After having a lovely filmi conversation with Anarchivist (and a few cocktails), I decided it was time to step into the Glorious Kingdom of Rishi Sweaters...
I get the feeling that Yeh Vaada Raha, the 1982 Ramesh Behl film starring Rishi Kapoor, Poonam Dillon, and Tina Munim, was an awesome place to start (despite the fact that my subtitles were pretty sparse and all in CAPS--frustrating). Also, there's a lot of screencaps here, but its just that kind of film!
It's love at first sight for Vikram (Rishi Kapoor), who meets Sunita (Poonam Dillon) in a temple and is instantly besotted.
And who wouldn't be? Sunita is gorgeous!
She rejects him, though, despite his efforts. Left with nothing but a cold shoulder, Vikram turns to his friend, Gogi (Rakesh Bedi), a painter, and sings a colorful song describing her beauty.
And--!Voila!...Before Vikram knows it, Gogi has composed a blind portrait of Sunita based on the words of the song (Which, sadly for me, were not translated)!
Sunita turns out to be a singer. She continues to reject Vikram until one night when she is mocked onstage (ironically, due to Vikram's actions--he has Gogi's paintings on Sunita hung all over town in an effort to locate the poor girl).
Vikram comes to the rescue by singing the song for her (and again, it wasn't translated so I don't know what he said, but it worked because Sunita falls for him after this).
Their romance blooms in no time at all, and is filled with lots of lovey-dovey, sunshiny things. Vikram, thankfully, doesn't stop treating Sunita like a queen just because he's won her over. To the contrary, he's quite the teddy bear boyfriend, sending a marching band over to sing to her on her birthday and gifting her with a promise ring. The two discuss marriage.
Of course, its not so easy. While Sunita appears to live modestly as a lounge singer, Vikram comes from a rich family. When Maa comes to town (Played by a witchy Rakhee), trouble begins to brew.
Maa despises Sunita from the start, and after meeting her, leaves in such a huff that she doesn't notice her saree is hanging out of the car door:
Meddling Maa digs up some damaging information about Sunita in an effort to discourage her son from dating her, but Vikram will have no part of it. He doesn't care about Sunita's past--He loves her and vows to marry her. I really appreciated the fact that Vikram didn't give this a second thought; He didn't even bring it up to Sunita. He gathers his beloved and his pal Gogi and the two race off to the temple to elope.
However, tragedy strikes and the three are in a horrible car accident. Though Vikram's badly injured enough to be confined to a hospital bed, its Sunita who suffered most from the collision. Her face is badly disfigured, and her doctor gives this information to none other than Vikram's mother, of course (Why???!!).
Of course, Maa uses this to her advantage and tells Vikram Sunita is dead.
Crushed, Vikram retreats into a mourning period of doing little but talking to Sunita's painting:
Meanwhile, Sunita is shipped off to a plastic surgeon specialist, a kindly doctor played by...What?! Shammi Kapoor!!I had no idea that was him until just now when I looked it up to write this paragraph. I knew he looked familiar--now I like the Good Doc even more!
Sunita undergoes multiple plastic surgeries, "8-10", according to her doctor. It must have been pretty bad--just check out the looks on the doctor and nurses' faces:
Not the most tactful medical staff, are they?
Meanwhile, Vikram continues to grieve for Sunita...
Anyways, after some time, Sunita's face is repaired. However, the doctor never knew what she looked like prior to the accident, so he had to use his imagination and give her a whole new face (Where's Gogi the Painter when you need him?)
Lovely as it is, its not Sunita's original face, and here's where Tina Munim steps in. Sunita freaks out, understandably, but eventually is calmed by the Good Doctor and starts imagining her new face and new life with Vikram, to the tune of the very catchy title song:
When Sunita goes to tell Vikram she's all better, she's hit with a crushing bomb--Vikram is engaged to somebody else. Unbeknownst to Sunita, all of this was arranged by Vikram's mother, and agreed to by Vikram only because he thought Sunita was dead.
Of course, Sunita leaves without revealing her identity, and Vikram continues to believe she is dead. She assumes a new name, Kusum, and vows to forget her past. Its not until one day Vikram hears her singing that he recognizes her voice as Sunita's.
I'll leave you here, because there's still the chunk of plot left to unravel, and if I go any further I'll start sobbing like I did while watching the rest of this heartbreaking-yet-lovely tearjerker. Will Sunita reveal her true identity to Vikram? Will Vikram accept Sunita's new face? Will Maa's deception be revealed?
As you can see from my screencap enthusiasm, I really enjoyed this film. It was just so touching and sweet, and I found that I warmed easily to sweater-clad Rishi. The songs were catchy and hummable, and I'll probably bounce over to Itunes to download them after posting this.
While both Sunitas were good, I found that Tina Munim brought more life and vitality to the role. I'd love to see more of her!
That's not to take too much away from Poonam Dhillon, the first Sunita. She was delicately beautiful, reminding me physically of a cross between Bhagyashree and Rekha. But, though I enjoyed her, I found her Sunita to be a little less thrilling than Tina's.
On a final note, I thought it was very considerate of the filmmaker to use the same voice to dub both actresses playing Sunita (since plastic surgery on the face wouldn't change one's voice). And, as I discovered while looking up the year of this film, that voice belonged to none other than Jaya Bachchan!!
Though not very realistic otherwise, this film was so touching that its a new favorite. I'd recommend it wholeheartedly, but warn to keep a box of tissues on hand--I was crying like a baby!