Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi

Tanuja in Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi

Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi (Spring always comes again, 1966) feels a bit like the swan song it is. The movie was the final production of Guru Dutt Films, and Dutt himself had planned to play the leading male role. But on the night of October 9 - 10, 1964, Dutt took (either accidentally or purposefully) a fatal overdose of sleeping pills and alcohol.

Dharmendra stepped in to play Jitendra, a crusading newspaper reporter writing articles that expose unsafe and exploitative coal mining operations. His publisher is Amita (Mala Sinha), who inherited her father's newspaper and has tried to maintain its commitment to printing the truth—whomever it offends. But Amita comes under pressure from her board of directors (many of whom have mining interests) to quash Jitendra's inconvenient and embarrassing stories.

Matters are complicated when Amita falls in love with Jitendra, only to discover that he is in love with her younger sister Sunita (a fresh-faced Tanuja—Kajol's mom!), and she with him. In a classic plotline borrowed later by (among other films) Dil Hai Tumhaara (2002), each sister decides to sacrifice her love for her sibling's happiness...

Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi is gorgeously shot in black and white; the classic "Guru Dutt" look was achieved this time by director Shahid Lateef and cinematographer K.G. Prabhakar. The film also has lovely, wistful music by O.P. Nayyar that features the playback singers Asha Bohsle, Mohd. Raffi and Mahendra Kapoor. There are several memorable songs; perhaps the most haunting (visually and aurally) is Amita's lament after her unwelcome discovery that Jitendra does not return her love. "Woh haske mile" is sung exquisitely by Asha:

Unfortunately, the movie veers into madness and overwrought melodrama in its final scenes. Even though the screenplay was written by Dutt's longtime collaborator Abrar Alvi, I have to think that, had he lived, Dutt would have toned down these sequences somewhat. But despite the mis-steps at the end, and even discounting my weakness for movies that feature romantic self-sacrifice, Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi is very much worth seeing. After all, who can resist the combination of Tanuja and Asha in "Koi Kehde"? Certainly not Dharmendra:

Update 15 September 2012: For another perspective on Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi, DustedOff has an excellent (and much more detailed) review.

If you're willing to put up with the annoying red and blue "Ultra" logo on every frame, you can watch Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi on YouTube. I viewed the Eros DVD, which looks great and has no intrusive logos.

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