July 7, 2010

Bollywood Movie Review #2

Posted by Kanga.

Baghban, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Salman Khan, 2003.

For me, this was a big tear jerker. Amitabh and Hema were wonderful as Raj and Pooja Malhotra, an older couple very much in love. They have four biological sons, three daughters-in-law, two grand children and one adopted son. Their children love to come and visit during holidays and enjoy the luxury of asking Daddy for money when they need it.

Raj is approaching retirement and his children are unaware that he has spent his retirement savings on funding their wants and needs. Raj’s retirement plan is to be taken care of by his wonderful children in return for having given them a good start in life. This is a shock to the selfish children who then decide to agree with a stipulation – their parents must stay with different sons. They assume that their parents who have not been separated for forty years will refuse this and opt to stay together in their own house (where they belong). However, their parents agree to the separation, spoiling the plan. They pack their bags, say a tearful goodbye and go their separate ways with each of the two oldest sons. The next six months are spent showing us just how awful and selfish these sons and daughters-in-law are.

<<Remember, I include spoilers, so if you don’t want to know how it all turns out, stop reading now.>>

After the six months, the parents pack up and get on trains to travel to the respective homes of the other two biological sons. However, Raj has a plan. Their trains will pass through the same train station within 5 minutes of each other. Raj instructs his wife to get off at this station and they will meet. There are all kinds of coincidences – this happens to be their wedding anniversary and the town where they spent their honeymoon. It also happens to be the town where their adopted son and his new wife have settled. The adopted son has been looking for them finding their lifelong home locked up and empty, not knowing where they had gone. He takes them home and shows them the respect and love they have not received from their biological children.

Raj, however, thinks that they must return to their old house. He is not quite ready to be dependent, just yet. Upon returning home, Raj discovers that friends have taken the book he wrote while separated from his wife and submitted it to a publisher. Raj becomes an award winning author and receives substantial royalties.

NOW, his biological children perk up and try to figure out how to get back in Daddy’s good graces and get a piece of the inheritance pie. This does not work out for them, however, because Raj is not the forgiving type. He is content in the love of his wonderful wife, his adopted son and his grandchildren, who unlike their parents, valued and loved Raj and Pooja.

So, why did I like this movie so much? It’s obviously meant to teach us a lesson and could have been very heavy handed and burdensome. In fact, some of the over the top behavior of the sons and their wives was extreme. Even the adopted son is a bit gushy in his praise and adoration of his parents. The riches here are in the relationship of Raj and Pooja.

Bachchan and Malini

They are not just used to each other or living together out of habit. They genuinely love each other. The first part of the movie establishes this well, then it is reinforced by the scenes of them speaking on the phone or writing letters to each other, of Raj waiting eagerly for the sound of the mail delivery. There is a wonderful scene where Raj sneaks out of the house to use a pay phone to call Pooja and he sings her a song that just breaks your heart.

Yeah, this is a movie about not being bad children, but I think it is really about being a great husband and wife.

(If Amitabh looked at me like that, I’d fall. Hema Malini – in the words of DaddyBird “stunning.” Salman Khan, however, did not find and excuse to take of his shirt.)


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