Star (1982)

I had long ago decided that two or three 1980s-era Hindi disco movies was probably enough for me. But in the interests of a well-rounded filmi education, I needed to see a Kumar Gaurav movie; after all, he is Rajendra Kumar’s son and Sanjay Dutt’s brother-in-law. So I braved this one, and was surprised to find it quite sweet and very watchable.

Largely this was thanks to the afore-mentioned star son himself: he is just as cute as a button, making his character one you can really root for. Especially when he suffers under a Ma who really should have thought twice before she brought children into the world and Saeed Jaffrey (love him!) as the villain of the piece. I even actually liked the songs (by Biddu), although Indian disco is not usually my cup of tea.

Dev Kumar Verma (Kumar Gaurav) is a young man who dreams of being a famous singer although he’s forced to work in a men’s store to help his family make ends meet. That is, until the day he insults a customer and is fired. On his way home he walks on the beach and sings a song with some kids. It’s a cute song (“Muskaraye Ja”) with cute kids and Dev is…well, cute too.

A note here: I was amazed throughout the film by the tightness of Kumar Gaurav’s jeans. It’s a miracle that he was able to father children! They were painted onto his skinny legs! Thank goodness the 80’s are over.

When he reaches home and confesses his newly unemployed status to the family, his perennially unhappy Ma (Dina Pathak) scolds him. His father (AK Hangal) asks him why he doesn’t apply for admission to college and Dev says that he wants to be a singer. It’s an old argument, you can tell, which doesn’t stop Ma from launching into a harangue.

She’s so shrill that I have a headache within two minutes. You can see from their faces that her elder son Shiv (Raj Kiran) and husband are over it too.

Aargh. I’d run away from home just to get out of hearing range. Anyway, Dev is determined to get a job singing in a club. His best friend Salim (Raja Bundela) writes songs for him to sing, and encourages him to keep trying. To that end, Dev goes to see Rana (Saeed Jaffrey), the owner of a nightclub called Club 54. He’s turned away by one of Rana’s men (Bob Christo) but manages to sneak into the office behind him anyway. It doesn’t go well.

Rana (Saeed Jaffrey) is not a nice man. He’s on the phone threatening someone who owes him money when he notices Dev on a monitor.

I love a) the fish tanks behind him; b) the wall-color-coordinated pretty assistant whose job it is to hold the phone to his ear; c) the panting doberman with the Kali-like tongue; d) it’s Saeed Jaffrey! and e) his goondas are Bob Christo and Yusuf Khan, the best henchmen ever! Fabulous.

They dismiss Dev quickly and scornfully.

Salim urges Dev to give another club one last try. They go to Charlie’s Disco, where Maya (Rati Agnihotri) sings on stage every night. She’s singing “Boom Boom” as our heroes arrive. Fun fun!

Salim and Dev introduce themselves to her at the bar after her song (she drinks Coke and not liquor, so we know she’s a nice girl). She’s friendly, and gets him an audition with Charlie himself (Ravindra Kapoor) for the next afternoon. Salim writes a new song for Dev to sing, “Ooee Ooee.”

Charlie and Maya are wowed, and Dev is hired on the spot. He’s an instant success with the crowd, too, maybe because of the giant Rubik’s Cube, but more likely because of his (skin-tight) leather pants.

Ah, nostalgia. Charlie will pay him Rs 2000 a month, way more than he was making at Hilton’s Men’s Store, but Ma is still not satisfied.

Lord have mercy. I would rather have a weeping, self-sacrificing Ma than this monster of anger and unhappiness. She relents in the end, but I’m pretty sure she has more screeching to do. Then actual tragedy strikes. Salim is struck by a car and killed. At Charlie’s, Dev sings a tribute to his friend in the form of “Dheere Dheere” which also introduces something new to me: Disco Karate!

His brother Shiv comes to see him sing, and Dev introduces him to Maya—whose sympathy is making Dev see her in a new light. Unfortunately, Maya and Shiv are obviously taken with each other (well, it’s obvious to me, not so much to Dev).

Meanwhile, Dev’s popularity at Charlie’s means that the crowds at Rana’s Club 54 are dwindling. Rana fires his singer, Biddu (Biddu—who wrote the screenplay in addition to the music for this film). He looks kind of like Dev. Or maybe Rick Springfield.

Rana then tracks down Dev and offers him a job at his club, but Dev turns him down. Meanwhile, Maya has found an advertisement for an All-India Singing Competition, which she encourages Dev to enter.

Not being one to take no for an answer, Rana sends his goons Bob and Yusuf to Charlie’s, where they trash the place, beat up Charlie, and—damage Dev’s throat by pressing on it. The humanity!

When Maya brings Dev home from the hospital with a bandage around his throat, his Ma has her usual OTT reaction:

Ay ay ay. Shiv is really angry, though, and after Maya identifies Yusuf as the guy who silenced Dev’s golden voice, he beats up Yusuf in an elevator. Hooray!

Dev thinks that Maya’s concern and care for him is because she loves him, and he indulges in a fantasy song (“Jaana”) about the two of them—and another new experience for me: Space Disco!

But Maya and Shiv are now meeting each other regularly, and falling in love. Rana is extremely angry that Shiv has beaten up Yusuf, and has plans to teach Shiv a lesson. What will happen next? Will Dev discover that his brother has stolen his love from him? Will he be able to sing again? Will Shiv survive Rana’s wrath? Will Ma ever stop her shrill complaining about everything?

It’s not much of a story, but it’s simple and well done and as a showcase for the songs it succeeds mightily. The songs are not as bizarre (in my opinion) as some (Disco Dancer, e.g.) but are closer to American 70’s disco in sound—that may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your taste, but I liked them! I found Dina Pathak’s mother character very hard to tolerate (in case you didn’t pick up on that); but she was really the only grating note. In short: good time pass, sweet simple story and characters, nice songs and disco fun.

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35 Comments to “Star (1982)”

  1. Ooh, Star! I remember listening to my father’s Star and Disco Dancer LPs a countless number of times when I was little, and I was always drawn more to the music of Star. It was unlike all the other soundtracks I ever heard – light and bouncy, fun, catchy… and with vocals that sounded, for lack of a better word, nasal.

    I might have been five or six years old when I first saw the film, and I remember being saddened by Salim’s death, which came rather suddenly. Then later on when I saw Disco Dancer I was a bit surprised at how similar in plot these films are, though I think Star handled the subject without being as campy as DD.

    I liked the small cameo by Padmini Kolhapure, showing up at Dev’s performances like a rabid fan… and watching the film I hoped he would ditch Maya for his admirer. I suppose the end of the film alludes to this actually happening.

  2. Yes, I much prefer the music of Star to the other disco music (DD, Karz, Qurbani, etc.) I know I will probably get criticized for it, but what can I do? Some of it almost sounded ABBA-like. Star is not really campy—it’s dated, but not campy. And Salim’s death was sad, and sudden, as death often is :(

  3. oh my my.. Space Disco, Karate Disco, Rubik’s Cube Disco.. what’s left?? That alone makes me want to see this movie! :-D Although, to be fair to the principal actors of the movie, I must say Ravi Kiran holds a special place in my heart due to his “Arth” & I loved Kumar Gaurav in “Naam” (I’d recommend both of the movies–though you’ve probably seen Arth already. Naam I’d seen a long time ago, but it had a nice story, almost Deewar-like in its ethos). But I’m not sure I can stand shrilly Dina Pathak for long :-(

  4. It’s a miracle that her sons and/or her husband had not shut her up for good a loooonnng time back. She was UNbearable. You can fast forward when she comes along, she never says anything important or nice. I will look for Naam, KG is just so cute. Love Story was his debut, right?

  5. I think so, yes. With his debut movie he had “overnight” become the heartthrob of the nation.. but subsequent flops lead him to be written off by the media & the film industry. (I think Naam was a hit; but the credit was probably given to Sanjay Dutt, who was the then-current heartthrob).

    I’ve seen Kumar Gaurav only in Naam; but I feel sad how the *system* makes & breaks stars so readily!! That can’t be good for anyone’s self esteem, can it? I’m glad how Hrithik Roshan has bounced back now (the media just loved to compare HR in his initial years to KG & wrote extensively on how he, too, was finished!). Probably KG should have persisted more, but I do feel he deserved much better than what he got!

  6. Kumar Gaurav had another disco movie Teri Kasam which also had splendid songs. He always struck me as a bit sulky. Havent seen any of his movies in years, though. I’ve always wondered why he faded out so fast.

    Just listened to the songs from this movie on musicindiaonline. They are all sung by Nazia and Zoheb Hassan. That brings back so many memories. The brother-sister duo was quite popular in India in 80s and Doordarshan would often play their songs. They were both so good looking, especially Nazia! I think Feroze Khan was responsible for bringing her to India in his Qurbani (I think they were from UK of Pakistani origin)

    • Nazia Hasan passed away fighting cancer at age 39 in mid-2000’s. The sister-brother team besides this movie also had a semi-hit album released during that time.

  7. This looks like an Indian-Disco movie I can get behind. It looks really sweet!

    (Besides, who doesn’t like tight trousers on men…)

  8. Ranya: Maybe KG didn’t really want to be an actor, or at least not enough to persist…who knows?

    bollyviewer: He wasn’t sulky in this, just kind of serious. Although if he HAD been sulky I wouldn’t have blamed him, I would have blamed his awful Maa. And I don’t know anything about Nazia and Zoheb, will have to google them!

    Filmi Girl: It’s not bad for an Indian disco movie. I would say KG is more of a boy than a man….but maybe that’s just cause I’m old :-) His trousers are verrrrrry tight though!

  9. Ohhh Kumaaar! I fancied the tight jeans of this man when I was a kid, in the 90’s! Nevertheless after watching Naam with him in it, I resolved to find this movie, and gawsh it was great! He makes the perfect disco king, he coulda been the more actorly Jimmy from Disco Dancer! Space Disco is one brilliant invention in this story, and i love the humungo rubix cube in the side, what a brilliant set piece! And i love the fashions of the disco movies skin tight leather trousers, shiny head bands!
    The best part of Kumar was he wasn’t a drip like Rajender was! I want him to come back!

  10. He still kinda looks the same, at least from what little I’ve seen of him in the tabloids…but I love Rajendra too. He has a special appearance at the end :-)

  11. Good lord, the things that you make one remember after absolute aeons really! It’s amazing how when I read “Boom Boom”, the tune immediately came to mind, it feels like it was a hundred years ago. Kumar Gaurav was way cuter than his dad who I agree was a drip as Rum says :-) KG was quite a hearthrob in his day.

    There was another film he did with Poonam Dhillon where I quite liked him. Only it turns out that the song I always thought was in that film (‘Neele neele amber par’ sung by Kishore’s son Amit Kumar) really wasn’t so I don’t know if the film I’m talking of even existed! Was it “Teri Kasam” or something with him and PD running around in a forest in the dark? Ah trusty Google tells me I’m right * relieved sigh* and the other great song in that film was “Yeh zameen gah rahi hai”. You may want to check it out Memsaab, it was nice mush.

  12. It’s funny, cause this film was made when I was in college—I am probably about the same age as KG. So I would have probably *sighed* over him back then too :-) He’s a good actor as well. So I will look for all your recommendations (I actually already own—and may have seen, I can’t remember naturally—Naam, from my Sanju baba obsession days)…:-)

    But I can only take a small amount of the 1980s at a time.

  13. I haven’t seen this film and I generally avoid ’80s Hindi disco films :) , but strangely enough, I know a little about Nazia and Zoheb Hassan. There’s a lot of information on Nazia over at the Nazia Hassan Foundation:

    http://www.naziahassan.co.uk/nazia.htm

    Apparently, Nazia worked for a lot of social causes, especially on behalf of children and the poor. Then, tragically, she died of lung cancer at the age of 35.

    Nazia was very pretty and had a really nice voice. She did a fairly wide range of pop music, and there’s a whole lot of it on YouTube.

  14. oh my freaking GOD!

    OOI OOI TOTALLY ROCKS. I SO WANNA SEE THIS MOVIE NOW!!!! i’ve never watched it :(

    I adore the songs of this film.

    Now is time to go read the post. :D

  15. P.S. Oh, wait a minute, now I remember, Nazia sang “Aap Jaise Koi” in Qurbani! I bet a lot of people know that song who never saw the film…

  16. Well, I love hindi disco movies and got this in my “to see” DVDs stack. I’ll try to watch it this same week :)

  17. This was SO Euro-pop! I loved the lil Biddu cameo and Saeed, an all the songs except the 1st one- it was so clunky somehow- better production values were so needed. I think I feel bad about him not having had better movies to work with.

  18. What happens to Maya’s singing? Put aside for love? I didn’t remember much of this film. But definitely remember ‘Boom Boom’.

    I like Kumar Gaurav too. He’s so sweet. Pity he never made it big. I think it’s because he never ‘acted’.

  19. Biddu was really big in B’lore back then – I remember his involvement with the Hassan pair and also Alisha Chinoy….

    KG – heh – I remember the craze over him when Lovestory came out – always found him too babyfaced! (Guess that’s why I am not in the Aamir/Imran/Siddharth fangirl club :-))

    M

  20. Richard: Trust you to know all about the Hassans! thanks for the link :) poor Nazia :(

    Kanan: Let me know what you think of it!

    JoseViruete: Welcome :-) Let me know what YOU think of it too!

    shweta: Biddu was so cute—so sad and forlorn when Rana fires him: “but what will I do?”

    Banno: Maya’s singing career is never really addressed after she lets Dev take over, basically. I guess she’ll get married to Shiv and start popping out babies.

    M: I’ve only heard a couple of other songs by Biddu, not being a disco fan in particular. KG is very boyish, and I’ll have to see Love Story one of these days :)

  21. Dear heavens. Where to start? First, let me say I’m glad you pointed out Yusuf Khan, because it was just a week ago or so that I finally realized I needed to learn his name because he was in so much stuff. Second, the sets in this thing…as is often the case, I sense they’re walking a fine line between inspired and loony. Third, re: tight pants and the 80s being over: surely you have noticed the evil resurgence of skinny jeans, right? They’re over for people our age, but the college girls are trying them, and it’s a rare, rare person who can wear tights made of denim, is all I can say. Ugh. Fourth, love the denim jacket that Biddu is wearing when he’s fired. Fifth, thinking about Rubik’s cube/space/karate disco is going to make it even harder for me to face my current project: writing up Kalyug.

  22. PS I’ve just started listening to the soundtrack, and somebody should have a lawsuit on their hands for how much “Star” sounds like “Aap Jaise Koi.” I don’t know how I’m still shocked at this kind of thing, but I am.

  23. Beth: I have noticed the evil resurgence of skinny jeans but have been trying to avoid actually acknowledging it. Rubik’s cubes have made a comeback too, my nephew had one recently (a new, improved one, but a Rubik’s cube nonetheless). Yusuf Khan is ubiquitous, I used to call him That Other Guy (or Tog) until I finally put him together with a name. And Biddu worked with Kalyanji-Anandji on the Qurbani soundtrack, so it’s not that surprising that Star sounds a lot like it :) Can’t wait to read about Kalyug!

  24. This sounds like a lot of fun. I enjoy Bollywood disco just for the pleasure of making fun of everything, so I think I will enjoy it. I liked Kumar Gaurav very much in ‘Naam’, which is the only performance of his I’ve seen; although it was more Sanjay Dutt and Nutan’s film (and I thought both did a great job as well).

  25. DG: Hey long time no see :) You will like it!

  26. This is so sweet. Will you review Disco Dancer in the future as well? Star has a great soundtrack.

  27. It was a sweet movie. I don’t know that I will ever review Disco Dancer; it has been done so many times (and much more definitively than I could hope for). But if I feel like watching it again, you never know!

  28. Thanks a lot for the link. I wish Bob Christo was still acting. The last time I saw him was in Sanjay Dutt’s Gumrah. Hey can you name all the actors at the bottom of the cover? http://fromherewegosublime.wordpress.com/2009/02/20/madlib-the-beat-konducta-in-india-vol-3-4/#comment-14

  29. Stood in line the week it came out at Metro Cinema in Bombay-1982. Skipped a day at classes (St Xaviers) and stood in line for almost 6 hours. Finally they gave only 2 tickets per head. The movie was a big flop. I know Biddu had plans for the sequel “Super-Star” but gave that up in haste. The music I think was a hit… “Boom Boom” by Nazia…

  30. Ramneek: I added a couple names to the ones you’d left :) fun exercise!

    Southie: I hope YOU enjoyed it after all that effort even if it flopped! :) I liked it, myself, but probably wouldn’t have had I waited in a line for 6 hours. There is almost nothing that I would wait in line that long for.

  31. Good job! I replied to your message on the blog. By the way, I just recently watching Darling. It’s worth a watch. I’m pretty sure you know of it. Well, maybe you’ve already seen it.

  32. Hi there

    Does anyone know where I could buy Star on dvd?
    Please email me: Happydays112211@yahoo.com
    Many thanks
    Fantastic film from my childhood

  33. I think Dina Pathak’s character was motivated by the reality of our society. I saw the film and didn’t quite get as bugged as others here got.
    Such characters add reality to the mix, which is essential in a way.
    I still think that compared to today’s unreal rubbish like Dhoom 3, etc. of today’s times, such 80’s films are much better and enjoyable because they seem much more real.

    I remember Dina Pathak’s 80’s language, dialogues like “Naukari bhi pasand ki chahiye Laath-sahab ko”…. “Lara lappa lara lappa karta rehta hai”…. Today, they seem funny.

  34. the movie was a disaster and was the death knell of kumar gauravs career.it was not a bad film and the songs were very good.i saw it in basusree,calcutta in 1982.

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