This was a Film with a Lot of Dum!
By MovieTalkies.com, 07 December 2009
'Hare Rama Hare Krishna' was a movie born of its times. It was born out of those dope hazed times of the Seventies, when the East was the place to be and hordes of hippies landed in the countries of India and Nepal, in their search for Nirvana. Many may have been from dysfunctional families and were only looking for a way out. But the heady concoction of sex and drugs made it difficult for them to go back to their old ways of living. Producer cum director cum actor, Dev Anand was at his peak of his career and his penchant for telling a story of the times, really clicked at the box office. There were a number of reasons for the success of 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna', and one of them certainly was the combination of music composer Rahul Dev Burman and Anand Bakshi. The film's music, especially its title track, became the rage of its times. And then there was Zeenat Aman, Anand's latest discovery, who was perfectly cast to play the hippie girl Janice.
The likes of Hindi cinema had never seen someone quite like Zeenat Aman. A former beauty queen and model, Zeenat, was a modern, educated woman who had the gumption to be herself and not hide herself behind the voluminous folds of the sari, the bindi and the mangal sutra. She was the bad girl who was actually accepted as heroine by Hindi film going public. The public loved her as Janice and so did the critics, as Zeenat won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress and Bengal Film Journalists Association Award for Best Actress for her performance in the movie.
This was one of those rare Dev Anand films where he managed to get the message and the entertainment quotient absolutely right. The mix was perfect and hence he had a winner in his hands. On the one hand, there was the entire decadent hippie angle along with an anti drug angle and the scarring effects of modern problems like divorce, while on the other there was the brother sister angle as well as the romantic angle. Unlike most Hindi films which have a very saccharine sweet take on the brother sister relationship, in this film, it was slightly more contemporary and natural in the manner in which it was portrayed in the movie. The rest was said by the famous Kishore Kumar number, 'Phoolon Ka Taaron Ka, Sabka Kehna Hai, Ek Hazaron Mein Meri Bahena Hai'
The hand of fate has its own ways of working. Dev Anand had promised the second heroine of his last film, 'Prem Pujari', Zaheeda, a lead role in his next. He offered her the role which ultimately went to Zeenat, but it seems that Zaheeda was set on playing the role enacted by Mumtaz, the so called heroine of the movie. Anyway, fate did not will it that Zaheeda be a part of the movie and Dev Anand discovered his Janice in Zeenat Aman.
The film's story is about a dysfunctional Indian family, the Jaiswals, based in Montreal. The husband and wife are always at each other like cats and dogs, while the two young children, Prashant and Jasbir, loved each other and were a comfort to each other as children. But the inevitable happens and the parents get a divorce. The young Prashant is sent off with his mother while Jasbir stays back with her father. The brother and sister duo are separated and in time, Jasbir is told that her brother and mother are dead and that she would never see them again. Her father marries again and Jasbir can never accept her stepmother and finally runs away from home and joins the hippies. On the other side, the adult Prashant, now a pilot, has never forgotten his baby sister and has been trying to track her down, quite unsuccessfully. On hearing that Jasbir has been spotted in Kathmandu, he travels to Nepal to bring his sister back home. But on reaching Kathmandu, he discovers that Jasbir, who now goes by the name of Janice, refuses to recognize him. He also meets a Nepalese girl Shanti (Mumtaz), who helps him in his endeavour to clear his name and get his sister back from the clutches of the hippies.
Dev Anand is his usual dashing, debonair self but manages to imbue the character of Prashant with sincerity. Mumtaz, who has a much smaller role by comparison, fits the role of the Nepali Kanchi, but despite being romantically paired opposite Anand, she is not ultimately the real heroine of the movie. It is Zeenat who is more deserving of that honour despite playing a sister in the movie. The film stars the usual Navketan favourites like Kishore Sahu and Achla Sachdev, who play the warring parents quite effectively. Character actors like Iftekar, Prem Chopra, Junior Mehmood and Rajendranath all put in competent performances. The scene stealer, obviously, is Zeenat as the troubled Janice. She is refreshing and a treat to watch.
The film's other big plus, as one said earlier, was its music. R. D. Burman's composition, 'Dum Maro Dum', was like an anthem for the Seventies. He managed a coup by roping in Asha Bhonsle and Usha Uthup to sing the number, which was a trendsetter. Even the other numbers like, 'Phoolon Ka Taaron Ka', or 'Dekhon Deewano Tum Yeh Kaam Na Karo,' (Kishore Kumar) or the Kishore Lata Mangeshkar duet, 'Kancha Re Kancha Re.' In fact, Asha rightly won the Filmfare Best Female Playback Singer Award for 'Dum Maro Dum' that year.
'Hare Rama Hare Krishna' will remain a part of the golden collection of films that came out of Navketan, in company with films like 'Kala Paani', 'Hum Dono' and 'Guide', some of the best that mainstream Hindi cinema has seen. Coming as it did, right after Anand's 'Prem Pujari', his anti war, which fared dismally at the box office, 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna', reconfirmed Anand's faith in himself as director in sync with his times. It also reconfirmed Anand's status as a director who dared to choose themes that were different and topical.