I was so looking forward to seeing this film. It has a Cinderella-story plot and I am a sucker for romantic fairy tales. It was the director RK Nayyer’s idea that Sadhana get her famous “fringe” cut in this movie, and they also fell in love with each other during filming. Sadhana’s family threated Nayyer with legal action because she was underage, and they went their separate ways until Raj Kapoor reintroduced them and they finally got married. So awww: real life romantic story too!
It’s also my first Shobhana Samarth movie. And the music by Iqbal Qureshi is simply gorgeous. Every song is a gem! Joy Mukherjee debuted in it, and I think it was only Sadhana’s second movie.
But alas! it had problems. The subtitles were terrible, clearly done by someone who had only a very vague phonetic idea of English words and no knowledge of sentence structure, resulting in a lot of nonsense and forcing me to make desperate guesses as to actual meaning. For instance, here I think he meant “What now?”:
After a while my head hurt from trying to decipher what everyone was saying.
Also the film quality is quite bad, which is unavoidable sometimes but hard on the eyes. But what really ruined it was the hero’s irritating inability to pick one sister over another, which went on for too long and made him look either spineless or like a two-timing loser, pretty much killing the romance for me—neither characteristic being very heroic.
Anyway, on to the story. Sonia (Sadhana) lives with her paternal uncle, General Rajpal Singh (Kishore Sahu), aunt and cousin Sheela. Her aunt (Shobhana Samarth) and Sheela (Azra) treat Sonia like an ugly stepchild, making her wait on them hand and foot, and undermining her self-confidence at every opportunity.
Her uncle is kinder, but indulges his wife and daughter. Sonia’s only ally is her grandmother (Durga Khote) who thinks Sheela and her mother are spoiled and silly. Sheela is engaged to marry Dev Kumar Mehra (Joy Mukherjee), a rich guy whom she met in college and is mostly interested in for his money.
Dev is on his way to stay with the Singhs. Sonia overhears her family talking about her and finally snaps.
She makes a bet with Sheela that she’ll win Dev away from her by treating him like a god (urgh). Sheela is unconcerned about losing this bet; and when Dev arrives he is very clearly smitten with her. The family all set off for a dance competition, but make Sonia stay home. She breaks down in front of her grandmother, who decides to help her.
Of course, the first thing to go is her glasses.
Never mind that without them she can’t see and gets headaches! I guess it’s worth it to be pretty (grrrr). Next comes the famous fringe:
A little eyeliner:
Some jewelry, better clothes and an updo later, Sonia is devastating.
The Indian Audrey Hepburn, in fact!
Sonia and her grandmother go to the dance competition, where Sheela has blown off Dev (who says he can’t dance) in favor of other partners: the Bombay champion, the Madras champion, the Calcutta champion…you get the idea. Everyone is amazed by Sonia’s new look, although not everyone is happy about it.
Naturally, jealous Dev asks Sonia to dance with him, and they win the competition! much to Sheela’s chagrin.
It’s a fabulous song (“Gaal Gulabi”) which stands out even amidst all the other wonderful songs!
I like that alcoholic eyes are a good thing. Anyway, as time goes on, Sonia puts her plan into action and goes after Dev’s affections to pay back Sheela for her arrogance and insults.
From the beginning it’s clear that they are better together than Dev and Sheela. Sheela has ambitions towards being Miss Simla and winning a film contract, and she ignores or bypasses Dev in these endeavours when it suits her. This naturally hurts his feelings, and gradually he is drawn to Sonia, with whom he always has fun. They are quite mischievous together, although their dialogues confuse me.
I really have no idea what that means.
This goes on for a really long time. When Sheela is around, Dev romances her and pretends that Sonia means nothing to him.
But when Sheela is absent, he is very happy to be falling in love with Sonia, as she is with him.
How can that possibly go wrong?
It does. Vijaya (Vijaylaxmi), Sheela’s best friend, sees Dev and Sonia on one of their romps. She tells Sheela that Dev “was Anthony, pulling the rickshaw”:
Sheela is infuriated, and of course Sonia gets all the blame—not Dev for being deceitful or Sheela for being a vain, selfish, horrible person. And being the good girl that she is, Sonia agrees to sacrifice her love. What will happen next? Will Dev find out about the bet? Will he marry Sheela? Will Sonia ever find happiness again?
Will the subtitles ever make any sense???
Watch Love in Simla to find out. It’s not the worst movie, but my expectations were high, and I disliked the rampant sexism (yes, I know they were barely out of the fifties). If you don’t need subtitles, you’ll be much better off too! And honestly, the songs are worth watching it for alone.