Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi

[An extremely long review with spoilers.]

This movie is like a beautiful painting painted by an artist, who at the very end seems to have lost his patience and his mind and dabbed maudlin black all over the delicately and painstakingly coloured canvas.

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Jagriti is a newspaper founded by a honest and good man and now run by his elder daughter Amita (Mala Sinha) who reveres his memory. She is capable, confident, runs the paper and a happy home where she keeps a watchful eye over her frothy but delightful sister Sunita (Tanuja) who’s still known to everyone by her pet-name Baabli. Amita’s properties are mortgaged in the drive to expand her paper’s business and scale, yet she manages to not get bogged down or cower under pressure, financial or otherwise. And she is capably assisted by Verma (a charming understated performance by Rehman) , a dependable background figure with a steady head on his shoulders.

Jitendra (Dharmendra, whose real name by the way is Jitendra) is the idealistic and hence slightly impractical and hotheaded reporter who is in trouble for having published an article maligning the very investors who keep Amita’s paper afloat for exploiting the hapless coal mine workers and the terrible conditions in which the latter live. He warns Amita that disaster will strike unless the newspaper brings this to the public eye. Words ensue, and Amita fires Jitendra when he refuses to toe the line.

While everyone else is worried about inflation and rising prices and  the job market, our hero is sure that the spring is sure to return one day . In the train when he is cheering everyone else up, he meets and saves Baabli who is about to jump from the train !

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Baabli, (happily reading  the Jokebook of Bachelors earlier in the afternoon) has been driven to this because her friend Bikram (Deven Verma) has tricked her into thinking she has failed her exams. The night proceeds with the pair getting off the train whilst leaving poor Chuni Lal (Johnny Walker, the faithful sidekick photographer of Jitendra) asleep inside, getting caught in the rain, mock-fighting and being taken for a couple by the kind people who provide them shelter. Ideal weather to fall in love.

Morning dawns and Baabli wakes up to the happy news that she has passed her exams ! ( Second division. Side note : Is this the first time a hero/heroine has NOT passed first class, and is still happy about it?). She “borrows” some money from her still sound asleep companion’s wallet [which in reality belongs to his poor friend whom he has abandoned in the train!], is a little sorrowful to learn that he is cursed with a name like “Chuni Lal” and makes a move.

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Meanwhile, Jitendra’s dire predictions about the coal-mines come true and a lot of lives are lost in the disaster. Amita is guilt and doubt-ridden about what the newspaper is coming to and whether she is really keeping her father’s dreams alive

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And she offers Jitendra his job back and slowly falls in love with this principled, well spoken and quite charming young man. So there you have it, the love triangle (with Jitendra beautifully serenading Baabli while Amita thinks the song is meant for her), but with a bond between the ladies (more motherly than sisterly perhaps) which is stronger than the romance which binds them to the man maybe.

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The characters have been chiseled with great care. We get a glimpse of Amita’s loneliness amidst her busy work life and her longing to sometimes go back to being the carefree school girl she once probably was and be rid of all her responsibilities. Baabli on the other hand is young, charmingly naive, happy go lucky and ever cheerful (even more so after finding out that her beloved is not called Chuni Lal).

And everything starts unraveling once Amita finds out that her sister and Jitendra are in love and tries, oh so hard, to let life go by retaining its normalcy. One beautiful scene is when Jitendra pays a visit to their house (after coming back from reporting at the war front) and Baabli is so excited on seeing him return safe and sound that she greets him ecstatically forgetting that she hasn’t told her sister about her love affair yet ! And Amita watches the scene play out as her sister innocently tries to deceive her and fix a meeting time with Jitendra.

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Meanwhile the board of directors (formed of corrupt investors) want Jitendra out of the newspaper as he goes about publishing more and more scandalous and unwanted truths. But Amita is adamant and won’t fire Jitendra though it is clear that if she holds out, her job will soon be on the line. Only Verma guesses the truth behind why Amita appears this attached to Jitendra, but when he confronts Amita with his guess, Baabli overhears it and is astounded and shocked …. and goes into martyr mode.

And then the film completely loses it. Baabli walks out of the house, bidding a cold goodbye to her distraught and extremely bewildered sister after informing the latter that she’s marrying her friend Bikram who’s also Verma’s brother. She then goes to Jitendra’s house and laughingly (while her eyes shine with unshed tears) tells him that all romance doth not lead to marriage and casually slips him the news that she’s getting married the next day but not to him. She finally proceeds to Verma’s house and proposes to Bikram, who is thrilled and wants to elope “Hollywood style” immediately . Verma is the only sane guy amidst all this emotional mess and sternly tries to knock some sense into Baabli while he sorts this out with Amita

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And then in a beautiful scene, without him speaking a word, we are told what we should have guessed long back, which Baabli knows now after seeing a picture of her sister on his table.

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Meanwhile Amita has spent a sleepless night wondering where Baabli is, after suffering what looks like a mini-heart attack. She looks and is a terrible mess

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And when Verma who’s landed up at her doorstep to find out what all this hue and cry is about, with his usual impeccable sound sense deduces the reason behind Baabli’s madness, Amita seems to become unhinged  herself.

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She calls up Baabli who tearfully decides to run away and get married immediately to Bikram lest her sister come over and stop her. Sadly…

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Meanwhile Amita has completely lost it (she feels she has let down everyone – her sister, her father, her paper. And she is mortified that her sister knows that she loves Jitendra too) And so Mala Sinha has a whale of a time gnashing her teeth, glinting madly at the camera screaming “Nahiiiin” amidst maniacal laughter and pathetic sobs. Oh dear.

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So you know this is not going to end well. She locks herself up in her father’s old press and when finally the rest of them knock the door down, it is too late. And Amita dies in Jitendra’s arms, though she thinks it is Verma she is speaking her last words to, asking him to make Jitendra run her father’s press and never reveal her love for Jitendra.

 

 

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And, like Hardy’s Marty South, Verma stands lonely in his grief for his love which he never revealed nor sought any attention for.

 

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For a movie that was going so well, the last twenty minutes or so make it a train-wreck and destroys all the subtlety that the film had built before it. Oh well..

In any case, this man deserves a round of applause for an amazing soundtrack. Every song is a masterpiece !

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