Friday, May 16, 2008

The metaphysics of a naach girl. Sharafat.

If Kajol and Shahrukh together is the hook that pulled me into the world of Hindi cinema, Dharmendra and Hema Malini as a jodi was the thing that intrigued me to explore 70's Hindi films further; had they not come along, I probably wouldn't have been so driven to view as many films as I have so far.

Sharafat is the couple's second movie, released five years prior to Sholay (the film that made me a fan). It partly has a very 60's feel to it, perhaps most importantly in terms of hair style, make-up and Dharmendra's character. As I understand it, the man moved from virtuous, gentleman-like hero roles into more action-focused macho roles (perhaps entirely thanks to the influence of the classic Veeru role).

In this movie he plays Rajesh, a young college professor who notices many of his students visit a brothel. He asks the courtesan Chanda (Hema Malini) not to allow the students visiting, and she agrees, but on one condition: he must give her private lessons on the subjects he teaches at the college. He agrees, and love is naturally born of the contract, but even more important is the decency of Chanda's character; how she lost it, whether she lost it, and if she can gain it back.

I'm not sure if I ever quite took in the story or the message of Sharafat; I enjoyed the story as it was happening, but months after watching I have to look at the back of the DVD box for plot details. I guess I took the film on a more superficial level - Hema and Dharmendra look young and gorgeous, Hema performs a number of dazzling dance numbers and the film is visually a lovely watch. Their chemistry is present, but not striking here. Nevertheless, it's impressive how well Hema stands against the more experienced co-star, and acts against such legends as Ashok Kumar (who plays a crucial role in this movie).

Sharafat is one of those melodramatic movies that is neither engrossing or annoying. Mostly it's focused on the concept of decency and how society views Chanda, a prostitute, and why naturally her love with Rajesh, a respectable professor, simply will not do. Basically, the title word gets repeated so many times in the dialogue, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that sharafat = decency.

However, to everybody and anybody who enjoy Dharmendra-Hema and/or Hema Malini's dancing, it is worth at least one watch.

(Side note; I am currently simply reviewing the films I have screencaps for on my hard drive. These are not necessarily films I have seen recently, some I've not viewed for over a year. So apologies if my memories are not too fresh. Eventually I will have to move onto movies I have seen more recently - like my last viewed film, Aaja Naachle - but all with time..)


Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

I saw "Chupa Rustum" last night, and finally discovered y folks love Hema- if u haven't seen that and get a chance to do so, u simply must!
Sharaft sounds good only for the 1 fact u mentioned- how cute Dharam and Hema look together- the screen caps are adorable!

memsaab said...

Is this the one that Dharmendra didn't want released on DVD because Hema plays a nautch girl? It's a vague memory so I may be wrong.

It's funny how many Hindi movies there are that you enjoy for the moment and then kind of forget every detail about. I agree that this is one of them :-)

Filmi Girl said...

This one sounds like an AU version of Der Blaue Engel where Marlene Dietrich wants lessons instead of schooling out some sexual humiliation.

I'm quite fond of the Dharmendra/Hema jodi, too. I love them in Seeta aur Geeta!

veracious said...

Shweta - you hadn't seen Hema before? Or just didn't get why people liked her?

Memsaab - I haven't heard of that, but might've been. Though of course it's very tame, her dances are hardly even sensual. I did rewatch a bit of it to refresh my memories, but eh, plotwise it remains somewhat forgettable.

filmi_girl - Haha, AU magic! However, I'm sure the Dietrich original had plenty of rather blatant sexuality. Hema's more a victim of circumstances than a calculating vamp in this.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

id seen her tons of times, but just wasnt that enraptured- and then last week, I was amazed by how v v cute she could be :)

Avinash said...

Hopped over here through a long tentacled chain of web pages. If you are indeed Finnish and you are only 20 (with no Indian roots), this webpage should get some kind of Nobel for its study of Indian cinema. Never mind even if the act is amateur and not professional. My good compliments and keep up the good work!

veracious said...

Avinash - I am indeed who I claim to be. And thank you, you're very kind. I think I still have a lot to improve on, both in terms of knowledge of Indian films as well as writing skills.

Beth said...

Totally superficial comment: bottom picture, you can see exactly what the stylists of Om Shanti Om were doing in putting together Deepika's "Dreamy Girl" look! If you had just cut out that picture of Hema, with no Dharmendra opposite her, I'm sure I would have thought it was from OSO.