various descriptions, meta-lip-synching, especially. Story sounds like a sort of reverse Aa Gale Lag Jaa to me, without the conception scene (or rape by hypothermia as I read on Beth’s blog long ago), thankfully.
    That Mukesh song mentioned above I recently learnt about, in my erstwhile FB forays.
    So if Sangeeta does not want to go back to India, will her sick mother come and stay with her? In her sasural?
    Oh, and I’m guessing those were Shashi’s mascara-would-be-envious-eyelashes you described fluttering.
    Sharmila’s beehive as obstacle – that was a funny and apt observation. I’ve always wondered about what the Indian heroine of yore was supposed to prove with that `ghonsla’ on her head – that she is actually Rapunzel in disguise?
    I was reading so carefully this time, I actually understood which Tom was wooing Laxmi – both, I gather from the comments above.
    Kahaan se dhoondh nikala iss pikchar ko?

    • Yes, Shashi lashes :) they are so so luxurious. One of his many charms. It was Azra’s beehive, but Sharmila had plenty of them too. I think global warming probably is a result of all the hair spray used in the 50s-early 70s :(

      And I have very little clue what your Hindi sentence says :( I am hopeless. Where did I put something?

  10. Meaning from where did you dig up this one? Word for word translation would be where from searched out this picture?

    • Thanks :) It helps me learn if people leave comments in Hindi, but even more when they also leave a translation ;-)

      I have no idea where/when I got it, possibly from a sale bin in a store in India. It’s a “cut-out” meaning that the cover has holes punched in it, like cut-out records used to. I’ve had it for a while, but finally braved the lack of subs :)

  11. Will always leave a translation from now on, but genuinely thought you didn’t need one – considering the good job you did above.
    But I do feel your pain when watching Bengali movie after Bengali movie and there are largish tracts without subtitles and no one can hear me shriek (hubby watches stoically). They’ll show newspaper clippings, prologues and epilogues in Bengali, and no translation for us. Can’t wait to watch all those Malayalam movies without enough subtitles, followed by Telugu and Kannada films. Ghare-Baire (Bengali) listed subtitles on the cover – invisible ink, I guess. I’m also thinking dark thoughts about the point size of the subtitles in a recent one with Bips and Biswajeet’s son, Prosenajit (not sure of spelling) – we sat a foot away from the screen.

    • Tell me about it! Sometimes having subtitles is almost worse than not having them, when they lag behind or disappear for huge amounts of time, or you can’t read them because they blend into the background, signs and newspaper clippings are never translated…I could go on and on XD I feel your pain, needless to say.

  12. I don’t remember much about the second half of the movie, including the sacrifical drama and accompanying singing and weeping but I loved the first part. I know the film exoticized Kenya but the scenery was just breathtaking beautiful – I’ve been dying to visit Africa ever since. Pretty songs, pretty people and pretty places leads to a pretty good hindi film.

    Btw, Memsaab you (and Beth) really should watch “Mr. Romeo.” There’s no Laxmi Chhaya but there is a singing and dancing Ranjeet. Good enough, right? :-)

    • COMPLETELY GOOD ENOUGH! I think I have Mr. Romeo (unsubtitled)…I have to pace myself with those :(

      ETA I grew up in Africa, and lived there at the time this film was made, and it was so nostalgic for me. I wish it were still that easy to find wild animals on safari :(((

  13. Isn’t this reviewed on ‘old is gold’ blog? I thought the DVD is more accessible here in India.The film is not exactly obscure as both the film and the Mukesh song aired on DD(national tv) before.

    English titles in hindi movies before 80’s amused me as I thought that meant film story takes place in foreign lands (Tokyo, Paris,) or it has south producers who are poor in hindi or its a hollywood imitation or something like that. why Indians had to use English titles then ?

    Director told a blantant lie about kissing in Indian movies , didn’t know Devika Rani probably. I’m sure there were other instances

    • I saw that when I googled him :( From this film he seemed very talented, and it’s too bad he didn’t have a more successful career! We probably missed a lot of good work!

  14. @Memsaab – I wondered if the reason you liked this film was because it brought back some memories of growing up in Africa. I did not see it mentioned in the review but you have alluded to this in the comments.
    I remember seeing parts of this movie in the past. Was there an issue with the color (print) of this movie?
    I am not sure if it was this one or Aamne Saamne with the same leading pair that seemed to have issues with the background lighting. The color seemed to alternate between extreme bright and faded glory.

    • Oh that was DEFINITELY part of it. Nostalgia, nostalgia :) I lived there at the time this film was made even, although I lived in southern Africa, not East Africa. This one has issues with color…but I can’t say, sadly, that it is unusual :( They all do.

  15. Shammi Kapoor passed away this morning at 5 AM at Breach Candy Hospital.
    A fan in mourning, from mumbai

  16. Greta, have you heard about Shammi yet?

  17. Greta,
    Just heard about Shammi Kapoor and instantly thought of you! :-( Life is so unfair, I tell you!

    I too am a great fan of Hindi films of vintage lore, and my wife (who, incidentally also falls into that ‘memsaab’ category herself) loves Kishore’s yodelling and songs….

    I am a long time silent reader of your blog, but this news is too sad not to share my solidarity and my heartfelt condolences with you. :'( Boo Hoo

    He will live on forever with his films and most importantly in our hearts!

    Bless that man.

    Best,
    Surio.

  18. Memsaab, “My Love” seems like the right kind of heading under which to showcase all that I have to share with you this morning. I woke up, and walked to the front porch to grab the Sunday paper (yay, comics! Male Call! Travel!), but the paper was late in coming. I realized I hadn’t even opened the Saturday paper yet coz yesterday had slipped right thru my hands from the get go, so I did just that… opened the Saturday paper. The first thing that I read was Colin Covert’s review of ‘Final Destination 5′ with this cheesy opener: “Call me fickle, but..” (it felt like he was about to sum me up or something, lol; then and I went off on a tangent to wonder how appropriate that ‘fickle’ rhymes with ‘sickle’).

    Then I came upon this line, “Death…doesn’t like to miss his quota” and was instantly reminded of what Shalini said (of Shammi) yesterday on BR’s post about movie trivia (e.g. ‘the making of’ and such) interfering with our enjoyment of the movie itself, taking us out of a fine movie moment by adding unexpected layers:

    “And sometimes, watching a movie at a heightened, meta level does add unexpected layers…”

    So true. I remember reading an Asha Parekh interview many years ago where she revealed that “tumne mujhe dekha” from Teesri Manzil was shot a few weeks after Geeta Bali’s death. And suddenly what I had enjoyed as a beautiful but routinely romantic song became a deeply poignant tribute to a love lost forever. I can never watch the song now without thinking “Shammi is signing those words to Geeta Bali”….

    I put the paper away and, on a whim, logged in to read his blog and…came to know from BR’s heart-rendingtribute that Shammi is no more… I felt the urge to come here and commiserate right away… so sorry for your loss, Memsaab. I too love Shammi but not nearly with even half the intensity that you, his forever fan, do. I know him mainly from his songs on Chitrahaar, growing up. I’ve seen very few of his films. But what’s in numbers…. even one movie of his is enough to love him, right? That infectious energy! (Damn you, Shammi… you spread more joy than… even…even ‘Joy’ Mukherjee!!)

    Memsaab, you’ve always been oh so vocal about your Shammi love… I love that. I believe in that. I too know what it is to love with abandon, love from a distance, and worry about losing the object of your affection to the Grim Reaper, of all things! Damn! Damn! Damn! But what to do? What could possibly be more real that this eventuality? Having said that, I won’t miss this opportunity to register undying allegiance to the object of *my* true affection… BR… I love you truly, madly, deeply, and drink from the fount of your wordy wisdom on a daily basis. (Sounds cheesy, I know, but hey…) Love may come and love may go, but we’ll go on forever!

    • I am so glad that his passing is getting acknowledged; so sad that it doesn’t happen for all the other greats who have gone in the past few years. I will always adore Shammi, and I am just so grateful I got to meet him in person and see that he was as wonderful in real life as he was onscreen.

  19. Hi Greta,
    Hearing the news I immediately thought about you and your passionate devotion for Shammi Kapoor; I hope the shock will be softened by the realization that you did actually manage to meet him and that wherever he is now he’ll shine as an even brighter Bollywood star.
    love
    yves

  20. Hey Memsaab ,

    I want to share a piece of information with you and all others in the thread .The director who made this Film Is Sandhu Singh Sukhdev (S.Sukhdev) awarded Padma Shree in the year 1969 . He has made 33 documentary films in total.9 months to freedom , India 67 and After the ecllipse some of his award winning works .9 months to freedom showcased the freedom struggle in Bangladesh liberation war and won accolades both nationally and internationally . I currently am doing research on all his works could you tell me How can i get a copy of the film “My love 1970″ .. where if in Mumbai then where can i get this…Extremely important because Current generation India Refuses to see the works of the Past.
    Heroes like Sukhdev must get their due .

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